Friday 7 October 2016


TSODEK TUZMAN (1908-1942)

            He was a poet and journalist, born in the town of Luhin (Luhyny), Polesia, Ukraine, into a working-class family. He graduated from the local Jewish middle school and moved to Kharkov in late 1925. He had already published poems and dreamt of becoming a poet. He was a contributor to the newspaper Yunge gvardye (Young guard) in Kharkov, in which he published jottings, poetry, and articles. Several of his poetic creations were included in collective anthologies. The composer B. Riskind wrote music for several of his poems. He was a correspondent for this Kharkov Yiddish newspaper for youth, a literary contributor, editor, and illustrator. In the spring of 1932, he and another of the Yunge gvardye writers traveled to Zaporizhzhya as a virgin editorial board from the Kharkov newspaper Der shtern (The star) and organized the publication of Der shtern afn dnyeperboy (Der shtern’s construction on the Dnieper) (nearly 5,000 Jewish boys and girls from Ukrainian and Byelorussian towns contributed to the construction labors). The last issue of the short-lived paper appeared on May 1, 1932, when the Dnieper’s electrification station provided its first industrial electrical current. Tuzman returned to Kharkov, later moving with the editorial board to Kiev and working for the newspaper until the last day of its publication, June 26, 1941. Kiev had already been bombed at this point. At night he registered in the journal of the night editor the last pieces of material that were to be shipped in a sentence and added: “3:50 a.m. Everything! Tsodek Tuzman now sets out to defend the homeland.” He did not return from the front.

            In book form, together with Yosl Kotlyar he published Tsen lider (Ten songs), with music by B. Riskind (Kharkov: Central Publ., 1927), 20 pp. He also wrote poems that appeared in Yungvald (Young forest) in Moscow (1925), and he contributed to Lenin un di kinder (Lenin and children) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1934).

Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 278; 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. 161-62.

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