As World War II raged through Europe, a group of Soviet Yiddish scholars
embarked on an ambitious goal to preserve Jewish culture of the 1940s.
Soviet ethnomusicologists from the Kiev Cabinet for Jewish Culture, led by
Moisei Beregovsky (1892 – 1961), recorded hundreds of new Yiddish songs:
tunes that detailed Soviet Jewish wartime service in the Red Army, survival and
death in Nazi-occupied Europe and stories from those working in the Soviet
home front in Central Asia, Ural Mountains and Siberia. Beregovsky and his
colleague Ruvim Lerner (1912 – 1972) hoped to publish an anthology of these
songs, but the project was never completed as Beregovsky was arrested in the
height of Stalin’s anti-Jewish purge. The documents were sealed. The scholars
died thinking that their work had been lost and destroyed.