Sunday 20 November 2016



            He was a historian, current events writer, labor leader, and demographer, born in Minsk, Byelorussia. He lectured on the history of the labor movement in Byelorussia at the Minsk Pedagogical Institute (1930-1934) and was a member of the historical commission of the Jewish section of the Byelorussian Academy of Sciences. His articles on Jewish historiography were published in the Minsk journal of literature and the arts, Shtern (Star), and the newspaper Tsaytshrift (Periodical) in 1930 and Afn visnshaftlekhn front (On the scientific front) in 1932-1935, as well as the newspaper Oktyabr (October)—all in Minsk. He participated in discussions around issues of Jewish history, which would frequently rage in Jewish scholarly and community circles. His most important work, Der yidisher arbeter in vaysrusland, bam baginen fun der yidisher arbeter-bavegung (The Jewish workers in Byelorussia, at the dawn of the Jewish labor movement)—(Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers, 1932), 166 pp.—in which, among other things, he sought to justify scientifically the collapse of the Jewish socialist parties after the Revolution, aroused a heated polemic among historians. Several years later, he wrote: Di antshteyung fun der arbeter-bavegung in vaysrusland (The perspective of the labor movement in Byelorussia) (Minsk, 1934), 180 pp. It was charged that his work was destructive and apologetic with regard to the Bund. He was removed from all the positions that he held. Both books, which overlooked citations from Lenin that “Jews from the scientific standpoint were not a nation” (ethnic group) and his attacks on the Bund, were nonetheless vilified by Communist Party critics “for apologizing to class enemies and for Jewish nationalism,” and this led to his liquidation. From the 1930s, his name no longer appeared anywhere.

Sources: R-n, in Afn visnshaftlekhn front (Minsk) 1-2 (1932), pp. 142, 145; Y. Hershenboym, in Emes (Moscow) 140 (1933); V. Frishman, in Oktyabr (Minsk) 140 (1933); N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetn-farband in 1932 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union in 1932) (Minsk, 1933), no. 127; N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), p. 128.

Khayim Leyb Fuks

[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. 168-69.]

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