Tcherikower, Elias

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TCHERIKOWER, ELIAS

TCHERIKOWER, ELIAS (1881–1943), historian. Tcherikower was born in Poltava, Ukraine, where his father was a pioneer of the Ḥibbat Zion movement. Graduating from the art school in Odessa in 1904, he decided to give up painting for writing. While in Odessa he joined the Zionist-Socialist circle, and after the 1905 Revolution, while a student at the University of St. Petersburg, he was arrested for participating in an illegal Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party conference, spending nearly a year in prison. In 1905 Tcherikower published his first study, a Marxist interpretation of *Mendele Mokher Seforim, in Yevreyskaya Zhizn. He contributed to the Russian-Jewish press and to the Yevreyskaya Entsiklopediya, and edited the pedagogical Vestnik ope (1910–14). In 1914 his first book was published, the first volume of a history of the *Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia. In 1915 Tcherikower moved to New York, where, influenced by Ber *Borochov, he began to write in Yiddish. He was also active in the Jewish Congress movement.

Returning to Russia after the February Revolution, he settled in Kiev and became the leading spirit of a small group of Jewish intellectuals who, despite the many dangers, compiled many thousands of eyewitness reports and documents on pogroms and other phases of Jewish life in the Ukraine. In 1921 Tcherikower and the other members of the group left for Berlin, where they founded the Ostjuedisches Historisches Archiv with the plan to publish a seven-volume history of the pogrom movement in the Ukraine in the years 1917–21. Among the volumes published simultaneously in Yiddish and Russian was Tcherikower's Anti-semitizm un Pogromen in Ukraine 19171918 ("Antisemitism and Pogroms in the Ukraine 1917–1918," 1923), with an introduction by S. Dubnow. Tcherikower completed a second volume during the 1930s, Di Ukrainer Pogromen in Yor 1919 ("The Pogroms in the Ukraine in 1919"), which was published in 1965. One of the founders of the yivo Institute in 1925, Tcherikower established its history section and edited three acclaimed volumes of Historishe Shriftn (1929–39) published by it.

Together with his wife Rebecca (1884–1963) he was a key figure in the preparation of the defense for Shalom *Schwartzbard during 1926–27; in the Berne trial on the *Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1934–35); and in the defense for David *Frankfurter (1936). Moving to Paris after Hitler's rise to power, Tcherikower, with Israel *Yefroykin, published the periodical Oyfn Shaydveg, which aimed at fostering a reappraisal of Jewish emancipation among Jewish intellectuals. He arrived in New York in 1940, continuing his activities with yivo. He edited Yidn in Frankraykh (1942; The Jews in France, 1942), and the two-volume Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Arbeter Bavegung in di Faraynikte Shtatn ("History of the Jewish Labor Movement in the United States," vol. 1, 1943, vol. 2, 1945). A one-volume version of this work in English was published in 1961 as The Early Jewish Labor Movement in the United States. The bibliography of Tcherikower's works, compiled by A. Kin and Z. Szajkowski (1948, suppl. 1951) contains 470 titles.