Aba Davidovich Kaviner was born in 1921 in the town of Derazhnya, Ukraine. His father, Duvid (b. 1889), worked as a barrel maker and his mother, Ester, was a housewife. He had two siblings: Milke (b. 1920) and Shmilikl.
Kaviner received a double education in his youth, graduating from a Soviet Yiddish school, while simultaneously attending first a "kheyder" (elementary boys' religious school) and a Talmud Torah (religious school for older boys) and later a yeshiva. Kaviner completed a Soviet Yiddish school in 1939 just before it was closed. At 19 years of age, he was drafted into the Red Army, a year before the Great Patriotic War broke out.
Kaviner received his higher education in Leningrad in a military school. After finishing school in Leningrad, he served as an aviation engineer in the army, during the first days of the war in the Baltic republics and soon thereafter in Moscow. In Moscow, he participated in a parade in front of Stalin. Over the course of his eight years' service, he received many awards and medals. He was demobilized in 1946.
In the immediate postwar period, Kaviner returned to Derazhnya, where he found that all his childhood friends and entire family were killed in the war. Soon thereafter, in 1947, he moved to Khmel'nyts'kyy, where he got married and had a daughter. After the war, Kaviner worked as a wood technician/carpenter. Kaviner's wife died in 2003.
Before the war, Kaviner published a few poems in the journal "Der Shtern". After the war, he also wrote two novels in Yiddish about Jewish life before the war and during the evacuation, but later burned these works as he was afraid of being sent to prison if someone found that he was writing in Yiddish.
Photographer: Artur Frątczak