Edward Brodsky was born in 1912 in New York City, in a family of Jewish immigrants from Tsarist Russia. The family was politically leftwing and non-religious. In the early 1920s, the Brodskys joined a "commune" that traveled to Soviet Russia to help in the building of socialism. Thus, Edward's father came to Petrograd (subsequently renamed Leningrad, present-day St. Petersburg). A short while later, he moved to Zaporizhzhia, eastern Ukraine, where he worked as a foreman at the "Kommunar" plant, building the first Soviet combine harvester (modeled after an American harvester manufactured by Holt-Caterpillar). Thus, the family did not return to the USA, and the young Eduard completed a Soviet school in 1929, whereupon he began to work at the same "Kommunar" plant.
In 1930, Eduard was sent to the Frunze Naval School in Leningrad, from which he graduated in 1934 with the specialty of submarine navigator. He served in the Baltic Sea, before being transferred to the Black Sea Fleet in 1937. In 1940, he was sent to a course for submarine commanders. He completed this course on July 9, 1941, when the Soviet-German War was already going on. He came to Sevastopol to take command of a submarine. In the course of the war, Brodsky made 22 sorties with his submarine. His first assignments in 1941-42 were mainly reconnaissance missions, and he also transported squads of saboteurs. Later, he would usually be ordered to sink enemy ships. A citation for the Order of the Red Star that was awarded to Brodsky in 1943 speaks eloquently of the dangers of such missions:
"In December 1943, Captain of the 3rd Rank Brodsky… stealthily entered Dvuiakornaia Bay [in the Crimea], which was occupied by the enemy, and sank two enemy mine sweepers that were anchored there. After the attack, he was pursued by the enemy; 32 depth bombs were dropped upon his submarine. With the aft horizontal rudders being jammed, the commander, through skillful maneuvering, managed to lead the boat away from the impact. Captain of the 3rd Rank Brodsky is credited with the sinking of a total of 3 enemy vessels."1
On two occasions, Brodsky had to make extremely dangerous sorties into the Sea of Azov, where the maximum depth is 15 meters, and the maneuverability of submarines is severely limited.
In February 1945, Brodsky participated in the Yalta Conference, officially as a representative of the Black Sea Fleet. In fact, he served as an interpreter to and from English. He would later recall 2 that the U.S. officers at the conference recognized him as a fellow American straight away.
In the course of the war, Edward Brodsky was awarded five orders and a number of medals. He sustained several wounds, and was shell-shocked.
After the war, Brodsky was sent to the Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1948. He went on to teach at naval schools, but was dismissed from the Navy in 1953, at the peak of the Stalinist anti-Jewish campaign. His having been born in America also played a role in his dismissal. He continued to work as a civilian, and lived in Leningrad. Edward Brodsky retired in 1985. In the last years of his life, he began to observe Jewish traditions. He died in 1999.