Thursday, 9 March 2017


YOYSEF LIBERBERG (October 25, 1898-March 9, 1937)
            He was born in the town of Starokonstantinov, Volhynia, Ukraine.  He studied in religious primary school and general subject matter privately; he later studied in a Russian high school in Kiev, where he excelled for his knowledge and extraordinary memory.  After the February Revolution in 1917, he sat for examinations as an external student for the eighth class in Kiev and continued into the historical and philological faculty of Kiev University.  At this time he was politically close to the left Labor Zionists, but after the October Revolution, he joined the Communist Party.  He interrupted his university education and volunteered to join the Red Army.  He debuted in print as a journalist in 1918-1919, and wrote in three languages: Yiddish, Ukrainian, and Russian.  In 1922 he was appointed as a lecturer at the higher military-political course of study run by the central committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine.  He was demobilized from the Red Army in 1924.  He was in charge of the subject “History of the Western European Revolutionary Movement” at the Kiev senior high school and at the Ukrainian Institute of Marxism-Leninism.  In 1925 he was officially appointed as professor of Wester European history.  Over the years 1924-1927, on two occasions he was sent on scholarly missions abroad.  He was appointed professor and director of the recently established department of Jewish Proletarian Culture at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.  In October 1934 he was elected a corresponding member of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.  At the same time the Soviet government named him to a position on the organizing committee of the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan.  From 1924 he was writing for Yiddish periodicals and anthologies in Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Russia.  He published articles and treatments of historical topics, on economic issues, and on literary and linguistic research.  He was among the most active delegates at the Yiddish language meeting in Kiev (1935).  His published books include: Reshime fun der yidisher prese in ukraine in der tsayt fun der revolutsye, februar 1917-februar 1919 (Listing of the Yiddish press in Ukraine in the time of the Revolution, February 1917-February 1919) (Kiev, 1919), 94 pp.; Ekonomishe un sotsyale geshikhte fun England, 1760-1850 (Economic and social history of England, 1760-1850) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1927), 185 pp.; editor, Oktyaber-teg, materyaln tsu der geshikhte fun der oktyaber-revolutsye (October days, materials for the history of the October Revolution) (Kiev, 1927), 432 pp.; Di oyfgabn fun der yidisher biblyologye (The publications of Jewish bibliology) (Kiev, 1930), 48 pp.  He also edited: Byuletin fun der katedre far yidisher kultur bay der alukrainisher visnshaft-akademye (Bulletin of the department of Jewish culture in the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences) in Kiev (1928-1930); B. Slutski’s Leksikon fun politishe un fremde verter (Lexicon of political terminology and foreign words), with H. Kozakevitsh (Kiev, 1929), 1010 pp.; Biblyologisher zamlbukh (Bibliological miscellany) (Moscow-Kharkov-Minsk: Central Publishers for the Peoples of the USSR, 1930), 546 pp.; Visnshaft un revolutsye (Science and revolution), a quarterly published by the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences in partnership with the Institute of Jewish Proletarian Culture (Kiev, 1934-1936).  In the anthology Yidn in fss”r (Jews in the USSR) (Moscow, 1935), edited by Sh. Dimantshteyn, he published “Di yidish-visnshaftlekhe arbet in ratn-farband” (Yiddish scholarly work in the Soviet Union).  During the intensive period of terror (1936), he was blamed for all manner of “deviations” in his historical work, and in July 1936 he was arrested and sentenced to death on March 9, 1937.  According to subsequent information he was shot while in prison in 1937.

Sources: Kalmen Marmor, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (March 23, 1931); R. K. R., in Morgn-frayhayt (November 2, 1934); H. Vaynroykh, Blut af der zun (Blood on the sun) (New York, 1950), pp. 75-76; Elye Shulman, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (July 18, 1952); Shulman, in Der veker (New York) (August 1, 1961); Al. Pomerants, in Dovid edelshtat gedenk-bukh (Dovid Edelshtot memory book) (New York, 1953), see index; Pomerants, in Forverts (New York) (April 22, 1962); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Yiddish writer in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
Borekh Tshubinski

[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. 201-2.]

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