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22 Adar 5762 - March 6, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Stalin's Planned Genocide

by Yaakov Eisenstadt

Stalin and the Jewish Question

Josef Stalin was a cruel and ruthless tyrant who ruled Russia and the Soviet Union with absolute power for around 25 years. During his reign, in which he enjoyed personal, absolute power in the Soviet Union, he was responsible for uncounted millions of executions and murders. Estimates of those killed in the purges and executions during his rule range upwards from 20 million, and included friends and allies of Stalin, and many murdered just because they had abilities that might possibly lead them to become a threat to his rule.

Less known are the preparations that he made to wage a genocidal purge against the Jewish people under his rule. Since his sudden death on Purim, 1953, stopped those evil plans soon before they would have been carried out, they have received far less attention than the crimes he actually committed. Stalin was clearly planning a huge murderous campaign against the Jews of Russia and the allied Soviet republics. This is what is discussed below.

It is impossible to understand why Stalin towards the end of his life started preparations for the destruction of Soviet Jewry, if we do not analyze his relationship to the Jews and the Jewish question throughout his life.

We have many testimonies and documents pointing to the fact that Stalin, who became famous as an expert on the topic of nationalism and as an advocate of internationalism, had always been an antisemite -- not only in the political and party political arena, but also on a day-to-day level.

Actually, Stalin's expertise on the nationalistic question was very superficial. His fame in this area was due to the publication of a famous letter, which Lenin sent to Gorky, stating that they had a wonderful Georgian who had written a comprehensive article about nationalism, having assembled all the Austrian and other documents.

In reality, Stalin did not know German and so could not have collected all the material from Vienna himself. He was assisted by Bukharin and Troinovsky. After his return from Vienna, Stalin travelled to Cracow, where Lenin was also staying at the time, and the latter edited the famous article for him.

In this article, "Marxism and the National Question" which was published in the weekly paper Prosvaschechnya (The Enlightenment) in 1913, Stalin argues with Bauer, who considered the Jews to be one entity, and attempts to prove that the Jews from Russia, Galicia, America, Georgia, and the Caucasus region do not make up one nation, since they are separated from each other, live in different countries and speak different languages.

This opinion of Stalin, which does not recognize the Jews as one nation, is not an original one and also reflects the well- known outlook of Lenin. But we will not pursue these issues since we are only interested in the manifestations of antisemitism in Stalin over several decades.

In the years prior to the Revolution he did not of course dare to express biased opinions of a national nature -- as he was later to do when he took over power -- but even then one could detect this tendency in small matters. Relying on the large proportion of Jews among the ranks of the Mensheviks in their London conference of 1907, he wrote humorously that whereas the Mensheviks were a Jewish movement, the Bolsheviks were still purely Russian, and that it would therefore be worthwhile for the Bolsheviks to arrange a pogrom within the party.

While in exile in Siberia, Stalin lived with a man by the name of "Sverdlov" who complained about his extreme antisemitism. The courts reprimanded Stalin because of this complaint.

A socialist-revolutionary called Karganov met Stalin in 1913 during his exile in Tourchan. He points out that during debates Stalin revealed himself as an antisemite and used vulgar Georgian expressions about the Jews.

In 1926 "Stalin began ridding himself of the Jews he grew tired of." This was stated by The Socialist Informer, Issue #1, 1926, which stresses especially the growing antisemitism within party ranks. A telephone conversation between two high-ranking Bolshevik officials would conclude as follows: "Be well and smite a Jew."

The general mood amongst the Jews may be summarized as follows: "There are no pogroms yet, but people live in dread of them."

During his struggle against the opposition, Stalin started to encourage antisemitism. In the first stage of this struggle (1923-25) when Stalin allied himself with Zinoviev and Kamineyev, he would play upon antisemitic feelings in a very cautious and veiled manner. Only the more cynical revolutionaries, who were actually trained by Stalin, proclaimed in party gatherings that Trotsky's supporters were "petit bourgeois" from "small towns" without explicitly saying "Jews." (Note also that Trotsky was Stalin's main rival for power in Russia and he was Jewish. Other Jews were assumed to be on his side.)

These proclamations did not stand up to reality. The opposition in those years was mostly made up of people with deeply-rooted Russian origins: Y. N. Smirnov, Srevaryekov, Prouvrazensky and Morlov. Trotsky's friend Rakovsky was of Bulgarian origin, and Semilga, another prominent opposition activist, was Latvian. There were also Georgian activists in the opposition.

In spite of this, Stalin constantly stressed Trotsky's "Jewishness," not only in private talks with his non- Jewish supporters but also in talks with opposition activists.

The motif of the opposition's "Jewishness" could also be seen in newspaper advertisements, which were supervised by Stalin. "In the lawsuits of corrupt criminals and other scoundrels as well as their removal from the opposition ranks, the party machine willingly gave prominence to Jewish names of insignificant people," Trotsky recalled later on. A Trotsky follower called Ivan Yakovlovitch Verchov said that the opposition reacted with revulsion and disgust to Stalin's chauvinism and especially to his antisemitic leanings.

All these facts contradict the accepted views that official antisemitism in the Soviet Union began during or after the Second World War. In practice, already in the 1920s a "Jewish domination" existed in the Party and the country as a whole.

The Doctors' Trial and The Lawyers' Trial

On the 13th of January 1953, the Soviet Union's official information agency published an announcement about the "arrest of a group of harmful doctors." The doctors were accused of sabotaging "patients' health in a malevolent manner" through false diagnoses and incorrect treatment bringing about these patients' deaths.

The arrested doctors were also accused of murder through damaging treatment of two very important Soviet activists and of attempting to "remove from the ranks" some high-ranking Soviet army officers. Most of the offenders were Jews and it was pointed out that they belonged to an international Jewish national-bourgeois organization said to be known as the "Joint."

According to the charge sheet, an order had emanated from the headquarters of this organization in the United States via a doctor called Simliovitch and "the well known nationalist bourgeois Jew" Michoels to "liquidate the ruling strata of the Soviet Union."

Mass dismissals of Jews from their jobs took place throughout the country, especially from medical institutions. Many doctors and pharmacists became victims of their patients' suspicions. Consistent antisemitism developed throughout the country.

After Stalin's death Constantin Simonov wrote: "Murdering doctors -- one cannot, I think, conceive of anything more terrible. Everything was done with the aim of gaining more publicity. There was a feeling that the consequences of Stalin's actions could not be described."

Who fabricated the Doctors' Trial? Who organized the antisemitic system surrounding it? From the beginning it was recognized as Stalin's creation.

A newspaper article in Pravda appeared simultaneously with a report from the information bureau (similar articles appeared in the Izvestya and other papers), which stated that, "The Interior Security Services institutions did not uncover a destructive terrorist organization amongst the doctors in time." It was obvious from the content and style of the article that its author was Stalin.

Documents which came to light at a later period also revealed Stalin's role in the doctors' affair. K. Simonov, who was a candidate for membership in the Central Committee of the Communist Party at the time, wrote:

"A short while after the announcement that the Doctors' Trials had been staged, the members and candidates of the Central Committee in the Kremlin were shown documents testifying to Stalin's active participation in the affair of `the doctor murderers' from the very beginning. There was Reyman's evidence about his conversations with Stalin, and Stalin's demands to increase torture during interrogations, as well as other testimonies which proved Stalin's role in this affair again and again."

In the 20th party conference in 1956 Nikita S. Krushchev admitted that Stalin had initiated "the Doctor's Trials" and that the arrests, interrogations and tortures were all conducted in accordance with Stalin's direct instructions.

Solzhenitzin's Claims

Alexander Solzhenitzin wrote in his book The Gulag Archipelago:

"Stalin planned a mass Jewish massacre. His plan was as follows: In the beginning of March the killer-doctors were to be hanged in Red Square. Embittered patriots (led by supervisors) would then begin a pogrom against the Jews. Next the Government, exhibiting great kindness, would protect the Jews from the fury of the masses -- and already on the same night it would transfer all the Jews to the East of the Soviet Union and Siberia (where the construction of huts for this purpose had already begun)."

The Doctors' Trial and their public execution were, according to Stalin's plan, to be the first steps towards the mass destruction of Soviet Jewry.

In February 1953 it was claimed that the Deportation of the Jews had been allegedly delayed, but these were false claims. Till the day of his death Stalin did not give up his plans about the Doctors' Trials or the plans to deport the Jews of the Soviet Union -- and continued his preparations for their annihilation.

A. T. Rivin served Stalin many years as his personal guard. Based on conversations with him and on other documentation, D. A. Vakogonov claimed that on 28th of February 1953 Stalin studied the interrogations of the "killer-doctors." On the night between 28th of February and 1st of March 1953, during his last meal at which he was joined by Melinkov, Beria, Krushchev and Bulganin, he asked Beria about the progress of the interrogations. The Security Services planned a show trial to prove a "medical conspiracy" of an obvious antisemitic nature.

During the meal Stalin repeated his instructions about preparing a Doctors' Trial. This was the final meeting with his assistants. It ended at four o' clock in the morning of the 1st of March 1953. On the same day Stalin suffered a stroke and paralysis and never regained consciousness. There is no evidence to the effect that Stalin decided in February 1953 to put preparations for the conclusion of the Doctors' Trial and the annihilation of the Soviet Jewry on hold.

Lawyers' Trial

On the other hand there is documented evidence revealing the preparations for a Lawyers' Trial simultaneously with the Doctors' Trial.

The chief defendants in this trial were to be members of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union: Aaron Naumivitch Treinin and Michael Solomonovitch Storogovitch. These two scientists contributed greatly towards the preparations of the Nuremberg Trials and tried, even in the time of Stalin's stifling regime, to protect democratic values in criminal law.

The famous historian, Professor Srafim Alexandrovitz Pokarovsky, was sent as an agent provocateur of the KGB to incite their beloved pupil Valentin Lifshitz into talking about Stalin.

I met Valentin Lifshitz in the science hall of the Lenin Library during his post-doctorate studies and was subsequently a witness to the inciting conversations between Pokarovsky and Valentin at breakfast time in the Prague cafe in Arbet Square. Pokarovsky began visiting Valentin at home.

Lifshitz was arrested at the beginning of 1952 and charged with an attempt to assassinate Stalin. He was tortured in order to force him into testifying against his well-known teachers for the preparations of the Lawyers' Trials. However, he withstood the tortures and did not testify to his interrogators.

On the 27th of December he was sentenced by the military courts to death by shooting.

After Stalin's death, by the end of April, Valentin's mother Professor Sophia Yavesyavana Kopliyanskaya succeeded in meeting with Beria. She was promised that her son would live and the sentence quashed. In actual fact Valentin had been shot in the basement of the inner jail in the infamous Lubyanka Prison on 6th of February 1953 after which it was reported that he had committed suicide.

A lawyer from Moscow who dealt with his posthumous pardon after the 20th Assembly, studied the documents of Valentin's criminal interrogation and discovered that all the charges were based on the testimony of the agent Pokarovsky and a typed statement by Valentin wishing Stalin a speedy death. In fact, this statement was typed by Pokarovsky on Valentin's typewriter while he was not at home.

Lifshitz's fiancee, Nastaya, who was present during the sessions of his trial in the military court as a witness, related subsequently how his face had been covered with layers of makeup in order to hide signs of beatings and his hair was white despite the fact he was under thirty years old. Nastaya did not give any testimony which would have been damaging to him.

Valentin's bravery saved the lives of his learned teachers and the Lawyers' Trial did not take place. Stalin's death put an end to the Doctors' Trial and the plans for the Lawyers' Trial.

Practical Steps Undertaken by Stalin towards Organizing the Destruction of Soviet Jewry

The Deportation Plan, the Establishment of a Deportation Committee and Lists of Candidates for Deportation

Objective documented evidence about the deportation issue was furnished by Nikolay Nikolevitch Poliakov, who was appointed by Stalin as the secretary of the Deportation Committee and who was a witness and accomplice to these events. Poliakov worked in the Internal Security Services and within the central apparatus of the Communist party. In his last years he was sick, but towards the end of his life he decided to disclose facts of which he had personal knowledge.

Poliakov's testimony reveals that Stalin had made a decision about the general deportation of Soviet Jewry at the end of the 40s. In order to supervise this operation a Deportation Committee had been set up, which was answerable only to Stalin. Poliakov was its secretary. Since the expelled Jews were to be transferred to Birobidzhan and other places, Stalin initiated an intensive construction program of hut concentrations, which were to resemble concentration camps, and districts designated for this purpose became closed and secret areas. At the same time lists were compiled throughout the country of all citizens of Jewish origin: no one was to be left out.

There were two types of lists: one of Jews and one of the offspring of mixed marriages. The deportation was to take place in two stages: those born of two Jewish parents were to be expelled first, and the children born from mixed marriages in the second stage.

These lists of Jewish people earmarked for deportation were compiled with the help of manpower divisions, housing committees, the police, factory management committees, local institutions, and internal security services throughout the country.

Certain difficulties arose while these lists were being compiled. For example, when a list of Jewish people was published by a foreign publishing company in Moscow, an anonymous letter was sent to it claiming that the family name of one of the editors was missing, and he was registered as Russian but was actually Jewish.

This editor had been born in a remote village and swore that he had been baptized. At a meeting of the Committee he offered to demonstrate that he was not circumcised. Eventually it was decided to send an inquiry to his home village. Naturally nobody in this village had the slightest idea what a Jew was. Consequently the Moscow publishing company received the following reply from the head of the village committee: "We do not know what a Jew is. Maybe a new breed of cows? If so, we hardly have any cows. They died due to lack of food."

According to Poliakov, the deportation was meant to take place in the second half of February 1953, but was postponed. This was not because of the lack of concentration camps (less than half of the planned huts were completed, but this in itself would not have held up the operation), but because more time was needed to draw up the lists than had been allowed for. Stalin therefore came up with a tight timetable: the Doctors' Trial on March 5-7, 1953 and public executions on March 11-12, 1953.

At the end of 1952 Yevgeny Viktorovitch Trala, a well- known historian and member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, told his relative Leo Yekov, "Preparations were being made to expel the Jews on the 11th-12th from the European part of the State." He said that "plans were afoot to transport the Jews to Siberia in March- April 1953, where they would be housed in huts that had been constructed hastily and were made of walls as thin as one wooden plank. It was estimated that the initial mortality rate would be in the region of 30-40 percent."

According to Trala the "program" had already been worked out in detail: it had already been decided who would be a victim of the "fury of the masses," who would receive the valuable collections of Jews in Moscow and Leningrad, and who would take possession of "vacated" apartments.

Preparations for Public Executions, Assemblies, and Pogroms; Letters Requesting Deportations

In a conversation with the historian Jacob Ettinger, the former Chairman of the Soviet Committee of Ministers, N.A. Bulganin confirmed that the Doctors' Trial was meant to conclude with a death sentence. He added that a standard newspaper report stating that "the sentence has been executed" would not have satisfied Stalin. Only a public execution to terrify the population, with all the special effects of the Middle Ages, would have suited his purposes.

Bulganin knew that tasks had already been allocated, and it had been decided in which towns each professor would be hanged: whether in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk or Sverdlovsk. We know from other sources that there was also another option, which had been discussed: that all the professors would be publicly hanged together in Moscow in Red Square. A third option was the organization of attacks by the masses on the executioners next to the court, but to allow the soldiers to restrain them.

Bulganin confirms that documents had already been prepared for the deportation to Siberia as well as to the far eastern section of the Soviet Union of all Jews, including all those who had signed letters of loyalty to the regime. Which letters are we referring to?

The execution of the doctors and increased antisemitic propaganda against "murderers in white coats," as well as assemblies in large industrial concerns, were meant to lead to an outburst of pogroms and lynches against Jews throughout the country.

According to Stalin's plan, at that stage letters signed by prominent Jews would be published denouncing the doctor murderers and requesting the deportation of Jews to Siberia and the far eastern section of the Soviet Union, in order to protect them from the wrath of the Soviet nation. In this letter the doctors were termed "the scum of humanity," and it included a strong request to hand down the most severe sentence against them, as well as a request to transfer all Jews as quickly as possible to distant areas of the country in order to prevent those around them from causing them physical harm.

The letter was prepared by the General Director of the official Soviet news agency (Tass), Y.S. Chabinson, as well as members of the Academy of Sciences, M. Mittin and Y.Y. Mintz. All three also subsequently collected signatures for this letter. Prominent representatives from the sciences, literature, art and Soviet culture -- all of them of Jewish extraction -- were meant to sign this document.

Almost everyone who was requested to do so, signed. A few refused to sign, including the writer Iliya Ehrenburg who also wrote a letter of his own to Stalin, whose contents were published recently.

In the letter, Ehrenburg writes to Stalin about his reluctance to sign the letter and about the damage that could result from it to the world peace movement. He asked Stalin to relate his response to his refusal to sign via a third party, adding that if he is told that the publication of this letter and his signature on it would be beneficial to the movement for world peace and to his homeland, then he will sign.

Ehrenburg recalled what happened next:

"They came to my house: Minz, who was a member of the Academy of Sciences, the former deputy director of Tass, Chavinson, and another person. This was just at the time that Stalin had made a decision to expel the Jews from Moscow and other cities. I don't know if they came to me on their own initiative or if someone "on top" had suggested it to them. They showed me the text of a suggested letter addressed to the "Great and Wise Comrade Stalin" that stated that the fury of the masses with respect to the doctor-murderers, the scum of humanity, was justified, and would Comrade Stalin be so gracious as to have pity and act with mercy by protecting the Jews from the justified wrath of the Russian nation by sending them with guarded protection to the far corners of the country? The [Jewish] authors of the letter had, in their baseness, consented to the deportation of a whole nation in the hope that they themselves would be spared from this decree. I was not the first person whose signature they asked for on this letter to Stalin. In their efforts to increase the number of signatories they had turned to the historian Yaroslimsky!"

The historian and intellectual Arkady Samsonovitch Yaroslimsky, a professor at Moscow University and educator of Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alilyuva, seemed an appropriate figure, whose signature would add weight to the intended letter.

Yaroslimsky related at a later period: "Minz, who was a member of the Academy of Sciences and the former deputy director of Tass, Chavinson, and two other people who were as intimidating as they asked me to sign the letter to Stalin. I showed them the door."

Ehrenburg adds the following about Minz's and Chavinson's visit to him:

"Minz was in hysterics, whereas Chavinson ran up and down the room, begging me to sign the letter. I showed them the way out! I wrote a letter to Stalin in order that this letter would reach him the quickest way possible, I went to see the Chief Editor of Pravda and told him of my decision. Spilov was the Chief Editor at the time. He immediately agreed to see me, but for some reason asked me to write the letter intended for Stalin in his office. I did this. The letter was short and to the point: the events connected with the Jews would have very difficult political and international repercussions. We would lose friends all over the world. Intellectuals in all cultured nations would turn against us."

The letter was passed on to Stalin, probably via his advisor. Stalin did not speak to Ehrenburg. Malenkov did so instead. He said: "You wrote to Comrade Stalin. He asked me to speak to you."

Ehrenburg went to meet Malenkov. This is how Ehrenburg summarized the contents of the conversation: "The conversation with Malenkov was pointless. He avoided any discussion of the actual issue at hand."

The letter signed by prominent Jewish scientific and cultural activists was passed on to the authorities and remained there waiting for zero hour. It was meant to be published immediately after the doctors' execution, and after the planned demonstrations and pogroms against the Jews.

The first meeting about the doctor-murderers was going to be held at the Stalingrad tractor plant.

The Erection of Huts in Locations which were to Absorb the Deported Jews, Means of Transporting the Jews, Stalin's Instructions about the Partial Destruction of the Jews on the Way

The most authoritative testimony about the preparation of transportation for the expelled Jews comes from the former Chairman of the Soviet Committee of Ministers N.A. Bulganin, who spoke to Jacob Ettinger in 1970. Bulganin, who was Soviet Defense Minister at the time of the preparations for the deportation of Soviet Jewry, said that he received an order from Stalin to transfer to Moscow and other major cities several hundred railroad cars of the Soviet army. However, not all the exiles were to reach their destination. Bulganin claimed that Stalin had planned to organize accidents and attacks on the way from "elements within the nation."

By February 1953 freight trains without seats were waiting in the suburban train area next to Moscow, in Tashkent and in other locations.

In 1966 the writer Vladimir Orlov and the poet Semion Kugen visited a pensioners' camp in the far eastern section of the Soviet Union together with Latishov, the secretary of the local Komsomol Committee in the district of Chavrobask. Orlov recalled an incident from this journey:

After about twenty minutes Latishov looked at us in a strange way and in a voice full of fake joy shouted out: "And now, for the sequel!" We walked along a wide forest path for about twenty minutes with Latishov nodding with his head towards the left: "Look!" We looked. About twenty meters from us was a long hut with a narrow roof and small windows just underneath it. Weeds and even young shrubs had pierced its neglected walls. Beyond this hut, as far as the eye could see, were more of these depressing structures.

"This is a city in its own right," said Latishov.

"A camp?" asked Semion.

"Not a pensioners' camp," Latishov sniggered, "but one designated for you."

"What do you mean, `us'," I too asked in my innocence.

"For you -- the Jews!" our new friend forced himself to reply.

"You mean our youth was to come to an end here in these huts!"

"But why?" Semion asked in disbelief. "There must be some reason to deport to this place people who had survived Nazi persecution!"

"A reason had already been fabricated in advance: the doctors' trial," said Latishov. "Comrade Stalin took everything into account. He decided to protect the Jewish nation from the justified fury of the Russian nation. If the Leader of all Nations would have stayed alive another half a year you too, my friends, would have rotted in these huts."

Further testimony of these huts was given by Olga Ivnovana Goloborodko, head of the pensioners division of the Soviet Social Security Office. In the fall of 1952 she found out quite by chance that "they are preparing huts for the Jews who are to be expelled from the central towns. When I heard about this, I just sat there and thought I would go crazy," she recalled. "Four years later at a government meeting the issue arose about where to store the crops from uncultivated lands, since they had not managed to build granaries. Someone remembered that there were empty huts in Birobidzhan, which had been built for the purpose of housing deported Jews. A special committee was sent to the area. Its members discovered huts, each two kilometers long. The walls of each were just planks, which all seemed about to collapse. The huts had pointed roofs and broken windows. Inside were two rows of benches. That was sufficient for the Jewish ghetto, but the huts were declared unsuitable for storing grain. The Committee reported back to Krushchev."

There is also testimony about Stalin's plans to organize pogroms and the destruction of part of the Jews during the course of their deportation.

Professor Yuri Burev in his book describes a meeting he had with Iliya Ehrenburg. He recalls what Ehrenburg told him about his conversations with Krushchev who himself recalled a conversation with Stalin:

"The leader's mind was quite made up: `When they are expelled, acts of violence need to take place in their homes. The fury of the masses must be allowed to find expression.' Krushchev played the innocent and asked, `When who is expelled?' `The Jews', answered Stalin. `It is essential that not more than half of them reach their places of resettlement.' `Spontaneous' acts of the fury of the masses were planned to take place on the way: attacks on the trains and the murder of their passengers. That was how Stalin planned the Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Russia, as related by Ehrenburg."

Burev continues: "A veteran railroad worker living in Tashkent told me that at the end of February 1953 trucks were actually ready and waiting to transport expelled Jews. Lists of candidates for deportation had already been drawn up. This he was told by the head of the local bureau of the Interior Ministry."

Formulating an Ideological Basis for the Deportation of the Jews

For this job Stalin chose Dimitri Ivanovich Chesnokov, who completed his task in time. How was this young philosopher chosen from all of the party guard?

Yuri Andreyevich Zhadnov, while he was still married to Stalin's daughter Svetlana, became friendly with Chesnokov and helped him in every possible way. Amongst other things, he gave Stalin a copy of Chesnokov's book on the Soviet nation. Stalin was much taken by the book, since in it he was mentioned in every second paragraph.

Zhadnov eventually included Chesnokov in the list of guests for Svetlana's birthday part (the list was approved by the Interior Ministry). At the reception, which was attended by Stalin, Zhadnov introduced him to Chesnokov.

Stalin told him: "I know your book about the State. It is a very useful book. Which topic are you researching at the moment?" Chesnokov replied that he was looking into the question of minorities in the light of Marxism.

"Which aspect exactly do you have in mind?"

"I am looking into theoretical questions connected to the small minorities, who do not fulfill the criteria of Socialism: Klemiks, Germans from Povolzhei, Tartars from the Crimea, Chechnians, Ingoshes, and other nations which have been exiled from place to place, and the theoretical basis of expulsions of this kind. There is also the case of the Jews."

Following this conversation Stalin asked Chesnokov, who was the editor of the periodical Philosophical Questions to prepare a theoretical investigation which would form a basis for the deportation of the Jews to Teiga and Arva. For this purpose Chesnokov was sent to the Party's Central Committee next to Moscow, where he started his research work.

The study was completed around the beginning of February 1953. It was approved by Stalin, printed in millions of copies at the Interior Ministry's printing press and transferred to the storage areas of the Interior Security Services, where they were to be kept until their urgent dissemination at the relevant time. Positive reviews of the study were going to appear in the central press, the radio, and other mass media.

In this study entitled, "Why do the Jews Have to be Deported from Industrialized Areas of the Nation?" Chesnokov offered a "scientific" explanation based on Marxist-Leninism for the necessity and historical justification of the steps being undertaken by the Party and Comrade Stalin himself to deport Soviet Jewry.

Chesnokov attempted to prove that the Jews by their very nature had always been an enemy of the nation and of Socialism. Here he relied on the experience of Stalin and his colleagues, who had hounded members of opposition parties of all kinds in the 20s and 30s, all of whom were Jewish.

In October 1952, at the 19th Party Congress the ideologue of deportation Dimitri Chesnokov was chosen, at Stalin's suggestion as a member of the presidency (and according to a later formulation, as a member of the Politburo). In addition, he left his post as chief editor of the periodical Philosophical Questions to take up the position of chief editor of the journal Communist, which was considered a much more senior post in party circles.

This meteoric promotion was due to Chesnokov's philosophical study justifying the deportation of Soviet Jewry. Although he was dismissed from his new position one day after Stalin's death, on 6th March 1953, this did not impinge on his career. He subsequently served as First Secretary of the Party Committee in the district of Gorky, as the Chairman of the State Committee for Radio and Television and in other key positions until his death in 1973.

He did not mention at any time his theory, which formed the philosophical basis for the deportation of Soviet Jewry. It should be pointed out that the antisemitic theories of Chesnokov's study found their way into various pamphlets in the late 60s and in the 70s.

Sudden Death

The trial and the rumored purge that was to follow did not occur because of the sudden death of Stalin on March 5, 1953.

Soon after, in April, Pravda announced that a reexamination of the case showed the charges against the doctors to be false and their confessions to have been extracted under torture.

In his famous secret speech at the 20th Party Congress (February 1956), Nikita S. Krushchev, in the course of a wide- ranging denunciation of Stalin, asserted that his predecessor had personally ordered the "doctors' plot" then to signal the beginning of a new purge. Krushchev revealed that Stalin had intended to include members of the Politburo in the list of victims of the planned purge.

Most of the material in this article was taken from a booklet entitled: Hachanotav shel Stalin Lehashamdat Hayehudim written by Yaakov Eisenstadt (Pp. 11-13, 41-55) who passed away around a year ago. It was published in 1995 in a very limited edition. His son Rav Alexander Eisenstadt is one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Toras Chaim in Moscow. We were urged to make this material known to the Torah world by HaRav Ben Zion Silber, rosh yeshiva of Toras Yeshurun.


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