The People of the Book inthe World of Books isaRussian bimonthly publication for serious readers with Jewish interests. Our English website includes only thesummaries of thepublished articles. Toaccess the complete text of them, please visit the Russian version of this website.


December 2003

This issue of the magazine includes:

• History: General Trofimenko and Actor Michoels

The name of Solomon Michoels (1890–1948), the famous Jewish actor, art director of Moscow State Yiddish Theater, and chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, is world known. The name of General Sergei Trofimenko (1899–1953) is known only to World War II historians. These two men first met in 1945, during the celebration of the victory over Nazi Germany, and they soon became close friends. The name of General Trofimenko was mentioned in conjunction with the tragic death of Michoels for the first time in the memoirs of the actor's daughter, Nina Vovsi-Michoels (Tel Aviv, 1984).

In 1948, General Trofimenko was the head of the Byelorussian Division of the Soviet Army and lived in Minsk. As it is well-known, on January 7, 1948, Michoels went by train from Moscow to Minsk. He was sent by the Committee on Stalin Prizes to see a Byelorussian theater production which had been nominated for the Prize. On the evening of January 12, he was killed on a dark Minsk street by the special group of state security agents, acting on the direct orders of Stalin. The death of the man considered the leader of Soviet Jewry became the beginning of the most terrible anti-Semitic campaign in Soviet history.

Many details of the last days of Michoels' life are not clear even today. In particular, the question of General Trofimenko's involvement became a subject of speculation in many biographical books about Michoels. The article provides new materials about the tragic events in Minsk in January 1948, based predominantly on evidence from General Trofimenko's daughter, Lidia Trofimenko-Eidus, who now lives in Jerusalem.

Looking Through Russian Literary Magazines: Novels and Articles of Jewish Interest

Jewish Calendar of Significant Dates: January–February 2004

Bibliography: 60 New Books