Tenth Anniversary of the death of Eliezer Hirshauge (1911-1954) [A work in progress]


Eliezer Hirshauge1 brought out two editions of an anarcho-syndicalist publication called Opinions [Dey’es] in Tel-Aviv in the year 1952. In 1951, under the pseudonym of A. Goral2, he had written a pamphlet, ‘Pytr Kropotkin’3 (Toldotav, Rayonotav Vsefarav)4. This was published under his own name. He arranged for the pamphlet as well as the two issues of Opinions to be translated from Yiddish into Hebrew – he typeset and printed both himself, at his own cost. E. H. was a master compositor by trade and a great idealist. It was through his initiative that Dr Yisroel Rabin’s work ‘From Here to There’5 appeared in the year 1954.

While still in Warsaw before the outbreak of the Second World War, he was active in not-for-profit publishing. He typeset and published a number of works by Jewish and non-Jewish writers, among them the monthly journal ‘Society’s Conscience’, edited by Tadeusz Marian Lubetski (in Polish).


The story of Eliezer Hirshauge’s life is short, tragic and heroic.

He was born to religious parents in Warsaw. Fourth in the family. Before him two sisters and a brother. To cheder at the age of five. Studies at yeshiva till the age of 16. Thereafter apprentices himself to a compositor in the face of protests from his parents, who regarded association with a trade as a stain on the well-to-do chasidic family’s honour.

E. H. applies himself seriously to self-education. After a period spent looking into, and picking over, political parties and their ideologies, he comes upon the idea of anarcho-syndicalism.

In 1936, he meets girlfriend6 Dina Huzarski. She becomes his life companion.

With troubles in Spain starting to intensify, he writes a pamphlet: “Spain at the Crossroads”. He typesets and prints it himself, and he and Dina make for the news-stands and give out a large number of copies. The rest are confiscated by the reactionary Polish government.

In his free time, he translated into Yiddish several chapters from Maimonides’ philosophical treatise, Guide for the Perplexed. His work was published in Warsaw, by the Erlikhman Press in 1937.

1939: Warsaw is attacked by German warplanes. Eliezer and Dina leave the city. They arrive in Kovel as refugees. They move on and reach Vsielub near Novogrudek. E. H. takes up tutoring. He goes from home to home teaching little children and, for his pains, receives some provisions here, a meal to eat there. Dina works as a nurse in a hospital.

1940: Eliezer and Dina refuse to take Soviet citizenship and are deported to the Urals. Eliezer works as a ‘zabishtshik’7 in the coalmines of Yegorishina in the oblast of Sverdlovsk. His pay – half a kilo of bread a day. He is run over at work, breaks a leg and, as a convalescent, is given lighter work: he becomes a stable hand. His job is to watch over blind, starving horses from the pit.

He can’t bear to look on at their hunger pangs and feeds the horses hay he takes from his pillows.

1941: they are transferred to work felling trees in the virgin Seravski forests, where no human being has ever set foot8. Ending up completely exhausted and drained of strength, they are transferred to Uzbekistan. They work on a kholkhoz, in cotton plantations. From there, they are relocated to Kazakhstan. Eliezer works as a cleaner in a hospital. But soon he is conscripted. From Stalingrad to Warsaw, his footsteps follow the road of war. From Warsaw, where Eliezer and Dina find no trace of their families, they set off on the road and arrive at a Joint-UNRA9 [sic] camp at Hasenhecke near Kassel, in western Germany.

Eliezer throws himself into work with all his drive and enthusiasm. He organises schools for learning skills; he edits, and almost single-handedly produces, a camp newspaper. He also puts together and personally typesets a study book for the children in the camp to help them learn Hebrew. The book is called ‘Eden’.

End of 1947: Eliezer and Dina arrive in Israel10. E. H. finds work in his trade. He renovates a little home for the household of four. But he is immediately called up. After returning from the war of liberation11 he resumes work as a compositor.

He dies suddenly from a heart attack on 8th May 1954.

D.H.[Dina Hirshauge]

From Troym in farvirklekhung: zikhroynes fartseykhenungen un bamerkungen vegn der Anarkhistisher bavegung in Poyln [Realising A Dream : the anarchist movement in Poland, memories and comments” Tel-Aviv: Dina Hirshauge, 1964. Available at https://ia600401.us.archive.org/4/items/nybc213615/nybc213615.pdf. Translated from the Yiddish by Murray Glickman. Thanks to Malcolm Archibald for assistance. [Minor corrections December 2015].

1 The spelling Hirshauge follows the standard Yiddish transliteration convention. Troym in farvirklekhung gives his name as Eliesor Hirschauge. In Polish it’s given as Eliezer Hirszauge (or Herzauge).

2 The transliteration of the sequence of Yiddish characters used is G-U-R-L. The name is, however, rendered as Goral at Results for ‘au:Goral, A.’ [WorldCat.org],. This latter rendering is perhaps more consistent with ‘standard’ Yiddish. In the Polish Yiddish accent, the sound ‘o’ shifts to ‘u’, and DH may here simply be writing as she speaks. Furthermore, goral is, it appears, a Polish word meaning ‘highlander’. Could this be the source of the pseudonym? On the other hand, the character sequence also forms a Yiddish word, pronounced goyrl and meaning destiny: it is plausible too that this could be the inspiration of the pseudonym.

3 The name, as DH writes it, would be transliterated as ‘Kruputkin’. The observation on Polish Yiddish pronunciation in the preceding footnote would seem to be relevant here and, on that basis, the more conventional spelling Kropotkin has been employed.

4 DH cites the Hebrew title of pamphlet in brackets here. This translates as: His times, His Thoughts, His Writings. Cf. : Results for ‘Hirschauge kropotkin’ [WorldCat.org]

5 Fundanen ahin by Israel Rubin Rivkai. See http://www.worldcat.org/title/fundanen-ahin-retrospektsye-eseyen-un-zikhroynes/oclc/41408989

6 The word used here – khavera – is a Hebraism with no apparent currency in Yiddish. In modern Hebrew, its range of meanings extends across (female) ‘friend’, ‘associate’ (‘colleague’?) and ‘companion’ to ‘girlfriend’. In English, we are forced to make a choice between these possibilities, and the last looks the most likely, particularly because of what DH says in the very next sentence. This juxtaposition of the two sentences suggests she specifically wants to point up a contrast between a possibly temporary, initial attachment and the life-long relationship which evolved from it. It is strange that the word khavera is not preceded by the possessive adjective, zayn (his). But she clearly resorts to quasi note-form elsewhere in her introduction: it would seems she does so here too.

7 From the Russian “zaboyshchik” (забойщик), meaning (coal-) miner or face-worker.

8 Presumably a reference to the Sarovskiye forests, near the town of Sarov, 371 km ESE of Moscow. The forests were regarded as sacred in the Orthodox religion because of their association with St. Seraphim of Sarov, and were untouched until Soviet times.

9 “Joint” (in English) was the common name for one of the Jewish relief agencies: JDC (Joint Distribution Committee) active at the time. The other agency is UNRRA United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. See also http://www.dpcamps.org/hasenhecke.html

10 Israel did not yet exist at the end of 1947. In regard to this anachronistic reference, see also the comment in the immediately following note.

11 i.e., the 1948/ 49 war for control over the territory of the former British mandate in Palestine. It is interesting to reflect on the political journey from her roots in the inter-war anarchist movement the writer must have made, and the life experiences she must have gone through, that led her to choose to express herself in this way.

Translated by: Murray Glickman.