Tuesday 21 May 2019


MARK BORISOVITSH RATNER (April 5, 1871-February 8, 1917)
            He was born with the Jewish name Mortkhe in Kiev.  His father was a lawyer.  After two years in religious elementary school, he switched to study at a high school in Kiev and became severed from Jews and Jewish interests.  In 1892 he entered the law department at Kiev University and only years later, due to his energetic activities on behalf of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, he acquired the legal rights to become a lawyer.  After the Kishinev pogrom, he returned to the Jewish side and became a central figure in the Jewish Socialist Labor Party (SERP, the Sejmists).  By 1905 he had settled in St. Petersburg, but because of police persecutions, he fled to Switzerland, later living in Vienna, Bucharest, and Jassy (Iași).  As a leader and a theoretician of Sejmism, Ratner wrote extensively on the Jewish nationality question, but virtually everything that he wrote on this topic was published in Russian and Russian-Jewish serials.  In Yiddish he published articles in the radical and Sejmist press: Der fraynd (the friend), Di folksshtime (The voice of the people) in Vilna (1907), Di alte shtime (The old voice), Vuhin (Whence) in Kiev, Di yudishe frayhayt (The Jewish freedom) in London (1904), and Chaim Zhitlovsky’s Dos naye leben (the new life) in New York.  A long ideological article of his on autonomism and territorialism was published in Di alte shtime in Vilna (1911).  After his death there appeared in print: Tsum ondenk fun m. b. ratner (To the memory of M. B. Ratner) (Kiev: Kiever farlag, 1919), 94 pp.  He died in Iași.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Vilner zamlbukh (Vilna) 2 (1918); Moyshe Zilberfarb, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected works), vol. 2 (Warsaw, 1935), pp. 233-36.
Berl Cohen

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