Beobachter an der Weichsel

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BEOBACHTER AN DER WEICHSEL (Ger., "The Watcher by the Vistula"; Pol. title Dostrzegacz Nadwislański), the first Polish Jewish newspaper; published in Congress Poland from 1823 to 1824. Its editor was Anton *Eisenbaum, who approached the authorities for permission to publish a paper to serve the ideals of the Enlightenment (see *Haskalah). Permission and financial backing were granted, but only on the condition that a translation into Polish would be provided. The first issue of the paper accordingly came out at the end of 1823 with a Polish translation accompanying the Yiddish text (which was in fact German in Hebrew transcription). Some items, calculated to please the authorities, were printed in Polish only. The paper was divided into five sections: official announcements and general news from Poland; foreign news and descriptions of Jewish life in other countries (including descriptions of Jewish agricultural settlement in Kherson province); commercial news; miscellaneous items including biographies of famous Jews such as Josephus, Maimonides, Moses Mendelssohn, and Rothschild; announcements. Official announcements were published without comment or criticism. Discussion of actual problems facing Jewry seems to have been deliberately avoided. Eisenbaum had no assistants and virtually produced the paper by himself. It was apparently difficult to find suitable candidates since the few Jewish writers who could write in Polish seem to have preferred non-Jewish platforms. The paper appeared for less than a year, from Dec. 3, 1823, to Sept. 29, 1824: altogether there were only 44 issues, with the circulation never exceeding 150. The paper had to close down when the grant it had received from the government was exhausted. It failed to gain increased circulation because the typical advocates of the Enlightenment were not particularly interested in Jewish problems, while the Jewish masses found the quasi-Yiddish incomprehensible. The extreme assimilationist views of the paper and its negative attitude toward Jewish religious traditions made it objectionable to the majority of the Jewish population of Warsaw.


J. Shatzky, Geshikhte fun Yidn in Varshe, 1 (1947), 290–1; S. Łastik, Z dziejó ośwęnia żydowskiego (1961), 176–8. add. bibliography: M. Fuks, Prasa zydowska w Warszawie, 1823–1939 (1979) 21–40, index; P. Glikson, Preliminary Inventory of the Jewish Daily and Periodical Press Published in the Polish Language, 1823–1982 (1983); J. Fraenkel, "Prasa Zydowska w Warszawie XiX w.Dostrzegacz Nadwislanski," in: bŻih, 1/89 (1974), 19–45

[Moshe Landau]