Sunday 22 July 2018


BER PLAVNIK (1886-1955)

            He was a journalist, literary critic, and translator, born in Minsk, Byelorussia. From 1907 to 1918, he was active in the revolutionary movement in Germany, working with the revolutionary organization Spartak (Spartacus), led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg. In November 1918 he was arrested and expelled from Germany. He arrived in Russia and was appointed to a variety of leading positions in Soviet life (among others in the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and at the same time the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs). From that time, he was publishing articles in Yiddish periodicals, and for many he years he worked as a journalist, literary critic, and translator of Russian, German, and Yiddish. He translated into Russian stories by Sholem Aleichem and Y. L. Perets, and from German and English works by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. He contributed as well to: Der emes (The truth), Kultur un bildung (Culture and education), Heymland (Homeland), and Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow; Komunistishe velt (Communist world) in Kharkov; and elsewhere. He died in Moscow.

Sources: Nakhmen Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher shrayber in sovetnfarband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; Sovetishe heymland (Moscow) (June 1966).

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), p. 282.]

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