LEYBUSH-LEON DRAYKURS (DREIKURS) (February 4, 1894-Summer 1941).
He was born in Lemberg. His mother was a descendant of the well-known Bardakh family of Lemberg. He studied in religious elementary school and secular subjects in Lemberg public school and high school. He was active in an illegal student union and a member of its central committee. At that time he became acquainted with modern Yiddish literature. In 1911 he began publishing poetry in Labor Zionist publications and signed them with three asterisks or with his initials. One of his first editors was Berl Loker, and the poetess Malke Loker introduced him to the Young-Yiddish literary group in Lemberg, among whom were: Melech Ravitsh, A. M. Fuks, Sh. Y. Imber, and Dovid Kenigsberg. Musicians set a number of his poems to music, and they were popular among the populace. Over the years 1914-1918, during WWI, he served in the Austrian Army. He was arrested by the Polish authorities during the pogroms in Lemberg, and a trial was carried out against him in Stanislav. After being freed, he worked as a mail clerk. In 1921 he began to publish poems in Lemberg’s Der yudisher arbayter (The Jewish laborer). Later he became a regular contributor to Dos togblat (Daily newspaper) in Lemberg. In the early 1920s, he left for Czechoslovakia. He was one of the founders of the first Yiddish theater there. He moved on with a Yiddish acting troupe through the Jewish communities of Central Europe, and over the course of two years performed roles in various dramas and operettas. He later returned to Lemberg. He contributed once again to Dos togblat. Using his own name or the pen names Leybele or Zeligzon, he published poetry, stories, and articles in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) and Moment (Moment) in Warsaw. He also published his work in Folk un land (People and country), the organ of Hitaḥdut (the “union” of young Zionists), of which he was editor of the division “Literatur un kritik” (Literature and criticism). Over the course of several months at the beginning of 1926, he was living in Riga, Latvia, and he was the technical editor of Frimorgn (Morning) there. He moved to Warsaw that same year and became extremely interested in Warsaw’s Yiddish theater. He settled down, though, in Yiddish and Polish Jewish journalism. He was one of the editors of the daily newspaper Nasz Przegląd (Our review) and a standing contributor to Undzer ekspres (Our express). He wrote poems, stories, and novels. He was also, from time to time, active on the Yiddish stage, as a folksinger, prompter, and radio announcer. He wrote the plays: In rod (In circle) and Korekh (Koraḥ). Among his books: Dos bukh fun bakentenish (The book of recognition), poems (Lemberg: Arbet, 1921), which during the Polish-Bolshevik war was lost somewhere; and Kulisn, roman in tsvey teyln (Wings [of a theater], a novel in two parts), about the lives of actors (Warsaw: Bzshoza, 1927), 320 pp. At the beginning of WWII in 1939, he escaped from Warsaw to Lemberg, once his home. There he suffered under Soviet rule. He spoke on the radio about Yiddish literature and for a time was involved with the Yiddish theater. At that time, he and Nokhum Bomze composed a drama which was adopted by the Kiev Yiddish state theater. In 1941 he was in the Yanov concentration camp. We have no further information on the place or exact date of his death.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (Vilna, 1928); Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater) (New York, 1931); M. Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945); Z. Segalovitsh, Tlomatske draytsn (13 Tłomackie St.) (Buenos Aires, 1946), p. 106; F. Zerubavel, Na venad, fartseykhenungen fun a pleyte (Wanderer, notes of a refugee) (Buenos Aires, 1947), p. 82; Y. Y. Trunk, Di yidishe proze in poyln in der tkufe tsvishn beyde velt-milkhomes (Yiddish prose in Poland in the era between the two world wars) (Buenos Aires, 1949), p. 154; Dr. Y. Tenenboym, Galitsye, mayn alte heym (Galicia, my old home) (Buenos Aires, 1952), p. 168; M. Turkov, Di letste fun a groysn dor (The last of a great generation) (Bueons Aires, 1954), p. 226; N. Veynig, in Tsushteyer (Lemberg) (June 1930); Elkhonen Tsaytlin, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (June 3, 1927); M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933), p. 56; D. Tsharni (Charney), in Tsulkunft (New York) (January 1943); “Yizker” (Remembrance), Yidishe shriftn (Lodz, 1946).