The Soviet poet, translator, and philologist Aleksandr Romm was born in St. Petersburg in 1898, into the family of a doctor. Shortly thereafter, his father was sentenced to deportation for his involvement in revolutionary activity, and the family moved to Irkutsk, Siberia.
Later, the Romm family lived in Vilna, before finally settling in Moscow in 1907.
In 1916, Aleksandr Romm completed a prestigious Moscow gymnasium (which would be closed down for good in 1917, because of the revolutionary transformation of the country) and followed his father's example by enrolling in the Faculty of Medicine of the University. However, he later switched to the Faculty of History and Philology, from which he successfully graduated.
After his graduation, thanks to his command of several foreign languages, Aleksandr Romm became a successful translator, producing Russian versions of works by Émile Zola, Gustave Flaubert, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, and many others.
From 1920-1924, Romm was an active member of the Moscow linguistic circle. He also published two books: the poetry collection Night Inspection (1927) and a long poem titled "The Road to Bikzyan" (1939).
Following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in late June 1941, Aleksandr Romm was drafted into the Red Army. He was assigned to the Danube Military Flotilla. When the Flotilla was disbanded in late November 1941, he was transferred to the Black Sea Fleet. During his service, Romm took an active part in combat, and was also a contributor to military and local newspapers. At this time, he was awarded the Order of the Red Star. In early October 1943, Romm's family was notified that he had committed suicide by shooting himself with his service weapon. However, according to another version, his unusual death was caused by a letter he had written to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, where he described the outrages being committed in the Fleet.
Aleksandr's brother, Mikhail Romm, was a celebrated film director and scriptwriter, many of whose movies went on to achieve a "cult" status. One of his most famous works is the 1965 documentary Triumph Over Violence (Russian title: Obyknovennyy fashizm, "Common fascism″), which describes the Nazi totalitarian regime and its policies, including the Holocaust.
A poem dedicated to his brother, Mikhail Romm
To My Brother
"The same blood flows in our veins, yours and mine"
As the fluttering flame of a spent candle
Flares brightest before the end,
Momentarily piercing the gloom with its yellow light —
So a dying race has flared up in us.
Oh, durable seed of my ancestors!
Oh, robust progeny of the Twelve Tribes!
My verse is resounding with the thickness of your blood,
And your dreams are ringing in my ears.
We two don't know the tenacity of labor,
Or the sweetness of the sweat on the stubborn brow.
Our ancient muscles are singing of their own accord,
Waging their battle without consulting us.
We had no wish to read many books;
We have never learned wordsmithing —
The ancient blood flowing in our veins
Knows and remembers all, and sings by itself.
What shall I make out of myself?
Which vessel is fit to receive my precious blood?
Here, we have no desires or expectations —
Our love is superhuman.