Thursday, 2 February 2017


ZALMEN KHAYKIN (ca. 1888-April 21, 1919)
            The pen name of Zalmen Abramson, he seems to have been born in Minsk, Byelorussia.  He studied in religious elementary school and yeshiva, and he later acquired secular subject matter as an external student.  For a time he was a private tutor.  Early on he joined the socialist territorialists and traveled around campaigning and organizing for the party.  He was arrested in 1905, thrown into prison in Kiev, and lived later in Warsaw where he published an article—“Naye oysyes” (New letters)—in Fraynd (Friend) on February 15, 1912 which opposed the project to replace the Yiddish alphabet with the Latin one.  He then escaped abroad, returning after the February-March Revolution of 1917.  During the October Revolution, he stood with the Bolsheviks, worked in the Jewish Commissariat in Moscow, and contributed to Di varheyt (The truth), the first Yiddish-language Communist newspaper in Russia, and also to Di fraye shtime (The free voice) in St. Petersburg 1-2 (1918) with a piece entitled “Der idishe balebatizm un naye klezayin, kegn dem folksfayndlekhn tsienizm un hebreizm” (The Jewish bourgeoisie and new weaponry, against Zionism and Hebreism both hated by the people).  In 1918 he went on a Communist assignment to Smolensk and there wrote and edited the first issue of the Communist magazine Der shtern (The star) in November 1918.  On April 16, 1919, he arrived at a Communist meeting in Vilna, and when the city was two days later occupied by the Polish Legions, he was killed as he held a rifle in his hand in a battle in the streets of Vilna.  Several Soviet Jewish institutions in Vilna were subsequently named for him.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Sh. Agurski, Der yidisher arbeter in der komunistisher bavegung, 1917-1921 (The Jewish worker in the Communist movement, 1917–1921) (Minsk, 1925), pp. 177-79; D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Tsukunft (New York) (March 1939); Charney, A yortsendlik aza, 1914-1924, memuarn (Such a decade, 1914-1924, memoirs) (New York, 1943), pp. 215-16.

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