Kossovski, Vladimir

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KOSSOVSKI, VLADIMIR (pseudonym of Nahum Mendel Levinsohn ; 1867–1941), most outstanding theorist and publicist among the early leaders of the *Bund, born in Dvinsk (Daugavpils), Latvia. His father, a wealthy and educated businessman, came from a rabbinical family. While a student at the secondary school in Kovno, Kossovski joined a revolutionary circle influenced by the Narodnaya Volya, the Russian terrorist organization. While being hunted by the police, he wandered through various cities. From about 1895 he was in Vilna and active in the group of Jewish Social Democrats, supporting himself by tutoring. Kossovski subsequently participated in founding the Bund (September 1897) and was elected a member of its first central committee. For several years he edited its principal organs (Arbeiter Shtime), and wrote a number of its publications. Imprisoned for a time for revolutionary activities, he escaped from Russia in 1900. He subsequently served as a member of the Committee Abroad of the Bund. Kossovski played a decisive part in publicizing the Bund's right to exist, opposing the Polish Socialist Party (pps) and the Iskra group in the Russian Social Democratic Party by challenging their demands for Jewish assimilation. A leading proponent of the Bund's program of national-cultural autonomy, Kossovski opposed the idea of "neutralism," then predominating in Bundist circles, concerning the future of the Jewish people. In 1905 he returned to Russia and was editor-in-chief of the Bunds' organ, Folkstsaytung. In 1911 he became associated with Zukunft, the socialist periodical in New York, and continued to write in the Bundist and international socialist publications. From 1920 he lived in Switzerland, later moving to Berlin. In 1930 he settled in Warsaw and again worked for the Folkstsaytung. During World War ii he managed to evade the German invasion of Warsaw in 1939, and imprisonment by the Soviets, and in 1941 reached New York, where he soon passed away.


Doyres Bundistn, 1 (1956), 66–67.

[Moshe Mishkinsky]