Solzhenitsyn on the Jews and Soviet Russia.


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The author discusses some of the arguments used by Jewish apologists to excuse or palliate Jewish involvement in Bolshevik rule. He accepts the common argument that the Jewish Bolsheviks were renegades, i.e., “not Jews in spirit.” He points out, however, that the same was true of Russian Bolsheviks and denies that any nation may simply disown its renegades: “for if we release ourselves from all responsibility for the actions of our national kin, the very concept of a nation loses any real meaning”.

There are many Jewish authors who to this very day either deny the support of Jews for Bolshevism, or even reject it angrily, or else—the most common case—only speak defensively about it. The matter is well-attested, however: these Jewish renegades were for several years leaders at the center of the Bolshevik Party, at the head of the Red Army (Trotsky), of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (Sverdlov), of the two capitals (Zinoviev and Kamenev), of the Comintern (Zinoviev), of the Profintern (Dridzo-Lozovsky), and of the Komsomol (Oskar Ryvkin, then Lazar Shatskin).

Marxists are officially “internationalists,” of course, and Trotsky was especially emphatic in rejecting his ethnic heritage. But does it necessarily follow that he was not influenced by it? “To judge by the appointments he made,” Solzhenitsyn observes, “Jewish renegades were closer to him than Russian renegades”. Particularly striking was his appointment of the incompetent Jewish doctor Sklianski to a high post in the Commissariat of War.

The author goes on to discuss the roles of the Jews Uritsky, Drabkin, and Sverdlov in dispersing the Constituent Assembly, concluding with one of his strongest formulations: “by these sorts of operations the new Jewish form of government was sketched out”.

He reproduces the remarks of some contemporary observers:

I. F. Nazhivin records the impressions he received at the very beginning of Soviet power: at the Kremlin in the administration of the Sovnarkom “you see nothing but Latvians upon Latvians, Jews upon Jews. I have never been an anti-Semite, but here there were so many it leapt out at you, and each one younger than the next.”

[The writer Vladimir] Korolenko himself, liberal and hypertolerant as he was, entered into his Journal in the Spring of 1919: “Among the Bolsheviks there are a great number of Jewish men and women. Their tactlessness, their self-assurance are striking and irritating… In their ranks, and above all in the Cheka [the secret police], you constantly see Jewish physiognomies, and this exacerbates the still virulent traditional feelings of Judeophobia [among the population].”

Another witness quoted by Solzhenitsyn specifies that most of the heads of prisons were Poles and Latvians, while “the section charged with combating black marketers—the least dangerous and most lucrative—was in the hands of Jews”. Jews are also said to have been unusually noticeable in the organs charged with provisioning. Solzhenitsyn lists the names of ten Jewish bankers who provided important financial services for the Bolsheviks.

Some Jews were also implicated in the murder of the Imperial family, notably Sverdlov (who transmitted the order from Moscow) and Urovsky (who led the execution squad), but Solzhenitsyn believes the point has been exaggerated in recent years by certain Russian nationalists “who take a morbid pleasure in this agonizing thought”. Most of the executioners were Hungarian prisoners of war; final responsibility for the crime rested, of course, with Lenin.

(The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. VIII, No. 4, Winter, 2008/2009).

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