Robert Mednick Papers
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains materials related to Robert Mednick's work on behalf of Soviet Jewry. It includes reports on the trip to the USSR that Robert Mednick and his wife took in 1982, correspondence with Soviet Jewish Refuseniks, American and foreign government officials, business leaders, and fellow Soviet Jewry movement activists, congressional testimony on Soviet interference with international postal service, and materials related to Mednick's work with the Committee of Concerned Scientists. Box 4, Folder 2 contains a narrative prepared by Robert Mednick to accompany the collection. The materials include correspondence, reports, memorandums, and articles.
The collection consists of three manuscript boxes and one half manuscript box.
- 1980-1998, 2017
- Mednick, Robert (Person)
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The Papers of Robert Mednick represent one collection housed within the Archive of the American Soviet Jewry Movement (AASJM). These papers reflect the effort, beginning in the 1960s through the late 1980s, of thousands of American Jews of all denominations and political orientations to stop the persecution and discrimination of Jews in the Soviet Union. The American Soviet Jewry Movement (ASJM) is considered to be the most influential Movement of the American Jewish community in the 20th century. The beginnings of the organized American Soviet Jewry Movement became a model for efforts to aid Soviet Jews in other countries, among them Great Britain, Canada, and France. The movement can be traced to the early 1960s, when the first organizations were created to address the specific problem of the persecution and isolation of Soviet Jews by the government of the Soviet Union.
A native of Chicago, IL, Robert Mednick became involved in the Soviet Jewry movement in September of 1982, when he and his wife Susan, along with several friends, visited over fifty Jewish families in the Soviet Union during a two-week trip to Moscow, Leningrad, Riga, and Minsk. The purpose of the trip was to deliver items of value, Judaica, messages from American friends and moral support to the Refuseniks, and to gather information for the Third International Conference on Soviet Jewry that was scheduled to take place in Paris later that year. Mednick established a strong rapport with the Refuseniks he had met and made it his mission to help them obtain permission to leave the Soviet Union.
Over the course of the next several years, Mednick spent most of his free time working intensively and productively to obtain exit visas for twenty Refusenik families he had met on his trip. Serving as a worldwide managing partner in Chicago-based holding company Arthur Andersen LLP that provided auditing, tax, and consulting services to large corporations, Mednick traveled extensively, and frequently met business leaders and government officials to whom he would actively and successfully appeal to take up the cause of the Refuseniks. The individuals who helped Mednick in seeking exit visas for the Refuseniks included American corporate moguls and philanthropists Armand Hammer and Guilford Glazer, former mayor of San Francisco Dianne Feinstein, federal judge Abner Mikva, congressman John Porter, former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, and former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, President of the European Commission, Gaston Thorn, and many others. Mednick collaborated closely with other Soviet Jewry movement activists, including the prominent British historian and official Churchill biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, who had chronicled the movement in his books Jews of Hope: The Plight of Soviet Jewry Today (1984) and Shcharansky: Hero of Our Time (1986). Mednick's efforts started paying off in 1985 when several of the families he was helping were granted permission to leave the USSR. By 1987 half of the families he was campaigning for were free. In January 1989, the last and most difficult cases of the Prisoners of Conscience Evgeny Lein and Roald (Alec) Zelichonok, treated by the Soviet authorities with extreme prejudice, were resolved positively. With help from Robert Mednick, Lein and Zelichonok made their way to Israel.
3 Manuscript Boxes
Language of Materials
The collection contains personal papers of the American Soviet Jewry movement activist Robert Mednick. Serving as a worldwide managing partner in a prominent Chicago-based holding company Arthur Andersen LLP, Mednick used his professional connections in big business and in the United States and European governments to obtain exit visas for over twenty Soviet Jewish Refusenik families. The collection consists primarily of Mednick's correspondence with the Refuseniks, other Soviet Jewry movement activists, American and foreign government officials, and international business leaders, including American corporate moguls and philanthropists Armand Hammer and Guilford Glazer, and British historian Sir Martin Gilbert. Also included are reports on Mednick's trip to the Soviet Union, presentations on Soviet Jewry and his Congressional Testimony on Soviet interference with mail.
The collection is arranged into a single series.
Located in AJHS New York, NY
Donated by Robert Mednick in 2017.
- Guide to the Robert Mednick (1940- ) Papers, 1980-1998, 2017 P-1036
- Processed by Andrey Filimonov
- © 2017
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- December 2020: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.
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