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Finding Aid for the Si Frumkin papers, 1969-2010
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Si Frumkin papers
    Date (inclusive): 1969-2010
    Collection number: 1888
    Creator: Frumkin, Si, 1930-2009.
    Extent: 56 boxes (28 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Si Frumkin was born in Kaunas/Kovno, Lithuania on November 5, 1930. He survived the Dachau concentration camp and emigrated to the U.S. in 1949. In 1968 he founded the Southern California Council for Soviet Jews (SCCSJ.) He frequently spoke on Holocaust issues at the Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance and founded the Association of Holocaust Survivors from the former Soviet Union. The collection consists mostly of newsletters, press releases and photographs highlighting the activities of the SCCSJ and the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews for more than 40 years.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Ella Frumkin, 2011.

    Processing Note

    Processed by William M. Katin in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Megan Hahn Fraser, Summer 2011. The processing of this collection was supported by the generous donation of Zev Yaroslavsky.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Si Frumkin papers (Collection 1888). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6776338 


    Si Frumkin (born Simas Frumkinas on November 5, 1930), businessman and political activist, was born in Kaunas/Kovno, Lithuania, the son of Mykolas and Zila (nee Waisapel) Frumkinas, who owned a Willys Overland automobile and NSU motorcycle dealership. Frumkin was ten years old when the Kaunas Ghetto was established on July 10, 1941. He and his parents lived there until the Nazis closed the camp on 8 July 1944, and Frumkin and his father were deported to Dachau. His mother was separated from the family and sent to Poland. Frumkin and his father became slave laborers constructing the subterranean factories to manufacture the Messerschmitt 262 for the Phillip Holzmann's plant called "Diana II." On April 7, 1945, twenty days before the liberation of Dachau, Frumkin's father died.
    The Jewish Brigade (a unit of Jewish men in the British Army) transported Frumkin to an Italian Displaced Persons camp in Modena, Italy. He received a scholarship in order to attend schools in Italy, Switzerland, and England after the war. He was later reunited with his mother who had survived the war and relocated to Venezuela.
    He immigrated to the United States in 1949 to study at New York University, earning a Bachelor's Degree in 1953. He moved to Los Angeles, where his mother and stepfather (a survivor from the Warsaw Ghetto) had since moved. They built Universal Drapery Fabrics at 560 San Julian Street in Los Angeles into a successful business.
    Frumkin earned a Master's Degree in history from California State University, Northridge in 1964 and founded the Southern California Council for Soviet Jews (SCCSJ) in 1968. With Zev Yaroslavsky (later Los Angeles City Councilman and a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors), Frumkin demonstrated against Soviet cultural events held in Los Angeles, including the Moiseyev Ballet, Lynus Pauling receiving the Lenin Peace Prize, the Osipov Balalaika performance, and Leonid Brezhnev's visit with President Nixon in San Clemente, in order to expose the plight of Jews not allowed to emigrate from the USSR. In 1973 he was accompanied by Yaroslavsky on a visit to Moscow, where they met with Soviet dissidents.
    Frumkin began weekly speaking engagements for the Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, and he provided expert court testimony for Soviet Jews facing possible deportation. In 1991 he went to China on behalf of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, participated in a 1996 American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors meeting in Washington, D.C., and in 2007 he interviewed nearly one hundred Holocaust survivors for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation. He was one of the leading figures in the Russian speaking community in California and the United States.
    Frumkin died May 15, 2009. Further information about his life and work can be found at www.sifrumkin.com  .

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of two large series and four small series.

    Series 1. Political Commentary

    About 40 per cent of this collection is found in the first series consisting of essays written to encourage the American Government to pressure the Soviets to allow more Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel or the U.S. The emphasis is on political commentary on current events with a Jewish theme. These writings, originally entitled "Si's Scribbles," were on occasion published in newspapers, and beginning in December 1992 they were published in a newsletter format entitled Graffiti for Intellectuals. The Graffiti newsletter also included reprinted articles from the Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, and other media. Themes include the Jackson-Vanik amendment, Soviet limitation of Jewish emigration, the status of Jewish refusniks in the USSR, and the slowness of the Claims Conference in disbursing restitutions for deprivations caused by the Third Reich.
    An important feature of this series is Frumkin's translation of Soviet dissident literature from the 1970s and 1980s, often published in Graffiti. Authors include: Mihajlo Mihajlov, Lev Navrozov, Lev Alburt, Valery Soyfer, Michail Makarenko, Genrikh Shakhnovich, Vladimir Matlin, and Vadim Belotserkovsky. It is unknown whether Frumkin's translations are the only edition of the essays that are extant for those unable to read Cyrillic. Other Russian literary activity referred to in Graffiti includes the translation of Leon Uris's Exodus from English to Russian by inmates in the Dubrovlag Camp in Soviet Mordovia during 1963.
    One example of Frumkin's abiding concern for the Russian émigré population of greater L.A. is demonstrated by his deep friendship with Alexander Polovets. Polovets was the editor of the Russian-American newspaper Panorama, the largest independent Russian-language weekly newspaper outside of Russia, a publication which originated in July 1980. Thus there are numerous articles shared by both Graffiti and Panorama.
    A second important theme of this first series is Frumkin's involvement in Holocaust memorial activities. This theme is seen in the essays Frumkin wrote, and in newspaper articles covering events such as his service as the master of ceremonies for the dedication of the Babi Yar memorial in Plummer Park, his weekly talks on his Dachau experiences presented at the Museum of Tolerance, and his interviewing Russian speaking survivors for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation. In addition, a conference folder indicates that Frumkin participated in Phil Blazer's "Addressing the Cycle of Pain" Conference of Holocaust survivors in Berlin during November 1991.

    Series 2. Press Releases

    This series contains press releases about the efforts of the Southern California Council for Soviet Jews (SCCSJ), such as candlelight walks, encouraging Soviet Jews by mailing them Passover and Rosh Hashanah cards, and their protests of Russian cultural exchanges in order to draw attention to the Soviet restrictions on emigration.
    Frumkin developed a "prisoner of the month" campaign, thus the press releases may now serve as an index to Soviet refuseniks during the 1970s and 1980s, including such notables as Anatoly Sharansky, Ida Nudel, Vladimir Slepak and Alexander Voronel. In addition, Frumkin compiled reports of his trips to the USSR in which he met with Soviet Jews, excerpts of which are contained in this series.
    Frumkin enlisted the aid of politicians in enabling Soviet Jews to emigrate. The working relationships that he developed with California politicians can be seen in letters from those who acknowledged receipt of his material, including Senators Barbara Boxer and Pete Wilson, Congressmen Henry Waxman and Howard Berman, Los Angeles Mayors Sam Yorty and Tom Bradley, and Los Angeles City Councilman Joel Wachs. Zev Yaroslavsky's work is also represented in the collection, which contains items such as his press releases as the leader of the UCLA student movement promoting Jewish emigration from the USSR.

    Series 3. Research Files

    About 45 per cent of the collection consists of research materials, mostly clippings from U.S. daily newspapers and American Jewish publications on topics such as anti-Semitism, emigration and the conviction of Jonathan Pollard, the American Jewish analyst convicted of giving U.S. military secrets to the Israelis. Frumkin's translation into English of Soviet refusenik literature is not solely confined to series one, but also appears in this series as the entire run of the publication THEM and also Witness, publications of short duration in which Frumkin collaborated with Alexander Polovets as the editor-in-chief. Also included are lists of names and addresses of Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate as well as material from the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews.

    Series 4. Photographs

    Photographs from events such as the annual candlelight walks and the picketing of Soviet cultural events outside the Shrine Auditorium are present in this series. Many of the politicians lending support to Soviet Jewish emigration mentioned in Series 2 are also depicted, including Secretary of Interior James Watt, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, Congressmen Alphonso Bell and Bob Dornan, and L.A. City Councilmen Joel Wachs, Tom Bradley, and Zev Yaroslavsky.

    Series 5. Soviet Holocaust Interview Translations

    In 2008, Frumkin translated 21 of the Holocaust narratives from the 2004 Russian book, Victims of the Holocaust Tell Their Stories. Some of the personal memories included are those from Vilya Ira, Ida Anapolskaya, and Alexander Anapolski. In 2010, Frumkin's widow Ella Frumkin edited the recollections along with additional translations for the publication of the book The Holocaust DID Happen.

    Series 6. Pocket Calendars

    The final series contains pocket calendars, an address book and a film made for the occasion of Frumkin's 70th birthday, in which many people he assisted or worked with express their gratitude to him.

    Organization and Arrangement

    The original order of Frumkin's filing system in Series 1 through 3 has been maintained.
    1. Series 1. Political Commentary 1984-2009
    2. Series 2. Press Releases 1969-1998
    3. Series 3. Research Files 1989-1996
    4. Series 4. Photographs 1969-1989
    5. Series 5. Soviet Holocaust Interview Translations 2008-2010
    6. Series 6. Pocket Calendars 1971-1988

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    COLLECTION CONTAINS DIGITAL MATERIALS: Special equipment or further processing may be required for viewing. To access digital materials you must notify the reference desk in advance of your visit.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Frumkin, Si, 1930-2009. --Archives.
    Southern California Council for Soviet Jews --Archives.
    Holocaust survivors --Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material