Sunday 20 April 2014


AVROM ABTSHUK (1897-1937)

A prose author and literary research, he was born in Lutsk, Volhynia.  He graduated middle school (1919) in Lutsk, and in 1921 he settled in Kiev, where he worked as a teacher of Yiddish language and literature in a Jewish workers school, a researcher in the Yiddish department of the Ukrainian Academy of Science, later a scholarly associate in the literature and criticism section of the Kiev Institute for Jewish Culture.  He performed teaching duties and wrote articles in the field of literary criticism and literary scholarship.  In 1926 he began to publish stories in Di royte velt (The red world) about the civil war and about Jewish life in Poland after WWI.  He made quite an impression with his novel Hershl Shamay (2 vols., 1931-1934) in which he more or less took an objective, artistic, and in places humorous posture to portray the process of industrializing Jewish labor in a Soviet factory.  He was also active in the linguistics conference in Kiev in May 1934. He worked on the editorial staff of Prolit (Proletarian literature), a journal of proletarian writers in Ukraine.  He was accused in 1936 of “Trotskyist” tendencies, which was said to have been manifested in Hershl Shamay, and of Jewish nationalism in 1937, and other anti-Soviet tendencies, after which he was arrested and his fate remains unknown.  His books include: Hershl Shamay un andere dertseylungen (Hershl Shamay and other stories) (Kiev, 1929), 316 pp.; Zikh ayngeshlosn (Locked in) (Kiev, 1930), 62 pp.; Hershl Shamay (second, revised edition, Kiev, 1931), 157 pp.; Kuzbas (Kiev, 1932), 72 pp.; In kamf kegn soynim (In struggle against enemies) (Minsk, 1932), 28 pp.; Dertseylungen (Stories) (Kiev, 1933), 135 pp.; Hershl Shamay (part 2) (Kiev, 1934), 182 pp.; Etyudn un materialn tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur bavegung in FSRR (Studies and material for the history of the Yiddish literature movement in the Soviet Union) (Kharkov, 1934), 290 pp.; In der bargiker shorie (In the mountainous island) (Kiev, 1934), 24 pp.; Barishevs brigade (Barishev’s brigade) (Kiev, 1934), 34 pp.; Vegn undzer proze (On our prose) (Odessa, 1934), 47 pp.; Mendele moykher-sforim, zayn lebn un zayne verk (Mendele, the bookseller, his life and work) (Kiev, 1927), 47 pp.; in addition, a series of textbooks for literature and social knowledge, as well as translations from Soviet literature.  Also: Arbetbukh far gezelshaftkentenish (Workbook for social knowledge) (Kiev: Kultur lige, 1929), 334 pp.; In kamf kegn sonim (In struggle against enemies), stories, with M. Khashtshevatski (Minsk: Melukhe farlag, 1932), 28 pp.; Literatur, lernbukh (Literature, textbook), with M. Mizhiritski (Kharkov-Kiev: Melukhe-farlag far di natsyonale minderhaytn, 1932), 124 pp.; Literatur, lernbukh, with A. Holdes and F. Shames (Kharkov-Kiev: Melukhe-farlag far di natsyonale minderhaytn, 1934), 232 pp.  Pieces published in: Ukrayne, literarish-kinstlerisher almanakh (Ukraine, literary-artistic almanac) (Kiev, 1926), Shlakhtn (Battles) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932), Der arbeter in der yidisher literatur (The worker in Yiddish literature) (Minsk, 1931).  He died in a Soviet camp.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen in Algemayne entsiklopedye, vol. 1; Shmuel Niger, “Revolutsye un humor” (Revolution and humor), Tog (New York, 1929) and “In der sovetish-yidisher literatur” (In Soviet Yiddish literature), Tsukunft (New York, February 1930); Yoysef Opatoshu, in Di vokh 4 (1929); M. Mizhiritski, “A freydiker onzog” (A joyous announcement), Di royte velt 10 (1929); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, “Di yidishe litsektsye af Ukraine” (The Yiddish literary section in Ukraine), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Warsaw) (June 10, 1932); Y. Pat, “S’iz gut…” (It’s good…), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Warsaw) (December 6, 1934); A. Damesek, “Di soynim unter a literarisher maske” (The enemies beneath a literary mask), Shtern (Minsk, October 1936); N. Y. Gotlib, “Tsvantsik yor yidish-sovetishe literatur” (Twenty years of Soviet Yiddish literature), Yoyvl-bukh 30 yor keneder odler (30-year jubilee volume of the Canadian eagle) (Montreal, 1938); “Di letste shafungen fun de sovetishe yidishe shrayber” (The last creations of the Soviet Yiddish writers), Keneder odler (March 30, 1953).

[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. 11-12.]



  1. Among his translations to Yiddish are the novels The Forty-First by Boris Lavrenyov (published in Kiev 1929) and The Father Goriot by Honoré de Balzac (published in Kiev 1935, possibly translated from a Russian translation).

    He died in prison in 1937. After the death of Stalin he was rehabilitated and some of his works were published in Russian translation (Страницы прошлого. Moscow 1965).

    1. AVROM ABTSHUK translated from French into Yiddish Honoré de Balzac's Foter Gorio. (orig.: Père Goriot) - Kiev; Kharkov : Melukhe-farlag far di natsionale minderhaytn in USRR, 1935.- 311 pp.
      פאטער גאריא
      אנארע דע-באלזאק ; פונ פראנצױזישנ - א. אבטשוק

  2. AVROM ABTSHUK wrote a roman In eyner a forshtot :roman (In a suburb).- Kiev : Melukhe-farlag far di natsionale minderhaytn in USRR, 1937.- 242, [2] pp.
    אינ אײנער א פארשטאט
    א. אבטשוק

  3. Correction in the English translation of the title and explanation of the geographical noun :
    שאריא = Шория = Shoriya is not an island but a geographical mountainous region in Sibiria located to the south of Kemerov region on the border of the Altai and Sayan mountains. Abtshuk's essey tells about the biggest metallurgical plant in Kuznetsk coal basin and cities Tel'bes (Тельбес) and Temirtau (Темиртау).
    אינ דער בארגיקער שאריא
    У горнiй Шорiї (Ukranian)
    В горной Шории (Russian)
    In mountainous Shoriya (English)

  4. AVROM ABTSHUK wrote Dos gevet (Змагания (Ukranian)=Соревнование (Russian)=The Competition/Bet).- Moskve; Kharkov; Minsk: Tsentrfarlag. Alukrainishe opteylung, 1931.- 19, [1] pp.
    דאס געװעט
    א. אבטשוק

  5. There is one more earlier edition of Abtshuk's Vegn undzer proze (On our prose).- Kharkov; Kiev : Melukhe farlag far di natsionale minderhaytn in USRR, 1932.- 46,[1] pp.

  6. AVROM ABTSHUK translated from Russian into Yiddish Israel Agol's childhood memories Ikh vil lebn (orig.: Хочу жить = I want to live).- Kharkov; Kiev : Melukhe farlag far di natsionale minderhaytn in USRR, 1936.- 252, [3] pp.
    איכ װיל לעבנ
    י. אגאל ; יידיש - א. אבטשוק
    Ikh vil lebn
    I. Agol ; yidish - A. Abtshuk