(1895-1976) Poet, playwright, publicist and
satirist. Born into an assimilated Jewish family, Slonimski was the
grandson of Chaim Zelig. Slonimski studied at the Academy of Fine Arts
in Warsaw. After graduating, he was a painter, graphic artist and
political cartoonist. He cooperated with the weekly Sowizdrzal during
the years 1913-1919, where he also published he first literary texts. He
debuted in 1913 with the poem "Wierszem o poecie" ("Poem about a Poet")
in Zloty Rog (Warsaw). In 1918, he published his first volume of
poetry, containing the series titled "Sonnets". In the years 1917-1918,
he collaborated with the monthly Pro Arte et Studio, and was the
initiator and co-founder of the “Pod Picadorem” literary and artistic
cabaret (1918), as well as a co-founder of the Skamander literary group.
Beginning in 1924, he was a regular contributor to Wiadomosci
Literackich (Literary News), where he headed the theater reviews
section; during the years 1927-1939, he also had a column titled
“Kronika tygodniowa” (“Weekly Chronicle”). He published in the satirical
weekly Cyrulik Warszawski (Barber of Warsaw) (1924-1934). During the
years 1920-1923, he was editor of the art and film review section of the
daily Kurier Polski (Polish Courier). Along with the other
Skamandrites, he wrote New Year's satirical skits. During the interwar
period, Slonimski published the following collections of poetry: Godzina
poezji (1923), Droga na Wschod (1924), Z dalekiej podrozy (1926), Okno
bez krat (1935). He also published the comedies Murzyn warszawski (1928)
and Lekarz bezdomny (1930), as well as the novels Torpeda czasu (1924)
and Dwa konce swiata (1937).
After the start of the Second World War,
Slonimski went to France and then to England, where he edited the monthly Nowa Polska during the years 1942-46. During that period, he
wrote his famous poem “Alarm” as well as “He is From My Fatherland”
(“Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej”) – in honor of the victims of Nazi terror.
In 1946-48, he headed the Literature Section of UNESCO, and then during
the years 1948-51 was the director of the Polish Cultural Institute in
London, which operated under the aegis of the Warsaw government. In
1951, Slonimski returned to Poland, where in 1956-1959 he was the
chairman of the Union of Polish Writers. He published in Nowa Kultura,
Tworczosc and Przeglad Kulturalny. In 1964, he was one of the
intellectuals behind the famous “Letter of 34”, which criticized the
Polish government's cultural policies. In 1968, he helped organize the
writers' protest against the ban on staging Mickiewicz's Forefathers'
Eve at the National Theater. That same year, his works were banned as a
result of the communist government's anti-Semitic propaganda campaign.
Slonimski did not emigrate, however, as did most of the remaining
Polish Jews. In the 1970's, he cooperated with the opposition.
Beginning in 1971, he had regular columns in Krakow's Tygodnik
Powszechny. He died in Warsaw as the result of injuries sustained in an
automobile accident, and is buried at the cemetery of the Institute for
the Blind in Laski. He was an important authority figure for the Polish