Monday 28 November 2016


ELYE (ELIYAHU) YONES (December 25, 1915-January 2011)
            He was born in Vilna.  Early on he was left without parents, and at age eleven he already had to care for his own sustenance.  He graduated from the Yavne public school and later studied in the Ezra elementary school—both in Vilna.  He was active in the Bundist youth group Tsukunft (Future) and was a leader of the Bundist children’s organization SKIF (Sotsyalistishe kinder-farband, or Socialist children’s union).  In 1938 he studied in YIVO’s “pro-aspirantur” (introductory) program named for Virgili Kahan.  When the war erupted in 1939, he was working as a teacher in the town of Braslav (Brasław), later working as a baker in Zdolbunov (Zdolbuniv).  He spent the years 1941-1943 at the Kurovitse (Kurovichi) labor camp, near Lemberg, and 1944-1945 with the partisans in the forest; later, he joined the Red Army in eastern Galicia, and near Tarnov (Tarnów) he was wounded and lost a foot.  He was among the organizers of the “Bricha” (Briḥa) [organization to help postwar survivors escape Europe for Palestine], “Gius” (mobilization), and aliya, and he lived after the war for a time in displaced persons’ camps in Germany.  In 1950 he moved to the state of Israel.  He published reports and articles in Kleyne folkstsaytung (Little people newspaper) in Warsaw (1934-1937).  In 1946 he edited in Berlin the Holocaust survivors’ newspaper Unzer lebn (Our life), and in 1948 he was co-editor of Dos vort (The word) in Munich.  He published articles, as well as theater and book notices, and a series of sketches.  From 1952 he was editor of radio broadcasting of Kol-Yisrael (Voice of Israel) in Jerusalem.  In 1960 the publishing wing of Yad Vashem brought out in Hebrew his book Al pi habor (At the edge of the pit) (Jerusalem, 214 pp.), in which he described his experiences during the war years.  “Elye Yones’s book,” wrote Y. Rapaport, “belongs among the best books of Holocaust literature.  Simply and well written, it affords future historians of the Holocaust era rich and well informed material.”  In Tsukunft (New York) (November 1961), he published a piece of research on the Yiddish radio broadcasts in the state of Israel.  His Ph.D. dissertation: Yehudim belevov betekufat milḥemet haolam hasheniya uvashoa, 1939-1944 (The Jews of Lvov [Lemberg] in the era of World War II and the Holocaust, 1939-1944), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1995), 456 pp.—translated and reworked: Żydzi Lwowa w okresie okupacji, 1939-1945 (Jews of Lvov during the occupation) (Lodz : Oficyna Bibliofilów, 1999), 293 pp.; Evrei L”vova v gody vtoroi mirovoi voiny i katastrofy evropeiskogo evreistva 1939-1944 (The Jews of Lvov in the years of World War II and the catastrophe of European Jewry, 1939-1944) (Moscow and Jerusalem, 1999), 488 pp.; Ashan baḥolot, yehude levov bamilḥama, 1939-1944 (Smoke in the sand, Jews of Lvov during the war, 1939-1944) (Jerusalem: Yad vashem, 2001), 495 pp.; Smoke in the Sand: The Jews of Lvov in the War Years 1939-1944 (Jerusalem and New York: Gefen, 2004), 390 pp.

Sources: Y. Pat, in Di shtime (Mexico City) (December 20, 1947); M. Kushnir, in Omer (Tel Aviv) (November 18, 1960); Y. Krib, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (December 9, 1960); M. Alon, in Hapoel hatsair (Tel Aviv) (January 10, 1961); Y. Bashevis, in Forverts (New York) (January 29, 1961); Y. Rapaport, in Tsukunft (New York) (April 1961); M. Shenderay, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (April 3, 1961).
Leyzer Ran

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