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.
Considering how the current Lithuanian government, with its laws criminalizing the partisans — transmogrifying them from heroic victims into perpetrators worthy of trial and imprisonment — this contest, which, if Sutzkever were alive, would make him subject to arrest as one of the preeminent partisans, is a pure and unadulterated shanda. Ed Hirsch, a very fine poet and a real mensch, should not be party to this cover for the current Lithuanian government’s attempt to cover its approval of neo-Nazi activities.
It’s aiding and abetting them.
Dear Ed, please don’t be a party to it without seeking redress for the still-living partisans who now fear to visit the place which was their homeland. Don’t be a judge in a judenrat circumstance.
- Stanley H. Barkan
- Cross-Cultural Communications