Stalin's antisemitism

Stalin's antisemitism


Even though Communism theoretically rejects every form of national discrimination, including antisemitism, and many Old Bolsheviks were ethnically Jewish, they sought to uproot Judaism and Zionism and established the Yevsektsiya to achieve this goal.

Stalin's letter : Reply to an Inquiry of the Jewish News Agency in the United States" dated January 12, 1931 indicated his official position of the Soviet Union:

In answer to your inquiry: National and racial chauvinism is a vestige of the misanthropic customs characteristic of the period of cannibalism. Anti-semitism, as an extreme form of racial chauvinism, is the most dangerous vestige of cannibalism. Anti-semitism is of advantage to the exploiters as a lightning conductor that deflects the blows aimed by the working people at capitalism. Anti-semitism is dangerous for the working people as being a false path that leads them off the right road and lands them in the jungle. Hence Communists, as consistent internationalists, cannot but be irreconcilable, sworn enemies of anti-semitism. In the U.S.S.R. anti-semitism is punishable with the utmost severity of the law as a phenomenon deeply hostile to the Soviet system. Under U.S.S.R. law active anti-semites are liable to the death penalty. [Joseph Stalin. Works, Vol. 13, July 1930-January 1934, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1955, p. 30]

To offset the growing Jewish national and religious aspirations of Zionism and to successfully categorize Soviet Jews under Stalin's nationality, an alternative to the Land of Israel was established with the help of Komzet and OZET in 1928. The Jewish Autonomous Oblast with the center in Birobidzhan in the Russian Far East was to become a "Soviet Zion". Yiddish, rather than "reactionary" Hebrew, would be the national language, and proletarian socialist literature and arts would replace Judaism as the quintessence of culture. Despite a massive domestic and international state propaganda campaign, the Jewish population there never reached 30% (as of 2003 it was only about 1.2%). The experiment ground to a halt in the mid-1930s, during Stalin's first campaign of purges. Jewish leaders were arrested and executed, and Yiddish schools were shut down.

Pravda published cartoons portraying Leon Trotsky as a red demonic figure ruining Stalin's Russia, and eventually Trotsky was exiled to Mexico. He was eventually murdered with an icepick under suspicious circumstances. Some writers, such as Paul Johnson, point to this as the main turning point in Stalin's anti-Semitism.

By the end of the 1940s the Communist leadership of the former USSR had liquidated almost all Jewish organizations, including Yevsektsiya. Despite the official Soviet opposition to antisemitism, critics of the ensuing USSR characterize it as an antisemitic regime, pointing out the Non-Aggression Pact with Nazi Germany, the relatively high Jewish casualties in the Great Purges, and Soviet hostility toward Jewish religious and cultural institutions. A hostility, however, that was applied with practically equal force against all religious and non-communist cultural institutions, the notable exception being the Christian Orthodox Church during World War II, or the "Great Patriotic War" as it was known there.

After World War II

Especially after World War II, many campaigns and purges were organized that could be interpreted as antisemitic. The subject has been widely covered in Edvard Radzinski's biography of Stalin. Stalin began this purge with repressing his wartime allies, Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. In January 1948, Solomon Mikhoels was killed in a suspicious car accident in Minsk. According to documents unearthed by historian Gennady Kostyrchenko, the organizers of the assassination were L.M. Tsanava and S. Ogoltsov, and the "direct" murderers were Lebedev, Kruglov and Shubnikov. [ru icon [ Как убивали Mихоэлса] (How Mikhoels was killed). "Moskovskiy Komsomolets" September 6, 2005] In November 1948, Soviet authorities launched a campaign to liquidate what was left of Jewish culture. The members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were arrested. They were charged with treason, bourgeois nationalism and planning to set up a Jewish republic in Crimea to serve US interests.

In a December 1, 1952 Politburo session, Stalin announced: "Every Jewish nationalist is a potential agent of the American intelligence. Jewish nationalists think that their nation was saved by the USA." [Recorded by Vice-Chair of the Sovmin Vyacheslav Malyshev. Source - newspaper "Nezavisimaya Gazeta", September 29, 1999.]

The night of August 12-13, 1952, in the event known as the Night of the Murdered Poets (Ночь казнённых поэтов), thirteen of the most prominent Yiddish writers of the Soviet Union were executed on the orders of Stalin. Among the victims were Peretz Markish, David Bergelson and Itzik Fefer.

The antisemitic campaign of 1948-1953 against so-called "rootless cosmopolitans," destruction of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the fabrication of the "Doctors' plot," the rise of "Zionology" were officially carried out under the banner of "anti-Zionism," but the use of this term could not obscure the antisemitic content of these campaigns,Or|date=August 2008 and by the mid-1950s the state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged as a major human rights issue in the West and domestically.


On January 13, 1953, TASS announced "the unmasking of a terrorist group of doctors-poisoners." Satirical magazine "Krokodil" published antisemitic feuilletons and caricatures, "Pravda" published materials on arrested "spies"', almost all of whom were Jews. As Western press accused the Soviet Union of antisemitism, the Central Committee of Communist Party decided to organise a propagandistic trick, a collective letter by the Jewish public, condemning with fervour "the murderers in white overalls" and the agents of Imperialism and Zionism, and to assure there was no antisemitism in the USSR. The letter was signed by well-known scientists and culture figures, who had been forced to do so by the NKVD. ru iconEdvard Radzinsky. "Сталин", Moscow, Vagrius, 1997, ISBN 5-264-00574-5
* [ Available online]
* Translation: "Stalin", 1996, ISBN 0-385-47397-4 (hardcover), 1997, ISBN 0-385-47954-9 (paperback) Ch. 24]

However, the letter, initially planned to be published in February, 1953, remained unpublished. Instead of the letter, a vehement feuilleton "The Simple-minded and the Swindlers" was published in "Pravda", featuring numerous characters with Jewish names, all of them swindlers, villains, saboteurs, whom the naïve Russian people trust, having lost vigilance. What followed was a new wave of antisemitic hysteria and rumours, that all Jews would be sent to Siberia. Only Stalin's death the same year relieved the fear.

Similar purges against Jews were organised in Eastern Bloc countries (see Prague Trials).

=Radzinsky's hypothesis=

The reasons for the anti-Semitic campaign remain unclear; some attribute this to Stalin’s alleged paranoia, while Stalin’s biographer Edvard Radzinski has claimed that Stalin was actually preparing for a new military conflict, and just repeated the 1937 purges to ensure an atmosphere of terror and absolute submissiveness. Radzinski also viewed the persecution of Jews by Stalin as a means of provoking the US.

Having been equipped with the atomic bomb (1949), the development of the hydrogen bomb was about to succeed. Stalin then ordered Beria to hasten the build-up of a Moscow rocket defence system. By the beginning of 1953, Stalin was boasting that Moscow may soon be gazing at the West from behind a rocket fence.

Czech historian Karel Kaplan has reported a summary of a Stalin lecture found in the secret archives of Czechoslovak Communist Party. The lecture was held in 1951, at a conference of Communist parties. Stalin asserted that there was a suitable moment to start an assault against capitalist Europe, and that the Korean War had shown the weakness of the US army. Thus, the Socialist bloc had a temporary superiority, which demanded mobilisation of all the political and military power, to give a decisive blow against capitalism and to establish Socialism all over the continent.

Family Life

Stalin's daughter Svetlana fell in love with a Jew, Alexei Kapler. Stailin disapproved. He was exiled to Siberia on the charge of being an 'English spy'. She later fell in love with Grigori Morozov, another Jew, and married him. Stalin agreed to their marriage after much pleading on Svetlana's part, but refused to attend the wedding. Whether either of these intrigues were due to anti-Semitism is in dispute but Paul Johnson maintains that they may have had some involvement in Stalin's later treatment of the Jews in his countryFact|date=August 2008.


ee also

*Rootless cosmopolitan
*Doctors' plot
*History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union (Stalin years)
*Population transfer in the Soviet Union

Further reading

*Arkady Vaksberg, Antonina Bouis, "Stalin Against The Jews", 1994, ISBN 0-679-42207-2
*Louis Rapoport, "Stalin's War Against the Jews", 1990, ISBN 0-02-925821-9

External links

* [ Stalin's Secret Pogrom: The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee] (introduction) by Joshua Rubenstein
* [ 50th anniversary of the Night of the Murdered Poets] National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) August 12, 2002, Letter from President Bush, links
* [ Seven-fold Betrayal: The Murder of Soviet Yiddish] by Joseph Sherman
* [ Unknown History, Unheroic Martyrs] by Jonathan Tobin
*ru icon [ Не умри Сталин в 1953 году...] (If Stalin Had Not Died in 1953) by Yoav Karni (BBC in Russian language)
* Russian political parties and antisemitism
* [,7340,L-3342999,00.html "Stalin's Jews"] by Israeli journalist Sever Plocker (

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