Thursday 15 December 2016


ARN YUDELSON (July 17, 1907-1937)

            He was an author of poetry and prose, born in Riga, Latvia. He received an elementary education. From his youth he was active in the Communist movement and dreamt of living in the “land of the Soviets.” In 1927 he moved to Poland, lived for a time in Vilna, and then in 1928 left illegally for the Soviet Union; he lived in Minsk and there graduated from university. He worked there for the newspaper Oktyabr (October) as manager of its “literature and art” division and published enthusiastic poems in which he celebrated his “Soviet fatherland.” The critics very warmly received his long poetic work, “Negoreloye” (as the railroad station at the Byelorussian-Polish border was known), in which the lyrical hero bids farewell to his childhood and expresses his great joy in arriving at his new home, the Soviet Union. Later, his work, Kombinat (Multi-purpose enterprise) (Minsk, 1931), 75 pp., was a poem about socialist construction in Byelorussia which lauds the productivity of the Jewish population there. In his poetry collection, Grenetsn (Borders) (Minsk: State Publisher of Byelorussian Nationalities, 1934), 149 pp., he engages in one of the poems a polemic with those who entertain doubts about patriotism toward their new fatherland. In this same spirit of ultra-patriotic feeling, he wrote two volumes of jottings: Ba unz in land, fartseykhenungen (With us on the land, jottings) (Minsk: State Publisher of Byelorussian Nationalities, 1934), 75 pp.; Roytfoniker kolvirt “kolos” (Red-banner collective farm Kolos) with F. Shefner (Minsk: Party Publishers, 1934), 104 pp. Until the trials of 1936-1937, he was an active leader in the field of Yiddish literature and culture, as well as in the general activities of the Communist Party in Minsk.

            He began writing in 1923 in illegal Latvian Yiddish publications: Yunge pleytses (Young shoulders), Yung-shturem (Young storm), and other serials in 1923-1927. He later contributed work to: Emes (Truth), Yungvald (Young forest), and Pyoner (Pioneer) in Moscow; Prolit (Proletarian literature) in Kharkov-Kiev; Der yunger arbeter (The young worker), Der yunger pyoner (The young pioneer), and Shtern (Star)—in Minsk; and in almost all of the Yiddish literary periodicals in Soviet Russia.

In 1937 a flood of accusations came pouring out on his head. His writings were starkly denounced by an official Communist critic who accused him, on the one hand, of being “under pressure from nationalistic ideological baggage hostile to the proletariat,” and, on the other, simply renounced him as a Trotskyist who “served, under a literary mask, the contemptible enemies of the revolution.” He was arrested in 1937 and died in a camp. His poem, “Land fun magnit un boyung” (Country of great works and construction), which was published in the anthology Shtern, no longer appears in book form, and his name was, after 1937, no longer mentioned in Soviet Yiddish literature or the press.

Other books include: Zangen (Stalks) (1936), 85 pp. His work was represented in Deklamater fun der sovetisher yidisher literatur (Reciter of Soviet Yiddish literature) (Moscow: Emes, 1934); Atake, almanakh fun roytarmeyishn landshuts-literatur (Attack, almanac of the Red Army’s national defense literature) (Minsk: State Publisher of Byelorussian Nationalities, 1934). He also translated from German into Yiddish a volume of poetry by Berthold Brecht (Minsk, 1937), 96 pp.

Sources: M. Khashtshevatski, in Prolit (Kharkov-Kiev) (March-April 1930), p. 102; H. Bloshteyn, in Nayerd (Riga) (January 1932); L. Tsart, in Shtern (Minsk) (March 1932), pp. 47-52; A. Damesek, in Shtern (April-May 1935), p. 203, (October 1936), p. 68; Kh. Dunets, in Di royte velt (Kharkov) 3 (1933); Y. Bronshteyn, Sheferishe problemen fun der yidisher sovetisher poezye (Creative problems in Soviet Yiddish poetry) (Minsk, 1936), p. 64; N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetn-farband in 1934 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union in 1934) (Minsk, 1934), nos. 132, 151; 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), see index; Pisʹmenniki Saveckaj Belarusi (Writers from Soviet Byelorussia) (Minsk, 1959), pp. 215-16.

Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 300; and 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. 179-80.]

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