Story by Keren-Or Rosenbaum
Photo by Keren-Or Rosenbaum
"For each memory of the war, I wrote a song" Yefim Mankin tells me, he is wearing a medal-wearing suit and has a guitar strapped on his chest.
Yefim was born on August 22, 1923 in Belarus. On June 21, 1941, he graduated from high school with outstanding honors, and the next day the war broke out. Because he was not yet 18, he wasn't eligible to enlist in the army, so he fled with his parents to the east. A year later he was drafted into the army and because of his superior education "Everything was a hundred percent in me", he was placed in the radioactive artillery. He was not ashamed and didn't conceal his being a Jew.
"Even during the war, I played for soldiers to raise their morale."
At the age of 96, he still breaks into song, a song about the siege of Leningrad, he says: "Franco, the ruler of Spain sent the 'Blue Brigade' to help Hitler in Leningrad and we put the radioactive mines along the neutral border," he says. "Each one a 96-pound mine. The blue division has been completely wiped out." On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the release of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 2019, he received a new medal, in honor of his part in preventing the Blue Division's offensive attack. He served in the army for five years. "When the war ended, I felt reborn, so on Victory day, May 9th I celebrate my second birthday" he says.
After the war, he completed a degree in physics and mathematics and taught these fields alongside astronomy and electronics. He immigrated to Israel in 1990 and currently lives in Acre. Just before we part ways, he shows me an autobiography he wrote called "Pillars of Life." At the opening, Yefim wrote a poem which he said he would like to be engraved on his tombstone after his death: All I have I lived and all I knew, I learned, loved, laughed and sang,
I never betrayed my friends, and I fought bravely against fascism.
So please, as the years go by, remember me, my grandchildren!"