New Article: Šmok, Jewish Social Assistance Networks in Communist Czechoslovakia

Šmok, Martin. “‘Every Jew is a Zionist, and Every Zionist is a Spy!’ The Story of Jewish Social Assistance Networks in Communist Czechoslovakia.” East European Jewish Affairs 44.1 (2014): 70-83.

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13501674.2014.904586

 

Abstract

This article explores some of the major operations of the Czechoslovak secret police (State Security Forces, StB) against individuals involved in organising Jewish social assistance networks during the 1950s, as documented by fragments of case files preserved in the Security Services Archive in Prague. While there is much focus on victims of the Prague show trial of the so-called “Conspiracy Centre,” all of whom were members of the top echelons of the Communist Party, the individuals who tried to revive Jewish life and secure the well-being of the needy in a country swept by anti-Jewish sentiment raked up by that trial remain largely unknown. In this work, we learn who these people were and what they did, and how the Communist regime punished them for their involvement. As an original contribution, the article details the search for safe methods of delivering humanitarian aid to Czechoslovak Holocaust survivors after the expulsion of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in 1950, from the initial attempts to use Israeli channels to the gradual legalisation of JDC aid under Swiss cover organisations.

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