Semion Dykhne was born in 1923 in Novohrad-Volynskyi, northwestern Ukraine. He studied at a Ukrainian school, and even wrote poems in Ukrainian. Upon finishing school in 1940, Semion entered the Ukrainian Communist Institute of Journalism in Kharkiv, but his studies there were cut short by the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in June 1941. Dykhne refused to evacuate together with the Institute, and volunteered to enlist in the Red Army. He was attached to the reconnaissance unit of the HQ of the 9th Army, which was deployed on the Southern Front, in southern Ukraine. Later, thanks to his journalistic education (albeit an incomplete one), Dykhne began to serve as the editor of frontline newspapers in the North Caucasus and Ukraine. On numerous occasions, he also had to take part in combat as a common soldier. These actions, among others, earned him the medal "For Courage" in June 1943. In February 1944, Dykhne was appointed work (i.e., propaganda) instructor among the civilian population and the enemy forces in the Political Department of the 328th Rifle Division. In this capacity, he was responsible for the spoken propaganda that was broadcast into enemy trenches through loudspeakers, and for the propaganda leaflets that were dropped on enemy positions. For these activities, he was awarded the Order of the Red Star in June 1944. His highest military rank was that of captain.
During the Red Army offensive in eastern Volhynia in January 1944, Semion Dykhne requested to be sent on an official mission to his native Novohrad-Volynskyi, hoping to use this opportunity to learn about the fate of his relatives and of his prewar sweetheart, Khaya Goldfarb. In the town, he was told that Khaya had been shot by the Nazis, and that the same fate had befallen his distant relatives (Semion's parents had managed to evacuate). Semion Dykhne would later recall that, on the same day, he shot a captured SS-man in a fit of rage, thereby avenging his dead bride. He recollects: "I shot him with my Nagant revolver, thereby taking revenge.… I handed the material that I had written about her [Khaya] to the newspaper editors, and it was published, under the title 'A Call for Revenge', in all the newspapers of the First Ukrainian Front"1. In reality, Khaya Goldfarb survived (her parents and siblings did not); under the German occupation, she managed to procure "Ukrainian papers", and was later deported to Germany for forced labor, as a Ukrainian girl. She was repatriated to the Soviet Union in May 1945.
In September 1944, Semion Dykhne was seriously wounded and discharged from the army. He was reunited with Khaya Goldfarb, and married her. After the war, Dykhne attempted to enroll in some academy for political education, but was rejected, because his wife had been in Germany during the war. In early 1953, Dykhne was accused of "Jewish nationalism", arrested, and imprisoned. Only Stalin's death in March 1953 saved him from imminent execution. His "rehabilitation" notwithstanding, Dykhne was dismissed from his post as newspaper editor in Novohrad-Volynskyi. In the 1960s, he moved to Kazan, the capital city of Tatarstan, where his son had settled earlier. Semion was a correspondent of Vecherniaia Kazan (Evening Kazan), the most popular Russian-language newspaper in that city. In 1995, he immigrated to Israel with his extended family. Semion Dykhne died in Tel Aviv in 2006.
- 1. YVA O.93/35969