Dimanstein, Simon

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DIMANSTEIN, SIMON (1886–1937), Russian revolutionary and Communist leader. Son of a village peddler, Dimanstein studied at the Lubavitch yeshivah with the support of a distinguished Hebrew writer, Samuel Tchernowitz, and received his rabbinical diploma from Ḥaim Ozer Grodzensky. He joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Party in 1904 and actively opposed the Bund. Between 1906 and 1910 he was arrested on several occasions and finally banished to Siberia, but escaped and went to Paris. Dimanstein returned to Russia in 1917 following the February Revolution and, after the Bolsheviks seized power, became an assistant to Stalin, then Commissar for the Affairs of Nationalities. In January 1918 he became head of the Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, and from 1918 edited the Yiddish paper Der Emess. The newspaper was an instrument of Communist propaganda especially directed against religion, Zionism, and the Bund. With the creation of the *Yevsektsiya (the Jewish section of the Communist Party) Dimanstein was named chairman of its central committee from October 1918. In July 1919 he signed the order abolishing all Jewish parties, organizations, and institutions. He held various official posts, including commissar for education in Turkestan and head of the administration for political education in the Ukraine, and from 1924 was director of the nationalities sector in the Central Committee of the Communist Party. At the end of the 1920s he headed the ozet society for settling Jews on the land, and he played an important part in setting up the Jewish settlement in Birobidzhan. He was editor of the anthology "Yidn in FSSR" ("Jews in SSSR") in 1935. Dimanstein was arrested during the Stalin purges and died in prison, probably in 1937.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1928), 694–7.

[Abba Ahimeir /

Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]