According to his military documents, Semion Rubinovich was born in 1913 in the town of Korop, northern Ukraine. In 1933 he volunteered to join the Red Army. At the end of 1943 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. His position was first as commander of the 911th Artillery Regiment and, from 1944, commander of artillery of the 340th Division.
Rubinovich took part in the fight against the German forces from the first days of the war. In 1941 he took part in the defense of Moscow and, in 1942 in the defense of Voronezh, southern Russia. Rubinovich's Artillery Regiment was among the first units to enter Sumy, northeastern Ukraine in September 1943 ("The German bandits will remember for a long time the fire and the force of the regiment led by Comr[ade] Rubinovich" stated the citation for his award of the Order of Lenin). In the fall of 1943 he participated in the forcing of the Dnieper River. In January 1944, during the Red Army offensive in central Ukraine, Rubinovich's Regiment halted the counter-offensive of two enemy tank columns, of which 22 out of 70 enemy's tanks were totally destroyed. Later, he succeeded in breaking out of enemy encirclement near Frontivka village; on the way the regiment destroyed much enemy equipment, including five self-propelled guns, many cars, and other weapons. For these achievements of his 911th Regiment, Rubinovich was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
During the war Rubinovich was awarded a total of three military orders. He was wounded twice.
In January 1945, during fighting in southern Poland in the area of Krakow, Lieutenant Colonel Semion Rubinovich was killed by an enemy shell, while on his way in his Willys car to the headquarters of his division. 1 He was posthumously awarded his fourth military order — that of the Patriotic War, 1st Class.
The Jewish Heart of Lieutenant-Colonel Rubinovich
"His [Rubinovich's] lofty qualities of a courageous officer were manifested in him not only in combat. A third episode revealed Rubinovich as a noble, sensitive, and responsive man. Furthermore, a Jewish soul lived in him.
In December 1944, our regiment was billeted in the small Polish town of Krosno. On one occasion, an agitated youth, a Jewish lad who had survived by chance, came up to me. He asked me to help him get to the house where his two sisters were living. A Polish farmer had hid them in his house for a long time. The problem was that the house was located close to the front, on our side, and the area was under constant fire.
I turned to the regiment commander Samuil Rubinovich [the author of the memoir calls Rubinovich Samuil (Samuel), rather than Semion; we don't know whether this was, in fact, Rubinovich's first name] and related to him this story. He listened to me attentively and had an id'Where is the lad? Send him to me.'
'He is here. I'll call him.'
A thin, frightened youth, about 18 years old, entered the room.
'What's your name? Where are you from?' – Rubinovich asked.
He spoke with the lad warmly, asked him paternally about his family, about the fate of his sisters.
'Well, don't worry, we will help you, today in fact,' Rubinovich calmed him.
He called his adjutant and gave him his assignment.
'Give him some food, sergeant-major' – he ordered – 'and don't forget some for his sisters also.'
At night, accompanied by the adjutant, the youth proceeded to the front, to the house where his sisters were residing. The joy of their meeting was indescribable."
[Lev Dubossarskii, "Slovo o moem komandire", in Lev Ovsishcher et al., eds., Tak srazhalis' voiny-evrei, Tel-Aviv: ALEF, 1993, p. 73]
- 1. This version of Rubinovich's death (which is different from the version given in the citation for the Order of Patriotic War) is related by a witness, Lev Dubossarskii, "Slovo o moem komandire", in: Lev Ovsishcher et al., eds., Tak srazhalis' voiny-evrei, Tel-Aviv: ALEF, 1993, p. 74.