Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bertha (Brukhe) Fox

b. 1892, Skvira, Ukraine
To US: 1922
New York, N.Y.

“The Movies Pale in Comparison”

Written in two parts, Fox’s dramatic and far-ranging autobiography is a rare account of an Eastern European Jewish woman’s life from the turn of the twentieth century through World War I and the Russian Civil War. She endured poverty and starvation as a child, and went immediately to work as a youth. Later, she and her brother traveled widely to support their family as photographers. Fox was the sole supporter of her family in the years leading up to and during the war, often going to great lengths to secure a livelihood. Fox’s story has elements of the Socialist autobiography, detailing her conversion to the Bund, her political activism, and the euphoria, chaos and instability of the Revolution of 1917. Perhaps the most striking aspects of her story are her descriptions of the well-known pogroms in Ukraine in 1905 and 1919-1920, along with other incidences of anti-Semitism. Fox’s life-story is an important document of survival written by an engaging, perceptive and shrewd protagonist. Fox’s autobiography was translated by Fruma Mohrer and Jocelyn Cohen