Rafael Davydov was born in 1919 in Margilan, eastern Uzbekistan, to a family of Bukharan Jews. His father David was a rich landowner and the kalontar (head of the Jewish community) of Margilan. After the Bolshevik revolution, David's lands and cattle were nationalized, but David was not arrested. At the age of 12, Rafael succeeded in entering the medical college (tekhnikum) in the nearby town of Fergana. After graduating, he became a medical orderly (feldsher), but simultaneously continued to study at the Tashkent Medical Institute (University, abbreviated as TashMI). In 1940 the young doctor Rafael Davydov was drafted to be a physician for the NKVD (political police) and was sent to Azerbaijan to serve with the units guarding the Soviet-Iranian border. There he underwent basic military training.
With the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, Davydov's unit was transferred to a training camp near Rybinsk, northeast of Moscow. Davydov was assigned as a doctor to one of the battalions. In the winter of 1941-1942, his unit moved westward to the area of Rzhev. Despite the fact that in January-February 1942 the Red Army basically continued its offensive westward from Moscow, in the Upper Volga area it was in retreat. At that time Davydov was wounded but, after receiving first aid, he continued to treat other wounded soldiers. Later, in one of the units of his division, an epidemic of typhus broke out; Rafael was sent to this unit to put a halt to this epidemic.
In the summer of 1943, Davydov was transferred to the 194th Tashkent Rifle Regiment of the 162nd Central-Asian Rifle Division. The division took part in the Kursk Salient operation, on the northern flank. There Senior Lieutenant Davydov began to function as a field surgeon. Later he treated wounded Red Army soldiers in northern Ukraine, then in 1944 in Poland, and in 1945 – in Germany. He met Victory Day in Germany with the rank of captain. His joy at the victory was diminished by the loss of his brother Gavriel, who had been killed in Ukraine in December 1943 at the age of 19. 1
After his release from active service (when Davydov was transferred as a military doctor to the Central-Asian military district), Rafael first visited his native Margilan to restore his father's grave. After his demobilization, Davydov worked as a practicing surgeon at the surgery clinic of the Tashkent Medical Institute (University) and at other medical institutions, as well as serving as a lecturer on surgery at the TashMI and elsewhere.
In 1990 Professor Rafael Davydov immigrated to Israel.
- 1. Rafael Davydov, Monolog Rafaelia, Tel-Aviv: Krugozor, 1997, p. 76