In the beginning of the 20th century various nations living in Vilnius began to freely express their artistic, political and philosophical ideas. At that time the Karaims periodical press appeared, too, and continued up to the Soviet times being an extremely important witness of the nation`s vitality. The authors of the articles discussed their community situation, history, cultural heritage; they published the Karaim poetry, prose, scientific articles, and writings on everyday life. In periodicals also there used to be reported about the main cultural activities of the Karaims – society work, art amateur groups, libraries, clubs, etc. were discussed.

Title-page of “Koltchalar” (1935),
a book of short Karaim prayers

In 1913-1914 in Vilnius the magazine “Karaimskoje slovo” (“Karaim word”, in Russian), has been published. In the first issue already its editors announced that they publish the magazine “because of the development and upbringing of the national identity”. The chief editor was Ovadij Pilecki, but the publishing editor – A.Špakovski, also signed each issue. In all 12 issues had appeared. Despite the “Karaimskoje slovo” was published in Vilnius, all the Karaims living in Russian territory at that time were reading it. Unfortunately, “Karaimskoje slovo” being a prolongation of the tradition of “Karaimskaya žiznj” (“Karaimic life”, in Russian), a magazine published in 1911-1912 in Moscow, was forced to end its existence in 1914 because of the First World War.

Title-page of
Karaim – Russian – Polish
dictionary (1974)

After the war together with Lithuanian organizations in Lithuania and Polish in Poland (in respect of the new borders), there appeared also some new Karaim bodies in different places. In Panevėžys a Lithuanian Karaim society “Onarmach” (“Progress”) was established, which began publishing a magazine called “Onarmach” in the Karaim language. Three issues were published in 1934, 1938, and 1939. Michail Tinfovič (1912-1974) edited the magazine. The main reason for publishing it was a conscious seeks to preserve the native language of forefathers. In “Onarmach” there Karaim texts were printed in Lithuanian characters.

At the same time another Karaim patriot Alexander Mardkovič (1875-1944) was doing much work in Lutsk (at that time Poland). In 1931 he began publishing the magazine in Karaim language “Karaj avazy” (“Karaim voice”). Till 1938, 12 issues were published.

The very fruitful efforts to all kinds of Karaim intellectual and scientific activities in the 20th century were committed by Professor Ananjasz Zajączkowski (1903-1971), a Karaim born in Trakai and well known as turcologist and orientalist. When still studying turcology at Krakow University, Zajączkowski has initiated publishing the magazine “Mysl Karaimska” (“Karaim thought”, in Polish). His idea was to have a proper periodical to present studies on Karaim language and the history. Many famous turcologists (S.Shapshal, T.Kowalski, A.Zajączkowski and others), historians (J.Wierzynski, M.Morelowski, T.Levi-Babovič and others) have been contributing to the magazine. So its scientific and professional level was really incomparably higher than that of other periodicals.

Title-page of the magazine
“Mysl karaimska”

“Mysl Karaimska” appeared in Vilnius from 1924 to 1939. 10 issues were publicized. After the war break, in 1946 – 1947 some new issues in Poland had appeared, and in 1948 “Mysl Karaimska” was transformed into a magazine of more general orientalistic nature “Przegląd orientalistyczny”, being printed in Poland.

In Trakai there also were some efforts made to publish periodicals, especially youth oriented. Three issues were successfully published in hectograph – “Przyjaciel Karaimow” (“Friend of Karaims”, in Polish, as first issue, in 1930), “Dostu Karajnyn”(“Friend of Karaims”, in Karaim, as second issue, in 1932), and third – in 1934. In printing this magazine a Karaim youth group “Bir – bav” (“Our society”) was mostly involved.

Today we estimate the activities of that period as particularly valuable due to their unique results. That period fixed on paper and in the people`s consciousness all the complex of things, which serve as a basis for the public activities of the present day Karaim community and which, on the whole, revived its spirit and opened a much deeper and better grounded context of perceiving the Karaim nation and its culture.