Monday, 22 May 2017


KHAYIM LEVIN (1885-1941)
            He was the brother of Lipman Levin, born in Mohilev (Mogilev), Byelorussia.  He attended religious elementary school and the Mohilev yeshiva.  He began writing in his youth.  From 1903 he was the Mohilev correspondent for Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg, as well as for provincial Russian newspapers.  Over the years 1911-1914, he contributed to: Vilner vokhenblat (Vilna weekly newspaper), edited by Lipman Levin; the Vilna dailies Der tog (The day), edited by K. Shneyfal (1912), and Shtern (Star), edited by K. Haylperin and L. Kopelyovits (1913); and Der holtshendler (The timber merchant) in Vilna.  With the outbreak of WWI, he served as secretary of the “War Industrial Committee” in Vilna, and while serving he was evacuated to St. Petersburg.  After the Russian Revolution of 1917, he contributed to the economics section of Petrograder togblat (Petrograd daily newspaper).  After the Bolshevik coup d’état, he lived for a time in Moscow, and in 1919 returned to Vilna.  He wrote for Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper), edited by L. Yofe, and later, until September 1922, he was editor of the weekly Der idisher soykher (The Jewish businessman).  Together with Dovid Berezovski, over the course of a short period of time, he brought out a daily newspaper Nayes (News) in Vilna.  In January 1923, he and Dan Kaplanovitsh edited the Vilna Zionist dailies Unzer fraynd (Our friend) and Fraynd, later reorganized as the organ of the Zionist Organization and the Jewish businessmen’s association with the title Di tsayt (The times)—in the late 1920s, it was published on a cooperative basis by the newspaper collective.  For a short time, Levin also edited the Russian Jewish newspaper Vilenskoie slovo (Vilna word).  Levin published (also using such pen names as Ekonomikus, Halevi, and Mohilever) a great number of articles, feature pieces, and sketches.  He also adapted for the newpapers historical episodes, such as: “Idishe kenig in poyln” (Jewish king in Poland) and “Ger tsedek” (Righteous convert); and “Firsht Radzivil” (Count Radziwill).  He translated a series of works by the Russian humorists Arkady Averchenko and Teffi [Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya].  He also reworked Memuarn fun yisroel bunimovitsh (The memoirs of Yisroel Bunimovitsh), the Vilna financier and community leader (Vilna, 1928), 367 pp.  In addition, he published his own writings in: Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; Idishe shtime (Jewish voice) in Kovno; Der afrikaner (The African) in Johannesburg; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal; Velt-shpigl (Mirror of the world) in Warsaw; Yidishes tageblat (Jewish daily newspaper) and Hadoar (The mail) in New York; and other newspapers and magazines.  In book form: Amol un haynt (Then and now), vol. 1 (Warsaw: Pinkhes Graubard, n.d.), 154 pp.  According to Hirsh Abramovitsh, the same publisher brought out a second volume, entitled Geshikhte un legendes (History and legends).  Levin lived his last years in great poverty.  During the Nazi occupation, he was sick and broken; confined in the Vilna ghetto, he kept a diary and continually demanded of other writers that they should do the same: “You have to write your memoirs, so that future generations will know.”  He underwent severe torture in the ghetto.  When he was brought to Ponar (probably July 14, 1941), there was no need to shoot him, but they just threw him from the automobile into a pit.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO), vol. 1 (Warsaw, 1928), see index; H. Abramovitsh, in Frimorgn (Riga) (September 14, 1930); bibliography in Pinkes fun yekopo (Records of Yekopo [Yevreyskiy komitet pomoshchi zhertvam voyny—“Jewish Relief Committee for War Victims”]) (Vilna, 1931), cols. 957, 977; Z. Shik, 1000 yor vilne (1000 years of Vilna), part 1 (Vilna, 1939), p. 460; M. Mozes, in Der poylisher yid (The Polish Jew) (New York, 1944); Sh. Katsherginski, Khurbn vilne (The Holocaust in Vilna) (New York, 1947), p. 199; Katsherginski, Tsvishn hamer un serp (Between hammer and sickle) (Paris, 1949), p. 96; Dr. M. Dvorzhetski (Mark Dvorzetsky), Yerusholayim delite in kamf un umkum (The Jerusalem of Lithuania in struggle and death) (Paris, 1948), see index; documents in the YIVO archives in  New York.
Zaynvl Diamant

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