Itzik Feffer (1900 — August 12, 1952), also Fefer (Yiddish איציק פֿעפֿער, Russian Ицик Фефер, Исаàк Соломòнович Фèфер) was a Soviet Yiddish poet who fell victim to Stalin's purges.

Itzik Feffer was born in Shpola, a town in Zvenigorod uyezd (district) of Kiev guberniya, Imperial Russia.

He was a very prolific poet, who wrote almost exclusively in Yiddish, and his poems were widely translated into Russian and Ukrainian. He is considered one of the greatest Soviet poets in the Yiddish language and his poems were widely admired inside and outside Russia. One of these is the epic poem, Di Shotns fun Varshever Geto ("The Shadows of the Warsaw Ghetto"). It is a tribute to the 750 Jews who rebelled against the Nazi liquidation of the ghetto and gave their lives fighting tyranny.

During the Second World War he was a military reporter with the rank of colonel and was vice chairman of the Soviet Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC). He and Solomon Mikhoels traveled to the United States in 1943 in a well-documented fund-raising trip.

In 1948, after the assassination of the JAC Chairman Solomon Mikhoels, Feffer, along with other JAC members, was arrested and accused of treason. Feffer had been an informer for the NKVD (predecessor of the KGB) since 1943. Feffer reportedly cooperated with the investigation, providing false information that would lead to the arrest and indictment of over a hundred people[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_3], but at the trial made openly nationalistic statements and expressed pride in his Jewish identity. Feffer had also allegedly been one of the "most loyal and conformist Yiddish poets," helped to enforce strict ideological control over other Yiddish writers, and had a history of denouncing colleagues for their "nationalistic hysteria."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_3]. However, in 1952 Feffer, along with other defendants, was tried at a closed JAC trial, and executed on August 12, 1952.

Feffer was rehabilitated posthumously in 1955 after Stalin's death.

Paul Robeson

The American concert singer and actor Paul Robeson met Feffer on July 8, 1943 in New York during a Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee event chaired by Albert Einstein, the largest pro-Soviet rally ever held in the United States. After the rally, Essie and Paul Robeson entertained Feffer and Mikhoels.

Six years later, in June 1949, during the 150th anniversary celebration of the birth of Alexander Pushkin, Robeson visited the Soviet Union to sing in concert. Concerned about the welfare of Jewish artists, Robeson insisted to Soviet officials that he meet with Feffer[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_2]. Forced to communicate through hand gestures and notes because the room was bugged, Feffer indicated that Mikhoels had been murdered in 1948 by the secret police. Feffer also indicated that many other Jewish artists had been arrested[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_1]. Robeson responded publicly during his concert in Tchaikovsky Hall, June 14, 1949 by paying tribute to his friends Feffer and Mikhoels. He then sang the Vilnius partisan song "Zog Nit Keynmol" in both Russian and Yiddish in defiance of Soviet authorities[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_1].

Books of poetry

  • Schpener, 1922
  • Wegen sich und asoine wi ich (About Me and Others Like Me), 1924
  • A stein zu a schtein (A Stone to a Stone), 1925
  • Proste teid (Simple Words), 1925
  • Bliendige Misten (Blossoming Garbage), 1926, a paradoxical title about the revival of a shtetl in Soviet times
  • Gefundene funken (Found Sparkles), 1928
  • Geweten (Competition), 1930
  • Plakaten of bronze (Posters in Bronze), 1932
  • Kraft (Force), 1937


  • ^ Duberman
  • ^ Stewart
  • ^ Rubenstein


  • Rappaport, Louis. Stalin's War Against the Jews: The Doctors Plot & The Soviet Solution {Free Press: 1990) ISBN 0-02-925821-9
  • Stewart, Jeffrey C. (editor). Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen. Hardcover (Rutgers Univ Pr, April 1, 1998) ISBN 0-8135-2510-1, Paperback (Rutgers Univ Pr, April 1, 1998) ISBN 0-8135-2511-X
  • Duberman, Martin. Paul Robeson: A Biography. 804 pages. New Press; Reissue edition (May 1, 1995). ISBN 1-56584-288-X.

External links

yi:איציק פעפער

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