Food for Thought

Polish-Jewish refugee journalists and writers having dinner in their dormitory in Sadowa Street 9, 1939/40.

– מיר האָבן אַ שװעסטער־שול מיט אַלע אײַנריכטונגען – זאָלן קומען די װאָגלענדיקע ייִדישע ליטער

אַטן און פֿאַרנעמען דעם דאָזיקן לאָקאַל, זאָלן זײ זיך דאָ פֿילן, װי בײַ זיך אין דער הײם, זאָלן די ליכטיקע צימערן פֿון אונזער שװעסטער־שול זײ כאָטש אין דער מינדסטער מאָס פֿאַרטרעטן זײערע פֿאַרלאָזענע שטובן, זײערע אַרבעטס־צימערן, זײער הײמישע סבֿיבֿה.

װען דער פֿאָרשטײער פֿון “טאָז“, ה’ הירש מאַץ, האָט פֿאָרגעשטעלט דעם דאָזיקן פּלאַן זײַנעם דער פֿאַרװאַלטונג פֿון דער װאַנדערנדיקער װאַרשעװער ליטעראַטן־משפּחה, האָבן אַלע אויפֿגענומען די דאָזיקע איניציאַטיװ מיט דעם געפֿיל, אויף װעלכן ער האָט פֿאַרדינט – מיט אָנערקענונג.

און עס איז געװאָרן: דער “דזשאָינט” פֿון אײן זײַט און דער “טאָז” פֿון דער אַנדער זײַט – איבער נאַכט איז אויסגעװאַקסן אויף סאַדאָװע 9 דער אַזיל פֿאַר די אָנגעזעענסטע ייִדישע ליטעראַטן און זשורנאַליסטן, װעלכע זײַנען געקומען קײן װילנע. 11Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), S. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  S. 11.

“די ליטעראַטן פֿון סאַדאָװע 9 האָבן דאָ אַ נײַע אויפֿלאַגע פֿון טלאָמאַצקע 13. די אידעאָלאָגישע חלוקי־דעות האָבן ניט אויפֿגעהערט, אָבער דעם מיטאָג עסט מען און פֿאַרברענגען פֿאַרברענגט מען בײַ אַ געמײנזאַמען טיש: דער ציוניסט י.מ. נײמאַן מיטן בינדיסט ב. שעפֿנער, דער פֿאָלקיסט נח פּרילוצקי מיטן סאָציאַליסט ח.ש. קאַזדאַן, דער אָרטאָדאָקס ד. פֿלינקער מיטן װעלטלעכן לאַזאַר קאַהאַן, דער רעליגיעזער ציוניסט ב. יאושזאָן מיטן פֿאַרביסענעם בונדיסט פּ. שװאַרץ.

אַלץ איז דאָ אויסגעגלײַכט: דער רעדאַקטאָר פֿון “טאָגבלאַט” צוזאַמען מיט די רעדאַקטאָרן פֿון “הײַנט”, צוזאַמען מיט די קאָלעגן פֿון דער “פֿאָלקסצײַטונג” – די גאַנצע ייִדישע פּרעסע פֿון װאַרשע, מיטאַרבעטער פֿון די גרעסטע ייִדישע צײַטונגען אין דער װעלט – אלץ איז דאָ צוזאַמען. װער עס װוינט פּריװאַט, באַקומט די באַשפּײַזונג אין שטוב אַרײַן. דאָס זעלבע אויף קװיאַטאָװע 7 און אויף פּאָהולאַנקע 17.

פּונקט װי די ליטעראַטן־הײם טראָגט אַ קאָרפּאָראַטיװן כאַראַקטער, טראָגן טײל פּלײטים־הײמען אַ רעגיאָנאַלן און אָפֿטמאָל אַ סאָציאַל־אידעאָלאָגישן כאַראַקטער. לעבן די הײמען פֿאַר ישיבֿה־בחורים, עקזיסטירן הײמען פֿאַר אַרבעטער, חלוצים אאַז”װ. אויפֿן אַמעריקאַנער לשון װאָלט דאָס הײסן ברענטשן: אַ לובלינער ברענטש, אַ טשעכאָסלאָװאַקישער ברענטש, אַ בונדישער ברענטש אאַז”װ.

ס’איז טאַקע גוט, װאָס אַלע טוליען זיך דאָ צו זיך. זײַן צוזאַמען מיט אַן אָרטיקן, אַ הײמישן אָדער סאָציאַל־נאָענטן איז בעסער װי זײַן אויסגעמישט, צװישן אַ סטאַדע אָנגעלאָפֿענע מענטשן אָן אַ פּנים, אָן געמײנזאַמע כאַראַקטער־שטריכן, אָן ענלעכע פֿאַראינטערעסירונגען. 22Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), S. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  S. 12.

    Footnotes

  • 1Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), S. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  S. 11.
  • 2Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), S. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  S. 12.

“‘We have a nursing school with all its facilities – let the uprooted Yiddish writers come and occupy this building, let them feel at home here, let the bright rooms of our nursing school substitute at least a little for their abandoned homes, their studies, their familiar atmosphere.’

When the representative of TOZ, Mr. Hirsh Matz, presented this plan to the committee of the uprooted Warsaw writers’ family, they all accepted this initiative with the emotion it deserved – gratitude.

And indeed: The Joint, on the one hand, and TOZ, on the other – and overnight at Sadowa 9, there was a shelter for the most prominent Yiddish writers and journalists who reached Vilna.” 11Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), pp. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  p. 11.; English translation: Kruk, Herman, 2002: The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 29.

“The writers of Sadowa 9 have renewed Tłomackie 13 [Warsaw address of the Fareyn fun Yidishe Literatn un Zhurnalistn in Varshe (Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Warsaw, 1916–1939), a symbol of secular-Jewish/Yiddish culture in Poland, WRA] here. The ideological debates haven’t stopped, but they eat and spend time together at the same table: the Zionist Y.M. Nayman with the Bundist B. Shefner, the Folkist Noyekh Prilutski with the socialist Kh. Sh. Kazdan, the Orthodox D. Flinker with the secular Lazar Kahan, the religious Zionist B. Jeuschsohn with the fanatical Bundist P. Shvarts.

Everything is equalized here: the editor of Togblot with the editors of Haynt, along with the colleagues from the Folkstsaytung – the whole Yiddish press of Warsaw, contributors to the greatest Yiddish newspapers in the world – everything here is together. Who lives in a private apartment gets the food delivered to his home. The same happens on Kvyatova 7 and on Pohulanka 17.

Just like the home for the writers has a coperative character, several of the refugee houses have a regional and often social-ideological character. Beside the homes for the Yeshiva students, there are homes for workers, Zionist pioneers etc. In English you would call it “branches”: a Lublin branch, a Czechoslovakian branch, a Bundist branch etc.

It is very good, indeed, that everyone clings to each other. To be together with a local, one from your hometown or one who is politically close to you is better than to be mixed up, among a herd of arrivees without a face, without a common character, without common interests. It’s good that everyone huddles together. To be together with someone from your home town or someone close to you socially [i.e. politically] is better than being jumbled up in a herd of faceless refugees, with no common character traits, no common ideology.” 22Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), pp. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  p. 12.; English translation: Kruk, Herman, 2002: The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 32.

    Footnotes

  • 1Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), pp. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  p. 11.; English translation: Kruk, Herman, 2002: The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 29.
  • 2Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), pp. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  p. 12.; English translation: Kruk, Herman, 2002: The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 32.

The Soviet-German Pact of August 23, 1939 brought about Soviet dominance to the Baltic area. Lithuania was able to negotiate neutrality in return for a Soviet military presence on its territory, received Vilnius in addition and turned into one of the prime destinations for Jewish and non-Jewish refugees from Poland and other neighboring countries.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee together with the local Jewish aid organization OZE-TOZ aided refugees in finding accommodation. Facing an overwhelmung lack of accommodation, they solved this problem by accommodating already existing groups, connected by profession or political orientation, collectively. These images shows Polish-Jewish refugee writers and journalists having dinner in their dormitory, 1940. They were asigned a nursing school of TOZ in Sadowa Street 9. According to Herman Kruk, the methods of collective accommodation alleviated for refugees their arrival and starting over in Vilnius as it countered a thorough break of identities and the feeling of loneliness. Simultaneously, this method caused a split within the Jewish refugee society along ideological and class divisions.

According to Kruk, both the concentration of the Polish Jewish elite and intelligentsia in Vilnius in general and the cohabitation of the journalists and writers in the space at Sadowa 9 engendered a feeling of home, community, solidarity and strength and helped instigate cooperative activities and resistance. In this vein, Sadowa 9 became the spiritual cradle of the refugee initiative called Komitet tsu zamlen materialn vegn yidishn khurbn in Poyln 1939 (Committee to Collect Material about the Destruction of Polish Jewry 1939), which was the earliest Jewish collective effort in Eastern Europe to document Nazi crimes in occupied Poland.

Images:

“Refugee Polish journalists have dinner in their dormitory, 1940” © American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives, NY_00310_da1, ID: 11346

“Refugee Polish journalists have dinner in their dormitory, 1940” © American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives, NY_00311_da1, ID: 11347

“Refugee Polish journalists have dinner in their dormitory, 1940” © American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives, NY_00312_da1, ID: 11348

Excerpts:

Herman, K. [Pseudonym Herman Kruk], 1940: Pleytim (Reportazh), pp. 10–13, in: Folks-gezunt Nr. 1–2,  p. 11, 12.

For English translation see also: Kruk, Herman, 2002: The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Chronicles from the Vilna Ghetto and the Camps, 1939-1944, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 29, 32.

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