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August 08, 1969 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1969-08-08

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Purely Commentary

A Defector and Protesters in the Soviet Union -


did Anatoly Vasileyevich Kuznetzov defect from Russia? It's
true—he has said he can and may go back at any time. But he did
leave, he did protest, and the reason is quite obvious. He primarily
objected to the Soviet role in Czechoslovakia, and he is certain to gain
many adherents to his view on that score.
But he also had another gripe. He had written a book on Babi Yar.
He recalled, from childhood, the horror of the mass murder of Jews by
the Nazis, he knew about the Russian
sience about that tragedy, and he had
heard Russians comment that not enough
Jews were murdered—and his sense of
justice rebelled !
There are Russians who do not
accept the Soviet way of treating Jews.
Earlier, also on the subject of Babi Yar,
another great Russian writer, the poet
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, also protested,
and he, too has been bounded.
New Jews, too, have begun to pro-
test. Kuznetzov and Yevtushenko are not
Jews. Boris Kochubiyevsky and D. S.
Drabkin are Jews.
Kochubiyevsky, a 33-year-old Kiev
radio engineer, was sentenced May 16
last, to three years in a Soviet labor
camp, on the charge of slandering
the Russian system of government. What had actually happened
was that he had drawn attention to the Bai Yar mass murder,
and be had defended Israel at an anti-Zionist lecture at his factory.
The court charged him with "bourgeois-nationalist-Zionist propaganda,
ousted him from his job, deprived his non-Jewish wife of her university
job, also on the charge of being a Zionist. The couple wanted to go to
Israel, was told to pick up emigration permits, instead was arrested a
week later, and their trial was held in the same courthouse in which
the infamous Mendel Beiliss trial was held 65 years ago. Anti-Semites,
as in the outrageous ritual murder episode, packed the court room, and
outside Kochubiyevsky's brother was jeered: "You are a Jew, Jew,
Jew." On Nov. 28, 1968, the condemned Jewish radio engineer wrote
this letter, exactly a week before his arrest:
I am a Jew.'I want to live in a Jewish State. This is my right,
as it is the right of a Ukrainian to live in the Ukraine, the right
of a Russian to live in Russia, the Right of a Georgian to live
in Georgia.
I want to live in Israel.
This is my dream, this is the goal not only of my life but
also of the lives of hundreds of generations preceding me that
were expelled from the land of their ancestors.
I want my children to study in a school in Yiddish. I want to
read Yiddish newspapers. I want to attend a Yiddish theater.
What's wrong with that? What is my crime? Most of my relatives
were shot by the Fascists. My father perished, and his parents
were killed. If they were alive today, they would be standing
next to me. Let me go!
With this request, I turned repeatedly to various departments
and achieved only dismissal from work,' my wife's expulsion from
her institute and, to top it all—prosecution, accusing me of
slandering Soviet reality. What is this slander? Is it really a
slander that in the multinational Soviet state only the Jewish
people cannot educate their children in schools in their own
language? Is it really a slander that there isn't a Yiddish theater
in the USSR? Is it not a slander that there aren't any Yiddish
newspapers in the USSR? By the way, nobody denies it. Perhaps
it is a slander that for more than a year I haven't been able to
leave for Israel? Or a slander that nobody wants to speak to me,
that there is nobody to complain to? Nobody reacts. But that is
not even the point. I don't want to interfere in the ethnic affairs
of a state in which I consider myself an outsider. I want to leave.
I want to live in Israel. My wish does not contradict Soviet
legislation. I have an invitation from my relatives, all formalities
have been observed. Is that why you are instituting a criminal
case against me? Is that why my home was searched?
I am not asking for mercy. Listen to the voice of reason:
As long as I live, as long as I am capable of feeling, I will do
all I can to be able to leave for Israel. And if you find it possible
to sentence me for it, then all the same. If I live till my release,
I will be prepared to oo to the homeland of my ancestors, even
if it means going on foot.
A similar case is that of D. S. Drabkin, a middle-aged Moscow Jew.
On April 18, 1969, he wrote the following letter to Nikolai Podgorny,
president of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet:
On Dec. 17. 1968, I applied to OVIR (the state security
apparatus which screens and registers Soviet citizens applying for
exit) at the MVD, asking for a permit for myself and my family
(wife and a twelve-year-old daughter) to leave in order to join
my family in Israel.
On April 15. 1969, I received a postcard without any indication
of the sender but containing a handwritten sentence stating
"please telephone OVIR 297-85-71." There was no signature. I
telephoned that number on the same day about 10:30 a.m. I
gave the name of my wife and myself. A woman who replied
asked me to repeat my address and said that we had been refused
exit permits. In reply to my expressions of disappointment that
person added: "There are too many of you Jews. We shall not let
you out. We shall finish you off here."
That person was most probably Catherina Pavlovna Archipova,
an officer of the Ministry of the Interior of the USSR. As a rule,
it is she who replies from that telephone and I have several
times made inquiries from her asking whether "there was
already a decision in my case."
I am not sure to what degree this threat to finish off the
Jews in the USSR corresponds to the present reality. But this
threat was made from an office of the MVD of the USSR, and
this compels me to treat very seriously this behavior of an officer
on duty and to ask whether it is (or may be) the expression of
government policy.
In these circumstances, we, myself, my wife and my child,
are kept by force in the USSR and threatened with destruction.
In such circumstances, I can no longer consider myself a citizen
of the USSR.
I hereby request to be deprived legally and as soon as possible
of Soviet citizenship because it is no longer possible to continue
remaining here.
It is no wonder that there is a protest against the outrageous pol-
icies of the USSR, that the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry has been

2—Friday, August 8, 1969

Zionist Controversy and
Democracy .. . A Philo-Semite's
Assertion on Jerusalem Status

mobilized, that the students will have a mass rally at the Manhattan
Garment Center on Aug. 12. A revealing explanatory statement has
been issued by the Students containing these facts:
"The Declaration of Rights of the People of Russia, signed by
Lenin, swept away Jewish disabilities. Shortly thereafter, there ap-
peared 11 daily Yiddish newspapers and some 60 weekly and monthly
journals. There were 40 Jewish theaters, a Jewish drama school in
Moscow, a dramatic institute in Kiev and numerous Jewish publishing
houses printing dozens of Yiddish books of all kinds, in issues reaching
millions of copies. Jewish schools were set up in towns and villages
with Jewish populations.
"Even after Stalin began to strike at every aspect of Jewish life
in the 1930's, Yiddish continued to be recognized as an official national
language and from 1930.1940, 4,700 Jewish titles were published. How-
ever, in 1936, a substantial group of Yiddish writers and artists were
liquidated, and in 1937 the Yiddish schools were curtailed. By 1938, the
last Jewish collective farms were dissolved, the Jewish Communist
Party officials of Birobidjan were executed for Zionist affiliations and
Emes, the only remaining Yiddish national daily, was shut down. These
years saw the constant public denunciation of Zionist imperialism and
endorsement of the Mufti's violence against Palestine's Jews.
"With the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, Jewish security fell to a new
low. As the Red Army moved into Poland, all Polish Jewish institutions
dissolved, the physical plants of the world's greatest Jewish publishers
smashed, and Jewish intellectuals banished and executed.
"When Hitler attacked Russia, Stalin loosened the reins on Soviet
minorities in order to encourage patriotism. This emboldened two Polish
socialists, Victor Alter and Henryk Ehrlich, who bad been seized by the
NKVD, to propose the establishment of a Jewish Anti-Fascist Commit-
tee to provide relief for Jewish war victims and to .mobilize Jews every-
where. Alter and Ehrlich were executed, but shortly thereafter the Jew-
ish Anti-Fascist Committee was established. The Committee did a good
propaganda job for the Kremlin and sent out Shlomo Mikhoels, the ac-
tor, and Itzik Feffer, the poet, to America and Europe. When the Krem-
lin reversed itself on Jewish affairs after the War, these two men who
had followed their orders so carefully were accused of concocting a
gigantic nightmarish plot with American imperialists against the Soviet
"Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Anti-Fascist Committee
was the way in which it developed into a Jewish address. It was an
organ—however distorted with Soviet hypocrisy—of Jewish autonomy
and Jewish self-expression.
"This was unwelcome to the Kremlin and, having outlived its use-
fulness to Soviet policy with the end of the War, the premises of the
Committee were padlocked in October 1948 as a center of subve;sicn.
In January 194£ Mikhoels, Its president, was found decapitated on a
Minsk street. The Emes Publishing House was shut and the Yiddish
typeface smashed and melted down. In April 1949, the magnificent
Yiddish Art Theater was closed.
"By this time, Jewish intellectuals slept with packed bags by their
beds, expecting to be awakened at any time by the secret police. The
great majority were. Theater director Zushkin committed suicide when
the secret police came. "Der Nistar" cried out, Thank God, you have
finally arrived! The world-famous Dovid Bergelson went mad in prison.
"The culmination of the terror came at the secret trial and execu-
tion of 24 of the most gifted Jews in Russia. They had been associated
—some of them unwillingly—with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.
Their accusers unravelled a fantastic world-wide conspiracy by Amer-
ican imperialists and bourgeois-nationalist Zionists whose instruments,
it was proved, they had become. The Crimea and Birobidjan were to
be the points of entry for America.
"In the months following the executions on Aug. 12, 1952, the evil
assumed nightmarish proportions. Soviet press and radio resounded
with the plans of Jewish doctors to poison the entire Soviet leadership.
Preparations for mass Jewish deportation to Asia were under way
when Stalin died. On hearing the Doctors' Plot declared a fraud, Har-
rison Salisbury's taxi driver in Moscow muttered: Those svolochil They
got away this time. But their day will come. We will get those Yids.
"It is not surprising, therefore, that Khrushchev's 1956 secret
speech to the 20th Congress which contained many hours of denuncia-
tion of Stalin's crimes, made no mention of the enormous wrongs done
to the Jews. It is true that some of the writers were later rehabilitated,
but not in proper fashion, while the survivors were released on grounds
of "insufficient evidence."
"This is characteristic. Soviet authorities not only refuse to
recognize a living Jewish culture, but they will not even permit the
attribution of Jewishness to the dead. Hence, there is no memorial
for the 70,000 murdered Jews at Babi Yar.
"A number of significant changes have occurred since Stalin's
death over 16 years ago, yet the fundamental policy of strangula-
tion of Jewish living and Jewish self-respect remains. Within the
overall framework of oppression and deprivation, however, there
has developed a remarkable expansion of Jewish consciousness
among young Jews and the growth of a desperate courage. A wide-
spread state of inner rebellion exists and tends to spill out more
than ever before into overt acts of defiance. The letter of Boris Ko-
chubiyevsky (appended) to Brers-nev reflects this very well. Koehn-
biyevsky himself has no Jewish education, but he wants his de-


By Philip

scendents to have access to their
own cultural heritage. If this is a
crime in Russia, he declares, then
"LET ME OUT . . . to the home-
land of my ancestors." Typical
again is the remark of a Soviet Of-
ficial reported by a Moscow Jew,
D. S. Drabkin, in his letter to So-
viet President Podgorny: "There
are too many of you Jews. We
shall not let you out. We shall fin-
ish you off here."

"It is clear that the combination
of deliberate cultural strangula-
tion and straight anti-Semitism
makes the trials of the martyred
writers and today's young men
seeking freedom a common one.
There are differences, however,
between them. The sufferings of
the earlier generation were com-
pounded by their feelings of guilt
for having revolted against the
Judaism of their fathers, for their
personal emotional, spiritual and
moral involvement in Soviet Com-
munism until they were swallowed
up. The Kochubiyevskys and the
Drabkins, however, have managed
to detach themselves inwardly
from the Soviet system. They are
rid of the guilt, and they want to
return to Jewish identification with
all their heart and all their might.

"It is up to us to cry out on their
behalf In order to save their lives,
diminish their torture and to ob-
tain their release."

Indeed, there is a duty to cry
out against the bigotry. We join
in that expression of protest, in
the appeal to the human elements
in the Russian sphere who are
represented by Kuznetzov and Yev-
tusjenko and their fearless spokes-
men for decency.
May the protesting voice be
heard and may all people who seek
justice join in the cry against the
tyranny of the Kremlin.

Highest Military
Office Assigned
Jewish Chaplain

highest administrative postion
ever achieved by a Jewish chaplain
in the U.S. Army has been given
to Chaplain (Col.) Joseph B. Mess-
ing, with his appointment as dep-
uty staff chaplain of the U.S.
Ar m y European Headquarters.
Simultaneously, the National Jew-
ish Welfare Board Commission on
Jewish Chaplaincy received word
that Chaplain Messing had been
awarded the Legion of Merit for
"exceptionally meritorious service
as director of administration, Of-
fice of the Chief of Chaplains, De-
partment of the Army" from June
1966 to May 1969.

Chaplain Messing, who has been
in the military chaplaincy since
1945, served at Fort Knox, Ky.,

Kobe, Japan, and then went to
Korea during the Korean War as

the first Jewish chaplain on duty
there. Later he saw service at Fort

Jackson, S.C., Frankfurt, and Hei-
delberg, Germany. In the latter as-
signment he organized Torah con-
vocations and religious retreats for
Jewish chaplains and Jewish serv-
ice personnel in cooperation with
the military and the JWB Commis-
sion on Chaplaincy.
From 1961 to 1965 he was on the
faculty of the U.S. Army Chaplain
School and then spent a year as
Deputy Army Chaplain of the 4th
U.S. Army before being assigned
to the Office of the Chief of Chap-
lains in Washington.

College and was ordained in 1945
by the Hebrew Union College-Jew-
ish Institute of Religion. Before
entering the chaplaincy he was the
rabbi of Temple Beth Tefillob,
Brunswick, Ga. In addition to the

A native of New York;
Messing is a graduate of

Boris Kochubiyevsky and his wife in the years prior

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS protests against the anti-Semitism of their countrymen.

to their

Legion of Merit, Chaplain Messing
also holds the Bronze Star.

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