Moisei Shvartsman was born in 1911 in a village in Vinnitsa Province, Ukraine. From an early age he engaged in Soviet public activity. In the early 1930s he studied at a teachers' seminary in Vinnitsa. After graduation, in 1936 he worked as head of education for the regional executive committee in the town of Tyvrov. He was drafted into the Red Army on June 25, 1941, four days after the outbreak of war. He fought in an intelligence company, operating in the enemy rear, first on the South-West Front and then on the Kalinin Front. In 1943, with the rank of captain, he was commissar of a machine-gun battalion and was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd class. In June 1944 in combat near Vitebsk Major Shvartsman personally led his soldiers in an attack on enemy trenches. When his men had to retreat, he prevented them from being surrounded. On June 25, 1944, in a crossing of the Western Dvina River, his unit facilitated the successful crossing of other units. Moisei Svartsman was killed during this battle. On July 22, 1944 he was posthumously named a Hero of the Soviet Union.
Letter of Moisei Shvartsman to his wife Hanna
Not long before his death Shvartsman received a letter from his wife Hanna (who was in evacuation in Kazakhstan) that informed him that his mother and Dusia, Moisei and Hanna's daughter, who had remained in territories that were occupied by the enemy, had been killed by the Nazis. In his last letter in reply to his wife Moisei Shvartsman wrote:
"I saw entire towns and district centers where all the Jews, all of them, had been shot – not one Jew survived. When I read about the massacres in Kiev, Kharkov, and other cities in Ukraine, I began to have doubts whether either one of our parents … was still alive…. I will remember June 2, 1944 for the rest of my life, because, on that day, I learned of the fate of our parent and relatives … in short, I learned of the fate of Dusia and my mother."
From Mordechai Altshuler, "Jewish Combatants of the Red Army Confront the Holocaust," in Harriet Murav and Gennady Estraikh, eds., Soviet Jews in World War II: Fighting, Witnessing, Remembering, Boston, 2014, p. 27.