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Papers of Michal Weichert

 Collection
Identifier: RG 532

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains clippings and manuscripts of Michal Weichert's articles, parts of the manuscript of his memiors, and materials relating to his trials. The articles in Series I are bound into volumes, and arranged chronologically. They consist of both clippings from published articles and original manuscripts, typed and handwritten. The memoirs in Series II include the second half of the manuscript of the first volume, and the full manuscript of the second volume. The materials relating to Weichert’s trials in Series III include testimonies, copies of the judgments arrived at, and articles submitted as evidence.

Dates

  • 1940-1967

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in Yiddish and Polish, with a few items in German.

Access Restrictions

Permission to use the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archivist.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained from the YIVO Archives. For more information, contact:

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

email: archives@yivo.cjh.org

Biographical Note

Born in 1890 in Podhajce in eastern Galicia, Michal Weichert attended heder and also received a secular education. In 1916, after studying law at the University of Lvov (Lemberg), he earned a law degree. At the same time Weichert pursued his interest in the theater. In 1918, he moved to Warsaw and became a journalist and theater director. He founded the Yiddish Theater Studio in 1929, which became the Yiddish Experimental Young Theater (Yung Teater) four years later. He remained the director of the Yung Teater through 1939. Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s he directed a series of plays for the renowned Vilner Trupe, including Sholem Asch’s Kidush ha-Shem Aaron Zeitlin’s Yidn-shtot and Moyshe Lifshits’s Tale of Hershele Ostropolyer. Weichert’s productions were informed by his extensive education and experience in European theater, and brought a refined, avant-garde sensibility to Yiddish theater in Poland. He also published extensively in the Yiddish press on theatrical topics, particularly in Literarishe Bleter, and was an active member of the Yiddish Actors’ Union (YAF), serving as its director from 1925-1927.

Weichert began supplementing his income by providing legal advice to Jewish cultural organizations in the early 1930s. Through this work, he made connections in Polish Jewish social services organizations. From 1940 to 1942, he led the Judische Soziale Selbsthilfe, or JSS. This organization distributed food aid and advocated for the Jewish community in Warsaw. In July 1944 the organization was closed down. After the war Weichert was accused of collaboration with the Nazis and was tried in a Polish court of law.. (Akt oskarzenia przeciwko drowi Michalowi Weichertowi October 6, 1945 (Kspec-291-45, Nr. II DsSpec. 58/45) He was acquitted in 1946, when that court found no evidence that Weichert intended to collaborate with the occupier. (Wyrok [Specjalnego Sadu Karnego w Krakowie] Jan 7, 1946 (K spec 291-45, Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Ms. Var. 371/45, p. 165b (18).

In 1958 Weichert moved to Tel Aviv, Israel where he wrote his memoirs, published in 4 volumes between 1961 and 1970, about his experiences before, during and after the Holocaust. He died in Israel in 1967.

References

Bułat, Mirosława M. "Weichert, Michał." YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe 4 November 2010. 10 April 2013 http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Weichert_Michał

Engel, David. “Who Is a Collaborator?: The Trials of Michał Weichert,” in The Jews in Poland, vol. 2, ed. Sławomir Kapralski, pp. 339–370 (Kraków 1999)

Weichert, Michael. Zikhroynes, 4 vols. Tel Aviv: Menorah, 1961-1970.

Zylbercweig, Zalmen. “Vaykhert, Mikhal, Dr.,” Leksikon fun yidishn teater, vol. 1, cols. 676–678 (New York, 1931).

Extent

0.83 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Abstract

This collection contains articles by Michal Weichert, parts of his memoir, and testimonies submitted on his behalf during his trials following WWII. The articles and manuscripts of his memoir illustrate aspects of his life before WWII, where he was an active and important director in the Yiddish theater in Poland. The testimonies and court materials shed light on his struggles to clear himself from charges that he collaborated with the Nazi authorities during the Holocaust in the course of his work distributing aid to Jewish refugees.

Arrangement

The series are arranged by type of material, namely articles or biographical materials.
  1. Series I: Articles, 1958-1967
  2. Series II: Memoirs, undated
  3. Series III: Trial Materials, 1940-1966

Acquisition Information

These records were received from Michal Weichert in January 1967 and Joseph Weichert in November 1974.

Related Material

The originals of some of the testimonies relating to Weichert's trials in this collection, as well as additional materials on those trials, can be found at the National Library of Israel. Records of Weichert's tenure as director of the YAF can be found in RG 26, the Yidisher Artistn Farayn.
Title
Guide to the Papers of Michal Weichert (1890-1967) 1940-1967 RG 532
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Sarah Ponichtera in 2013 as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.
Date
©2013
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States