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Fascism and the Holocaust within the Soviet Yiddish anti-Zionist campaign of the 1970s

Mon, December 17, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Cambridge 1


While the Moscow Yiddish literary journal Sovetish Heymland (Soviet Homeland) abstained from severe ideological confrontation with Zionism in the first phase of its existence between 1961 and 1969, a radical change occurred in the wake of the all-out anti-Israel/-Zionist campaign unleashed by the Soviet propaganda apparatus throughout the 1970s (Estraikh, 2010). An inter-Jewish discussion about the situation in the Middle East included Soviet Yiddish intelligentsia touring the world with a pronounced anti-Israel stance; prominent pro-Israel refuseniks; and the Yiddish-speaking socialist establishment in the US, Israel, and elsewhere. This global discourse, ostensibly about a contemporary geopolitical conflict, was rife with anti-Fascist and khurbn vocabulary and allegations of Hitlerism, Nazism, and treason. Latent ideas that had been circulating already in the 1940s and gradually developed through the 1950s and 1960s now assumed alarming proportions: accusations of an ongoing collaboration between Zionism and Nazism that had started already during the war first between German Zionist organizations––later turned Judenräte––and the Nazi apparatus and had persisted even after the war between the State of Israel and Nazi successor state West Germany. This paper is devoted to the disentanglement of the different layers of the Soviet Yiddish anti-Zionist campaign, which was veiled as an enduring anti-Fascist struggle and based on and corroborated in (however distorted) interpretations of the Holocaust. Beyond the distasteful propaganda, this paper will try to dissect what this discourse can possibly tell us about Soviet Yiddish reckonings with the Holocaust which had been inflected by the Soviet anti-Fascism from the very start.