Friday, 16 February 2018


            He was born in a village not far from Zelve (Zelwa), Grodno region, in what had been Russia.  At age six he moved with his parents to Vilna, and there he attended religious elementary school and later a Russian public school; he graduated high school as an external student and went on to study in the law faculty of St. Petersburg University.  In 1901 he was active in the social democratic movement in Vilna.  In 1902 he joined the Bund, was active in Vilna, Borisov, Homel, and Kiev.  He took part in the seventh conference of the Bund (August 1906) in Lemberg, where interparty struggle took place between the “hard” (harte) and the “soft” (vaykhe) groups—over the question of whether to rejoin the general Russian Social Democratic Party (Salutsky was among the “hards,” and that was the origin of his pseudonym “Hartman” which later, in America, became “Hardman”).  He was arrested and thrown in prisons in Vilna, Lublin, and Kiev.  He was selected to serve as chairman of the first legal association of business and bank employees in Vilna (1906).  He served as a delegate from the Kiev Bund to the London Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Party (1907).  After his last arrest in Kiev (1908), he was sentenced to two years of exile, but due to the condition of his health he was deported from Russia, lived for a year in Paris, did a study of French syndicalism, and in 1909 left for the United States with recommendations from Jean Jaurès to Daniel De Leon and Eugene V. Debs.  In New York he studied political economy and constitutional law at Columbia University, while at the same time taking an active part in the Jewish socialist movement.  He contributed political articles to Di tsukunft (The future) and other periodicals.  He was one of the founders (May 1912) and later the general secretary (1912-1913) of the Jewish Socialist Federation, which in its day played a great role in the Jewish labor movement in America; the Federation organized political lectures and cultural evenings throughout the country and published pamphlets and newsletters under Salutsky’s editorship.  He edited the Yiddish socialist “yearbook” (1914-1918).  He was editor of Der yidisher sotsyalist (The Jewish socialist) (1913-1914) and of Di naye velt (The new world) (1915-1920, with Shakhne Epshteyn, A. Litvak, M. Olgin, and Maks Goldfarb as co-editors at different times).  Due to a difference of opinion with members of the executive of the Federation, he resigned in 1921 from the editorial position on the newspaper.  Following the split in the Jewish Socialist Federation (at the September 1921 meeting), Salutsky rejoined the editorial collegium of Di naye tsayt and assisted in the reunification of the Federation with the Communist Party.  In December 1921 he joined the newly-founded Workers’ Party which was supposed to be a legal party affiliated with the Communist International.  Salutsky, though, was not long for this party.  In 1923 he began to publish a journal in English, American Labor Monthly, a periodical of 96 pp., which was pre-disposed to Soviet Russia, but not as sufficiently partisan as the leaders of the Workers’ Party demanded, and they expelled him from the party—for breaking discipline.
            From the late 1920s, he actively played a role in the general American trade union movement; he worked together with the founders of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.), while at the same time he wrote for The New Republic and served as co-editor of the weekly The New Freeman.  In 1920 he became director of cultural activities for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and editor-in-chief (1925-1944) of its five-language weekly—Advance in English, Fortshrit in Yiddish (edited by E. Rabkin), as well as in Italian, German, and Polish.  He also placed work in Der fraynd (The friend), organ of Workmen’s Circle in New York, and elsewhere.  In book form he published: Yudzhin viktor debs, zayn leben, shriften un redes (Eugene Victor Debs, his life, writings, and speeches), edited by Y. Salutsky (New York: Naye velt, 1919), 308 pp.; Dos revolutsyonere rusland, ilustrirtes zamelbukh (Revolutionary Russia, illustrated anthology), edited by A. Litvak and Salutsky (New York: Central Association of the Bund and Jewish Federation in New York, 1917), 27 pp.; Oysgevehlte verk fun karl marks (Selected works of Karl Marx), five volumes, edited with an introduction by Salutsky, translations by Y. Kisin and L. Levin (New York: Karl Marx Literary Society, 1919); Der komunistisher manifest fun karl marks un fridrikh engels (The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels), translated from the German and with a foreword by Karl Kautsky, introduction by Salutsky (New York: Jewish Socialist Federation in America, 1920), 80 pp.; Sotsyalizm un kunst, oysgevehlte shriften fun a. v. lunatsharski (Socialism and art, selected writings by A. V. Lunacharsky), edited by Salutsky (New York: Naye velt, 1920), 284 pp.; Di teorye un praktik fun sotsyaler revolutsye (The theory and practice of social revolution), selected pieces from Lenin’s works, edited by Moyshe Kats and Salutsky (New York: Naye velt, 1921), 336 pp.; Sotsyale reform oder revolutsye, oysgevehlte shriften fun roza luksemburg mit byografishe skitsn fun y. mill un klara zetkin (Social reform or revolution, selected writings by Rosa Luxemburg, with biographical sketches by John Mill and Clara Zetkin), edited by Salutsky (New York: Naye velt, 1921), 287 pp.  He also published in English (via the Amalgamated) Almanakhn (Almanacs) for 1923 and 1925 and a Kalendar (Calendar).  Over the years 1945-1953, he edited the large, serious journal Labor and Nation.  He was also editor of the project “The Labor Leadership Study” at Columbia University.  In the Harvard Business Review 31.1 (January-February 1953), pp. 39-48, he published “Labor in Midpassage”; in the New York-based American Jewish Historical Quarterly 52.2 (December 1962), pp. 98-132, he published “The Jewish Labor Movement in the United States” in both English and Yiddish (“Di yidishe arbeter-bavegung in di fareynikte shtatn”); and in Yiddish he published “Di yidishe arbeter in der amerikaner arbeter-bavegung” (Jewish workers in the American labor movement) in Yivo-bleter (Pages from YIVO) in New York 36 (1952), pp. 9-24.  Other books in English include: American Labor Dynamics: In the Light of the Post-War Developments (New York, 1928), 432 pp.; and Rendezvous with Destiny: Addresses and Opinions of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (New York: Dryden Press, 1944), 367 pp.  Salutsky was president of the American Labor Press Association from 1940 to 1945.  In 1961 the Industrial Union Department, A.F.L.-C.I.O., under the leadership of Walter Reuther, decided to sponsor publication of a volume of selected writings by Salutsky, as recognition of his contribution to the American labor movement (the volume was prepared for publication).

Salutsky, standing far right

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2, with a bibliography; Der veker (New York) (June 17, 1922); Vilne (Vilna), anthology (New York, 1935), pp. 963-66; H. Rogof, in Di tsukunft (New York) (May-June 1942); Kh. Sh. Kazdan, A. litvak, geklibene shriftn (A. Litvak, selected writings) (New York, 1945), p. 90; Kazdan, Mentshn fun gayst un mut (Men of spirit and courage) (Buenos Aires, 1962), p. 94; F. Kurski, Gezamlte shriftn (Collected writings) (New York, 1952), see index; E. Novogrudski, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (November 1953); Y. Sh. Herts, Di yidishe sotsyalistishe bavegung in amerike (The Jewish socialist movement in America) (New York, 1954), see index; Sh. Vays, in Algemeyne entsiklopedye (General encyclopedia), “Yidn 5” (New York, 1957), pp. 303-5; Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1962); Jewish Encyclopedia Handbooks, vol. 4 (New York, 1955), see index.
Benyomen Elis

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