SHMUEL AYKHEL (1886-1943)
Born in Warsaw. He received a traditional Jewish education and learned much on his own. From childhood he had a marked tendency toward music. He sang with cantors and at religious concerts in Warsaw, but he drew his livelihood primarily from work with leather women’s purses. Under the influence of the Russian Revolution, he began in 1905 to write poetry on labor themes and composed music to them by himself. One of these, published in Di yidishe tsukunft (The Jewish future) (Krakow and London), dated May 1905, bore the title “Bay der arbet” (At work) and later became popular as an anonymous Jewish workers’ song under the title “Di kuznye” (The forge). In 1906 he traveled to Germany to study music. Because of his severe material situation, he moved to Belgium and lived in Brussels until WWI; he continued writing poems with music which were sung by Jewish laborers. One of them, “Birobidzhan,” was published in Belgishe bleter (Belgian leaves), no. 6 (13), in 1936. A sickly man, he never made a sufficient living. In the years of the German occupation, he was in a jail in Brussels. In the summer of 1943 he was deported to Auschwitz.
Sourse: B. Zilbershteyn, in Belgishe bleter 6 (13) (1936).