Toward the History of the Black Book
Altman chronicles the history of the preparation of the “Black Book” by the Writers’ Commission of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. There are various conjectures on the timing of the work. The initiative apparently came from the American Committee of Jewish Writers, Artists, and Scientists with whom the JAC had contacts in 1943. The most reliable date for commencement of the work is March–April 1944. Due to a conflict between Ilya Ehrenburg and the JAC heads concerning the conception of the book, Ehrenburg resigned his post as chairman of the Writers’ Commission in the fall of 1944. His position was filled by Vasily Grossman. Ehrenburg’s departure ruined any chance that the “Black Book” would be published; only his authority and connections could overcome the cool attitude of the Soviet authorities to the project. Apparently, it was not the Soviet Information Bureau but a higher echelon of authorities that suppressed its publication in 1946–1948. The article describes documentary material not included in the first edition, which is due to appear in a joint Israeli–Russian edition now in preparation. For the protocol of a session of the JAC held on April 25, 1946, which sheds light on the history and the timing of the work, see pp. 240–249.