Alexander Solschenitsyn, "200 Jahre zusammen." Die russisch-jüdische Geschichte 1795-1916 (200 Years Together. The Russian-Jewish History 1795-1916), Herbig, Munich 2002, 560 pp., €34.90; "Zweihundert Jahre zusammen," Die Juden in der Sowjetunion (200 Years Together. The Jews in the Soviet Union), ibidem, 2003, 608 pp., €39.90.
It may be said without hesitation that Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s 200 Years Together. The Jews in the Soviet Union is one of the most important books on the Russian Revolution and the early Bolshevik period ever to appear. After publication of this work with its many revelations about the role of the Jews during the Leninist period, the history of the Bolshevik October putsch will have to be rewritten, if not completely, then with substantial additions.
The book title might have been even more appropriately called "The End of the Legends." For example, the legend that there ever existed an independent "Russian" Social Democracy Party is questioned. Founded in Minsk in 1898, the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (RSDWP) derived, with respect to personnel and organization, from the Allgemeine jüdische Arbeiterbund in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia. It might be said that the Jewish Arbeiterbund midwife service officiated at the birth of the Russian Social Democracy Party. Legends without number are examined.
Solzhenitsyn emphasizes, "Many more Jewish voices than Russian are heard in this book". Jewish voices, not Russian, speak of Jewish dominance in the anti-monarchial movements in the period before the war. In an article entitled "The Jewish Revolution" in the 10 December 1919 issue of the Neue Jüdischen Monatsheften, published in Berlin, was the sentence:
"Regardless of how extremely the anti-Semites exaggerate it, and how so nervously the Jewish bourgeoisie deny it, the large Jewish contingent in today’s revolutionary movement stands fast."
The writer, whom the publicist Sonia Margolina calls a "patriarch" in the tradition of Dostoyevsky, the last Russian prophet, rejects decisively, almost passionately, all theses of collective guilt. The chronicler of the Gulag holds that neither the Russians nor the Jews can be held separately responsible for the emergence of the reign of terror. He characterizes the relationship between Russian and Jews as a "burning wedge." In his book he tries to see the wedge from both sides. In so doing, the legends dissolve.
Perhaps the most persistent legend, now dissolved, used to go like this: Long before the last Tsar left the throne, the old Russian Empire was in decline, the revolution was coming, the apocalypses of February and October 1917 could not have been prevented. They were determined as if by a world court. Only a legend, Solzhenitsyn says, and this chapter in his book, a noir-thriller, illuminates 18 September 1911 – a day that heralded the approach of the Great Terror in that it dimmed the last opportunity to prevent it.
They had tried to assassinate Petr Stolypin eight times. Various terrorist groups had attempted to murder Stolypin and his family, but they had never succeeded in killing the man who had set governmental direction in the decade before the war nor in tarnishing his reputation and charisma. The "Russian Bismarck," as he was called, had, as an unassuming Christian and self-confident first servant of the Russian Empire, led his country into the modern age by introducing agrarian reforms and representative self-government that made individual enterprising farmers out of the backward villagers. The eighth attempt, however, on 18 September 1911 in the Kiev Opera, succeeded in ending the life of the great reformer who had served his country as minister president and minister of the internal affairs. Ninety years later Solzhenitsyn was to write:
"The first Russian premier minister, who had honorably set the task of establishing equal rights for Jews and had even opposed the Tsar in attempting to realize it, was killed at the hands of a Jew. Was it an irony of history?" (p. 431)
The assassin was Mordko Hershovich Bogrov, a university student, grandson of a liquor concessionaire and son of a millionaire. When he fired his Browning at Stolypin, Bogrov was 23 years old. Those shots brought the process of Russian reformation, including Stolypin’s measures to lift anti-Jewish restrictions, to a fateful end by their own hands. Among the grave consequences of 18 September was a radical change in world politics. Stolypin had opposed Russian foreign policy that had been hostile to Germany and friendly with France and Britain. Solzhenitsyn asserts that under Stolypin Russia would have never entered World War I. The ultimate beneficial consequence for the Russian people would have been that they would have been spared the February revolution, which was triggered by the defeats in the First World War.
Whether Bogrov acted alone or as a member of the Bolshevik, Menshevik, or anarchist underground remains unknown. Solzhenitsyn provides no answer. But the Nobel Laureate does not doubt that Mordo Hershevich was an agent of the Okhrana, a spy in the pay of the Tsarist secret police. In August Nineteen-Fourteen, the first volume of The Red Wheel cycle, 233 pages are given over to the ‘Jewish Question’ by a partially documentary and partially literary presentation of Stolypin’s person and his reforms. There, too, is a characterization of the assassin and a psychogram of Bogrov’s motive:
"Stolypin had done nothing directly against the Jews, he had even made their lives easier in some ways, but it did not come from the heart. To decide whether or not a man is an enemy of the Jews, you must look beneath the surface. Stolypin boosted Russian national interests too blatantly and too insistently, even provocatively about Russian international interests. […] the Russianness of the Duma as a representative body, the Russianness of the State. He was trying to build, not a country in which all were free, but a nationalist monarchy. So that the future of the Jews was not affected by his goodwill toward them. The development of the country along Stolypin’s lines promised no golden age for the Jews. Bogrov might or might not take part in revolutionary activity, might associate with the Maximalists, Anarcho-Communists, or with no one, might change his Party allegiance and change his character a hundred time over, but one thing was beyond all doubt: his exceptionally talented people must gain the fullest opportunity to develop unimpeded in Russia." (p. 592 in August-Fourteen)
Because of this passage, fifteen printed lines in all, Solzhenitsyn has been accused of anti-Semitism – not by the Russians but in the American press. The unusually gifted people referred to in the passage are the Jewish people.
After the deadly shots of Kiev, the shots fired in Sarajevo three years later destroyed the peace of Europe. Kiev and Sarajevo belong together as turning points in the history of mankind. The depiction of Stolypin’s assassin belongs among the highpoints in Solzhenitsyn’s career, who to this point had evoked no positive echo in the (West) German media – which regrettably was to be expected. In any case, the Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, and Berlin reviews have become like a hotbed of hedonism that is the most inappropriate reception imaginable for ethical and aesthetic ascetics like Solzhenitsyn.
Gerd Koenen of the Welt newspaper (12 October 2002), who calls this great Russian a "moral overlord," believes it would be "an unreasonable intellectual demand" to be forced to read his work. Nonetheless, Koenen attributes a "patriarchal sternness" to the Russian in a tone that is not accusatory or virulent, but rather "deliberately conciliatory." That Sonia Margolina of all people, the daughter of a Jewish Trotskyite, of whom she remains proud today, that of all people, this nostalgic Red can accuse Solzhenitsyn’s enlightened spirit of "always looking backwards" should be laughed at as a joke in a feuilleton world. Every truth lives within a time nucleus. The truth about the October Revolution in which the Bogrovs, Bronsteins, Mandelstams, Auerbachs, Rosenfelds, Brilliants, and Apfelbaums played an essential role, is being vomited up ten years after the end of the failed experiment of Communism.
The Dirty Revolution I
If it is true that it was neither the planned economy nor the absence of democracy that landed bolshevism in the dustbin of history, then the question of just when the downfall set in and what caused it must be answered. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, deemed the greatest conservative writer of our times by many, cites 1918 as the date Red Terror was born.
A terrorist named Apfelbaum proclaimed the mass death sentence:
"The bourgeoisie can kill some individuals, but we can murder whole classes of people."
In that year the non-communist intelligentsia saw Medusa’s head. Apfelbaum, who entered the history books as Zinovev, wanted to send ten million Russians (ten out of each one hundred) to the smoldering ovens of the class war. German historyian Prof. Dr. Ernst Nolte states that this pronouncement of 17 September 1918 sounds almost unbelievable in its monstrosity; Apfelbaum formulated this holocaust sentence:
"From the population of a hundred million in Soviet Russia, we must win over ninety million to our side. We have nothing to say to the others. They have to be exterminated."
In this, his latest book, Solzhenitsyn writes of the "dushiteli Rossii" (stranglers of Russia,) the "palachi grasnoy revolyutsii" (hangmen of the dirty revolution.) Who does he mean exactly? On page 89 he writes, "Bol’sheviki yevrey" the "Jew Bolsheviks." In another place he uses the term "Bol’shevististkiye Juden" (Bolshevistic Jews). Superordinate to these is the key expression – "Yevreyskiy vopros" (the Jewish Question). After 1918 the Communist censors in no way forbade this expression, even with regard to Jew Bolsheviks the Jewish question was not a taboo. On the contrary, the Jewish question became the central theme of the Party ideology, which had become a secular religion. Lenin himself set the example in 1924 with his famous instructive paper "On the Jewish Question in Russia," published in the Moscow Proletariat Publishing House (cited by Solzhenitsyn on page 79).
Given the factual revelations in this book, the history of the 20th Century ought to be revised, especially that of the Soviet Union with particular reference to the collapse of the great ideological fronts in the pre-revisionist period. What is new in this work is Solzhenitsyn’s graphic depiction of a phenomenon about which the (West) German historians’ establishment has kept absolutely mute about, namely, that the historically unprecedented cruelty exercised in the seizure of power, the Russian Civil War, and wartime (WWII) had a clearly defined ideological and anthropological source. As mentioned above, the codeword Solzhenitsyn uses is "Jew Bolsheviks."
"Before the October Revolution, Bolshevism was not the numerically strongest movement among the Jews." (p. 73)
Solzhenitsyn recalls that immediately before the Revolution, the Bolshevistic Jews Trotsky and Kamenev concluded a military alliance with three Jewish social revolutionaries – Natanson, Steinberg, and Kamkov. What Solzhenitsyn is saying is that Lenin’s military putsch, from the purely military point of view, relied on a Jewish network. The collaboration between Trotsky and his coreligionists in the Left Social Revolutionary parties assured Lenin’s success in the Palace revolt of October 1917. As crown witness, Solzhenitsyn cites the Israeli historian Aron Abramovitch who in 1982 in Tel Aviv wrote:
"In October 1917 the Jewish contingent of soldiers played a decisive role in the preparation and execution of the armed Bolshevik uprising in Petrograd and other cities as well as in the following battles in the course of suppressing rebellions against the new Soviet power."
The famed Latvian Rifle Regiment of the 12th Army, Lenin’s praetorian guard, had a Jewish commissar, Nachimson, in charge.
There are crimes that the descendents of the victims cannot bear. Those are crimes that break through the last protective wall, crimes like the psychocide of a civilized people. Most educated Russians sensed in October the emergence of a destructive reordering principle. ‘October’ became synonymous with a deadly threat to their existence. In 1924 the Jewish historian, Pasmanik, wrote:
"The emergence of Bolshevism was the result of special aspects of Russian history. However, Soviet Russia can thank the work of the Jewish commissars for the organization of Bolshevism."
Solzhenitsyn cites this key passage on page 80 in which the word "organization" is in quotes in the book text.
The large number of eyewitness reports from the early period of Soviet rule is astounding. In the Council of People’s Commissars, the writer Nashivin simply notes: "Jews, Jews, Jews." Nashivin avers that he was never an anti-Semite, but "the mass of Jews in the Kremlin literally knocks your eyes out." In 1919 the famous writer Vladimir Korolenko, who was close to the Social Democrats and who had protested against the pogroms in Tsarist Russia, made the following entry in his diary:
"There are many Jews and Jewesses among the Bolsheviks. Their main characteristics – self-righteousness, aggressive tactlessness and presumptive arrogance – are painfully evident. Bolshevism is found contemptible in the Ukraine. The preponderance of Jewish physiognomies, especially in the Cheka, evokes an extremely virulent hatred of Jews among the people."
Chapter 15 of Solzhenitsyn’s book opens with the words:
"Jews among the Bolsheviks is nothing new. Much has already been written about it."
This for Solzhenitsyn is further support for his cardinal thesis, namely, that Bolshevik Jews were the indispensable power brokers in the victory of Bolshevism, in the Russian Civil War, and in the early Soviet Regime.
"Whoever holds the opinion that the revolution was not a Russian, but an alien-led revolution points to the Yiddish family names or pseudonyms to exonerate the Russian people for the revolution. On the other hand, those who try to minimize the over-proportional representation of Jews in the Bolshevik seizure of power may sometimes claim that they were not religious Jews, but rather, apostates, renegades, and atheists."
According to rabbinical law, whoever was born of a Jewish mother is a Jew. Orthodox Judaism requires more, i.e., recognition of the Hebraic Halacha scriptural laws and the observance of the religious laws of the Mishna, which form the basis of the Talmud. Solzhenitsyn then asks:
"How strong were the influence, power, fascination, and adherence of secular Jews among the religious Jews and how many atheists were active among the Bolsheviks? Can a people really just renounce its renegades? Does such a renunciation make any sense?"
Solzhenitsyns’s attempt to answer these questions on the basis of historical facts concentrates on several factors, namely, the behavior of Orthodox Jews after October, the relative numbers of Bolshevik Jews before and after October, the ascendance of Bolshevistic Jews in the cadres of the Red Army and the Cheka, Lenin’s Jewish strategy, and finally, Lenin’s own heritage.
"The Bolsheviks appealed to the Jews immediately after the seizure of power. And they came; they came in masses. Some served in the executive branch, others in the various governmental organs. They came primarily from among secular young Jews who in no way could be classified as atheists or even as enemies of God. This phenomenon bore a mass character." (p. 79)
By the end of 1917 Lenin had not yet left Smolny, when a Jewish Commissariat for Nationality Questions was already at work in Petrograd. In March 1919 the VIII Party Congress of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) undertook to establish a "Jewish Soviet Russian Communist Bund."
In this matter Solzhenitsyn again relies on Jewish historians. Leonard Schapiro, living in London in 1961, wrote:
"Thousands of Jews streamed to the Bolsheviks whom they saw as the protectors of the international revolution."
M. Chaifetz also commented on the Jewish support of Bolshevism:
"For a Jew, who came neither from among the aristocrats nor the clergy, Bolshevism represented a successful and promising new prospect to belong to a new clan."
The Chaifetz article appeared in 1980 in an Israeli journal for the Jewish intelligentsia arriving from the USSR.
The influx of Jewish youths into the Bolshevik Party at first was a consequence of the pogroms in the territory held by the White Army in 1919, argues a certain Schub. Solzhenitsyn rejects Schub’s argument as a myth:
"Schub’s argument is not valid because the massive entry of Jews into the Soviet apparatus occurred as early as 1917 and throughout all of 1918. Unquestionably, the Civil War situation in 1919 did hasten the amalgamation of Jewish cadres with the Bolsheviks." (p. 80)
Solzhenitsyn traces the rise in Judeophobia, among other things, back to the brutal Bolshevistic suppression of peasant and citizen uprisings, the slaughter of priests and bishops, especially the village clergy, and finally, the extermination of the nobility, culminating in the murder of the Tsar and his family.
During the decisive years of the Civil War (1918-1920) the secret police (Cheka) was controlled by Bolshevistic Jews. The commandants of the various prisons were usually from Poland or Latvia.
Exclusively Jews occupied the Party, Army, and Cheka command positions in Odessa. Jews constituted the majority in the Presidium of the Petrograd City Soviet. Lazar Kaganovich directed the Civil War terror in Nizhny Novgorod, while Rosalia Salkind-Semlyachka commanded the mass executions by firing squads in the Kremlin. In 1920 the farming areas of West Siberia were turned into a Vendée when grain-commissar Indenbaum through his confiscation campaigns caused mass starvation. During the winter in the steppes, rebellious farmers were forced to dig their own graves. The Chekists doused the naked bodies with water; those that tried to flee were machine-gunned. The peasant uprising in Tyumen entered the history books as the "Iskhimski Rebellion".
By virtue of the sheer numbers liquidated and the radicalism and motivation of the perpetrators, the mass executions of Russian Orthodox priests assumed a genocidal character. The intellectual elite of Eastern Christendom in Russia was literally slaughtered. Lenin provided the impetus. On 27 July 1918, shortly after the murder of the Tsar and his family, the Soviet government ordered the liquidation of all pogromists; every priest was by law considered to be a pogromist. As Lunacharsky recalls, Lenin composed the text of the law by his own hand, and Lenin ordered that the clergy could be executed (vne zakona) outside the law and the courts. That meant, Solzhenitsyn comments, they could simply be shot out of hand.
It was Lenin, not Stalin, who on 17 July 1918 let loose the demons (p. 15). It was the Party, Army, and Cheka apparatus under Lenin’s command during the early Bolshevik period that characterized the ideology of crimes against humanity. (Ernst Nolte writes about ‘an ideological extermination postulate.’) "The key to the decision was in Lenin’s hands," Solzhenitsyn asserts in his chapter on Bartholomew’s Night in Yekaterinburg. Lenin exhibited neither doubt nor compromise in this matter. "He had no reservations about exterminations." To destory and exterminate was his intend.
For this destruction and extermination, Sverdlov, Dzerzhinski, and Trotsky were his most powerful allies. None of them was Russian. Lenin’s executioners in Yekaterinburg and the Ural governments were not Russians. The bloody careers of Goloshekin and Beloborodov, the Party terrorists and Ural mafia killers, are described on pp. 90-91. Yankel Yurovsky, who boasted "it was my revolver that knocked off Nicholas on the spot," certainly was not a Russian. In 1936 Stalin’s Chekists executed Beloborodov in Lubyanka, whether as a Jew, a cosmopolitan, or as an enemy of Stalin’s Russification policies. Goloshekin met death in the Fall of 1941 as German tanks approached Moscow.
Is Russia a land of criminal perpetrators? Solzhenitsyn denies it as strongly as he rejects the concept of collective guilt in general, and the rejection pertains to both the Large People (the Russians) as well as the Small People (the Jews). And who were the victims? The overwhelming majority were Russians. Those shot in cellars, those burnt to death in the cloisters, those drowned in river boats, those hanged in the forest; officers, peasants, aristocrats, proletariats, the anti-anti-Semitic bourgeois intellectuals – Russians mostly, but others as well. The "hangmen of the Revolution," the crimes they try to justify with internationalism, transformed their "dirty revolution" into what Solzhenitsyn calls an "antislav" revolution. No, the Nobel Laureate Solzhenitsyn emphasizes, the Cheka-Lubyanka-Gulag holocaustic perpetrators could not possibly be a Slavic people (p. 93)
On page 233 of Nolte’s Der Kausale Nexus is an early confirmation of Solzhenitsyn’s theses. The German historian is convinced that the term "Jewish Bolshevism" is not simply an invention made for crude political purposes, but that it is historically well-founded and not to be expunged from history "regardless of how terrible the National Socialist consequences were". Nolte draws a parallel to the other contrary, ideological postulate:
"Only when it has not been excluded and made a taboo beforehand can ‘Auschwitz’ escape the danger that now threatens it, namely, that by being isolated from ‘Gulag’ and the conflict between the two ideologically driven States (Germany and the Soviet Union) it becomes not a lie, but a myth that contradicts history."
Is Solzhenitsyn the first historian to examine the dark year of 1918 scientifically? About a decade ago, the Russian Jewess Sonya Margolina, daughter of a Bolshevik of the Lenin-Stalin era, wrote about the crimes committed by the Bolsheviks and the part the Jews played in them. The horrors of the Revolution and the Civil War are "closely bound to the image of the Jewish commissar," she writes in Das Ende der Lügen (The End of the Lies), published in 1992 by Siedler Publishers in Berlin. Her book bore the shocking subtitle The Russian Jews – Perpetrators and Victims at the Same Time. Sentences appear in the chapter "Jews and Soviet Power" whose validity Solzhenitsyn now confirms. "In the first years after the revolution the Bolsheviks and the Jews at their side ruled Russia with the cold sweat of fear on their brows," Margolina writes. One thing remained very clear in the minds of the actors: if the red hangman’s rope around the neck of the people were ever to be loosened, "the Jewish Bolsheviks would be the first candidates for the scaffold."
Where was God in Lubyanka? In Kolyma? On the White Sea Canal project? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in the sense of one of Dostoyevsky’s God-seekers a homo religious, does not even ask that question. He wants to know, as does Margolina, why Russia’s Jews were both the perpetrators and victims alike during the Bolshevik century? At the onset of the third millennium this 84-year old – the public conscience of Russian culture – understands the first precept of historical revisionism in a Russia unsullied with political correctness, namely, he who breaks through the fire wall surrounding the ‘Jewish question" is sovereign.
The Dirty Revolution II
"Everyone was listening intently to determine if the Germans were already on the way."
In June and July of 1941 those living in the regions of eastern Poland occupied by the Red Army – Polish farmers, the bourgeoisie, the clergy, ex-soldiers, and intellectuals – all awaited the invasion of German troops. This quote is from the Polish Jewish historian J. Gross, author of the book Neighbors: The Murder of the Jews of Jedwabne. Solzhenitsyn explains why Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Ukrainians, Estonians, Belorussians, Bukowina-, and Moldava-Romanians could hardly wait for the Germans to invade.
Pursuant to his central thesis, Solzhenitsyn writes that without the high Jewish presence among the leaders and executioners of the Bolshevik dictatorship, Lenin’s newly born Soviet state would have been at an end, at the latest, by the time of the Kronstadt Sailors Rebellion in 1921. Solzhenitsyn examines specific decisive questions, as for example: Why, in the period 1939-41, did such a large percentage of Jewry in eastern Poland, Galicia, and in the Baltic States collaborate with the Red Army, Stalin’s secret police, and Bolshevism in general? And why did the pogroms in these regions take place under the slogan "Revenge for the Soviet Occupation"? Solzhenitsyn:
"In eastern Poland, which had been incorporated in the Soviet Union in September 1939, the Jews, especially the younger generation, welcomed the invading Red Army with frenetic jubilation. Whether in Poland, Bessarabia, Lithuania, or Bukowina, the Jews were the main support of Soviet power. The newspapers report that the Jews are enthusiastically supporting the establishment of Communist rule." (p. 329)
In that fateful year a Polish Jew who had emigrated to France prophesized that the non-Jews who had been subjugated to Bolshevism would one day exact a fearful war of vengeance. In 1939 Stanislav Ivanowich, a left socialist sympathetic to the Soviet Union, warned:
"Should the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks end one day, the collapse will be accompanied by the atavistic, barbaric passions of Jew hate and violence. The collapse of Soviet power would be a terrible catastrophe for Jewry; today Soviet rule equates to Judeophilia." (p. 310)
Shoot Anti-Semites on the Spot
And as for the next aspect examined, why was it that in 1918 the victorious Russian worker class supported, not just an underground, but also an openly aggressive – even Party-based – broad anti-Semitism taking the form of Jew-hatred?
Although on 27 July 1918 Lenin had issued an ukase ordering that any active anti-Semite could be shot without going through any court procedures, a new, extremely militant form of anti-Semitism, which had even gained influence in governmental layers of the monopoly Party, was rife in the mid-twenties.
"This wave of the ‘new anti-Semitism’ included the cultural cadres and educational inspectors of the Russian worker class and reached into the Komsomol and the Party". (p. 200f.)
To explain the reasons for this, Solzhenitsyn cites extensively and without commentary from the newspapers of the day. According to the newspapers, the ‘Jew Bolsheviks’ had captured and occupied the Soviet State; they were in the top ranks of the Red Army. Soviet power had been converted into Jewish power, and the Jews pursued Jewish, not Russian goals. (p. 201)
In 1922 exiled Social Revolutionaries E. Kuskova and S. Maslov, both Jews, reported:
"Judeophobia has spread throughout present-day Russia. It has even spread to areas in which previously no Jews had even lived and where there was never a Jewish Question. […] Bolshevism today is – without any doubt – identified with Jewish rule."
Or colloquially expressed:
"Aron Moiseyevich Tankelwich today walks in the place of Ivan Ivanov."
Kuskova and Maslov reported further:
"New slogans have appeared on the walls of the high schools – ‘Smash the Jews, Save the Soviets’; ‘Beat the Jews Up, Save the Councils’".
In other words, the revolutionary jargon of that day wanted to keep the Soviets and the Soviet rule, but without Jews.
"‘Smash the Jews’ was not the slogan of the Black Hundreds from the pogroms of Tsarist times, but the battle cry of young Russian communards five years after the Great October." (p. 229)
On the eve of the XII Party Day 1923, the Politburo consisted of three Jews and three non-Jews. The ratio in the Komsomol Presidium was three to four. In the XI Party Day, ‘Jew Bolsheviks’ constituted 26% of the Central Committee membership. Because of this foreign invasion and anti-Slavic trends, prominent Russian Leninists decided upon an "anti-Jewish rebellion."
Shortly before the opening of the XIII Party Day, veteran Russian revolutionaries Frunze, Nogin, and Troyanovsky called for the expulsion of the ‘Jewish leaders’ from the Politburo. The opponents of the purge reacted quickly. In no time, Nogin died after an operation on his esophagus, after which Frunze went under the knife. (p. 207)
In Solzhenitsyn’s opinion, the main reason for this outbreak of new anti-Semitism is to be found in the hostility towards Russians inherent in the extreme Jewish internationalism. Unlike the Jewish intelligentsia who greeted the revolution of 1918 with great passion, the Russian proletariat was not fascinated by the idea of a Russian-led internationalism. After 1918 the Jews spoke consistently of "their country." (p. 218)
To support his thesis Solzhenitsyn cites Party ideologue Nikolai Bukharin, who was executed after the last Moscow show trial. At the Leningrad Party Conference in early 1927 Bukharin had criticized the ‘capitalistic’ nature of the Jewish mid-level bourgeoisie who had come to power and had taken the place of the Russian bourgeoisie in the main cities of the USSR (p. 209), and "whom we, comrades, must sharply condemn." Former chief Bolshevik theorist Bukharin concluded by saying that the Jews themselves were responsible for the new anti-Semitism.
It was part of Stalin’s tactical game not just to tolerate Jews in his own entourage, but also deliberately to place them in leading positions so that later he would have plausible grounds for turning them over to the executioner on grievous charges. Such was the case in the murderous collectivization program in 1928-1933 to which the names of prominent ‘Jew Bolsheviks’ were attached. Stalin was well aware of the hate city Jews had for everything related to the Russian and Ukrainian peasantry. They spread terror, killing the peasants and destroying the villages, eventually causing the famine that took the lives of at least six million Ukrainians. The Jewish commissars in charge of the anti-kulak program, which was tantamount to genocide, were literally the masters over life and death.
In 1936, after the slaughter of the peasantry "at the hands of the Bolshevik Jews," the death bell began to toll for those who had been responsible for the carnage. For the first time in a Russian historical work, their names are listed: Ya. Yakovlev-Epstein, M. Kolmanovich, G. Roschal, V. Feygin. (p. 285) The books covering the crimes in the first twenty years after Lenin seized power fill many meters of shelf space. With this one Solzhenitsyn volume, the subsequent reckoning with the Slavic peasant holocaust has only begun.
Bread and Knowledge, Stomach and Brain
There were also reasons for the outburst of proletariat anti-Semitism in two other sensitive areas. The Russian working class young people were getting nowhere in their quest for advancement on the educational front. In 1926, 26% of university students were Jews who had enjoyed a bourgeois background. (p. 202). Mostly Jews, between 30 and 50%, occupied the main positions in the domestic and foreign trade commissariats. Their empire included rural and urban store chains, restaurants, business canteens, prison and barracks galleys, cooperatives, and consumer goods production. Management of the Gosplan (State Plan) and the five-year plans was exercised by Rosenholz, Rukhimovich, Epstein, Frumkin, and Selemki; they controlled the nation’s food supply. In 1936 they themselves became fodder for the execution chambers in Lubyanka.
Despite the enormous bloodletting in 1936-37, millions of Jews still served the Stalinist regime with cadaver-like loyalty; they remained enthusiastic, unshakable, almost blind defenders of the cause of Socialism. Solzhenitsyn writes:
"Cadaver-like obedience in the GPU, the Red Army, the diplomatic service, and on the ideological front. The passionate participation of young Jews in these branches was in no way dampened by the bloody events of 1936-38." (p. 281)
The world spirit, Hegel says, assists the lowest creatures to realize its impenetrable intentions. In the realization of the socialist experiment the world spirit did not just serve the lower creatures. Nikolai Ostrovsky, crippled and blind, wrote his autobiographical novel How the Steel Was Hardened as an idealist. Others belonged among the lowest creatures, and Solzhenitsyn enumerates them in the chapters concerning the secret police. (In the book reviews published in the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel and the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, these bloody chapters were ignored.)
Gassing Trucks and Poison Chairs
From the very beginning the secret police was under the control of the ‘Bolshevik Jews.’ Solzhenitsyn revealed their names in the most interesting chapter of his book called The Nineteen Twenties. They are the biographies of the mass murderers at their desks in the Cheka, the OGPU, and the GPU. But they were not just sitting at their desks. Uritzki, Unschlicht, Katznelson, Bermann, Agranov, Spiegelglas, Schwarz, Asbel, Chaifetz, Pauker, Maier, Yagoda, personally participated in the tortures, hangings, crucifixions, and incinerations. Dzerzhinski, the founder of the Cheka, had three deputies from this guard of iron Bolsheviks – Gerson, Luszki, and Yagoda. An elite of Bolshevik Jews! Years later, when the Gulag Archipelago was being expanded, they were again to be found in the front line of executioners. Israel Pliner was the slave master of the Moscow-Volga-Canal; Lazar Kogan, Zinovey Katznelson, and Boris Bermann directed the forced labor genocide at the White Sea Canal project. The Great Purge became their graveyard.
Solzhenitsyn comments: (p. 293)
"One cannot deny that history elected very many Jews to be the executors of Russia’s fate."
Commissioned by the NKVD, the Jewish designer of execution systems, Grigori Mayranovsky, invented the gas chair. When, in 1951, Mayranovsky, as the former head of the NKVD Laboratory Institute, was himself incarcerated, he wrote to Beria:
"Please do not forget that by my hand hundreds enemy-pigs of the Soviet State found their deserved end."
The mobile gassing truck was invented and tested by Isay Davidovich Berg, head of the NKVD Economics Division in the Moscow region. In 1937, a second highpoint in the Great Purge, prisoners were sentenced to death in conveyor-belt fashion, packed into trucks, taken to the places of execution, shot in the back of the neck, and buried. In the economic sense, Isay Berg found this method of liquidation inefficient, time-consuming and cost-intensive. He, therefore, in 1937 designed the mobile asphyxiation chamber, the gassing truck (Russian: dushegubka, p. 297). The doomed were loaded into a tightly sealed, completely airtight Russian Ford; during the drive the deadly exhaust from a gasoline engine was directed into the section containing those sentenced to death. Upon reaching the mass gravesite, the truck dumped the corpses into the burial ditch.
The Dirty Revolution III
History sheds blood. The history of Bolshevism shed the blood of at least sixty-six million, according to the calculations of statistician Prof. I. A. Kurganov, cited by Solzhenitsyn in his Novy Mir essay "The Russian Question at the End of the Century," Moscow 1994. The crimes against humanity of the Bolshevik genocide up to 1937, i.e., in the first twenty years of the permanent terror, amounted to twenty million victims. In his scientific probing, Solzhenitsyn does not ignore the moral imperfect; he does not fail to connect the uniqueness of the Bolshevik holocaust with the exorcistic destructive hate of a particular ethnic-religious group in old Russia. This may well be the reason why this second volume of Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together has been given the silent treatment or has been distorted, not in Putin’s Russia, but rather in Germany’s establishment media. (An honest translation of this work by Solzhenitsyn would constitute a major contribution to historiography.)
Schirrmacher and Holm: Refuted
The motives and obsessions of the left-oriented intellectual class recall the Cambridge Spy case (Philby, Maclean, Blunt, Burgess). Specifically, in the BBC sentimentalized story, in which one of the decadents proclaims:
"To fight Fascism, you have to be a Communist."
German reviews concerning the crimes of the Soviet secret police state sympathetically that in the final analysis at least the Jews in the GPU, NKVD, and KGB were fighting against Hitler. "Russians and Jews fought together against Hitler," Ms. Holm writes in the Schirrmacher review. (Many reviews read like news reports from the Soviet Union!) In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 29 January 2003, she writes:
"After the October Revolution, the author explains, the high Jewish presence in the young Soviet state was found acting with great innovative agitation and drive in fields of State service, among the people’s commissars, and in the top ranks of the Army."
That, however, is not Solzhenitsyn’s interpretation! On the basis of document analysis, Solzhenitsyn states that Lenin had three reasons for elevating young secular, revolutionary-minded Jews to the State’s elite, in effect replacing the Tsarist bureaucracy. First, because of the deadly hate the young Jews had for Russian traditions, religious rites, historical models, hate for everything Russian and Russia itself. Second, their willingness to cross the last taboo borders in morality. And third, their readiness to physically liquidate the enemy.
"Mixed Blood Mestizo"
Lenin, the internationalist, was no friend of Jews who were Zionists. In 1903 he expressed the opinion that there was no such thing as a Jewish nationality; the concept was a monstrous invention of a moribund capitalism. Stalin, along the same lines, considered Jewry a "paper nation" that would over time "disappear in an inevitable assimilation."
For Solzhenitsyn, Lenin himself was "a mixed blood mestizo." (p. 76) A grandfather on his father’s side was an Asian Kalmuck; the other grandfather, Israel Blank, was a Jew from Volhynia, who after converting to the Russian Orthodox Church took the first name of Alexander. His grandmother on his father’s side, Anna Johanna, had German and Swedish blood; her maiden name was Grossschopf. Solzhenitsyn:
"Initially Russians did not consider Lenin to be an enemy of the Russian people, although at certain times his behavior became anti-Russian. Many Russians considered him a product of another race. Despite that, we as Russians cannot completely renounce Lenin." (p. 76)
A Bestseller in Russia
In a Russia free of literature-policing Solzhenitsyn’s book of historical revelations has achieved the status of bestseller. The first hundred thousand edition of the second volume was sold out shortly after it appeared. Solzhenitsyn’s expression "a century of crimes" has become widely used among writers. Crimes with consequences to the 22nd century, because "never before had Russia stood so close to the historical abyss, separating her from the void," the poetess Natalia Ayrapetrova writes in Literaturnaya gazeta (22 January 2002). Solzhenitsyn has set an avalanche loose. A new book, The Enemy Within. Genealogy of Evil (576 pp., Feri Publishers, Moscow), by the historian Nikolai Ostrovski has just appeared. Ostrovski became famous for his Holy Slaves and Temple of the Chimeras, discourses critical of Judaism that do not permit the author to be banished to the dead end of conspiracy theories.
In contrast to the general Russian acceptance of Solzhenitsyn’s second volume, the German-language edition has been met with silence and misrepresentation, and in most cases with a touch of Russophobia. Der Spiegel (7/2003) provided an interpretation that contradicted the facts. For example, Der Spiegel’s reviewer wrote that under Stalin many Jews were alienated from Soviet power and that there was a reduction in the number of Jewish ‘collaborators’ in the Party and the secret police.
An interpretation of a critical chapter in Solzhenitsyn’s book vacillates between trivialization and obfuscation. Spiegel uses the word ‘collaborators’ instead of accomplices in the various phases of Stalin’s rise. In the mid nineteen twenties until the mid thirties the Jewish component in the leadership functions of the Party and State apparatus in the Ukraine amounted to 22.6% (in the capital Kharkov it was 30%), in Belorussia it was 30.6% (in the capital Minsk it was almost 40%) and in Moscow city it was about 12%. Six and a half times more Jews occupied cadre positions in the Soviet ruling class than existed in the total Jewish population, which was 1.82% in 1926.
"The greatest influx of Jews to Soviet government offices took place in the cities and metropolitan areas of the Soviet Republics,"
Solzhenitsyn observes (p. 199), and it is characteristic of Der Spiegel’s and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s lack of objectivity and philosemitism that they deny their German readers the most important data and numerical comparisons given in Chapter 18.
Even in the purge year of 1936 one still sees a disproportionately high representation in the "People’s Commissariat of Jews:" Litvinov-Finkelstein, Yagoda, Rosenholz, Weizer, Kalmanovich, Kaganovich. In the same government Sozhenitsyn observes whole groups of people’s commissars (ministers) with the names Solz, Gamarnik, Gurevich, and Ginzburg. These are only a few of the hundreds. A predominance of ‘Jew Bolsheviks’ is noted in the cultural fields, the brainwashing section, and the new-speak department. In the nineteen twenties the Jewish internationalists purged the history books. Radical ideological reeducation by race haters like Goykhbarg, Larin, Radek, and Rotstein began by deleting and forbidding such concepts as ‘Russian history’ and ‘Great Russian,’ putting them on the black list of counter-revolutionary terminology. In the Moscow Party press Jewish writers advocated blowing-up the Minin-Posharsky Monument on Red Square (p. 275).
But to come back to the left-oriented German media: The spirited derussification program conducted by the ‘Jew Bolsheviks’ during the nineteen twenties is not mentioned at all, neither by Uwe Klussmann nor by Kerstin Holm. Nor do the terms Cheka and GPU appear in the German reviews.
The Cheka – the bulldozer locomotive of State terror, the bulldozer for sixty-six million corpses, and the gas turbine for the Bolshevik holocaust – does not exist in Schirrmacher’s daily newspaper and Augstein’s successor Holm, chief editor of Der Spiegel, as a shorthand symbol for death. Is it simply the rejection of the truth, or shame, or fear of exposure because many liberal humanists have so long stood beside Stalinist humanism? In any case, ethical and physical degenerates do use the word when it is buried in history as a unique chapter on the Cheka/GPU under the laurels of the anti-Hitler war.
Name Lists Betray Everything
Solzhenitsyn lists the names of about fifty mass murderers, desk criminals, and murderers of prisoners. (p. 300f.) Their first names betray the ethnic origin of these monsters. Moise Framing, Mordichai Chorus, Josef Khodorovsky, Isaak Solz, Naum Zorkin, Moise Kalmanovich, Samuel Agurski, Lazar Aronstam, Israel Weizer, Aron Weinstein, Isaak Grindberg, Sholom Dvoylazki, Max Daitsh, Yesif Dreiser, Samuel Saks, Jona Jakir, Moise Kharitonov, Frid Markus, Solomon Kruglikov, Israel Razgon, Benjamin Sverdlov, Leo Kritzman…
"Here and now we are making an end to synagogues forever,"
the new foreign minister Molotov is reported to have said in the Spring of 1939 as he undertook to purge his own ministry. (Litvinov-Finkelstein took revenge in 1943 when he gave Roosevelt a personal secret list of Stalin’s pogroms.) In comparison with the foreign ministry, the official pogrom in the ministry of internal affairs was much more dramatic. Between 1 January 1935 and 1 January 1938, Jewish dominance in the ministry of internal affairs fell from about 50% of ministry members to about 6%. Solzhenitsyn writes:
"The rulers over the fate of the Russian people believed that they were irreplaceable and invulnerable. All the more terrible for them when the blow fell. They had to face the collapse of their world and their view of the world."
Also in this section Solzhenitsyn reveals the names of the butchers who once bossed the secret police. They once headed the Lubyanka, now they themselves ended in the corridors of Lubyanka: pistol-flaunting Matvey Berman, Josef Blatt, Abraham Belenki, Isaak Shapiro, Serge Shpigelglas, Israel Leblevski, Pinkus Simanovski, Abraham Slutski, Benjamin Gerson, Zinovi Katsnelson, Natan Margolin – an almost endless list of ‘Jew Bolsheviks.’ These names are not mentioned in Germany, the "land of the perpetrators." Salpeter, Seligmann, Kagan, Rappoport, Fridland, Rayski-Lakhman, Yoselevich, Faylovich… prominent names in Stalin’s list for execution after 1936. The Jewish Menshevik, S. Shvarts, who emigrated to the United States, noted in 1966 in a documentation of the American Jewish Worker Committee:
"The purges resulted in the physical disappearance of almost all Jewish Communists who had played an important role in the USSR.". (p. 327)
Hebrew or Yiddish
The early Stalin believed in the eventual assimilation of the Jews under the dogmas of the "proletarian revolution." Innately opposed to this, most of the Jewish Bolsheviks fiercely rejected assimilation, i.e., their disappearance as a special ethnic group in Socialism (by assimilation they understood a mortally feared Russification). From the beginning these Jews fought in the Jewish Commissariat (Yevkom) and the Jewish Section within the Russian Communist Party (Yevsek) for the "preservation of the Jewish people" in the Socialist state, and even for the creation of a "Jewish Soviet Nation in the USSR." The historical recreation of these events is a service of Solzhenitsyn. Naturally it found no mention in the German book reviews.
The promotion of Yiddish as a State language was a way of establishing the Jewish Soviet Nation; it was recognized by law for the first time in Belorus in 1920.That recognition meant not only a ‘no’ to Zionism, but also to the expansion of New Hebrew (Ivrit). In the early 1920s Ivrit was officially forbidden, while Yiddish was recognized as a "Language of Soviet Proletariat Culture." (p. 255). Marc Chagall and Ed Lisizki were considered in the vanguard of a Yiddish-Communist culture – the New Man from Vitebsk.
A political setback came at the end of the twenties when Yevkom and Yevsek were abolished. The younger generation of Soviet Jews accepted this without protest, Solzhenitsyn reports. Without protest, without rebellion, and without a "Kronstadt." The abandonment of Yiddish occurred with the triumph of an international atheism, and internationalism without nationalities, without national identities, but with one single exception: "The Soviet People!" An artificial construct, sacrificed to the hecatombs of proletariat blood, the blood of Slavs, Balts, Moslems, and Caucasians; the Soviet people, a drawing-board product, a Frankenstein monster, was created in Gulagism, whose existence without the enforcers from the ranks of the ‘Jew Bolsheviks’ would not be conceivable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn documents this on almost 600 pages of text. When near the end of the war Stalin ordered the liquidation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and proceeded to murder their intellectual leaders, as well as programming the end of Yiddish as a separate culture, the Bolshevik solution of the old Russian ‘Jewish Question’ came to a bizarre conclusion, i.e., on the ramps to the Gulag.
"Our history is one of tragedies and catastrophes," writes Svetlana Alekseyevicha thirteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago appeared in the West thirty years ago. The Main Directorate of Camps (Glawnoje Uprawlenije Lagerei = GULag), which lasted for half a century, was one of the saddest catastrophes in the two thousand year history of Russia. Looking back today, one can say with good reason that Solzhenitsyn’s reportage on the bloodiest crimes against humanity in modern times belongs among the spiritual turning points that represented the beginning of the end of the Red Imperium.
Solzhenitsyn’s chronicle from hell prompts the question of why today the historical reality of the Gulag is much less widely and passionately remembered than is the persecution of the Jews under National Socialism. There can be no rational answer to this. The reproach is that a work like the Gulag Archipelago exceeds the powers of imagination and that – based on the laws of classical aesthetics – it ought not be produced at all because it inundates the reader with unrelieved pictures of disgust and revulsion. But then, by the same logic, a play like Macbeth might also be considered too off-putting. In his third volume Solzhenitsyn depicts the slaughter of five thousand women and children in the Kingir slave labor camp in June 1954 (only thirteen years after Babi Yar).
The opinion that the Gulag, unlike the killing of the Jews, has yet to find a Hollywood director of the caliber of Steven Spielberg to film it, is negated by the fact that Russia, herself, has highly talented, even brilliant film producers, dramaturges, and screenplay writers whose work can easily stand comparison with that in the West. The showing of the play I Will Repay by Serge Kuznetsov in the Maly Theater in Moscow, for example, always plays to a full house – standing room only for months on end! The play recreates the last tragic moments of the Tsar’s family. For Russia’s Orthodox, but also for Russian revisionist historians, 16 July 1918 was the ultimate ejaculation of Gulag thinking. The role of the Bolshevik Jews is handled directly in this stage play as when Botkin, the Tsar’s physician, says to one of his guards:
"The time will come when everyone will believe that the Jews were responsible for this and you will be the victims of the revenge."
For the lyricist Stanislav Kunyayev, chief editor of the literary magazine Nash Sovremennik, the murder of the Romanovs was the product of "depraved intellects and a satanic will." Kunyayev is one of a group of seventy leading Russian intellectuals who have signed their names to a letter, in which they hold Communist Jews responsible for the murder of the Tsar, the Bolshevik putsch, and the mass murders that followed it. In the case of Kunyayev it is clear why the filming of the Gulag era would be unthinkable in a Western country for the time being. Or, to put it differently: Why the Jew Steven Spielberg shies away like Belshazzar from the handwriting on the wall. It is not just the sheer magnitude of the crimes that block Spielberg’s undertaking a film of the Gulag, it is much more the taboo question of the unspoken complicity of secularized Jews in a unique breach of civilized behavior that resulted in the execution chambers in Lefortovo, the stone quarries of the White Sea Canal project, and the gold mines of Kolyma.
In Germany, the land of the Adornos and Friedmans, the dreadful accusation of anti-Semitism is held in the ready for anyone who wants to use it at anytime; it is omnipresent and inexpensive, and packs a deadly explosive force socially and professionally. The left-liberal review in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 26 June 2003 published an allegedly lost story of the Bolshevik writer, Isaak Babel, who was shot In January 1941 in a Bolshevik forced labor camp. The previously unknown story, Esfir’s Ring, aesthetically and morally without any reference to Russian literature, eulogizes the death of the Jewish secret policeman, Esfir Rubenblum, "Commissar of the Special Department of the Kiev Cheka," who died "a hero’s death in the struggle against enemies of the revolution." Original quotations of Isaak Babel were written a few years before the "hero’s death" of the Civil War Chekist Babel.
This world-famous Bolshevik (the evaluation of Frank Schirrmacher, chief editor of the Frankfurter) confirms in one of his last contributions the Jewish leadership in the execution squads of the secret police in the Lenin period. Dr. Schirrmacher found no reason to go into Babel’s Chekist past. In Germany the deadly threat of the anti-Semitism shibboleth prevents an objective discussion of the anthropological roots of the theme Solzhenitsyn has illuminated.
On the occasion of his receiving the left-wing German Ludwig-Börne-Prize for outstanding performances in literature, the American-Jewish scholar George Steiner said in his thank-you speech:
"In my opinion there can be no higher honor, no higher nobility, than to belong to a people who has never engaged in persecution. Since my childhood I have been proud not to have that arrogance. I belong to the highest race because it does not persecute others. We are the only ones; we never had the power to do so. Alleluia!" (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 31 May 2003)
Never persecuted others? Never held power?
"The Jewish commissar with the leather jacket and Mauser pistol, often speaking broken Russian, is the typical image of revolutionary power."
This statement comes from Sonya Margolina, who is proud to be "the daughter of a Jewish Bolshevik." Margolina today lives in Berlin. Her book Das Ende der Lügen: Rußland und die Juden im 20. Jahrhundert (Siedler, Berlin 1992), from which the above passage is cited, follows it with these words:
"The tragedy of Jewry is that there was no political option to escape the vengeance for the historical sin of the Jews, namely, their enthusiastic cooperation with the Communist regime. The victory of the Soviet regime saved them for a while, but vengeance still lurked ahead."
© Oct. 31/Nov. 7, 2002 / Jan. 30./31 2003/Sept. 17./30, 2003
First published in Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung 7(3&4) (2003), pp. 451-460. Translated by Dan Michaels.