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baby pisetskaya

In 1953, during the time of the Doctors' Plot [5], he was arrested as an 'enemy of the people' [6] and sentenced to ten years in Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk region. He was released after five years of imprisonment when Khrushchev [7] came to power. He had all his war decorations returned to him [see Rehabilitation in the Soviet Union] [8]. The authorities sent him to a recreation center for two months to improve his health. After returning from exile he went to work as administrator with the Odessa Philharmonic.
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Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

In 1948 Israel became an official state. It was great news for our family. Finally, after 2000 years of exile Jews had their own state. We followed scarce messages in the papers, in case anything was mentioned on life in Israel.

All of us had Soviet passports. We were surprised that there was a section for nationality in our passports, but that made the work of HR departments and the NKVD easier. In 1948 anti-cosmopolitan campaigns commenced in the USSR [see Campaign against 'cosmopolitans'] [32]. Every day we read articles in the papers about rootless cosmopolitans, who were willing to do harm to the USSR: actors, artists, scientists, writers. All of them were Jews. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee [33] was exterminated and its members were executed or exiled to the Gulag. A Jewish actor, Solomon Mikhoels [34], was assassinated. Estonians were indifferent to that, but those who came from the USSR, ardently condemned cosmopolitans. That campaign kindled anti-Semitism, but it wasn't done by Estonians, but by the new-comers. Then repressions commenced. In 1949 many citizens of Estonia were deported. Many of them were deported for the second time. They came from the first exile and were to be exiled again. I understood that something even more dreadful was brewing, and I was right.

In January 1953 the Doctors' Plot [35] commenced. Of course, it wasn't as horrible in Estonia as it was in Russia. One of my colleagues had returned from Leningrad and said that when he was in the tram, the ticket-collector and some passengers were discussing what should be done with the Jews in the tram. They suggested that the Jews should be ousted from the tram, but the ticket-collector talked them out of it in a peculiar way saying that it wasn't the time. Of course, nothing of the kind happened here. Though, directors of enterprises were ordered by Moscow to fire all Jews. Sometimes people were dissolved for 'incompetence'. I was called to the HR department and was told to write a resignation letter. I did. My direct boss, an Estonian, was fired probably for 'wrong' recruitment. I was looking for a job for three months, but as soon as the HR department saw my passport, it turned out that there were no job openings. Then my former boss offered me a job as a supplier in a service company he worked for. We collected scrap metal in the dumps and cut fir tree branches before New Year. I hoped that our life would change for the better after the Twentieth Party Congress [36], when Khrushchev [37] held a speech, exposing Stalin's crimes. There were no quick changes. Only after ten years or so I got a good job. I was hired as a dispatcher in a company, dealing with timber: Lespromsbyt. Then I was in charge of the transportation department. I worked there until my retirement.
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Eva Ryzhevskaya

It was the hardest for us when the Doctors' Plot [44] started. When the articles about 'Murderers in white robes' appeared in the newspapers, party meetings and team meetings were held to discuss the cases of the doctors poisoning people. At that time we understood that it was a libel. The most famous and the brightest doctors all of a sudden were turned into murderers! But I had to attend those meetings and raise my hand when we were voting for condemnation of the criminals. If I hadn't raised my hand, they would have fired me or put me in prison in the worst case. It was a dreadful time. Patients didn't change their attitude, neither to me nor to other Jewish doctors who worked in our hospital. Anyway, nobody openly showed mistrust and nobody refused to be treated by Jewish doctors. People were not that silly. They understood what was going on.
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There were very many Jews in our hospital. The chief physician was also a Jew. Our department was even referred to as 'synagogue' in the municipal health care department. Of course, it was another demonstration that anti-Semitists didn't even conceal their attitude. In 1948 the campaign against cosmopolitans [40] started, and we were aware that anti-Semitism didn't only occur on a social level, it was enhanced to the state level. The Jewish theater in Moscow was closed down, and its manager, a wonderful actor and the head of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee [41], Solomon Mikhoels [42] was assassinated. His assassination was disguised as a car accident. But everybody understood what was going on, and feared that repressions might follow. Everybody understood that it was propaganda. There were rumors that Jews would be exiled to Siberia, and people believed that. There were times in Soviet history when certain people were forced to move [see Forced deportation to Siberia] [43]: Crimean Tartars, Germans, Chechens, Ingush. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism wasn't felt in our hospital. On the contrary, during the campaign against cosmopolitans, the best doctors of the city were working in our hospital. I was lucky I worked with great experts and learnt from them.
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Henrich Kurizkes

On 5th March 1953 Stalin died. His name was an icon and Stalin was God for those born in the USSR who grew up with his name. I spent my youth in a different environment and was critical about Stalin's personality. We associated Stalin's name with everything happening in the USSR: cosmopolitan processes, the Doctors' Plot [46] and ever strengthening anti- Semitism. Of course, there was no information available, but we were not blind and we had an inner feeling that these were initiated by Stalin since he couldn't be unawares of whatever was happening.

My wife and I were horrified when Nikita Khrushchev [47] spoke at the 20th Party Congress [48] with the report on the cult of Stalin and his crimes. Only parts of his speech were published, even then there was a ban on information, but what we could read was sufficient for us to feel horrified, though we knew and sensed a lot. We knew it, because so many people were returning from the Gulag telling us what it was like. Of course, it was a shock.

Later we learned that if Stalin had not died, Jews would have been deported to Siberia or farther away. I wouldn't say that this shattered my trust in the Party. By then my membership in the Party became a pure formality for me. It was a requirement for making a career and nothing more.
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Demobilization started for older people. I was an officer. I was told I was still young and had to serve in the army. I served in the Estonian Corps until 1949, when reorganization of the army began and the staff was to be reduced. This was also the start of the anti-Semitic campaign in the USSR: the process against cosmopolitans [43], and the murder of Mikhoels [44]. After that reprisals in Estonia began. To tell the truth, when this happened there was more mention of the agricultural population. In the villages, the process of dispossession of wealthy farmers, the Kulaks [45] began. Of course, there were wealthier and poorer farmers in Estonia. Agriculture was well developed there; Estonia prospered from the export of butter, eggs and bacon. Denmark purchased butter and bacon was sold to England. Farming is hard work and all members of a farmer's family joined in this hard work. The Soviet power expropriated land from these people and granted it to the poor; rich country families were banished to Siberia.

I already knew that I was not going to become a staff officer so I got involved in the army finance division. I had no special education and had to learn this specialty on my own. The state anti-Semitism fed by the struggle against cosmopolitans was strengthening in the USSR and of course, it had its impact on me. In 1950, when the Estonian Corps still existed, they made the place too hot for me. They never tried to hide the fact that the reason for this was that I was a Jew. I requested demobilization, but they sent me to the Human Resources department of the Leningrad regiment, and from there to Tikhvin, in the St. Petersburg region [200 kilometers from St. Petersburg] where I was employed as a financier in the military enlistment office.
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Arnold Fabrikant

My daughter went to school #101 in 1956. Though Yelena studied well, her teacher literally bullied her for nobody knew what reason. She was probably an anti-Semite. My wife and I were very wrong to not take our child to another school. We tried to talk to this teacher, but it didn't help. So our daughter suffered till she went to the fourth grade where they had different teachers and the situation improved, but this had its impact on her. In 1964 after finishing school she wanted to enter medical college, but I understood that being a Jew she had no chances there. I lectured part-time at the College of Food and Refrigeration Industry and decided to somehow help her to enter it. Though they knew me well in college and the rector knew me too, they had her flunk rudely at the exam. I went to the rector and made a scandal and then Lena [Yelena] took another exam and was admitted.
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I was quite indifferent when I heard about Stalin's death [in 1953]. I heard the news on the radio when I went to work in the morning. I knew that he was ill and there had been announcements that he was better and then worse and it was clear that he would die. I had seen so many deaths that one more or one less didn't matter... I wasn't critical about Stalin, but I didn't sympathize with him either. My mother believed in Stalin. She always kept a newspaper issued on the day of Stalin's death, with all the praises in his address. When the denunciation of Stalin's cult began, my mother didn't believe it. She said, 'How could this be?' She was and stayed loyal to Stalin till the end of her life. The Doctors' Plot [22] had no impact on her.
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Isroel Lempertas

I did not associate state anti-Semitism, commenced with the assassination of the great Jewish actor Mikhoels [26], extermination of Jewish Anti- fascist Committee [27] and ended with the preposterous so-called 'doctors' plot» [28] with Stalin's name. I thought there were the willingness of the local state activists to outdo others in front of all-union dignitaries. I should say that I personally was not touched by anti-Semitistic campaigns. I kept on teaching successfully. Judging by the way tutors and students treated me, I can say I was respected. I took hard Stalin's death in 1953. Gradually I came to understanding his true role and the resolutions adopted at divulging the Party Congress [29] were taken by me as logical and necessary. The truth was revealed. Only now, after perestroika [30] we came to know almost everything about transgressions of the soviet régime and gangster leader Stalin.
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I was demobilized only in 1947. I was happy. The only thing for me to do was to find a job and go to the institute. The real hardship in my life started. At that time in Lithuania, as well as in the rest of the USSR, anti- Semitism [Campaign against 'cosmopolitans'] [24] was thriving. I came across it when I was seeking a job at the institute. I finished one year and a half in the period of time when most people did not even manage to finish 10 classes. It was enough to find a job. Besides, I was born in Lithuania, a front line soldier with the awards, the member of Communist Party, which was rare. I wanted to be a lector. I had that experience in the regiment and got along with people. Nothing happened. First, I addressed the "educational agency" Znaniye [Znaniye all-Union society, a public educational agency supporting spread of political and scientific knowledge.]. I was offered a job as an accountant. I had not experience in that. Then, the second secretary of the Central Komsomol Committee of the Republic, the fellow soldier, recommended me for a position of the aide of the first secretary of the Central Komsomol Committee. Of course, I did not succeed. I addressed other organizations. First I was welcomed as I did not look like a typical Jew, but when it was the time to see my last name during processing of my documents, the head of HR department found any reason to refuse me. Of course, they never said that the true reason was my Jewish origin. Finally one good fellow soldier helped me get a job as a literary worker at the paper 'Sovietskaya Litva'. [Russian language Lithuanian newspaper.
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Dina Kuremaa

When campaigns against cosmopolitans [25] were held in the USSR, most Estonian citizens learned about them from papers. We didn't feel it. When I was working for the Ministry of State Planning, I didn't remember a single case, when a Jew was fired. There were other things happening in Estonia - recurrent exile of those, who managed to come back after deportation of 1941. In spite of the fact that those people came back on an absolutely legitimate ground, without being in hiding, they were arrested and exiled in the previous place. Of course, we were lucky, as the new leaders of Estonia were loyal to us. My sister Zelda, who was living in Latvia, said that there was tension there and sometimes she had to conceal that she was a Jew.

When the Doctors' Plot [26] commenced in January 1953, Estonian Jews also felt that. Every day there were radio programs, where people were told how Jewish doctors tried to poison Stalin, and we could feel that anti-Semitism was streamlined. We lived in fear. I knew that the management of the theater was given the task to make a list of Jews employees. There were a lot of Jews among the actors as well as among the employees of the theater. The chief producer was also a Jew. Such lists were definitely made in other institutions too. Our HR manager, Scherbatova, came to Estonia from Russia. She got those lists ready. I think if Stalin had not died in March, all of us would have gone to Siberia. We were living in constant fear. We had stocks of tinned food, rusks in case NKVD [27] officers came to us to send us in exile. Thanks God, Stalin died and our stored up things were not needed.
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bella zeldovich

The Doctors' Plot [22] began in 1952. My daughter Katia was born on 26th January 1953. My doctor was a Jewish woman. She was very worried about the situation. There were rumors that Stalin wanted to deport Jews to the North and the Far East [Birobidzhan] [23]. Thank God Stalin died and this didn't happen.
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It was also difficult for Jews to get a job - Russians or Ukrainians were given priority. I believe it was a state policy; people of other nationalities had nothing to do with this segregation.
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In 1949 the campaign against cosmopolitans [21] began. The Jewish and Armenian population was worried and concerned about the situation.
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Anna Ivankovitser

The Doctors' Plot [14] was a different matter, though. In the 1950s my sister and her husband were working at a polyclinic. They had problems. Their patients would run out of her office when they found out that my sister was a Jew. A Ukrainian nurse refused to work with my sister's husband. She said she didn't want to be an unintentional assistant of a doctor- murderer. Their patients didn't want to visit them and many of them were saying openly that they didn't want to be treated by Jewish doctors. My sister was about to quit her job and go to work as a cleaning woman. But fortunately, it was a short period of time and it was over when Stalin died in March 1953.
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