Jacob Gendin
by Daniel Gendin
a creative image
"The wire stretchers helped the war without shooting" Volodimer Gendin
    Ever since I was young I heard stories about my deceased great grandfather , Jacob Gendin. All I was ever told was that he was a war hero who got to Berlin. Now, after studying about the war in which he fought, I have decided to learn the truth about him.
Jacobs War document
Jacob's War ticket which gives his basic information
Before 1941 Jacob Gendin was a loving family men. He had 4 children, 2 boys, who were Named Ilya (16) and Volodimer (2.5), and 2 daughters named Raya (12) and Sophia (10). All four remember their father as a loving and caring man. Because they lived on the outskirts of the city, they were unaffected by collectivization and were still allowed to own a private home and two pigs. Jacob was a wood worker and was able to provide enough money to make sure that his family lived comfortably. On the 22nd of June the entire Soviet Union learned that Nazi Germany had launched a surprise attack on the Soviet Union. In the middle of July, Jacob was told to come to the nearest recruitment office. In the morning Jacob said goodbye to his family and left... he did not return. Jacob had been drafted in to the Soviet armed forces, where he would work as a phone/ radio wire stretcher. Even when Jacob was at war he never forgot about his family. As the Red Army was retreating through his hometown of Dnepropetrovsk, Jacob requested a day off and went to visit his family. In that visit he told them to evacuate as soon as possible because the Germans were killing every Jew in their grasp.

Jacob And his FriendJacob and his friend
Jacob (left in both pictures) with his friend
Jacob's watch and war ticket
The watch Jacob brought from Berlin along with his war ticket.
In War
Jacob was not a gargantuan patriot of the USSR, and he did not see it as necessary to jump out of his skin for his country. This is evident in the fact that after spending four and a half years in the army he only got to corporal, a rank that others received in months. Jacob was not particularly violent and his job in the army was important but did not require shooting. He did however have several close encounters with the Germans. Once , he and several other people were walking along making sure that the wire had not ripped and they bumped into several Germans who were doing the same thing, both sides turned around and ran away yelling for help. There was another incident in which the matters were more dangerous. Once, the Germans made a large push forward and the Soviets had to hold out against the German attack, in this instance my great grandfather did have to use a gun and he even recalled that he saw at least one German die from his shot. Jacob also got several important assignments but one of them was the most important. Jacob was part of a group of people who were stretching wire so that a phone line could be set up for Joseph Stalin and some of his top commanders. This was a very important assignment and had the wire stretchers failed to establish a secure communication they would all have been court marshalled and maybe even killed. Jacob participated in three major battles and received two awards for these. He took part in taking Berlin and Vienna and also took part in defending the Caucus region. During the storm of Berlin, Jacob took two things as prizes of war, a golden Swiss watch and a coat.
Jacob and friends playing music
Jacob (on the very Left) Playing music with friends.
Jacob with frinds
Jacob (second from the right) spending time with his friends in his free time

New year postcard
A postcard that Jacob sent his family wishing them a happy New Year
As I have already said, Jacob’s family was evacuated. They went to Kirov, which is in Northern Russia and got a small one-room apartment there. Jacob knew his family’s address and wrote many letters to them. His children knew where their father was and what he was doing. Jacob’s older son, Ilya, and wife, Sonia, got jobs at a factory that made supplies for the front. Ilya turned out to be such a good worker that he was not drafted and allowed to continue working at the factory in Kirov. Jacob was part of a family of eleven kids. He and all of his brothers served in the army. The most notable of them was named Israel. Israel was a colonel and served on the eastern front, which was made to defend the Soviet Union from a Japanese invasion. What is interesting about Israel is that even though he was 100% Soviet he was part of the “Voiska Poliska” which, when translated from Polish means “the Polish army.” This is because after the Nazi invasion of Poland, Poland lost its army and power, so, in order to boost international morale and to show that Poland was fighting the Nazis too, the USSR took its own soldiers, dressed them up in Polish uniforms and pretended like they were Polish soldiers.

A letter thanking Jacob For his service
The letter that was sent thanking Jacob for his service.
After The War
After four and a half years of being at war Jacob was allowed to go home. According to his son Volodimer Gendin, “at first he was constantly agitated and nervous.” As soon as he came home he got a job as a worker at a factory and just carried on with life. Because most of the country fought in the war, the Soviet government did not award any benefits for veterans, the only recognition that Jacob got was a letter thanking him for his service and saying that his accomplishments “have been noted by comrade Stalin.” One positive thing did come from the war, Jacob grew much closer to all eleven of his siblings and as his youngest son, Volodimer recalls, “right after the war I would often see my extended family, we went to parties with them.”

Overall Jacob was clearly a hero, and even though I have never actually met Jacob, because he died before I was born, I am proud to be the great grand son of a man who heroically risked his life in order to protect the world from the evil power of Fascism.

Interviw with Volodimer Gendin about Jacob Gendin, interview done by Daniel Gendin. All imiges taken from Volodimer Gendin's personal collection.