This book deals with the work of fifteen young Jewish poets who were killed, died of wounds, or were executed in captivity while serving in the Red Army in the Second World War. All were young, all were poets, most were thoroughly assimilated into Soviet society whilst at the same time being rooted in Jewish culture and traditions. Their poetry, written mostly in Russian, Yiddish, and Ukrainian, was coloured by their backgrounds, by the literary and cultural climate that prevailed in the Soviet Union, and was deeply concerned with their expectation of impending death at the hands of the Nazis.
The book examines the poets’ backgrounds, their lives, their poetry and their deaths. Like the experiences and poetry of the British First World War poets, the lives and poems of these young Jewish poets are extremely interesting and deeply moving.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Young Jewish Poets Who Fell as Soviet Soldiers in the Second World War 1. Jack Althausen (1907-1942): Communist Fanaticism against the Background 2. Vladimir Avruschenko: (1908-1941): Complex Poet and Communist Warrior 3. Buzi Olevsky (1908-1941): Learned Researcher of Yiddish Culture, Gifted Yiddish Writer and Poet 4. Motl Hartzman (1909-1941): Dreams of a Better Life which Never Came True 5: Elena Shirman (1908-1942): Nothing Sweeter than the Body of a Beloved Man 6. Leonid Vilkomir (1912-1942): Passionate Poetry of Work and Freedom 7. Henikh Shvedikh (1914-1942): the Harsh Destiny of the Jewish People and of One of Its Sons – a Jewish Poet 8. Aron Kopshtein (1915-1940): Death of Mother as a Life-Long Trauma 9. Leonid Shersher (1916-1942): Dreaming as a Philosophy of Life 10. Pavel Kogan (1918-1942): Poet of Romantic Adventures 11. Pinn Vintman (1918-1942): the Poetry of Death in War 12. Boris Smolensky (1921-1941): Mature Poetry of a Young Genius 13. Vsevolod Bagritzky (1922-1942): the World War Two as a Child's Game 14. Zachar Gorodissky (1923-1943): Poetry of Happy Expectations of Life 15. Leonid Rosenberg (1924-1944): Affection for Dear Mama as a Refuse from Death Conclusion: The Genre of "Death Poetry"
Rina Lapidus is an Associate Professor in the Comparative Literature Department, Bar-Ilan University, Israel