Warsaw as a Center of Yiddish Culture


to some extent , devoted space to literature . Some was belletristic , written by renowned authors and poets ; another portion was engrossing , thrilling “ schund ” ( trashy ) literature , much of which was published under pseudonyms . The newspapers quickly became a source of livelihood for many , and many more aspired to work for them . The economic ( and consequent social ) standing of the newspapers was higher than that of the writers , and unlike the latter , succeeded in 1926 in being accepted as an independent unit within the Polish journalists’ syndicate . Within the internal Jewish sphere , the partnership between authors and journalists , which had been forged in 1916 as a joint labor union , was maintained , despite a number of attempts by journalists to dissolve the joint affiliation . In addition to the Yiddish dailies , two Jewish newspapers in Polish ( Piata Rano , Nasz Przeglad ) appeared for quite a few years , an exceptional phenomenon throughout the entire Jewish Diaspora . Isaac Leib Peretz’s move to Warsaw in 1889 contributed greatly to turning the city into a creative and lively center of Jewish culture . Besides his being a prolific and influential writer , Peretz also contributed to the modern Jewish educational system in Yiddish , and made efforts to raise the standing of the Yiddish theater , which was known for its low level at the time . Two additional “ literary open houses” existed in Warsaw , along with Peretz’s . One was that of Hebrew author and critic David Frischmann , which primarily attracted Hebrew writers ; the other , that of Hillel Zeitlin , one of the important Jewish thinkers in Poland , whose influence on the intellectual life of the Jews of Warsaw was felt until his tragic death during the mass deportation of the city’s Jews in the summer of 1942 . The years immediately following the First World War brought Yiddish writers and poets to Warsaw from both the former Pale of Settlement and the areas formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire . In those years , more than twenty Yiddish periodicals and literary anthologies were published in Warsaw alone , devoted to literature , literary criticism , art , and theater . Most were meant for the general public , and offered a range of works by both well-known and beginning writers and artists . Some of these publications were intended for a more limited readership . These were of an innovative or experimental nature , and were responsible for significant changes in modern Yiddish literature . The writers were familiar with , and were influenced by , the modernist streams in European literature ( including Polish literature ) , and sought new ways to express the inner drama taking place within them . This circle , whose leading members were Perez Markish , Israel Joshua Singer , Melech Ravitch , and Uri Zvi Greenberg , was known as “ De Khalyastre” (“ The Gang” ) , after their first joint publication in 1922 , edited by Markish . Additional publications by the group were Albatros ( 1922 , 1923 , edited by Peretz Markish ) and Die Weg ( The Way , 1922 , edited by Melech Ravitch ) . This ad hoc collaboration followed that of a similar circle of writers and artists in Lodz (“ Yung Yiddish ” - Young Yiddish , 1919-1920 ) headed by Moshe Broderzon , and the attempt to publish a new Yiddish literary journal in Warsaw , at the initiative of Michael Weichert , who was engaged in culture and the theater ( Ringen [ Rings ] , 1921-1922 ) . Poets and artists who lived outside Warsaw and Poland also contributed to the group’s publications . In addition to the ( mainly expressionist ) poetical content and works of art , they also offered literary manifestos , the likes of which had not previously appeared in the Yiddish literature . They challenged accepted literary conventions , and enunciated new artistic criteria . The apathy with which the rebellious group was met by Warsaw literary circles arose from a lack of interest or understanding , on the one hand , and , on the other , reservations bordering on outright hostility , out of fear of undermining the authority of the existing literary establishment . The group’s leading opponents were popular author Zusman Segalowitch , Hillel Zeitlin , and the latter’s son , poet

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