The Birobidzhan Affair: A Yiddish Writer...

The Birobidzhan Affair is the autobiography, a chronicle of heart-rending events recounting Emiot's eight years at hard labor in various work camps in Siberia. Poignant, remarkably understated in tone, it provides evidence of his travails as a Jewish victim of the bitter bureaucracy that was Stalinist Russia.

vii Introduction Michael Stanislawski Israel Emiot’s prison memoir, The Birobidzhan Affair, is a poignant, captivating chronicle of the persecution of Jews and Jewish culture in the last years of Stalin’s Russia. It stands out among the dozens of such accounts for the simple reason that its author was a sensitive, talented writer who managed to convey his gruesome experiences in a controlled yet force-ful manner, a style at once laconic and impassioned. The re-sult is a gripping story of one man’s tortures and hopes and a valuable historical document, both in its own right and for the mass of important data it contains. In this respect, Emi-ot’s work resembles Solzhenitsyn’s monumental Gulag Archipelago, albeit in a far more limited and modest frame. But this work is not merely Solzhenitsyn á la juive: the spe-cific Jewish content— and drama— of this book is its chroni-cling of the inner devastation wreaked by Stalinism on Jews within and beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. The true, if unstated, subject of this memoir is the tragedy of modern Jews’ nearly boundless capacity for self- delusion. Unfortunately, though perhaps inevitably, Emiot did not dwell at length on either the ideological or the emotional context of his travails— the first leg, as it were, of his journey to and from Birobidzhan. To appreciate the tale the reader must be armed with considerable background information, knowledge of events and episodes once much heralded but   C h a p t e r Home

The Birobidzhan Affair: A Yiddish Writer in Siberia


About Book The Birobidzhan Affair: A Yiddish Writer in Siberia

Front matterCopyright PageAuthor's prefaceIntroductionI go to BirobidzhanThe short-lived revivalIn jailFirst interrogationMy first inquisitorOzirsky of the NKVDMy first cellmateOne Yiddish poet, three Japanese generals, and a Russian thiefThe miracleAwaiting trialMy sentenceOn the road to penal servitudeBarbershop attendantBen SlutskyPenal servitudeProfessor S.How to handle a Jew-baiterI become one of the gangMoishe BrodersonWhen Pinke played Kol NidreiThe investigating commissionAvraham Khayim and the Sephardic JewsThe Jewish daughter from RigaWith the Chinese prisonersRepercussions of the Jewish Doctors' Plot300 women prisoners from MongoliaStalin is deadWe are moved to another campThe secret agent and the banditCelebrating the October RevolutionShot while attempting to escapeA Russian heart with a Jewish sighA Latvian of Jewish originTikhiRebellionMay it get no worseMoishe Broderson and Sholom AleichemOn the eve of liberationFarewell to Moishe BrodersonIn the village of StepanovkaBack to BirobidzhanAmong Jews in BirobidzhanMoscowWarsawNew York
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