“Hail, Caesar!” and Warszawianka


Lenin’s favorite revolutionary song in “Hail, Caesar!”: As Ken Jensen aptly notices, it is funny that the Coen brothers chose the Red Army Choir version rather than the very famous one interpreted by Paul Robeson, a hero of the peace movement whose champion, in the last years of Stalin’s rule, was Ilya Ehrenburg. Paul Robeson was friends with some of the members of the Jewish Antifascist Committee and, when he visited Moscow, insisted to meet Feffer. The MGB organized a hotel meeting in which the terrorized Itzik Feffer, himself a former secret police collaborator, acted as a free man. It was a grotesque charade.. Thanks, John Feffer, for the story…





Gerda Taro, Robert Capa si Razboiul Civil din Spania


July 2016: Eighty years would have passed since the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, a labyrinth of illusions, passions, deception, frantic commitments, deep loyalties, and infamous betrayals. Gerda Taro loved life, was only 26 when she was killed, the first woman photographer to die in war. She was Robert Capa’s companion. Before her death, she told Tina Modotti how much she was yearning to be recognized as an artist, nut just as Capa’s “shadow.” It seems that Gerda did not realize that Maria, Tina’s nom de guerre, was herself one of the great artists of the century.


“Gerda Taro was born Gerta Pohorylle to a Jewish-Galician family in Stuttgart. She fled Nazi occupied Germany for Paris in 1934, where she met Friedmann Endre. He taught her photography and together the two of them invented Robert Capa and Gerda Taro as a ruse to earn more money off their photographs, as Americans were paid more than Europeans for their work. They were found out, but the two of them kept their altered names, the names they eventually became famous by.”

Favourite Photogs: Gerda Taro

Un adevarat erou: Vasile Paraschiv


Azi se implinesc cinci ani de la incetarea din viata a unui dintre cei mai cinstiti si curajosi oameni pe care mi-a fost dat sa-i cunosc.

Vasile Paraschiv în urma bătăii primite la 6 ianuarie 1984


Despre Ilya Grigorievici Ehrenburg: Cameleon si eretic


Avant-garde writer, social critic, intellectual firebrand, friends with Mayakovski, Modigliani, Picasso, Soutine, Gide, Malraux, Nizan, Bukharin, Babel, Pasternak, Akhmatova, Tsvetayeva, Mandelstam, Aragon, Elsa Triolet, Koltsov, Hemingway, Diego Rivera, Anna Seghers, Titsian Tabidze, Eisenstein, Roman Karmen, Viktor Shklovsky, Lily Brik, Vasily Grossman, Pablo Neruda, Julian Tuwim, maverick journalist, Stalinist propagandist, survivor, chameleon, after Stalin’s death champion of liberalization, demonized by the cultural hacks. Immensely engaging, albeit frustratingly incomplete, his memoirs led to the rehabilitatiion of many murdered and slandered personalities. Things started earlier: in January 1953, Ehrenburg was among the very few prominentt figures who refused to sign the infamous “Jewish Statement,” beggiing the despot to forgive Jews for their alleged lack of loyalty. This was too much for Ehrenburg to swallow. He execrated anti-Semitism in any form whatsoever. He was tired to act like a slave.

Portrait of Ilya Ehrenburg  - Marevna (Marie Vorobieff)

Ilya Ehrenburg by Marevna (1956)

When Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 for his novel “Doctor Zhivago” and Soviet authorities started a protest campaign, Ehrenburg refused to participate in it. When Yevgeny Yevtushenko came under attack for his poem “Babi Yar” in 1961, Ehrenburg rose to his defense by writing a letter to the editor of “Literaturnaya Gazeta.” Ehrenburg lent support to younger writers. He signed a letter in support of Iosif Brodsky, counseled Andrey Voznesensky on how best to avoid complications, protested against the sentences given to Sinyavsky and Daniel and expressed positive views about Solzhenitsyn. Highly recommended, Joshua Rubenstein‘s “Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg,” Basic Books,1996. I reviewed it, when it came out, in “The Village Voice.”

Portrait of Ilya Ehrenburg – Marevna (Marie Vorobieff), 1956

Boris Yeltsin’s Tragic Failure


Born on February 1, eighty-five years ago, Boris Yeltsin could have revolutionized Russia. He failed to do so. He tried, but did not succeed. As Masha Gessen has argued, the main cause of this failure was Yeltsin’s renunciation to the trial of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin’s rise to power was the effect of Yeltsin’s acceptance of the silent pact between the “family” (his daughter and her husband) and the secret police (FSB). The initiator of this pact was the oligarch Boris Berezovsky. He abysmally miscalculated his authority and was easily eliminated from the sordid game he had concocted. Yeltsin’s tragedy was that, at the end of the day, he left behind an authoritarian kleptocratic regime which kills its opponents or sends them, like the Soviet one, to psychiatric institutions.


When Myths Fall Apart: Khrushchev’s Attack on Stalin


He was one of Stalin’s most faithful lieutenants. Obedient to an extreme, he pursued the khoziain’s orders unswervingly. He was a true believer. This makes his revolt against his former idol even more dramatic. Attacking Stalin’s myth in February 1956, Nikita Khrushchev broke with his own past.

As Italian philosopher Lucio Colletti once put it, “Khrushchev did represent a crucial point in post-war history. … he did symbolize an attempt–however inadequate and debatable–to unleash a process of transformation of Soviet society by a radical and violent indictment of Stalin.” The Stalinists (Molotov, Malenkov, Thorez, Mao, Enver Hoxha, Gheorghiu-Dej, Rakosi, etc) knew it. They resented him viscerally. The Secret Spech will endure as one of the most influential political documents of the twentieth century…



Legionarismul nu a fost fascism, aflam de la academicianul Dan Berindei


O declaratie din 2015 a academicianului Dan Berindei, Președintele de Onoare al Secției de Științe Istorice și Arheologie a Academiei Române: „Mișcarea Legionară nu poate fi calificată drept ‘fascistă’ întrucât nu întrunește, prin elementele de doctrină pe care le-a adoptat și promovat, un caracter ideologic fascist”.

La fel gândește si Radu Ciuceanu, directorul Institutului National pentru Studierea Totalitarismului, o entitate aflată in subordinea aceleiași Academii. Mă rog, poate că nici PCR-ul lui Ceaușescu nu era “comunist”, intrucat, cum ne-a explicat profesorul Ion Ianoși, spre a nu mai vorbi de Ion Iliescu, “nu a intrunit, prin elementele de doctrină pe care le-a adoptat și promovat, un caracter ideologic marxist”…


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