Monday 3 December 2018


TSVI FRIDLAND (1897-March 8, 1937)

            He was a journalist and historian, born in Minsk, Byelorussia, into a laboring family. He received a traditional education and graduated from high school in Minsk with a medal. Due to his own talents and irrespective of the numerus clausus that restricted many Jewish students from advancing in higher education under the Tsarist empire, he went on to study at the St. Petersburg Psycho-Neurological Institute. From his high school years, he was an active leader of the Labor Zionist movement in Minsk, Kharkov, and St. Petersburg during the Revolution. In 1917 he left the Institute and served as a representative for the party in the “Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies” in the Petrograd Council. He then returned to Minsk and was elected to the central committee of the Lithuanian-Byelorussian Republic and took part in fighting during the civil war. From 1921 he was a member of the Communist Party and studied for a time in the Institute of Red Professors in Moscow. He was a member of the senior council of Gezerd (All-Union Association for the Agricultural Settlement of Jewish Workers in the USSR). He was professor of the history of the revolutionary and labor movement at Sverdlov University, and in the first and second Moscow State Universities (also chairman of the Yiddish department). He was a member of the presidium of the Society of Marxist Historians in the Communist Academy, a lecturer on the nationality question, and general secretary of the French section of the Marx-Engels Institute (on a mission from the Institute, he visited Paris and studied materials on the French Revolution). As an active leader of Jewish culture, he took part in the convening and the work of both of the All-Soviet Conferences of Jewish Culture in the 1920s. He was a co-editor of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (in which he published his work on anti-Semitism) and Istorik-Marksist (Marxist historian), among other works. Until 1918, he was a contributor to the Labor Zionist periodicals Dos vort (The word) and Fraye vort (Free word) in Minsk, and of their Russian publications in St. Petersburg. Over the years 1918-1921, he served as editor of the periodical of the Red Army, Znanie-sila (Knowledge-strength). He also placed work in: Izvestia (News) in Moscow, and Zvezda (Star) in Minsk, among other serials. Until 1936 he was a regular contributor to: Emes (Truth) in Moscow; Shtern (Star) and Oktyabr (October) in Minsk; Royte velt (Red world) in Kharkov; Afn visnshaftlekhe front (On the scientific front) and other Soviet publications; as well as Frayhayt (Freedom) in New York. He authored a number of books on historical topics in Russian, on such topics as: San Simon, the history of Western Europe in the nineteenth century (2 vols.), and Lenin on war and revolution. During the trial of the “right deviationists,” he was arrested on May 31, 1936, tried and convicted as a Trotskyist, a spy, and a Jewish nationalist, and as per the verdict of the highest tribunal of the military court, he was shot on March 8, 1037.

His works in Yiddish include: Der komunistisher internatsyonal un der komunistisher poyle-tsienizm (The Communist International and the Communist Labor Zionism) (Minsk, 1922), 48 pp.; Geshikhte fun der revolutsyonerer bavegung in mayrev-eyrope, lernbukh un khrestomatye (The history of the revolutionary movement in Western Europe, textbook and reader), vol. 1 (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1925), 289 pp., vol. 2 (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1926), 186 pp., vol. 3 (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1927), 289 pp., vol. 4 (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1928), 286 pp.—all co-authored with A. Slutski. He authored such monographs as: Danton (Danton) (Moscow: Emes, 1935), 257 pp. and Marat (Marat), which were part of the “Kinder biblyotek” (Children’s library). His prepared work, “Geshikhte fun der revolutsyonerer bavegung” (History of the revolutionary movement), vol. 5, as well as his research of many years, “Di geshikhte fun yidn in der nayer tsayt” (The history of Jews in modern times), were not published. In 1962 he was rehabilitated and his work in Russian went through new editions.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Der shtern (Minsk) (March 1925); Biblyografishe yorbikher fun yivo (Bibliographic yearbooks from YIVO) (Warsaw, 1928), see index; Z. Abramovitsh and A. Surazher, in Yidisher arbeter pinkes (Records of Jewish laborers) (Warsaw, 1928), pp. 320-32; N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetnfarband in 1932 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union in 1932), (Minsk, 1932); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Sovetish heymland (Moscow) (Moscow, 1966).

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. 298-99.]

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