MENAKHEM (MENACHEM) LINDER (July 8, 1911-April 18, 1942)
He was born in Snyatin (Śniatyń), eastern Galicia. During WWI he lived with his parents as refugees in Vienna, after the war returning to Snyatin. He attended religious elementary school, a Hebrew school, and a Polish state high school. In his student years he was active in the Ukrainian socialist movement, as well as in Jewish youth organizations. He graduated in law from Lemberg University. He won a prize from the headquarters of the Gmiles-Khsidim-Kases (“Tsekabe” or Central No-Interest Loan Office) in Warsaw for a social-economic description of his hometown of Snyatin. Because of legal restrictions on Jewish lawyers in the profession, he devoted himself to Jewish learning. In 1935 he entered the first cycle of research students at YIVO in Vilna; his research project was “Der zemsherfakh in vilne” (The chamois making vocation in Vilna). In 1936 he settled in Warsaw, became the secretary of the Warsaw association of friends of YIVO, and served also as editorial board secretary of Di yidishe ekonomik (Jewish economics) published by the economics-statistics section of YIVO (edited by Yankev Leshtshinski). He wrote a series of research works and published them in YIVO publications, among them: “Vi azoy lebt der poylisher arbeter?” (How does the Polish worker live?), Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) (Vilna) 9 (1936), pp. 131-35; “Dos drukvezn in poyln in di yorn 1933-1934” (Publishing in Poland in the years 1933-1934), Yivo-bleter 19 (1936), pp. 303-12; “Garberay in bolekhov” (Tanneries in Bolekhov [Bolekhiv]), Di yidishe ekonomik (Warsaw) 1 (1937), pp. 19-26; “Der khurbn fun yidishn handl in byalistoker rayon” (The destruction of Jewish business in the Bialystok district), Di yidishe ekonomik 2-3 (1937), pp. 13-33; “Di natsyonale struktur fun di shtet in poyln” (The national structure of the cities in Poland), Di yidishe ekonomik 2 (1938), pp. 26-39; “Di yidishe industrye in erets yisroel” (Jewish industry in the land of Israel), Di yidishe ekonomik 2 (1938), pp. 446-61; with Hersh Shner, “Yidishe arbet in yidishe industrye-unternemungen” (Jewish labor in Jewish industrial undertakings), Di yidishe ekonomik 5-6 (1938), pp. 201-24; “Dos yidishe geto in varshe” (The Jewish ghetto in Warsaw), Di yidishe ekonomik 3 (1939), pp. 145-74; as well as other pieces in Yivo-bleter, Di yidishe ekonomik, Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), and many other treatments of new works on social economy, statistics, and demography which appeared in a number of languages. With help from the headquarters of professional associations, he made an important piece of research into the role of Jews in the Lodz textile industry. “His scholarly perspective and his orientation in general problems,” wrote Max Weinreich, “became wider and wider…. Linder was one of the truly most promising young scholars produced by Jewish Poland between the two wars.”
Just before the outbreak of WWII, Linder was scheduled to leave for the United States, but the Nazi invasion destroyed his plans. When Vilna was for a short time part of neutral Lithuania (October 1939-July 1940), Vilna YIVO strove to enable him to leave via Sweden, but this too was unsuccessful, and he remained under the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. In the Warsaw Ghetto, Linder was one of the first organizers of the community aid committee, run by the statistics division of the Joint Distribution Committee and provided statistical materials for illegal newspapers. At his initiative, on February 21, 1941 was created the Jewish cultural organization in the Warsaw Ghetto (YIKOR). He went at the head of a delegation to the appointed “Jewish Elder” Adam Czerniaków with a demand that Yiddish be the obligatory language of the Judenrat (Jewish council); and he helped establish a network of schools, courses, a public university, a Jewish library, lectures, and (with Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum) he founded the Central Jewish Archive. On the night of April 17-18, 1942—“bloody Friday night”—the Germans forced him out of his home at 52 Leshno St. and shot him. In a moment of desperation, his wife burned his diary which Linder had kept in the Warsaw Ghetto. He used to sign his name with the title “Magister” (Master of Arts).
Sources: A yor arbet in der aspirantur afn nomen fun d”r tsemekh shabad baym yidishn visnshaflekhn institute (A year’s work in the Dr. Cemach Szabad Training Division of the Yiddish Scientific Institute) (Vilna, 1937); Dos tsveyte yor aspirantur afn nomen tsemekh shabad baym yidishn visnshaftlekhn institut (The second year “Tsemekh Shabad” research students at YIVO) (Vilna, 1938); Yivo-biblyografye (YIVO bibliography), part 1, 1925-1941 (New York, 1943); M. V. (Max Weinreich), “Menakhem Linder,” Yivo-bleter (New York) 20.2 (November-December 1942), pp. 286-89; Dr. E. Ringelblum, in his letter “Tsum yidishn visnshaftlekhn institut (yivo), tsum yidishn pen-klub, tsu sholem ash, h. leyvik, y. opatoshu, r. mahler” (To the Yiddish Scientific Institute [YIVO], to the Yiddish Pen Club, to Sholem Asch, H. Leivick, Y. Opatoshu, R. Mahler), Yivo-bleter 24 (September-December 1944); Notitsn fun varshever geto (Notices from the Warsaw Ghetto) (Warsaw, 1952), pp. 308, 321; M. Nayshtat (Melech Noy), Ḥurban umered shel yehude varsha (Destruction and uprising of the Jews of Warsaw) (Tel Aviv, 1946), pp. 83, 196, 197, 316-17; Dr. H. Zaydman, Tog-bukh fun varshever geto (Diary of the Warsaw Ghetto) (Buenos Aires, 1947), pp. 124, 126, 140; B. Goldshteyn, Finf yor in varshever geto (Five years in the Warsaw Ghetto) (New York, 1947), p. 222; Yonas Turkov, Azoy iz es geven (That’s how it was) (Buenos Aires, 1948), see index; Yediot bet loḥame hagetaot (Haifa) (April, 1957); M. Vaykhert, Yidishe aleyn-hilf, 1939-1945 (Jewish self-help) (Tel Aviv, 1962), pp. 330, 305.