Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the

Royte Velt, Di

Yiddish journal published in Kharkov between 1924 and 1933. Di royte velt (The Red World) was established at the initiative of Moisei Ravich-Cherkasskii, head of the press department of the Ukrainian Communist Party’s Central Committee, and Motl Kiper, head of the party’s Jewish section. Ravich-Cherkasskii and the experienced Yiddish journalist Henekh Kazakevich edited the periodical.

The first issue of the “political-social, literary-scientific biweekly journal” appeared in September 1924 with a print run of 2,000 copies. It contained only two literary works: a poem by Itsik Fefer and a story by Shmuel Persov. All five issues published in 1924 had a polymath character, with articles devoted to theater, politics, cosmology, and literary criticism. The journal emphasized international outreach, listing among its potential contributors the names of the editors and writers of the New York Communist Yiddish daily Frayhayt (Freedom), such as Moyshe Olgin, Morris Winchevsky, and Shakhne Epstein.

Di royte velt published 15 issues in 1925, though the label “biweekly” disappeared only in July. The journal became a monthly in 1926. Its new editorial board included Dovid Feldman (editor in chief), Kazakevich, Mikhl Levitan, Ezra Fininberg, Fayvl Shrakh, and Leyb Kvitko—a recent returnee from Germany. By the end of 1926, Levitan had replaced Feldman as editor in chief. A statistical analysis published the following year shows the journal’s subsequent increase in literary material: 36 percent in 1924; 39 in 1925; 45 in 1926; and 51 in 1927. In January 1928, Di royte velt was redefined as a “journal for literature, politics, and art.”

Levitan, Kazakevich, Kvitko, Kiper, and Fefer edited the journal from 1929; Epshtein, who had returned to Kharkov from the United States, served as editor in chief until 1931. The ninth issue featured photographs of all of the editors. The pioneer proletarian poet Khayim Gildin edited Di royte velt from December 1931 until its phasing down after two final issues in 1932 and 1933. In January 1933, Yiddish writers in Ukraine were granted a new periodical, Farmest (Challenge), which incorporated both Di royte velt and Prolit (Proletarian Literature), the forum for proletarian writers.

Di royte velt was the most significant Soviet Yiddish literary periodical published in the relatively pluralist period of the late 1920s, providing a state-sponsored forum for the Kiev literary circle. It published such works as Kvitko’s poetic caricatures, most notably of Moyshe Litvakov (1929); Perets Markish’s story “Khaveyrim kustarn” (Artisan Comrades; 1928); and Der Nister’s story “Unter a ployt” (Under a Fence; 1929).

In terms of marketing, Di royte velt was a failure—only once did its print run reach 3,500 copies. While in Prolit and the Minsk-based Shtern (Star) proletarian writers (who often scorned the elitism of Di royte velt), could mature into socialist realists, Di royte velt facilitated Soviet transmogrification of such Communist sympathizers as Kvitko, Markish, and Der Nister. A unique role was played by Fefer, who placed himself above the divide between Di royte velt and Prolit, serving on the editorial boards of both journals, and heading the amalgamated Farmest.

Suggested Reading

Gennady Estraikh, “The Kharkiv Yiddish Literary World, 1920s–Mid-1930s,” East European Jewish Affairs 32.2 (2002): 70–88; Chone Shmeruk, “Yiddish Literature in the U.S.S.R.,” in The Jews in Soviet Russia since 1917, ed. Lionel Kochan, pp. 242–280 (London and New York, 1970).