A survivor of the Cold War

"Are you now, have you ever been .." Image by Richard Correll

“Are you now, have you ever been ..”
Image by Richard Correll

As I get older I find my mind wandering back to events of the past. I look at this as my brain finding ways to keep me young, at least that’s what I tell myself.

Looking back to 1954 has reminded me of my very first personal encounter with the FBI .First, a bit of a background …… to this day I find the incident rather amusing.

First, a bit of a background

I grew up in a Working Class Jewish community in Brooklyn called Brighton Beach. It was known as a ‘hotbed of Communism’ in those days and was often referred to as “Moscow By The Sea” (strangely enough it is referred to today as “Odessa By The Sea” because of the multitude of immigrants living there from the Former Soviet Union. It is now ‘the hotbed of the Russian Mafia’)

But, back to 1954 …

Those were the  days when the Social Networks had it’s emphasis on “Social”. People actually inter reacted with people, not via electronic devices but face to face. We knew who our neighbours were and we knew almost everything about them without having to rely on FaceBook or Twitter.

After school activities did not involve sitting home and watching TV or texting our friends on mobile phones, they involved continuing our education after school hours. Many of my contemporaries went to Hebrew lessons at the local temples or synagogues. As zionism was completely alien to my family I was sent to a Yiddish language school.

And that’s where it happened ….

On the wall of our classroom, two framed photos were hanging ….

One was of the Yiddish writer Shalom Aleichem


The other was yet another Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz


One afternoon two FBI agents entered our classroom and arrested the teacher. Someone had apparently ‘reported us’ for teaching Communism, proof being that one of the photos resembled Lenin, and the other Stalin.

In those days, just pointing your finger in accusation was enough ….

Just a year earlier the switch was pulled executing Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Communism was something to fear, and Jews were to be watched carefully to prevent its spread.

Much like Muslims are treated today in the USA …. strange, eh?

Just another example of not learning the lessons of history and repeating it.

But, just as I ‘Survived’ those ugly, dark days of the Cold War, so will the victims of today.

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