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Szmerke Kaczerginsky

KACZERGINSKY, SZMERKE (1908–1954), Yiddish writer. Born in Vilna (Lithuania), Kaczerginsky joined the literary group *Yung Vilne in 1929, contributing poems and stories to its publications. He worked as a printer and was active in underground communist movements, for which activity he was frequently arrested. During the German occupation he was one of several Yiddish intellectuals (including *Abraham Sutzkever) forced to select the most important holdings of the *YIVO Institute to be shipped to Germany (unchosen material was slated to be destroyed). This Papir Brigade smuggled both books to be hidden in the Vilna ghetto and weapons to the partisans. Kaczerginsky escaped the ghetto before its liquidation and joined the partisans. After liberation Kaczerginsky returned to Vilna, where he helped dig up the hidden materials and ship them to the new YIVO headquarters in New York. Discouraged by Soviet control, he left for Poland and then Paris. In May 1950 he settled in Argentina, where he became a leading figure in Yiddish cultural life. While returning from a lecture tour he was killed in an airplane crash. Kaczerginsky's writings are notable for their simplicity and power. His most important work chronicles, in verse, prose, and drama, the Vilna ghetto and the Jewish partisan movement. Among his books are: Khurbn Vilne ("The Destruction of Vilna," 1947) and Ikh Bin Geven a Partizan ("I Was a Partisan," 1952); in his travels after the war he collected Lider fun di Getos un Lagern ("Songs of the Ghettos and Concentration Camps," 1948).


E. Schulman: Yung Vilne (1946), 17–20; Shmerke Katsherginski Ondenk-Bukh (1955), incl. bibl. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: LNYL, 8 (1981), 48–50.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.