Der Apikoyres: Organ fun Ts. R. funem Farband krigerishe apikorsim [i.e. The Godless: Organ of the Central Committee of the League of Militant Atheists] #5 1932
Moscow: Der Farband, 1932. Item #1223
20 pp.: ill. 31x23 cm. In original illustrated wrappers. Covers detached from the text block, tears to spine, small pieces of paper glued to the first and last pages, otherwise very good.
One of 4000 copies. In Yiddish.
An issue of the first Jewish atheist monthly that was published in 1931–1935. The Soviet authorities embarked on bizarre yet extensive propaganda against Judaism from the first months of the Soviet regime. Among the activities of the Evsection of the Communist Party (1918–1930) was a campaign against this religion. A number of “public trials” against such institutions as сheders, yeshivas and synagogues were staged in Kiev, Vitebsk, Rostov, etc. Closed and nationalized synagogues were turned into workers’ clubs.
Rabbis were blamed for both trotskyism and agitation against Birobidzhan; they were arrested, imprisoned, and exiled to camps. In 1925, the League of Militant Atheists was formed, and consisted of 5 million members by 1932 and about 22 million by 1937. Its official Yiddish periodical was “Der Apikoyres”. The very first issue came out in Kiev in 1923, but its editorial board did not pursue further publication. When “Der Apikoyres” returned almost ten years later, the country had changed significantly. The editor-in-chief was a well-known figure in the Evsection, Moishe Altshuler (1887–1969). He was a Jewish linguist, writer and translator, who taught at the Komintern University. Apart from “Der Apikoyres”, Altshuler edited periodicals “Tribuna”, “Yung Guard”, and “Der Emes”. Being an activist of anti-religious propaganda against Judaism, he also published several books on this topic, including a special textbook, “Anti-religyezer lernbukh” (1929). The design of the periodical was almost exclusively done by the painter and caricaturist, Aron Hefter (1894–1963). He studied at Vilna Art School between 1912 and 1915, and then, from 1921 to 1924, at VKHUTEIN, under V. Favorskii, S. Gerasimov, and D. Kardovskii. From 1925, Hefter began to design periodicals and posters, publishing caricatures of politicians, clerics, public figures of the Jewish theater and literature, as well as constructivist compositions and photomontages. In 1934, an exhibition of his work was held in Moscow. In particular, he created this interesting cover design, a hand-drawn composition mixing the industrial and agricultural worlds with an airplane and two tractors. A photograph of (an apparently not very happy) Jewish worker was printed over the composition to show that the involvement of the Soviet Jewry in such work was forced. Caricatures criticizing Judaism were produced by Mendel Gorshman, Dmitrii Moor, and Mikhail Cheremnykh. The satirical works by the last two artists were sharper than the rest and their approach was close to the style of Hefter’s designs. This issue features the only caricature of a rabbi collaborating with a Nazi officer and the huge figure of a capitalist. In the early 1930s, Soviet anti-religious periodicals were illustrated with photographs rather than hand-drawn pictures and caricatures.
Some issues are located in LoC, Indiana University, Yivo Institute.