Appendix B. Major Events and Anti-Zionist Trials
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325 Appendix B Major Events and Anti-Zionist Trials Prepared by Yuli Kosharovsky and Enid Wurtman with thanks to Pam Cohen and Jerry Goodman for their valuable contributions. For an expanded chronology, see kosharovsky.com. This chronology describes events in the history of Soviet Jews and the Jewish movement in the Soviet Union. 1917 Two Russian revolutions emancipate Russian Jews from a number of special anti-Jewish measures. 1919 Hebrew teaching is forbidden in Jewish schools by decision of the Ministry of Education. 1929 Nearly all Yiddish schools and cultural institutions outside of the Far East Jewish autonomous region Birobidzhan are closed. 1940 (June 16) During World War II, the Soviet Union invades and annexes Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Bessarabia as part of its pact with Nazi Germany. 1941 (September 29–31) Massacre of 33,000 Jews of Kiev by the Nazis and their Ukrainian supporters takes place at nearby Babii Yar ravine. 1942 (April) The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC) is created to help mobilize international support for the USSR during World War II. 1945 (May 9) Germany surrenders. By the end of World War II, nearly 30 million Soviet citizens, including 2.5 million Jews, have died. 1947 The Soviet Union’s foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, addresses the United Nations General Assembly and urges the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. 326  |  Appendix B 1948 The beginning of the period (1948–53) labeled the “Black Years” in Soviet Jewish history, during which Soviet authorities undertake the aggressive dismantling of the remaining Jewish institutions, including the Yiddish theater, newspapers, and journals. 1948 (January 12) The chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee , Solomon Mikhoels, is killed by KGB agents on Stalin’s order in a staged accident in Minsk. Within a year, the Yiddish theater is liquidated. 1948 (May 14) The Jewish People’s Council in Palestine declares the establishment of the State of Israel. 1948 (October) Ambassador Golda Meir, head of an Israeli delegation to the USSR, visits the Moscow Choral Synagogue, attracting a crowd of some 50,000 Jews who greet her enthusiastically. The event causes concern among Soviet officials. 1948 (November 20) The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the last vestige of organized Jewish cultural life, is dissolved and many of its leaders imprisoned. The Yiddish newspaper Eynikeyt, published by the committee, is closed. 1949 Anti-Zionist trials: Twelve people from the group Eynikeyt, a Zionist youth organization, in Zhmerinka, Kiev, Leningrad, and other cities are arrested and imprisoned for long terms in forced labor camps, including Meir Gelfond, Tatiana Kertsman, Alexander Khodorkovsky, Mikhail Spivak, Alexander Sukher, Elena Rakhlis, Efraim Volf, Liudmila Reznikov. 1949–51 Jews in the arts and sciences are targeted as anti-Soviet nationalists and “rootless cosmopolitans” sympathetic to the West. Key Jewish personalities in Birobidzhan are swept up in the campaign, and many are sent to prison or labor camps. 1950 Anti-Zionist trials in Moscow. Vitaly Svechinsky, Roman Brakhman, and Mikhail Margulis are sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. 1952 (August 12) Thirteen prominent Jewish writers, poets, scientists , and political figures associated with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee are executed. Major Events and Anti-Zionist Trials  |  327 1953 (January 13) Article in Pravda entitled “Dastardly Spies and Assassins in the Guise of Professors and Doctors” marks the beginning of the Doctors’ Plot campaign accusing Jewish medical professionals of planning to kill Stalin and other officials, and of being “agents” of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), an international social welfare agency. 1953 (March 5) Stalin dies three days after Purim. The trial of the Jewish medical professionals is cancelled. 1955 Arrests of Jewish activists connected to the Israeli Embassy in Moscow and their subsequent imprisonment: Moshe Brodsky: ten years of hard labor, reduced to six years upon appeal; Avraham Landman: one year; Ida Rozhansky: five years. 1956 Signing of Russian-Polish Repatriation Agreement, enabling Jews entitled to Polish citizenship to emigrate from the USSR to Warsaw en route to Israel. Nativ creates Bar, an international branch for mobilizing public opinion and lobbying political structures in the West in support of the Soviet Jewry struggle. 1956 (February 25) Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech denouncing the personality cult of Stalin, delivered at the Twentieth Communist Party Congress. 1957 (July–August) Sixth World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow. Israeli delegation attracts Soviet Jews’ interest. 1958 Arrests of Jewish activists connected to the Israeli Embassy and their subsequent imprisonment: Dora, Shimon, and Boris Podolsky; Tina Brodetsky; Evsei Drobovsky; and...


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