Isaak Barenboim was born in 1910 Voznesensk, southern Ukraine. In 1926, he began studying at the Odessa shipbuilding school, but then transferred to the Odessa Institute for Construction, graduating in 1930 with a specialty in roads and bridge construction. In early 1930 he served with the Red Army engineering corps and then settled in Kiev.
In 1938, Barenboim was appointed the head of a special unique project – the construction of a tunnel under the Dnieper River. However, the project was abandoned as the tunnel might pose a strategic danger to the USSR and, at the beginning of the Soviet-German war in June 1941, the Soviets destroyed the part of the tunnel that had been completed.
Barenboim was drafted into the Red Army in July 1941. He headed the Second Bridge-Reconstruction Unit, attached to the South-Western Front. The assignment of this unit was to reconstruct damaged bridges on the frontline, sometimes under enemy fire. In some cases, the reconstructed bridges were soon destroyed by the Germans. For example, during the Red Army counter-offensive from Stalingrad in January 1943, Barenboim's bridge unit was ordered to reconstruct a railway bridge over the Don River. The bridge was rebuilt in two months, only to be partially destroyed by a German air raid the next day after the reconstruction work was completed. Barenboim's unit reconstructed the destroyed part again in 16 days. For this work, as well for other similar achievements, Isaak Barenboim was awarded the title of Hero of the Socialist Labor in November 1943. Immediately after this, during the height of the Soviet attempt to cross troops over the Dnieper in November 1943, the command of the Voronezh Front ordered the bridge-reconstruction unit to construct a new railway bridge over the Dnieper in just 20 days only. Barenboim's unit completed this task in 14 days.
In addition to receiving, either during or after the war, two Orders of the Patriotic War, the Order of the Red Star, and other military medals, Barenboim was also awarded the civilian title of Hero of the Socialist Labor. He finished the war with the rank of colonel.
After the war, Barenboim lived in Kiev. He became a leading.bridge builder in the city and, indeed, of the whole Soviet Union. He constructed the Metro-Bridge and other bridges in Kiev and had a major role in the construction of the Paton Bridge – the most important bridge in the city.
Isaak Barenboim died in 1984.