Jonas Turkow

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Jonas Turkow
Born15 February 1898
Died1 December 1988 (aged 90)[1]
Occupation(s)Actor, filmmaker, writer, manager
Years active1916–1950
Jonas Turkow second from the left

Jonas Turkow (Warsaw, 15 February 1898 – Tel Aviv, 1 December 1988) was an actor, stage manager, director and writer. He received the Itzik Manger Prize for his contributions to Yiddish letters.[2]

He was the brother of the actor Zygmunt Turkow, the actor and writer Icchak Turkow, and the journalist Marek Turkow; and husband of the famous actress Diana Blumenfeld.


In Warsaw, he performed in Dos artistishe vinkele (The artistic corner), which he organized with his brother Zygmunt, in 1916; and worked for a while under the direction of David Herman at the Elysium Theater.[3] He also briefly performed in the German comedy theater of the brothers Herrnfeld, in Berlin.[4] From 1917 to 1920 he played in Esther-Rukhl Kaminska's troupe; in 1921 he organized Dos baveglekhe dramatishe teater touring Poland and Galicia. Subsequently, he toured with Di yunge bine (The young stage). In 1926 he was hired to direct the cultural Yiddish theatre in Kraków. He received the first state subsidy given in Poland to any Yiddish theater.[4] During the 1930s he was director for kleynkunst revi-teater in Kaunas.[5]

He was imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto during the years 1940 to 1943, and after the ghetto uprising survived in hiding.[3] After the war, as a member of the Central Jewish Committee of Poland, he investigated 18 cases of Jewish collaboration with German Gestapo.[6]

In 1947 he emigrated to the United States and settled in New York City.[3] There, beginning in 1958, he worked as the theater archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.[7] He moved to Israel in 1966.[3][7] He died in Tel Aviv in 1988.[7]

Film career[edit]

Jonas Turkow performed in the following movies as an actor:

He also directed the silent film In die poylishe velder (In the Polish Woods; 1929), based on the novel of the same title by Joseph Opatoshu.


In Yiddish[edit]

  • Azoy iz es geven: khurbn Varshe [This Is How It Was: Destruction of Warsaw], Buenos Aires: Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1948
  • In kamf farn Lebn [Fighting for Life], Buenos Aires: Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1949
  • Farloshene shtern [Extinguished Stars] (2 vols.), Buenos Aires: Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1953
  • Nokh der befrayung – zikhroynes [After the Liberation: Memoirs], Buenos Aires: Association of Polish Jews in Argentina, 1959
  • "Teater un konsertn in die getos un konstentratsye lagern" [Theater and concerts in the ghettos and concentration camps] (pp. 437-515), in: Itzik Manger, Jonas Turkow and Moses Perenson (eds.), Yidisher teater in Eyrope tvsishn beyde velt-milkhomes [Yiddish Theater in Europe Between the Two World Wars], New York: American Jewish Congress, 1968

In translation[edit]

  • El levantamiento del ghetto de Varsovia [The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising], translated into Spanish by Abraham Platkin, Buenos Aires: South American Executive of the World Jewish Congress, 1968
  • O levante do gueto de Varsovia [The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising], translated into Portuguese by Ayala Ehrlich, São Paulo: Federação Israelita do Estado de São Paulo, 1975
  • C'était ainsi: 1939-1943, la vie dans le ghetto de Varsovie [This Is How It Was: 1939-1943, Life in the Warsaw Ghetto], translation of Azoy iz geven into French by Maurice Pfeffer, Paris: Austral, 1995


  1. ^ "Jonas Turkow." U. S. Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014. Social Security Administration, Washington, D.C. Retrieved via, 7 May 2020. Also searchable via the National Archives, Numerical Identification Files.
  2. ^ Fuks, Khayim Leyb (1961). "Turkov, Yonas." In Samuel Niger and Jacob Shatzky (eds.), Lekiskon fun der nayer yidisher literatur [Biographical Dictionary of Modern Yiddish Literature]. New York: Congress for Jewish Culture. Vol. 4, cols. 58-60. OCLC 471025126. Translated by Joshua Fogel, at: "Yonas Turkov (Jonas Turkow)", with supplemental information from: Fuks, Khayim Leyb (1986). "Jonas Turkow". In Berl Kagan (ed.). Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers [Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers] (in Yiddish). New York: R. Ilman-Kohen. OCLC 654533179. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  3. ^ a b c d Bułat, Mirosława M. "Turkow Family." YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Turkov, Yonas" (in Yiddish), in Zylbercweig, Zalmen (ed.), Leksikon fun Yidishn teater. Vol. 2. Warsaw, 1934. Published under the auspices of the Hebrew Actors' Union of America. cols. 871-873.
  5. ^ Biography of Menasha Oppenheim (in Russian).
  6. ^ Zagłada Żydów: studia i materiały (in Polish). Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydów IFiS PAN. 2006.
  7. ^ a b c Berenbaum, Michael; Skolnik, Fred, eds. (2007). "Turkow". Encyclopaedia Judaica. Vol. 20 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-02-866097-4 – via