KHAYIM (CHAIM) ALEKSANDROV (August 20, 1869-June 24, 1909)
Pseudonym of Khayim Miller, he was born in St. Petersburg. His father was a Nikolayev soldier [who had served twenty-five years in the Tsar’s army] was a poor dealer in second-hand goods. He studied in religious schools, later in a private Russian school with help from Jewish social circles. From his early childhood years, he read voluminously and became interested in Yiddish literature, and in his subsequent school years he began writing poetry in both Russian and Yiddish. In 1885 he set out for Vilna and arrived at the teachers’ institute there. He quickly acquired a good reputation among his teachers and fellow students for his serious and diligent studying, but in 1887 the pedagogical council expelled him for his Yiddish poems which were full of protest against the harsh discipline of the institute. The incident became known to the police, and he was sent under escort to Kronshtadt (Kronstadt). There he learned a great deal and began publishing articles in Russian journals. From that time he changed his name from Miller to Aleksandrov.
In 1898 he emigrated to the United States, and there he grew close to the Socialist Workers Party, and he became a contributor to Abendblat (Evening news), Arbayter tsaytung (Workers newspaper), Arbayter (Workers), and Tsukunft (Future)—all in New York—as well as Arbeter velt (Workers’ world) in Chicago, Fraynd (Friend) and Dos lebn (Life, a monthly periodical) in St. Petersburg, and other serial publications in the United States and Europe. He wrote poetry, feature articles, translations, literature and theater criticism, and popular scientific articles. In Fraynd and Dos lebn, he published longer correspondence pieces about Jewish political and cultural life in America. He was quite a capable writer and stood at a high cultural level. His poem “Brider, mir hobn geslosn…” (Brothers, we have forged…) became very well known in the revolutionary years on the eve of 1905; it was sung as folksong. In the period January-August 1904, he published and edited in New York a monthly journal entitled Di fraye shtunde (The free hour). Among his books: Lyev Tolstoy (Lev Tolstoy) (New York, 1903), 32 pp., second printing (New York, 1916); Dertsyelungen (Stories), translations from the writings of Maxim Gorky (New York, 1903), 92 pp. He also translated Zhid (Yid) by G. A. Machtet (New York, 1904), 54 pp.; Tsum arbeter-folk (K rabochemu narodu = To the working people) by L. Tolstoy (New York, 1907), second printing (New York, 1917), 63 pp.; Intervyuen mit m. gorki (Interviews with M. Gorky) (New York, 1908), 110 pp. His drama, Di ershte libe oder dos fargiftete gevisn (The first love, or the poisoned conscience) was staged in New York in 1905. His pseudonyms include: Don Kikhot and Sore Rives
Aleksandrov was among the founders of the Jewish Literary Union (New York in 1904). In a long article for Dos lebn (St. Petersburg, no. 5, 1905), he wrote, inter alia, “The Jewish Literary Union sees the Jewish folk language not as a jargon, not as a provisional medium to convey education among Jews, but as an independent national language which will become the literary language of the entire Jewish people.” In 1905 he became secretary of the Yiddish publisher, “Di internatsyonale biblyotek” (The international library). He visited Europe and attempted to establish ties with Jewish writers concerning publishing their works in the United States. He suffered hardship his entire life. First and foremost, in his very last years he reached a certain material security, but he was then stricken with a severe illness which brought an end to his life in the prime of his creativity. “He brought to the United States the best traditions of Russian literature and in all of his writing and publicist activities he sought to transplant them on the fresh, though desolate, terrain of Jewish America. He was one of the first to have the courage and with full consciousness to fight against the wantonness of the press.” (Zalmen Reyzen)
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 1; Z. Zilbertsvayg, Teater leksikon, vol. 1; Algemayne entsiklopedye, vol. 3; Der arbayter (New York) (July 3, 1909); articles by Dr. Frenk Rozenblat, Yoyl Entik, Dr. Kh. Zhitlovski, Yoysef Shlosberg, and Moris Vintshevski, in Der arbayter (July 12, 1909); M. Shtarkman, in Yivo-bleter 4 (1932), pp. 354-87; Zalmen Reyzen, in Yivo-bleter 5 (1932), pp. 137-54; Shmuel Niger, in Tsukunft (September 1940) and (May 1942); N. B. Minkov, in Yivo-bleter 35.2 (1945), pp. 235-60, and 35.3 (1945), pp. 441-65; D. B. Tirkel, in Pinkes (New York) (1927), p. 261; A. Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943), p. 87; In dinst fun folk, almanakh fun yidishn ordn (In service to the people, almanac of the Jewish order) (New York, 1947), p. 294; materials in the archives of YIVO (New York).