[BIROBIDZHAN IS A COUNTRY OF GREAT OPPORTUNITIES: A PERIODICAL ABOUT THE FORMATION OF JEWISH SETTLEMENTS] Tribuna: Organ TsP, UKR i BEL OZET’a [i.e. The Tribune: Organ of the Head Office, Ukrainian and Belarusian OZET]
#1-3, 4/5, 6-12, 13/14, 15-18, 19/20, 21, 22/23, 24, 25, 26/27, 28/29, 30/31, 32/33 for 1931. Overall 25 issues. Moscow: TsP OZET: Der Emes, 1931. 25x17,5 cm. In contemporary cloth binding, all original covers preserved. Generally very good condition. Soiling of the binding, block weakened, corner fragment of p. 11-11 (#17) cut off, tear of p.1-2 (#6).
Extremely rare as almost a complete year set of the magazine.
The edition was published by the Society for Settling Toiling Jews on the Land (OZET) in 1927-1937. Printruns of 1931 issues varried 13000 - 25000 copies.
Cover designs feature photographs, photomontages and drawings. The issue #2 shows an advertisement for the 3rd OZET lottery: a large digit 3 consisting of pictures of Soviet Jewish people was mounted over a piece of a map. Complementing lettering was added below and above. Issues #10-17 have the identical cover design with a row of tractors plowing a field. A tractor was the key symbol of collectivization and was perfect for this magazine about Jewish settlement as well. A pattern with its image decorated the title on most first pages of the 1931 issues.
The period of the 1920-1930s was the heyday of Jewish culture on the territory of the former Russian Empire - not national culture, but international one. It was based on communism and tended to promote ideology among Jewish people through printed materials in Yiddish. At the same time the idea of consolidating the Jewish population on the territory of the USSR and creating its national statehood was being developed.
The public organization OZET complemented the official Committee (KOMZET) since 1925 aiming to encourage Jews to take up agricultural work. Locating the Head Office in Moscow, OZET had offices all over the country, including UkrOZET (Kharkov), BelOZET (Minsk), TatOZET (Kazan), GruzOZET (Tbilisi), etc. Allied organizations in America, France, Germany, Australia, etc. promoted the Soviet settling Jewish people and raised money for that.
At different moments, the OZET focused on establishing Jewish agricultural colonies in the Crimea, Ukraine and Birobidzhan region in the Far East. In 1922-1936, many Jewish people moved to Crimea where five special areas were formed. Among the population of Belarusian towns and shtetls, OZET activists looked for claimants for migration to Crimea and Birobidzhan, groups of young people to send to Birobidzhan tractor courses. In 1928, the first trains with Jewish people had come to Birobidzhan - earlier no people of this ethnic group lived there. The population of the city started to increase, despite many settlers returned to their places of departure in the early stage. The main reasons for this were unprepared to receive migrants settlement, interruptions in the supply of consumer goods and climatic conditions. Yet, settled people united into cooperatives and communes setting up industrial and agricultural enterprises.
The early tasks of the OZET were to attract the public sympathy to the settlement plans in the Soviet Union and abroad, to supply Jewish kolkhozes with technique, to raise funds for the realization of these plans by organizing lotteries. Members of the OZET were mainly not Jewish people who promoted the campaign and acted against antisemitism. Later representatives of the OZET actively participated in the dekulakization and collectivization campaigns in the Jewish colonies. In 1926, a Jewish politician Shimen Dimanstein (1886-1937) was appointed the director of the OZET and the propaganda activity of the society was straightened. A lot of books were printed in Yiddish and Russian. The monthly magazine ‘Tribune’ started to come out instead of yearbooks ‘Jewish Peasant’ (1925-1926). Since 1929, ‘Tribune’ was published twice a month or once every ten days.
The magazine contains a huge number of photographs and drawings dedicated to Jewish workers and peasants, delegates of the 2nd OZET Congress (1930) and migrants to Birobidzhan. The issue #1 features photomontage on an OZET exhibition combining a picture of a booth and a portrait of its creator, Mikhail Dlugach (1893-1988) who was one of the leading designers of Soviet movie posters. He decorated the booth with constructivist diagrams promoting OZET achievements in the Jewish settlement. Another part of this exhibition was a map of Birobidzhan published in the issue #28/29. This early map of the Birobidzhan region was published by the OZET and was montaged in the magazine with two portraits of Soviet politicians related to the campaign.
The magazine mirrored the Soviet settling chronicle, positioning news of Birobidzhan construction as the main topic. By 1931, 2700 Jewish migrants were registered in this city, including Lithuanian and Argentinian ones. Due to official orders, workers from Belarus and Ukraine were moved to Birobidzhan construction. Meanwhile, Jewish youth was attracted to “giants of industrialization” and other construction sites of the Soviet Union. Factories formed pairs with Jewish kolkhozes patronizing their development and interacting for the implementation of high quotas.
According to an article ‘Jewish Settlement on the Stage’ (#10), the campaign became a subject of theatrical performances as well. Peretz Markish’s debut play ‘Nit gedayget’ [Don’t worry] was one of the first of its kind and was premiered in the GOSET in 1931. The article overviewed its production and was illustrated with three photographs of characters.
The magazine regularly announced newly released Soviet books on Birobidzhan, OZET and Jewish workers in Yiddish and Russian. The issue 13/14 included pictures of Birobidzhan periodicals.
The campaign proceeded and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast was established in 1934. OZET ceased its activity in 1938. In the Great Purge, various Jewish officials, scholars and public figures were executed - first of all, the OZET director and editor of ‘Tribune’, Dimanstein, as well as contributors Boris Zil’pert (1891-1938) and activist of Bund socialism Aaron Weinstein (1877-1938). The issue 19/20 included a list of high-ranking OZET members where some names were later crossed out by pencil. All indicated people were executed by Soviet authorities in the 1930s.
No printed issues of this year located in USA, according to Worldcat.