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August 12: The Night of the Murdered Poets

August 12, 2010

Night of the Murdered Poets collage smThe Stalin regime murdered thirteen Jewish writers and cultural leaders on this date in 1952, known as “The Night of the Murdered Poets.” All of them had served on the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, established at the close of 1941, six months after the Nazi attack on the USSR, with the aim of soliciting material and financial aid from the West. As part of his paranoid anti-Semitic campaign following the war, Stalin disbanded the Committee in 1948 and proceeded to destroy its members, including actor-director Solomon Mikhoels (killed in 1948; see Jewdayo for January 12) and writers Itsik Feffer, Peretz Markish, Dovid Hofshteyn, Leyb Kvitko and Dovid Bergelson. For an account of Paul Robeson’s final meeting with a doomed Itsik Feffer, visit our archive and look under letter “F.”

“Neyn! Ikh onerken zey nisht!” (No! I don’t recognize them!) — Dovid Hofshteyn, regarding his “signed confession.”