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July 07, 1961 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1961-07-07

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Friday, July 7, 1961

Purely Commentary

The Mounting Tragedies of Russian Jewry

A Jewish correspondent from London last month addressed
a query to Radio Moscow's English Service regarding the status
of the Jews in the Soviet Union, and the reply, given by Doris
Maxima and Torn Williams, two announcers for Moscow Radio,
was, in part:
"There is no need to be concerned. Jews living in the
Soviet Union have the same rights as other nationalities . . .
Jewish people live among us and if you will follow life here
sufficiently well, just by listening to Radio Moscow, you will get
a fair idea of the place of honor that many people of your
nationality have as distinguished members of parliament, writers,
musicians, scientists, medical men, dancers, actors, engineers or
whatever you like."
Both Russian radio announcers went on to describe how
Russia has published the collected works of Sholem Aleichem,
the sponsorship of a Jewish choir in Riga, the functioning of
150 synagogues in the USSR, etc.
The Russian apologists know how to glorify their internal
picture. Would that their story were true. But every denial
of guilt in charges of anti-Semitism promptly seems to be con-
tradicted by reports of renewed anti-Jewish acts behind the Iron
What are the facts with regard to - the Jewish position in
Russia? Two new books specifically deal with the problem. The
distinguished Zionist Revisionist leader, Dr. Joseph B. Schecht-
man, biographer of Vladimir Jabotinsky, is the author of "Star
in Eclipse: Russian Jewry Revisited," published by Thomas
YoSeloff (11 E. 36th, N.Y. 16)._The distinguished Yiddish col-
lumnist of the Day-Morning Journal, Ben-Zion- Goldberg, son-
in-law of Sholem Aleichem, has written an analysis and a solu-
tion of "The Jewish Problem in the Soviet Union," published by
Crown (419 Park Ave. S., N.Y. 16).
The facts revealed in the two books cause consternation.
If there- existed a ray of hope for the future of USSR Jewry,
it vanishes upon reading these two accounts of a tragic state
of affairs in a land to which millions originally. looked for hope
and comfort.
Schechtman, who charges that the figure of, three million
Jews in Russia is inaccurate, that many more are hiding their
identity, states that the Jews "seem to be the only Russian
citizens still haunted by fear and terror."
In both Schechtman's and Goldberg's books, the conten-
tions of Russian officials that anti-Semitism is outlawed in
their country and that Jews enjoy equality there are refuted
by references to actual experiences of Russian Jews. Names, of
course, are not given, but the many incidents described reveal
an appalling spread of hatred against Jews.
In .his description of "the long shadow of Stalin" and his
anti-Semitic campaign, Schechtman refers, in. one of the in-
stances of spreading bigotry, to the experiences of a Jewish
houseWife, who told. him: "We were for years sharing with non-
Jewish_ neighbors a kitchen in a communal flat. One day my
former friend said, 'I - don't want a Jewess in my kitchen.' Old
Russian friends and acquaintances avoided us."
ACcording to Schechtman, the main threat to Soviet Jewry -;
is the : anti-Jewish course steered by the Soviet governnient.
While, he says, there is no open and *avowed discrimination,
"it is 'common knowledge that Jews are unwanted in many
government jobs, and every j-ob in the Soviet Union is a govern-
ment job. During the years 1948-1953 thousands of Jewish em-
ployees were ousted from their jobs." While there-was a change
in this systematic policy after -Stalin's death, Schechtman avers
that there was no return to the status quo ante, that even under
Khrushchev's "New Deal" it is exceedingly. difficult for a Jew
"to obtain employment corresponding to his qualifications."
If one states upon applying for a job that he is a "Yevrei"
(Jew), "the chances of obtaining employment are very poor."
Some Russian Jews tried to defend the USSR system, but
their colleagues dampened their enthusiasm in their conversa-
tions with Schechtman. Invariably, facts and figures pointed to
a spread rather than a decline of anti-Seinitism in Russia.
What about Khrushchev himself? The report is not to his
credit. While Schechtman writes that as a piling man the Russian
Premier left "fond memories among the. Jewish community of
my native town of Mariupol. (changed to Zhdanov in 1948) in
the Ukraine," the review of his record of dealings with Jews is
to his discredit. Khrushchev was the one who denied that there
were Jews among the partisans who fought against the Germans
—overlooking the fact that more than two million Jews perished
at the hands of the Nazis in Russia. It was Khrushchev who
said there were "too many Jews" in his party.
Schechtman writes: "Khrushchev's position has all along
been that. the Communist Party's top echelons must be as
Judenrein' as possible. - He preached this gospel with his usual
vigor to his Polish comrades."
When the Russian anti-Semites seek excuses for their at-
tacks on Jews, they, like the Arabs in their battle against
Israel, seek a scapegoat in Zionism. Therefore Schechtman,
after making a thorough study of the situation, states:

"The inevitable outcome of the regularly dinned anti-Zionist, anti-
Israel propaganda on the millions of average Russians, Ukrainians,
Latvians, Tartars, is that all the Jews—in Israel, in the West, at home
in Russia—are made to appear as hostile strangers. The masses cannot
be expected to follow the fine distinction between anti-Zionism and
anti-Jewishness and to draw a dividing line between a-Zionist and a
Jew; to them, the villain is bound to become 'The Jew'."

Schechtman tells how the Russians are preventing tourists
from seeing the Babiy-Yar area where 33,771 Jews were exe-
cuted by the Nazis and buried en. masse. He managed to get
to the tragic spot, in spite of attempts by the regularly assigned
guides to keep him away. from the mass grave area. He asks
why Russia is trying to obliterate the Babiy-Yar memory and
he urges that Yad Washem in Jerusalem should propose ,a
monument to the Jewish victims of Nazism in order thereby to
draw public attention to this problem, thus forcing a reason ,for,
Russia's insistence upon hushing up the tragedy -of. JeWiSh .
victims of Nazism.
Jews are omitted from the rolls of honor of heroes bf the
last war. There is fear among Jews to speak up regarding their
problems. The cultural status of Jewry is at its lowest ebb,
Schechtman reports.

Horrors of Russian
Anti-Semitism Told in
2 Reveal n g Books

By Philip Mayor of Rehovoth
Slomovitz Welcomed in N.Y.

ish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR; Xoldberg was con-
sidered one 'of Soviet. Russia's best friends:. He certainly is one
of the best informed men on Russia. His - numerous trips there,
his contacts with Russian writers, as head of the committee that
arranged the friendly visit in this country of Itzik Fefer and
Solomon Mikhoels during the war, placed him in a most authori-
tative position.
In view of such positions, it is 'all the more hair-raising
that Goldberg should have brought back so many disheartening
reports about Russian Jewry's status.
Goldberg shows that Russian Jewry's numbers increased
from 3,000,000 in the Soviet Union in 1938 - to 5,000,000 in 1941
through Stalin's acquisition of Baltic, Bessarabian, Buccovinian
and Polish areas. More than half of them "lived directly in the
path of the Nazi invaders" and "perhaps more than 2,000,000
perished." Yet the Russians minimized the Nazi atrocities -
against the Jews. They prevented the spread of knowledge about
the heroic efforts of Jews to stem the Nazi tide. Goldberg writes:

"The Nazi propaganda, which reached millions of Soviet citizens
on the home front as well as on the field of battle, kept hammering
away that the Germans and the Russians had no ground for fighting,
that no quarrel was between the Germans and the Jews, that the
Jews had brought on the war but did no fighting themselves, making
others, like the Russians, do the fighting for them." Goldberg adds
that "if the racial issue had been met honestly and courageously, the
dismay at the Nazi atrocities against the Jews would have added zest
to the war effort. The moral issue would have given another dimension
to the struggle • . . Evasion of the moral issue was, of course, an
appeasement of the bigots in the land. And like all appeasement of
evil, it brought disastrous results."

Continuing his expose of the failure of the Russians to
prevent libels against Jews, Goldberg .asserts:

"Russia was. the only country in the Grand Coalition to have an
emergence of anti-Semitism during the war. In the other countries of
the Coalition, the process was reversed. The anti-Jewish elements
which had become vociferous in the middle thirties were, after the
outbreak of the war, silenced and suppressed in the United States,
Britain and other countries, anti-Semitism being equated with Nazism
and Nazism with treason. In Russia, anti-Semites who had not dared
raise their heads in decades now publicly insulted Jews, occasionally
actually resorted to assault, and usually went unpunished . . "

Goldberg tells of efforts by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Com-
mittee to overcome some of the horrifying developments, but
to no avail. Men like Kaganovich harmed rather than helped.
Some Jewish notables were ousted from important positions
into posts on this committee, only to be humiliated. Some were
"broken into silence," and some Jews who knew little about
their Jewish background suddenly were made aware of a status
that gave them second class citizenship. Some, like Fefer, would
begin to hum an old Jewish folk song when they chose not to
admit the error that was enacted against their people in the
Jews in the synagogues would not talk. Writers were purged.
Jewish -newspapers were shut down. There was a slight change
from Stalin to Khrushchev, but little of relief in the position of
the Jews. Even very recently, during the period of the Doctors '
Plot, "no Jew felt secure in his job, however modest it was
Jewish youths took their entrance examinations to institutions
of higher learning with heavy hearts, as though they were
attempting to sneak in where they did not belong. Jews burned
the, Yiddish books in their homes . . . The atmosphere began
to feel like that of Germany in 1933 after Hitler took over."
Very little relief has come from that frightful period.
Ilya Ehrenburg, who now writes as a Jew, affirms his Jew-
ishness, "laid out the line, or the lie." He was "the ubiquitous"
oracle who engineered the . Rudolf Slansky episode in Czecho-
In 1959, Goldberg found no other Jewish address in Russia
but that of the synagogue. All Jewish organizations and their
leaderships had been liquidated. The Yiddish theater was vir-.
tually forced out of existence. The Birobidjan dream failed,
"The anti-Jewish madness that began flowing out of the Kremlin
at the end of 1948 did not bypass Birobidjan." Goldberg was
chairman of the committee in behalf of the Birobidjan campaign
in this country, and he can well speak with authority on the
subject. "The Protocols of Zion," the ghastly forgeries, were
spread in that area as elsewhere, and other anti-Semitic propa-
ganda was resorted to:
Both Schechtman and Goldberg plead for a solution to the
problem. The former states: "Occasional, scattered, guerilla - type
attacks upon the Soviet treatment of its Jewish minority does
not serve the purpose. Action on behalf of .the Jews in the
USSR must be conducted on a world-wide scale in a sustained
manner. It must be as unceasing as is the Jewish predicament
in the Soviet Union."
Goldberg writes: "Nothing is asked here for Soviet Jewry
that is not due them according to the constitution of the Soviet
Union, under the laws of the Soviet state, and by the official
resolutions of the Communist party." He declares: "If the Soviet
authorities treated their Jews culturally as they do their Ger-
mans, there would be no Jewish cultural problem." He pleads
for an end to bars to emigration of Jews from Russia. He adds,
after quoting several case histories to prove how the USSR
interferes with Jews leaving Russia:

"In the matter of Jewish emigration, as in the case of Jewish
culture and religion, as in respectful treatment and full equality of
opportunity, there is no inherent, insurmountable handicap to keep
Soviet leaders from righting the wrong. They need do nothing that is
not consonant with their own social theories and practices. All that
is required of them is to face the reality of the Jewish situation in
their country and accept the facts of life. They do have a Jewish
people of some 3,000,000 souls who have not been assimilated in the
sense of having lost their identity and national spirit, who stubbornly
refuse to be assimilated, and who, judged by historic experience, can-
not be assimilated. Except for any who may want to emigrate to
Israel and are permitted to do so, those people are there to stay.
Their problem is the problem of the Soviet Union, and it is up to
the Soviet leaders to guide that problem to a solution. Fortunately,
there is a historic pattern of solution, . fully compatible with the
Soviet system, that worked well where it was applied honestly and
wholeheartedly." •

Itzhak Katz, Mayor of Re-
hovoth, Israel, where the in-
ternationally - famous W e iz-
mann Institute of Science is
located, presents Mayor Rob-
ert F. Wagner of New York
with the key to the munici-
pality of Rehovoth at City

Eichmann's Son
Quits U.S. after

colas Eichmann, 25-year-old son
of Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann,
has left the United States follow-
ing protests against his anti-
Semetic expressions here by the
Jewish War Veterans of the
U. S. A. and an investigation by
the Justice Department.
A spokesman for the U. S.
Immigration Service disclosed
that young Eichmann had de-
parted "voluntarily" from the
United States via the Miami In-
ternational Airport on a flight
bound for South America. It is
presumed he is now back in
Nicolas Eichmann's anti-
Semitic and pro-Nazi statements
here, expressed while propagan-
dizing on behalf of his father,
generated violent controversy and
led to vigorous protests. The pro-
tests in turn brought in a Fed-
eral investigation and the young
man departed from the country
after only 25 days visit. He had
arrived with the stated intention
of remaining much longer to
write and to seek American back-
ing for his father who is now on
trial in Israel.

Yeshiva University
Counters Rabbinical
Shortage with Grants

program to meet the problems
of decreasing seminary enroll-
ment and a growing shortage of
rabbis was announced by
Yeshiva University. -
Dr. Samuel Belkin, president
of the university, announced a
new Semicha (ordination) fel-
lowship program which will pro-
vide financial support for out-
standing rabbinical students in
the same manner that fellow-
ships are awarded in the arts
and sciences.
Under the program, eligible
single students will receive
$1,200 and married students
$2,000 for the academic year.
Unmarried fellowship holders,
who will reside in the university
residence hall, will also receive
a $300 total - cost dormitory
scholarship. T h e fellowships,
which will be available begin-
ning in September, will be for
one academic year, but may be
The decline in seminary en-
rollments is a problem faced
by all three major faiths in this
country according to a recent
enrollment survey by the Amer-
ican AssoCiation of :Theological

The realism of this plea is , self-evisleTit, and it is commend-
Yet, from experi-
able that B. Z. Goldberg* remains the dplimist:
skeptical. , .ItA,S d i fficult to believe that
n-c one must:
it is therefore
the Russian bear will change:, his ,
apply to its Jewish
doubtful whether the USSR will so edilY
population the "pattern of solution" it uses for its other na-
tionality giAtups.
Schechtman and Goldberg, who haVe studied the Russian
situation at first hand, on their recent and earlier visits in
• * *
Russia, have rendered a real service by bringing the facts to us
The Hair-Raising B. Z. Goldberg Report
in their two valuable books.
Goldberg's book has the added merit of containing, as an
The revelations are even more hair-raising in Goldberg's
book. As president of the American Committee of Jewish appendix, historical. background of Russian Jewry's experiences
Writers, Artisfi'and Scientists which cooperated with the Jew- since 1916.


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