25th Anniversary of Murder of Mikhoels Marked by Radio Liberty

The 25th anniversary of Stalin’s murder of Solomon Mikhoels, the world-famous Yiddish actor and director of Moscow’s State Jewish Theater, will be commemorated this week in special Yiddish and Russian programs beamed to the Soviet Union over Radio Liberty to serve the cultural needs and interests in particular of the Soviet Jewish audience.

The details of Mikhoel’s death have never been revealed by the Soviet regime. However, many reliable sources including Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, have reported that it was an intentional murder disguised as an “automobile accident.” This event signalled the beginning of the period that has come to be called the “Black Years” (1948-1953), during which Yiddish culture in the USSR was destroyed.

According to Dr. Gene Sosin, Rabio Liberty’s director of broadcast planning, the station’s programs will feature the voice of Mikhoels acting the dream scene from his theater’s stage version of “Tevye the Milkman.” The recording was provided by Prof. Herbert Paper of the University of Michigan.

Other broadcasts include a reading of Peretz Markish’s elegy, “To Solomon Mikhoels–an Eternal Light at His Casket.” The poem is read by the distinguished performers Ida Kaminska and Marian Melman. Mme. Kaminska also provides personal reminiscences of Mikhoels, whom she knew in Moscow.

Prof: Maurice Friedberg of Indiana University discusses the place of Mikhoels in Russian culture. Eduard Sztein of Yale University, son of the former director of the Minsk Jewish Theater, recounts the details of the night of January 12-13, 1948, when Mikhoels was murdered in Minsk.

NEXT STORY