Litvakov, Moses

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LITVAKOV, MOSES (Moyshe ; 1875–1937), Yiddish writer and editor. Litvakov was born in Cherkassy, Ukraine. At the age of 17 he abandoned talmudic studies for secular learning, attending the Sorbonne (1902–5). At first he drifted from *Aḥad Ha-Am Zionism to Socialist Zionism and wrote in Russian, Hebrew, and Yiddish on social and literary problems. After the revolution of 1905 he was a member of the central committee of the territorialist Socialist-Zionist (ss) Party, and edited its various periodicals in Vilna. Litvakov also published the pamphlet Der Zionismus un di Ugande Frage ("Zionism and the Uganda Question," 1905).

After 1917 he contributed to Yiddish journals in Kiev. In 1919 he joined the Communist Party, and in 1921 he assumed a leading role in Moscow's *Yevsektsiya and editorship of Emes, the central Soviet Yiddish daily. In its columns he demanded the uprooting of Jewish religious observances and national aspirations, attempting to place Yiddish literature at the service of the regime. Nevertheless, in his critical articles and as professor of Yiddish literature and Jewish history in the Jewish section of the Moscow Pedagogical Institute, he was often unable to avoid touching on the Jewish past. His essay collection, In Umru ("In Anxiety," vol. 1, 1918; vol. 2, 1926), dwelt on the cultural tradition which Jewish proletarian writers in the Soviet Union inherited from prerevolutionary writers, such as M. *Rosenfeld, A. *Reisen, *Sholem Aleichem, and I.L. *Peretz, insisting on the hegemony of the new Soviet Yiddish literature. Litvakov also published a booklet on the Yiddish Chamber Theater in Moscow (1924). With Esther *(Frumkin) he edited a Yiddish translation of Lenin's selected writings in eight volumes. In the ideological polemic among Yiddish writers, he was attacked for remnants of Jewish separatism and chauvinism, allegedly found in his essays. Outmaneuvering efforts to purge him through self-accusations in 1931–32, he continued editing Emes until the major purges of 1937, when he was arrested as an enemy of the people, brought to Minsk, and executed in December 1937.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 35–41; lnyl, 5 (1963), 90–4; Z. Schneour, Bialik u-Venei Doro (1958), 340–8; S. Bickel, Shrayber fun Mayn Dor, 1 (1958), 287–304. add. bibliography: M. Krutikov, in: G. Estraikh and M. Krutikov (eds.), Yiddish and the Left (2000), 226–41; G. Estraikh, in: Jews in Eastern Europe, 2 (2000), 25–55; D. Shneer, Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture (2004).

[Sol Liptzin]