MARK (MORTKHE) YARBLUM (MARC JARBLUM) (January 24, 1887-February 7, 1972)
He was born in Warsaw. He was the younger brother of the Polish Jewish writer Mikhl Yarblum. He studied in a Russian high school, from which he was expelled in February 1908 for his revolutionary activities. He was among the founders of the Labor Zionist party in Poland, and he traveled around on missions for the party as an illegal propagandist, appeared in secret labor meetings in the forest, and was arrested during the student strike in Warsaw in 1905. In April 1906 he was sent by the party illegally to Cracow, where he edited and published the first Labor Zionist newspaper in Poland, Dos yudishe arbayter-vort (The word of Jewish labor), organ of the Częstochowa district committee, and (using the pen names M. Solomon, Mi, and Anyutin) he ran the newspaper practically all by himself. He also attended to illegally transporting the newspaper to Russian Poland. The second time he crossed the Polish-German border, he fell into the hands of the Tsarist police, was thrown in prison in Bendin (Będzin), and was then sent back to Warsaw. In 1907 he departed for Paris to study, and there at the Sorbonne he later graduated from the physics and mathematics as well as the law faculties. He was active in the French Socialist Party and was in close contact with its leaders, among them: Jean Jaurès, Jean Longet, and others. He was also active in the Zionist movement in France. In 1911 he went on a visit to Warsaw, was arrested there, spent several months in jail, and was then dispatched to a secluded village in the Vyatka region of the northeastern Russia. A year later he escaped from the village and returned to Paris. During WWI he was active campaigning for labor Zionism among political émigrés from the states engaged in warfare. At that time he became acquainted with Léon Blum and won his sympathies for Zionism. Shortly after the revolution in 1917, he traveled back to Russia, wrote a pamphlet in Russian about the socialist international and labor Zionism (published by Leyb Yofe in Moscow in 1917), went on from Moscow to Warsaw where he was editor of the Labor Zionist journal Der yunger yudisher kemfer (The young Jewish fighter) in Warsaw, and was elected as a member of the Warsaw city council, but then soon returned to Paris. In the 1920s and 1930s in Paris he built a major political and journalistic set of activities. He was chairman of the federation of Jewish associations in France, which fulfilled the function under his leadership of a community with social and cultural institutions, such as: aid to poor immigrants, help for the sick and for children, a Jewish library with a reading room, evening classes, and the like. In 1929 he organized the international socialist congress for a laboring land of Israel, in which such socialist leaders as Émile Vandervelde, Léon Blum, and Eduard Bernstein took part. He edited the newspapers: Unzer vort (Our word), “organ of the united Jewish socialist party, Labor-Zionist Hitaḥdut in France” (issue no. 1 appeared on June 23, 1933); and Di naye tsayt (The new times), “weekly of right Labor Zionism” (twenty-nine issues appeared, beginning on January 17, 1936). He often published articles Warsaw’s Haynt (Today), New York’s Tog (Day), and Paris’s Parizer haynt (Paris today), among others. In 1937 he was selected into the central bureau of the united socialist party, Labor-Zionist Hitaḥdut, and at the twentieth Zionist congress he was selected onto the Zionist action committee. He was a member of Vaad Hapoel Hatsiyoni (Zionist General Council), and over the course of many years he was the representative of Zionist labor (Mapai and Histadrut) in the socialist and trade union international. During WWII he did a great deal of relief work with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. He continued publishing articles in Parizer haynt. He was editor of the biweekly newspaper Dos vort (The word) in Paris (twenty-nine issues appeared, first on January 20, 1940). During the Nazi occupation of Paris, he remained in the unoccupied zone in France, at the head of the illegal Jewish committee. He was also closely tied with the Jewish aid committee in Nice, and for a time linked to the French and French-Jewish resistance movement. After November 1942, when the Nazis seized all of France, he lived in hiding—both the Gestapo and the collaborationist Vichy police were looking to arrest him. Yarblum was sought by the Gestapo right after the Nazis took Paris in June 1940; we know from documents that he was on a list of theirs of ten Jews—including Rothschild, Georges Mandel, and the like—to be arrested. In the summer of 1943 he was successful rescued into Switzerland where he was the responsible party for the Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish World Congress, and with their material help he centralized the relief work for Jews in France. After the liberation of France, he returned to Paris and played an important role in exercising a positive stance among the French representatives at the United Nations on behalf of the creation of a Jewish state. He became once again active in Jewish life of France, served as chairman of Jewish associations, and was the representative for the Jewish Agency, Histadrut, and Mapai. He assisted in arrangements for Jewish refugee writers in Paris, as well as aiding their travel to the state of Israel, the United States, and Argentina. For his patriotism during the war, he received the highest French awards: Knight of the Legion of Honor (Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur) in 1948 and Officer of the Legion of Honor (Officier de la Légion d’Honneur) in 1958. He edited the Labor Zionist weekly Unzer vort, contributed later to the daily Unzer vort, the monthly Kiem (Existence), and New York’s Tog (Day), and in the Parisian French-language press and the Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers and magazines in the Americas and Israel. In the summer of 1946 he made a trip through the camps of survivors in Germany, in devastated Poland, and Israel, and he later published the book Its Habitent en Securité (They will live in safety), the title take from Ezekiel 28 (Paris, 1947), 383 pp. His other books in French include: Le Destin de la Palestine Juive, de la Déclaration Balfour, 1917 au Livre Blanc 1939 (The destiny of Jewish Palestine, from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the White Paper of 1939) (Paris, 1939), 78 pp.; Le problème juif dans la théorie et la pratique du communism (The Jewish problem in the theory and practice of Communism) (Paris, 1953), 93 pp.; La lutte des Juifs contre les Nazis (The fight of the Jews against the Nazis) (Paris, 1953), 32 pp. In English: The Socialist International and Zionism (New York, 1933), 32 pp. In Yiddish: Der internatsyonaler sotsyalizm in erets-yisroel (International socialism in the land of Israel) (Warsaw, 1929), 32 pp.; Der emes vegn di unterhandlungen mit daytshland (The truth about the negotiations with Germany) (Paris, 1952), 47 pp.; Sovet-rusland un di yidn-frage (Soviet Russia and the Jewish question) (Jerusalem, 1953), 91 pp. In 1955 Yarblum moved to Israel where he worked for the Zionist General Council of Histadrut. He published articles in Davar (Word) and Hapoel hatsair (The young worker) in Tel Aviv, and served as correspondent for Yiddish newspapers in Paris, New York, and Argentina. He died in Bnei Brak, Israel.
Sources: N. Nir-Rafalkes, in Royter pinkes (Warsaw) 2 (1924); Nir-Rafalkes, in Pinkes varshe (Records of Warsaw) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 300-18; Nir-Rafalkes, Ershte yorn (First years) (Tel Aviv, 1960), pp. 114, 129, 132ff; Di vegn fun unzer politik (The pathways of our politics) (Tel Aviv: Poele-Tsiyon-Histadrut, 1938); B. Lande, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (September 20, 1957); Sefer hapartizanim haivrim (Volume on the Jewish partisans) (Merhavya, 1958), pp. 243, 482.