Friday, 26 May 2017

NOKHUM LEVIN

NOKHUM LEVIN (1908-1950)
            He was born in Minsk, Byelorussia, into a laboring family.  He attended religious elementary school and later a high school; in 1927 he graduated from the Yiddish department of the literature faculty of the Second Moscow State University.  He later worked as a teacher of history and literature in Jewish middle schools in Homel (Gomel) and Minsk, and later at the theater school of the Moscow Yiddish State Theater, while at the same time contributing to: Oktyabr (October), Shtern (Star), Yunger arbeter (Young worker), and Yunger leninyets (Young Leninist)—in Minsk; Shtern in Kharkov; Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star); and other serials.  He was an editor and internal contributor to Der emes (The truth) and to the publishing house of “Der emes” in Moscow, for which he translated a number of textbooks, among other items: N. Ribkin, Zamlung ufgabes af geometrye far der mitlshul (Collection of problems in geometry for the middle school); I. I. Gukovski and O. V. Trakhtenberg, Di epokhe fun feodalizm, lernbukh far mitlshul (The era of feudalism, textbook for middle school [original: Istoriia epokha feodalizma, uchebnik dli︠a︡ srednei shkoly) (Moscow: Emes, 1934), 347 pp.; A. S. Barkov, Fizishe geografye (Physical geography); and the five-volume Geshikhte fun fss”r (History of the USSR [original: Historiia SSSR]), ed. A. M. Pankratova (Moscow: Emes, 1941-); among other works.  Together with Kh. Ayzman, he wrote the pamphlet Gezerd un internatsyonale kinder-dertsiung (Gezerd [All-Union Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers in the USSR] and international children’s education) (Moscow, 1930), 28 pp.  As a lieutenant he took part in the battles against the Nazis on all fronts—from Moscow to Berlin and he was decorated medals and awards.  In 1945 and early 1946 he was in the army in the Far East.  Thereafter, until the liquidation of Yiddish culture, he contributed to Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow and to Emes publishers.  He published reviews of books and works on the Yiddish stage, and he was active participant in Yiddish cultural life in Moscow.  He was treasured as an editor, even by the likes of Dovid Bergelson whose novel Bayn dnyepr (By the Dnieper) Levin edited.  For the Moscow Yiddish theater, he translated plays by Molière and Goldoni.  Among his other literary translations: Maxim Gorky, Dos lebn fun klim samgin (The life of Klim Sangin [original: Zhizn’ Klima Sangina]); Lion Feuchtwanger, Di mishpokhe openhaym (The family Oppenheim [original: Die Geschwister Oppenheim]).  When the anti-fascist committee and the journal Eynikeyt were closed down, he worked for a time as an editor at the publisher “Fizkul’tura i sport” (Physical culture and sport).  He was arrested on September 16, 1949 and was shot on November 23, 1950 in a camp.

Sources: Y. Vitkin, in Oktyabr (Minsk) 76 (1935); A. Roytblat, in Shtern (Kharkov) 279 (1935); T. Gen, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (October 2, 1945); M. Notovitsh, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (December 1945); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Yiddish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; information from Y. Emyot in Rochester, New York, and Y. Birnboym and H. Vinokur in New York.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 348; 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. 217-18.]


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