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Oser Warszawski

WARSZAWSKI, OSER (Varshavsky; 1898–1944), Yiddish novelist. Born in Sochaczew, Poland, he astounded the Yiddish literary world with his youthful novel Shmuglares ("Smugglers," 1920), dealing with Polish-Jewish life under German occupation during World War I. The language is laced with dialect and vulgarity; the focus skips from one underworld character to another; the descriptions are bloodily expressionistic. The influence of his patron, the naturalistic novelist I.M. *Weissenberg, is obvious. Five Yiddish, three Russian, and one Hebrew edition of Shmuglares appeared within a decade. In 1924 Warszawski settled in Paris, where he edited with Peretz *Markish the second issue of the Yiddish avant-garde journal *Khalyastre, and associated with the foreign, often Jewish, artists of Montparnasse. From the Nazi occupation of France until his arrest by the Gestapo in Rome in May 1944, Warszawski penned fictionalized chronicles of Jewish life in occupied Paris and Vichy France. After his murder at Auschwitz and the liberation of France, his widow Marie published his wartime writings in both Yiddish and (French) translation, which posthumously transformed Warszawski from the author of a paradoxical Yiddish bestseller into one of the rare writers who, like Isaiah *Spiegel, produced Holocaust fiction simultaneously with the incomprehensible events they recount and rework.


Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (1926), 921–3; LNYL, 3 (1960), 318–21; M. Ravitch, Mayn Leksikon, 1 (1945), 80–82; I. Papiernikov, Heymishe un Noente (1958), 230–77.

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