SHMUEL-LEYB SHNAYDERMAN (June 15, 1906-1996)
He was born in Kuzmir, near the Vistula River. He attended religious elementary school and at the same time a Polish middle school. In 1925 he moved to Warsaw, where he studied to be a journalist in senior high school and university. He then turned his attention to pursue the study of Polish literature, later literary journalistic work. In 1933 he left for Paris, spent 1938-1939 in Johannesburg, and settled in New York in 1940. He began writing poetry in Polish and Yiddish. He published literary articles, stories, travel reportage, and translations. He wrote a series of articles on literature and film in Polish for: Komedia (Comedy), Trybuna akademicka (Academic tribune) which he edited, and Almanach literacki (Literary almanac), an anthology of modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature. He debuted in print in Yiddish in 1923 with a social poem in Arbeter kultur (Labor culture) in Lemberg. He later contributed to Unzer lebn (Our life) in Leipzig, Di ilustrirte vokh (The illustrated week) in Warsaw, Folk un land (People and country) in Lemberg, and to the publications of the right and left Labor Zionists: Arbeter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Bafrayung (Liberation), Yugnt-fon (Banner of youth), and Frayhayt (Freedom), among others; and later to Moment (Moment), Haynt (Today), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Bikher-velt (Book world), Velt-shpigl (World mirror), Fraye yugnt (Free youth), and Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves)—interviews with Polish writers, translations of Polish literature, and essays about it—among others. Over the years 1936-1938, he served as a correspondent during the Spanish Civil Wars for Yiddish and Polish newspapers and for Davar (Word) in the land of Israel. From 1940 he was a regular contributor to Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal), and later Forverts (Forward). Among other items, he wrote a long series of articles on “Yidishe monumentn in tshekhoslovakye” (Jewish monuments in Czechoslovakia) for Morgn-zhurnal (1960), “Yidn in sovetn-farband” (Jews in the Soviet Union) for Tog-morgn-zhurnal (1969), and for Forverts: “Poyln nokh dem letstn geyrush” (Poland after the recent expulsion) (1973), “Iberblaybenishn fun mitl-alterlekhn yidishn frankraykh” (Vestiges of medieval Jewish France) (1973), “Di kibutsim in medines yisroel” (The kibbutzim in the state of Israel) (1974), “Di sent-luis shif” (The St. Louis) (1975), “Shpanye nokh general franko” (Spain after General Franco) (1975), and others. He was co-editor of: Shprotsungen (Sprouts) in Warsaw (1926), Ilustrirte magazin (Illustrated magazine) in Warsaw (7 issues, 1926), the weekly Pariz (Paris) (1935), Afrikaner idishe tsaytung (African Jewish newspaper) in Johannesburg (1938-1939), Toyznt yor pinsk (1000 years of Pinsk) (New York, 1941) under the editorship of Tsvien. He also edited the anthology Tsuzamen (Together) (Tel Aviv, 1974), 516 pp. Shnayderman’s travel impressions from various countries were published in the world press in Yiddish. His poetry appeared as well in Joseph Milbauer, comp., Poètes yiddish d’aujourhui (Contemporary Yiddish poets) (Paris, 1936).
His books include the following: Gilderne feygl (Gilded bird), poetry (Warsaw: Semafor, 1927), 32 pp.; Fayern in shtot (Fires in the city), poetry (Warsaw-Paris: Eygns, 1933), 46 pp.; Tsvishn nalevkes un eyfel-turem (Between Nalevkes and the Eiffel Tower) (Warsaw: B. Shimin, 1936), 181 pp.; Krig in shpanyen (War in Spain) (Warsaw: Universal-biblyotek, 1938), 166 pp. (the second volume of this work was confiscated by the Polish censor); Tsvish shrek un hofenung, a rayze iber dem nayem poyln (Between terror and hope, a voyage through the new Poland) (Buenos Aires: Dos poylishe yidntum, 1947), 367 pp.; Ilya erenburg (Ilya Ehrenburg) (New York: Idisher kemfer, 1968), 128 pp.; Ven di vaysl hot geredt yidish (When the Vistula spoke Yiddish) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), 240 pp.; Artur shik, dos shturmishe lebn un shafn fun dem groysn yidishn minyatur-mayster (Arthur Szyk, the violent life and work of the great Jewish miniature master) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1980), 286 pp. Several of his books appeared in English. He also brought out a documentary film concerning Polish Jewry: “Dos letste kapitl” (The last chapter) (1965). He translated (into Yiddish): Bruno Jasieński’s Kh’farbren pariz (I burn Paris [original Palę Paryż]) (Warsaw: Naye kultur, 1929), 2 vols. (406 pp.); Kazimierz Wierzyński, Olimpisher lorber (Olympic laurel [original: Laur olimpijski]), poetry, in Yidishe velt (Jewish world) 7 (1928).
“In his journalism,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “there is a good and balanced mixture of the publicist, analyst, expressor of opinion, and of reliable a Jewish announcer and even intimidator of events that barely rose as a dot on the horizon.”
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 21, 1971); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (July 25, 1971); St. Vigodski, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 76 (1972); Dovid Sfard, in Di goldene keyt 87; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).