Born in the Wołkowszczyzna estate near Nieśwież (Belarusian: Nesvizh) on 21 October 1927. His mother was Roman Catholic, his father was of the Orthodox faith, and the sons were baptized in that faith. Their estate had some 35 hectares, the family lived in a wooden manor house. Anatol Żołnierkiewicz initially learnt at the neighbouring estate, Bykowszczyzna, where he completed the first form. The following years he attended a Polish school in the village of Łań, which was the seat of the local authorities. During the occupation he was a secondary school student in Nesvizh. He continued his education after the war. Owing to the kindness of one of the clerks his birth date was changed in his German passport, which prevented him from being taken as a forced labourer to Germany. Owing to the local connections the family avoided deportation to Siberia. Upon the arrival of the Soviets in 1944, his family estate was parcelled out and, in 1949, incorporated into the kolkhoz. Anatol Żołnierkiewicz graduated from a technical college and worked in Nesvizh, chiefly as a mechanic.