Isaak Gofman was born in 1894, according to his military records in Mogilev, Belorussia. He lived in the town of Krasnopolie, 100 kilometers southeast of Mogilev. He was drafted into the Red Army at the end of July 1941 – a month after the beginning of the Soviet-German war. His family did not succeed in fleeing eastward and remained under German occupation.
Gofman was assigned to the Western Front as a sapper with the 49th Engineers Brigade and, in that capacity, took part in the defense of Moscow in the fall of 1941. In September of that year he was wounded. Although the wound was not serious, due to his "advanced age" of 47, after being released from hospital Gofman was returned to the same brigade, but as a military tailor (he was promoted to the rank of corporal [iefreitor]). His unit fought in western Russia and the Baltics. In 1944, Gofman was awarded the For Battle Merit medal and later, retroactively, the medal "For the Defense of Moscow." In the same year, he learned that his family – his wife and their adult daughter and ill son had been killed by the Germans. Stunned, he wrote a letter to Ilya Ehrenburg, in which he stressed the imperative of taking revenge.
Isaak's younger brother Mote Gofman (who was born in 1905) was a lieutenant-colonel in the Red Army and deputy commander for political matters (a "zampolit") of an infantry regiment. Mote ended the war in Germany. He was awarded two Orders of the Patriotic War. Mote died in 1980.
In 1985, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II, Isaak Gofman was awarded by the Soviet authorities his only military order. The year of his death is not known.