Page 101 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 30

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ch u lm an
— I
sr a e l
8 9
the contrary, they emphasize Tsinberg’s great achievement. Un­
fortunately, the editors of the Hebrew translation played havoc
with the volume dealing with Yiddish literature. They added
polemical notes, and abridged some parts that distort Tsinberg’s
point of view.
I l l
Israel Tsinberg was a loyal Soviet citizen. He worked at his
profession as a chemist and contributed a great deal to the devel­
opment of science in the Soviet Union. His history was written
at night and on his days off. However, culturally he was an
“inner immigrant” and never joined the official writers organiza­
tions. He contributed only a few minor pieces to Soviet Yiddish
scholarly journals. In his history he does not invoke the name of
Marx, Lenin or Stalin. He was one of the very few writers in
Soviet Russia who wrote according to his conscience and his
own taste and method. He was even permitted to send his manu­
script to a Yiddish publisher in Poland where it was published.
Although absorbed in his work, he felt lonely and isolated from
the mainstream of Jewish life. In a number of letters to Amer­
ican friends, he expressed a wish to come and settle here. Un­
fortunately, no steps were taken to bring him to the United
During the great purges, he was arrested in September, 1938,
and sent to a concentration camp in the Far East. He was dragged
from Leningrad to VJadivostock in the infamous prisoners’ train,
and when he arrived in January, 1939, a seriously sick man, he
was put in the concentration camp hospital, where he died the
same month. Thus was extinguished, at the age of 66, the life
of one of the most creative personalties East European Jewry
had ever produced.*
• In this essay I avoided footnotes. Readers who are interested in docu­
mentation can find the material in my biography of Israel Tsinberg in the
Leksikon Fun der Nayer Yidisher Literatur,
Volume 7, columns 585-595 (New
York, 1968) and in my book Israel Tsinberg: His Life and Works
1971, Yiddish).