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Baazov, Herzl


BAAZOV, HERZL (1904–1945), Georgian writer. Born several weeks after Theodor *Herzl's death and named after him, Baazov grew up in Kutaisi in the house of his father, David Baazov, which was the first Zionist, Hebrew-speaking home in Georgia. Baazov became a well-known Georgian playwright and poet, and most of his writings were dedicated to Georgian Jewish life. At the age of 19, he translated the Song of Songs into Georgian. His first play, about the life and death of Itzko (Abraham Isaac) Rizhinashvili – a young Jewish revolutionary who was killed during the upheaval of 1905 in a fight with Czarist gendarmes – was staged at the Tbilisi (Tiflis) State Theater. Another of his plays, The Dumb Opened Their Mouths, dealt with the social changes in the life of the Tat-speaking *Mountain Jews after the Russian Revolution. He also wrote poetry, including the well-known poem "Cain." In the 1930s he began to write a trilogy about the changes in Jewish life in Georgia after the revolution. In spite of his positive attitude to the revolution as a social phenomenon, he was suddenly arrested and deported in 1937, after the publication of the first part of the trilogy. No indictment against him was ever published, but it is assumed that he was accused of "Jewish bourgeois nationalism." In 1945 he died in exile, somewhere in the Soviet far north. An indirect rehabilitation of his name occurred in 1964, when the official Georgian Writers' Union celebrated his 60th birthday. Several of his writings were republished, but were not translated into Russian. The Georgian writer G. Tsitsishvili published a book on Baazov's life and work (1964) that, inter alia, mentions his close relations with S. *Mikhoels, P. *Markish, and other Soviet Jewish writers and artists.

His younger brother, meir baazov (1915–1970), an engineer, was also a Hebrew scholar and served in the 1940s as director of the Hebrew section of the Georgian National Library in Tbilisi.

[Mordkhai Neishtat]

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