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Julius Wachtel

Julius Wachtel


Julius (“Jay”) was born in Italy.  Two weeks later he and his parents, both Holocaust survivors, moved to Buenos Aires.  A decade later the family emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Los Angeles.  His mother’s liberation by Soviet troops led Jay to develop an interest in Russian history and literature. After serving in Vietnam Jay embarked on a career in Federal law enforcement.  Along the way he took a break to earn a PhD in criminal justice at the State University of New York at Albany.  In 1998 he retired from the government and took up a second calling as a lecturer in criminal justice at California State University Fullerton. Jay’s inspiration for Stalin’s Witnesses came while designing a course in the Soviet justice system.  He was intrigued by the 1937 Moscow Show trial, where five “witnesses” were forced to corroborate the defendants’ false confessions.  One witness especially captured his imagination.  In 1934 Vladimir Romm, a Soviet intelligence officer, came to America as Izvestia correspondent to Washington.  Romm, the scion of a distinguished publishing family (the famous film director Mikhail Romm is one of its descendants) was born in Vilna, same as Jay’s mother.  He became the central character in Stalin’s Witnesses. Jay and his wife Linda live in Southern California.  Their daughter, Jennifer, is a recent graduate of NYU.

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