The anti-Zionist communist Jew who wanted to hear 'Hatikvah' in the Gulag

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In the spring of 1941, at the foot of the Ural Mountains, on the banks of the Pechora River, not far from the Arctic Circle, in one of many Soviet Gulags, two Jewish political prisoners met: a communist named Garin and a Zionist named Begin. The former was convicted of engaging in “counterrevolutionary Trotskyist activity”; the latter was found guilty – due to his Zionist activities – of being a “socially dangerous element to society.” Both were sentenced without a trial, under Article 58 of the Soviet Penal Code, to eight years in a “correctional labor camp.” Together with other prisoners, both political and criminal (the latter known as Urki), the two of them unloaded railway tracks and other equipment from riverboats. They took part in building the rail line of northern Russia, 1,000 kilometers long, stretching from Kotlas to Verkuta, hard by the Arctic Ocean.

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