“He did his best to conform to the demands of Socialist Realism and, along with many prominent figures in Soviet Yiddish culture, was an active member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee during the Second World War. Many of the committee members were arrested in the winter of 1949; fifteen were subjected to a show trial in 1952, and thirteen – including Bergelson, Perets Markish (1895-1952), Itsik Fefer (1900-1952), Dovid Hofshteyn (1889-1952) and Leyb Kvitko (1890 or 1893-1952) – were executed on 12 August of that year, the so-called `Night of the Murdered Poets.’”
Dralyuk includes a brief, two-part story by Bergelson, “Scenes from the Revolution” (1917). Go here to read translations of two poems written by Peretz [alternate transliteration] Markish, including one from 1917 that concludes:
“What are you selling – corpses? Rags?
Or long-since-departed dads?
Hey, a buyer’s slipped a way,
he’s dying but will be reborn.”
Poets are a jealous, petty bunch, complaining about sales and tenure. But at least if you are a poet in the United States, you and your comrades are not likely to be shot in the back of the head by Stalinist goons.
[Go here to read a memorial pamphlet dedicated to the murdered poets, first published in 1973 by the National Conference of Soviet Jewry.]