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Culture

April 2, 2004

100 YEARS AGO

• The atmosphere in Bialystock is increasingly restless following mass demonstrations against the czarist regime during which a young Jewish revolutionary shot the police commissioner. The shooter was quickly apprehended and, with the interior minister’s stamp of approval, was sentenced to death by public hanging in the middle of city’s marketplace. All of Bialystock has protested this decision and demanded that the sentence be carried out as it should be — at night, in the prison yard. In the meantime, the authorities have made large numbers of arrests and are attempting to incite the Polish population against the Jews.

75 YEARS AGO

• Calling for a “merciless battle” against the rabbis, the Minsk-based, Yiddish communist paper Oktyaber is gearing up for its yearly anti-Passover campaign. The Yevsektsiia, the Jewish section of the Communist party, is also calling for a ban on the importation of matzos, which is the only way for Soviet Jews to get them, since state-run bakeries do not produce Passover products. The paper also alleges that Yiddish schools have been holding meetings during which rabbis are permitted to agitate in support of the observance of Seders. Oktyaber’s editors demand that police ban these meetings and that anyone found with matzo should be considered an enemy of the state.

50 YEARS AGO

• The first films of hydrogen bomb tests by the U.S. Armed Forces were shown on television this week. The explosion was compared to the heat of the sun. It created a 25-mile-high cloud of poison gas and completely destroyed a small island in the Pacific Ocean. Since that test last year, the government has tested two more bombs, both more powerful than the first. With these weapons that can wreak explosions of biblical proportions, one wonders what the point is of building shelters, which will clearly collapse like houses of cards in the face of these frightening bombs.

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