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Poets as Smugglers: Sutzkever, Kaczerginski, and How the Remnants of the YIVO Archive Reached New York
January 5, 2015

MONDAY, JANUARY 5 | 6:30pm

Abraham Sutzkever, an unidentified man, and Gershon Abramowicz bringing YIVO materials hidden during the war to a new Jewish museum. Vilna, 1944. YIVO Archives.
David Fishman, Jewish Theological Seminary; Jacob Kronhill Visiting Scholar in East European Jewish History at YIVO

Admission: Free
RSVP Required: | 212-294-8301 x5167

A reception will follow this program.

Presented in connection with the YIVO-Bard Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization, January 5-23, 2015.

Yiddish poets Abraham Sutzkever and Shmerke Kaczerginski rescued hundreds of treasures from YIVO’s archive not once, but three times: they hid them from the Germans in the Vilna ghetto, they located and dug them up after Vilna’s liberation by the Red Army, and they smuggled the treasures out of Soviet Lithuania to the free world in late 1945-1946. This lecture will tell, for the first time, the dramatic story of how Kaczerginski and Sutzkever “stole” the treasures out of the Vilnius Jewish Museum, secretly moved them across the border to neighboring Poland, and later whisked them across Europe to Paris. Once in Paris they sent most - but not all -of the treasures to YIVO in New York. When the materials began to arrive, all YIVO’s director, Dr. Max Weinreich, could do was cry.


David E. Fishman is professor of Jewish History at The Jewish Theological Seminary, and serves as director of Project Judaica, a Jewish-studies program based in Moscow that is sponsored jointly by JTS and Russian State University for the Humanities. Fishman is the author of numerous books and articles on the history and culture of East European Jewry, including Russia's First Modern Jews (New York University Press) and The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture (University of Pittsburgh Press). He has taught at universities in Israel, Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania, and serves on the editorial boards of Jewish Social Studies and POLIN.

Dr. Fishman is YIVO's second Jacob Kronhill Visiting Scholar in East European Jewish History, and will be in residence at YIVO for the Spring 2015 semester. Dr. Fishman will teach a public evening course on the history of Vilna, and will convene an advanced research seminar for graduate students. For more information, contact YIVO’s Director of Education, Jennifer Young,, or 917-606-8290.


About the YIVO-Bard Winter Program on Ashkenazi Civilization
The Winter Program offers public classes on the history, culture and art of Eastern European Jewish life and its diasporas, taught by leading writers, scholars and artists. To find out more, visit:


Venue: YIVO Institute at the Center for Jewish History  |  15 West 16th Street - NYC   view map

For directions and parking information, click here.

All public programs are wheelchair accessible. A limited number of assistive listening devices are available for deaf and hard of hearing individuals upon request (Auditorium events only).