Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee

From Academic Kids

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Mikhoels and Einstein, 1943

The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC, Russian language: Еврейский анти-фашистский комитет, ЕАК) was formed in Kuibyshev in April 1942 with the official support of the Soviet authorities. It was designed to influence international public opinion and organize political and material support for the Soviet fight against Nazi Germany, particularly from the West.



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1946. The official response to an inquiry by JAC about the participation of the Jewish soldiers in the war (1.8% of the total number). Some anti-Semites attempted to accuse Jews of the lack of patriotism and of hiding from the military service.

Solomon Mikhoels, the popular actor and director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater, was appointed the JAC chairman. The JAC's newspaper in Yiddish was called Einigkeit ("Unity") (Cyrillic: Эйникейт, transliterated "Eynikeyt" or "Einikeit").

The JAC broadcasted pro-Soviet propaganda to foreign audiences, assuring them of the absence of anti-Semitism in the USSR. In 1943, Mikhoels and Itzik Feffer, the first official representatives of the Soviet Jewry allowed to visit the West, embarked on a seven-month tour to the USA, Mexico, Canada and Britain to drum up their support. In the US, they were welcomed by a National Reception Committee chaired by Albert Einstein and by B.Z. Goldberg, Sholom Aleichem's son-in-law, and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The largest pro-Soviet rally ever in the United States was held on July 8 at the Polo Grounds, where 50,000 people listened to Mikhoels, Fefer, Fiorello LaGuardia, Sholem Asch and Chairman of International Jewish Congress Rabbi Stephen Wise. Among others, they met Chaim Weizmann, Charlie Chaplin, Marc Chagall, Paul Robeson and Lion Feuchtwanger.

In addition to the funds for the Russian war effort — 16 million dollars raised in the US, 15 million in England, ? in Canada, 1 million in Mexico, 750 thousand in Palestine — other help was also contributed: machinery, medical equipment, medicine, ambulances, clothes. On July 16, 1943, Pravda reported: "Mikhoels and Feffer received a message from Chicago that special conference of Joint initiated a campaign to finance a thousand of ambulances for the needs of the Red Army." The visit also evoked the American public to the necessity of entering the European war.

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Jewish People in the Fight Against Fascism, a pamphlet published by JAC in 1945


Towards the end and immediately after the war, the JAC got involved in documenting the Holocaust. This ran contrary to the official Soviet policy to present it as atrocities against mere Soviet citizens, not acknowledging the genocide of the Jews.

Some of the committee members were vocal supporters of the State of Israel, established in 1948, something that Stalin supported very briefly. Their international contacts especially to the USA at the outset of the Cold War, would eventually make them vulnerable to charges that they had become politically incorrect.

The contacts with American Jewish organizations resulted in the plan to publish the Black Book simultaneously in the US and the Soviet Union, documenting the Holocaust and participation of Jews in the resistance movement. The Black Book was indeed published in New York in 1946, but no Russian edition appeared. The typefaces were broken up in 1948, when the political situation of Soviet Jewry deteriorated.

In January 1948, Mikhoels was killed in a suspicious car accident in Minsk (See MGB). In November 1948, Soviet authorities launched a campaign to liquidate what was left of Jewish culture. The members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were arrested. They were charged with disloyalty, bourgeois nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and planning to set up a Jewish republic in Crimea to serve US interests.

In January 1949, the Soviet mass media launched massive propaganda campaign against "rootless cosmopolitans", unmistakably aimed at Jews. Markish observed at the time: "Hitler wanted to destroy us physically, Stalin wants to do it spiritually." On August 12, 1952, at least thirteen prominent Yiddish writers were executed in the event known as "The Night of Murdered Poets" ("Ночь казненных поэтов").

List of notable JAC members

The size of JAC fluctuated with time. According to Solzhenitsyn (200 Years Together), it grew to have about 70 members.

See also


External links


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