Part 4 of 5
The Bolsheviks Put Down the Real Revolution—of the Peasants
Rivals they appeared to be, but rivals in fact they were not. All through the revolution and civil war, the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries carped at the Bolsheviks. However, at every key juncture, they threw their support to the Bolsheviks rather than to the Bolsheviks’ other opponents. In 1919 they even sabotaged the anti-Bolshevik armed struggle. Here you have the more distinctively Jewish revolutionary parties rescuing the somewhat-less-distinctively Jewish revolutionary régime from defeat, perhaps because they suspected that all Jews might be punished should the revolution fail. The savagery had to continue lest the predominant Jewish role become victim instead of perpetrator. The whole world would be obliged to spin in the opposite direction for several decades for the sake of Jewish particularism and of Jewish fears that eventually proved groundless come the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Revolution and civil war breed chaos, and chaos led to an immense famine in 1920-21. Y. Goldin, Jewish, was a regional Foodstuffs Commissar. He triggered an uprising via exorbitant confiscations of grain. Solzhenitsyn notes that, “N. Margolin [Jewish], commander of a grain confiscation squad, was famous for whipping peasants who failed to provide grain. (And he murdered them too.)” Peasants who defaulted on the surplus appropriation system were lowered head-first into water wells to induce near-drowning (deemed ‘torture-lite’ today under the term ‘waterboarding’). Others were frozen into ice pillars for failure to pay revolutionary taxes.
In reaction to ruthless food confiscation, the peasants rebelled. “The years 1920-21 witnessed massive resistance to the new regime,” writes Pipes. “[T]he true civil war started only after the White armies had been crushed. It was a war pitting millions of peasants against millions of Red Army troops . . .” (my emphases) Freedom-wise, October 1917 had been a counter-revolution. Indeed 1921’s agitation in the armed forces, in the post-Civil War surviving proletariat (strikes, riots), and especially on the part of millions of peasants made for a popular revolution way more sweeping than 1917 and 1905. Tragically, famine brought the resistance to an end. This could have been the real Russian revolution by way of a worthy successor to February 1917, though a peasant revolution would have been a nightmare for Jewish revolutionaries. Instead the régime learned that famine could be wielded as a weapon, so this famine served as a warm-up for another famine on a similar scale, but deliberately-induced, in 1932-33.
Recounts Solzhenitsyn: “[W]hen 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 [Jewish], the head of the ‘Interdepartmental Anti-Banditry Commission’—and so the peasants, notified about that with leaflets, were able to draw their own conclusions.” Conclusions about what ethnicity was calling the shots against them, that is.
Soon famine bred outbreaks of cholera, typhus, smallpox, plague and venereal disease. The death toll from starvation and disease may indeed have reached a staggering eight million, equal to the number of soldiers who died on both sides in the ‘Great War’. The Russian population actually fell by six million during the famine years. Marxists, so many of them Jewish, conveniently despised the Russian peasant as much as they despised the old Russian intelligentsia. But who else was there? The bulk of the former intelligentsia had been murdered or expelled, though some portion was re-absorbed into the Russian bureaucracy. The proletariat barely existed, even though it was supposed to have brought about the revolution, which it clearly hadn’t. Jews had a unique history of despising the peasantry. Given that 85 percent of Russians were peasants, Jews, emerging as an empowered Soviet elite, were inevitably hostile to the vast bulk of the nation’s inhabitants.
Lenin’s famine of 1921-22 left a minimum of 5 million dead. It was not intentional, but it certainly was made far worse by Lenin’s taking peasants’ grain and exporting it to pay for industry and for fomenting revolution in Europe. In March 1922, Lenin noted that cannibalism from famine was occurring, and treated it as an opportunity. He ordered the looting of churches and the execution of clergy. The peasantry would not object because starvation renders all other concerns superfluous. (Call it ‘Shock Doctrine socialism’, as the Terror-Famine would be.) Lenin even cut short an American relief effort orchestrated by future U.S. president Herbert Hoover, and then fabricated excuses to go after the people who organized it at the Russian end. Socialism’s ‘first term’ in Russia 1917-1922, notes Amis, “reduced her to beggary.”
Is it hard to believe that Lenin could be so ruthless as to wield famine as a weapon against the peasants and the church? Lenin at age 22 in 1891 denigrated a relief effort during a Russian famine that would kill half a million. Amis has a friend of Lenin recalling Lenin’s stance: “Famine, he explained, in destroying the outdated peasant economy, would . . . usher in socialism . . . Famine would also destroy faith . . . in God . . .”
Anti-Communism = Anti-Semitism?
A 1918 decree insisted that all Soviet deputies everywhere must “take uncompromising measures to tear the anti-Semitic movement out by the roots. Pogromists and pogrom agitators are to be placed outside the law.” Otherwise it would be “fatal to the revolution.” Fatal? Trotsky told interviewer Herman Bernstein that the very first order of the revolution was to shoot anti-Semites “on the spot without trial.” Jews must have been incredibly important to the revolution for the regime to insist on such draconian measures to protect them. Molotov once insisted that, “in the Soviet Union actual anti-Semites are shot.” Even as late as 1941, both the Jewish Voice and Jewish Life publications of New York made this self-incriminatory inference, telling readers that “Anti-Communism is anti-Semitism” and “Scratch a professional anti-communist and you will find an anti-Semite.” But if one can’t be an anti-Communist without being anti-Jewish, then all Communists must be Jews. Otherwise the existence of gentile Communists would leave anti-Communists the option of hating non-Jewish Communists. So according to these two major Jewish publications, Communism is Jewish, after all, exactly as per Hitler’s supposed ‘myth of Judeo-bolshevism’, which he was deploying for all it was worth during Operation Barbarossa.
Talaat Pasha, notes Ferguson, wrote that “Those who are innocent today might be guilty tomorrow.” (Pasha was an Armenians-cleansing ‘Young Turk’.) The Russian civil war institutionalized this motto on the Bolshevik side. Perhaps the Nazis had it in mind when shooting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Jews during the invasion of Russia starting in mid-1941.
Ferguson observes that, “the new regime did turn out to mean not just emancipation but unprecedented opportunities for social advancement for Jews in Russia.” So it was, adds Lindemann, that “Large numbers of . . . Jews assumed, for the first time in modern history, a major role in the government of non-Jewish peoples.” They just had to move their Judaism to a back burner and conform unswervingly to the Party line. Jews swarmed the halls of government and became a pillar of this, the most murderous regime in European history. The Jewish population of Moscow rose by a factor of 17 by 1939 (!), of Leningrad by a factor of six. Not surprisingly, Jewish revolutionary S. Maslow noted that in urban southern Russia, it was only the Jews who generally favored the Bolshevik takeover. That’s because they were ruling rather than being ruled.
Jews thrived also because the old bourgeois could be systematically excluded as competitors from the power elite. (An echo of this would occur a decade later when, relates Solzhenitsyn, “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.”) A landmark in that exclusion was the deportation in 1922 of philosophers and writers such as Berdyaev and Bunin, accompanied by practically every other prominent figure in Russian culture. Volkogonov has Berdyaev recalling that, “The Russian revolution spelled the end of the Russian intelligentsia.” Amis has the Russian novelist Nabokov lamented that American commentators “saw us merely as villainous generals, oil magnates, and gaunt ladies with lorgnettes . . .” Amis clarifies that these émigrés were the intelligentsia; they were the civil society. In their place arose a Soviet intelligentsia with a Jewish core. Russians out, Jews in.
Tellingly, the privileges and benefits of the Czarist elite were merely transferred to the new Communist elite. Among other things, they appeared to have dibs on scarce consumer items while everyone else stood in endless lines. Each leading figure had his own dacha (country house). The epitome of un-egalitarianism was Trotsky’s palace (!) and great estate at Arkhangelskoe, a 30-minute drive from Moscow. There Trotsky resided with his personal physician and a raft of servants. The haute cuisine and fleet of luxury automobiles at the palace would make most aristocrats drool with envy.
But something crucial had changed. Solzhenitsyn remarks upon the hostility and disdain that Russia’s new rulers harbored toward a Russian historical heritage not their own. The events of the seven-decade Soviet era would demonstrate the downside for Russians of being ruled by non-Russians. For example, vis-à-vis their Russian Orthodox Church, Trotsky designated religion as a formidable enemy of Soviet state and culture, and the slaughter of Christian Orthodox priests and a closure of thousands of Churches ensued throughout the 1920s.
Concludes Amis: “The net result of War Communism was the obliteration of the industrial base and the worst famine in European history.” We all have heard of the terrible hyper-inflation of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s. But in Russia from 1917 to 1923, inflation skyrocketed not just by a factor of a million, but of a hundred million. In other words, the first five years or so of Bolshevik rule were an unmitigated catastrophe beyond anyone’s worst fears. Though it is politically-incorrect to point this out, Hitler’s first five years or of ruling Germany were (apart from his stripping of German Jews of their civil rights to the cheers of Zionists) a social, political and economic triumph, as even a socialist economist like John Kenneth Galbraith reluctantly conceded. At the five-year mark, the contrast between two dictatorships could scarcely be more striking.
Communism Not Particularly Jewish?
According to most writers on the subject, the supposed strong link between Communism and Jews is a crock. Historian Norman Cantor begs to differ:
In the first half of the twentieth century, Marxist-Leninist communism ran like an electromagnetic lightning flash through Jewish society from Moscow to Western Europe, the United States and Canada, gaining the lifelong adherence of brilliant, passionately dedicated Jewish men and women [akin] to the Sabbataian messianic movement . . . [T]here was an unquestioning compulsion of many thousands of morally committed energetic Jews to devote their lives to it and sacrifice their well-being and that of their families for it . . . Stalin drew to Moscow fervent Jewish communists not only from all over the Soviet Union but from Central and even Western Europe and a few from America. (my emphases)
Conquest has Ronald Hingley suggesting that, “. . . the real prowess in wrong-headedness, as in most other field of endeavour, presupposes considerable education, character, sophistication, knowledge, and will to succeed.” The ‘excited-by-ideas’ Jews of Russia had these in spades. Even the poorer Jewish artisans, writes Slezkine, “had an advantage over the non-elite Apollonians [farmers or descendants thereof] because they were converting from one highly literate culture to another, from one debating society to another, from one chosen people to another, from traditional Mercurianism [the culture of nimble traders or descendants thereof] to the modern kind. In all the revolutionary parties. Jews were particularly well represented at the top, among theoreticians, journalists, and leaders” (my emphases).
Solzhenitsyn puts it in a nutshell: “Israeli socialist S. Tsiryul’nikov has stated that from the beginning of the revolution Jews served as the basis of the new communist regime.” (my emphases) I repeat: that, “from the beginning of the revolution Jews served as the basis of the new communist regime.” How could the total reliance of Communism on Jews be made any clearer? Solzhenitsyn relates an anecdote about a cadet in training who beseeched some fellow trainees, “Comrades. Let’s not go to the front, it is all because of Yids that we fight.” A man with a briefcase overheard the remark. The cadet was taken away and shot.
Trotsky revelled in totalitarian coercion in both theory and practice. Was this a throwback to the Jewish ghetto, where the rabbis had totalitarian control? Each had a similar justification: only we have the truth, and God/history gives us the right to impose it. Slezkine notes that Jewish-Soviet propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg caricatured Soviet Orthodoxy as Talmudic exegesis [extrapolating from religious text to real-life]. Indeed, some Jews who ran the early Communist government of late 1940s Poland looked back at their Marxist education as having been quite Jewish in style. Remarks historian Jeff Schatz, “Those who enjoyed the highest respect knew large portions of the classical texts [like Marx’s/Engels’ Das Capital] almost by heart.” They deployed a “hair-splitting quality of analysis that many respondents themselves today call ‘Talmudic’.” Slezkine suggests that Jews predominated amongst Communist writers and ideologues because scriptural interpretation of the Torah prepped one for scriptural interpretation of Marx’s works.
Also classically Jewish was Marxism’s “overwhelming claim of the collective to the individual’s allegiance,” observes Conquest. In this, Fascism/Nazism would mimic Communism, the latter preceding and provoking the former. Echoing Jewish historians on the uniqueness of the Jewish Tragedy, Conquest views the Soviet Union as “a ghastly historical aberration . . . not to be understood by accepted methods.” Its being a product mainly of a neo-Sabbatarian millennial Jewish-revolutionary fanaticism and a hostility toward the majority it helped rule may go some ways toward explaining that aberrant nature. (Imagine that fanaticism and hostility then being absorbed and deployed in a new form against their original source by Hitler’s Nazis.)
Amis avers that no Leninist action was as mortifying to the Russian populace as “the profanation of its religious beliefs, the closing of the houses of worship, and the mistreatment of the clergy.” And it was Bolshevik Jews who took greatest delight in this, being the only faction with a longstanding anti-Christian grudge. In the first several years of Bolshevik rule, 32 bishops, 1,560 priests and 7,000 monks and nuns were murdered by revolutionaries. By 1931, 4/5ths of the village churches had been boarded up or desecrated by conversion to collection points for kulaks being deported to the likes of Siberia. “In one of their eerily postmodernist convulsions, the Bolsheviks deployed the weapon of orchestrated mockery: blasphemous and semi-pornographic street carnivals, with cavorting Komsomols garbed as priests . . .” The peasants watched in horror, and silence. It would be almost impossible to believe that Jewish Bolsheviks were not the source of this phenomenon, a macabre Saturday Night Live a half-century earlier.
Philo-Semitic Russian writer Maxim Gorky wrote in a letter to his Jewish friend Sholem Asch in 1922: “The reason for the current anti-Semitism in Russia is the tactlessness of the Jewish Bolsheviks . . . [Some] have turned churches into movie theaters and reading rooms . . . The Russian peasant . . . will harbor hatred for the Jew who raised his hand against his holy places . . . [T]he Jews should have refrained. They should have realized that their actions would poison the soul of the Russian people.” A number of rabbis were killed and synagogues destroyed as well, mainly to paint the Bolshevik assault on the Church as an assault of religion in general. Almost inevitably, as pointed out by Lindemann, “The head of the government-supported Russian Society of Atheists was a Jew, Emilian Yaroslavsky.”
Historian Paul Johnson relates that it was Trotsky who impressed upon Lenin the significance of workers’ soviets and how to deploy them. “It was Trotsky who personally organized and led the armed uprising which actually overthrew the Provisional Government and placed the Bolsheviks in power. It was Trotsky who created . . . the Red Army, and who ensured the physical survival of the new Communist regime during the Civil War . . . ”
Ginsberg enumerates the multiple enemies that Trotsky’s Red Army faced in the four years following the Revolution: “White Russian forces seeking to restore the old regime; German forces supporting efforts by the Baltic states to secure their independence; a Polish army dispatched to promote Ukrainian independence; British, French, and American troops sent to support the White Russians; an anti-Bolshevik army of former Czech and Slovak war prisoners; and a variety of dissidents and brigands who took advantage of the chaos to seize control of bits and pieces of territory.” Trotsky saved the situation by insisting that veteran Czarist army officers be reintegrated into the new army, and that their loyalty be ensured by riddling the ranks with “spies and informers,” not to mention with political commissars who could countermand military orders at Trotsky’s insistence.
Let’s face it. There is no Russian Revolution or victorious civil war without the Jewish Trotsky, just as there would be no German Nazism or World War II absent the Austrian Adolf Hitler. Some Jewish historians try to paint Trotsky as unJewish, but certainly Trotsky’s “tactlessness, arrogance, unshakable self-confidence, rigid moralism and fanatical idealism fit . . . anti-Semitic stereotypes” (Lindemann). He had earlier been an ardent Menshevik, a primarily-Jewish party. Writes Conquest, “The Mensheviks . . . were themselves (by any usual standard) on the extreme, and doctrine-dazzled, left.” They weren’t necessarily committed to revolution, but these were natural future Bolsheviks once the original Bolsheviks had gotten the dirty work done. The man who established the Bolsheviks in power, Trotsky, had emerged from a very Jewish party, and then rallied the Jewish parties to his side at key junctures.
S. G. Svatikov, the Provisional Government’s commissar for liquidating Czarist political police who’d escaped abroad, claimed that “at least 99 (62.3 percent) of the 159 political émigrés who returned to Russia through Germany in 1917 in sealed trains were Jews. The first group of 29 that arrived with Lenin included 17 Jews (58.6 percent).” The spectacular over-representation by Jews within Bolshevism was disguised, though. Because so many Jews didn’t look distinctly different from average Russians, a public Jewish identity and its attendant problems could be avoided altogether via the mere Russification of one’s name. Word would get out eventually regarding who was really Jewish, but by then Jews would be entrenched in powerful positions and could deploy the press and government decrees to discourage anti-Semitism.
Slezkine emphasizes that the Jews were the most revolutionary national group in the Russian Empire. (Latvians matched them in numbers but couldn’t even distantly approximate their influence.) Moreover, Jews “were also the best at being revolutionaries.” Writes Leonard Shapiro: “[They] organized the illegal transport of literature, planned escapes and illegal crossings, and generally kept the wheels of the whole organization turning.” Revolution and its consolidation were carried out by urbanites, amongst whom Jews were disproportionately prominent, so naturally they rose to positions of leadership in the new regime. But that is also to say that this band of urban sophisticates was absolutely necessary for the revolution’s success, a highly improbable success that became a blight upon civilization, and would provoke the extreme reaction of Hitler within a decade. Hitler’s bureaucracy implemented Nazi policies, as Stalin’s bureaucracy implemented Communist policies. And, as Benjamin Ginsberg concedes, “By the 1930s, Jews had also become the backbone of the Soviet bureaucracy . . .” (my emphasis).
Lenin, unknowingly, had Jewish maternal grandfather. Had Lenin lived into his mid-80s he could have emigrated to Israel. Lenin was quite open with his plaudits for the role of Jews in the whole revolutionary narrative. He was also adamant in his denunciations of pogroms and anti-Semitism. Early on he had resisted Jewish nationalism, but later he came to accept that the Soviet system might accommodate a Jewish national territory. As he lay dying, Lenin reiterated his fondness for the Jewish Menshevik leader Julius Martov; they were as personally close as they were ideologically at odds. (Ginsberg notes that “during the period leading up to the 1917 revolution, Jews were among the leaders of both the Mensheviks and the Bolshevik parties.” The qualifier “among” is unnecessary. Martov was the leader of the Mensheviks; the quarter-Jewish Lenin and Trotsky were the Bolshevik leaders.)
The Russian writer Maxim Gorky once claimed that Lenin harbored a soft spot for smart people, saying that a smart Russian was almost always a Jew or part-Jew. Perhaps that helps explain why the upper echelons of the Bolshevik party were so rife with Jews during the Lenin era. First among them was Trotsky. Waxes Slezkine, “The Red Army was the only force that stood earnestly and consistently against the Jewish pogroms and the only one led by a Jew. Trotsky . . . was the living embodiment of redemptive violence, the sword of revolutionary justice . . .” Lindemann notes that there were many Jewish Bolsheviks at the very top of the party. “And there were even more in the dreaded Cheka, or secret police, where the Jewish revolutionary became visible in a terrifying form.” In November 1918 Lenin declared that, “[T]he Cheka is directly involved in bringing about the dictatorship of the proletariat, and for that reason its role is invaluable” (my emphases). That is tantamount saying that it was the Jewish-led Cheka that made a realty of the very worst social idea in the history of human thought.
It is doubtful that a revolution that wasn’t top-heavy with Jews would have done the following: The Bolsheviks outlawed pogroms and anti-Semitic movements almost as soon as installed in power. Kerensky’s February revolution had already accorded Jews full citizenship and democratic rights, and doubtless the outlawing of anti-Semitic activities would have followed within a few years, given how prominent Jews already were in the new Parliament and government. But that wasn’t fast enough for the Jewish Bolsheviks. The whole country had to be turned upside down so that the outlawing of anti-Semitism could be achieved right away. Ginsberg credits the Bolshevik regime with granting Jews the right to participate fully in government and in society, but the Kerensky had already done that. That said, writes Sklezkine Jews “quickly came to play major roles in the ruling Communist Party and the Soviet state. Jews were among the few supporters of the revolution with even a modicum of education and literacy. Thus they soon assumed positions of leadership in areas requiring such skills—foreign affairs, propaganda, finance, administration, and industrial production.” How, then, could Jews not become the core of the Bolshevik regime, especially when the competition had been sent packing?
Jews were prominent party leaders. They were scattered more thinly amongst the rank-and-file (as in Hollywood studios that are thoroughly dominated by Jewish executives or owners while employing a predominance of Gentiles in lesser roles). Merely citing their high proportion of the party’s central committee understates their importance. One must consider too “the assertiveness and often dazzling verbal skills of Jewish Bolsheviks, their energy, and their strength of conviction,” states Lindemann, adding that,“[I]t seems beyond serious debate that in the first twenty years of the Bolshevik Party the top twenty leaders included close to a majority of Jews. Of the seven “major figures” listed in The Makers of the Russian Revolution, four are of Jewish origin, and of the fifty-odd others included on the list, Jews constitute approximately a third, Jews and non-Russians [constituting] close to a majority.”
Who were the top Bolshevik Jews in the early years (and later)?
There was Grigori Yevseyevich Zinoviev (Radomyslsky), President of Communist International and chairman of the Petrograd Soviet. He was Lenin’s closest associate in the party during the war and a key figure in the Central Committee. As a dazzling orator, his speech in Germany in 1920 was rated as “demonic in effectiveness.”
There was Lev Borisovich Kamenev (Rosenfeld). He headed Pravda, the government newspaper. He was a Member of the Central Committee, Chairman of the Second Congress of Soviets, and Chairman of the Moscow Soviet. He was even titular head of Soviet state briefly. And he was almost as close to Lenin as Zinoviev. Though his mother was a Christian, he was brought up Jewish and he married a Jewess — Trotsky’s sister.
There was Adolf Yoffe. He was a Karaite (non-Yiddish) Jew. The Czar exempted Karaites from Jewish status. He was a close friend of Trotsky. He was Chair of the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, the main negotiator of the Brest-Litovsk treaty, and the Soviet ambassador to Germany. He was found supporting German revolutionaries with large sums of money and thus expelled from that country.
Maxim Litvinov was commissar for foreign affairs.
There was Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov, who was very Jewish-looking. He served as Secretary and main organizer of Bolshevik Party1917-18 as president of the Communist Party Central Committee. He was Head of state after Kamenev. It was astonishing that he could be both. Tragically for the Bolshevik party, he died young, in 1919.
There was Moisei Solomonovich Uritsky. He was “notorious as the chief of the Cheka in Petrograd, where the Red Terror raged with special brutality.” He couldn’t match Zinoviev, though, for “pervasive cruelty and vindictiveness toward alleged counterrevolutionaries.”
There was Felix Dzerzhinsky, who succeeded Uritsky as head of Cheka. Mainstream historian Niall Ferguson cites him as being of Jewish origin. Others historians suggest that he was a Pole who became something of an informal convert. He learned Yiddish. He hung out with Jews. He dated them. He married one. And his kids were brought up Jewish. All this makes it impossible to count Dzerzhinsky as a non-Jew.
Ginsberg relates that until the late 1930s, “Jews were especially prominent in the security services . . . [They] were prepared to staff and direct the security instruments upon which the state relied to control its citizens (my emphases). Genriikt Yagoda, for example, served as head of the secret police during the 1930s. Yagoda had been a pharmacist . . . and specialized in preparing poisons for his agents to use in liquidating Stalin’s opponents.” Jews continued to be equally prominent in the Soviet army right through World War II. Both security and the military, of course, “served as bulwarks of the new regime’s power.”
Ginsberg cites other prominent Jews in the Soviet regime: M. T. Gay was in charge of conducting the mass arrests during the ‘Great Terror’, for which a new department was invented. Boris Berman and A. A. Slutsky organized spying and Soviet terror abroad. Mikhail Frunze was the Red Army general who took over from Trotsky as commissar of defense. Yona Yakir was a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. Dmitri Schmidt was a hero of the civil war and commanded in the region of Kiev. Yakob Kreiser became a World War II hero in the defense of Moscow.
There was Grigory Sokolnikov. He edited Pravda. And he signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty when Yoffe balked. And there was Karl Radek, press commissar and famous in the West for his in-prison political salon in Germany in 1919. In fact, continues Ginsberg, in the key instruments of propaganda — journalism, publishing and film — Jews became leading cultural figures. Mikhail Koltsov was the USSR’s highest-profile journalist. Yuri Levitan became the voice of Soviet radio as an official announcer. Deputy-chief of the government’s information bureau Semyon Lozovsky became chief Soviet press spokesman during World War II. The soon-notorious writer Ilya Ehrenburg, as the nation’s leading publicist, would pump up Russian nationalism and excoriate the Germans during ‘the Great Patriotic War’. Vasily Grossman, later the author of the novel Life and Fate, was a war correspondent extraordinaire with the Red Army. Jews ruled the USSR’s film industry. World-famous was director Sergei Eisenstein, but fellow directors (and Jews) Mark Donskoy, Leonid Lukov, Yuryi Reisman and Mikhail Romm were almost as well-known within the Soviet Union.
Then there were those outsider ‘aiders and abettors’. The American Jew Joseph Fels, whose Naphtha soap made him a millionaire, financed the historic Fifth Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party that took place in London and consolidated party’s Bolshevik character. The revolutionary millionaire Alexander Helphand, alias Parvus, orchestrated the sine qua non of the revolution: Lenin’s return to Russia in 1917.
There were honorary or Jewified non-Jews, such as Mikhail Kalinin. He was President of Soviet Union (like a Governor General). His sincere sympathy for Jewish concerns rendered him ‘more Jewish than the Jews’ in the eyes of Jewish Bolsheviks. During one speech about the civil war pogroms, he broke down and couldn’t finish. This was certainly no career-breaker within the Soviet regime.
The definite non-Jews include Stalin. He was Commissar of nationalities and not a terribly important presence in the party or government until 1921, when the revolution, the civil war, and the war against the peasants were all over. Nikolai Bukharin was perhaps in the top ten Bolsheviks in the early years. He was Bolshevism’s top theorist after Lenin, and held several important posts within the party. Shlyapnikov was leader of Bolshevik Petrograd organization during the revolution. Tomsky was a Politburo member. Someone named Rykov held some non-descript posts. How revealing that other than Stalin and Bukharin, nobody’s even heard of the rest, and Stalin was barely in the picture before the consolidation years.
There were plenty of other indications of Bolshevism’s Jewishness. In March 1919 the Petrograd Soviet held a competition for the best portrait of some contemporary hero. Seven hero candidates were suggested; four were Jewish: Trotsky, the assassinated head of Petrograd’s secret police M. S. Uritsky, assassinated chief censor V. Volodarsky (Morris Goldstein), and Grigory Zinoviev.
In 1918, 54 percent of leading Petrograd party officials were Jewish. Jews spoke more often at rallies and these were more often reported in the press. At the end of the civil war, Bela Kun (chairman of the Crimean Revolutionary Committee) and R. S. Zemliachka (Rozaliia Zalkind), the rich merchant’s daughter who headed the Crimean Party Committee and directed the massacre of thousands of refugees and POWs who’d deserted from the White Army.
Natan Altman and El Lissitsky (Lazar Mordukhovich Lisitsky) became Lenin’s chief artists for all manner of propaganda-laden art. Slezkine cites 9 buildings, streets and so forth in Petrograd re-named after Jewish revolutionaries.
A lot of non-Jewish higher-ups married Jewesses. These included Andreev, Bukharin, Kirov, Korasev, Lunacharsky, Molotov, Rykov, and Voroshilove among others. (Trotsky, Zinoviev and Sverdlov married non-Jews.) Naturally, a non-Jewish politico isn’t likely to impose any measures detrimental to Jews when he has a Jewish wife and Jewish in-laws to answer to.
A group of Jews in exile from the USSR issued the 1923 proclamation To the Jews of All Countries!, declaiming that “overly zealous participation of Jewish Bolsheviks in the oppression and destruction of Russia . . . is blamed upon all of us . . . 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 possible evils 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.” Every word was true. Comments Solzhenitsyn, “Yet the Jewish community reacted to these declarations with great indignation.” Moreover, “The stormy participation of Jews in the Communist revolution drew cautious statements of concerns about world Jewry that were quieted, their evidence concealed, by communists and Jews worldwide, who attempted to silence it as extreme anti-Semitism.”
The above book of contrite writings by Jews was published outside the Soviet Union. I. M. Bikerman cites the “disproportionate and immeasurably fervent Jewish participation in the torment of half-dead Russia by the Bolsheviks” (my emphases). Eighteen years later a German dictator would adopt a slight variation on Bolshevism’s established precedent of “condemning a whole social class to extermination,” that is, condemning a whole ethnic group to extermination. And he would do so ostensibly because of the immeasurably fervent participation of Jews in a barbaric Bolshevism that had further degenerated into a Stalinist despotism that, in Hitler’s view, threatened Europe in general, Germany especially.
Tellingly, the Bolsheviks seemed forever apologizing for the high numbers of Jews in their ranks midst, until the subject was shut down in the mid-1930s. It became taboo because the problem was intractable, given that popular resentment correlated with bona fide spectacular over-representation of Jews in power. All kinds of books decrying anti-Semitism were published in that era to address and hopefully deflate the phenomenon.
Slezkine cites a 1927 book by V. V. Shulgin, making sure to identify him as an anti-Semite first, but there’s not a sentence in the following paragraph addressed to Russia’s Jews that isn’t eminently reasonable.
We do not like the fact that you took too prominent a part in the [October] revolution, which turned out to be the greatest lie and fraud. We do not like the fact that you became the backbone and core of the Communist Party. We do not like the fact that, with your discipline and solidarity, your persistence and your will, you have consolidated and strengthened for years to come the maddest and bloodiest enterprise that humanity has known since the days of creation. We do not like the fact that this experiment was carried out in order to implement the teachings of a Jew, Karl Marx. We do not like the fact that this whole terrible thing was done on the Russian back and that it has cost us Russians, all of us together and each one of us separately, unutterable losses. We do not like the fact that you, Jews, a relatively small group within the Russian population, participated in this vile deed out of all proportion to your numbers.” (my emphases)
Yes, perhaps the Russians were ultimately to blame for not stopping the Bolsheviks in their tracks early on, but Shulgin’s resentment is quite understandable and his complaints legitimate.
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