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At the end of the war, surviving soldiers came home, hoping to rebuild their lives amid the bright future that Soviet propaganda had promised. Many had their hopes dashed, as doors that had been open prior to the war now closed. Often, Jews had difficulty reclaiming their apartments. Employers and educational institutions rejected Jewish candidates. The media explicitly minimized the heroism and achievements of Jewish soldiers, and Jews were accused of cowardice. Some returning veterans were mocked as having “fought the war in Tashkent,” a major evacuation center in Central Asia, and were accused of purchasing their medals and awards; people refused to believe that Jews had fought in the war. The barrage of Nazi propaganda blaming Jews for all misfortune had stoked anti-Semitism in the formerly occupied territories. In 1948-52 the government pursued an explicitly anti-Semitic policy. Jews were labeled as “rootless cosmopolitans,” disloyal to the Soviet Union, and were removed from posts of responsibility. The accusations were especially insulting to the Jewish veterans who hadendured hardship, loss and sacrifice, after pledging their loyalty and support to the state. Nevertheless, their participation in the defeat of Nazi Germany remained forever a defining act in the heart and mind of each veteran.


VETERAN TESTIMONY

SHEFTL ZISSER

Fatigue and hostility towards veterans prior to 1968.