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Fania Kruger (1893–1977)

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Fania Feldman was born to a Russian-Jewish family in Sevastopol, the Crimea. Her father was a rabbi. Fania was denied entrance to the local gymnasia three times because she was Jewish. As a child, she witnessed a murder committed by Cossacks and saw her father after he had been beaten. She and her sister were politically active in the 1905 Russian revolution, and fearing for their safety, the Feldman family emigrated to the USA, settling in Fort Worth. In 1912, she married Sam Kruger and moved with him to Wichita Falls, where they had two children and Kruger opened a jewelry and antique store. Fania Kruger became active in Jewish women's groups and the local literary society. Her experiences in Russia inspired her to write poetry that described Tsarist cruelty as well as Jewish life and culture. She also became a lifelong human rights activist. When the University of Texas banned singer Barbara Smith from performing in its production of "Dido and Aeneas" because she was black, Fania Kruger wrote to protest, comparing the action to her exclusion from school in Russia because of her faith. Fania Kruger published three collections of poetry, Cossack Laughter (1938), The Tenth Jew (1949), and Selected Poems (1973). Her poetry was also published in Southwest Review, Crisis, American Guardian, American Hebrew, Texas Quarterly, and the Year Book of the Poetry Society of Texas. A short story, "To a Young Mother," was published in the October 1960 issue of Redbook magazine and then produced for television, with Fania herself narrating. It aired repeatedly in Austin between 1965 and 1970. In 1959 she returned to the Soviet Union for the first time in 50 years and was surprised to be hailed as a celebrity. Perhaps because Fania had once been denied access to school, education remained important to her. She studied briefly at Harvard, the University of Colorado, and the University of Texas. She also studied Russian at Brandeis University and at Middlebury College. She won numerous awards for her work and was a member of the poetry societies of England, America, and Texas. She was a frequent public speaker and often gave readings of her work.
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