JTA Correspondent in Russia Tells of Jewish Bravery and Nazi Anti-jewish Atrocities
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JTA Correspondent in Russia Tells of Jewish Bravery and Nazi Anti-jewish Atrocities

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Tales of Jewish bravery on the Soviet battlefields coupled with reports of horrors inflicted by Nazi troops on Jews in occupied Soviet territory are reaching this temporary capital of the Soviet Union, while Jewish refugees continue to find their way from Nazi-held zones into the Soviet interior.

At one station in Central Russia I saw Jewish refugees from the Ukraine among whom was an old Jew who was sitting on his luggage. Suddenly he rose and his eyes darkened as he pressed his long nails into the palms of his hands. One of the women who was sitting nearby whispered to me: “He has recalled.” I found out later that what the old man “recalled” was the sight of a Nazi officer in Vinnitsa murdering a four-months old Jewish infant by dashing its brains out against an iron stove.

There are many Jewish refugees in this city and there are many tales of horror that they can “recall.” A woman who had escaped from a small village near the town of Korosten told how her father, a chassidic rabbi in the town, was buried alive in the ground with only his head remaining above the surface. As the wind ruffled his beard the rabbi repeated. “Even the grass has a longer life than Nebuchadnezzar.”

Near Odessa, a drunken Rumanian colonel trained his troops in marksmanship by having them use fleeing Jewish children as targets. In Priluki the Germans tied up six Jewish girls and after raping them left them naked and inscribed upon them: “Lavatory for German Soldiers.” Tens of thousands of Jewish homes have been burned to the ground and all their valuables stolen or destroyed.

But it is the old man, the women and the children that are fleeing. The men are fighting. Here in the Soviet Union the Hitlerites will not make sport of Jewish cowardice. They had easy victories over the unarmed Jews they found in the towns they invaded. But elsewhere they found that Jews are not cowards. Along side of Russians and Ukrainians the Jews of the Soviet Union are bravely defending their country. Among the Jewish heroes of the Soviet Union is General Kreiser who distinguished himself in the fighting near Smolensk. Although trapped by Nazi troops he led his army out of encirclement.


Among those decorated for bravery on the battlefields are hundreds upon hundreds of Jews. The famous poet Utkin, a Jew, quit his job as a journalist and went to the front. There, leading his company in an attack against the enemy he lost his right hand. In the recent fighting near Volokolamsk, a nearsighted, sickly young man named Rabinovich distinguished himself. A student of old Provencal literature, a translator of medieval poets, he went to war as a volunteer. Wounded in the shoulder during the battle Rabinovich mustered up enough strength to crawl toward a German tank, hand-grenade in his hand. He blew up the tank but in doing so lost his own life.

Many people have thought of Jews as the descendants of persecuted inmates of the ghetto, but the Soviet Jews, now fighting for Russia, have reminded the world that they are descendants of the Maccabees. The fate of the Russian Jews is inseparably bound up with the fate of Russia. Up until now it was bound with ties of common labor, now it is also bound with ties of blood. The Jew Rabinovich died along side the Russian student, Dolgushev, his friend. Both died for Soviet Russia.

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