The Interwar Period
Books, printing presses and a publishing house in prewar Vilna
The front page of the Vilna newspaper "Tarbut", celebrating its 15th anniversary
During WWI, transportation was reduced because of army requirements, severely damaging the publications market. Romm Widow and Brothers Printing House was forced to decrease its manpower and activities, but the publishing house continued to operate and expanded its activities after the war.
With the return of Boris Klatzkin from Russia in 1919, his publishing house continued its activities. It produced high quality literature – among others, the works of Y.Y. Zinger, D. Bergelson, Peretz Hirschbein – Yiddish translations of novels, Yiddish magazines and Yiddish textbooks.
Bookseller and publisher Shloyme-Zanvl Sreberk joined the 1919 launch of Tag. He published Yiddish textbooks, including World History of the Jewish People by Simon Dubnow, grammar books by Z. Reisin, books by the historian S.L. Citron, works by An-sky, and Hebrew textbooks. In 1922, the publishing house moved to Warsaw.
Hirsh Metz, son of the printer Yehuda Leib Metz, studied medicine in Russia and returned to Vilna during WWI. After the war, Metz Publishing House brought out Hebrew and Yiddish textbooks, as well as others publications, including one by S.L. Citron entitled, Behind the Screen – On Converts and Deniers.
Tamar Publications belonging to Feivel Tropianski published The History of Jewish Literature by Dr. Yisroel Zinberg. The ten-volume Yiddish tome was completed in the decade preceding WWII. By the end of the 1930s, some 100-230 books and brochures in Hebrew and Yiddish were being published every year.
Romm Printing House
The "Romm Widow and Brothers Printing House" was a printing press and publishing house founded at the end of the 18th century in Vilna. The edition of the Babylonian Talmud printed by Romm Publishing in 1880-1886 became the basis for all versions of the Talmud printed until today.
During WWI, the publishing business was seriously affected, as was the collection of dues. The printing house reduced its activities and fired workers and clerks. With the advance of the Germans, the authorities ordered the printing house to transfer some of its equipment to the Russian interior.
During the German occupation, the few remaining workers and clerks lived in the printing house, including the elderly director Shmuel Shraga Feigenzohn (Shafan Hasofer). Despite their impoverished conditions, they continued to prepare new books for publication. Before the war was concluded, the printing house had begun its recovery. In 1922, Feigenzohn retired at the age of 90, but the printing house continued to operate and print new editions, in particular religious writings such as the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Shas.
Simon Dubnow (1860-1941), Jewish professor and historian who developed the theory of autonomous Jewish national life in the Diaspora. Dubnow founded the Jewish Peoples Party in 1906, so that Jews could represent themselves within Russian politics. Confined to the Riga Ghetto in July 1941, he was shot to death in December 1941.