Tuesday, 20 December 2016


MEYER YELIN (October 3, 1910-2000)
            The brother of the writer and partisan leader Khayim Yelin, he was born in Srednik (Seredžius), Lithuania, into a family of teachers.  With the expulsion of Lithuanian Jewry during WWI (1915), his family made its way to Voronezh, Russia, returning to Lithuania in 1921 at which time they settled in Kovno (then capital of the country).  His father was head of the Jewish library, which was the center of literary and cultural activities.  He graduated from the Kovno Hebrew high school in 1928, and he won a scholarship to study in Darmstadt, Germany at the senior technical school.  He returned in 1933 with a diploma as a construction engineer and went on to continue his studies at Kovno University.  He was a member of the central committee of the Zionist Socialists in Lithuania.  With the German invasion, he and his family tried to escape from Lithuania, but they were caught and dispersed in late July 1941 into the Kovno ghetto.  During the German occupation, he was active with his brother Khayim in the Jewish partisan movement.  In 1944 he escape from the ghetto and survived the war in hiding.  After the war he returned to Kovno and cofounded the first postwar Jewish school and children’s home in Kovno.  He debuted in print with a story in Di idishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Kovno (1928), and from that point he published stories, reportage pieces, and articles as well in: Dos vort (The word), Di tsayt (The times), Shlyakhn (Unpaved roads) (1932), Toyern (Gates) (1937), Bleter (Leaves) (1938), and Naye bleter (New leaves), among other serials in Kovno; Der emes (The truth) in Kovno and Vilna; Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow; and elsewhere.  His books include: Partizaner in kaunaser geto (Partisans in the Kaunas ghetto), with D. Gelpern (Moscow, 1948), 164 pp.; Mirties fortuose (Forts of death), a work in Lithuanian about Nazi atrocities in the Kovno region (Vilna, 1957), 78 pp., with illustrations (M. Eglinis); Zeyere blikn hobn zikh bagegnt (Their glances met one another) (Moscow: Sovetsi pisatel, 1972), 380 pp., Lithuanian edition as well; Der prayz fun yenem broyt, dertseylungen (The price of that bread, stories) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1977), 268 pp., for which he was awarded the Zecharia Ganapolsky Prize in Paris; Blut un vofn (Blood and weapons) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1978), 250 pp.; Di mirazhn funem amok-loyfer oskar grik (The mirages of Oskar Grik who ran amok) (Tel Aviv: Leivick Farlag, 1981), 190 pp., which was awarded a prize from the world center of the Yiddish PEN club in New York; Borves iber shney (Barefoot over the snow) (Tel Aviv: Leivick Farlag, 1984), 253 pp.; Fayerrisn inem khoyshekh, dertseylungen (Burning in the darkness, stories) (Tel Aviv: Leivick Farlag, 1988), 238 pp.; Bay di gliendike koyln (Near the glowing coals) (Tel Aviv: Leivick Farlag, 1994), 302 pp.  The topic of all of his books was the same: Jewish martyrdom and heroism in the face of the Nazis.  He also compiled, with Helene Khatskeles, the textbook in Yiddish: Der nayer alef beys (The new ABCs) (Moscow, 1948), 64 pp.  In the U.S.S.R. he published in: Heymland (Homeland) and Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow.  From 1973 he was living in Israel where he died.  He was honored with many more prizes as well.

Sources: N. B. in Naye bleter (Kovno, 1939), pp. 122-23; A. Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); Y. Mir, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (May 22, 1945); H. Khatskeles, in Eynikeyt (March 25, 1947); M. Rabinovitsh, in Eynikeyt (September 21, 1948); Yoysef Gar, Umkum fun der yidisher kovne (Destruction of Jewish Kovno) (Munich, 1948), pp. 266, 332; N. Y. Gotlib, in anthology Lite (Lithuania), vol. 1 (New York, 1951), p. 1106; Dr. Sh. Grinhoyz, in Lite, p. 1753; A. Gonter, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (November 20, 1956); L. Garfunkel, Kovna hayehudit beḥurbana (Jewish Kovno in the Holocaust) (Jerusalem, 1959), p. 168.
Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 304; 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. 180-82.]

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