"A soldier is a grain of sand, or even smaller, against the background of the millions who fought. Victory belongs to everyone.”

Pavel Abramovich Elkinson
Zaporozhye, Ukraine.  2009


In the context of World War II, where hundreds of millions of soldiers fought, the efforts and experiences of a single soldier are indeed comparable to a grain of sand, nearly invisible. Yet without a single grain, the war’s outcome could have been disastrously different. While a historical narrative cannot be written on the basis of one experience, the contribution of each was essential to the final victorious outcome. Every individual experienced the war differently, influenced by infinite layers of circumstance, resulting from personality, background, and environment. These individual experiences, moments at the front, are the human moments of the war. They are the moments that no matter what our own circumstances might be, we can relate to, as they are simply human. They transcend time and place, and evoke reactions that are timeless; emotions of joy and sorrow, fear, bravery, disillusionment and love.

Based on video interviews with 1,100 Jewish soldiers who fought in the Soviet Red Army, thousands of letters and diary pages, and beautiful war-time postcards, the Blavatnik Archive is excited to share with you some of these incredible human moments of the men and women who were there. Each month a story will unfold, whether from an interview, a photograph or a letter. We hope you enjoy and ask you to share your comments: historical, personal and emotional.

Julie Chervinsky