Born in Riga, he was an active revolutionary who participated in the Russian Civil War and eventually became active in Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC). Shimeliovich was arrested on January 13, 1949 for espionage. He was so severely beaten during the interrogations that he had to be carried on a stretcher into the court three years after. He was executed in August 1952 together with other members of JAC, which became known as the Night of the Murdered Poets.
On November 22, 1955 (well after Joseph Stalin's death in 1953), military collegium of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union withdrew the indictments against the JAC members due to the lack of evidence. Shimeliovich's Communist Party of the Soviet Union membership was restored only in 1988.
- Stalin's Secret Pogrom: The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (introduction) by Joshua Rubenstein
- Seven-fold Betrayal: The Murder of Soviet Yiddish by Joseph Sherman
- (in Russian) 1951 Soviet report on Shimeliovich
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