ILYA LYUMKIS (ISAK LYUMKES) (1908-1992)
A writer on current events, he was born in a town near Kiev, Ukraine. After graduating from school, he worked in a factory. He began writing as an “Arbkor” (worker-correspondent) and published reportage pieces on the factory and its workers in Yiddish newspapers in Kharkov and Kiev, especially often in Yunge gvardye (Young guard). From that point, the scope of his writings expanded, and his name began to appear all the more often in reportage pieces and reviews of books in such newspapers and magazines as: Pyoner (Pioneer), Yungvald (Young forest), Der emes (The truth), and Eynikeyt (Unity)—in Moscow; Der shtern (The star), Royte velt (Red world), and Prolit (Proletarian literature) in Kharkov; Proletarishe fon (Proletarian banner) in Kiev; and Birobidzhaner shtern (Birobidzhan star). In the early 1930s, he became an internal contributor to the newspaper Yunge gvardye. In the latter half of the 1930s, he was a regular contributor to Der shtern. The last two years before the coming of war to Russia in June 1941, he lived in Czernowitz, Bukovina, as a special correspondent for Der shtern in Western Europe. He went from Czernowitz to the front when the war started. Near the end of the war, he made his way to Moscow where he was (1946) invited to join the editorial board of Eynikeyt and run the culture department. In 1947 he joined the first postwar group of Jewish immigrants to Birobidzhan, wrote essays and reportage pieces for Eynikeyt which were included in his booklet Eshelonen geyen keyn birobidzhan (Troops go off to Birobidzhan). In late 1948 he moved to Riga where his brother lived, but there he was arrested for “nationalism.” He was deported to a northern camp and sentenced to fifteen years of penal hard labor. He was freed in 1956 and returned suffering and ill to Riga, but he never returned to Yiddish. He did not even accept an invitation to contribute his work to the journal Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow.
In book form he published: Pyanist, fartseykhenungen (Pianist, notes), about Jewish music in Russia, with a foreword by Yakob Magaziner (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1939), 62 pp.; Eshelonen geyen keyn birobidzhan (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 120 pp., notes on his travels together with Jewish immigrants from Ukraine to Birobidzhan in 1947 and 1948, published initially in installments in Eynikeyt (1947-1948). He translated (with M. Shapiro) Giovanni Germanetto’s Shriftn fun a sherer (Writings of a barber [original: Memorie di un barbiere]) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1934), 186 pp.; and Rudyard Kipling’s Riki-tiki-tavi (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1924), 33 pp. In the serial Sovetish (Soviet) 12 (Moscow, 1941), he published (under the pen name N. Lyum) a work on Sholem-Aleykhem.
Sources: N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetn-farband 1932 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union, 1934) (Minsk, 1935), see index; Y. Magaziner, foreword to Pyanist (Pianist) (Kiev, 1939), pp. 3-4; Y. Shternberg, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (November 2, 1948); Y. Ben-Yosef, in Yad vashem (Jerusalem) 3 (1959/1960), p. 155; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks.
[Additional information from: 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. 204-5.]
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