Sunday, 14 August 2011

August 12 1952

One of the saddest literary memorial dates is August 12, 1952, the day when Stalin murdered many of the leading Soviet Yiddish writers, together with other members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. The writers included Dovid Bergelson, Peretz Markish, David Hofstein, Leib Kvitko and Itzik Fefer. Others had already been killed, including the novelist Der Nister and the theatre director and actor Solomon Mikhoels, but it was this event that closed the era of left-wing Soviet Yiddish literature, and, together with the Czech Slansky trials, indicated Stalin's late anti-Semitic turn.

Five Leaves' f0llowers might recall an earlier announcement that we would be publishing a book of fiction and poems, From Pogrom to Purge, by the murdered writers, edited and mostly translated by Joseph Sherman. This book was near publication when Joseph became very ill and then died, with some minor parts of the translation incomplete. The book was put back, naturally, and for some time I did not have the heart to return to Joseph's book, yet wanted it to appear as a memorial to his scholarship and in memory of the writers. We were planning to finally complete the book this year when we realised that next year is 60th anniversary of the trial and execution, so it made sense to postpone the book yet again, but bring it out for the 60th and organise a suitable event around it. This is acceptable to Joseph's family and we will announce the details of publication in due course. Meantime, apologies to those waiting on the book. I am sure you would agree that it should appear for the 60th anniversary.

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