YISROEL MITLMAN (1898-1951)
His was a bibliographer, born in Satanov (Sataniv), Podolia, Ukraine. Until age ten he studied in religious elementary school. He prepared to sit for the examinations to enter a Russian middle school, but they would not accept more than the normal percentage of Jews. He moved with his family to Uman on the eve of WWI. Shortly after the Revolution, he passed the examinations into the sixth class of high school in Uman. In 1920 he joined the Ukrainian “Spilka” ([Social Democratic] Union) in Kiev, served as secretary of the Communist cell, and was a delegate to regional conferences. In 1924 he continued his education the Chemistry Department at the Kiev Institute for People’s Education, but he was unable to complete his studies due to financial difficulties. From 1928 he was contributing work to: Kritik (Critic), Royter biblyotek (Red library), and Literatur-tsaytung (Literature newspaper)—in Kiev. At that time, he began working with the library and the division for book knowledge and bibliography at the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture. He published the following works: “Der tsushtand fun undzer biblyografye” (The condition of our bibliography), Kritik 2, 4, and 5 (1929); on Yiddish “Cards in the Ukrainian book room,” on the Yiddish section of the Ukrainian people’s library, and the bibliographic commission and bibliographic center of the Institute for Jewish Culture (all published in Biblyografisher zamlbukh [Bibliographic anthology], Kiev, 1930); “Di yidishe burzhuaze prese in dinst fun der imperyalistisher milkhome” (The Yiddish bourgeois press in service of the imperialist war), in Visnshaft un revolutsye (Science and revolution), vol. 3 (Kiev, 1935). He gained a great deal of acclaim for his work in the field of the Yiddish classics; he discovered forgotten pages from rare publications of Sholem Aleykhem and his epistolary heritage. He did not escape the purge of researchers at the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture in the latter half of the 1930s. He was freed after three months, continued his bibliographical searches, and published a number of such writings until the beginning of WWII. At the start of the war, he was evacuated with his family to Kazakhstan and for a time lived in the city of Petropavlovsk. He disappeared during the liquidation of Yiddish writers in Soviet Russia.
Other writings include: with Khatskl Nadel, Fargesene bletlekh (Forgotten pages) of the writings of Sholem-Aleichem (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1939), 336 pp.; with Kh. Nadel, “Sholem-aleykhem der redaktor un aroysgeber” (Sholem-Aleichem, editor and publisher), in the anthology Sholem-aleykhem (Sholem-Aleichem) (Kiev, 1940).
[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. 237-38.]