David Gorkin was born in 1920 in Gomel, Belorussia. In his youth he took part in amateur Yiddish theater in his town. One of his roles was that of a warrior of Bar Kokhba in the eponymous play by Abraham Goldfaden and Shmuel Halkin. Later, during the war, at the front he kept a photograph of himself as a warrior of Bar Kokhba in a pocket of his uniform.
After the beginning of the Soviet-German war in June 1941, Gorkin was drafted into the Red Army. He was assigned to a separate reconnaissance company of the 38th Guards Infantry Division in the capacity of assistant political commissar of the company. With his division Gorkin fought in the Northern Caucasus in 1942 and, from September 1942, on the Don Front, near Stalingrad. Despite his position as political commissar, Private Gorkin often went on reconnaissance missions in enemy held territory.
In August 1942, with a group of other scouts, Gorkin was sent into enemy territory to scatter anti-Nazi propaganda leaflets. On the way he found a cache of German hand grenades and proposed to the commander of the group that they make use of them. The commander agreed and, with another soldier, Gorkin separated from the group, with these grenades, crawled close to an enemy trench and threw them in. Both of the soldiers then returned to their group. For this valiant act Gorkin was awarded the For Courage medal.
Sergeant David Gorkin was killed during the fighting for Dnepropetrovsk, in Ukraine, in October 1943. He was buried in a common grave.
From an article on David Gorkin prepared for the Moscow Yiddish newspaper Eynikayt in August 1942
"No one has penetrated so far into enemy territory as Gorkin. No one can sneak so silently and unnoticed to the Germans rear and return so quickly from there with necessary information like Gorkin […]
I looked in amazement at Gorkin's photograph: the courageous and noble face of an ancient Jewish warrior, wearing an iron helmet seemed to look back at me. Under the picture was the caption 'Bar-Kokhba.' David Gordon was [pictured] there on a theater stage as one of the heroes of the Bar Kokhba war […] opposing the enslavers of his people – the Romans.
[…] A courageous son of the Jewish people, man of the guards David Gorkin is fighting against the archenemy of his people, as well as of all the freedom-loving peoples, just like his valiant ancestor Bar-Kokhba fought against the subjugators. The Guardsman Gorkin is defending his own freedom and that of his people's and of his Soviet Motherland. He is defending the honor of his people and its very life. The Guardsman Gorkin will be victorious."