Ikhil Falikman

Ikhil (Iekhiel) Falikman (1911–1977) was a Yiddish writer.

Ikhil Falikman was born in the town of Liubar, then Volyn Province (today’s Zhytomyr region). He graduated from a seven-grade school and an art college in Kyiv (1931). He debuted in literature with the novel Steps are Crumbling (1931). Falikman was one of the first migrants to the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. In 1932–1934, he worked there in the local Yiddish press. His impressions of life in the Far East were the basis of the 1937 book Among the Hills (1937). His novels of the pre-World War II period made his book Early Spring (1940).

During World War II, Ikhil Falikman served in the Red Army, worked for the front press, and also continued writing Yiddish prose. The events of those years reflected in his books Love on Fire (1943) and People of My Country (1945). After the war, Ikhil Falikman wrote the novels Light Comes from the East (1948) and  Black Wind (1968). In 1952, Falikman graduated from the correspondence department of Kyiv Pedagogical Institute. During the 1960–70s, Ikhil Falikman was a member of the editorial board and a full-time author of the magazine Sovetish Heymland. He died in Kyiv in 1977.

The archive holds manuscripts of Ikhil Falikman’s writings, as well as letters, photos, and documents (overall around 1,090 units of storage). 

Some of the works from the archive were printed during the author’s lifetime (The Damned Are Taking Up Arms, Light Comes from the East, Black Wind). However, considering the “traditions” of  Soviet editing, we can assume that these writings went through both editing and censorship. Therefore, it would be useful to carry out a study of the author’s manuscripts and compare them to the published texts. Moreover, it is highly probable that a part of the works from the archive was not printed while Falikman was alive.

Hence, Falikman’s manuscripts are waiting for curious researchers. Besides literary scholars who explore the development of Yiddish prose in the Soviet Union, the author’s literary legacy can be interesting for analysts of the history of World War II and the Holocaust. That is because Ikhil Falikman was among the first writers who provided an example of artistic reflection on and conceptualisation of the Shoah.

Novels: The Damned Are Taking Up Arms /די פארורטיילטע נעמע געווער/ (Yiddish and Russian, 1944–1962), The Soldier /ס לדאט/ (Yiddish, no date), Black Wind /דער שווארצער ווינט/ (Yiddish, fragment, 1968), Light Comes from the East /די ש קומט פו מיזרע. די פארורטיילטע נעמע געווער/ (Yiddish, no date), In the Petersburg Editorial Office /אי פעטערבורגער רעדאקציע/ (Yiddish, no date), The Road through the Forest (Russian, 1966–1967), Quiet Water (Russian, 1966–1967), The Soldier /ס לדאט/ (Yiddish, 1948).

The archive also holds a fragment of a big unknown prose writing in Yiddish (98 pages). This manuscript requires a thorough analysis of translators and literary scholars.

Novellas: Bitter Hunting /דער ביטערער י דער/ (Yiddish, 1966–1967), Horpynka (Ukrainian and Russian, no date), Thorns /שטעכלקעס/ (Yiddish, no date), Latin /לאטיי/ (Yiddish, 1972), Mother’s Fairy Tales /דער מאמעס מייסעס/ (Yiddish, no date), The Memorial Board /די מעמ ריאל ברעט/ (Yiddish, no date), and others. Overall, there are more than 30 novellas. Some works are in multiple versions.

Articles and reviews. Literary scholars can be interested in Ikhil Falikman’s critical articles and reviews: Death Caused by Poetry /דיכטער טויט פו א/ (Yiddish, no date), On the Creations of A. L. Katsev (Russian, 1973), On the Creations of Lizen A. M. (Russian, 1973), and others (six manuscripts overall).

Correspondence. The archive holds about 950 letters, postcards, and telegrams of 1943–1989. Quite a lot of them are in Yiddish (around 320), Russian (around 600), and Ukrainian (around 30).

Since many letters are in envelopes, we can determine almost all Ikhil Falikman’s correspondents. They were family members, friends, writers, colleagues, publishers, and editors. Among the famous senders were the writers Khaskel Tabachnykov, Riva Rubina, Matvii Talalaievsky, Natan Zabara, Leonid Vysheslavsky, Oleksandr Kovinka, Moisei Teif, Note Lurie, chief editor of the magazine Sovetish Heimland Aron Verhelis, editor of the newspaper Birobidzhaner Shtern Boris Miller, and literary scholar Hirsh Remenyk. Ikhil Falikman’s letters to his wife Dora Khaikina and sons Samuil and Dmytro are also present in the archive. 

The letter collection requires a detailed study. Such a study would help trace the evolution of the 1960–70s literary process in the Soviet Union and recreate the picture of the cultural life of Jewish creative intelligentsia.

Documents. Historians and documentalists can be interested in such Ikhil Falikman’s papers as his Guards Captain identity card (1943), the license issued by the People’s Commissariat of Railways (1945), diploma of Kyiv State Teacher’s Institute (1949), employment record book (1950), trade union card (1961), and others. Overall, there are around 20 documents of 1943–1975. 

Personal belongings. A piece of the chandelier that major Ikhil Falikman picked in May 1945 from the floor of Hitler’s study in Berlin is a fascinating exhibit. The collection also includes Falikman’s pencil drawing Lenin’s Portrait (1948).