Yuri Leving, University Research Professor, Dalhousie University, Canada
“Operation ‘Pushkin': The White Russian Who Loved Poetry, Scammed the FBI, and Won Hitler's Heart"
In this talk, Yuri Leving will trace the little-known history of the American Pushkin Committee and its preparatory activities in the United States during the late 1930s, leading to the ambitious celebration of the hundredth anniversary of Alexander Pushkin’s death. A series of high-profile events organized by the American Pushkin Society provided the Russian-speaking émigré community in the US with a literary-historical alternative to the concurrent frenzy that surrounded the Pushkin celebrations in the Soviet Union. The entire Pushkin enterprise in America was spearheaded by Boris Brazol, the President of the Pushkin Centennial committee, possibly as an undercover operation. The controversial twist in this affair is that an indefatigable White Russian who loved poetry was also an ardent anti-Semite and double-agent with connections from Henry Ford to Heinrich Himmler.