Critic and Literary Scholar

Max Erik

Writer, literary scholar, and victim of Stalin’s terror, Max Erik was born Zalmen Merkin on November 17, 1898 in Sosnowiec, Poland, in the region Jews traditionally call Zagłębie (the Dąbrowa Basin).

After completing school and his Polish military service, he settled in Wilno, where he wrote articles on Yiddish and European literature and specialized in the historical development of Yiddish literature.

Erik moved to the Soviet Union in 1929, first living in Minsk and then in Kiev and, in both cities, was a leader in Jewish research institutes. Along with other prominent scholars at the Institutes for Culture in Ukraine and Belorussia, he was arrested in 1936 and executed in 1937.