Ruvim Rubinovich was born in 1922 in Astrakhan. His parents had moved to this city on the lower Volga River from northeastern Belorussia in 1914, when World War I began. Ruvim's father Semion was a leather cutter for shoes, a member of a shoemakers' cooperative. In 1929, Semion was arrested, probably for an attempt to bribe the local financial inspector, and spent a year and a half in a Gulag camp. Their two-storey house was seized, and the family – the parents and their three children – had to move into a room measuring eight square meters. Upon finishing school in 1939, Ruvim went to Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg) to study at the Faculty of Physics of Leningrad University. In December 1940, Ruvim was drafted into the Red Army. He began his service in the tank units stationed in the recently annexed Eastern Galicia ("Western Ukraine").
In June 1941, the Soviet-German War broke out. After ten days of standing passively on the border, Ruvim's unit was ordered to retreat. Only on the eastern bank of the Dniester River did Rubinovich experience actual warfare for the first time. Very soon, his tank was hit by a shell, and Ruvim continued to fight as a rifleman. During the retreat, he was wounded by a bayonet, but remained in service. In August 1941, Ruvim's platoon was left to cover the retreat of his division. The platoon carried out its task, but its members realized that they were surrounded. After a ten-day-long walk, Ruvim was shell-shocked and abandoned by his comrades. Shortly thereafter, he was taken prisoner by the Germans.
Over the next year, Ruvim, who passed himself off as an ethnic Russian named Nikolai, moved between several POW camps. In early 1943, during the winter, he managed to escape from captivity. He crossed the frozen Don River and reached the area where the 52nd Rifle Brigade of the Red Army was deployed. The brigade needed men, and thus Ruvim and his fellow fugitive were spared a lengthy screening at the "special department" and allowed to join the brigade, with Ruvim becoming a gun-layer of a 76-millimeter cannon. He would later recall: "My war began in February 1943 and ended in October 1944" 1. Initially, from February to August 1943, he fought on the Mius Front – a hard and bloody operation that led to the liberation of the Donbass in eastern Ukraine. Ruvim then saw action in Ukraine, and in October 1944, while passing through the Carpathian Mountains, he was seriously wounded. He spent the following seven months in a hospital, and it was there that he met V-E Day.
In the course of the war, Rubinovich was wounded three times and shell-shocked once. He was awarded the Order of the Red Star and several medals.
Ruvim Rubinovich was finally discharged from the army in 1947. He then returned to Leningrad and was allowed to resume his studies at the university as a second-year student. He graduated in 1951, but was not permitted to defend his dissertation, since this was the peak of the Stalinist anti-Jewish campaign. After a long search for work, Ruvim found employment at the Institute of Arctic Geology.
In 1994, Rubinovich immigrated to Israel.
- 1. [O.93/19026]