INTERESTING PEOPLE I HAVE MET: Lidia Zamenhof

The year was 1938. I was on alert for interesting visitors to Boston so I could interview them for my paper, The Jewish Advocate. When I learned that Lidia Zamenhof, of Poland, was in town, I am once arranged to meet with her. Her father, Ludwig L. Zamenhof, of Bialiystok, was the inventor of the international language, Esperanto.

She was only too eager to talk about Esperanto and to popularize it. It was not too popular among diplomats and politicians, she told me. “In Esperanto each word has a definite and exact and precise meaning. That makes it difficult to draw up treaties which could have double meanings.”

She reviewed for me how the idea originated. Her father had intended it for the Jews who were locked in a Yiddish language ghetto. A simple, logically constructed language, easy to learn, might open up the world to them. In 1887 her father published a little book entitled “International Language”, and signed it Dr. Esperanto, meaning “hopeful” in the new tongue. It attracted immediate attention.

Esperanto had only 16 rules of grammar, she told me, and there were no exceptions to any rule. The vocabulary was drawn from the roots of all the principal European tongues, together with an ingenious combination of prefixes and suffixes which enabled the Esperantist to coin new words. The League of Nations had given it official recognition. Some international banks were already using it in their relations with foreign countries. In Germany it was banned, because its originator was a Jew.

“Are there Esperanto groups in Palestine?” I asked. “Many” she answered. “Esperanto can help solve the Arab-Jewish problem in the Holy Land. The Jews don’t want to learn Arabic, and the Arabs won’t learn Hebrew. This simple language can easily be mastered, and used as an auxiliary language to carry on their social and economic intercourse.”

She was touring the US seeking to promote use of the tongue as a medium for promoting world peace and international understanding. A number of high schools added it to their elective curricula. The Massachusetts State Department of Education offered University extension courses in Esperanto, and I became so convinced that I enrolled, and eventually qualified for a teacher’s certificate.

Miss Zamenhof was a quiet, soft-spoken person, petite, blond, plain-looking, but she glowed as she warmed up to her subject. She must have been about 34 years old. Since her father had died in 1917, she had become the leading propagandist for the tongue. Perhaps the war broke his heart, for he had hoped to make Esperanto a leading vehicle for the promotion of world peace.

I published a full length feature story about her in The Jewish Advocate, with her picture. The year was 1938. The US Immigration Department refused to extend her visitor’s visa. She went back to Poland, and the records show that she was among those deported from the Warsaw Ghetto to the extermination camp at Treblinka.

Carl Alpert,
Haifa           


SOURCE: Alpert, Carl. “Interesting People I Have Met: Lidia Zamenhof,” AACI Seniors Spectator [Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel], Sept.-Oct. 1999 / Tishrei/Heshvan 5760, p. 10.


Zamenhof & Zamenhofologio: Retgvidilo / Web Guide

L. L. Zamenhof & the Cultural, Religious, Professional & Political Context of 19th-20th Century Eastern European Jewish Intellectuals:
Selected Bibliography

Esperanto & Interlinguistic Study Guide / Retgvidilo al Esperanto & Interlingvistiko

Offsite:

Carl Alpert - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Jewish Advocate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lidia Zamenhof - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Warsaw Ghetto & Uprising: story, pictures and information

Notes on the life of Lidia Zamenhof

One Who Hopes” (part 1 of 3)
dramatization @ YouTube

Curtain call for “One Who Hopes”— Haifa performance

Lidia Zamenhof (МИР ЭСПЕРАНТО)

Por ke la tagoj de la homaro estu pli lumaj: la originala verkaro de Lidia Zamenhof
de B. Westerhoff, Lidia Zamenhof

Noveloj de H. Sienkiewicz, tradukis Lidia Zamenhof

Quo Vadis de Henryk SIENKIEWICZ, tradukis Lidia ZAMENHOF

Quo Vadis de Henryk SIENKIEWICZ,
tradukis Lidia ZAMENHOF
(HTML-paĝoj)

Ni Vivos! de Julian Modest
(Dokumenta dramo pri la lastaj jaroj el la vivo de Lidia Zamenhof)


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