The Murder of Isaac Babel

The Murder of Isaac Babel

In the Soviet periodical Ogonyok (Number 39, 1989), an article about the last days of the great Russian writer Isaac Babel appeared, based on documents kept secret until now in the Lubyanka Prison and only recently accessible “in the light of glasnost.” The documents were reviewed and the article written by Vitali Shentalinski, deputy chairman of the All-Soviet Commission on the Artistic Legacy of Suppressed Writers. This commission was created in December 1988 by the literary community in order “to carry out the enormous task of searching archives and documents, of preparing works and documents for publication, and of keeping alive the memories of innocent writers who suffered” under Stalin. Shentalinski’s article describes the contents of the folder marked “Case #419, I. E. Babel” and offers some commentary. It is summarized here and set as much as possible in the form of a chronicle, from the time of Babel’s arrest until his end, and somewhat beyond.

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Lima