Fifty years ago this winter, the Soviet government announced that a crime had been committed. The circumstances of the crime were misstated. The date of the crime was misreported. The victims of the crime were described as if they were the criminals. It’s now possible, and long past time, to set the record straight.
In February 1943, the Soviet government announced the execution of Henryk Erlich and Victor Alter. Before the war the two men had been internationally respected leaders of the General Jewish Workers Union, better known as “the Bund,” the socialist labor movement based i Poland. That did not save them, when they fell into Soviet hands, from ludicrous charges of being agents of, variously, the Polish secret police, the “international bourgeoisie,” and (after the collapse of the Hitler-Stalin Pact), the Nazis. In 1991 the Russian chief prosecutor declared Erlich and Alter were, in reality, innocent of all the charges brought against them...
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