VOLF NODEL (1897-1939)
He was a journalist and an active leader in the Communist Party of Byelorussia as well as a member of the Minsk Region Committee of Trade Unions from 1922 until 1934. He edited Profesyonele bavegung (Trade union movement) in Minsk (1921-1922), organ of the Minsk regional council of trade unions, initially a biweekly and from issue 19 a weekly, while at the same time publishing in Emes (Truth), Oktyabr (October), and Der yunger arbeter (The young worker), among other serials. His favored topics were: the trade union movement, relations between village and town, and especially the social processes which the faming populace was undergoing. He was part of the Minsk group associated with the literary-artistic and political-scientific monthly journal Der shtern (The star) (1925-1934), which launched publication in May 1925. Together with Shmuel Agurski, Ber Orshanski, Elye Osherovitsh, and Yankl Levin, he was a member of the first editorial board, and in the first issue he published an essay entitled “Shtot un dorf” (City and village), a contentious issue of the day around which heated debates ensued. In Byelorussia and Ukraine, however, there was a more painful issue at hand: the shtetl. In his essay, Nodel wrote: “In a normal economy, this is a superfluous limb, as already now the town (shtetl) has ceased to be the center of commercial exchange…. The route from the town—a difficult, often a morbid, but inevitable one: merge with the village, become one economic and productive unit with it—gradually moving over to farming.” In publishing this article, the editorial board added a note that it did “not totally agree with the views of Comrade Nodel concerning the role of the town in the present day and with its fate in the future.” In the latter half of the 1920s, there was a mobilization in the Soviet Union of specialists and Party activists to help the backward Central Asian republics, and thus began Nodel’s travels through Turkestan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. In Turkmenistan he became the editor of record of the republic’s Russian-language newspaper; in Uzbekistan he worked not only as an editor but also the manager of the department of propaganda and agitation in the central committee of the republic’s Party organization. His life was interrupted in the late 1930s amid the cold northern snows whence he was deported with his life-partner, Sonye Fray.
He translated from Russian the pamphlet: Dem kolvirtishn handl tsu dinst der sotsialistisher boyung (Collective farm trade to service the building of socialism) (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 52 pp.
Sources: Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetnfarband (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union) (Minsk, 1932); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.
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. 244-45.]