Alexander Barenboim, who held the rank of senior lieutenant, was the secretary of the political department of the Fourth Guards Tank Brigade. He was born in 1916 in Uman, Kiev Province. He was drafted into the Red Army in 1937. From the start of war in 1941 he was at the front. In January 1942 his tank hit a mine and he was seriously wounded. As a result he lost his right eye and to the end of this life he had a hole in his head, which was covered by skin. After being discharged from the hospital, despite the insistence of his doctors, he refused to be demobilized and, instead, returned to his tank brigade.
In August 1942, at the initiative of some tank personnel, including Barenboim, the writer Ilya Ehrenburg was made an honorary Red Army man of one of the crews of the tank brigade. Thus, began a correspondence lasting many years between Barenboim and Ehrenburg. In his memoirs People, Years, Life Ehrenburg wrote:
"… It is difficult for me to explain why I have such pleasure from letters from Ivan Vasil'evich [Chmil] and Alexander Mendelevich [Barenboim]. After all, I only met with them rarely, but their fate concerns me more than the fate of many people whom I have to meet too often."
After the war Alexander Barenboim graduated from the philological faculty of Odessa University and then taught Russian literature at the theater school in Odessa.