Arie Ben-Tuvia was born in 1924 as Lev Kantorovich. In June 1941, when Operation Barbarossa began, he was an apprentice at a vocational school in Bobruisk, Belorussia, where he was learning to repair machine tools. Despite being only 17, Lev Kantorovich was drafted into the Red Army and took part in its retreat eastward in the summer of 1941. He recalled that on the way many non-Jewish Belorussian draftees defected from the Red Army, running home to their villages: "Jews were the most disciplined. Not because they had nowhere to run away [but because] they knew what would have been their lot under the Germans."1
With his column, Lev Kantorovich arrived in the Moscow Region, where he underwent training as a paratrooper. At the beginning of 1942, he took part in the landing behind enemy lines in the Smolensk Region, in western Russia, to help rescue the cavalry corps of General Belov from enemy encirclement. Later, he took part in the defense of Moscow and in the Red Army counter-offensive from Moscow. After that, Platoon Commander Sergeant Kantorovich was sent for training as a demolition expert ("saboteur").
In July 1944, a unit of paratroop saboteurs, which included Kantorovich, was landed in Poland, in the Lublin Voivodship (administrative region). He was seriously wounded in combat and his left arm was amputated. He was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd Class.
After the war, Lev Kantorovich began to prepare for immigration to Israel. He managed to obtain Hebrew textbooks from Israel and studied Hebrew. Subsequently he taught the language in various cities across Western Ukraine.
In 1972, Lev Kantorovich finally succeeded in immigrating to Israel, where he Hebraized his name to Arie Ben-Tuvia. In 1975, he became the chairman of the Committee of the Disabled War Veterans of Nazareth Illit.
Arie Ben-Tuvia died in Nazareth Illit in 2012.
- 1. Lev Ovsishcher et al., Tak srazhalis' voiny-ievrei. Tel-Aviv, 1993, p. 27