Thursday 5 April 2018


OSKAR STRELITS (1892-1937)

            He was prose author, journalist, and feature writer, born in Kovno. In his youth he left home and worked in a paper business and as a porter. He read and studied on his own a great deal. He took part in the revolutionary movement, was arrested, and spent time in prison in Lithuania. After being freed, he left Lithuania and moved to Moscow, where he studied in the workers’ faculty of Moscow State University. At the same time, he was a contributor to the editorial board of the newspaper Emes (Truth). He was considered one of the most prominent authors of human-interest pieces in Soviet Yiddish literature. When the first ethnic Jewish district was set up in Kalinindorf in the late 1920s, he moved there from Moscow, and organized the production of the local newspaper Kolvirt-emes (Collective farm truth). From his own work and personal observations of events and personalities in the Jewish villages, he published a collection of jottings entitled Der bolshevistisher friling, fartseykhenungen fun kalinindorfer rayon, friling 1930 (Bolshevik spring, notes from Kalinindorf district, spring 1930) (Moscow: Emes, 1930), 149 pp. He then returned to Moscow and worked for Emes. In 1932 he brought out a collection of vignettes: Aropgerisene maskes, felyetonen (Masks torn off, feature pieces), foreword by Moyshe Litvakov (Moscow: Emes), 144 pp. And, one year later, a new book of jottings: Rekonstruktsye, fartseykhenungen (Reconstruction, notes) (Moscow: Emes, 1933), 210 pp.—based on his travels through cities and towns and his meetings with people: déclassé elements, factory workers, farmers, and scholars. From Russian he translated into Yiddish: Mikhail Sholokhov, Oyfgeakerte royerd (Virgin soil upturned [original title: Podnyataya Tselina]) (Moscow: Emes, 1937), 423 pp.; and Geografye, lernbukh farn dritn klas fun der onfang-shul (Geography, textbook for the third year of primary school) by Lidiia G. Terekhova and V. G. Erdeli (Moscow: Emes, 1937), fifth printing. He also place worked in the anthologies: Far der bine: dertseylungen, pyeses, lider (For the stage: stories, plays, poems), with musical notation (edited by Yekhezkl Dobrushin, Buzi Olevski, and Elye Gordon) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1929); Der veg fun farat, kamf kegn bundizm un menshevizm in der yidisher proletarisher literatur (The way of betrayal, the struggle against Bundism and Menshevism in Jewish proletarian literature), edited by Arn Kushnirov and Yoysef Rabin (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1932); Deklamator fun der sovetisher yidisher literatur (Declaimer of Soviet Yiddish literature) (Moscow: Emes, 1934). He also published in the Kharkov journal Prolit (Proletarian literature). He was a co-editor of Der apikoyres (The heretic), “organ of the central council of fighting heretics” (Moscow, 1933). He was a victim of the Stalinist repression, arrested in 1937 and killed in a concentration camp.

Sources: Y. Nusinov, in Literaturnaia Entsiklopediia (Literary encyclopedia), vol. 4 (1930), p. 36; A. Druker, in Prolit (Kharkov) (February 1932); Sh. Klitenik, Verk un shrayber (Works and writers) (Moscow, 1935); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index.

Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 404-5; 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), p. 262.]

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