Zalman Norman was born in 1924 in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia. His father, Berka (later Boris) Norman, was a native of the shtetl of Smorgon (in present-day Belarus, on the Lithuanian border) who had moved to Rostov during World War I. Boris Norman was a cobbler by trade, but he made an administrative career under the Soviets, being appointed manager of the Rostov branch of the state company for footwear trade (Glavobuvsbyt). After graduating from school, Zalman enrolled at the Rostov Machine-Building Institute (now known as the Don State Technical University). In June 1941, the Soviet-German war broke out. In autumn of that year, with the German army approaching Rostov, Zalman volunteered for the People's Militia (narodnoie opolcheniie). Meanwhile, his family, including his parents and two sisters, were evacuated to Tashkent.
After the fall of Rostov-on-Don to the Wehrmacht in November 1941, Zalman was discharged from the army on account of being a minor. He joined his family in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Soviet Central Asia, and worked at a factory there. In January 1942, following the liberation of Rostov by the Red Army, Boris Norman, Zalman's father, traveled back to the city on business. In July 1942, Rostov was re-taken by the Germans, and Boris, who had been unable to flee, was killed by the Nazis. In 1942, Zalman enlisted in the Red Army, and was sent to an artillery school. At the time, he was driven by the desire to avenge the death of his father.
In August 1943, Private Zalman Norman was attached to the 179th Rifle Division, which was operating on the 3rd Belorussian Front, as an anti-tank gunner. He was impressed by the new German tank destroyer Ferdinand, which he came to regard as the embodiment of the German enemy. Zalman destroyed two Ferdinands in February in eastern Belorussia, being wounded in the process. Each destroyed Ferdinand cost him an injury: in Belorussia, in Lithuania, and then in East Prussia. Despite his numerous war wounds, he was awarded only two medals "For Courage".
After the war, Zalman Norman, who had changed his first name to "Ievgenii", settled in Tashkent. He died in 1991.