With an introduction and epilogue narrated by Sixty Minutes correspondent Morley Safer, here is a story, produced by Brad Rothschild and Gustavo Villalonga in New York, of a Soviet Jewish soldier from the Ukrainian city of Odessa.
Arnold Fabrikant introduces us to his parents, who were both doctors. When war came, Arnold's father served as surgeon in Kiev, and rather than be taken prisoner by the Germans, shot himself. While Arnold's mother fled to Central Asia during the war, Arnold served in an artillery unit and fought all the way to the center of Berlin.
At war's end, Arnold went looking for his girlfriend Natasha. When they married, they were so poor Arnold had only his army uniform; Nathasha's shoe soles were made of wood.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Arnold became an active member in the Front Line Veteran's Committee, where elderly Jewish veterans meet each month and talk of the times when these Jews fought the Nazis-- and won.
JEWISH LIFE IN THE SOVIET UNION
There has been a Jewish presence in Ukraine since Greek traders settled there BCE. Jewish life in Ukraine has been marked by intermittent periods of tolerance and persecution: read about Ukranian Jewish history here.
Arnold joined the Soviet Army in 1941. Following Germany's violation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the Soviet Union joined the Allied powers and took up arms against the Axis Alliance. The Soviet-German War began with the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, resulting in great destruction and loss of life.
Soviet-Anglo forces invaded and occupied Berlin in 1945, signalling the end of the war in Europe. Part of the terms of peace was that Germany would be occupied by the former Allied powers: at the Potsdam Conference, representatives of the Soviet Union met with those of Britain, France, and America. Together they divided Germany (and within that, Berlin) into four zones of occupation, where each power would oversee government and administration. Read about life in divided Berlin here.