Kulbak Family
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Moshe (Moise) Kulbak

Moshe's parents and son Ilya as well as his sister and her family all perished near Minsk in 1942. His wife and youngest daughter Raya survived the holocaust. Today Raya lives in Israel. There is a Russian site with a story by Raya.

Yiddish Poet; Moishe Kulbak. Born in Smorgon to Solomon and Zelda in 1896. He lived in Vilna and Berlin and later in Minsk.He was taken from Minsk in 1937 to a Soviet camp and died there in 1940 (?)


Moshe Kulbak story in Russian;


Yiddish Poet; Moishe Kulbak. Born in Smorgon to Solomon and Zelda in 1896. He lived in Vilna and Berlin and later in Minsk.He was taken from Minsk in 1937 to a Soviet camp and died there in 1940 (?)


Moshe Kulbak, Yiddish author, poet and playwright, who was active
in Vilnius (Vilna) and elsewhere


Moshe Kulbak, Yiddish author and poet, with Dr. Jehoshua - Hersh
Yevin and his wife.


Moshe Kulbak, the Yiddish author and poet.


Moshe Kulbak, the Yiddish author and poet, with his wife Zelda and son Ilya.


The story of the poet, Moshe Kulbak


by Raya Kulbak

(Edited by Eilat Levitan and Kevin Lo)

(An online translator was used on the original Russian document)

I would like to thank Leon for writing to me about the page in Russian:

"Date of Moishe's death is 29.10.1937. Here is a page with
a lot of information about him:

Best regards,
-- Leon Koll
 Yehud, Israel"

To start, two dates. The first, March 20, 1896: A hundred years since the birth of the Jewish poet, writer, and playwright Moshe (Moiseju) Kulbak. The second date, October 29, 1937: sixty years ago since Moshe was executed, shot, died. With life under a totalitarian regime being all that it is, the life of Kulbak lasted only forty-one years.  The boy who would later die by execution began his studies in Volozhin Yeshive, learning of the Jewish olden times, of the wisdom of the Torah, and of other sacred studies. During the senior classes of the Yeshiva, he studied Russian and read works of Russian and Jewish literature. In 1914 he moved to Minsk, and his first poem "Shterndl" (Asterisk) subsequently become a national song. By the time he moved to Vilnius, the poem had been published in 1916 in "Literarishe peftn" (Literary writing-books). One of his best books was the collection “Shirim,” published by the Jewish writers union and the journalists in Vilnius in 1920 in a printing house of the brothers Rosenta. (A duplicate edition of this book was distributed by Fund Sarry and Manfred Frenkel in Antwerp in 1991). In his mid-twenties, Kulbak started writing prose, novels like Mashiah ben-yoaei (Monday), and drama plays like Jaakov Franc. In his thirties, having returned to Minsk, he published the well-known story "Zelmenjane,” a satirical poem called "Chajld Harold from Diena,” and the three-act drama poem "Robber Bojtre" (1936) which was recently performed under the direction ofS.Mihoelsom (the role of Bojtre was superbly executed by V. Zuskin). “Bojtre” was performed in Israel, on a stage at the Chamber Theatre.During M. Kulbak's Minsk period he contributed to the magazine "Der shtern,” worked at the Academy of Sciences BSSR, translated on Yiddish verses of Belarus poets Janki Kupaly and Jakuba Kolasa "Auditor" Gogol. Beyond his work at the Academy of Sciences, he also engaged in literary activity. He had been ready to do much more, but with the year 1937 came tragedy.  

According to documents on Moshe Kulbaka at the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, he had two children (whose names do not appear in business materials; Kulbak probably decided to not refer to them by name in order to keep them safe). "For my brother and I,” the daughter of the poet recollects, “this saved our lives since children of persecuted parents suffered greatly.” As for the children of Moshe Kulbaka, his son Ilya Kulbak was killed by German fascists in 1942 in Lapichi of the Mogilyov area BSSR. It is possible to learn about the last months of his life and the death of the parents of M. Kulbaka through Inna Vojnovoj's memoirs (They had earlier been published in translation into Yiddish in a magazine called “Sovetish Gejmland,” N 8, 1990).  His daughter Raya Kulbak has lived in Tel Aviv since 1990. The daughter of the poet found out about Moshe (Moiseja) Kulbaka from the answer of KGB BSSR to an inquiry of the Academy of Sciences. (The actual transcript is stored in the archives of the Academy.) According to this information, Moshe Kulbak was arrested on September 11, 1937. More than twenty people were also arrested – all representatives of the Jewish creative intelligencia. Among the arrested people were the poet Izi Harik, literary critic Jacob Bronstein and others. All of them were accused of actions directed against the Soviet authorities. The courts gave them all guilty verdicts and with rare exception, gave all of them identical sentences: death. Reconsideration of the conviction and execution of Moshe Kulbak was initiated by his wife Zeldy Kulbak.Moshe Kulbak had been exonerated, but the date of his death was never specified. Raya Kulbak says, “My mother Kulbak Zelda (Evgenie) was also arrested and sentenced to ten years solely for being his wife.” For a year she was left there. After her imprisonment, she had been forbidden from living in large cities.Mother had been released in 1956. Her attempt in 1957 to establish the date of death of my father and his place of burial has revealed no results.On this question, the military board of the Supreme Court of USSR said that the exact dates of the death so unreasonably condemned were not available. She asked whether the date of death of her husband - on July, 17th, 1940 had been arranged and she was given some information on the death.Mum handed over this information to the Registry Office in Minsk and on this basis, she received a death certificate of Moshe Kulbaka in which the dates of birth and death were wrong. (His true date of birth was March 20, 1896 and his date of death was October 29, 1937.) Mum died on October 20, 1973.When at last during reorganization I was allowed to correct the date of death, I addressed the military board of the Supreme Court of USSR with a request to amend the circumstances, date and place of a burial of my father. Specifically, I noted that the wrong date of a birth appeared on Moshe Kulbaka’s documents and that his place of burial was not specified.

In the village of Kuropaty, which is now the suburb of Minsk, archeologists unearthed the mass graves of executed prisoners from the Stalin period. Before my departure to Israel, I visited them. I felt that the last minutes of my father’s life were spent here, in Kuropatah.  I have seen that same sky that my father saw during his last moments.

About the destruction of the relatives of M. Kulbaka

(From Inna Vojnovoj's memoirs, born in 1931, the senior scientific employee of the Scientific Research Institute, now a pensioner) 


I, Voinova Inna Viktorovna, was born in 1931 in Minsk. My father and mother were subjected to persecution; my father in December of 1936 and my Mum in November of 1937.  My father last worked as the editor of the Republican bulletin BelTA (the Belarus branch of TASS), and my mum worked at Belgos Universitete (a senior lecturer and the secretary of a Communist Party organization at the university). Tonja, the sister of the poet Moiseja from Toni Kulbak's family, was a close girlfriend of my mum. In December 1936, they arrested my father and then Mum was sent to prison in November 1937. They wanted to send me to the children's home, but I started to cry since I had been afraid to go there. Mum called Tone Kulbak, and she took me to her house, where I lived for a while with Aunt Toni. She  had a daughter named Matusja (Matilda), who was a year older then I. The brother of Aunt Toni, poet Moisej Kulbak, and his wife had been arrested at the same time. Their children, Raya and Ilya, had been taken away and sent to different children's homes. Tonja worked hard to look for them and found her nephews in Ukraine. Both were rescued from children's homes and thus, the family was once again numerous with her husband, four children and their servant Katya who traveled with them from the Far East. Tonja was a person with a big heart. She and her husband were equally concerned with all the children and nobody got any less love. As I now realize, they had little to call their own, but they gave all that they had to the four children. It was necessary to dress and feed them all, but Tonja never complained of difficulties. She and her family lived in two rooms of the general apartment, and in the third lived their neighbor Gita Galper. Her husband too has been arrested. Up to the beginning of the war (June 1941), Matusja, Ale, and I went to school and Raya went to a kindergarten. In the summer of 1941 the kindergarten that Raya attended had taken the kids to a summer camp in Ratomku, while Matusja and I were to go in July to pioneer camp in Talc. When the war began, Minsk was bombed first and all the land around us burned. It was necessary to leave the city. Tonja raced to Ratomku to take Raya from the summer camp, but the kindergarten had already evacuated. So we left Minsk on June 26 of 1941. Tonja took with us her old parents who also lived in Minsk on Starovilenskoj Street and also two young brothers of Aunt Marry (wives of M. Kulbaka). We left the city on foot on the highway Mogilevskrmu, which went through the settlements of Smilovichi, CHerven, etc. We usually traveled twenty to twenty-five kilometers per day. We could not go more quickly, since the parents of Toni were very old. Here and there it was possible to seat them on a supply truck, but basically they went on foot like the rest of us. Therefore we were not on time for any of the evacuation trains that left for the east. Each time we reached any railway station, we were told that the last train for refugees had left yesterday. By the time we got to Klicheva, we learned by radio that the Germans had already overtaken us. They were already beyond Dnepr though we did not yet see them since Klichev was distant from the basic roads that the Germans traveled upon. Here in Klicheve, in an unfinished house, we lived for ten to twelve days. To go forward would make no sense, so we decided to return to Minsk. In a few days, we arrived at Lapichi of the Osipovichskogo area. Here, we heard rumors that Germans had organized a ghetto in Minsk where they forced in all the Jews.

We stayed in Lapichah. It was not a big place, but there were many Jewish families. Along with many other people who had not fled in time, we stayed with these families. I have only sad memories for August 18, 1941. Before the war, this day had marked Aviation Day. Rumors had been passed around that said that by Aviation Day, our armies would come to save us. Ironically, the opposite happened: on August 18, 1941, the place was surrounded with Germans and politsai who herded all the Jewish men to the nearby woods to have them shot. On this day the husband of Aunt Toni, Joseph Meerovich Krol, and both the brothers of Aunt Marry were lost. There remained only women, children and old men. We lived, certainly, in constant fear; every day we awoke to news that that more people had been executed, even women and children. In January of 1942, the politsai and Germans surrounded a part of the town and drove out the Jewish population in three houses. Everyone was sure that it is their end, but after two or three hours, the Germans suddenly declared that all of them could go home and that they were to pack warm winter garments. However, they left behind some old men and several teenagers. They then picked a place next to the village fence and shot these ten to twelve people. That day, the father of Aunt Toni and Ale (Ilya) Kulbak (son Moiseja Kulbaka) lost their lives. The women and children were still alive until April, 1942. In April (the exact date I do not remember), retaliatory groups from Osipovichej, politsai and Germans surrounded the village, collected all of the women, children, old men, and shot them all. I am only alive due to my lucky fate. When the Germans came to take everyone away, my Aunt Tonja told the German that there was a Russian girl whose parents had been arrested and that she lived in the house. The German ordered me to go to the other half of house, where a Russian family lived. And so I continued to live. The Germans had not allowed Jews and Russians to live together. It is obvious that destiny meant for things to happen this way so that I could live, for if in January the retaliatory group had arrived, I would have been lost with the rest. So Toni Kulbak's family was not lost in one day. Her husband Joseph Meerovich was lost in August 1941, while her father and Ale died in January 1942 and Toni's mum and her daughter Matusja in April 1942. Also all of them are buried in different tombs. Before the war ended, Ale Kulbak took a great interest in a photo. I do not remember much, save that it contained written verses.

Before the war ended, I lived in another village. When Belarus was liberated from Germans, I found Mother, through my relatives in Moscow. At that time, she had been in a camp in the Karaganda area. In 1946, I returned to Minsk, where I studied at an evening school and worked at a radio factory. Mum returned after the autumn of 1946 and found work in Borisov since it was not authorized to work in the capital. By 1947, I arrived in Boriss, where I continued to study at an evening school and worked at a piano factory. I left school in 1951 and acted in Belarus until 1956. In 1956, I worked in a scientific research institute (lab assistant and then as the senior scientist). In 1988, I retired. I married in 1956 and I had two sons with my husband, who is a doctor. My sons are already adults; the older, Victor, is a mathematician and programmer while younger, Leonid, is an engineer and electronician. 

Inna Viktorovna VOJNOVA,


On January 19, 1990  

From the papers of M.Kulbaka

(Records were made by Minsk journalist Andrukovich Maria Konstantinovnoj in the KGB archive under the sanction of the curator.) 

The warrant on M.Kulbaka's arrest was given out on September 11th. This very day M. Kulbak was arrested. The ruling was issued on September 5, 1937, with the signature of the assistant operupolnomochennogo, an investigatory department of the Management of State Security Farbera. In a corner is an inscription: "I agree. The chief of the department. Furthermore, I approve.” Also present was the signature of national commissioner Tsanavy (all signatures were wide and in color pens).

The choice of preventive sentence and the presentation of charges

On September 15, 1937, Kulbaka Moiseja Solomonovicha was arrested as an active participant in the counterrevolutionary Trotskistskoj, the terrorist organization and as a Polish agent. No.72, 76, 68, 79, 69 (68th - espionage, 72nd, 76th - Trotskistskaja activity, 69th - rendering assistance to enemies - the curator). The prison sentence would be carried out at the Minsk prison of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs. (The curator told me that there this prison was on a square of Freedom where the regional GAI was later located).

Below - the signature accused: Kulbak (ink).

On September 11, a search was conducted. At this search, Minkin Maria Vulfovna was present. M.Kulbak agreed with these stipulated detention facts. The following items were confiscated: a passport addressed to Kupbaka, a trade-union card, a ticket of the joint venture of USSR N 1552, a personal military book, 3 letters addressed to Kulbaka Moiseja, Kulbak Zeldy Borisovny, Morozovoj F.D., six railroad tickets, twelve photographs, 154 pages of working correspondence, a notebook (on the underside of this form is written "Attention: Books and letters. 29.09.37. Documents in the report of the search were taken away - A.M.K.) A complaint of the search was not declared. Two rooms were sealed up for a search. 


Nothing was found.

The signature (Kulbak) A.M.K.: - the same handwriting.

The curator: While the inspector conducted the search, someone else took notes while two or three others sat around.. There were always two or three people. Here is the questionnaire of the arrested person.


1. Surname: Kulbak

2. Name: Moisej Solomonovich

3. Date of birth: 25.03.90; Smorgon, Poland.

4. Residence: Minsk, 2 Opansky Lane, House 4-A, Ea.1.

5. Trade/Specialty: Writer.

6. Place of service or occupation: The Union of Soviet writers BSSR, writer (reproduced without deletions, according to the questionnaire).

7. Passport number: FZ N 096962 (or 20? - A.M.K.) Issued by Minsk gormilitsiej.

8. Social origin: Employee with no property.

9. Social status: Employed as a teacher after the revolution, until the age of 28 (29 was written and then corrected as 29 - A.M.K.) lived in Poland and Germany. Since 1929,lived in Minsk.

10. Formation: general, special formation is not present.

11. Party membership in the past and the present: non-party.

12. Nationality: Jew

13. Citizenship: USSR

14. Military category: private soldier.

15. Service in other armies, participation in gangs, or revolts against Soviet authority? no.

16. Reprisals directed at Soviet authority (a previous conviction, arrests, etc., for what)? no.

17. Structure of family: Wife, Kulbak Zelda Borisovna born in 1897, housewife, lives in Minsk, 2nd Opansky Lane, 4-A, 1. Two children aged eleven and three (the daughter? the son?), names? - A.M.K.). Father, Kulbak Solomon Isaakovich. Mother, Kulbak Sima Morduhovna, resides in the city of Minsk. Brothers, Kulbak Ilya Solomonovich in Moscow and Engineer Kulbak Isaak Solomonovich. Sister, Kulbak. Aunt Tonja Solomonovna in Minsk, lives separately.

18. Special external signs: n/a

19. By whom and when arrested: UGB People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs BSSR,11.9.37

20. Where held in custody: People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs.  

The signature of the employee who filled out the questionnaire


Note: The questionnaire was filled out accurately by the arrested person.


1.Proofs on business: No.

2. Personal papers of the accused are enclosed for investigation in a separate package.

3. The accused, Kulbak M.S., has been held in custody in the Minsk prison since September 17, 1937.  Operupolnomochennyj, an investigatory department

The second lieutenant of safety



Verdict of execution KULBAKA Moiseja Solomonovicha.

Issued and performed in Minsk on 29.10.37. The certificate about reduction of verdict is stored in the Special archive of the 1st Special Department of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, volume 8, page 155.

The Chief of the 12th branch 1st Special Department of People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs of the USSR

The lieutenant of state security



Judicial session of visiting military board of the Supreme court - October (dates are not present! - A.M.K.)

Minsk Presiding Chairman: Voenjurist t. Matulevich

Member Judges: diz.voenjurist t. Miljanovsky brig.voenjurist t. Zarjanov

Secretary: voenjurist II rank tov. Kudryavtsev. 

Session opened at 10 o'clock 30 minutes. The chairman declared, “On what crimes is Kulbaka Moiseja Borisovicha charged with?” (or I misread the record? - Moisej Borisovich is a subject to consideration? -A.I.E.) “No.no.72, 76, 68, 69, 70 UK BSSR (58/10, 58/6, 58/7, 58/8 UK the Russian Federation),” someone answered. It was reported that the defendant was present.The chairman confirmed the identity of the defendant and asked whether the copy of the stipulations was received by him. On this issue, the defendant answered, “Yes, I received it.” His rights in the court and the court structure are explained to the defendant. The defendant did not declare any petitions. Under the direction of the chairman, the secretary announced the accusatory application. The chairman explained to the defendant the essence of the charges and asked whether he pleads guilty or innocent. The indications on the preliminary investigations did not confirm anything. It has stipulated N (the surname in the report is named, but it is withdrawn from the given publication under the request of the daughter of the poet - L.SH.) Kulbak originally thoughtthat there would be no point in fighting the charges. At the trial, he decided to tell the truth and declared that he was not guilty. Last word was given to the defendant, and he responded that he had nothing further. Since the defendant had nothing substantial to add, the case was deemed finished.The court left to convene. After returning to the court, the chairman announced a verdict. At 10:45, the session was closed.



On September 28, 1937,  the visiting session of the military board of the Supreme Court of the USSR consisting of chairman Matulevicha, members Miljavskogo, Zarjanova and secretary Kudryavtsev in the closed judicial session in the city of Minsk on October 28th, 1937, having considered business on the charges of Kulbaka Moiseja Solomonovicha, born in 1880 (date with 1890 - A.M.K is corrected.), a citizen of the USSR, in the crimes stipulated by clauses (all the same clauses-A.I.E.), established by judicial deliberation that the defendant was a Polish spy in the territory of Belarus. The military board of the Union of the USSR has sentenced Kulbaka Moiseja Solomonovicha to the maximum measure of criminal punishment - to execution with confiscation of personal property. This final verdict is not subject to appeal. On the basis of this decision of the Central Committee of the USSR from September 1 of 1934, he is to be subject to immediate execution.

Chairman Confirming 

" On again opened circumstances"

(The document is written by hand on the form)

The Supreme Court of USSR. Definition N4--019036/56.

The Military Board of the Supreme court of the USSR in the structure of the presiding colonel of Justice Semika (also without names, without the initials - A.M.K.) and members; the colonel of justice Senina, the colonel of justice Lidina, having considered in session from December 15, 1956 (December 5? - it is illegible - A.M.K.) the conclusion of the main military public prosecutor on the business of Kulbaka Moiseja Solomonovicha, born in 1890 and condemned on October 28, 1937 by the military board of the Supreme Court of the USSR on the basis of clauses 70/76 UK BSSR (the verdict "execution" was under these clauses and the others - in aggregate as the curator - A.M.K has explained to me.) to execution with confiscation of property. Having heard arguments, Semin and the assistant to the main military public prosecutor of the lieutenant colonel of justice of Serikov, have established the following: Kulbak was found guilty as a participant of an anti-soviet organization and as a Polish spy. The main military public prosecutor has offered to cancel Kulbaka’s verdict since by new investigation it was established that he was unreasonably found guilty of counterrevolutionary activity. Having considered the evidence and finding the conclusion of the main military public prosecutor proved, the military board of the Supreme Court of the USSR has ruled that the verdict of the military board VS of the USSR from October 28, 1937 concerning Kulbaka Moiseja Solomonovicha on reopened circumstances should be overruled.


The Chairman            (signature)

Members                  (three signatures)

Military Board of the Supreme Court of USSR

On January, 27th 1989

N 4i-019036/56  

Kulbak P.M.

220012, Minsk

Lenin pr, a.91, kv. 21. 

I write to inform you that Kulbak Moisej Solononovich, born in 1890, has on October 28, 1937, by Military Board of the Supreme Court of the USSR been condemned to execution based on No.70 and 76 Uk BSSR. Kulbak M.S. was accused for being a participant of an anti-Soviet organization and a Polish spy. Through the investigation in 1956, it was established that Kulbak M.S. was condemned unreasonably. On December 26, 1956, the Military Board of the Supreme Court of the USSR by Kulbak M.V. issued a ruling for him posthumously overturning the verdict of the Military Board of the Supreme Court of the USSR on October 33th, 1937 concerning his execution. The execution was performed on October 29, 1937, but the place of burial is unknown. His earlier time of death was completely invented. In 1956, the information on Kulbaka M.S. was stored in the UKGB in the Vitebsk area. I humbly ask you to accept our sincere condolences in regards to the tragedy suffered by you and your relatives due to this unreasonable condemnation



Food of gods 

(PERCH-eiyi is a librarian at the University of Virginia in the US. In pre-war Vilno, she was a pupil of the Jewish poet Moshe Kulbaka)  

After a short stay in Lithuania, the poet left for Berlin. His attempt to act at the Berlin university appeared to be in vain, and he again returned to Vilnius. Having undergone a lot of hardship, Kulbak began to teach natural sciences, geography and the literature at a secular Jewish school (from the biography of the poet).  Our young teacher was a poet and our whole class (all the girls) was fascinated by him. We all fell in love with him. His dark curly hair fell into poetic disorder on his forehead and his soft black eyes flared with an internal fire that hypnotized us. We watched his every move, obsessively talked about him, dreamed about him. We could hardly wait for the next poetry lesson, and it was unimportant which poet we studied because in my mind, at least, all of them had been infused the personality of our teacher. Even old Homer seemed young and lilting, marching with young energy in step with the voice of our teacher. Our teacher came to a class every morning in a dark blue suit with a sweater or a white shirt with an opened collar. His high, round-shouldered figure moved slowly between school desks or near the huge blackboard, and our eyes tracked his movements. He often stopped at a window and his sight would wander somewhere far, far above the houses surrounding our school as though the soul of the poet aspired to leap free from the fetters of the body. He spoke to us about LIFE, which always sounded like it was capitalized; he spoke about dreams that spanned the horizon, about destiny, about poetry. He loved the subject and often spoke about the intensity of a life lived through the world of poetry. He spoke softly of Byron, Keats, Slovak, Pushkin and our Jewish poets - Ejngorna, Nejdusa, Markisha and others. However, despite our numerous requests, he never read to us any of his own poems though many had been published. We interpreted his refusal as an attempt to maintain a sense of privacy, and we forgave him for it, all the while reading and reciting his verses in small groups. Yes, we truly loved him. For us, he was the Poet, and we felt happy in his presence. He was a sculptor of our futures, “a medium for our ideas and feelings.” It was rumored that his eyes shone like they did because they held secrets, but we felt that the poet had the right to his own life because it was a life much greater than that of any of ours. I remember that a skeleton had stood in a corner of our classroom. It had been used to illustrate the structure of the human body during anatomy lessons. Our teacher often stopped before this skeleton and reflected aloud, "Is this a person? With broken skull, he is no more. And yet it still dreams, it sings, it puts on airs. Does it know what death awaits us all? We wander like a musical note in the airy world, knowing and not knowing who he is or where he is.” Like our teacher, we often reflected about ourselves and about the world in which we lived. We never tried to fit our teacher into our own daily lives, with its trifling needs and meddlesome restrictions. We lived through literature, impatiently trying to give it our own interpretations, talking, dreaming. I thought that our lively, bright world would last forever. . . . And then it happened. It had been a grey autumn morning, and I arrived at school earlier than usual, trying to avoid the rain that would inevitably come from the frightening clouds above my head. I hung up my coat, grabbed my books and left for class. There were many open doors along a corridor leading to empty class rooms, teachers’ rooms, laboratories and closets. Each room looked peacefully empty, probably wishing against the approach of another chaotic school day. The door in a faculty room had been left open. There, with his elbows on a table and reading the newspaper, my teacher-poet sat and gnawed a huge apple. I stopped before he saw me and I was not in any condition to move. I did not know which sound was louder - the juicy crunch of his apple or the palpation of my heart.  “He does not differ from all of us, really,” I thought to myself. I was astounded and amazed by the thought that he ate and sat with bent elbows on a table, not graceful, not thinking, insensible. I knew that my ideas were silly and unreasonable, but I could not stop them. I whirled around, escaping quickly as soon as I could from the faculty room, from the school, from the court yard, running, not stopping, until I reached a park. I had a favorite old oak with a seat built in among its branches. I climbed up to it, my special place. Only then could the weight constrained in my breast start to disappear, tears running freely, hastening downwards on my cheeks and falling on the teacher’s small book of verses on my lap. I sat for a long time on that tree, not in any condition to face the life expecting me at school, a life now at a lower level of existence. . . (Translation from M. Radashkevich) 

Instead of an epilogue

In preparing to publish these materials, I once again met with the daughter of Raej Kulbak to clear up some details in the above documents (published, by the way, for the first time). His good friend, Minsk journalist Maria Konstantinovna Andrukovich, helped a lot (in the text of the published documents she is designated as A.M.K. - L.SH.). Maria Andrukovich received permission to visit the archives of the Republican KGB and to get acquainted with M.Kulbaka's "business" – in truth, it was only resolved with the help of a KGB employee, whom Maria Konstantinovna referred to as “curator.” What was discovered from this evidence? Moisej Solomonovich Kulbak was arrested on September 11, 1937 in Minsk. The private meeting of the court took place on September 28, 1937 at 10:30 in the morning, ending at 10:45. Fifteen minutes was enough for Stalin’s monsters to find guilt in the poet and to decide on an appropriate punishment: execution. He was executed on October 29, 1937. (In the fourth volume of the Brief Jewish encyclopedia under "Kulbak,” the year of death of the poet is listed as 1940; M.Kulbaka’s daughter has an official document with the exact date of execution of her father, and edition KEE names this date as his date of death. - L.SH.). He was charged as an active participant in the counterrevolutionary Trotskistskoj, the terrorist organization, and as a Polish spy, an agent of the Polish and German investigations. This charge was based on no. 72, 76, 68, 70, 69 UK. In the text of the bill of particulars, various testimonies concerning M.Kulbaka can be found. Surnames of known Soviet Jewish writers are also there, including Haima-iaoiaia Bjalika and SHoloma Asha. Their statements testify that both Bjalik and SHolom Ash clearly understood the essence of the Soviet empire and “Stalin national policy.” There were also some quotes from of the poet. Kulbak said that “in Berlin, writers gathered at the cafe Romanishes.” Bjalik in his sharp form declared that the “Soviet Union is a country which devours its inhabitants.” In Vilno, which in those years was under the authority of Poland, Kulbaka had been selected to be chairman Pen-kluba in 1926 and SHolom Ash honorable chairman. In one of the interrogations, Kulbak admitted that S.Ash had sharply condemned VKP policy and the Soviet authority on an ethnic question. In Minsk (after 1928), when the Jewish writers had gathered, they had said that “Jewish literature in Soviet Union could not develop since all initiative had been taken away from the Jewish writers” and that “the Jewish culture and the literature could not develop under the VKP’s control (and the Soviet authority) and should go its own original way.” They had also said that under the “Soviet Union’s five-year plan, the Soviet authority had exhausted and destroyed the population” and that “the Soviet people are not pleased,” claiming that the “old Jewish life was more cheerful than the new Soviet life.” These statements reveal that from their outside vantage point, they saw life in the USSR much more clearly and more precisely than many of the Soviet Jewish writers (who had been compelled to see in certain ways). But also "from within", the perversity of the Soviet system denied full rights to Jews on the issues of national self-determination, development of culture, literature, language. It had been possible to bribe writers, actors, and journalists with awards or ranks, but in their souls they remained who they were from birth - Jews who had not renounced their roots. Moisej Kulbak expressed this clearly in one of his poems:    

In my heart of deep secrets,

I long for my home, I wander,

But I cannot find it.

In the bewitched dimness,

Dark, I wander to a circle:

Though I bleed, I proceed

Bleeding, Kupbak has left something to us:

The Jewish soul and the books.

After sixty years

After tragic destruction

We look through with pain and

Trembling before the force

Of his undoubtedly bright talent. 

(Above) The Kulbak Family: “The mother was portly and thrifty like the grandmother, the grey Tsarina of the house. The father was a bibliophile, with a beard and humorous eyes - clever, sad and sly all at once. Around them are the children. Together with Moshe there were six sons and two daughters. The sons all went to America.”


(Below) The Kulbak brothers: (left to right) Leybl (Lewis), Ilya, Iser, Wolf (William), Moshe (the poet), Shlomo (Charles)


I found Yad Vashem reports by Raia Kulbak of Ramat Gan who must be his daughter. She entered reports for her brother, the son of Moishe; Zelda Kulbak; and her grandfather; Solomon. I read that Moishe was the son of Solomon. The reports are as follows:

Kulbak Ilia

Ilia Kulbak was born in Minsk, Belorussia in 1926 to Moisei and Zelda. He was a student. Prior to WWII he lived in Minsk, Belorussia. During the war he was in Lapichi, Belorussia. Ilia perished in 1942 in Lapichi, Belorussia at the age of 16. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted by his brother/sister, Raya Kulbak of Ramat Gan Shtil Street, 3/5

Kulbak Solomon

Solomon Kulbak was born in 1867. He was a forester and married to Sima. Prior to WWII he lived in Minsk, Belorussia. During the war he lived in Lapichi, Belorussia. Solomon perished in 1942 in Lapichi, Belorussia at the age of 75. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted by his grandchild, Raia

Kulbak Krol

Tonia Tonia Krol nee Kulbak was born in 1910 to Solomon and Sima nee Gordon. She was an engineer and married to Iosif. Prior to WWII she lived in Minsk, Belorussia. During the war was in Lapichi, Belorussia. Tonia perished in 1942 in Lapichi, Belorussia at the age of 32. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted by her niece Raia Kulbak

Kulbak Sima

Sima Kulbak nee Gordon was born in 1869. She was a housewife and married to Solomon. Prior to WWII she lived in Minsk, Belorussia. During the war she lived in Lapichi, Belorussia. Sima perished in 1942 in Lapichi, Belorussia at the age of 73. This information is based on a Page of Testimony submitted by her granddaughter.

 On 3/4/06, Phil Kullback popnrere@yahoo.com, nephew of the famous
Yiddish poet Moishe KULBAK wrote;

Any information about Smorgon and cemetaries there with the name
Kulbak would be appreciated....

Dear Phil,
I created a Smorgon site;
with many old Smorgon pictures; 2 pictures of your uncle; Moshe Kulbak
(1896-1940) - in Smorgon portraits;
http://www.eilatgordinlevitan.com/minsk/minsk_pix/043004_22_b.gif ,
lists and stories as well as links to other sites for Smorgon ( one
site is by people from Hedera, Israel; a place where many Smorgon
natives settled)
I visited Smorgon last summer. I posted pictures of Smorgon as it is today.
c 1900 most of the gravestones in shtetls in the area of Vilna did not
include last names. Jews were known by the name of their fathers; as
Your uncle; Moshe Solomon'. You could check pictures which I took in
other cemeteries in the area to see how difficult it is to read them;
I found pictures of Kolbaks family members in other towns near by;
Vileika ( Ida Kolbak who perished in 1942 is pictures on the site) ,
Vilna and Michalitzuk. You should check Yad Vashem reports for Kolbaks
( 3 are for Kulbaks born in Smorgon). Your uncles' picture was also in
the Minsk Yizkor book.I think that he was taken from Minsk in 1937 to
a Soviet camp and died there in 1940. I would very much like to post
the family story on the site.
Eilat Gordin Levitan
Yad Vashem reports by Raia, daughter of the poet (?) Moisei and
Zelda Kulbak.
Kulbak Ilia
Ilia Kulbak was born in Minsk, Belorussia in 1926 to Moisei and
Zelda. He was a pupil and a child. Prior to WWII he lived in Minsk,
Belorussia. During the war was in Lapichi, Belorussia. Ilia perished
in 1942 in Lapichi, Belorussia at the age of 16. This information is
based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by his
brother/sister; Raya Kulbak in Ramat Gan Shtil Street, 3/5
Kulbak Solomon
Solomon Kulbak was born in 1867. He was a forester and married to
Sima. Prior to WWII he lived in Minsk, Belorussia. During the war was
in Lapichi, Belorussia. Solomon perished in 1942 in Lapichi,
Belorussia at the age of 75. This information is based on a Page of
Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by his grandchild; Raia
Krol Tonia
Tonia Krol nee Kulbak was born in 1910 to Solomon and Sima nee
Gordon. She was an engineer and married to Iosif. Prior to WWII she
lived in Minsk, Belorussia. During the war was in Lapichi, Belorussia.
Tonia perished in 1942 in Lapichi, Belorussia at the age of 32. This
information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left)
submitted by her niece
Raia Kulbak
Kulbak Sima
Sima Kulbak nee Gordon was born in 1869. She was a housewife and
married to Solomon. Prior to WWII she lived in Minsk, Belorussia.
During the war was in Lapichi, Belorussia. Sima perished in 1942 in
Lapichi, Belorussia at the age of 73. This information is based on a
Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by her granddaughter
Louis Kullback
City: Brooklyn
County: Kings
State: New York
Roll: 1754612
DraftBoard: 80
age 22
1930 census;
Louis Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY born abt 1893 in Vilna [Lithuania] Head - came to the country in 1907. married at age 28 dresses cutter.
Rose Kullback Louis Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1900 Wife born in new York married at age 21
Phillp Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1922 Son
Marvin Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1929 Son
William Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1891 Vilna [Lithuania] brother- single came tothe country in 1909. news paper man
Max Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1893 Russia Head
Anna Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1896 Wife
Irvin Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1920 Son
Leon Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1924 Son
Sal Charles Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1895 Russia Head
Yetta Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1902 Wife
Dorthy Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1921 Daughter
Beatrice Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1924 Daughter
Irving Kullback Brooklyn, Kings, NY abt 1926 Son

Name: Bertha Ashinosky Kullback
Death Date: 16 Aug 1975
County of Death: Dade
State of Death: Florida
Age at Death: 84
Race: White
Gender: Unknown
Birth Date: 1891

Name: Charles S Kullback
Death Date: Jun 1961
County of Death: Dade
State of Death: Florida
Race: White
Gender: Male
Name: Esther Kullback
Death Date: 2 Nov 1998
County of Death: Palm Beach
State of Death: Florida
Age at Death: 81
Race: White
Gender: Unknown
Birth Date: 26 Apr 1917
Name: Ida Kullback
Death Date: Aug 1967
County of Death: Dade
State of Death: Florida
Race: White
Gender: Female

Name: Nathan Kullback
Death Date: Jun 1956
County of Death: Dade
State of Death: Florida
Race: White
Gender: Male

The social realists Moshe Kulbak, a poet, novelist, and dramatist, was among the many Soviet Yiddish writers liquidated in the purges that were carried out during Stalin's dictatorship
The famous poet Moishe Kulbak (1896-1937) also created in Vilnius
Bluma Katz, now one hundred years old and living in Svientsany, recalls how the students subsisted on herring and black bread, counting the herrings that would have to be eaten until graduation, and hopefully employment. Through the Purim Plays directed by Moishe Kulbak that they performed each year, the students managed to gather together enough money so that the entire class could go on an excursion to the Baltic sea or the Carpathian mountains. One memoir by Arthur Lermer of Montreal recalls Kulbak's wonderful teaching style, and how sad the students were when he departed for the Soviet Union in 1928 (where he was later murdered by Stalin in 1937, in the 1936-38 purges). Arthur Lermer also remembers the Purim Players Kulbak organized, and the Saturday afternoons spent listening to arias performed by a Russian teacher, Nalkovski, as he accompanied himself on the piano and lectured on opera to a full hall. Lermer also recalls Kulbak's close friendship with the beloved music teacher, Yakov Gershtein, who directed a fine choir at the school-one of the two Yiddish choirs in Vilna. (Gershtein was later murdered by the Nazis.) ...Sutzkever found the source of poetry in his childhood, or rather in his myth of childhood, whichTHE LAST GREAT YIDDISH POET?/43 he developed in a cycle of poems about his early years in Siberia that he began writing in 1935...
...In the legend Sutzkever spins, by contrast, the scholarly father is himself revealed as an inspired Jewish fiddler, who bequeathes to his44/COMMENTARY NOVEMBER 1983 son a legacy of divine service through music...
...For all its minimalism and informality, it combines with others in this series to form a kind of modern psalter, recognizing God in the remnants of His creation...
...HEN, in 1941, came the German invasion and with it the incarceration of Vilna's Jews in the ghetto...
...Poems from a Diary opens with the observation, "Distance nears...
...Translated by Chana Bloch) The rest of the long poem "Siberia," of which this is the opening stanza, shows the poet hatched in his landscape of wonder, as fully formed in his seventh year, and as untried, as God's own world on the seventh day of creation...
...read independently at the public Jewish Strashun Library...
...S UTZKEVER was the son of two happilypaired descendants of the Lithuanian Jewish intellectual aristocracy who settled down after their marriage in Smorgon, near Vilna, and had three children, the youngest, Abraham, in the summer of 1913...
...NE puzzling feature of Sutzkever's 0 writing during the war is its formal regularity...
...He was faced with perpetual evidence of Jewish degradation, and almost never with its source in German abominations...
...On the strength of this endorsement from overseas, the Warsaw Yiddish PEN Club put out Sutzkever's maiden volume, Lider (in 1937, two years after it published the first novel of Isaac Bashevis Singer, Satan in Goray...
...Sutzkever, two years the younger, grew up in the Lithuanian capital of Vilna between the world wars and survived the destruction of its Jewish ghetto in 1943...
...For the refined young couple with their three small children the several-thousand-kilometer trek from their home in Smorgon to unknown Omsk in Siberia must have been the start of a frightening exile...
...But the sunset deer Stay behind in the water, mournful, and lick The silence of those that are no longer there...
...A man advanced in years feels the past crowding in on him, but the provocative oxymoron also points forward, to the approach of endlessness, perhaps eternal life...
...Everyone who had known and read the young Sutzkever marveled at the unexpected stamina he showed during the following years...
...The poems of Siberia, representing the experience of a seven-year-old, do not have to take into account community or causality...
...This year the National Library in Jerusalem will mount an exhibition devoted to his life and work, and will issue one of several commemorative publications in honor of his seventieth birthday...
...Poetry alone, for Sutzkever, possessed the imaginative capacity to resist the forces of death and the pressures of daily care that would blacken human joy...
...Sutzkever's colleague Chaim Grade, the poet and (later) short-story writer and novelist, escaped with the retreating Red Army when the Germans invaded, and spent the war in Russia...
...To satisfy his maturing interest in literature, he also sat in on classes at the university, and learned Russian in order to read Pushkin...
...In the vastness of the Negev and the Sinai he found something akin to the stretches of Siberia, space where a solitary observer could once again take his bearings in the scheme of things...
...Perhaps by way of partial compensation for their political and economic disabilities, Jews were feverishly active in their own social and cultural spheres...
...I think that this was the first ghetto evening of exalted creative inspiration...
...Our vision, like our eyesight, alters as we age...
...When the father learns that his son has disobeyed, he suffers a stroke...
...He showed affection especially for the majesty of the jungle which is all the more vulnerable for being so awesome...
...In fact, exile had been the founding condition of the Jewish community of Omsk, whose first settlers were the Jewish children seized for military service in the reign of Czar Nicholas I and transported to a region far enough from home to discourage all thought of return...
...The neighbor's martyrdom elevates both flower and spring to a sanctified status they would not otherwise achieve...
...I T WAS Sutzkever's fate to survive a second Jewish catastrophe after he was brought to Moscow in 1944...
...After the liquidation of the ghetto in September 1943, Sutzkever, then a member of a 41 RunH R. WIssE teaches Yiddish literature at McGill Univer- sity and is currently working on a book about American Yiddish writers...
...Sutzkever took in all the strangeness and beauty and some of the brutality of Africa with a sense of familiarity, recognizing in creatures he had never before seen the instinctual faculties he had come to appreciate through his own experience...
...to this day he grants no interviews...
...The local economy had deteriorated during the anarchy that followed the October Revolution, when Omsk was for a time part of the territory that resisted Bolshevik rule...
...In unlikely signs, such as a warming mound of horse manure or the reflection of moonlight on a sliver of glass, nature sends the poet the conspiratorial message that it will not finally be dominated by these human conquerors, no matter how thorough their destructive sweep...
...became a member of the Jewish Scouts...
...Vilna's economic stagnation prompted Milosz to describe it as Europe's "other side of the tracks...
...His mother was the daughter of the Mikhalishok rabbi, with a many-branched genealogy of scholars...
...Some of these cantonists, as they were called, had been joined by other Jewish refugees later in the century and established in Omsk a few synagogues and schools...
...Shortly afterward all the leading Jewish intellectuals and artists were arrested and imprisoned until their execution in August 1952...
...This young man used to be confined to a mental hospital for several months of the year, and bursting with creative energy the rest of the time...
...Between the German invasion of Russia in June 1941 and the end of the war, the Jews of the Soviet Union (as opposed to those under Nazi rule) enjoyed a relative normalcy...
...He seems, moreover, never to have doubted his own abilities along these lines, and his faith was vindicated when the group called the Introspectivists accepted several of his poems and invited him to become a regular contributor to their magazine in New York...
...He tells the story of Moyshe Itzke, the oddest of the writers and artists in Vilna during the 1930's...
...EGINNING in the mid 1950's Sutzkever traveled to all parts of the globe...
...The father, in failing health, gave lessons in Talmud to sons of local merchants while his own children helped the traders in the market...
...Their lands in the course of time are transformed in memory and take on outlines that are no longer verifiable...
...While the Communist party was outlawed in Poland, it represented for many young Jewish intellectuals the obvious alternative to the poverty and anti-Semitism that were their lot under nationalist Polish rule...
...Of all his earthly relatives, Sutzkever included in this little epic only his father, who is described slicing black bread with a merciful knife, taking his young child out to the forest to chop firewood, and playing the fiddle so vibrantly by moonlight that a wolf is drawn to the window "to sniff at the flesh of the music...
...When the father died (in 1922), and the family returned home, their Siberian legacy lingered on: the in- tense frost that had afflicted Sutzkever's sister with inflammation of the brain was responsible for her death at the age of fourteen, three years later...
...The proofs of eternity that are found in a drop of pain and a droplet of wine are a far cry from the glory that inspired the biblical psalmist, with his knowledge of God...
...It does seem, however, that he conceived of poetry from the very outset as an antidote to history, not the midwife his fellow artists would have made of it...
...that is, they suffered only the terrible hardship of their Russian countrymen without accumulated Jewish disabilities...
...The poems clench themselves tightly, insistent on closures, pitted by their elegance against all that would grind them into formless oblivion...
...The sudden outbreak of war forced the family to flee, seeking refuge in Omsk, in southwestern Siberia...
...The decomposition of Sutzkever's family and community, the rapid decline of his native language, have "fragmented" his culture quite literally...
...As Sutzkever presents it in this poem, and in many another, Siberia is the uncharted region where the poet, like the child before him, begins life as a pagan, moved to awe by each successive manifestation of nature (rather than by nature's God...
...He received a decoration from Stalin, and while neither this nor the deposition of evidence at Nuremberg could give him much satisfaction, he was able to use his position of honor during his two years in Russia to bring tangible aid to many individuals who in turn attribute their survival to his...
...the struggle his poetry records was not the flailing motion of a man trying to keep himself alive but the struggle of the artist to surmount earthly constraints and remain intent on the moral order of beauty...
...they take you beyond life...
...She is co-editor, with Irving Howe and Khone Shmeruk, of the forthcoming Penguin Book of Yiddish Poetry...
...OF THIS unhappy stuff, and at a long remove from the bare facts, Sutzkever spun a splendid story of his birth as a poet...
...How precious it is to him now-this blue vernal flower and its golden pupill My neighbor bears the mementos with no regrets:THE LAST GREAT YIDDISH POET?/45 spring breathes through and colors his tortured flesh- that's how much he wanted it to flourish...
...In each work Sutzkever was drawing from his own experience: the sewer had been his escape route when the ghetto was liquidated...
...One can at any time observe this land that has been transformed into memory, and even place one's lips against the glass, but any attempt to penetrate or repossess the past will shatter the fragile remains...
...In a private reckoning Sutzkever has even attributed his very life to his literary faith: "As if the Angel of Poetry had confided to me: 'The choice lies in your hands...
...His readings turned into dramatic community manifestations...
...Sutzkever's vision of a metaphysical harmony that subsumes human life within a much wider embracing arc helped to shield him from the degradation, even if it could not fully protect him from the danger of German whim...
...Sutzkever himself has offered a wry comment on his own survival, when so many others have perished...
...Man, riddled with unanswered questions, is in danger of becoming a cynic or a nihilist: one who accepts and perhaps even enjoys the impermanence of things, the absence of any essential reality...
...He turns this phrase over in his mind, but then, impatient with its dull abstraction, feels the impulse to bite his own writing hand, to get a taste of the legend...
...All the splendor of creation that Sutzkever celebrated before the war contracted during the ghetto years into tiny reminders of nature's resourcefulness and resilience...
...Moyshe Itzke was stumped for only a moment before he replied, "Well, someone's got to break through" By this order of desperate madness must the survival of an individual Vilna Jew be judged...
...Vilna's most beloved Yiddish poet, Moishe Kulbak, had set the tone by moving to the Soviet city of Minsk in 1928...
...Twice, in 1948 and in 1961, Sutzkever deviated from the lyrical forms in which he remains most comfortable to create national epics of ambitious narrative scope...
...It is paradoxical that a prose history, Of the Vilna Ghetto, written by Sutzkever immediately after the war in order to record as many details as he could recall and corroborate, should contain more spontaneous expressions of his mood and thought than the lyrics dealing with some of the very same experiences...
...On an extended trip to Africa a decade after the war, Sutzkever responded to the exoticism of the strange new continent, exploringTHE LAST GREAT YIDDISH POET?/47 desert and jungle, tracking elephants, visiting with the king of the Zulus...
...his first poem was published in the Scouts' magazine...
...For the rest he points to an impossible imbalance in the effort to communicate the reduction of human value to those who did not know it on their flesh...
...Through the apparent randomness of these poems, Sutzkever's personality emerges more forcefully than in any previous work, and he seems to have found here the perfect vehicle for his characteristic mixture of passion and intelligence, a tension between mood and mind that has reminded one critic of the English metaphysical poets, though a closer parallel might be John Berryman's Dream Songs, which also depend for their full appreciation on some familiarity with their author's life...
...The illustrations by Marc Chagall that accompany the text in the English, Hebrew, and Yiddish editions of this work remind the reader, somewhat shockingly, how much of a Jew the father was, in his black caftan and beard...
...One begins to understand how Sutzkever transmitted such a sense of strength during the war, and how he maintained it himself...
...Against this fatal undertow Sutzkever's ripe poetry ranges its every resource...
...and he in turn, in his suit of skin, is the plaything of nature, the little snowman of the bright North Star...
...At least this seems to be in keep- ing with the order of things...
...And then-they run away...
...The strategists of evil made only occasional forays into their dominion: it was the changing face of the victims that one saw, and whoever became the recorder of this damage was in danger of providing exhibits for the postwar museum of Jewish degeneracy that Hitler intended to build...
...Sutzkever resisted in both word and deed...
...A little hut Shines across the way in the valley, Covered with a flurry of sunset...
...And yet, the poem does point us in the direction of an essence underlying mere existence...
...Translated by Cynthia Ozick) No single poem can suggest the range of wit and grace of the entire cycle, but this lyric does touch the center of its search...
...Whatever can be transmuted into poetry is gradually exposed...
...later studied old Yiddish poetry at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research that was founded in Vilna in 1926 as a center of research and scholarship...
...in the poem there is nothing to suggest Jewish custom, least of all the father's death-an exchange of one small hut above the earth for a smaller one beneath it...
...Doves coo in the attic, coo my face Out of its shell...
...Like enchanted fairy-tale princesses who unite only fleetingly with their lovers, the deer, a gentle tribe, suddenly vanish, leaving only their haunting reflection...
...It was perhaps in one of them that Abraham Sutzkever had begun to study when he was five...
...Ilya Ehrenburg, one of wartime Russia's most influential writers, published an article about Sutzkever in Pravda that brought the poet thousands of letters from readers throughout the country who found in it assurance that something of Jewish value, of human value, had been salvaged...
...it is typical of Sutzkever to collapse the languages of space and time, giving substantiality to the ephemeral by treating time as a function of space...
...He was deeply affected by his encounters with the major figures of Soviet Yiddish culture-the actor-director Shloime Mik- hoels, the poets Peretz Markish and Dovid Hof- stein, the novelist Dovid Bergelson-all of whom were trying under precarious conditions to resume an active creative life...
...He began writing poetry as a teenager...
...While the context is not particularly "Jewish," Sutzkever attributes to poetry much of the flavor of Judaism, with its struggle to discipline lawlessness, its dogged or exuberant attachment to life...
...In a story by Sholem Aleichem, for example, a father tries to prevent his son from playing the violin because he should be devoting himself to study...
...Jewish advancement throughout the new Polish state was further curtailed by restrictive nationalist policies...
...But there is still great excitement of observation, and deepening love for the life that feels itself simultaneously lengthening and shortening...
...Still, recognition of Sutzkever's talent did not imply recognition of the direction it took, and until the outbreak of the war he was considered an anomaly in the general atmosphere of literary engagement...
...On the podium he developed the public style we associate with Russian and Polish poets who generate in their listeners a mighty sense of common destiny...
...he came to Palestine, much as he describes the journey's details, aboard the Patria...
...His lack of concern with politics was not the product of any personal ideological position but rather the result of a romantic temperament and of a concentration on art that left no room for temporal distraction...
...One day he came to Sutzkever with the news that he was immortal...
...The same play with language is also irrepressible here...
...The myth of what Sutzkever calls his "blond beginning" permits the poet to enjoy the raw excitement of the created world without having either to acknowledge or, more significantly, to repudiate any of the historical or cultural constraints that ought to have bound him as a Jew...
...He arrived as part of the illegal immigration of 1947 and in the same year that the state of Israel was created he founded the Yiddish journal named appropriately The Golden Chain, emblem of Jewish continuity...
...Because poetry, for him, had always been an inspired partnership with the creative impulses of nature, it continued even under the Nazis to remain immune to political dictation, to become in fact a demonstrative repudiation of such dictation...
...Yet mourners who have absorbed a vanished presence may continue to draw sustenance from it long after its physical disappearance...
...After the author had read his poem there was a very long period of silence before anyone spoke...
...The immediacy of these dramatized events, the form of the composition and its greatness, had the effect of closing every- one's lips...
...And what...
...The speaker of these poems is no longer a scarred survivor, but nature's intimate, a somewhat bemused authority: Who will last...
...In its jar, a drop of wine stands fast...
...Under orders to pack Jewish books and cultural treasures for shipment to Germany, Sutzkever organized his colleagues to smuggle out the most valuable manuscripts and even pieces of sculpture for buried safekeeping and eventual retrieval...
...There is nothing in modern Jewish literature quite as free as Sutzkever's exploration of Siberia...
...Only after the first speaker managed to break the silence did a discussion begin that continued for three hours...
...The poem that had its premiere that evening won the ghetto's literary prize for 1942...
...For over a year he worked at the headquarters of Alfred Rosenberg, promulgator of the Nuremberg Laws, who had come to Vilna to destroy, along with vestiges of the Jews, the last traces of their culture...
...Siberia he considered to be the origin of all the beauty of the world, a treasure dome like Kubla Khan's, of sharply engraved sound and sensation, a frozen Eden: Sunset over icy blue roads Colors suffuse my mood...
...his father, who had inherited a leather factory, preferred to spend his time studying and teaching...
...Sutzkever suppressed the worst aspects of his experience, and with this, remarkably, some of the strongest poems he wrote while in the ghetto...
...for him, the very function of a poem was not to present or to protest meanness, but to subvert it...
...Shmerke Kaczerginski, a young firebrand who was admitted into the group about the time that Sutzkever was refused, later regretted his attitude yet recalled its logic: "I was then busy hanging red flags on telegraph wires, hurling proclamations at military installations, calling fathers, mothers, and children to the barricades," he wrote, echoing phrases from his poetry of the period, poetry that was set to music and widely sung...
...On the strength of his reputation as a poet, Sutzkever was chosen to testify as witness for Russian Jewry at the Nuremberg trials after the war (Vilna having been absorbed by the Soviet Union...
...Sutzkever spent half a year in Paris, a postwar meeting point of survivors...
...And there They are betrothed at last to the silence...
...A s PERHAPS the last great Yiddish poet, Sutzkever faces one additional problem of his own creation...
...If lifethreatening deflation is one of this poet's oldest concerns, in his recent work he is no less aware of the danger of inflation...
...Rosy flecks Animate the sand...
...Some readers, expecting a breakdown of structure due to the pressure of the subject, have expressed surprise at the recurring inclination to classical meter and perfect rhyme...
...He revels in the discovery of bears, wolves, doves, and Kirghizian camel drivers with whom he shares the timeless, endless steppe...
...If it were possible at all to maintain artistic balance under ghetto conditions, Sutzkever would have had the advantage over his colleagues, since his art had never been subject to "temporal" definition...
...There is a certain parallel between Sutzkever's invention of himself as child of the Siberian steppe and his avid exploration of the Israeli desert soon after his arrival in the country...
...The family had lived in hardship...
...Like so many of his fellow survivors, he was obsessed by his duty to keep the record, in order to help prosecute the criminals and-perhaps even more important-to pay tribute to the brave...
...As a Polish refugee, Sutzkever had the good fortune to be repatriated in 1946, going first to Lodz and from there, in early 1947, to Paris...
...In this atmosphere of cultural activism Sutzkever came on the scene as the sunniest wordsmith, delighting in the formation of new Yiddish words and in the redemption of old ones, surprising the language with untried rhymes and verbal effects...
...As the guest of major Jewish communities in Australia, Africa, South and North America, and Europe, he knew how to inspire in his audience faith in their ability to bear the burden of their past...
...Given the interests of the diarist there is also a good deal of personal reflection about speech, poetry, life and death...
...In the diary of one ghetto inmate we find the following entry: In the presence of fifteen of the most respected writers and artists Sutzkever read his new poem, Dos keyver-kind ["The Grave-child...
...Much in the same way, this poem keeps alive its subject, no longer there in the flesh...
...The 1930's were the most intensely political years of Yiddish culture, nowhere more so than in Poland...
...Indeed, one can think of few modern poets prepared to make so great a claim for their craft...
...Alongside all this, the rhetorical question that ends the poem leaves itself open to a skeptical rejoinder...
...If in Sutzkever's judgment it would be a shame to reduce him to legend, his poetry generates a faith in itself, in its own true vivifying power, that lends an aura of indestructibility to the destroyed world it stubbornly mourns and celebrates...
...The affirmation here is far from thunderous, to be sure...
...Magic sleighs go ringing by...
...The present essay is based on a paper deliv- ered this past July at the second International Conference of Yiddish Studies held at Oxford University.42/COMMENTARY NOVEMBER 1983 partisan unit in the Narotsh Forest outside Vilna, was flown to Moscow by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee of the Soviet Union as a symbol of resistance to Nazism...
...only man can determine its value and thereby affirm his own...
...Jewish Vilna between the wars was a community of some 65,000, about a third of the city's total population...
...During this interval the Soviet Yiddish writers and artists gathered in the officially-sanctioned Jewish AntiFascist Committee brought Sutzkever to Moscow as a part of their rescue effort...
...Amazing forests sway against the panes...
...Translated by Seymour Mayne) Since death has taken the place of life as the normal condition of the ghetto, every link established with nature becomes proof of one's right to exist as a part of it...
...And there, under hushed cupolas, A seven year old child-a world--grows tall...
...But while a witness may swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truthswear, that is, to limit himself to empirical dataas a poet Sutzkever was dissatisfied with the sort of evidence that would do no more than confirm the annihilation of his world...
...Death, the ugliest breach of time, only poetry has the human power to heal...
...The whole family had fallen ill of typhus apparently as the result of Abraham's investigation of a dead soldier in the snow...
...Yet despite the authenticity of the information, the epics are obviously the projections of a single narrator who is determined to make history respond to his affirmative will...
...But this is only the shallowest level of his work...
...Sutzkever's remarkable productivity during and since World War II may of course be seen as a sign of Jewish national regeneration: he has written several major poems on the subject...
...and the second stanza, reducing poetry to a language of grass and flowers, takes us all the way back to a prehistoric landscape and forces us to confront the possibility of having to begin there again...
...As one might expect of a diary, the entries are filled with casual disclosures about quotidian affairs, "a funeral by day and a concert at night," and fragments of dream and memory...
...Most of its affiliated writers happened to be neighbors and friends of the young poet, but they did not want to accept him because of the esoteric quality of his verse...
...The "Ariel" of Yiddish literature, as he was known, became an important cultural pres- ence in the ghetto and an active member of the underground...
...Sutzkever was educated and influenced by many new institutions that were created to adapt traditional Jewish patterns to the demands of the secular atmosphere: he attended a Hebrew-Polish high school...
...Sutzkever realized, while still in the ghetto, that unless he were exceedingly cautious, the angle of vision granted him as a Jew would make him an intolerable witness...
...Encasing the man within the poet, he became virtually indestructible, the way a poem, vulnerable during the capricious process of its creation, becomes obdurate and intractable once finished...
...all the more reason to make each fragment yield the sensation of the whole to which it once organically adhered...
...Geheymshtot ("Secret City") records the effort of ten Jews, a symbolic minyan of men and women and a newborn infant, to escape the destruction of Vilna by hiding in the sewers beneath it...
...In this way the transition from generation to generation, instead of being fraught with conflict, is made to appear seamless, innocent of rebellion, so natural that one does not even notice that the father's religion has disappeared, and art has taken its place...
...He regretted that the crashing thunder was drowning out the sounds of his harp...
...Sutzkever's biography is so intricately intertwined with the major events of Jewish history that he has often been accorded semi-legendary status as a 20th-century Jewish pilgrim...
...Indeed, in this attempt at hard self-control something personal was inevitably forfeited...
...Apart from his


Louis Kullback (16 Oct 1891- Sep 1984) Jamaica, Queens, New York
Rose Kullback (10 Feb 1899- Jan 1985) Jamaica, Queens, New York
Anna Kullback (5 Jan 1892 -Jul 1978) Staten Island, Richmond, New York
Leon Kullback 22 Dec 1923 27 Aug 2004 Staten Island, Richmond, New York
Beatrice Kullback 6 Sep 1923 Jan 1981

Rosamond Kullback 8 Apr 1947 Aug 1975

Name: Israel L Kullback
Birth Year: 1923
Race: White, citizen
Nativity State or Country: New York
State: New York
County or City: Kings

Enlistment Date: 5 Feb 1943
Enlistment State: New York
Enlistment City: New York City
Branch: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life

Education: 3 years of high school
Marital Status: Single, with dependents
Height: 66
Weight: 136
Name: Sol Kullback job; cutter
City: Brooklyn
County: Kings
State: New York
Birthplace: Smorgon, Russia
Birth Date: 4 Apr 1894
Race: White
Roll: 1754399
DraftBoard: 52

Name: Nathan Kullback
City: Brooklyn
County: Kings
State: New York
Birth Date: 15 Aug 1880
Race: White
Roll: 1754612
DraftBoard: 80
Name: William Kullback
City: Manhattan
County: New York
State: New York
Birthplace: Russia
Birth Date: Nov 1 1890 Smorgon, Vilna Russia
Race: White
Roll: 1786813
DraftBoard: 152
Cutter, missing a leg.



Social Security #: 189095868
Birth Date: 8 Jun 1919
Birthplace: NEW YORK
Death Date: 2 Feb 1981
Death Place: LOS ANGELES
Mother's Maiden Name: STEIN
Reseda, Los Angeles, California


Social Security #: 103122806
Birth Date: 30 Dec 1921
Birthplace: NEW YORK
Death Date: 20 May 1994
Death Place: LOS ANGELES
Mother's Maiden Name: NEWMAN
Father's Surname: TREIBITZ
Reseda, Los Angeles, California
Yetta Kullback (8 Apr 1900- Nov 1983) Flushing, Queens, New York
Solomon Kullback (3 Apr 1907- 5 Aug 1994) Silver Spring, Montgomery, Maryland
Lola S. Kullback (25 Aug 1916- 28 Nov 1998) Gaithersburg, Montgomery, Maryland

kulbak kulbak

Kulbak Isser

Isser Kulbak was born in Smorgonie in 1904 to Shlomo and Sima nee
Gordon. He was an engineer and married to Nikhama. Prior to WWII he
lived in Bobruysk, Belorussia (USSR). During the war he was in Army,
USSR. Isser perished in 1941 in the Shoah at the age of 37. This
information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left)
submitted by his son Feliks Kulbak.
Tzine Alperovich was born in Maletai to David and Yehudit Kulbak.
Prior to WWII she lived in Kowno, Lithuania. During the war she was in
Kowno, Lithuania. Tzine perished in Kowno, Lithuania. This information
is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by her
sister Rika Kulbak
Zlate Kulbak was born in Malat to David and Yehudit Kulbak and was
married to Hirsh Shtok. Prior to WWII she lived in Kovno, Lithuania.
During the war she was in Kovno, Lithuania. Zlate perished in the
Shoah. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on
left) submitted by her sister Rika
Source Pages of Testimony
Zlate Kulbak was born in Malat to David and Dina. She was a clerk and
married with 2 children. Prior to WWII she lived in Kowno, Lithuania.
During the war she was in Kowno, Lithuania. Zlate perished in Kowno,
Lithuania at the age of 8. This information is based on a Page of
Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by her friend.
Elchik Kulbak was born in Nowo Swieciany to Szmuel and Yente. He was
an accountant. Prior to WWII he lived in Wilno, Poland. During the war
he was in Kowno, Lithuania. Elchik perished in Kowno, Lithuania at the
age of 40. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed
on left) submitted by his sister Mina Berman of Kibbutz Kfar Giladi
Raine Widlansky nee Bek was born in Nowo Swieciany to Berl and Khana.
She was a housewife and married to Khaim. Prior to WWII she lived in
Nowo Swieciany, Poland. During the war she was in Nowo Swieciany,
Poland. Raine perished in Ponary, Poland at the age of 40. This
information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left)
submitted by her niece-----Mina Kulbak Berman of Kfar Giladi

-Kulbak Szmuel

Szmuel Kulbak was born in Nowo Swieciany to Ytzkhak and Ita. He was a
Forest merchant and married to Yente. Prior to WWII he lived in Nowo
Swieciany, Poland. During the war he was in Nowo Swieciany, Poland.
Szmuel perished in Ponary, Poland at the age of 75. This information
is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by his
daughter. Mina Kulbak Berman of Kfar Giladi
Frida Kulbak was born in Nowo Swieciany to Szmuel and Yente. Prior to
WWII she lived in Nowo Swieciany, Poland. During the war she was in
Nowo Swieciany, Poland. Frida perished in Ponary, Poland at the age of
42. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on
left) submitted by her sister Mina Kulbak Berman of Kfar Giladi
Bak Matla

Matla Bak nee Kolbak was born in Nowo Swieciany to Shmuel and Yente.
She was a housewife and married to Motl Mordechai Bak. Prior to WWII
she lived in Nowo Swieciany, Poland. During the war she was in Nowo
Swieciany, Poland. Matla perished in Ponary, Poland at the age of 45.
This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left)
submitted by her sister Mina Kulbak Berman of Kfar Giladi
Motl Bak was born in Nowo Swieciany to Berl and Chana. He was a
painter (artist) and married to Matla. Prior to WWII he lived in Nowo
Swieciany, Poland. During the war he was in Nowo Swieciany, Poland.
Motl perished in Ponary, Poland at the age of 48. This information is
based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by his
sister-in-law.Mina Kulbak Berman of Kfar Giladi

--Sara Ginzburg nee Bek was born in Nowo Swieciany to Berl and Khana.
She was a housewife and married to Yehuda. Prior to WWII she lived in
Nowo Swieciany, Poland. During the war she was in Nowo Swieciany,
Poland. Sara perished in Ponary, Poland at the age of 55. This
information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left)
submitted by her niece.Mina Kulbak Berman of Kfar Giladi
Father's First Name SHLOMO Kulbak
Gender Male
Date of Birth 1880
Permanent residence MALIAT,UTENA,LITHUANIA
Place during the war MALIAT,UTENA,LITHUANIA
Place of Death KOVNO,GHETTO
Type of material Page of Testimony
Submitter's Last Name* KOLBAK
Submitter's First Name* RIKA

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Eilat Gordin Levitan <eilat.gordinlevitan@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 6:04 PM
Subject: Broide / Kulbak
To: EEilat Gordin Levitan <eilat.gordinlevitan@gmail.com>

Tonia Krol nee Kulbak was born to Solomon and Sima nee Gordon in 1910.
She was an engineer and married to Iosif. Prior to WWII she lived in
Minsk, Belorussia (USSR). During the war she was in Lapichi,
Belorussia (USSR). Tonia perished in Lapichi, Belorussia (USSR) at the
age of 32. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed
on left) submitted by her niece
-- Sima Kulbak nee Gordon. She was a housewife and married to Solomon.
Prior to WWII she lived in Minsk, Belorussia (USSR). During the war
she was in Lapichi, Belorussia (USSR). Sima perished in Lapichi,
Belorussia (USSR) at the age of 73. This information is based on a
Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by her granddaughter

Solomon Kulbak was born to Shlomo. He was a forester and married to
Sima. Prior to WWII he lived in Minsk, Belorussia (USSR). During the
war he was in Lapichi, Belorussia (USSR). Solomon perished in Lapichi,
Belorussia (USSR) at the age of 75. This information is based on a
Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by his
Beila Kulbak nee Broydo was born in Ilya to Volf and Yakhna in 1880.
She was married to Shalom ( who was born in Smorgon in 1870). Prior to
WWII she lived in Minsk, Belorussia (USSR). During the war she was in
Minsk, Belorussia (USSR). Beila perished in Minsk, Belorussia (USSR)
in July 28 of 1924 at the age of 62. This information is based on a
Page of Testimony submitted by her daughter KULBAK
KHANA in Russian in the year 1994
Sadly Khana also lost her Father, husband and 2 children; Goberman
1906 Page of Testimony by his wife
(USSR) born
in 1937 Page of Testimony by his mother
(USSR) born
in 1941 Page of Testimony by his mother
Lazar Brojdo was born in Ilja to Bentzion and Sara in 1921. During the
war he was in Ilja, Poland. Lazar perished in Ilja, Poland ( killed
with his family at the backyard of their home). This information is
based on a Page of Testimony submitted by his friend.

Neuch Brojdo was born in Ilia to Bentzion and Sara. He was a merchant
and single. Prior to WWII he lived in Ilia, Poland. During the war he
was in Ilia, Poland. Neuch perished in the Shoah. This information is
based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted by his
friend, a Shoah survivor
The genius Rabbi Wolf Broide (1851- 1931)

Rabbi Ze'ev Wolf was born in 1851 in the city of Minsk that is nearby
our town. As was the custom these days, the youth turned to the Torah
Hostels, distinguished himself there by his wonderful dedication and
by his rapid and clear comprehension abilities. At the age of 18 he
was ordained a rabbi by the Ga'on Soloveitzik, the head of the court
of the city of Lutsk, and later the rabbi of the town of Brisk.

He was 19 when he reached our town looking for a hostel for Torah and
for the right atmosphere for studying. In our town Ilya he married Ms.
Yachne of the house of Hotner. His wife was the one to carry the
burden of providing for the household, and thus allowed her husband to
study and teach Torah uninterrupted. And indeed Rabbi Wolf climbed
from stage to state and became famous as a master of Torah....

On Passover 1931, when he was 80, he was suddenly called to the
yeshiva up above, and a letter from an anonymous writer, who risked
his life and crossed the border (From the Soviet Union to Poland) for
that purpose, told his son, Ben Zion Broide, that his great father was
no longer alive.

Bencjan Brujdo ( in Hebrew it says Ben Zion Broide) was born in Ilja
in 1880 to Yachna . He was a merchant and married to Sarah and had 3
children. Prior to WWII he lived in Ilja, Poland. During the war he
was in Ilja, Poland. Bencjan perished in Ilja, Poland. This
information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left)
submitted by his acquaintance Slominsk

Dear Madam, dear Sir,
I've seen your post about the Kulbak familiy. For our Berlin based independent publishing house "edition.fotoTAPETA" we are preparing a German edition of Moyshe Kulbak's little novel MONTOG. Now, we need a good version of Kulbak's photo, and I would like to ask you, if you remember, where the portrait shown on on your site with the number #kol-7 comes from and if there is a printable file of this photo?
Thank you very much in advance
Best regards
Andreas Rostek

PS. Our internet-site is: http://www.edition-fototapeta. eu/
Alt-Moabit 37
10555 Berlin
+49-30-39 84 85 10
www.facebook.com/edition. fototapeta