Chapter 18. During the 1920s

The twenties in the Soviet Union was an epoch with a unique atmosphere – a grand social experiment which intoxicated world liberal opinion for decades. And in some places this intoxication still persists. However, almost no one remains of those who drank deeply of its poisonous spirit.

The uniqueness of that spirit was manifested in the ferocity of class antagonism, in the promise of a never-before-seen new society, in the novelty of new forms of human relationships, in the breakdown of the nation’s economy, daily life and family structure. The social and demographic changes were, in fact, colossal.

The “great exodus” of the Jewish population to the capitals began, for many reasons, during the first years of communist power. Some Jewish writers are categorical in their description: “Thousands of Jews left their settlements and a handful of southern towns for Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev to find “real life” (1).”

Beginning in 1917, “Jews flooded into Leningrad and Moscow” (2). According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, “hundreds of thousands of Jews moved to Moscow, Leningrad and other major centers” (3), “in 1920, 28,000 Jews lived in Moscow – by 1923, about 86,000; according to 1926 USSR census, 131,000 and in 1933, 226,500.” (4) “Moscow became fashionable,” they used to say half-seriously in Odessa.

Lurie-Larin, a fanatical and zealous Bolshevik leader during “War Communism” writes that in the first years not less than a million Jews left their settlements; in 1923 about half of Ukraine’s Jews lived in large cities, pouring as well into parts of Russia formerly off-limits to Jews (so called “prohibited provinces”) from Ukraine and Byelorussia, into Transcaucasia and Central Asia. The magnitude of this flow was half a million, and four-fifth of them settled in RSFSR. One in five of the Jewish migrants went to Moscow (5).

M. Agursky considers Larin’s numbers to be substantially undercounted and points out that this demographic change affected interests important to the Russian population (6).

During “War Communism” with its ban on private trade and limitations on craftsmen and on those of certain “social origins” there arose a new social category – the “deprived” (deprived of civil rights). “Many Jews were deprived of civil rights and numbered among the “deprived” .” Still, the “migration of the Jewish population from Byelorussia into the interior of the USSR, mainly to Moscow and Leningrad” did not slow (7). The new arrivals joined relatives or co-ethnics who offered communal support.

According to the 1926 USSR census, 2,211,000 or 83% of the Jewish population lived in cities and towns. 467,000 lived in rural districts. Another 300,000 did not identify themselves as Jews and these were practically all city dwellers. About five out of six Jews in the USSR were urban dwellers, constituting up to 23% and 40% of the urban population in Ukraine and Byelorussia respectively (8).

Most striking in the provincial capitals and major cities was the flow of Jews into the apparatus of the Soviet government. Ordzhonikidze in 1927 at the 15th Communist Party Congress reported on the “national make up of our party”. By his statistics Jews constituted 11.8% of the Soviet government of Moscow; 22.6% in Ukraine (30.3% in Kharkov, the capital); 30.6% in Byelorussia (38.3% in Minsk). If true, then the percentage of Jews in urban areas about equaled that of Jews in the government.

Solomon Schwartz, using data from the work of Lev Singer maintained that the percentage of Jews in the Soviet government was about the same as their percentage of the urban population (and it was significantly lower in the Bolshevik party itself (10)). Using Ordzhonikidze’s data, Jews at 1.82% of the population by 1926 were represented in the Apparatus at about 6.5 times their proportion in the population at large.

Its easy to underestimate the impact of the sudden freedom from pre-revolutionary limits on civil rights: “Earlier, power was not accessible to Jews at all and now they had more access to power than anyone else” according to I. Bikerman (11). This sudden change provoked a varied reaction in all strata of society. S. Schwartz writes “from the mid-twenties there arose a new wave of anti-Semitism” which was “not related to the old anti-Semitism, nor a legacy of the past””. “It is an extreme exaggeration to explain it as originating with backwards workers from rural areas as anti-Semitism generally was not a fact of life in the Russian countryside.” No, “It was a much more dangerous phenomenon.” It arose in the middle strata of urban society and reached the highest levels of the working class which, before the revolution, had remained practically untouched by the phenomenon. “It reached students and members of the communist party and the Komsomol and, even earlier, local government in smaller provincial towns” where “an aggressive and active anti-Semitism took hold” (12).

The Jewish Encyclopedia writes that from the beginning of the 20th century “though official Soviet propaganda writes that anti-Semitism in the latter part of the 20?s was a “legacy of the past”, “the facts show that, it arose mainly as a result of colliding social forces in large cities.” It was fanned by the “widely held opinion that power in the country had been seized by Jews who formed the nucleus of the Bolsheviks.” Bikerman wrote with evident concern in 1923 that “the Jew is in all corners and on all levels of power.” “The Russian sees him as a ruler of Moscow, at the head of the capital on Neva, and at the head of the Red Army, a perfected death machine. He sees that St. Vladimir Prospect has been renamed Nakhimson Prospect… The Russian sees the Jew as judge and hangman; he sees Jews at every turn, not only among the communists, but among people like himself, everywhere doing the bidding of Soviet power” not surprising, the Russian, comparing present with past, is confirmed in his idea that power is Jewish power, that it exists for Jews and does the bidding of Jews” (14).

No less visible than Jewish participation in government was the suddenly created new order in culture and education.

The new societal inequality was not so much along the lines of nationality as it was a matter of town versus country. The Russian reader needs no explanation of the advantages bestowed by Soviet power from the 20’s to the 80’s on capital cities when compared to the rest of the country. One of the main advantages was the level of education and range of opportunities for higher learning. Those established during the early years of Soviet power in capital cities assured for their children and grandchildren future decades of advantages, vis a vis those in the country. The enhanced opportunities in post-secondary education and graduate education meant increased access to the educated elite. Meanwhile, from 1918 the ethnic Russian intelligentsia was being pushed to the margins.

In the 20’s students already enrolled in institutions of higher learning were expelled based on social origins policy. Children of the nobility, the clergy, government bureaucrats, military officers, merchants, even children of petty shop keepers were expelled. Applicants from these classes and children of the intelligentsia were denied entry to institutions of higher learning in the years that followed. As a “nationality repressed by the Tsar’s regime,” Jews did not receive this treatment. Despite “bourgeois origin,” the Jewish youth was freely accepted in institutions of higher learning. Jews were forgiven for not being proletarian.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, “with the absence of limitations based upon nationality for entry to institutions of higher learning, Jews came to make up 15.4% of all university students in the USSR, almost twice their proportion of the urban population at large” (15). Further, Jews “owing to a high level of motivation” quickly bypassed the unprepared “proletarian” factory workers who had been pushed forward in the education system, and proceeded unhindered into graduate school. In the 20’s and 30’s and for a long time after, Jews were a disproportionately large part of the intelligentsia.

According to G. Aronson, wide access to higher and specialized education led to the formation of cadres of doctors, teachers and particularly engineers and technical workers among Jews, which naturally led to university faculty posts in the expanding system of higher education (16) and in the widely proliferating research institutions. In the beginning of 1920’s, the post of “the State Chair of Science” was occupied not by a scientist but a Bolshevik official, Mandelshtam-Lyadov (17).

Even sharper changes gripped the economic life of the country. Bukharin publicly announced at a Communist Party conference in 1927 that “during War Communism, we purged the Russian petty and middle bourgeoisie along with leading capitalists.” When the economy was later opened up to free trade “petty and middle Jewish bourgeoisie took the place of the Russian bourgeoisie… and roughly the same happened with our Russian intelligentsia which bucked and sabotaged our efforts… Its place has been taken in some areas by the Jewish intelligentsia”. Moreover, Jewish bourgeousie and intelligentsia are concentrated in our central regions and cities, where they moved in from western provinces and southern towns.” Here “even in the Party ranks one often encounters anti-Semitic tendencies.” “Comrades, we must wage a fierce battle against anti-Semitism” (18).

Bukharin described a situation that was obvious to all. Unlike Russian bourgeosie, the Jewish bourgeoisie was not destroyed. The Jewish merchant, much less likely to be damned as a “man of the past,” found defenders. Relatives or sympathizers in the Soviet Apparatus… warned about pending arrests or seizures. And if he lost anything – it was just capital, not life. Cooperation was quasi-official through the Jewish Commissariat at the Sovnarkom. The Jews until now had been “a repressed people” and that meant, naturally, they needed help. Larin explained the destruction of the “Russian bourgeoisie” as a “correction of the injustice that existed under the Tsars before the Revolution” (19).

When NEP (New Economic Policy) was crushed, the blow fell with less force against Jewish NEPmen owing to connections in Soviet ruling circles.

Bukharin had been speaking in answer to a remarkable speech by Prof. Y.V. Klyutchnikov, a publicist and a former Kadet [Translator’s note: Constitutional Democrat]. In December 1926, the professor spoke at a “meeting on the Jewish question” at the Moscow Conservatory. “We have isolated expressions of hooliganism… Its source is the hurt national feelings of Russians. The February Revolution established the equality of all citizens of Russia, including Jews. The October Revolution went further with the Russian nation proclaiming self-renunciation. A certain imbalance has developed with respect to the proportion of the Jewish population in the country as a whole and the positions they have temporarily occupied in the cities. We are in our own cities and they arrive and squeeze us out. When Russians see Russian women, elders and children freezing on the street 9 to 11 hours a day, getting soaked by the rain in their tents at the market and when they see relatively warm covered Jewish kiosks with bread and sausage they are not happy. These phenomena are catastrophic… and must be considered… There is a terrible disproportion in the government structure, in daily life and in other areas… We have a housing crisis in Moscow – masses of people are crowding into areas not fit for habitation and at the same time people see others pouring in from other parts of the country taking up housing. These arrivals are Jews. A national dissatisfaction is rising and a defensiveness and fear of other nationalities. We must not close our eyes to that. A Russian speaking to a Russian will say things that he will not say to a Jew. Many are saying that there are too many Jews in Moscow. This must be dealt with, but don’t call it anti-Semitism” (20).

But Larin regarded Klyutchnikov’s speech as a manifestation of anti-Semitism, saying “this speech serves as an example of the good nature of Soviet power in its battle against anti-Semitism because Klyutchnikov was roundly criticized by speakers who followed at the same meeting, but no “administrative measures” were taken against him” (21). (Here it is, the frustration of the communist activist!) Agursky writes: “one would expect repression to swiftly follow for such a speech in the 20’s and 30’s,” but Klyutchnikov got off. Maybe he received secret support from some quarters (22)? (But why look for secret causes? It would have been too much of a scandal to punish such a famous publicist, who just returned from abroad and could have harmed a reverse migration that was so important for Soviet authorities [Translator’s note: “reverse migration” – return of people who emigrated from Russia during previous period of revolutions and Civil War].)

The 20’s were spoken of as the “conquest” by the Jews of Russian capital cities and industrial centers where conditions were better. As well, there was a migration to the better areas within the cities. G. Fedotov describes Moscow at that time: “The revolution deformed its soul, turning it inside out, emptying out its mansions, and filling them with a foreign and alien people” (23). A Jewish joke from the era: “Even from Berdichev and even the very old come to Moscow: they want to die in a Jewish city” (24).

In a private letter V.I. Vernadsky [Translator’s note: a prominent Russian polymath] in 1927 writes: “Moscow now is like Berdichev; the power of Jewry is enormous – and anti-Semitism (including in communist circles) is growing unabated” (25).

Larin: “We do not hide figures that demonstrate growth of the Jewish population in urban centers,” it is completely unavoidable and will continue into the future.” He forecasted the migration from Ukraine and Byelorussia of an additional 600,000 Jews. “We can’t look upon this as something shameful, that the party would silence… we must create a spirit in the working class so that anyone who gives a speech against the arrival of Jews in Moscow would be considered a counter-revolutionary” (26).

And for counter-revolutionaries there is nine grams of lead (27) – that much is clear.

But, what to do about “anti-Semitic tendencies” even in “our party circles” was a concern in the upper levels of the party.

According to official data reported in Pravda in 1922, Jews made up 5.2% of the party (28). M. Agursky: “But their actual influence was considerably more. In that same year at the 11th Communist Party Congress Jews made up 14.6% of the voting delegates, 18.3% of the non-voting delegates and 26% of those elected to the Central Committee at the conference” (29). (Sometimes one accidentally comes upon such data: a taciturn memoirist from Moscow opens Pravda in July, 1930 and notes: “The portrait of the 25-member Presidium of the Communist Party included 11 Russians, 8 Jews, 3 from the Caucasus, and 3 Latvians” (30).) In the large cities, close to areas of the former Pale of Settlement, the following data: In the early 20’s party organizations in Minsk, Gomel and Vitebsk in 1922 were, respectively, 35.8%, 21.1%, and 16.6% Jewish, respectively (31). Larin notes: “Jewish revolutionaries play a bigger part than any others in revolutionary activity” thanks to their qualities, Jewish workers often find it easier to rise to positions of local leadership” (32).

In the same issue of Pravda, it is noted that Jews at 5.2% of the Party were in the third place after Russians (72%) and Ukrainians (5.9%), followed by Latvians (2.5%) and then Georgians, Tatars, Poles and Byelorussians. Jews had the highest rate of per capita party membership – 7.2% of Jews were in the party versus 3.8% for Great Russians (33).

M. Agursky correctly notes that in absolute numbers the majority of communists were, of course, Russians, but “the unusual role of Jews in leadership was dawning on the Russians” (34). It was just too obvious.

For instance, Zinoviev “gathered many Jews around himself in the Petersburg leadership.” (Agursky suggests this was what Larin was referring to in his discussion of the photograph of the Presidium of Petrograd Soviet in 1918 in his book (35)). By 1921 the preponderance of Jews in Petrograd CP organization… “was apparently so odious that the Politburo, reflecting on the lessons of Kronshtadt and the anti-Semitic mood of Petrograd, decided to send several ethnic Russian communists to Petrograd, though entirely for publicity purposes.” So Uglanov took the place of Zorin-Homberg as head of Gubkom; Komarov replaced Trilisser and Semyonov went to the Cheka. But Zinoviev “objected to the decision of Politboro and fought the new group” – and as a result Uglanov was recalled from Petrograd and “a purely Russian opposition group formed spontaneously in the Petrograd organization,” a group, “forced to counter the rest of the organization whose tone was set by Jews” (36).

But not only in Petrograd – at the 12th Communist Party Congress (1923) three out of six Politburo members were Jewish. Three out of seven were Jews in the leadership of the Komsomol and in the Presidium of the all-Russia Conference in 1922 (37). This was not tolerable to other leading communists and, apparently, preparations were begun for an anti-Jewish revolt at the 13th Party Congress (May 1924).”There is evidence that a group of members of CK was planning to drive leading Jews from the Politburo, replacing them with Nogin, Troyanovsky and others and that only the death of Nogin interrupted the plot.” His death, “literally on the eve of the Congress”, resulted from an “unsuccessful and unnecessary operation for a stomach ulcer by the same surgeon who dispatched Frunze with an equally unneeded operation a year and a half later” (38).

The Cheka-GPU had second place in terms of real power after the Party. A researcher of archival material, whom we quoted in Chapter 16, reports interesting statistics on the composition of the Cheka in 1920, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925 and 1927 (39). He concludes that the proportion of national minorities in the apparatus gradually fell towards the mid-20’s. “In the OGPU as a whole, the proportion of personnel from a national minority fell to 30-35% and to 40-45% for those in leadership.” (These figures contrast with 50% and 70% respectively during the “Red Terror.”) However, “we observe a decline in the percentage of Latvians and an increase in the percentage of Jews”. The 20’s was a period of significant influx of Jewish cadres into the organs of the OGPU”. The author explains this: “Jews strived to utilize capabilities not needed in the pre-revolutionary period. With the increasing professionalism and need for organization, Jews, better than others, were able to meet the needs of OGPU and the new conditions.” For example, three of Dzerzhinsky’s four assistants were Jews – G. Yagoda, V.L. Gerson, and M.M. Lutsky (40).

In the 20’s and 30’s, the leading Chekists circled over the land like birds of prey flying quickly from cliff to cliff. From the top ranks of the Central Asian GPU off to Byelorussia and from Western Siberia to the North Caucasus, from Kharkov to Orenburg and from Orel to Vinnitza – there was a perpetual whirlwind of movement and change. And the lonely voices of those surviving witnesses could only speak much later, without precise reference to time, of the executioners whose names flashed by them. The personnel, the deeds and the power of the Cheka were completely secret.

For the 10th anniversary of the glorious Cheka we read in a newspaper a formal order signed by the omnipresent Unshlicht (from 1921 – deputy head of Cheka, from 1923 – member of Revvoensovet, from 1925 – Deputy Narkom of the Navy (41)). In it, Yagoda was rewarded for “particularly valuable service… for sacrifice in the battle with counter revolution”; also given awards were M. Trilisser (distinguished for his “devotion to the revolution and untiring persecution of its enemies”) as well as 32 Chekists who had not been before the public until then. Each of them with the flick of a finger could destroy anyone of us! Among them were Jakov Agranov (for the work on all important political trials – and in the future he will orchestrate the trials of Zinoviev, Kamenev, the “Industrial Party Trial,” and others (42)), Zinovy Katznelson, Matvey Berman (transferred from Central Asia to the Far East) and Lev Belsky (transferred from the Far East to Central Asia).

There were several new names: Lev Zalin, Lev Meyer, Leonid Bull (dubbed “warden of Solovki”), Simeon Gendin, Karl Pauker. Some were already known to only a few, but now the people would get to know them. In this jubilee newspaper (43) issue we can find a large image of slick Menzhinsky with his faithful deputy Yagoda and a photograph of Trilisser. Shortly afterward, another twenty Chekists were awarded with the order of the Red Banner, and again we see a motley company of Russians, Latvians, and Jews, the latter in the same proportions – around one-third.

Some of them were avoiding publicity. Simeon Schwartz was director of the Ukrainian Cheka. A colleague of his, Yevsei Shirvindt directed the transport of prisoners and convoys throughout the USSR. Naturally, such Chekists as Grimmeril Heifetz (a spy from the end of the Civil War to the end of WWII) and Sergei Spigelglas (a Chekist from 1917 who, through his work as a spy, rose to become director of the Foreign Department of the NKVD and a two-time recipient of the honorary title of “distinguished chekist”) worked out of the public eye. Careers of others, like Albert Stromin-Stroyev, were less impressive (he “conducted interrogations of scientists during the “Academy trial” in 1929-31″ (44)).

David Azbel remembers the Nakhamkins, a family of Hasidic Jews from Gomel. (Azbel himself was imprisoned because of snitching by the younger family member, Lev.) “The revolution threw the Nakhamkins onto the crest of a wave. They thirsted for the revenge on everyone – aristocrats, the wealthy, Russians, few were left out. This was their path to self-realization. It was no accident that fate led the offspring of this glorious clan to the Cheka, GPU, NKVD and the prosecutor’s office. To fulfill their plans, the Bolsheviks needed “rabid” people and this is what they got with the Nakhamkins. One member of this family, Roginsky, achieved “brilliant heights” as Deputy Prosecutor for the USSR “but during the Stalinist purges was imprisoned, as were many, and became a cheap stool pigeon… the others were not so well known. They changed their last name to one more familiar to the Russian ear and occupied high places in the Organs” (45).

Unshlict did not change his name to one “more familiar to the Russian ear.” See, this Slavic brother became truly a “father of Russians”: a warplane built with funds of farmer mutual aid societies (that is, – on the last dabs of money extorted from peasants) was named after him. No doubt, farmers could not even pronounce his name and likely thought that this Pole was a Jew. Indeed, this reminds us that the Jewish issue does not explain the devastation of revolution, albeit it places a heavy hue on it. As it was also hued by many other unpronounceable names – from Polish Dzerzhinsky and Eismont to Latvian Vatsetis. And what if we looked into the Latvian issue? Apart from those soldiers who forced the dissolution of the Russian Constituent Assembly and who later provided security for the Bolshevik leaders during the entire Civil War, we find many high-placed Latvian Bolsheviks. Gekker suppressed the uprising in Yaroslavl Guberniya. Among others, there were Rudzutak, Eikhe, Eikhmans from Solovki, M. Karklin, A. Kaktyn, R. Kisis, V. Knorin, A. Skundre (one of those who suppressed the Tambov Uprising); Chekists Petere, Latsis, and an “honorary Chekist” Lithuanian I. Yusis. This thread can lead directly to 1991 (Pugo…) And what if we separate Ukrainians from Russians (as demanded by the Ukrainians these days)? We will find dozens of them at the highest posts of Bolshevik hierarchy, from its conception to the very end.

No, power was not Jewish power then. Political power was internationalist – and its ranks were to the large extent Russian. But under its multi-hued internationalism it united in an anti-Russian front against a Russian state and Russian traditions.

In view of the anti-Russian orientation of power and the multinational makeup of the executioners, why, in Ukraine, Central Asia and the Baltics did the people think it was Russians who had enslaved them? Because they were alien. A destroyer from one’s own nation is much closer than a destroyer from an alien tribe. And while it is a mistake to attribute the ruin and destruction to nationalist chauvinism, at the same time in Russia in the 20’s the inevitable question hanged in the air that was posed many year later by Leonard Schapiro: why was it “highly likely that anyone unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of the Cheka would go before a Jewish interrogator or be shot by a Jew.” (46)?

Yet the majority of modern writers fail to even acknowledge these questions. Often Jewish authors thoughtlessly and meticulously comply and publish vast lists of Jewish leadership of the time. For example, see how proudly the article “Jews in Kremlin” (47), published in journal Alef, provides a list of the highest Soviet officials – Jews for 1925. It listed eight out of twelve directors of Gosbank. The same level of Jewish representation was found among top trade union leaders. And it comments: “We do not fear accusations. Quite opposite – it is active Jewish participation in governing the state that helps to understand why state affairs were better then than now, when Jews at top positions are as rare as hen’s teeth. Unbelievably, that was written in 1989.

Regarding the army, one Israeli scholar (48) painstakingly researched and proudly published a long list of Jewish commanders of the Red Army, during and after the Civil War. Another Israeli researcher published statistics obtained from the 1926 census to the effect that while Jews made up 1.7% of the male population in the USSR, they comprised 2.1% of the combat officers, 4.4% of the command staff, 10.3% of the political leadership and 18.6% of military doctors (49).

And what did the West see? If the government apparatus could operate in secret under the communist party, which maintained its conspiratorial secrecy even after coming to power, diplomats were on view everywhere in the world. At the first diplomatic conferences with Soviets in Geneva and the Hague in 1922, Europe could not help but notice that Soviet delegations and their staff were mostly Jewish (50). Due to the injustice of history, a long and successful career of Boris Yefimovich Stern is now completely forgotten (he wasn’t even mentioned in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (GSE) of 1971). Yet he was the second most important assistant to Chicherin during Genoa Conference, and later at Hague Conference, and still later he led Soviet delegation during longstanding demilitarization negotiations. He was also a member of Soviet delegation at League of Nations. Stern was ambassador in Italy and Finland and conducted delicate negotiations with the Finns before the Soviet-Finnish war. Finally, from 1946 to 1948 he was the head of the Soviet delegation at UN. And he used to be a longstanding lecturer at the High Diplomatic School (at one point during “anti-cosmopolitan” purges he was fired but in 1953 he was restored at that position).

An associate of Chicherin, Leon Haikis worked for many years in the Narkomat of the Foreign Affairs (NKID). In 1937 he was sent to a warmer place as ambassador to the embattled Republican government of Spain (where he directed the Republican side during the Civil War), but was arrested and removed. Fyodor Rotshtein founded the communist party in Great Britain in 1920 and in that very year he was a member of the Soviet delegation in negotiations with England! Two years later he represented RSFSR at the Hague conference (51). (As Litvinov’s right hand man he independently negotiated with ambassadors to Russia in important matters; until 1930 he was in the Presidium of NKID and for 30 years before his death, a professor at the Moscow State University.)

And on the other side of the globe, in southern China, M. Gruzenberg-Borodin had served for 5 years when the December 1927 Canton Rebellion against the Kuomintang broke out. It is now recognized that the revolt was prepared by our Vice Consul, Abram Hassis, who, at age of 33 was killed by Chinese soldiers. Izvestia ran several articles with the obituaries and the photographs of “comrades in arms” under Kuibishev, comparing the fallen comrade with highly distinguished communists like Furmanov and Frunze (52).

In 1922 Gorky told the academic Ipatiev that 98% of the Soviet trade mission in Berlin was Jewish (53) and this probably was not much of an exaggeration. A similar picture would be found in other Western capitals where the Soviets were ensconced. The “work” that was performed in early Soviet trade missions is colorfully described in a book by G.A. Solomon (54), the first Soviet trade representative in Tallinn, Estonia – the first European capital to recognize the Bolsheviks. There are simply no words to describe the boundless theft by the early Bolsheviks in Russia (along with covert actions against the West) and the corruption of soul these activities brought to their effecters.

Shortly after Gorky’s conversation with Ipatiev he “was criticized in the Soviet press for an article where he reproached the Soviet government for its placement of so many Jews in positions of responsibility in government and industry. He had nothing against Jews per se, but, departing from views he expressed in 1918, he thought that Russians should be in charge” (55). And Pravda‘s twin publication Dar Amos (Pravda in Yiddish) objected strongly: Do they (i.e. Gorky and Shalom Ash, the interviewer) really want for Jews to refuse to serve in any government position? For them to get out of the way? That kind of decision could only be made by counter-revolutionaries or cowards” (56).

In Jews in the Kremlin, the author, using the 1925 Annual Report of NKID, introduces leading figures and positions in the central apparatus. “In the publishing arm there is not one non-Jew” and further, with evident pride, the author “examines the staff in the Soviet consulates around the world and finds there is not one country in the world where the Kremlin has not placed a trusted Jew” (57).

If he was interested, the author of Alef could find no small number of Jews in the Supreme Court of RSFSR of 1920’s, in the Procurator’s office and RKI. Here we can find already familiar A. Goikhbarg, who, after chairing the Lesser Sovnarcom, worked out the legal system for the NEP era, supervised development of Civil Code of RSFSR and was director of the Institute of Soviet Law (59).

It is much harder to examine lower, provincial level authorities, and not only because of their lower exposure to the press but also due to their rapid fluidity, and frequent turnover of cadres from post to post, from region to region. This amazing early Soviet shuffling of personnel might have been caused either by an acute deficit of reliable men as in in the Lenin’s era or by mistrust (and the “tearing” of a functionary from the developed connections) in Stalin’s times.

Here are several such career “trajectories”.

Lev Maryasin was Secretary of Gubkom of Orel Guberniya, later – chair of Sovnarkhoz of Tatar Republic, later – head of a department of CK of Ukraine, later – chair of board of directors of Gosbank of USSR, and later – Deputy Narkom of Finances of USSR. Moris Belotsky was head of Politotdel of the First Cavalry Army (a very powerful position), participated in suppression of the Kronshtadt Uprising, later – in NKID, then later – the First Secretary of North Ossetian Obkom, and even later was First Secretary of CK of Kyrgyzstan.

A versatile functionary Grigory Kaminsky was Secretary of Gubkom of Tula Guberniya, later – Secretary of CK of Azerbaijan, later – chair of Kolkhozcenter, and later – Narkom of Health Care Service.

Abram Kamensky was Narkom of State Control Commission of Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic, later – Deputy Narkom of Nationalities of RSFSR, later – Secretary of Gubkom of Donetsk, later served in Narkomat of Agriculture, then – director of Industrial Academy, and still later he served in the Narkomat of Finances (60).

There were many Jewish leaders of the Komsomol.

Ascendant career of Efim Tzetlin began with the post of the First Chairman of CK RKSM (fall of 1918); after the Civil War he become Secretary of CK and Moscow Committee of RKSM, since 1922 – a member of executive committee of KIM (Young Communist International), in 1923-24 – a spy in Germany, later he worked in Secretariat of Executive Committee of Communist International, still later – in editorial office of Pravda,  and even later he was head of Bukharin’s secretariat, where this latter post eventually proved fatal for him (61).

The career of Isaiah Khurgin was truly amazing. In 1917 he was a member of Ukrainian Rada [Parliament], served both in the Central and the Lesser chambers and worked on the draft of legislation on Jewish autonomy in Ukraine. Since 1920 we see him as a member VKPb, in 1921 – he was the Trade Commissioner of Ukraine in Poland, in 1923 he represented German-American Transport Society in USA, serving as a de facto Soviet plenipotentiary. He founded and chaired Amtorg (American Trading Corporation). His future seemed incredibly bright but alas at the age of 38 (in 1925) he was drowned in a lake in USA (62). What a life he had!

Let’s glance at the economy. Moses Rukhimovitch was Deputy Chair of Supreme Soviet of the National Economy. Ruvim Levin was a member of Presidium of Gosplan (Ministry of Economic Planning) of USSR and Chair of Gosplan of RSFSR (later – Deputy Narkom of Finances of USSR). Zakhary Katzenelenbaum was inventor of the governmental “Loan for Industrialization” in 1927 (and, therefore, of all subsequent “loans”). He also was one of the founders of Soviet Gosbank. Moses Frumkin was Deputy Narkom of Foreign Trade from 1922 but in fact he was in charge of the entire Narkomat. He and A. I. Vainstein were long-serving members of the panel of Narkomat of Finances of USSR. Vladimirov-Sheinfinkel was Narkom of Provand of Ukraine, later – Narkom of Agriculture of Ukraine, and even later he served as Narkom of Finances of RSFSR and Deputy Narkom of Finances of USSR (63).

If you are building a mill, you are responsible for possible flood. A newspaper article by Z. Zangvil describes celebratory jubilee meeting of the Gosbank board of directors in 1927 (five years after introduction of chervonets [a former currency of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union] and explains the importance of chervonets and displays a group photograph. The article lauds Sheinman, the chairman of the board, and Katzenelenbaum, a member of the board (64). Sheinman’s signature was reproduced on every Soviet chervonets and he simultaneously held the post of Narkom of Domestic Commerce (from 1924). And hold your breath, my reader! He didn’t return from a foreign visit in 1929 (65)! He preferred to live in bloody capitalism!

Speaking of mid-level Soviet institutions, the well-known economist and professor B. D. Brutskus asks: “Did not the revolution open up new opportunities for the Jewish population?” Among these opportunities would be government service. “…more than anything it is obvious the large numbers of Jews in government, particularly in higher posts,” and “most of the Jewish government employees come from the higher classes not the Jewish masses.” But, upperclass Jews, required to serve the Soviet government did not gain, but lost in comparison with what they would have had in their own businesses or freely pursuing professions. As well, those who moved through the Soviet hierarchy had to display the utmost of tact to avoid arousing jealousy and dissatisfaction. A large number of Jewish public servants, regardless of talent and qualities, would not lessen anti-Semitism, but would strengthen it among other workers and among the intelligentsia.” He maintained “there are many Jewish public servants particularly in the commissariats devoted to economic functions” (66).

Larin put it more simply: “the Jewish intelligentsia in large numbers served the victorious revolution readily” realizing “access to previously denied government service” (67).

G. Pomerantz, speaking 50 years later justified this: “history dragged Jews into the government apparatus,” … Jews had nowhere else to go besides to government institutions,” including the Cheka (68) as we commented earlier. The Bolsheviks also “had no other place to go – the Jewish Tribune from Paris explains “there were so many Jews in various Soviet functions” because of the need for literate, sober bureaucrats” (69).

However one can read in Jewish World, a Parisian publication, that: “there is no denying that a large percentage of Jewish youth from lower social elements — some completely hopeless failures, were drawn to Bolshevism by the sudden prospect of power; for others it was the ‘world proletarian revolution’ and for still others it was a mixture of adventurous idealism and practical utilitarianism (70).

Of course not all were “drawn to Bolshevism.” There were large numbers of peaceful Jews whom the revolution crushed. However, the life in the towns of the former Pale of Settlement was not visible to ordinary non-Jewish person. Instead the average person saw, as described by M. Heifetz, “arrogant, self-confident and self-satisfied adult Jews at ease on ‘red holidays’ and ‘red weddings’… ‘We now sit where Tsars and generals once sat, and they sit beneath us’” (71).

These were not unwaveringly ideological Bolsheviks. The invitation to power was extended to “millions of residents from rotting shtetls, to pawn brokers, tavern owners, contrabandists, seltzer water salesmen and those who sharpened their wills in the fight for survival and their minds in evening study of the Torah and the Talmud. The authorities invited them to Moscow, Petrograd and Kiev to take into their quick nervous hands that which was falling from the soft, pampered hands of the hereditary intelligentsia – everything from the finances of a great power, nuclear physics and the secret police.

They couldn’t resist the temptation of Esau, the less so since, in addition to a bowl of potage, they were offered the chance to build the promised land, that is, communism” (72). There was “a Jewish illusion that this was their country” (73).

Many Jews did not enter the whirlwind of revolution and didn’t automatically join the Bolsheviks, but the general national inclination was one of sympathy for the Bolshevik cause and a feeling that life would now be incomparably better. “The majority of Jews met the revolution, not with fear, but with welcome arms” (74). In the early 20’s the Jews of Byelorussia and Ukraine were a “significant source of support for the centralization of power in Moscow over and against the influence of regional power” (75). Evidence of Jewish attitudes in 1923 showed the overwhelming majority considered Bolshevism to be a lesser evil and that if the Bolsheviks lost power it would be worse for them (76).

“Now, a Jew can command an army!… These gifts alone were enough to bring Jewish support for the communists… The disorder of the Bolshevism seemed like a brilliant victory for justice and no one noticed the complete suppression of freedom” (77). Large number of Jews who did not leave after the revolution failed to foresee the bloodthirstiness of the new government, though the persecution, even of socialists, was well underway. The Soviet government was as unjust and cruel then as it was to be in ’37 and in 1950. But in the 20’s it did not raise alarm or resistance in the wider Jewish population since its force was aimed not at Jewry.


When Leskov, in a report for the Palensky Commission [Translator’s note: a pre-revolution government commission], one by one refuted all the presumed consequences for Russians from the removal of restrictions on Jewish settlement in Russia he couldn’t have foreseen the great degree to which Jews would be participating in governing the country and the economy in the 20’s.

The revolution changed the entire course of events and we don’t know how things would have developed without it.

When in 1920, Solomon Luria [Translator’s note: aka Lurie], a professor of ancient history in Petrograd, found that in Soviet, internationalist and communist Russia anti-Semitism was again on the rise, he was not surprised. On the contrary, “events substantiated the correctness of [his] earlier conclusions” that the “cause of anti-Semitism lies with the Jews themselves” and currently “with or in spite of the complete absence of legal restrictions on Jews, anti-Semitism has erupted with a new strength and reached a pitch that could never have been imagined in the old regime” (78).

Russian (more precisely Little Russian) anti-Semitism of past centuries and the early 20th century was blown away with its seeds by the winds of the October revolution. Those who joined the Union of the Russian People, those who marched with their religious standards to smash Jewish shops, those who demanded the execution of Beilis, those who defended the royal throne, the urban middle class and those who were with them or who resembled them or who were suspected to be like them were rounded up by the thousands and shot or imprisoned.

Among Russian workers and peasants there was no anti-Semitism before the revolution – this is attested to by leaders of the revolution themselves. The Russian intelligentsia was actively sympathetic to the cause of the oppressed Jews and children of the post-revolution years were raised only in the internationalist spirit.

Stripped of any strength, discredited and crushed completely, where did anti-Semitism come from?

We already described how surprising it was for Jewish-Russian émigrés to learn that anti-Semitism had not died. They followed the phenomenon in writings of socialists E.D. Kuskova and S.S. Maslov, who came from Russia in 1922.

In an article in the Jewish Tribune, Kuskova states that anti-Semitism in the USSR is not a figment of the imagination and that “in Russia, Bolshevism is now blending with Judaism — this cannot be doubted.” She even met highly cultured Jews who were anti-Semites of the new “Soviet type.” A Jewish doctor told her: “Jewish Bolshevik administrators ruined the excellent relations he had with the local population.” A teacher said “children tell me that I teach in a Jewish school” because we have “forbidden the teaching of The Ten Commandments and driven off the priest.” “There are only Jews in the Narkomat of Education. In high school circles (‘from radical families’) there is talk about the predominance of the Jews.” “Young people, in general are more anti-Semitic than the older generation… and one hears everywhere ‘they showed their true colors and tortured us’.” “Russian life is full of this stuff today. But if you ask me who they are, these anti-Semites, they are most of the society.” “So widespread is this thinking that the political administration distributed a proclamation explaining why there are so many Jews in it: ‘When the Russian proletariat needed its own new intelligentsia, mid-level intelligentsia, technical workers and administrative workers, not surprisingly, Jews, who, before had been in the opposition, came forward to meet them… the occupation by Jews of administrative posts in the new Russia is historically inevitable and would have been the natural outcome, regardless of whether the new Russia had become KD (Constitutional Democrat), SR (Socialist Revolutionary) or proletarian. Any problems with having Aaron Moiseevich Tankelevich sitting in the place of Ivan Petrovich Ivanov need to be ‘cured’.”

Kuskova parries “in a Constitutional Democratic or SR Russia many administrative posts would have been occupied by Jews…. but neither the Kadets nor SR’s would have forbidden teaching the Ten Commandments and wouldn’t have chopped off heads… Stop Tankelevich from doing evil and there will be no microbe of anti-Semitism” (79).

The Jewish émigré community was chilled by Maslov’s findings. Here was a tested SR with an unassailable reputation who lived through the first four years of Soviet power. “Judeophobia is everywhere in Russia today. It has swept areas where Jews were never before seen and where the Jewish question never occurred to anyone. The same hatred for Jews is found in Vologda, Archangel, in the towns of Siberia and the Urals” (80). He recounts several episodes affecting the perception of the simple Russian peasants such as the Tyumen Produce Commissar Indenbaum’s order to shear sheep for the second time in the season, “because the Republic needs wool.” (This was prior to collectivization, no less; these actions of this commissar caused the Ishim peasant uprising.) The problem arose because it was late in the fall and the sheep would die without their coats from the coming winter cold. Maslov does not name the commissars who ordered the planting of millet and fried sun-flower seeds or issued a prohibition on planting malt, but one can conclude they did not come from ordinary Russian folk or from the Russian aristocracy or from “yesterday’s men.” From all this, the peasantry could only conclude that the power over them was “Jewish.” So too did the workers. Several workers’ resolutions from the Urals in Feb and March of 1921 sent to the Kremlin “complained with outrage of the dominance of the Jews in central and local government.” “The intelligentsia, of course does not think that Soviet power is Jewish, but it has noted the vastly disproportionate role of Jews in authority” when compared to their numbers in the population.

“And if a Jew approaches a group of non-Jews who are freely discussing Soviet reality, they almost always change the topic of conversation even if the new arrival is a personal acquaintance” (81).

Maslov tries to understand “the cause of the widespread and bitter hatred of Jews in modern Russia” and it seems to him to be the “identification throughout society of Soviet power and Jewish power.”

”The expression ‘Yid Power’ is often used in Russia and particularly in Ukraine and in the former Pale of Settlement not as a polemic, but as a completely objective definition of power, its content and its politics.” ”Soviet power in the first place answers the wishes and interests of Jews and they are its ardent supporters and in the second place, power resides in Jewish hands.”

Among the causes of Judeophobia Maslov notes the “tightly welded ethnic cohesion they have formed as a result of their difficult thousands year old history”.  “This is particularly noticeable when it comes to selecting staff at institutions – if the selection process is in the hands of Jews, you can bet that the entire staff of responsible positions will go to Jews, even if it means removing the existing staff.” And often that “preference for their own is displayed in a sharp, discourteous manner which is offensive to others.” In the Jewish bureaucrat, Soviet power manifests more obviously its negative features… the intoxicating wine of power is stronger for Jews and goes to their head… I don’t know where this comes from,” perhaps because of the low cultural level of the former pharmacists and shopkeepers. Maybe from living earlier without full civil rights?” (82).

The Parisian Zionist journal Sunrise wrote in 1922 that Gorky essentially said that “the growth of anti-Semitism is aided by the tactless behavior of the Jewish Bolsheviks themselves in many situations.”

That is the blessed truth!

And Gorky wasn’t speaking of Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev – he was speaking of the typical Jewish communist who occupies a position in the collegia, presidia and petty and mid-level Soviet institutions where he comes into contact with large swaths of the population. Such individuals occupy leading front-line positions which naturally multiplies their number in the mind of the public (83).

D. Pasmanik comments: “we must admit that many Jews through their own actions provoke acute anti-Semitism… all the impudent Jews filling the communist ranks – these pharmacists, shopkeepers, peddlers, dropouts and pseudo intellectuals are indeed causing much evil to Russia and Jewry” (84).

“Hardly ever before inside of Russia or outside of Russia have Jews been the subject of such an active and concentrated hostility — it has never reached such an intensity nor been so widespread. This elemental hostility has been fed by the open and undeniable participation of Jews in destructive processes underway in Europe as well as by the tales and exaggerations about such participation” (86).“A terrible anti-Semitic mood is taking hold, fed exclusively by Bolshevism which continues to be identified with Jewry” (86).

In 1927 Mikhail Kozakov (shot in 1930 after the “food workers’ trial”) wrote in a private letter to his brother overseas about the “Judeophobic mood of the masses (among non-party and party members)… it is no secret that the mass of workers do not love the Jews” (87).

And Shulgin, after his “secret” trip to the USSR in 1928 says: No one says anymore that anti-Semitism is propaganda planted by the “Tsar’s government” or an infection limited to the “dregs of society”… Geographically it spreads wider each day threatening to engulf all of Russia. The main center today seems to be Moscow… anti-Semitism is a new phenomenon in Great Russia,” but is much more serious than old anti-Semitism in the South (anti-Semitism of the South of Russia was traditionally humorous and mitigated by anecdotes about Jews (88)).

Larin brings up an anti-Jewish slogan allegedly used for propaganda purposes by the White Guards — “Russians are sent to Narym [Translator’s note: a locale in the far north] and Jews to the Crimea” [Translator’s note: a vacation spot] (89).

The Soviet authorities eventually became seriously concerned with the rise of anti-Semitism. In 1923 the Jewish Tribunewrites, albeit with skepticism, “the Commissariat of Internal Affairs has established a commission to study the question of ‘protecting the Jews from dark forces’ ” (90).

In 1926 Kalinin (and other functionaries) received many questions about Jews in letters and at meetings. As a result, Larin undertook a study of the problem in a book Jews and anti-Semitism in the USSR. From his own reports, queries and interviews (taken, we can presume, from communists or communist sympathizers) he enumerates 66 questions from those the authorities received, recording them without editing the language. Among these questions (91):

Where are the Jews in Moscow coming from?

Why is authority predominantly Jewish?

How come Jews don’t wait in line?

How do Jews arriving from Berdichev and other cities immediately receive apartments? (There is a joke that the last Jew left Berdichev and gave the keys to the city to Kalinin.)

Why do Jews have money and own their own bakeries, etc?

Why are Jews drawn to light work and not to physical labor?

Why do Jews in government service and in professions stick together and help each other while Russians do not?

They do not want to work at everyday jobs, but are concerned only with their careers.

Why do they not farm even though it is now allowed them?

Why are Jews given good land in the Crimea while Russians are given inferior land?

Why is party opposition 76% Jewish? [Translator’s note: the opposition to the “general line of the party” within the party itself]

Why did anti-Semitism develop only against Jews and not against other nationalities?

What should a group agitprop leader do when he tries to counter anti-Semitic tendencies in his group and no one supports him?

Larin suspects that these questions were dreamed up and spread among the masses by an underground organization of counter-revolutionaries (92)! As we will see later, this is where some official explanations came from. But he fixates on the unexpected phenomenon and tries to address scientifically the question “How could anti-Semitism take hold in the USSR in those strata of society — [factory workers, students], where, before the revolution, it was little noted (93)?” His findings were:

Anti-Semitism among the intelligentsia.

“Among the intelligentsia anti-Semitism is more developed than in any other group.” However, he maintains that “dissatisfaction rises not from the large number of Jews, but from the fact that Jews presumed to enter into competition with the Russian intelligentsia for government jobs.”

“The obvious development of anti-Semitic attitudes among city clerks and workers by 1928 cannot be explained by excessive numbers of Jews claiming jobs”. “Among the intellectual professions, anti-Semitic tendencies are felt in the medical sphere and in engineering… The army has “good political training” and there is no anti-Semitism there, even though the command staff of the Red Army has a significantly higher percentage of Jews than are present in the country as a whole” (94).

Anti-Semitism among the urban bourgeoisie.

“The root of anti-Semitism is found in urban bourgeois philistinism.” But, “the battle against anti-Semitism among the bourgeoisie…it is mixed in with the question of the destruction of the bourgeoisie in general… The anti-Semitism of the bourgeoisie will disappear when the bourgeoisie disappears” (95).

Anti-Semitism in the countryside.

“We have almost completely pushed out the private trader of the peasant’s grain, therefore among the peasant masses anti-Semitism is not showing itself and has even weakened against its pre-war levels.” Now it appears only in those areas where Jews have been resettled on the land, allegedly from Kulaks and former landowners (96).

Anti-Semitism among the working class.

“Anti-Semitism among the workers has grown noticeably stronger in recent years.” By 1929 there could be no doubt of its existence. Now it occurs with more frequency and intensity than a few years ago. It is particularly strong among the “backwards parts of the working class” — women and seasonal workers. However, an anti-Semitic mood can be observed among a broad spectrum of workers,” not only among the “corrupted fringe.” And here economic competition is not a factor — it arises even where there is no such competition; Jews make up only make “only 2.7%” of the working class. In the lower level professional organizations they tried to paint over anti-Semitism. Difficulties arise because attempts to “hide anti-Semitism” come from the “active proletariat” itself; indeed, anti-Semitism originates from the “active proletariat.” “In many cases Party members and members of Komsomol demonstrate anti-Semitism. Talk of Jewish dominance is particularly widespread, and in meetings one hears complaints that the Soviet authority limits itself to battle with the Orthodox religion alone.”

What savagery — anti-Semitism among the proletariat?!! How could this occur in the most progressive and politically aware class in the world?!  Larin finds that it arose because “no other means remained for the White Guard to influence the masses besides anti-Semitism.” Its plan of action moves along “the rails of anti-Semitism” (97). This was a theory that was to have frightening consequences.

Larin’s views on the anti-Semitism of the time were to find echoes later in other authors.

S. Shwartz provides his own variant on anti-Semitism as being the result of a “vulgar perception of Jews as the main carriers of the New Economic Policy (NEP).” But he agrees: “The Soviet government, not without basis, saw in anti-Semitism a possible tool of the counter-revolution” (98).

In 1968 the author adds: “After the civil war, anti-Semitism began to spread, gripping layers of society which were free of this tendency before the revolution” (99).

Against this it was necessary to engage not in academic discussion but to act energetically and forcefully. In May, 1928 the CK of the VKPb issued an Agitprop communication about “measures to be taken in the battle with anti-Semitism.” (As was often the case in implementation of party directives, related documents were not publicized, but circulated among party organizations.) The battle to create an atmosphere of intolerance of anti-Semitism was to be taken up in educational programs, public reports, lectures, the press, radio and school textbooks and finally, authorities were “to apply the strictest disciplinary measures to those found guilty of anti-Semitic practices” (100). Sharp newspaper articles followed. In Pravda’sarticle by a highly connected Lev Sosnovsky, he incriminates all kinds of party and educational officials in anti-Semitism: an official in Kiev “openly fires Jews” with “the connivance of the local district party committee”; defamatory anti-Jewish graffiti is widespread etc. From a newspaper article: “with the growing battle against anti-Semitism there are demands to solve the problem by increasing repression on those carriers of anti-Semitism and on those who protect them.” Clearly it was the GPU speaking through the language of a newspaper article (101).

After Larin’s report, the issue of anti-Semitism was included into various educational curricula, while Larin himself continued to research the ways to overcome anti-Semitism decisively. “Until now we were too soft… allowing propaganda to spread… Locally officials often do not deal with anti-Semitism as rigorously as they should.” Newspapers “should not fear to point attention to “the Jewish issue” (to avoid dissemination of anti-Semitism) as it only interferes with the fight against counter revolutionary sabotage.” ”Anti-Semitism is a social pathology like alcoholism or vagrancy. Too often when dealing with communists we let them off with mere censure. If a person goes to church and gets married, then we exclude him without discussion — anti-Semitism is no less an evil.”

”As the USSR develops towards socialism, the prognosis is good that ‘Soviet’ anti-Semitism and the legacy of pre-Soviet relationships will be torn out by the roots. Nevertheless, it is absolutely necessary to impose severe controls on intellectual anti-Semitism especially in the teaching profession and civil service” (102).

But the very spirit of the brave Twenties demands stronger language. “The nature of modern-day anti-Jewish agitation in the USSR is political and not nationalistic.” Agitation against the Jews is directed not just against Jews, but indirectly against the Soviet power.” Or maybe not so indirect: “anti-Semitism is a means of mobilization against Soviet power.” And “those against the position of Soviet authorities on the Jewish question are against the working class and for the capitalists.” Any talk of “ ‘Jewish dominance’ will be regarded as counterrevolutionary activity against the very foundation of the nationalities policy of the proletarian revolution… Parts of the intelligentsia, and sometimes the White Guards are using anti-Semitism to transmit bourgeois ideology.”

Yes, that’s it – a White Guard whispering campaign, clearly there is “planned… agitation by secret White Guard organizations.” Behind “the philistine anti-Jewish agitation, secret monarchist organizations are leading a battle against Soviet power…” And from “the central organs of anti-Soviet emigration (including Jewish bankers and Tsarist generals) an ideology is transmitted right into our factories proving that anti-Jewish agitation in the USSR is class-based, not nationality-based… It is necessary to explain to the masses that encouragement of anti-Jewish feelings in essence is an attempt to lay the groundwork for counter-revolution. The masses must regard anyone who shows sympathy to anti-Semitism as a secret counter-revolutionary or the mouthpiece of a secret monarchist organization.” (There are conspiracies everywhere!) “The term ‘anti-Semite’ must take on the same meaning in the public mind as the term ‘counter-revolutionary’ ” (103).

The authorities had seen through everything and named everything for what it was: counter-revolution, White Guards, monarchists, White generals and “anyone suspected of being any of the above…”

For the thickheaded, the revolutionary orator elaborates: “The methods to fight anti-Semitism are clear.” At a minimum, to conduct open investigations and sessions of “people’s tribunal against anti-Semitism” at local levels under the motto “explanations for the backward workers” and “repressions for the malicious.” “There is no reason why “Lenin’s decree” should not apply” (104))

Under “Lenin’s decree” (that from July 27, 1918) active anti-Semites were to be placed outside of the law — that is, to be shot even for agitating for a pogrom, not just for participating in one (105). The law encouraged each Jew to register a complaint about any ethnic insult visited upon him.

Now some later author will object that the “July 27 Act” was ultimately not included in the law and was not part of the criminal code of 1922. Though the criminal code of 1926 did include an article about the “instigation of ethnic hostility and dissension,” there were “no specific articles about acts of anti-Semitism.” This is not convincing. Article 59-7 of the Criminal Code (“propaganda or agitation intended to incite national or religious hatred or dissension”) was sufficient to send one to prison and the article provided for confiscation of the property of perpetrators of “widespread disturbances” and, under aggravated circumstances (for instance, class origin) – death. Article 59-7 was based on the “RSFSR Penal Code” of Feb 26, 1927, which widened the definition of “instigation of national hatred” making it equal in seriousness to “dissemination or preparation and storing of literature” (106).

Storing books! How familiar is that proscription, contained in the related law 58-10! [Translator’s note: infamous Article 58 of the Penal Code of RSFSR dealt with so-called counter-revolutionary and anti-Soviet activities.]

Many brochures on anti-Semitism were published and “finally, Feb 19, 1929 Pravda devoted its lead article to the matter: ‘Attention to the battle with anti-Semitism’ ” (107). A 1929 resolution of CK of Communist Party of Byelorussia stated that “counter-revolutionary nature of anti-Semitic incidents is often ignored” and that organs of justice should “intensify the fight, prosecuting both perpetrators of the law and those who inspire them” (108).

The secretary of the CK of Komsomol said “most dangerous in our conditions are secret anti-Semites who hide their anti-Semitic attitudes” (109). Those who are familiar with Soviet language understand: it is necessary to cut off suspected ways of thinking. (This recalls Grigory Landau, speaking of Jewish opponents: “They suspect or accuse other groups around them of anti-Semitism… Anyone who voices a negative opinion about Jews is accused of being an open anti-Semite and others are called secret anti-Semites” (110).

In 1929, a certain I. Zilberman in Daily Soviet Jurisprudence (no. 4) writes that there were too few court trials relating to anti-Semitism in Moscow Province. In the city of Moscow alone for the year there were only 34 cases (that is, every 10 days there was a trial for anti-Semitism somewhere in Moscow). The Journal of Narkomyust was read as an instruction manual for bringing such cases.

Could the most evil anti-Semite have thought up a better way to identify Jews with Soviet power in the opinion of the people?

It went so far that in 1930 the Supreme Court of RSFSR ruled that Article 59-7 “should not be used by members of national minorities seeking redress in conflicts of a personal nature” (111). In other words the judicial juggernaut had already been wound up and was running at full speed.


If we look at life of regular, not “commanding”, Jewish folk, we see desolation and despair in formerly vibrant and thriving shtetls. Jewish Tribune reproduced report by a special official who inspected towns and shtetls in the south-west of Russia in 1923, indicating that as the most active inhabitants moved into cities, the remaining population of elders and families with many children lived to large extent by relying on humanitarian and financial aid from America (112).

Indeed, by the end of the period of “War Communism” (1918-1920) when all trade, or any buying and selling, were prohibited under threat of property confiscation and fines, the Jews were helped by Jewish charities like Joint through the all-Russian Public Committee for “assistance to victims of pogroms and destitute Jews”. Several other charities protected the Jewish population later at different times, such as the SC (Society of Craftsmen, which after the revolution moved abroad), EKOPO (the Jewish committee for assistance to victims of war) and EKO (the Jewish colonizing society). In 1921-22, Soviet-based Jewish charities functioned in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Despite intervention and obstacles from YevSeks (Jewish communist organizations), “Joint provided Soviet Jews with extensive financial and other assistance”, whereas SC “was dedicated to establishment and development of Jewish industry and agriculture in the south of Ukraine” during first half of 1920’s (113).

The first Soviet census provides insight into Jewish life during the liberalized NEP period. Forty percent of Jews were classified as “active” (not dependents). Of those, 28% were public servants, 21% – craftsmen, 19% – industry workers (including apprentices), 12% – merchants, 9% – peasants, 1% – military men, and 10% were classified as “others”. Among public servants, Jews were well represented in trade-related occupations. For instance, in Moscow business organizations 16% of the clerks were Jews, in credit and trade organizations – 13% (30% according to the Jewish Encyclopedia (114)), in public organizations – 19%, in fiscal organizations – 9%, in Sovdeps – 10%, with virtually no presence in police force. The percentages were correspondingly higher in the former Pale of Settlement areas, up to 62% in the state trade of Byelorussia, 44% – in Ukraine (77% in category of “private state servants”). The flow of Jewish workers into industry was much slower than government wished. There were almost no Jews among railroad men and miners’ they rather preferred the professions of tailor, tanner, typographer, woodworker and food-related specialties and other fields of consumer industry. To recruit Jewish workers into industry, special professional schools were created with predominantly foreign funding from Jewish organizations abroad (115).

It was the time of NEP, which “improved economic conditions of Jewish population within a new, Soviet framework” (116). In 1924 Moscow 75% of the perfume and pharmaceutical trade was in Jewish hands, as well as 55% of the manufactured goods trade, 49% of the jewelry trade, 39% of the small ware trade, and 36% of the wood-depots. “Starting business in a new place, a Jew usually run down prices in private sector to attract clientele” (117). The first and most prominent NEPmen often were Jews. To large extent, anger against them stemmed from the fact that they utilized the Soviet as well as the market systems: their commerce was routinely facilitated by their links and pulls in the Soviet apparatus. Sometimes such connections were exposed by authorities as in the case of famous “Paraffin Affair” (1922). During 1920’s, there were abundant opportunities to buy up belongings of oppressed and persecuted “former” people, especially high quality or rare furniture. S. Ettinger noted that Jews made a majority of NEPmen and new-riches (118), which was supported by impressive list of individuals who “failed to pay state taxes and dues” in Izvestia in 1929 (119).

However, at the end of NEP, authorities launched “anti-capitalist” assault against financiers, merchants and manufacturers, many of whom were Jewish. As a result, many Jews turned into “Soviet trade servants” and continued working in the same spheres of finance, credit and commerce. A steamroller of merchandise and property confiscations, outright state robbery and social ostracizing (outclassing people into disenfranchised “lishenets” category) was advancing on private commerce. “Some Jewish merchants, attempting to avoid discriminating and endlessly increasing taxation, declared themselves as having no occupation during the census” (120). Nevertheless “virtually the entire Jewish male population in towns and shtetls… passed through the torture chambers of GPU” during the campaign of gold and jewelry extortion in the beginning of 1930’s (121). Such things would be regarded as an impossible nightmare in Czar’s Russia. Many Jewish families, to avoid the stigma of being “lishenets”, moved into large cities. In the end, “only one-fifth of Soviet Jews lived in the traditional Jewish settlements by 1930’s” (122).

“Socioeconomic experiments by the Soviet authorities including all kinds of nationalization and socialization had not only devastated the middle classes, but also hit badly the small merchants and craftsmen” (123). “Due to general lack of merchandise and solvent customers as well as low liquidity and exorbitant taxes, many shtetl merchants had no other choice but to close down their shops” and while the “most active left for cities”, the remaining populace has nothing else to do but “aimlessly roam decrepit streets, loudly complaining about their fate, people and God”. It is apparent that Jewish masses have completely lost their economic foundations” (124). It was really like that in many shtetls at that time. To address the problem, even special resolution of Sovnarkom was issued in 1929.

G. Simon, a former emigrant, came to USSR in the end of 1920’s as an American businessman with a mission “to investigate shortages of Jewish craftsmen in tools”. Later, in Paris, he published a book with an emotional and ironic title Jews Rule Over Russia. Describing the situation with Jewish manufacturing and trade, its oppression and destruction by Soviets, he also shares his impressions. Quoting many conversations, the general mood of populace is pretty gloomy. “Many bad things, many crimes happen in Russia these days but it’s better to suppress that blinding hatred”; “they often fear that the revolution will inevitably end in the Russian manner, i.e. by mass-murder of Jews”. A local Bolshevik-Jew suggests that “it’s only the revolution that stands between the Jews and those wishing to aggrandize Russia by the rape of Jewish women and spilling the blood of Jewish children” (125).

A well-known economist B. D. Brutskus, who in 1920 provided a damning analysis of the socialist economy (he was expelled from the country in 1922 by Lenin), published an extensive article “Jewish population under Communist power” inContemporary Notes in 1928, chronicling the NEP in the former Pale of Settlement areas of Ukraine and Byelorussia.

The relative importance of private enterprise was declining as even the smallest merchants were deprived of their political rights (they became disenfranchised “lishenets” and couldn’t vote in Soviet elections), and, thus, their civil rights. (In contrast, handcraftsmen still enjoyed a certain semblance of rights.) “The fight of Soviet authorities against private enterprise and entrepreneurs is in large part a fight against Jewish populace.” Because in those days “not only almost the entire private city enterprise in Ukraine and Byelorussia was represented by Jews, but the Jewish participation in the small capitalist upperclass in capital cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kharkov had also became very substantial” (126).

Brutskus distinguished three periods during the NEP: 1921-23, 1923-25 and 1925-27. “Development of private enterprise was least impeded by communists during first two and half years when Bolsheviks were still overwhelmed by their economic debacles”. “The first communist reaction followed between the end of 1923 and the spring of 1925.” Wholesale and shop trade in the former Pale of Settlement was destroyed, with only small flea market trade still permitted.” Crafts were “burdened by taxation. Artisans lost their last tools and materials (the latter often belonged to their peasant customers) to confiscations.” “The concept of Jewish equality virtually turned into fiction as two-thirds of Jews lost their voting rights.”

Because YevSek (Jewish section of the communist party) “inherited specific hatred toward petty Jewish bourgeoisie cultivated by earlier Jewish socialist parties and saw their own purpose in fighting it, its policy in the beginning of NEP was substantially different from the general party line”. During the second part of NEP, the “YevSek attempted to complete the dismantling of Jewish bourgeoisie, which began with “War Communism”. However, information about bleak life of Jewish population in USSR was leaking out into Jewish press abroad. “YevSeks attempted to blame that on the Czar’s regime which allegedly obstructed Jewish participation in productive labor, that is by communist definition, in physical labor. And since Jews still prefer “unproductive labor”, they inevitably suffer. Soviet authorities has nothing to do with it”.

But Brutskus objected claiming that in reality it was opposite. “The class of Jewish craftsmen nearly disappeared with the annihilation of petty Jewish manufacture… Indeed, professional the Jewish classes grew and become diversified while excessive numbers of petty Jewish middlemen slowly decreased under the Tsar because of the gradual development of ethnic Russian enterprise and deepening business connections between the Pale of Settlement and inner Russia. But now the Jewish population again was turned into a mass of petty middlemen”.

During the third period of NEP, from spring of 1925 to autumn of 1926, large tax remissions were made for craftsmen and street vendors and village fairs were relieved of taxation while activities of state financial inspectors supervising large businesses were brought “under the law”. The economy and well-being of the Jewish population started to recover rapidly. It was a boom for Jewish craftsmen and merchants specializing in agriculture. Petty manufacturing grew and “successfully competed for raw materials and resources with state manufacture in the western provinces”. At the same time, “a new decree granted political (and, therefore, certain civil) rights to many Jews”.

The second communist assault on private enterprise, which eventually resulted in the dismantling of NEP, began at the end of 1926. “First, private grain trade was prohibited, followed by bans on raw skins, oil seeds and tobacco trade… Private mills, creameries, tanneries and tobacco houses were expropriated. Fixed prices on shop merchandise were introduced in the summer of 1927. Most craftsmen couldn’t work because of shortage of raw materials” (128).

The state of affairs in the shtetls of western Russia alarmed international Jewry. For instance, Pasmanik wrote in 1922 that Jews as people are doomed to disappear under Bolsheviks and that communists reduced all Russian Jewry into a crowd of paupers (128). However, the Western public (including Jews) did not want to hear all this. The West saw the USSR in good light partly because of general left-leaning of European intelligentsia but mainly because the world and American Jewry were now confident in bright future and security of Russian Jews and skillful Soviet propaganda only deepened this impression.

Benevolent public opinion was extremely instrumental for Soviet leaders in securing Western, and especially American, financial aid, which was indispensable for economical recovery after their brave “War Communism”. As Lenin said at the Party Congress in 1921, “as the revolution didn’t spread to other countries, we should do anything possible to secure assistance of big progressive capitalism and for that we are ready to pay hundreds of millions and even billions from our immense wealth, our vast resources, because otherwise our recovery would take decades” (129). And the business went smoothly as progressive capitalism showed no scruples about acquiring Russian wealth. The first Soviet international bank, Roskombank, was founded in 1922. It was headed by the already mentioned Olof Aschberg (who was reliably delivering aid to Lenin during entire revolutionary period) and by former Russian private bankers (Shlezinger, Kalashkin and Ternovsky). There was also Max May of Morgan Guaranty Trust in the US who was of great assistance to Soviets. Now they developed a scheme allowing Roskombank to directly purchase goods in US, despite the futile protests from the Secretary of State Charles Hughes, who asserted that this kind of relations meant a de-facto recognition of Soviet regime. A Roskombank Swedish adviser, professor G. Kassel, said that it is reckless to leave Russia with all her resources alone (130).

Concessioners flocked into USSR where they were very welcome. Here we see Lenin’s favorite, Armand Hammer, who in 1921 decided “to help rebuild Ural industry” and procured a concession on asbestos mines at Alapayevsk. Lenin mentioned in 1921 that Hammer’s father will provide “two million stones of bread on very favorable terms (5%) in exchange for Ural jewelry to be sold in America” (131). And Hammer shamelessly exported Russian art treasures in exchange for the development of pencil manufacturing. (Later, in the times of Stalin and Khrushchev, Hammer frequented Moscow, continuing to export Russian cultural treasures (e.g., church utensils, icons, paintings, china, etc. in huge volumes.)

However, in 1921-22 large sums were donated by American Jewry and distributed in Russia by the American Relief Administration (ARA) for assistance to the victims of “bloody pogroms, for the rescue of towns in the South of Russia and for the peasantry of Volga Region”. Many ARA associates were Jews (132).


Another novel idea from the 20’s – not so much an idea originating among Jews – as one dreamed up to appeal to them, was Jewish colonization of agricultural land. It is said their history of dispersion had denied them possibilities in agriculture and forced them to engage in money lending, commerce and trade. Now at last Jews could occupy the land and thereby renounce the harmful ways of the past to labor productively under Soviet skies, and thus putting to flight the unflattering myths which had grown up about them.

Soviet authorities turned to the idea of colonization partially to improve productivity, but mostly for political reasons. This was sure to bring a swell of sympathy, but more important, financial aid. Brutskus writes: “the Soviet government, needing credits, searched for support among the foreign bourgeoisie and highly valued its relations with the foreign Jewish bourgeoisie.” However, towards 1924 the donations stopped pouring in and even “the Jewish American Charity (‘Joint Committee’) was forced to halt its work in Europe. To again collect large amounts of money (as they had through the American Relief Administration in 1921), they needed to create, as they say in the U.S., a ‘boom’. Colonization became the ‘boom’ for Jewish charities. The grandiose project for resettling 100,000 Jewish families on their own land was, apparently, mostly a public relations ploy (133). The committee for the “State Land Trust for Jewish Laborers” (KomZET) was founded In 1924, followed by the “all-Soviet Volunteer Land Society of Jewish Laborers (OZET). (I remember as school children we were made to join and pay membership dues – by bringing money from home, to ODD (Society of Friends of the Children) and OZET. In many countries sister organizations to OZET sprung up.

It was immediately clear that “the assistance of the Soviet government in the passage of poor Jews to the land” was “a matter of international significance… Through this the foreign proletariat could judge the “power and solidity of the Soviet government.” This development had the active participation and financial support of the powerful America Joint. The Jewish Chronicle of London, Oct 16,1925: “The Crimea has been offered as replacement for Palestine. Why send Jews to Palestine which is so unproductive… and which will mean so much sacrifice and hard work… when the rich land of Ukraine and fruited fields of the Crimea are smiling upon suffering Jews. Moscow will be the benefactor and defender of Russian Jewry and will be able to seek moral support from Jews around the globe… As well, the plan will cost nothing, as American Jews are covering all expenses” (134).” [Translator’s note: find this quote in English]

It didn’t take the Russian émigré press long to recognize the Soviet maneuver. P. Struve in the Parisian journal Renaissancewrote: “this entire undertaking serves to bind Jewry – both Russian and international – to communist power and definitively mark Jews with the brand of communism” (135). In a lead editorial from the Berlin Rul: “It’s true… the world identifies the Bolsheviks with the Jews. There is a need to further connect them with shared responsibility for the fate of hundreds of thousands of poor. Then you can trick wealthy American Jews with a threat: the fall of Soviet power followed by a mass pogrom which sweeps away the Jewish societies they founded. Therefore they will support Soviet power at all costs” (136).

In a fateful irony, the Bolshevik bluff met American enterprise and the Americans fell for it, not knowing what was going on in the USSR (137).

Actually, the world Jewish community was excited by hope in the rehabilitation of Jewish agriculture. In September, 1925 at the all-German session… the Jewish bourgeoisie under the leadership of the Director of the German National Bank, Hialmar Schacht decided to support the project. Leon Blum founded the “Jewish Construction Fund” in France which sent tractors to the settlers. The “Society for Aid for Jewish Land Colonization” was founded in New York. In countries around the globe, all the way to South Africa, money was collected for the colonization plan from Social Democrats, anarchists, and, so they say, ordinary workers.

The editors of the American magazine Morning Journal, posed the question – as did many others – “Is it ethical for Russian Jews to colonize land that was expropriated?” The Jewish Chronicle recalled that most of the former land owners were in prison, shot or exiled. They were answered by the leading American jurist Louis Marshall and chairman of the World Joint Committee who claimed the beneficent right of revolutionary expropriation (138). Indeed, during the years 1919-1923 “more than 23,000 Jews had settled in former estates near the towns and villages in the former Pale of Settlement”. By spring 1923, no more of this land remained available and the first small groups of Jews started to form for resettlement to the free steppe land in Southern Ukraine (139). This movement picked up speed after 1925.

The international Jewish Agro-Joint was formed by Marshall with the banker Paul Warburg as the director. Here our chroniclers of the history of communism decline to issue a denunciation of class enemies, and instead, approve of their efforts.

The Agro-Joint concluded an agreement with KomZET about the contribution of tractors, farm machinery, seed, the digging of artesian wells and professional training for Jewish youth. EKO assisted as well. At a 1926 session of OZET Kalinin spoke out forcefully against any plans for Jewish assimilation and, instead, proposed a wide-ranging program for Jewish autonomy known in the West as the “Kalinin Declaration.”

The early plans called for resettlement to the south of Ukraine and northern Crimea of approximately 100,000 families or 20% of the entire Jewish population of the USSR. The plans contemplated separate Jewish national regions as well. (“Many remained jobless and nevertheless declined the opportunity to work” and “only half of all Jews who agreed to resettle actually took up residence in the villages they were supposed to resettle in” (140).)

However, American Zionists objected to the OZET plan and saw in the “propaganda for the project of widespread Jewish agricultural colonization in the Soviet Union a challenge to Zionism and its idea for the settlement of Eretz Israel.” OZET falsely claimed its plans did not contradict at all the idea of colonization of Palestine (141).

Great hope was placed on Crimea. There were 455,000 hectares given over to Jewish colonization in Ukraine and Byelorussia; 697,000 hectares set aside in Crimea for that purpose. According to the 10-Year Plan for the settlement of Jews in Crimea, the Jewish proportion of the population was to grow from 8% in 1929 to 25% in 1939. (It was assumed that the Jews would substantially outnumber the Tatars by that time.) “There shall be no obstacles to the creation in the Crimean ASSR a Northern Crimean Autonomous Jewish Republic or oblast” (142).

The settlement of the Jews in the Crimea provoked the hostility of the Tatars (“Are they giving Crimea to the Jews?”) and dissatisfaction of local landless peasants. Larin writes “evil and false rumors are circulating throughout the country about removal of land from non-Jews, the expulsion of non-Jews and the particularly strong support the authorities have given to the Jewish settlers”. It went so far that the chairman of the CIK of the Crimean ASSR, Veli Ibraimov published an interview in the Simferopol paper Red Crimea (Sept 26, 1926) which Larin does not quote from, but which he claims was a manifestation of “evil bourgeois chauvinism” and a call for a pogrom.

Ibraimov also promulgated a resolution and projects, which were “not yet ready for publication” (also not quoted by Larin). For this, Larin denounced Ibraimov to the Central Control Commission of CK of VKPb, recounting the incident with pride in his book. As a result Ibraimov was “removed and then shot”, after which the Jewish colonization of Crimea gained strength.

As was typical for the communist regime, the closed trial of Ibraimov resulted in a political conviction for “connections with a Kulak bandit gang,” officially, for “banditry” (143). A certain Mustafa, the assistant to the chair of the CIK, was also shot with Ibraimov as a bandit (144).

Rumors of the effective assistance given to the Jewish settlers did not die down. The authorities tried to counter them. A government newspaper in 1927 wrote “the generous assistance to Jewish settlers” is coming from “Jewish community organizations” (without mentioning they were Western organizations), and not from the government as is rumored. To refute the rumors, Shlikhter (that young brawler from Kiev’s Duma in October, 1905), now Narkom of Agriculture of Ukraine, toured over the South of Ukraine. Rumors that the Jews were not working the land given to them but were renting it out or hiring farm laborers, were met with: “we haven’t observed this behavior, but the Jewish settlers must be forbidden to rent out their land” and “the unhealthy atmosphere surrounding the Jewish resettlement must be countered with the widest possible education campaign” (145).

The article allows one to judge about the scale of events. It states that 630 Jewish households moved into Kherson Province between the end of 1925 and July of 1927 (146). In 1927, there were 48 Jewish agricultural settlements in Ukraine with a total population of 35,000. In Crimea, 4463 Jews lived in Jewish agricultural settlements in 1926 (147). Other sources implausibly claimed that “by 1928, 220,000 Jews lived in Jewish agricultural colonies” (148). Similarly, Larin mentioned 200,000 by the beginning of 1929. Where does this order of magnitude discrepancy come from? Larin here contradicts himself, saying that in 1929 the share of Jews in agriculture was negligible, less than 0.2% (and almost 20% among merchants and 2% in population in general) (149).

Mayakovsky saw it differently:

“A hard toiling Jew

Tills the rocky land”

However, the program of Jewish land colonization, for all practical purposes, was a failure. For many of the settlers there was little motivation to stay. It didn’t help that the resettlement and the building project had come from on high and the money from western organizations. A lot of government assistance for Jewish settlers didn’t help. It is little known that tractors from neighboring collective farms were ordered to till Jewish land (150). Despite the flow of 2-3 thousand resettling Jewish families, by the end of five year work “Jewish settlements in Crimea” listed only around 5 thousand families” instead of pre-planned 10 to 15 thousand. The reason was that settlers frequently returned to their place of origin or moved to the cities of Crimea or other parts of the country (151). This mass departure of Jews from agriculture in the 1920’s and 30’s resembles similar Jewish withdrawal from agricultural colonies in the 19th century, albeit now there were many new occupations available in industry (and in administration, a prohibited field for Jews in Tsarist Russia) (152).

Eventually, collectivization arrived.  Suddenly in 1930 Semyon Dimanstein, for many years the head of the “Jewish Section of CK of VKPb,” a staunch communist who bravely put up with all Soviet programs in the 20’s, came out in the press against universal collectivization in the national regions. He was attempting to protect the Jewish colony from collectivization which he had been “warned about” (153). However, collectivization came, not sparing the “fresh shoots of Jewish land stewardship” (154). At almost the same time, the Jewish and non-Jewish Kolkhozes were combined under the banner of “internationalism” (155) and the program of Jewish settlement in Ukraine and Crimea was finally halted.

The principal Soviet project of Jewish colonization was at Birobidzhan, a territory “nearly the size of Switzerland” between the 2 branches of the Amur river near the Chinese border. It has been described variously. In 1956 Khrushchev bragged in conversations with Canadian communists that the soil was rich, the climate was southern, there was “much sun and water” and “rivers filled with fish” and “vast forests.” The Socialist Vestnik described it as covered with “wild taiga… swampland made up a significant portion” of the territory (156). According the Encyclopedia Britannica: ”a plain with swamps in places,” but a “fertile land along the Amur” (157).

The project came about in 1927 from the KomZET (a committee of the CIK) and was intended to: “turn a significant part of the Jewish population into a settled agricultural people in one location” (Kalinin). Also the Jewish Autonomous Republic was to serve as a counterweight to Zionism, creating a national homeland with at least half a million population (158). (One possible motive behind the plan which cannot be excluded: to wedge a loyal Soviet population into the hostile Cossack frontier.)

OZET sent a scientific expedition to Birobidzhan in 1927 and, before large settlements of Jews began arriving, in 1928 started preparations and building for the settlement using laborers from the local populace and wandering work crews of Chinese and Koreans.

Older residents of the area – Trans-Baikal Cossacks exiled there between the 1860’s and the 1880’s and already tested by the hardships of the frontier woods – remember being concerned about the Jewish settlement. The Cossacks needed vast tracts of land for their farming methods and feared they would be crowded out of lands they used for hunting and hay harvesting. The KomZET commission report was “a preliminary plan for the possible gradual resettlement of 35,000 families”. But reality was different. The CIK of VKPb in 1928 assigned Birobidzhan for Jewish colonization and preparation of first settler trains began immediately. “For the first time ever, city dwellers (from Ukraine and Byelorussia) without any preparation for agricultural labor were sent to farm the land.” (They were lured by the prospect of having the status of “lishenets” removed.) (159).

The Komsomol published the “Monthly OZET” and Pioneer delegations traveled around the country collecting for the Birobidzhan resettlement.

The hastily dispatched Jewish families were horrified by the conditions they met upon arrival. They moved into barracks at the Tikhonkaya railroad station, in the future town of Birobidzhan. ”Among the inhabitants… were some who never left the barracks for the land, living off the loans and credits they managed to obtain for making the move. Others less nimble, lived in abject poverty” (160).

”During the first year of work at Birobidzhan only 25 huts were built, only 125 hectares were plowed and none were planted. Many did not remain in Birobidzhan; 1,000 workers arrived in the Spring of 1928 and by July, 25% of all those who arrived in 1928 had left. “By February 1929 more than half of the population had abandoned Birobidzhan” (161). From 1928 to 1933 more than 18,000 arrived, yet the Jewish population grew only by 6,000. By some calculations “only 14% of those Jews who resettled remained in 1929” (169). They returned either to their homes or moved to Khabarovsk and Vladivostok.

Larin, who devotes no small number of reasoned and impassioned pages to the building of Jewish agriculture sniffs that “an unhealthy fuss… has been raised around Birobidzhan… a utopian settlement of a million Jews… Resettlement was practically presented as a national obligation of Soviet Jews, Zionism turned inside out… a kind of back-to-the-province movement”. While international Jewish organizations provided no finances for Birobidzhan, from the beginning “considering it too expensive and risky for them” (163). More likely the western Jewish organizations, Agro-Joint, ORT and EKO could not support the distant project beyond the Urals (164). It wasn’t a “Jewish plan,” but a scheme of Soviet authorities eager to tear down and build life anew in the country.


From the October revolution to the end of the 20’s the lives of ordinary Jews were affected by the actions of Yevseks – members of the YevSek (The Jewish section of the CK of VKPb.) Besides the Jewish Commissariat, an active Jewish organization grew up in the VKPb. As well, from 1918, local organizations were formed in the guberniyas. They created an environment fanatically inspired with the idea and ideas of communism, even more so than was Soviet authority itself and at times these organizations even opposed Soviet projects. For example, “at the insistence of the YevSek, the Jewish Commissariat decreed Hebrew to be a language of ‘reaction and counter-revolution’ in early 1919, requiring Jewish schools to teach in Yiddish” (165). The Central Bureau of the YevSek was part of the CK of VKPb and local YevSeks operated in the former Pale of Settlement. “The purpose of the YevSek was communist education and Sovietization of the Jewish population in their native language of Yiddish.”

From 1924 to 1928 responsibility for “all Jewish education and culture” was under the Jewish Bureaus of the republic-level administrative bodies, but these were abolished for “excesses in forced Yiddishization” and more power accrued to the YevSek (166).

The activities of the YevSek in the 20’s were contradictory. “On one hand they carried out active agitprop work in communist education in Yiddish and mercilessly battled against Judaism, traditional Jewish education, Jewish social structures, independent Jewish organizations, political parties and movements, Zionism and Hebrew. On the other hand it opposed assimilation with its support of the Yiddish language and a Yiddish culture and organizations of Jewish education, Jewish scientific research and activity to improve the economic status of Soviet Jews. In this “the YevSek often held a more radical position than even the central party bodies” (167).

The anti-Zionist YevSek was made up “to a large degree” of “former Bundists and socialist-territorialists” (168) who were thought of as traitors or “neophyte communists” in VKPb. The purpose of the YevSek was to develop communist influence on Russian Jewry and to create a “Jewish Soviet nation” isolated from world Jewry. But at the same time its actions paradoxically turned it from a technical apparatus urging the Jewish population to build socialism into a focal point for Jewish life in the USSR. A split arose in the YevSek between supporters of “forced assimilation” and those who thought its work was a “necessary means of preservation of the Jewish people” (169).

The Book of Russian Jewry observes with sympathy that the activity of the YevSek “still carried a clear and expressly Jewish stamp under the banner of the Proletariat.” For instance in 1926 using the slogan “to the countryside!,” [meant to rouse interest in working in and propagandizing rural areas] the YevSek came up with “to the Shtetl!”

”…This activity resonated widely in Jewish circles in Poland and in the U.S.” The author further calls it “a many-faceted Jewish nationalism in communist form” (170). But in 1926 the CP halted the activity of the YevSek and turned it into the Jewish Bureau. In 1930 the Jewish Bureau was closed along with all national sections of VKPb (171). After that the activity of the YevSeks continued under the banner of communism. “Russian Jewry lost all forms of self-expression, including communistic forms” (172).

The end of the YevSek symbolized the final dissolution of the Bund movement “to allow a separate nationalist existence, even if it went against strict social-democratic theory” (171). However, after the YevSek was abolished, many of the former Yevseks and Jewish socialists did not come to their senses and put the “building of socialism” higher than the good of their own people or any other good, staying to serve the party-government apparatus. And that overflowing service was evident more than anything.

Whether statistically or using a wealth of singular examples, it is obvious that Jews pervaded the Soviet power structure in those years. And all this happened in the state that persecuted freedom of speech, freedom of commerce and religion, not to mention its denigration of human worth.


Bikerman and Pasmanik paint a very gloomy picture of the state of Jewish culture in the USSR in 1923: “all is torn up and trampled underfoot in the field of Jewish culture” (174).  “All foundations of a nationalist Jewish culture are shaken and all that is sacred is stomped into the mud” (175). S. Dubnov saw something similar in 1922 and wrote about “rueful wreckage” and a picture “of ruin and the progress of dark savages, destroying the last remnants of a bygone culture” (176).

However, Jewish historiography did not suffer destruction in the first 10 years after the revolution, as is attested to by the range of allowed publications. Government archives, including those from the department of police, opened after the revolution have given Jewish scholars a view on Jewish participation in the revolutionary movement, pogroms, and “blood libel” trials. The Jewish Historical-Ethnographical Society was founded in 1920 and published the 2-volume Material on theHistory of anti-Jewish Pogroms in Russia. The Society later came under attack from the YevSek and it was abolished in 1929. The journals, The Jewish News and The Jewish Chronicle were shut down in the mid-twenties. S. Dubnov’s Jewish Antiquity remained in publication (even after he left the USSR in 1922) but was closed in 1930. The Jewish Ethnographical Museum functioned from 1916, but was closed in 1930 (177).

In the 1920’s, Jewish culture had two divergent fates — one in Hebrew and one in Yiddish. Hebrew was strongly repressed and forbidden as authorities saw it as a carrier of religion and Zionism. Before the consolidation of Soviet power in the years 1917-1919 “there were more than 180 books, brochures, and journals in Hebrew” (mostly in Odessa, but also in Kiev and Moscow). The feeling that the fate of Hebrew was connected with the fate of the victorious communist revolution held in the early 20’s “among young people attempting to create a ‘revolutionary literary tribune, under whose banner they hoped to unite the creative youthful strength of world Jewry’” (178). However at the insistence of the YevSek, Hebrew was declared a “reactionary language” and already in 1919 the People’s Commissariat of Education had “forbidden the teaching of Hebrew in all educational institutions. The removal of all Hebrew books from libraries had begun” (179).

Yiddish culture fared much better. Yiddish was the language of the Jewish masses. According to the 1926 census, 73% of Jews listed Yiddish as their mother tongue (181) (another source cites a figure of 66% (181)) – that is the Jewish population could preserve its culture in Yiddish. Soviet authorities used this. If, in the early years of Soviet power and Bolshevism the opinion prevailed that Jews should discard their language and nationality, later the Jewish Commissariat at the Narkomat of Nationalities, the YevSek, and the Jewish sections of the republican narkomats of education began to build Soviet culture in Yiddish. In the 20’s Yiddish was declared one of the official languages of Byelorussia; In Odessa of the 20’s and even the 30’s it was a language of many government institutions, with “Jewish hours” on the radio and court proceedings in Yiddish (182).

“A rapid growth in Yiddish schools began in 1923 throughout the Soviet Union.” Beginning in 1923 and continuing through 1930 a program of systematic “Yiddishization” was carried out, even forced, upon Jewish schools in the former Pale of Settlement. Many schools were switched to Yiddish without considering the wishes of parents. In 1923 there were 495 Yiddish schools with 70,000 Jewish children, by 1928 there were 900 schools and in 1930 they had 160,000 children. (This can be partially explained by the fact that Ukrainians and Byelorussians at this time received full cultural autonomy and saw Jewish children as potential agents of Russification; Jewish parents didn’t want their children in Ukrainian or Byelorussian schools and there were no more Russian schools — they had no choice but to go to Yiddish schools. They did not study Jewish history in these schools; instead there was “class war and the Jews” (183). (Just as in the Russian schools there was no study of Russian history, or of any history, only “social sciences”.) Throughout the 20’s “even those few elements of a specifically Jewish education were gradually driven out of Soviet Jewish schools.” By the early 30’s the autonomously functioning system of Soviet Jewish schools had been officially done away with (184).

From 1918 there were independent Jewish schools of higher education — ENU (Jewish People’s University) until 1922 in Moscow; PENU in Petrograd which became Petrograd IVEZ (Institute of Higher Jewish Learning, one of whose founders and later Rector was Semyon Lozinsky) boasting “a number of distinguished scholars among faculty and large number of Jewish graduates”. Supported by Joint, IVEZ functioned until 1925. Jewish divisions were established at educational science departments at Byelorussian University (1922) and at Second Moscow State University (1926). Central Jewish CP School teaching in Yiddish was established in 1921. Jewish educational system included special educational science technical colleges and more than 40 industrial and agricultural training schools (185).

Jewish culture continued to exist and even received no small encouragement — but on the terms of Soviet authorities. The depths of Jewish history were closed. This took place on a background of the destruction of Russian historical and philosophical sciences complete with arrests of scholars.

Jewish culture of the 20’s could more accurately be called a Soviet “proletarian” culture in Yiddish. And for that kind of Jewish culture the government was ready to provide newspapers and theatre. Forty years later the Book of Russian Jewry gives a less than gloomy assessment of the cultural situation of Jews in the USSR in the early Soviet years. In Moscow the worldwide Jewish Telegraphic agency (ETA) continued to exist into the 40’s as an independent unit — the only such agency in the Soviet nation that did not come under TASS, sending communications abroad (of course, subject to Soviet censorship). Newspapers were published in Yiddish, the main one being the house organ of the YevSek, The Moscow Der Amos from 1920 to 1938. According to Dimanstein there were 34 Yiddish publishers in 1928.

Yiddish literature was encouraged, but, naturally, with a purpose: to turn Jews away from an historical Jewish past; to show “before October” as a gloomy prologue to the epoch of happiness and a new dawn; to smear anything religious and find in the Soviet Jew the “new man.” Even with all this, it was so attractive to some prominent Jewish writers who had left the country that they started to return to the USSR: poets David Gofstein (“always suspected of harboring nationalist sentiment”) and Leib Kvitko (“easily accommodated to Soviet environment and become a prolific poet”) returned in 1925; Perez Markish (“easily understands the needs of the party”) — in 1926; Moses Kulbak and Der Nistor (the real name of the latter was Pinkhos Kaganovich, he later wrote novel Mashber Family characterized as the most “un-Soviet and liberal work of Jewish prose in Soviet Union”) — returned in 1928. David Bergelson returned in 1929, he “paid tribute to those in power: ‘the revolution has a right to cruelty’ (186). (Which he, Markish and Kvitko were to experience themselves in 1952.)

The “bourgeois” Hebrew culture was suppressed. A group of writers headed by H.N. Byalik left for Palestine in 1921. Another group “of Hebrew writers existed until the mid-30’s, occasionally publishing in foreign journals. Some of these authors were arrested and disappeared without a trace while others managed to escape the Soviet Union” (187).

Regarding Jewish culture expressed in Russian language, Yevseks interpreted it as the “result of government-directed efforts to assimilate Jews in Tsarist Russia.” Among those writing in Yiddish, a split between “proletarian” writers and “companions” developed in mid-20’s, like in Soviet literature at large. Majority of mainstream authors then switched to Russian language (188).

The Jewish Chamber Theater in Yiddish in Moscow flowered since 1921 at a high artistic level with government aid (in 1925 it was transformed into the State Jewish Theater, GosET). It traveled through Europe and became an unexpected representative of Soviet power in the eyes of world Jewry. It made fun of pre-revolutionary ways and religious life of the shtetl. Mikhoels excelled as an actor and in 1928 became the director (189).

The history of the Hebrews theater “Gabima,” which began before the revolution was much more complicated. Originally supported by Lunacharsky, Gorky and Stanislavsky it was persecuted as a “Zionist nest” by the YevSek and it took a decision by Lenin to allow it to exist. “Gabima” became a government theatre. It remained the only outpost of Hebrew in the USSR, though it was clear it had no future (190). (The theatre critic A. Kugel said it had departed from Jewish daily life and lost its Jewish spirit (191).) In 1926 the troupe went on a European tour and did not return, disappearing from history soon after (192).

By contrast, the government Yiddish theatre “was a real boon for Jewish theater arts in the USSR.” In the early 30’s there were 19 professional Yiddish theater groups… with a training school at GosET in Moscow, and Jewish dramatic arts studios in Kiev, Minsk and Moscow (193).

Here it is worth remembering the posthumous treatment of the ill-fated “Jewish Gogol” Semen Ushkevitch. His bookEpisodes, published in 1926 “satirizes revolution-era Jewish bourgeois”. He died in 1927 and in 1928 the Soviet censor banned his play Simka, The Rabbit Hearted based on his earlier book. As an anti- bourgeois work it should have been fine, but “taking place in a Jewish setting and making fun of the stupidity, cowardice and greed of its subjects, it was banned because of fears that it would cause Judeophobic feelings” (194).


In the meantime what was the condition of Zionist organizations in the USSR? They were fundamentally incompatible with communist authority and were accused of “international imperialism” and collaboration with the Entente. Because of their international standing the Soviets had to deal carefully with them. In 1920 the YevSek declared a “civil war on the Jewish street” against the Zionist organizations. Repression of Zionism deepened with the ban on Hebrew. However “anti-Zionist pressure did not exist everywhere and was not sufficiently severe” — that is “long-term imprisonment and exile were relatively rare.” In spring 1920 right-wing Zionists were frightened with arrests, but on May 1 were amnestied.

The dual policy of the Kremlin was apparent in its discussions with representatives of the World Zionist Organization. Chicherin did not dismiss out of hand it’s the latter’s solicitations as the Soviets were “not yet ready to denounce Zionism once and for all” as had the YevSek. The more so since “from the beginning of NEP, lessening government pressure gave Zionist groups a breathing space” (195). Interestingly, Dzerzhinsky wrote in 1923 that “the program of the Zionists is not dangerous to us, on the contrary I consider it useful” and again in 1924 “principally, we can be friends with Zionists” (196). The Central Zionist Bureau existed in Moscow from 1920 to 1924. In March of 1924 its members were arrested and only after much pleading from within the country and from overseas was exile to Central Asia replaced with exile abroad (197). In 1923 only two officially permitted Zionist organizations remained: Poale-Zion and the “legal” portion of the youth organization Gekhaluz, whose purpose was agricultural colonization of Palestine. They saw experience with collective farms in the USSR as preparation for this. They published a journal from 1924 to 1926 (198). Even the left-wing of the Zionist socialist party Zirei-Zion (‘Youth of Zion’) adopted a sharper tone vis a vis the Bolsheviks, and when the arrests in 1924, though short in duration, became more widespread they went underground. This underground movement was finally dispersed only in the late 20’s.

“Jewish blood will not oil the wheels of revolution,” an organizational slogan of the movement, conveys the sense of the underground Zirei-Zion with its significant youth organizations in Kiev and Odessa. Regarding the government, “they formally recognized Soviet authority, but at the same time declared opposition to the dictatorship of the communist party.” Much of its work was directed against the YevSek. “In particular, they agitated against the Crimean resettlement plan, seeing it as disturbing their ‘national isolation’.” From 1926 the party weakened and then disappeared (199).

There was a wave of arrests of Zionists from September to October of 1924. Some of those arrested were tried in secret and given sentences of 3 to 10 years in the camps. But in 1925 Zionist delegates were assured by the CIK of VKPb (Smidovitch) and the Sovnarkom (Rykov) and the GPU that they had nothing against Zionists as long as they “did not arouse the Jewish population against Soviet power” (200).

D. Pasmanik suggested in 1924 that “Zionists, Orthodox and nationalist Jews should be in the front ranks of those fighting alongside Soviet power and the Bolshevik worldview” (201). But there was no united front and no front rank.

In the second half of the 20’s, persecution of the Zionists was renewed and the exchange of prison sentences for exile abroad was sharply curtailed. ”In 1928 authorities dissolved, the until then quasi-legal Poale-Zion and liquated the legal Gekhaluz, closing its farms… Almost all underground Zionist organizations were destroyed at that time.” Opportunities to leave declined sharply after 1926. Some of the Zionists remained in prison or were exiled (202).

The mass attraction of young urban Jews to communist and Soviet culture and programs was matched with a no less stubborn resistance from religious Jewry and older Jews from the former Pale. The party used the rock of the YevSek to crush and suppress this resistance.

”One only has to be in a Jewish city such as Minsk or Vitebsk to see how all that was once worthy in Judaism, respected and worthy of respect has been turned upside down, crushed with poverty, insult, and hopelessness and how those pushed into higher places are the dissolute, frivolous, arrogant and brazen” (203). Bolshevik power “become the carrier of terrible ruin, material and moral… in our Jewish world” (204). “The mass of Jewish Bolsheviks on one hand and of Jewish NEPmen on the other indicate the depth of the cultural collapse of Jewry. And if radical healing from Bolshevism among the Russian people is to come from a revival of religious, moral and nationalist life then the Jewish idea must work for that also in their lives” (205).

And work they did, but indicators vary as to degree of intensity and success. A near contemporary considered “Jewish society turned out either to have no rudder and no sail or was confused and in this confusion spiritually turned away from its sources” in contrast to Russian society where there was still some resistance, albeit “clumsy and unsuccessful” (206).

From the end of the 20’s to the beginning of the 30’s the Jews abandoned their traditional way of life on a mass scale” (207).”In the past 20 years Russian Jewry has gone further and further away from its historical past… killing the Jewish spirit and Jewish tradition” (208). And a few years later on the very eve of WWII “with the ascension in Russia of the Bolshevik dictatorship, the fight between fathers and children in the Jewish street has taken a particularly bitter form” (209).

Taking stock a half-century later, M. Agursky reminisces in Israel, that the misfortunes that befell Jews after the revolution to a large degree were brought on by the renunciation by Jewish youth of its religion and national culture, “the singular, exclusive influence of communist ideology…” ”The mass penetration by Jews in all areas of Russian life” and of the Soviet leadership in the first 20 years after the revolution turned not to be constructive for Jews, but harmful (210).

Finally, an author in the 1990’s writes: “Jews were the elite of the revolution and on the winning side. That’s a peculiar fact of the Russian internationalist socialist revolution. In the course of modernizing, Jewry was politically Bolshevized and socially Sovietized: The Jewish community as an ethnic, religious and national structure disappeared without a trace” (211). Jewish youth coming to Bolshevism were intoxicated by its new role and influence. For this, others too would have gladly given up their nationality. But this turning from the old ways to internationalism and atheism was not the same as assimilation into the surrounding majority, a centuries-old Jewish fear. This was leaving the old, along with all other youth, to come together and form a new Soviet people. “Only a small stream was truly assimilationalist in the old sense,” like those people who converted to Orthodox Christianity and wished their own dissolution in the Russian culture. We find one such example in attorney Y. Gurevich, legal defender of metropolitan Venamin during his fatal trial in 1922 (212).

The Jewish Encyclopedia writes of Jewish workers in the “party and government apparatus of economic, scientific and even military organizations and institutions, that most did not hide their Jewish origins, but they and their families quickly absorbed Russian culture and language and being Jewish lost its cultural content” (213).

Yes, the culture which sustained them suffered, “Soviet Man” was created, but the decades which followed showed that a remnant of Jewish self-awareness was preserved and remained. Even in the flood of the internationalism of the 20’s, mixed marriages (between Jews and Russians or Jews and any non-Jew), as measured from 1924-1926, were only 6.3% of the total marriages for Jews in the USSR, including 16.8% in RSFSR, but only 2.8% in Byelorussia and 4.5% in Ukraine (214) (according to another source, on average in USSR, 8.5%; in RSFSR, 21%; in Byelorussia, 3.2%; and in Ukraine, 5% (215)). Assimilation had only begun.


And what was the status of the Jewish religion in the new conditions? Bolshevik power was hostile to all religions. During the years of the hardest blows against the Orthodox Church, Jewish religious practice was treated with restraint. “In March, 1922 Dar Amos noted that the department of agitprop of the Central Committee would not offend religious feelings… In the 20’s this tolerance did not extend to Russian Orthodoxy, which the authorities considered one of the main enemies of the Soviet order” (216). Nevertheless, the confiscation of church valuables extended to synagogues as well. E. Yarolslavsky wrote in Izvestia an article titled “What Can be Taken from a Synagogue”: Often Rabbis will say there is nothing of value in a synagogue. Usually that is the case… The walls are usually bare. But menorahs are often made of silver. These must be confiscated.” Three weeks before that 16 silver objects were taken from Jewish preaching house on Spasso-Glinischevsky avenue and in the neighboring choral synagogue “57 silver objects and 2 of gold.” Yaroslavsky further proposes a progressive tax on those who buy costly seats in the synagogue (217). (Apparently, this proposal went nowhere.)

However “functionaries from the YevSek demanded of authorities that the same policy applied towards Christianity be carried out towards Judaism” (218). In the Jewish New Year, 1921 the YevSek orchestrated a “public trial of the Jewish religion” in Kiev. The Book of Russian Jewry describes this and other show trials in 1921-1922: there was a court proceeding against a Cheder (a traditional elementary school with instruction in Hebrew) in Vitebsk, against a Yeshiva (a Jewish school for study of the traditional, texts, the Talmud, the Torah, and the Rabbinical literature) in Rostov and even against Day of Atonement in Odessa. They were intentionally conducted in Yiddish, as the YeSsek explained, so that Jewish Bolsheviks would “judge” Judaism.

Religious schools were closed by administrative order and in December 1920 the Jewish section of the Narkomat of Education issued a encyclical about the liquidation of Cheders and Yeshivas. “Nevetheless, large numbers of Cheders and Yeshivas continued teaching semi-legally or completely underground for a long time after that” (219). “In spite of the ban on religious education, as a whole the 20’s were rather a liberal period for Jewish religious life in the USSR” (220).

“[A]t the request of Jewish laborers,” of course, there were several attempts to close synagogues, but this met with “bitter opposition from believers.” Still “during the 20’s the central synagogues were closed in Vitebsk, Minsk, Gomel, Kharkov, Bobruisk” (221). The central Moscow synagogue on Maroseika managed stay open thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Maze in the face of Dzerzhinsky and Kalinin (222). In 1926, the “choral synagogue in Kiev was closed” and children’s Yiddish theatre opened in its place (223). But “the majority of synagogues continued to function. In 1927, 1034 synagogues and prayer halls were functioning in Ukraine and the number of synagogues towards the end of the 20s’ exceeded the number in 1917” (224).

Authorities attempted to institute “Living Synagogues” based on the model of the “Living Church” imposed upon the Russian Orthodox Church. A “portrait of Lenin was to be hung in a prominent place” of such a synagogue, the authorities brought in “red Rabbis” and “communized Rabbis.” However they “failed to bring about a split among the believers” (225) and the vast majority of religious Jews was decisively against the ‘Living Synagogue’, bringing the plan of Soviet authorities to naught (226).

At the end of 1930 a group of rabbis from Minsk was arrested. They were freed after two weeks and made to sign a document prepared by the GPU agreeing that: (1) the Jewish religion was not persecuted in the USSR and, (2) during the entire Soviet era not one rabbi had been shot (227).

Authorities tried to declare the day of rest to be Sunday or Monday in Jewish areas. School studies were held on the Sabbath by order of the YevSek. In 1929 authorities tried the five-day work week and the six-day work week with the day of rest upon the 5th or 6th day, respectively. Christians lost Sunday and Jews lost the Sabbath. Members of the YevSek rampaged in front of synagogues on holidays and “in Odessa broke into the Brodsky Synagogue and demonstratively ate bread in front of those fasting and praying.” They instituted “community service” days during sacred holidays like Yom Kippur. “during holidays, especially when the synagogue was closed, they requisitioned Talles, Torah scrolls, prayer shawls and religious books… import of matzoh from abroad was sometimes allowed and sometimes forbidden (228)… in 1929 they started taxing matzoh preparation (229). Larin notes the “amazing permission” granted to bring matzoh from Königsberg to Moscow for Passover in 1929 (230).

In the 20’s private presses still published Jewish religious literature. “In Leningrad, Hasids managed to print prayer books in several runs, a few thousands copies each” while Katzenelson, a rabbi from Leningrad, was able to use the printing-house “Red Agitator.” During 1920’s, the Jewish calendars were printed and distributed in tens of thousand copies (231). The Jewish community was the only religious group in Moscow allowed to build religious buildings. A second synagogue was built on Visheslaviz alley nearby Sushchevsky Embankment and a third in Cherkizov. These three synagogues stayed open throughout the 30’s (232).

But “young Jewish writers and poets… gleefully wrote about the empty synagogues, the lonely rabbi who had no one to teach and about the boys from the villages who grew up to become the terrible red commissars” (233). And we saw the Russian members of Komsomol rampaging on Easter Sunday, knocking candles and holy bread out of worshippers’ hands, tearing the crosses from the cupolas and we saw thousands of beautiful churches broken into a rubble of bricks and we remember the thousands of priests that were shot and the thousands of others who were sent to the camps.

In those years, we all drove God out.


From the early Soviet years the path for Jewish intelligentsia and youth was open as wide as possible in science and culture, given Soviet restrictions. (Olga Kameneva, Trotsky’s sister, patronized high culture in the very early Soviet years.)

Already in 1919 “a large number of Jewish youth” went into moviemaking — an art praised by Lenin for its ability to govern the psychology of the masses. Many of them took charge of movie studios, film schools and film crews. For example, B. Shumyatsky, one of the founders of the Mongolian Republic, and S. Dukelsky were heads of the main department of the movie industry at different times (234). Impressive works of early Soviet motion cinematography were certainly a Jewish contribution. The Jewish Encyclopedia lists numerous administrators, producers, directors, actors, script writers and motion picture theorists. Producer Dziga Vertov is considered a classic figure in Soviet, cinema, mostly nonfiction. His works includeLenin’s TruthGo SovietsSymphony of Donbass [the Donetsk Basin], and The Three Songs about Lenin (235). (It is less known that he also orchestrated desecration of the holy relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh.) In the documentary genre, Esther Shub, “by tendentious cutting and editing of fragments of old documentaries, produced full-length propaganda movies (The Fall of Romanovs (1927) and others), and later — glorifying ones.” Other famous Soviet names include S. Yutkevitch, G. Kozintsev and L. Trauberg (SVD, New Babel). F. Ermler organized the Experimental Movie Studio. Among notable others are G. Roshal (The Skotinins), Y. Raizman (Hard Labor CampsCraving of Earth among others.). By far, the largest figure of Soviet cinematography was Sergei Eisenstein. He introduced “the epic spirit and grandeur of huge crowd scenes, tempo, new techniques of editing and emotionality” into the art of cinematography (236). However he used his gifts as ordered. The worldwide fame of Battleship Potemkin was a battering ram for the purposes of the Soviets and in its irresponsibly falsified history encouraged the Soviet public to further curse Tsarist Russia. Made-up events, such as the “massacre on Odessa Steps” scene and the scene where a crowd of rebellious seamen is covered with tarpaulin for execution, entered the world’s consciousness as if they were facts. First it was necessary to serve Stalin’s totalitarian plans and then his nationalistic idea. Eisenstein was there to help.

Though the Jewish Encyclopedia list names in the arts by nationality, I must repeat: not in the nationalism does one find the main key to the epoch of the early Soviet years, but in the destructive whirlwind of internationalism, estranged from any feeling of nationality or traditions. And here in theater but close to authorities we see the glorious figure of Meyerhold, who became the leading and most authoritarian star of the Soviet theater. He had numerous impassioned admirers but wasn’t universally recognized. From late recollections of Tyrkova-Vyazemskaya, Meyerhold appears as a dictator subjugating both actors and playwrites alike to his will “by his dogmatism and dry formalism.” Komissarzhevskaya sensed “that his novelty lacks creative simplicity and ethical and esthetical clarity.” He “clipped actor’s wings… paid more attention to frame than to portrait” (237). He was a steady adversary of Mikhail Bulgakov.

Of course, the time was such that artists had to pay for their privileges. Many paid, including Kachalov, Nemirovitch-Danchenko and A. Tairov-Kornblit, the talented producer of the Chamber Theater and a star of that unique early Soviet period. (In 1930, Tairov “denounced” ‘Prompartia’ in the party newspapers.)

Artist Marc Chagall emigrated by 1923. The majority of artists in the 20’s were required to contribute to Soviet mass propaganda. There some Jewish artists distinguished themselves, beginning with A. Lisitsky who greeted the revolution as “a new beginning for humanity.” He joined a number of various committees and commissions, made first banner of all-Russian Central Executive Committee, which was displayed on the Red Square in 1918 by members of government.” He made famous poster “Strike Whites with the Red Wedge,” designed numerous Soviet expositions abroad (from 1927) and propaganda albums for the West (“USSR Builds Socialism” etc.) (238). A favorite with the authorities was Isaac Brodsky who drew portraits of Lenin, Trotsky and others including Voroshilov, Frunze and Budenny. “After completing his portrait of Stalin he became the leading official portrait artist of the USSR” in 1928 and in 1934 was named director of the all-Russian Academy of Arts (239).

During early years after revolution, Jewish musical life was particularly rich. At the start of century the first in the world Jewish national school of music in the entire world, which combined both traditional Jewish and contemporary European approaches, was established. The 1920’s saw a number of works inspired by traditional Jewish themes and stories, such asYouth of Abraham by M. Gnesin, The Song of Songs by A, Krein, and Jewish Rhapsody by his brother G. Krein. In that age of restrictions, the latter and his son Yulian were sent into eight-years studying trip to Vienna and Paris to “perfect Yulian’s performance” (240). Jews were traditionally talented in music and many names of future stars were for the first time heard during that period. Many “administrators from music” appeared also, such as Matias Sokolsky-Greenberg, who was “chief inspector of music at Department of Arts of Ministry of Education” and a senior editor of ideological Music and Revolution.”Later in 1930’s Moses Greenberg, “a prominent organizer of musical performances,” was director of State Publishing House in music and chief editor of the Department of Music Broadcasting at the State Radio Studio (241). There was Jewish Conservatory in Odessa as well (242).

Leonid Utesov (Lazar Vaysbeyn) thundered from the stage. Many of his songs were written by A. d’Aktil. A. P. German and Y. Hayt wrote the March of Soviet Aviation (243). This was the origin of Soviet mass singing culture.

Year after year, the stream of Soviet culture fell more and more under the hand of the government. A number of various state organizations were created such as the State Academic Council, the monopolistic State Publishing House (which choked off many private publishing firms and even had its own political commissar, certain David Chernomordnikov in 1922-23 (244), and the State Commission for Acquisition of Art Pieces (de facto power over artist livelihood). Political surveillance was established. (The case of A. K. Glazunov, Rector of the Leningrad Conservatory, will be reviewed below).

Of course, Jews were only a part of the forward triumphal march of proletarian culture. In the heady atmosphere of the early Soviet epoch no one noticed the loss of Russian culture and that Soviet culture was driving Russian culture out along with its strangled and might-have-been names.


A vicious battle for the dominance within the Party was waged between Trotsky and Stalin from 1923 to 1927. Later Zinoviev fought for first place equally confident of his chances. In 1926 Zinoviev and Kamenev, deceived by Stalin, united with Trotsky (“the United Opposition”) — that is, three of the most visible Jewish leaders turned out on one side. Not surprisingly, many of the lower rank Trotskyites were Jewish. (Agursky cites A. Chiliga, exiled with Trotskyites in the Urals: “indeed the Trotskyites were young Jewish intellectuals and technicians,” particularly from Left Bundists (245).

“The opposition was viewed as principally Jewish” and this greatly alarmed Trotsky. In March of 1924 he complained to Bukharin that among the workers it is openly stated: “The kikes are rebelling!” and he claimed to have received hundreds of letters on the topic. Bukharin dismissed it as trivial. Then “Trotsky tried to bring the question of anti-Semitism to a Politburo session but no one supported him.” More than anything, Trotsky feared that Stalin would use popular anti-Semitism against him in their battle for power. And such was partially the case according to Uglanov, then secretary of the Moscow Committee of the CP. “Anti-Semitic cries were heard” during Uglanov’s dispersal of a pro-Trotsky demonstration in Moscow November 7, 1927 (246).

Maybe Stalin considered playing the anti-Jewish card against the “United Opposition,” but his superior political instinct led him away from that. He understood that Jews were numerous in the party at that time and could be a powerful force against him if his actions were to unite them against him. They were also needed in order to maintain support from the West and would be of further use to him personally. He never parted from his beloved assistant Lev Mekhlis — and from the Civil War at Tsaritsyn, his faithful aid Moses Rukhimovitch.

But as Stalin’s personal power grew towards the end of the 20’s the number of Jews in the Soviet Apparatus began to fall off. It was no accident that he sent Enukidze to take photographs “among the Jewish delegates” at a “workers and peasants” conference during the height of the struggle for party dominance (247).

Yaroslavsky writes in Pravda: “Incidents of anti-Semitism are the same whether they are used against the opposition or used by the opposition in its fight against the party.” They are an “attempt to use any weakness, any fissures in the dictatorship of the proletariat… there is “nothing more stupid or reactionary than to explain the roots of opposition to the dictatorship of the proletariat as related to the nationality of this or that opposition group member” (248). At the same Party Congress, the 25th, where the “united opposition” was decisively broken, Stalin directed Ordzhonikidze to specifically address the national question in his report to the Central Committee, as if in defense Jews. (Statistics from the report were discussed earlier in this chapter.) ”The majority of the apparatus is Russian, so any discussion of Jewish dominance has no basis whatever” (249). At the 26th Party Congress in 1930 Stalin declared “Great Russian chauvinism” to be the “main danger of the national question.” Thus, at the end of the 20’s Stalin did not carry out his planned purge of the party and government apparatus of Jews, but encouraged their expansion in many fields, places and institutions.

At the 25th Congress in December 1927, the time had come to address the looming “peasant question” — what to do with the presumptuous peasantry which had the temerity to ask for manufactured goods in exchange for their grain. Molotov delivered the main report on this topic and among the debaters were the murderers of the peasantry — Schlikhter and Yakovlev-Epstein (250). A massive war against the peasantry lay ahead and Stalin could not afford to alienate any of his reliable allies and probably thought that in this campaign against a disproportionately Slavic population it would be better to rely on Jews than on Russians. He preserved the Jewish majority in the Gosplan. The commanding heights of collectivization and its theory included, of course, Larin. Lev Kritzman was director of the Agrarian Institute from 1928. As Assistant to the President of the Gosplan in 1931-33 he played a fateful role in the persecution of Kondratev and Chayanov. Yakov Yakovlev-Epstein took charge of People’s Commissariat of Agriculture in 1929. (Before that he worked in propaganda field: he was in charge of Head Department of Political Education since 1921, later — in the agitprop division of Central Committee and in charge of press division of Central Committee. His career in agriculture began in 1923 when during the 13th Party Congress he drafted resolutions on agricultural affairs (251). And thus he led the “Great Change,” the imposition of collectivization on millions of peasants with its zealous implementers on the ground. A contemporary writer reports: “for the first time ever a significant number of young Jewish communists arrived in rural communities as commanders and lords over life and death. Only during collectivization did the characterization of the Jew as the hated enemy of the peasant take hold — even in those places where Jews had never been seen before” (252).

Of course regardless of the percentage of Jews in the party and Soviet apparatus, it would be a mistake to explain the ferocious anti-peasant plan of communism as due to Jewish participation. A Russian could have been found in the place of Yakovlev-Epstein — that’s sufficiently clear from our post-October history.

The cause and consequences of de-Kulakization and collectivization were not only social and economic: The millions of victims of these programs were not a faceless mass, but real people with traditions and culture, cut off from their roots and spiritually killed. In its essence, de-Kulakization was not a socio-economic measure, but a measure taken against a nationality. The strategic blow against the Russian people, who were the main obstacle to the victory of communism, was conceived of by Lenin, but carried out after his death. In those years communism with all its cruelty was directed mostly against Russians. It is amazing that not everything has perished during those days. Collectivization, more than any other policy of the communists, gives the lie to the conception of Stalin’s dictatorship as nationalist, i.e., “Russian.”

Regarding Jewish role in collectivization, it is necessary to remember that Jewish communists participated efficiently and diligently. From a third-wave immigrant who grew up in Ukraine. “I remember my father, my mother, aunts, uncles all worked on collectivization with great relish, completing 5-year plans in 4 years and writing novels about life in factories” (253)[Translator’s note: a mainstream Soviet literary genre in the 20’s].

In 1927 Izvestia declared “there is no Jewish question here. The October revolution gave a categorical answer long ago. All nationalities are equal – that was the answer” (254). However when the dispossessors entering the peasant huts were not just commissars but Jewish commissars the question still glowered in the distance.

”At the end of the 20’s” writes S. Ettinger, “in all the hardship of life in the USSR, to many it seemed that Jews were the only group which gained from the revolution. They were found in important government positions, they made up a large proportion of university students, it was rumored that they received the best land in the Crimea and have flooded into Moscow” (255).

Half a century later, June 1980, at a Columbia University conference about the situation of Soviet Jewry, I heard scholars describe the marginalized status of Jews in the USSR and in particular how Jews were offered the choice of either emigration or denying their roots, beliefs and culture in order to become part of a denationalized society.

Bah! That was what was required of all peoples in the 20’s under the threat of the Solovki prison camp – and emigration was not an alternative.

The “golden era” of the 20’s cries out for a sober appraisal.

Those years were filled with the cruelest persecution based upon class distinction, including persecution of children on account of the former life of their parents – a life which the children did not even see. But Jews were not among thesechildren or parents.

The clergy, part of the Russian character, centuries in the making, was hounded to death in the 20’s. Though not majority Jewish, too often the people saw Jews directing the special “ecclesiastical departments of the GPU” which worked in this area.

A wave of trials of engineers took place from the end of the 20’s through the 30’s. An entire class of older engineers was eliminated. This group was overwhelmingly Russian with a small number of Germans.

Study of Russian history, archeology, and folklore were suppressed — the Russians could not have a past. No one from the persecutors would be accused having their own national interest. (It must be noted that the commission which prepared the decree abolishing the history and the philology departments at Russian universities was made up Jews and non-Jews alike — Goykhbarg, Larin, Radek and Ropstein as well as Bukharin, M. Pokrovskii, Skvortsov-Stepanov and Fritche. It was signed into existence by Lenin in March, 1921.) The spirit of the decree was itself an example of nationalist hatred: It was the history and language of the Great Russians that was no longer needed. During the 20’s the very understanding of Russian history was changed — there was none! And the understanding of what a Great Russian is changed — there was no such thing.

And what was most painful, we Russians ourselves walked along this suicidal path. The very period of the 20’s was considered the dawn of liberated culture, liberated from Tsarism and capitalism! Even the word “Russian,” such as “I am Russian” sounded like a counter-revolutionary cry which I well remember from my childhood. But without hesitation everywhere was heard and printed “Russopyati”! [Translator’s note: a disparaging term for ethnic Russians.]

Pravda published the following in a prominent place in 1925 by V. Aleksandrovsky (not known for any other contribution):

Rus! Have you rotted, fallen and died?

Well… here’s to your eternal memory…

… you shuffle, your crutches scraping along,

Your lips smeared with soot from icons,

over your vast expanses the raven caws,

You have guarded your grave dream.

Old woman — blind and stupid… (256)

V. Bloom in Moscow Evening could brazenly demand the removal of “history’s garbage from [city] squares”: to remove Minin-Pozharsky monument from the Red Square, to remove the monument to Russia’s thousand-year anniversary in Novgorod and a statue of St. Vladimir on the hill in Kiev. “Those tons of metal are needed for raw material.” (The ethnic coloring of the new names has already been noted.)

Swept to glory by the political changes and distinguished by personal shamelessness, David Zaslavsky demanded the destruction of the studios of Igor Graybar used to restore ancient Russian art, finding that “reverend artist fathers were trying again to fuse the church and art” (257).

Russia’s self-mortification reflected in the Russian language with the depth, beauty and richness of meaning were replaced by an iron stamp of Soviet conformity.

We have not forgotten how it looked at the height of the decade: Russian patriotism was abolished forever. But the feelings of the people will not be forgotten. Not how it felt to see the Church of the Redeemer blown up by the engineer Dzhevalkin and that the main mover behind this was Kaganovich who wanted to destroy St. Basil’s cathedral as well. Russian Orthodoxy was publicly harassed by “warrior atheists” led by Gubelman-Yaroslavsky. It is truthfully noted: “That Jewish communists took part in the destruction of churches was particularly offensive… No matter how offensive the participation of sons of Russian peasants in the persecution of the church, the part played by each non-Russian was even more offensive” (258). This went against the Russian saying: “if you managed to snatch a room in the house, don’t throw the God out”.

In the words of A. Voronel, “The 20’s were perceived by the Jews as a positive opportunity while for the Russian people, it was a tragedy” (259).

True, the Western leftist intellectuals regarded Soviet reality even higher; their admiration was not based on nationality but upon ideas of socialism. Who remembers the lightening crack of the firing squad executing 48 “food workers” for having “caused the Great Famine” (i.e., rather than Stalin): the wreckers in the meat, fish, conserves and produce trade? Among these unfortunates were not less than ten Jews (260). What would it take to end the world’s enchantment with Soviet power? Dora Shturman attentively followed the efforts of B. Brutskus to raise a protest among Western intellectuals. He found some who would protest – Germans and “rightists.” Albert Einstein hotheadedly signed a protest, but then withdrew his signature without embarrassment because the “Soviet Union has achieved a great accomplishment” and “Western Europe… will soon envy you.” The recent execution by firing squad was an “isolated incident.” Also, “from this, one cannot exclude the possibility that they were guilty.” Romain Rolland maintained a “noble” silence. Arnold Zweig barely stood up to the communist rampage. At least he didn’t withdraw his signature, but said this settling of accounts was an “ancient Russian method.” And, if true, what then should be asked of the academic Ioffe in Russia who was prompting Einstein to remove his signature (261)?

No, the West never envied us and from those “isolated incidents” millions of innocents died. We’ll never discover why this brutality was forgotten by Western opinion. It’s not very readily remembered today.

Today a myth is being built about the past to the effect that under Soviet power Jews were always second class citizens. Or, one sometimes hears that “there was not the persecution in the 20’s that was to come later.”

It’s very rare to hear an admission that not only did they take part, but there was a certain enthusiasm among Jews as they carried out the business of the barbaric young government. “The mixture of ignorance and arrogance which Hannah calls a typical characteristic of the Jewish parvenu filled the government, social and cultural elite. The brazenness and ardor with which all Bolshevik policies were carried out — whether confiscation of church property or persecution of ‘bourgeois intellectuals’ gave Bolshevik power in the 20’s a certain Jewish stamp” (263).

In the 90’s another Jewish public intellectual, writing of the 20’s said : “In university halls Jews often set the tone without noticing that their banquet was happening against the backdrop of the demise of the main nationality in the country… During the 20’s Jews were proud of fellow Jews who had brilliant careers in the revolution, but did not think much about how that career was connected to the real suffering of the Russian people… Most striking today is the unanimity with which my fellow Jews deny any guilt in the history of 20th century Russia” (264).

How healing it would be for both nations if such lonely voices were not drowned out… because it’s true, in the 20’s, Jews in many ways served the Bolshevik Moloch not thinking of the broken land and not foreseeing the eventual consequences for themselves. Many leading Soviet Jews lost all sense of moderation during that time, all sense of when it was time to stop.

1 М. Поповский. О нас — со всей искренностью // Новый американец, Нью-Йорк, 1981, 20-26 сентября (№ 84), с. 7.

2 А. Львов. Где ты, Адам // Новая газета, Нью-Йорк, 1981, 28 ноября-4 декабря (№ 82), с. 4.

3 Краткая Еврейская Энциклопедия (далее — КЕЭ). Иерусалим, 1976. Т. 1, с. 235.

4 Там же, т. 5, с. 477-478.

5 Ю. Ларин. Евреи и антисемитизм в СССР (далее — Ю. Ларин). М.;Л.: ГИЗ, 1929, с. 58-60.

6 М. Агурский. Идеология национал-большевизма. Париж: YMCA-Press, 1980, с. 265.

7 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 326.

8 Ю. Ларин, с. 63-64, 74.

9 Известия, 1927, 11 декабря, с. 1.

10 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм в Советском Союзе. Нью-Йорк: Изд-во им. Чехова, 1952, с. 44-46, 48-49 (со ссылкой на: Л. Зингер. Материалы и исследования Объединённой статистико-экономической комиссии при ЦК ОРТа. М., 1927. Вып. 1; Еврейское население в СССР (статистико-экономический обзор) М.; Л.: Соцэгиз, 1932).

11 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // Россия и евреи: Сб. 1 (далее — РиЕ) / Отечественное объединение русских евреев заграницей. Париж: YMCA-Press, 1978, с. 28 [1-е изд. — Берлин: Основа, 1924].

12 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 7, 17, 25, 29, 39.

13 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 161-162.

14 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 22-23.

15 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 186

16 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // Книга о русском еврействе, 1917-1967 (далее — КРЕ-2). Нью-Йорк: Союз Русских Евреев, 1968, с. 137.

17 Российская Еврейская Энциклопедия (далее — РЕЭ). 2-е изд., испр. и доп. М., 1995. Т. 2, с. 218.

18 Н. Бухарин. [Доклад на XXIV Ленинградской губпартконференции] // Правда, 1927, 2 февраля, с. 4.

19 Ю. Ларин, с. 86.

20 Ю. Ларин*, с. 124-125 (со ссылкой на стенограмму речи Ключникова и указанием, что часть её была напечатана в «Рабочей Москве» 7 дек. 1926).

21 Там же, с. 127.

22 М. Агурский. Идеология национал-большевизма, с. 223.

23 Г.П. Федотов. Лицо России: Сб. статей (1918-1931). Париж: YMCA-Press, 1967, с, 57.

24 Г. Симон. Евреи царствуют в России: Из воспоминаний американца. Париж: Родник, 1929, с. 50.

25 Письмо В.И. Вернадского И.И. Петрункевичу от 14 июня 1927 // Новый мир, 1989, № 12, с. 219.

26 Ю. Ларин, с. 61-63, 86.

27 Там же, с. 259.

28 E.С. О национальном составе РКП // Правда, 1923, 21 августа, с. 5.

29 М. Агурский. Идеология национал-большевизма, с. 264.

30 И.И. Шитц. Дневник «Великого перелома» (март 1928 — август 1931). Париж: YMCA-Press, 1991, с. 202.

31 Евреи в коммунистической партии // Еврейская трибуна, 1923, 1 июня(№ 164).

32 Ю. Ларин, с. 257, 268.

33 Е.С. О национальном составе РКП // Правда, 1923, 21 августа, с. 5.

34 М. Агурский. Идеология национал-большевизма, с. 303.

35 Ю. Ларин, с. 258.

36 М. Агурский. Идеология национал-большевизма, с. 238-239.

37 Известия, 1922, 17 мая, с. 4.

38 Большевики: Документы по истории большевизма с 1903 по 1916 год бывш. Московского Охранного Отделения / Сост. М.А. Цявловский, с дополн. справками A.M. Серебренникова. Нью-Йорк: Телекс, 1990, с. 316.

39 Л.Ю. Кричевский. Евреи в аппарате ВЧК-ОГПУ в 20-е годы // Евреи и русская революция: Материалы и исследования / Ред.-сост. О.В. Будницкий. Москва, Иерусалим: Гешарим, 1999, с. 330-336.

40 Там же, с. 340, 344-345.

41 РЕЭ, т. 3, с. 178.

42 РЕЭ, т.1. с. 21.

43 Известия, 1927, 18 дек., с. 1, 3, 4.

44 РЕЭ, т. 3, с. 115-116, 286, 374, 394, 414.

45 Д. Азбель. До, во время и после // Время и мы (далее — ВМ): Международный журнал литературы и общественных проблем. Нью-Йорк, 1989, № 105, с. 204-205.

46 Leonard Schapiro. The Role of the Jews in the Russian Revolutionary Movement // The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 40, London: Athlone Press, 1961-62, p. 165.

47 М. Зарубежный. Евреи в Кремле // Алеф, Тель-Авив, 1989, Февраль (№ 263), с. 24-28.

48 Арон Абрамович. В решающей войне: Участие и роль евреев СССР в войне против нацизма. 2-е изд. Тель-Авив, 1982. Т. 1.

49 Ицхак Арад. Холокауст: Катастрофа европейского еврейства (1933-1945). Иерусалим, 1990, с. 96.

50 Об этом, в частности, см.: Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство: (Большевизм и иудаизм). Париж, 1923, с. 148.

51 РЕЭ, т. 2, с. 499-500, т. 3, с. 273, 422.

52 Известия, 1927, 22 декабря, с. 1.

53 Vladimir N. Ipatieff. The Life of a Chemist. Stanford, 1946, p. 377.

54 Г.А. Соломон. Среди красных вождей. Париж: Мишень, 1930. 4.2.

55 Vladimir N. Ipatieff. The Life of a Chemist, p. 377.

56 Еврейская трибуна*, 1922, 6 июля (№ 130), с. 6.

57 М. Зарубежный. Евреи в Кремле // Алеф, 1989, Февраль, с. 26-27.

58 Известия, 1927, 25 августа, с. 2.

59 РЕЭ, т. 1, с. 331.

60 Там же, с. 105, 536, 538, т. 2, с. 256.

61 РЕЭ. т. 3, с. 311-312.

62 РЕЭ, т. 3, с. 302.

63 РЕЭ, т. 1, с. 197-198, 234, 275-276, т. 2, с. 18, 140 518 т. 3, с. 260.

64 Известия, 1927, 27 ноября, с. 4.

65 РЕЭ, т. 3, с. 383.

66 Б. Бруцкус. Еврейское население под коммунистической властью // Современные записки, Париж, 1928, кн. 36, с. 519-521.

67 Ю. Ларин, с. 73.

68 Г. Померанц. Сон о справедливом возмездии // Синтаксис: Публицистика, критика, полемика. Париж, 1980, № 6, с. 52-53, 68.

69 В. Мирский. Чёрная сотня // Еврейская трибуна, 1924, 1 февраля (№ 58), с. 3.

70 Ст. Иванович. Евреи и советская диктатура // Еврейский мир: Ежегодник на 1939г. (далее — ЕМ-1). Париж: Объединение русско-еврейской интеллигенции, с. 47.

71 Михаил Хейфец. Место и время (еврейские заметки). Париж: Третья волна, 1978, с. 43.

72 Там же, с. 44-45.

73 В. Богуславский. В защиту Куняева // “22”: Общественно-политический и литературный журнал еврейской интеллигенции из СССР в Израиле. Тель-Авив, 1980, № 16, с. 174.

74 R. Rutman. Solzhenitsyn and the Jewish Question // Soviet Jewish Affairs, 1974, Vol. 4, № 2, p. 7.

75 М. Агурский. Идеология национал-большевизма, с. 150.

76 К евреям всех стран! // РиЕ, с. 7.

77 И.М. Бикерман. К самопознанию еврея: Чем мы были, чем мы стали, чем мы должны быть. Париж, 1939, с. 70.

78 С.Я. Лурье. Антисемитизм в древнем мире. Тель-Авив: Сова, 1976, с. 8 [1-е изд. — Пг.: Былое, 1922].

79 Е. Кускова. Кто они и как быть? // Еврейская трибуна, 1922, 19 октября (№ 144), с. 1-2.

80 С.С. Маслов. Россия после четырёх лет революции. Париж: Русская печать, 1922. Кн. 2, с. 41.

81 Там же, с. 41,42,43, 155, 176-177.

82 Там же, с. 42,44-45.

83 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство*, с. 198-199.

84 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 198, 200.

85 Г.А. Ландау. Революционные идеи в еврейской общественности // РиЕ, с. 101.

86 Д.С. Пасманик. Чего же мы добиваемся? // РиЕ, с. 217.

87 М. Козаков. [Письмо] // Библиотека-фонд «Русское Зарубежье» (БФРЗ). Ф. 1, Е-60, с. 1.

88 В.В. Шульгин. «Что нам в них не нравится…»: Об Антисемитизме в России. Париж, 1929, с. 41-43.

89 Ю. Ларин, с. 254.

90 Г. Римский. Правительственный антисемитизм в Советской России // Еврейская трибуна, 1923, 7 сент. (№ 170), с. 3.

91 Ю. Ларин, с. 240-244.

92 Ю. Ларин, с. 244.

93 Там же, с. 47.

94 Там же, с. 35, 86, 102, 108-110, 120.

95 Там же, с. 121, 134, 135.

96 Там же, с. 144, 145, 148-149.

97 Ю. Ларин, с. 238-240, 244-245, 247, 248.

98 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 8, 39.

99 В. Александрова. Евреи в советской литературе // КРЕ-2, с. 290.

100 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 83-84.

101 Л.С. На борьбу с пособниками контрреволюции // Правда, 1928, 17мая, с. 4.

102 Ю. Ларин, с. 9, 119-120, 269-270, 276-277, 280-282.

103 Ю. Ларин, с. 27, 45-46, 106, 116, 252, 254, 255, 257.

104 Там же, с. 138, 283, 288.

105 Там же, с. 259, 278.

106 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 72-73.

107 Там же*, с. 32.

108 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм… *, с. 88-89.

109 Там же*, с. 90-91.

110 Г.А. Ландау. Революционные идеи в еврейской общественности // РиЕ, с. 101.

111 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…*, с. 73, 74.

112 НЭП и евреи // Еврейская трибуна, 1923, 21 сентября (№ 171), с. 3-4.

113 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 170,171.

114 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 186.

115 Ю. Ларин, с. 75, 77-80, 107.

116 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2,

117 Ю. Ларин* с. 121-122.

118 Samuel Ettinger. Russian Society and the Jews // Bulletin on Soviet and East European Jewish Affairs, 1970, № 5, p. 38-39.

119 Известия, 1928, 22 апреля, с. 7.

120 КЕЭ. т. 8, с. 187.

121 Там же, с. 161.

122 Там же, с. 188.

123 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 136.

124 НЭП и евреи // Еврейская трибуна, 1923, 21 сентября (№ 171)-с. 3-4.

125 Г. Симон. Евреи царствуют в России, с. 22, 159, 192, 217, 237.

126 Б. Бруцкус. Еврейское население под коммунистической властью // Современные записки, 1928, кн. 36, с. 511-512.

127 Б. Бруцкус. Еврейское население под коммунистической властью // Современные записки, 1928, кн. 36, с. 513-518.

128 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 194, 195.

129 В.И. Ленин. Доклад о замене развёрстки натуральным налогом. 15 марта 1921 // Сочинения: В 45 т. 4-е изд. Т. 32, с. 201.

130 Э. Саттон. Уолл-стрит и большевицкая революция / Пер. с англ. М., 1998, с. 64-66, 193.

131 В.И. Ленин. Полное собрание сочинений: В 55 т. 5-е изд. Т. 53, с. 267.

132 Б. Бруцкус. Еврейское население под коммунистической властью // Современные записки, 1928, кн.36, с. 525.

133 Там же, с. 524-526.

134 Ю. Ларин*, с. 293, 297-298.

135 П. Струве. Проект еврейской колонизации России // Возрождение, Париж, 1925, 25 октября (№ 145), с. 1.

136 Руль, Берлин, 1925, 1 октября (№ 1469), с. 1.

137 М. Бенедиктов. Еврейская колонизация в СССР // Последние новости, 1925, 6 ноября (№ 1699), с. 2.

138 Ю. Ларин, с. 295, 296, 300-302.

139 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 184.

140 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 185, 188.

141 КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 139-140.

142 Ю. Ларин, с. 74, 174, 175, 308.

143 Там же, с. 150-152, 233-234.

144 Известия, 1928, 1 мая, с. 4.

145 Известия, 1927, 13 июля, с. 4.

146 Там же.

147 КЕЭ, т. 2, с. 552, т. 4, с. 599.

148 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 137.

149 Ю. Ларин, с. 97-98, 236.

150 Там же, с. 206.

151 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 600.

152 КЕЭ, т. 2, с. 554.

153 Там же, с. 354.

154 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 137.

155 КЕЭ, т. 2, с. 554.

156 Хрущёв и миф о Биробиджане // Социалистический вестник, Нью-Йорк, 1958, № 7-8, с. 142-143.

157 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., 1981, Vol. X., p. 817, clmn. 2.

158 КЕЭ*, T. 1, c. 445-446. 159 Ю. Ларин, с. 183-184.

160 Хрущёв и миф о Биробиджане // Социалистический вестник* 1958, №7-8, с. 144.

161 Ю. Ларин, с. 188, 189.

162 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 448, т. 8, с. 188.

163 Ю. Ларин, с. 184, 186-189.

164 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 188.

165 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 146.

166 Там же, с. 165-166.

167 Там же, с. 166.

168 КЕЭ, т. 7, с. 947.

169 КЕЭ, т. 2, с. 465.

170 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 137.

171 КЕЭ, т. 2, с. 465.

172 Б. Орлов. Россия без евреев // “22,” 1988, № 60, с. 161.

173 Leonard Schapiro. The Role of the Jews in the Russian Revolutionary Movement // The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 40, 1961-62, p. 167.

174 К евреям всех стран! // РиЕ, с. 5.

175 Д.С. Пасманик. Чего же мы добиваемся? // РиЕ, с. 214.

176 Он же. Русская революция и еврейство*, с. 195.

177 КЕЭ, т. 2, с. 439, РЕЭ, т. 2, с. 432, Б. Орлов. Россия без евреев // “22,” 1988. № 60, с. 161.

178 И. Слуцкий. Судьба иврит в России // КРЕ-2, с. 241-242, 246.

179 КЕЭ, т. 2, с. 422.

180 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе с начала Второй мировой войны (1939-1965). Нью-Йорк: Изд. Американского Еврейского Рабочего Комитета, 1966, с. 407.

181 Ю. Ларин, с. 56.

182 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 326, т. 2, с. 465, т. 6, с. 125.

183 Ю. Марк. Еврейская школа в Советском Союзе // КРЕ-2, с. 235-238.

184 КЕЭ, т. 8, с.175.

185 Там же, с. 177-179, РЕЭ, т. 2, с. 195-196.

186 Ю. Марк. Литература на идиш в Советской России // КРЕ-2, с. 224-229.

187 И. Слуцкий. Судьба иврит в России // КРЕ-2, с. 245, 247.

188 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 174, 181-182.

189 Г. Свет. Еврейский театр в Советской России // КРЕ-2, с. 266-271.

190 КЕЭ, т. 9, с. 477.

191 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 616.

192 Г. Свет. Еврейский театр… // КРЕ-2, с. 273-278.

193 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 183.

194 В. Левитина. Стоило ли сжигать свой храм… // “22,” 1984, № 34, с. 204.

195 И.Б. Шехтман. Советская Россия, сионизм и Израиль // КРЕ-2. 321-323.

196 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 200.

197 Там же, с. 201.

198 КЕЭ, т. 5, с. 476, т. 7, с. 948.

199 Михаил Хейфец. Воспоминаний грустный свиток. Иерусалим, 1996, с. 74-79.

200 И.Б. Шехтман. Советская Россия, сионизм и Израиль // КРЕ-2, с. 324-325.

201 Д.С. Пасманик. Чего же мы добиваемся? // РиЕ, с, 214.

202 КЕЭ, т. 7, с. 948. И.Б. Шехтман. Советская Россия, сионизм и Израиль // КРЕ-2, с. 325-328.

203 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 92.

204 Там же, с, 53.

205 И.О.Левин. Евреи в революции // РиЕ, с. 138.

206 Г.А. Ландау. Революционные идеи в еврейской общественности // РиЕ, с. 118.

207 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 199.

208 Г.Б. Слиозберг. Дела минувших дней: Записки русского еврея. Париж, 1934. Т. 3, с. 376.

209 Ст. Иванович. Евреи и советская диктатура // ЕМ-1, с. 47.

210 Jerusalem Post, 1973, April 13, 1979, October 7.

211 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Lugen: Rufiland und die Juden im20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: Siedler Verlag. 1992, S. 106.

212 М. Агурский. Идеология национал-большевизма, с. 114.

213 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 235.

214 С. Познер. Советская Россия* // ЕМ-1, с. 271.

215 Ю. Ларин*, с. 304.

216 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 194.

217 Поход на синагоги в Советской России* // Еврейская трибуна, 1922, 21 апреля (№ 120), с. 7.

218 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 196.

219 Г. Свет. Еврейская религия в Советской России // КРЕ-2, с. 205-207.

220 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 194.

221 Там же, с. 195.

222 Г. Свет. Еврейская религия… // КРЕ-2, с. 209.

223 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 257.

224 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 195.

225 Г. Свет. Еврейская религия… // КРЕ-2, с. 208.

226 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 197.

227 Там же, с. 198.

228 Г. Свет. Еврейская религия… // КРЕ-2, с. 208-209.

229 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 199.

230 Ю. Ларин, с. 285.

231 И. Слуцкий. Судьба иврит в России // КРЕ-2, с. 246.

232 Сорок сороков: Альбом-указатель всех московских церквей: В 4 т. / Сост. С. Звонарёв [П. Паламарчук]. Париж, YMCA-Press, 1988. Т. 1, с. 13. С. Познер. Советская Россия // ЕМ-1, с. 271.

233 М. Поповский. О нас — со всей искренностью // Новый американец, 1981, 20-26 сентября (№ 84), с. 7.

234 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 275, РЕЭ, т. 3, с. 439.

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236 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 276-277.

237 А. Тыркова-Вилъямс. Тени минувшего // ВМ, Нью-Йорк, 1990, № 111, с. 214-215.

238 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 860-862.

239 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 547.

240 КЕЭ, т. 5, с. 541-542; РЕЭ, т. 2, с. 86-87.

241 РЕЭ, т.1, с. 377.

242 РЕЭ, т. 2, с. 287.

243 РЕЭ, т.1, с. 288, 409.

244 РЕЭ, т. 3, с. 336.

245 М. Агурский. Идеология национал-большевизма, с. 240.

246 Там же, с. 240-242, 244.

247 Известия, 1927, 13 октября, с. 2.

248 Ем. Ярославский. Против антисемитизма // Правда, 1927, 12 ноября, с. 2.

249 Известия, 1927, 11 декабря, с. 1.

250 Там же, 22 декабря, с. 2-4, 23 декабря, с. 4, 5.

251 РЕЭ, т. 2, с. 93, т. 3, с. 497.

252 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Lugen: Rufiland und die Juden im 20. Jahrhundert. S. 84.

253 M. Поповский. О нас — со всей искренностью // Новый американец, 1981, 20-26 сентября (№ 84), с. 7.

254 Н. Семашко. Евреи на земле // Известия, 1927, 20 августа, с. 3.

255 S. Ettinger // Bulletin on Soviet and East European Jewish Affairs, 1970, № 5, p. 38-39.

256 Правда, 1925, 13 августа, с. 3.

257 Сорок Сороков: Альбом-указатель всех московских церквей. Т. 1*, с. 15.

258 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Ltigen: Rufiland und die Juden im 20. Jahrhundert. S. 79.

259 А. Воронель. Трепет иудейских забот. 2-е изд. Рамат-Ган: Москва-Иерусалим, 1981, с. 120.

260 Известия, 1930, 22 сентября, с. 1, 3-4, 25 сентября, с. 1.

261 Д. Штурман. Они — ведали // “22,” 1990, № 73, с. 126-144.

262 И. Зунделевич. Восхождение // “22,” 1983, № 29, с. 54.

263 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Lugen: Rufiland und die Juden im20. Jahrhundert. S. 144-145.

264 Г. Шурмак. Шульгин и его апологеты // Новый мир, 1994, № 11, с. 244.

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21 Responses to Chapter 18. During the 1920s

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