YOYSEF SHUSTER (1917-1996)
He was born in town of Tshemerovtsi (Chemerivtsi), Podolia. From his childhood, he led a difficult, complicated life. He was the thirteenth child in a large family. At a young age, he and his older brothers and sisters moved to a Jewish agricultural colony in southern Ukraine. In the first years of collectivization, he worked on a collective farm in the Nay-Zlatopol section of Zaporozhye (Zaporiz’ke) district. It was there that he wrote his first correspondence pieces for the Yiddish press, and at age seventeen he came to Kharkov to study at the Kharkov Jewish technical school. After graduation he worked at a Melitopol area newspaper, and over the course of the latter half of the 1930s, for Kolvirt shtern (Collective farm star) and Der shtern (The star). At the same time, he was studying at the Kharkov journalists’ institute. In June 1941 he volunteered to go fight at the front. He soon thereafter was captured by the Germans. He later recounted his experiences in those three years in his long story “Unter a fremdn nomen” (Under a foreign name). His return from captivity in 1945, after the end of the war, was also tied up with suffering and fear: many Soviet POW military men were deported to the Gulag. He was, however, lucky and went to work for Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow. In late 1948 that newspaper was closed down, and Shuster barely subsisted doing technical work for the Moscow publisher “Fizkultur un sport” (Physical culture and sport). In 1961 when Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) commenced publication, he joined the editorial board in Moscow as a technical and artistic editor. He later became a regular member of the editorial collective and published notes, reportage pieces, and articles on art. In book form: Bam altn brunem (At the old well) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1981), 64 pp. From 1991 he was living in Israel.
Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 521.
[Additional information from: Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), pp. 380-81.]