Mikhail Amuev was born in Kokand, Uzbekistan, in 1920. His family belonged to the Bukharan Jewish community. All of his grandparents had previously lived in Palestine, before relocating to the Soviet Union. His uncles, cousins, and their families remained in Palestine. His father was a merchant. The family was religious devout, and their home language was Judeo-Tajik, the vernacular of the Bukharan Jews.
When Mikhail was seven years old, his father was killed by anti-Soviet bandits, and his death led to difficult times for the family. Mikhail attended a Russian-language school. In addition to Russian, he often spoke Uzbek. After finishing school, he began to work as a driver.
In March 1941, Mikhail was drafted into the Red Army and sent to the Odessa region, along with other recruits. In the first days of the Soviet-German War in June that year, his unit engaged in melee combat, and he was wounded. His injuries were not severe, and, after receiving medical treatment, he returned to frontline duty. However, in August 1941 Mikhail was wounded again by shell fragments, requiring a two-month stay in the hospital. After recovering, he was assigned to a motor transport battalion as platoon commander, and sent to the Leningrad region. His unit was ordered to build a narrow-gauge railway connecting Leningrad to the front lines. Due to his proficiency in Uzbek, Mikhail was later transferred to a rifle division of the 2nd Assault Army. That unit had many Uzbek soldiers, and the commander had to speak their language.
The 2nd Assault Army engaged in heavy combat, as part of the Soviet effort to lift the siege of Leningrad. In one of these battles, the Army was surrounded and completely decimated, with tens of thousands of soldiers, including Mikhail Amuev, taken prisoner by the enemy. At that time, Mikhail, who had suffered a leg wound, was being treated at a field hospital. The Nazis were searching for Jews, but Mikhail used an assumed name and concealed his true ethnicity. Anyone unable to walk on their own was summarily executed, but Mikhail's fellow soldiers helped him to safety. The POWs were eventually transported to Narva on the Russian-Estonian border, and then to Kaunas (Lithuania). They were put in labor camps, where they received meager rations and no medical care. The Nazis were actively trying to identify Jews, but Mikhail claimed to be an Uzbek from Tashkent, giving his captors a false name. Several months later, all the prisoners were transferred to Germany (Saxony), where they worked in an ore mine. Mikhail's job involved loading ore into a trolley.
One of the Uzbek POWs, who spoke fluent German and collaborated with the Nazis, suspected that Mikhail might be Jewish, and denounced him to the authorities. After an investigation, the Nazis sent Amuev to a Straflager (punishment camp) in Magdeburg. Realizing that the war was going badly for Germany, Mikhail and five other inmates tried to escape from the camp through the sewer system. They spent two months in the sewers, without food and clean water, waiting for the war to end. When the town was finally liberated by the Red Army, they came out of hiding, underwent an investigation, and were sent to a hospital to recuperate.
Mikhail Amuev was discharged from the military in late 1945. In the postwar period, he and his family lived in Kazakhstan. In the 1990s, they moved to Israel.