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Singer, Bernard

(1893–1966), Polish journalist and parliamentary correspondent. Bernard Singer (who reversed the letters of his name to form the pseudonym Regnis) came from a middle-class, Polonized family and graduated in 1910 from the Kronenberg Commercial High School in Warsaw. He then studied Polish literature and history at the Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych (Society of Academic Courses) and the Wolna Wszechnica Polska (Free Polish University) in Warsaw.

Singer originally intended to teach, but his support for the Folkist Party led him to a career in journalism, and beginning in 1916 he wrote for Lodzher folksblat, the party’s organ in Łódź. For a time he served as secretary of the Folkists but left to associate with Zionist groups. His sympathies for Zionism did not last, however, and throughout his career he carefully avoided expounding direct political statements. Nonetheless, his general sympathy for socialism and his hatred of all forms of chauvinism—including antisemitism—informed his worldview.

After World War I, Singer worked as a political correspondent and feuilletonist, first writing for the Yiddish daily Haynt and then, in 1925, joining the Warsaw Jewish Polish-language newspaper Nasz Przegląd. The biting wit of his parliamentary reporting for the latter paper, for which he used his pseudonym, made him a central figure in Polish journalistic and political circles. His parliamentary column, political reporting, descriptions of travels in the West, and feuilletons for that newspaper were popular among Polish Jews and were also widely quoted in the mainstream Polish press.

After the outbreak of World War II, Singer was evacuated toward the east (with a number of other journalists) by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ended up in Vilna. He was in Latvia when it was annexed by the Soviet Union. Attempting to make his way to the West, he was arrested there by the NKVD and sent to a concentration camp. Freed after the signing of the Polish–Soviet agreement, Singer went to work in the press department of the Polish embassy in Kuibyshev. In 1942, he was evacuated to Iran with the Anders Army, formed out of Poles in the Soviet Union. His elder son fought in the Carpathian Brigade and was killed at the battle of Tobruk.

Singer was able to reach London, where he worked in the Polish Ministry of Information and Documentation and also wrote articles for the newspaper Dziennik Polski, published by the Polish government-in-exile. He was by then thoroughly disillusioned with what he regarded as the shortsightedness and Polono-centrism of the government in London. Though he approved of the new government that was established in Poland, he was skeptical about its intentions and remained in England. He did, however, write for its London-based weekly Tygodnik Polski. By 1949, he could no longer tolerate the Stalinist character of the new regime and demonstratively separated himself from it. From 1950, he contributed regularly to the Economist. In 1959, his volume of memoirs, Moje Nalewki (My Nalewki [Street]), was published in Warsaw. A collection of his parliamentary reporting was published in Paris in 1962 under the title Od Witosa do Sławka (From Witos to Sławek) and was republished in Poland after the end of the Communist regime.

Suggested Reading

Janina Rogozik, “Bernard Singer, the Forgotten ‘Most Popular Jewish Reporter of the Interwar Years in Poland,’” in Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry 12 (1999): 179–197; Bernard Singer, Moje Nalewki (Warsaw, 1959; 2nd ed., 1993); Bernard Singer, Od Witosa do Sławka (Paris, 1962).