Jewish Observer
November 2001
5762 Kheshvan

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Continued. See N 11 (14) - 12(15)

In the first part of this article I wrote that some contemporary intellectuals used to find and savoir the Jewish responsibility for the tragedy of the Russian people. For this purpose they do not abhor to use the life stories of the distinguished Russian poets (N. Solntseva. "Kitezhsky Cock. Philological prose"). There the story was about Esenin.

The life story of Pavel Vasilyev reminds us that of Esenin, both by the fable and the tragic end.

Vasilyev, contrary to Esenin, was uncontrollable for words and for his actions. Having been invited to the house of the poet Jack Altauzen, he beat up the host. During the row he shouted anti-Semitic and anti-Soviet appeals. The "situation with Altauzen" got a political meaning. To N. Solntseva's surprise, the public wasn't pleased with such actions of Vasilyev. Maxim Gorky himself rose up against the poet-hooligan saying that the distance between hooliganism and fascism is shorter that the sparrow's beak. There is no need to say that anti-Semitism is somewhere in the middle of this distance! According to Solntseva, Vasilyev got into prison for his hooligan actions with concealed political meaning. Then he was released by the decision of the Politbureau of the Central Committee (VKP(b)). A rare case! However, very soon he was arrested again and sentenced for 10 years with no right for correspondence, that is he was sentenced to death. The same tragedy as that of Esenin. Better he had served the whole prison term for the hooligan action because being out of prison for a short period of time he completely destroyed himself. There was information that in the company of his drunken friends he was "entertaining" himself by shooting from air gun at the portrait of Stalin. No doubt, N. Solntseva says nothing about this. Her indignation is targeted at those who insulted the poet, for example, at those, who signed the mentioned letter to "Pravda" (May 24, 1935). The authors of this letter, using the words of M. Gorky about hooliganism, anti-Semitism and fascism demanded "to take strict measures against hooligan Vasilyev to show that under conditions of Soviet reality (and any other reality if it is normal - Y.T.) unbridled fascist hooliganism of anyone would be punished by all means".

M.Gorky himself was also reprimanded as the illegal inspirator of this letter.

But with M.Gorky it was completely different. When a youth, he "went into people" to see the life from inside and contaminated if not rusophobia then the critical attitude to the Russian people: "I see the same everywhere: weakness of the will, a shaky and unstable thought, no clear-cut targets, anxiety about the future, a sad inclination towards vague dreams and foggy philosophy in the eastern manner".

Everything was all right but the "petrel of the revolution" openly sympathized Jews. "In certain kingdom, in a certain state there lived Jews - ordinary Jews for pogroms, for slanders and other state needs", - he used to write as far as in 1912. Indignant Solntseva goes on: "Gorky used the facts from the "Book on Jewish pogroms in Ukraine in 1919" by S.Gusev-Orenburgsky (M., 1923) as a reason for blaming the whole Russian nation of sadism and slavery. Pogroms in Ukraine were assessed by him as a bloody chronicle of nasty deeds of the Christ-loving Russian people "with its pathology, with Russian morbid cruelty".

Refuting Gorky "insinuations", N.Solntseva says that, first of all, the pogroms are related with "certain type of people with specific mentality and ideology". This postulate is hardly disputable. The question is: "What part of the Russian people is related to this "type" and contaminated with this "ideology"? Then Solntseva wondered what the Russian people has to do with the pogroms if they were held in Ukraine. Strange, as if there were no pogroms in Russia, for example, in Rostov, or only few Russians live in Ukraine ... This is not all!... More of that, Gorky began exposing Russian writers of being anti-Semitic. It was somewhat paradoxical - the struggle of writers for patriotism turned to be beating of them for anti-Semitism. Apart of Vasilyev, B.Pilnyak happened to be also among the innocent victims of Gorky's political intrigues and cunning". Do you know what for? Only for the only sentence in the story called "Ice drifting": "In the morning the Jewish pogrom began. It is always terrible to see when Jews gather in hundreds and begin to howl more horribly than hundreds of dogs howling at the moon. There is also a vile traditional feature of Jewish feather-beds torn and covering with the wind the streets with feathers". Read this text attentively, my dear reader. It appears that the pogroms is terrible not because of death tortures of hundreds of people but because the victims "begin to howl more horribly than hundreds of dogs" and of "a vile traditional feature of Jewish feather-beds" torn by pogromers. Is there anyone to enjoy hearing and seeing such a scene? So, why should Pilnyak "a man with no national complexes, alien to Nationalism and national nihilism, (...) should prove his innocence" - indignantly writes N. Solntseva. What if he and his Christ-loving characters do suffer from "dogs' howling" and they have allergy for blood-wet feathers from Jewish beds? Should the author be blamed for having been understood that it would be better for prophylactic purpose to burn the Jewish together with their feather-beds at once? Why should Pilnyak vindicate himself only for one phrase which is, though, heavier than many volumes? The candid word is said and the devil horns of anti-Semitism come out for all to see. So, there once lived Jews for pogroms, for slander and other state needs. The end of XIX and the beginning of XX centuries were marked with bloody pogroms in Rostov, Odessa, Kiev, and Kishinev. After the Tsar's freedom manifest, the pogroms were held in other 64 cities and 620 small towns. 200 thousand Jews were killed and about 1 million were injured during the Civil war in Ukraine". And I ask N. Solntseva: "What common "ideology" were contaminated all those pogromers?" (Y.T.) "Many and many Jews in the 30s and late 40s were arrested, tortured and killed".. (V. Erashov. "Corridors of death").

Later on, under Brezhnev, the gates opened and the Exodus of Jews from the Soviet Union began. R. Rozhdestvensky wrote:

"Talants are leaving my country,

Leaving together with pride and dignity.

Some of them do this after the prison

Others do this just before it


They are leaving not by the call of the heart!

But they can't do otherwise.

They are leaving this sky, this zone,

Which is called the sixth part of the Earth."

Jews were leaving sometimes having given the best years of their lives to this "zone". For many of them the parting with the Motherland was a painful break-off of their life traditions, a tragedy with visible and non-visible tears. Who is to blame?

In conclusion, there is quotation from V. Ershov: "Beat the Jews, save Russia!" A clever man once said: "Neither you beat the Jews, nor you save Russia!" One can hardly argue with this clever man though I have a pity on Russia. Despite the horns of anti-Semitism that Russia can't get rid of. Does it really want to get rid of them?

Shalom, USA


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2001 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine -