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U.S. Intellectuals Protest Liquidation of Jewish Culture in Russia

July 16, 1956
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Soviet persecution of Jewish culture, which was condemned in a resolution adopted here at the concluding session of the International P. E. N. Congress of poets, essayists and novelists, received wider attention here today with the publication of a cable from a number of prominent American intellectuals endorsing the protest of the Jewish P. E. N. Clubs against the “liquidation” of numerous Jewish authors in the Soviet Union and the closing down of all Jewish cultural institutions.

The protest was expressed at the congress by Joseph Leftwich, noted British Jewish author, who acted on behalf of the Jewish literary organizations in all democratic countries. The cable by American intellectuals supporting Mr. Leftwich’s protest, read:

“The Kremlin’s present rulers have confirmed the worst fears that the Stalin regime carried out a series of ruthless pogroms, designed to stamp out Jewish culture in the Soviet Union. Stalin’s annihilation of great numbers of Jewish writers coincided with the suspension of all Yiddish books, periodicals and newspapers and with the closing of Jewish libraries and theatres. He wasn’t attacking groups or individuals or specific political or religious organizations. He lashed out against an entire people, against its culture and language and every phase of spiritual activity.

“Since the crackdown eight years ago on Jewish activity in the Soviet Union, the Congress for Jewish Culture, an international organization representing Jewish cultural institutions, writers and artists, attempted to determine the fate of the Jewish community there.” On numerous occasions specific queries have been forwarded to Soviet Government officials. They stressed that while books and newspapers appear in the Soviet Union in the language of other minority nationalities, Yiddish remains outlawed.

“We, the undersigned, urge freedom-loving individuals throughout the world to raise their voices in protest against acts of brutality and discrimination inflicted on an entire people. We want to register vigorous denunciation of the frightful acts of genocide perpetrated and still apparently condoned by the Soviet regime.” The signatories of the cable included Reinhold Niebuhr, Upon Sinclair, George E. Axtelle, C. E. Ayres, Daniel Bell, Dorothy Dunbar Bromley, Leo Cherne, Robert Gorham Davis, Christopher Emett Robert E. Fitch, Richard Hanser, Paul Hayes, Granville Hicks, Sidney Hook, Sol, M. Levitas, Peter Meyer, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, and Norman Thomas.

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