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  ERC > LEXICON OF THE YIDDISH THEATRE  >  VOLUME 5  >  ISRAEL KAHAN


Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
BIOGRAPHIES OF THOSE WHO WERE ONCE INVOLVED IN THE Yiddish THEATRE;
aS FEATURED IN zALMEN zYLBERCWEIG'S  "lEKSIKON FUN YIDISHN TEATER"


VOLUME 5: THE KDOYSHIM (MARTYRS) EDITION, 1967, Mexico City

 

Israel [-Avraham] Kahan

K. was born on 19 September 1888 in Goldingen, Courland. He was the younger brother of Lazar [Kahan]. He received a Yiddish and secular education. At the age of seventeen he began to correspond in "Hazman," and in Petersburg's "Friend." In 1906 he came to Warsaw and became the secretary of " Der veg" editor Zvi Prilutski, then night-editor for the newspaper. In 1907 he became a contributor for the first Yiddish newspaper in the Baltic region, "The National Newspaper (Der natsional tsaytung)." He then returned to Warsaw and participated in S. Spector's "Freytog" in "Unzer leben."

In 1908 K. settled in Lodz and became an editorial member of the "Lodzer tageblat," and in 1912 he was a co-founder  of the newspaper, "Nayes lodzer morgenblat." From 1916 until 1920 he was a contributor to the "Lodzer folksblat," then the "Lodzer folkshtime." In 1923 he was a co-founder and until July 1924 editor of the "Nayes folksblat," then editor of a short-term daily newspaper, "Yidisher kurier." Since the start of 1926 he continued as the head of the editors of the nightly, "Lodzer tageblat."

K. also edited several weekly pages and filler, corresponded in various Yiddish newspapers in Poland and other countries under various pseudonyms. He published a novel in a newspaper, and also here published is translation of Verasayev's "Oyfn krig," Benoit's "Atlantida," Heinz Ewers' "Alroyne," and S. Yuskewitch's, "Leon Dreh."

In the span of his journalistic activity, he also very often was dedicated to Yiddish theatre, writing reviews and articles under

 


his own name, and under the initials "I.K." or "Israel K." He also was a member of the Lodz "Dramatic Arts."

During the Second World War he fled to Warsaw.

On 7 September 1939 K, as his sister-in-law, the actress and writer R[ose] Shoshana, according to her book "In Fire and Flames," there came a tsebrakhener, a mider, to the foot of Lodz (which already had been taken by the Nazis), to her in an apartment in Warsaw, and here experienced the harsh conditions of Warsaw and the marching in of the Nazis. Here K. put herself here to work at the newspaper "Unzer ekspres," and about this Shoshana writes:

"My brother-in-law had experienced with us together 50 bitter, difficult days, and nevertheless every day was a year, and he was so brave, so wonderful. His intercourse led me to be encouraged, and I was encouraged. He alone, the old editor at the last hour, was still standing on guard and publishing the 'Unzer ekspres.' When all the others were afraid of the artillery fire, under the banging of bombs and shrapnel, which reigned down during the night across the darkened streets, breaking across the barricades, for readers to have a newspaper... when we screaming do not go back to the editorial room, we used to ask him: 'What are you doing? Do not give up your life. No money matters to you.' With a smile he answered: "Now, in that time, the reader must have a newspaper... it is prestigious for the newspaper to publish now..."

He, who had nevertheless been afraid of the Gestapo, hot nokh mikh boroykt and gotten the fear from me,.. He had inspired me by his calmness. Today he traveled to Lodz. His heart faded. I am almost virtually alone. It is frightening for me to travel. I am afraid that he should not fall into the hands of the Germans..."

So, indeed, it happened: soon with his arrival in Lodz, whereto he traveled in a bus with the hope of rescuing his wife Maria and daughter Alika, K. was arrested by the Germans, and as it was later heard, they had quickly shot him, but before that with his own hand he had to dig his own grave.

His son Alec, who had with his wife Bela, been smuggled out, from where he later became freed by another Polish Army, and he can now be found in Israel. Bela, gave birth in Vilna to the first Jewish refugee child, and by the Nazis were killed, togther with her child.
 

Sh. E. from Shoshana.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vilna, 1929, Vol. 3, pp. 390-392.

  • R. Shoshana-Kahan -- "In Fire and Flames," Buenos Aires, 1949, p. 123-130.


 

 

 

 


 

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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4411.
 

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