Shmuel, or Shamil, Aronishvili was born in 1923 in Tbilisi, Georgia. His father, Moshe-Chaim, was a civil servant, while his mother, Rivka, was a seamstress. Following the outbreak of the Soviet-German War (June 22, 1941), Shmuel was drafted into the Red Army. He was sent to Baku, Azerbaijan, where he underwent military training. In December 1941, his unit was sent to the Southwestern Front. In January 1942, during a 300-On July 30, 1942, during the German offensive from Voronezh and Voroshilovgrad (Luhansk) and the Red Army retreat, Shmuel Aronishvili was wounded and captured by the Germans. He passed through the Volchansk hospital for Soviet POWs, and later through a succession of POW camps in Ukraine and Poland. In all these places, he passed himself off as an ethnic Georgian named Shamil (Georgian was the first language of the Georgian Jews). Aronishvili states that the Georgian POWs were aware of his Jewishness, but did not betray him 1. In January 1943, Shmuel, who was imprisoned in the Vladimir-Volynskii (Włodzimierz Wołyński) POW camp at the time, fell ill with typhus. In the camp hospital, Dr. Gegelashvili (his real name was Eligulashvili, a typical Jewish last name in Georgia) gave Shmuel a separate ward and took good care of him. However, another Georgian POW at the camp denounced him as a Jew to the Germans. Aronishvili was interrogated by the Gestapo; he claimed to be an Adjarian (a Muslim ethno-cultural group in Georgia), which was the reason for his being circumcised. Immediately thereafter, Aronishvili volunteered to be moved to a different POW camp. In 1944-45, he was transferred to Germany, where he worked as a farmhand on some estate. In April 1944, he was liberated by the U.S. Army. The Americans delivered him and other liberated Soviet POWs to the Soviets.
Aronishvili joined a Red Army artillery regiment and returned to active duty. Having learned that Shamil (Shmuel) had had ten years of schooling, and therefore knew math, his commander appointed him an accountant. Thus, Shmuel Aronishvili ended the war as a Red Army soldier.
After his demobilization, Aronishvili graduated from a technical university in Tbilisi, and later worked as an electrical engineer and taught at a technikum (college) for aviation. In the 1990s, Shmuel Aronishvili settled in Israel.
- 1. [YVA, VT/10155]