Sunday 7 February 2016


MORTKHE HOLTSBLAT (1904-September 1939)
            He was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He studied in a Hebrew high school, later at Warsaw University—initially studying journalism and later history.  In the 1930s he was an employee in the censor’s office and assisted (as part of his censorship work) with Yiddish publications.  He began his literary activities with essays and reviews of books in the Polish Jewish daily Nasz Przegląd (Our review) in Warsaw (1925), and later Kino, Komedia, Teatr (Film, Comedy, Theater) in Warsaw (1926-1929).  In 1927 he switched to Yiddish.  He published articles and translations in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Foroys (Onward), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Bikher-velt (Book world), and Naye folkstsaytung (New people’s newspaper) in Warsaw, in which among other things he published his translation of Felix Hollaender’s novel Der tentser (The dancer [original: Tänzer]) in 1927; as well as in Frayhayt (Freedom) in New York, Idishe zhurnal (Jewish journal) in Toronto; Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires, and others.  For a lengthy period of time he was literary director of the well-known Goldfaden Publishing House in Warsaw, for whom—using the pen name “M. Zamler”—he translated into Yiddish and revised in a storytelling format Shakespeare’s Otello (Othello), Kenig lir (King Lear), Shaylok (Shylock [The Merchant of Venice]), Romeo un yulya (Romeo and Juliet), and Makbet (Macbeth)—all in 1929; one year earlier (Warsaw, 1928), he translated Vicente Blasco Ibañez’s Froyen-faynt (Enemy of women [original: Los enemigos de la mujer]), in two parts, and other novels from world literature (unsigned).  He also translated from the French original most of the works of Anatole France.  He had earlier adapted and translated into Yiddish: E. Watson, Artur shopenhoyer, zayn lebn un tetikeyt (Arthur Schapenhauer, his life and activities) (Warsaw, 1927), 86 pp.; K. M. Karyagin, Konfutsyus, zayn lebn un tetikeyt (Confucius, his life and activities [original: Konfucyusz, jego źycie i filozoficzna działałność) (Warsaw, 1936), 157 pp.  He served as co-editor (with Sh. L. Shnayderman) of the journal Ilustrirte magazin (Illustrated magazine) in Warsaw (1927).  With the German attack on Poland in 1939, he escaped from Warsaw in flames to the eastern zone and was murdered on the way to Byalistok during the bombing by German airplanes.

Sources: S. Dubnova-Erlich, in Folkstsaytung (Warsaw) (August 6, 1927); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928).

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