This Day in Jewish History August 12

On this day in 1952, 13 Jewish intellectuals were executed by a firing squad in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison.

David Green
David B. Green
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
David Green
David B. Green

On this day in 1952, 13 Jewish intellectuals were executed by a firing squad in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison. All had been convicted of anti-Soviet treason and espionage, in connection with their involvement in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. The JAC had been formed during World War II to lobby world Jewry to support the USSR in fighting Nazi Germany, but after the war, its members worked to save what remained of Jewish culture in liberated Eastern Europe.

Toward the end of his life, Joseph Stalin unleashed an intense campaign of persecution against the country’s Jews. One of the most notorious examples of this crusade was the trial of the 13 – who included Yiddish writers Peretz Markish, David Bergelson and Itzik Fefer (who had been an informer for the secret police) -- for alleged Zionist activity and other “counterrevolutionary crimes."

The execution became known as the “Night of the Murdered Poets,” though the victims also included scientists and army officers. Two other Jews tried at the same time were Solomon Bregman, a former deputy commissar of foreign affairs, who avoided execution by dying in prison, and biochemist Lina Stern, who was spared death because of her important medical work. After Stalin’s death, she was permitted to return to Moscow from internal exile.

Protesters walk with a placard depicting Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and reading 'Russians and Poles, remember who is the killer!'Credit: Reuters



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott