"I just hope…. that I will reach you alive and well…How I longed to see you, especially my daughter, whom I have never set eyes on."
Boris Binyamin Tabakmacher, a signaler in a parachute regiment in the Red Army, wrote these words in his last letter to his wife Raya-Klara and their daughter Ina. He sent it from the front on 1 November 1944, a few short weeks before he fell in battle.
Boris Tabakmacher was born in 1907 in Luginy, Ukraine. His parents, Chaim and Hilda-Ina, passed away before the war. In 1937, Boris married Raya-Klara Meshengiesser, and the couple lived in Kiev. Boris was a senior director in the field of industry.
In June 1941, shortly before German Nazi forces invaded the Soviet Union, Boris enlisted in the ranks of the Red Army, despite the fact that his senior position exempted him from the draft. After enlisting, Boris's wife was evacuated to Uzbekistan as part of the mass evacuation of Soviet citizens eastward as the German army advanced. In January 1942, Raya-Klara gave birth to their daughter Ina, named after Boris's mother, in Andijon, Uzbekistan. Raya and her baby lived alone, poverty-stricken, Raya eking out a living by selling possessions that she had brought with her from Kiev.
On 7 November 1944, Boris was decorated for bravery during his military service. On 11 December, Boris fell in battle, and was buried in the Trebishov cemetery, today in Slovak territory.
Boris's last letter was sent after he was informed that his wife and daughter had survived and returned to liberated Kiev. Raya and Ina moved from Kiev to Kharkov, where Raya eventually passed away. In 1997, Ina Tabakmacher-Mogilener immigrated to Israel.
In 1998, Ina Mogilener submitted Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem in memory of her father Binyamin Tabakmacher and her maternal grandparents, Eva and Yankel Meshengiesser. In 2011, Ina donated her father's letters, and other documents and photographs to Yad Vashem for posterity as part of the "Gathering the Fragments" campaign.
[1 November 1944]
Darling Rayusik and Inachka,
I was overjoyed to receive your letter sent from our own Kiev, and to read that you are sitting in our room despite the fact that you have much to worry about there, but that can't be helped. Once again, dear Rayusik and Inachka nothing is new at my end. I'm in the midst of the fighting, very far from you. [We] are dealing the cursed fascists a blow, and are advancing towards their hiding place. I have so much to write to you, but all this may not be described or conveyed. I just hope we will stay alive, and that I will reach you alive and well.
Darling Rayusik, don't be especially worried… Look after yourself and our daughter, and slowly you'll work things out. We'll figure out all the rest after the war.
Rayusik, you wrote that I should send you a permit. I will only be able to send it in a few days. Right now it's really impossible to send anything. There is no organized military unit near us at the moment. Yesterday I received a letter from ….. Sebradelovsk and Sofa from Kiev, and she wrote that you reached Kiev and that you decided to stay and live in your room. We owe all this to our dear brother Misha. I am so grateful and indebted to him. How I have longed to see you both, especially my daughter, whom I have never set eyes on. Farewell. I'm signing off. I'll write to you in more detail in a few days, and I'll send you the permit.
Be well, heartfelt kisses,
I kiss and greet all our relatives, a special greeting and kiss for Lubuchka, Lilichka and Lubuchka's parents, Nina Musevna and Lev Markowitz. Give them all regards from me and my warmest wishes and greetings.
2a Gogolavskia St., Apartment 7
To: Meshengiesser D.Y. [daughter of Yaakov]
Military post 73571-d