Rakhil Gartshtein was born in 1917 in Blagoveshchensk, in a Jewish family. Her parents were pharmacists. Later, the family moved to the city of Ivanovo, where Rakhil began to attend the local Medical Institute. As the eldest child in the family (one of three siblings), Rakhil helped her parents as best she could. Thanks to her perfect ear for music, she was able to find an evening job as a piano player at a movie theater. Because of her excellent grades, Rakhil was permitted to assist doctors during her last years at the Institute, gaining medical experience. After her graduation, the 24-year-old Rakhil Gartshtein was sent to a tiny settlement in Ivanovo Oblast, where she was appointed chief physician at the local hospital.
However, her work at this hospital was soon interrupted by the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in late June 1941. She was quickly reassigned to a hospital for evacuees in Vladimir Oblast. A year later, in June 1942, Rakhil volunteered to serve at a field hospital of the 39th Army of the Kalinin Front. At the time, that army was suffering grievous losses, having been decimated during the bloody battles at Rzhev. Later, the 39th Army was reconstituted on the basis of the 58th Army, and Rakhil went on to serve in it until the end of the war.
In August 1943, Rakhil Gartshtein was appointed chief resident of a mobile surgical hospital that followed the army. First Lieutenant Gartshtein's chief responsibility was receiving and sorting through the wounded. In addition to that, she also worked in the operating room, having had some experience with surgery prior to the war. All in all, she operated on more than 200 patients in the tough wartime conditions. In the course of the war, Rakhil and her field hospital followed the 39th Army through Smolensk, Belarus, and the Baltic countries. She met V-E Day near the German town of Insterburg (present-day Chernyakhovsk in the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia). Over that period, she had been awarded the Order of the Red Star, as well as medals.
Immediately following the end of the fighting on the Soviet-German front, Rakhil Gartshtein, together with the rest of the 39th Army, was relocated to Mongolia, where she took part in the Soviet-Japanese War of August-September 1945, on the Transbaikal Front.
After the end of the war, Rakhil returned home to Ivanovo, where she went on to work for many years as a surgeon at a local hospital. Rakhil Gartshtein died in 2013, at the age of 96.