The “remarkable” story of the grass-roots movement that freed millions of Jews from the Soviet Union (The Plain Dealer).
At the end of World War II, nearly three million Jews were trapped inside the USSR. They lived a paradox—unwanted by a repressive Stalinist state, yet forbidden to leave. When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone is the astonishing and inspiring story of their rescue.
Journalist Gal Beckerman draws on newly released Soviet government documents as well as hundreds of oral interviews with refuseniks, activists, Zionist “hooligans,” and Congressional staffers. He shows not only how the movement led to a mass exodus in 1989, but also how it shaped the American Jewish community, giving it a renewed sense of spiritual purpose and teaching it to flex its political muscle. Beckerman also makes a convincing case that the effort put human rights at the center of American foreign policy for the very first time, helping to end the Cold War.
This “wide-ranging and often moving” book introduces us to all the major players, from the flamboyant Meir Kahane, head of the paramilitary Jewish Defense League, to Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky, who labored in a Siberian prison camp for over a decade, to Lynn Singer, the small, fiery Long Island housewife who went from organizing local rallies to strong-arming Soviet diplomats (The New Yorker). This “excellent” multigenerational saga, filled with suspense and packed with revelations, provides an essential missing piece of Cold War and Jewish history (The Washington Post).