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For the 70th Anniversary of the Night of Executed Poets

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

On August 12, 1952, 13 members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were executed in Moscow, including the actor Benjamin Zuskin, who after the murder of Solomon Mikhoels was appointed director of the State Jewish Theater in Moscow, leading Jewish poets and writers: David Bergelson, David Gofstein, Peretz Markish, Leib Kvitko, Itzik Fefer, as well as Jewish scientists, senior officials, publicists. Many more Yiddish writers, actors, officials, and scholars fell victims of Stalinist repressions and were thrown into prisons, sent to the Gulags, tortured.

August 12 entered the national Jewish collective consciousness as a day marking the end of the destruction of Jewish culture in the Soviet Union.

The WJC International Yiddish Center, in cooperation with the ANU Museum, and the Theater “Malenky”, invite you to events commemorating this date.

Two events dedicated to this tragic date are scheduled at the ANU Museum of the Jewish People.

On August 4th, literary historian Natalia Gromova will give a lecture on "The Apogee of Stalinism and the Destruction of Jewish Culture in the USSR (1945-1953)”. She will describe the situation that preceded the final defeat of Jewish culture in the USSR and the role of individual writers in this drama. Natalia Gromova is known to many as the author of documentary books about the evacuation of writers Marina Tsvetaeva, Olga Bergoltz, Boris Pasternak and others.

Natalia's lecture will cover the most important moments leading up to the tragedy in the time span of eight postwar years, including the anti-Semitic trials, Fadeev's role in the cosmopolitan trials, the banning of Grossman and Ehrenburg's “The Black Book of Soviet Jewry”, the murder of Mikhoels, the arrests of Jewish writers, the death of members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the doctors' case and the "Night of Murdered Poets" itself.

The second event at the museum devoted to this day is a literary performance "We lament you with all the letters of Alef-Beis... ". The performance incorporates poems and prose of writers who fell victims of Stalin's political terror, authors who wrote in Yiddish and had to pay for it the highest price - their lives.

The performance includes a variety of multimedia, with excerpts from the works of Peretz Markish, David Hofstein, Itzik Fefer, Leyb Kvitko, as well as, Shike Driz, Yizi Harik, Chaim Grade, Shmuel Gordon, Yosef Buchbinder and other authors. "As long as poems sound, poets live..." - This is the main idea behind the play.

Idea and script: Dr. Mordehay Yushkovsky, stage version and production: Michail Teplitsky, ( Theatre “Malenky”), actors: Elena Yaralova, Andrey Kashker, Nikolai Tuberovsky.

Organizers: WJC International Yiddish Center, Theatre “Malenky”, with the participation and support of ANU Museum and NADAV Foundation.


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