Monday 22 August 2016


            He was born in a village in Torne (Tarnów) district, western Galicia.  In his early childhood years, he moved with his parents to Klimentov (Klimontów) and then later to Lodz.  He studied in religious primary school with his father, a poor itinerant teacher, and then on his own studied secular subjects.  In 1909 he was run over by a wagon full of merchandise and broke a hand and foot, but because of his weakened physical development, given the needs of his home, he was made to study the furrier business, later a weaver of plush, a tailor; and later still he worked as a private tutor, a theater prompter for a vaudeville troupe, and an office employee.  During WWI he was dispatched by the Germans to forced labor on roadway repairs in Lithuania and to the head of the German military staff on the eastern front.  He returned to Lodz in 1918, later living until 1922 in Kutne (Kutno).  He was a cofounder of the socialist youth organization “Tsukunft” (Future) in Poland and traveled about giving speeches in its name through the Polish hinterland.  In 1921 he switched to “di linke” (a leftish coalition of groups).  Over the years 1922-1935, he survived a variety of illnesses and was hospitalized in Warsaw.  From 1935 he was living in Antwerp, ran a paper and haberdasher’s shop, at the same time as he was an active contributor to the building of local Jewish cultural life.  He cofounded and was a member of the executive of the Parisian Jewish Cultural Congress (1937) and was secretary of its Belgian division.  He began his writing work as a reporter for Lazar Kahan’s Lodzer folksblat (Lodz people’s newspaper) in 1916, and later, under the influence of Dovid Eynhorn, published a poem in Lebens-fragen (Life issues) in Warsaw (1919).  From that point forward, his published poems, stories, novellas, novels, reportage pieces, and literary criticism appeared in: Lebens-fragen, Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Morgnshtern (Morning star), Der shtrom (The current), Sotsyalistishe yugnt-shtime (Voice of socialist youth), Yugnt-veker (Youth alarm), Dos folk (The people), Dos fraye vort (The free word), Oyfgang (Arise), Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writing for literature), Shprotsungen (Sprouts), Arbeter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), and Dos vort (The word)—all in Warsaw; Naye prese (New press), Kiem (Existen), Arbeter vort (Workers’ word), Unzer vort (Our word), Parizer zhurnal (Parisian journal), and other Parisian periodicals; Dos naye lebn (The new life), Folksshtime (Voice of the people), and Yidishe shriftn (Jewish writings)—in postwar Poland; Tsukunft (Future), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Eynikeyt (Unity), Zamlungen (Collections), and Frayhayt (Freedom)—in New York; Lodzer tageblat (Lodz daily newspaper) and Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) in Lodz; Belgishe bleter (Pages from Belgium) in Antwerp; and Argentinishe literarishe bleter (Argentinian literary leaves) in Buenos Aires; among others.
            In book form, he published: In eygenem kreyz (In one’s own circle), poems (Warsaw, 1922), 48 pp.; Sankt helene-indzl, a gezang in tsvey teyln (St. Helen’s Island, a song in two parts), a song about life with an incurable illness (Warsaw, 1925), 45 pp.; Himen tsu oysgeleyzter erd (Hymns to redeemed land) (Warsaw, 1927), 16 pp., confiscated by the Polish authorities; Eybik farmishpete (Forever condemned), novellas (Warsaw, 1928), 171 pp.; Fintstere dertseylungen (Dark stories) (Warsaw, 1929), 160 pp.; Broyt, roman in fir teyln (Bread, a novel in four parts) (Vilna, 1930), 226 pp.; Hura, zol lebn der kenig! (Hurrah, the king shall live!), a dramatic satire (Warsaw, 1932), 32 pp.; Borekh shulman, dramatisher reportazh in dray aktn (Borekh Shulman, a dramatic reportage in three acts) (Warsaw, 1934), 48 pp.; Karnaval, dertseylung (Carnival, a story) (Warsaw, 1934), 60 pp.; Blut af mayne hent (Blood on my hands), novellas (Warsaw, 1935), 128 pp.  In addition, he edited the monthly Belgishe bleter (Belgium leaves) (Antwerp, 1935-1938).  Later, when the Germans occupied Belgium, he was active in the underground movement opposing the Nazis.  In early 1942 he was seized by the Gestapo and deported to Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and there he assisted in the organization of the resistance; with a group of Belgian Jews, he was set to be suffocated in the gas chambers.  En route he defied the guards with a stone and was shot on the spot.  In 1957 his book, Gezamlte lider (Collected poems), with a foreword by his wife and a note by Meylekh Ravitsh, was published in Paris; in it were collected poems from the last twenty years of his life, right up until the day of his deportation from Belgium, April 10, 1942.  He left in manuscript: Esn (Food), a novel in four parts.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1 (with a bibliography); Sh. Zaromb, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (August 1, 1930); N. Mayzil, in Literarishe bleter (August 15, 1930); M. Ravitsh, in Literarishe bleter (September 12, 1930); Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol.1 (Montreal, 1945), pp. 91-93; Shmuel Niger, in Tog (new York) (October 12, 1930); Eynikeyt (Moscow) (June 17, 1942); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney) and D. Lerer, in Tsukunft (New York) (April 1943); Y.-Ts. Lemel, in Der amerikaner (New York) (December 3, 1946); A. Tsaytlin and Y. Y. Trunk, eds., Antologye fun der yidisher proze in poyln (Anthology of Yiddish prose in Poland) (New York, 1946), p. 13; L. Finkelshteyn, in Tsukunft (May 1948); Finkelshteyn, Pidyen-hashem (Redemption of the Lord) (Toronto, 1948); B. Feder, in Naye prese (Paris) (April 9, 1948); M. Kats, in Loshn un lebn (London) (October 1948); M. Shulshteyn, in Parizer tsaytshrift (Paris) 10 (1955); B. Kutsher, Geven amol varshe (As Warsaw once was) (Paris, 1955), see index; Y. Emiyot, in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (July 6, 1957); A. Leyeles, in Tog (October 12, 1957); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (December 1957); L. Miler, in Zamlungen (New York) (Winter 1957); R. Yukelson, in Zamlungen (Winter 1958); Y. Papyernikov, Heymishe un noente (Familiar and close) (Tel Aviv, 1958), pp. 235-36; M. M. Shafir, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (January 25, 1960).
Khayim Leyb Fuks

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