Mordukh Nakhutin was born in 1924 in Kiev. His father Borukh was a clerk at a soft drink factory. Upon finishing school, Mordukh initially worked as a lifeguard at a river beach in Kiev, and then as the apprentice of a lathe operator at a factory.
In June 1941, the Soviet-German War broke out. The 17-year-old Mordukh was assigned to a so-called exterminatory squad, whose task was detecting and eliminating any enemy saboteurs who might have been airdropped into the city, or transported there via the Dnieper River. In September 1941, as Kiev was about to be abandoned to the Germans, the members of the squad, being youths of premilitary age, were ordered to retreat eastward. The squad merged with the Dnieper Flotilla, and Mordukh experienced his baptism by fire not far from the Dnieper, near the village of Borshchi. Meanwhile, the retreat continued, and a short while later he was wounded in the face and taken prisoner by the Germans. On the twentieth day of his captivity, while Mordukh was engaged in forced labor, the German soldier guarding him made an unexpected offer: He, the soldier, would look the other way, and Mordukh would escape. Despite fearing that this was merely a provocation, Nakhutin took him up on his offer, and was indeed able to escape, coming back to Kiev. He spent the next month in the city, recovering from his wound; the treatment was not fully successful, and Nakhutin remained blind in his right eye. He managed to procure documents giving his name as "Anatolii Nakhutin", and continued to live in Kiev, working as an unskilled laborer. Twice during his year-long stay in the city, he was denounced as a "hidden Jew", but was able to avoid execution in both cases.
In late 1942, "Anatolii Nakhutin" was detained and taken to Germany as a Ukrainian laborer. His longest stay was in the town of Züllichau (present-day Sulechów, Poland). In January 1945, the Red Army entered the town. Nakhutin was drafted into the army and sent to a reserve regiment, where he underwent genuine military training, was given a rifle, and swore the military pledge. Afterward, Nakhutin, whose disability was recognized, was posted to serve at the Soviet commandant's office in the same town of Züllichau. For the rest of the war, he carried out police duties in the town. After the end of the war, Züllichau was handed over to Poland, and its German inhabitants were to be expelled westward. Nakhutin would later recall [YVA O.93/23870] that the expelled Germans were permitted to take no more than 16 kilograms of luggage per person. As the German Vertriebene were crossing the Oder River (the new border), the Polish guards intended to deprive them of even these meager possessions. And so, Nakhutin and his comrades defended the Germans from the marauding Poles.
In October 1945, Nakhutin was discharged from the army, and he returned to Kiev. His entire family had been murdered back in 1941.