Chapter 24. Breaking Away From the Bolshevism

At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe imagined itself to be on the threshold of worldwide enlightenment. No one could have predicted the strength with which nationalism would explode in that very century among all nations of the world. One hundred years later it seems nationalist feelings are not about to die soon (the very message that international socialists have been trying to drum into our heads for the whole century), but instead are gaining strength.

Yet, does not the multi-national nature of humanity provide variety and wealth? Erosion of nations surely would be an impoverishment for humanity, the entropy of the spirit. (And centuries of the histories of national cultures would then turn into irredeemably dead and useless antics.) The logic that it would be easier to manage such a uniform mankind fails by its petty reductionism.

However, the propaganda in the Soviet empire harped non-stop in an importunately-triumphant manner about the imminent withering away and amalgamation of nations, proclaiming that no “national question” exists in our country, and that there is certainly no “Jewish question.”

Yet why should not the Jewish question exist — the question of the unprecedented three-thousand-year-old existence of the nation, scattered all over the Earth, yet spiritulally soldered together despite all notions of the state and territoriality, and at the same time influencing the entire world history in the most lively and powerful way? Why should there not be a “Jewish question” given that all national questions come up at one time or other, even the “Gagauz question” [a small Christian Turkic people, who live in the Balkans and Eastern Europe]?

Of course, no such silly doubt could ever arise, if the Jewish question were not the focus of many different political games.

The same was true for Russia too. In pre-revolutionary Russian society, as we saw, it was the omission of the Jewish question that was considered “anti-Semitic.” In fact, in the mind of the Russian public the Jewish question — understood as the question of civil rights or civil equality — developed into perhaps the central question of the whole Russian public life of that period, and certainly into the central node of the conscience of every individual, its acid test.

With the growth of European socialism, all national issues were increasingly recognized as merely regrettable obstacles to that great doctrine; all the more was the Jewish question (directly attributed to capitalism by Marx) considered a bloated hindrance. Mommsen wrote that in the circles of “Western-Russian socialist Jewry,” as he put it, even the slightest attempt to discuss the Jewish question was branded as “reactionary” and “anti-Semitic” (this was even before the Bund).

Such was the iron standard of socialism inherited by the USSR. From 1918 the communists forbade (under threat of imprisonment or death) any separate treatment or consideration of the Jewish question (except sympathy for their suffering under the Tsars and positive attitudes for their active role in communism). The intellectual class voluntarily and willingly adhered to the new canon while others were required to follow it.

This cast of thought persisted even through the Soviet-German war as if, even then, there was not any particular Jewish question. And even up to the demise of the USSR under Gorbachev, the authorities used to repeat hard-headedly: no, there is no Jewish question, no, no, no! (It was replaced by the “Zionist question.”)

Yet already by the end of the World War II, when the extent of the destruction of the Jews under Hitler had dawned on the Soviet Jews, and then through Stalin’s “anti-cosmopolitan” campaign of the late 1940s, the Soviet intelligentsia realized that the Jewish question in the USSR does exist! And the pre-revolutionary understanding — that it is central to Russian society and to the conscience of every individual and that it is the “true measure of humanity”1 — was also restored.

In the West it was only the leaders of Zionism who confidently talked from the late 19th century about the historical uniqueness and everlasting relevance of the Jewish question (and some of them at the same time maintained robust links with diehard European socialism).
And then the emergence of the state of Israel and the consequent storms around it added to the confusion of naive socialist minds of Europeans.

Here I offer two small but at the time quite stirring and typical examples. In one episode of so-called “the dialogue between the East and the West” show (a clever Cold-War-period programme, where Western debaters were opposed by Eastern-European officials or novices who played off official nonsense for their own sincere convictions) in the beginning of 1967, a Slovak writer, Ladislav Mnacko, properly representing the socialist East, wittily noted that he never in his life had any conflict with the Communist authorities, except one case when his driver’s license was suspended for a traffic violation. His French opponent angrily said that at least in one other case, surely Mnacko should be in the opposition: when the uprising in neighboring Hungary was drowned in blood. But no, the suppression of Hungarian Uprising neither violated the peace of Mnacko’s mind, nor did it force him to say anything sharp or impudent. Then, a few months passed after the “dialogue” and the Six-Day War broke out. At that point the Czechoslovak Government of Novotny, all loyal Communists, accused Israel of aggression and severed diplomatic relations with it. And what happened next? Mnacko — a Slovak married to a Jew — who had calmly disregarded the suppression of Hungary before, now was so outraged and agitated that he left his homeland and as a protest went to live in Israel.

The second example comes from the same year. A famous French socialist, Daniel Meyer, at the moment of the Six-Day War had written in Le Monde, that henceforth he is: 1) ashamed to be a socialist — because of the fact that the Soviet Union calls itself a socialist country (well, when the Soviet Union was exterminating not only its own people but also other socialists — he was not ashamed); 2) ashamed of being a French (obviously due to the wrong political position of de Gaulle); and, 3) ashamed to be a human (wasn’t that too much?), and ashamed of all except being a Jew.2

We are ready to accept both Mnacko’s outrage and Meyer’s anger, yet we would like to point out at the extreme intensity of their feelings — given the long history of their obsequious condoning of communism. Surely, the intensity of their feelings is also an aspect of the Jewish question in the 20th century.

So in what way ”did the Jewish question not exist”?

If one listened to American radio broadcasts aimed at the Soviet Union from 1950 to the 1980s, one might conclude that there was no other issue in the Soviet Union as important as the Jewish question. (At the same time in the United States, where the Jews “can be described as … the most privileged minority” and where they “gained an unprecedented status, the majority of [American Jews] still claimed that hatred and discrimination by their Christian compatriots was a grim fact of the modern life”3; yet because it would sound incredible if stated aloud, then the Jewish question does not exist, and to notice it and talk about it is unnecessary and improper.)

We have to get used to talking about Jewish question not in a hush and fearfully, but clearly, articulately and firmly. We should do so not overflowing with passion, but sympathetically aware of both the unusual and difficult Jewish world history and centuries of our Russian history that are also full of significant suffering. Then the mutual prejudices, sometimes very intense, would disappear and calm reason would reign.

Working on this book, I can’t help but notice that the Jewish question has been omnipresent in world history and it never was a national question in the narrow sense like all other national questions, but was always — maybe because of the nature of Judaism? — interwoven into something much bigger.


When in the late 1960s I mused about the fate of the communist regime and felt that yes, it is doomed, my impression was strongly supported by the observation that so many Jews had already abandoned it.

There was a period when they persistently and in unison supported the Soviet regime, and at that time the future definitely belonged to it. Yet now the Jews started to defect from it, first the thinking individuals and later the Jewish masses. Was this not a sure sign that the years of the Soviet rule are numbered? Yes, it was.

So when exactly did it happen that the Jews, once such a reliable backbone of the regime, turned into almost its greatest adversary?

Can we say that the Jews always struggled for freedom? No, for too many of them were the most zealous communists.  Yet now they turned their backs on it. And without them, the ageing Bolshevist fanaticism had not only lost some of its fervor, it actually ceased to be fanatical at all, rather it became lazy in the Russian way.

After the Soviet-German War, the Jews became disappointed by Communist power: it turned out that they were worse off than before. We saw the main stages of this split. Initially, the support of the newborn state of Israel by the USSR had inspired the Soviet Jews. Then came the persecution of the “cosmopolitans” and the mainly Jewish intelligentsia (not the philistine masses yet) began to worry: communism pushes the Jews aside? oppresses them? The terrible threat of massacre by Stalin overwhelmed them as well — but it was short-lived and miraculously disappeared very soon. During the “interregnum,” [following Stalin’s death] and then under Khrushchev, Jewish hopes were replaced by dissatisfaction and the promised stable improvement failed to materialize.

And then the Six-Day War broke out with truly biblical force, rocking both Soviet and world Jewry, and the Jewish national consciousness began to grow like an avalanche. After the Six-Day War, “much was changed … the action acquired momentum. Letters and petitions began to flood Soviet and international organizations. National life was revived: during the holidays it became difficult to get into a synagogue, underground societies sprang up to study Jewish history, culture and Hebrew.”4

And then there was that rising campaign against “Zionism,” already linked to “imperialism,” and so the resentment grew among the Jews toward that increasingly alien and abominable and dull Bolshevism — where did such a monster come from?

Indeed, for many educated Jews the departure from communism was painful as it is always difficult to part with an ideal — after all, was not it a “great, and perhaps inevitable, planetary experiment initiated in Russia in 1917; an experiment, based on ancient attractive and obviously high ideas, not all of which were faulty and many still retain their beneficial effect to this day…. Marxism requires educated minds.”5

Many Jewish political writers strongly favored the term “Stalinism” — a convenient form to justify the earlier Soviet regime. It is difficult to part with the old familiar and sweet things, if it is really possible at all.

There have been attempts to increase the influence of intellectuals on the ruling elite. Such was the Letter to the XXIII Congress (of the Communist Party) by G. Pomerants (1966). The letter asked the Communist Party to trust the “scientific and creative intelligentsia,” that “desires not anarchy but the rule of law … that wants not to destroy the existing system but to make it more flexible, more rational, more humane” and proposed to establish an advisory think tank, which would generally consult the executive leadership of the country.6
The offer remained unanswered.

And many souls long ached for such a wasted opportunity with such a “glorious” past.

But there was no longer any choice . And so the Soviet Jews split away from communism. And now, while deserting it, they turned against it. And that was such a perfect opportunity — they could themselves, with expurgatory repentance, acknowledge their formerly active and cruel role in the triumph of communism in Russia.

Yet almost none of them did (I discuss the few exceptions below). The above-mentioned collection of essays, Russia and the Jews, so heartfelt, so much needed and so timely when published in 1924 was fiercely denounced by Jewry. And even today, according to the opinion of the erudite scholar, Shimon Markish: “these days, nobody dares to defend those hook-nosed and burry  commissars  because of fear of being branded pro-Soviet, a Chekist, a God-knows-what else…. Yet let me say in no uncertain terms: the behavior of those Jewish youths who joined the Reds is a thousand times more understandable than the reasons of the authors of that collection of works.”7

Still, some Jewish authors began to recognize  certain things of the past as they really were, though in the most cautious terms: “It was the end of the role of the `Russian-Jewish intelligentsia´ that developed in the prewar and early postwar years and that was — to some degree sincerely — a bearer of Marxist ideology and that professed, however timidly and implicitly and contrary to actual practice, the ideals of liberalism, internationalism and humanism.”8 A bearer of Marxist ideology? — Yes, of course. The ideals of internationalism? — Sure. Yet liberalism and humanism? — True, but only after Stalin’s death, while coming to senses.

However, very different things can be inferred from the writings of the majority of Jewish publicists in the late Soviet Union. Looking back to the very year of 1917, they find that under communism there was nothing but Jewish suffering! “Among the many nationalities of the Soviet Union, the Jews have always been stigmatized as the least `reliable´ element.”9

What incredibly short memory one should have to state such things in 1983? Always! And what about the 1920s? And the 1930s? To assert that they were then considered the least reliable?! Is it really possible to forget everything so completely?

“If … one takes a bird’s-eye view of the entire history of the Soviet era, then the latter appears as one gradual process of destruction of the Jews.” Note — the entire history! We investigated this in the previous chapters and saw that even without taking into account Jewish over-representation in the top Soviet circles, there had been a period of well-being for many Jews with mass migration to cities, open access to higher education and the blossoming of Jewish culture. The author proceeds with a reservation: “Although there were …  certain `fluctuations´, the overall trend continued … Soviet power, destroying all nationalities, generally dealt with the Jews in the most brutal way.”10

Another author considers a disaster even the early period when Lenin and the Communist Party called upon the Jews to help with state governance, and the call was heard, and the great masses of Jews from the shtetls of the hated Pale moved into the capital and the big cities, closer to the avant-garde [of the Revolution]”; he states that the “… formation of the Bolshevik regime that had turned the greater part of Jews into `déclassé´, impoverished and exiled them and destroyed their families” was a catastrophe for the “majority of the Jewish population.” (Well, that depends on one’spoint of view. And the author himself later notes: in the 1920s and 1930s, the “children of déclassé Jewish petty bourgeois were able to graduate from … the technical institutes and metropolitan universities and to become `commanders´ of the `great developments.´”) Then his reasoning becomes vague: “in the beginning of the century the main feature of Jewish activity was … a fascination … with the idea of building a new fair society”– yet the army of revolution “consisted of plain rabble — all those `who were nothing,´ [a quote from The Internationale].” Then, “after the consolidation of the regime” that rabble “decided to implement their motto and to `become all´ [also a quote from The Internationale], and finished off their own leaders….  And so the kingdom of rabble — unlimited totalitarianism — was established.” (And, in this context, the Jews had nothing to do with it, except that they were among the victimized leaders.) And the purge continued “for four decades” until the “mid-1950s”; then the last “bitter pill … according to the scenario of disappointments” was prescribd to the remaining “`charmed´ Jews.”11 Again we see the same angle: the entire Soviet history was one of unending oppression and exclusion of the Jews.

Yet now they wail in protest in unison: “We did not elect this regime!”

Or even “it is not possible to cultivate a loyal Soviet elite among them [the Jews].”12
Oh my God, was not this method working flawlessly for 30 years, and only later coming undone?  So where did all those glorious and famous names — whom we’ve seen in such numbers — came from?

And why were their eyes kept so tightly shut that they couldn’t see the essence of Soviet rule for thirty to forty years? How is that that their eyes were opened only now? And what opened them?

Well, it was mostly because of the fact that now that power had suddenly turned around and began pushing the Jews not only out of its ruling and administrative circles, but out of cultural and scientific establishements also. “The disappointment was so fresh and sore, that we did not have the strength, nor the courage to tell even our children about it. And what about the children? … For the great majority of them the main motivation was the same — graduate school, career, and so on.”13
Yet soon they would have to examine their situation more closely.


In the 1970s we see examples of rather amazing agreement of opinions, unthinkable for the past half a century.

For instance, Shulgin wrote in 1929: “We must acknowledge our past. The flat denial … claiming that the Jews are to blame for nothing — neither for the Russian Revolution, nor for the consolidation of Bolshevism, nor for the horrors of the communism — is the worst way possible….  It would be a great step forward if this groundless tendency to blame all the troubles of Russia on the Jews could be somewhat differentiated. It would be already great if any `contrasts´ could be found.”14

Fortunately, such contrasts, and even more — comprehension, and even remorse — were voiced by some Jews. And, combined with the honest mind and rich life experience, they were quite clear. And this brings hope.

Here’s Dan Levin, an American intellectual who immigrated to Israel: “It is no accident, that none of the American writers who attempted to describe and explain what happened to Soviet Jewry, has touched this important issue — the [Jewish] responsibility for the communism…. In Russia, the people’s anti-Semitism is largely due to the fact that the Russians perceive the Jews as the cause of all the evil of the revolution. Yet American writers — Jews and ex-Communists … do not want to resurrect the ghosts of the past. However, oblivion is a terrible thing.”15

Simultaneously, another Jewish writer, an émigré from the Soviet Union, published: the experience of the Russian (Soviet) Jewry, in contrast to that of the European Jewry, whose historical background  “is the experience of a collision with the forces of outer evil … requires a look not from inside out but rather of introspection and … inner self-examination.” “In this reality we saw only one Jewish spirituality — that of the Commissar — and its name was Marxism.” Or he writes about “our young Zionists who demonstrate so much contempt toward Russia, her rudeness and savagery, contrasting all this with [the worthiness of] the ancient Jewish nation.” “I saw pretty clearly, that those who today sing hosanna to Jewry, glorifying it in its entiriety (without the slightest sense of guilt or the slightest potential to look inside), yesterday were saying: ‘I wouldn’t be against the Soviet regime, if it was not anti-Semitic,´ and two days ago they beat their breasts in ecstasy: `Long live the great brotherhood of nations! Eternal Glory to the Father and Friend, the genius Comrade Stalin!´”16

But today, when it is clear how many Jews were in the iron Bolshevik leadership, and how many more took part in the ideological guidance of a great country to the wrong track — should the question not arise [among modern Jews] as to some sense of responsibility for the actions of those [Jews]? It should be asked in general: shouldn’t there be a kind of moral responsibility — not a joint liability, yet the responsibility to remember and to acknowledge? For example, modern Germans accept liability to Jews directly, both morally and materially, as perpetrators are liable to the victims: for many years they have paid compensation to Israel and personal compensation to surviving victims.

So what about Jews? When Mikhail Kheifets, whom I repeatedly cite in this work, after having been through labor camps, expressed the grandeur of his character by repenting on behalf of his people for the evil committed by the Jews in the Soviet Union in the name of communism — he was bitterly ridiculed.

The whole educated society, the cultured circle, had genuinely failed to notice any Russian grievances in the 1920s and 1930s; they didn’t even assume that  such could exist — yet they instantly recognized the Jewish grievances as soon as those emerged. Take, for example, Victor Perelman, who after emigrating published an anti-Soviet Jewish journal Epoch and We and who served the regime in the filthiest place, in Chakovsky’s Literaturnaya Gazeta — until  the Jewish question had entered his life. Then he opted out….

At a higher level, they generalized it as “the crash of … illusions about the integration [of Jewry] into the Russian social movements, about making any change in Russia.”17

Thus, as soon as the Jews recognized their explicit antagonism to the Soviet regime, they turned into its intellectual opposition — in accord to their social role. Of course, it was not them who rioted in Novocherkassk, or created unrest in Krasnodar, Alexandrov, Murom, or Kostroma. Yet the filmmaker Mikhail Romm plucked up his heart and, during a public speech, unambiguously denounced the “anti-cosmopolitan” campaign — and that became one of the first Samizdat documents (and Romm himself, who in so timely a manner rid himself of his ideological impediments, became a kind of spiritual leader for the Soviet Jewry, despite his films Lenin in October (1937), Lenin in 1918 (1939), and despite being a fivefold winner of the Stalin Prize). And after that the Jews had become reliable supporters and intrepid members of the “democratic” and “dissident” movements.

Looking back from Israel at the din of Moscow, another witness reflected: “A large part of Russian democrats (if not the majority) are of Jewish origin…. Yet they do not identify [themselves] as Jews and do not realize that their audience is also mostly Jewish.”“18

And so the Jews had once again become the Russian revolutionaries, shouldering the social duty of the Russian intelligentsia, which the Jewish Bolsheviks so zealously helped to exterminate during the first decade after the revolution; they had become the true and genuine nucleus of the new public opposition. And so yet again no progressive movement was possible without Jews.

Who had halted the torrent of false political (and often semi-closed) court trials? Alexander Ginzburg, and then Pavel Litvinov and Larisa Bogoraz did. I would not exaggerate if I claim that their appeal “To world public opinion” in January 1968, delivered not through unreliable Samizdat, but handed fearlessly to the West in front of Cheka cameras, had been a milestone of Soviet ideological history. Who were those seven brave souls who dragged their leaden feet to Lobnoye Mesto [a stone platform in Red Square] on Aug. 25, 1968? They did it not for the greater success of their protest, but to wash the name of Russia from the Czechoslovak disgrace by their sacrifice. Four out of the seven were Jews. (Remember, that the percentage of Jews in the population of the country then was less than 1%) We should also remember Semyon Gluzman, who sacrificed his freedom in the struggle against the “nuthouses” [dissidents were sometimes incarcerated in psychiatric clinics]. Many Jewish intellectuals from Moscow were among the first punished by the Soviet regime.

Yet very few dissidents ever regretted the past of their Jewish fathers. P. Litvinov never mentioned his grandfather’s role in Soviet propaganda. Neither would we hear from V. Belotserkovsky how many innocents were slaughtered by his Mauser-toting father. Communist Raisa Lert, who became a dissident late in life, was proud of her membership in that party even after The Gulag Archipelago; the party “she had joined in good faith and enthusiastically” in her youth; the party to which she had “wholly devoted herself” and from which she herself had suffered, yet nowadays it is ”not the same” party anymore.19 Apparenty she did not realize how appealing the early Soviet terror was for her.

After the events of 1968, Sakharov joined the dissident movement without a backward glance. Among his new dissident preoccupations were many individual cases; in particular, personal cases of Jewish refuseniks [those, overwhelming Jewish, dissidents who requested, but were refused the right to emigrate from the Soviet Union]. Yet when he tried to expand the business (as he had innocently confided to me, not realizing all the glaring significance of what he said), Gelfand, a member of the Academy of Science, told him that “we are tired of helping these people to resolve their problems,” while another member, Zeldovich, said: “I’m not going to sign any petition on behalf of victims of any injustice — I want to retain the ability to protect those who suffer for their nationality.” Which means — to protect the Jews only.

There was also a purely Jewish dissident movement, which was concerned only with the oppression of the Jews and Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union (more about it — later).


A trasformation in public consciousness often pushes forward outstanding individuals as representatives, symbols and spokesmen of the age. So in the 1960s Alexander Galich became such a typical and accurate representative of the processes and attitudes in the Soviet intellectual circles. (“`Galich´ is a pen name, explains N. Rubinstein. It is made of syllables of his real name — Ginsburg Alexander Arkadievich. Choosing a pen name is a serious thing.”20 Actually, I assume that the author was aware that, apart from being “just a combination of syllables,” “Galich” is also the name of the ancient Russian city from the very heart of Slavic history.) Galich enjoyed the general support of Soviet intelligentsia; tape recordings of his guitar performances were widely disseminated; and they have almost become the symbol of the social revival of the 1960s expressing it powerfully and vehemently. The opinion of the cultural circle was unanimous: “the most popular people’s poet,” the “bard of modern Russia.”

Galich was 22 when the Soviet-German War broke out. He says that he was exempt from military service because of poor health; he then moved to Grozny, where he “unexpectedly easily became the head of the literature section of the local Drama Theatre”; he also “organized a theater of political satire”; then he evacuated through Krasnovodsk to Chirchik near Tashkent; in 1942, he moved from there to Moscow with a front-line theatrical company under formation and spent the rest of the war with that company.

He recalled how he worked on hospital trains, composing and performing couplets for wounded soldiers; how they were drinking spirits with a trainmaster…. “All of us, each in his own way, worked for the great common cause: we were defending our Motherland.”21 After the war he became a well-known Soviet scriptwriter (he worked on many movies) and a playwright (ten of his plays were staged by “many theaters in the Soviet Union and abroad” [216] [references in square brackets refer to the page number in the source 21]. All that was in 1940s and 1950s, in the age of general spiritual stagnation — well, he could not step out of the line, could he? He even made a movie about Chekists, and was awarded for his work.

Yet in the early 1960s, Galich abruptly changed his life. He found courage to forsake his successful and well-off life and “walk into the square.” [98] It was after that that he began performing guitar-accompanied songs to people gathering in private Moscow apartments. He gave up open publishing, though it was, of course, not easy: “[it was great] to read a name on the cover, not just someone else’s, but mine!” [216]

Surely, his anti-regime songs, keen, acidic, and and morally demanding, were of benefit to the society, further destabilizing public attitudes.

In his songs he mainly addressed Stalin’s later years and beyond; he usually did not deplore the radiant past of the age of Lenin (except one instance: “The carts with bloody cargo / squeak by Nikitsky Gate” [224]). At his best, he calls the society to moral cleansing, to resistance (“Gold-digger’s waltz” [26], “I choose liberty” [226], “Ballad of the clean hands” [181], “Our fingers blotted from the questionnaires” [90], “Every day silent trumpets glorify thoughtful vacuity” [92]). Sometimes he sang the hard truth about the past (“In vain had our infantry perished in 1943, to no avail” [21]), sometimes — “Red myths,” singing about poor persecuted communists (“There was a time — almost a third of the inmates came from the Central Committee, / There was a time when for the red color / they added ten years [to the sentence]!”[69]). Once he touched dekulakization (“Disenfranchised ones were summoned in first” [115]). Yet his main blow was against the current establishment (“There are fences in the country; behind fences live the leaders” [13]). He was justly harsh there; however, he oversimplified the charge by attacking their privileged way of life only: here they eat, drink, rejoice [151-152]. The songs were embittering, but in a narrow-minded way, almost like the primitive “Red proletarian” propaganda of the past. Yet when he was switching his focus from the leaders to “the people”, his characters were almost entirely boobies, fastidious men, rabble and rascals — a very limited selection.

He had found a precise point of perspective for himself, perfectly in accord with the spirit of the time: he impersonalized himself with all those people who were suffering, persecuted and killed (“I was a GI and as a GI I’ll die” [248], “We, GIs, are dying in battle”). Yet with his many songs narrated from the first person of a former camp inmate, he made a strong impression that he was an inmate himself (“And that other inmate was me myself” [87]; “I froze like a horseshoe in a sleigh trail / Into ice that I picked with a hammer pick / After all, wasn’t it me who spent twenty years / In those camps” [24]; “as the numbers [personal inmate number tattooed on the arm] / we died, we died”; “from the camp we were sent right to the front!”[69]). Many believed that he was a former camp inmate and “they have tried to find from Galich when and where he had been in camps.”22

So how did he address his past, his longstanding participation in the stupefying official Soviet lies? That’s what had struck me the most: singing with such accusatory pathos, he had never expressed a single word of his personal remorse, not a word of personal repentance, nowhere! Didn’t he realize that when he sang: “Oh Party’s Iliad! What a giftwrapped groveling!” [216], he sang about himself? And when he crooned: “If you sell the unction” [40], as though referring to somebody else, did it occur to him that he himself was “selling unction” for half of his life. Why on earth would he not renounce his pro-official plays and films? No! “We did not sing glory to executioners!” [119] Yet, as the matter of fact, they did. Perhaps he did realize it or he gradually came to the realization, because later, no longer in Russia, he said: “I was a well-off screenwriter and playwright and a well-off Soviet flunky. And I have realized that I could no longer go on like that. Finally, I have to speak loudly, speak the truth …” [639].

But then, in the sixties, he intrepidly turned the pathos of the civil rage, for instance, to the refutation of the Gospel commandments (“do not judge, lest ye be judged”): “No, I have contempt for the very essence / Of this formula of existence!” And then, relying on the sung miseries, he confidently tried on  a prosecutor’s robe: “I was not elected. But I am the judge!” [100] And so he grew so confident, that in the lengthy Poem about Stalin (The Legend of Christmas), where he in bad taste imagined Stalin as Christ, and presented the key formula of his agnostic mindset — his really famous, the clichéd -quotes, and so harmful lines: “Don’t be afraid of fire and hell, / And fear only him / Who says: `I know the right way!´” [325].

But Christ did teach us the right way…. What we see here in Galich’s words is just boundless intellectual anarchism that muzzles any clear idea, any resolute offer. Well, we can always run as a thoughtless (but pluralistic) herd, and probably we’ll get somewhere.

Yet the most heartrending and ubiquitous keynote in his lyrics was the sense of Jewish identity and Jewish pain (“Our train leaves for Auschwitz today and daily”). Other good examples include the poems By the rivers of Babylon and Kadish. (Or take this: “My six-pointed star, burn it on my sleeve and on my chest.” Similar lyrical and passionate tones can be found in the The memory of Odessa (“I wanted to unite Mandelstam and Chagall). “Your kinsman and your cast-off / Your last singer of the Exodus” — as he addressed the departing Jews.)

The Jewish memory imbued him so deeply that even in his non-Jewish lyrics he casually added expressions such as: “Not a hook-nosed”; “not a Tatar, not a Yid” [115, 117]”; “you are still not in Israel, dodderer?” [294]; and even Arina Rodionovna [Pushkin’s nanny, immortalized by the poet in his works] lulls him in Yiddish [101]. Yet he doesn’t mention a single prosperous or non-oppressed Jew, a well-off Jew on a good position, for instance, in a research institute, editorial board, or in commerce — such characters didn’t even make a passing appearance in his poems. A Jew is always either humiliated, or suffering, or imprisoned and dying in a camp. Take his famous lines: “You are not to be chamberlains, the Jews … / Neither the Synod, nor the Senate is for you / You belong in Solovki and Butyrki” [the latter two being political prisons] [40].

What a short memory they have — not only Galich, but his whole audience who were sincerely, heartily taking in these sentimental lines! What about those twenty years, when Soviet Jewry was not nearly in the Solovki, when so many of them did parade as chamberlains and in the Senate!?

They have forgotten it. They have sincerely and completely forgotten it. Indeed, it is so difficult to remember bad things about yourself.

And inasmuch as among the successful people milking the regime there were supposedly no Jews left, but only Russians, Galich’s satire, unconsciously or consciously, hit the Russians, all those Klim Petroviches and Paramonovs; all that social anger invoked by his songs targeted them, through the stressed ”russopyaty” [derogatory term for Russians] images and details, presenting them as informers, prison guards, profligates, fools or drunks. Sometimes it was more like a caricature, sometimes more of a contemptuous pity (which we often indeed deserve, unfortunately): “Greasy long hair hanging down, / The guest started “Yermak” [a song about the cossack leader and Russian folk hero] … he cackles like a cock  / Enough to make a preacher swear / And he wants to chat /  About the salvation of Russia” [117-118]. Thus he pictured the Russians as always drunk, not distinguishing kerosene from vodka, not interested in anything except drinking, idle, or simply lost, or foolish individuals.Yet he was considered a folk poet…. And he didn’t image a single Russian hero-soldier, workman, or intellectual, not even a single decent camp inmate (he assigned the role of the main camp inmate to himself), because, you know, all those “prison-guard seed” [118] camp bosses are Russians. And here he wrote about Russia directly: “Every liar is a Messiah! / <…> And just dare you to ask — / Brothers, had there even been / Any Rus in Russia?” — “It is abrim with filth.” — And then, desperately: “But somewhere, perhaps, / She does exist!?” That invisible Russia, where “under the tender skies / Everyone shares / God’s word and bread.” “I pray thee: / Hold on! / Be alive in decay, / So in the heart, as in Kitezh, / I could hear your bells!” [280-281]

So, with the new opportunity and the lure of emigration, Galich was torn between the submerged legendary Kitezh [legendary Russian invisble city] and today’s filth: “It’s the same vicious circle, the same old story, the ring, which cannot be either closed, or open!” [599]. He left with the words: “I, a Russian poet, cannot be separated from Russia by `the fifth article´ [the requirement in the Soviet internal passport – “nationality”]!” [588]

Yet some other departing Jews drew from his songs a seed of aversion and contempt for Russia, or at least, the confidence that it is right to break away from her. Heed a voice from Israel: “We said goodbye to Russia. Not without pain, but forever…. Russia still holds us tenaciously. But … in a year, ten years, a hundred years — we’ll escape from her and find our own home. Listening to Galich, we once again recognize that it is the right way.”23

1 В. Левитина. Русский театр и евреи. Иерусалим: Библиотека – Алия, 1988. Т. 1, с. 24.

2 Daniel Mayer. J’ai honte d’etre socialist // Le Monde, 1967, 6 Juin, p. 3.

3 Michael Medved. The Jewish Question // National Review, 1997, July 28, p. 53.

4 Михаил Хейфец. Место и время (еврейские заметки). Париж: Третья волна, 1978, с. 174.

5 Ю. Колкер // Русская мысль, 24 апреля 1987, с. 12.

6 Г. Померанц. Проект письма XXIII съезду // Неопубликованное. Frankfurt/Main: Посев, 1972, с. 269-276.

7 Ш. Маркиш. Ещё раз о ненависти к самому себе // “22”: Общественно-политический и литературный журнал еврейской интеллигенции из СССР в Израиле. Тель-Авив, 1980, № 16, с. 188.

8 Р. Нудельман. Советский антисемитизм — причины и прогнозы: [Семинар] // “22”, 1978, № 3, с. 147.

9 Ф. Колкер. Новый план помощи советскому еврейству // “22”. 1983, № 31, с. 145.

10 ЮШтерн. Ситуация неустойчива и потому опасна: [Интервью] // “22”, 1984, № 38, с. 130.

11 В. Богуславский. В защиту Куняева // “22”, 1980. № 16, с. 169-174.

12 Ю. Штерн. Ситуация неустойчива… // “22”, 1984, № 38, с. 130.

13 В. Богуславский. В защиту Куняева // “22”, 1980. № 16. с. 175.

14 В.В. Шульгин. «Что нам в них не нравится…»: Об Антисемитизме в России. Париж, 1929, с.49-50.

15 Дан Левин. На краю соблазна: [Интервью] // “22”, 1978, № 1, с. 55.

16 А. Суконик. О религиозном и атеистическом сознании // Вестник Русского Христианского Движения. Париж-Нью-Йорк-Москва, 1977, № 123, с. 43-46.

17 Р. Нудельман. Оглянись в раздумье…: [Круглый стол] // “22 . 1982, № 24, с. 112.

18 А. Воронель. Будущее русской алии // “22”, 1978, № 2, с. 186.

19 Р. Лерт. Поздний опыт // Синтаксис: Публицистика, критика, полемика. Париж, 1980, № 6, с. 5-6.

20 Н. Рубинштейн. Выключите магнитофон — поговорим о поэте // Время и мы (далее — ВМ): Международный журнал литературы и общественных проблем. Тель-Авив, 1975, № 2, с. 164.

21 Александр Галич. Песни. Стихи. Поэмы. Киноповесть. Пьеса. Статьи. Екатеринбург: У-Фактория, 1998 (далее — Галич), с. 552, 556, 561-562. Страницы в тексте в квадратных скобка; Указаны также по этому изданию.

22 В. Волин. Он вышел на площадь // Галич, с. 632.

23 Н. Рубинштейн. Выключите магнитофон — поговорим о поэте // ВМ, Тель-Авив, 1975, № 2, с. 177.

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Chapter 23. Before the Six-Day War

On the next day after Stalin’s death, on March 6, the MGB (Ministry of State Security) “ceased to exist”, albeit only formally, as Beria had incorporated it into his own Ministry of Interior Affairs (MVD). This move allowed him “to disclose the abuses” by the MGB, including those of the still publicly unanounced MGB Minister, Ignatiev (who secretly replaced Abakumov). It seems that after 1952 Beria was losing Stalin’s trust and had been gradually pushed out by Ignatiev-Ryumin during the `Doctors’ Plot´. Thus, by force of circumstances, Beria became a magnet for the new anti-Stalin opposition.  And now, on April 4, just a month after Stalin’s death, he enjoyed enough power to dismiss the “Doctors’ Plot” and accuse Ryumin of its fabrication. Then three months later the diplomatic relations with Israel were restored.

All this reinvigorated hope among the Soviet Jews, as the rise of Beria could be very promising for them. However, Beria was soon ousted.

Yet because of the usual Soviet inertia, “with the death of Stalin … many previously fired Jews were reinstalled in their former positions”; “during the period called the “thaw”, many old Zionists … were released from the camps”; “during the post-Stalin period, the first Zionist groups started to emerge – initially at local levels.”1

Yet once again the things began to turn unfavorably for the Jews. In March 1954, the Soviet Union vetoed the UN Security Council attempt to open the Suez Canal to Israeli ships. At the end of 1955, Khrushchev declared a pro-Arab,  anti-Israel turn of Soviet foreign policy. In February 1956, in his famous report at the 20th Party Congress, Khrushchev, while speaking profusely about the massacres of 1937-1938, did not point any attention to the fact that there were so many Jews among the victims; he did not name Jewish leaders executed in 1952; and when speaking of the “Doctors’ Plot,” he did not stress that it was specifically directed against the Jews. “It is easy to imagine the bitter feelings this aroused among the Jews,” they “swept the Jewish communist circles abroad and even the leadership of those Communist parties, where Jews constituted a significant percentage of members (such as in the Canadian and US Communist parties).”2 In April 1956 in Warsaw, under the communist regime (though with heavy Jewish influence), the Jewish newspaper Volksstimme published a sensational article, listing the names of Jewish cultural and social celebrities who perished from 1937-1938 and from 1948-1952.  Yet at the same time the article also condemned the “capitalist enemies”, “Beria’s period” and welcomed the return of “Leninist national policy.” “The article in Volksstimme had unleashed a storm.”3

International communist organizations and Jewish social circles loudly began to demand an explanation from the Soviet leaders. “Throughout 1956, foreign visitors to the Soviet Union openly asked about Jewish situation there, and particularly why the Soviet government has not yet abandoned the dark legacy of Stalinism on the Jewish question?”4 It became a recurrent theme for the foreign correspondents and visiting delegations of “fraternal communist parties”. (Actually, that could be the reason for the loud denouncement in the Soviet press of the “betrayal” of Communism by Howard Fast, an American writer and former enthusiastic champion of Communism. Meanwhile, “hundreds of Soviet Jews from different cities in one form or another participated in meetings of resurgent Zionist groups and coteries”; “old Zionists with connections to relatives or friends in Israel were active in those groups.”5

In May 1956, a delegation from the French Socialist Party arrived in Moscow. “Particular attention was paid to the situation of Jews in the Soviet Union.”6 Khrushchev found himself in a hot corner – now he could not afford to ignore the questions, yet he knew, especially after experiencing postwar Ukraine, that the Jews are not likely to be returned to their [high] social standing like in 1920s and 1930s. He replied: “In the beginning of the revolution, we had many Jews in executive bodies of party and government …. After that, we have developed new cadres …. If Jews wanted to occupy positions of leadership in our republics today, it would obviously cause discontent among the local people …. If a Jew, appointed to a high office, surrounds himself with Jewish colleagues, it naturally provokes envy and hostility toward all Jews.” (The French publication Socialist Herald calls “strange” and “false” the Khrushchev’s point about “surrounding himself with Jewish colleagues”.)  In the same discussion, when Jewish culture and schools were addressed, Khrushchev explained that “if Jewish schools were established, there probably would not be many prospective students. The Jews are scattered all over the country …. If the Jews were required to attend a Jewish school, it certainly would cause outrage. It would be understood as a kind of a ghetto.”7

Three months later, in August 1956, a delegation of the Canadian Communist Party visited the USSR – and it stated outright that it had “a special mission to achieve clarity on the Jewish question”. Thus, in the postwar years, the Jewish question was becoming a central concern of the western communists. “Khrushchev rejected all accusations of anti-Semitism as a slander against him and the party.” He named a number of Soviet Jews to important posts, “he even mentioned his Jewish daughter-in-law,” but then he “quite suddenly … switched to the issue of “good and bad features of each nation” and pointed out “several negative features of Jews”, among which he mentioned “their political unreliability.” Yet he neither mentioned any of their positive traits, nor did he talk about other nations.8

In the same conversation, Khrushchev expressed his agreement with Stalin’s decision against establishing a Crimean Jewish Republic,  stating that such [Jewish] colonization of the Crimea would be a strategic military risk for the Soviet Union. This statement was particularly hurtful to the Jewish community. The Canadian delegation insisted on publication of a specific statement by the Central Committee of Communist Party of the Soviet Union about the sufferings of Jews, “but it was met with firm refusal” as “other nations and republics, which also suffered from Beria’s crimes against their culture and intelligentsia, would ask with astonishment why this statement covers only Jews?” (S. Schwartz dismissively comments: “The pettiness of this argumentation is striking.”9)

Yet it did not end at that. “Secretly, influential foreign Jewish communists tried” to obtain “explanations about the fate of the Jewish cultural elite”, and in October of the same year, twenty-six Western “progressive Jewish leaders and writers” appealed publicly to Prime-Minister Bulganin and “President” Voroshilov, asking them to issue “a public statement about injustices committed [against Jews] and the measures the goverment had designed to restore the Jewish cultural institutions.”10

Yet during both the “interregnum” of 1953-1957 and then in Khrushchev’s period, the Soviet policies toward Jews were inconsistent, wary, circumspect and ambivalent, thus sending signals in all directions.

In particular, the summer of 1956, which was filled with all kinds of social expectations in general, had also became the apogee  of Jewish hopes. One Surkov, the head of the Union of Writers, in a conversation with a communist publisher from New York City mentioned plans to establish a new Jewish publishing house, theater, newspaper and quarterly literary magazine; there were also plans to organize a countrywide conference of Jewish writers and cultural celebrities. It also noted  that a commission for reviving the Jewish literature in Yiddish had been already established. In 1956, “many Jewish writers and journalists gathered in Moscow again.”11 The Jewish activists later recalled that “the optimism inspired in all of us by the events of 1956 did not quickly fade away.”12

Yet the Soviet government continued with its meaningless and aimless policies, discouraging  any development of an independent Jewish culture. It is likely that Khrushchev himself was strongly opposed to it.

And then came new developments – the Suez Crisis, where Israel, Britain and France allied in attacking Egypt (“Israel is heading to suicide,” formidably warned the Soviet press), and the Hungarian Uprising, with its anti-Jewish streak, nearly completely concealed by history,13 (resulting, perhaps, from the overrepresentation of Jews in the Hungarian KGB). (Could this be also one of the reasons, even if a minor one, for the complete absence of Western support for the rebellion? Of course, at this time the West was preoccupied with the Suez Crisis. And yet wasn’t it a signal to the Soviets suggesting that it would be better if the Jewish theme be kept hushed?)

Then, a year later, Khrushchev finally overpowered his highly placed enemies within the party and, among others, Kaganovitch was cast down.

Could it really be such a big deal? The latter was not the only one ousted and even then, he was not the principal figure among the dethroned; and he was definitely not thrown out because of his Jewishness. Yet “from the Jewish point of view, his departure symbolized the end of an era”. Some looked around and counted – “the Jews disappeared not only from the ruling sections of the party, but also from the leading governmental circles.”14

It was time to pause and ponder thoroughly – what did the Jews really think about such new authorities?

David Burg, who emigrated from the USSR in 1956, came upon a formula on how the Jews should treat the Soviet rule. (It proved quite useful for the authorities): “To some, the danger of anti-Semitism `from below´ seems greater than the danger of anti-Semitism `from above´”; “though the government oppresses us, it nevertherless allows us to exist. If, however, a revolutionary change comes, then during the inevitable anarchy of the transition period we will simply be exterminated. Therefore, let’s hold on to the government no matter how bad it is.”15

We repeatedly encountered similar concerns in the 1930s – that the Jews should support the Bolshevik power in the USSR because without it their fate would be even worse. And now, even though the Soviet power had further deteriorated, the Jews had no other choice but hold on to it as before.

The Western world and particularly the United States always heeded such recommendations, even during the most strained years of the Cold War. In addition, socialist Israel was still full of communist sympathizers and could forgive the Soviet Union a lot for its role in the defeat of Hitler. Yet how then could Soviet anti-Semitism be interpreted? In this aspect, the recommendation of D. Burg stood up to the acute “social demand” – to move emphasis from the anti-Semitism of the Soviet government to the “anti-Semitism of the Russian people” – that ever-present curse.

So now some Jews have even fondly recalled  the long-disbanded YevSek [the “Jewish Section” of the Central Committee, dismantled in 1930 when Dimanshtein and its other leaders were shot]. Even though back in the 1920s it seemed overly pro-Communist, the YevSek was “to certain extent a guardian of Jewish national interests … an organ that produced some positive work as well.”16

In the meantime, Khrushchev’s policy remained equivocal; it is reasonable to assume that though Khrushchev himself did not like Jews, he did not want to fight against them, realizing the international political counter-productivity of such an effort. In 1957-1958, Jewish musical performances and public literary clubs were authorized and appeared in many cities countrywide.  (For example, “in 1961, Jewish literary soirees and Jewish song performances were attended by about 300,000 people.”17) Yet at the same time, the circulation of Warsaw’s Volksstimme was discontinued in the Soviet Union, thus cutting the Soviet Jews off from an outside source of Jewish information.18 In 1954, after a long break, Sholom Aleichem’s The Adventures of Mottel was again published in Russian, followed by several editions of his other books and their translations into other languages; in 1959 a large edition of his collected works was produced as well. In 1961 in Moscow, the Yiddish magazine Sovetish Heymland was established (though it strictly followed the official policy line). Publications of books by Jewish authors, who were executed in Stalin’s times, were resumed in Yiddish and Russian, and one even could hear Jewish tunes on the broadcasts of the All-Soviet Union radio.19 By 1966, “about one hundred Jewish authors were writing in Yiddish in the Soviet Union,” and “almost all of the named authors simultaneously worked as Russian language journalists and translators,” and “many of them worked as teachers in the Russian schools.”20 However, the Jewish theater did not re-open until 1966. In 1966, S. Schwartz defined the Jewish situation [in the USSR] as “cultural orphanhood.”21 Yet another author bitterly remarks: “The general lack of enthusiasm and interest … from the wider Jewish population … toward those cultural undertakings …  cannot be explained solely by official policies ….” “With rare exceptions, during those years the Jewish actors performed  in half-empty halls. Books of   Jewish writers were not selling well.”22

Similarly ambivalent, but more hostile policies of the Soviet authorities in Khrushchev’s period were implemented against the Jewish religion. It was a part of Khrushchev’s general anti-religious assault; it is well known how devastating it was for the Russian Orthodox Church. Since the 1930s, not a single theological school functioned in the USSR. In 1957 a yeshiva – a school for training rabbis – opened in Moscow. It accommodated only 35 students, and even those were being consistently pushed out under various pretexts such as withdrawal of residence registration in Moscow. Printing of prayer books and manufacturing of religious accessories was hindered. Up to 1956, before the Jewish Passover matzah was baked by state-owned bakeries and then sold in stores. Beginning in 1957, however, baking of matzah was obstructed and since 1961 it was banned outright almost everywhere. One day, the authorities would not interfere with receiving parcels with matzah from abroad, another day, they stopped the parcels at the customs, and even demanded recipients to express in the press their outrage against the senders.23 In many places, synagogues were closed down. “In 1966, only 62 synagogues were functioning in the entire Soviet Union.”24 Yet the authorities did not dare to shut down the synagogues in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and in the capitals of the republics. In the 1960s, there used to be extensive worship services on holidays with large crowds of 10,000 to 15,000 on the streets around synagogues.25 C. Schwartz notes that in the 1960s Jewish religious life was in severe decline, yet he large-mindedly reminds us that it was the result of the long process of secularization that began in Russian Jewry in the late 19th Century. (The process, which, he adds, has also succeeded in extremely non-communist Poland between the First and Second World Wars.26) Judaism in the Soviet Union lacked a united control center; yet when the Soviet authorities wanted to  squeeze out a political show from the leading rabbis for foreign policy purposes, be it about the well-being of Judaism in the USSR or outrage against the nuclear war, the government was perfectly able to stage it.27 “The Soviet authorities had repeatedly used Jewish religious leaders for foreign policy goals.” For example, “in November 1956 a group of rabbis issued a protest against” the actions of Israel during the Suez War.28

Another factor, which aggravated the status of Judaism in the USSR after the Suez War, was the growing fashionability of what was termed the “struggle against Zionism.” Zionism, being, strictly speaking, a form of socialism, should naturally had been seen as a true brother to the party of Marx and Lenin. Yet after the mid-1950s, the decision to secure the friendship of the Arabs drove the Soviet leaders toward persecution of Zionism. However, for the Soviet masses Zionism was a distant, unfamiliar and abstract phenomenon. Therefore, to flesh out this struggle, to give it a distinct embodiment, the Soviet government presented Zionism as a caricature composed of the characteristic and eternal Jewish images. The books and pamphlets allegedly aimed against Zionism also contained explicit anti-Judaic and anti-Jewish messages. If in the Soviet Union of 1920-1930s Judaism was not as brutally persecuted as the Russian Orthodox Christianity, then in 1957 a foreign socialist commentator noted how that year signified “a decisive intensification of the struggle against Judaism,” the “turning point in the struggle against the Jewish religion,” and that “the character of struggle betrays that it is directed not only against Judaism, but against the Jews in general.”29 There was one stirring episode: in 1963 in Kiev, the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences published 12,000 copies of a brochure Unadorned Judaism in Ukrainian, yet it was filled with such blatant anti-Jewish caricatures that it provoked a large-scale international outcry, joined even by the communist “friends” (who were financially supported by Moscow), such as the leaders of the American and British communist parties, newspapers L’Humanite, L’Unita, as well as a pro-Chinese communist newspaper from Brussels, and many others. The UN Human Rights Commission demanded an explanation from its Ukrainian representative. The World Jewish Cultural Association called for the prosecution of the author and the cartoonist. The Soviet side held on for awhile, insisting that except for the drawings, “the book deserves a generally positive assessment.”30 Finally, even Pravda had to admit that it was indeed “an ill-prepared … brochure” with “erroneous statements … and illustrations that may offend feelings of religious people or be interpreted as anti-Semitic,” a phenomenon that, “as is universally known, does not and cannot exist in our country.”31 Yet at the same time Izvestia stated that although there were certain drawbacks to the brochure, “its main idea … is no doubt right.”32

There were even several arrests of religious Jews from Moscow and Leningrad – accused of “espionage [conversations during personal meetings in synagogues] for a  capitalistic state [Israel]” with synagogues allegedly used as “fronts for various criminal activities”33 – to scare others more effectively.


Although there were already no longer any Jews in the most prominent positions, many still occupied influential and important second-tier posts (though there were exceptions: for example, Veniamin Dymshits smoothly ran Gosplan (the State Planning Committee) from 1962, while being at the same time the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of USSR and a member of Central Committee from 1961 to 198634). Why, at one time the Jews were joining “NKVD and the MVD … in such numbers that even now, after all purges of the very Jewish spirit, a few individuals miraculously remained, such as the famous Captain Joffe in a camp in Mordovia.”35

According to the USSR Census of 1959, 2,268,000 Jews lived in the Soviet Union. (Yet there were caveats regarding this figure: “Everybody knows … that there are more Jews in the Soviet Union than the Census showed,” as on the Census day, a Jew states his nationality not according to his passport, but any nationality he wishes.36)  Of those, 2,162,000 Jews lived in the cities, i.e., 95,3% of total population – much more than 82% in 1926 or 87% in 1939.37 And if we glance forward into the 1970 Census, the observed “increase in the number of Jews in Moscow and Leningrad is apparently caused not by natural growth but by migration from other cities (in spite of all the residential restrictions).” Over these 11 years, “at least several thousand Jews relocated to Kiev. The concentration of Jews in the large cities had been increasing for many decades.”38

These figures are very telling for those who know about the differences in living standards between the urban and the rural populations in the Soviet Union. G. Rosenblum, the editor of the prominent Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, recalls an almost anecdotal story by Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Dr. Harel about his tour of the USSR in the mid-1960s. In a large kolkhoz near Kishinev he was told that “the Jews who work here want to meet [him]. [The Israeli] was very happy that there were Jews in the kolkhoz” (love of agriculture – a good sign for Israel). He  recounts: “Three Jews came to meet me … one was a cashier, another – editor of the kolkhoz’s wall newspaper and the third one was a kind of economic manager. I couldn’t find any other. So, what the Jews used to do [i.e. before], they are still doing.” G. Rosenblum confirms this: “Indeed, the Soviet Jews in their masses did not take to the physical work.”39 L. Shapiro concludes, “Conversion of Jews to agriculture ended in failure despite all the efforts … of public Jewish organizations and … the assistance of the state.”40

In Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev – the cities enjoying the highest living and cultural standards in the country, the Jews, according to the 1959 Census, constituted 3.9%, 5.8%, and 13.9 % of the population, respectively, which is quite a lot, considering that they accounted only for 1.1% of the entire population of the USSR.41

So it was that this extremely high concentration of Jews in urban areas – 95% of all Soviet Jews lived in the cities – that made “the system of prohibitions and restrictions” particularly painful for them.  (As we mentioned in the previous chapter, this system was outlined back in the early 1940s.) And “although the restrictive rules have never been officially acknowledged and officials stoutly denied their existence, these rules and restrictions very effectively barred the Jews from many spheres of action, professions and positions.”42

Some recall a disturbing rumor circulating then among the Jews: allegedly, Khrushchev said in one of his unpublished speeches that “as many Jews will be accepted into the institutions of higher education as work in the coal mines.”43 Perhaps, he really just blurted it out in his usual manner, because such “balancing” was never carried out. Yet by the beginning of 1960s, while the absolute number of Jewish students increased, their relative share decreased substantially when compared to the pre-war period: if in 1936 the share of Jews among students was 7.5 times higher than that in the total population44, then by 1960s it was only 2.7 times higher. These new data on the distribution of students in higher and secondary education by nationality were published for the first time (in the post-war period) in 1963 in the statistical annual report, The National Economy of the USSR,45 and a similar table was annually produced up to 1972. In terms of the absolute number of students in institutions of higher education and technical schools in the 1962-1963 academic year, Jews were fourth after the three Slavic nations (Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians), with 79,300 Jewish students in institutions of higher education out of a total 2,943,700 students (2.69%). In the next academic year 1963-1964, the number of Jewish students increased to 82,600, while the total number of students in the USSR reached 3,260,700 (2.53%). This share remained almost constant until the 1969-1970 academic year; 101,000 Jewish students out of total 4,549,900. Then the Jewish share began to decline and in 1972-1973 it was 1.91%: 88,500 Jewish students out of total 4,630,246. (This decline coincided with the beginning of the Jewish immigration to Israel.)

The relative number of Jewish scientists also declined in 1960s, from 9.5% in 1960 to 6.1% in 1973.47 During those same years, “there were tens of thousands Jewish names in the Soviet art and literature,”48 including 8.5% of writers and journalists, 7.7% of actors and artists, more than 10% of judges and attorneys, and about 15% doctors.49 Traditionally, there were always many Jews in medicine, yet consider the accursed “Soviet psychiatry,” which in those years began locking up healthy people in mental institutions. And who were those psychiatrists?  Listing the “Jewish occupations,” M.I. Heifets writes: “`Psychiatry is a Jewish monopoly,´ a friend, a Jewish psychiatrist, told me, just before [my] arrest; `we began to get Russians only recently and even then as the result of an order´” [translator’s note: admission into medical residency training was regulated at local and central levels; here author indicates that admission of ethnically Russian doctors into advanced psychiatry training was mandated from the higher levels]. He provides examples: the Head Psychiatrist of Leningrad, Professor Averbukh, provides his expertise for the KGB in the “Big House”; in Moscow there was famous Luntz; in the Kaluga Hospital there was Lifshitz and “his Jewish gang.” When Heifetz was arrested, and his wife began looking for a lawyer with a “clearance,” that is, with a permission from the KGB to work on political cases, she “did not find a single Russian” among them as all such lawyers were Jews50).

In 1956, Furtseva, then the First Secretary of Moscow Gorkom (the City’s Party Committee), complained that in some offices Jews constitute more than half of the staff.51 (I have to note for balance that in those years the presence of Jews in the Soviet apparatus was not detrimental. The Soviet legal machinery was in its essence stubbornly and hardheartedly anti-human, skewed against any man in need, be it a petitioner or just a visitor. So it often happened that the Russian officials in Soviet offices, petrified by their power, looked for any excuse to triumphantly turn away a visitor; in contrast, one could find much more understanding in a Jewish official and resolve an issue in a more humane way). L. Shapiro provides examples of complaints that in the national republics, the Jews were pushed out and displaced from the bureaucratic apparatus by native intelligentsia52 – yet it was a common and officially-mandated system of preferences in the ethnic republics [to affirm the local cadres], and Russians were displaced just as well.

This reminds me of an example from contemporary American life. In 1965, the New York Division of the American Jewish Committee had conducted a four-months-long unofficial interview of more than a thousand top officials in New York City banks. Based on its results, the American Jewish Committee mounted a protest because less than 3% of those surveyed were Jews, though they constituted one quarter of the population of – that is, the Committee demanded proportional representation. Then the chairman of the Association of Banks of New York responded that banks, according to law, do not hire on the basis of “race, creed, color or national origin” and do not keep records of such categories (that would be our accursed “fifth article” [the requirement in the Soviet internal passport – “nationality”]!). (Interestingly, the same American Jewish Committee had conducted a similar study about the ethnic composition of management of the fifty largest U.S. public utility services two years before, and in 1964 it in similar vein it studied industrial enterprises in the Philadelphia region.)53

Yet let us return to the Soviet Jews. Many Jewish emigrants loudly advertised their former activity in the periodical-publishing and film-making industries back in the USSR. In particular, we learn from a Jewish author that “it was due to his [Syrokomskiy’s] support that all top positions in Literaturnaya Gazeta became occupied by Jews.”54

Yet twenty years later we read a different assessment of the time: “The new anti-Semitism grew stronger … and by the second half of the 1960s it already amounted to a developed system of discreditation, humiliation and isolation of the entire people.”55

So how can we reconcile such conflicting views? How can we reach a calm and balanced assessment?

Then from the high spheres inhabited by economic barons there came alarming signals, signals that made the Jews nervous. “To a certain extent, Jewish activity in the Soviet Union concentrated in the specific fields of economy along a characteristic pattern, well-known to Jewish sociologists.”56 By then, at the end of 1950s, Nikita [Khrushchev] suddenly realized that the key spheres of the Soviet economy are plagued by rampant theft and fraud.

“In 1961, an explicitly anti-Semitic campaign was initiated against the ?theft of socialist property.”57 Beginning in 1961, a number of punitive decrees of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR were passed. The first one dealt with “foreign currency speculations,” another – with bribes, and still another later introduced capital punishment for the aforementioned crimes, at the same time lawlessly applying the death penalty retroactively, for the crimes committed before those decrees were issued (as, for example, the case of J. Rokotov and B. Faybishenko). Executions started in the very first year. During the first nine trials, eleven individuals were sentenced to death – among them were “perhaps, six Jews.”58 The Jewish Encyclopedia states it more specifically, “In 1961-1964, thirty-nine Jews were executed for economic crimes in the RSFSR and seventy-nine – in Ukraine,” and forty-three Jews in other republics.59 In these trials, “the vast majority of defendants were Jews.” (The publicity was such that the court reports indicated the names and patronymics of the defendants, which was the normal order of pleadings, yet it was getting “absolutely clear from that that they were Jews.”60)

Next, in a large court trial in Frunze in 1962, nineteen out of forty-six defendants were apparently Jewish. “There is no reason to think that this new policy was conceived as a system of anti-Jewish measures. Yet immediately upon enforcement, the new laws acquired distinct anti-Jewish flavor,” – the author of the quote obviously points out to the publication of the full names of defendants, including Jewish ones; other than that, neither the courts, nor the government, nor the media made any generalizations or direct accusations against the Jews. And even when Sovetskaya Kyrgizia wrote that “they occupied different posts, but they were closely linked to each other,” it never clarified the begged question “how were they linked?” The newspaper treated this issue with silence, thus pushing the reader to the thought that the nucleus of the criminal organization was composed of the “closely linked” individuals. Yet “closely linked by” what? By their Jewishness. So the newspaper “emphasized the Jews in this case.”61 … Yet people can be “closely linked” by any illegal transaction, greed, swindling or fraud. And, amazingly, nobody argued that those individuals could be innocent (though they could have been innocent). Yet to name them was equal to Jew-baiting.

Next, in January 1962, came the Vilnius case of speculators in foreign currency. All eight defendants were Jews (during the trial, non-Jewish members of the political establishment involved in the case escaped public naming – a usual Soviet trick). This time, there was an explicit anti-Jewish sentiment from the prosecution: “The deals were struck in a synagogue, and the arguments were settled with the help of wine.”62

S. Schwartz is absolutely convinced that this legal and economic harassment was nothing else but rampant anti-Semitism, yet he completely disregards “the tendency of Jews to concentrate their activity in the specific spheres of economy.” Similarly, the entire Western media interpreted this as a brutal campaign against Jews, the humiliation and isolation of the entire people; Bertrand Russell sent a letter of protest to Khrushchev and got a personal response from the Soviet leader.63 However, after that, the Soviet authorities apparently had second thoughts when they handled the Jews.

In the West, the official Soviet anti-Semitism began to be referred to as “the most pressing issue” in the USSR (ignoring any more acute issues) and “the most proscribed subject.” (Though there were numerous other proscribed issues such as forced collectivization or the surrender of three million Red Army soldiers in the year of 1941 alone, or the murderous nuclear “experimentation” on our own Soviet troops on the Totskoye range in 1954.) Of course, after Stalin’s death, the Communist Party avoided explicit anti-Jewish statements. Perhaps, they practiced incendiary “invitation-only meetings” and “briefings” – that would have been very much in the Soviet style. Solomon Schwartz rightly concludes: “Soviet anti-Jewish policy does not have any sound or rational foundation,” the strangulation of the Jewish cultural life “appears puzzling. How can such bizarre policy be explained?”64

Still, when all living things in the country were being choked, could one really expect that such vigorous and agile people would escape a similar lot? To that, the Soviet foreign policy agendas of 1960s added their weight: the USSR was designing an anti-Israel campaign. Thus, they came up with a convenient, ambiguous and indefinite term of “anti-Zionism,” which became “a sword of Damocles hanging above the entire Jewish population of the country.”65 Campaigning against “Zionism” in the press became a sort of impenetrable shield as its obvious anti-Semitic nature became unprovable. Moreover, it sounded menacing and dangerous – “Zionism is the instrument of the American imperialism.” So the “Jews had to prove their loyalty in one way or other, to somehow convince the people around them that they had no connection to their own Jewishness, especially to Zionism.”66

The feelings of ordinary Jews in the Soviet Union became the feelings of the oppressed as vividly expressed by one of them: “Over the years of persecutions and vilifications, the Jews developed a certain psychological complex of suspicion to any contact coming from non-Jews. In everything they are ready to see implicit or explicit hints on their nationality …. The Jews can never publicly declare their Jewishness, and it is formally accepted that this should be kept silent, as if it was a vice, or a past crime.”67

An incident in Malakhovka in October 1959 added substantially to that atmosphere. On the night of October 4, in Malakhovka, a settlement “half an hour from Moscow … with 30,000 inhabitants, about 10% of whom are Jews …, the roof of the synagogue caught fire along with … the house of the Jewish cemetery keeper … [and] the wife of the keeper died in the fire. On the same night, leaflets were scattered and posted across Malakhovka: `Away with the Jews in commerce! … We saved them from the Germans … yet they became arrogant so fast that the Russian people do not understand any longer… who’s living on whose land.´”68

Growing depression drove some Jews to such an extreme state of mind as that described by D. Shturman: some “Jewish philistines developed a hatred toward Israel, believing it to be the  generator of anti-Semitism in the Soviet politics. I remember the words of one succesful Jewish teacher: `One good bomb dropped on Israel would make our life much easier.´”69

Yet that was an ugly exception indeed. In general, the rampant anti-Zionist campaign triggered a “consolidation of the sense of Jewishness in people and the growth of sympathy towards Israel as the outpost of the Jewish nation.”70

There is yet another explanation of the social situation in those years: yes, under Khrushchev, “fears for their lives had become the things of the past for the Soviet Jews,” but “the foundations of new anti-Semitism had been laid,” as the young generation of political establishment fought for caste privileges, “seeking to occupy the leading positions in arts, science, commerce, finance, etc. There the new Soviet aristocracy encountered Jews, whose share in those fields was traditionally high.” The “social structure of the Jewish population, which was mainly concentrated in the major centers of the country, reminded the ruling elite of their own class structure.”71

Doubtless, such encounter did take place; it was an epic “crew change” in the Soviet ruling establishment, switching from the Jewish elite to the Russian one. It had clearly resulted in antagonism and I remember those conversations among the Jews during Khrushchev’s era – they were full of not only ridicule, but also of bad insults with the ex-villagers, “muzhiks,” who have infiltrated the establishment.

Yet altogether all the various social influences combined with the great prudence of the Soviet authorities led to dramatic alleviation of “prevalence and acuteness of modern Soviet anti-Semitism” by 1965, which became far inferior to what had been observed “during the war and the first post-war years,” and it appears that “a marked attenuation, maybe even a complete dying out of `the percentage quote´ is happening.”72 Overall, in the 1960s the Jewish worldview was rather positive. This is what we consistently hear from different authors. (Contrast this to what we just read, that “the new anti-Semitism grew in strength in the 1960s.”) The same opinion was expressed again twenty years later – “Khrushchev’s era was one of the most peaceful periods of the Soviet history for the Jews.”73

“In 1956-1957, many new Zionist societies sprang up in the USSR, bringing together young Jews who previously did not show much interest in Jewish national problems or Zionism. An important impetus for the awakening of national consciousness among Soviet Jews and for the development of a sense of solidarity with the State of Israel was the Suez Crisis [1956].” Later, “The International Youth Festival [Moscow, 1957] became a catalyst for the revival of the Zionist movement in the USSR among a certain portion of Soviet Jews … Between the festival and the Six-Day War [1967], Zionist activity in the Soviet Union was gradually expanding. Contacts of Soviet Jews with the Israeli Embassy became more frequent and less dangerous.” Also, “the importance of Jewish Samizdat increased dramatically.”74

During the so-called Khrushchev’s “thaw” period (the end of 1950s to the beginning of the 1960s), Soviet Jews were spiritually re-energized; they shook off the fears and distress of the previous age of the “Doctors’ Plot” and the persecution of “cosmopolitan.” It “even became fashionable” in the metropolitan society “to be a Jew”; the Jewish motif entered Samizdat and poetic soirees then so popular among the young. Rimma Kazakova even ventured to declare her Jewish identity from the stage. Yevtushenko quickly caught the air and expressed it in 1961 in his Babi Yar75, proclaiming himself a Jew in spirit. His poem (and the courage of Literaturnaya Gazeta) was a literary trumpet call for all of Soviet and world Jewry. Yevtushenko recited his poem during a huge number of poetic soirees, always accompanied by a roar of applause. After a while, Shostakovich, who often ventured into Jewish themes, set Yevtushenko’s poem into his 13th Symphony. Yet its public performance was limited by the authorities. Babi Yar spread among Soviet and foreign Jewries as a reinvigorating and healing blast of air, a truly “revolutionary act … in the development of the social consciousness in the Soviet Union”; “it became the most significant event since the dismissal of the `Doctors’ Plot.´”76

In 1964-65 Jewish themes returned into popular literature; take, for example, Summer in Sosnyaki by Anatoliy Rybakov or the diary of Masha Rolnik77 (“written apparently under heavy influence of Diary of Anne Frank78).

“After the ousting of Khrushchev from all his posts, the official policy towards Jews was softened somewhat. The struggle against Judaism abated and nearly all restrictions on baking matzah were abolished …. Gradually, the campaign against economic crimes faded away too ….” Yet “the Soviet press unleashed a propaganda campaign against Zionist activities among the Soviet Jews and their connections to the Israeli Embassy.”79

All these political fluctuations and changes in the Jewish policies in the Soviet Union did not pass unnoticed but served to awaken the Jews.

In the 1959 Census, only 21% Jews named Yiddish as their first language (in 1926 -72%).80 Even in 1970s they used to say that “Russian Jewry, which was [in the past] the most Jewish Jewry in the world, became the least Jewish.”81 “The current state of Soviet society is fraught with destruction of Jewish spiritual and intellectual potential.”82 Or as another author put it: the Jews in the Soviet Union were neither “allowed to assimilate,” nor were they “allowed to be Jews.”83

Yet Jewish identity was never subdued during the entire Soviet period.

In 1966 the official mouthpiece Sovetish Heymland claimed that “even assimilated Russian-speaking Jews still retain their unique character, distinct from that of any other segment of population.”84 Not to mention the Jews of Odessa, Kiev, and Kharkov, who “sometimes were even snooty about their Jewishness – to the extent that they did not want to befriend a goy.”85

Scientist Leo Tumerman ( already in Israel in 1977) recalls the early Soviet period, when he used to “reject any nationalism.” Yet now, looking back at those years: “I am surprised to notice what I had overlooked then: despite what appeared to be my full assimilation into the Russian life, the entire circle of my close and intimate friends at that time was Jewish.”86

The sincerity of his statement is certain – the picture is clear. Such things were widespread and I witnessed similar situations quite a few times, and Russians people did not mind such behavior at all.

Another Jewish author notes: in the USSR “non-religious Jews of all walks of life hand in hand defended the principle of `racial purity.´” He adds: “Nothing could be more natural. People for whom the Jewishness is just an empty word are very rare, especially among the unassimilated [Jews].”87

Natan Sharansky’s testimonial, given shortly after his immigration to Israel, is also typical: “Much of my Jewishness was instilled into me by my family. Although our family was an assimilated one, it nevertheless was Jewish.” “My father, an ordinary Soviet journalist, was so fascinated with the revolutionary ideas of `happiness for all´ and not just for the Jews, that he became an absolutely loyal Soviet citizen.” Yet in 1967 after the Six-Day War and later in 1968 after Czechoslovakia, “I suddenly realized an obvious difference between myself and non-Jews around me … a kind of a sense of the fundamental difference between my Jewish consciousness and the national consciousness of the Russians.”88

And here is another very thoughtful testimonial (1975): “The efforts spent over the last hundred years by Jewish intellectuals to reincarnate themselves into the Russian national form were truly titanic. Yet it did not give them balance of mind; on the contrary, it rather made them to feel the bitterness of their bi-national existence more acutely.” And “they have an answer to the tragic question of Aleksandr Blok: `My Russia, my life, are we to drudge through life together?´ To that question, to which a Russian as a rule gives an unambiguous answer, a member of Russian-Jewish intelligentsia used to reply (sometimes after self-reflection): `No, not together. For the time being, yes, side by side, but not together´… A duty is no substitute for Motherland.” And so “the Jews felt free from obligations at all sharp turns of Russian history.”89

Fair enough. One can only hope for all Russian Jews to get such clarity and acknowledge this dilemma.

Yet usually the problem in its entirety is blamed on “anti-Semitism”: “Excluding us from everything genuinely Russian, their anti-Semitism simultaneously barred us from all things Jewish …. Anti-Semitism is terrible not because of what it does to the Jews (by imposing restrictions on them), but because of what it does with the Jews by turning them into neurotic, depressed, stressed, and defective human beings.”90

Still, those Jews, who had fully woken up to their identity, were very quickly, completely, and reliably cured from such a morbid condition.

Jewish identity in the Soviet Union grew stronger as they went through the historical ordeals predestined for Jewry by the 20th Century. First, it was the Jewish Catastrophe  during the Second World War. (Through the efforts of official Soviet muffling and obscuring, Soviet Jewry only comprehended its full scope later.)

Another push was given by the campaign against “cosmopolitans” in 1949-1950.

Then there was a very serious threat of a massacre by Stalin, eliminated by his timely death.

And with Khrushchev’s “thaw” and after it, later in the 1960s, Soviet Jewry quickly awoke spiritually, already sensing its unique identity.

During the second half of the 1950s, “the growing sense of bitterness, spread over large segments of Soviet Jewry”, lead to “consolidation of the sense of national solidarity.”91

But “only in the late 1960s did a very small but committed group of scientists (note, they were not humanitarians; the most colorful figure among them was Alexander Voronel) begin rebuilding of Jewish national consciousness in Russia.”92

And then against the nascent national consciousness of Soviet Jews, the Six-Day War suddenly broke out and instantly ended in what might have seemed a miraculous victory. Israel has ascended in their minds and Soviet Jews awoke to their spiritual and consanguineous kinship [with Israel].

But the Soviet authorities, furious at Nasser’s disgraceful  defeat, immediately attacked Soviet Jews with the thundering campaign against the “Judeo-Zionist-Fascism,” insinuating  that all the Jews were “Zionists” and claiming that the “global conspiracy” of Zionism “is the expected and inevitable product of the entirety of Jewish history, Jewish religion, and the resultant Jewish national character” and “because of the consistent pursuit of the ideology of racial supremacy and apartheid, Judaism turned out to be a very convenient religion for securing world dominance.”93

The campaign on TV and in the press was accompanied by a dramatic break of diplomatic relations with Israel. The Soviet Jews had many reasons to fear: “It looked like it was going to come to calls for a pogrom.”94

But underneath this scare a new and already unstoppable explosion of Jewish national consciousness was growing and developing.

“Bitterness, resentment, anger, and the sense of social insecurity were accruing for a final break up which would lead to complete severing of all ties with [this] country and [this] society – to emigration.”95

“The victory of the Israeli Army contributed to the awakening of national consciousness among the many thousands of almost completely assimilated Soviet Jews …. The process of national revival has began …. The activity of Zionist groups in cities all across the country surged …. In 1969, there were attempts to create a united Zionist Organization [in the USSR] …. An increasing number of Jews applied to emigrate to Israel.”96

And the numerous refusals to grant exit visas led to the failed attempt to hijack an airplane on June 15, 1970. The following “Dymshits-Kuznetsov hijacking affair” can be considered a historic landmark in the fate of Soviet Jewry.

1 Краткая Еврейская Энциклопедия (далее — КЕЭ). Иерусалим: Общество по исследованию еврейских общин, 1996. Т. 8, с. 256.

2 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе с начала Второй мировой войны (1939-1965). Нью-Йорк: Изд. Американского Еврейского Рабочего Комитета, 1966, с. 247.

3 Там же, с. 247-248.

4 Хрущёв и еврейский вопрос // Социалистический вестник, Нью-Йорк, 1961, № 1, с. 20.

5 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 257.

6 Хрущёв и еврейский вопрос // Социалистический вестник, 1961, № 1, с. 20.

7 Слова Н.С. Хрущёва приведены в отчёте переводчика французской делегации Пьера Лошака: Realites, Paris, Mai 1957, p. 64-67, 101-104. — Мы цитируем их в обратном переводе «Социалистического вестника» (1961, № 1, с. 21).

8 J.B. Salsberg, Talks with Soviet Leaders on the Jewish Question // Jewish Life, Febr. 1957. — Цит. в переводе «Соц. вестника» (1961, № 1, с. 20).

9 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…*, с. 250.

10 Там же*, с. 249-251.

11 Там же, с. 241, 272.

12 Ю. Штерн. Ситуация неустойчива и потому опасна: [Интервью] // “22”: Общественно-политический и литературный журнал еврейской интеллигенции из СССР в Израиле. Тель-Авив, 1984, № 38, с. 132.

13 Andrew Handler. Where Familiarity with Jews Breeds Contempt // Red Star, Blue Star: The Lives and Times of Jewish Students in Communist Hungary (1948-1956). New-York: Columbia University Press, 1997, p. 36-37.

14 Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // Книга о русском еврействе, 1917-1967 (далее — КРЕ-2). Нью-Йорк: Союз Русских Евреев, 1968, с. 360-361.

15 David Burg. Die Judenfrage in Der Sowjetunion // Der Anti-kommunist, Miinchen, Juli-August 1957, № 12, S.35.

16 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…*, с. 238.

17 Там же, с. 283-287; КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 258.

18 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 281.

19 ЭФинкелъштейн. Евреи в СССР: Путь в Двадцать первый век // Страна и мир: Обществ.-политический, экономический и культурно-философский журнал. Мюнхен, 1989, № 1, с. 65-66.

20 Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 379-380.

21 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 280, 288.

22 ЭФинкелъштейн. Евреи в СССР: Путь в Двадцать первый век // Страна и мир, 1989, № 1, с. 66.

23 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 304-308.

24 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 259.

25 Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 358.

26 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 290.

27 Там же, с. 294-296.

28 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 258.

29 Антисемитский памфлет в Советском Союзе // Социалистический вестник, 1965, № 4, с. 67.

30 Антисемитский памфлет в Советском Союзе // Социалистический вестник*, 1965, № 4, с. 68-73.

31 В Идеологической комиссии при ЦК КПСС // Правда, 1964, 4 апреля, с. 4.

32 Об одной непонятной шумихе // Известия, 1964, 4 апреля, с. 4.

33 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 303.

34 Российская Еврейская Энциклопедия. 2-е изд., испр. и доп. М., 1994. Т. 1, с. 448.

35 Р. Рутман. Кольцо обид // Новый журнал, Нью-Йорк. 1974. № 117, с. 185.

36 И. Домальский. Технология ненависти // Время и мы (далее — ВМ): Международный журнал литературы и общественных проблем. Тель-Авив. 1978, № 26, с. 113-114.

37 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 298, 300.

38 И. Ляст. Алия из СССР — демографические прогнозы // “22”, 1981, № 21, с. 112-113.

39 Г. Розенблюм, В. Перельман. Крушение Чуда: причины и следствия*: [Беседа] // ВМ, Тель-Авив, 1977, № 24, с. 120.

40 Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 346.

41 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 300.

42 Э. Финкельштейн. Евреи в СССР… // Страна и мир, 1989, № 1, с. 65.

43 Н. Шапиро. Слово рядового советского еврея // Русский антисемитизм и евреи: Сборник. Лондон, 1968, с. 55.

44 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 190.

45 Народное хозяйство СССР в 1963 году: Статистический ежегодник. М.: Статистика, 1965, с. 579.

46 Народное хозяйство СССР в 1969 году. М., 1970, с. 690; Народное хозяйство СССР в 1972 году. М., 1972, с. 651.

47 И. Домальский. Технология ненависти // ВМ, Тель-Авив, 1978, №25, с. 120.

48 ЭФинкелъштейн. Евреи в СССР… // Страна и мир, 1989, № 1, с. 66.

49 А. Нов, Жд. Ньют. Еврейское население СССР: демографическое развитие и профессиональная занятость // Евреи в Советской России (1917-1967). Израиль: Библиотека «Алия», 1975, с. 180.

50 Михаил Хейфец. Место и время (еврейские заметки)*. Париж: Третья волна, 1978, с. 63-65, 67, 70.

51 Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 363.

52 Там же.

53 New York Times, 1965, October 21, p. 47.

54 В. Перельман. О либералах в советских верхах // ВМ, Нью-Йорк, 1985, № 87, с. 147.

55 Э. Финкелъштейн. Евреи в СССР… // Страна и мир, 1989, № 1, с. 66.

56 Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 362.

57 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 261.

58 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 326-327, 329.

59 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 261.

60 Н. Шапиро. Слово рядового советского еврея // Русский антисемитизм и евреи, с. 55.

61 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 330-333.

62 Там же, с. 333-334.

63 Обмен письмами между Б. Расселом и Н.С. Хрущёвым // Правда, 1963, 1 марта, с. 1.

64 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 421-422.

65 Э. Финкельштейн. Евреи в СССР… // Страна и мир. 1989, № 1, с. 65.

66 Э. Финкельштейн. Евреи в СССР… // Страна и мир, 1989, № 1, с. 66-67.

67 Н. Шапиро. Слово рядового советского еврея // Русский антисемитизм и евреи, с. 48, 55.

68 Социалистический вестник, 1959, № 12, с. 240-241.

69 Д. Штурман. Советский антисемитизм — причины и прогнозы: [Семинар] // “22”, 1978, № 3, с. 180.

70 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 395.

71 ЭФинкелъштейн. Евреи в СССР… // Страна и мир, 1989, № 1, с. 64-65.

72 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 372, 409.

73 Михаил Хейфец. Новая «аристократия»? // Грани: Журнал литературы, искусства, науки и общ.-политической мысли. Франкфурт-на-Майне, 1987, № 146, с. 189.

74 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 262-263.

75 R. Rutman // Soviet Jewish Affairs, London, 1974, Vol. 4, № 2, p. 11.

76 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 371.

77 Соответственно: Новый мир, 1964, № 12; Мария Рольникайте. Я должна рассказать // Звезда, 1965, № 2 и № 3.

78 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 373.

79 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 262, 264.

80 Там же, с. 295, 302.

81 Г. Розенблюм. Крушение Чуда…: [Беседа с В. Перелъманом] // ВМ, Тель-Авив, 1977, №24, с. 120.

82 Л. Цигельман-Дымерская. Советский антисемитизм — причины и прогнозы: [Семинар] // “22”, 1978, №3, с. 175.

83 Ю. Штерн. Ситуация неустойчива…: [Интервью] // “22”, 1984, № 38, с. 135.

84 Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 379.

85 Ю. Штерн. Двойная ответственность: [Интервью] // “22”, 1981, № 21, с. 127.

86 “22”*, 1978, № 1, с. 204.

87 А. Этерман. Истина с близкого расстояния // “22”, 1987, № 52, с. 112.

88 А. Щаранский. [Интервью] // “22”, 1986, № 49. с. 111-112.

89 Б. Орлов. Не те вы учили алфавиты // ВМ, Тель-Авив, 1975, № 1, с. 129, 132-133.

90 В. Богуславский. Галуту — с надеждой // “22”, 1985, № 40, с. 133, 134.

91 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 415.

92 Г. Файн. В роли высокооплачиваемых швейцаров // ВМ, Тель-Авив. 1976, № 12. с. 133-134.

93 Р. Нудельман. Советский антисемитизм — причины и прогнозы: [Семинар] // “22”, 1978, № 3, с. 144.

94 ЭФинкельштейн. Евреи в СССР… // Страна и мир, 1989, № 1, с. 67.

95 Там же.

96 КЕЭ, т. 8. с. 267.

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Chapter 22. From the End of the War to Stalin’s Death

At the beginning of the 1920s the authors of a collection of articles titled Russia and the Jews foresaw that “all these bright perspectives” (for the Jews in the USSR) looked so bright only “if one supposes that the Bolsheviks would want to protect us. But would they? Can we assume that the people who in their struggle for power betrayed everything, from the Motherland to Communism, would remain faithful to us even when it stops benefiting them?”(1)

However, during so favorable a time to them as the 1920s and 1930s the great majority of Soviet Jews chose to ignore this sober warning or simply did not hear it.

Yet the Jews with their contribution to the Russian Revolution should have expected that one day the inevitable recoil of revolution would hit even them, at least during its ebb.

The postwar period became “the years of deep disappointments” (2) and adversity for Soviet Jews. During Stalin’s last eight years, Soviet Jewry was tested by persecutions of the “cosmopolitans,” the loss of positions in science, arts and press, the crushing of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (EAK) with the execution of its leadership and, finally, by the “Doctors’ Plot.”

By the nature of a totalitarian regime, only Stalin himself could initiate the campaign aimed at weakening the Jewish presence and influence in the Soviet system. Only he could make the first move.

Yet because of the rigidity of Soviet propaganda and Stalin’s craftiness, not a single sound could be uttered nor a single step made in the open. We have seen already that Soviet propaganda did not raise any alarm about the annihilation of Jews in Germany during the war; indeed it covered up those things, obviously being afraid of appearing pro-Jewish in the eyes of its own citizens.

The disposition of the Soviet authorities towards Jews could evolve for years without ever really surfacing at the level of official propaganda. The first changes and shuffles in the bureaucracy began quite inconspicuously at the time of growing rapprochement between Stalin and Hitler in 1939. By then Litvinov, a Jewish Minister of Foreign Affairs, was replaced by Molotov (an ethnic Russian) and a ‘cleansing’ of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NKID) was underway. Simultaneously, Jews were barred from entrance into diplomatic schools and military academies. Still, it took many more years before the disappearance of Jews from the NKID and the sharp decline of their influence in the Ministry of Foreign Trade became apparent.

Because of the intrinsic secrecy of all Soviet inner party moves, only very few were aware of the presence of the subtle anti-Jewish undercurrents in the Agitprop apparatus by the end of 1942 that aimed to push out Jews from the major art centers such as the Bolshoi Theatre, the Moscow Conservatory, and the Moscow Philarmonic, where, according to the note which Alexandrov, Head of Agitprop, presented to the Central Committee in the summer of 1942, ‘everything was almost completely in the hands of non-Russians’ and ‘Russians had become an ethnic minority’ (accompanied by a detailed table to convey particulars) (3). Later, there had been attempts to “begin national regulation of cadres… from the top down, which essentially meant primarily pushing out Jews from the managerial positions” (4). By and large, Stalin regulated this process by either supporting or checking such efforts depending on the circumstances.

The wartime tension in the attitudes toward Jews was also manifested during post-war re-evacuation. In Siberia and Central Asia, wartime Jewish refugees were not welcomed by the local populace, so after the war they mostly settled in the capitals of Central Asian republics, except for those who moved back, not to their old shtetls and towns, but into the larger cities (5).

The largest returning stream of refugees fled to Ukraine where they were met with hostility by the local population, especially because of the return of Soviet officials and the owners of desirable residential property. This reaction in the formerly occupied territories was also fueled by Hitler’s incendiary propaganda during the Nazi occupation. Khrushchev, the Head of Ukraine from 1943 (when he was First Secretary of the Communist Party and at the same time Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of Ukraine), not only said nothing on this topic in his public speeches, treating the fate of Jews during the occupation with silence, but he also upheld the secret instruction throughout Ukraine not to employ Jews in positions of authority.

According to the tale of an old Jewish Communist Ruzha-Godes, who survived the entire Nazi occupation under a guise of being a Pole named Khelminskaya and was later denied employment by the long-awaited Communists because of her Jewishness, Khrushchev stated clearly and with his peculiar frankness: “In the past, the Jews committed many sins against the Ukrainian people. People hate them for that. We don’t need Jews in our Ukraine. It would be better if they didn’t return here. They would better go to Birobidzhan. This is Ukraine. And, we don’t want Ukrainian people to infer that the return of Soviet authority means the return of Jews” (6).

“In the early September 1945 a Jewish major of the NKVD was brutally beaten in Kiev by two members of the military. He shot both of them dead. This incident caused a large-scale massacre of Jews with five fatalities” (7). There are documented sources of other similar cases (8).

Sotsialistichesky Vestnik wrote that the Jewish “national feelings (which were exacerbated during the war) overreacted to the numerous manifestations of anti-Semitism and to the even more common indifference to anti-Semitism” (9).

This motif is so typical — almost as much as anti-Semitism itself: the indifference to anti-Semitism was likely to cause outrage. Yes, preoccupied by their own miseries, people and nations often lose compassion for the troubles of others. And the Jews are not an exception here. A modern author justly notes: “I hope that I, as a Jew who found her roots and place in Israel, would not be accused of apostasy if I point out that in the years of our terrible disasters, the Jewish intellectuals did not raise their voices in defense of the deported nations of Crimea and the Caucasus” (10).

After the liberation of Crimea by the Red Army in 1943, “talks started among circles of the Jewish elite in Moscow about a rebirth of the Crimean project of 1920s,” i.e., about resettling Jews in Crimea. The Soviet government did not discourage these aspirations, hoping that “American Jews would be more generous in their donations for the Red Army.” It is quite possible that Mikhoels and Feffer [heads of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, EAK], based on a verbal agreement with Molotov, negotiated with American Zionists about financial support of the project for Jewish relocation to Crimea during their triumphal tour of the USA in summer of 1943. The idea of a Crimean Jewish Republic was also backed by Lozovsky, the then-powerful Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs (11).

The EAK had yet another project for a Jewish Republic — to establish it in the place of the former Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (where, as we have seen in previous chapters, Jewish settlements were established in the wake of the exile of  the Germans). Ester Markish, widow of EAK member Perets Markish, confirms that he presented a letter “concerning transferring the former German Republic to the Jews” (12).

In the Politburo, “Molotov, Kaganovich and Voroshilov were the most positively disposed to the EAK” (13). And, “according to rumors, some members of the Politburo… were inclined to support this [Crimean] idea” (14). On February 15, 1944, Stalin was forwarded a memorandum about that plan which was signed by Mikhoels, Feffer and Epshtein. (According to P. Sudoplatov, although the decision to expel the Tatars from Crimea had been made by Stalin earlier, the order to carry it out reached Beria on February 14 (15), so the memorandum was quite timely.)

That was the high point of Jewish hopes. G. V. Kostirenko, a researcher of this period, writes: the leaders of the EAK “plunged into euphoria. They imagined (especially after Mikhoels’ and Feffer’s trip to the West) that with the necessary pressure, they could influence and steer their government’s policy in the interests of the Soviet Jews, just like the American Jewish elite does it” (16).

But Stalin did not approve the Crimean project – it did not appeal to him because of the strategic importance of the Crimea. The Soviet leaders expected a war with America and probably thought that in such case the entire Jewish population of Crimea would sympathize with the enemy. (It is reported that at the beginning of the 1950s some Jews were arrested and told by their MGB [Ministry for State Security, a predecessor of KGB] investigators: “You are not going to stand against America, are you? So you are our enemies.”) Khrushchev shared those doubts and 10 years later he stated to a delegation of the Canadian Communist party that was expressing particular interest in the Jewish question in the USSR: Crimea “should not be a center of Jewish colonization, because in case of war it will become the enemy’s bridgehead” (17). Indeed, the petitions about Jewish settlement in Crimea were very soon used as a proof of the “state treason” on the part of the members of the EAK.

By the end of WWII the authorities again revived the idea of Jewish resettlement in Birobidzhan, particularly Ukrainian Jews. From 1946 to 1947 several organized echelons and a number of independent families were sent there, totaling up to 5-6 thousand persons (18). However, quite a few returned disillusioned. This relocation movement withered by 1948. Later, with a general turn of Stalin’s politics, arrests among the few Birobidjan Jewish activists started. (They were accused of artificial inculcation of Jewish culture into the non-Jewish population and, of course, espionage and of having planned Birobidzhan’s secession in order to ally with Japan). This was the de facto end of the history of Jewish colonization in Birobidzhan. At the end of the 1920s there were plans to re-settle 60,000 Jews there by the end of the first 5-year planning period. By 1959 there were only 14,000 Jews in Birobidzhan, less than 9% of the population of the region (19).

However, in Ukraine the situation had markedly changed in favor of Jews. The government was engaged in the fierce struggle with Bandera’s separatist fighters and no longer catered to the national feelings of Ukrainians. At the end of 1946, the Communist Party “started a covert campaign against anti-Semitism, gradually conditioning the population to the presence of Jews among authorities in different spheres of the national economy.” At the same time, in the beginning of 1947, Kaganovich took over for Khrushchev as the official leader of Ukrainian Communist Party. The Jews were promoted in the party as well, “of which a particular example was the appointment of a Jew … the Secretary… of Zhitomir Obkom” (20).

However, the attitudes of many Jews towards this government and its new policies were justifiably cautious. Soon after the end of the war, when the former Polish citizens began returning to Poland, many non-Polish Jews “hastily seized this opportunity” and relocated there (21). (What happened after that in Poland is yet another story: a great overrepresentation of Jews occurred in the post-war puppet Polish government, among managerial elites and in the Polish KGB, which would again result in miserable consequences for the Jews of Poland. After the war, other countries of Eastern Europe saw similar conflicts: “the Jews had played a huge role in economic life of all these countries,” and though they lost their possessions under Hitler, after the war, when “the restitution laws were introduced… (they) affected very large numbers of new owners.” Upon their return Jews demanded the restoration of their property and enterprises that were not nationalized by Communists and this created a new wave of hostility towards them (22).)

Meanwhile, during these very years the biggest event in world Jewish history was happening — the state of Israel was coming into existence. In 1946-47, when the Zionists were at odds with Britain, Stalin, perhaps out of anti-British calculation and or opportunistically hoping to get a foothold there, took the side of the former. During all of 1947 Stalin, acting through Gromyko in the UN, actively supported the idea of the creation of an independent Jewish state in Palestine and supplied the Zionists with a critical supply of Czechoslovak-made weapons. In May 1948, only two days after the Israeli declaration of nationhood, the USSR officially recognized that country and condemned hostile actions of Arabs.

However, Stalin miscalculated to what extent this support would reinvigorate the national spirit of Soviet Jews. Some of them implored the EAK to organize a fundraiser for the Israeli military, others wished to enlist as volunteers, while still others wanted to form a special Jewish military division (23).

Amid this burgeoning enthusiasm, Golda Meir arrived to Moscow in September of 1948 as the first ambassador of Israel and was met with unprecedented joy in Moscow’s synagogues and by Moscow’s Jewish population in general. Immediately, as the national spirit of Soviet Jews rose and grew tremendously because of the Catastrophe, many of them began applying for relocation to Israel. Apparently, Stalin had expected that. Yet it turned out that many of his citizens wished to run away en masse into, by all accounts, the pro-Western State of Israel. There, the influence and prestige of the United States grew, while the USSR was at the same time losing support of Arab countries. (Nevertheless, “the cooling of relations [with Israel] was mutual. Israel more and more often turned towards American Jewry which became its main support” (24).)

Probably because he was frightened by such a schism in the Jewish national feelings, Stalin drastically changed policies regarding Jews from the end of 1948 and for the rest of his remaining years. He began acting in his typical style — quietly but with determination, he struck to the core, but with only tiny movements visible on the surface.

Nevertheless, while the visible tiny ripples hardly mattered, Jewish leaders had many reasons to be concerned, as they felt the fear hanging in the air. The then editor of the Polish-Jewish newspaper Folkshtimme, Girsh Smolyar, recalled the “panic that seized Soviet communist Jews after the war.” Emmanuel Kazakevitch and other Jewish writers were distressed. Smolyar had seen on Ehrenburg’s table “a mountain of letters — literally scream of pain about current anti-Jewish attitudes throughout the country” (25).

Yet Ehrenburg knew his job very well and carried it out. (As became known much later, it was exactly then that the pre-publication copy of the Black Book compiled by I. Ehrenburg and B. Grossman, which described the mass killings and suffering of the Soviet Jews during the Soviet-German war, was destroyed.) In addition, on September 21, 1948, as a counterbalance to Golda Meir’s triumphal arrival, Pravda published a large article commissioned by Ehrenburg which stated that the Jews are not a nation at all and that they are doomed to assimilate (26). This article created dismay not only among Soviet Jews, but also in America. With the start of the Cold War, “the discrimination against the Jews in the Soviet Union “became one of the main anti-Soviet trump cards of the West. (As was the inclination in the West towards various ethnic separatist movements in the USSR, a sympathy that had never previously gained support among Soviet Jews).

However, the EAK, which had been created to address war-time issues, continued gaining influence. By that time it listed approximately 70 members, had its own administrative apparatus, a newspaper and a publishing house. It functioned as a kind of spiritual and physical agent of all Soviet Jews before the CK (Central Committee) of the VKPb (all-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks), as well as before the West. “EAK executives were allowed to do and to have a lot — a decent salary, an opportunity to publish and collect royalties abroad, to receive and to redistribute gifts from abroad and, finally, to travel abroad.” EAK became the crystallization center of an initially elitist and upper-echelon and then of a broadly growing Jewish national movement” (27), a burgeoning symbol of Jewish national autonomy. For Stalin, the EAK become a problem which had to be dealt with.

He started with the most important figure, the Head of the Soviet Information Bureau (Sovinformburo), Lozovsky, who, according to Feffer (who was vice-chairman of EAK since July 1945), was “the spiritual leader of the EAK… knew all about its activities and was its head for all practical purposes.” In the summer of 1946, a special auditing commission from Agitprop of the CK [of the VKPb] inspected Sovinformburo and found that “the apparatus is polluted … [there is] an intolerable concentration of Jews.” Lozovsky was ejected from his post of Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs (just as Litvinov and Maisky had been) and in summer of 1947 he also lost his post as of Head of the Sovinformburo (28).

After that, the fate of the EAK was sealed. In September of 1946, the auditing commission from the Central Committee concluded that the EAK, instead of “leading a rigorous offensive ideological war against the Western and above all Zionist propaganda… supports the position of bourgeois Zionists and the Bund and in reality… it fights for the reactionary idea of a United Jewish nation.” In 1947, the Central Committee stated, that “the work among the Jewish population of the Soviet Union is not a responsibility” of the EAK. “The EAK’s job was to focus on the “decisive struggle against aggression by international reactionaries and their Zionist agents” (29).

However, these events coincided with the pro-Israel stance of the USSR and the EAK was not dissolved. On the other hand, EAK Chairman Mikhoels who was “the informal leader of Soviet Jewry, had to shed his illusions about the possibility of influencing the Kremlin’s national policy via influencing the Dictator’s relatives.” Here, the suspicion fell mostly on Stalin’s son—in-law Grigory Morozov. However, the most active help to the EAK was provided by Molotov’s wife, P.S. Zhemchyzhina, who was arrested in the beginning of 1949, and Voroshilov’s wife, “Ekaterina Davidovna (Golda Gorbman), a fanatic Bolshevik, who had been expelled from the synagogue in her youth.” Abakumov reported that Mikhoels was suspected of “gathering private information about the Leader” (30). Overall, according to the MGB he “demonstrated excessive interest in the private life of the Head of the Soviet Government,” while leaders of the EAK “gathered materials about the personal life of J. Stalin and his family at the behest of US Intelligence” (31). However, Stalin could not risk an open trial of the tremendously influential Mikhoels, so Mikhoels was murdered in January 1948 under the guise of an accident. Soviet Jewry was shocked and terrified by the demise of their spiritual leader.

The EAK was gradually dismantled after that. By the end of 1948 its premises were locked up, all documents were taken to Lubyanka, and its newspaper and the publishing house were closed. Feffer and Zuskin, the key EAK figures, were secretly arrested soon afterwards and these arrests were denied for a long time. In January 1949 Lozovsky was arrested, followed by the arrests of a number of other notable members of the EAK in February. They were intensively interrogated during 1949, but in 1950 the investigation stalled. (All this coincided [in accord with Stalin’s understanding of balance] with the annihilation of the Russian nationalist tendencies in the leadership of the Leningrad government — the so-called “anti-party group of Kuznetsov-Rodionov-Popkov,” but those developments, their repression and the significance of those events were largely overlooked by historians even though “about two thousand party functionaries were arrested and subsequently executed” (32) in 1950 in connection with the “Leningrad Affair”).

In January 1948, Stalin ordered Jews to be pushed out of Soviet culture. In his usual subtle and devious manner, the “order” came through a prominent editorial in Pravda, seemingly dealing with a petty issue, “about one anti-Party group of theatrical critics” (33). (A more assertive article in Kultura i Zhizn followed on the next day (34)). The key point was the “decoding” of Russian the Russian pen-names of Jewish celebrities. In the USSR, “many Jews camouflage their Jewish origins with such artifice,” so that “it is impossible to figure out their real names” explains the editor of a modern Jewish journal (35).

This article in Pravda had a long but obscure pre-history. In 1946 reports of the Central Committee it was already noted “that out of twenty-eight highly publicized theatrical critics, only six are Russians. It implied that the majority of the rest were Jews.” Smelling trouble, but still “supposing themselves to be vested with the highest trust of the Party, some theatrical critics, confident of victory, openly confronted Fadeev” in November 1946 (36). Fadeev was the all-powerful Head of the Union of Soviet Writers and Stalin’s favorite. And so they suffered a defeat. Then the case stalled for a long time and only resurfaced in 1949.

The campaign rolled on through the newspapers and party meetings. G. Aronson, researching Jewish life “in Stalin’s era” writes: “The goal of this campaign was to displace Jewish intellectuals from all niches of Soviet life. Informers were gloatingly revealing their pen-names. It turned out that E. Kholodov is actually Meyerovich, Jakovlev is Kholtsman, Melnikov is Millman, Jasny is Finkelstein, Vickorov is Zlochevsky, Svetov is Sheidman and so on. Literaturnaya Gazeta worked diligently on these disclosures” (37).

Undeniably, Stalin hit the worst-offending spot, the one that highly annoyed the public. However, Stalin was not so simple as to just blurt out “the Jews.” From the first push at the “groups of theatrical critics” flowed a broad and sustained campaign against the “cosmopolitans” (with their Soviet inertial dim-wittedness they overused this innocent term and spoiled it). “Without exception, all ‘cosmopolitans’ under attack were Jews. They were being discovered everywhere. Because all of them were loyal Soviet citizens never suspected of anything anti-Soviet, they survived the great purges by Yezhov and Yagoda. Some were very experienced and influential people, sometimes eminent in their fields of expertise” (38). The exposure of “cosmopolitans” then turned into a ridiculous, even idiotic glorification of Russian “primacy” in all and every area of science, technology and culture.

Yet the “cosmopolitans” usually were not being arrested but instead were publicly humiliated, fired from publishing houses, ideological and cultural organizations, from TASS, from Glavlit, from literature schools, theaters, orchestras; some were expelled from the party and publication of their works was often discouraged.

And the public campaign was expanding, spreading into new fields and compromising new names. Anti-Jewish cleansing of “cosmopolitans” was conducted in the research institutes of the Academy of Science: Institute of Philosophy (with its long history of internecine feuding between different cliques), the institutes of Economy, Law, in the Academy of Social Sciences at the CK of the VKPb, in the School of Law (and then spread to the office of Public Prosecutor).

Thus, in the Department of History at MGU (Moscow State University), even a long-standing faithful communist and falsifier, I. I. Minz, member of the Academy, who enjoyed Stalin’s personal trust and was awarded with Stalin Prizes and concurrently chaired historical departments in several universities, was labeled “the head of cosmopolitans in Historical Science.” After that numerous scientific posts at MGU were ‘liberated’ from his former students and other Jewish professors (39).

Purges of Jews from technical fields and the natural sciences were gradually gaining momentum. “The end of 1945 and all of 1946 were relatively peaceful for the Jews of this particular social group.” L. Mininberg studied Jewish contributions in Soviet science and industry during the war: “In 1946, the first serious blow since the end of the war was dealt to the administration and a big ‘case’ was fabricated. Its principal victims were mainly Russians…there were no Jews among them,” though “investigation reports contained testaments against Israel Solomonovitch Levin, director of the Saratov Aviation Plant. He was accused on the charge that during the Battle for Stalingrad, two aviation regiments were not able to take off because of manufacturing defects in the planes produced by the plant. The charge was real, not made-up by the investigators. However, Levin was neither fired nor arrested.” In 1946, “B.L. Vannikov, L.M. Kaganovich, S.Z. Ginzburg, L.Z. Mekhlis all kept their Ministry posts in the newly formed government… Almost all Jewish former deputy ministers also retained their positions as assistants to ministers.” The first victims among the Jewish technical elite appeared only in 1947 (40).

In 1950, academic A. F. Ioffe “was forced to retire from the post of Director of the Physical-Engineering Institute, which he organized and headed since its inception in 1918.” In 1951, 34 directors and 31 principal engineers of aviation plants had been fired. “This list contained mostly Jews.” If in 1942 there were nearly forty Jewish directors and principal engineers in the Ministry of General Machine-Building (Ministry of Mortar Artillery) then only three remained by 1953. In the Soviet Army, “the Soviet authorities persecuted not only Jewish generals, but lower ranking officers working on the development of military technology and weaponry were also removed” (41).

Thus, the “purging campaigns” spread over to the defense, airplane construction, and automobile industries (though they did not affect the nuclear branch), primarily removing Jews from administrative, directorial and principal engineering positions; later purging was expanded onto various bureaucracies. Yet the genuine, ethnic denominator was never mentioned in the formal paperwork. Instead, the sacked officials faced charges of economic crimes or having relatives abroad at a time when conflict with the USA was expected, or other excuses were used. The purging campaigns rolled over the central cities and across the provinces. The methods of these campaigns were notoriously Soviet, in the spirit of 1930s: a victim was inundated in a vicious atmosphere of terror and as a result often tried to deflect the threat to himself by accusing others.

By repeating the tide of 1937, albeit in a milder form, the display of Soviet Power reminded the Jews that they had never become truly integrated and could be pushed aside at any moment. “We do not have indispensable people!” (However, “Lavrentiy Beria was tolerant of Jews. At least, in appointments to positions in government” (42).)

“‘Pushing’ Jews out of prestigious occupations that were crucial for the ruling elite in the spheres of manufacturing, administration, cultural and ideological activities, as well as limiting or completely barring the entrance of Jews into certain institutions of higher education gained enormous momentum in 1948-1953. … Positions of any importance in the KGB, party apparatus, and military were closed to the Jews, and quotas were in place for admission into certain educational institutions and cultural and scientific establishments” (43). Through its “fifth item” [i.e., the question about nationality] Soviet Jews were oppressed by the very same method used in the Proletarian Questionnaire, other items of which were so instrumental in crushing the Russian nobility, clergy, intellectuals and all the rest of the “former people” since the 1920s.

“Although the highest echelon of the Jewish political elite suffered from administrative perturbations, surprisingly it was not as bad as it seemed,” — concludes G. V. Kostyrchenko. “The main blow fell on the middle and the most numerous stratum of the Jewish elite — officials… and also journalists, professors and other members of the creative intelligentsia. … It was these, so to say, nominal Jews — the individuals with nearly complete lack of ethnic ties — who suffered the brunt of the cleansing of bureaucracies after the war” (44).

However, speaking of scientific cadres, the statistics are these: “at the end of the 1920s there were 13.6% Jews among scientific researchers in the country, in 1937 — 17.5%” (45), and by 1950 their proportion slightly decreased to 15.4% (25,125 Jews among 162,508 Soviet researchers) (46). S. Margolina, looking back from the end of the 1980s concludes that, despite the scale of the campaign, after the war, “the number of highly educated Jews in high positions always remained disproportionally high. But, in contrast with the former “times of happiness,” it certainly had decreased” (47). A.M. Kheifetz recalls “a memoir article of a member of the Academy, Budker, one of the fathers of the Soviet A-bomb” where he described how they were building the first Soviet A-bomb — being exhausted from the lack of sleep and fainting from stress and overwork — and it is precisely those days of persecution of “cosmopolitans” that were “the most inspired and the happiest” in his life (48).

In 1949 “among Stalin Prize laureates no less than 13% were Jews, just like in the previous years.” By 1952 there were only 6% (49). Data on the number of Jewish students in USSR were not published for nearly a quarter of century, from the pre-war years until 1963. We will examine those in the next chapter.

The genuine Jewish culture that had been slowly reviving after the war was curtailed and suppressed in 1948-1951. Jewish theatres were no longer subsidized and the few remaining ones were closed, along with book publishing houses, newspapers and bookstores (50). In 1949, the international radio broadcasting in Yiddish was also discontinued (51).

In the military, “by 1953 almost all Jewish generals” and “approximately 300 colonels and lieutenant colonels were forced to resign from their positions” (52).


As the incarcerated Jewish leaders remained jailed in Lubyanka for over three years, Stalin slowly and with great caution proceeded in dismantling the EAK. He was very well aware what kind of international storm would be triggered by using force. (Luckily, though, he acquired his first H-bomb in 1949.) On the other hand, he fully appreciated the significance of unbreakable ties between world Jewry and America, his enemy since his rejection of the Marshall Plan.

Investigation of EAK activities was reopened in January 1952. The accused were charged with connections to the “Jewish nationalist organizations in America,” with providing “information regarding the economy of the USSR” to those organizations… and also with “plans of repopulating Crimea and creating a Jewish Republic there” (53). Thirteen defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death: S. A. Lozovsky, I. S. Ysefovich, B. A. Shimeliovich, V. L. Zuskin, leading Jewish writers D.R. Bergelson, P. D. Marshik, L. M. Kvitko, I. S. Feffer, D. N. Gofshtein, and also L. Y. Talmi, I. S. Vatenberg, C. S. Vatenberg — Ostrovsky, and E. I. Teumin (54). They were secretly executed in August. (Ehrenburg, who was also a member of the EAK, was not even arrested. (He assumed it was pure luck.) Similarly, the crafty David Zaslavsky survived also. And even after the execution of the Jewish writers, Ehrenburg continued to reassure the West that those writers were still alive and writing (55). The annihilation of the Jewish Antifascist Committee went along with similar secret “daughter” cases; 110 people were arrested, 10 of them were executed and 5 died during the investigation (56).

In autumn of 1952 Stalin went into the open as arrests among Jews began, such as arrests of Jewish professors of medicine and among members of literary circles in Kiev in October 1952. This information immediately spread among Soviet Jews and throughout the entire world. On October 17th, Voice of America broadcast about “mass repressions” among Soviet Jews (57). Soviet “Jews were frozen by mortal fear” (58).

Soon afterwards in November in Prague, a show trial of Slansky, the Jewish First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, and several other top state and party leaders took place in a typically loud and populist Stalinist-type entourage. The trial was openly anti-Jewish with naming “world leading” Jews such as Ben Gurion and Morgenthau, and placing them in league with American leaders Truman and Acheson. The outcome was that eleven were hanged, eight Jews among them. Summing up the official version, K. Gotwald said: “This investigation and court trial … disclosed a new channel through which treason and espionage permeated the Communist Party. This is Zionism” (59).

At the same time, since summer of 1951, the development of the “Doctors’ Plot” was gaining momentum. The case included the accusation of prominent physicians, doctors to the Soviet leadership, for the criminal treatment of state leaders. For the secret services such an accusation was nothing new, as similar accusations had been made against Professor D. D. Pletnev and physicians L. G. Levin and I. N. Kazakov already during the “Bukharin trial” in 1937. At that time, the gullible Soviet public gasped at such utterly evil plots. No one had any qualms about repeating the same old scenario.

Now we know much more about the “Doctors’ Plot.” Initially it was not entirely an anti-Jewish action; the prosecution list contained the names of several prominent Russian physicians as well. In essence, the affair was fueled by Stalin’s generally psychotic state of mind, with his fear of plots and mistrust of the doctors, especially as his health deteriorated. By September 1952 prominent doctors were arrested in groups. Investigations unfolded with cruel beatings of suspects and wild accusations; slowly it turned into a version of “spying-terroristic plot connected with foreign intelligence organizations,” “American hirelings,” “saboteurs in white coats,” “bourgeois nationalism” — all indicating that it was primary aimed at Jews. (Robert Conquest in The Great Terror follows this particular tragic line of involvement of highly placed doctors. In 1935, the false death certificate of Kuibyshev was signed by doctors G. Kaminsky, I. Khodorovsky, and L. Levin. In 1937 they signed a similarly false death certificate of Ordzhonikidze. They knew so many deadly secrets — could they expect anything but their own death? Conquest writes that Dr. Levin had cooperated with the Cheka since 1920. “Working with Dzerzhinsky, Menzhinsky, and Yagoda. … [he] was trusted by the head of such an organization. … It is factually correct to consider Levin… a member of Yagoda’s circle in the NKVD.” Further, we read something sententious: “Among those outstanding doctors who [in 1937] moved against [Professor of Medicine] Pletnev and who had signed fierce accusative resolutions against him, we find the names of M. Vovsi, B. Kogan and V. Zelenin, who in their turn… were subjected to torture by the MGB in 1952-53 in connection with “the case of doctor-saboteurs,” “as well as two other doctors, N. Shereshevky and V. Vinogradov who provided a pre-specified death certificate of Menzhinsky” (60).)

On January 3, 1953 Pravda and Izvestiya published an announcement by TASS about the arrest of a “group of doctors-saboteurs.” The accusation sounded like a grave threat for Soviet Jewry, and, at the same time, by a degrading Soviet custom, prominent Soviet Jews were forced to sign a letter to Pravda with the most severe condemnation of the wiles of the Jewish “bourgeois nationalists” and their approval of Stalin’s government. Several dozen signed the letter. (Among them were Mikhail Romm, D. Oistrakh, S. Marshak, L. Landau, B. Grossman, E. Gilels, I. Dunayevsky and others. Initially Ehrenburg did not sign it — he found the courage to write a letter to Stalin: “to ask your advice.” His resourcefulness was unsurpassed indeed. To Ehrenburg, it was clear that “there is no such thing as the Jewish nation” and that assimilation is the only way and that Jewish nationalism “inevitably leads to betrayal.” Yet that the letter that was offered to him to sign could be invidiously inferred by the “enemies of our country.” He concluded that “I myself cannot resolve these questions,” but if “leading comrades will let me know … [that my signature] is desired … [and] useful for protecting our homeland and for peace in the world, I will sign it immediately” (61).)

The draft of that statement of loyalty was painstakingly prepared in the administration of the Central Committee and eventually its style became softer and more respectful. However, this letter never appeared in the press. Possibly because of the international outrage, the “Doctors’ Plot” apparently began to slow down in the last days of Stalin (62).

After the public announcement, the “‘Doctors’ Plot’ created a huge wave of repression of Jewish physicians all over the country. In many cities and towns, the offices of State Security began fabricating criminal cases against Jewish doctors. They were afraid to even go to work, and their patients were afraid to be treated by them” (63).

After the “cosmopolitan” campaign, the menacing growl of “people’s anger” in reaction to the “Doctors’ Plot” utterly terrified many Soviet Jews, and a rumor arose (and then got rooted in the popular mind) that Stalin was planning a mass eviction of Jews to the remote parts of Siberia and North — a fear reinforced by the examples of postwar deportation of entire peoples. In his latest work G. Kostyrchenko, a historian and a scrupulous researcher of Stalin’s “Jewish” policies, very thoroughly refutes this “myth of deportation,” proving that it had never been confirmed, either then or subsequently by any facts, and even in principle such a deportation would not have been possible (64).

But it is amazing how bewildered were those circles of Soviet Jews, who were unfailingly loyal to the Soviet-Communist ideology. Many years later, S. K. told me: “There is no single action in my life that I am as ashamed of as my belief in the genuineness of  the “Doctors’ Plot” of 1953! — that they, perhaps involuntarily, were involved a foreign conspiracy…”

An article from the 1960s states that “in spite of a pronounced anti-Semitism of Stalin’s rule … many [Jews] prayed that Stalin stayed alive, as they knew through experience that any period of weak power means a slaughter of Jews. We were well aware of the quite rowdy mood of the ‘fraternal nations’ toward us” (65).

On February 9th a bomb exploded at the Soviet embassy in Tel Aviv. On February 11, 1953 the USSR broke off diplomatic relations with Israel. The conflict surrounding the “Doctors’ Plot” intensified due to these events.

And then Stalin went wrong, and not for the first time, right? He did not understand how the thickening of the plot could threaten him personally, even within the secure quarters of his inaccessible political Olympus. The explosion of international anger coincided with the rapid action of internal forces, which could possibly have done away with Stalin. It could have happened through Beria (for example, according to Avtorhanov’s version (66).)

After a public communiqué about the “Doctors’ Plot” Stalin lived only 51 days. “The release from custody and the acquittal of the doctors without trial were perceived by the older generation of Soviet Jews as a repetition of the Purim miracle”: Stalin had perished on the day of Purim, when Esther saved the Jews of Persia from Haman (67).

On April 3 all the surviving accused in the “Doctors’ Plot” were released. It was publicly announced the next day.

And yet again it was the Jews who pushed the frozen history forward.

1 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // Россия и евреи: Сб. 1 / Отечественное объединение русских евреев за границей. Париж: YMCA-Press, 1978, с. 80 [1-е изд. — Берлин: Основа, 1924].

2 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе с начала Второй мировой войны (1939-1965). Нью-Йорк: Изд. Американского Еврейского Рабочего Комитета, 1966, с. 198.

3 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина: Власть и антисемитизм. М.: Международные отношения, 2001, с. 259-260.

4 Там же, с. 310.

5 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 181-182, 195.

6 Хрущёв и еврейский вопрос // Социалистический вестник*, Нью-Йорк, 1961, № 1, с. 19.

7 Краткая Еврейская Энциклопедия (далее — КЕЭ). Иерусалим: Общество по исследованию еврейских общин, 1996. Т. 8, с. 236.

8 Социалистический вестник, 1961, № 1, с. 19-20; Книга о русском еврействе, 1917- 1967 (далее — КРЕ-2). Нью-Йорк: Союз Русских Евреев, 1968, с. 146.

9 Хрущёв и миф о Биробиджане // Социалистический вестник, 1958, № 7-8, с. 145.

10 М. Блинкова. Знание и мнение // Стрелец, Jersey City, 1988, № 12, с. 12.

11 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 428-429.

12 Э. Маркиш. Как их убивали // “22”: Общественно-политический и литературный журнал еврейской интеллигенции из СССР в Израиле. Тель-Авив, 1982, № 25, с. 203.

13 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 430.

14 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 602.

15 Павел Судоплатов. Спецоперации: Лубянка и Кремль: 1930-1950 годы. М.: ОЛМА-Пресс, 1997, с. 466-467.

16 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 435.

17 Крымское дело // Социалистический вестник, 1957, № 5, с. 98.

18 С.М. Шварц. Биробиджан // КРЕ-2, с. 189.

19 Там же, с. 192, 195-196.

20 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 185-186.

21 Там же, с. 130.

22 Там же, с. 217-218.

23 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 403-404.

24 С. Цирюльников. СССР, евреи и Израиль // Время и мы (далее — ВМ): Международный журнал литературы и общественных проблем. Нью-Йорк, 1987, № 96, с. 156.

25 С. Цирюльников. СССР, евреи и Израиль // ВМ, Нью-Йорк, 1987, № 96, с. 150.

26 И. Эренбург. По поводу одного письма // Правда, 1948, 21 сентября, с. 3.

27 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 353, 398.

28 Там же*, с. 361, 363-364.

29 Там же, с. 366, 369.

30 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 376, 379, 404.

31 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 243.

32 Там же, с. 248.

33 Правда, 1949, 28 января, с. 3.

34 На чуждых позициях: (О происках антипатриотической группы театральных критиков) // Культура и жизнь, 1949, 30 января, с. 2-3.

35 В. Перельман. …Виноваты сами евреи // ВМ, Тель-Авив, 1977, № 23, с. 216.

36 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 321, 323.

37 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 150.

38 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 150.

39 А. Некрич. Поход против “космополитов” в МГУ // Континент: Литературный, обществ.-политический и религиозный журнал. Париж, 1981, № 28, с. 301-320.

40 Л.Л. Мининберг. Советские евреи в науке и промышленности СССР в период Второй мировой войны (1941-1945). М., 1995, с. 413, 414, 415.

41 Там же, с. 416, 417, 427, 430.

42 Л.Л. Мининберг. Советские евреи в науке и промышленности… с. 442.

43 КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 855.

44 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 515, 518.

45 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 190.

46 И. Домалъский. Технология ненависти* // ВМ, Тель-Авив, 1978, № 25, с. 120.

47 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der LAgen: Rulland und die Juden im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: Siedler Verlag, 1992, S. 86.

48 Михаил Хейфец. Место и время (еврейские заметки). Париж: Третья волна, 1978, с. 68-69.

49 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм в Советском Союзе. Нью-Йорк: Изд-во им. Чехова, 1952, 225-226. 229.

50 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 161-163; Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 373.

51 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 245.

52 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 687.

53 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 251.

54 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 473.

55 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина //КРЕ-2, с. 155-156.

56 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 507.

57 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 152.

58 В. Богуславский. У истоков // “22,” 1986, № 47, с. 102.

59 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина*, с. 504.

60 Роберт Конквест. Большой террор / Пер. с англ. Firenze: Edizioni Aurora, 1974, с. 168, 353, 738-739, 754, 756-757.

61 «Против попыток воскресить еврейский национализм.” Обращение И.Г. Эренбурга к И.В. Сталину // Источник: Документы русской истории. М., 1997, № 1, с. 141-146.

62 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 682, 693.

63 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 254, 255.

64 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 671-685.

65 Н. Шапиро. Слово рядового советского еврея // Русский антисемитизм и евреи. Сб. Лондон, 1968, с, 50.

66 А. Авторханов. Загадка смерти Сталина: (Заговор Берия). Франкфурт-на-Майне: Посев, 1976, с. 231-239.

67 Д. Штурман. Ни мне мёда твоего, ни укуса твоего // “22,” 1985, № 42, с. 140-141.

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Chapter 21. During the war with Germany

After Kristallnacht (November 1938) the German Jews lost their last illusions about the mortal danger they were facing. With Hitler’s campaign in Poland, the deadly storm headed East. Yet nobody expected that the beginning of the Soviet-German War would move Nazi politics to a new level, toward total physical extermination of Jews.

While they naturally expected all kinds of hardship from the German conquest, Soviet Jews could not envision the indiscriminate mass killings of men and women of all ages – one cannot foresee such things. Thus the terrible and inescapable fate befell those who remained in the German-occupied territories without a chance to resist. Lives ended abruptly. But before their death, they had to pass through either initial forced relocation to a Jewish ghetto, or a forced labor camp, or to gas vans, or through digging one’s own grave and stripping before execution.

The Russian Jewish Encyclopedia gives many names of the Russian Jews who fell victims to the Jewish Catastrophe; it names those who perished in Rostov, Simferopol, Odessa, Minsk, Belostok, Kaunas, and Narva. There were prominent people among them. The  famous historian S.M. Dubnov spent the entire inter-war period in exile. He left Berlin for Riga after Hitler took power. He was arrested during the German occupation and placed in a ghetto; “in December 1941 he was included into a column of those to be executed”.”From Vilna, historian Dina Joffe and director of the Jewish Gymnasium Joseph Yashunskiy were sent to concentration camps (both were killed in Treblinka in 1943). Rabbi Shmuel Bespalov, head of the Hasidim movement in Bobruisk, was shot in 1941 when the city was captured by the Germans. Cantor Gershon Sirota, whose performance had once “caught the attention of Nicholas II” and who performed yearly in St. Petersburg and Moscow, died in 1941 in Warsaw. There were two brothers Paul and Vladimir Mintz: Paul, the elder, was a prominent Latvian politician, “the only Jew in the government of Latvia”. Vladimir was a surgeon, who had been entrusted with the treatment of Lenin in 1918 after the assassination attempt. From 1920 he lived in Latvia. In 1940 the Soviet occupation authorities arrested Paul Mintz and placed him in a camp in Krasnoyarsk Krai, where he died early on. The younger brother lived in Riga and was not touched. He died in 1945 at Büchenwald. Sabina Shpilreyn, a doctor of medicine, psychoanalyst and a close colleague of Carl Jung, returned to Russia in 1923 after working in clinics in Zurich, Munich, Berlin and Geneva;in 1942 she was shot along with other Jews by Germans in her native Rostov-on-Don. (In Chapter 19, we wrote about the deaths of her three scientist brothers during Stalin’s terror.)

Yet many were saved from death by evacuation in 1941 and 1942. Various Jewish wartime and postwar sources do not doubt the dynamism of this evacuation. For example, in The Jewish World, a book written in 1944, one can read: “The Soviet authorities were fully aware that the Jews were the most endangered part of the population, and despite the acute military needs in transport, thousands of trains were provided for their evacuation. … In many cities … Jews were evacuated first”, although the author believes that the statement of the Jewish writer David Bergelson that “approximately 80% of Jews were successfully evacuated”1 is an exaggeration. Bergelson wrote: “In Chernigov, the pre-war Jewish population was estimated at 70,000 people and only 10,000 of them remained by the time the Germans arrived. … In Dnepropetrovsk, out of the original Jewish population of 100,000 only 30,000 remained when the Germans took the city. In Zhitomir, out of 50,000 Jews, no less than 44,000 left.”2 In the Summer 1946 issue of the bulletin, Hayasa E.M. Kulisher wrote: “There is no doubt that the Soviet authorities took special measures to evacuate the Jewish population or to facilitate its unassisted flight. Along with the state personnel and industrial workers, Jews were given priority [in the evacuation] … The Soviet authorities provided thousands of trains specifically for the evacuation of Jews.”3 Also, as a safer measure to avoid bombing raids, Jews were evacuated by thousands of haywagons, taken from kolkhozes and sovkhozes [collective farms] and driven over to railway junctions in the rear. B.T. Goldberg, a son-in-law of Sholem Aleichem and then a correspondent for the Jewish newspaper Der Tog from New York, after a 1946-1947 winter trip to the Soviet Union wrote an article about the wartime evacuation of Jews (Der Tog, February 21, 1947). His sources in Ukraine, “Jews and Christians, the military and evacuees, all stated that the policy of the authorities was to give the Jews a preference during evacuation, to save as many of them as possible so that the Nazis would not destroy them.”4 And Moshe Kaganovich, a former Soviet partisan, in his by then foreign memoirs (1948) confirms that the Soviet government provided for the evacuation of Jews all available vehicles in addition to trains, including trains of haywagons – and the orders were to evacuate “first and foremost the citizens of Jewish nationality from the areas threatened by the enemy”.(Note that S. Schwartz and later researchers dispute the existence of such orders, as well as the general policy of Soviet authorities to evacuate Jews “as such.”5)

Nevertheless, both earlier and later sources provide fairly consistent estimates of the number of Jews who were evacuated or fled without assistance from the German-occupied territories. Official Soviet figures are not available; all researchers complain that the contemporaneous statistics are at best approximate. Let us rely then on the works of the last decade. A demographer M. Kupovetskiy, who used formerly unavailable archival materials and novel techniques of analysis, offers the following assessment. According to the 1939 census, 3,028,538 Jews lived in the USSR within its old (that is, pre-1939-1940) boundaries. With some corrections to this figure and taking into account the rate of natural increase of the Jewish population from September 1939 to June 1941 (he analyzed each territory separately), this researcher suggests that at the outbreak of the war approximately 3,080,000 Jews resided within the old USSR borders. Of these, 900,000 resided in the territories which would not be occupied by Germans, and at the beginning of the war 2,180, 000 Jews (“Eastern Jews”)6 resided in the territories later occupied by the Germans. “There is no exact data regarding the number of Jews who fled or were evacuated to the East before the German occupation. Though based on some studies …, we know that approximately 1,000,000 -1,100,000 Jews managed to escape from the Eastern regions later occupied by Germans”.7

There was a different situation in the territories incorporated into the Soviet Union only in 1939-1940, and which were rapidly captured by the Germans at the start of the “Blitzkreig”.  The lightning-speed German attack allowed almost no chance for escape; meanwhile the Jewish population of these “buffer” zones numbered 1,885,000 (“Western Jews”) in June 1941.8 And “only a small number of these Jews managed to escape or were evacuated. It is believed that the number is … about 10-12 percent.”9

Thus, within the new borders of the USSR, by the most optimistic assessments, approximately 2,226,000 Jews (2,000,000 Eastern, 226,000 Western Jews) escaped the German occupation and 2,739,000 Jews (1,080,000 Easterners and 1,659,000 Westerners) remained in the occupied territories.

Evacuees and refugees from the occupied and threatened territories were sent deep into the rear, “with the majority of Jews resettled beyond the Ural Mountains, in particular in Western Siberia and also in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan”.10 The materials of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (EAK) contain the following statement: “At the beginning of the Patriotic War about one and half million Jews were evacuated to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian Republics.”11 This figure does not include the Volga, the Ural and the Siberian regions. (However, the Jewish Encyclopedia argues that “a 1,500,000 figure” is a great exaggeration.”12) Still, there was no organized evacuation into Birobidzhan, and no individual refugees relocated there, although, because of the collapse of Jewish kolkhozes, the vacated housing there could accommodate up to 11,000 families.13 At the same time, “the Jewish colonists in the Crimea were evacuated so much ahead of time that they were able to take with them all livestock and farm implements”; moreover, “it is well-known that in the spring of 1942, Jewish colonists from Ukraine established kolkhozes in the Volga region” How? Well, the author calls it the “irony of Nemesis”: they were installed in place of German colonists who were exiled from the German Republic of the Volga by Soviet government order starting on August 28, 1941.14

As already noted, all the cited wartime and postwar sources agree in recognizing the energy and the scale of the organized evacuation of Jews from the advancing German army. But the later sources, from the end of the 1940s, began to challenge this. For example, we read in a 1960s source: “a planned evacuation of Jews as the most endangered part of the population did not take place anywhere in Russia” (italicized as in the source).15 And twenty years later we read this: after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, “contrary to the rumors that the government allegedly evacuated Jews from the areas under imminent threat of German occupation, no such measures had ever taken place. … the Jews were abandoned to their fate. When applied to the citizen of Jewish nationality, the celebrated `proletarian internationalism´ was a dead letter”.16 This statement is completely unfair.

Still, even those Jewish writers, who deny the “beneficence” of the government with respect to Jewish evacuation, do recognize its magnitude. “Due to the specific social structure of the Jewish population, the percentage of Jews among the evacuees should have been much higher than the percentage of Jews in the urban population”.17 And indeed it was. The Evacuation Council was established on June 24, 1941, just two days after the German invasion (Shvernik was the chairman and Kosygin and Pervukhin were his deputies) .Its priorities were announced as the following: to evacuate first and foremost the state and party agencies with personnel, industries, and raw materials along with the workers of evacuated plants and their families, and young people of conscription age. Between the beginning of the war and November 1941, around 12 million people were evacuated from the threatened areas to the rear.18 This number included, as we have seen, 1,000,000 to 1,100,000 Eastern Jews and more than 200,000 Western Jews from the soon-to-be-occupied areas. In addition, we must add to this figure a substantial number of Jews among the people evacuated from the cities and regions of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR, that is, Russia proper) that never fell to the Germans (in particular,  those from Moscow and Leningrad). Solomon Schwartz states: “The general evacuation of state agencies and industrial enterprises with a significant portion of their staff (often with families) was in many places very extensive. Thanks to the social structure of Ukrainian Jewry with a significant percentages of Jews among the middle and top civil servants, including the academic and technical intelligentsia and the substantial proportion of Jewish workers in Ukrainian heavy industry, the share of Jews among the evacuees was larger than their share in the urban (and even more than in the total) population.”19

The same was true for Byelorussia. In the 1920s and early 1930s it was almost exclusively Jews, both young and old, who studied at “various courses, literacy classes, in day schools, evening schools and shift schools. … This enabled the poor from Jewish villages to join the ranks of industrial workers. Constituting only 8.9% of the population of Byelorussia, Jews accounted for 36% of the industrial workers of the republic in 1930.”20

“The rise of the percentage of Jews among the evacuees”, continues S. Schwartz, “was also facilitated by the fact that for many employees and workers the evacuation was not mandatory. … Therefore, many, mostly non-Jews, remained were they were.” Thus, even the Jews, “who did not fit the criteria for mandatory evacuation … had better chances to evacuate”.21 However, the author also notes that “no government orders or instructions on the evacuation specifically of Jews or reports about it ever appeared in the Soviet press”. “There simply were no orders regarding the evacuation of Jews specifically. It means that there was no purposeful evacuation of Jews.”22

Keeping in mind the Soviet reality, this conclusion seems ill grounded and, in any case, formalistic. Indeed, reports about mass evacuation of the Jews did not appear in the Soviet press. It is easy to understand why. First, after the pact with Germany, the Soviet Union suppressed information about Hitler’s policies towards Jews, and when the war broke out, the bulk of the Soviet population did not know about the mortal danger the German invasion posed for Jews. Second, and this was probably the more-important factor – German propaganda vigorously denounced “Judeo-Bolshevism” and the Soviet leadership undoubtedly realized that they gave a solid foundation to this propaganda during the 1920s and 1930s, so how could they now declare openly and loudly that the foremost government priority must be to save Jews? This could only have been seen as playing into Hitler’s hands.

Therefore, there were no public announcements that among the evacuees “Jews were over-represented”. “The evacuation orders did not mention Jews”, yet “during the evacuation the Jews were not discriminated” against23; on the contrary they were evacuated by all available means, but in silence, without press coverage inside the USSR. However, propaganda for foreign consumption was a different matter. For example, in December 1941, after repulsing the German onslaught on Moscow, Radio Moscow – not in the Russian language, of course, but “in Polish”, and on “the next day, five more times in German, compared the successful Russian winter counteroffensive with the Maccabean miracle” and told the German-speaking listeners  repeatedly that “precisely during Hanukkah week”, the 134th Nuremberg Division, named after the city “where the racial legislation originated” was destroyed.24 In 1941- 42 the Soviet authorities readily permitted worshippers to overfill synagogues in Moscow, Leningrad, and Kharkov and to openly celebrate the Jewish Passover of 1942.25

We cannot say that the domestic Soviet press treated German atrocities with silence. Ilya Ehrenburg and others (like the journalist Kriger) got the go-ahead to maintain and inflame hatred towards Germans throughout the entire war and not without mentioning the burning topic of Jewish suffering, yet without a special stress on it. Throughout the war Ehrenburg  thundered, that “the German is a beast by his nature”, calling for “not sparing even unborn Fascists” (meaning the murder of pregnant German women), and he was checked only at the very end, when the war reached the territory of Germany and it became clear that the Army had embraced only too well the party line of unbridled revenge against all Germans.

However these is no doubt that the Nazi policy of extermination of the Jews, its predetermination and scope, was not sufficiently covered by the Soviet press, so that even the Jewish masses in the Soviet Union could hardly realize the extent of their danger. Indeed, during the entire war, there were few public statements about the fate of Jews under German occupation. Stalin in his speech on Nov. 6, 1941 (the 24th anniversary of the October Revolution) said: “The Nazis are … as eager to organize medieval Jewish pogroms as the Tsarist regime was. The Nazi Party is the party … of medieval reaction and the Black-Hundred pogroms.”26 “As far as we know”, an Israeli historian writes, “it was the only case during the entire war when Stalin publicly mentioned the Jews”.27 On January 6, 1942, in a note of the Narkomindel [People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs] composed by Molotov and addressed to all states that maintained diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, the Jews are mentioned as one of many suffering Soviet nationalities, and shootings of Jews in Kiev, Lvov, Odessa, Kamenetz-Podolsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Mariupol, Kerch were highlighted and the numbers of victims listed. “The terrible massacre and pogroms were inflicted by German invaders in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. … A significant number of Jews, including women and children, were rounded up; before the execution all of them were stripped naked and beaten and then … shot by sub-machine guns. Many mass murders occurred … in other Ukrainian cities, and these bloody executions were directed in particular against unarmed and defenseless Jews from the working class.”28 On December 19, 1942, the Soviet government issued a declaration that mentioned Hitler’s “special plan for total extermination of the Jewish population in the occupied territories of Europe” and in Germany itself; “although relatively small, the Jewish minority of the Soviet population … suffered particularly hard from the savage bloodthirstiness of the Nazi monsters”. But some sources point out that this declaration was somewhat forced; it came out two days after a similar declaration was made by the western Allies, and it was not republished in the Soviet press as was always done during newspaper campaigns. In 1943, out of seven reports of the Extraordinary State Commission for investigation of Nazi atrocities (such as extermination of Soviet prisoners of war and the destruction of cultural artifacts of our country), only one report referred to murders of Jews – in the Stavropol region, near Mineralnye Vody.29 And in March 1944 in Kiev, while making a speech about the suffering endured by Ukrainians under occupation, Khrushchev “did not mention Jews at all”30.

Probably this is true. Indeed, the Soviet masses did not realize the scale of the Jewish Catastrophe. Overall, this was our common fate – to live under the impenetrable shell of the USSR and be ignorant of what was happening in the outside world. However, Soviet Jews could not be all that unaware about the events in Germany. “In the mid-thirties the Soviet Press wrote a lot about German anti-Semitism… A novel by Leon Feichtwanger The Oppenheim Family and the movie based on the book, as well as another movie, Professor Mamlock, clearly demonstrated the dangers that Jews were facing.”31 Following the pogroms of Kristallnacht, Pravda published an editorial “The Fascist Butchers and Cannibals” in which it strongly condemned the Nazis: “The whole civilized world watches with disgust and indignation the vicious massacre of the defenseless Jewish population by German fascists. … [With the same feelings] the Soviet people watch the dirty and bloody events in Germany. … In the Soviet Union, along with the capitalists and landowners, all sources of anti-Semitism had been wiped out.”32 Then, throughout the whole November, Pravda printed daily on its front pages reports such as “Jewish pogroms in Germany”, “Beastly vengeance on Jews”, “The wave of protests around the world against the atrocities of the fascist thugs”. Protest rallies against anti-Jewish policies of Hitler were held in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Tbilisi, Minsk, Sverdlovsk, and Stalin. Pravda published a detailed account of the town hall meeting of the Moscow intelligentsia in the Great Hall of the Conservatory, with speeches given by A.N. Tolstoy, A. Korneychuk, L. Sobolev; People’s Artists [a Soviet title signifying  prominence in the Arts] A.B. Goldenweiser and S.M. Mikhoels, and also the text of a resolution adopted at the meeting: “We, the representatives of the Moscow intelligentsia … raise our voice in outrage and condemnation against the Nazi atrocities and inhuman acts of violence against the defenseless Jewish population of Germany. The fascists beat up, maim, rape, kill and burn alive in broad daylight people who are guilty only of belonging to the Jewish nation.”33 The next day, on November 29, under the headline “Soviet intelligentsia is outraged by Jewish pogroms in Germany”, Pravda produced the full coverage of rallies in other Soviet cities.

However, from the moment of the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact in August of 1939, not only criticism of Nazi policies but also any information about persecution of the Jews in European countries under German control vanished from the Soviet press. “A lot of messages … were reaching the Soviet Union through various channels – intelligence, embassies, Soviet journalists. … An important source of information… was Jewish refugees who managed to cross the Soviet border. However, the Soviet media, including the Jewish press, maintained silence.”34

“When the Soviet-German War started and the topic of Nazi anti-Semitism was raised again, many Jews considered it to be propaganda”, argues a modern scholar, relying on the testimonies of the Catastrophe  survivors, gathered over a half of century. “Many Jews relied on their own life experience rather than on radio, books and newspapers. The image of Germans did not change in the minds of most Jews since WWI. And back then the Jews considered the German regime to be one of the most tolerant to them.”35 “Many Jews remembered, that during the German occupation in 1918, the Germans treated Jews better than they treated the rest of the local population, and so the Jews were reassured.”36 As a result, “in 1941, a significant number of Jews remained in the occupied territories voluntarily”. And even in 1942, “according to the stories of witnesses… the Jews in Voronezh, Rostov, Krasnodar, and other cities waited for the front to roll through their city and hoped to continue their work as doctors and teachers, tailors and cobblers, which they believed were always needed…. The Jews could not or would not evacuate for purely material reasons as well.”37

While the Soviet press and radio censored the information about the atrocities committed by the occupiers  against the Jews, the Yiddish newspaper Einigkeit (“Unity”), the official publication of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (EAK), was allowed to write about it openly from the summer of 1942. Apparently, the first step in the establishment of EAK was a radio-meeting in August 1941of “representatives of the Jewish people” (S. Mikhoels,  P. Marques, J. Ohrenburg, S. Marshak, S. Eisenstein and other celebrities participated.) For propaganda purposes, it was broadcast to the US and other Allied countries. “The effect on the Western public surpassed the most optimistic expectations of Moscow. … In the Allied countries the Jewish organizations sprang up to raise funds for the needs of the Red Army.” Their success prompted the Kremlin to establish a permanent Jewish Committee in the Soviet Union. “Thus began the seven-year-long cooperation of the Soviet authorities with global Zionism.”38

The development of the Committee was a difficult process, heavily dependent on the attitudes of government. In September 1941, an influential former member of the Bund, Henryk Ehrlich, was released from the prison to lead that organization. In 1917, Ehrlich had been a member of the notorious and then omnipotent Executive Committee of the Petrosoviet. Later, he emigrated to Poland where he was captured by the Soviets in 1939. He and his comrade, Alter, who also used to be a member of the Bund and was also a native of Poland, began preparing a project that aimed to mobilize international Jewish opinion, with heavier participation of foreign rather than Soviet Jews. “Polish Bund members were intoxicated by their freedom…  and increasingly acted audaciously. Evacuated to Kuibyshev [Samara] along with the metropolitan bureaucracy, they contacted Western diplomatic representatives, who were relocated there as well,… suggesting, in particular, to form a Jewish Legion in the USA to fight on the Soviet-German front”. “The things have gone so far that the members of the Polish Bund … began planning a trip to the West on their own”. In addition, both Bund activists “presumptuously assumed (and did not hide it) that they could liberally reform the Soviet political system”. In December 1941, both overreaching leaders of the Committee were arrested (Ehrlich hanged himself in prison; Alter was shot).39

Yet during the spring of 1942, the project of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was revived, and a meeting “of the representatives of Jewish people” was called forth again.  A Committee was elected, although this time exclusively from Soviet Jews. Solomon Mikhoels became its Chairman and Shakhno Epstein, “Stalin’s eye `in Jewish affairs´ and a former fanatical Bundist and later a fanatical Chekist, became its Executive Secretary”.  Among others, its members were authors David Bergelson, Peretz Markish, Leib Kvitko, and Der Nistor; scientists Lina Shtern and Frumkin, a member of the Academy. Poet Itzik Fefer became the Vice President. (The latter was a former Trotskyite who was pardoned because he composed odes dedicated to Stalin; he was “an important NKVD agent”, and, as a “proven secret agent”, he was entrusted with a trip to the West.41) The task of this Committee was the same: to influence international public opinion, and “to appeal to the ‘Jews all over the world’ but in practice it appealed primarily to the American Jews”,42 building up sympathy and raising financial aid for the Soviet Union. (And it was the main reason for Mikhoels’ and Fefer’s trip to the United States in summer 1943, which coincided with the dissolution of Comintern. It was a roaring success, triggering rallies in 14 cities across the US: 50,000 people rallied in New York City alone. Mikhoels and Fefer were received by former Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann and by Albert Einstein.43) Yet behind the scenes the Committee was managed by Lozovskiy-Dridzo, the Deputy Head of the Soviet Information Bureau (Sovinformbureau); the Committee did not have offices in the Soviet Union and could not act independently; in fact, it was “not so much a fundraising tool for the Red Army as an arm of … pro-Soviet propaganda abroad.”44


Some Jewish authors argue that from the late 1930s there was a covert but persistent removal of Jews from the highest ranks of Soviet leadership in all spheres of administration. For instance, D. Shub writes that by 1943 not a single Jew remained among the top leadership of the NKVD, though “there were still many Jews in the Commissariat of Trade, Industry and Foods. There were also quite a few Jews in the Commissariat of Public Education and in the Foreign Office.”45 A modern researcher reaches a different conclusion based on archival materials that became available in 1990s: “During the 1940s, the role of Jews in punitive organs remained highly visible, coming to the end only in the postwar years during the campaign against cosmopolitanism.”46

However, there are no differences of opinion regarding the relatively large numbers of Jews in the top command positions in the Army. The Jewish World reported that “in the Red Army now [during the war], there are over a hundred Jewish generals” and it provided a “small randomly picked list of such generals”, not including “generals from the infantry”. There were 17 names (ironically, “Major-General of Engineering Service Frenkel Naftaliy Aronovich” of GULag was also included).47 A quarter of a century later, another collection of documents confirmed that there were no less than a hundred Jewish generals in the middle of the war and provided additional names.48 (However, the volume unfortunately omitted the “Super-General” Lev Mekhlis – the closest and most trusted of Stalin’s henchmen from 1937 to 1940; from 1941 he was the Head of Political Administration of the Red Army. Ten days after the start of the war, Mekhlis arrested a dozen of the highest generals of the Western Front.49 He is also infamous for his punitive measures during the Soviet-Finnish War and then later at Kerch in the Crimea.)

The Short Jewish Encyclopedia provides an additional list of fifteen Jewish generals. Recently, an Israeli researcher has published a list of Jewish generals and admirals (including those who obtained the rank during the war). Altogether, there were 270 generals and admirals! This is not only “not a few” – this is an immense number indeed. He also notes four wartime narkoms (people’s commissars): in addition to Kaganovich, these were Boris Vannikov (ammunition), Semien Ginzburg (construction), Isaac Zaltzman (tank industry) and several heads of main military administrations of the Red Army; the list also contains the names of four Jewish army commanders, commanders of 23 corps, 72 divisions, and 103 brigades.50

“In no army of the Allies, not even in the USA’s, did Jews occupy such high positions, as in the Soviet Army”, Dr. I. Arad writes.51 No, “the displacement of Jews from the top posts” during the war did not happen. Nor had any supplanting yet manifested itself in general aspects of Soviet life. In 1944 (in the USA) a famous Socialist Mark Vishnyak stated that “not even hardcore enemies of the USSR can say that its government cultivates anti-Semitism”.52 Back then – it was undoubtedly true.

According to Einigkeit (from February 24, 1945, almost at the end of the war), “for courage and heroism in combat”… 63,374 Jews were awarded orders and medals”, and 59 Jews became the Heroes of the Soviet Union. According to the Warsaw Yiddish language newspaper Volksstimme in 1963 the number of the Jews awarded military decorations in WWII was 160,772, with 108 Heroes of the Soviet Union among them.53 In the early 1990s, an Israeli author provided a list of names with dates of confirmation , in which 135 Jews are listed as Heroes of the Soviet Union and 12 Jews are listed as the full chevaliers of the Order of Glory.54 We find similar information in the three-volume Essays on Jewish Heroism.55 And finally, the latest archival research (2001) provides the following figures: “throughout the war 123,822 Jews were awarded military decorations”56; thus, among all nationalities of the Soviet Union, the Jews are in fifth place among the recipients of decorations, after Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians and Tatars.

I. Arad states that “anti-Semitism as an obstacle for Jews in their military careers, in promotion to higher military ranks and insignia did not exist in the Soviet Army during the war”.57 Production on the home front for the needs of the war was also highly rewarded. A huge influx of  Soviet Jews into science and technology during the 1930s had borne its fruit during the war. Many Jews worked on the design of new types of armaments and instrumentation, in the  manufacturing of warplanes, tanks, and ships, in scientific research, construction and development of industrial enterprises, in power engineering, metallurgy, and transport. For their work from 1941 to 1945 in support of the front, 180,000 Jews were awarded decorations. Among them were scientists, engineers, administrators of various managerial levels and workers, including more than two hundred who were awarded the Order of Lenin; nearly three hundred Jews were awarded the Stalin Prize in science and technology. During the war, 12 Jews became Heroes of Socialist Labor, eight Jews became full members of the Academy of Science in physics and mathematics, chemistry and technology, and thirteen became Member-Correspondents of the Academy.58


Many authors, including S. Schwartz, note that “the role of Jews in the war was systematically concealed” along with a deliberate policy of “silence about the role of Jews in the war”. He cites as a proof the works of prominent Soviet writers such as K. Simonov (Days and Nights) and V. Grossman (The People Is Immortal) where “among a vast number of surnames of soldiers, officers, political officers and others, there is not a single Jewish name.”59 Of course, this was due to censoring restrictions, especially in case of Grossman. (Later, military personnel with Jewish names re-appeared in Grossman’s essays.)  Another author notes that postcards depicting a distinguished submarine commander, Israel Fisanovich, were sold widely throughout the Soviet Union.60 Later, such publications were extended; and an Israeli researcher lists another 12 Jews, Heroes of the Soviet Union, whose portraits were mass reproduced on postal envelopes61.

Even through I’m a veteran of that war, I have not researched it through books much, nor was I collecting materials or have written anything about it. But I saw Jews on the front. I knew brave men among them. For instance, I especially want to mention two fearless antitank fighters: one of them was my university friend Lieutenant Emanuel Mazin; another was young ex-student soldier Borya Gammerov (both were wounded in action). In my battery among 60 people two were Jews – Sergeant Ilya Solomin, who fought very well through the whole war, and Private Pugatch, who soon slipped away to the Political Department. Among twenty officers of our division one was a Jew – Major Arzon, the head of the supply department. Poet Boris Slutsky was a real soldier, he used to say: “I’m full of bullet holes”. Major Lev Kopelev, even though he served in the Political Department of the Army (responsible for counter-propaganda aimed at enemy troops), he fearlessly threw himself in every possible  fighting melee. A former “Mifliyetz” Semyon Freylih, a brave officer, remembers: “The war began … . So I was off to the draft board and joined the army” without graduating from the University, as “we felt ashamed not to share the hardships of millions”.62 Or take Lazar Lazarev, later a well-known literary critic, who as a young man fought at the front for two years until both his hands were mauled: “It was our duty and we would have been ashamed to evade it. … it was life – the only possible one under the circumstances, the only decent choice for the people of my age and education”.63 Boris Izrailevich Feinerman wrote in 1989 in response to an article in Book Review, that as a 17-year-old, he volunteered in July 1941 for an infantry regiment; in October, his both legs were wounded and he was taken prisoner of war; he escaped and walked out of the enemy’s encirclement on crutches – then of course he was imprisoned for `treason´” – but in 1943 he managed to get out of the camp by joining a penal platoon; he fought there and later became a machine gunner of the assault infantry unit in a tank regiment and was wounded two more times.

We can find many examples of combat sacrifice in the biographical volumes of the most recent Russian Jewish Encyclopedia. Shik Kordonskiy, a commander of a mine and torpedo regiment, “smashed his burning plane into the enemy cargo ship”; he was posthumously made a Hero of the Soviet Union. Wolf Korsunsky, “navigator of the air regiment”, became a Hero of the Soviet Union too. Victor Hasin, “a Hero of the Soviet Union … squadron commander … participated in 257 air skirmishes, personally shot down a number of the enemy’s airplanes”, destroyed another 10 on the ground; he was shot down over “the enemy occupied territory, and spent several days reaching and crossing the front lines. He died in hospital from his wounds”. One cannot express it better! The Encyclopedia contains several dozens names of Jews who died in combat.

Yet, despite these examples of unquestioned courage, a Jewish scholar bitterly notes “the widespread belief in the army and in the rear that Jews avoided the combat units”.64 This is a noxious and painful spot. But, if you wish to ignore the painful spots, do not attempt to write a book about ordeals that were endured together.

In history, mutual national perceptions do count. “During the last war, anti-Semitism in Russia increased significantly. Jews were unjustly accused of evasion of military service and in particular, of evasion of front line service.”65 “It was often said about Jews that instead of fighting, they stormed the cities of Alma-Ata and Tashkent.”66 Here is a testimony of a Polish Jew who fought in the Red Army: “In the army, young and old had been trying to convince me that … there was not a single Jew on the front . `We’ve got to fight for them.´ I was told in a `friendly´ manner: `You’re crazy. All your people are safely sitting at home. How come you are here on the front?´”67 I. Arad writes: “Expressions such as `we are at the front, and the Jews are in Tashkent´, `one never sees a Jew at the front line´could be heard among soldiers and civilians alike.”68 I testify: Yes, one could hear this among the soldiers on the front. And right after the war – who has not experienced that? – a painful feeling remained among our Slavs that our Jews could have acted in that war in a more self-sacrificing manner, that among the lower ranks on the front the Jews could have been more represent.

These feelings are easy to blame (and they are blamed indeed) on unwarranted Russian anti-Semitism.(However, many sources blame that on the “German propaganda” digested by our public. What a people! They are good only to absorb propaganda – be it Stalin’s or Hitler’s – and they are good for nothing else!) Now that it is half a century passed since then. Isn’t it time to unscramble the issue?

There are no official data available on the ethnic composition of the Soviet Army during the Second World War. Therefore, most studies on Jewish participation in the war provide only estimates, often without citation of sources or explanation of the methods of calculation. However, we can say that the 500,000 figure had been firmly established by 1990s: “The Jewish people supplied the Red Army with nearly 500,000 soldiers.”69 “During World War II, 550,000 Jews served in the Red Army.”70 The Short Jewish Encyclopedia notes that “only in the field force of the Soviet Army alone there were over 500,000 Jews”, and “these figures do not include Jewish partisans who fought against Nazi Germany”.71 The same figures are cited in Essays on Jewish heroism, in Abramovich’s book In the Deciding War and in other sources.

We came across only one author who attempted to justify his assessment by providing readers with details of his reasoning. It was an Israeli researcher, I. Arad, in his the above cited book on the Catastrophe.

Arad concludes that “the total number of Jews who fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army against the German Nazis was no less than 420,000-430,000”.72 He includes in this number “the thousands of Jewish partisans who fought against the German invaders in the woods” (they were later incorporated into the regular army in 1944 after the liberation of Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine. At the same time, Arad believes that during the war “approximately 25,000-30,000 Jewish partisans operated in the occupied areas of the Soviet Union”.73 (The Israeli Encyclopedia in the article “Anti-Nazi Resistance” provides a lower estimate: “In the Soviet Union, more than 15,000 Jews fought against the Nazis in the underground organizations and partisan units.”74) In his calculations, Arad assumes that the proportion of mobilized Jews was the same as the average percentage of mobilized for the entire population of USSR during the war, i.e., 13.0-13.5%.  This would yield 390,000-405,000 Eastern Jews (out of the total of slightly more than 3 million), save for the fact that “in certain areas of Ukraine and Byelorussia, the percentage of Jewish population was very high; these people were not mobilized because the region was quickly captured by the Germans”. However, the author assumes that in general the mobilization “shortfall” of the Eastern Jews was small and that before the Germans came, the majority of males of military age were still mobilized – and thus he settles on the number of 370,000-380,000 Eastern Jews who served in the army. Regarding Western Jews, Arad reminds us that in 1940 in Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine, during the mobilization of conscripts whose year of birth fell between of 1919 and 1922, approximately 30,000 Jewish youths were enlisted, but the Soviet government considered the soldiers from the newly annexed western regions as “unreliable”; therefore, almost all of them were transferred to the Labor Army after the war began. “By the end of 1943, the process of re-mobilization of those who were previously transferred into the Labor Army began … and there were Jews among them.” The author mentions that 6,000 to 7,000 Western Jewish refugees fought in the national Baltic divisions. By adding the Jewish partisans incorporated into the army in 1944, the author concludes: “we can establish that at least 50,000 Jews from the territories annexed to the USSR, including those mobilized before the war, served in the Red Army”. Thus I. Arad comes to the overall number of 420,000-430,000 Jews in military service between 1941 and 1944.75

According to Arad, the number of 500,000 soldiers commonly used in the sources would imply a general base (500,000 conscripts taken out of the entire Jewish population) of 3,700,000-3,850,000 people. According to the above-mentioned sources, the maximum estimate for the total number of Eastern and Western Jews who escaped the German occupation was 2,226,000, and even if we were to add to this base all 1,080,000 Eastern Jews who remained under the occupation, as though they had had time to supply the army with all the people of military age right before the arrival of the Germans – which was not the case – the base would still lack a half-million people. It would have also meant that the success of the evacuation, discussed above, was strongly underestimated.

There is no such contradiction in Arad’s assessment. And though its individual components may require correction76, overall, it surprisingly well matches with the hitherto unpublished data of the Institute of the Military History, derived from the sources of the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense. According to that data, the numbers of mobilized personnel during the Great Patriotic War were as follows:

Russians – 19,650,000
Ukrainians – 5,320,000
Byelorussians – 964,000
Tartars – 511,000
Jews – 434,000
Kazakhs – 341,000
Uzbeks – 330,000
Others – 2,500,00077

Thus, contrary to the popular belief, the number of Jews in the Red Army in WWII was proportional to the size of mobilization base of the Jewish population. The fraction of Jews that participated in the war in general matches their proportion in the population.

So then, were the people’s impressions of the war really prompted by anti-Semitic prejudice? Of course, by the beginning of the war, a certain part of the older and middle-aged population still bore scars from the 1920s and 1930s. But a huge part of the soldiers were young men who were born at the turn of the revolution or after it; their perception of the world differed from that of their elders dramatically. Compare: during the First World War, in spite of the spy mania of the military authorities in 1915 against the Jews who resided near the front lines, there was no evidence of anti-Semitism in the Russian army. In 1914, out of 5 million Russian Jews,78 “by the beginning of WWI, about 400,000 Jews were inducted into the Russian Imperial Army, and by the end of war in 1917 this number reached 500,000”.79 This means that at the outbreak of the war every twelfth Russian Jew fought in the war, while by the end, one out of ten. And in World War II, every eighth or seventh.

So, what was the matter? It can be assumed that the new disparities inside the army played their role with their influences growing stronger and sharper as one moved closer to the deadly frontline.

In 1874 Jews were granted equal rights with other Russian subjects regarding universal conscription, yet during WWI until the February Revolution, Tsar Alexander II’s  law which stipulated that Jews could not advance above the rank of petty officer (though it did not apply to military medics) was still enforced. Under the Bolsheviks, the situation had changed radically, and during the WWII, as the Israeli Encyclopedia summarizes, “compared to other nationalities of the Soviet Union, Jews were disproportionately represented among the senior officers, mainly because of the higher percentage of college graduates among them”.80 According to I. Arad’s evaluation, “the number of Jews-commissars and political officers in various units during the war was relatively higher than number of Jews on other Army positions”; “at the very least, the percentage of Jews in the political leadership of the army” was “three times higher than the overall percentage of Jews among the population of the USSR during that period”.81 In addition, of course, Jews were “among the head professionals of military medicine … among the heads of health departments on several fronts. … Twenty-six Jewish generals of the Medical Corps and nine generals of the Veterinary Corps were listed in the Red Army.” Thirty-three Jewish generals served in the Engineering Corps.82 Of course, Jewish doctors and military engineers occupied not only high offices: “among the military medical staff… there were many Jews (doctors, nurses, orderlies).”83 Let us recall that in 1926 the proportion of Jews among military doctors was 18.6% while their proportion in the male population was 1.7% 84, and this percentage could only increase during the war because of the large number of female Jewish military doctors: “traditionally, a high percentage of Jews in the Soviet medicine and engineering professions naturally contributed to their large number in the military units.”85

However undeniably important and necessary for final victory these services were, what mattered is that not everybody could survive to see it. Meanwhile an ordinary soldier, glancing back from the frontline, saw all too clearly that even the second and third echelons behind the front were also considered participants in the war: all those deep-rear headquarters, suppliers, the whole Medical Corps from medical battalion to higher levels, numerous behind-the-lines technical units and, of course, all kinds of service personnel there, and, in addition, the entire army propaganda machine, including touring ensembles, entertainment troupes – they all were considered war veterans and, indeed, it was apparent to everyone that the concentration of Jews was much higher there than at the front lines. Some write that “among Leningrad’s veteran-writers”, the Jews comprised “by most cautious and perhaps understated assessment… 31%”86 – that is, probably more. Yet how many of them were editorial staff? As a rule, editorial offices were situated 10-15 kilometers behind the frontline, and even if a correspondent happened to be at the front during hostilities, nobody would have forced him “to hold the position”, he could leave immediately, which is a completely different psychology. Many trumpeted their status as “front-liners”, but writers and journalists are guilty of it the most. Stories of prominent ones deserve a separate dedicated analysis. Yet how many others – not prominent and not famous – front-liners settled in various newspaper publishing offices at all levels – at fronts, armies, corps and divisions? Here is one episode. After graduating from the machine gun school, Second Lieutenant Alexander Gershkowitz was sent to the front. But, after a spell at the hospital, while “catching up with his unit, at a minor railroad station he sensed the familiar smell of printing ink, followed it – and arrived at the office of a division-level newspaper, which serendipitously was in need of a front-line correspondent”. And his fate had changed. (But what about catching up with his infantry unit?) “In this new position, he traveled thousands of kilometers of the war roads.”87. Of course, military journalists perished in the war as well.

Musician Michael Goldstein, who got “the white ticket” (“not fit”) because of poor vision, writes of himself: “I always strived to be at the front, where I gave thousands of concerts, where I wrote a number of military songs and where I often dug trenches.”88 Often? Really? A visiting musician – and with a shovel in his hands? As a war veteran, I say – an absolutely incredible picture. Or here is another amazing biography. Eugeniy Gershuni “in the summer of 1941… volunteered for a militia unit, where he soon organized a small pop ensemble”. Those, who know about these unarmed and even non-uniformed columns marching to certain death, would be chilled. Ensemble, indeed! In September 1941, “Gershuni with his group of artists from the militia was posted to Leningrad’s Red Army Palace, where he organized and headed a troop-entertainment circus”. The story ends “on May 9, 1945, when Gershuni’s circus threw a show on the steps of the Reichstag in Berlin”89.

Of course, the Jews fought in the infantry and on the frontline. In the middle of the 1970s, a Soviet source provides data on the ethnic composition of two hundred infantry divisions between January 1, 1943 and January 1, 1944 and compares it to the population share of each nationality within the pre-September 1939 borders of the USSR..  During that period, Jews comprised respectively 1.5% and 1.28% in those divisions, while their proportion in the population in 1939 was 1.78%, Only by the middle of 1944, when mobilization began in the liberated areas, did the percentage of Jews fall to 1.14% because almost all Jews in those areas were exterminated.

It should be noted here that some audacious Jews took an even more fruitful and energetic part in the war outside of the front. For example, the famous “Red Orchestra” of Trepper and Gurevich spied on Hitler’s regime from within until the fall of 1942, passing to the Soviets extremely important strategic and tactical information. (Both spies were arrested and held by the Gestapo until the end of the war; then, after liberation, they were arrested and imprisoned in the USSR – Trepper for 10 years and Gurevich for 15 years.91) Here is another example: a Soviet spy, Lev Manevich, was ex-commander of a special detachment during the Civil War and later a long-term spy in Germany, Austria, and Italy. In 1936, he was arrested in Italy, but he managed to communicate with Soviet intelligence even from the prison. In 1943, while imprisoned in the Nazi camps under the name of Colonel Starostin, he participated in the anti-fascist underground. In 1945, he was liberated by the Americans but died before returning to the USSR (where he could have easily faced imprisonment). Only 20 years later, in 1965, was he awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously.92 (One can also find very strange biographies, such as Mikhail Scheinman’s. Since the 1920s he served as a provincial secretary of the Komsomol; during the most rampant years of the Union of Militant Atheists he was employed at its headquarters; then he graduated from the Institute of Red Professors and worked in the press department of the Central Committee of the VKPb. In 1941, he was captured by the Germans and survived the entire war in captivity – a Jew and a high-level commissar at that! And despite categorical evidence of his culpability from SMERSH’s [Translator’s note: a frontline counter-intelligence organization, literally, “Death to Spies”] point of view, how could he possibly surviveif he was not a traitor? Others were imprisoned for a long time for lesser “crimes”.Yet nothing happened, and in 1946 he was already safely employed in the Museum of the History of Religion and then in the Institute of History at the Academy of Science.93)

Yet such anecdotal evidence cannot make up a convincing argument for either side and there are no reliable and specific statistics nor are they likely to surface in the future.

Recently, an Israeli periodical has published some interesting testimony. When a certain Jonas Degen decided to volunteer for a Komsomol platoon at the beginning of the war, another Jewish youth, Shulim Dain, whom Jonas invited to come and join him, replied “that it would be really fortunate if the Jews could just watch the battle from afar since this is not their war, though namely this war may inspire Jews and help them to rebuild Israel. When I am conscripted to the army, I’ll go to war. But to volunteer? Not a chance.”94 And Dain was not the only one who thought like this; in particular, older and more experienced Jews may have had  similar thoughts. And this attitude, especially among the Jews devoted to the eternal idea of Israel, is fully understandable. And yet it is baffling, because the advancing enemy was  the arch enemy of the Jews, seeking above all else to annihilate them. How could Dain and like-minded individuals remain neutral? Did they think that the Russians had no other choice but to fight for their land anyway?

One modern commentator (I know him personally – he is a veteran and a former camp inmate) concludes: “Even among the older veterans these days I have not come across people with such clarity of thought and depth of understanding” as Shulim Dain (who perished at Stalingrad) possessed: “two fascist monsters interlocked in deadly embrace”. Why should we participate in that?95

Of course, Stalin’s regime was not any better than Hitler’s. But for the wartime Jews, these two monsters could not be equal! If that other monster won, what could then have happened to the Soviet Jews? Wasn’t this war the personal Jewish war? wasn’t it their own Patriotic War – to cross arms with the deadliest enemy in the entire Jewish history? And those Jews who perceived the war as their own and who did not separate their fate from that of Russians, those like Freylikh, Lazarev and Fainerman, whose thinking was opposite to Shulim Dain’s, they fought selflessly.

God forbid, I do not explain the Dain’s position as “Jewish cowardice”. Yes, the Jews demonstrated survivalist prudence and caution throughout the entire history of the Diaspora, yet it is this history that explains these qualities. And during the Six-Day War and other Israeli wars, the Jews have proven their outstanding military courage.

Taking all that into consideration, Dain’s position can only be explained by a relaxed feeling of dual citizenship – the very same that back in 1922, Professor Solomon Lurie from Petrograd considered as one of the main sources of anti-Semitism (and its explanation) – a Jew living in a particular country belongs not only to that country, and his loyalties become inevitably split in two. The Jews have “always harbored nationalist attitudes, but the object of their nationalism was Jewry, not the country in which they lived”.96 Their interest in this country is partial. After all, they – even if many of them only unconsciously – saw ahead looming in the future their very own nation of Israel.


And what about the rear? Researchers are certain about the “growth of anti-Semitism … during the war.”97 “The curve of anti-Semitism in those years rose sharply again, and anti-Semitic manifestations … by their intensity and prevalence dwarfed the anti-Semitism of the second half of the 1920s.” 98 “During the war, anti-Semitism become commonplace in the domestic life in the Soviet deep hinterland.”99

During evacuation, “so-called domestic anti-Semitism, which had been dormant since the establishment of the Stalinist dictatorship in the early 1930s, was revived against the background of general insecurity and breakdown and other hardships and deprivations, engendered by the war.”100 This statement refers mainly to Central Asia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, “especially when the masses of wounded and disabled veterans rushed there from the front”,101 and exactly there the masses of the evacuated Jews lived, including Polish Jews, who were “torn from their traditional environment” by deportation and who had no experience of Soviet kolkhozes. Here are the testimonies of Jewish evacuees to Central Asia recorded soon after the war: “The low labor productivity among evacuated Jews … served in the eyes of the locals as a proof of allegedly characteristic Jewish reluctance to engage in physical labor.”102 “The intensification of [anti-Semitic] attitudes was fueled by the Polish refugees’ activity on the commodity markets.”103 “Soon they realized that their regular incomes from the employment in industrial enterprises, kolkhozes, and cooperatives … would not save them from starvation and death. To survive, there was only one way – trading on the market or `speculation´”; therefore, it was the Soviet reality that drove “Polish Jews to resort to market transactions whether they liked it or not.”104 “The non-Jewish population of Tashkent was ill-disposed toward the Jewish evacuees from Ukraine. Some said, `Look at these Jews. They always have a lot of money.´”105 “Then there were incidents of harassment and insults of Jews, threats against them, throwing them out of bread queues.”106 “Another group of Russian Jews, mostly bureaucrats with a considerable amount of cash, inspired the hostility of the locals for inflating the already high market prices.”107

The author proceeds confidently to explain these facts thus: “Hitler’s propaganda reaches even here”,108 and he is not alone in reaching such conclusions.

What a staggering revelation! How could Hitler’s propaganda victoriously reach and permeate all of Central Asia when it was barely noticeable at the front with all those rare and dangerous-to-touch leaflets thrown from airplanes, and when all private radio receiver sets were confiscated throughout the USSR?

No, the author realizes that there “was yet another reason for the growth of anti-Semitic attitudes in the districts that absorbed evacuees en masse. There, the antagonism between the general mass of the provincial population and the privileged bureaucrats from the country’s central cities manifested itself in a subtle form. Evacuation of organizations from those centers into the hinterland provided the local population with an opportunity to fully appreciate the depth of social contrast.”109


Then there were those populations that experienced the German invasion and occupation, for instance, the Ukrainians. Here is  testimony published in March 1945 in the bulletin of the Jewish Agency for Palestine: “The Ukrainians meet returning Jews with hostility. In Kharkov, a few weeks after the liberation, Jews do not dare to walk alone on the streets at night. … There have been many cases of beating up Jews on the local markets. … Upon returning to their homes, Jews often found only a portion of their property, but when they complained in courts, Ukrainians often perjured themselves against them.”110 (The same thing happened everywhere; besides it was useless to complain in court anyway: many of the returning non-Jewish evacuees found their old places looted as well.) “There are many  testimonies about hostile attitudes towards Jews in Ukraine after its liberation from the Germans.”111 “As a result of the German occupation, anti-Semitism in all its forms has significantly increased in all social strata of Ukraine, Moldova and Lithuania.”112

Indeed, here, in these territories, Hitler’s anti-Jewish propaganda did work well during the years of occupation, and yet the main point was the same: that under the Soviet regime the Jews had merged with the ruling class – and so a secret German report from the occupied territories in October 1941 states that the “animosity of the Ukrainian population against Jews is enormous…. they view the Jews … as informants and agents of the NKVD, which organized the terror against the Ukrainian people.”113

Generally speaking, early in the war, the “German’s plan was to create an impression that it was not Germans but the local population that began extermination of the Jews”; S. Schwartz believes that, unlike the reports of the German propaganda press, “the German reports not intended for publication are reliable.”114 He profusely quotes a report by SS Standartenführer F. Shtoleker to Berlin on the activities of the SS units under his command (operating in the Baltic states, Byelorussia and in some parts of the RSFSR) for the period between the beginning of the war in the East and October 15, 1941: “Despite facing considerable difficulties, we were able to direct local anti-Semitic forces toward organization of anti-Jewish pogroms within several hours after arrival [of German troops]. … It was necessary to show that … it was a natural reaction to the years of oppression by Jews and communist terror. …  It was equally important to establish for the future as an undisputed and provable fact that … the local people have resorted to the most severe measures against Bolsheviks and Jews on their own initiative, without demonstrable evidence for any guidance from the German authorities.”115

The willingness of the local population for such initiatives varied greatly in different occupied regions. “In the tense atmosphere of the Baltics, the hatred of Jews reached a boiling point at the very moment of Hitler’s onslaught against Soviet Russia on June 22, 1941.”116 The Jews were accused of collaboration with the NKVD in the deportation of Baltic citizens. The Israeli Encyclopedia quotes an entry from the diary of Lithuanian physician E. Budvidayte-Kutorgene: “All Lithuanians, with few exceptions, are unanimous in their hatred of Jews.”117 Yet, the Standartenführer reports that “to our surprise, it was not an easy task … to induce a pogrom there”. This was achieved with the help of Lithuanian partisans, who exterminated 1,500 Jews in Kaunas during the night of June 26 and 2,300 more in the next few days; they also burned the Jewish quarter and several synagogues.118 “Mass executions of the Jews were conducted by the SS and the Lithuanian police on October 29 and November 25, 1941.” About 19,000 of the 36,000 Jews of Kaunas were shot in the Ninth Fort.119 “In many Lithuanian cities and towns, all of the Jewish population was exterminated by local Lithuanian police under German control in the autumn of 1941.”120 “It was much harder to induce the same self-cleaning operations and pogroms in Latvia”, reports the Standartenführer, because there “the entire national leadership, especially in Riga, was destroyed or deported by the Bolsheviks.”121 Still, on July 4, 1941, Latvian activists in Riga “set fire to several synagogues into which the Jews had been herded. … About 2,000 died”; in the first days of occupation, locals assisted in executions by the Germans of several thousand Jews in the Bikernieki forest near Riga, and in late October and in early November in the shootings of about 27,000 Jews at a nearby railway station Rumbula.122 In Estonia, “with a small number of Jews in the country, it was not possible to induce pogroms”, reports the officer.123 (Estonian Jews were destroyed without pogroms: “In Estonia, about 2,000 Jews remained. Almost all male Jews were executed in the first weeks of the occupation by the Germans and their Estonian collaborators. … The rest were interned in the concentration camp Harku near Tallinn”, and by the end of 1941 all of them were killed.124

But the German leadership was disappointed in Byelorussia. S. Schwartz: “the failure of the Germans to draw sympathy from the broad masses of locals to the cause of extermination of Jews… is completely clear from secret German documents … The population invariably and consistently refrains from any independent action against the Jews.”125 Still, according to eyewitnesses in Gorodok in the Vitebsk oblast, when the ghetto was liquidated on Oct. 14, 1941, the “Polizei were worse than the Germans”;126 and in Borisov, the “Russian police” (it follows in the report that they were actually imported from Berlin)  “destroyed within two days [October 20 and 21, 1941] 6,500 Jews. Importantly, the author of the report notes that the killings of Jews were not met with sympathy from the local population: `Who ordered that… How is it possible…? Now they kill the Jews, and when will be our turn? What have these poor Jews done? They were just workers. The really guilty ones are, of course, long gone.´”127 And here is a report by a German “trustee”, a native Byelorussian from Latvia: “In Byelorussia, there is no Jewish question. For them, it’s a purely German business, not Byelorussian… Everybody sympathizes with and pities the Jews, and they look at Germans as barbarians and murderers of the Jews [Judenhenker]: a Jew, they say, is a human being just like a Byelorussian.”128 In any case, S. Schwartz writes that “there were no national Byelorussian squads affiliated with the German punitive units, though there were Latvian, Lithuanian, and `mixed´ squads; the latter enlisted some Byelorussians as well.”129

The project was more successful in Ukraine. From the beginning of the war, Hitler’s propaganda incited the Ukrainian nationalists (“Bandera?s Fighters”) to take revenge on the Jews for the murder of Petliura by Schwartzbard.130 The organization of Ukrainian Nationalists of Bandera-Melnik (OUN) did not need to be persuaded: even before the Soviet-German War, in April 1941, it adopted a resolution at its Second Congress in Krakow, in which paragraph 17 states: “The Yids in the Soviet Union are the most loyal supporters of the ruling Bolshevik regime and the vanguard of Moscow imperialism in Ukraine… The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists considers the Yids as the pillar of the Moscow-Bolshevik regime, while educating the masses that Moscow is the main enemy.”131 Initially, the “Bandera Fighters” allied with the Germans against the Bolsheviks. During the whole of 1940 and the first half of 1941, the OUN leadership was preparing for a possible war between Germany and the USSR. “Then the main base of the OUN was the Generalgouvernement, i. e., the Nazi-occupied Poland. … Ukrainian militias were being created there, and lists of suspicious persons, with Jews among them, were compiled. Later these lists were used by Ukrainian nationalists to exterminate Jews. … `Mobile units´ for the East Ukraine were created and battalions of Ukrainian Nationalists,  `Roland´ and `Nakhtigal´, were formed in the German Army.” The OUN arrived in the East [of Ukraine] together with the frontline German troops. During the summer of 1941 “a wave of Jewish pogroms rolled over Western Ukraine. … with participation of both Melnyk’s and of Bandera’s troops. As a result of these pogroms, around 28,000 Jews were killed.”132 Among OUN documents, there is a declaration by J. Stetzko (who in July 1941 was named the head of the Ukrainian government): “The Jews help Moscow to keep Ukraine in slavery, and therefore, I support extermination of the Yids and the need to adopt in Ukraine the German methods of extermination of Jewry.” In July, a meeting of Bandera’s OUN leaders was held in Lvov, where, among other topics, policies toward Jews were discussed. There were various proposals: to build the policy “on the principles of Nazi policy before 1939. … There were proposals to isolate Jews in ghettoes. … But the most radical proposal was made by Stepan Lenkavskiy, who stated: `Concerning the Jews we will adopt all the measures that will lead to their eradication.´”133 And until the relations between the OUN and the Germans deteriorated (because Germany did not recognize the self-proclaimed Ukrainian independence), there were “many cases, especially in the first year … when Ukrainians directly assisted the Germans in the extermination of Jews.” “Ukrainian auxiliary police, recruited by the Germans mainly in Galicia and Volhynia,”134 played a special role. “In Uman in September 1941, Ukrainian city police under command of several officers and sergeants of the SS shot nearly 6,000 Jews”; and in early November 6 km outside Rovno, “the SS and Ukrainian police slaughtered 21,000 Jews from the ghetto.”135 However, S. Schwartz writes: “It is impossible to figure out which part of the Ukrainian population shared an active anti-Semitism with a predisposition toward pogroms. Probably quite a large part, particularly the more cultured strata, did not share these sentiments.” As for the original part of the Soviet Ukraine [within the pre-September 1939 Soviet borders], “no evidence for the `spontaneous´ pogroms by Ukrainians could be found in the secret German reports from those areas.”136 In addition, “Tatar militia squads in the Crimea were exterminating Jews also.”137

Regarding indigenous Russian regions occupied by the Germans, the Germans “could not exploit anti-Russian sentiments and the argument about Moscow’s imperialism was unsustainable; and the argument for any Judeo-Bolshevism, devoid of support in local nationalism, largely lost its appeal”; among the local Russian population “only relatively few people actively supported the Germans in their anti-Jewish policies of extermination.”138

A researcher on the fate of Soviet Jewry concludes: the Germans in Lithuania and Latvia “had a tendency to mask their pogromist activities, bringing to the fore extermination squads made up of pogromists emerging under German patronage from the local population”; but “in Byelorussia, and to a considerable extent even in Ukraine and especially in the occupied areas of the RSFSR”, the Germans did not succeed as “the local population had mostly disappointed the hopes pinned on it” – and there “the Nazi exterminators had to proceed openly.”139


Hitler’s plan for the military campaign against the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) included “special tasks to prepare the ground for political rule, with the character of these tasks stemming from the all-out struggle between the two opposing political systems.” In May and June 1941, the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht issued more specific directives, ordering execution without trial of persons suspected of hostile action against Germany (and of political commissars, partisans, saboteurs and Jews in any case) in the theater of Barbarossa.140

To carry out special tasks in the territory of the USSR, four special groups (Einsatzgruppen) were established within the Security Service (SS) and the Secret Police (Gestapo), that had operational units (Einsatzkommando) numerically equal to companies. The Einsatzgruppen advanced along with the front units of the German Army, but reported directly to the Chief of Security of the Third Reich, Reinhard Heydrich.

Einsatzgruppe A (about 1000 soldiers and SS officers under the command of SS Standartenführer Dr. F. Shtoleker) of Army Group “North” operated in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Leningrad and Pskov oblasts. Group B (655 men, under the command of Brigadenführer A. Neveu) was attached to Army Group “Centre”, which was advancing through Byelorussia and the Smolensk Oblast toward Moscow. Group C (600, Standartenführer E. Rush) was attached to Army Group “South” and operated in the Western and Eastern Ukraine. Group D (600 men under the command of SS Standartenführer Prof. O. Ohlendorf) was attached to the 11th Army and operated in Southern Ukraine, the Crimea, and in the Krasnodar and Stavropol regions.

Extermination of Jews and commissars (“carriers of the Judeo-Bolshevik ideology”) by the Germans began from the first days of the June 1941invasion, though they did so “somewhat chaotically and with an extremely broad scope.”141 “In other German-occupied countries, elimination of the Jewish population proceeded gradually and thoroughly. It usually started with legal restrictions, continued with the creation of ghettos and introduction of forced labor and culminated in deportation and mass extermination. In Soviet Russia, all these elements were strangely intermingled in time and place. In each region, sometimes even within one city, various methods of harassment were used… there was no uniform or standardized system.”142 Shooting of Jewish prisoners of war could happen sometimes right upon capture and sometimes later in the concentration camps; civilian Jews were sometimes first confined in ghettoes, sometimes in forced-labor camps, and in other places they were shot outright on the spot, and still in other places the “gas vans” were used. “As a rule, the place of execution was an anti-tank ditch, or just a pit.”143

The numbers of those exterminated in the cities of the Western USSR by the winter of 1941 (the first period of extermination) are striking: according to the documents, in Vilnius out of 57,000 Jews who had lived there about 40,000 were killed; in Riga out of 33,000 – 27,000; in Minsk out of the 100,000-strong ghetto – 24,000 were killed (there the extermination continued until the end of occupation); in Rovno out of 27,000 Jews – 21,000 were killed; in Mogilev about 10,000 Jews were shot; in Vitebsk – up to 20,000; and near Kiselevich village nearly 20,000 Jews from Bobruisk were killed; in Berdichev – 15,000144.

By late September, the Nazis staged a mass extermination of Jews in Kiev. On September 26 they distributed announcements around the city requiring all Jews, under the penalty of death, to report to various assembly points. And Jews, having no other option but to submit, gathered obediently, if not trustingly, altogether about 34,000; and on September 29 and 30, they were methodically shot at Babi Yar, putting layer upon layers of corpses in a large ravine.Hence there was no need to dig any  graves – a giant hecatomb! According to the official German announcement, not questioned later, 33,771 Jews were shot over the course of two days. During the next two years of the Kiev occupation, the Germans continued shootings in their favorite and so convenient ravine. It is believed that the number of the executed – not only Jews – had reached, perhaps, 100,000.45

The executions at Babi Yar have become a symbol in world history. People shrug at the cold-blooded calculation, the business-like organization, so typical for the 20th century that crowns  humanistic civilization: during the “savage” Middle Ages people killed each other en masse only in a fit of rage or in the heat of battle.

It should be recalled that within a few kilometers from Babi Yar, in the enormous Darnitskiy camp, tens of thousands Soviet prisoners of war, soldiers and officers, died during the same months: yet we do not commemorate it properly, and many are not even aware of it. The same is true about the more than two million Soviet prisoners of war who perished during the first years of the war.

The Catastrophe  persistently raked its victims from all the occupied Soviet territories.

In Odessa on October 17, 1941, on the second day of occupation by German and Romanian troops, several thousand Jewish males were killed, and later, after the bombing of the Romanian Military Office, the total terror was unleashed: about 5,000 people, most of them Jews and thousands of others, were herded into a suburban village and executed there. In November, there was a mass deportation of people into the Domanevskiy District, where “about 55,000 Jews” were shot in December and January of 1942146. In the first months of occupation, by the end of 1941, 22,464 Jews were killed in Kherson and Nikolayev; 11,000  in Dnepropetrovsk; 8,000  in Mariupol’ and almost as many in Kremenchug; about 15,000  in Kharkov’s Drobytsky Yar; and more than 20,000  in Simferopol’ and Western Crimea.147

By the end of 1941, the German High Command had realized that the “blitz” had failed and that a long war loomed ahead. The needs of the war economy demanded a different organization of the home front. In some places, the German administration slowed down the extermination of Jews in order to exploit their manpower and skills. “As the result, ghettoes survived in large cities like Riga, Vilnius, Kaunas, Baranovichi, Minsk, and in other, smaller ones, where many Jews worked for the needs of the German war economy.”148 Yet the demand for labor that prolonged the existence of these large ghettoes did not prevent resumption of mass killings in other places in the spring of 1942: in Western Byelorussia, Western Ukraine, Southern Russia and the Crimea, 30,000 Jews were deported from the Grodno region to Treblinka and Auschwitz; Jews of Polesia, Pinsk, Brest-Litovsk, and Smolensk were eradicated. During the 1942 summer offensive, the Germans killed local Jews immediately upon arrival: the Jews of Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk and Essentuki were killed in antitank ditches near Mineralni’ye Vody; thus died evacuees to Essentuki from Leningrad and Kishinev. Jews of Kerch and Stavropol were exterminated as well. In Rostov-on-Don, recaptured by the Germans in late July 1942, all the remaining Jewish population was eradicated by August 11.

In 1943, after the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, the outcome of the war became clear. During their retreat, the Germans decided to exterminate all remaining Jews. On June 21, 1943 Himmler ordered the liquidation of the remaining ghettoes. In June 1943, the ghettoes of Lvov, Ternopol, and Drohobych were liquidated. After the liberation of Eastern Galicia in 1944, “only 10,000 to 12,000 Jews were still alive, which constituted about 2% of all Jews who had remained under occupation.” Able-bodied Jews from ghettoes in Minsk, Lida, and Vilnius were transferred to concentration camps in Poland, Estonia, and Latvia, while the rest were shot. Later, during the summer, 1944 retreat from the Baltics, some of the Jews in those camps were shot, and some were moved into camps in Germany (Stutthof et al.).149

Destined for extermination, Jews fought for survival: underground groups sprang up in many ghettoes to organize escapes. Yet after a successful breakout, a lot depended on the local residents – that they not betray the Jews, provide them with non-Jewish papers, shelter and food. In the occupied areas, Germans sentenced those helping Jews to death.150 “But everywhere, in all occupied territories, there were people who helped the Jews. … Yet there were few of them. They risked their lives and the lives of their families. … There were hundreds, maybe thousands of such people. But the majority of local populations just watched from a distance.”151 In Byelorussia and the occupied territories of the RSFSR, where local populations were not hostile to the remaining Jews and where no pogroms ever occurred, the local population provided still less assistance to Jews than in Europe or even “in Poland, the country … of widespread, traditional, folk anti-Semitism.”152 (Summaries of many similar testimonies can be found in books by S. Schwartz and I. Arad.) They plausibly attribute this not only to the fear of execution but also to the habit of obedience to authorities (developed over the years of Soviet rule) and to not meddling in the affairs of others.

Yes, we have been so downtrodden, so many millions have been torn away from our midst in previous decades, that any attempt at resistance to government power was foredoomed, so now Jews as well could not get the support of the population.

But even well-organized Soviet underground and guerrillas directed from Moscow did little to save the doomed Jews. Relations with the Soviet guerrillas were a specially acute problem for the Jews in the occupied territories. Going into the woods, i.e., joining up with a partisan unit, was a better lot for Jewish men than waiting to be exterminated by the Germans. Yet hostility to the Jews was widespread and often acute among partisans, and “there were some Russian detachments that did not accept Jews on principle. They alleged that Jews cannot and do not want to fight”, writes a former Jewish partisan Moshe Kaganovich. A non-Jewish guerilla recruit was supplied with weapons, but a Jew was required to provide his own, and sometimes it was traded down. “There is pervasive enmity to Jews among partisans. … in some detachments anti-Semitism was so strong that the Jews felt compelled to flee from such units.”153

For instance, in 1942 some two hundred Jewish boys and girls fled into the woods from the ghetto in the shtetl of Mir in Grodno oblast, and “there they encountered anti-Semitism among Soviet guerrillas, which led to the death of many who fled; only some of them were able to join guerrilla squads.”154 Or another case: A guerrilla squad under the command of Ganzenko operated near Minsk. It was replenished “mainly with fugitives from the Minsk ghetto”, but the “growing number of Jews in the unit triggered anti-Semitic clashes” – and then the Jewish part of the detachment broke away.155 Such actions on the part of the guerrillas were apparently spontaneous, not directed from the center. According to Moshe Kaganovich, from the end of 1943 “the influence of more-disciplined personnel arriving from the Soviet Union” had increased “and the general situation for [the Jews had] somewhat improved.”156 However, he complains that when a territory was liberated by the advancing regular Soviet troops and the partisans were sent to the front (which is true, and everybody was sent indiscriminately), it was primarily Jews who were sent157 – and that is incredible.

However, Kaganovich writes that Jews were sometimes directly assisted by the partisans. There were even “partisan attacks on small towns in order to save Jews” from ghettoes and [concentration] camps, and that “Russian partisan movement helped fleeing Jews to cross the front lines. … [And in this way they] smuggled across the frontline many thousands of Jews who were hiding in the forests of Western Byelorussia escaping the carnage.” A partisan force in the Chernigov region accepted “more than five hundred children from Jewish family camps in the woods, protected them and took care of them… After the Red Army liberated Sarny (on Volyn), several squads broke the front and sent Jewish children to Moscow.” (S. Schwartz believes that “these reports are greatly exaggerated. [But] they are based on real facts, [and they] merit attention.”158)

Jewish family camps originated among the Jewish masses fleeing into the woods and there “were many thousands of such fugitives.” Purely Jewish armed squads were formed specifically for the protection of these camps. (Weapons were purchased through third parties from German soldiers or policemen.) Yet how to feed them all? The only way was to take food as well as shoes and clothing, both male and female, by force from the peasants of surrounding villages. “The peasant was placed between the hammer and the anvil. If he did not carry out his assigned production minimum, the Germans burned his household and killed him as a `partisan´. On the other hand, guerrillas took from him by force all they needed”159 – and this naturally caused spite among the peasants: they are robbed by Germans and robbed by guerrillas – and now in addition even the Jews rob them? And the Jews even take away clothes from their women?

In the spring of 1943, partisan Baruch Levin came to one such family camp, hoping to get medicines for his sick comrades. He remembers: Tuvia Belsky “seemed like a legendary hero to me. … Coming from the people, he managed to organize a 1,200-strong unit in the woods. … In the worst days when a Jew could not even feed himself, he cared for the sick, elderly and for the babies born in the woods.” Levin told Tuvia about Jewish partisans: “We, the few survivors, no longer value life. Now the only meaning of our lives is revenge. It is our duty – to fight the Germans, wipe out all of them to the last one.” I talked for a long time; … offered to teach Belsky’s people how to work with explosives, and all other things I have myself learned. But my words, of course, could not change Tuvia’s mindset… `Baruch, I would like you to understand one thing. It is precisely because there are so few of us left, it is so important for me that the Jews survive. And I see this as my purpose; it is the most important thing for me.´”160

And the very same Moshe Kaganovich, as late as in 1956, wrotein a book published in Buenos Aires, “in peacetime, years after the devastating defeat of Nazism” – shows, according to S. Schwartz, “a really bloodthirsty attitude toward the Germans, an attitude that seems to be influenced by the Hitler plague….  he glorifies putting German prisoners to `Jewish death´ by Jewish partisans according to the horrible Nazi’ examples or excitedly recalls the speech by a commander of a [Jewish] guerrilla unit given before the villagers of a Lithuanian village who were gathered and forced to kneel  by partisans in the square after a punitive raid against that village whose population had actively assisted the Germans in the extermination of Jews (several dozen villagers were executed during that raid).”161 S. Schwartz writes about this with a restrained but clear condemnation.

Yes, a lot of things happened. Predatory killings call for revenge, but each act of revenge, tragically, plants the seeds of new retribution in the future.


The different Jewish sources variously estimate the total losses among Soviet Jews during the Second World War (within the post-war borders).
“How many Soviet Jews survived the war?”, asks S. Schwartz and offers this calculation: 1,810,000-1,910,000 (excluding former refugees from the Western Poland and Romania, now repatriated ). “The calculations imply that the number of Jews by the end of the war was markedly lower than two million and much lower than the almost universally accepted number of three million.”162 So, the total number of losses according to Schwarz was 2,800,000-2,900,000.

In 1990 I. Arad provided his estimate: “During the liberation of German-occupied territories … the Soviet Army met almost no Jews. Out of the 2,750,000-2,900,000 Jews who remained under the Nazi rule [in 1941] in the occupied Soviet territories, almost all died.” To this figure Arad suggests adding “about 120,000 Jews – Soviet Army soldiers who died on the front, and about 80,000 shot in the POW camps”, and “tens of thousands of Jews [who died] during the siege of Leningrad, Odessa and other cities, and in the deep rear … because of harsh living conditions in the evacuation.”163

Demographer M. Kupovetskiy published several studies in the 1990s, where he used newly available archival materials, made some corrections to older data and employed an improved technique for ethnodemographic analysis. His result was that the general losses of Jewish population within the postwar USSR borders in 1941-1945 amounted to 2,733,000 (1,112,000 Eastern and 1,621,000 Western Jews), or 55% of 4,965,000 – the total number of Jews in the USSR in June 1941. This figure, apart from the victims of Nazi extermination, includes the losses among the military and the guerrillas, among civilians near the front line, during evacuation and deportation, as well as the victims of Stalin’s camps during the war. (However, the author notes, that quantitative evaluation of each of these categories within the overall casualty figure is yet to be done.164) Apparently, the Short Jewish Encyclopedia agrees with this assessment as it provides the same number.165

The currently accepted figure for the total losses of the Soviet population during the Great Patriotic War is 27,000,000 (if the “method of demographic balance” is used, it is 26,600,000166) and this may still be underestimated.

We must not overlook what that war was for the Russians. The war rescued not only their country, not only Soviet Jewry, but also the entire social system of the Western world from Hitler. This war exacted such sacrifice from the Russian people that its strength and health have never since fully recovered. That war overstrained the Russian people. It was yet another disaster on top of those of the Civil War and de-kulakization – and from which the Russian people have almost run dry.


The ruthless and unrelenting Catastrophe, which was gradually devouring Soviet Jewry in a multitude of exterminating events all over the occupied lands, was part of a greater Catastrophe designed to eradicate the entire European Jewry.

As we examine only the events in Russia, the Catastrophe as a whole is not covered in this book. Yet the countless miseries having befallen on both our peoples, the Jewish and the Russian, in the 20th century, and the unbearable weight of the lessons of history and gnawing anxiety about the future, make it impossible not to share, if only briefly, some reflections about it, reflections of mine and others, and impossible not to examine how the high Jewish minds look at the Catastrophe from the historical perspective and how they attempt to encompass and comprehend it.

It is for a reason that the “Catastrophe” is always written with a capital letter. It was an epic event for such an ancient and historical people. It could not fail to arouse the strongest feelings and a wide variety of reflections and conclusions among the Jews.
In many Jews, long ago assimilated and distanced from their own people, the Catastrophe reignited a more distinct and intense sense of their Jewishness. Yet “for many, the Catastrophe became a proof that God is dead. If He had existed, He certainly would never have allowed Auschwitz.”167 Then there is an opposite reflection: “Recently, a former Auschwitz inmate said: “In the camps, we were given a new Torah, though we have not been able to read it yet.”168

An Israeli author states with conviction: “The Catastrophe happened because we did not follow the Covenant and did not return to our land. We had to return to our land to rebuild the Temple.”169
Still, such an understanding is achieved only by a very few, although it does permeate the entire Old Testament.

Some have developed and still harbor a bitter feeling: “Once, humanity turned away from us. We weren’t a part of the West at the time of the Catastrophe. The West rejected us, cast us away.”170 “We are as upset by the nearly absolute indifference of the world and even of non-European Jewry to the plight of the Jews in the fascist countries as by the Catastrophe in Europe itself. … What a great guilt lies on the democracies of the world in general and especially on the Jews in the democratic countries! … The pogrom in Kishinev was an insignificant crime compared to the German atrocities, to … the methodically implemented plan of extermination of millions of Jewish lives; and yet Kishinev pogrom triggered a bigger protest… Even the Beilis Trial in Kiev attracted more worldwide attention.”171

But this is unfair. After the world realized the essence and the scale of the destruction, the Jews experienced consistent and energetic support and passionate compassion from many nations.
Some contemporary Israelis recognize this and even warn their compatriots against any such excesses: “Gradually, the memory of the Catastrophe ceased to be just a memory. It has become the ideology of the Jewish state. … The memory of the Catastrophe turned into a religious devotion, into the state cult. … The State of Israel has assumed the role of an apostle of the cult of the Catastrophe, the role of a priest who collects routine tithes from other nations. And woe to those who refuse to pay that tithe!” And in conclusion: “The worst legacy of Nazism for Jews is the Jew?s role of a super-victim.”172

Here is a similar excerpt from yet another author: the cult of the Catastrophe has filled “a void in the souls of secular Jews,” “from being a reaction to an event of the past, the trauma of the Catastrophe has evolved into a new national symbol, replacing all other symbols.” And “this `mentality of the Catastrophe´ is growing with each passing year”; “if we do not recover from the trauma of Auschwitz, we will never become a normal nation.”173

Among the Jews, the sometimes painful work of re-examining the Catastrophe never ceases. Here is the opinion of an Israeli historian, a former inmate of a Soviet camp: “I do not belong to those Jews who are inclined to blame the evil `goyim´ for our national misfortunes while casting ourselves as … poor lambs or toys in the hands of others. Anyway not in the 20th century! On the contrary, I fully agree with Hannah Arendt that the Jews of our century were equal participants in the historical games of the nations and the monstrous Catastrophe that befell them was the result of not only evil plots of the enemies of mankind, but also of the huge fatal miscalculations on the part of the Jewish people themselves, their leaders and activists.”174

Indeed, Hannah Arendt was “searching for the causes of the Catastrophe [also] in Jewry itself. … Her main argument is that modern anti-Semitism was one of the consequences of the particular attitudes of the Jews towards the state and society in Europe”; the Jews “turned out to be unable to evaluate power shifts in a nation state and growing social contradictions.”175

In the late 1970s, we read in Dan Levin’s book: “On this issue, I agree with Prof. Branover who believes that the Catastrophe was largely a punishment for our sins, including the sin of leading the communist movement. There is something in it.”176

Yet no such noticeable movement can be observed among world Jewry. To a great many contemporary Jews such conclusions appear insulting and blasphemous.

To the contrary: “The very fact of the Catastrophe served as a moral justification for Jewish chauvinism. Lessons of the Second World War have been learned exactly contrariwise. … The ideology of Jewish Nationalism has grown and strengthened on this soil. This is terribly sad. A feeling of guilt and compassion towards the nation-victim has become an indulgence, absolving the sin unforgivable for all others. It is hence comes the moral permissibility of public appeals not to mix one’s own ancient blood with the alien blood.”177

In the late 1980s, a Jewish publicist from Germany wrote: “Today, the `moral capital´ of Auschwitz is already spent.”178 One year later, she stated: “Solid moral capital gained by the Jews because of Auschwitz seems to be depleted”; the Jews “can no longer proceed along the old way by raising pretensions to the world. Today, the world already has the right to converse with the Jews as it does with all others”; “the struggle for the rights of Jews is no more progressive than a struggle for the rights of all other nations. It is high time to break the mirror and look around – we are not alone in this world.”179

It would have been equally great for Russian minds to elevate themselves to similarly decent and benevolent self-criticism, especially in making judgments about Russian history of the 20th century – the brutality of the Revolutionary period, the cowed indifference of the Soviet times and the abominable plundering of the post-Soviet age. And to do it despite the unbearable burden of realization that it was we Russians who ruined our history – through our useless rulers but also through our own worthlessness – and despite the gnawing anxiety that this may be irredeemable – to perceive the Russian experience as possibly a punishment from the Supreme Power.

1 И. Шехтман. Советское еврейство в германо-советской войне // Еврейский мир: Сб. 2 (далее — ЕМ-2). Нью-Йорк: Союз русских евреев в Нью-Йорке, 1944. с. 225-226.

2 А.А. Гольдштейн. Судьба евреев в оккупированной немцами Советской России // Книга о русском еврействе. 1917-1967 (далее — КРЕ-2). Нью-Йорк: Союз Русских Евреев, 1968, с. 89, 92.

3 Rescue: Information Bulletin of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), July-August 1946 (Vol. Ill, № 7-8), p. 2. — Цит. по: С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе с начала Второй мировой войны (1939-1965). Нью-Йорк: Изд. Американского Еврейского Рабочего Комитета, 1966, с. 45.

4 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…*, с. 55.

5 Моше Каганович. Дер идишер онтайл ин партизанербавегунг фун Совет-Руссланд. Рим, 1948, с. 188. — Цит. по: С. Шварц. Советском Союзе…, с. 45-46.

6 М. Куповецкий. Людские потери еврейского населения в послевоенных границах СССР в годы Великой Отечественной войны // Вестник Еврейского Университета в Москве. 1995, № 2(9), с. 137, 145, 151.

7 Ицхак Арад. Холокауст: Катастрофа европейского еврейства (1933-1945): Сб. статей. Иерусалим: Яд Ва-Шем, 1990 (далее — И. Арад. Холокауст), с. 62.

8 М. Куповецкий. Людские потери еврейского населения… // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та…, 1995, № 2(9), с. 145.

9 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 61.

10 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 181.

11 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина: Власть и антисемитизм*. М.: Международные отношения, 2001, с. 431.

12 Краткая Еврейская Энциклопедия (далее — КЕЭ). Иерусалим: Общество по исследованию еврейских общин, 1988. Т. 4, с. 167.

13 С.М. Шварц. Биробиджан // КРЕ-2, с. 187.

14 И. Шехтман. Советское еврейство в германо-советской войне // ЕМ-2, с. 226, 227.

15 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 144.

16 С. Цирюльников. СССР, евреи и Израиль // Время и мы: Международный журнал литературы и общественных проблем. Нью-Йорк, 1987, № 96, с. 151-152.

17 И. Шехтман. Советское еврейство в германо-советской войне // ЕМ-2, с. 224.

18 Советский тыл в первый период Великой Отечественной войны: [Сб.]. М., 1988, с. 139.

19 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 53.

20 Л.Л. Мининберг. Советские евреи в науке и промышленности СССР в период Второй мировой войны (1941 -1945). М., 1995, с. 13.

21 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 53.

22 Там же, с. 46, 53.

23 Н. Арад. Отношение советского руководства к Холокосту // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та…, 1995, № 2(9), с. 23.

24 И. Шехтман. Советское еврейство в германо-советской войне // ЕМ-2, с. 238.

25 Там же, с. 237.

26 Доклад Председателя Государственного Комитета Обороны тов. И.В. Сталина на торжественном заседании Московского Совета депутатов трудящихся 6 ноября 1941 года // Правда, 1941, 7 ноября, с. 1-2.

27 И. Арад. Отношение советского руководства к Холокосту // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та…, 1995, № 2(9), с. 17.

28 Известия, 1942, 7 января, с. 1-2.

29 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…*, с. 138-145.

30 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 146.

31 С. Швейбиш. Эвакуация и советские евреи в годы Катастрофы // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та…, 1995, № 2(9), с. 47.

32 Правда, 1938, 18 ноября, с. 1.

33 Правда, 1938, 28 ноября, с. 2-3.

34 И. Арад. Отношение советского руководства к Холокосту // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та… , 1995, № 2(9), с. 15-16.

35 С. Швейбиш. Эвакуация и советские евреи в годы Катастрофы // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та…, 1995, № 2(9), с. 47-48.

36 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 223.

37 Там же, с. 49.

38 В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 231.

39 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 233-235.

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

41 Павел Судоплатов. Спецоперации: Лубянка и Кремль: 1930-1950 годы. М.: ОЛМА-Пресс, 1997, с. 465, 470.

42 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 239.

43 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 237-239.

44 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 166-170.

45 Д. Шуб. Евреи в русской революции // ЕМ-2, с. 145.

46 Л.Ю. Кричевский. Евреи в аппарате ВЧК-ОПТУ в 20-е годы // Евреи и русская революция: Материалы и исследования / Ред.-сост. О.В. Будницкий. Москва; Иерусалим: Гешарим, 1999, с. 344.

47 Е. Сталинский. Евреи в Красной армии // ЕМ-2, с. 243-245.

48 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина //КРЕ-2, с. 143.

49 В. Анфилов. Как «оправдался» Сталин // Родина, 1991, № 6-7, с. 31; Российская Еврейская Энциклопедия (далее — РЕЭ). 2-е изд., испр. и доп. М., 1995. Т. 2, с. 276-277.

50 Арон Абрамович. В решающей войне: Участие и роль евреев СССР в войне против нацизма. Тель-Авив, 1992. Т. 2, с. 536-578.

51 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 93.

52 М. Вишняк. Международная конвенция против антисемитизма // ЕМ-2, с. 98.

53 Г. Аронсон. Еврейский вопрос в эпоху Сталина // КРЕ-2, с. 143.

54 А. Абрамович. В решающей войне. Т. 2, с. 548-555.

55 Очерки еврейского героизма: В 3 т. / Сост. Г.С. Шапиро, С.Л. Авербух. Киев; Тель-Авив, 1994-1997.

56 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 245 (со ссылкой на бывш. Центральный партийный архив при ЦК КПСС, ныне РГАСПИ. Ф. 17, оп. 125, ед. хр. 127, л. 220).

57 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 128.

58 Л.Л. Мининберг. Советские евреи в науке и промышленности…, с. 18, 444-445, 452, 474-475.

59 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 154-156.

60 Е. Сталинский. Евреи в Красной армии // ЕМ-2, с. 250.

61 А. Абрамович. В решающей войне. Т. 2, с. 562.

58 Л.Л. Мининберг. Советские евреи в науке и промышленности…, с. 18, 444-445, 452, 474-475.

59 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 154-156.

60 Е. Сталинский. Евреи в Красной армии // ЕМ-2, с. 250.

61 А. Абрамович. В решающей войне. Т. 2, с. 562.

62 С. Фрейлих. История одного боя // Киносценарии, М., 1990, № 3, с. 132.

63 Л. Лазарев. Записки пожилого человека // Знамя, 2001, № 6, с. 167.

64 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 154.

65 Dr. Jerzy Gliksman. Jewish Exiles in Soviet Russia (1939-1943). Part 2, July 1947, p. 17 // Архив Американского Еврейского Комитета в Нью-Йорке. — Цит по: С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 157.

66 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 223.

67 Rachel Erlich. Summary Report on Eighteen Intensive Interviews with Jewish DP’s from Poland and the Soviet Union. October 1948, p. 27 // Архив Американского Еврейского Комитета в Нью-Йорке. — Цит по: С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 192.

68 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 128.

69 Е. Сталинский. Евреи в Красной армии // ЕМ-2, с. 240.

70 А. Воронель. Люди на войне, или ещё раз об уникальности Израиля // “22”: Общественно-политический и литературный журнал еврейской интеллигенции из СССР в Израиле. Тель-Авив, 1984, № 34, с. 146.

71 КЕЭ, т. 1, статья «Военная служба», с. 690; т. 4, ст. «Катастрофа», с. 159. В ст. «Советский Союз» (т. 8, с. 224) КЕЭ даёт цифру 450 тыс. евреев в составе Советской армии, и ещё 25-30 тыс. в партизанских отрядах.

72 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 102.

73 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 86.

74 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 441.

75 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 98-102.

76 Скажем, нам представляется, что число «восточников», которых успели мобилизовать до прихода немцев, было несколько меньше, зато средний процент армейцев от всего населения СССР, был, возможно, несколько выше, чем рассчитанный И. Арадом.

77 В ныне выходящей Военной энциклопедии едва ли не впервые приведены сведения об общем числе мобилизованных в годы Великой Отечественной Войны — 30 миллионов. См.: Военная энциклопедия: В 8 т. М.: Воениздат, 2001. Т. 5. с. 182.

78 КЕЭ, т. 7, с. 385.

79 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 686.

80 Там же, с. 686-687.

81 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 118.

82 А. Абрамович. В решающей войне. Т. 2, с 531-532.

83 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 232.

84 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 96.

85 Там же, с. 126.

86 Ю. Колкер. [Рецензия на справочник «Ленинградские писатели-фронтовики. 1941-1945» / Сост. В. Бахтин. Л.: Сов. писатель, [1985] // Страна и мир: Обществ.-политический, экономический и культурно-философский журнал. Мюнхен, 1987, № 5, с. 138.

87 С. Черток // Русская мысль, 1992, 1 мая, с. 18.

88 М. Гольдштейн // Русская мысль, 1968, 1 августа, с. 10.

89 РЕЭ, т. 1, с. 296-297.

90 А.П. Артемьев. Братский боевой союз народов СССР в Великой Отечественной войне. М.: Мысль, 1975, с. 58-59.

91 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 1051; П. Судоплатов. Спецоперации, с. 217-228.

92 КЕЭ, т. 5, с. 83; Очерки еврейского героизма. Т. 1, с. 405-430.

93 РЕЭ, т. 3, с. 383.

94 В. Каган. Правильное решение* // “22”. Ноябрь 1990-Январь 1991, № 74, с. 252. (Это — рецензия на книгу: И. Деген. Из дома рабства. Тель-Авив: Мория, 1986.)

95 Там же, с. 252.

96 С.Я. Лурье. Антисемитизм в древнем мире. Тель-Авив: Сова, 1976, с. 77 [1-е изд. — Пг.: Былое, 1922].

97 В. Александрова. Евреи в советской литературе // КРЕ-2, с. 297.

98 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 197.

99 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 6.

100 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 242.

101 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 157.

102 Dr. Jerzy Gliksman. Jewish Exiles in Soviet Russia (1939-1943). Part 2, July 1947, p. 6 // Архив Американского Еврейского Комитета в Нью-Йорке. — Цит. по: С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 157.

103 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 191.

104 Rachel Erlich. Summary Report on Eighteen Intensive Interviews with Jewish DP’s from Poland and the Soviet Union. October 1948, p. 9f // Архив Американского Еврейского Комитета в Нью-Йорк — Цит. по: С. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 192.

105 Там же, р. 26. — Цит. по: С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…, с. 194.

106 Dr. Jerzy Gliksman. Jewish Exiles…, p. 17. — Цит. по: С.Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 159.

107 Там же, р. 15. — Цит. по: С.Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе… , с. 159.

108 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 157.

109 Там же, с. 158.

110 Bulletin of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. March 1945, p. 2-3. — Цит. по: С.Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 160.

111 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 184.

112 Л. Шапиро. Евреи в Советской России после Сталина // КРБ-2, с. 359.

113 Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg. 14 November 1945-1 October 1946. — Nuremberg, 1949, Vol. 38, p. 292-293, Doc. 102-R. — Цит. по: С.Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 101.

114 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 88.

115 Trial of the Major War Criminals… Vol. 37, p. 672-683, Doc. 180-L. — Цит. по: С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 89.

116 И. Гар. Евреи в Прибалтийских странах под немецкой оккупацией // КРЕ-2, с. 97.

117 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 218.

118 Trial of the Major War Criminals… Vol. 37, р. 672-683, Doc. 180-L. Цит. по: С.Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 89-90.

119 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 218.

120 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 218.

121 Trial of the Major War Criminals… Vol. 37, p. 672-683, Doc. 180-L. — Цит. по: С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 90.

122 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 218.

123 Trial of the Major War Criminals… Vol.37, p. 672-683, Doc. 180-L. — Цит. по: С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 89-90.

124 Уничтожение евреев СССР в годы немецкой оккупации (1941-1944): Сб. документов и материалов / Под ред. И. Арада. Иерусалим: Яд Ва-Шем, 1991, с. 12.

125 Trial of the Major War Criminals… Vol. 37, p. 672-683, Doc. 180-L. — Цит. по: С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 91-92.

126 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 218.

127 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм…*, с. 134-135.

128 Там же*, с. 132.

129 Там же*, с. 93.

130 И. Шехтман. Советское еврейство в германо-советской войне // ЕМ-2, с. 235-236.

131 А. Вайс. Отношение некоторых кругов украинского национального движения к евреям в период Второй мировой войны* // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та…, 1995, № 2(9), с. 106.

132 А. Вайс. Отношение некоторых кругов украинского национального движения к евреям в период Второй мировой войны* // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та…, 1995, № 2(9), с. 105-106, 107.

133 Там же, с. 106-107.

134 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 98, 101.

135 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 218.

136 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 99.

137 А.А. Гольдштейн. Судьба евреев в оккупированной немцами Советской России // КРЕ-2, с. 74.

138 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 102.

139 Там же, с. 74, 90.

140 Уничтожение евреев СССР в годы немецкой оккупации*, с. 4.

141 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 65.

142 И. Шехтман. Советское еврейство в германо-советской войне // ЕМ-2, с. 229.

143 КЕЭ*, т. 8, с. 218.

144 От источника к источнику цифры несколько разнятся. Статистику этих истреблений, вероятно, невозможно установить точно. См. уже цитированную статью А.А. Гольдштейна в «Книге о Русском Еврействе» (1968); сборник И. Арада «Уничтожение евреев СССР в годы немецкой оккупации» (1991); статью «Советский Союз» в КЕЭ, т. 8 (1996).

145 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 275.

146 КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 125-126.

147 Уничтожение евреев СССР в годы немецкой оккупации, с. 16.

148 Там же, с. 17.

149 Там же, с. 26-27.

150 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 222.

151 Уничтожение евреев СССР в годы немецкой оккупации, с. 24.

152 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…, с. 108.

153 Там же*, с. 121-124.

154 КЕЭ, т. 5, с. 366.

155 РЕЭ, т. 1, с. 499.

156 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…*, с. 127.

157 Там же*, с. 129.

158 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…*, с. 125-126.

159 Там же*, с. 121, 128.

160 Уничтожение евреев СССР в годы немецкой оккупации, с. 386-387.

161 С. Шварц. Евреи в Советском Союзе…*, с. 132.

162 Там же, с. 171-173.

163 И. Арад. Холокауст, с. 91.

164 М. Куповецкий. Людские потери еврейского населения… // Вестник Еврейского Ун-та…, 1995, № 2(9), с. 134-155.

165 КЕЭ, т. 8, с. 299.

166 Е.М. Андреев, Л.Е. Царский, Т.Л. Харькова. Население Советского Союза, 1922-1991. М., 1993, с. 78.

167 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 175.

168 М. Каганская. Миф против реальности // “22”, 1988, № 58, с. 144.

169 Н. Гутина. Ориентация на Храм // Там же, с. 191.

170 М. Каганская. Миф против реальности // Там же, с. 141 -142.

171 А. Менес. Катастрофа и возрождение // ЕМ-2, с. 111.

172 Бен-Барух. Тень // “22”, 1988, № 58, с. 197-198, 200.

173 Ури Авнери. Последняя месть Адольфа Гитлера // “22”, 1993, № 85, с. 132, 134, 139.

174 М. Хейфец. Что надо выяснить во времени // “22”, 1989, № 64, с. 218-219.

175 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Lügen: Rußland und die Juden im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin: Siedler Verlag, 1992, pp. 137-138.

176 Дан Левин. На краю соблазна: [Интервью] // “22”, 1978, № 1, с. 55.

177 Д. Хмельницкий. Под звонкий голос крови, или с самосознанием наперевес // “22”, 1992, № 80, с. 175.

178 С. Марголина. Германия и евреи: вторая попытка // Страна и мир, 1991, № 3, с. 142.

179 Sonja Margolina. Das Ende der Lügen…, pp. 150-151.

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Chapter 20. In the camps of GULag

If I haven’t been there, it wouldn’t be possible for me to compose this chapter.

Before the camps I thought that “one should not notice nationalities”, that there are no nationalities, there is only humankind.

But when you are sent into the camp, you find it out: if you are of a lucky nationality then you are a fortunate man. You are provided for. You have survived! But if you are of a common nationality – well then, no offence…

Because nationality is perhaps the most important trait that gives a prisoner a chance to be picked into the life-saving corps of “Idiots” [translator note: from Russian “придурок” – a fool or idiot. This is an inmate slang term to denote other inmates who didn’t do common labor but managed to obtain positions with easy duties, usually pretending to be incapable of doing hard work because of poor health]. Every experienced camp inmate can confirm that ethnic proportions among Idiots were very different from those in the general camp population. Indeed, there were virtually no Pribalts among Idiots, regardless of their actual number in the camp (and there were many of them); there were always Russians, of course, but in incomparably smaller proportion than in the camp on average (and those were often selected from orthodox members of the Party); on the other hand, some others were noticeably concentrated – Jews, Georgians, Armenians; and Azeris also ended there in higher proportions, and, to some extent, Caucasian mountaineers also.

Certainly, none of them can be blamed for that. Every nation in the Gulag did its best crawling to survival, and the smaller and nimbler it was, the easier it was to accomplish. And again, Russians were the very last nation in “their own Russian camps”, like they were in the German Kriegsgefan-genenlagers.

Yet it is not us who could have blamed them, but it is they – Armenians, Georgians, highlanders, who would have been in their right to ask us: “Why did you establish these camps? Why do you force us to live in your state? Do not hold us and we will not land here and occupy these such attractive Idiotic positions! But while we are your prisoners – a la guerre comme a la guerre.”

But what about Jews? For Fate interwove Russian and Jews, perhaps forever, which is why this book is being written.

Before that, before this very line, there will be readers who have been in the camps and who haven’t been, who will be quick to contest the truth of what I say here. They will claim that many Jews were forced to take part in common labor activities. They will deny that there were camps where Jews were the majority among Idiots. They will indignantly reject that nations in the camps were helping each other selectively, and, therefore, at the expense of others.

Some others will not consider themselves as distinct “Jews” at all, perceiving themselves as Russians in everything. Besides, even if there was overrepresentation of Jews on key camp positions, it was absolutely unpremeditated, wasn’t it? The selection was exclusively based on merit and personal talents and abilities to do business. Well, who is to blame if Russians lack business talents?

There will be also those who will passionately assert directly opposite: that it was Jews who suffered worst in the camps. This is exactly how it is understood in the West: in Soviet camps nobody suffered as badly as Jews. Among the letters from readers of Ivan Denisovich there was one from an anonymous Jew: “You have met innocent Jews who languished in camps with you, and you obviously not at once witnessed their suffering and persecution. They endured double oppression: imprisonment and enmity from the rest of inmates. Tell us about these people!”

And if I wished to generalize and state that the life of Jews in camps was especially difficult, then I would be allowed to do so and wouldn’t be peppered with admonitions for unjust ethnic generalizations. But in the camps, where I was imprisoned, it was the other way around – the life of Jews, to the extent of possible generalization, was easier.

Semen Badash, my campmate from Ekibastuz, recounts in his memoirs how he had managed to settle – later, in a camp at Norilsk  – in the medical unit: Max Minz asked a radiologist Laslo Newsbaum to solicit for Badash before a free head of the unit. He was accepted (1). But Badash at least finished three years of medical school before imprisonment. Compare that with other nurses – Genkin, Gorelik, Gurevich (like one of my pals, L. Kopelev from Unzlag) – who never before in their lives had anything to do with medicine.

Some people absolutely seriously write like this: A. Belinkov “was thrown into the most despicable category of Idiots…” (and I am tempted to inappropriately add “and languishers” here, though the “Languishers” were the social antipodes of Idiots and Belinkov never was among the Languishers). – “To be thrown into the group ofIdiots”! – what’s an expression! “To be diminished by being accepted into the ranks of gentlemen”? And here goes the justification: “To dig soil? But at the age of 23 he not only never did it – he never saw a shovel in his life”. Well then he had no other choice but to become an Idiot.

Or read what Levitin-Krasnov wrote about one Pinsky, a literature expert, that he was a nurse in the camp. Which means that he, on the camp scale, has adhered well. However, Levitin presents this as an example of the greatest humiliation possible for a professor of the humanities.

Or take prisoner who survived, Lev Razgon, a journalist and not a medic at all, who was heavily published afterwards. But from his story in “Ogonek” (1988) we find that he used to be a medic in the camp’s medical unit, and, moreover, an unescorted medic. (From other his stories we can figure out that he also worked as a senior controller at a horrible timber logging station. But there is not a single story from which we can conclude that he ever participated in common labor.)

Or a story of Frank Dikler, a Jew from faraway Brazil: he was imprisoned and couldn’t speak Russian, of course, and guess what? He had pull in the camp, and he has became a chief of the medical unit’s kitchen – a truly magnificent treasure!

Or Alexandr Voronel, who was a ”political youngster” when he landed in the camps, says that immediately after getting in the camp, he was “readily assisted… by other Jewish inmates, who had not a slightest idea about my political views”. A Jewish inmate, responsible for running the bathhouse (a very important Idiot as well), has spotted him instantly and “ordered him to come if he needs any help”; a Jew from prisoner security (also an Idiot) told another Jew, a brigadier: “There are two Jewish guys, Hakim, don’t allow them to get in trouble”. And the brigadier gave them strong protection. “Other thieves, especially “elders”, approved him: You are so right, Hakim! You support your own kin! Yet we, Russians, are like wolves to each other”” (3).

And let’s not forget that even during camp imprisonment, by virtue of a common stereotype regarding all Jews as businessmen, many of them were getting commercial offers, sometimes even when they didn’t actively look for such enterprises. Take, for instance, M. Hafez. He emphatically notes: “What a pity that I can’t describe you those camp situations. There are so many rich, beautiful stories! However, the ethical code of a “reliable Jew” seals my mouth. You know even the smallest commercial secret should be kept forever. That’s the law of the Tribe” (4).

A Lett Ane Bernstein, one of my witnesses from Archipelago, thinks that he managed to survive in the camps only because in times of hardship he asked the Jews for help and that the Jews, judging by his last name and nimble manners, mistook him for their tribesman – and always provided assistance. He says that in all his camps Jews always constituted the upper crust, and that the most important free employees were also Jews (Shulman – head of special department, Greenberg – head of camp station, Kegels – chief mechanic of the factory), and, according to his recollections, they also preferred to select Jewish inmates to staff their units.

This particular Jewish national contract between free bosses and inmates is impossible to overlook. A free Jew was not so stupid to actually see an “Enemy of the People” or an evil character preying on “the people’s property” in an imprisoned Jew (unlike what a dumb-headed Russian saw in another Russian). He in the first place saw a suffering tribesman – and I praise them for this sobriety! Those who know about terrific Jewish mutual supportiveness (especially exacerbated by mass deaths of Jews under Hitler) would understand that a free Jewish boss simply could not indifferently watch Jewish prisoners flounder in starvation and die, and not help. But I am unable to imagine a free Russian employee who would save and promote his fellow Russian prisoners to the privileged positions only because of their nationality. Though we have lost 15 millions during collectivization, we are still numerous. You can’t care about everyone, and nobody would even think about it.

Sometimes, when such a team of Jewish inmates smoothly bands together and, being no longer impeded by the ferocious struggle for survival, they can engage in extraordinary activities. An engineer named Abram Zisman tells us: “In Novo-Archangelsk camp, in our spare time, [we] decided to count how many Jewish pogroms occurred over the course of Russian history. We managed to excite the curiosity of our camp command on this question (they had a peaceful attitude toward us). TheNachlag [camp commander] was captain Gremin (N. Gershel, a Jew, son of a tailor from Zhlobin). He sent an inquiry to the archives of the former Interior Department requesting the necessary information, and after eight months we received an official reply that … 76 Jewish pogroms occurred from 1811 to 1917 on the territory of Russia with the number of victims estimated at approximately 3,000” (That is, the total number of those who suffered in any way.) The author reminds us that during one six-month period in medieval Spain more than twenty thousand Jews were killed (5).

A plot-like atmosphere emanates from the recollections of Josef Berger, a communist, about a highly-placed snitch Lev Ilyich Inzhir. A former Menshevik, arrested in 1930, he immediately began collaborating with the GPU, fearing reprisals against his family and the loss of his apartment in the center of Moscow. He “helped to prepare the Menshevik trial” of 1931, falsely testified against his best friends, was absolved and immediately appointed as a chief accountant of Belomorstroi. During the Yezhovschina he was a chief accountant of the GULag “enjoying the complete trust of his superiors and with connections to the very top NKVD officials”. (Inzhir recalled one “Jewish NKVD veteran who interlarded his words with aphorisms from Talmud”.) He was arrested later again, this time on the wave of anti-Yezhov purges. However, Inzhir’s former colleagues from the GULag favorably arranged his imprisonment. However, at this point he turned into an explicit ”snitch and provocateur”, and other inmates suspected that the plentiful parcels he was receiving were not from his relatives but directly from the Third Department. Nevertheless, later in 1953 in the Tayshet camp, he was sentenced to an additional jail term, this time being accused of Trotskyism and of concealing his “sympathies for the State of Israel” from the Third Department (6).

Of worldwide infamy, BelBallag absorbed hundreds of thousands of Russian, Ukrainian and Middle Asian peasants between 1931 and 1932. Opening a newspaper issue from August, 1933, dedicated to the completion of the canal [between White and Baltic seas], we find a list of awardees. Lower ranking orders and medals were awarded to concreters, steelfixers, etc, but the highest degree of decoration, the Order of Lenin, was awarded to eight men only, and we can see large photographs of each. Only two of them were actual engineers, the rest were the chief commanders of the canal (according to Stalin’s understanding of personal contribution). And whom do we see here? Genrikh Yagoda, head of NKVD. Matvei Berman, head of GULag. Semen Firin, commander of BelBaltlag (by that time he was already the commander of Dmitlag, where the story will later repeat itself). Lazar Kogan, head of construction (later he will serve the same function at Volgocanal). Jacob Rapoport, deputy head of construction. Naftaly Frenkel, chief manager of the labor force of Belomorstroi (and the evil demon of the whole Archipelago) (7).

And all their portraits were enlarged and reprinted again in the solemnly shameful book Belomorcanal (8) – a book of huge Scriptural size, like some revelation anticipating advent of the Millenarian Kingdom.

And then I reproduced these six portraits of villains in Archipelago, borrowing them from their own exhibition and without any prior editing, showing everybody who was originally displayed. Oh my God, what a worldwide rage has surged! How dared I?! This is anti-Semitism! I am a branded and screwed anti-Semite. At best, to reproduce these portraits was “national egotism” – i.e. Russian egotism! And they dared to say it despite what follows immediately on the next pages of Archipelago: how docilely “Kulak” lads were freezing to death under their barrows.

One wonders, where were their eyes in 1933 when it was printed for the very first time? Why weren’t they so indignant then?

Let me repeat what I professed once to the Bolsheviks: one should be ashamed of hideosity not when it is disclosed to public but when it is done.

A particular conundrum exists with respect to the personality of Naftaly Frenkel, that tireless demon of Archipelago: how to explain his strange return from Turkey in 1920’s? He successfully got away from Russia with all his capitals after the first harbingers of revolution. In Turkey, he attained a secure, rich and unconstrained social standing, and he never harbored any Communist ideas. And yet he returned? To come back and become a toy for the GPU and for Stalin, to spend several years in imprisonment himself, but in return to accomplish the most ruthless oppression of imprisoned engineers and the extermination of hundreds of thousands of the “de-Kulakized”? What could have motivated his insatiable evil heart? I am unable to imagine any possible reason except vengeance toward Russia. If anyone can provide an alternative explanation, please do so (9).

What else could be revealed by someone with a thorough understanding of the structure of the camp command? The head of 1st Department of Belomorstroi was one Wolf; the head of the Dmitrov section of Volgocanal was Bovshover. The finance division of Belomorstroi was headed by L. Berenzon, his deputies were A. Dorfman, the already mentioned Inzhir, Loevetsky, Kagner, Angert. And how many of the other humbler posts remain unmentioned? Is it really reasonable to suppose that Jews were digging soil with shovels and racing their hand-barrows and dying under those barrows from exhaustion and emaciation? Well, view it as you wish. A. P. Skripnikova and D. P. Vitkovsky, who were there, told me that Jews were overrepresented among Idiots during construction of Belomorcanal, and they did not roll barrows and did not die under them.

And you could find highly-placed Jewish commanders not only at BelBaltlag. Construction of the Kotlas-Vorkuta railroad was headed by Moroz (his son married Svetlana Stalina); the special officer-in-charge of GULag in the Far East was Grach. These are only a few of the names, which resurfaced accidentally. If a former inmate Thomas Sgovio, an American national, didn’t write to me, I wouldn’t be aware about the head of the Chai-Uryinsk Mining Administration on Kolyma between 1943-44 (at the depths of the Patriotic War): “Half-colonel Arm was a tall black-haired Jew with a terrible reputation… His orderly man was selling ethanol to everybody, 50 grams for 50 rubles. Arm had his own personal tutor of English – a young American, arrested in Karelia. His wife was paid a salary for an accountant’s position, but she didn’t work – her job was actually performed by an inmate in the office” (a common practice revealing how families of GULag commanders used to have additional incomes).

Or take another case: during the age of glasnost, one Soviet newspaper published a story about the dreadful GULag administration that built a tunnel between Sakhalin and the mainland. It was called the “Trust of Arais” (10). Who was that comrade Arais? I have no idea. But how many perished in his mines and in the unfinished tunnel?

Sure, I knew a number of Jews (they were my friends) who carried all the hardships of common labor. In Archipelago, I described a young man, Boris Gammerov, who quickly found his death in the camp. (While his friend, the writer Ingal, was made an accountant from the very first day in the camp, although his knowledge of arithmetic was very poor.) I knew Volodya Gershuni, an irreconcilable and incorruptible man. I knew Jog Masamed, who did common labor in the hard labor camp at Ekibastuz on principle, though he was called upon to join the Idiots. Besides, I would like to list here a teacher Tatyana Moiseevna Falike, who spent 10 years drudging, she said, like a beast of burden. And I also would like to name here a geneticist Vladimir Efroimson, who spent 13 out of his 36 months of imprisonment (one out of his two terms) doing common labor. He also did it on principle, though he also had better options. Relying on parcels from home (one cannot blame him for that), he picked the hand-barrow precisely because there were many Jews from Moscow in that Jezkazgan camp, and they were used to settling well, while Efroimson wanted to dispel any grudge toward Jews, which was naturally emerging among inmates. And what did his brigade think about his behavior? – “He is a black sheep among Jews; would a real Jew roll a barrow?” He was similarly ridiculed by Jewish Idiots who felt annoyed that he “flaunted himself” to reproach them. In the same vein, another Jew, Jacov Davydovich Grodzensky, who also beavered in the common category, was judged by others: “Is he really a Jew?”

It is so symbolic! Both Efroimson and Grodzenskiy did those right and best things, which could be only motivated by the noblest of Jewish appeals, to honestly share the common lot, and they were not understood by either side! They are always difficult and derided – the paths of austerity and dedication, the only ones that can save humanity.

I try not to overlook such examples, because all my hopes depend on them.

Let’s add here a valiant Gersh Keller, one of the leaders of Kengir uprising in 1954 (he was 30 years old when executed). I also read about Yitzhak Kaganov, commander of an artillery squadron during the Soviet-German war. In 1948, he was sentenced to 25 years for Zionism. During 7 years of imprisonment he wrote 480 pieces of poetry in Hebrew, which he memorized without writing them down (11).

During his third trial (July 10, 1978), after already serving two terms, Alexander Ginsburg, was asked a question “What is your nationality?” and replied: “Inmate!” That was a worthy and serious response, and it angered the tribunal. But he deserved it for his work for the Russian Public Relief Fund, which provided assistance to families of political prisoners of all nationalities, and by his manly vocation. This is what we are – a genuine breed of prisoners, regardless of nationality.

However, my camps were different, – spanning from the “great” Belomor to the tiny 121st camp district of the 15th OLP of Moscow’s UITLK (which left behind a not inconspicuous semi-circular building at Kaluga’s gate in Moscow). Out there, our entire life was directed and trampled by three leading Idiots: Solomon Solomonov, a chief accountant; David Burstein, first an “educator” and later a work-assigning clerk; and Isaac Bershader. (Earlier, in exactly the same way, Solomonov and Bershader ruled over the camp at the Moscow Highway Institute, MHI.) Note that all this happened under auspices of a Russian camp commander, one ensign Mironov.

All three of them came up before my eyes, and to get positions for them, in each case their Russian predecessors were instantly removed from the posts. Solomonov was sent in first; he confidently seized a proper position and quickly got on the right side of the ensign. (I think, using food and money from outside.) Soon after that the wretched Bershader was sent in from MHI with an accompanying note “to use him only in the common labor category” (a quite unusual situation for a domestic criminal, which probably meant substantial delinquency). He was about fifty years old, short, fat, with a baleful glare. He walked around condescendingly inspecting our living quarters, with the look of a general from the head department.

The senior proctor asked him: “What is your specialty?” – “Storekeeper”. – “There is no such specialty” – “Well, I am a storekeeper”. – “Anyway, you are going to work in the common labor brigade”. For two days he was sent there. Shrugging his shoulders, he went out, and, upon entering the work zone, he used to seat himself on a stone and rest respectably. The brigadier would have hit him, but he quailed – the newcomer was so self-confident, that anyone could sense power behind him. The camp’s storekeeper, Sevastyanov, was depressed as well. For two years he was in charge of the combined provision and sundry store. He was firmly established and lived on good terms with the brass, but now he was chilled: everything is already settled! Bershader is a “storekeeper by specialty”!

Then the medical unit discharged Bershader from the labor duties on grounds of “poor health” and after that he rested in the living quarters. Meanwhile, he probably got something from outside. And within less than a week Sevastyanov was removed from his post, and Bershader was made a storekeeper (with the assistance of Solomonov). However, at this point it was found that the physical labor of pouring grain and rearranging boots, which was done by Sevastyanov single-handedly, was also contraindicated for Bershader. So he was given a henchman, and Solomonov’s bookkeeping office enlisted the latter as service personnel. But it was still not a sufficiently abundant life. The best looking proudest woman of the camp, the swan-like lieutenant-sniper M. was bent to his will and forced to visit him in his store-room in the evenings. After Burstein showed himself in the camp, he arranged to have another camp beauty, A. S., to come to his cubicle.

Is it difficult to read this? But they were by no means troubled how it looked from outside. It even seemed as if they thickened the impression on purpose. And how many such little camps with similar establishments were there all across the Archipelago?

And did Russian Idiots behave in the same way, unrestrained and insanely!? Yes. But within every other nation it was perceived socially, like an eternal strain between rich and poor, lord and servant. However, when an alien emerges as a “master over life and death” it further adds to the heavy resentment. It might appear strange – isn’t it all the same for a worthless negligible, crushed, and doomed camp dweller surviving at one of his dying stages? isn’t it all the same who exactly seizes the power inside the camp and celebrates crow’s picnics over his trench-grave? As it turns out, it is not. These things have been etched into my memory inerasably.

In my play Republic of Labor, I presented some of the events that happened in that camp on Bolshaya Kaluzhskaya 30. Understanding the impossibility of depicting everything like it was in reality, because it would be inevitably considered as incitement of anti-Jewish sentiment (as if that trio of Jews was not inflaming it in real life, caring little about consequences) I withheld the abominably greedy Bershader. I concealed Burstein. I recomposed the profiteer Rosa Kalikman into an amorphous Bella of eastern origin, and retained the only Jew, accountant Solomonov, exactly like he was in life.

So, what about my loyal Jewish friends after they perused the play? The play aroused extraordinarily passionate protests from V. L. Teush. He read it not immediately but when Sovremennik had already decided to stage it in 1962, so the question was far from scholarly. The Teushes were deeply injured by the figure of Solomonov. They thought it was dishonest and unjust to show such a Jew (despite that in the real life, in the camp, he was exactly as I showed him) in the age of oppression of Jews. (But then, it appears to me that such age is everlasting? When have our Jews not been oppressed?) Teush was alarmed and extremely agitated, and put forward an ultimatum that if I did not remove or at least soften up the image of Solomonov, then all our friendship will be ruined and he and his wife will no longer be able to keep my manuscripts. Moreover, they prophesized that my very name will be irretrievably lost and blemished if I leave Solomonov in the play. Why not to make him a Russian? They were astonished. Is it so important that he be a Jew? (But if it doesn’t matter, why did Solomonov select Jews to be Idiots?)

I took a chill pill: a sudden censorial ban, no less weighty than the official Soviet prohibition, had emerged from an unanticipated direction. However, the situation was soon resolved by the official prohibition forbidding Sovremennik to stage the piece.

And there was another objection from Teush: “Your Solomonov has anything but Jewish personality. A Jew always behaves discreetly, cautiously, suppliantly, and even cunningly, but from where comes this pushy impudence of jubilant force? This is not true, it cannot happen like this!”

However, I remember not this Solomonov alone, and it was exactly like that! I saw many things in the 1920’s and 1930’s in Rostov-on-Don. And Frenkel acted similarly, according to the recollections of surviving engineers. Such a slip of a triumphant power into insolence and arrogance is the most repelling thing for those around. Sure, it is usually behavior of the worst and rudest – but this is what becomes imprinted in memory. (Likewise the Russian image is soiled by the obscenities of our villains.)

All these blandishments and appeals to avoid writing about the things like they were – are undistinguishable from what we heard from the highest Soviet tribunes: about anti-defamation, about socialist realism – to write like it should be, not like it was.

As if a creator is capable of forgetting or creating his past anew! As if the full truth can be written in parts, including only what is pleasing, secure and popular.

And how meticulously all the Jewish characters in my books were analyzed with every personal feature weighted on apothecary scales. But the astonishing story of Grigory M., who did not deliver the order to retreat to a dying regiment because he was frightened (Archipelago GULag, v. 6, Ch. 6) – was not noticed. It was passed over without a single word! And Ivan Denisovich added insult to injury: there were such sophisticated sufferers but I put forward a boor!

For instance, during Gorbachev’s glasnost, emboldened Asir Sandler published his camp memoirs. “After first perusal, I emphatically rejected One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich… the main personage was Ivan Denisovich, a man with minimal spiritual needs, focused only on his mundane troubles” – and Solzhenitsyn turned him into the national image… (Exactly like all well-meaning communists were grumbling at that time!) While “[Solzhenitsyn] preferred not to notice the true intelligentsia, the determinant of domestic culture and science”. Sandler was discussing this with Miron Markovich Etlis (both used to be Idiots in medical unit). And Etlis added: “The story is significantly distorted, placed upside down”. “Solzhenitsyn failed to emphasize …the intelligent part of our contingent”… Self-centered reflections [of Ivan Denisovich] about himself… that patience… that pseudo-Christian attitude toward others”. And in 1964 Sandler was lucky to relieve his feelings in conversation with Ehrenburg himself. And the latter affirmatively nodded when Sandler mentioned his “extremely negative” feeling toward my novelette (12).

However, not a single Jew reproached me that Ivan Denisovich, in essence, attends to Cesar Markovich as a servant, albeit with good feelings.


1 Семён Бадаш. Колыма ты моя, Колыма… New York: Effect Publishing Inc.. 1986, с. 65-66.

2 В. Лемпорт. Эллипсы судьбы // Время и мы: Международный журнал литературы и общественных проблем. Нью-Йорк, 1991, № 113. с. 168.

3 Л. Воронель. Трепет иудейских забот. 2-е изд. Рамат-Ган: Москва-Иерусалим, 1981, с. 28-29.

4 Михаил Хейфец. Место и время (еврейские заметки). Париж: Третья волна, 1978, с. 93.

5 А. Зисман. «Книга о русском еврействе» // Новая Заря, Сан-Франциско, 1960, 7 мая, с. 3.

6 Иосиф Бергер. Крушение поколения: Воспоминания / Пер. с англ. Firenze: Edizioni Aurora. 1973, с. 148-164.

7 Известия, 1933. 5 августа, с. 1-2.

8 Беломорско-Балтийский Канал имени Сталина: История строительства / Под ред. М. Горького, Л.Л. Авербаха. С.Г. Фирина. [М.]: История Фабрик и Заводов, 1934.

9 Подробнее о Френкеле — в «Архипелаге ГУЛаге».

10 Г. Миронова. Туннель в прошлое // Комсомольская правда, 1989, 18 апреля, с. 1.

11 Российская Еврейская Энциклопедия. 2-е изд., испр. и доп. М.. 1994. Т. 1, с. 526-527; 1995. Т. 2. с. 27.

12 Асир Сандлер. Узелки на память: Записки реабилитированного. Магаданское книжн. изд-во. 1988, с. 22. 62-64.

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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.

235 КЕЭ, т. 1, с. 653.

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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Chapter 16. During the Civil War

Trotsky once boasted that during the Civil War, “even” traveling in his special Revvoyensovet’s [Revolutionary Military Council] railroad coach, he was able to find time to acquaint himself with the latest works of French literature.

Not that he realized exactly what he said. He acknowledged that he was able to find not just time, but room in his heart between appeals to the “revolutionary sailors,” forcibly mobilized units of Red Army, and a thrown order to execute every tenth soldier in a unit that wavered in battle. Well, he usually did not stay around to supervise carrying out such orders.

Orchestrating a bloody war on the vast plains of Russia, he was absolutely untouched by the unprecedented sufferings of her inhabitants, by her pain. He soared aloft, above it all, on the wings of the international intoxication of the Revolution.

The February Revolution was a Russian revolution: no matter how headlong, erroneous and pernicious it was, it did not aspire to burn down the entire pre-existing life, to annihilate the whole pre-revolutionary Russia. Yet immediately after the October [Bolshevik revolution], the Revolution spilled abroad and became an international and devastating plague, feeding itself by devouring and destroying social order wherever it spread — everything built was to be annihilated; everything cultivated — to be confiscated; whoever resisted — to be shot. The Reds were exclusively preoccupied with their grand social experiment, predestined to be repeated, expanded and implemented all over the world.

From an easy, quick blow, the October coup snowballed into a fierce three-year-long Civil War, which brought countless bloody calamities to all the peoples of Russia.

The multinationality of the former Empire and the cannon recoil from the Great War complicated both the inhumane Bolshevik plot and its implementation. Unlike the French Revolution, which unfolded on the territory of mono-national France and did not see much foreign intervention apart from a short incursion of hostile troops, and with all its horrors being a national affair from beginning to end, the Russian Revolution was horribly aggravated by its multinational madness. It saw the strong participation of Red Latvians (then Russian subjects), former German and Austrian prisoners of war (organized into full-blown regiments like the Hungarians), and even large numbers of Chinese. No doubt the brunt of the fighting for the Reds was carried out by Russians; some of them were drafted on pain of death while others volunteered in a mad belief they would be fighting for a happy future for themselves. Yet the Russian Jews were not lost in all that diversity.

The politically active part of Russian Jewry, which backed the Bolshevik civic regime in 1917, now just as boldly stepped into the military structures of Bolsheviks. During the first years after the October Revolution in the midst of the internationalist frenzy, the power over this enormous land was effortlessly slipping into the hands of those clinging to the Bolsheviks. And they were overwhelmed by the newfound immensity of that power. They immediately began using it without a backward glance or any fear of control — some, without doubt, in the name of higher ideals, while others — in the name of lower ones (“obstinacy of fanaticism in some and ability to adapt in others”1). At that time, nobody could imagine that the Civil War would ignite enormous Jewish pogroms, unprecedented in their atrocity and bloodshed, all over the South of Russia.

We can judge the true nature of the multi-ethnic war from the Red pogrom during the suppression of the Kronstadt Uprising in March 1921. A well-known socialist-revolutionary and sociologist Pitrim Sorokin writes: “For three days, Latvian, Bashkir, Hungarian, Tatar, Russian, Jewish and international rabble, crazed by alcohol and the smell of blood, raped and killed without restraint.”2

Or here is another recollection from ordinary witnesses. During the feast of the Epiphany in 1918, an Orthodox Sacred Procession stirred forth from the gates of the Kremlin in Tula — and an “international squad” gunned it down.

Even with the ruthless international squads, the force of  the “Red Guard” alone was no longer sufficient. The Bolshevik regime needed a regular army. In 1918, “Lev Trotsky, with the help of Sklyansky and Jacov Sverdlov, created the Red Army.” “Many Jews were fighting in its ranks. Some units were entirely Jewish, like, for example, the brigade of Josef Furman.”3 The Jewish share in the command corps the Red Army become large and influential and this trend continued for many years even after the end of the Civil War. This Jewish involvement has been researched by several Jewish authors and encyclopedias.

In the 1980s, Israeli scholar Aaron Abramovich used many Soviet sources (including The Fifty-Year Anniversary of the Soviet Armed Forces, The Soviet Historical Encyclopedia, volumes of Directives of the Front Command of the Red Army) to compile detailed nominal rosters of highly ranked Jewish commanders (exclusively Jewish ones) in the Red Army during the period from the Civil War up to the aftermath of Second World War.

Let’s skim through the pages allocated to the Civil War.4 This is a very extensive roster; it begins with the Revvoyensoviet, where Abramovich lists L. Trotsky, E. Sklyansky, A. Rosengoltz, and Y. Drabkin-Gusev. Trotsky ordered the “establishment of fronts with headquarters, and formation of new armies,” and “Jews were present in almost all the revvoyensoviets of the fronts and armies.” (Abramovich lists the most prominent individuals: D. Vayman, E. Pyatnitsky, L. Glezarov, L. Pechyorsky, I. Slavin, M. Lisovsky, G. Bitker, Bela Kun, Brilliant-Sokolnikov, I. Khodorovsky). Earlier, at the onset of the Civil War, the Extraordinary Command Staff of the Petrograd Military District was headed by Uritsky, and among the members of the Petrograd Committee of Revolutionary Defense were Sverdlov (the chairman), Volodarsky, Drabkin-Gusev, Ya. Fishman (a leftist Socialist Revolutionary) and G. Chudnovsky. In May 1918 there were two Jews among the eleven commissars of military districts: E. Yaroslavsky-Gubelman (Moscow District) and S. Nakhimson (Yaroslavsky District). During the war, several Jews were in charge of armies: M. Lashevich was in charge of the 3rd — and later, of the 7th Army of Eastern Front; V. Lazarevich was in charge of the 3rd Army of the Western Front, G. Sokolnikov led the 8th Army of the Southern Front, N. Sorkin — the 9th, and I. Yakir — the 14th Army. Abramovich painstakingly lists numerous Jewish heads of staff and members of the revvoyensoviets in each of the twenty armies; then the commanders, heads of staff and military commissars of divisions (the list of the latter, i.e., those in charge of the ideological branch of command, was three-times longer than the list of Jewish commanders of divisions). In this manner Abramovich describes brigades, regiments and separate detachments. He lists Jewish heads of political administrations and revolutionary military tribunals at all levels, noting that “especially large percentage of Jews can be found among political officers at all levels of the Red Army….” “Jews played an important role in the provision and supply services. Let’s name some of them….” “Jews occupied important positions in military medicine as well: heads of sanitary administrations of the fronts and armies, senior doctors of units and bodies of troops….” “Many Jews — commanders of large units and detachments — were distinguished for their courage, heroism and generalship” but “due to the synoptic character of this chapter we cannot provide detailed descriptions of the accomplishments of Jewish Red Army soldiers, commanders and political officers.” (Meticulously listing the commanders of armies, the researcher misses another Jew, Tikhon Khvesin, who happened to be in charge of the 4th Army of the Eastern Front, then — of the 8th Army of the Southern Front, and later of the 1st Army of the Turkestan Front.5)

The Russian Jewish Encyclopedia provides additional information about some commanders. (Here I would like to commend this encyclopedia (1994), for in our new free times its authors performed an honest choice — writing frankly about everything, including less than honorable things.)

Drabkin-Gusev became the Head of Political Administration of the Red Army and the Chief of the entire Red Army in 1921. Later he was the head of IstPart (Commission on the History of October Revolution and Bolshevist Party) and a big figure in the Comintern, and was buried in the Kremlin wall [in Moscow].

Mikhail Gaskovich-Lashkevich was a member of many revvoyensoviets, and later he was in charge of the Siberian Military District, and even later — the First Deputy Chairman of the Revvoyensoviet of the USSR (yet he was buried merely on the Field of Mars [in St. Petersburg]).

Israel Razgon  was the military commissar of the Headquarters of Petrograd Military District and participated in the suppression of the Kronstadt Uprising; later, he was in charge of the Red Army of Bukhara, suppressing the uprising in Central Asia; still later he worked in the Headquarters of the Black See Fleet.

Boris Goldberg was Military Commissar of the Tomskaya Guberniya, later of the Permskaya Guberniya, still later of the Privolzhskiy Military District, and even later he was in charge of the Reserve Army and was acknowledged as one of the founders of Soviet Civil Aviation.

Modest Rubenstein was Deputy Head of the Revvoyensoviet of the Special Army, and later he was head of political administration of an army group.

Boris Hippo was the Head of Political Administration of the Black Sea Fleet. (Later he worked in the political administrations of the Baltic Sea Fleet, the Turkestan Front, was the Head of Political Administration of the  Central-Asian Military District, and later  of the Caucasian Army.)

Michail Landa was a head of the political division of an army, later — Deputy Head of Political Administration of the entire Red Army, and still later Head of Political Administration of the Byelorussian and then of the Siberian Military Districts.

Lev Berlin was Commissar of the Volga Military Flotilla and later worked in the Political Administration of the Crimean Army and still later in that of the Baltic Fleet.6

Yet how many outstanding characters acted at lower levels?

Boris Skundin, previously a lowly apprentice of clockmaker Sverdlov, Sr., successively evolved into the military commissar of a division, commissar of army headquarters, political inspector of front, and, finally, into Deputy Head of Political Administration of the 1st Cavalry Army.

Avenir Khanukaev was commander of a guerilla band who later was tried before the revolutionary tribunal for crimes during the capture of Ashgabat and acquitted, and in the same year of 1919 was made into political plenipotentiary of the TurkCommission of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Soviet of People’s Commissars on Kashgar, Bukhara and Khiva.

Moses Vinnitsky (“Mishka-Yaponchik”) was a member of the Jewish militia squad in Odessa 1905, and later a gang-leader; he was freed from a hard labor camp by the February Revolution and became a commander of a Jewish fighting brigade in Odessa, simultaneously managing the entire criminal underworld of Odessa. In 1919 he was a commander of a special battalion and later he was in charge of an infantry regiment in the Red Army. His unit was “composed of anarchists and criminals.” In the end he was shot by his own side.

Military commissar Isaiah Tzalkovich was in command of a composite company of the [Red] cadets during the suppression of the Kronstadt Uprising.7

We can see extraordinary Jewish women in the higher Bolshevik ranks as well.

Nadezda Ostrovskaya rose from the Head of Gubkom [Party Committee of a Guberniya, the highest executive authority in a guberniya] of Vladimir Guberniya to the post of the Head of Political Administration of the entire 10th Army.

Revekka Plastinina headed Gubrevkom and later the Gubkom of Archangel Guberniya.

Is it proper to mention here Cecilia Zelikson-Bobrovskaya, who was a seamstress in her youth, and became the Head of the Military Department of the Moscow Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks?8 Or take one of the Furies of the Revolution Eugenia Bosh (or her sister Elena Rozmirovich)?

Or another thing — the Soviets used  the phrase “Corps of Red Cossacks.” Yet those were not Cossacks who embraced communist ideology but plain bandits (who occasionally disguised themselves as Whites for deception). Those “Cossack Corps” were made of all nationalities from Romanians to Chinese with a full-blown Latvian cavalry regiment. A Russian, Vitaly Primakov, was in command and its Political Department was headed by I. I. Minz (by Isaac Greenberg in the Second Division) and S. Turovskiy was head of the Headquarters. A. Shilman was the head of operative section of the staff, S. Davidson managed the division newspaper, and Ya. Rubinov was in charge of the administrative section of the staff.9

Since we began particularizing let’s look at the famous leaders of the Red Army, at those never-fading names: Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko, Vasily Blucher, Semyon Budyonny, Klim Voroshilov, Boris Dumenko, Pavel Dybenko, Aleksa Dundich, Dmitry Zhloba, Vasily Kikvidze, Epifan Kovtukh, Grigory Kotovsky, Philip Mironov, Mikhail Muravyov, Vitaly Primakov, Ivan Sorokin, Semyon Timoshenko, Mikhail Tukhachevsky, Ieronim Uborevich, Mikhail Frunze, Vasily Chapaev, Yefim Shchadenko, Nikolay Shchors. Why, couldn’t they pull it off without Jews?

Or take hundreds and thousands of Russian generals and officers of the former Imperial Army, who served in the Red Army, though not in the political sections (they were not invited there), but in other significant posts. True, they had a commissar with a gun behind them, and many served on pain of execution of their hostage families especially in case of military failures. Yet they gave an invaluable advantage to the Reds, which actually might have been crucial for the eventual victory of Bolsheviks. Why, “just about half of the officers of the General Staff worked for the Bolsheviks.”10

And we should not forget that initial and fatal susceptibility of many Russian peasants (by no means all of them, of course) to Bolshevik propaganda. Shulgin flatly noted: “Death to the Bourgeois” was so successful in Russia because the smell of blood inebriates, alas, so many Russians; and they get into a frenzy like wild beasts.”11

Yet let’s avoid going into another unreasonable extreme, such as the following: “The most zealous executioners in Cheka were not at all the `notorious Jews,´ but the recent minions of the throne, generals and officers.”12 As though they would be tolerated in there, in the Cheka! They were invited there with the only one purpose — to be executed. Yet why such a quick-temper? Those Jews, who worked in the Cheka, were, of course, not the “notorious Jews,” but quite young and “committed” ones, with revolutionary garbage filling their heads. And I deem that they served not as executioners but mostly as interrogators.

The Cheka (“Extraordinary Commission,” Che-Ka) was established in December 1917. It instantly gained strength and by the beginning of 1918 it was already filling the entire populace with mortal fear. In fact, it was the Cheka that started the “Red Terror” long before its beginning was officially announced on September 5, 1918. The Cheka practiced terror from the moment of its inception and continued it long after the end of the Civil War. By January of 1918, the Cheka was “enforcing the death penalty on the spot without investigation and trial.” Then the country saw the snatching of hundreds and later thousands of absolutely innocent hostages, their mass executions at night or mass drowning in whole barges. Historian S. P. Melgunov, who himself  happened to experience perilous incarceration in Cheka prisons, unforgettably reflected upon the whole epic story of the “Red Terror” in his famous book “Red Terror” in Russia 1918-1923.

“There was not a single town or a district without an office of the omnipotent All-Russian Extraordinary Commission [that is, the Cheka], which from now on becomes the main nerve of state governance and absorbs the last vestiges of law”; “there was not a single place (in the RSFSR [Russian Federation]) without ongoing executions”; “a single verbal order of one man (Dzerzhinsky) doomed to immediate death many thousand people.” And even when investigation took place, the Chekists [members of the Cheka] followed their official instructions: “Do not look for evidence incriminating a suspect in hostile speech or action against Soviet power. The very first question you should ask him is about the social class he belongs to, and what is his descent, upbringing, education and profession. It is these questions that should determine the suspect’s fate (the words of M. Latsis in the bulletin Red Terror on November 1, 1918 and in Pravda on December 25, 1918).” Melgunov notes: “Latsis was not original here, he simply rephrased the words of Robespierre in Convent about the mass terror: `To execute the enemies of the Fatherland, it is sufficient to establish their identities. Not punishment but elimination is required´.” Directives from the center are picked up and distributed all over Russia by the Cheka Weekly and Melgunov cites the periodical profusely: “Red Sword is published in Kiev … in an editorial by Lev Krainy we read: `Old foundations of morality and humanity invented by the bourgeoisie do not and cannot exist for us´…. A. certain Schwartz follows: `The proclaimed Red Terror should be implemented in a proletarian way…  If physical extermination of all servants of Tsarism and capitalism is the prerequisite for the establishment of the worldwide dictatorship of proletariat, then it wouldn’t stop us.´”13

It was a targeted, pre-designed and long-term Terror. Melgunov also provides estimates of the body count of that “unheard-of swing of murders” (precise numbers were practically not available then). “Yet, I suppose these horrors … pale into insignificance with respect to the number of victims if compared to what happened in the South after the end of the Civil War. Denikin’s [the general of the White army in command of the South Russian front] rule was crumbling. New power was ascending, accompanied by a bloody reign of vengeful terror, of mere retaliation. At this point it was not a civil war, it was physical liquidation of a former adversary.” There were waves and waves of raids, searches, new raids and arrests. “Entire wards of prisoners are escorted out and every last man is executed. Because of the large number of victims, a machine-gun is used”; “they execute 15-16-years-old children and 60-years-old elders.” The following is a quote from a Cheka announcement in  the Kuban region: “Cossack villages and settlements, which give shelter to Whites and Greens [Ukrainian nationalists], will be destroyed, the entire adult population — executed, and all property — confiscated.” After Wrangel [another White general] left, “Crimea was dubbed the `All-Russian Cemetery´” (different estimates suggest the number of murdered as between 120,000 and 150,000). “In Sevastopol people were not just shot but hanged, hanged by dozens and even by hundreds,” Nakhimov Prospect [a major street] was lined with the corpses of the hanged … people arrested on the streets and hastily executed without trial.” Terror in the Crimea continued through 1921.14

But no matter how deep we dig into the history of Cheka, special departments, special squads, too many deeds and names will remain unknown, covered by the decomposed remnants of witnesses and the ash of incinerated Bolshevik documents. Yet even the remaining documents are overly eloquent. Here is a copy of a secret “Extract from the protocol of a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks” dated by April 18, 1919, obtained from the Trotsky archive at Columbia University.

“Attended cc.[comrades] Lenin, Krestinsky, Stalin, Trotsky.

Heard: …3. Statement of c. Trotsky that Jews and Latvians constitute a huge percentage of officials in the front-line Chekas, front-line and rear area executive commissions and central Soviet agencies, and that their percentage in the front-line troops is relatively small, and that because of this, strong chauvinist agitation is conducted among the Red Army soldiers with certain success, and that, according to c. Trotsky’s opinion, it is necessary to redistribute the Party personnel to achieve a more uniform representation of officials of all nationalities between front-line and rear areas.

Decided: To propose cc. Trotsky and Smilga to draft an appropriate Directive of the Central Committee to the commissions responsible for the allotment of cadres between the central and local Soviet organizations and the front.”15

Yet it is hard to believe that the meeting produced the intended effect. A contemporary researcher, the first who approached “the problem of the role and place of Jews (and other ethnic minorities) in Soviet machinery,” studied declassified archive documents and concluded that “at the initial stage of activity of the punitive agencies, during the `Red Terror,´ national minorities constituted approximately 50% of the central Cheka apparatus, with their representation on the major posts reaching 70%.”16 The author provides September 25, 1918 statistical data: among the ethnic minorities — numerous Latvians and fairly numerous Poles “– the Jews are quite noticeable, especially among “major and active Cheka officials,” i.e., commissars and investigators. For instance, among the “investigators of the Department of Counter-Revolutionary Activities — the most important Cheka department — half were Jews.”17

Below are the service records of several Chekists of the very first call (from the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia).18

Veniamin Gerson was in the Cheka from 1918, and from 1920 he was a personal referent to Dzerzhinsky.

Israel Leplevsky, a former member of Bund, joined the Bolsheviks in 1917 and worked in the Cheka from 1918; he was the head of the State Political Directorate [formed from the Cheka in 1922] of the Podolsk Guberniya and later  of the Special Department of Odessa. And he climbed all the way up to the post of head of the OGPU [Joint State Political Directorate, the successor to the Cheka] of USSR! Later he occupied posts of Narkom of Internal Affairs of Byelorussia and Uzbekistan.

Zinovy Katznelson became a Chekist immediately after the October Revolution; later he was a head of special departments in several armies, and then of the entire Southern Front. Still later we can see him in the highest ranks in the Cheka headquarters, and even later at different times he was in charge of the Cheka of the Archangel Guberniya, the Transcaucasian Cheka, the North Caucasus GPU, the Kharkov GPU [another Cheka-successor secret police organization]; he also was deputy to the Narkom of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and deputy head of the entire GULag [that is, the government agency that administered the main Soviet penal labor camp systems].

Solomon Mogilevsky was chair of the Ivano-Voznesensk tribunal in 1917, then in charge of Cheka in Saratov. Later we find him again in an army tribunal; and after that he was in succession: deputy head of the Bureau of Investigations of the Moscow Cheka, head of Foreign Affairs Department of Cheka headquarters, and head of the Cheka of Transcaucasia.

Did Ignaty Vizner contemplate the scale of his actions when he investigated the case of Nicolay Gumilev? Not likely — he was too busy. He served in the Special Section at the Presidium of Cheka headquarters, he was the founder of the Bryansk Cheka, and later he was an investigator in the case of the Kronstadt Uprising and a special plenipotentiary of the Presidium of the Cheka-GPU on cases of special importance.

Lev Levin-Velsky, former member of the Bund [a Jewish socialist labor organization], was in charge of the Cheka of the Simbirsk Guberniya in 1918-1919, later  of the Special Department of the 8th Army, still later  of the Cheka of the Astrakhan Guberniya. Beginning in 1921, he was an envoy plenipotentiary of the central Cheka in the Far East, and later, from 1923, an envoy plenipotentiary of the OGPU in Central Asia. Still later, from the beginning of 1930, he worked in the Moscow OGPU. (And even later in his career he was deputy Narkom of Internal Affairs of the USSR.)

Or consider Nahum (Leonid) Etington: active in the Cheka beginning in 1919, later head of the Cheka of the Smolensk Guberniya; still later he worked in the GPU of Bashkiria; it was he who orchestrated the assassination of Trotsky.

Isaak (Semyon) Schwartz: in 1918-1919 he was the very first chair of the All-Ukranian Cheka. He was succeeded by Yakov Lifshitz who beginning in 1919 was the head of the Secret Operations Division and simultaneously a deputy head of the Cheka of the Kiev Guberniya; later he was deputy head of the Cheka of the Chernigov Guberniya, and still later — of the Kharkov Guberniya; and even later he was in charge of the Operative Headquarters of the All-Ukrainian Cheka; still later, in 1921-1922, he ran the Cheka of the Kiev Guberniya.

Let’s look at the famous Matvei Berman. He began his career in a districtCheka in the North Urals; in 1919 he was assigned as deputy dead of the Cheka of the Yekaterinburg Guberniya, from 1920 — head of Cheka of Tomsk Guberniya, from 1923 — of the Buryat-Mongolian Guberniya, from 1924 — Deputy Head of the OGPU of all of Central Asia, from 1928 — head of the OGPU of Vladivostok, from 1932 — head of the entire GULag and simultaneously a deputy Narkom of the NKVD [a successor organization to the Cheka, GPU and OGPU] (from 1936). (His brother Boris was in the State Intelligence Organs since 1920; in 1936 he served as deputy head of foreign intelligence section in the NKVD.) Boris Pozern, a commissar of the Petrograd Commune, substantially contributed to matching images of a Jew and that of a Chekist in people’s minds; on September 2, 1918, he co-signed the proclamation on “Red Terror” with Zinoviev and Dzerzhinsky. (The Encyclopedia missed one Aleksandr Ioselevich, secretary of the Petrograd Cheka, who had co-signed the Red Terror execution lists with Gleb Bokiy in September, 1918.)

Yet there were others, even more famous individuals. For instance, Yakov Agranov, a Chekist, phenomenally successful in conducting repressions; he invented “Tagantzev’s Conspiracy” (through which he had killed Gumilev); he directed “cruel interrogations of participants of the Kronstadt Uprising.” Or take notorious Yakov Blumkin, who participated in the assassination of the German ambassador in 1918; he was arrested and later amnestied, and then served in Trotsky’s secretariat, and later — in Mongolia, Transcaucasia, the Middle East, and was shot in 1929.

And there were numerous personnel behind every Cheka organizer…. And hundreds and thousands of innocents met them during interrogations, in basements and during the executions.

There were Jews among the victims too. Those who suffered from the massive communist onslaught on the “bourgeoisie” were mostly merchants. “In the Maloarkhangelsk District, a merchant (Yushkevich) was placed on a red-hot cast-iron stove by members of a communist squad for failure to pay taxes.” (From the same source: some peasants, who defaulted on the surplus appropriation system, were lowered on ropes into water wells to simulate drowning; or, during the winter, they froze people into ice pillars for failure to pay revolutionary taxes. The particular sort of punishment depended on the imagination of the executioners.19) Similarly, Korolenko described how two millers, named Aronov and Mirkin, were extrajudicially shot for not complying with absurd communist-mandated prices on flour.20 Or here is another example. In 1913, former Kiev Governor Sukovkin advocated innocence of Beilis [during Beilis’ Trial]. When the Reds came, he was arrested. Thousands of Jews in Kiev signed a petition on his behalf, yet the Cheka had shot him nevertheless.

How then can we explain that the Russian populace generally regarded the new terror as “Jewish terror”? Look how many innocent Jews were accused of that. Why was the perception that Chekists and Jews were all but the same so widespread among both the Reds and the Whites alike and among the people in general? Who is responsible for that? Many. And the White Army is also responsible as we discuss below. Yet not the least among these reasons is because of the Chekists themselves, who facilitated this identification by their ardent service on the highest posts in Cheka.

Today we hear bitter complaints that it was not only Jews who clung to the power, and why any particular clemency should be expected from the Jewish Chekists? True. These objections, however, cannot alter the harsh certitude: the incredibly enormous power on an unimaginable scale had come into the hands of those Jewish Chekists, who at that time were supreme, by status and rank, representatives of Russian Jewry (no matter how horribly it sounds). And those representatives (again, not elected by their own people) were not capable of finding enough self-restraint and self-scrutinizing sobriety to come around, check themselves, and opt out. It is like the Russian cautionary proverb: “Ah, do not hurry to grab, first blow on your fingers” And the Jewish people (who did not elect those Chekists as their representatives), that already numerous and active city-dwelling community (weren’t there prudent elders among them?) also failed to stop them: be careful, we are a small minority in this country! (Yet who listened to elders in that age?)

G. Landau writes: “Loss of affiliation with a social class overthrew the fine structure of Jewish society and destroyed the inner forces of resistance and even that of stability, sending even them under the chariot of triumphant Bolshevism.” He finds that apart from the ideas of socialism, separatist nationalism, and permanent revolution, “we were astonished to find among the Jews what we never expected from them — cruelty, sadism, unbridled violence — everything that seemed so alien to a people so detached from physical activity; those who yesterday couldn’t handle a rifle, today were among the vicious cutthroats.”21

Here is more about the aforementioned  Revekka Plastinina-Maizel from the Archangel Guberniya Cheka: “Infamous for her cruelty all over the north of Russia…, [she] voluntarily `perforated napes and foreheads´… and personally shot more than one hundred men.” Or “about one Baka who was nicknamed `a bloody boy´ for his youth and cruelty” — first “in Tomsk and then as the head of the Cheka” of the Irkutsk Guberniya.22 (Plastinina’s career carried her up right to a seat in the Supreme Court of RSFSR which she occupied in 1940s.23) Some may recall the punitive squad of Mandelbaum in Archangel in the north of Russia, others — the squad of “Mishka-Yaponchik” in Ukraine….

What would you expect from  peasants in the Tambov Guberniya if, during the heat of the suppression of the great peasant uprising in this Central-Russian black-earth region, the dismal den of the Tambov Gubcom was inhabited by masterminds of grain allotments, secretaries of Gubcom P. Raivid and Pinson and by the head of the propaganda department, Eidman? (A. G. Shlikhter, whom we remember from Kiev in 1905, was there as well, this time as the chairman of the Executive Committee of the guberniya.) Y. Goldin was the Foodstuffs Commissar of the Tambov Guberniya; it was he who triggered the uprising by exorbitant confiscations of grain, whereas one N. Margolin, commander of a grain confiscation squad, was famous for whipping the peasants who failed to provide grain. (And he murdered them too.) According to Kakurin, who was the chief of staff to Tukhachevsky, a plenipotentiary representative of the Cheka headquarters in the Tambov Guberniya during that period was Lev Levin. Of course, not only Jews were in it! However, when Moscow took the suppression of the uprising into her own hands in February 1921, the supreme command of the operation was assigned to Efraim Sklyansky, the head of “Interdepartmental Anti-Banditry Commission,” — and so the peasants, notified about that with leaflets, were able to draw their own conclusions.

And what should we say about the genocide on the river Don, when hundreds of thousands of the flower of Don Cossacks were murdered? What should we expect from the Cossack memories when we take into consideration all those unsettled accounts between a revolutionary Jew and a Don Cossack?

In August 1919, the Volunteer Army took Kiev and opened several Chekas and found the bodies of those recently executed; Shulgin composed nominal lists of victims using funeral announcements published in the reopened Kievlyanin; one can’t help noticing that almost all names were Slavic … it was the “chosen Russians” who were shot. Materials produced by the Special Investigative Commission in the South of Russia provide insights into the Kiev Cheka and its command personnel (based on the testimony of a captured Cheka interrogator)25: “The headcount of the `Cheka´ staff varied between 150 and 300 … percentage-wise, there was 75% Jews and 25% others, and those in charge were almost exclusively Jews.” Out of twenty members of the Commission, i.e., the top brass who determined people’s destinies, fourteen were Jews. “All detained were kept either in the `Cheka´ building or in the Lukyanov’s prison…. A special shed was fitted for executions in the building on Institutskaya St. 40, on the corner with Levashovskaya St., where the main `Cheka´ office of the guberniya had moved from Ekaterininskaya St. An executioner (and sometimes `amateur´ Chekists) escorted a completely naked victim into a shed and ordered the victim to fall facedown on the ground. Then he finished the victim with a shot in the back of the head.  Executions were performed using revolvers (typically Colts). Usually because of the short distance, the skull of the executed person exploded into fragments…. The next victim was similarly escorted inside and laid down nearby…. When number of victims was exceeding … the capacity of the shed, new victims were laid down right upon the dead or were shot at the entrance of the shed…. Usually the victims went to their execution without resistance.”

This is what the “people were whispering about.” Or take another incident, witnessed by Remizov (whom it is hard to suspect of anti-Semitism given his revolutionary-democratic past): “Recently there was a military training nearby, at the Academy, and one Red Army soldier said: `Comrades, lets not go to the front, it is all because of Yids that we fight!´ And someone with a brief-case asked him: `Which regiment are you from?´ And the soldier again: `Comrades, let’s not go to the front, it is all because of Yids!´ And that one with a briefcase ordered: `Shoot him!´ Then two other Red Army soldiers came out and the first one tried to flee. But he didn’t make it to the corner as others got him and shot him — his brain spilled over and there was a pool of blood.”26

The Kronstadt Uprising had distinctly anti-Jewish character (and so all the more was it doomed): they destroyed portraits of Trotsky and Zinoviev [both Jewish], but not those of Lenin. And Zinoviev didn’t have guts to go to negotiate with the rebels — he would be torn into pieces. So they sent Kalinin [Russian].

There were labor strikes in Moscow in February 1921  that had the slogan: “Down with Communists and Jews!”

We have already mentioned that during the Civil War the majority of Russian socialists (and there were numerous Jews among them) were, of course, on Lenin’s side, not on Admiral Kolchak’s and some of them actually fought for the Bolsheviks. (For example, consider Bund member Solomon Schwartz: during the period of the provisional government, he was a director of a department in a ministry; during the Civil War he volunteered to the Red Army though he did not indicate his rank; later he emigrated abroad where he published two books about the Jewish situation in the USSR; we will cite him below.)

Thus it looked as though not only Bolshevik Jews, but all of Jewry had decided to take the Red side in the Civil War. Could we claim that their choice was completely deliberate? No. Could we claim that they didn’t have any other choice? Again, no.

Shulgin describes the enormous exodus  from Kiev on October 1, 1919 as the city was to be surrendered to Bolsheviks. It was an entirely Russian exodus, people were leaving on foot with knapsacks, across the bridges over Dnepr river; he estimated their numbers at around 60,000. “There were no Jews in this exodus: they were not noticeable among those many thousands of Russians (men, women and children), with bundles in their hands streaming across the beautiful Chain Bridge under a sorrowful net of rain.” There were more than 100,000 Jews in Kiev at that time, Shulgin writes. And all of those rich and very rich Jews — they didn’t leave, they chose to stay and wait for arrival of Bolsheviks. “The Jews decided not to share their fate with us. And with that they carved a new and possibly the deepest divide between us.”27

So it was in many other places. According to the testimony of socialist-revolutionary S. Maslov: “It is a fact that in towns and cities of southern Russia, especially in cities to the west of the Dnepr that changed hands repeatedly, the arrival of Soviets was most celebrated and the most of hollow sympathy was expressed in the Jewish quarters, and not infrequently only in those alone.”28

A contemporary American historian (Bruce Lincoln, author of a big treatise about our Civil War) “said that the entire Ukrainian Cheka was composed of almost 80% by Jews,” that “can be explained by the fact that, prior to arrival of the Reds, cruel pogroms went on non-stop; indeed those were the bloodiest pogroms since the times of Bogdan Khmelnytsky [leader of the Cossack rebellion in Ukraine in 1648-1657].”29 We will discuss the pogroms soon, though it should be noted that the time sequence was actually the opposite: those 80% [Jews] were already staffing the Cheka in 1918, whereas the Petliura’s [a Ukrainian publicist, writer, journalist who  was head of state during the Ukrainian independence of 1918-1920] pogroms only gathered momentum during 1919 (the pogroms by White Army troops began in the fall of 1919).

Yet it is impossible to answer the eternal question who is the guilty party, who pushed it into abyss. Of course, it is incorrect to say that the Kiev Cheka did what it did because it was three-quarters Jewish. Still, this is something that Jewish people should remember and reflect upon.

And yes, there were Jews then who appealed to their compatriots looking back on the tragedy that had befallen both Russia and Russian Jewry. In their proclamation To the Jews of all countries!, this group wrote in 1923 that “overly zealous participation of Jewish Bolsheviks in the oppression and destruction of Russia … is blamed upon all of us … the Soviet rule is identified with Jewish rule, and fierce hatred of Bolsheviks turns into the equally fierce hatred of Jews…. [We] firmly believe that Bolshevism is the worst of all evils possible for the Jews and all other peoples of Russia, and that to fight tooth and nail against the rule of that international rabble over Russia is our sacred duty before humankind, culture, before our Motherland and the Jewish people.”30 Yet the Jewish community “reacted to these declarations with great indignation.”31 (We will discuss it in the next chapter.)


The Civil War spilled over Russia’s borders. Let’s  review that briefly (though the events in Europe are outside of the scope of this book).

The Bolsheviks invaded Poland in 1920. (At this point they had recalled and adroitly used the Russian “national longing and national enthusiasm” — as Nahamkis-Steklov put it in an Izvestia editorial.32) And it appears that Polish Jews met the Red Army very warmly. According to a Soviet source, whole battalions of Jewish workers participated in the fighting at Minsk.33 Reading from the Jewish Encyclopedia: “on numerous occasions, Poles accused Jews of supporting the enemy, of `anti-Polish´, `pro-Bolshevist´ and even `pro-Ukrainian´ attitudes.” During the Soviet-Polish war many Jews “were killed [by Polish Army] on charges of spying for the Red Army.”34 However, we should be wary of possible exaggerations here as we remember similar accusations in espionage made by Russian military authorities during the war, in 1915.

The Soviets quickly formed a revolutionary “government” for Poland headed by F. Dzerzhinsky. In it were Y. Markhlevsky and F. Kon. Of course, they were surrounded by “blood work” specialists and ardent propagandists. (Among the latter we see a former pharmacist from Mogilev A. I. Rotenberg. Soon after the aborted Red revolution in Poland, he, together with Bela Kun and Zalkind-Zemlyachka, went on to conduct the deadly “cleansing” of the Crimea. In 1921 he participated in that glorious work again — this time “purging” Georgia, again under the direct command of Dzerzhinsky. At the end of 1920s Rotenberg was in charge of the Moscow NKVD.)

Not only Poland but Hungary and Germany as well were affected by the Red Revolution. An American researcher writes: “the intensity and tenacity of anti-Semitic prejudice in both the east and the center of Europe was significantly influenced by Jewish participation in the revolutionary movement.” “In the beginning of 1919, the Soviets, under predominantly Jewish leadership, started revolutions in Berlin and Munich,” and “the share of activist Jews was” disproportionately high in the German Communist Party of that period,” though “that party’s support in the Jewish community at large was not significant.” Four out of eleven members of the Central Committee were Jews with a university education.” In December 1918, one of them, Rosa Luxemburg, wrote: “In the name of the greatest aspirations of humankind, our motto when we deal with our enemies is: “Finger into the eye, knee on the chest!” Rebellion in Munich was led by a theater critic, Kurt Eisner, a Jew of “bohemian appearance.” He was killed, but the power in conservative and Catholic Bavaria was seized by “a new government made up of leftist intellectual Jews, who proclaimed the `Bavarian Soviet Republic´”(G. Landauer, E. Toller, E. Muhsam, O. Neurath) In a week the republic “was overthrown by an even more radical group,” which declared the “Second Bavarian Soviet Republic” with Eugen Levine at the helm.35 Let’s read an article about him in the Encyclopedia: born into merchant Jewish family, he used to be a socialist-revolutionary; he participated in the [Russian] revolution of 1905, later became German national, joined the “Spartacist movement” of R. Luxemburg and K. Liebknecht, and now he became the head of  the Communist government in Bavaria, which also included the abovementioned E. Muhsam, E. Toller and a native of Russia, M. Levin.36 The uprising was defeated in May 1919. “The fact that the leaders of the suppressed Communist revolts were Jews was one of the most important reasons for the resurrection of political anti-Semitism in contemporary Germany.”37

“While Jews played a  “quite conspicuous”  role in the Russian and German communist revolutions, their role in Hungary became central…. Out of 49 People’s Commissars there, 31 were Jews,” Bela Kun being the most prominent of them; “the foreign minister (de-facto head of government),” he would orchestrate a bloodbath in the Crimea half a year later. Here we find Matyas Rakosi, Tibor Szamuely, Gyorgy Lukacs. “Granted, the prime-minister was a gentile, Sandor Garbai, but Rakosi later joked that Garbai was elected because someone had to sign execution orders on Sabbath days.” “Statues of Hungarian kings and heroes were knocked off their pedestals, the national anthem outlawed, and wearing the national colors criminalized.” “The tragedy of the situation was escalated by the fact that historically Hungarian Jews were much wealthier than their Eastern-European countrymen and were much more successful in Hungarian society.”38

The direct relation between the Hungarian Soviet Republic and our Civil War becomes more clear by the virtue of the fact that special Red Army Corps were being prepared to go to the rescue of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, but they couldn’t manage it in time and the Republic fell (in August 1919).


The breakdown of the universally hated Russian Empire cost all involved dearly, including the Jews. G. Landau writes: “In general, revolution is gruesome, risky and dangerous business. It is especially gruesome and dangerous for a minority, which in many ways is alien to the bulk of population…. To secure their wellbeing, such minority should unwaveringly cling to law and rely on unshakable continuity of social order and on the inertia of statutory power. Forces of revolutionary misalignment and permissiveness hit such a minority particularly hard.”39

It was looming — straight forward, into the so promising future! Yet in the near future, during the Civil War, there was no law and Jewry was hit by pillages and pogroms on the scale not even close to anything they experienced in days of the Tsar. And those pogroms were launched not by the White side. Because of the density of the Jewish population in Ukraine, it was inevitable that a third force, apart from the Reds and Whites, would interfere in the Jewish destinies — that of Ukrainian separatism.

In April 1917, when the Ukrainian Rada [upper house of parliament] assembled for the first time, “Jewry … did not yet believe in the victory of Ukrainian Nationalism,” and that was manifested in the character of their voting during municipal summer elections: Jews did not have “any reason” to vote for Ukrainian separatists.40 But already in June, when something resembling real independent Ukrainian governance was taking shape — under which apparently the Jews would have to live from now on — the Jewish representatives entered the Lesser [lower] Rada, and a Vice-Secretariat on Jewish nationality (“Jewish Ministry”) was established. The latter worked on the long-cherished project of “Jewish National Autonomy” (according to which every nationality and now — the Jewish one, creates its own national union, which can legislate according to the needs and interests of their nation and for that it receives financial support from the treasury, and a representative of the union becomes a member of the cabinet). Initially, the formative Ukrainian government was generally benevolent toward Jews, but by the end of 1917 the mood changed, and the bill on autonomy was met in the Rada with laughter and contempt; nevertheless, in January 1918, it was passed, though with difficulties. For their part, the Jews reluctantly accepted “the Third Universal” (November 9, 1917, the initiation of Ukrainian independence from Russia) as now they feared anarchy, traditionally dangerous for Jewish populations, and were afraid of a split within Russian Jewry. Still, Jewish philistines were making fun of the Ukrainian language and shop-signs, were afraid of Ukrainian nationalism, and believed in the Russian state and Russian culture.41 Lenin wrote: Jews, like Great Russians, “ignore the significance of the national question in Ukraine.”42

However, everything pointed  toward secession and the Jewish delegates in the Rada did not dare to vote against the Fourth Universal (January 11, 1918, on complete secession of Ukraine). Immediately thereafter, the Bolsheviks began an offensive against Ukraine. The first “Ukrainian” Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party of Bolsheviks was formed in Moscow and later moved to Kharkov; it was headed by Georgiy Pyatakov and among its members were Semyon Schwartz and Serafima Gopner. When by the end of January 1918 they moved to Kiev, Grigory Chudnovsky took the post of the Commissar of Kiev, Kreitzberg became a commissar of finances, D. Raikhstein ” press commissar, Shapiro — commissar of the army. “There was no shortage of Jewish names among the top Bolsheviks … in such centers as Odessa and Ekaterinoslav. That was sufficient to fuel talks about “Bolshevik Jews” and “Jewish Bolsheviks” among the troops loyal to the Rada. Verbal cursing about “traitorous Jews” became almost commonplace”; “in the very midst of street fighting [for Kiev], the Zionist fraction produced an official inquiry on the matter of anti-Jewish excesses.” The question turned into a “verbal skirmish between Ukrainian delegates and representatives of national minorities.”43

Thus enmity split apart the Jews and the Ukrainian separatists.

“The Ukrainian government and the leaders of Ukrainian parties were evacuated to Zhitomir, but the Jewish representatives did not follow them,” they remained under the Bolsheviks. And in addition, the Bolsheviks in Kiev were “supported by a sizable group of Jewish workers, who returned from England after the [February, Kerensky] revolution” and who now wholly siding with the Soviet regime … took up the posts of commissars and … officials,” and created a “special Jewish squad of Red Guards.”44

Yet soon after the conclusion of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk [in which the Soviets ceded Ukraine to the Central Powers] as the government of independent Ukraine returned to Kiev under the aegis of Austrian and German bayonets in the beginning of February of 1918, the “haidamakas” [spontaneous, popular uprisings against Polish rule that took place in Ukraine in the 18th century] and “free Cossacks” began snatching and shooting  any former “Jewish commissars,” they could find. Yet those were not actual Jewish pogroms, and very soon Petliura’s government was replaced by the Hetman government of [Cossack leader] Skoropadsky for the next seven months. “The command of the units of the German Army that had occupied Kiev in the spring, treated the needs of Jewish population with understanding.” (And that population was not-insubstantial: in 1919, 21% of Kiev’s inhabitants were Jewish.45) A Jewish Kadet [a member of Russian Constitutional Democrat Party] Sergei Gutnik became the Minister of Trade and Industry in the Hetman government.46 Under the Hetmanate, Zionists acted without hindrance, and an independent Jewish Provisional National Assembly and a Jewish National Secretariat were elected.

Yet  Hetmanate fell and in December 1918 Kiev came under the control of the Directorate of Ukraine led by Petliura and Vynnychenko. The Bund and Poale-Zion [a movement of Marxist Jewish workers] did their best to help their fellow socialists of the Directorate and Jewish Secretariat and also made conciliatory moves. But Petliura saw it differently. His mouthpiece, the newspaper Vidrodzhennya wrote: “The birth of the Ukrainian State was not expected by the Jews. The Jews did not anticipate it despite having an extraordinary ability of getting the wind of any news. They … emphasize their knowledge of Russian language and ignore the fact of Ukrainian statehood … Jewry again has joined the side of our enemy.”47 Jews were blamed for all the Bolshevik victories in Ukraine. In Kiev, the Sich Riflemen plundered apartments of wealthy people which in masse came over to the capital while the military and atamans [originally Cossack commanders, then used by the Ukrainian National Army] robbed smaller towns and shtetls. That year, a regiment named after Petliura inaugurated mass pogroms by pillaging the town of Sarny.

A Jewish deputy from the Lesser Rada attempted to ward off the growing tendency toward pogroms among Petliura’s troops: “We need to warn Ukrainians that you cannot found your state on anti-Semitism. Leaders of the Directorate should remember that they are dealing with the world’s people, which outlived many of its enemies” and threatened to start a struggle against such government.48 Jewish parties quickly began to radicalize toward the Left, thus inevitably turning their sympathies to Bolshevism.

Arnold Margolin, then Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said that the situation in Ukraine was reminiscent of the worst times of Khmelnytsky and Gonta [Cossack leader against Polish occupation of Ukraine].49 D. Pasmanik bitterly noted that Zionists and Jewish nationalists supported the Directorate’s government for a while even when anti-Jewish pogroms raged across Ukraine50: “How could Jewish socialists forget about the pogromist attitudes of Petliura and other heroes of the Ukrainian Revolution”.. How could they forget about the Jewish blood shed by the descendants and disciples of Khmelnytsky, Gonta and Zalizniak””51 Between December 1918 and August 1919, Petliura’s troops carried out dozens of pogroms, killing, according to the Commission of International Red Cross, around 50,000 Jews. The largest pogrom happened on February 15, 1919, in Proskurov after a failed Bolshevik coup attempt.52 “Jewish pogroms that went on non-stop from the very moment of Ukrainian independence became particularly ferocious during the period of the so-called Directorate and kept going until the Ukrainian armed forces existed.”53

S. Maslov writes: “True, in the Tsar’s times Jews were killed during pogroms but they have never had been killed in such numbers as now and with such callous indifference”; “sometimes during anti-Jewish pogroms by rebellious peasant bands the entire shtetls were exterminated with indiscriminate slaughter of children, women and elders.”54 After the pogromists finished with their business, peasants from surrounding villages usually arrived on wagons to join in looting commercial goods often stored in large amounts in the towns because of the unsettled times.55 “All over Ukraine rebels attacked passenger trains and often commanded `communists and Jews to get out´ of the coach and those who did were shot right on the spot”; or, checking papers of passengers, “suspected Jews were ordered to pronounce `kukuruza´ [corn]) and those who spoke with an accent were escorted out and executed.”56

American scholar Muller thinks that “the mass extermination of Jews in Ukraine and Byelorussia during the Civil War was by no means a result of articulated policy but rather a common peasant reaction.”57

Independent rebellious bands of Grigoriev, Zelyony, Sokolovsky, Struk, Angel, Tyutyunik, Yatzeiko, Volynetz and Kozyr-Zirka were particularly uncontrolled and because of this acted with extreme atrocity. However, Nestor Makhno was different.

The raging Civil War provided fertile soil for the self-realization of Makhno’s criminal and rebellious personality. We are not going to recount his villainous and clinically-mad deeds in this work, yet it should be noted that he did not harbor anti-Jewish attitudes and that his anarchist-communist followers loudly proclaimed their “implacable hostility toward any form of anti-Semitism.” At different times, a certain Aaron Baron was his Chief of Staff, Lev Zadov-Zenkovsky was his head of counter-intelligence, Volin-Eikhenbaum was head of Makhno’s agitprop, Arshinov was his close adviser, and one Kogan headed Administration of Huliaipole [his “capital”]. There was even a 300-strong separate Jewish company among his troops,  led by Taranovsky, and though at one point they betrayed Makhno, nevetheless Taranovsky was later pardoned and even made the Makhno’s Chief of Staff . “The Jewish poor joined Makhno’s army in masses” and allegedly Makhno trapped and executed ataman Grigoriev for the latter’s anti-Semitism. In March 1919 Makhno executed peasants from Uspenovka village for a pogrom in the Jewish agricultural colony Gorkoye. However, despite his indisputable pro-Jewish stance (later in emigration in Paris “he was always in a Jewish milieu” until his death), his often uncontrollable troops carried out several Jewish pogroms, for instance, in 1918 near Ekaterinoslav58 or in the summer of 1919 in Aleksandrovsk, though Makhno and his officers rigorously protected Jewish populations and punished pogromists with death.”59

To examine the anti-Jewish pogroms during the Russian Civil War, we consult a large volume Jewish Pogroms: 1918-1921 compiled by Jewish Public Committee for Aid to Victims of Pogroms in 1923 and published later in 1926.60 (The year of publication explains why we find nothing about pogroms by the Reds — the book “aims to examine the roles of Petliura’s troops, the Volunteer [White] Army, and Poles in the carnage of pogroms in the described period.”)

Regular troops participated in pogroms in larger cities and towns as they marched, whereas independent bands acted in the hinterlands, thus effectively denying the Jews safety anywhere.

Pogroms by Petliura’s troops were particularly atrocious and systematic and sometimes even without looting, such as, for example, pogroms in Proskurov, Felsztyn and Zhytomir in February of 1919, Ovruch in March, Trostyanets, Uman and Novomirgorod in May 1919. The worst pogroms by bands were in Smila (March 1919), Elisavetgrad, Radomyshl, Vapniarka and Slovechno in May 1919, in Dubovka (June 1919); by Denikin’s troops — in Fastov (September 1919) and Kiev (October 1919). In Byelorussia, there were pogroms by Polish troops, for example, in Borisov and in the Bobruisk District, and by Polish-supported troops of Bulak-Balachowicz in Mazyr, Turov, Petrakov, Kapatkevitchy, Kovchitsy and Gorodyatitchy (in 1919, 1920, and 1921).

Ukrainian Jewry was horrified by the murderous wave of pogroms. During brief periods of respite, the Jewish population fled en masse from already pillaged or threatened places. There was indeed a mass exodus of Jews from shtetls and small towns into larger cities nearby or toward the border with Romania in a foolish hope to find aid there, or they simply “aimlessly fled in panic” as they did from Tetiiv and Radomyshl. “The most populous and flourishing communities were turned into deserts. Jewish towns and shtetls looked like gloomy cemeteries — homes burnt and streets dead and desolated. Several Jewish townships were completely wrecked and turned into ashes — Volodarka, Boguslav, Borshchagovka, Znamenka, Fastov, Tefiapol, Kutuzovka and other places.”61


Let us now examine the White side. At first glance it may appear counter-intuitive that Jews did not support the anti-Bolshevik movement. After all, the White forces were substantially more pro-democratic then Bolsheviks (as it was with [White generals] Denikin and Wrangel) and included not only monarchists and all kinds of nationalists but also many liberal groups and all varieties of anti-Bolshevik socialists. So why didn’t we see Jews who shared the same political views and sympathies there?

Fateful events irredeemably separated the Jews from the White movement.

The Jewish Encyclopedia informs us that “initially many Jews of Rostov supported the White movement. On December 13, 1917 a merchant prince, A. Alperin, gave 800,000 rubles collected by the Jews of Rostov to A. Kaledin, the leader of Don Cossacks, `to organize anti-Bolshevik Cossack troops.´”62 Yet when General Alekseev [another White commander] was mustering his first squadron in December 1917 in the same city of Rostov and needed funds and asked (note — asked and did not impress) the Rostov-Nakhichevan bourgeoisie (mainly Jewish and Armenian) for money, they refused and he collected just a dab of money and was forced to march out into the winter with unequipped troops — into his Ice March. And later “all appeals by the Volunteer Army were mostly ignored, yet whenever the Bolsheviks showed up and demanded money and valuables, the population obediently handed over millions of rubles and whole stores of goods.”63 When former Russian prime minister (of the Provisional Government) prince G. E. Lvov, begging for aid abroad, visited New York and Washington in 1918, he met a delegation of American Jews who heard him out but offered no aid.64

However, Pasmanik quotes a letter saying that by the end of 1918 “more than three and half millions rubles … were being collected in the exclusive Jewish circle” with accompanying “promises and reassurances” of goodwill toward Jews from the White authorities. Despite that, Jews were officially prohibited to buy land in the Chernomorskaya Guberniya because of “vicious speculations by several Jews,” though the order was revoked soon afterwards.65

Here is another example from my own sources: again in Rostov in February 1918 when the White movement was merely nascent and seemed almost hopeless, an elderly Jewish engineer and manufacturer A. I. Arkhangorodsky, who sincerely considered himself a Russian patriot, literally pushed his reluctant student son into joining the White youth marching out into the night [February 22], embarking on their Ice March (however, his sister didn’t let him go). The Jewish Encyclopedia also tells us that the “Jews of Rostov were joining Cossack guerilla squadrons and the student’s battalion of [White] general L. Kornilov’s army.”66

In Paris in 1975, Col.  Levitin, the last surviving commander of the Kornilov Regiment, told me that quite a few Jewish warrant officers, who were commissioned in Kerensky’s times, were loyal to Kornilov during the so-called “days of Kornilov” in August 1917. He recalled one Katzman, a holder of the Order of St. George from the First Kutepov Division.

Yet we know that many Whites rejected sympathetic or neutral Jews — because of the prominent involvement of other Jews on the Red side, mistrust and anger was bred among the White forces. A modern study suggests that “during the first year of its existence, the White movement was virtually free of anti-Semitism at least in terms of major incidents and Jews were actually serving in the Volunteer Army. However … the situation dramatically changed by 1919. First, after the Allied victory [in WWI], the widespread conviction among the Whites that Germans helped Bolsheviks was displaced by a mythos about Jews being the backbone of Bolshevism. On the other hand, after the White troops occupied Ukraine, they came under influence of obsessive local anti-Semitism that facilitated their espousal of anti-Jewish actions.”67

The White Army “was hypnotized by Trotsky and Nakhamkis [an agent of the Bolshevik Central Committee] and that caused the identification of Bolshevism with Jewry and led to pogroms.”68 The Whites perceived Russia as occupied by Jewish commissars — and they marched to liberate her. And given considerable unaccountability of separate units of that nascent and poorly organized army strewn over the vast Russian territories and the general lack of central authority in that war, it is not surprising that, unfortunately, some White troops carried out pogroms. “A. I. Denikin …, like some other leaders of the South Army (e.g., V. Z. Mai-Mayevsky), endorsed Kadet [the Constitutional Democratic Party] and Socialist Revolutionary views and sought to stop the outrages perpetrated by his troops. Yet those efforts were not effective.”69

Naturally, many Jews were driven by survival instinct and even if they initially expected goodwill on the part of the Volunteer Army, after pogroms by Denikin’s troops they lost any inclination to support the White movement.

Pasmanik provides a lively case. “Aleksandrovsk was taken by the Volunteers from the Bolsheviks. They were met by unanimous sincere joy of the citizenry…. Overnight half of the town was sacked and filled by the screaming and moaning of distressed Jews…. Wives were raped … men beaten and murdered, Jewish homes were totally ransacked. The pogrom continued for three days and three nights. Post-executive Cossack cornet Sliva dismissed complaints of the Public Administration saying `it is always like that: we take a city and it belongs to the troops for three days.´”70 It is impossible to explain all this plunder and violence by soldiers of the Volunteer Army by actions of Jewish commissars.

A top White general, A. von Lampe, claims that rumors about Jewish pogroms by the Whites are “tendentiously exaggerated”, that these pillaging “requisitions” were unavoidable actions of an army without quartermaster services or regular supplies from the rear areas. He says that Jews were not targeted deliberately but that all citizens suffered and that Jews “suffered more” because they were “numerous and rich.” “I am absolutely confident that in the operational theaters of the White armies there were no Jewish pogroms, i.e., no organized extermination and pillaging of Jews. There were robberies and even murders … which were purposefully overblown and misrepresented as anti-Jewish pogroms by special press…. Because of these accidents, the Second Kuban Infantry Brigade and the Ossetian Cavalry Regiment were disbanded…. All the people, be they Christian or Jewish, suffered in disorderly areas.”71 There were executions (on tip offs by locals) of those unfortunate commissars and Chekists who did not manage to escape and there were quite a few Jews among them.

Events in Fastov in September 1919 appear differently. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, Cossacks “behaved outrageously … they killed, raped and flouted Jewish religious feelings (they had broken into a synagogue during Yom Kippur, beat up the  whole congregation, raped the women and tore apart the Torah scrolls.) About one thousand were killed.”72 A methodical quarter-by-quarter pillaging of Jews in Kiev after a brief return of the White troops in the end of October 1919 was dubbed the “quiet pogrom.” Shulgin writes: “The commanders strictly prohibited `pogroms.´ Yet the “Yids” were really an annoyance and, secondly, the `heroes´ were hungry…. In general, the Volunteers in large cities were starving.” There were nights of plunder but without murder and rape. It was “the end of Denikin’s period … and the beginning of the agony of the Volunteer Army.”73

“By the route of its offensive and, particularly, its retreat,” during its last brutal retreat in November-December of 1919, the White Army carried out “a large number of Jewish pogroms” (acknowledged by Denikin), apparently not only for plunder but also for revenge. However, Bikerman says that “murders, pillage and rape of women were not faithful companions of the White Army, unlike what is claimed by our [Jewish] National Socialists who exaggerate the horrible events to advance their own agenda.”74

Shulgin agrees: “For a true White, a massacre of unarmed civilians, the murder of women and children, and robbing someone’s property are absolutely impossible things to do.” Thus, the “true Whites” in this case are guilty of negligence. They were not sufficiently rigorous in checking the scum adhering to the White movement.”75

Pasmanik concurred that “everybody understands that General Denikin did not want pogroms but when I was in Novorossiysk and Ekaterinodar in April-May 1919, i.e., before the march to the north, I could sense a thickened and pervasive atmosphere of anti-Semitism everywhere.”76 Whatever it was — negligence or revenge — it served well to ignite the “White” pogroms of 1919.

Still, “by unanimous testimony of those unlucky enough to experience both types of pogroms [those by Petliura’s troops and those by White Army], it was predominantly Petliura’s troops who went for Jewish life and soul — they did the most killing.”77

“It was not the Volunteer Army that initiated Jewish pogroms in the new Russia. They began in the “reborn” Poland the day after she become a free and independent state. While in Russia itself they were started by the Ukrainian troops of the Democrat Petliura and the Socialist Vynnychenko…. The Ukrainians turned pogroms into an everyday event.”78.

The Volunteer Army did not start the pogroms but it carried on with them, being fueled by a false conviction that all Jews were for Bolsheviks. “The name of L. Trotsky was particularly hated among the Whites and Petliura’s soldiers and almost every pogrom went under a slogan `This is what you get for Trotsky.´” And even “the Kadets who in the past always denounced any expression of anti-Semitism, and all the more so the pogroms … during their November 1919 conference in Kharkov … demanded that Jews `declare relentless war against those elements of Jewry who actively participate in the Bolshevist movement.´” At the same time the Kadets “emphasized … that the White authorities do everything possible to stop pogroms,” namely that since the beginning of October 1919 “the leadership of the [Volunteer] Army began punishing pogromists with many measures including execution” and as a result “pogroms stopped for a while.” Yet “during the December 1919-March 1920 retreat of the Volunteer Army from Ukraine the pogroms become particularly violent” and the Jews were accused “of shooting the retreating Whites in the back.” (Importantly, “there were no pogroms in Siberia by A. Kolchak’s troops,” as “Kolchak did not tolerate pogroms.”79)

D.O. Linsky, himself a former White Guard, emphatically writes: “Jewry was possibly given a unique chance to fight so hard for the Russian land, that the slanderous claim, that for Jews Russia is just geography and not Fatherland, would disappear once and for all.” Actually, “there was and is no alternative: the victory of anti-Bolshevik forces will lead from suffering to revival of the whole country and of the Jewish people in particular…. Jewry should devote itself to the Russian Cause entirely, to sacrifice their lives and wealth…. Through the dark stains on the White chasubles one should perceive the pure soul of the White Movement…. In an army where many Jewish youths were enlisted, in an army relying on extensive material support from Jewish population, anti-Semitism would suffocate and any pogromist movement would be countered and checked by internal forces. Jewry should have supported the Russian Army which went on in an immortal struggle for the Russian land…. Jewry was pushed from the Russian Cause, yet Jewry had to push away the pushers.” He writes all this “after having painful personal experience of participation in the White movement. Despite all those dark and serious problems that surfaced in the White movement, we delightfully and with great reverence bow our uncovered heads before this one and only commendable fact of the struggle against the ignominy of Russian history, the so-called Russian Revolution.” It was “a great movement for the unfading values of [upholding] the human spirit.”80

Yet the White Army did not support even those Jews who volunteered for service in it. What a humiliation people like doctor Pasmanik had to go through (many Jews were outraged after finding him “among the pogromists”)! “The Volunteer Army persistently refused to accept Jewish petty officers and cadets, even those who in October 1917 bravely fought against Bolsheviks. It was a huge moral blow to Russian Jewry.” “I will never forget,” he writes, “how eleven Jewish petty officers came to me in Simferopol complaining that they were expelled from fighting units and posted as … cooks in the rear.”81

Shulgin writes: “If only as many Jews participated in the White Movement as did in the `revolutionary democracy´ or in `constitutional democracy´ before that….” Yet only a tiny part of Jewry joined the White Guards … only very few individuals, whose dedication could not be overvalued as the anti-Semitism [among the Whites] was already clearly obvious by that time. Meanwhile, there were many Jews among the Reds…, there, most importantly, they often occupied the `top command positions´…. Aren’t we really aware of the bitter tragedy of those few Jews who joined the Volunteer Army” The lives of those Jewish Volunteers were as endangered by the enemy’s bullets as they were by the `heroes of the rear´ who tried to solve the Jewish question in their own manner.”82

Yet it was not all about the “heroes of the rear.” And anti-Semitic feelings had burst into flames among the young White officers from the intellectual families — despite all their education, tradition, and  upbringing.

And this all the more doomed the White Army to isolation and perdition.

Linsky tells us that on the territories controlled by the Volunteer Army, the Jews were not employable in the government services or in the OsvAg (“Information-Propaganda Agency,” an intelligence and counter-intelligence agency, established in the White Army by General A.M. Dragomirov). Yet he refutes the claim that publications of OsvAg contained anti-Semitic propaganda and that pogromists were not punished. No, “the command did not want Jewish pogroms, yet … it could not act against the pogromist attitudes of their troops … it psychologically couldn’t use severe measures…. The army was not as it used to be, and requirements of the regular wartime or peacetime military charters could not be fully applied to it,” as the minds of all soldiers were already battle-scarred by the Civil War.83 “Although they didn’t want pogroms, Denikin’s government didn’t dare to denounce anti-Semitic propaganda loudly,” despite the fact that the pogroms inflicted great harm on Denikin’s army. Pasmanik concludes: the Volunteer Army “generally assumed a hostile attitude toward the entire Russian Jewry.”84 But I. Levin disagrees, saying that “the views of only one part of the movement, those of the active pogromists, are now attributed to the whole movement,” while in reality “the White Movement was quite complex, it was composed of different factions … with often opposite views.”85 Yet to bet on Bolsheviks, to walk in their shadows because of fear of pogroms, is … obvious and evident madness…. A Jew says: either the Bolsheviks or the pogroms, whereas he should have been saying: the longer the Bolsheviks hold power, the closer we are to certain death.”86 Yet the “Judeo-Communists” were, in the parlance of the Whites, agitators as well.

All this was resolutely stopped by Wrangel in Crimea, where there was nothing like what was described above. (Wrangel even personally ordered Rev. Vladimir Vostokov to stop his public anti-Jewish sermons.)

In July 1920, Shulim Bezpalov, the aforementioned  Jewish millionaire, wrote from Paris to Wrangel in the Crimea: “We must save our Motherland. She will be saved by the children of the soil and industrialists. We must give away 75% of our revenue until the value of ruble has recovered and normal life rebuilt.”87

Yet it was already too late….

Still, a part of the Jewish population of the Crimea chose to evacuate with Wrangel’s army.88

True, the White Movement was in desperate need of the support by the Western public opinion, which in turn largely depended on the fate of Russian Jewry. It needed that support, yet, as we saw, it had fatally and unavoidably developed a hostility toward the Jews and later it was not able to prevent pogroms. As Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill “was the major advocate of the Allied intervention in Russia and military aid to the White armies.” Because of the pogroms, Churchill appealed directly to Denikin: “my goal of securing the support in the Parliament for the Russian national movement will be incomparably more difficult,” if the pogroms are not stopped. “Churchill also feared the reaction of powerful Jewish circles among the British elite.”89 Jewish circles in the USA held similar opinions [on the situation in Russia].

However, the pogroms were not stopped, which largely explains the extremely weak and reluctant assistance given by the Western powers to the White armies. And calculations by Wall Street naturally led it to support Bolsheviks as the more likely future rulers over Russia’s riches. Moreover, the climate in the US and Europe was permeated by sympathy toward those who claimed to be builders of a New World, with their grandiose plans and great social objective.

And yet, the behavior of the former Entente of Western nations during the entire Civil War is striking by its greed and blind indifference toward the White Movement — the successor of their wartime ally, Imperial Russia. They even demanded that the Whites join the Bolshevik delegation at the Versailles Peace Conference; then there was that delirious idea of peace negotiations with the Bolsheviks on the Princes’ Islands. The Entente, which did not recognize any of the White governments officially, was hastily recognizing all those new national states emerging on the periphery of Russia — thus unambiguously betraying the desire for its dismemberment. The British hurried to occupy the oil-rich region of Baku; the Japanese claimed parts of the Far East and the Kamchatka Peninsula. The American troops  in Siberia were more of hindrance than a help and actually facilitated the capture of Primorye by the Bolsheviks. The Allies even extorted payments for any aid they provided — in gold from Kolchak; in the South of Russia, in the form of Black Sea vessels, concessions  and future obligations. (There were truly shameful episodes: when the British were leaving the Archangel region in the Russian north, they took with them some of the Tsar’s military equipment and ammunition. They gave some of what they couldn’t take to the Reds and sunk the rest in the sea — to prevent it from getting into the hands of the Whites!) In the spring of 1920, the Entente put forward an ultimatum to the White Generals Denikin and Wrangel demanding an end to their struggle against the Bolsheviks. (In the summer of 1920 France provided some material aid to Wrangel so that he could help Poland. Yet only six months later they were parsimoniously deducting Wrangel’s military equipment as payment for feeding of those Russian soldiers who retreated to Gallipoli.)

We can judge about the actions of the few occupational forces actually sent by the Entente from a testimonial by Prince Grigory Trubetskoy, a serious diplomat, who observed the French Army during its occupation of Odessa in 1919: “French policies in the South of Russia in general and their treatment of issues of Russian statehood in particular were strikingly confused, revealing their gross misunderstanding of the situation.”90


The black streak of Jewish pogroms in Ukraine ran through the whole of 1919 and the beginning of 1920. By their scope, scale and atrocity, these pogroms immeasurably exceeded all the previous historical instances discussed in this book — the pogroms of 1881-1882, 1903, and 1905. Yu. Larin, a high-placed Soviet functionary, wrote in the 1920s that during the Civil War Ukraine saw “a very large number of massive Jewish pogroms far exceeding anything from the past with respect to the number of victims and number of perpetrators.” Vynnychenko allegedly said that “the pogroms would stop only when the Jews would stop being communists.”91

There is no precise estimate of the number of victims of those pogroms. Of course, no reliable count could be performed in that situation, neither during the events, nor immediately afterwards. In the book, Jewish Pogroms, we read: “The number of murdered in Ukraine and Byelorussia between 1917 and 1921 is approximately 180,000-200,000…. The number of orphans alone, 300,000, bespeaks of the enormous scale of the catastrophe.”92 The present-day Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that “by different estimates, from 70,000 to 180,000-200,000 Jews were killed.”94

Compiling data from different Jewish sources, a modern historian comes up with 900 mass pogroms, of which: 40%  by Petliura’s Ukrainian Directorate troops ; 25%  by the squads of the various Ukrainian “atamans”; 17% by Denikin’s White Army troops; and 8.5%  by the First Cavalry Army of Budyonny and other Red Army troops.95

Yet how many butchered lives are behind these figures!

Already during the Civil War, national and socialist Jewish parties began merging with the Reds. The “Fareynikte” [the United Jewish Socialist Worker’s Party] turned into the “ComFareynikte” [Communist Jewish Socialist Worker’s Party] and “adopted the communist program and together with the communist wing of the Bund formed the [All-Russian] “ComBund” in June 1920; in Ukraine, associates and members of the Fareynikte together with the Ukrainian ComBund formed the “ComFarband” (the Jewish Communist Union) which later joined the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks.96 In 1919 in Kiev, the official Soviet press provided texts in three languages — Russian, Ukrainian and Yiddish.

“The Bolsheviks used these pogroms [in Ukraine] to their enormous advantage, they extremely skillfully exploited the pogroms in order to influence public opinion in Russia and abroad … in many Jewish and non-Jewish circles in Europe and America.”97

Yet the Reds had the finger in the pie as well — and they were actually first  ones. “In the spring of 1918, units of the Red Army, retreating from Ukraine, perpetrated pogroms using the  slogan `Strike the Yids and the bourgeoisie ´”; “the most atrocious pogroms were carried out by the First Cavalry Army during its retreat from Poland in the end of August 1920.”98 Yet historical awareness of the pogroms carried out by the Red Army during the Civil War has been rather glossed over. Only a few condemning voices have spoken on the topic. Pasmanik wrote: “During the first winter of Bolshevik rule, the Red troops fighting under the red banner carried out several bloody pogroms, most notable of which were pogroms in Glukhov and Novgorod-Siverskiy. By number of victims, deliberate brutality, torture and abuse, those two had eclipsed even the Kalush massacre. Retreating before the advancing Germans, the Red troops were destroying Jewish settlements on their route.”99

S. Maslov is also quite clear: “The march of the Budyonny’s Cavalry Army during its relocation from the Polish to the Crimean Front was marked by thousands of murdered Jews, thousands of raped women and dozens of utterly razed and looted Jewish settlements…. In Zhytomyr, each new authority inaugurated its rule with a pogrom, and often repeatedly after each time the city changed hands again. The feature of all those pogroms — by Petliura’s troops, the Poles, or the Soviets — was the large number of killed.”100 The Bogunskiy and Taraschanskiy regiments stood out in particular (though those two having came over to Budyonny from the Directorate); allegedly, those regiments were disarmed because of the pogroms and the instigators were hanged.

The above-cited socialist S. Schwartz concludes from his historical standpoint (1952): “During the revolutionary period, particularly during the Civil War, … anti-Semitism has grown extraordinarily … and, especially in the South, spread extensively in the broad masses of the urban and rural population.”101

Alas, the resistance of the Russian population to the Bolsheviks (without which we wouldn’t have a right to call ourselves a people) had faltered and took wrong turns in many ways, including on the Jewish  issue. Meanwhile the Bolshevik regime was touting the Jews and they were joining it, and the Civil War was more and more broadening that chasm between Reds and Whites.

“If the revolution in general has cleared Jewry of suspicion in counter-revolutionary attitude, the counter-revolution has suspected all Jewry of being pro-revolutionary.” And thus, “the Civil War became an unbearable torment for Jewry, further consolidating them on the wrong revolutionary positions,” and so “they failed to recognize the genuine redemptive essence of the White armies.”102

Let’s not overlook the general situation during the Civil War. “It was literally a chaos which released unbridled anarchy across Russia…. Anybody who wanted and was able to rob and kill was robbing and killing whoever he wanted…. Officers of the Russian Army were massacred in the hundreds and thousands by bands of mutinous rabble. Entire families of landowners were murdered …, estates … were burned; valuable pieces of art were pilfered and destroyed … in some places in manors all living things including livestock were exterminated. Mob rule spread terror … on the streets of cities. Owners of plants and factories were driven out of their enterprises and dwellings…. Tens of thousands people all over Russia were shot for the glory of the proletarian revolution …; others … rotted in stinking and vermin-infested prisons as hostages…. It was not a crime or personal actions that put a man under the axe but his affiliation with a certain social stratum or class. It would be an absolute miracle if, under conditions when whole human groups were designated for extermination, the group named `Jews´ remained exempt…. The curse of the time was that … it was possible to declare an entire class or a tribe `evil´…. So, condemning an entire social class to destruction … is called revolution, yet to kill and rob Jews is called a pogrom? … The Jewish pogrom in the South of Russia was a component of the All-Russian pogrom.”103

Such was the woeful acquisition of all the peoples of Russia, including  the Jews, after the successful attainment of equal rights, after the splendid Revolution of March, 1917, that both the general sympathy of Russian Jews toward the Bolsheviks and the developed attitude of the White forces toward Jews eclipsed and erased the most important benefit of a possible White victory — the sane evolution of the Russian state.

1 Г.А. Ландау. Революционные идеи в еврейской общественности // Россия и евреи: Сб. 1 (далее — РиЕ) / Отечественное объединение русских евреев за границей. Париж: YMCA-Press, 1978, с. 117 [1-е изд. — Берлин: Основа, 1924].

2 Pitirim Sorokin. Leaves from a Russian Diary. New York: E.F.Button & Co., 1925, p. 267.

3 Краткая Еврейская Энциклопедия (далее — КЕЭ). Иерусалим: Кетер, 1976. Т. 1, с. 686.

4 Арон Абрамович. В решающей войне: Участие и роль евреев СССР в войне против нацизма. 2-е изд. Тель-Авив, 1982. Т. 1, с. 45-61.

5 Российская Еврейская Энциклопедия (далее — РЕЭ). 2-е изд., испр. и доп. М., 1997. Т. 3, с. 285.

6 РЕЭ, т. 1, с. 122, 340, 404, 515; т. 2, с. 120, 126, 434, 511.

7 РЕЭ, т. 3, с. 61, 278, 305, 503.

8 РЕЭ, т. 1, с. 144; т. 2, с. 354, 388-389.

9 Червонное казачество: воспоминания ветеранов: [Сб.] М.: Воениздат, 1969.

10 В.В. Шульгин. «Что нам в них не нравится…»: Об Антисемитизме в России [далее — В.В. Шульгин]. Париж, 1929, с. 145.

11 Там же, с. 157.

12 Б. Мирский. Чёрная сотня // Еврейская трибуна: Еженедельник, посвященный интересам русских евреев. Париж, 1924, 1 февраля, с. 3.

13 С.П. Мельгунов. «Красный Террор» в России, 1918-1923. 2-е изд. доп. Берлин: Ватага, 1924, с. 43, 48, 57, 70-71, 72-73.

14 Там же, с. 50, 99, 100, 105, 109, 113.

15 Columbia University, New York, Trotsky’s Archive, bMs Russ 13 T-160, Дело: «Партийная переписка № 9 за 1919 г.», с. 9.

16 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. 321, 344.

17 Л.Ю. Кричевский. Евреи в аппарате ВЧК-ОГПУ в 20-е годы // Евреи и русская революция, с. 327-329.

18 РЕЭ, т. 1, с. 106, 124, 223, 288; т. 2, с. 22, 176, 302, 350, 393; т. 3, с. 374, 473.

19 С.С. Мослов. Россия после четырёх лет революции (далее С.С.Маслов). Париж: Русская печать, 1922. Кн. 2, с. 193.

20 П.И. Негретов. В.Г. Короленко: Летопись жизни и творчества, 1917-1921 / Под ред. А.В. Храбровицкого. Москва: Книга, 1990, с. 151-154, 232-236.

21 Г.А. Ландау. Революционные идеи в еврейской общественности // РиЕ, с. 117-118.

22 С.С. Маслов, с. 196.

23 РЕЭ, т. 2, с. 388-389.

24 В.В. Шульгин, Приложения, с. 313-318.

25 Чекист о ЧК (Из архива «Особой Следств. Комиссии на Юге России») // На чужой стороне: Историко-литературные сборники / Под ред. С.П.Мельгунова. Берлин: Ватага; Прага: Пламя, 1925. Т. 9, с. 111-141.

26 Алексей Ремизов. Взвихренная Русь. London: Overseas Publications, 1979, с. 376-377.

27 В.В. Шульгин, с. 95-96.

28 С.С. Маслов, с. 44.

29 Изложение беседы с Б.Линкольном см.: В.Любарский. Что делать, а не кто виноват // Время и мы: Международный журнал литературы и общественных проблем. Нью-Йорк, 1990, № 109, с. 134.

30 РиЕ, с. 6, 7.

31 Г.А. Ландау. Революционные идеи в еврейской общественности // РиЕ, с. 100.

32 Ю. Стеклов. Народная оборона — национальная оборона // Известия, 1920, 18 мая, с. 1.

33 Ю. Ларин. Евреи и антисемитизм в СССР. М.; Л.: ГИЗ, 1929, с.31.

34 КЕЭ, т 6, с.646; т. 1, с. 326.

35 Дж. Мюллер. Диалектика трагедии: антисемитизм и коммунизм в Центральной и Восточной Европе // “22”: Общественно-политический и литературный журнал еврейской интеллигенции из СССР в Израиле. Тель-Авив, 1990, № 73, с. 96, 99-100.

36 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 733-734.

37 Дж. Мюллер. Диалектика трагедии… // “22”, 1990, № 73, с. 99.

38 Там же, с. 100-101.

39 Г.А. Ландау. Революционные идеи в еврейской общественности // РиЕ, с. 115.

40 И.Б. Шехтман. Еврейская общественность на Украине (1917-1919) //Книга о русском еврействе*, 1917-1967 (далее — КРЕ-2). Нью-Йорк: Союз Русских Евреев, 1968, с. 22.

41 Там же, с. 29, 30, 35.

42 В.И. Ленин. Сочинения: В 45 т. 4-е изд. М.: Госполитиздат, 1941-1967. Т. 30, с. 246.

43 И.Б. Шехтман. Еврейская общественность… // КРЕ-2, с. 33-34.

44 И.Б. Шехтман. Еврейская общественность… // КРЕ-2, с. 35-37.

45 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 256.

46 РЕЭ, т. 1, с. 407.

47 И.М. Троцкий. Еврейские погромы на Украине и в Белоруссии 1918-1920 гг. // КРЕ-2*, с. 59.

48 Там же, с. 62.

49 Там же.

50 Д.С. Пасманик. Чего же мы добиваемся? // РиЕ, с. 211.

51 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 66-67.

52 КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 570.

53 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 65.

54 С.С. Мослов, с. 25, 26.

55 Ю. Ларин. Евреи и антисемитизм в СССР, с. 40, 41.

56 С.С. Маслов, с. 40.

57 Дж. Мюллер. Диалектика трагедии… // “22”, 1990, № 73, с. 97.

58 В. Литвинов. Махно и евреи // “22”, 1983, № 28, с. 191-206.

59 КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 574.

60 Еврейские погромы, 1918-1921 / Сост. З.С. Островский. М.: Акц. об-во «Школа и книга», 1926.

61 Еврейские погромы, 1918-1921, с. 73-74.

62 КЕЭ, т. 7, с, 403.

63 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство: (Большевизм и иудаизм). Париж, 1923, с. 169.

64 Т.И. Полнер. Жизненный путь Князя Георгия Евгениевича Львова. Париж, 1932, с. 274.

65 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 176-177.

66 КЕЭ, т. 7, с. 403.

67 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина: Власть и антисемитизм. М.: Международные отношения, 2001, с. 56-57.

68 Д.С. Пасманик. Чего же мы добиваемся? // РиЕ, с. 216.

69 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 56.

70 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 185.

71 Ген. А. фон Лампе. Причины неудачи вооружённого выступления белых // Посев, 1981, № 3, с. 38-39 (перепечатка из: Русский колокол, 1929, № 6-7).

72 КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 572.

73 В.В. Шульгин, с. 97-98.

74 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 64.

75 В.В. Шульгин. с. 86.

76 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 186-187.

77 Я.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 65-66.

78 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 173-174.

79 КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 572-574.

80 Д.О. Линский. О национальном самосознании русского еврея // РиЕ, с. 149-151.

81 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 183.

82 В.В. Шульгин, с. 55, 81, 82.

83 Д.О. Линский. О национальном самосознании русского еврея // РиЕ, с. 157, 160-161.

84 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 181, 187.

85 И.О. Левин. Евреи в революции // РиЕ, с. 136.

86 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 81,82.

87 Д.С. Пасманик. Русская революция и еврейство, с. 181.

88 КЕЭ, т. 4, с. 598.

89 Michael J. Cohen. Churchill and the Jews. London; Totowa, NJ: Frank Cass, 1985, p. 56, 57.

90 Кн. Гр. Н. Трубецкой. Очерк взаимоотношений Вооружённых Сил Юга России и Представителей Французского Командования. Екатеринодар, 1919 // Кн. Гр. Н.Трубецкой. Годы смут и надежд. Монреаль, 1981, с. 202.

91 Ю. Ларин. Евреи и антисемитизм в СССР, с. 38.

92 Еврейские погромы, 1918-1921, с. 74.

93 Большая Советская Энциклопедия. 1-е изд. М., 1932. Т. 24, с. 148.

94 КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 569.

95 Г.В. Костырченко. Тайная политика Сталина, с. 56.

96 И.Б. Шехтман. Советская Россия, сионизм и Израиль // КРЕ-2, с. 321; КЕЭ, т. 6, с. 85; т. 1, с. 560.

97 И.О. Левин. Евреи в революции // РиЕ, с. 134.

98 КЕЭ, т. 6, 570, 574.

99 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 63.

100 С.С. Маслов, с. 26.

101 С.М. Шварц. Антисемитизм в Советском Союзе. Нью-Йорк: Изд-во им. Чехова, 1952, с. 14.

102 Д.О. Линский. О национальном самосознании русского еврея // РиЕ, с. 147, 148, 149.

103 И.М. Бикерман. Россия и русское еврейство // РиЕ, с. 58-60.

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