Sunday 25 September 2016


ELKONE KHARMATS (CHARMATZ) (December 21, 1910-May 1986)
            He was born in Ostrovtse (Ostrowiec), Kielce district, Poland.  After his father’s death, he moved to Cracow and from there to Sosnovits (Sosnowiec), where he had a glass business.  During the Nazi occupation, he was confined in the Sosnovits ghetto.  In February 1940 he was arrested by the Gestapo, driven through a number of work camps in Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia, and he spent time in Auschwitz and Dachau.  After liberation he left in May 1945 for Paris, and from there in December 1946 he made his way to Brazil.  He began writing when young, publishing stories and reportage pieces in Moment (Moment) and Haynt (Today) in Warsaw, as well as in the Zaglembyer tsaytung (Zagłębie newspaper) in Będzin, and later he wrote for Unzer vort (Our word) and Arbeter-vort (Workers’ word) in Paris.  He traveled as a correspondent of the Parisian Jewish newspapers to the Nuremberg and Dachau Trials.  In Brazil he initially contributed to and co-edited Di idishe prese (The Jewish press) in Rio de Janeiro (edited by Arn Bergman), later becoming editor of Idishe prese (Jewish press) in São Paolo.  He published (using as well the pen names D. Hartsfelt, A. Kheyt, and Melekh Avyon) stories and articles in: Davar (Word) in Tel Aviv, Idishe tsaytung (Jewish newspaper) in Buenos Aires; and Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Montevideo.  He was general secretary of the united Zionist organization (Unifikado), secretary of the united Israel campaign, member of the central committee of the Labor Zionist “Hitaḥdut” (union), and secretary of the local division of the World Jewish Culture Congress.  His books include: Koshmarn, zikhroynes fun di groylike yorn fun der natsisher memshole in Eyrope, 1939-1945 (Nightmares, memories of gruesome years under Nazi domination, 1939-1945) (São Paolo: Nayer moment, 1975), 326 pp.[1]  His work was included in Sh. Rozhanski, ed., Katsetlers, antologye (Concentration camp survivors, anthology) (Buenos Aires, 1982).

Sources: Sh. Kants, in Letste nayes (Tel Aviv) (June 11, 1976); Y. Shmulevitsh, in Unzer vort (Paris) (August 19, 1976); B. Frenkel, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (December 1976); Z. A. Berbitshes, in Der veg (Mexico City) (February 17, 1978); L. Shalit, in Afrikaner idishe tsaytung (Johannesburg) (May 16, 1980).
Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 273.]

[1] Translator’s note.  There is an English translation of this memoir by Miriam Dashkin Beckerman, Nightmares: Memoirs of the Years of Horror under Nazi Rule in Europe, 1939-1945 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2003), 274 pp.

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