Finding Elkins and Elkinds of Borisov/Barysaw

August 19th, 2010
"Moving Out," by Getman, who was himself a prisoner in Stalin's labor camps

"Moving Out" by Nikolai Getman, who himself was imprisoned in Stalin's Gulag.

Last week, I posted a translated version of Aleksandr Rosenblyum’s list of Jewish GULAG victims from Borisov.   Within a day, over a hundred JewishJen Belarus participants had already checked the list for their family members.

Logan Lockabey was among those who emailed me.  He had searched my site’s list and found several Elkins and Elkinds, the names he was looking for.  He wrote to take me up on my offer to translate the short bios that accompany each name on Rosenblyum’s Russian-language list.

Julius Grigorievich Elkind, born in Borisov in 1902, died in Stalin's Terror, 1938.

Julius Grigorievich Elkind, born in Borisov in 1902, died in Stalin's Terror, 1938.

Rosenblyum has spent years compiling his list, and some names include photographs.  These photos are breathtakingly moving, posted next to the stories of each person’s arrest and sentencing on invented charges.

Checking for Logan’s Elkin/ds, I found that one of them, Julius Grigorievich Elkind, was among the entries that included a photograph (left).

Julius was 36 years old when he lost his life in Stalin’s Great Terror.

As I began the translations for Logan, I decided I’d post them here and use this opportunity to show a little of how I’ve been working through the research for my “The world of Jews in Ryazan” articles (and currently “The world of Jews in Borisov/Barysaw”).

First, here are my translations for Logan

Getman's painting of a morgue in a goldmine prison camp in Russia's far northeast.

Getman's painting of a morgue in a goldmine prison camp in Russia's far northeast. The Jamestown Foundation played a major role in preserving and protecting these paintings, which are the only known visual record of Stalin's camps. Unlike the Nazis, who recorded and preserved a detailed visual history of the Holocaust, the Soviets made no images of their camps.

Please keep in mind as you read these bios that the charges were fabricated.  There were no real trials or any other form of due process.  None of these arrests and deaths were warranted.  They were part of a program of terror by Stalin against his own people, during which millions of Russian citizens lost their lives by being summarily executed or through starvation and exposure in labor camps.

ELKIN Ilya Isaakovich (1888 -?), [my information for this entry is taken partly from a more complete entry for him here.]  Born in the village of Ratutichi. Expert in and promoter of Esperanto.  Worked at BELRAD (Belarussian Radio), where he managed broadcasts of programs in Esperanto.  Because the authorities found this language [Esperanto] objectionable, Elkin was arrested January 26, 1936, and immediately charged with anti-Soviet agitation and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.  His Esperanto department [at BELRAD] was eliminated.  There is as yet no information about his fate beyond this.  Rehabilitated in 1990.

ELKIN Miron Aronovich (1900 – 1946),  Party secretary of the Borisov Glass Plant. Arrested August 8, 1937, on charges of being a Trotskyist.  On 10 October 1938, by extra-judicial decree, he was sentenced to imprisonment in a labor camp for 5 years.  He was not released at the end of this period, and he died in prison.

ELKIND Boris Isaakovich (1891 -?), Born in Priyamino near Borisov.  Collective farmer at “Chyrvony Uskhod” Collective Farm in the Smolevich district of Minsk oblast. Arrested December 22, 1932, on charges of sabotage and immediately sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.  Rehabilitated in 1989.

Getman's painting of the daily sled-pickup of bodies of prisoners who died overnight. Estimates of the numbers who died in Stalin's camps range upward of 10 million.

Getman's painting of the daily sled-pickup of bodies of prisoners who died overnight. Estimates of the numbers who died in Stalin's camps range upward of 10 million.

ELKIND Boris Mikhailovich (1899 – 1936), native of Borisov.  Lawyer.  Lived and worked in Moscow.  Member of the Regional Board of Defense Lawyers. Arrested 24 November, 1935, on fabricated charges of espionage and shot on May 11, 1936.

ELKIND Julius Grigorievich (1902 – 1938), native of Borisov.  [See photo above.]  He lived and worked in Moscow.  On Aug. 26, 1938, Assistant Chief Transport Prosecutor of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR sentenced him on fabricated charges to capital punishment and he was shot on the same day.

Finding more Elkinds

I found these brief biographies deeply affecting, and wanted to see whether I could find out more about these these people in happier times, before their arrests.  Following my usual process, I googled each name (I used the Cyrillic version because Russian language websites are more likely to give information on relatively unknown countrymen and women than English language ones).

Unfortunately, I didn’t find anything new about these five GULAG victims.  But I did find short bios of seven other Borisov Elkinds from the past.

I had been planning to write about some of these new (to me) Elkinds here.  But the process of writing about Stalin’s Terror and seeing Getman’s images has put me in a very somber mood.  I can’t write now about the lives of other Elkinds who lived in different times.  And it doesn’t feel at all appropriate to include that material in this entry.

So it will wait till a later time.  And that post will be fuller of life than of death.

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