Friday 25 January 2019


KHLAVNE KAGAN (1900-1943)
            He was born in Kazan-Horodok, Poland.  He studied in the Brisk yeshiva and later in the Vilna polytechnic.  Around 1929 he came to Warsaw, where he was one of the founders of the leftist Yiddish writers’ group.  In 1937 he moved to Paris.  During the German occupation, he was interned in 1941 in the Pitivye concentration camp, and from there he was deported in 1942 to his death.  He debuted in print in 1930 in Literarishe tribune (Literary tribune) in Lodz and placed stories in: In shotn fun tlies, almanakh fun der yidisher proletarisher literatur in di kapitalistishe lender (In the shadow of the gallows, an almanac of Yiddish proletarian literature in the capitalist countries) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932); and Lebn un kamf (Life and struggle), a collection of leftwing writers in Poland (Minsk, 1936).  His books include: Afn taykh (On the river) (Warsaw: M. Rakovski, 1935), 95 pp., second edition (Warsaw: Yidish bukh, 1951), 87 pp.  Among Kagan’s hidden manuscripts: a novel about the civil war in Russia, entitled Samogon (Home-distilled vodka), and a drama Poylisher shtrayk (Polish strike)—held in the archives of the Jewish Documentation Center in Paris.  Kagan depicted “faraway places in Polesia,” wrote B. Shlevin, “full of the color of local life, the everyday Yiddish of the people living there, the horse dealers, old-time barbers, and small town intellectuals….  From his enter corpus of writings, the landscape of Polesia shines out everywhere.”

Sources: Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1961), see index; Literarishe tribune (Lodz) (January 15, 1951); B. Shlevin, in Yizker-bukh tsum ondenk fun 14 umgekumene parizer yidishe shrayber (Remembrance volume to the memory of fourteen murdered Parisian Yiddish writers), ed. T. Spero (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1946).
Berl Cohen

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