Rhea Clyman, writing from the belly of two beasts: A Toronto journalist’s reports from Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany
While conducting research on the history of Ukrainians in Canada during the interwar years, Jars Balan discovered a series of powerfully written articles by a forgotten Canadian Jewish journalist, named Rhea Clyman, describing the horrors and hardships of life in Stalinist Russia. Included in these were stories that documented the initial stages of the artificial famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine. Further research into Clyman’s early years and subsequent career revealed that she was a fearless and talented woman who deserves to be celebrated for her accomplishments in the face of great personal adversity and political risk.
Ms. Clyman (1904-1981) was born into a Jewish family, immigrated to Canada from southern Poland in 1906 with her parents, Szulim and Anna, and two older brothers. She grew up near what is today the corner of Toronto’s Bay and Dundas Streets. Moving to Moscow as a 24-year-old in 1928, she established herself as a freelance journalist before being arrested and expelled by Stalinist authorities in September 1932 for writing articles that were critical of the Bolshevik regime. She subsequently worked as the Munich correspondent for London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper from 1933 to 1938, leaving the country days after Kristallnacht and miraculously surviving a fatal plane crash on the approach to Schiphol airport.
In the video below, Balan spoke about Clyman’s remarkable life at the Aish Thornhill Community Shul in Thornhill, Ontario on 7 July 2019. Balan is the author of numerous works on the history of the Ukrainian community in Canada and is the current Director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta. Originally from Toronto, he grew up in the Bathurst Manor District and attended William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate.
Rhea Clyman, writing from the belly of two beasts: A Toronto journalist’s reports from Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany, Aish Thornhill Community Shul, Thornhill, Ontario, 7 July 2019 (in English).
Alex Katz, Member, Aish Thornhill Community Shul
Natalia A. Feduschak, Director of Communications, Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (off-camera)
Jars Balan, Director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta, Edmonton
Question and Answer