Where did you come from to Canada?

From Dnepropetrovsk.

What is your profession?

I am the editor-in-chief of one of the popular publishing houses, Dnipro-VAL, which I established twenty years ago and which I still manage. You are the co-author of the "Book of Memory of Jewish Warriors and Victims of the Holocaust of Dnepropetrovsk".

Please tell us how this unique book came about.

It all started with the fact that three war veterans in Dpopropetrovsk – Matvei Zaraisky, Ilya Boginsky and Nathan Kopelyan – started an organization to provide assistance to veterans, and to promote awareness about the participation of Jews in the Great Patriotic War. In 2001, the first and the second volumes of the "Memory Book" came out, focusing on the Jewish soldiers who were killed and wounded in the war, which received a lot of public attention in Ukraine, Russia and Israel. Later came volumes three and four, which detailed the Jews shot by the Germans in Dnepropetrovsk.

The issue of "Memory Books" required the participation of professionals in their publication, and veterans involved journalists from the local publishing house "Dnepr -VAL". So I was in the thick of things. We decided that the publication of four volumes should form the basis of one whole edition, and to the 70th anniversary of the Victory a huge book was published. It included all the names of the Jewish participants of the Second World War that fell at the fronts, missing, as well as a list of Jews shot by Germans and policemen in the local Botanical Garden. I would like to tell you about the warrior who came from the famous Schneerson family of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The book contains an essay by his son, Boris Slutsky, a graduate of the Dnepropetrovsk Medical Academy, who told about his father. In June 1942, the platoon in which Schneerson was at war was entrusted with ensuring the crossing of the retreating units of the Red Army across the Don. Above the crossing, Hitler's planes circled, firing, so they mostly moved under cover of night. The days and nights passed under unimaginable tension, without adequate sleep or food.

The platoon commander sent three men, including Schneerson, to the village on the other side of the river to determine how they could cross to that shore, and to find out if there were any Germans in the village. They found some old dried up boat full of holes that they plugged with the remains of rotten boards, and sailed to the other side. It turned out that there were no Germans in the village. But at the moment when they headed out with backpacks of breads and some food, there was a roar of motors and several German tanks and a column of motorcyclists entered the village from both sides. The Germans put a post on the outskirts of the village. The soldiers lay down in the weeds without raising their heads. And then Schneerson said: "There are three of us and three guards. We shoot simultaneously and run to the forest, and from there we will make our way to the river. " Three shots fire in unison and the three fascists fell to the ground. But the soldiers also did not reach the forest, as a German tank and three motorcyclists rolled out onto a hilltop. The Nazis opened heavy fire. Schneerson decided that he would distract the Germans while the other two soldiers made their way across the river. He jumped into the water and got the attention of the Germans by diving and splashing around. The two other soldiers meanwhile made their way to the boat and pushed it quietly into the water as they ducked inside. To the Germans it looked like an old boat adrift, and they ignored it. They turned their machine gun fire to Schneerson when they realized he was attempting to swim across the river. They couldn’t keep up with him though, and he kept submerging and emerging in unexpected places. He hid under some reeds and stayed still for a while, convincing the Germans that they had killed him, before making his way to shore. So they expedition ended successfully albeit with some damp food.