Friday, 7 August 2015


KHAYIM GILDIN (1884-1944)

            He was a poet and prose author, born in Nikopol', Ekaterinoslav region, Ukraine, into a laboring family.  At age twelve he began working in a shoe factory.  He was twice arrested for participating the revolutionary movement. Over the years 1908-1914, he was a factory worker in Warsaw, and he published in the Yiddish press articles on the lives of Jewish workers in Warsaw.  In 1915 he returned to Ukraine, and in 1917 he was a member of the Jewish socialist party, “Fareynikte” (United). He took part in the civil war, and in 1919 he joined the Communist Party. He wrote poetry, belonged to the Proletkult (Proletarian culture) direction in literature, and attended the first conference of Proletkult writers in 1920. That same year, he worked for a time as editor of the Odessa Yiddish newspaper Komunistshe shtim (Communist voice). He tried to establish in Moscow a proletarian literary group and put out a journal. From the mid-1920s, he developed his proletarian literary activities in Ukraine, and he was one of the editors of the journals Prolit (Proletarian literature) and Di royte velt (The red world) in Kharkov, among others. The subject matter of his poetic and prose works was to tie them to labor circles. He celebrated the revolution and “socialist construction,” and wrote about heroism during the civil war and, later, about problems in the Jewish town and village, about class struggle in the Jewish environment. All of this aside, he was in his writing a “blazing patriot” of the Soviet Union and of the Communist Party, and yet he did not avoid persecution by the regime. It was in late 1940, the same year in which his memoirs concerning Y. L. Perets was published, whom he had met while in Warsaw, was published. He was arrested and deported to a camp in the north. According to information from his wife, he died in 1944.

            Among his books: Lider (Poems), together with poems by Dovid Utkes, Monye Gurevitsh, Elishe Rodin, and Hirsh Riklin (Homel: State Publ., 1921), 69 pp.; Hamer-klangen (Banging of the hammer), poems (Moscow: All-Russian Proletkult, 1922), 53 pp.; Royte purim-shpil, bufonade (A red Purim play, slapstick) (Moscow, 1922), 17 pp.; Leninyade, poeme (Leninade, a poem) (Kiev: Kniaspilke, 1926), 48 pp.; Brunems (Wells), stories (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers, 1929), 275 pp., second enlarged and complete edition (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers, 1932), 281 pp.; Afn dnyeperboy (On Dnieper construction), notes (Kharkov: Literatur un kunst, 1931), 48 pp.; Bay unz in land iz may (It’s May with us inland), poetry (Kharkov, 1932), 316 pp.; Fonen af bagnetn (Banners on bayonets), poems with Itsik Fefer (Kharkov, 1932); Gezamlte verk (Collected works), vol. 1, poems 1908-1928 (Kharkov: Literatur un kunst, 1932), 292 pp.; Shlakhtn, fuftsn yor oktyaber in der kinstlerisher literatur (Battles, fifteen years in artistic literature), compiled together with Hershl Orland and B. Kahan (Kharkov-Kiev: State Publishers for National Minorities, 1932), 543 pp.; Ongrayf (Assault), a story (Kharkov: Literatur un kunst, 1934), 331 pp.; Der kantshik (The whip), a story (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1936), 20 pp.; A khasene (A wedding) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1937), 48 pp.; Fligl (Wing) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1939), 285 pp.  His work was also included in: Almanakh, fun yidishe sovetishe shrayber tsum alfarbandishn shrayber-tsuzamenfor (Almanac, from Soviet Jewish writers to the all-Soviet conference of writers) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1934); Der arbeter in der yidisher literatur, fargesene lider (The worker in Yiddish literature, forgotten poems) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishing House, 1939); Birebidzhan (Birobidzhan), anthology (Moscow, 1936); Far der bine: dertseylungen, pyeses, lider (For the stage: stories, plays, poems), with musical notation (together with Yekhezkl Dobrushin and Elye Gordon) (Moscow, 1929); Mut (Courage), poetry collection (Moscow, 1920); Shlakhtn (Battles) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932); Deklamater fun der sovetisher yidisher literatur (Reciter of Soviet Yiddish literature) (Moscow, 1934). 

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; M. Litvakov, in Bikher-velt (1923); Litvakov, In umru (Disquiet), vol. 2 (Moscow, 1926); Y. Bronshteyn, Shtern (Minsk) 4 (1926); H. in Royte velt 4 (Kharkov, 1926); Shmuel Niger, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 29, 1927); A. Goldin, in Der veker (New York) (September 1, 1928); Bronshteyn, in Atake (Attack) (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk, 1931); D. Tsharni, in Tsukunft (New York) (October 1935); M. Mizhiritski, in Farmest (Kharkov) (October 1936); B. Glazman, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (October 4, 1940); A. Almi, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (September 10, 1942); H. Vaynraykh, Blut af der sun (Blood on the sun) (New York, 1950), pp. 198-203; Elkhonen Tsaytlin, In a literarisher shtub (In a literary home) (Buenos Aires, 1946), p. 51.

Aleksander Pomerants 

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 157; and 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), p. 83.]


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