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Hirschhorn, Samuel

(1876–1942), journalist, poet, translator, and political leader. Born into an affluent family in Slonim, Grodno province, Samuel (Shmuel) Hirschhorn moved to Warsaw when he was 13, where he completed commercial studies in addition to receiving a religious education. He began a career in journalism with the progressive Polish press, to which he contributed articles and poems, both original and translated from French and Russian.

With the crystalization of the Jewish national movement, Hirschhorn wrote the first Polish-language brochure about Zionism, titled Co to jest syonizm? (What is Zionism?; 1903). He soon became a frequent contributor to the Polish Jewish press, including the weekly Głos Żydowski and the Kraków monthly Moriah, in which he explored Jewish–Polish relations and translated poetry from Yiddish.

During World War I, Hirschhorn contributed to the Varshever tageblat, a Yiddish daily officially sponsored by German-occupation authorities, espousing a Jewish nationalist–populist orientation. In 1916, he was part of the first administration of the Warsaw Jewish Writers and Journalists Association and also joined the staff of the Warsaw Yiddish daily Der moment, to which he contributed regularly for more than two decades.

In 1916, Hirschhorn participated in the founding of the Diaspora Nationalist Folkspartey, which he represented in the Warsaw City Council that year and in the Polish Sejm in 1919. Although the party was adamant about its commitment to Yiddish, Hirschhorn acknowledged the crucial role that he felt Polish had in cultivating Jewish identity, and supported the building of Jewish national cultural institutions within a Polish-language context. Eventually drifting from the party, he contributed almost daily to the growing Polish–Jewish press in the 1920s and 1930s, writing for Nasz Kurjer, Nowy Dziennik, and the daily Nasz Przegląd, which he helped found.

Hirschhorn published Polish translations of a collection of works by the French poet François Béranger, a book of poems by Ḥayim Naḥman Bialik (1907), and an anthology of more than 60 Hebrew and Yiddish poems (Antologia poezji żydowskiej; 1921). He also tried his hand as a historian, composing a popular history of the Jews in Congress Poland in both Polish (Historja Żydów w Polsce: Od sejmu czteroletnego do wojny Europejskiej [1788–1914]; 1921) and Yiddish editions (Geshikhte fun di yidn in Poyln fun fir-yehrikn seym biz der velt-milkhome [1788–1914]; 1923). He continued his journalistic activity through the rest of the 1920s and 1930s.

Hirschhorn committed suicide in the Warsaw ghetto in May 1942 in order not to fall into German hands. The diary he kept during the Holocaust period has been lost.

Suggested Reading

Aleksander Hafftka, “Życie parlamentarne Żydów w Polsce Odrodzonej,” in Żydzi w Polsce odrodzonej, ed. Ignacy Schiper, Arieh Tartakower, and Aleksander Hafftka, pp. 286–311 (Warsaw, 1932); Zalman Rejzen (Reisen), “Hirshhorn Shmuel,” in Leksikon fun der yidisher literatur, prese un filologye, vol. 1, cols. 847–849 (Vilna, 1926); Michael Steinlauf, “The Polish-Jewish Daily Press,” Polin 2 (1987): 219–245.