YITSKHOK-MORTKHE PEYSEKHZON (1876-June 15, 1943)
He was born in Shklov (Szkłów), on the Dnieper River, a descendant of Bal-Hatanya (Shneur Zalman of Liady [1745-1813]). In his youth he moved to Warsaw, where his father became a rabbi. By age sixteen he had already become consumed by the ideas of Narodnaia volya (People’s will). Through his relative M. Shneyerzon of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s family, he joined a circle of intellectual Marxists. In 1893 or 1894, he helped publish a Yiddish hectographically-produced appeal for May 1, 1896, and he organized and led several self-education groups of Jewish workers, from which later (in coordination with two socialist groups) came into being the Jewish Labor Bund of Poland. After the first founding meeting in Lodz, he was arrested on several occasions. In 1902 he was exiled for seven years to eastern Siberia, and he subsequently fled to Berlin. He lived in London and Geneva. In 1905 he returned to Russia. In 1917 he was coopted onto the central committee of the Bund in Poland. He gave speeches in a number of cities. He published important memoirs concerning the beginning of the Jewish socialist movement in Warsaw and Lodz in the Bundist publications: Der idisher arbeter (The Jewish worker), Lebns-fragn (Life issues), and Royte pinkes (Red records), among others, under the pen name “An Alter Bakanter” (An old acquaintance). He published articles and correspondence pieces in the Bundist press as well. The Nazis shot him when he called upon the Jews of Bendin (Będzin) to resist being sent to the gas chambers.
Sources: John Mill, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (December 1943); Y. Hart, in Der veker (New York) (January 15, 1946); Shmuel Niger, Kidesh hashem (Sanctification of the name) (New York, 1947), pp. 349-50; Sh. Mendelson, Mayn lebn un shafn (My life and work) (New York, 1949), pp. 388-89; Y. Sh. Herts, Doyres bundistn (Generations of Bundists), vol. 1 (New York: Unzer tsayt, 1956), pp. 262-69; M. Hampel, Pinkas bendin (Records of Będzin) (Tel Aviv, 1959), p. 177; Di geshikhte fun bund (The history of the Bund) (New York, 1960), vol. 1, pp. 79-80, 131, 262, 363-64, vol. 2 (1962), pp. 343, 396, 439, vol. 3 (1966), pp. 314, 316.