The writer Lev Bezymenskii was born in 1920 in Kazan into the family of the well-known Soviet poet of Jewish origin Aleksandr Bezymenskii, who at that time was particularly active in the Komsomol (Young Communist League). The family soon moved to Moscow. After graduating from high school in 1938, Lev entered Moscow's prestigious Institute of Philosophy, Literature, and History. After the outbreak of war on June 22, 1941, Lev was called up to the Red Army and sent as a private to a reserve engineer regiment the following August. After that, in Orsk in the rear, he completed a course for translators and continued his studies at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Stavropol. (Stavropol was captured by German troops in August 1942.) In May 1942, Lev Bezymenskii served as an officer on the Southwestern Front in a special radio (communications) division. Half a year later he was transferred to an intelligence unit of the headquarters of the Don Front, which at that time was headed by Lieutenant General Konstantin Rokossovskii. At first Bezymenskii was a regular translator but then he became senior Red Army translator on the Don Front.
In the latter position, he took part in the interrogation of the German general Field Marshall Paulus, who was captured in Stalingrad in early 1943. Later Bezymenskii served as translator for the intelligence headquarters of the 1st Belorussian Front and of the Central Front.
On May 1, 1945 he translated for Marshall Georgii Zhukov a letter that had just been written by Nazi Minister of Propaganda Josef Goebbels and Hitler's secretary Martin Bormann about the death of the Nazi leader. In June of the same year, Lev Bezymenskii was part of the team that interrogated the leaders of the Third Reich -- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, head of the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht Wilhelm Keitel, and Colonel-General of the Wehrmacht Alfred Jodl.
Bezymenskii was awarded the Order of the Great Patriotic War, 1st and 2nd Class, the Order of the Red Star, and a number of medals. In October 1946, he was demobilized from the Red Army.
Lev Bezymenskii graduated from the philosophy faculty of Moscow State University in 1948 and defended his kandidat dissertation there in 1972. He was a literary contributor to the journal Novoie vremia and then served as a member of its editorial board. He was also a member of the council of the Center for German Historical Studies at the Institute of General History.
Bezymenskii authored a number of books in Russian related to the war. They include German Generals with Hitler and without Him (1961), Solved Riddles about the Third Reich: A Book Not Only about the Past (1981), and The Man behind Hitler (2004). In 1998 (in issue no. 5) the journal Znamia published his article "Information Soviet Style," which discussed the Soviet silence about the Holocaust. The main point was that Soviet sources treated the genocide of the Jews as being part of a general mass murder without reference to the specific ethnic identity of the Jewish victims.
Lev Bezymenskii died in 2007 in Moscow.