The Red Scare and the Death of Stalin

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1911 ... October 17, 2019

The Red Scare and the Death of Stalin

Suzanne Berliner Weiss

An excerpt from Holocaust to Resistance: My Journey by Suzanne Berliner Weiss (pp. 45-47). Weiss’s book, released this month by Fernwood Publishers, tells of her eight decades of engagement with the movement for social justice. Her book launch will take place Friday, October 18, at 7 p.m., at Friends House, 60 Lowther Ave. (St. George Station), Toronto.

When I arrived from war-scarred France (1950), I thought the United States, my new home, was a land of liberty, freedom, love, and comfort. I entered grammar school and began to learn its true nature. It tore my heart.

Louis Weiss, my adoptive father, was proud to have sung as a young man in the opera chorus in a performance of Boris Godunov in Moscow, Russia.

Russia! At school, the word was spoken with hate and fear. Often, my parents invited their "progressive" friends over, and I got to listen to their chatter. They didn’t mention Russia but spoke of the Soviet Union with respect. When... I asked questions, they used guarded terms. "Progressives" were the good people, and as for those who were "against us," that was everyone else.

My parents covered many books in the apartment with brown paper against the inquisitive eyes of maintenance men, visitors, and housekeepers. On buses and subways there were signs warning "foreigners" to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). In school, a fellow student warned me, "You’re lucky that you’re from France. Otherwise, we could send you back." To be perceived as an immigrant was decidedly hazardous, I thought.

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