Executed Culture

Today is a very sad date. On August 12, 1952, prominent figures of Jewish culture, who were on the anti-fascist committee during the war, were executed. Among them were the most significant poets who wrote in Yiddish – Peretz Markish, Itzik Feffer (over whom cooperation with the NKVD casts a shadow) Leib Kvitko, David Hofstein… During the war, all these people were used by Stalin to liaise with the Allies to increase material support for the USSR… Seven years after the war ended, the executioner brutally retaliated against those who supported him in difficult times.

It was the final shooting chord of Stalin’s terror. The dictator had less than a year of life… During this time, he managed to initiate the infamous Doctors’ Plot case.

Propaganda managed to instill such fear of the “poisoner-doctors” in the population that for months clinics were literally empty.

It was planned to hang doctors publicly on Red Square, after which, “to protect Jews from the wrath of the people,” the Jewish population was supposed to be deported to the so-called Jewish Autonomous Region. There were already barracks ready to accommodate the deportees. History took another turn. Doctors were the first to be released after Stalin’s death. But it was impossible to resurrect the artists.

I was always astonished by the similarities of the Jewish and Ukrainian peoples’ fate during Stalin’s times… The executed renaissanse of Ukrainian culture. The executed Yiddish culture. Silencing of the Holodomor and the Holocaust victims. And even caricatures of those times depicted a Zionist embraced with a Banderite. By the way, it was the time when rapprochement between the Ukrainian and Jewish underground had begun. And it was me who witnessed and participated in this rapprochement in the late sixties – early seventies.

Borys Khersonsky

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