YOYSEF GOTFARSHTEYN (JOSEPH GOTTFARSTEIN) (December 25, 1903-1980)
He was born in Pren (Prienai), Suwalk region, Lithuania. He studied in religious primary school, the Slobodka yeshiva, and in a Hebrew high school. He graduated from the Jewish teachers’ seminary in Kovno and studied music in the local conservatory. At the end of 1923, he moved to Berlin where he studied in the university there. From 1926 he was living in Paris, where he was active in Jewish communal and cultural life. He was the director of a Jewish theatrical studio as well as an active leader of the federation of Jewish communities in Paris; he was also a lecturer in the people’s university. During the German occupation of France, he escaped to Switzerland. He began writing poems in Vispe (Islet) in Kovno (1922-1925). He also published here fragments of a dramatic poem entitled “Farzeenish” (Monster) in which he expressed motifs of the human conflict between good and evil. He was a contributor to Yidishe teatraler tsaytshrift (Yiddish theater periodical) in Kovno, and to the Yiddish daily press in Lithuania. He served as the Parisian correspondent for Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires, and for Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Kovno. Aside from correspondence pieces, he also published articles about theater and art. He contributed to Unzer vort (Our word) and Kiem (Survival) in Paris, and after the death of Yisroel Efroykin, he became editor of the latter. There he published a number of chapters of his work “Legitimatsye fun yidishkeyt” (Legitimating Jewishness). In Shevivim (Sparks) 4 (Paris, 1955), he published portions of his Hebrew translation of his French volume on the essence of Jewish civilization. He was a contributor to and served on the editorial board (with Theodor Plievier) of a German-language journal (Berlin, 1924). He wrote stories, feature pieces, articles, and essays for German and French periodicals. He was the author of a German volume (Geneva, 1944) that he later translated into French as L’école du meurtre (School of death) (1946). This work was a kind of history of the German school up to the Hitler era. He translated into French a number of stories by Y. L. Peretz and chapters from Sefer hayetsira (The book of formation). His work on “Jewish folklore in Lithuania” appeared in the Jewish encyclopedia of Lithuania (published in Tel Aviv). He also wrote under the pen names: Y. G-n, Y. Kador, Y. Anshl, and Y. Malbin, among others.
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