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Moishe Pinchevskiy was in the internal prison of the Ministry of State Security of the Ukrainian SSR in Kiev since June 22, 1951. He, a writer and playwright, was accused of publishing a number of anti-Soviet works and organizing nationalist operation.

Pinchevskiy not only disagreed with the charges brought against him, but also actively used his intellectual advantage, constantly setting logical and procedural traps for the employees of the authorities.

For the first time, the writer was arrested during the Great Terror, on October 4, 1938, for similar sins against the Bolsheviks. Pinchevskiy, firstly, was suspected of belonging to a national fascist organization and, secondly, of espionage. The idea of the NKVD was prompted by the writer's biography.

Moishe Pinchevskiy was born on April 1, 1894 in the Bessarabian town of Telenești, into a very religious family of a merchant. Father sent him to study at the cheder. In 1912, Moishe continued, as his parent wanted, spiritual education, enrolling in the Odessa Yeshiva of Rabbi Chaim Chernovitser.

As a child, Moishe Pinchevskiy showed remarkable literary talent. For the first time, the name of Pinchevskiy appeared in the oldest Hebrew newspaper “Ha-Melitz”, published in St. Petersburg by Leon Rabinovich. In 1911, a boy from Bessarabia made his debut with the poem “Why Wings Are Not Given to Me” in a magazine for children and adolescents published in Luhansk “Ha-Prahim” (“Flowers”). In 1912, already living in Odessa, Pinchevskiy was published in the almanac “Moledet” (“Motherland”) of his fellow countryman, journalist and writer Simcha Ben-Zion.

In Odessa, he was captivated by the delightful atmosphere of Jewish literary salons, political debates, and a multilingual press. The leading figures of Jewish literature, Hayim Nahman Bialik and Mendele Mocher Sforim, Odessa journalists and critics finally dissuaded the aspiring poet from associating his life with the rabbi's quirk, predicting great literary success for him.

Old man Pinchevskiy, as a believer, could not accept that his son preferred literature to yeshiva. In the midst of a difficult family conflict, Moishe Pinchevskiy decided to give up everything and go abroad.

In Argentina, the writer began with a menial job, as a fireman at a construction site. In his spare time, he continued to write poetry in Hebrew, but soon, under the influence of the journalist and editor Pini Katz, a native of the Kherson province, he switched to his native Yiddish.

Already in 1913, the young poet was noticed by local publications. He began to be published not only by Argentine newspapers, but also by large circulation in the United States. Soon, another job was found for the migrant – much more suitable for his hobbies – as a teacher of Yiddish and Hebrew in the schools of the Jewish Colonization Society in Mendoza and San Juan. At the same time, Pinchevskiy did not abandon literature, and lived not only on the salary of a teacher, teaching children Jewish “gaucho”, but also largely at the expense of literary fees.

In 1918, the first book by Moishe Pinchevskiy was published in Buenos Aires - a collection of poems “Tsvit” (“Blossom”) – one of the first poetry collections in Yiddish in Argentina. A year later, the author decided to try his hand at prose, publishing in the same collection of stories “Farfaln” (“Lost”).

The young lyricist was an avid traveler and together with his friend – the poet and translator Aba Kliger – traveled across Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina. Six months before returning home to Romania, Pinchevskiy moved to Brazil. There, in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Santos, he also gained public fame.

Returning to Romania with a “Nansen passport” at the end of 1922, Pinchevskiy continued to publish his works in Polish, Lithuanian, and Romanian publications. He did not leave the teaching profession either, working first in Jewish schools in his native town, neighboring Falesti, and shortly after leaving Romania – in Chernivtsi.

Since about 1924, Pinchevskiy was fired up with the idea of moving to the USSR. In the Soviet Union, as it seemed from abroad, Jewish culture flourished: not only national in its language, but also revolutionary, respectively, very modern in content. No less incentive was the persecution by the Romanian special services, which received information that the writer's brother, David Pinchevskiy, was known in Moscow as a prominent communist. Siguranța summoned Pinchevskiy for interrogation several times, and each time asked the writer in detail about his relatives in the Union and his own activities.

Moishe Pinchevskiy arrived in Berlin through Czechoslovakia. The writer spent three months in the German capital. During this time, he managed to see his younger sister Rachel to Moscow and transfer his manuscripts through her to the Jewish section of the Moscow Association of Proletarian Writers (MAPP). Soviet writers carefully read the poems and immediately petitioned the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs to issue a Soviet visa to the talented Jewish poet.

In August 1926, Moishe Pinchevskiy arrived in Moscow through Riga and Sebezh. In the capital of the USSR, the writer settled with his sister and got a job as a cashier-bookkeeper in a music store.

After his arrival, he, a connoisseur of Hebrew, was popularly explained that in the Soviet Union one should write exclusively in Yiddish. There were more than enough people who wanted to be published in the Moscow Yiddish-language publishing house “Der Emes”, and relations with the editor-in-chief Moshe Litvakov did not work out. So the writer decided to cooperate with the children's magazine “Pioneer”.

Soon the editorial staff of Pioneer moved to Kharkiv, where the main Jewish publishing houses were concentrated and, unlike Moscow, Jewish literature had its own mass readers. Having moved to Kharkiv in 1928 after his colleagues, Pinchevskiy began working in the editorial office of the Der Stern newspaper, also collaborating with the Der Kustar publication and the pioneer newspaper “Zai Great!”

Having joined the All-Ukrainian Union of Proletarian Writers (VUSPP) in 1928, Pinchevskiy published a large poem “Bessarabia” as a separate book, which he considered his best work. In 1930 he published another book – “Fir poems” (“Four poems”).

Working for Soviet publishing houses, Pinchevskiy, accustomed to living in the West, was inevitably doomed to conflict with the system. In 1929, the writer resolutely refused to give his own articles to Der Stern, signed with the name of a “promoted” from a shoe factory.

In 1929, at the Jewish section of the All-Ukrainian Union of Proletarian Writers in Kharkov, the question of Pinchevskiy's “cleanliness” was raised. In March 1931, on the verge of suicide, Pinchevskiy was rehabilitated - rumors about his work for the Romanian Siguranța were dispelled.

Moving away from the proceedings, the writer was able to concentrate on literary work. This period became one of the most fruitful for Moishe Pinchevskiy. The writer's plays were staged by the country's leading Jewish theaters, and were also translated into Russian, Ukrainian, Kazakh and Czech.

Pinchevskiy, as the author of the libretto for the children's ballet “Aistenok”, staged with overwhelming success at the Bolshoi Theater in 1935, also forced the obstinate metropolitan literary elite to admit him. Despite the fact that the main language of his works was Yiddish.

The years of calm and active literary work did not last long. In 1937, the situation in the country began to change rapidly.

Making claims to the Soviet government, criticizing its national policy, was fraught with consequences. Pinchevskiy did not fail to point out that in such a large city as Kharkiv, by 1937 there was no longer a Jewish theater or even a single newspaper published in Yiddish.

On October 3, 1938, they came for Pinchevskiy. The accusations were standard for that time - espionage and organizational anti-Soviet activities. Immediately after the arrest, the investigation became interested in Moishe Pinchevskiy's lifestyle in South America. According to the chaste Soviet authorities, the first published collection of the poet – “Tsvit” – was not only of a pornographic nature, but was also held in high esteem by various “scum of society” with whom a writer was allegedly associated in Argentina.

Another of the accusations is the fact that Pinchevskiy was interrogated by the Romanian political secret service – Siguranța – after his return to Romania in 1922. They also recalled the visit of the writer to the German Police Presidium in Berlin on the eve of his move to the USSR. The writer gave clear answers to all accusations: “no” or “it is all wrong”.

Having not received spontaneous confession from a literary starving in protest, and also having only gossip at their disposal, and not any confirmed facts, the Chekists decided to finally concentrate on literary expertise. On the instructions of the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR, a commission of writers met and analyzed all the main books of the writer.

Of the nine books read by the commission, only the popular fairy-tale plays for young children “The Stork” and “Eldorado” and the collection of poems from 1938 “From Spring to Spring” were “positive”. Everything else was declared to be of no literary value.

Behind the seeming severity of the examination there was a veiled support of the prisoner in Lukyanovskaya prison. There were no conclusions about the anti-Soviet character of Pinchevskiy's books in the act signed by his colleagues.

Pointing to the complete lack of evidence and confession of the arrested person, the assistant to the military prosecutor of the Kiev military district Nikolayev recommended that the case against Pinchevskiy be discontinued. But the writer was not immediately released. This was prevented by the Deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR Kobulov, who did not want to let go of the “socially dangerous” Pinchevskiy and protested the decision of the prosecutor's office. However, soon Kobulov left as a legal resident of the USSR in Berlin. Nikolai Gorlinskiy replaced Kobulov, and was tasked with “holding back the horses” with terror, signing a decree on November 2, 1939, to terminate the investigation against the writer.

After his release and before the start of the Great Patriotic War, Pinchevskiy managed to publish two more collections. The NKVD did not stop watching him. The agents recorded that, while in evacuation in Alma-Ata, Moishe Pinchevskiy repeatedly expressed his opinion about the need to create an independent Jewish state in Palestine.

Believing the Stalinist regime, which used the Jewish community for its foreign policy purposes, part of the intelligentsia decided that new times were dawning in the country. Among such people was Moishe Pinchevskiy. In 1943, at one of the meetings, the writer openly spoke out for the recognition of Hebrew in the USSR as the national language of the Jewish population.

In Kazakhstan, Pinchevskiy again turned to religion. He spoke to his acquaintances about plans to buy tallit and tefillin for prayers, and his desire to celebrate all Jewish religious holidays again.

In 1944, Pinchevskiy returned with his family to Kyiv, but two years later he moved to the city where he taught in his youth – Chernivtsi.

Trying to somehow restore Jewish culture in the destroyed Ukraine, Pinchevskiy in 1946-1948 actively traveled around the Jewish townships of the Chernivtsi region together with his colleagues from the Writers' Union. At the meetings, he popularized the Jewish theater, distributed Yiddish literature, and during his lectures on Jewish culture, he publicly called on the Jewish population to preserve their identity. With enthusiasm, the writer helped the only Jewish school in the city, constantly giving lectures there and speaking his own poems.

In October 1946, in the decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (b) U on the repertoire of drama and opera theaters of the Ukrainian SSR, published in the newspaper Pravda Ukrainy, vigilant Soviet censorship pointed out manifestations of national narrow-mindedness and bourgeois-nationalist perversions in Pinchevskiy's play “I live”.

Because of the play “I live” the writer was also attacked at a meeting of the Jewish section of the USSR Writers' Union held in Moscow. The authorities did not like the statement of the fact of the deliberate destruction of the Jewish population by the Nazis and their accomplices. Not abstract “Soviet citizens”, but a very specific group of the population.

Despite the utmost caution after accusations of nationalism by the Writers' Union of the USSR, the writer could not help but criticize the state policy directed against Jewish culture and intelligentsia.
Since 1948, the Pinchevskiy family has lived in the capital of Ukraine. Signals continued to come from the “state ears” about Pinchevskiy. Soon, Pinchevskiy's surname was already featured in a special message “On the response of the Kyiv intelligentsia in connection with the dissolution of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and the arrests of Jewish nationalists”.

Preparing massive provocations against the Jewish intelligentsia, the MGB decided to “discover” a group of nationalists living in Chernivtsi. The Chernivtsi Jewish Theater named after Sholem Aleichem was appointed the center of the Zionist underground. Moishe Pinchevskiy, who had already moved to Kyiv, was to be one of those arrested.

To analyze Pinchevskiy's literary works, just like in 1938, a special commission was gathered. On September 26, 1950, Pinchevskiy was provided with a 26-page expert opinion. The commission came to the conclusion that some of the writer's works – the plays “I live”, “Remember, boy”, “Sulina's story” and some pages of the play “You are not my father” – were nationalistic in nature.

In his written response, Pinchevskiy called the experts' conclusion falsification, and during interrogation on November 15, 1951, he refused to cooperate with the investigation at all. The writer stated that, in his opinion, the investigation did not have any evidence of his nationalist activities, except for fiction under the guise of an expert opinion and someone's subjective judgments, thus being completely biased.

Having failed to obtain a confession from Pinchevskiy, investigator Shvydkiy filed a petition with the prosecutor of the Ukrainian SSR to extend the period of the investigation and the detention of the accused until January 30, 1952.

Finally, on April 5, 1952, the writer was charged with committing crimes under three political articles of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR. As planned, the senior investigator Captain Shvydkiy “found out” that Pinchevskiy in his works preached anti-Soviet nationalist ideas, slandering against Soviet reality.

The investigation believed that during the three post-war years, Moishe Pinchevskiy conducted subversive work with the help of the Kyiv Cabinet of Jewish Culture. They also recalled the articles published in the newspaper of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee “Einikite”, as well as the play “I live” staged in Israel by actor Yakov Mansdorf.

In prison, Pinchevskiy fell ill with angina pectoris and bronchial asthma, but, despite his suffering, continued to starve in protest. The writer refused to sign the protocol on the end of the investigation.
Investigation case No. 149792 in relation to Pinchevskiy was considered in Moscow by the prosecutor for special cases – senior counselor of justice Sharutin. Sharutin came to the conclusion that the criminal connection between Pinchevskiy and the convicted leaders of the former Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was not established by the investigation. Moscow also decided to drop the charge against him of belonging to an anti-Soviet nationalist organization.

At the same time, there could be no acquittal in the case that supported the all-Union campaign against Zionism and Jewish bourgeois nationalism. Pinchevskiy was left charged under article 54-10, part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR “Propaganda or agitation containing a call for the overthrow, undermining or weakening of Soviet power” and was recommended to give him 10 years in forced labor camps.

From Dzhezkazgan, Karaganda region, Pinchevskiy tried to write to Beria, but he was denied a review of the case. He had to wait until February 13, 1954, when the Judicial Collegium for Judicial Cases of the Supreme Court of the USSR decided to release the writer from custody for lack of proof of the crime.
Returning to Kyiv, the writer immediately wrote a statement to the KGB with a request to return to him, in addition to the documents and the award “For Valiant Labor during the Great Patriotic War”, all the seized drafts and printed works.

The reluctant investigative department of the KGB agreed to give out some of the works, but the collection of poems “In the United Family”, as well as some other manuscripts, the KGB decided to leave in the register-archives department of the KGB as material evidence.

On September 16, 1954, in the KGB reception room, Pinchevskiy refused to accept personal belongings, telling the KGB officers that he would only accept every single line of literary works confiscated from him during the arrest.

Soon after his release – March 24, 1955 – the writer died. He failed to stop the destruction of Jewish culture in Soviet Ukraine. In Chernivtsi, the Jewish theater was closed, and his brainchild, the only Jewish school in the city, was destroyed. Posthumous collections of selected works by Pinchevskiy – “Aistenok” and “Doina” – were published in 1959 and 1960 in Russian. However, there is a memory of Moishe Pinchevskiy, a Jewish nationalist in the best sense of the word, a champion of Hebrew and Yiddish.

Moishe Pinchevskiy

1894 – 1955

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