Thursday 5 January 2017


KOPL YOKTON (b. 1902)
            He was born in a town in the Vitebsk region of Byelorussia.  In 1918 he moved to Riga, joined the Latvian people’s militia, and was sent thereafter to the front, where he was severely wounded in a battle at Kranoye Selo, near St. Petersburg, and both of his feet had to be amputated.  He later graduated from Dorpat University with distinction.  Over the years 1929-1931, he was secretary of the Jewish cultural affairs committee of Estonia.  He was plenipotentiary from the Baltic Jewish war invalid association in Estonia and the agent for its journal, Der baltisher yidisher krigs-invalid (The Baltic Jewish war invalid), to which he was a contributor as well.  In May 1930 he traveled to Paris as a delegate to the World Congress of Jewish Invalids, and from 1932 he was living in France.  He began writing in his student days, publishing articles in the Riga Yiddish dailies Dos folk (The people) and Frimorgn (Morning), and also contributing to other Yiddish and Russian publications in Latvia.  His published books include: Di geshikhte fun di idn in estland (The history of the Jews in Estonia) (Dorpat, 1927), 100 pp.  In the 1930 he became extremely ill and remained in a hospital in Marseilles, France, and wrote his memoirs while sick.  After being discharged from the hospital in 1938, he returned to Paris where he published his book Di geshikhte fun a yungn yidishn krigs-invalid fun der rusisher armey (The story of a young Jewish war invalid in the Russian army).  Regrettably, the book is unavailable in American libraries.  He also published and edited Di naye parizer idishe tsaytung (The new Parisian Jewish newspaper), “organ of the community and the people”: issue no. 1 (June 13, 1938), issue no. 3 (June 1939).  A sequel to the newspaper, entitled Der yidisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter), appeared in print in Paris in March 1940.  What happened to Yokton under the Nazi occupation remains unknown.

Sources: M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933), pp. 47-51; Der idisher krigs-invalid (Riga) (1930); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928); Tsen yor fareyn, baltisher idisher krigs-invalidn farband almanakh (Ten years of the union, the almanac association of Baltic Jewish war invalids) (Riga, 1938), p. 77.
Zaynvl Diamant

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