Arkadii Akkerman was born in 1923 in Odessa as Avrum-Sender Akkerman. Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, his father David owned an apartment building. After the Revolution, he was expropriated, and worked as a tailor. The family was Yiddish-speaking, and moderately religious. After finishing a 7-year Yiddish school, Avrum-Sender began to attend the so-called Yevrabmol – a large Jewish vocational school – which he finished with the diploma of an electric welder. For a short time, he worked at a factory.
In June 1941, the Soviet-German War broke out, and Akkerman's factory switched to a "barracks regime", meaning that the workers could not leave the factory, and they even slept on its premises. Akkerman would later recall that he was motivated not so much by patriotism as by a profound loathing of "fascism", because he knew what this "fascism" had done to Jews in Germany and Poland [O.93/12552]. For this reason, he, together with his peers, attempted to volunteer to enlist in the Red Army. The recruitment office rejected the boys, telling them that they had to wait for an official call-up notice. However, on August 21, 1941, a general mobilization was declared, and Akkerman was drafted. On August 22, the fresh recruits were issued uniforms and rifles (most of them obsolete World War I-era weapons), and, on the next day, without receiving any military training, they were sent to Dalnik, to take part in the defense of Odessa. A few days after arriving in Dalnik, the boys were caught in a barrage of enemy artillery and aircraft fire. After a day and a night of this ordeal, there were only two survivors left, out of a battalion of five hundred newly conscripted boys. Akkerman was one of these two. He managed to find his regiment; with it, he fought in the defense of Odessa. On September 15, 1941, he was wounded, and later evacuated from Odessa by sea.
In the following years, Arkadii Akkerman served with the Southwestern (from October 1943, the 3rd Ukrainian) Front, mainly as a driver. With this front, he took part in the final stages of the Stalingrad operation (January-February 1943), in the Red Army offensive in Ukraine, and later in the liberation of Bessarabia (present-day Moldova). In fall 1944, he participated in the Soviet invasion of Bulgaria. While in Ukraine, he first saw traces of the Nazi mass murders of Jews. In early 1945, he was assigned to the newly formed 422nd Mortar Regiment, once again as a driver. With it, he took part in the takeover of Hungary and Vienna. Arkadii met V-E Day in Linz, Austria. His highest rank during the war was senior sergeant. He was awarded several medals, including the medal "For Courage".
Akkerman was discharged from the army in 1946, and returned to Odessa. He went on to work in the textile industry.
In 1991, Akkerman immigrated to Australia, in the footsteps of his children. He settled in Sydney, and was active in associations of Jewish World War II veterans.
Arkadii Akkerman died in 1998.