Der shtrom, no. 2 (1923). Illustration by Marc Chagall. The Museum of Modern Art. (Gift of The Judith Rothschild Foundation, Donation of Elaine Lustig Cohen, 158.2001.B. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY. Marc Chagall © 2006 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.)

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Shtrom, Der

Yiddish literary journal published in Moscow from 1922 to 1924. The Moscow School for Yiddish Printers, founded in 1922, issued all but the first February issue of Der shtrom (The Stream), which featured a cover designed by Marc Chagall. The journal’s motto cited the Kiev poet Osher Shvartsman, killed in action as a Red Army soldier: “but I can hear that under the cliff / a stream is running and flowing.” Although it was not an official organ of a Soviet organization, Der shtrom became the first Soviet Yiddish literary periodical. Its ideology was marked by the iconoclastic orthography introduced by Communist language planners, such as Ayzik Zaretski, in 1920.

All of the journal’s founding editors—Yekhezkl Dobrushin, Nokhem Oyslender, and Arn Kushnirov—as well as Dovid Hofshteyn, who joined the editorial board later, belonged to the literary and artistic group formed in Kiev. In the journal’s first issue, Dobrushin, the main figure in the editorial triumvirate, argued in his explanatory article “Undzer literatur” (Our Literature) that “[i]nstead of the writer who introspectively presents the tangle of his hollow emotional ‘heard-seen-experienced,’ must come the writer who . . . unites his verified knowledge of the world with his poetic vision, thus synthesizing his intellect with his emotions. . . .”

Yet in the eyes of Moyshe Litvakov, editor of the Moscow daily Der emes (The Truth), Der shtrom’s writers were not “sober” enough. In January 1922, he attacked them as “a Yiddish literary emigration in Moscow.” Later, however, Litvakov began seeing the journal as “a good neighbor of the proletarian revolution” and, generally, a far better periodical than the “petty-bourgeois” magazine Milgroym (Pomegranate), published in Berlin. The gap between Der shtrom and Der emes was diminishing, and Kushnirov, Hofshteyn, and a number of the journal’s other authors began writing also for Litvakov’s newspaper. Der Nister, Dovid Bergelson, Shmuel-Nisn Godiner, Itsik Kipnis, and M. Daniel were Der shtrom’s most significant contributors.

Kushnirov, along with Godiner, Avrom Vevyorke, Shmuel Persov, and a few other Moscow Yiddish writers who gravitated to proletarian literature, attempted to publish another journal, Ekran (Screen), in 1923. Its name stemmed from Kushnirov’s eponymous poem, which opened his collection Vent (Walls; 1921) and was a poetic manifesto rejecting “velvet ribbons and gilt frames” and hailing mass culture. Ultimately, a temporary compromise was found between the breakaway group and Der shtrom. As a result, its fifth and sixth issues, which were combined, published the young poets Izi Kharik and Itsik Fefer, whom the editors previously had not regarded as acceptable contributors.

Meanwhile, Der shtrom—a cooperative rather than a state-sponsored enterprise—was struggling for survival. Although its first issue appeared in 3,000 copies, imprints of the last issues showed a print run of only 2,000. The final issues, four and five–six, contained advertisements, including for the Petrograd State Shipbuilding Trust and the All-Russian State Syndicate of Agricultural Machine-Building Factories. Most likely, these were attempts to sponsor the beleaguered publication. The journal’s aesthetic tradition was continued in Ukraine by the Kharkov-based journal Di royte velt (The Red World).

Suggested Reading

Gennady Estraikh, “Yiddish Literary Life in Soviet Moscow, 1918–1924,” Jews in Eastern Europe 2 (2000): 25–55; Elias Schulman, Di sovetish-yidishe literatur (New York, 1971).