Page 20 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
aspects of the crimes committed by the Nazis. T im e and again
Khrushchev addressed himself to the subject of “nationalistic
deviations,” and Yiddish writers apparently had to listen to his
Not un til 1963 did
Sovetish Heym land
devote any sig­
nificant space to the Warsaw Ghetto revolt. There were, of
course, in the pages of
Sovetish Heym land ,
other references to
the holocaust. In 1966 the magazine even p rin ted a picture of a
monument being erected in R udn i (region of Smolensk) by the
relatives of Jewish victims of the Nazis with the support of the
local soviet.® Yet, reading the Soviet Yiddish writers one cannot
escape the feeling tha t for one reason or ano ther they are
avoiding treatment in depth of the purely Jewish aspects of the
catastrophe. T h e call for a monument at the mass grave in
Babi-Yar, Kiev, came from the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtu-
3. Interestingly enough, preoccupation with the recent Soviet
past, the “guilt complex,” the immersion in the un to ld evil of
the days of Stalin, so characteristic of so-called “libera l” writing
in the Soviet Union, has no t as yet penetrated into the visible
Yiddish literature (I say “visible” because conceivably some
Soviet Yiddish writers write also for themselves, and have in
their desks works tha t may or may not, at some future time, see
the light of day). Russian “gu ilt” writings, steeped in the great
tradition of Russian literature, are concerned with the na tu re
of and responsibility for the unbelievable crimes committed
under Stalin. While here and there a story appears by a Yiddish
writer dealing with these problems, the treatment is peripheral.
One might expect tha t th irteen years after S talin’s dea th some­
one among the Soviet Yiddish writers would tell the real story
of the “old generation” of Yiddish writers, its illusions, its
acceptance of the Soviet hell, and its grim end in the cellars of
Soviet prisons. Th is has no t happened, at least no t on a scale
commensurate with the events. T h e Yiddish literature of the
Soviet Union has not produced its Solzhenitzin, its Bondarev,
its Vosnesensky, nor its Yevtuchenko, at least they have no t as
yet been heard from.
4. Whatever one may think about the content and artistry
of Soviet Yiddish writing, one is nevertheless perm itted to con­
jecture tha t in long range historical perspective it will be viewed
as an effort of considerable importance. Despite its conformity
and adherence to current slogans, Yiddish writing in the Soviet
Union testifies to the presence among the Russian Jews of a will
to survive. One is tempted to consider these literary efforts as a
1American Jewish Year Book
#65, 1964.
Sovetish Heymland,
#2, 1963; #12, 1965.