Vladimir Gordon was born on January 21, 1924 in a little village in Gradizhsk, Poltavsky Oblast, Ukraine and due to communism, there were no Jewish traditions or religion in his family’s household. Vladimir’s father was hardworking and participated in the Red Army. Soon after completing the 10th grade, Vladimir wanted to join the army to participate in the war front along with many other young students, he wasn’t even 18 years old. There were 17 young men in his graduating class. On July 25, 1941 all of them voluntarily applied to Soviet Army’s corps to fight against Nazis and to defend their country. Unfortunately, only 3 of them including Vladimir survived the war.
The Nazis had destroyed Vladimir’s family house and stole all of their possessions. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the WWII, the Soviet Army suffered many casualties. Short-term military study courses were established to teach young men such as Vladimir to fight against the Nazis and to lead a group of solders. Vladimir was drafted to the Soviet Red Army in August, 1941. He studied to be a lieutenant at the short-term military school and in March, 1942 was sent to the Voronezhsky Front to fight the Nazis. He served as a commander of a machine-gun troop. He faced many difficulties during the war. He had a near fatal incident and ended up in a hospital in Borjomi, Georgia for 3 months. He also participated in active war actions on the Central Front, and the Second and the Third Ukrainian Fronts as well. As a member of the Soviet Red Army, he helped liberate Belgrade (Yugoslavia) Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), and Prague (Czechoslovakia). During the war he was wounded twice. His memory still stores the episodes of bloody, brutal battles in Voronezh, Orel, Kursk; attacks and Dnepr, Dniester, Danube Rivers crossing operations and taking Crimea Peninsula by assault. At one point he fought on the front despite an arm injury. In July 1945, his 109 Division was relocated to Mongolia where he participated in military operations against Japan as a commander of a machine-gun troop. In his memory, Vladimir often recalls the 17 young graduates who fought Nazis and those of them whom lost their lives in this brutal war.
When the war ended with Japan, he returned to the Soviet Union and ended up getting married. After serving in the war, he wished to complete his education and earn a profession so he left to Odessa, Ukraine with his wife. Vladimir completed his college education, worked successfully as a policeman, and eventually worked as head of the police for 16 years; he received many awards and medals for his work. Eventually laws were passed in the Soviet Union prohibiting Jews from holding high positions so he was forced to retire earlier, despite being only 50 years old.
Vladimir’s daughter graduated from a Technical Institute, however she faced job obstacles due to being Jewish. Eventually his daughter emigrated to the United States in 1999 and Vladimir and his wife followed in 2002. Today, he is a volunteer who is donating his time to the Bensonhurst community. He is a leader of WWII Veterans Group, is actively participating in Holocaust History project and shares his stories as a war veteran with the youth.