Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee

Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee
   In the spring of 1942, Joseph Stalin approved the creation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. One of the primary reasons for the creation of the organization was to appeal to world Jewry, but in particular to American Jews, for funds for the Red Army. The organization was founded at the time when the Red Army was staggering from the German offensive, and Stalin saw the need to create a committee of recognizable Jewish figures who could enlist the support of Jews the world over in support of the Soviet Union in their struggle against Nazi Germany. The initial members of the JAC included actor Solomon Mikhoels, who became its chairman; writer Ilya Ehrenburg; Yiddish poets such as Itsik Feffer, David Bergelson, and Lev Kvitko; and other Soviet Jews drawn from the fields of science and the military. One JAC project was the publication of The Black Book, a collection of firsthand testimony of Nazi atrocities written by both Jews and nonJews under the direction of Ilya Ehrenburg. The writer Vasily Grossman, for example, visited Majdanek soon after its liberation and was among the first to describe the horrors of the camp. Other contributors described atrocities that were committed by the Einsatzgruppen on Soviet territory. Stalin after the war, however, did not allow the book to be published and it did not appear in print until 1980.
   The committee was allowed to publish a Yiddish newspaper, Einikkeyt (Unity), and Stalin allowed Mikhoels and Itsik Feffer to travel to the United States and Great Britain in order to win support for the Soviet Union from the Jewish communities in both countries. With the defeat of Nazi Germany and the dawning of the Cold War, Stalin no longer had use for the JAC, which had important contacts with Western countries. Stalin feared that the organization might call attention to the existence of ongoing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, and so the JAC was disbanded in November 1948. Many of its activists were arrested and tried for treason, espionage, and bourgeois nationalism. On 12 August 1952, 13 of the defendants were executed. As for Mikhoels, Stalin had already personally ordered his murder in February 1948.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

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