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Stalin, Mikhoels, and the Doctors’ Plot

Solomon Mikhoels, the Soviet Union’s foremost Jewish actor and theater director, was arrested and murdered on Stalin’s orders on January 12-13 in 1948. Mikhoels was the artistic director of the Moscow State Jewish Theater and chaired the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, which had traveled widely to rally international Jewish support for the Soviet Union during World […]

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Leyb Kvitko and the Night of the Murdered Poets

Prominent Soviet Yiddish poet Leyb Kvitko, an editor of the literary magazine Heymland (Homeland) who became the head of the Yiddish Writers Section at the Soviet Writers Union, was born near Odessa on this date in 1890 (some sources say 1893). Kvitko “was welcomed by the [Jewish] urban literary community as a folk talent when he arrived in Kiev wearing […]

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Ilya Ehrenburg and the Black Book

Soviet journalist, novelist, and poet Ilya Ehrenburg (some sources spell it “Ehrenberg”), who with Vasily Grossman created The Black Book, the first book documenting the Holocaust (before the killing had ended), died on this date in 1967. Ehrenburg was a popular communist writer and war correspondent, and an active member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC), organized […]

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August 26: Lina Stern, Outliving Stalin

Lina Stern, an outstanding medical biochemist who emigrated to the USSR for ideological reasons in 1925, served as a director of the Institute of Physiology of the USSR Academy of Sciences for nearly twenty years, and won the Stalin Prize in 1943, was born in today’s Latvia on this date in 1878. Stern did pioneering work […]

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Did Stalin’s Death Save Soviet Jews?

by Ralph Seliger JOSHUA RUBENSTEIN impressively combines his career as an author with eight books to his credit (written, co-authored or edited) with thirty-seven years as an Amnesty International staffer currently overseeing branch activities in New York, New Jersey and New England. He’s published biographies of Leon Trotsky, Ilya Ehrenburg and Adolf Hitler, plus books […]

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September 14: Vasily Grossman

Novelist and journalist Vasily Grossman, author of Life and Fate and Forever Flowing and of dispatches from the war front that brought to life the story of the suffering and sacrifice of the Soviet Red Army in the anti-Nazi struggle, died at 59 on this date in 1964. Grossman endured censorship of his writing throughout […]

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July 8: The Anti-Fascist Committee at the Polo Grounds

More than 47,000 New Yorkers rallied at the Polo Grounds on this date in 1943 in support of the Soviet war effort against Nazi Germany. Soviet actor and director Solomon Mikhoels and poet Itsik Feffer — leaders of the Soviet Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) — as well as New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Yiddish novelist […]

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The Life & Fate of Vasily Grossman

Creative Witness to War & Dictatorship by Zelda Gamson From the Spring, 2015 issue of Jewish Currents VASILY GROSSMAN (1905-1964) is one of the world’s greatest, least known chroniclers of war and totalitarianism, as important as George Orwell and Hannah Arendt. We should have known his work much earlier, but it was at last delivered […]

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February 7: Victor Alter and the Jewish Bund

Victor Alter, a leader within the Jewish Labor Bund in Poland who evaded the Nazis only to be executed by Stalin’s secret police sometime between 1941 and ’43, was born in Poland on this date in 1890. It was Alter and his Bundist comrade Henryk Ehrlich who proposed the formation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, […]

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August 12: The Night of the Murdered Poets

The 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 […]

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