Saturday June 30, 2012 – A small town in the middle of Siberia

I got the sense in Birodbizhan that the Soviets tried hard. There are public monuments to Communism, as usual:

But they also built a town hexagon on Bauhaus principles, with buildings at every apex. They built a broad street with two-storey classical blocks housing a newspaper and printing presses, where they published not only the news but cultural books as well in Yiddish, the non-religious language of the Jews. They put on plays; they had visiting scholars and authors:

So what if their town professor and expert on Jewish proletarian culture died at the ripe old age of 39 in 1937? Lots of people were dying prematurely in those days:

Perhaps, during WW2, some of the local residents were grateful to be living far away from Europe, though many of course died there:

Today the synagogue is well-kept, just down the street from the new Russian Orthodox Church and looking considerably more inviting:

I like the crone-shot:

The museum emphasized the region’s Jewish history, along with natural history and – finally! – stuffed animals.

Not so scary when he’s trapped in a tree-trunk:

I quite like my old-and-new pics:

Diorama in Russian is… Diorama!

If you look closely, it appears that someone’s painted a Russian flag over the Soviet flag, as I doubt in a WW2 battle they’d be fighting for Russia:

Here are Jewish kids learning in a secular school about how great the USSR is:

A rare Marx-head protecting industry:

The coolest radio ever:

Lenin with a collar, dressed like Kraftwerk from The Man Machine:

1980s Birodbizhan music, again with the fake Hebrew writing:

Beautiful poster-art from the Afghanistan invasion:

And Birodbizhan’s future:

This became abundantly clear to us on Sunday, so I’ll leave it there. Also tomorrow – where Jews come to collect their children.

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