CHAIM ZHITLOVSKY (April 19, 1865-May 6, 1943)
He was born in Ushatsh (Ushachy), Vitebsk district, Byelorussia, into the home of his maternal grandfather, Moyshe Vaynshteyn, where his parents were living at the expense of the Vaynshteyns in a common arrangement (kest) of the day. His grandfather, who had been a tinsmith in his youth, became quite wealthy later on by buying up flax for an English firm and was at the same time an ardent Lubavitcher Hassid and an intimate of the rebbe. Zhitlovsky’s paternal grandfather was Shneur-Zalmen Zhitlovsky, a modest anti-Hassid, also a tradesman, a confectioner—dubbed “Zalmen the candy-maker” at the time—and even later, when he was running the Hotel Gorny on “Shlos-gas” (Castle Street) in Vitebsk and was prosperous, he refused to give up his trade. He became exceedingly wealthy and died at the ripe old age of 103. Zhitlovsky’s father, Yoysef, also a wealthy man and great swimmer, made a name for himself as a prodigy in his youth, studied at the Volozhin Yeshiva where he received authorization to practice as a rabbi and to perform ritual slaughtering, and after his wedding, under his father-in-law’s influence, became a Lubavitcher Hassid and periodically visited his rebbe. After leaving kest (1868 or 1870), his father became a merchant and moved with his family to Vitebsk, where his wealthy father-in-law had purchased for him a home with a courtyard and a storehouse in the village of Zaruchevye; initially, he dealt in salt, later opening a wholesale herring business, to which end his father-in-law made him a flax buyer for the same English company, and he continued to head uphill. He sold the home with courtyard, moved (in 1875) into a huge brick house on Shlos-gas, “Makarov’s mansion with twenty windows in front, three stories high” (from Shmuel Zhitlovsky’s memoirs)—and this was the “nest” where Zhitlovsky spent the formative years of his youth. In this house he lived a kind of double life: on the one hand, he was a fanatically observant Hassid and great scholar, while on the other he was an Enlightened writer of florid prose and a this-worldly merchant who had business concerns in Riga, Danzig, and Königberg, and who patronized the great opera houses with “Huguenots” and “Troubadors,” and in his “immense, well-appointed library the literature of the Jewish Enlightenment was largely forbidden” (from Zhitlovsky’s memoirs). Young Chaim attended religious primary school in Zaruchevye, had no love at all for the school, studied without eagerness, and ceased going to study with his Talmud teacher. When his family moved to affluent Shlos-gas, at a time when Chaim’s playmates were in high school, he had both a Hebrew teacher for learning liturgical texts and grammar and a Russian teacher for secular subject matter. He also read Yiddish and absorbed himself in Yiddish sayings and ditties which he picked up from tailors and cobblers who had their workshops in the lower story of the Zhitlovsky mansion.
For his bar-mitzvah, Zhitlovsky prepared a speech in the old Jewish style (the theme was: On which arm does a left-handed person lay tefillin?), but just at that time the following event took place which was to change his entire subsequent life. That very morning while playing in the street he happened to meet Shloyme-Zanvl (Rapoport, An-sky); they became inseparable and remained intimate friends until An-sky’s death. They initially both spoke Yiddish to one another, read a Yiddish book together, and even began to bring out a Yiddish journal they wrote entitled Vitebsker gleklekh (Vitebsk bells)—with An-ski as the current events columnist and Zhitlovsky handling fiction—but with time they switched more and more to Russian. Together they read Russian and German books and came to the conclusion that they belonged to the “Novyi lyudi” (New people) and that they perforce should behave in life accordingly. In 1879 Zhitlovsky was attending the third-year class in high school, in which Khayim Ratner was also in attendance—Ratner was later the well-known leader of the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Jewish Seymists [supporters of a Jewish national assembly]. Ratner’s influence on Zhitlovsky was revolutionary and assimilationist at the same time. After two persons—a Pole who was a friend in high school and a Russian who was a railway employee not far from Vitebsk—explained to Zhitlovsky about the existence of scientific socialism of Marx and Lassalle, and Zhitlovsky became a socialist and a “Russian,” he changed his Jewish name from Chaim to Yefim Osipovich, abandoned his studies in high school, began generally to have doubts about an intellectual career for himself, and as a result was not allowed to even take the examinations for admission to the fourth year of study. It was then left for him and An-sky that they would dispense with high school altogether and run from the bourgeois atmosphere of home into “deep Russia” to work with authentic Russian people. And, so, the two friends dwelled in the city of Tula, because An-sky had an uncle there and Zhitlovsky was to go and live there. At the beginning of 1882, he left Tula where he had spent about a year and one-half. He had done no revolutionary work there, but he deepened and broadened his education, and the old books and journals which he found at a bookshop there included the banned Sovremennik (Contemporary) which acquainted him with the ideas of Pyotr Lavrov and other radical Russian thinkers of his time. He became a “Russian through-and-through,” with a genuine Russian accent, and—under the influence of Mendele’s Dos kleyne mentshele (The little man) which he had by chance found in his landlady’s home—he wanted to write something in Yiddish about this book, but he couldn’t: He had all but completely forgotten his Yiddish.
In the early summer of 1883, Zhitlovsky’s mother came to visit him in Tula and persuaded him to travel with her (his father had departed on business) to spend the summer with her brother Mikhl in Ushachy. Zhitlovsky spent this time in the Jewish town and in a purely Jewish environment until well into autumn, reading with his uncle Hamelits (The advocate) and Hatsfira (The siren), becoming intrigued by Lilienblum’s articles on Jewish nationalism (“Haleumiim umitnagdehem” [Nationalists and its opponents], in Kol kitve moshe leib lilienblum [Collected works of Moshe Leib Lilienblum] [Odessa, 1910], vol. IV), by the “love of Palestine” movement, by the students eager to settle the land of Israel agriculturally (Bilu movement), and by Yiddish, but these were also still unclear inspirations, rather than logical thinking, though one thing became crystal clear to him personally: He was not going back to being a “Russian through-and-through.” Instead, he went to Vitebsk where a crucial breakthrough took place in him—thanks to a purely literary experience. In the January issue (1884) of Otechestvennye zapiski (Patriotic notes) was published Saltykov-Shchedrin’s allegory “Three Tales,” one of which “The Old Wolf” shook Zhitlovsky’s soul to its roots. He saw in the allegory of the wolf—a creature causing everyone continuous troubles, assailing everyone, devouring innocent creatures, and everyone accordingly hating it—an allusion to the Jewish people. When he came to the end of the tale, which recounts when finally the wolf is met by a bullet in the forehead, Zhitlovsky himself felt a sense of relief and thought: “That’s it, death, the savior and redeemer!” As he describes it in his memoirs, he had a deep sense of pain and cried out: “Is that the way it is? To die, to assimilate? Will they live long enough to see this?” And, thus was Jewish Diaspora nationalism born in him. No escaping from it, and no Ḥibat-Tsiyon (Love of Zion), but a Jewish socialist life in the Diaspora. Four works on the national issue exercised a profound influence on his way of thinking: Ruyssen’s What Is a Nationality?; Gradovsky’s “History of the National Movements”; Walter Bagehot’s “The Rise of Nationalities”; and Yuzov’s “Foundations of the Populist movement.” Earlier in that same year (1884), there came into Zhitlovsky’s life (An-sky had left “to merge with the genuine Russian people”): Samuel Gurevitsh, both of the Reynuses, and (most important) the three Russian Nihilist revolutionaries: Aleksandr Dukhovich, Nikolai Severianovich Lokhov, and his sister Vera Severianova Lokhova (a women of strong character and high moral rigidity who later, in 1888, became Zhitlovsky’s wife). Together they founded an illegal revolutionary cell of the populist Narodnaya Volya (People will) in Vitebsk and engaged in lengthy debates among themselves on the difference between Marxism and populist socialism, but in its own time the nationalizing process grew wider and deeper for Zhitlovsky. There was awakened in him a powerful love for Yiddish, and he began thinking of how to raise the cultural level of the Jewish masses. He left home, lived on his own by “giving lessons,” rented a room, and established a library for Jewish laborers—see Leon Kobrin’s memoirs in Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) (New York) (June 1943). He changed his name back from Yefim to Chaim, compelled his Russian friends to call him by this name, and together with his new friend Yankev Mints, conceived of founding a Yiddish journal and a Jewish populist organization with the name “Teshuvat Yisrael” (The return of Israel), but in addition they needed to have the agreement of the executive committee of Narodnaya Volya. In the early summer of 1886, the answer arrived from the executive committee with the refusal to give them permission, because this would reek of “separatism.” This proved to be a great blow to Zhitlovsky; he knew that there were Jews on the executive committee, and he had turned against the assimilationist stance of those Jews. This led to his ardent desire to ascertain the essence of assimilationism among Jews and—perforce—to study the history of the Jewish people. With a zealous thirst he read through an entire series of books on Jewish history which he found on his father’s bookshelves, but this was insufficient. In 1886 he traveled to Riga to visit his father who consented to send his son to study Jewish history in the Kaiserliche Bibliothek (Royal library) in St. Petersburg. The result of Zhitlovsky’s studies at this time was his Russian work: Mysli ob istoricheskikh sud’bakh evreistva (Ideas concerning the historical fate of Jewry) (Moscow, 127 pp.), which Zhitlovsky’s father brought out at his own expense in 1887. This first scholarly work by Zhitlovsky found favor at the time among the radical Russians, such as, for example, Yuzhakov in Severnii Vestnik (Northern bulletin), and it aroused a stinging criticism from those Jews predisposed toward Jewish nationalism, such as “Kritikum” (Sh. Dubnov) in Voskhod (Sunrise), which found in Zhitlovsky’s Mysli a similarity to Christian influences from Yankev Gordin’s “Dukhovno-bibleiskoe bratstvo” (The Spiritual-Biblical Brotherhood). The more nationalistic Jews of Dr. Y. L. Kantor’s Hayom (Today) dubbed Zhitlovsky “Okher yisrael” (Trouble-maker for Israel) and “Haantisemit haivri” (the Jewish anti-Semite). Nedelya (The week), organ of the moderate wing of the Populists, offered Zhitlovsky’s Mysli as a demonstration that Jews were exploiters and parasites (in the historical review in Mysli, Jewish commerce and Jewish intermediaries in nineteenth-century Eastern Europe were described as an anti-ethical and anti-social phenomenon).
The Jewish reaction to his first book in 1887 made a crushing impression on Zhitlovsky’s disposition. He returned to Vitebsk, wrote Yiddish poetry, together with his friend Yankev Mints decided to become tradesmen and study carpentry, intended to travel to Galicia where the Jewish population was considerable, and received an invitation from the Polish revolutionary party “Proletariat” to go to Zurich (Switzerland) to publish socialist literature in Yiddish. And, as the police in Vitebsk tailed him, he followed his father’s advice and expedited his trip. En route to Zurich, he stopped in Berlin and studied at the Kaiserliche Bibliothek there. Soon thereafter Vera Lokhova joined him in Berlin, and they proceeded to get married. Due to “anti-socialist laws,” however, they had to leave Germany and move on to Zurich. Zhitlovsky found not so much as a trace of the “Jewish Organization” of “Proletariat” there. He joined the socialist “Fond vol’naya russkaya pressy” (Foundation for a free Russian press), which had its central office in London, and he wished through the Foundation to publish revolutionary booklets in Yiddish, but not the sort as those of the Russian Populists, or the “Liberationists” (the first Russian social democrats who began in 1883 with the “Group for the liberation of labor”), with whom Zhitlovsky had maintained contact and wished to hear nothing further. The Populists had a good laugh at his “Yiddish fantasies.” He went directly to the Jewish students in Zurich, founded among them the Association of Science and Life of the Jewish People, but all the members of the Association proved to be lovers of Palestine but there was not one socialist among them. At this time there took place the historical Zurich discussion in which Zhitlovsky played a highly significant role. In essence he was not such a fanatical adherent of a distinctive revolutionary role for the Russian peasantry, as were the other Populists; he held a greater role for the urban workers in the revolutionary struggle for socialism, both due to general ideological reasons and because of the specific perspective of socialism among the Jewish people, which he based exclusively on laborers. In this regard he was closer to the social democrats than he was to the Populists, but this in no way hindered him from becoming a spokesman for the subsequent intensified battle between the social democrats and the Socialist Revolutionaries in Russia. In 1889 he read a paper concerning an article by Plekhanov on Chernyshevsky in the Russian-language Sotsial-demokrat (Social democrat), which was just then being published in Zurich. Zhitlovsky’s essay raised a storm in the socialist colony in Zurich, leading to a discussion which lasted for a full seventy-two evenings. These “Seventy-Two Zurich Nights” were the beginning of Zhitlovsky’s (and not only his) many-year ideological battle against so-called “dogmatic Marxism” and, at the same time, of his further engrossment in the study of the scientific socialism of Marx and Engels—see his “Introduction” to M. M. Rozenboym, Erinerungen fun a sotsyalist-revolutsyoner (Experiences of a Socialist Revolutionary), vol. 1 (New York-Warsaw, 1924), under the heading, “The View of the ‘Union of Russian Socialist Revolutionaries.’” At this time, there came to Zurich from Paris the famed socialist Khonen (Charles) Rapaport. Zhitlovsky soon befriended him, and from their extended discussions there emerged the kernel of the socialist revolutionary doctrine in Russian socialism. Meanwhile, Zhitlovsky got to know Professor Ludwig Stein, at the time an unsalaried lecturer at Zurich University, and translated for him into German his Mysli. Stein urged him to enter the university and study philosophy (with a fellowship from a student fund that Stein had at his disposal). At the end of 1890 when Stein moved to the University of Berne, Zhitlovsky moved there, too, founded there as well an Association of Science and Life of the Jewish People (this time there were a couple of socialists students in the Association), and together with Khonen Rapaport (who had also moved to Berne) he established in 1891 a Society to Fight Hunger, then raging across Russia. He threw himself into the study of pure philosophy—both general as well as religious Jewish—and wrote in German his work Abraham ibn Daud und der Beginn der aristotelischen Phase der jüdischen Religionsphilosophie (Avraham Ibn Daud [Rabad I] and the beginning of the Aristotelian period in Jewish religious philosophy), for which in 1892 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Berne; he later translated the majority of this work into Russian and published it in the January-April 1904 issues of Voskhod and in Z. Kalmonovitsh’s translation into Yiddish published in the volume of Zhitlovsky’s writings Yidn un yidishkeyt (Jews and Judaism), brought out by the Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky Publishing Committee (New York, 1939).
Over the course of the subsequent decade, more or less, the so-called Berne period of his life, Zhitlovsky’s activities moved at the same time into the realm of the general revolutionaries, as well as that of the Jewish nationalists, and in both realms he was a trailblazer—just as in thought, so too in action. In the August-September 1891 issue of Di fraye velt (The free world), edited by M. Vintshevsky, K. Galop, B. Faygenboym, and M. Baranov, in London, he published his early Yiddish translation of Proudhon’s poem, “Dream of an Idler,” with the title “Der kholem” (The dream), and later he published a portion of his translation of Heinrich Heine’s Dos shklafen-shif (The slave ship [original: Das Sklavenschiff]); both translations were republished in volume 5 of his Gezamelte shriftn (Collected writings). In 1892 (using the pen name Y. Khasin), he wrote in Russian his first revolutionary socialist pamphlet, Evrei k evreiam (A Jew to Jews), published by the Foundation for a Free Russian Press, to which belonged such famed Russian revolutionaries as Stepnyak-Kravchinsky, Nikolai Tchaikovsky, L. Shishko, and others, with a foreword highly critical of them. In the pamphlet (translated in volume 6 of his Gezamelte shriftn [New York, 1917]), he argued: that equal civil rights alone would not solve the Jewish question, because Jews constitute an independent people—“not 4% of one group to another, but 100% of themselves”—and thus one must struggle for national [ethnic] equal rights; that socialism and nationalism are not opposing entities; that the “parasitical” character of Jewish economic life should be cured with help from Jewish agrarian socialism; that the Jewish nation must contribute to the general revolutionary struggle in Russia; and also that there is a Jewish working class and hence there is naturally a place for Jewish socialism. In late 1893 Zhitlovsky was one of seven populists who established in Berne the Union of Russian Socialist Revolutionaries Abroad, from which later emerged (late 1901-early 1902) the party of the Socialist Revolutionaries in Russia. Of the four appeals to the Russian people that the Union sent out, Zhitlovsky wrote the one “to the intellectuals.” He also became co-editor (with Kh. Rapaport) of the journal of the Union: Russkii rabochii (Russia worker). In 1896 he founded the Group of Jewish Socialists Abroad in Berne—a circle of ethnically-minded socialist students (the Group later joined the Bund)—with the goal of publishing socialist pamphlets in Yiddish. Among other things, under Zhitlovsky’s editorship, the Group prepared an edition of the Communist Manifesto in the translation by Y. Blumshteyn and thereby made the first effort to create a Marxist terminology in Yiddish. With the first publication of the Group—Y. Blumshteyn’s Di mayse fun fir brider (The story of four brothers)—Zhitlovsky in 1897 wrote a general introduction entitled “Far vos davke yidish?” (Why Yiddish and nothing else?), but the Bund, for whom his illegal foreign publisher brought out pamphlets, published Di mayse fun fir brider without Zhitlovsky’s foreword (his introduction was first published in 1900, in the Forverts [Forward] in New York, using Zhitlovsky’s pseudonym “Ben Ahud”). He was also prepared to take part in the first Zionist congress in Basel, provided that the Zionists establish a “league” of various political inclinations, but not a “party.” After the congress, at a large public meeting (“zhargon farzamlung” or Yiddish meeting [according to Dovid Pinski]) convened in Basel by the publishing house Tsayt-gayst (Spirit of the time)—which had been founded in 1896 in Berlin by a group of Jewish students led by D. Pinski—Zhitlovsky gave a speech which “was the quintessence of his subsequent Yiddishist speeches and writings, the cornerstone of his later Yiddishist activities” (D. Pinski, in Dos naye lebn [The new life] of December 1912 [New York]). In 1898 Zhitlovsky drew closer to the Bund and published under the pseudonym “Ben Ahud” in the Bundist theoretical organ abroad, Der idisher arbayter (The Jewish laborer) 6 (1898), his epochal work: Tsienizm oder sotsyalizm (Zionism or socialism), which was the first time in Yiddish-language socialist literature (the first time in Yiddish generally) wherein it was stated: “Socialism is nothing other than valuing all peoples, kneading them into one dough, and making from this dough one great life—mankind.” Socialism, by contrast, strove to afford each ethnic group the possibility of developing its own national individuality, and Zhitovsky expressed his hope (in chapter 5, the last) that “the Jewish proletariat from all countries would…establish an independent Jewish labor alliance” and that “in the free socialist society…we Jews will have our schools and wisely run elementary schools, our high schools and senior highs, even our own universities.” The Bund later published this work by Zhitlovsky (under his pseudonym) in a separate pamphlet, but without the last chapter, which by Bundist reasoning in those years smacked of nationalism. It was in those years that Zhitlovsky translated into Yiddish several poems which were frequently republished in Bundist works: Heine’s Der veber (The weaver [original: Die schlesischen Weber (The Silesian weavers)]); Georg Herwegh’s extremely popular “Un du akerst un du zeyst” (And you plow and you sow [original: “Und du ackerst, und du säst”]); and Friedrich von Sallet’s “Oyb ir vet mayn oyg shoyn blindn” (And you wish to blind my eye [original: “Und wollen sie mein Auge blenden”])—in Der idisher arbayter (1898), republished in volume 5 of his Gezamelte shriftn. On the other hand, in the same years of 1898 he published (in Russian, under the pen name S. Grigorovich) the pamphlet Sotsializm i bor’ba za politicheskuiu svobodu, istoriko-kritisheskii ocherk (Socialism and the struggle for political freedom, a historical critical study), dealing with the three directions in the Russian revolutionary movement: “Zemlia i volya” (Land and will); “Narodnaya volya” (People’s will [Populists]); and “Osvobozhdentsi” (Liberationists)—which was to be the program of the Union and of the later S. R. (Socialist Revolutionary) Party. He also (as S. Grigorovich) composed the “Afterward” to the pamphlet Nashi zadachi (Our tasks), compiled in 1898 by the adherents of the Union in Russia, and in 1900 it was illegally brought by Viktor Chernov abroad—the “Afterward” as well as a Foreword were republished in the Zhitlovski-zamlbukh (Zhitlovsky collection) (Warsaw, 1929); using the pen name N. Gaidarov, he published (1899-1900) a series of articles in the journal Nakanune (On the eve), which Serebriakov brought out in London in Krivenko’s Novoe slovo (New word) and in N. K. Mikhailovski’s celebrated journal Russkoe bogatstvo (Russian riches), in which he published his work (appearing first in German) Der materyalizm un di dialektishe logik (Materialism and dialectical logic), which appeared later in book form in Russian; it was republished in Yiddish in Dos naye lebn in 1913 and in Gezamelte shriftn (volume 7); and he published “Di sotsyale filosofye fun rudolf shtamler” (The social philosophy of Rudolf Stammler), reissued under the title “Rudolf shtamler un zayn sotsyaler monizm” (Rudolf Stammler and his social monism). In the 1890s Zhitlovsky wrote numerous works in German, and they were published in a variety of journals in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland—they were later translated into Yiddish by Zhitlovsky himself and are included in his collected writings. An especially great impact was exerted by his “Der Sozialismus und die Nationalitätenfrage” (Socialism and the nationality issue), which was published in Engelbert Pernerstorfer’s Deutsche Worte (German words) (August-September 1899). Zhitlovsky published all of his longer and shorter pieces entirely to earn a living, wasting time on trifles while he was making no headway at all on his major work—“Di gaystike geshikhte fun marksizm” (The spiritual history of Marxism)—for which he had prepared a great deal of research materials.
In 1900 Dr. John Edelheim, a man of ideas and a great follower of Zhitlovsky’s, convinced his wealthy parents to invest money in the “Akademische Verlag für soziale Wissenschaften” (Academic publisher of social sciences) (Berlin-Berne), which was to be operated by Edelheim with Zhitlovsky and had the objective of creating an opportunity for impartial research in the field of social and socialist knowledge. Zhitlovsky traveled around at that time through the capitals of Europe and won for this publisher the cooperation of the leading figures in the socialist world, but after two or three years of its existence, the elder Edelheims refused to further compensate for the huge losses of this undertaking, and the Akademische Verlag für soziale Wissenschaften became simply “Edelheim Verlag,” which brought out more “current goods” on the book market, and no place remained for Zhitlovsky there. Zhitlovsky’s Berne period came to an end. The typical scholar who must forge a pure academic career splintered into fragmented works. A fiercely eclectic and wonderful debater, with great sensitivity he battled dialectical materialism, but at the same time he found in Marxism elements with which he could connect. A great propagandist of ethical principles in socialism, at the same time he seriously believed in the necessity of terror and revolutionary political action. He sought unity with all strands within socialism, because he felt that the philosophical socialist credo was a private matter of every individual revolutionary. Only on questions of ethnic Jewish nationality in the Diaspora and the Yiddish language, as an expression of the national culture of Jews, did he know of no contradiction or harbor any doubts.
In the summer of 1903 a difficult event in Zhitlovsky’s family life—the separation from Vera and his six children—“threw [him] out of his psychic equilibrium and placed [him] at the edge of a dark precipice” (Zhitlovsky’s own words), but the magnificent struggle that his party—the Socialist Revolutionaries—was waging in Russia at the time, and the Kishinev Pogrom which “compelled [him] to revise his Jewish program” (he became a territorialist then), as well as the fraternal, loving assistance with which his comrade An-sky in this time of trouble stood by him, helped him to overcome the “catastrophe in his personal life.” In 1904 when he had already left Berne and was living in Amsterdam, he published in Fraynd (Friend) in St. Petersburg (using the name N. Gaidarov) the articles: “Dos yudishe folk un di yudishe shprakh” (The Jewish people and the Yiddish language)—republished in volume 5 of his Gezamelte shriftn—which made a huge splash with its very bold and splendid argumentation on behalf of the Jewish national idea, expressed in the Yiddish language. That same year (1904) the Socialist Revolutionary Party sent him (together with “Babushka”—“grandmother” of the Russian revolution, Ekaterina Breshko-Breshkovskaia) on a mission to the United States to carry out a campaign and collect money for the Party. Zhitlovsky stipulated from the start the condition that he would be able in America simultaneously to campaign also for his national Jewish program, and that there (America), where there were then already an immense number of Jews from whom he had been cut off since 1888, a new period was to begin in Zhitlovsky’s literary and community activities, a period of work not solely “for Jews” (far yidn) but also “among Jews” (tsvishn yidn, his own expression). He and Babushka conducted pure party propaganda in Russian and in Yiddish in the first months after arriving in the United States; their public speeches and lectures on Marxist materialism and ethical socialism, his blunt but courteous polemics with social democrats, as well as with his lectures against assimilation and for a progressive nationalism, hitherto unheard in America, as well as his great strength as a speaker found warm adherents who persuaded him to stay in the new country after the Socialist Revolutionary campaign ended and Babushka was on her way back to Europe. Zhitlovsky then threw himself with the extraordinary vigor of his highly gifted nature into his boundless, oral and written, enlightenment work—the most important moments (1904-1906) of which were: his public lectures “Vegn yid un mentsh” (On [being a] Jew and [a] person) and “Di tsukunft fun di felker in amerike” (The future of peoples in America), given in English in Chicago, and his public debates with Yankev Gordin on nationalism and internationalism and with Dr. Y. A. Merison on territorialism. As in his lectures, so too in his articles and treatises which he published in 1905-1906 in the New York serials—Forverts, Tsayt-gayst, Tsukunft (Future), Varhayt (Truth), and Dos folk (The people), organ of the socialist territorialists which he edited with Dr. Hillel Zolotarov and Moyshe Kats—he preached: a synthesis of international socialism and national forms of culture and between Jewish autonomism in the places where they lived and the necessity of a territory where the majority of people should be concentrated and should be able to go for productive agricultural work; a synthesis between Jew and person, because “the more one is a person, the more he is a Jew.” He was the first among Jews to state the courageous idea that the ideal of American democracy should not be the “melting pot” (shmeltstop) but the “united peoples in the united states.” In the summer of 1906 he returned to Europe, in contact with his Russian party—the Socialist Revolutionaries—and with his new comrades from Vozrozhdenie (Renaissance) and from SERP (Sotsialisticheskaya evreiskaya rabochaya partiya, or Jewish Socialist Workers Party—also known as the Seymists), spent a period of time in Lemberg (when he was unable legally to enter Russia) where he composed his works: “Letter from a Jewish socialist”; “Economic materialism and the national question”; “Nationalism and class politics of the proletariat”; and “Mr. Dubnov’s spiritual nationalism”—all in Russian, published in the collection Serp (1907-1908) in Moscow and St. Petersburg; and republished in his own translations in volumes 6 and 7 of Gezamelte shriftn (New York, 1917). From Galicia, he made his way (late 1906-early 1907) to Vitebsk where the Seymists (at Sh. An-sky’s initiative) placed his candidature for deputy to the second state Duma; he thus, due to his old revolutionary sins, had promptly had to hide out in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and—mainly—Finland (which was autonomous and where the hand of the Russian secret police [the Okhrana] could not reach), until he was selected as vyborshchik (elector), but the police meanwhile invalidated his candidacy and when the state council later annulled the decision of the police, the second Duma had already disbanded. From Finland, Zhitlovsky sent to Folksshtime (Voice of the people) his writings: “Dos proletaryat un zayn sotsyal-politisher shtandpunkt” (The proletariat and its social-political standpoint” and “Der beginen fun der idisher videroyflebung” (The dawn of Jewish revival) 6-12 (1907). That same year of 1907, he took part in the international socialist congress in Stuttgart (which he wrote up under the pseudonym N. Gaidarov in the second collection of Serp, republished in volume 7 of Gezamelte shriftn), and in early 1908 he returned to the United States on assignment from the Socialist Revolutionaries and SERP, having already decided to settle there and to bring out, with assistance from a group of activist, radical Jewish intellectuals, a serious monthly journal. Meanwhile he made a trip to Europe where he participated in the meeting of the office of the Socialist International (as a representative of SERP) and in the historic Yiddish language conference in Czernowitz (August 1908), at which he was one of designated invitees. At the Czernowitz Conference, he chaired almost every session, and with his speeches he made an immense stir among the participants and listeners. When he returned to America, he went to work preparing the first issue of the projected journal, and in December 1908 issue number one of the “literary-scholarly journal,” Dos naye land (The new land), came out with himself as editor and primary contributor (from roughly 3000 pages of text, Zhitlovsky alone wrote over 500)—until June 1913 (aside from the four issues, January-April 1912, which he edited together with Dr. H. Zolotarov and Dr. Y. A. Merison). In the journal, Zhitlovsky published a large number of his own philosophical, sociological, literary critical, and current events works (all reprinted in Gezamelte shriftn, volumes 1-7), which was surprising, given their audacious and controversial character, as well as for their scope and depth; and more than anything, for the originality of the reception and expression of ideas and ideals, as well as for the innovations in language and style. As busy as he was with his work for the journal, Zhitlovsky also traveled through the United States and Canada with his charming speeches, some of which—those on the historical development of philosophical thought—would appear in book form: Di filosofye vos zi iz un vi zi hot zikh entvirkelt (Philosophy, what it is and how it evolves), 2 volumes (New York, 1910); this book presented itself as the first serious philosophical work in Yiddish, and Zhitlovsky’s daring feat with respect to broadening and deepening the Yiddish language was highly significant and valuable. By 1910 Zhitlovsky was already so deeply immersed in the Yiddish language that he found it difficult to write to his close friends in any other language other than Yiddish—see his letter to Sh. An-sky of 1910 (Literarishe bleter [Literary leaves] in Warsaw, May 24, 1935). He was thinking at that time of writing a five- or six-volume “spiritual history of the Jewish people” and wanted to have the first volume completed in 1912—on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first work (Mysli of 1887), but when he set about to write, he discovered how many works of research one would have to go through in advance, and he put this plan aside “for later”; the “later” never arrived, because the worries of everyday life deprived him of his free time.
The twenty-fifth anniversary of Zhitlovsky’s literary activities was celebrated in 1912. The December edition that year of Dos naye lebn was dedicated to this jubilee and a jubilee committee, with Zhitlovsky’s close friend Dr. Sh. Elsberg in charge, began to bring out his Gezamelte shriftn in ten volumes, of which the first four (the “jubilee publication”) appeared in 1912, the subsequent three in 1917, and the final three in 1919 (the last six volumes were brought out by the “Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky Publishing Association). In those years (1908-1913), he was active as well in Party groups, but on his own terms—that is, not with anyone from preformed Party groupings at all. Initially, after coming to America the second time, he remained in close contact with the socialist territorialists (connected with them still in 1904-1906) and with SERP, and in the winter of 1908-1909, at his initiative, a conference was held of representatives of the socialist territorialists, SERP, and Labor Zionism with the goal of working out a united program for all three strains (the unification actually came about in October 1909 and Zhitlovsky served on the central committee of the unified party). He belonged to the Workmen’s Circle and to the Jewish National Labor Alliance, and in both organizations he was regularly disgruntled. Thus it was until 1913 when he again traveled to Europe through the Jewish student colonies in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In 1913 he published in Yudishe velt (Jewish world) in Vilna his first memoirs, “Ven un vi azoy ikh bin gevorn a yidishist” (When and how I became a Yiddishist), which was republished in the Cleveland jubilee edition of 1935. In 1914 he visited Israel, though he did not remain there for long, because the fanatic Hebraists did not allow him to give public speeches in Yiddish. At the time of the outbreak of WWI, he was already back in the United States, and he became a regular contributor to Tog (Day) in New York, which in November 1914 began to appear in print (he remained with the newspaper until his death); in his articles (during the early period of the war) he stood for neutrality, contrary to the pro-German sentiment that dominated the Yiddish street in America. He was active (1915) in the movement for an American Jewish Congress, especially in campaigning among Jewish laborers for their place in the Congress. He participated in both Jewish Labor Conferences (1915-1916) and aided in many way the hammering out of the compromise resolution (that Israel be conceived solely as one of the Jewish centers in the world); at this time (1916-1917) he formally joined the Labor Zionist Party, signed the call (March 5, 1918) for the Jewish Legion for Israel, and contributed (1920-1922) work to the Labor Zionist organ, Di tsayt (The times), in which, among other items, he published the series of articles, “Yankev un eysev” (Jacob and Esau), the “Sh. Z. Rapoport-An-sky Series.” Over the years 1915-1920, he wrote (aside from his regular pieces in Tog) for: Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter), Der idisher kongres (The Jewish congress) (1915), Di varhayt (The truth) (1917), and Avrom Reyzen’s Dos naye land (The new land) (1917), among others. He wrote such pamphlets as the following: for Workmen’s Circle, Der sotsyalizm fun di sotsyalistn-revolutsyonistn (The socialism of the Socialist Revolutionaries) (1916); for the Labor Zionists, Erets-yisroel un di yidishe arbetershaft (The land of Israel and Jewish labor) (1918), among others; for the American Jewish Congress; and for other groups as well. In book form (1915): Tsvey forlezungen, yid un mentsh (Two lectures, Jew and person); Iev, a poeme fun dem yidishn frayen gedank (Job, a poem from earlier Jewish thought); Meterlinks “bloyer foygl” (Maeterlinck’s “Blue Bird” [L’Oiseau bleu]); Tolstoy, niettsshe and karl marks (Tolstoy, Nietzsche, and Karl Marx); Di makht fun dem emes (The power of the truth); translation (1920) of Nietzsche’s Azoy hot gezogt zaratustra (Thus spoke Zarathustra [original: Also sprach Zarathustra]); and Fridrikh nittsshe un zayn filosofisher gedankengang (Friedrich Nietzsche and his philosophical reasoning); among other writings. He began an intensive period of collaboration with Tsukunft in New York, in which over the years 1918-1924 he published a string of major works, such as: “Der alter un nayer gedankengang un emnuel kant” (Old and new reasoning and Immanuel Kant); “Iev un faust” (Job and Faust); “Di bolshevikes un di es-ern” (The Bolsheviks and the S[ocialist] R[evolutionarie]s); “Di natsyonal-progresive badaytung fun der yidisher literatur” (The national-progressive significance of Yiddish literature); “Der kinstler un der hedyet” (The artist and layman); “Aynshtayns teorye fun relativitet” (Einstein’s theory of relativity); “Di antshteyung fun der ato bokhartonu-gedank” (The conception of the idea of “You have chosen us”); “Di talmudishe gezets-gebung un di yidn-farfolgungen” (Talmudic legislation and persecutions of the Jews). Together with Shmuel Niger, Zhitlovsky (1922-1923) revived for publication Dos naye land, for which he wrote, among other pieces: “Komunizm un sotsyalizm” (Communism and socialism), republished in volume 15 of the Bzshoza edition of Gezamelte shriftn; “Der kooperativer sotsyalizm” (Cooperative socialism); and “Hebreizm un yidishizm” (Hebraism and Yiddishism). From late 1924 to early 1925, he made a lecture tour through the cities of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, and everywhere he was received with extraordinary enthusiasm, both amid the broadest strata of the people and the great numbers of Jewish intellectuals. In 1925 people throughout the entire Jewish world celebrated Zhitlovsky’s sixtieth birthday. A special Zhitlovsky Committee was established to create a fund for the purpose of publishing all of his works. At the head of this New York-based committee were his closest friends, Dr. Sh. Elsberg and Shmuel Niger; and represented on the committee were hundreds of writers, scholars, and community leaders—literally, the entire Yiddish speaking and Yiddish writing intellectual world in America. Aside from the great number of essays about Zhitlovsky in all the Yiddish newspapers and magazines throughout the world, special publications also appeared at the time which were dedicated to this jubilee, the most important and momentous among them being Zhitlovski-zamlbukh (Zhitlovsky collection) (Warsaw: Bzshoza Publ., 1929), 479 pp. In 1929 he made yet another lecture trip through Europe—between 1922 and 1930, his new family which included his second wife Nora van Levin, a Dutch woman who had come to the United States in 1907 and entered Zhitlovsky’s life in 1915, with three children lived in a number of cities in France, Germany, and Belgium, and Zhitlovsky would frequently go to see them—mainly though Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia; in 1930, together with his family, he returned to America “for good” (the formal divorce between Zhitlovsky and Vera only went through in 1929). As always, he was highly productive, traveling through the cities of the United States and Canada, giving speeches on philosophy and sociology, and helping to found the “Yiddish Culture Association,” and he often wrote (1931-1932) for the monthly journal Yidish (Yiddish), organ of the Association (other contributors included: H. Leivick, L. Shapiro, M. Boraysho, and other Yiddish writers who had abandoned the Communist Frayhayt [Freedom] over its pro-Arab stance concerning the pogroms in Israel); and he assisted also in the founding of the “Yiddish Culture Association of the Midwest.” He published (in Tog, Tsukunft, and other periodicals) new series of articles, such as: “Der zikh fun mentshlekhn lebn” (The self in the life of mankind); “Mayne ani maamins” (My credos); “Emes, yoysher un sheynkeyt” (Truth, justice, and beauty); and “Moderne yidishe problemen” (Modern Jewish issues)—all later republished in Ale verk (Complete works), vol. 2 (1945) and vol. 4 (1953). He composed the extraordinary instructive and interesting Zikhroynes fun mayn lebn (Memoirs of my life), unfortunately reaching only to the Swiss period of his life story; and he produced, through the Dr. khayim zhitlovski ferlag-gezelshaft (Dr. Chaim Zhitlovski publishing association), separate volumes of his writings, such as Sotsyalizm un moral (Socialism and morality) of 1938 and Yidn un yidishkeyt (Jews and Judaism) of 1939. His seventieth birthday was celebrated in 1935 with a new special jubilee committee and jubilee publications.
From 1936, with the fear of Hitlerism which was growing ever more aggressive and ever more menacing, Zhitlovsky—who in the 1920s was such a bitter and consistent opponent of Bolshevism, the “anti-Bolshevik Bolshevik” (as he was tagged at the time)—became a well-wishing friend of Soviet Russia, where he glimpsed the revival of the Jewish people as a “laboring” people, the realization of his old dream: their own Jewish territory (Birobidzhan), a socialist one, and the possibility of moving Jews into productive agriculture. Also, general Socialist Revolutionary considerations had an effect on Zhitlovsky such that he began to look with a different pair of eyes on the Soviet regime. In Stalin’s theory of the possibility of instituting social on one country, he perceived the triumph of the old Socialist Revolutionary postulate that Russia—avoiding the capitalist stage of societal development—move from its semi-feudal regime directly to an agrarian socialist country even with the “capitalist encirclement”; in Stalin’s manner of moving Russia to a multi-national state, Zhitlovsky found an affinity with his own theory of ethnic-national communities in the socialist state. Of course, he differed sharply with Communism, in which he saw the entanglement of “Marxist dogmatism” and “materialist immorality” which he had always stubbornly fought against, though he deemed necessary in the controversy with Communism to bend for a time and not to combat the Soviet government. And, once he had set out in a direction of thought, Zhitlovsky, as was his manner, continued in that direction with consistently abstract logic, independent of what the societal resonance would be. In the Moscow Trials of 1936-1937, he admitted the possibility that those sentenced as revolutionary opponents of the government may actually have forged contact with foreign general staffs and their confessions at trial were thus truthful, although in the substance of the trials he did not agree with Stalin’s regime. His abstract logic also led him, in spite of his bitter hatred of Hitler, to see in Hitler deeds (1937-1939) the wringing hands before committing historic crimes. In Hitler’s extermination of the Jewish middle class, he also saw—just as with the fight against it tooth and nail—the “total penalty for the crime of our crippled socio-economic role,” for our “unwillingness to settle agricultural workers on the land” (Tog [November 19, 1939]). Just as in 1887 the Russian reactionaries jumped to conclusions about Jewish “parasitism” (in his Mysli) and Jewish nationalists claimed he was an anti-Semite, so now Hitler’s propaganda apparatus wrenched from Zhitlovsky’s text the words about “deserved punishment” and cited them on their own radio broadcasts; Jews, even among those who had long honored and adored Zhitlovsky, could not go along with his logic and turned against him. In the autumn of 1939, after the Hitler-Stalin pact was signed (a “smack in the face of the Jewish people,” as Zhitlovsky labeled it), he left IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association) with which he had worked very closely since its founding in 1937, and this step motivated (in a letter to IKUF) thereby that “although the pact is certainly in the interests of the Soviet revolution, it is nonetheless against the interests of the Jewish people” (An entfer h. leyvikn [A reply to H. Leivick], p. 14); and he “requested from IKUF an explanatory response, for in the war that Hitler declared against the Jewish people, we shall be together with those who will lead the war against Hitler.” Just as that explanatory response was not forthcoming and he left IKUF, so too he left IKOR (Yidishe kolonizatsye organizatsye in rusland [Jewish colonization organization in Russia])—see Yankev Milkh, “A briv un meynungs-oystoysh” (A letter and exchange of ideas), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) (New York) (June-July 1943), p. 30. He also requested of Yidishe kultur greater freedom to criticize the “Soviet dictatorship in general and the Stalinism in particular,” the right “to write about the Moscow Trials from my standpoint” (ibid.). After Hitler’s invasion of Russia in June 1941, however, he returned to IKUF and stood in service to every organization that strove to help Soviet Russia and sought unity among Jews in Soviet Russia and Jews in the West (he was honorary chairman of IKOR, of the Jewish Council for Russian War Relief, the pro-Soviet “Committee of Jewish Writers and Artists,” and the like), issued a call (published in Morgn-zhurnal [Morning journal] on August 1, 1941) “to all the children of the Jewish people here in this country,” in which he appealed, although demarcated from Communism, for everyone to help defend Soviet Russia from Hitlerism, actually leaning only on the pro-Soviet wing of Jewish society, and he declined to prejudge the murders of Erlich and Alter (March-April 1943). He became more and more a controversial figure in the Jewish community in America, and all the more abandoned even by his formerly most devoted students. In May 1943, on his final lecture tour through the United States and Canada (organized by the Jewish section of the International Labor Order), the seventy-eight-year-old Zhitlovsky—after his third lecture in Calgary, Canada—became ill (he suffered from uremia) and died in the hospital on May 6 in the late afternoon. His body was transported to New York, where on May 12 the funeral was held; it was organized by the pro-Soviet “Committee of Jewish Writers and Artists” with the participation of YIVO (where he was for many years an honorary chairman of the executive committee), the Y. L. Perets Writers’ Union, the Pen Club, and ORT (Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades) where he was honorary chairman and for whom he had long carried on fund-raising work, together with all the pro-Soviet organizations in the Jewish world. Aside from the representatives of the pro-Soviet groups, the funeral speakers included: Sholem Asch, Shmuel Niger, Leon Kobrin, and other Jewish writers. He was buried at the new Montefiore Cemetery in New York. In conformance with Zhitlovsky’s will, his rich library and his archive were donated to YIVO in New York. The debate surrounding the contradictory figure of Chaim Zhitlovsky did not disappear with his death, but was renewed with greater freshness in 1944, with hundreds of articles (almost all of them in Yiddish newspapers around the world), as well as a string of books and pamphlets which are enumerated in the bibliography below. Zhitlovsky’s last article appeared Tog (May 15, 1943): “Marl marks, un karl marks” (Karl Marx, and Karl Marx).
Sources: Aside from his first work (Mysli ob istoricheskikh sud’bakh evreistva of 1887), which until today has still not been translated into Yiddish, by far most of Zhitlovsky’s writings in Russian and in German have been translated by himself or at least under his editorship into the Yiddish language, and together with the most important part of his original Yiddish writings are included in the various editions of his collected works, as well as in the editions of separate volumes and pamphlets:
I. Gezamelte shriftn (Collected writings): Yubileum-oysgabe (Jubilee publication) (New York, 1912), volume 1: Tolstoy, niettsshe un karl marks (Tolstoy, Nietzsche, and Karl Marx), etc., 243 pp.; volume 2: “Tsvey forlezungen vegn dem natur-filosofishn materyalizm” (Two lessons concerning philosophy of nature materialism), etc., 286 pp.; volume 3: “Historishe ideen-farbindungen” (Connections among historical ideas), etc., 255 pp.; volume 4: articles mostly on Zionism and socialism, religion and ethnicity, and the like, 278 pp.
II. Dr. khayim zhitlovski ferlag-gezelshaft (Dr. Chaim Zhitlovski publishing association), which brought out subsequent volumes of Gezamelte shriftn: volume 5: In kamf far folk un shprakh (In the struggle for people and language) (New York, 1917), 223 pp.; volume 6: An id tsu iden (A Jew to Jews) (New York, 1917), 251 pp.; volume 7: Di moral-filosofye un der endtsil (Moral philosophy and the ultimate goal) (New York, 1917), 238 pp.; volume 8: In shvere tsaytn (In difficult times) (New York, 1919), 232 pp.; volume 9: various articles (New York, 1919), 232 pp.; volume 10: various articles (New York, 1919), 237 pp.
III. Publications of Kh. Bzshoza (Warsaw, 1929-1932): republication of the ten volumes of Gezamelte zhriftn and additionally five further one: volume 11: “Iev un faust” (Job and Faust) and other literary treatments, 307 pp.; volume 12: Albert aynshtayns teorye fun relativitet (Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity), 252 pp.; volume 13: Der sotsyalizm un di natsyonale frage (Socialism and the national question), 292 pp.; volume 14: Fridrikh nittsshe un zayn filosofisher gedankengang (Friedrich Nietzsche and his philosophical reasoning) and other philosophical writings, 318 pp.; volume 15: Problemen fun marksizm, revolutsyonern sotsyalizm, komunizm (Problems of Marxism, revolutionary socialism, Communism), 310 pp.
IV. Ale verk fun khayim zhitlovski (Collected works of Chaim Zhitlovsky) (New York: IKUF and the “Chaim Zhitlovsky People’s Committee,” each volume introduced by Nakhmen Mayzil): volume 1: Yidn un velt (Jews and the world) (New York, 1945), 218 pp.; volume 2: Der zikh fun mentshlekhn lebn (The self in the life of mankind) (New York, 1945), 319 pp.; volume 3: Vizye un gedank (Vision and thought), an IKUF edition “published with the support of YIVO in agreement with the will of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky” (New York, 1951), 351 pp.; volume 4: Mayne “ani maamins” un andere ophandlungen (My “credos” and other treatises), same publishing arrangement as volume 3 (New York, 1953), 410 pp.
V. Zikhroynes fun mayn lebn (Memoirs of my life), published by the “Chaim Zhitlovski Jubilee Committee: volume 1 (New York, 1935), 287 pp.; volume 2 (New York, 1940), 228 pp.; volume 3 (New York, 1940), 224 pp.
VI. Geklibene verk (Selected works), with an introduction by Yudel Mark (New York: L. M. Shteyn People’s Library, IKUF, 1955), 421 pp.
Individual books and pamphlets: Mysli ob istoricheskikh sud’bakh evreistva (Ideas concerning the historical fate of Jewry) (Moscow: Russkaya tipolitografiya, 1887), 127 pp.; Evrei k evreiam (A Jew to Jews) (London, 1892), 56 pp.; Sotsializm i bor’ba za politicheskuiu svobodu, istoriko-kritisheskii ocherk (Socialism and the struggle for political freedom, a historical critical study), program of the Soyuz (Union) of Russian Socialist Revolutionaries (using the pen name S. Grigorovich) (London, 1898), 120 pp.; Tsienizm oder sotsyalizm (Zionism or socialism) (using the pen name Ben Ahud), “published by foreign association of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund in Russia and Poland” (March 1899), 32 pp.; Sotsializm i natsional’nyi vopros (Socialism and the national question) (Kiev-St. Petersburg: SERP, 1906), 87 pp.; Materializm i dialekticheskaia logika (Materialism and dialectical logic) (Moscow: Tipolitografiya russkogo tovarishchevstvo pechatnago i izdatel’skago dela, 1907), 55 pp.; Der sotsyalizm un di natsyonale frage (Socialism and the national question) (New York: The International Library, 1908), 154 pp.; introduction to the Russian translation of Otto Bauer, Natsional’nyi vopros i sotsial-demokratiia (The national question and social democracy [original: Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie]) (St. Petersburg: SERP, 1909), first 50 pp., written when he was in Berne in 1908; Dos naye leben, dos program un di tsilen fun der monatshrift (The new life, the program and goals of the monthly periodical) (New York: Association of Dos naye lebn, 1908), 16 pp.; Di filosofye vos zi iz un vi zi hot zikh entvirkelt (Philosophy, what it is and how it evolves), 2 volumes (New York: Mayzil et Co., 1909-1910), part 1 “Di filosofishe antviklung biz emanuel kant” (The development of philosophy until Immanuel Kant), 289 pp., part 2 “Fun emanuel kant biz unzere teg” (From Immanuel Kant until our time), 296 pp. (republished by the same publisher in 1920); Di asimilatsye, vos zi zogt tsu un vos zi git (Assimilation, what it promises and what it gives) (Vienna/Lemberg: Naye velt, 1940), 40 pp.; Tsvey forlezungen, yid un mentsh (Two lectures, Jew and person) (New York: Committee for the publication of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky’s writings, 1915), 186 pp.; Iev, a poeme fun dem yidishn frayen gedank (Job, a poem from earlier Jewish thought) (New York: Committee for the publication of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovski’s writings, 1915), 243 pp.; Meterlinks “bloyer foygl” (Maeterlinck’s “Blue Bird” [L’Oiseau bleu]) (New York: Committee for the publication of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovski’s writings, 1915), 196 pp.; Tolstoy, niettssh un karl marks (Tolstoy, Nietzsche, and Karl Marx) (New York: Committee for the publication of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovski’s writings, 1915), 62 pp.; Di makht fun dem emes (The power of the truth) (New York: Kropotkin Literary Society, 1915), 54 pp.; Di yidishe arbetershaft un der idisher kongres (Jewish labor and the Jewish Congress) (New York: American Jewish Congress, n.d.), 40 pp.; Der sotsyalizm fun di sotsyalistn-revolutsyonistn (The socialism of the Socialist Revolutionaries) (New York: Education Committee, Workmen’s Circle, 1916), 95 pp., second edition (1917); Erets-yisroel un di yidishe arbetershaft (The land of Israel and Jewish labor) (New York: Labor Zionist Publ., 1918), 80 pp.; Fun asimilatsye biz poele tsien (From assimilation to Labor Zionism) (New York: Labor Zionist Publ., 1919), 56 pp.; translation from the German of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Azoy hot gezogt zaratustra (Thus spoke Zarathustra [original: Also sprach Zarathustra]), 2 volumes (New York: Idish, 1919), 458 pp., republished by Kh. Bzshoza (Warsaw, 1930); Fridrikh nittsshe un zayn filosofisher gedankengang (Friedrich Nietzsche and his philosophical reasoning) (New York: Idish, 1920), 86 pp.; An entfer di gegners fun yidish (An answer to the opponents of Yiddish) (Czernowitz: Kultur, 1922), 18 pp.; the main publications of Dos naye lebn (New York, 1922), 15 pp.; Undzer shprakh-frage (Our language question), a report (Kovno: Jewish educational association of Lithuania, 1930), 31 pp.; Tsvey lektsyes vegn visnshaft, filosofye, religye (Two lectures on science, philosophy, religion)—1. “Di faraynshtaynishe visnshaft un di filosofye” (Science after Einstein and philosophy), 45 pp.; 2. “Di moderne visnshaft, filosofye un religye” (Modern science, philosophy, and religion), 47 pp. (New York: Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky Committee, 1931); Ensayos sobre Nacionalidad Judía (Essays on Jewish nationality), translated into Spanish and with an introduction by Salomón Resnick (Buenos Aires: Ediciones de la F.I.C.H.A., 1931), 196 pp.; The Future of Our Youth in the Country and Assimilation, translated from Yiddish by Max H. Weinberg (Pittsburgh: Jewish Culture Society, 1935), 16 pp.; Hitler oder stalin? (Hitler or Stalin?) (New York: IKOR Library no. 15, 1938), 9 pp. Yiddish and 7 pp. English; Sotsyalizm un moral (Socialism and morality) (New York: Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky Publication Committee, 1938), 208 pp.; Yidn un yidishkeyt (Jews and Judaism) (New York: Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky Publishing Committee, 1939), 280 pp.; Di bes shame un di bes hilel (The House of Shammai and the House of Hillel) (Chicago: Midwest section of the Jewish Culture Society, 1941), 16 pp.; Undzer nayer kultur-viln, vos vil der ikuf? (Our new cultural will, what does IKUF want?) (New York: IKUF, 1941), 47 pp.; An entfer mayne kritiker (An reply to my critics) (New York: Jewish section, International Labor Order, 1942), 16 pp.; An entfer dovid pinskin (A reply to Dovid Pinski) (New York: Jewish section, International Labor Order, 1943), 15 pp.; An entfer sholem ashn un h. leyvikn (A reply to Sholem Asch and H. Leivick) (New York: Jewish section, International Labor Order, 1943), 22 pp.; Leyzung fun der idn-frage in sovetn-farband (Solution to the Jewish question in the Soviet Union) (New York: IKOR, 1943), 15 pp.; Di idn in sovetn-farband (The Jews in the Soviet Union) (New York: IKOR, 1943), 32 pp., the final work by Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky before his death; Yitskhok leybush perets (Yitskhok Leyb Perets), articles and speeches (New York: IKUF, 1951), 48 pp. In addition, Zhitlovsky’s articles and reports appeared as offprints in various and sundry editions, such as “Dr. hilel zolotarov un zayn natsyonalistisher anarkhizm” (Dr. Hillel Zolotarov and his nationalist anarchism) (New York, 1923); and “Di tragedye fun a royter blum (dovid ignativn tsu zayn 50 yorikn yubiley)” (The tragedy of a red flower, Dovid Ignatov on his fiftieth birthday)”; and more.
There is not as yet a complete and detailed bibliography of either all of Zhitlovsky’s own writings or of what others have written about him. Efforts at a Zhitlovsky bibliography have been made by: M. M. Rozenboym (a partial bibliography of Zhitlovsky’s writings), in Zhitlovski-zamlbukh (Zhitlovsky collection) (Warsaw: Bzshoza Publ., 1929), pp. 461-79, republished in the Chicago jubilee volume on the occasion of his seventieth birthday in 1935; Yefim Yeshurin (the most detailed work to date of works by and about Zhitlovsky, in Yidisher yorbukh 1943-1944 (Jewish yearbook, 1943-1944) (New York), pp. 14-20; M. Unger (a partial bibliography of Zhitlovsky’s writings), in Yidishe kultur (New York) (June-July 1943); Unger, “Der toyt fun kh. zhitlovski un di yidishe prese” (The death of Ch. Zhitlovsky and the Yiddish press), in Yidishe kultur (June-July 1944); Kh. M., “Dr. kh. zhitlovski in yidisher kultur” (Dr. Ch. Zhitlovsky in Jewish culture), Yidishe kultur (May 1953); and in Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1. Publications dedicated to him include: Dos naye lebn, a monthly periodical (New York) (December 1912); Zekhtsik yoriker yubiley fun dr. kh. zhitlovski (Sixtieth anniversary [birthday] of Dr. Ch. Zhitlovsky), evening program at the Manhattan Opera House (New York) (November 28, 1925), 37 pp.; Zhitlovski-zamlbukh, gevidmet dr. khayim zhitlovski tsu zayn zekhtsikstn geburtstog fun zayne fraynd, khaveyrim, talmidim (Zhitlovsky collection, dedicated to Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky on his sixtieth birthday from his friends, comrades, [and] pupils) (Warsaw: Bzshoza Publ., 1929), 479 pp. (the articles in this collection were for the most part republished in other, later jubilee editions); 70 yoriker yubiley fun dr. khayim zhitlovski (Seventieth year anniversary [birthday] of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky) (Chicago: April 21, 1935), 74 pp.; 70 yoriker yubiley fun dr. khayim zhitlovski, yoyvl-bukh (Seventieth year anniversary [birthday] of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, jubilee volume) (New York: April 1935), 93 pp.; Zibetsik yor dr. khayim zhitlovski (Seventy years of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky) (Cleveland: April 28, 1935); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (May 24, 1935); Yidishe kultur (New York) (October-November 1941; June-July 1943; May 1944; May 1948; May 1953); Eynikeyt (New York) (June 1943); Ikuf (Buenos Aires) (June 1943); and others as well. Letters to and from Zhitlovsky were published in: Literarishe bleter (May 24, 1935); Yidishe kultur (November 1944); Goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 17 (1953); and other serials. Of the particularly relevant treatments of Zhitlovsky, we offer here only a portion of the important material that primarily has appeared since his death and is not included in other bibliographies.
Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); S. Wininger, Grosse Jüdische National Biographie (Great Jewish national biography) (Czernowitz, 1931), vol. 5, pp. 426-27; M. V., in Jüdisches Lexikon (Jewish biographical dictionary) (Berlin, 1930), vol. 5, cols. 216-17; B. Meyerson, in Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1943), vol. 10, p. 641; Kh. Liberman, Sheydim in moskve (Ghosts in Moscow) (New York, 1937), pp. 84-99; Dr. khayim zhitlovski un shmuel niger, zeks briv (Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky and Shmuel Niger, six letters) (New York, 1937), 72 pp.; Yidn un yidishkeyt in di shriftn fun dr. khayim zhitlovski (Jews and Judaism in the writings of Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky) (New York, 1944), 117 pp.; Dr. khayim zhitlovski un zayne farteydiker (Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky and his defenders) (New York, 1944), 154 pp.; N. Khanin, “An ofener brif tsu dr. khayim zhitlovski” (An open letter to Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky), Der veker (New York) (September 1, 1942); Khanin, “Mayn entfer” (My response [to Zhitlovsky’s reply to him], Der veker (November 1, 1942); Khanin, “A brivele tsu a fraynd” (A short letter to a friend), Der veker (April 1943); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 9, 1943); Mukdoni, Oysland (Abroad) (Buenos Aires, 1951), pp. 139-50; Mukdoni, in Goldene keyt 20 (1954); B. Ts. Goldberg, in Der tog (New York) (May 9, 1943); May 11, 1943; May 24, 1953); Goldberg, in Yidishe kultur (May 1958); M. Osherovitsh, in Forverts (New York) (May 11, 1943); A. Zeldin, in Der tog (May 12, 1943); N. Pomerants, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (May 14, 1943); Tsvien, in Forverts (May 15, 1943); Shmuel Niger, in Der tog (May 16, 1943); Niger, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1943); five articles by Niger concerning Zhitlovsky and Liberman, Rogof, and Kahan, in Der tog (late February-early March 1944); Niger, in Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), “Yidn H” (New York, 1957), pp. 115-17; Niger, Habikoret uveayoteha (Criticism and its problems) (Jerusalem, 1957), p. 350; Dovid Pinski, in Morgn-zhurnal (May 16, 1943); Pinski, in Tsukunft (September 1948); Y. B. Beylin, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (May 16, 1943; May 19, 1943; May 25, 1943; May 30, 1943; June 2, 1943; June 9, 1943); N. Mayzil, Dr. khayim zhitlovski, der umdermidlekher kemfer far der yidisher shprakh (Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky, the indefatigable fighter for the Yiddish language) (New York, 1943), 29 pp.; Mayzil, Forgeyer un mittsayler (Forerunner and contemporary) (New York, 1946), pp. 147-81; Mayzil, in Yidishe kultur (March 1953; May 1958; August-September 1958); H. Frank, in Der veg (Mexico City) (June 5, 1943); Frank, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (May 26, 1944); Dr. D. Globus, in Nyu yorker vokhblat (New York) 200 (1943) and 221 (1945); Kegn di onfaler af dr. khayim zhitlovski (Against Dr. Chaim Zhitlovsky’s assailants), a collection of articles published in various newspapers by N. Mayzil, Y. Milkh, Dr. Y. Shatski, K. Marmor, V. Edlin, Sh. Erdberg, M. Unger, Dr. Y. Mahler, B. Ts. Goldberg, Sh. Shtern, and N. Sumer (Sh. Niger declined to have his five articles from Tog republished in the collection) (New York, 1944), 112 pp.; Y. Y. Sigal, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (May 15, 1944); Y. Mark, “Vegn dr. kh. zhitlovskis shprakh” (On Dr. Ch. Zhitlovsky’s language), Yidishe shprakh (New York) (January-April 1945); Sh. Berkovitsh, in Yidishe shprakh 1-2 (1946); Y. Botoshanski, Mame yidish (Mother Yiddish) (Buenos Aires, 1949), p. 203; Botoshanski, in Der holts-industryal (Buenos Aires) (1954); Botoshanski, in Idisher kemfer (September 1, 1955); Elye Shulman, in Getseltn (New York) 9-10 (1946), pp. 155-79; John Mill, Pyonern un boyer (Pioneers and builders) vol. 1 (New York, 1946), pp. 35-40; Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tsukunft (February 1951); Shtarkman, in Hadoar (New York) (Sivan 4 [= May 3], 1957); Rifke Royzenblat-Rubin, in Yidishe kultur (February-March 1951); Y. Mestel, in Yidishe kultur (October 1951; June-July 1958); Dr. Y. Rubin, in Goldene keyt 17 (1953); A. Glants, in Der tog (May 10, 1953); Glants, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (April 22, 1956); Sh. Saymon (Solomon Simon), Kinder-yorn fun yidishe shrayber (The youths of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1953), pp. 113-28; L. Finkelshteyn, Loshn yidish un yidisher kiem, eseyen (The Yiddish language and Jewish survival, essays) (Mexico City, 1954), republished from Literarishe bleter (Warsaw, 1935); A. Kritshmar-Izraeli, in Idisher kemfer (March 26, 1956); L. Shpizman, in Geshikhte fun der tsienistisher arbeter-bavegung fun tsofn-amerike (History of the Zionist labor movement in North America) (New York, 1955), see index; E. Almi, in Fraye arbeter shtime (July 27, 1956); Almi, in Keneder odler (August 13, 1956); Kheshbn un sakhakl, kapitlen fun mayn seyfer hakhayim, zikhroynes un makhshoves (Accounting and summing up, chapters from the book of my life, memoirs and thoughts) (Buenos Aires, 1959), pp. 195 passim; H. Klayn, in Vitebsk amol—geshikhte, zikhroynes, khurbn (Vitebsk in the past—history, memoirs, catastrophe) (New York, 1956), pp. 225-34; Y. Zerubavel, Bletlekh fun a lebn (Pages from a life) (Tel Aviv, 1956), vol. 2, pp. 135-42; B. Tsukerman, Afn veg (On the road) (New York, 1956), p. 98; Tsukerman, in Idisher kemfer (Rosh Hashanah issue, 1955); Y. Hirshhoyt, in Tsukunft (April 1957); D Eynhorn, in Forverts (April 1957); Y. Rapaport, in Vayter (New York) (January-February 1958); B. Rivkin, in Yidishe kultur (June-July 1958); Rivkin, in Fraye arbeter shtime (July 15, 1958); Y. Morgenshtern, in Fraye arbeter shtime (August-September 1958); Z. Vaynper, Shrayber un kinstler (Writer and artist) (New York, 1958); Dr. Shloyme Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation) (New York, 1958), pp. 195-203; M. Braun, Mit yidishe oygn (With Jewish eyes) (New York, 1958), pp. 252-57; B. Sherman, in Idisher kemfer (May 15, 1959); Nakhmen Mayzil, Dr. khayim zhitlovski, tsu zayn hundertstn geboyrnyor, 1865-1965 (Dr, Chaim Zhitlovski, on the centenary of his birth, 1865-1965) (New York: Ikuf, 1965), 127 pp.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 270.]