Raisa Levina was born in 1926 in the town of Osipovichi, Belorussia. Her father, Yisrael Levin, was the manager of a poultry processing plant in this town. In 1934, the family moved to Kalinkovichi, where Yisrael was appointed to a similar administrative post. In 1939 or 1940, he was arrested, and disappeared in the Gulag camps.
When the Soviet-German War began in June 1941, the family was able to evacuate, and, after changing many places of residence, they settled in southeastern Kazakhstan. There, Raisa and her brother worked in agriculture.
In early 1943, Raisa’s female friends received call-up notices from the local recruitment office. Following their example, Raisa also decided to volunteer to serve in the Red Army, and went along with her friends. In order to get enlisted, she pretended to have lost her own call-up notice, which she had ostensibly received from the local office. Raisa Golant-Levina recalls:
“We were arrayed, and they began to sort us out according to the military specialties. Then, suddenly, the gate opened, and my mother came into the courtyard of the recruitment office – someone had told her that I went with the girls ‘to the war.’ I ran to her and said: ‘Mom, if you take me away from here now, I’ll still run to the front lines on my own, so leave me alone. While I am being a trained as a nurse here, the war may already be over, and I will then have a profession. So, don’t touch me”.
While Raisa was studying at the nursing school, her mother died. From that point on, nobody could prevent her going “to the war”.
In late 1943, Raisa graduated from the nursing school, and was then attached to a medical-sanitary train that evacuated wounded soldiers from the frontline to hospitals. Her first job was as a sanitation worker and cleaner (washing the wounded, the bandages, and the linen, as well as cleaning the cars), and a kitchen laborer. When the trained stopped, she, together with the others, had to deliver water to the cars and receive new wounded and sick soldiers. At this time, Raisa, who wore a uniform and had the rank of private, was not yet 18. Only later would she be “promoted” to full nurse. Raisa went on to serve with this train until May 1945. She met V-E Day in Marienwerder (present-day Kwidzyn, Poland).
After the war, Raisa worked as a nurse at a Soviet military hospital in Bad Polzin (present-day Połczyn-Zdrój, Poland). She was promoted to the rank of sergeant major (starshina) and awarded the medal “For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War.”
Only in 1949 was Raisa Levina discharged from the military. She returned to her native Osipovichi, where she met a fellow war veteran, Second Lieutenant Iankel (Yakov) Golant. Characteristically, Iankel, like Raisa herself, hailed from a family belonging to the provincial Jewish political elite: His father, Henakh, had been deputy chairman of the Osipovichi District Executive Committee (i.e., deputy mayor) before the war, while his uncle, Reuven Golant, had been the second Party secretary in the district administration. Raisa decided not to return to serve in Germany. For this unauthorized action, she was expelled from the Party, but not arrested. Raisa and Yakov later married.
In 1994, Raisa and Yakov immigrated to Israel, in the footsteps of their second son Mikhail. They lived in Bat Yam.