Edward Izikson

Edward Izikson.jpgPlease tell us a little about your career.
I am a mechanical engineer by profession, and by experience I am an aircraft designer. After graduating from the Kiev Polytechnic Institute in 1949, I, like other Jews, was sent by Stalin's population transfers to the Far East, to the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where I began working at an aircraft plant. Three years later, I was transferred to an aircraft plant in Saratov. I later worked for the famous aviation company Antonov until my emigration in 2003 to Canada, where our daughter and children already lived.

Where does your family come from?
My maternal grandfather was a Chassidic Jew. I remember him from the age of two or three. He had a beard and dressed in dark clothes typical of the Chassidim. His name was Abram Rossinsky. He lived with his family in the Russian city of Belgorod, not far from the Pale of Settlement. Following a deadly pogrom, during which his family was hiding in the cellar, they were forced to move to the settled zone, as Jews were not allowed to live in Belgorod.
His wife, Manya, was very religious. I loved watching her daily prayer, with her face to the East. My paternal grandfather, Isaak Savelievich Voikhansky, lived in one of the townships in the Poltava region. He was a small trader, selling manufactured goods to the peasants of the surrounding villages. He was well-liked and respected by the locals, so he was quite successful. He passed away in 1940. There were many Jewish books in his house. When we visited him, I did not see him praying, but judging by the books he read, he did it all the time.
My father, Grigory Isaakovich, left school after three years at the age of 9 to begin working as an assistant accountant. During the New Economic Policy (NEP), he worked in private firms as an accountant, and progressed rapidly in his career. When the NEP was canceled, he was hired to work for the government. He was a talented person – despite only having three years of formal education, he rose to the position of Chief Accountant of the Ministry of Chemical Engineering of Ukraine. At this time we lived in Kharkov. When the Ministry came under the jurisdiction of Moscow, my father was transferred to the electromechanical plant KHEMZ, one of the largest enterprises in Ukraine. With the beginning of the war, the plant, and with it our family, was evacuated to Siberia.
My mother, Lia Abramovna, although she was born into a religious family, studied at a secular Russian school. In the mid-1930s, she graduated and became a teacher. During the evacuation, my mother taught German at a local technical school. After the liberation of Kiev, my father was sent to restore the Kiev instrument-making plant.
At the beginning of the war, I was 14 years old. In the spring of 1942, in the Siberian evacuation, I graduated from the 7th grade and, together with my classmates, went to work at my father's plant. The plant was simultaneously under construction and produced military equipment for tanks and submarines. It was there that I received my certification as a locksmith and electrician. I was taught to do my job with the highest quality; our products went to the front, so mistakes were unacceptable. In the future, this focus on quality was very useful to me. Despite my young age at the time, I am a considered a participant in the war, with the status of "home front worker.”

What do you do in your free time?
In Canada, I became interested in the history of the Jewish people, namely the study of the biographies of famous historical figures who, in different periods of history, saved tens of thousands of Jews from destruction and contributed to the prosperity of the Jewish people. I described the life and deeds of twelve people who, in accordance with Yad Vashem's rules, cannot be recognized as the Righteous Among the Nations, since Yad Vashem confers this title exclusively on non-Jews who too risks to save Jews during the Holocaust. The heroes of my stories are Moses, Deborah, a woman judge, one of the seven prophetesses of the era of Judges (12-11 Centuries BCE), Queen Esther, the heroine Yehudit, who saved the Jewish people from the attack of the Assyrian commander Holofernes, the hero of the Chanukah story Yehuda Maccabee, Count Vorontsov, General Franko, writer Ivan Bunin and others. Two years ago, my essay titled “The Canceled Holocaust” about Count Vorontsov was published in the newspaper “Russian Express.” Since this newspaper is also available on the Internet, my article was read in the US, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Israel – and is still being read. More than 13,000 people have already read in only two online publications.
Upon arriving in Canada, I became a practicing Jew; every Shabbat I visit the synagogue.

If you had the opportunity to meet one outstanding personality in history, who would you choose and why?
I would like to talk with Moses, because this brilliant man and the greatest prophet not only was the messenger of the Almighty in the process of creating the Jewish people, but also stood at the origins of modern civilization as a whole.
The second person is Hannah Arendt, an outstanding historian and sociologist, author of the book “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” Having examined the reasons for the emergence of two totalitarian regimes – Stalin's and Hitler’s – she pointed out the objective reasons for the emergence of the Holocaust, the forerunner of which was the famous Dreyfus case.

What are your plans for the future?
I will continue to work on biographies of other great people. Currently, I am writing about the Dreyfus case - the forerunner of the Holocaust. My task is to widely disseminate knowledge about these people, because the people should know their heroes.