Moscow: Tip. Der Emes, 1928-1929. 24x18,5 cm. In two 20th-century cloth bindings. Slightly rubbed, a fragment of inner corner of front cover lost (#11 for 1929), a half of back cover lost (#24 for 1929), some pages of 1928 set faded, some pencil notes, otherwise good and clean.
Extremely rare as almost full sets of early years of the magazine. Printrun varies 7,500-25,000 copies. The periodical was published by the Society for Settling Toiling Jews on the Land (OZET) in 1927-1929 as “Tribune of Jewish Soviet Society” and under the title “Tribune” from #3 for 1929 to 1937.
Cover designs feature photographs, photomontages and drawings. The front cover of No.8 features a ticket of an OZET lottery raising money for jewish settlement campaign – it was printed in Russian, Yiddish, Ukrainian and Belarusian languages. The verso shows prizes, including a 2-week journey to Crimean Jewish colonies and even a trip to the USA. An advertisement of the second lottery was printed on the front cover of No.11 for 1929. Also, issue No.15 for 1929 reproduces a lottery ticket produced by poster designer Mikhail Dlugach. Other cover designs feature works by artists Issachar Ber Ryback (#18 for 1928) and Maria Bri-Bein (#22/23 for 1929). Unlike most back covers displaying advertisements, No.10 for 1928 published one of the artists of Kultur-Liga, Isaak Rabichev next to book exhibits prepared for a Cologne show.
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. raised money for the Soviet settlement of Jewish people.
At different moments, the OZET focused on establishing Jewish agricultural colonies in the Crimea, Ukraine and Birobidzhan region in the Far East. Issues 12 for 1929 shows maps of settlements and describes routes to them. 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 returning to their places of departure in the early stages. The main reasons for this were an 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 public sympathy to the settlement plans in the Soviet Union and abroad, to supply Jewish kolkhozes with technique, and 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, especially migrants to Birobidzhan or other settlements. In 1929, printrun of the periodical gradually increased from 10 thousand copies of 1928 issues. Texts began to prevail over pictures that were actually reduced in half or more. Meanwhile, cover designs became compound and few full-page photomontages were added. Issue No.9 (1929) includes a photomontage of Jewish life before and after the 1917 Revolution. Another one compares Soviet and Italian Jewish young pioneers – the latter were named “young fascists”; their picture was taken in a synagogue. Also, issues show kolkhoz “Lekert’ in the Babrujsk region, a photo of a reading hut “Neibrot” in Crimea with an abundance of propaganda posters, slogans and wall newspapers, a photo of a wall newspaper “Young Metal Worker” created in Yiddish at the Kherson Jewish Technical School. Interesting memorial is a group picture taken in front of a Jewish pavilion at the All-Russian Agricultural Exhibition (1923). Within the group, Avel Enukidze (1877-1937) is standing.
Several issues comprise materials on Jews in Azerbajdzhan, Georgia, Dagestan, Uzbekistan. For instance, No.2 for 1929 published an article on Jewish people in Dagestan that is illustrated with a group photo of residents of a kolkhoz “Ozet”. Issue #8 (1928) includes an article on a campaign ‘Osiek Week’ promoting Birobidzhan to Latvian Jews. It started with a gathering in Riga where a Jewish Ukrainian politician Zeev Latsky-Bertoldi (1881-1940) gave a speech. For years, he traveled and continued searching for places to build a Jewish homeland. In 1925 he moved to Riga, where he published the daily Yiddish newspapers ‘Dos Folk’ and ‘Freemorgn’. Issue #11 (1929) chronicles performances of a Jewish theater “GOSET”. It includes photographs of productions and a portrait of actor and director Solomon Mikhoels created by Natan Altman.
Sometimes, hardship of migrants broke through a wall of propaganda matters. Such cases were frequently responses to condemning texts and interviews published in a Khabarovsk newspaper “Pacific Ocean Star”. An article “Stop Unnerving Birobidzhans” mentioned complaints about prices and wages in Birobidzhan and starvation in Minsk. “Reality of Birobidzhan and Fiction of ‘The Star’” disproved news about an epidemic caused by dead horses in Birobidzhan.
The magazine regularly announced newly released Soviet books on Birobidzhan, OZET and Jewish workers in Yiddish and Russian.
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).
According to Worldcat, 1928 issues are located in Jewish Theological Seminary; 1929 issues are located in Illinois University; both sets are located in University of Chicago. Some issues are in Yivo Institute, Indiana University and Amherst College.
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