Wednesday 23 March 2016


SHMUEL HELMOND (1905-August 1941)

            He was a poet, son of Arn Helmond and older brother of the poet Moyshe Helmond, born in the town of Volodars'k-Volyns'kyy (Kutuzovo), Zhytomyr district, Ukraine. He graduated from the local Jewish school, and in 1924 he began his studies at the Minsk Jewish Pedagogical Technicum, but he left Minsk after two years when he moved to Moscow and became a student in the Jewish division of the Pedagogical Institute there. He graduated in 1930, became a teacher, and this was to be his profession for his entire life. Initially, he worked in the professional technical school in the city of Cherkas (Cherkassy), later moving to Odessa which was to be his hometown until June 1941. When WWII broke out, he immediately set out for the front with the army. After two months, in August 1941, Lieutenant Shmuel Helmond fell in battle at the village of Vasin, Kirovohrad district, Ukraine.

            From childhood he was writing poetry, and his first critic and literary guide was his father. His first literary school was in Minsk, where there converged around the newspaper Der yunger arbeter (The young worker) such young poets and prose writers as Buzi Olyevski, Note Lurye, Mendl Lifshits, and others, who had already debuted with their work in Minsk and Moscow Yiddish periodical publications. Helmond’s first poem, “Ukrayine” (Ukraine), was published in the Minsk journal Shtern (Star) 2 (1925). That same year, his story entitled “Gerangl” (Struggle) appeared in the Moscow journal Yungvald (Young forest). The illustrated supplement to the Moscow newspaper Emes (Truth) in 1928 published a poem of his with a portrait of the young poet. He was especially productive when he moved to Odessa, where a large group of young writers were active, students at the Jewish Pedagogical Technicum and the Jewish division of the Odessa Pedagogical Institute. They published their work in the newspaper Odeser arbeter (Odessa worker), as well as in Yiddish periodicals of Moscow, Kiev, and Minsk. In 1931, Helmond brought out his first collection of poetry, and in subsequent years he published several further books. Their themes were diverse, the majority lyrical chants of a man who is in love with life, but feels at the same time that the cruel times will take it from him. He also published translations of French poetry in Der yunger arbeter in Minsk, and together with his younger brother Moyshe Helmond, he translated poetry from Russian into Yiddish.

He authored: “Tripolye” (Tripoli), in Kep, lider zamlung, gevidmet di korbones funem vaysn teror (Heads, poetry collection, dedicated to the victims of the white terror) (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1926); Yugnt in land (Youth in the country), lyrical revolutionary spirit (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk: Central People’s Publishers, 1931), 79 pp.; Elektre in step (Electrification in the steppe), a poem about a Russian-Ukrainian village after collectivization (Kiev-Kharkov, 1935), 109 pp.; Di lid vegn mishke shabalin fun kolvirt stalin (The poem about Mishke Shabalin from the collective farm Stalin), a poem about the peoples of the Soviet Union all living together (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1937), 45 pp.; Lider (Poems) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1940), 128 pp., including, in addition to social revolutionary poetry, also lyrical and nationalist poetry; “Far a geviter” (Before a storm), a poetry cycle in the anthology Lire (Lyre) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1985).

Sources: B. Orshanski, in Tsayshrift (Minsk) 5 (1931); A. Vevyorke, Der stil fun der proletarisher literatur (The style of proletarian literature) (Kharkov, 1932), pp. 25-26; A. Druker, Di royte velt (Minsk) 3-4 (1932); Sh. Hirsh, in Shtern (Kharkov) 124 (1935); V. Vitkin, in Shtern (Minsk) 10-11 (1935); Y. Dobrushin, in Odeser arbeter (Odessa) 170 (1935); Dobrushin, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (November 15, 1945); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index.

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 222; 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), pp. 126-27.]

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