MAKS (MATESYAHU) LAZARSON (MAX M. LASERSON) (February 6, 1887-November 29, 1951)
He was born in Mitave (Mitava), Courland (later, part of Latvia). He received both a Jewish and a secular education. He studied law at the Universities of St. Petersburg, Heidelberg, and Berlin, where he graduated with a doctor of law degree. He lectured (1912-1913) on constitutional law at Berlin University, before turning to practicing law in St. Petersburg. In 1916 he became an assistant professor at St. Petersburg University and lectured on the general theory of law and constitutional law. In 1917, after the revolution, he was vice-director in the department of national minorities at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Kerensky government. In 1920 he returned to Latvia and settled in Riga. He joined the Tseire-Tsiyon (Young Zionists) party, and from 1922 until 1934 he served as its representative in the Latvian parliament, where he often appeared on behalf of the rights of Jewish national autonomy in the country. He was among the administrators of the congress of the national minorities in Geneva (1922). During the period of the semi-fascist coup of Kārlis Ulmanis in Latvia (1934), he was, together with other socialists, deported to a concentration camp in Libave (Liepāja). After being freed from the camp, he departed for Israel, lectured at a college founded by him for jurisprudential science and economics in Tel Aviv. In 1939 he moved to the United States. For a time he was the legal manager in the department for Jewish affairs at the World Jewish Congress, and later a lecturer in various fields of law at Columbia University in New York. He died in New York. He began writing with a work in Russian, Filosofīi︠a︡ i Izobrazhenie Istorii v Voini︠e︡ i Miri︠e︡ L. Tolstogo (Philosophy and the portrayal of history in L. Tolstoy’s War and Peace) (St. Petersburg, 1900), 36 pp. From that point, he would write longer works and journalistic pieces in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, English, French, Latvian, and German, among them in Yiddish: Der erets-yisroel-mandat (The Palestinian mandate) (Riga, 1922), 38 pp.; Di yidishe frage als a problem fun internatsyonaln rekht (The Jewish question as a problem of international law) (Riga, 1930), 48 pp.; Di yidn-frage af der sholem-konferents (The Jewish question at the peace conference), “What should our demands be after the war?” (New York, 1940), 30 pp.; Der kamf fun demokratye far menshlekhe rekht (The struggle of democracy for human rights) (New York, 1942), 72 pp. In Hebrew: Hamandat, hakonstitutsya vehamoetsa hameḥkeket (The mandate, the constitution, and the legislative council in Israel) (Tel Aviv, 1936), 96 pp.; Hafilosofya hamishpatit shel harambam (Rambam’s philosophy of rights) (Tel Aviv, 1939), 186 pp. Lazarson was a regular contributor to the Yiddish press in Latvia; he placed pieces in the Tseire-Tsiyon’s Der veg (The way) and Unzer veg (Our way), of which he was also co-editor, as well as in the daily newspapers: Dos folk (The people), Frimorgn (Morning), and Letste nayes (Latest news)—in Riga; Lodzher tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper); Haolam (The world) in Berlin-London; Der tog (The day) in New York, for which he wrote a series of articles on Jewish legislation; Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO), vol. 16, in New York (“Zhan zhak ruso vegn yidn” [Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the Jews]); in the commemorative volume Yahadut latviya (Judaism in Latvia) (Tel Aviv, 1953), pp. 30-105 (“Di yidn un der letishe parlamentarizm 1918-1943” [The Jewish and Latvian parliamentarianism, 1918-1943]); and other Hebrew, Russian, German, and English Jewish periodicals.
Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; M. Gerts, 25 yor yidishe prese in letland (25 years of the Yiddish press in Latvia) (Riga, 1933), pp. 39, 47; Sefer haishim (Biographical dictionary) (Tel Aviv, 1937), pp. 302-3; Yivo-bleter (New York) 16 (1940), p. 93; Meylekh Ravitsh, in Tsukunft (New York) (June 1943); Tog (New York) (December 1, 1951); Dr. A. Tartakover, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (December 14, 1951); Yahadut latviya (Judaism in Latvia) (Tel Aviv, 1953), see index; M. Buba, in Yahadut latviya, pp. 153-56; A. Z-n, in Yahadut latviya, pp. 423-26; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 201; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York), vol. 6, p. 537.
Khayim Leyb Fuks