MENDL NAYGRESHL (NEUGRÖSCHEL) (February 9, 1903-February 8-1965)
He was born in Nay-Sandz (Nowy Sącz), Galicia, into a family engaged in business. Until age ten he studied in religious elementary school and in a Polish public school. At age eighteen he graduated from the local Polish public high school, and he then left for Vienna and entered university there—in the law faculty. In 1929 he received his doctoral degree and began to practice as a lawyer. He contributed to the work of the Vienna section of YIVO. In 1938 when the Nazi seized Austria, he was sent to the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald. After remaining there nine months, he succeeded in leaving for Brazil, where he lived for two years, before coming to the United States. Naygreshl initially wrote poetry in Polish under the pen name Menakhem Zefor, and he later began to write in Yiddish; he debuted in print in Yiddish with a poem in the Labor Zionist Arbayter tsaytung (Labor newspaper) in Nowy Sącz. From that time forward, he published articles and poems in: Vilna’s Tog (Day) (1921); Vienna’s Naye tsayt (New times) (1925); Warsaw’s Bleter (Leaves); and Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO), vol. 1 (New York, 1929), Inzl (Island), and Tsukunft (Future) in New York; among others. He edited the monthly journal Yidish (Yiddish) in Vienna (1928). In book form he published: In shvartsn malkhes (In a dark realm), poems (Vienna: Baginen, 1924), 32 pp.; Getseltn (Tents), poetry (Warsaw: Shklyar, 1930), 40 pp.; Kaylekhdike teg, lider (Circular days, poetry) (Vienna-Lemberg: Tsusheyer, 1935), 64 pp.; Kleyne antologye fun der yidisher lirik in galitsye, 1897-1935 (A short anthology of the Yiddish lyric in Galicia, 1897-1935) (Vienna: A. B. Tserata, 1936), 47 pp.; Poylisher liriker, iberzetsungen (Polish lyricists, translations) (A. B. Tserata, 1936), 48 pp.; Shvotim-gezang, vegn sandz un podholye (Tribal songs, on Sącz and Podhole) (New York: Epokhe, 1947), 15 pp. Naygreshl belonged to the most important contributors to Yiddish literature in Galicia after WWI. His poems excelled in their innovative graphic quality and his essays for their profound critical insight. His monograph, “Di moderne yidishe literatur in galitsye” (Modern Yiddish literature in Galicia), which appeared in the collection Fun noentn over (From the recent past) in New York 1 (1955), pp. 267-398, was of great historical and critical-aesthetic significance. He provides an accurate survey,” notes Benyomen Grobard, “of Yiddish poetry and prose from 1904 to 1918…. This is an important synoptic work for us…. A very vital and interesting essay. We are familiar with Jewish life in Galicia and Vienna. We discover here what strengths helped or restrained the development of Yiddish and artistic literature generally, and theater as well, even in the days of Hitler.” He died in New York.
Sources: P. Vyernik, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (February 15, 1931); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (December 28, 1931); Dr. B. Grobard, in Di tsukunft (New York) (January 1956); M. Bernshteyn, in Idishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (June 10, 1956); Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 5386; Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index.