Sunday 27 September 2015


MOYSHE GROSMAN (MOSHE GROSSMAN) (April 3, 1904-September 27, 1961)
            He was born in Koriv (Kurów), Lublin region, Poland.  As a child, in 1910, he moved to Warsaw.  He studied in religious elementary school, yeshiva, in a seminary course, and self-preparation as an external student.  During WWI in 1917, suffering from hunger, he returned with his parents to Koriv.  At age fourteen in his hometown, he was giving private lessons in Yiddish, Russian, and accounting.  In 1920, following the death of his father, he returned to Warsaw by himself.  There he was a street salesman, a business employee, and laborer, and in the evenings he studied primarily on his own.  From 1921 he was a member of the Labor Zionist organization “Yugend” (Youth).  For a time he worked in the secretariat of the Warsaw artists’ association, was an employee in the Labor Zionist publishing house, secretary of the youth section of the association of employees, and from 1925 until just the time of the German occupation of Warsaw, when the last issue of the newspaper had already appeared, he worked in the administration of Haynt (Today) in Warsaw.  Grossman began writing at age fourteen.  Using the pseudonym Godlman, he published several short, humorous items in Bontshe’s (Avrom Rozenfeld’s) humor magazine Der foygl (The bird).  In 1923 he published his first short story, “Brokhe un klole” (Blessing and curse) in Veltshpigl (Mirror of the world) in Warsaw (edited by A. L. Yakubovitsh).  From that point forward, he placed his writings in such serials as: Yugnt-fon (Banner of youth), Veltshpigl, Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Vokhnshrift (Weekly writings), Farmest (Challenge), Fraynd (Friend), and Haynt—in Warsaw; Yidishe bilder (Jewish images) in Riga-Warsaw; Arbeter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper) in Warsaw-Lodz.  His first book appeared in 1931: Flamen un roykh, roman fun an arbeter-svive (Flames and smoke, a novel from a workers’ environment) (Warsaw), 136 pp.  Later, he published: Hamer af harfe (Hammer on the harp) (Warsaw, 1934), 65 pp.; Karl marks, bay zayn shvel, byografish montazh-roman (Karl Marx, at his threshold, a biographical montage novel) (Warsaw, 1934), 288 pp., second edition (Warsaw: Farlag M. Rakovski, 1936), 261 pp.—this last work also appeared in a Polish translation (Warsaw, 1935), 240 pp.—Dervakhung, historisher roman (Awakening, a historical novel), a biographical novel about the life of Rosa Luxembourg (Warsaw: Farlag literarishe bleter, 1937), 150 pp., which earlier appeared serially in Shikager kuryer (Chicago courier) with an introduction that was excised by the censor in Poland.  With the outbreak of WWII, in October 1939 he sought refuge in Soviet Russia.  He was, though, arrested there, tortured by the Soviet authorities, and deported to local concentration and labor camps.  After the end of the war, in 1945 he returned to Poland.  He contributed to Dos naye lebn (The new life) in Lodz and served as editor of Arbeter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper) in Lodz in 1946.  He also co-edited the anthology Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings), published by the Yiddish literary association in Lodz in 1946.  Leaving Poland at the end of 1946, he spent just a year in Sweden, and in the fall of 1947 he moved to France, living in Paris, where he became active in the Parisian Jewish community and literary life.  He was the founder and one of the leaders of the association of Polish Jews in Paris, of the association of refugee writers, and of the Yiddish PEN club.  He contributed to the Parisian Jewish press, including: Unzer shtime (Our voice), Unzer vort (Our word), and Kiem (Existence).  Under his own name—and under such pen names as F. Grim Karl Grim, L. Anglister, P. Amster, M. Giml, M. Ben-Yankev, Y. Shabes, M. Fazant, Leye, M. Rozes, M. Flint, and Moyshe Yisroeli—he published his writings in: Tsukunft (Future) and Forverts (Forward) in New York; Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Uruguay; Naye yidishe tsaytung (New Jewish newspaper) in Munich; Davar (Word), Hador (The generation), and Hatsofe (The spectator) in Tel Aviv.  In 1948 Grosman came to New York as a delegate to the World Jewish Culture Congress, returning to Paris after the congress.  He then published In farkisheftn land fun legendarn Dzhugashvili, mayne zibn yor lebn in ratnfarband, 1939-1946 (In the enchanted land of the legendary Dzhugashvili (Stalin)], my seven years living in the Soviet Union, 1939-1946) (Paris, 1949), vol. 1, 336 pp., vol. 2, 318 pp.  (This work appeared in an English translation by I. M. Lask as In the Enchanted Land: My Seven Years in Soviet Russia [Tel Aviv, 1960], 383 pp.)  A second edition appeared in Paris in 1950, and it was well received by the entire Yiddish and Hebrew press.  “This book,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “is without a doubt a classic.”  “In his writing,” noted Shmuel Niger, “there is the clarity and simplicity of a man of truth.  This is at a high level.”  This important two-volume work also appeared in Hebrew translation: Baarets haagadit hakeshufa, sheva shenot ḥayim biverit hamoatsot (In the legendary land of enchantment, seven years living in the Soviet Union)—vol. 1 translated by A. Ben Meir (Tel Aviv, 1950), vol. 2 translated by Y. Ḥagi (Tel Aviv, 1951).[1]  In 1950 he made aliya to the state of Israel.  There he published: Heymishe geshtaltn: reportazhn, portretn, dertseylungen, minyaturn (Familiar images: reportage, portraits, stories, miniatures) (Tel Aviv, 1953), 317 pp.; and Der vide fun a revolutsyoner, politisher roman (The confessions of a revolutionary, a political novel) (Tel Aviv, 1955), 288 pp.  Over the years 1951-1953, he co-edited the Mapai newspaper Dos vort (The word), which initially appeared thrice weekly and later daily, and the biweekly illustrated magazine Yidishe bilder (Tel Aviv, 1951-1952).  In 1956 he began publishing in Tel Aviv the monthly Heymish (Familiar), which he edited and in which he published his literary and informative works concerning Yiddish cultural and literary life in the Jewish world.  He contributed to an important work concerning the Warsaw newspaper Haynt in vol. 2 of Fun noentn over (From the recent past), published by the World Jewish Culture Congress (New York, 1956), a well-documented monograph concerning the great Warsaw daily newspaper from its founding until the publication of its final issue, under the fire of Nazi bombs over Jewish Warsaw.  Posthumously: Shtoyb un eybikeyt (Dust and eternity) (Tel Aviv: Bukh-komitet, 1970), 308 pp.  He also edited Yizker-bukh koriv (Memorial volume for Kurów) (Tel Aviv, 1955), 1150 pp.  He was living in Tel Aviv, working in the Yiddish and Hebrew press, and was esteemed as an important literary figure.  He died there.  “Moyshe Grosman is a literary talent,” wrote Ezriel Carlebach, “of whom we have very few….  They know how great is the flame, how acute the eye, and how extraordinary the descriptive ability such a work as this one [Dzhugashvili] is, but without a shadow of a doubt this may be seen in his great biographical novel, Karl Marks.”

[1] Translator’s note.  An English translation by I. M. Lask appeared in 1960: In the Enchanted Land: My Seven Years in Soviet Russia (Tel Aviv: Rachel).

Sources: Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (June 24, 1934); Dr. E. Carlebach, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 19, 1935); Carlebach, in Maariv (Tel Aviv) (April 23, 1954); Y. Rapoport, in Tsukunft (New York) (August 1938); Rapoport, in Fraye arbeter shtime (New York) (February 11, 1954); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 24 and December 25, 1949); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, in Foroys (Mexico) (June 1, 1949); Y. Leshtshinski, in Forverts (New York) (July 10, 1949); Dr. A. Borvitsh, in Problemen (Paris) (July 1949); Borvitsh, in Fraye arbeter shtime (November 11, 1949); Kh. Liberman, in Forverts (August 15, 1949; May 12, 1954); Y. Varshavski, in Forverts (October 9, 1949; January 31, 1950); G. Aronson, in Tsukunft (January 1951); A. Leyeles, in Tog (January 19, 1952); D. Pinski, in Dos vort (Tel Aviv) (January 15, 1953); Pinski, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 8, 1954); Y. Yanosovitsh, in Di naye tsayt (Buenos Aires) (March 12, 1954); Yanosovitsh, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (April 29, 1954; May 23, 1956); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (July 16, 1954); L. Domankevitsh, in Unzer vort (Paris) 6 (2679) and 109 (2782); Y. Guthelf, in Davar (Tel Aviv) (December 16, 1955); Y. Pat, in Der veker (New York) (December 15, 1955); Yizker-bukh koriv (Tel Aviv, 1955), pp. 813-14; Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (February 26, 1956); Sh. Rozhanski, in Yidishe tsaytung (Buenos Aires) (February 7, 1954); Sh. Katsherginski, Shmerke katsherginski ondenk-bukh (Memoirs of Shmerke Katsherginski) (Buenos Aires, 1955), pp. 46-52; Y. Y. Rapoport, in Di yidishe post (Melbourne) (March 9, 1956); A. Gordin, in Fraye arbeter shtime (September 7, 1956); M. Raynharts, in Foroys (April 1956); M. Valdman, in Tsukunft (February 1956); M. Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (July 16, 1956); Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 4711; Literarishe heftn (Los Angeles) 53-54 (January-June 1957); M. Shmaryahu, in Maariv (August 16, 1957); Yankev Giml (Glants), in Der veg (Mexico) (December 14, 1957); I. Fefer, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (January 16, 1948); M. Yafe, in Haboker (Tel Aviv) (February 7, 1958); M. Ginzburg, in Keneder odler (February 17, 1958); Sh. G., in Omer (Tel Aviv) (February 1, 1958); Dibon, Omer (December 13, 1957).
Zaynvl Diamant

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 173.]

[1] Translator’s note.  An English translation by I. M. Lask appeared in 1960: In the Enchanted Land: My Seven Years in Soviet Russia (Tel Aviv: Rachel).

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