Grigorii (Gershon-Ber) Preisman was born in 1900 in the old Jewish village of Kodlubitse in Kiev Province, Ukraine. The fact that he studied at a commercial college in Kiev entitled him to live in that city, which was otherwise closed for Jewish residence before the first Russian revolution of 1917. His father, who his last years drove a horse-drawn cab, died when Gershon-Ber was 17. Thus, the lad had to stop his studies and work at a mill in order to feed the six members of his family.
In 1919 Preisman volunteered to join the newly established Red Army. He completed a short artillery course and was placed in command of a unit that fought on the Western Front during the Soviet–Polish war of 1919-1921.
In 1930 Preisman graduated from the Frunze Military Academy, specializing in tank warfare. In 1938 he participated in the fighting against Japan at Lake Khasan and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
In 1941 Preisman graduated from the Academy of the General Staff, which prepared senior commanders for the Red Army. When war broke out on June 22, 1941, he held the rank of colonel and served as the chief of staff of the Mechanized and Tank Department of the Leningrad (North-Western) Front. In July 1943 he became a major-general and the chief of staff of the 2nd Tank Army. Preisman fought in the Battle of Kursk, the biggest tank battle of the Second World War. Shmuel Persov wrote the article "General Preisman and His Family" that was sent in September 1944 to several Jewish newspapers and telegraph agencies abroad. Persov emphasized the military abilities of this "son of a Jewish farmer, who later became a cabbie." Among other things the article said: "Preisman then figured out three options for a possible enemy advance. One of them coincided exactly with reality, as if Preisman or one of his people had been there [hearing what was said] at enemy headquarters. This greatly helped delivering to the enemy a major destructive blow, now known to the whole world" (GARF 8114-1-190, copy YVA JM/26155).
Grigorii Preisman was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 1st class, and the Order of Kutuzov, 2nd class, as well as other military honors.
After the war, in 1946 and 1947 he commanded the tank forces of a military district. From 1946 to 1950 Preisman was the assistant commander of a faculty of the Academy of Tank and Mechanized Forces. He retired from the army in 1950.
His first son, Georgii, also fought in the war as tank officer. He fought in Ukraine, in Poland, and in Germany. He was seriously wondered once but returned to combat. Lieutenant Georgii Preisman was awarded four honors during the war. After the war he became a general in the tank forces.
Grigorii's other son, David, the commander of an artillery division, was killed in battle during the war.
Grigorii Preisman died in 1973 in Moscow.