Yevgenia Fizdel was born in 1923 in Odessa, in an assimilated Jewish family. Her father Adolf Fizdel was a doctor. Yevgenia's two older sisters died in the early 1920s, and, being the only survivor, she grew up a pampered child. In 1937, her father was arrested, and spent three years in a GULAG camp; he was released in 1940 as a sick man. In 1940, Yevgenia began to attend the Odessa Medical Institute (the present-day Odessa National Medical University), but, with the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in June 1941, her institute was evacuated to Rostov-on-Don. When the Germans approached that city, Yevgenia was evacuated to Bashkiria, in the Urals, where she continued her medical studies at the Bashkir Medical Institute. Her father was drafted into the Red Army.
In 1942 and 1943, Yevgenia repeatedly asked the local recruitment office to send her to the front lines, but each time she was denied with the formula "The Army needs accomplished doctors." In 1944, Yevgenia Fizdel graduated from the medical institute. She was given the option to stay on at the Institute's clinic as a postgraduate student, but she demanded to be sent to the frontline. In July 1944, she was dispatched to Lvov, where her military service began. Fizdel was attached to GLR 5541, a hospital for the lightly wounded of the 1st Ukrainian Front. With this hospital, she passed through Poland and Silesia, took part in the crossing of the Vistula and Oder Rivers, and ended the war in Czechoslovakia.
Until May 1945, Fizdel did not see any ghettos or signs of the Nazi mass murders of Jews. However, in 1944, while passing through Polish and Silesian territory, she was already aware of the scope of the Nazi genocide of the Jews, and this knowledge strengthened her Jewish identity. She would later admit1 that, while she waited to cross the German border, she felt more afraid of Germany as a country than of the fighting itself. She would also admit that she refused to treat German POWs: 'Let these scoundrels suffer!', etc.
On May 11, 1945, the day of the victory, Fizdel's hospital was sent to the recently liberated Theresienstadt Ghetto, where a typhus epidemic had broken out. This was Fizdel's first face-to-face encounter with the Holocaust. She stayed in Theresienstadt until late July. Fizdel continued to serve in Hungary for another year. Only in 1946 was she discharged from the army.
After 1946, Yevgenia Fizdel returned to Odessa and went on to work as a doctor in various towns of the Odessa region. In 1953, she moved to Moscow.
- 1. [YVA, O.93/32297]