Leonid Livshits was born in 1923 in Klintsy, in the Briansk Region of western Russia. In 1940 he entered the Tashkent Institute of Law (which was equivalent to the law faculty of a university). In the summer of 1941, he visited his native town of to see his parents. In June 1941, the Soviet-German war began. Since in the beginning of July the Germans were approaching Smolensk (in western Russia), Livshits volunteered to dig trenches around the city. It wast here where the student Leonid Livshits, a civilian, was wounded for the first time. German tanks that appeared unexpectedly from the east (rather than from west) crushed the unfinished trenches, burying the young people who were working on them. Livshits was one of the few who were dug out alive. "It was then that I took the passionate, boyish pledge that I would become a destroyer of tanks" Livshits later recalled.
After a short cure, in August 1941 Livshits was drafted into the Red Army and sent for training, which he, in fact, completed as a tank destroyer. In this capacity, in January 1942 he was assigned to an anti-tank battalion that was deployed on the Southwestern Front. Paradoxically, this anti-tank battalion had no anti-tank guns, and no one had any idea how it could destroy enemy tanks. Thus, Livshits experienced the humiliating retreat of the Red Army in the spring and summer of 1942. In May 1942 his unit barely escaped from the advancing Germans: it was a result of the ill-prepared attempt of the Soviet offensive on Kharkov (in Ukraine), when Leonid narrowly escaped being killed by shelling and bombing.
East of the Don River, all the soldiers who succeeded in leaving the Kharkov Pocket were formed into a reserve regiment and sent to Stalingrad. Once more Livshits was sent to dig trenches. Two weeks later a bomb landed close to his trench and Leonid was for the second time covered with earth. Only by miracle was he found and rescued. He then spent a long time in a military hospital, where an acute disillusionment with the Stalinist order and its hollow rhetoric overcame him.
Livshits received his sixth and last injury near Vilnius in June 1944. After his release from hospital, he was dismissed from the army as an invalid. His only military award during the war was the Order of Patriotic War, 2nd Class; his highest rank was that of company sergeant (starshina).
After his demobilization, Livshits moved to Tashkent in Soviet Central Asia, where he graduated from the Institute of Law. After the war he worked as a legal adviser. In 1983 he emigrated and settled in Canada.
In an interview given in Toronto in 1990, Leonid Lifshits recalled his last stay in a military hospital – in the summer of 1944
"In the hospital they wanted to amputate my right arm. Gangrene had set in and the arm was black. I heard this while lying on the operating table and I screamed: 'If you cut off my arm, I will blow you up with a hand grenade. I didn't have a hand grenade: I was screaming out of fright and had almost lost consciousness. Two medical orderlies sat on me and tried to hold me down, but in vain since I was strong. There was chaos in the operating room. They had no idea how to deal with me. Suddenly a man wearing a white gown entered, approached me, touched my shoulder, and said quietly in Yiddish: 'Are you Jewish? You can trust me.'
Yiddish was the language that my father and mother spoke. I calmed down and trusted him.
The unknown surgeon made a deep incision and drained the pus. He saved my arm. I will never forget this.
When I was being released from the hospital, they gave me a document in which there appeared the name Leonid Ignatievich Levshin'.
'You've mixed up something, boys' – I said. – I'm Jewish. Livshits, Leonid; [my] patronymic is Izrailevich.
'What kind of Jew are you?' exclaimed the officer who gave me the document. 'You are one of us. Why should you suffer [for being a Jew]? Just accept being Ignatievich.'
'No' – I thought. 'Nobody can flee from himself. Why should it suddenly be Ignatievich? I like things to be clear…
'Thank you, boys' – I said 'but write it as it should be --Livshits, Leonid Izrailevich.'"
Svirskii,Grigorii.Mat' I machekha:rasskazy veteranov. North York, Ontario:Erudite Books,1990.Pp.212-213.
 Svirskii, Grigorii. Mat' i machekha: rasskazy veteranov. North York, Ontario: Erudite Books, 1990. P. 209-210.