First Published: Jewish Life, July 1956.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Editors, JEWISH LIFE:
Now that all the peace-loving people are seriously doing their spring house cleaning, opening wide the doors and windows, welcoming the inrush of fresh air and sparkling sunshine– after the 20th Congress report–let us now unequivocally call a spade a spade.
One of the key paragraphs in “What Happened to Soviet Jewish Culture” [article from Warsaw Yiddish paper Folks-Shtimme in our May issue] made me physically sick and my gorge rise to the bursting point.
“Yes, certainly, we were silent, despite the fact that we saw and painfully felt the tragic results of the Beria gang. We were silent because we believed that not only the party of Lenin could–and finally would–untangle the tragic knot. We were convinced that the party of Lenin would find the whole truth and boldly (!?) and determinedly reveal it to all people. Our faith and conviction has been fully justified.” (Italics mine–M.K.)
This will someday be considered the most shameful contradictory mouthing in all progressive political writing.
Supposing the Warsaw ghetto Jews remained silent to the last one? Supposing the American progressive leaders had remained silent in the face of the worst cold war terror ever loosed in the country’s history, would the American people “finally learn the whole truth”?
Supposing we had kept stone silent about the Rosenberg case, would the world ever have known about this monstrous governmental frame-up? Supposing we kept silent about the long-suffering Negro people?
You leaders kept silent in the land of socialism when the flower of Jewish culture was cut down.
Let us set your record straight. Silence was the abandonment of Leninism, not faith in it! More damnably so because those frightful crimes took place several years after World War II. Therefore, if your tongues were active and not your fears, you could not have been accused of treason for speaking against the policy of the gangsters who gnawed their way into the heart of the party.
What a world catastrophe may have happened if all had been silent.
We have no illusion about the cult of the individual being a sociological trait whose origin goes back thousands of years in slavery, through feudalism, with its vilest, most insidious form under capitalism, drowning the world in it through its powerful media of propaganda: radio, TV, movies, publishing and press industries, the educational system. The cult of the individual will not fade from man’s ego until the last remnants of the capitalist mode of economy are on the road to oblivion.
But to those of us who know better, let not the words drop from our lips, with the greatest of ease, balancing the right emotional expression like a juggler, and not like a human being. (Once and for all let us be honest with ourselves and our fellow men).
We have no doubt about the future. It belongs to the people, all the people.
M. K. Los Angeles, May 12
Editors’ note: Letters to the same effect were received from Mike Hecht of Chicago and an anonymous reader from New York City.