The Man They Said They’d Never Free

13 Jan

By Brandon Springer

Bill Cohen and Naum Meiman, 1988

IN SEPTEMBER OF 1946, Soviet Jewish mathematician Naum Meiman was parted from his family. His daughter, Olga Plam; her husband, Misha; and their son were leaving the Soviet Union for the United States after spending a year as refuseniks, Soviet Jews who had applied for exit visas from the state and were denied repeatedly.

 Meiman would spend thirteen more years as a human rights activist fighting for his release and for the release of other Soviet Jews who desired and were denied the right to emigrate. He lived through severe repression from the Soviet state, isolation and loneliness. But through all of those years, his daughter, and later other Boulder residents who had formed the advocacy and resettlement organization Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry (BASJ), fought tirelessly on his behalf.

Listen to a podcast about “The Man They Said They’d Never Free.”

Oral histories collected from Olga Plam and the founders of BASJ by members of the Maria Rogers Oral History Program and the Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado give us insight into Meiman’s fight and the struggle on his (and other Soviet refuseniks’) behalf in Boulder, Colorado.

Listen to this second podcast in a series that details the history of Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry and focuses primarily on Meiman’s plight and tale of survival.

2 Responses to “The Man They Said They’d Never Free”

  1. Kjirsten September 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Have you heard that Lisa c. Paul wrote a book about her advocacy for and friendship with the Meimans, particularly Naum’s wife Inna? It’s called Swimming in the Daylight: an American Student, a Soviet-Jewish Dissident , and the Gift of Hope. Lisa will be speaking at Evergreen High School Friday, September 23. If anyone from your organization can be there, it would be wonderful. You can contact Lisa at

    • boulderoralhistory September 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. Although no one from our oral history program will be able to attend, others might like to. If this event is open to the public, can you leave more information about the exact location (address) and start time? Thanks!

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