Chapter 15

Chapter 15. The Bolsheviks

This is not a new theme: the Jewish role in Bolshevism. On it, much has already been written. Those who try to prove that the revolution was non- Russian indicate the Jewish names and pseudonyms in an attempt to remove from the Russian people the blame of the revolution of 1917. But Jews, who began by similarly denying the role of Jews in positions Bolshevik authority, have now been forced to admit participation, but claim that those Jews were not Jews in spirit, but otshchepentsy[?].

Let us agree with this statement and admit we are unable to judge people's spirits. Yes, these were ''otshchepentsy''.

However, by that logic, the leading Russian Bolsheviks were also not Russians in spirit, but were frequently both anti-Russian and anti-Orthodox, and in their minds Russian culture was refracted through the lenses of political doctrines and calcuations.

But a question is raised: How much evidence must there be of the participation of random otshchepentsev before acknowledges a pattern that defies random distribution? What fraction of the Jewish nation is required? We know about the Russian otshchepentsakh: the depressing number that joined the Bolsheviks -- an unpardonable number. But how widely and actively did Jews participate in strengthening Bolshevik authority?

And another question: what was the reaction of each group's people to its otshchepentsam. The reactions of people to otshchepentsev can be different -- they can curse them or praise them, ostracize them or join them. And the manifestations of this -- the reactions of the masses of the people, whether Russian, Jewish or Latvian -- have been given very little consideration by historians.

The question is one of whether the people renounced their otshchepentsev, and whether the renunciation that did occur reflected the sense of the people. Did a people choose to remember or not to remember it otshchepentsev? In answer to this question, there must not be doubt: The Jews choose to remember. Not just to remember the individual people, but to remember them as Jews, so that their names may never disappear.

There is perhaps no more clear example of otshchepentsa than Lenin: one cannot fail to recognize Lenin as Russian. To Lenin Russian antiquity was disgusting and loathsome; in all of Russian History he eems only to have mastered Chernishevsky and Saltykov-Schedrin. Yes, he frolicked with the liberal views of Turgenev and Tolstoy. But in him there appeared no attachment even to the Volga, where he passed his youth. To the contrary, he pitilessly brought terrifying hunger there in 1921. Everything with him was thus -- everything Russian among which he grew generated inside him hatred. That Orthodox faith in which he could have grown, he strove instead to weaken and destroy. Even in youth he was otshchepenets. But nevertheless he was Russian, and we Russians must accept criticism for it. But if we speak of the ethnic origin of Lenin, we must not change our method of judgement, when we recognize that he was a cross-breed of the most different bloodlines: his grandfather according to the father, Nikolai Vasilyevich, was of the blood of a Kalmik woman Anna Alekseyevna Smirnova; another grandfather Israel [baptised Aleksandr] Davidovich was a Jew; another grandmother, Anna Iogannovna (Ivanovna) Grosshopf,the daughter of a German and a Swede. But all of this cross-breeding does not give us the right to reject him as a Russian. We must accept him as a creation completely Russian since his national character -- that which infused his spirit -- was intertwined with the history of the Russian Empire. But to the creations of Russia, that country which erected us, and its culture, his was a spirit alienated and at times sharply anti-Russian, but nevertheless we can in no way renonuce him.

But the Jewish otshchepentsa? As we saw, in 1917, the Jews had not all been drawn to Bolshevism. Instead, they had been drawn to a myriad of revolutionary movements. at the last conference of the RSDRP -- the RUSSIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC WORKER'S PARTY (London 1907) -- the Mensheviks -- of the 302- 305 delegates the number of Jews exceeded 160, i.e., more than half. As a result of the April conference of 1917, among 9 members of the new Central Committee of the Bolsheviks we see G. Zinoviev, L Kameneva, and Sverdlova. In the summer of the congress of the rKPb (renamed from the RSDRP) to the TSCK there were 11 members, among them Zinovev, Sverdlov, Sokolniks, Trotsky, and Uritsky. Then, on 10 October 1917, in the apartment of Gimmera and Flakserman, where the decision was made about the Bolshevik Revolution, among the 12 participants were Trotsky, Zinovev, Sverdlov, Uritskiy, Sokolniks [and one other Jewish name the translator won't give us properly]. And who was chosen first for the Politburo? Of its seven members: Trotsky, Zinoviev, [another Jewish name], Sokolniks. That is in no way a small proportion. There can be no doubt -- Jewish otshchepentsy were present in the Bolshevik leadership in great disproportion to their numbers in the population -- and they comprised too many of the Bolshevik commissars for a relationship to be denied.

It can be certain that the Jewish leadership of Bolshevism was not completely monolithic. Even the Jews in the Politburo did not act as a Bloc. Some were against the revolution, believing that it was not the proper moment. Then, already, Trotsky was the autocratic genius of the October revolution; he did not exaggerate his role in his writings on the subject. Lenin hid himself in a cowardly manner and played no essential role until after the revolution had been complete.

Generally, Lenin was guided by a spirit of internationalism, and even in his dispute with the bund in 1903, he adhered to the view nationalism did not exist and must not exist, and that the question of nationalism divided revolutionary from reactionary socialism. (In harmony with this view Stalin declared that the Jews were a nation and thus prophecied their eventual assimilation.) Accordingly, Lenin considered anti-Semitism to be a tactic of capitalism, and saw in it not an organic expression of the will of the people but a convienient method of counterrevolution. But Lenin also understoof what a powerful mobilizing force the Jewish question was in the ideological fight. He also saw to it that the special bitterness of the Jews to the Tsar was prepared for us in the Revolution.

However, from the first days of the revolution Lenin found it necessary to consider how the Jewish question would eventually be addressed. Like much he did not forsee in state questions, he did not see how the formation of Jewish power within the Bolsheviks would lead the Jews, as a result of war scattered throughout Russia, to take control of the apparatus of the Russian state during the decisive months and years -- a process that began with the replacements that occurred after the Bolshevik mass strike against Russian clerks. That strike was organized by the Jewish settlers in the Russian frontier and border regions, who did not return to their relatives after the war.

But the liquidation of permanent residency in 1917 particularly resulted in the great dispersion of Jews from the urban centers inside Russia, no longer as refugees and settlers, but as migrants. Soviet information in 1920 states that to Samara alone ten thousands Jews has settled in recent years, in Irkutsk, the Jewish population grew to fifteen thousand. Large Jewish settlements were formed in central Russia and the Urals. This was performed in large part by Jewish social security agencies and philanthropic organizations.

A small pile of Bolsheviks having now come to power and taken authority, their control was still brittle: Whom could they trust in the government? Whom could they call to aid? The seeds of the answer lay in the creation in January 1918 of a special people's commissariat from the members of the Jewish commissariat, whose reason was expressed in Lenin's thought: The Bolshevik service in the revolution was possible because of the role of the large Jewish intelligentsia in several Russia cities. These Jews engaged in general sabotage, which was directed against Russians after the October Revolution and which has been extremely effective. Jewish elements, though certainly not the entirety of the Jewish people, saved the Bolshevik Revolution through these acts of sabotage. Lenin took this into consideration, and emphasized it in the press ... and he recognized that to master the state appartus he could succeed only because of this reserve of literate and more or less intelligent, sober and new clerks.

Thus the Bolsheviks, from the first days of their authority, called upon the Jews to assume the bureaucratic work of the Soviet apparatus -- and many, many Jews answered that call. They, in fact, responded immediately. The sharp need of the Bolsheviks for bureaucrats to exercise their authority met great enthusiam among young Jews, pell-mell with the Slav and international brethren. And this was in no way compulsory for these Jews, who were non- party members, and who had been previously completely non revolutionary and apolitical. This phenomenon was not ideological but a phenomenon of mass calculation by the Jews. And the Jews in the previously forbidden and cherished rural provinces and their capitals gushed out of their ghettos to join the Bolsheviks, seeing in them the most decisive defenders of the revolution and the most reliable internationalists, and these Jews flooded and abounded in the lower layers of the party structure.

To every man who was not a member of the nobility, a priest or a Tsarist bureaucrat the promises of the new clan were extended. And to encourage Jewish participation, the Bolsheviks organized in St Petersburg the Jewish division of the nationalities commissariat. In 1918 it was converted into a separate comissariat of its own. And in March 1919, in the eighth congress of the rKPb, with the proclamation of the Communist Union of Soviet Russia, it was made into an organic and special part of the rKPb, in order to integrate it into the Communist Internationale, and it a special Jewish section was created in the Russian Telegraphic Agency.

The statements made by Shub that Jewish young people joined the communist party in response to anti-Semitic pogroms conducted in White-controlled areas in 1919 has no basis in reality. The mass inflow of Jews into the Soviet apparatus occurred in 1917 and 1918. There is no doubt that the pogroms of 1919 strengthened the allegiance of Jews to the communist party, but it in no way created it. ...

Rarely do authors deny the role of Jews in Bolshevism. While it is true that the appearance of Bolshevism was the result of the special features of Russian history the organization of Bolshevism was created through the activity of Jewish commissars. The dynamic role of Jews in Bolshevism was estimated by contemporary observers in America. The transfer of the Russian Revolution from the destructive phase into the building phase was seen as an expression of the ability of the Jews to build elaborate systems based on their dissatisfactions. And after the successes of October, how many Jews themselves spoke about their role in Bolshevism with their heads held high!

Let us recall that how, before the revolution, revolutionaries and radical- liberals were willing to oppose the restraints placed upon the Jews not out of love for the Jews, but for political purposes. So in the first months and years after the October Revolution the Bolsheviks made a great effort to hunt down Jews for use in the state and party apparati, not out of affinity for the Jewish people, but for the abilities they combined with their alienation and hatred of the Russian population. In this manner they also approached the Latvians, the Hungarians and the Chinese.

Though the mass of the Jewish population initially viewed the Bolsheviks with alarm, thought not hostility, after finding that the revolution granted them complete freedom, and that it welcomed a bloom of Jewish activity in the public, political and cultural spheres, the Jewish population threw themselves into Bolshevism; and Bolshevik authority particularly attracted those whose character held a surplus of cruelty.

The question then emerges of when Communist authority spread from Russia, and came to engulf world Judaism. The stormy participation of Jews in the Communist revolution drew cautious statements of concerns about world Jewry that were quieted, their evidence concealed, by communist and Jews worldwide, who attempted to silence it by denouncing it as extreme anti-Semitism.

After 70 or 80 years has passed, and under the pressure of many facts and discoveries, the view of Jewish involvement in the revolutionary years had opened slightly. And already many Jewish voices have been to discuss this publicly. For example, the Poet Naum Korzhavin has noted that along as it is "taboo" to speak of the participation of the Jews in Bolshevism, it will be impossible to properly discuss the revolutionary period. There are even times now when Jews are proud of their participation -- when Jews have said that they did participate in the revolution, and in disproportionately large numbers. M Argusky has noted that Jews involved in the revolution and the civil war was not limited to the revolutionary period but also continued in their considerable and widespread involvement in running the state apparatus. Israeli socialist S. Tsiryul'nikov has stated that from the beginning of the revolution Jews served as the basis of the new communist regime.

But most Jewish authors, today still deny the contribution of Jews to Bolshevism, sweeping the evidence aside with anger, or, more frequently, with reference to the pain such evidence causes them.

But despite their pain there is no doubt that these Jewish otshchepentsy for several years after the revolution dominated Bolshevism, headed the belligerent Red Army (Trotsky), the ALL-RUSSIAN CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTE (Sverdlov), ran both capitals (Zinoviev), the Komintern (Zinoviev), the Profintern / Red Trade Union International (Dridzo-Lozovskiy) and the Komsomol (Oscar Ryvkin, after it Lazarus Shatskin, the very same and in the chapter of the Communist international of young people).

In the first council of People's Commissars there was, true, only one Jew, but the influence of this one Jews, Trotsky, Lenin's second, exceeded that of all the rest. And from November 1917 through 1918 the real government was not the Council of Peoples' Commissars but the in the so-called "Malyy"[?] Council of People's Commissars: Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Karelin, Prosh'yan. After October, of no less importance that the Council of People's Commisars, was the presidium of VCTscIcK, the ALL-RUSSIAN CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. Among its six chairman: Sverdlov, [unintelligible Jewish name], Volodarsky, and Glass.

M. Agursky correctly notes that in the country, where one was not accustomed to seeing Jews,the ascension of the Jews to power was particualrly striking: The President of the country, a Jew? The War Minister, a Jew? There was something to this, so radical that the population of Russia could not adjust to it -- not only because of their Judaism, but because of what they as Jews stood for.