The journalist, scholar, and eventual victim of Stalin’s Great Terror, Joseph (Yoysef) Liberberg was born October 25, 1898 in the Volhynian town of Starokonstantinov.
He showed excellent promise as a student and attended a gymnasium in Kiev. His scholarship enabled to receive a full scholarship to Kiev’s St. Vladimir University, where, after completing his studies, he became professor of Western European history in 1925.
The mid-1920s were an exciting time to be involved in Jewish culture in the fledgling Soviet Union, where—for the first time in history—Yiddish culture and scholarship received state support. Liberberg left his university to post to head a new Jewish culture department at the All-Ukrainian Ukrainian Academy of Science.
Liberberg along with Nokhem Shtif organized the Jewish division, a scholarly institution specializing in Jewish studies. The initiative for its creation came from high party circles who supported the work of scholarly institutions in minority cultures throughout the Soviet Union.