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[Pages 114-115]

The Wagner Family

Translated by Daniel Hanoch Wagner

Edited by Renata Singer

The brothers Wagner are mentioned in a series of works, especially Ben-Zion Wagner who played a really important role in Zyrardow at the beginning of this century. We reprint below the entry about Ben-Zion Wagner from Zalman Zylberzweig's Lexicon of the Yiddish Theater.

Wagner, Ben-Zion

Born 1889 in Zyrardow, Warsaw region, Poland. Father - a sewing machine mechanic. Studied in a heder; plus secular subjects with a local “private teacher”. At 13 went to Reb Yankele (who later became the Rabbi in Zgersch) with whom he studied Gemara and a little Kabala.

1907- joined the Zionist-Socialist Party and traveled around the province as an organizer[1]. 1908 - saw a Yiddish theater play and there and then developed a strong passion for it. 1909 - became a member of the theatrical group of Nazshik and Latovitsh. 1911 – organised a Yiddish show with the “Libhobers” theater group in the Far East (Vladivostok)[2]. 1915 – performed Yiddish theater in Siberia, the Urals and elsewhere. 1917 – was appointed through the Kiev Artists Convention to the “First Drama Cooperative” in Yekaterinoslav (Zaslavsky, Libert, Zhelazo). 1919 – played in Odessa with Segalesko and afterwards in the first Yiddish State Theater (director: Bertonov). 1922 – went to Poland and joined the Yiddish Artists Association and put on plays in Paris. 1924 – performed with Klara Jong in Belgium where he acted until 1930.

He made his debut as a writer in 1909 with a poem published in the Warsaw “Theater World.” In 1919 he wrote “Toglider”, Day Songs/Poems, in “Di Shtime”The Voice[3], (edited by Shachne Epstein). 1922 – worked on the Parisian periodicals “Dos Yidishe Lebn”, The Jewish Life and “Parizer Bleter”, Paris Pages. 1925 - edited the weekly “Dos Yidishe Vort”, The Yiddish Word in Belgium (only 6 issues appeared) and later was a permanent staff member of the Antwerp “Yidisher Tzeitung”, Yiddish Newspaper, where he wrote essays and theater criticism under the pen name “Benye Plapler”, Benye the Chatterbox.

Wagner also wrote the following plays: “Di Froy in Keytn”, The Woman in Chains, (performed in Odessa in 1919 in Yeveryski Theater); “Shloyme Hamelekh der Tsveyter”, King Solomon the Second, (produced in 1915 by Yakov Zilbert in Brussels and Antwerp); “Der Vilner Gaon”, The Gaon of Vilna, (produced by Wolf Zilberberg in 1927 in the London Pavilion Theatre), and the not yet performed Erotomania.

He translated the following plays: “Ven der Tayvl Lakht”, When the Devil Laughs, by Sofia Biela (produced by Zigmund Turkov in 1922 in Warsaw); “Der Galekh Rasputin”, Rasputin the Monk, (produced in Paris by Blumenthal), and “Vera Irvantsov” (produced in 1923 in Paris by Blumenthal), and the unperformed “Korbones fun Zind”, Victims of Sin, and “Dos Favoritn-Maydl”, The Favorite Girl, both from Flemish.

Wagner dramatized Andreyev's “Di Ziben Gehangene”, The Seven Who Were Hanged, (produced in Paris in 1923 by Axelrod) and Sholem Asch's “Kiddush Hashem”[4], (produced in 1929 in Antwerp by Blumental).

He died in Brussels on 23 February 1930[5].


  1. Lit: agitator return

  2. The previous sentence appears in the entry in the Lexicon of Yiddish Theater but is left out in the Yizkor Book, probably in error. return

  3. a Communist daily published in Odessa return

  4. The Sanctification of the (Holy) Name return

  5. The entry in the Lexicon of Yiddish Theater is signed with initials Sh. E. and cites as a source an article entitled “The late Ben-Zion Wagner” in the “Yiddishe Tzeitung”, Antwerp, 28 February, 1930. return

Mates Wagner and his wife Rajzel

He was known as a good violinist. For a long
time he played as a violinist in the Krastin'a cinema.
He gave concerts at Jewish organizations.
He died at the Warsaw ghetto.


Hinda Leah Wagner

The wife of Chaim Wagner, who was well known
in the town especially because of her three clever
children: Ben-Zion, Moyshe and Mates.


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