Sam Frydman – Zalmen Khaimovich Friedman

Friedman, Zalmen Khaimovich; variations of name: Fridman, Sema (Semka); Fridman, Sem; Frydman S. Born October 6, 1891, Zarembi-Kostsel’nye, Octrovsky uyezd, Lomzhinsky gubernia; died November, 1942, Birkenau-Auschwitz, Poland. Participant of the anarchist movement in the USA, Russia and France.


Son of Chaim Yankel Friedman and Roza Mink. Tailor by profession. Before the February Revolution participated in the anarchist and labour movements in Chicago, USA. Member of the Union of Russian Workers. After the February Revolution of 1917, returned to Russia. Until the spring of 1919 he lived in Odessa, and was a member of the “Odessa Federation of Anarchists”. In the spring and summer of 1919 he was in the Makhnovist movement; he took part in battles with the White Guards. He belonged to the Confederation of Anarchist Organizations of Ukraine “Nabat”.

In the autumn of 1919 he was arrested in Moscow on suspicion of belonging to the Moscow organization of Anarchists of the Underground. According to the memoirs of B. Yelensky:  ”As a rigid vegetarian, he demanded a diet in prison of vegetables and fruits. He was clamorous in this demand, quite indifferent to the fact that he was imprisoned in the dreaded All-Russian ‘Vecheka,’ a name that produced a feeling of terror everywhere in those days. One day all of the imprisoned anarchists were summoned from their cells and lined up in a large hall. Before long the door opened and the terror of the All-Russian Cheka, Dzerzhinski, with his entire coterie, entered. Recklessly disregarding all risks, Semke went directly to this dreaded figure and demanded that, as a vegetarian, he be fed a vegetarian diet.”[1]

In February 1921 he was present at the funeral of P. A. Kropotkin. By the end of February 1921 he was in Odessa. In mid-1923 he left Russia; B. V. Yelensky met him in June 1923 in Constantinople. Later he emigrated to Paris, where he belonged to the Group of Jewish Anarchists. In the 1930’s he took part in the work of the Relief Fund of the International Workers’ Association for imprisoned and exiled anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists in Russia.

His address before the war was: 33 Avenue Jean Jaurés, Pré-Saint-Gervais, Paris, France.[2]

In 1942 he was arrested in Paris by the Nazis. On August 24 he was deported on Transport No. 23 from the Drancy transit camp to Auschwitz.

From the train carrying Friedman and his wife Dora to the concentration camp, he threw a note which contained, in the words of B. Yelensky, a request to whoever found it “that the letter be forwarded to our address. It eventually reached us and the contents were brief and heart-rending: ‘We are being led away; we do not know where. Take care of our child.’ That was the last we heard of Semke and Dora.”[3]

After the end of the Second World War, the Alexander Berkman Aid Fund and other anarchist organisations rendered assistance to Michelle Friedman, daughter of the murdered anarchists.

Wife: Deborah Khenikh Friedman (born Yankel’, 22 June 1899, Berdichev, Berdichev uyezd, Kievskaya gubernia; died September 1943, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland). In 1919-1923 she was a member of the Confederation of Anarchist Organizations of Ukraine “Nabat”. After 1923 she was in emigration. She was a member of the Group of Jewish Anarchists in Paris. On 24 August 1942 she was deported by Transport No. 23 from the Drancy transit camp to Auschwitz. She was murdered in Auschwitz in September 1943.

by Kirill Limanov. Translated by Malcolm Archibald. From YEZHYEVIKI – – Academic Wiki-encyclopedia of Jewish and Israeli themes


International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam. Alexander Berkman Papers. Inv. no. 22.


B. Yelensky. In the Struggle for Equality: The Story of the Anarchist Red Cross. Chicago: Alexander Berkman Aid Fund, 1958;

B. Yelensky. In sotsialn shturem: zikhroynes fun der Rusisher revolutsye (En la Borrasca social: memorias de la revolucion rusa). Buenos Ayres: Bukhgemeynshaft bay der yidisher ratsyonalistisher gezelshaft, 1967 (Yiddish);

Le mémorial de la déportation des juifs de France / Beate et Serge Klarsfeld. – Paris, 1978;

Memorial to the Jews deported from France, 1942–1944: documentation of the deportation of the victims of the Final Solution in France / S. Klarsfeld. Paris: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1983, p. 204;

B. Yelensky, In the Social Storm: Memoirs of the Russian Revolution. available at

Journal Officiel de la Republique française, 27 octobre 2009, No. 0249, Texte n°52


[1] B. Yelensky, In the Social Storm: Memoirs of the Russian Revolution. available at

[2] Letter of Z. Friedman to B. Yelensky, 1939.

Paris, Sept. 21, 1939

Dear and beloved Boris and Bessie:

It is a long time since we have had employment. I shall probably have to leave in the near future. Dora and Michelle will remain without any means of subsistence, because their means of livelihood became exhausted some time ago. Michelle is four years old, and very delicate; attached to her mother. Hence it is impossible at this time to place her anywhere else, so that Dora should be able to go to work; the child must stay with her. And it is not yet certain whether they will be allowed to remain in Paris. It is precisely on this account that I want to write to you and to make a request. I have never turned to the movement for any help for myself – for others, yes; and I realize fully your economic situation.

Nevertheless, I beg you, if you can do anything for the family, don’t let Dora and the child become destitute. Do everything possible… to help Dora and the child in such an emergency. You surely understand that without me Dora is helpless; but let us hope that everything will turn out for the best in the end. If you are able to send anything, it is best to handle it through the bank or through the American Express, in Dora’s name. On the papers her name appears not as Dora, but as Deborah. If she is not in Paris it will be forwarded to her. This letter is being written by me, not in the name of the movement, but in my own name. The other comrades will probably write their own account.

But you surely understand that it is most urgent to give help to a mother and her child. I hope you will comply with my request. Write, dear friends, all about yourselves and the relatives. Keep in good health, dear and beloved friends Boris and Bessie and the rest.

Sam Friedman

Source: B. Yelensky, In the Struggle for Equality: The Story of the Anarchist Red Cross. Chicago; Alexander Berkman Aid Fund, 1958, pp. 69–70.

[3] B. Yelensky, In the Social Storm: Memoirs of the Russian Revolution. available at

Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.