Moscow: Der Emes, 1947. Item #1207
200 pp., 6 ills. 20,5x13,5 cm. In original full-cloth with lettering and decoration on front cover and spine. Some stains, otherwise very good and clean.
Original Yiddish edition. One of 6000 copies. Very rare.
Most likely the copy belonged to Yitzchak (Itzik) Kipnis (1896-1974), author of children’s stories, Yiddish poet and Jewish-Ukrainian translator. In 1948, he was arrested and sent to a labor camp in Siberia and was released only in 1955. Kipnis was allowed to return to Ukraine, but it was forbidden to settle in Kiev until the early 1960s. In particular, the signature on the front flyleaf dated 1961.
The book contains 6 reproductions of paintings on separate leaves, a vignette on the title page, head- and tailpieces designed by Soviet Belarusian artist Meer Axelrod (1902-1970), a well-known representative of the Jewish Renaissance in the early 20th century, a part of the Russian avant-garde that studied and artistically understood Jewish customs and traditional lifestyle.
Beginning with film posters in Minsk, the artist then moved to Moscow, studied at VKHUTEMAS and joined the Four Arts society. In 1930-1931, he experienced an indelible impression visiting the Crimean kolkhoz Voyo Nova where some Palestinian families settled during the Soviet campaign of the establishment of Jewish agricultural colonies. Observation of the commune had a strong influence on his further creativity. After 1932, Axelrod suffered heavy criticism for formalism and turned to book illustration and design of GOSET performances. Being in evacuation in Alma-Ata with a cast of Eisenstein’s ‘Ivan the Terrible’, Axelrod met Jewish refugees from Poland and the occupied regions of the Soviet Union who told him early details of Holocaust. The artist transferred scenes of disasters, that he saw in his imagination, to paper and canvas, and this is how his largest series “The Nazi Occupation” appeared. Overall, he left a great heritage of more than six thousand paintings and graphic works.
In this particular edition, some illustrations depict the peaceful period of Jewish life in the 1930s. No fear and anxiety are in a picture where a family is celebrating the health of newborn babies. The rest of them reflected troubled times and the Jewish culture that was nearly swept away and destroyed by the war. Among them are a mother holding a lifeless child in her arms and children next to a breathless body of a woman.
The edition included wartime poetry by Yiddish writer Lev Kvitko (1890-1952), executed together with other members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) in 1952. During World War II, Kvitko edited a newspaper ‘‘Eynikayt’’, anthology ‘‘Heymland’’ (1947–48). His poetry collections ‘‘Fayer af di sonim’’ (1941) and others urged readers to fight against the Nazis. This collection of 1941-1946 poems was first published in Yiddish, then Russian translation came out in 1956.
Worldcat shows copies located in Columbia, California, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Texas, Maryland, Cornell, Florida Atlantic, Pennsylvania, Yeshiva, Brandeis Universities, Yivo Institute, Hebrew Union College.