Thursday 24 March 2016


LEYZER HELER (1885-May 29, 1934)
            He was born in Libave (Liepāja), Latvia, where his father was the city’s rabbi.  He studied in religious primary school and in a senior high school.  He later attended the Riga Polytechnicum.  He subsequently became active in the Bund, and in 1905, during the first Russian Revolution, he played a major role on the revolutionary stage in Latvia.  With the failure of the revolution, he was compelled to escape abroad, and from 1906 he was living in Germany where he studied at the polytechnic in Karlsruhe and graduated in electrical engineering.  He moved to Warsaw in 1909, where he opened a factory of electrical materials, and wanting to employ Jewish laborers he had to engage in a struggle for the “right to work” for his Jewish workers, given the conditions then prevalent in Poland.  He then renewed his activities with the Bund and was a cofounder of the “Jewish Literary Society” in Warsaw, in which he worked with Y. L. Perets.  During the electoral campaign for the fourth Russian Duma, Heler was one of the leaders of the Jewish community and was for a time placed under arrest.  During WWI he was socially and politically active, and in April 1917 he was arrested by the German occupying authorities and spent several months, together with the most prominent leaders of the Bund, in a variety of concentration camps for prisoners in Germany.  After being set free in late 1917, he dedicated himself to statistical research on labor and living conditions for Jewish workers in Poland and later directed the special research commission which, with this goal in mind, organized the Joint Distribution Committee in Poland, according to the questionnaire carried out in 1921.  This research—from which various Jewish statisticians and economists (among them the scholar, Dr. Shaye Lipovski) published work—was systematized by Heler and recorded in the major work: Yidishe industryele unternemungen in poyln (Jewish industrial enterprises in Poland), three volumes, divided by administrative district, published in Warsaw, 1922-1924.  He also contributed pieces to the weekly Lebns-fragn (Life issues) (Warsaw, 1916-1918), with a series of popular scientific articles.  He also published under the pen name: B. Oris.  He died in Warsaw.

Source: Naye folks-tsaytung (Warsaw) (June 1, 1934).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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