On this day: the Night of the Murdered Poets in Russia

Flag of the Russian SFSR (1937-1954)

The flag of Russia in 1952

On the 12th of August, 1952, thirteen Jews from across the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania were executed in Moscow on orders from the Russian government. All were falsely accused of espionage and treason, and their executions came after three years of imprisonment and torture.

Five of the murdered were Yiddish poets, hence the name of the infamous day.

Lina Stern Latvian Jew Persecuted by Russia and Stalin in the 1950s Women's History USSR Moscow

Lina Stern

A fourteenth person died in prison five months later, and a fifteenth, a Latvian scientist by the name of Lina Stern, was the only survivor. She spent time in a labour camp until Stalin’s death, but was officially declared “less guilty” so that the USSR could continue to make use of her medical research.

Neither the trials nor the executions were ever mentioned in the Russian media, however the families of the accused were exiled by Stalin. They did not learn the fates of their family members until 1955.

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