Vladimir was born in 1928 to a Jewish family in the town of Klintsy on the Russia/Belarus border. In 1941, when World War II broke out, he was a fifth grade pupil, 12 years old. His divorced mother, Chaya, had no money to flee to safety in eastern Asia so the family stayed behind.
Young Vladimir ran away to find his father who now lived in Uzbekistan.
Arriving in Moscow, the young boy was nabbed by police officers at the central train station and sent to an orphanage from which he escaped to a rural train station. From there, the penniless lad smuggled himself to Uzbekistan by hanging on to the ladders between cars.
Upon arrival in Tashkent, he caught a boat for the 250 km sailing along the Amu Darya River to Turktul, only to discover that his father had just been drafted to the Russian army.
Young Valdimir survived the war in a series of orphanages only to learn that his father had died in battle.
He made his way back to Klintsy and found out that his mother and sister and entire extended family had been murdered by the Nazis and were buried in a mass grave outside the town.
He was all alone living on the streets where he was arrested and sent to prison in Siberia where he languished until Stalin’s death in 1953 when many innocent inmates were freed.