MOYSHE HELER (d. 1943)
He was born in Zbarazh (Zbaraż), eastern Galicia. He studied law in Vienna. After receiving his doctoral degree, he moved to Vilna (ca. 1918) and became a teacher in the Vilna Jewish Teachers’ Seminary, later in the Jewish senior high school there where he taught both general and Jewish history. He ran scholarly historical circles and devoted himself to Jewish historical research. He was a member of the management committee of the Vilna society “Friends of the Yiddish Research Institute—YIVO.” He contributed to a series of scholarly publications. In Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) 5.3-5 (1933), in Vilna, he published: “Yidn-arbeter bay der regulatsye fun nyemen, 1768-1772” (Jewish laborers and the regulations of the Nieman [River], 1768-1772). He stayed in the Vilna ghetto during WWII, and there he was a teacher and director of the statistical office of the Jewish council and in his free time continued his research work. On orders from the ghetto police commandant, Yankev Gens, he prepared a work: Dos alte un naye vilne (Old and new Vilna), with precise statistics on the Jews who were led out to the place of their death in Ponar. This work ought to have shown how many Jews were in Vilna before the ghetto and how many remained. Early in 1943 he became severely ill, but he was unable to receive any medical assistance in the ghetto hospital and in great agony he died.
Sources: M. Shalit, “Di naye historografye fun vilne” (The new historiography on Vilna), in Vilne, a zamlbukh gevidmet der shtot vilne (Vilna, an anthology dedicated to the city of Vilna), ed. Yefim Yeshurin (New York, 1935); N. Mayzil, “Alveltlekhe tsuzamenfor fun yidishn visnshaftlekhn institut” (World conference of YIVO), Tsukunft (New York) (October 1935); “Yizker” (Remembrance), Yivo-bleter (New York) 26.1 (September-October 1945); Sh. Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947); Dr. M. Dvorzhetski (Mark Dvorzetsky), Yerusholayim delite in kamf un umkum (The Jerusalem of Lithuania in struggle and death) (Paris, 1948), see index; Lerer yizker-bukh (Remembrance volume for teachers) (New York, 1952-1954), pp. 134-36.