Barukh Zeevi was born as Bunie Wolf (later, in Soviet documents, he was registered as Boris) in 1923 in Gliniany, southeastern Poland (now Hlyniany, Ukraine). His parents, Juzef and Frima Wolf, were religiously observant, with the result that Bunie was sent to a heder, an elementary religious school for Jewish boys, at the age of three, instead of four or five as was usual in Eastern Europe. When he grew older, Bunie became a member of the Gordonia Zionist youth movement.
In September 1939, the Germans and the Soviets invaded Poland, and Eastern Galicia, where Gliniany was located, was annexed by the Soviet Union. In June 1941, Operation Barbarossa began and Gliniany was occupied by the German army. The Wolf family failed to escape. Under German occupation, Boris was taken for forced labor and, in 1942, he was incarcerated in the ghetto in the nearby town of Przemyślany (now Peremyshliany, Ukraine). His parents were killed at this time. His father was hung in 1943 in the labor camp where he was incarcerated together with Boris, as one of ten Jewish men who were "executed" to intimidate the other Jewish prisoners. The SS officer who carried out the execution ordered Boris to hang his father with his own hands. Boris refused. As a result he was severely beaten by Ukrainian policemen, but survived. Boris's mother was killed by a Ukrainian neighbor who took her fur coat. Later, when he was a partisan in the forest, Boris managed to find the thief-murderer and killed him. In August of 1943, with about 50 other Jewish men, Boris was taken to a murder site. On the way, the truck that was transporting the victims had an accident and young men were able not only to escape to the forest but also to wrest several rifles from their guards. From the fall of 1943 to the spring of 1944 Boris and his comrades lived in the forest, leading the life of partisans.
In the summer of 1944, the area was recaptured by the Red Army, and Boris and his surviving comrades volunteered to join the Red Army. He became a rifleman on the 1st Ukrainian Front and took part in fighting in the Carpathians. In September 1944, in the course of a poorly prepared Red Army offensive, Boris was seriously wounded. After leaving the hospital in November 1944, Boris might have been released from the Red Army due to his disability but, noting his knowledge of Germans, his superiors thought otherwise and Boris spent the rest of his military service as a military translator. In January 1945, he was wounded again, but continued to serve. He met Victory Day, May 8, 1945, in Berlin.
In 1946 Boris was released from the Red Army. In 1958, when has was married and had two children, he immigrated to Israel, where he became deputy mayor of Natzeret Ilit (Upper Nazareth). In the Jewish state he changed his name to Barukh Zeevi. He died in 1997.
[Based on Zeevi's biography, Barukh Boris Zeevi – ud muzal miesh, complied by his grandson Volf Baruch Boris Zeev (online);
The soldier Boris Wolf in a synagogue in Vienna
In the fall of 1945, while serving as a liaison man of his division, Boris was sent to Red Army headquarters in Vienna. It was Yom Kippur, and he went to a Viennese synagogue to pray. He recalled:
"At 3 p.m. I entered the synagogue. An American officer-rabbi [probably a hazan or cantor] conducted the prayers. Tens of Jews, including military personnel of Western Armies, prayed emotionally. Images of what I had undergone rose before my eyes, and tears fell from my eyes against my will. I cried. All the Jews who were in the synagogue were crying.
The American officer saw me, a Soviet soldier in uniform, the only Russian who was present.
'Do you know Yiddish? ' he asked.
'I am a Polish Jew, I was brought up in a religious family, and I know all the prayers, for all the holidays.'
I told him briefly, what I had gone through.
'My son,' – the officer said, disturbed by my story. 'I would be happy to make your life brighter, to be a substitute father for you. I have no children of my own; it would be good for you at my home in America.'
I pondered. I was only 22 years old. Life was ahead of me, but I had neither home nor family. Besides, America was the dream of every Jew…. But on the other hand… I was the only Jew in my regiment, and I did not want them to think that I had deserted to the Americans. Besides, I still cherished the hope that I would find at least one of my relatives.
I spent the rest of the day until evening in the synagogue. I thought about my fate. I decided to stay. The next morning I returned to my division with my package of papers."
[Vladimir Itkinson, Tak srazhalis' voiny-evrei. Tel-Aviv: Alef, 1993, p. 87]