Sutzkever Prize in Lithuania

SLS’s 2015 Sutzkever Prize: Yiddish Poetry Serving Right-Wing East European Politics?



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The bizarre saga of the Montreal-based Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) “Jewish Lithuania Sutzkever Prize” continues apace with ever-increasing disrespect toward Abraham Sutzkever and his fellow Jewish partisans who helped liberate Lithuania from the Nazis, and ever more political entanglement with current geopolitical instrumentalization of Yiddish and Jewish causes in Eastern Europe in the context of East-West tensions.

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Holocaust Survivors from Lithuania Issue Statement on Sutzkever Prize in Vilnius


On the 15 July 2013 centenary of the birth of the illustrious Yiddish poet of Vilna, Abraham Sutzkever (1913–2010), the last active association of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania released the statement below (also available as PDF). It urges organizers, participants, judges and prize winners to avoid being instrumentalized as cover-up props for Holocaust obfuscation. It proposes that they simply issue public statements calling for written public apologies from the Lithuanian government to the defamed Jewish partisans who knew Sutzkever well from the forests of Lithuania and dozens of years of contact in survivor circles. See the related debate on this year’s Sutzkever Prize.

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Charles Adès Fishman Adds Voice, on Yom Hashoah, to Sutzkever Prize Fracas



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by Charles Adès Fishman

 

Dear Ed,

I could hardly believe it when I was told that you were participating in the Sutzkever Translation Prize competition as a judge. The Ed Hirsch whose work I’ve read and admired for years—the Ed Hirsch I’ve admired for years—wouldn’t allow himself to be used in a way that will help the Neo-Nazi forces in Lithuania remove the stain of antisemitism from its persecution of individuals who served as Jewish partisans during the Holocaust years.

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Peter Thabit Jones Issues Open Letter on Sutzkever Translation Prize



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by Peter Thabit Jones

 

Dear Mr. Hirsch

As a fellow poet and human being, I implore you to withdraw as a judge in a competition that will be part of a series of events misrepresenting things, in effect for the benefit of certain elements in the Lithuanian government. Alternatively, as suggested by colleagues, a simple requirement that each of the wrongfully defamed Jewish Holocaust Survivors who joined the anti-Nazi resistance be issued a full and public apology would bring the matter to a rapid close.

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Arthur Dobrin’s Open Letter to Ed Hirsch



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by Arthur Dobrin

 

I am writing to you because it has come to my attention that you are to be the judge in the Avrom Sutzkever Poetry Translation Prize. Many years ago I came across a book of Sutzkever and have used several lines from his poems in a book of mine on bereavement. I was deeply touched by his work and wanted to share it with others.

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Sutzkever Translation Prize: American Poets in Discourse on “Being a Judge in a Judenrat Circumstance”


The New York office of Cross-Cultural Communications Press today released the following statement by its director, poet and publisher Stanley H. Barkan, in response to a 26 Dec 2012 Forward article on the recently announced Abraham Sutzkever Translation Prize competition. Sutzkever (1913-2010), a Vilna Ghetto survivor and Jewish partisan, was a major Yiddish poet and editor.

The prize is related to events to be held in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, next summer on the centenary of Sutzkever’s birth. Details of the award and an opinion piece on its problematic aspects appeared earlier, on 6 Dec 2012, in Defending History. The text of Mr. Barkan’s statement first appeared in the Comments section following the Forward report.

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An Open Letter to Ed Hirsch



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Dear Mr. Hirsch,

Congratulations on your selection as judge of the new literary translation contest named for the eminent late Yiddish poet Avrom (Abraham) Sutzkever (1913-2010). News of the contest was today disseminated far and wide (information affixed below, for readers’ rapid reference, and to help inspire more entries in your competition).

Will prosecutors (and the writers’ union) in Vilnius be told about Avrom Sutzkever’s days with the Soviet partisans?

You may know that in addition to being a major twentieth century Yiddish poet and editor, Sutzkever survived the Holocaust by escaping the Vilna Ghetto to join the anti-Nazi Jewish partisans. You may or may not know that elderly Lithuanian Jewish Holocaust survivors, who like Sutzkever escaped certain death by joining the partisans, but who are still alive and relatively well, have been defamed as “war criminals” by the same Lithuanian government that recently invested in a Sutzkever plaque in Vilnius, brought over his Israeli family for festivities, and invests in ever more Jewish and Yiddish PR stunts (complete with honors for compliant foreigners)  to camouflage a campaign of revisionism.

This is on top of a disturbing toleration of serious antisemitism, including in recent years, state-sanctioned neo-Nazi marches in the heart of the capital city on independence day, the legalization of public swastikas (the UN Human Rights Committee has commented), and inaction regarding front pages of mass circulation newspapers worthy of the 1930s. The most famous examples in recent years are depictions of the Jew and the Gay controlling the world (2009), and, less than a year ago, of one of the city’s resident rabbis.

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