LEON TALMY (January/February 1893-August 12, 1952)
This was the adopted name of Leyzer Talminovitski. He was born in the town of Lyakhavichy, Byelorussia. He studied in religious primary school, later attending the local senior high school. He early on joined the territorialist movement and later joined the Zionist Socialist Party. Around 1912 he moved with his parents to the United States, lived for a time in a provincial city in the state of Ohio, and then moved to New York where he became (1916) secretary of the territorialist periodical Unzer vort (Our word). After the February-March revolution (1917), he departed for Russia, contributed to the daily newspaper of the “Fareynikte” (United socialist party), the Kiev-based Naye tsayt (New times) in 1919, and survived all the metamorphoses of the Fareynikte until its merger with the Russian Communist Party, when he became a Communist. In 1919 he published a translation of Oscar Wilde’s Der shlekhter riz (The bad giant [original: The Selfish Giant]) (Kiev). In 1920 he returned to the United States. He edited the monthly Oyfboy (Construction), published (1922-1923) in New York by the American division of the Idgezkom (Idishe gezelshaftlekhe komitet, [All-Russian] Jewish Social Committee [for relief to pogrom victims]); he published in issues 3 and 10 of Oyfboy a list of 515 Yiddish books and pamphlets that were published in Russia over the years 1917-1922. He later became a regular contributor to Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom) in New York. He was also co-editor of the Community monthly Der hamer (The hammer). He was one of the principal leaders in the IKOR (Yidishe kolonizatsye organizatsye in rusland [Jewish colonization organization in Russia]) movement in America. In 1929 he went with an IKOR expedition to Birobidzhan, and as a result he published a book entitled Af royer erd, mit der “ikor” ekspeditsye in biro-bidzhan (On rough terrain, with the IKOR expedition to Birobidzhan) (New York, 1931), 258 pp. He edited several IKOR publications in New York and co-edited the Ikor-yorbukh (IKOR annual) (New York, 1932). In 1934 he settled for good in Soviet Russia, withdrew from Yiddish work, and became one of the editors of the English-language propaganda for the Bolshevik regime. His work appeared in: Birebidzhan (Birobidzhan), anthology (Moscow, 1936). During the years of WWII, Talmy’s name was frequently mentioned as a member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow. He was arrested on Jul 3, 1949, charged with “anti-Soviet and nationalist activities, as well as espionage on behalf of America,” and he was executed with twelve other accused of the same offenses.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; A. Pomerants, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (April 27, 1931); P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 19, 1931); A. Glants, in Tog (New York) (May 8, 1931); V. Abrams, in Der hamer (New York) (June 1931); A. Abtshuk, Etyudn un materialn tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur bavegung in FSRR (Studies and material for the history of the Yiddish literature movement in the Soviet Union) (Kharkov, 1934), p. 25.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 276; and Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 160-61.]