Fonds Joseph Gottfarstein (MDXL)

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2017.22.1
  • RG-43.162
1 Jan 1930 - 31 Dec 1970
Level of Description
  • Yiddish
  • French
  • Hebrew
  • Russian
  • Polish
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

11,163 digital images, JPEG


Biographical History

Yoysef Gottfarsteyn (Joseph Gottfarstein) (1903-1980), historian, philologist and author, was born in Pren (Prienai), Suwalk region, Lithuania. He studied in religious primary school, the Slobodka yeshiva, and in a Hebrew high school. He graduated from the Jewish teachers’ seminary in Kaunas and studied music in the local conservatory. At the end of 1923, he moved to Berlin where he studied at the university there. From 1926 he lived in Paris, where he was active in Jewish communal and cultural life. He was the director of a Jewish theatrical studio as well as an active leader of the federation of Jewish communities in Paris; he was also a lecturer in the people’s university. During the German occupation of France, he escaped to Switzerland. He began writing poems in Vispe (Islet) in Kaunas (1922-1925). He also published here fragments of a dramatic poem entitled “Farzeenish” (Monster) in which he expressed motifs of the human conflict between good and evil. He was a contributor to Yidishe teatraler tsaytshrift (Yiddish theater periodical) in Kaunas, and to the Yiddish daily press in Lithuania. He served as the Parisian correspondent for Di prese (The press) in Buenos Aires, and for Folksblat (People’s newspaper) in Kaunas. Aside from correspondence pieces, he also published articles about theater and art. He contributed to Unzer vort (Our word) and Kiem (Survival) in Paris, and after the death of Yisroel Efroykin, he became editor of the latter. There he published a number of chapters of his work “Legitimatsye fun yidishkeyt” (Legitimating Jewishness). In Shevivim (Sparks) 4 (Paris, 1955), he published portions of his Hebrew translation of his French volume on the essence of Jewish civilization. He was a contributor to and served on the editorial board (with Theodor Plievier) of a German-language journal (Berlin, 1924). He wrote stories, feature pieces, articles, and essays for German and French periodicals. He was the author of a German volume (Geneva, 1944) that he later translated into French as L’école du meurtre (School of death) (1946). This work was a kind of history of the German school up to the Hitler era. He translated into French a number of stories by Y. L. Peretz and chapters from Sefer hayetsira (The book of formation). His work on “Jewish folklore in Lithuania” appeared in the Jewish encyclopedia of Lithuania (published in Tel Aviv). He also wrote under the pen names: Y. G-n, Y. Kador, Y. Anshl, and Y. Malbin, among others. Sources: Y. Mark, in Zamlbukh, lekoved dem tsvey hundert un fuftsikstn yoyvl fun der yidisher prese 1686-1936 (Anthology in honor of the 250th jubilee of the Yiddish press, 1686-1936) (New York, 1937); Y. Trunk, in Tsukunft (New York) (April 1955); “Der lebediker,” in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (May 8, 1955). Posted by Joshua Fogel in the online yleksikon.blogspot

Archival History

Mémorial de la Shoah, Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine


Source of acquisition is the Memorial to the Shoah, Jewish Contemporary Documentation Center (Mémorial de la Shoah, Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine), France. The collection Joseph Gottfarstein was donated to the Shoah Memorial in Paris in 2006 by his son Samuel Haim Gottfarstein. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received the filmed collection via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum International Archival Programs Division in February 2017.

Scope and Content

Documents pertaining to the history of Joseph Gottfarstein family, include letters, writings, translations, correspondence, cards, workbooks, literary and scientific texts, and photographs.

System of Arrangement

Arranged in eight series: 1. Personal history; 2. Correspondence; 3. Jewish organizations; 4. Writings; 5. Translations; 6. Archives (archival sources collected by Joseph Gottfarstein); 7. Authors (a collection of literary and scientific texts by authors who have been in contact with Gottfarstein); 8. Research materials. Series are arranged in chronological order. The correspondence is organized in alphabetical order.

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Copyright Holder: Mémorial de la Shoah, Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine


Corporate Bodies



This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.