ELKHONEN VOGLER (1907-March 17, 1969)
This was the pen name of Elkhonen Rozhanski, born in Vilna to a pettifogger father. At age seven he lost his father and at age eight his mother as well. He was raised in an orphan home in Vilkomir (Ukmergė), later returning to Vilna. At age sixteen he became a sign painter, and until WWII he made his living at it. At the time of Hitler’s invasion of Russia (June 1941), he escaped on foot from Vilna, and after a long period of wandering he came to Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, where he lived for several years under extremely difficult circumstances. For a time thereafter he lived in Moscow, and from there he returned to Poland in 1947. He lived in Lodz until 1949, when he emigrated to Paris where he lived until the end of his life. He began writing poetry in his early years (under the influence of Moyshe Kulbak), and he debuted in print in the magazine Shprotsungen (Young sprouts) in Warsaw in 1925. He was a cofounder of the poets and painters group “Yung-vilne” (Young Vilna) and one of the main contributors to all of its publications. He placed pieces in: Yung-vilne, Yungvald (Young forest), Tsayt (Times), Vilner tog (Vilna day), Vilner almanakh (Vilna almanac), Untervegs (Pathways, 1940), Vilner emes (Vilna truth), and Kovner emes (Kovno truth), among others—all in Lithuania; Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Haynt (Today), Yoyvl-bukh fun haynt (Jubilee volume for Haynt, 1938), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Foroys (Onward), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), and Der fraynd (The friends)—in Warsaw; Tsum zig (To victory) (1944), Heymland (Homeland), Sovetish (Soviet), Sovetishe literatur (Soviet literature), and Eynikeyt (Unity)—in Moscow; Dos naye lebn (The new life), Folksshtime (Voice of the people), Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings), and Oyfgang (Arise)—in postwar Poland; Di naye prese (The new press), Unzer vort (Our word), Unzer shtime (Our voice), Arbeter-vort (Workers’ word), Kiem (Existence), Literatur un kunst (Literature and art), Parizer almanakh (Parisian almanac), and Di naye eynikeyt (The new unity)—in Paris; Di Tsukunft (The future), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Frayhayt (freedom), and Eynikeyt—in New York; Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) Nayvelt (New world), and Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel)—in Tel Aviv; among others. His first book, A bletl in vint (A little leaf in the wind) (Vilna, 1935), 59 pp., caused a stir among readers and writers, as much for the original subject matter as for the violent lyrical mood. Vogler celebrated in his first poem the Lithuanian-Byelorussian landscape with human love and devotion. “My brother is the unpaved road in Vilna, / My wife, the warm Lithuanian soil.” His second volume of poetry was Tsvey beryozkes afn trakt (Two birch trees on the highway) (Vilna, 1939), 170 pp., with a preface in prose: “A trail to the dirt road.” The third work, Friling afn trakt (Spring on the highway) (Paris, 1954), 186 pp., was a collection of old and new poems. He also published literary critical treatises on books and writers, of which the most important was his work about the young Vilna poets group which was characteristic not only among Vilna residents but for all young Jewish poets in Poland between the two world wars.
“Vogler left human society for nature which for others is mute but for him reveals itself with all its charms,” noted Chaim Grade. “….Nature for Vogler is a profound experience for oneself alone, but principally it is a parable; it speaks in maxims of life to demonstrate the objects of the parable—in human society…. The plants and animals speak and philosophize for him.”
Sources: M. Taykhman, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (November 22, 1935); B. Shnaper, in Literarishe bleter (November 20, 1936); A. Y. Grodzenski, in Tsukunft (New York) (November 1937); Avrom Reyzen, in Di prese anthology (New York, 1939); Elyohu Shulman, Yung vilne, 1929-1939 (Young Vilna, 1929-1939) (New York, 1946), pp. 15, 35-39; M. Pups, in Folksshtime (Lodz) 14 (1947); D. Sfard, Shrayber un bikher (Writers and books) (Warsaw, 1949), pp. 87-91; Sh. Lastik, Mitn ponem tsum morgn (Facing morning) (Warsaw, 1952), pp. 120-27; B. Shlevin, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (March 1954); Der Lebediker, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (New York) (June 27, 1954); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (September 17, 1954); M. Shagal, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 20 (1954); Y. Bashevis, in Forverts (New York) (October 10, 1954); L. Damankevitsh, in Unzer vort (Paris) 286 (3303) (1954); Shmuel Niger, in Tog-morgn zhurnal (January 30, 1955); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), A litvak in poyln (A Lithuanian in Poland) (New York, 1955), pp. 35-36; Y. Bronshteyn, Unter eyn dakh (Under one roof) (Los Angeles, 1956); M. Valdman, in Arbeter-vort (Paris) (May 25, 1958); Avrom Shulman, in Unzer shtime (Paris) (June 21-22, 1958); Chaim Grade, in Di goldene keyt 32 (1958), pp. 106-9; Foroys (Mexico City) (January 1959); A. Y. Liski, in Unzer shtime (April 18-19, 1959).
Khayim Leyb Fuks