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October 11: Einstein’s Letter to FDR

On this date in 1939, Alexander Sachs, an economic adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt, delivered and summarized a letter written to the president on August 2nd by Albert Einstein, in consultation with Leó Szilárd, describing the possibility of building an atomic bomb and noting that “Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the […]

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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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August 4: Hitler’s Medal

Corporal Adolf Hitler received an Iron Cross First Class on this date in 1918 upon the recommendation of Hugo Gutmann, a decorated Jewish lieutenant who was Hitler’s superior officer in the German army for seven months that year. Hitler wore the medal throughout the remainder of his life. Gutmann, demobilized the following year, owned an […]

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August 3: Leon Uris

Leon Uris, the bestselling author of Exodus (1958, about the founding of Israel) and Mila 18 (1961, about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising), was born in Baltimore on this date in 1924. A high-school dropout who failed English three times, Uris enlisted in the Marine Corps after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; his first novel, […]

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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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July 6: The German Judge Who Challenged Hitler

German jurist Lothar Kreyssig, the only German judge (not Jewish) who challenged the Nazis’ “euthanasia” program of killing people who were developmentally disabled, died at 87 on this date in 1986. Kreyssig was working as a guardianship judge in a Brandenburg court when he protested the semi-secret euthanasia program to Nazi Minister of Justice Franz […]

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From Yiddishland to America

The Creation & Preservation of YIVO by Bennett Muraskin From the Spring, 2015 issue of Jewish Currents Reviewed in this Essay: YIVO and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture: Scholarship for the Yiddish Nation, by Cecile Esther Kuznitz, Cambridge University Press, 2014, 307 pages, indexed.   IN 1940, TO ESCAPE THE RAVAGES of World War […]

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May 1: Joseph Heller

Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, was born to poor immigrant parents in Coney Island on this date in 1923. He fought in World War II as a B-25 bombardier on more than sixty combat missions. Studying English at the University of Southern California and NYU on the G.I. Bill, he earned an M.A. from Columbia […]

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Is Austria’s Past Still Present?

by Lisa Mullenneaux THE GERMAN JEWISH POET Nelly Sachs was so afraid the world would forget the horrors of the Shoah that each of her poems is a plea for remembrance. So completely did she identify with the mass extermination that killed her lover and very nearly killed her — as well as 11 million […]

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March 13: Joe Schwartz, Folk Photographer

Joe Schwartz, a largely undiscovered “folk” photographer and lithographer who captured moments in the lives of poor and working people, and especially moments of interracial neighborliness (at left, kids watching a marionette show in Brooklyn), died at 99 in Atascadero, California on this date in 2013. Schwartz was active in New York’s radical Photo League […]

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