Itzik Feffer

From Academic Kids

Itzik Feffer, Itzhak Pfeffer, or Itzik Fefer (Russian (language): Исаак Соломонович Фефер) (1900August 12, 1952) was a repressed Yiddish poet from the Stalin era of the Soviet Union.

Itzik Feffer was born in Shpola shtetl, Zvenigorod uyezd (district) of Kiev guberniya, Imperial Russia.

He wrote in Yiddish, and his poems were translated into Russian and Ukrainian.

During the WWII he was military reporter in the rank of colonel and a representative of Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) abroad.

He was repressed during the JAC Trial and rehabilitated posthumously in 1955.

In 1948 Paul Robeson was on one of his periodic visits to the Soviet Union when he asked to meet with Yiddish poet Itzik Feffer. Feffer, along with the actor Solomon Mikhoels and other prominent Jews were subject to the JAC Trial. They had been hosted by Robeson during a World War II visit to the U.S. by the USSR's Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and Robeson had been urged to intervene on their behalf. Though he had been cleaned up and dressed in a suit, Feffer's fingernails had been torn out.

Though he couldn't speak openly, Robeson later told his son that the poet indicated by gestures and a few handwritten words that Mikhoels had been murdered on the orders of Stalin and that the other Jewish prisoners were being prepared for the same fate. After the two friends said goodbye, Feffer was taken back to the Lubyanka and would never be seen alive again.

However, when Robeson returned home he condemned as anti-Soviet propaganda reports that Pfeffer and other Jews had been killed. Not once did Robeson denounce Pfeffer's murder. Later on Robeson confided in his son Paul Robeson Jr. the details of his meeting with Feffer. He made his son vow not to make the story public until well after his death, "because he had promised himself that he would never publicly criticize the USSR."

Books of poetry

  • Schpener, 1922
  • Wegen sich und asoine wi ich (About Me and Others Like Me), 1924
  • A stein zu a schtein (A Stone to a Stone), 1925
  • Proste teid (Simple Words), 1925
  • Bliendige Misten (Blossoming Garbage), 1926, a paradoxical title about the revival of a shtetl in Soviet times
  • Gefundene funken (Found Sparkles), 1928
  • Geweten (Competition), 1930
  • Plakaten of bronze (Posters in Bronze), 1932
  • Kraft (Force), 1937
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