B. was born on 6 March 1904
in Warsaw, Poland. He learned in a cheder and in the
municipal school. He studied to be a locksmith and then
worked for four years.
As a conscientious Jewish
worker, he had a close relationship with Yiddish
culture, and feeling a desire for the Yiddish stage, he
decided to go on another path, like most actors, who
went to the theatre with no preparation. He joined the
Yiddish dramatic school (director Dr. Weichert), where
he studied for two years.
About the school Zygmunt
"In the time of 'The Seven
Who Were Hanged,' Jewish Warsaw added one more cultural
institution: a Yiddish dramatic school, founded by the
'Culture League,' which was led by Dr. Weichert. ...In
[artist] Jewish circles, the news of the introduction of
a drama school was not received with any other
enthusiasm. This did, however, signify a influx of new
actors at the time when the old ones were living through
an economic crisis. It was comforting that for the two
years that the students need to last, the young would
have regrets and looked for more wage-earning
livelihoods. The youngsters, however, seem to be
stubborn and not only remorseful. The young boys,
however, turned out to be stubborn and not only
remorseful, but turned around after completing the
school, united, created a studio under David Herman's
direction. The new theatre group for a certain time
played across various cities in the Polish province with
From the studio came out
several talented, professional actors, who with time
joined other theatres or created independent cultural
positions. They belong to 'Birnbaum.' The David Herman
Studio revived the 'Dybbuk,' staged 'Grine felder (Green
Fields),' Herman's first conception of 'A Night in the
Old Marketplace,' and several one-acters. At the end of
1925 the greater part of the group joined the newly
created first Yiddish small-arts theatre 'Azazel.'"
Dr. Weichert, in his
memoirs, he gave some details. He remarked that the
"David Herman Studio" for virtually half a year toured
across the towns of the eastern region, and in
repertoire, besides the "Dybbuk" and "Green Fields" also
gave a recitation from Peretz's "A Night in the Old
Marketplace," together with Hirshbein's one-acter, "Elihu
hanovi." At the beginning of 1926 the turn of the
troupe, together with David Herman, within the
small-arts theatre "Azazel," which then was organized in
Warsaw. In the future years, "David Birnbaum
had...occupied a prominent place in Yiddish dramatic
Weichert, speaking about his
offering of "Hershele ostropoler" with the Vilna Troupe,
remarked about B.: "David Birnbaum, assistant to the
dark, kaltenevater beard was a simple, powerful
When the first Artists'
Union later would organize a dramatic theatre in Warsaw,
Dr. Weichert directed there Sholem Asch's play,
"Reverend Dr. Zilber," and B. played the role of the
beloved, about which W. wrote: "David Birnbaum was a
graduate of my first dramatic school in 1924. A dear
boy, A talented actor, but not a believer. In short the
Yiddish theatre has a great lack of male believers and a
not too much smaller number of female believers. First of
all, because of the then conditions of life of the
Jewish masses in Poland, they were thin-skinned and used
to be sparse. And secondly, because older artisans
usually did not allow for the verse of younger ones."
As to the second premiere in
the theatre given Gottesfeld's "Parnose (Livelihood),"
and about B.'s play, Dr. Weichert remarked: "David
Birnbaum gave a wonderfully powerful [performance in the
role of a] tramway conductor."
B. also participated in "Vikt,"
and writing about his local offering of Rolland's
"Wolves," Zygmunt Turkow remarks: "The acting of other
actors immediately provided a sample of harmonious
gathering. ...They seconded the young group. ...Birnbaum."
Writing about his offering of the Pinski's "Oyster (The
Treasure)," Zygmunt Turkow again remarks: "From the
other roles have been created from the past ...D.
Birnbaum," and concerned about the embodiment of the
young actuarial powers in Poland, he reminds B.
In 1938 B. played (together
with Joel Bergman), Yakov Reynglas, Shmuelik
Goldstein, Chayale Shpier, Motl Kon, Masha Puterman and
Esther Gruber) in Vilna in small-arts theatre "Balageneyden,"
which was maintained until the beginning of the Second
World War. The theatre had also played in Grodno,
Bialystok, Rovno, Lemberg and ended in Lodz. The Nazi
Occupation captured him in Warsaw.
was married to Ruta Zandberg, the eldest
daughter of Moshe and Tseshia Zandberg, a good
Jonas Turkow portrays such
in his last period:
"He played in the best
Yiddish theatres in Poland. David Birnbaum was strongly
loved by his colleague-actors, due to his immediacy and
He was strongly
temperamental, had a healthy sense for humor and -- so
far musically. This, as the wicked singer said, was
married to the very musical Ruta Zandberg.
...David Birnbaum had He
even tried before the introduction of Sigeta [sp] to
organize a singing ensemble, the so-called 'Gezang-Finftl.'
He was the first who prepared Diana Blumenfeld to
perform with folk songs. She was together with the
following in 'Finftl': Y. Greeenspan, the actor from the
Polish stage -- Yosef Kinelski, Polia Rozen (the sister
of the writer Ber Rozen), and the wife of the actor
Yosef Neyvirt, Chana Grosberg's brother.
.When the 'Finftl' disbanded after the performances
in several programs in the 'Melody Palace' on
Rimarske Street, David Birnbaum bought a carriage
and carried items from one place to a second. Later,
in the ghetto, Birnbaum made a 'rickshaw' from the
carriage and brought people from their work. This is
how he made a living.
During the first
'settlement,' Moshele Zanderg and David Birnbaum
were led away to Treblinka."
According to Jonas
Turkow, on 19 April 1943, when the uprising came
about in the Warsaw Ghetto, B.'s wife Ruta Zandberg,
was to be moved to the Aryan side. Since then every
track of her has disappeared, and she perished in
the Warsaw Ghetto.
Jonas Turkow --
Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. 2,
pp. 58-60, 103, 274.
-- 'Zikhrones," Tel Aviv, 1961, Vol. 2, pp. 83,
85, 134, 170, 220, 221, 223.
Zygmunt Turkow --
"Di ibergerisene tkuph," Buenos Aires, 1961, pp.
73, 74, 205, 220, 313,