Dov Dvorkind was born in the shtetl of Dokszyce in 1918. Between 1921 and 1939, the town belonged to Poland (it is now in Belarus). In the 1930s, he was a member of Hashomer Hatzair, a leftist Zionist movement, and in 1939 studied at a kibbutz hahshara, a training center for life in the Land of Israel. The outbreak of World War II and the Soviet occupation of Dokszyce in September 1939 put an end to his studies, as well as to his plans to immigrate to the Land of Israel.
Under the Soviets, Dov found some administrative work. However, with the German attack on the Soviet Union, the office where he worked was evacuated eastward. Dov took this as a sign that the situation was serious and that he too should leave the area. However, his mother and younger siblings refused to flee: Dov's father Avraham had been arrested by the Soviets, and they did not want to leave without him. Dov joined a group of his relatives, and with them, succeeded in reaching the Novosibirsk region of Siberia. There he worked as a bookkeeper for a state agricultural establishment (sovkhoz).
Dov Dvorkind received several call-ups to the Red Army, but by the end of 1943, all of them were considered "unreliable" since he was a "westerner", i.e. a person coming from the recently annexed territories, and the Soviet authorities did not trust him. However, the call-up he received at the end of the year was valid. Dov underwent military training and was assigned to a Siberian infantry division deployed in southwestern Ukraine that was preparing to force the Southern Bug and Dniester Rivers. In the spring of 1944, he took part in the forcing of the Dniester and fought in Bessarabia (now Moldova) and eastern Romania. While in Bessarabia, like a number of other soldiers, Dov fell ill with malaria and spent some time in the Homefront. He then returned to his division and took part in the Red Army's Jassy–Kishinev Offensive of August 1944. When Romania changed sides and became a Soviet ally, Dvorkind was transferred to Bulgaria, where he was occupied with staff work. Later he recalled his staff service in relatively peaceful Bulgaria, with its friendly population, as a period of rest.
It was in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria that, by fortunate chance, Dvorkind met some local Jews who were members of Hashomer Hatzair. These Zionist activists suggested that he illegally cross the border to Turkey, and from there make his way to the Land of Israel. Dov rejected this idea because he did not want to leave behind his elder brother, who was also fighting in the Red Army. It was suggested to him that he could write a letter, ostensibly not from him but from some Bulgarian Jew, to his sister in Palestine. Dov agreed to that.
At the end of 1944 Dvorkind was sent to an officers' course and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. He took part in battles in Hungary and in the capture of Vienna in 1945. It was in Vienna that he met Victory Day.
Dov Dvorkind was awarded several medals, including ones For the liberation of Bulgaria and For the Capture of Vienna.
His mother and two younger siblings perished in the Holocaust. His father survived since his Soviet arrest and imprisonment in the Gulag saved his life.
In 1946, Dvorkind was released from the Red Army and submitted a request for repatriation to Poland (since he was a former Polish citizen). After a short stay in Łódź, Poland, he left the country through the channels of the clandestine Brikha organization. His ship of illegal immigrants was intercepted by the British in March 1948. Due to his detention in Cyprus Dvorkin arrived in Israel only in February 1949. He settled on kibbutz Hamaapil.
Dov Dvorkind died in 1995.
[based partly on his book of memoirs Dov Dvorkin, Pitulei dereh. Tel Aviv: Yaron Golan, 1989]
Antisemitic remarks by Russian soldiers
"By chance, I overheard a conversation between soldiers regarding this issue [Jews in combat]. Among other things, one of them said: 'The Jews are just like the Gypsies, they have no state and are dispersed throughout the world.' He meant that the Jews were unable to establish a state of their own and to defend it. I interrupted and said that the situation would change soon. 'Do you mean to say that the Jews will have a state?' – the same soldier asked with doubt in his voice. I gritted my teeth and [at first] said nothing. However, I could not stop at this point and said: 'The Jews gave the world the Bible and contributed to progress in all fields, more than any other people that does have a state.' Then, they gritted their teeth and were silent…."
[Dov Dvorkin, Pitulei dereh. Tel Aviv: Yaron Golan, 1989, p. 40]