When All Is Said and Done

When All Is Said and Done

When All Is Said and Done

When All Is Said and Done

Excerpt

On his sixty-eighth birthday, August 12, 1952, several years after his sudden arrest by the Soviet police and apparently without ever having been brought to trial, David Bergelson was shot by a firing squad in a prison in Moscow. With him were killed more than a score of other outstanding Russian writers in Yiddish, including Peretz Markish, Leyb Kvitko, Itzik Fefer, and David Hofstein.

Their death marked the last gasp of Soviet Yiddish cultural life, the destruction of which was initiated not long after the end of World War II and carried through with relentless brutality at the personal command of Joseph Stalin. In the final years of his rule, the dictator appears to have been seized by the paranoid obsession that the Jews of Russia were, as a group, "anti-Soviet," harboring either "cosmopolitan" or "Jewish nationalist" sentiments and engaged in nefarious conspiracies against him. In this period, which has come to be called by Russian Jewry "the black years," all Yiddish schools, theaters, and cultural institutions, as well as the Jewish press and publishing houses that had continued their activity in the first decades of the new Soviet order, were closed and remain so to the present day. As a climax to the anti-Jewish campaign, the foremost Russian Jewish writers and other intellectuals were liquidated.

The news of David Bergelson's and his colleagues' execution was suppressed by the Soviet authorities for some . . .

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