Letter from Rokhl Korn to Vilenski, 1942. From Rokhl Korn in Fergana, Uzbekistan, to Vilenski in [Kuibyshev, USSR?], 1 October 1942. She describes living conditions in Fergana as "not being much better than yours." They are living in a "distant corner of Central Asia, torn away from the center, lonely and fading away," and says that despite the fact that there are many Jews there, she has not seen a single Yiddish book. From time to time, she has access to the Yiddish newspaper Eynikayt. Korn suggests that Vilenski seek work as a typesetter at a newspaper in Kuibyshev. Yiddish. RG 107, Letters Collection. (YIVO)

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The official newspaper of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR, published from 1942 until the committee was liquidated in November 1948. Written in Yiddish, Eynikayt (Unity) produced its first issue on 7 June 1942. In its early stage, the paper resembled a bulletin and appeared just a few times a month. In September 1943 it became a weekly and from February 1945 until its last issue it was issued three times a week. The editor was the committee’s secretary, Shakhne Epstein, followed by G. Zhits, who took over the periodical when Epstein died in 1945. The major Yiddish writers of the Soviet Union served on its editorial board, including Dovid Bergelson, Shmuel Halkin, Leyb Kvitko, and Itsik Fefer. In particular, the poet Fefer contributed frequently; he tried to inspire readers to greater effort and encouraged those in Nazi-occupied territory to resist.

Eynikayt aimed to link Soviet and world Jewry and to garner support for the Soviet war effort. It emphasized Jewish heroism in the Soviet Union and took models from the distant past for historical examples of Jews, a “stiff-necked people.” As lands were liberated from the Nazis, reporters for the paper described the tragic result of the extermination campaign. However, they were not permitted to write about antisemitism among the Soviet population.

As was true of the rest of the Soviet press, Eynikayt supported the Jews of Palestine against the British and Arabs, but on 23 September 1948, the paper reprinted (in Yiddish) Ilya Ehrenburg’s Pravda article warning against Zionism. In its last months, Eynikayt greatly reduced its Jewish content, an effect of Stalin’s beginning purge of Jewish culture. Its final issue was printed on 20 November 1948.

Suggested Reading

Avraham Ben-Yosef, “Bibliography of Yiddish Publications in the U.S.S.R. during 1941–1948,” Yad Vashem Studies 4 (1960): 135–166; Avraham Greenbaum, “Toda‘ah le’umit yehudit ba-publitsistikah ha-sovyetit bi-tekufat ha-‘Eynikayt,’” Dapim le-ḥeker tekufat ha-Sho’ah 1 (1979): 213–221; Dov-Ber Kerler, “The Soviet Yiddish Press: During the War, 1942–1945,” in Why Didn’t the Press Shout?: American & International Journalism during the Holocaust, ed. Robert Moses Shapiro, pp. 221–250 (New York, 2003).