AVROM LEVIN (ABRAHAM LEWIN) (1893-January 1943)
He was born in Warsaw, Poland. Early on he lost his father and had to assume the yoke of supporting his family. In 1911 he was a cofounder of the Warsaw agricultural collective “Ḥalutse tsiyon” (Pioneers of Zion). He was a teacher of Hebrew and Jewish history at “Yehudiya” (a Hebrew high school for girls). In 1930 the Polish authorities invalidated his credentials as a high school teacher, but he remained in the administration of the institution. He was also a leader in the League for Working Israel and made a number of trips to the land of Israel. He made an impact with his historical study: Kantonistn, vegn der yidisher rekrutshine in rusland in di tsaytn fun tsar nikolay dem ershtn 1827-1856 (Cantonists, on Jewish military recruitment in Russia at the time of Tsar Nikolai II, 1827-1856) (Warsaw, 1934), 359 pp. He remained in Warsaw with the outbreak of WWII. In the Warsaw Ghetto, he secretly taught children Hebrew, Tanakh, and Jewish history and literature. He wrote a book concerning the history of the ghetto. He was a leader of social “self-help” (aleynhilf) and in the group “Oyneg shabes” (Enjoyment of the Sabbath). He assisted Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum in founding the underground central archive of the ghetto. During the great “deportations” (oyszidlungen) of July-September 1942, during which his wife and sixteen-year-old daughter were deported, he attempted to take his own life, but his friends saved him. Not long thereafter he was himself deported and murdered (precisely when and where is unknown). After the war when the underground archive was unearthed (known as the Ringelblum Archive), Avrom Levin’s diary was found—the first part in Yiddish, the latter part mostly in Hebrew but with notes in Yiddish. Portions of the diary were published in Bleter far geshikhte (Pages for history), published by the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw: 5.4 (October-December 1952), pp. 22-68 (records for April 9-June 5, 1942); 7.1 (April 19, 1954), pp. 42-99 (translation from the Hebrew original, records from Tisha b’Av 1942-November 9, 1942); 7.2-3 (1954), pp. 210-40 (a continuation and conclusion of the diary, dated November 10, 1942-January 16, 1943). Among the unearthed notes of Dr. Ringelblum may be found his view of Levin’s diary: “The author Levin wrote his diary for one and one-half years and put in it his entire literary creative work. Every item in the diary is highly measured. Levin invested in it everything that he happened to hear not only about Warsaw but also about the harsh suffering of Jews in the hinterland. At the time of the deportations as well, which brought him terrible unhappiness when they took his wife Lyuba away, he continued writing daily in his diary in the most impossible of conditions of labor and creation. Because of the purity and compression of his style, accuracy and precision of the facts he relayed,…this qualifies as an important literary document which needs to be published promptly after the war.”
Levin with his daughter Ora
Sources: Dr. Y. Shatski, in Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 8.3 (September 1935), pp. 253-59; M. Nayshtat (Melech Noy), Ḥurban umered shel yehude varsha (Destruction and uprising of the Jews of Warsaw) (Tel Aviv, 1946), pp. 196, 309-10; Y. Turkov, Azoy iz es geven (That’s how it was) (Buenos Aires, 1948), p. 66; Bleter far geshikhte (Warsaw) 5 (1952) and 7 (1954); Emanuel Ringelblum, Notitsn fun varshever geto (Notices from the Warsaw Ghetto) (Warsaw, 1952), pp. 27, 342-43; B. Mark, Umgekumene shrayber fun di getos un lagern (Murdered writers from the ghettos and camps) (Warsaw, 1954), p. 68; oral information from Y. Turkov in New York.