Sunday 10 November 2019


FROYM SHPRAKH (1890-1937)

            He was a journalist, born in Torchyn, Volhynia [now, Ukraine]. His father was a retailer. He graduated from high school in 1912 and later went on to study medicine in Berne and Prague. From 1905 he was active in Jewish cultural work in a variety of cities. He led Jewish educational work (1920-1922) in Rostov-on-Don, Odessa, and Vitebsk, and he taught community lore in pedagogical Komyug (Young Communist League) courses and led agitprop work in Jewish Party schools. From 1925 to the beginning of 1928, he lived in Kharkov, where he edited the newspaper Der shtern (The star), thereafter moving to Moscow. He was arrested during the “purge” in August 1936, charged with connections to the “Trotsky-Zinoviev terrorist center,” for Bundist activities, even for allegedly serving in Denikin’s Army, and for “littering the apparatus of Emes with enemies of the people.” He was “liquidated” in 1937.

            His literary activities began with translations from Russian and German into Yiddish, including poetry by the Russian poets Nikolai Nekrasov and Semyon Nadson, placed in the supplement to Fraynd (Friend) (1911-1912). Confined in 1916-1917 in Prague, he published in the German-Yiddish newspapers articles on Yiddish writers and Yiddish folklore. He contributed work to: Lubliner togblat (Lublin daily newspaper) (1917)—including a translation of Max Brod’s story “Ershte sho nohkn toyt” (First hour after death [original: “Die Erste Stunde nach dem Tode”]); the Bund’s Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper) in Kiev (summer 1918); Arbeter-kalendar af 1924tn yor (Workers’ calendar for 1924) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, People’s Commissariat for Nationalities, 1924); Der apikoyres (The apostate) in Moscow (1931-1935); and other Soviet Yiddish publications. He was a member of the editorial board and a contributor (1922-1923) to Royte shtern (Red star) in Vitebsk. He co-edited the first Yiddish-language, weekly newspaper for farmers in the USSR, Der yidisher poyer (The Jewish farmer) in Kharkov (1926-1930), and he co-edited for a short time Di royte velt (The red world) and Yunge gvardye (Young guard). He was as well a regular contributor to Emes (Truth) in Moscow. In Moscow he was deputy editor-in-chief of Emes, and he published articles and jottings in it.

            His books include: Ḳamf, politisher alefbeys far shuln fun sotsyaler dertsiung (Struggle, political ABCs for schools of social education), with Shloyme Rives (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1925), 397 pp.; Tsienistn, ver zaynen zey un vos viln zey (Zionists, who they are and what they want) (Kharkov: Shtern-biblyotek, 1926), 72 pp., second edition (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 86 pp.; Polit-ivre (Fundamentals of politics), with Leyb Mishkovski and A. Yudetski (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 232 pp.; Politufkler-arbet in shtetl, hantbukh far yidishe politufkler-tuer (Political educational work in towns, handbook for Jewish activists in political education), with Arn Makagon (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 139 pp.; Komyugishe politshmuesn (Communist Youth League chats on politics) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, 1929), 79 pp.; Shovinizm, fun vanen vakst er un vi darf men im bakemft (Chauvinism, where it emerges and how one fights it) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1929), 62 pp.; Got, kapital un kleykoydesh (God, capital, and the [Jewish] clergy) (Moscow: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1930), 8 pp.; Tsum dritn yor funem finfyor (On the third year of the five-year [plan]) (Moscow: Central Publishers, 1931), 46 pp.; Der historisher plenum (The historic plenum) (Moscow: Emes, 1933), 71 pp.; Di fashistishe konterrevolutsye un di yidishe burzhuazye (The fascist counter-revolution and the Jewish bourgeoisie) (Moscow: Emes, 1933), 90 pp. He translated: B. I. Gorev, Materyalizm, dem proletaryats filosofye (Materialism, the proletariat’s philosophy [original: Materializm, filosofiya proletariata]) (Odessa, 1922); Y. Agol, Di yesoydes fun marksizm (The foundations of Marxism [based on Engels, Anti-Dühring]) (Kiev: Sorabkop, 1924), 119 pp. His pen names include: P. Sh., F-E, A. Tsingl, and F. Yazikov.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Emes (Moscow) (September 4, 1936); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (April 2, 1937); Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index.

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 534; 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. 390.]

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