ERC > LEXICON OF THE YIDDISH THEATRE  >  VOLUME 5  >  KARL ZIMBALIST


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

 

Karl Zimbalist (Akiva)
 

 

Born on 15 August 1891 in Bezhezhin [Brzeziny], by Lodz, Poland, wherein his parents, Chasidic grain merchants, had later moved. He learned in a cheder, and at the age of fifteen he was in the Lomza yeshiva, then with the Lodz rabbi Eliyahu Meisel, and lamdoni-khuts in a folksshul.

Through his being a messenger for Sam Adler, he received access to the behind-the-scenes of the Yiddish theatre, and through this became so in love with the theatre, that he used to rest behind the locks there [oysbahaltn hinter dhi shtuln] on the weekdays until the evening productions, used to steal money from his home for tickets to the theatre. After copying the actors, G. brought together several youths, and with them performed in the neighboring cities Zgierzh Solotorefsky's "Yeshiva bokher," playing the title role. The actor Gelade by chance saw him by act and took him into his troupe, where he played for several weeks, then with Bialkovitsh. Due to military service, his acting was interrupted, and he once again renewed [his acting] first in 1915 (for three months) with Ester Rokhl Kaminska across Poland, then he participated for several months in a tour with Julius Adler and Herman Serotsky, and later he began on his own to manage troupes across Poland, especially since his marriage to Regina Tsuker, with her as a main role player.

Her brother Zygmunt Turkow writes:

T. also had, together with his wife, played for nine months in

London with Blumental, and three months in Paris with Burstein. In 1933 they played for six weeks in the Czech Republic, and four months in Romania. In 1935 they were in Buenos Aires for eight months, and two months in Montevideo (Uruguay), and in 1936 two months in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo (Brazil), then they returned to Poland, where he again led his own and members' groups.

About his tragic end, Jonas Turkow recalls it in his book, "Extinguished Stars":

"The phased liquidation of the Warsaw Jewry had begun. ...We worked in one 'shop.' In that 'shop' on Milna Street we gathered. During the first Aktzia (Action), the entire Jewish artistic world, which at that time persisted in Warsaw. There I founded a metal workshop, where the theatre society leader David Helfman was 'shop' manager. Near Max Viskind the barracks stood with his sleeves rolled up, the operetta regisseur and actor Karl Zimbalist. ...The conditions in the ghetto became more difficult sometimes. It was 'opgeshvenkt' one Jewish street onto another. The queue also was on our Milne Street. ...On 27 September 1942 the Germans conducted a large cleansing of Jews in the large ghetto. This was in the morning hours. It was a preview, which that afternoon veln the uninvited guest, the Germans, who came to us on Milne Street. I brought this to the attention of all of my friends from Milne Street, and I had succeeded in having them go with me into the large ghetto, where there was on the same day, in the morning, there was already an action, and several friends, such as Avraham Kurtz, Karl Zimbalist, David Levy, Yankele Danziker declared that we could still assuredly go home, that there was no reason to wait. ...The impatient Zimbalist and Louie had left us and went home. ...Around 7 a clockmaker also had decided to leave our place and finally go home. On the way they did not see a single living person. At the intersection of Jelne and Zamenhof we met a passer-by who was known as an acquaintance. Noticing me, he shouted from his wagon: 'Panie Turkow escaped and fled to the nearby ruins (Zamenhof 6), in order to hide there.' ...Suddenly some shots were heard. We waited for a minute, and I cautiously looked out the head and saw the S.S. lead a group of Jews. I was hardened up. This had led the entire Milne and a part of Nowolipie Street. ...Among the group there also was Karl Zimbalist, Yankele Dantsiker, and David Lewy [sp], who were so numbered home." [awk.]
 

M.E.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. I, pp. 89, 90, 117-119.


 

 

 

 


 

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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3858.
 

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