ZAMI (SAMI) FEDER (December 5, 1909-April 11, 2000)
He was born in Zavyertshe (Zawiercie), Zaglembye (Zagłębie), Poland. In 1919 he came to join his grandfather in Frankfurt am Main, and there he received a Jewish and a general education. He studied in theatrical schools in Frankfurt and Berlin and was active in the theatrical and cultural realms, among the Polish Jews in Germany. When the Nazis took power, he left Germany and returned to Poland, and there he ran the theater circle “Orpheus.” During the Nazi occupation, he was interned in various camps, and he staged a number of works by Sholem-Aleichem, Perets, and others. After liberation he performed theater in the displace persons’ camps and in Paris. From 1931 he was publishing stories, essays on theater, reportage pieces, and descriptions and portions of his dramatical writings in: Di naye tsayt (The new times) in Frankfurt (1931); Unzer shtime (Our voice) in Bergen-Belsen (1945-1947); Ilustrirte teater-shpigl (Illustrated theatrical mirror) in London (1946); Yerusholaimer almanakh (Jerusalem almanac); Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture) in New York; Yisroel-shtime (Voice of Israel), Letste nayes (Latest news), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), and Heymish (Familiar) in Tel Aviv; Unzer vort (Our word), Unzer eynikeyt (Our unity), Parizer almanakh (Parisian almanac) (1956 and 1960), Unzer veg (Our way), and Kiem (Existence) in Paris; Keneder odler (Canadian eagle) in Montreal.
Feder’s Hitleryade (Hitleriade), with Shmuel Vulman, was staged in 1934 in various Yiddish theaters in Poland under the title Khinke-pinke (Khinke-Pinke), because of the Polish censor. In Bergen-Belsen he organized the “Katset-teater” (Concentration camp theater). Due to the lack of Yiddish books in Germany shortly after the liberation, Feder wrote up theatrical scripts from memory, noting: “following Perets, following Nadir, etc.”
In book form: Zamlung fun katset un geto-lider (Collection of concentration camp and ghetto poetry) (Bergen-Belsen, 1946), 46 pp.; Partizanen, dertseylung (Partisans, a story) (Jerusalem, 1971), 16 pp. (also he brought out a one-act play entitled Partizanen which was staged); Gebaylte foystn, dertseylungen un drames (Clenched fists, stories and dramas) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1974), 236 pp., Hebrew translation by Y. Brakman as Egrofim kemutsim (Jerusalem, 1979), 230 pp.; Durkh 12 gehenem-fayern (Through twelve fires of hell), concerning twelve Nazi labor camps, with several other novellas (Tel Aviv, 1985), 287 pp.
He lived in Paris until 1960, thereafter making aliya to the state of Israel. From 1962 he was living in Jerusalem, and he remained active in the field of Yiddish theater. He published his memoirs in 1995: Mayn lebn, shtrebungen, khaloymes, tetikeytn (My life, aspirations, drams, activities) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1995), 372 pp. He died in Kfar Saba, Israel.
Sources: L. Domankevitsh, in Unzer vort (Paris) (December 15, 1959); Y. Gar and F. Fridman, Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism), vols. 1 (New York, 1962), see index.
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 447.]