AVROM “GLYEB” MUTNIK (June 15, 1868-September 10, 1930)
His proper family name was Mutnikovitsh. He was born in Vilkomir (Ukmergė), Lithuania. At age eight he lost his father (a private lawyer) and was raised by family in Kovno; there, until 1885, he studied in a high school, from which he was expelled two months before graduation by the Tsarist authorities for belonging to a revolutionary circle. Three years later he went abroad, studied in a technical school in Berlin, later Berne University. Over the years 1889-1893, he lived with his sister in Ponevezh (Panevėžys), Lithuania, turned to illegal revolutionary activities, and there he was arrested and spent four months in jail. After being freed (1894), he made his way to Vilna, where he became a member of the “Group of Jewish social democrats,” and from that point forward his pioneering work was tied to the Bund. Mutnik was one of the three who called for a founding meeting of the Bund in Vilna in October 1897, and who later formed the first central committee of the new party. He was arrested on several occasions and perforce lived illegally (using the party pseudonym of Glyeb). He was active in Vilna, Moscow, Vilkomir, Kovno, and Lodz. For many years he served as secretary and administrator of the foreign committee of the Bund, as well as being in charge of its publishing house, library, and archive (initially in London, later in Geneva). He was the author of the first appeal of the Bund’s central committee to celebrate May 1 in 1898. He was a member of the editorial board of Der idisher arbayter (The Jewish worker) (Geneva, 1896-1897), as well as of Posledniya izvestiya (Latest news) and Letste pasirungen (Latest happenings) in 1905. He was a contributor to Zhizn’ (Life) in London (1902). He served as manager of the publishing house, which brought out the daily Bundist Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) and later Di hofnung (The hope) in Vilna (1906-1907); he remained in charge even after publishing activities moved over to B. Kletskin. He was the anonymous author of a series of pamphlets in Yiddish and Russian, published by the foreign committee of the Bund. He spent the last years of his life in Berlin, where he worked with Klal Publishers, in charge of translations from Russian and Yiddish. He died in Berlin. Portions of his autobiography, written in the last months of his life, with notes by F. Kurski, were published in Tsukunft (Future) in New York (September-December 1933); in addition to biographical materials, these include important descriptions of Bundist activities.
Sources: Der veker (New York) (December 20, 1930); A. V. Yasni, Di geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung in lodzh (The history of Jewish labor movement in Lodz) (Lodz, 1937), p. 100; Y. Sh. Herts, Doyres bundistn (Generations of Bundists), vol. 1 (New York, 1956), pp. 122-30 (detailed biography); Leo Bernshteyn, Ershte shprotsungen (First sprouts) (Buenos Aires, 1956), see index; Di geshikhte fun bund (The history of the Bund), vol. 1 (New York, 1960), vol. 2 (New York, 1962), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks