Monday, 14 November 2016

ALEKSANDER (SASHA) TSHEMERISKI

ALEKSANDER (SASHA) TSHEMERISKI (1880-1942)
            (He also called himself Shloyme and Solomon.)  He was born in Bar, Podolia, Ukraine.  He early on joined the socialist movement and studied political economy.  In the late 1890s he departed for Minsk where he worked as a photographer and at the same time helped to reestablish the Bund’s organization after the great arrests of 1898.  He was himself soon arrested, thrown in prison in Moscow, and after being freed he returned to Minsk a follower of Zubatov’s plan—Zubatov was the leader of the Tsarist secret police (Okhrana) in Moscow, and his plan (the “Zubatovshchina”) consisted of laborers limiting themselves solely to purely economic organization and a refusal to engage in political fights.  In the summer of 1901 he was a cofounder in Minsk of the Independent Jewish Labor Party which held as its goal diverting Jewish labor from its revolutionary political struggle for the prize of receiving support from the authorities in the purely economic realm.  In 1902 he came to Vilna to found an organization for his Independent party, but he had no success there.  In July 1903 the Independent party was thoroughly dissolved.  He then departed and made his way through the villages of Byelorussia on his own to carry out campaigning among the peasants.  A short time later, he returned to enter the Bund, and he was in 1905 a member of the Bund’s committee in Lodz, took part in the building of barricades for the 1905 Revolution in Lodz (he later described the events in Royte bleter [Red leaves] in Minsk, 1919, under the title “In lodzh in 1905” [In Lodz in 1905]).  He was again arrested in 1908 and this time deported to the distant north of Russia.  He returned in 1910 and was a delegate from Lodz to the eighth congress of the Bund in Lemberg and later to the All-Russian Artisans’ Conference in St. Petersburg in 1911.  Several months later he was arrested once again.  All through these years, he was writing in the Bundist press on organizational issues.  During the years of WWI, he traveled from Russia to Vienna, where there was to take place (and did not actually take place) the eighth conference of the Bund, and he moved on to Geneva, before returning to Russia for illegal work, was arrested again, and then freed by the Revolution in 1917.  He then served as a member of the Bundist central committee in Ekaterinoslav and Kiev and contributed to Kiev’s Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper).  After the Bolshevik uprising, Tshemeriski was among the founders of the “Kom. farband” (Com[munist] union), and then of the “Kombund” ([Jewish] Communist Labor Bund), and shortly thereafter he joined the Communist Party.  In the 1920s, he was secretary in Moscow of the central bureau of the Idsektsye (Jewish section) with the central committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), a close contributor to Emes (Truth) in Moscow, an important leader in the field of organizing and industrializing the Jews of Soviet Russia.  His books include: Di alfarbandishe komunistishe partey (bolshevikes) un di idishe masn (The All-Russian Communist Party, Bolsheviks, and the Jewish masses) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1926), 111 pp.; Tsionistishe trayberayen, artiklen-zamlung (Zionist drivers, collection of articles), an anthology of articles concerned with Zionism, written 1925-1926) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1926), 78 pp.; Af shtoltsn, vegn poyaley-tsyon (On stilts, concerning Labor Zionism) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1928), 76 pp.  He was arrested around 1930 in Moscow, charged with having been a member of Zubatov’s group, and sentenced to death, but taking into consideration his subsequent service to Communism, they superseded the death sentence with a life sentence in prison.  He was sent to Kazakhstan, though he later lived in Yaroslavl.  Once again arrested in July 1941 he was sent to a camp in the Russian north.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Sh. (S.) Agurski, Der yidisher arbeter in der komunistisher bavegung, 1917-1921 (The Jewish worker in the Communist movement, 1917–1921) (Minsk, 1925), pp. 85, 183; Agurski, Di yidishe komisaryatn un di yidishe komunistishe sektsyes, 1918-1921 (The Jewish Commissariats and the Jewish Communist Sections, 1918–1921) (Minsk, 1928), p. 381; N. A. Bukhbinder, Di geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung in rusland, loyt nit-gedrukte arkhiṿ-materyaln (The history of the Jewish labor movement in Russia, according to unpublished archival materials) (Vilna, 1931), see index; John Mill, Pyonern un boyer (Pioneers and builders) vol. 2 (New York, 1949), pp. 235, 263; F. Kurski, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected works) (New York, 1952), pp. 386-87; Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), pp. 164-65; Kazdan, in Di geshikhte fun bund (The history of the Bund), vol. 1 (New York, 1960), pp. 190, 198.

[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 167-68.]


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