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November 29: General Yakov Grigorevich Kreizer

The highest-ranking Jew in the Soviet military after Stalin’s bloody purges of the 1930s, Yakov Grigorevich Kreizer died at 64 on this date in 1969. In July 1941, General Kreizer had been the first Red Army senior officer to outfight the German Wehrmacht and deter its assault on Moscow, including during a skillfully managed fighting […]

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November 22: The Battle of Stalingrad

During the crucial 199-day Battle of Stalingrad, Nazi General Friedrich Paulus sent Adolf Hitler a telegram on this date in 1942 informing him that the German Sixth Army was surrounded and on the verge of defeat. According to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report of October 1, 1942, “Reports in the Soviet press today laud many […]

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Jew-Hatred: Its Rise, Fall, and Resurgence

by Ralph Seliger ANTISEMITISM, the world’s oldest, ongoing hatred, morphed from its earliest days in ancient times as a theological prejudice, with the ascendency of the Christian faith to the status of state religion of the Roman Empire, to the racist doctrines of rightwing 19th- and 20th-century European nationalists. (I prefer the British spelling of […]

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October 23: Pasternak’s Nobel Prize

Russian novelist Boris Pasternak, the son of artists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on this date in 1958 “for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition,” said the Nobel Committee. Pasternak had published Dr. Zhivago, his only prose novel, the year before, […]

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September 22: Isaac Stern

Violinist Isaac Stern died at 81 on this date in 2001. Stern made his debut at age 15 with the San Francisco Symphony. He was the first American violinist to tour the USSR (in 1951), but in 1967 announced his refusal to return there until the Soviet government allowed artists to travel freely. He never […]

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July 16: Luria’s Brain

Alexander Luria, a Soviet neuropsychologist who worked closely with Lev Vygotsky to gain insight into the interaction of environmental and social factors and the brain in shaping human behavior, was born into a medical family in Kazan, Russia on this date in 1902. At age 20, he  organized the Kazan Psychoanalysis Study Group and apprised […]

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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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Genocide and the Destruction of Nation-States

Timothy Snyder’s Analysis of the Holocaust by Anna Wrobel From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, by Timothy Snyder. Tim Duggin Books, 2015, 480 pages. TIMOTHY SNYDER’S Black Earth, like his Bloodlands (2010), plumbs and synthesizes a great trove of primary and […]

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January 24: What a Country!

Comedian Yakov Smirnoff (Pokhis), who starred in a TV sitcom, What a Country! in 1986-7, was born in Odessa on this date in 1951. Smirnoff emigrated to the U.S. in 1977 and developed a comic persona as a Soviet naif appalled by communism, astounded by American consumerism, and befuddled by the English language. He became […]

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