Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Birthdays, Brothers, and Euphemisms

Boris Efimov turned 107 on September 28th. Billed as "perhaps the oldest Jew in the world" (can't be positive of course), he is best known for caricatures he drew of Hitler, Goebbels and others. He is still employed in Russia as a cartoonist for the newspaper, Izvestia, where he's been for 85 years.

In his childhood, Boris Efimov and his brother – now a well-known journalist Mikhail Koltsov – both bore the last name Fridlyand. However, as often occurred during the Communist regime, people working in the creative and public sphere took on a pseudonym so as to be able to circulate their works in various Soviet publications.

Since his brother's repression during the terrifying years of Stalin's reign, Boris Efimov is often known to say "I live two lives – one for myself and one for my brother"

I read that and, not completely understanding the last sentence, thought to myself, "How old is his brother?" and started looking for information about him. I learned that his brother was 'most severely' repressed in 1940 or 1942. Luckily he was 'rehabilitated' by the Soviet government in 1954...but not by a reanimator as skilled as Anita Blake. Alas.

It seems I'm not up on my euphemisms. The story about Boris, though is a good one. He has certainly seen a lot, and has lived to see a Russia with greater freedom.

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