Born in 1878 in Bendin, Poland.
His grandfather and father handled fish, and from that -- according to Jonas
Turkow -- he took his family name. His father was a
Chasid and had his son sent to learn in a yeshiva, but F.
secretly caught secular studies. He wasn't permitted [to
go] to productions of the Yiddish troupes that had
visited Bendin, and he became as such caught up with
them, that on a certain day he left home with an
itinerant troupe. As a handsome young man, F. dreamed
about acting in lover roles, but there lacked in him two
elements: talent and a good speaking voice; he had a
hoarse voice, he obviously could play the role to which
he strove, but he also not been successful in character
He came to Lodz, and there
he found the performing A. Y. Kaminski's troupe.
He had made such a strong impression on her that he just entered
the troupe so they should include him. He
became taken in as a copier of the plays into German (for
the center, the so-called 'Center Kes'), and then as a
In the early Yiddish
theatre the role of prompter was very much an
important one, and he took on a prominent position
in a troupe because the actors hadn't been known to
learn their roles by heart, and moreover as a
prompter, one had to be well-acquainted with the
small characters, and F. was entirely well-versed in Yiddish,
German and also in Russian.
Later F. also became an
assistant stage manager, and in this office he
also remained until the end of his life.
About his new office
and his later career, in which Jonas Turkow in his
book "Farloshene shtern (Extinguished Stars)":
stage manager, at times with Yiddish theatre had the
promise of a 'star', setting up the stage, supplying
the decorations, requisitioning and costuming and
preparing the understudies for the production (at
that time there were no directors in the full sense
of the word). When Fisher went over to another
troupe, he staged the plays there that had been put
on in the previous theatres where he had worked.,
copying it to the last detail. So thus he also
became a regisseur (French: stage director),
d"h, submitting the posters and programs
[that read]: Director -- Herman Fisher.
When the 'Fareynikte
trupe (United Troupe)', the first dramatic troupe in
Warsaw, was founded with Esther Rukhl
Kaminska....Fisher was engaged as a prompter
and assistant director. With the 'United Troupe'
Herman Fisher made the triumphant tour throughout
Russia, including Petersburg and Moscow.... In
Odessa Fisher was introduced to a chorus girl from
the Yiddish theatre, Liza Barska, married her and
from then on traveled around with her."
In 1916, F. became the
stage inspector in the Central Theatre in Warsaw,
where the equipment of the plays had in him a
Jonas Turkow writes:
"Herman Fisher had,
according to his wife Liza, a love for the
community. Tsumetum was fully with him. He
knew about everything, and always had to tell about
some 'event' from behind the scenes. He had that
good fortune, that he had always, during a
production, 'calls' from the actors, and they had
been late for their performances. For the same
reasons, he also had been late to leave the research
at the right time.
Herman Fisher was the
artisan(?) (horepashnik) of the Yiddish
theatre. On his shoulders he had carried the heavy
burden of an itinerant life, all obstacles and
temptations that the Yiddish theatre that he had
made it through in Czarist Russia. Not from one
difficult situation Herman Fisher had saved the
troupe. When there was a need to quickly translate a
Yiddish play into Russian, so he prepared it, that
the censor would not find anything 'treyfes (unkosher)'
(niebloganadiozhna) -- Fisher got it done.
Fisher was very industrious and filled with energy.
He also, by organizing the professional lives of
other actors, had not performed in a small role. He
was one of the founders of the first Yiddish Artists
Union in Poland, and has manifested a sense for
Top, left: "Jersey
Morda" in Gogol's "Revizor (The Inspector General)"
(drawing by F. Fridman)
Top, right: In "The Seven Who Were Hanged" by L.
And about his last
period, Jonas Turkow writes:
"When the war broke
out, Herman Fisher was with his family, in
Warsaw under the Germans. He was already old and
weak. His wife, whom he had loved very much and
who was deeply connected to him, died from
typhus during the Nazi Occupation. This affected
him very much. His consolation, however, was his
children, for whom he had a deep love for. He
had not stopped to speak about his son Boris,
who had finished up in engineering in America
and worked with airplanes. the entire hope he
had laid in Boris in whom he had seen the
onshpar to old age(?).... When the Warsaw
ghetto was hermetically closed, his daughter
Luba Fisher was no longer able to come to him,
as well as to send him support.
Herman Fisher had
worked in the ghetto for a certain time in the
Yiddish theatre as an assistant director.
...When the 'action' began in the ghetto, Herman
Fisher and his daughter Anya came to work in a 'placówka'
(laborer in a workplace outside the ghetto).
....Herman Fisher with his daughter Anya had
belonged to the 'lucky ones', to the chosen,
because the 'placówka' workers were always
coming back from the Aryan side with food and
thus didn't have to go hungry. The also had
smuggled out from the ghetto various things to
sell on the Aryan side (then they had Polish
Jewish things that they could sell, that were
not yet taken by force).
Also once, standing
by the ghetto gate, I saw the old Herman Fisher
with his daughter Anya, who happened to be in
the ranks of a group of workers, just about
ready to be passed by the German control for the
Aryan side. Fisher then looked twenty years
younger. He had a glowing shine about him. He
noticed me and shouted out: 'Well, thank God, it
goes very well for me'...
That was the last
time that I seen the Fishers. I cried out to
him: 'Good luck', but he did not have much
longer to live. Eyewitnesses have told me that
one fine day in early 1943, his entire work
party was surrounded when they reached the gates
of the ghetto, and they were all led off to the
'Umschlagplatz' and loaded onto the wagons. As
to where they were taken, to Treblinka or
Majdanek, no one knows. Anyway what is the
difference? The end was the same in both cases
-- in the gas chambers therein."
-- "Farloshene shtern", Buenos Aires, 1953,
Volume 1, pp. 122-128.
Turkow -- "Di ibergeristene skufh", Buenos
Aires, 1961, pp. 171, 418.