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Escaping from the Vilna Ghetto: An Authentic Memoir

by Shmerke Kaczerginski translated from the Yiddish, with notes, by Rachel Field   SHMERKE KACZERGINSKI  was a Yiddish poet, ethnomusicologist, activist, and cultural leader, who survived the Holocaust in a partisan unit. Born in Vilna in 1908, Kaczerginski was educated in the city’s Talmud Torah, a community-sponsored school for orphans, and became active in the banned […]

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The Bund at 120

A CONFERENCE REPORT by Bennett Muraskin Illustration by Aharon Varady TWENTY YEARS AGO, in honor of the centennial of the Jewish Labor Bund, a day-long conference took place in New York City. Among the speakers were a surviving Bundist leader, Motl Zelmanowicz, and a prominent historian of European Jewry and the left, Abraham Brumberg. Other speakers […]

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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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The Uncivil Servant: Ten Million Books

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Book Thieves by Anders Rydell. Viking, 2017, 352 pages. THE NAZI WAR on knowledge and ideas is well-known and documented, and its image has been eternally fixed: the burning of books on May 10, 1933, a scene that opens Anders Rydell’s informative and well-written The Book Thieves. Less […]

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Jews in the Crimean War

The three-year Crimean War, pitting the Russian Empire against  France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia, ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on this date in 1856. For the Jews of Russia, the world’s largest Jewish population, the war had brought about the quadrupling of the quota for Jewish recruits required by […]

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February 10: Soviet Deportations Begin in Poland

The Soviet Union began deporting Polish citizens to Siberia on this date in 1940 following the Soviet takeover of eastern Poland. The Nazis had already moved on western Poland; six out of ten of Poland’s 3.3 million Jews were now living and dying under the German occupation, while four out of ten were in the […]

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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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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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April 3: The Pogrom Wave, 1881-2

Five revolutionaries who had assassinated Tsar Alexander II, a relatively liberal Russian king, were hanged in Russia on this date in 1881. A sixth, the only Jew, Hessia Helfman (Gesya Gelfman in some sources), had her execution delayed under law because she was pregnant, but she died in prison shortly after giving birth and surrendering […]

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