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Literarishe Tribune

Yiddish literary and cultural monthly periodical. Literarishe tribune (Literary Tribune) was officially published in Łódź between April 1930 and March 1933. Issued monthly (biweekly in the last five months of its publication), it produced a total of 43 issues. Each contained between 16 and 24 pages with a print run of 2,000 to 3,000 copies. The actual number of readers was much higher.

Literarishe tribune was the unofficial organ of the Left-wing Writers Group, supporters of the illegal Polish Communist Party (KPP). For reasons of secrecy, Łódź was named as the place of publication; however, in reality the periodical was edited in Warsaw and printed in Piotrków. The first secretary of the editorial board was Isaac Deutscher, but when he was denounced as a Trotskyite, he was promptly expelled from the board. The official editors were Y. Zhar and I. Romarski, but a strong editorial board wrote the bulk of the publication’s contents. The most prominent contributors were Dovid Richter, Yankev Vasserman, Moyshe Levin, Leon Baumgarten, and Ber Mark—all Communist activists who wrote under pseudonyms.

The contents of Literarishe tribune were much more political than literary. Its articles, translated into Yiddish, were written by prominent theoreticians of the Communist movement (Lenin and others) whose names appeared under pseudonyms for reasons related to censorship. Topics concerned the international workers’ struggle, hardships suffered by the Jewish working class in Poland, development of the Soviet Union, and the dangers of rising Fascist regimes in Europe.

Literarishe tribune also included regular attacks against the Zionist movement and its various factions. It condemned the use of Hebrew as a legitimate language, the Bund leadership, trade unions, and Orthodox Jewry (the last regarded by the Literarishe tribune as the most degenerate element in Jewish society).

Literarishe tribune adhered to the principle that literature was, first and foremost, a tool with high social and educational value. According to a statement in the first issue, the journal aspired to provide working-class Jewish readers with tools to enable them to distinguish between good and bad in literature. In addition, young writers (including Binem Heler, Kalmen Lis, Moyshe Knapheys, Moyshe Shulshteyn, and Khlavne Kagan), who were normally treated with hostility by editorial boards of established newspapers and periodicals, received their first public exposure in its pages—provided their work was sufficiently “proletarian” in character. Book reviews were typically highly political. The periodical devoted a great deal of attention to denigrating popular literature and popular journalism (shund; “trash”), blaming its ideological opponents for the spread of low standards.

As a result of government censorship, Literarishe tribune often appeared with blank columns of varying dimensions. In March 1933, authorities closed the periodical down, but publishing soon resumed under the name Tribune in the town of Częstochowa. In its reincarnation, 15 issues were published, until January 1934. Between April 1934 and March 1935, the group that had published Tribune provided a daily publication of their own, Der fraynd. When this paper was discontinued, it was replaced by a new Warsaw biweekly, Literatur, published for 5 issues in Warsaw between June and August 1935.

Suggested Reading

Natan Cohen, Sefer, sofer ve-‘iton: Merkaz ha-tarbut ha-Yehudit be-Varshah, 1918–1942 (Jerusalem, 2003); Bernard Mark, “Literarysze Trybune,” in I Tłomackie 13: Księga wspomnien, 1919–1939, pp. 223–251 (Warsaw, 1960).



Translated from Hebrew by Rami Hann