SMOLAR, HERSH


SMOLAR, HERSH (1905–1993), leader of the Jewish community in Poland after World War II. Born in Zambrow near Bialystok, Smolar became active in the Communist Party in his early youth and from 1920 to 1928 he lived in the Soviet Union. He studied in Moscow at the Yiddish Department of the Communist University of the Peoples of the West and edited and wrote for Yiddish youth publications. In 1928 he was sent to Poland as a Comintern agent. Arrested for these activities, he spent four years in prison. In 1939 he escaped from prison and arrived in Soviet-occupied Bialystok, where he became secretary of the short-lived Yiddish newspaper, Bialystoker Shtern. When the Germans occupied Bialystok in 1941, he was active in the underground in the *Minsk ghetto. Later, he fought with the partisans in the Naliboki forest, helped to organize many partisan units, and was editor of the party press. In 1946 he arrived in Warsaw and became head of the cultural department of the Jewish Central Committee in Poland, and then editor of the Yiddish newspaper Folks-shtime and chairman of the Jewish Cultural Alliance. His Folks-shtime editorial (Apr. 4, 1956), reprinted or cited by many periodicals all over the world, became the first semi-official source of information about the liquidation, in 1948–52, of Soviet Yiddish cultural institutions and their leading personalities. During the anti-Jewish campaign of 1967–69 he was expelled from the Polish United Workers Party and from his editorial position. In 1971 Smolar immigrated to Israel. His works include Fun Minsker Geto ("From the Minsk Ghetto," 1946); Yidn on Gele Lates ("Jews without Yellow Patches," 1948); and A Posheter Zelner ("An Ordinary Soldier," 1952), a drama. His Yiddish memoirs Vu Bistu Khaver Sidorov? ("Where Are You, Comrade Sidorov?" 1975), Fun Ineveynik ("From Inside," 1978), and Oyf der Letster Pozitsye mit der Letster Hofenung ("On The Last Position with the Last Hope," 1982) describe political and cultural activities in the Soviet Union and Poland relative to the Jews.

[David Sfard /

Gennady Estraikh (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.