Tuesday, 13 August 2019

HERSH-MENDL SHTOKFISH


HERSH-MENDL SHTOKFISH (1893-July 27, 1968)
            He was born in Warsaw, into a poor family of tanners.  He was well known by his revolutionary name of Hersh Mendl.  He experienced a major revolutionary career, initially in the Polish Bund, later (from 1912 in Paris) he grew close to anarchism, and in 1917 he took an active role in the Bolshevik Revolution.  For many years he was one of the Communist leaders in Poland.  He spent time in various Polish prisons, on one occasion sentenced to be executed.  Disappointed with Communism, he rejoined the Bund, and 1938 he had to flee to Paris once again.  After the Hitler-Stalin pact, he moved to proletarian Zionism and settled in Israel in 1953.  Shtokfish published ideological articles and engaged in polemics with his opponents in: Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Warsaw; after the war in Arbeter-vort (Workers’ word) in Paris, and Folksblat (People’s newspaper) and Yisroel shtime (Voice of Israel) in Tel Aviv, among others.  In book form: An entfer unzere kritiker (A reply to our critics) (Paris: Zelbsthilf, 1949), 137 pp.; Zikhroynes fun a yidisher revolutsyoner (Memoirs of a Jewish revolutionary) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1959), 328 pp., German translation (Körn, 1970), Hebrew translation (Tel Aviv, 1974), English translation (London, 1989), French translation (Paris, 2011).
            “Shtokfish’s memoirs,” noted Isaac Deutscher in his preface to the book, “are a description of his moving experiences scrambling from the Vale of Tears in his youth to the heights of the ideas of the times.”  He is portrayed in Benyomen Shlevin’s novel, Vuhin geystu, khaver danyel? (Where are you going, Comrade Daniel?) (Paris, 1977).  He died in Tel Aviv.


Sources: Y. Guthelf, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (September 25, 1959); Leyzer Pines, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 37 (1960); Avrom Lis, in Folksblat (Tel Aviv) 1 (1974).
Ruvn Goldberg


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