[MINSK GHETTO] Mstiteli getto [i.e. The Avengers of the Ghetto]
Moscow: Der Emes, 1947. Item #1208
128 pp: ill. 20,5x14 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Some soiling of the spine, otherwise near fine.
The Russian edition of wartime memoirs ‘Fun Minsker geto’ by Hersh Smolar who was one of the leading members of the resistance in the Minsk ghetto and a commander of a partisan group operating in Belorussian forests.
The Minsk ghetto existed from July 1941 to October 1943, being the largest in the occupied territory of the Soviet Union. Headed by Isay Kazints, Mikhail Gebelev, Hersh Smolar and Matvey Pruslin, 22 underground groups with over 300 members were formed in the early months of the ghetto.
Polish and Soviet Yiddish writer Hersh Smolar (1905–1993) was involved in revolutionary activities from childhood. In 1918-1920 he became a leader of the local branch of the Jewish Socialist Youth Association. During the 1920 Polish-Soviet War, Smolar belonged to a revolutionary committee that had formed in Zambrow when the Red Army had occupied the town. Smolar fled to Soviet Russia in 1921, initially living in Kiev. He moved to Moscow two years later, after being admitted to the Yiddish department at the Communist University for the Peoples of the West. He helped to edit a newspaper ‘Yunge gvardye’ [Young Guard], then a Yiddish journal ‘Mayrevnik’. Smolar served as a Comintern agent in Poland from 1928 to 1939 - twice arrested, he spent six years in prison. After World War II began, he fled to Bialystok, where he gained prominence among refugee Polish Yiddish writers and as editor of the Communist newspaper ‘Byalistoker shtern’ [Byalistok Star]. Smolar did not manage to evacuate when Nazis attacked the Soviet Union in 1941 and was imprisoned in the Minsk ghetto (Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe).
Smolar’s memoirs ‘Fun Minsker geto’ were written about partisans and came out in Yiddish in 1946. The translation to Russian was undertaken by writer and poet Mikhail Shambadal (1891-1964) well-known for adaptations of Sholem Aleichem’s works to Russian. In the 1940s, he worked in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and contributed to periodicals ‘Eynikayt’ and ‘Der Emes’.
The Russian edition is illustrated with portraits of partisans who were able to escape from the Minsk ghetto and those of the rebels who had been executed by Nazis: M. Pruslin, M. Gebelev and Nina Lis.
Worldcat shows copies located in Princeton, Indiana, Ohio, Harvard, California, Washington and Lee, Columbia, Houston, Kentucky Universities and US Holocaust Memorial Museum.