Ion Lazarevich Degen

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Ion Lazarevich Degen
Nickname(s) Lucky
Born (1925-06-04) 4 June 1925 (age 91)
Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Ukrainian SSR, Ukraine
Allegiance Red Army flag.svg Red Army
Years of service 1941–1945
Rank Guard Lieutenant
Awards order of the Red Banner, order of the "World War" (1 st degree), two orders of the "World War" (2nd degree), medal "For Valour", the Polish order "Virtuti Militari", "Cross of Grunwald" and Renaissance Poland as well as medals.
Other work Medical doctor, writer

Ion Lazarevich Degen (Russian: Ион Лазаревич Деген; 4 June 1925, Mohyliv-Podilskyi) – writer, doctor and medical scientist in the field of orthopedics and traumatology, tank ace during the World War II. Doctor of Medicine (1973).


Early years[edit]

Ion Lazarevich Degen was born in 1925 in the town of Mogilev-Podolsky (Ukraine) in the family of paramedics. His mother worked in a hospital as a nurse. At the age of 12 Ion began working as an assistant blacksmith. On 15 June 1941 he completed the ninth grade and started working as a counselor at a summer camp.

During World War II[edit]

In July 1941 Ion joined the Red Army as a volunteer. He fought in the 130th Infantry Division. At that time he got his first wound and was sent to the Poltava Hospital. He got lucky since he was able to avoid amputation of his legs.

On 15 June 1942 he volunteered to enroll in the Department of Intelligence of the 42nd battalion of armored trains (stationed in Georgia). This division consisted of two armored trains – "Siberian" and "Railroader of Kuzbass". The task for the division was to protect areas of the Mozdok and Beslan. Ion Degen became commander of the reconnaissance units. On 15 October 1942 he was wounded again while performing a mission behind the enemy lines.

After getting discharged from the hospital be became a cadet of the 21st training tank regiment in the city of Shulaveri. Later, he was transferred to the first Kharkov Tank School (in the city of Chirchik). In Spring of 1944 he graduated with honors and received the rank of a Junior Lieutenant.

In June 1944, Ion was appointed to be a commander of a tank during the 2nd Guards Tank Brigade (commanded by Colonel Yefim Evseyevich Dukhovniy). After a summer 1944 in Belarus and Lithuania, for his survival he got a nickname "Lucky." Thereafter he became a commander of a tank platoon of (T-34-85). Ion is one of the Soviet tank aces: during participation in combat operations as part of the 2nd Guards tank brigade crew he personally destroyed 12 German tanks (including one Tiger, 8 Panthers) and 4 self-propelled guns (1 Ferdinand), and several guns, machine guns, mortars and soldiers.

Awarded the order of the Red Banner, order of the "World War" (1st degree), two orders of the "World War" (2nd degree), medal "For Valour", the Polish order "Virtuti Militari", "Cross of Grunwald" and Renaissance Poland as well as medals.

Ion has suffered multiple burns and four injured, in which he got twenty-two (22) fragments and bullets. The latest injury on 21 January 1945 resulted in a severe disability.

Degen was nominated to the rank of the Hero of the Soviet Union. Twice. And twice was dismissed because he was Jewish.[1]

A physician and writer[edit]

After demobilization from the army Ion decided to become a doctor: "seeing the noble deed of doctors saving lives of wounded soldiers, I decided to also become a doctor. And have never regret the choice of this profession.[2]"

In 1951 he graduated from Chernovtsy Medical Institute and began to work (before the year of 1954) as an orthopedist – traumatologist in Kiev Orthopedic Institute. He worked as a trauma orthopedist in hospitals in Kiev till 1977.

On 18 May 1959 he conducted the first medical practice replantation of limbs – the forearm.[3] In 1965 in the CITO (Moscow) he successfully defended his candidate dissertation on "Non-free bone graft in a round stem". In 1973 in the surgical board 2-nd Moscow Medical Institute, defended his doctoral dissertation on "The therapeutic effect of magnetic fields in some diseases of the musculoskeletal system" – the first in the world medical doctoral thesis on magnetic therapy. He is an author of more than 90 scientific articles. He was guiding eight people with their PhD work and two students with their doctoral theses.

In 1977 immigrated to Israel, where for more than 20 years he continues to work as an orthopedist. He is part of the editorial Board of the popular magazine "Voice of disabled war", permanent consultant in Beit Aloha (a club for the disabled veterans). He is an expert on the Torah, Tanakh and modern philosophy. The only Soviet tank crewman, enrolled in the commonwealth of Israel tankers distinguished heroism.

In addition to medicine, in his spare time, he enjoys writing books. Author of books "From the house of bondage", "Verses from the tablet", "Immanuel Velikovsky", "Portraits of Teachers", "War never ends", "Holograms", "Nonfictional stories about the incredible", "Four years", "Poems" "Heirs of Aesculapius". author of short stories and essays published in magazines of Israel, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, USA and other countries.


Medical Publications[edit]

Artistic and historical publications[edit]

  • Ion Degen From the house of bondage. – Israel: Moriah, 1986.
  • Ion Degen Portraits of my teachers. – Tel-Aviv: 1992.
  • Ion Degen The war never ends. – Israel: 1995.
  • Ion Degen Holograms. – Israel: 1996.
  • Ion Degen Immanuel Velikovsky. – Phoenix, 1997. – S. 544. – (Trace in history.) – ISBN 5-222-00096-6
  • Ion Degen Nonfictional stories of incredible. – Israel: 1998.
  • Ion Degen The four years. – Israel: 1999.
  • Ion Degen The black & white kaleidescope. – Hanover: 2009.
  • Ion Degen Notes of a Lieutenant. – Kiev: Publishing of Rainbow, 2009. (Republished in 2010)
  • Ion Degen Heirs of Asclepius.
  • Ion Degen Verses from the tablet Lieutenant Ion Degen.

The poem "My friend"[edit]

Written in December 1944:[4]

Мой товарищ, в смертельной агонии
Не зови понапрасну друзей.
Дай-ка лучше согрею ладони я
Над дымящейся кровью твоей.
Ты не плачь, не стони, ты не маленький,
Ты не ранен, ты просто убит.
Дай на память сниму с тебя валенки.
Нам ещё наступать предстоит.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko called these eight lines brilliant, stunning in a brutal force of truth.[5] And have written a four lines reaction to the above poem:

Что сделал стих Иона Дегена?
Разрезал он острее автогена
все то, что называется войной,
треклятой, грязной, кровной и родной.


  1. ^ Говорят ветераны (video) (Russian)
  2. ^ Автобиографическое интервью на сайте «Я помню»
  3. ^ "Хирургия", 1970, 11
  4. ^ Деген И. Всё у меня не по уставу // Радуга. 2007, № 5/6. С.5–15.
  5. ^ У победы лицо настрадавшееся. Е. Евтушенко. Новая газета. № 33 12 мая 2005 г.