1968

HIAS

HIAS provides assistance to Jewish refugees from the government-sponsored anti-Semitic campaign in Poland and from the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

SOVIET UNION

Chronicle of Current Events (Khronika tekushchikh sobytii), an underground samizdat journal, begins publication. Dedicated to the defense of human rights, it provides detailed coverage of the Jewish emigration movement. It will continue to appear illegally until 1983.

The Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia in order to crush the liberal reform movement known as the Prague Spring.

U.S./WORLD

The American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry releases a 32-page research report documenting the oppression of Jews in the Soviet Union. British Prime Minister Harold Wilson presses visiting Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin on the subject of the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel.

Civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy are assassinated.


STATISTICS

  • Jewish emigrants from the USSR: 229
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to US: 92
  • Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel: 304

Looking Back

OVIR, the government office in charge of reviewing immigration requests by Soviet Jews, begins granting exit visas after nearly a year's hiatus, but only for the purpose of reuniting families.

The Soviet Union continues its virulent anti-Zionist campaign. The defense ministry publication Krasnaya Zyesda (Red Star) claims that Jews in the Eastern Bloc have been recruited as spies for Israel and the Central Intelligence Agency. A new book, Judaism and Zionism, revives charges against the Jews reminiscent of the "doctors' plot" from 1953, in which Jewish doctors were accused of conspiring to kill members of the top Soviet leadership.

Twenty-six Jewish intellectuals in Lithuania, including Communist party members, voice their protest against growing anti-Semitism and repression of Jewish culture and communal life. In a letter to the first secretary of the Lithuanian Communist party, they demand the right to emigrate.

The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia sparks protests by pro-democracy movements throughout Europe, including some within the Soviet Union. A small protest rally is held on Red Square; its participants are promptly arrested by the KGB.

Prominent non-Jewish dissidents, including physicist Andrei Sakharov, play an important role in the movement by protesting Soviet anti-Semitism and championing the right of Jews to emigrate.