Aleksandr Nekrich was born in 1920 in Baku. His parents were journalists.
After finishing high school, Aleksandr began to study at the Faculty of History of Moscow State University, from which he graduated in 1941, shortly before the outbreak of the Soviet-German War. Aleksandr Nekrich was sent to active duty only a year later, in 1942, being assigned to a Guards Army. In 1943, he joined the Communist Party.
In addition to taking part in combat, Nekrich also interrogated POWs and engaged in oral propaganda among enemy troops. He was awarded the Order of the Red Star twice – in 1943 and 1944.
In September 1945, Aleksandr Nekrich was discharged from the army in the rank of captain.
He returned to Moscow and began to work at the History Institute, where he earned a candidate's degree, followed by a doctorate 14 years later. Aleksandr Nekrich's enjoyed a rather successful career. He engaged in research and wrote pieces of journalism. In addition, he also served as secretary of the Party Organization at the Institute. The troubles began after the publication of his book June 22, 1941 in 1965. In it, Nekrich drew on documentary evidence to demonstrate the unpreparedness of the Soviet Union to the German invasion, and raised the question of the responsibility for this unpreparedness. The author also pointed out the similarities between the regimes in the two countries. In the 1960s, Soviet society was wracked by a controversy between the liberal intelligentsia and the former Stalinists, which touched on numerous issues, including the war. Against this backdrop, Nekrich's book made a considerable stir and drew the ire of the Soviet authorities. Nekrich was expelled from the Party and threatened with revocation of his doctoral degree. While he was not fired from the Institute because of his fame abroad, he was virtually banned from publishing new works. Furthermore, his superiors confined him to studying "general history", denying him the ability to engage with the history of his own country.
In 1975, Nekrich completed his book The Punished Peoples, which detailed the tragic fate of the repressed Soviet minorities. Knowing full well that such a title would never be published in the USSR, Nekrich managed to smuggle the manuscript abroad (it would first be published in Russian in the Neva magazine in 1993).
Only in 1976 was Nekrich able to leave the USSR with an Israeli visa. Initially, he worked in London, and then moved to America, where he enjoyed success and recognition. Back in the Soviet Union, his book on 1941 was removed from libraries and destroyed.
In the US, Nekrich worked at the Russian Research Center at Harvard University and served as editor of Obozrenie (a supplement to the Russkaya Mysl magazine). He continued to write on Soviet topics.
Aleksandr Nekrich died in Boston in 1993.