Leib Kvitko

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Children's book by Kvitko
In vald L Kvitko tseykhenungen Y Ribak, children's book cover

Leyb Moiseyevich Kvitko (Russian: Лев Моисеевич Квитко, Yiddish: לייב קוויטקאָ‎) (October 15, 1890 – August 12, 1952) was a prominent Yiddish poet, an author of well-known children's poems and a member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (JAC). He was one of the editors of Eynikayt (the JAC's newspaper) and of the Heymland, a literary magazine. He was executed in Moscow on August 12, 1952 together with twelve other members of the JAC, a massacre known as the Night of the Murdered Poets. Kvitko was rehabilitated in 1955.[1]

He was born in a Ukrainian shtetl, attended traditional Jewish religious school for boys (Cheder) and was orphaned early. He moved to Kiev in 1917 and soon became one of the leading Yiddish poets of the "Kiev group". He lived in Germany between 1921 and 1925 joining there the Communist Party of Germany and publishing critically acclaimed poetry. He returned to the USSR in 1925 and moved to Moscow in 1936, joining the CPSU in 1939. By that time he was primarily writing verses for children and his style fully corresponded to the canons of Socialist Realism.

Having taken refuge in New York City, he was invited to testify at congressional hearings in Washington. He told the court of inquiry that he was imprisoned when the "Black Book" was first published in 1946. When the Soviet JAC investigated and inspected, he denied involvement in any of the articles. He accused the monitor Lozovsky of readily accepting Comrade Lenin's policy of Jewish emancipation and assimilation, so how could for example, Bregman have had anything to do with the JAC? The Stalinist regime oppressed any form of assimilation, in contrast with Lenin who promoted the Jewish Bund. Kvitko loathed nationalism, for which crime he posed the JAC was guilty. Jewish theatre groups in the Soviet Union tended to be nationalistic, including the poet Milkhoels who fell under the influence of a black marketeer and gangster Chobrutsky. Jewish culture was designated contrary to Communist Party directives banning it as Birobidzhan.


  1. ^ "Списки жертв". Lists.memo.ru. Retrieved 2014-06-15.

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