Kolpanitskii Kopl was born in 1926 in the shtetl of Łachwa in Polish Polesia (now Lakhva, in southern Belarus). His father Yitzhak was the owner of a sawmill and of a flourmill (as a secondary business). When the Soviets annexed this territory to the Soviet Union in September 1939, he was declared a capitalist, his mills were nationalized, and Yitzhak was deported to the Urals. The Soviet deportation, in fact, saved his life: he survived World War II, whereas his wife Pesia, two sons Moyshe and Elhonon, and daughter Ida perished in German-occupied Łachwa. Kopl studied at the Yavneh religious Hebrew school and was a member of Beitar, a right-wing Zionist organization. In 1939, with the coming of the Soviets, his school was transformed into a Russian school.
During the German occupation of Polesia from 1941 to 1944, a ghetto was established in Łachwa. The Kolpanitskii family was interned in it. Łachwa's was the first ghetto of World War II where the inmates put up resistance to the Nazi operation to annihilate the ghetto with all its inhabitants. In September 1942, the Jews of Łachwa staged an uprising. Kopl's elder brother Moyshe was one of its leader. According to one account, Moyshe managed to kill an SS-man with an ax. Kopl's brothers were killed by the Germans during the uprising and the escape from the ghetto to the forests, but Kopl survived, initially by wandering through the forest in search of Soviet partisans. Kolpanitskii recalled one of his first days after the escape from the ghetto as follows:
"…I knew what I had to do… Walking silently and tensely that night, I set three goals for myself, and I knew that I would not rest for a moment until I achieved them: First, I would avenge the lives of my family, community and people. Second, if I survived, I would tell anyone willing to listen about the bloody history of the Jews of Lahwah [sic!], about the fate of the Jewish people. Third, I would make my life in Eretz Yisrael and reestablish the Kolpanitzky family, which had been annihilated… I would wage my own war, and would not let the satanic plans of the Germans succeed."
After a long period in the forest, in June 1943, like other fugitives from Łachwa, Kopl attempted to fight in the ranks of the Soviet partisans, specifically in the unit commanded by Vasilii Korzh. However, Korzh refused to take Kopl into the brigade. The commander had been a friend of Yitzhak Kolpanitskii in the 1920s and considered it his duty to preserve the life of Yitzhak's son. To his chagrin, Kopl was given a safe job in the partisan unit. In the fall of 1943, Kolpanitskii left Korzh's unit and joined the brigade led by the famous Ukrainian partisan leader General Sidor Kovpak. Kopl found many fugitives from Łachwa in this brigade, which, according to his account, was a composite of all Soviet ethnic groups, including numerous Jews. Nevertheless, Kopl was registered in the brigade as having the Russian first name of Nikolai. In Kovpak's brigade "Nikolai" learned how to operate an anti-tank gun and hit enemy tanks more than once. "I felt as if the entire Lahwah community was watching me avenge them".
In June 1944, Kovpak's brigade met Red Army units for the first time. However, it continued to fight as a partisan unit, i.e. in the enemy rear. Only in October 1944, when the Kovpak brigade was disbanded by the Ukrainian Headquarters of the Partisan Movement, did Kolpanitskii go to Kiev, receive a certification that he had been a partisan, and enlisted in the Red Army. He was assigned to an infantry division deployed on the 1st Belorussian Front. He was also recruited as a covert agent of SMERSH, the counter-espionage organ of the Red Army.
However, once again to his chagrin, he was not sent into combat, when his division remained in the rear. Thus, he was "left out" when Warsaw was captured by the Red Army. In January 1945, his division was loaded onto military trains and sent to the area of Poznań. There, he finally took part in hard battles against the Waffen SS and other German troops. While the losses to his division were heavy, Kolpanitskii felt the satisfaction of an avenger. After that, his division moved south and took part in forcing the Oder River. The fighting became increasingly difficult. However, as Kolpanitskii recalled, in April 1945, the German army seemed to have disintegrated. Kolpanitskii ended the war in Sagan, Lower (western) Silesia (now Żagań, Poland).
In May 1946, a year after VE-Day, in Warsaw, Kopl Kolpanitskii destroyed his Soviet documents, took off his Red Army uniform, and clandestinely left the city for Bytom, Upper Silesia, where he joined a "kibbutz" – a group of Jewish survivors who were preparing to go to the Palestine. From there he crossed the border to Czechoslovakia and, by summer, he was in Vienna. In November 1946, Kolpanitskii departed from southern France on a ship named "La-Negev," that was bound for the Palestine. However, the ship was intercepted by the British, who put the passengers in an internment camp in Cyprus. In 1948, he was released from the camp and came to Israel, where he took part in the War of Independence.
Kopl Kolpanitskii married. He had three sons, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He died in 2009.
 There are several different spellings of his name. In Polish documents (he was born in the Polish Republic), his family name was spelled Kolpanicki. In his memoir, published in Israel in 1999, (Nigzar le-hayim: Mered geto Lahva), his name is spelled Kalpanizki, and in the English version of his book Kopel Kolpanitzky, Sentenced to Life: The Story of a Survivor of the Lahwah Ghetto (London: Valentine Mitchell, 2007), his name appears as Kopel Kolpanitzky. Since we focus on the Soviet period of his biography, we prefer to use the spelling Kolpanitskii, the transliteration of his name from Russian.
The name Kolpanitskii probably comes from the name of the village Kolpenitsa (now Vialikaia Kawpenitsa), in the vicinity of Baranovichi [now in Belarus]. For this reason, in some sources his name appears as Kolpenitskii.
 Ben-Zvi Dagan (Boris Dolgopiatyi), Anu mi-Laḥṿa ha-moredet, Tel-Aviv, 2002.
 Kopel Kolpanitzky, Sentenced to Life: The Story of a Survivor of the Lahwah Ghetto. London: Valentine Mitchell, 2007, p. 62.
 Ibid., p. 119-120.