ALEKSANDER (SASHA) TSHEMERISKI (1880-1942)
He was a current events author and community activist (who also called himself Shloyme and Solomon), born in the town of Bar, Podolia, Ukraine. He early on joined the socialist movement and studied political economy. In the late 1890s he departed for Minsk where he worked as a photographer and at the same time helped to reestablish the Bund’s organization after the great arrests of 1898. He was himself soon arrested, thrown in prison in Moscow, and after being freed he returned to Minsk a follower of Zubatov’s plan—Zubatov was the leader of the Tsarist secret police (Okhrana) in Moscow, and his plan (known as the “Zubatovshchina”) consisted of laborers limiting themselves solely to purely economic organization and a refusal to engage in political fights. In the summer of 1901 he was a cofounder in Minsk with a group of activists of the Independent Jewish Labor Party which held as its goal diverting Jewish labor from its revolutionary political struggle for the prize of receiving support from the authorities in the purely economic realm. In 1902 he came to Vilna to found an organization for his Independent party, but he had no success there. In July 1903 the party was thoroughly dissolved. He then departed and made his way through the villages of Byelorussia on his own to carry out campaigning among the peasants. A short time later, he returned to enter the Bund, and he was in 1905 a member of the Bund’s committee in Lodz, took part in the building of barricades for the 1905 Revolution there (he later described the events in Royte bleter [Red leaves] in Minsk, 1919, under the title “In lodzh in 1905” [In Lodz in 1905]). He was again arrested in 1908 and thrown in prison, and this time he was deported to the distant north of Russia. He returned in 1910 and was a delegate from Lodz to the eighth congress of the Bund in Lemberg and later to the All-Russian Artisans’ Conference in St. Petersburg in 1911. Several months later he was arrested once again. All through these years, he was writing in the Bundist press on organizational issues. During the years of WWI, he traveled from Russia to Vienna, where there was to take place (and did not actually take place) the eighth conference of the Bund, and he moved on to Geneva, before returning to Russia for illegal work, was arrested again, and then freed by the Revolution in 1917. He then served as a member of the Bundist central committee in Ekaterinoslav and Kiev and contributed to Kiev’s Folks-tsaytung (People’s newspaper). After the Bolshevik uprising, Tshemeriski was among the founders of the “Komfarband” (Com[munist] union), and then of the “Kombund” ([Jewish] Communist Labor Bund), and shortly thereafter he joined the Communist Party. In the 1920s, he was secretary in Moscow of the central bureau of the Idsektsye (Jewish section) with the central committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), a member of the editorial board of the central Yiddish newspaper, Der emes (The truth), in Moscow, and an important leader in the field of organizing and industrializing the Jews of Soviet Russia.
He was arrested around 1930 in Moscow, charged with having been a member of Zubatov’s group, and sentenced to death, but taking into consideration his subsequent service to Communism, they superseded the death sentence with life imprisonment. He was deported to Kazakhstan, though he later lived in Yaroslavl. Once again arrested in July 1941 he was sent to a camp in the Russian north.
His works include: Di alfarbandishe komunistishe partey (bolshevikes) un di idishe masn (The All-Russian Communist Party, Bolsheviks, and the Jewish masses) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1926), 111 pp.; Tsienistishe trayberayen, artiklen-zamlung (Zionist drivers, collection of articles), a collection of articles concerned with Zionism, written 1925-1926) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1926), 78 pp.; Af shtoltsn, vegn poyle-tsien (On stilts, concerning Labor Zionism) (Moscow: Shul un bukh, 1928), 76 pp.; Dos ferte yor yidishe erd-aynordenung (The fourth year of Jewish land management), speeches by Tsermeriski, Avrom Merezhin, and Yankl Kantor (Kharkov: Central Publishers, 1929), 79 pp.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Sh. (S.) Agurski, Der yidisher arbeter in der komunistisher bavegung, 1917-1921 (The Jewish worker in the Communist movement, 1917–1921) (Minsk, 1925), pp. 85, 183; Agurski, Di yidishe komisaryatn un di yidishe komunistishe sektsyes, 1918-1921 (The Jewish Commissariats and the Jewish Communist Sections, 1918–1921) (Minsk, 1928), p. 381; N. A. Bukhbinder, Di geshikhte fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung in rusland, loyt nit-gedrukte arkhiṿ-materyaln (The history of the Jewish labor movement in Russia, according to unpublished archival materials) (Vilna, 1931), see index; John Mill, Pyonern un boyer (Pioneers and builders) vol. 2 (New York, 1949), pp. 235, 263; F. Kurski, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected works) (New York, 1952), pp. 386-87; Kh. Sh. Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz tsisho (From religious and secular primary schools to Tsisho) (Mexico City, 1956), pp. 164-65; Kazdan, in Di geshikhte fun bund (The history of the Bund), vol. 1 (New York, 1960), pp. 190, 198.
[Additional information from: 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. 167-68.]
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