Zinaida Gorman was born in 1910 in the village of Dranukha in the Mogiliov Province (now in Belarus). She spent her childhood in that village. At the age of 23, Gorman began working for the NKVD (one of the precursors of the KGB). At the time of the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in late June 1941, Gorman worked in the department of military counterintelligence. Soon thereafter, she was appointed to the post of supervisor (oberupolnomochennyi po obsluzhivaniyu) of the 588th Night Light-Bombing Aviation Regiment (which became the 46th Guards Night-bombing Aviation Regiment). That was the famous all-female regiment where all positions – pilots, navigators, mechanics, and technicians – were exclusively staffed by women. The women would fly out at night in small planes referred to as "kukuruzniki" (corn dusters), approach their targets, and then – to reduce the noise made by their aircraft – they would switch off the engines and drop their bombs at a very low altitude. The German soldiers nicknamed them "night witches." The Soviets referred to them humorously as "Dunka's regiment", in honor of their commander Evdokiia (nicknamed Dunka) Bershanskaia.
This regiment, in which Captain Zinaida Gorman served, took part in the battles for the Caucasus, and in the liberation of Kuban, the Crimea, and Belorussia. It later fought over Polish territory, meeting V-E Day in Germany. During the war, Zinaida was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd Class, and a number of medals.
Her entire family – including her young son, whom she had left with her parents in early summer 1941 – all perished in Belorussia in the Holocaust.