Interview recorded:Lviv, Ukraine
The interview was recorded by Kateryna Klymenko.
Unfortunately last year my grandfather passed away, which is why I no longer have the opportunity to take the interview. His name was Semion Gelman. He was a Jew who survived the siege of Leningrad. He was born on October 15, 1927 in Leningrad. I don’t know much about his life, and the information I am going to present is everything I could find. Unfortunately I don’t know anything else.
As far as I know, there were three children in the family, he was the oldest. He is my mom’s dad. When he was alive, he did not speak much of the war. It was traumatic and painful for him. I think it would be so for many people. Therefore the information is scarce.
How exactly was he connected to the WWII?
He survived the siege of Leningrad. That’s where his family lived and where he was born. There are only two, wait three things I know.
There was a situation when he almost died. The doctor said that he died. His body was taken away to be buried. He woke up on the way to the burial site. Maybe his pulse was weak. I do not know.
The other situation: my mother told me that he did not eat holodets. He could not eat it because it reminded him of the war. I think this is due to the fact that they were cooking something … they tried to cook during the famine.
As far as I know, he was shell-shocked which caused hearing loss in one ear. During the liberation of the city, the bomb landed next to him, he was thrown by the blast wind of the explosion. These are, in fact, all the memories about the war.
After the war… I know that after the war he studied History, Archaeology if I am not mistaken. In 1949 The Department of History was closed because of the repressions. I know that he also studied in the city of Alma-Ata, I’m not sure if I that’s the correct pronunciation of the name [Almaty – Kazakhstan today]. There he studied Acting – his first major. His second career was teaching Russian and History. After the war he lived in Korkino, Chelyabinsk region [Russia today]. He taught language and history at a technical school.
Later he moved to Crimea, where he got acquainted with my grandmother. I also know that he was a good lawyer. Even though he had no legal education, he was known as a decent lawyer.
I think the war had a severe impact on his life. In one way or another everyone suffered in the aftermath of war. Yet… My grandfather was an extremely sincere person, he taught me to love in the first place, love as a life philosophy. I did not have enough time to talk to him. In 2000, together with my grandmother he moved to Israel, where they lived till death.