Soviet Government Asked to Publicly Rehabilitate Artists Killed During 1950s

Renewed appeals were made to the Soviet Government today to permit the re-establishment of Jewish cultural and educational institutions in the USSR and to publicly rehabilitate the Soviet Jewish writers, artists and actors who were executed or imprisoned during the Stalinist purges of the early 1950s. The appeals were contained in separate statements issued here by the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry and the Congress for Jewish Culture. The occasion was the 16th anniversary of the executions of 24 Yiddish writers, actors and intellectuals, among them some of the outstanding Soviet-Jewish literary figures of their time, all of them devoted Communists.

(In London today, Dr. S. Levenberg, an authority on Soviet-Jewish affairs, said that “no formal rehabilitation of these martyrs or any official acknowledgement of their tragedy” has been forthcoming from Soviet authorities although “Stalin’s brutal misdeeds in all other fields have been officially renounced.” Among the writers executed 16 years ago were David Bergelson, David Hoff-stein, Itzik Fefer, Leib Kvitko, Peretz Markish, Shmuel Persoff and many others, Dr. Levenberg said. While unofficial tributes have since been paid to their merits as writers, they have been otherwise classified as “victims of the personality cult,” according to Dr. Levenberg. “We are still waiting for an official or at least semi-official description which would lay open the tragedy in all its aspects,” he said.)

Rabbi Israel Miller, chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, said in his statement that “though these executions have been rationalized away as manifestations of extreme Stalinism, it is important to note that none of Stalin’s four successors has done anything to halt the systematic destruction of the instruments and institutions of Jewish culture and religious survival.”

The statement of the Congress for Jewish Culture noted that “16 years after the destruction of the entire (Jewish) literature and the murder of its most talented representatives, there is still no attempt to rehabilitate the murdered Jewish writers and artists nor has the Soviet Government expressed any regret or condemned the crime.”

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