Wednesday 19 June 2019


HERTS RIVKIN (April 1908-1951)

            He was a poet and prose writer, born Hertsl Haysiner in Kapresht (Căpreşti), Bessarabia [now, in Moldova]. He was a student at the Kishinev technical school for construction, later a construction engineer on highways. He early on joined the revolutionary underground movement and wrote satirical poetry. In 1931 he was serving as one of the editors (along with Yankl Yakir and Hersh Kazhber) of the journal Onzog (Portent). When the journal was confiscated, Rivkin received a Romanian court-martial. From 1934 he was living in Bucharest. In 1935 he was one of the most active contributors to the periodicals Di vokh (The week) and Shoybn (Window panes). At that time, he published his first collection, Fun shkheynishn dorf (From the neighboring village). He spent WWII in the Soviet Union, and afterward he was back in Kishinev. He was full of creative plans and wrote up a new series of stories dedicated to the people with whom he lived in the harsh years away from home. This was most fully depicted in his personages, his heroic toiling people, in his story “Der tate mitn zun” (Father and son), which won a prize (see below). His long story “Arum kesl-tsekh” (Around the boiler) was published in the Moscow anthology Heymland (Homeland). But, soon the bitterest of times were to come to Soviet Yiddish literature, and Rivkin was among its first victims, despite his fidelity to the Soviet cause. In 1948 he was convicted of Trotskyism and exiled to a camp in Ekibastuz in northern Kazakhstan, where he died. Naftole-Herts Kohen recounted that Rivkin held himself courageously and dignified during his camp interrogations. He was one of the founders of the literary group “Yung-rumenye” (Young Romania). In the 1930s he published poetry in Romanian Yiddish serials: Onzog in Kishinev (1931); the Zionist daily newspaper Unzer veg (Our way) in Kishinev (1933); Di vokh in Bucharest (1934); and Shoybn in Bucharest (1934-1938). He also wrote for Warsaw’s Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves). After the war he began writing stories for Heymland, Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature) in Kiev, and other periodicals. As a result of a competition, in 1946 he was awarded a prize from the Moscow newspaper Eynikeyt (Unity) prize for his story “Der tate mitn zun.” His poetry appeared in Naye yidishe dikhtung (New Yiddish poetry) (Iași: Yidishe kultur krayz, 1947) and a story in Af naye vegn (Along new paths) (New York: Yidisher kultur farband, 1949) and In oyfshteyg (In ascent) (Bucharest: Kriteryon, 1964). In book form: Fun shkheynishn dorf, lid un elegye (From the neighboring village, poem and elegy) (Bucharest: Shoybn, 1938), 57 pp., new edition (Bucharest: Kriteryon, 1977), 133 pp.; Dertseylungen (Stories) (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 102 pp.

Sources: Shloyme Bikl, Rumenye (Romania) (Buenos Aires, 1961), pp. 298-301; Motl Saktsyer, in Besaraber yidn (Tel Aviv) (August 1977); Yankl Yakir, in Dorem-afrike (Johannesburg) (March-June 1978); Bay zikh (Tel Aviv) 15 (1979), pp. 123-28.
Ruvn Goldberg

[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. 364-65].

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