Power Struggle in Communism, Life of Stalin,
Role of Trotsky, Told in Jones' Novel 'Joseph'
Nlervyn Jones' novel "Joseph" •
is the story of Joseph Stalin, of
the man born Djugashvili, who
was trained for the priesthood and
whose record is one of conflict.
intrigue, search and acquisition of
"Joseph" [published by Athene-
um) is as much drama and
breath-taking narrative as it is his-
tory. The eminent men in the
Communist movement are listed
there. It stands to reason that
Lenin is a major factor in the
story in which he is portrayed as
Victor. Trotsky is Leonard, and he
figures prominently as the Jew
and as Stalin's major antagonist.
There is Kirov as Cyril. Zinoviev
as Gregory, and in the entire pano-
rama the men who made Russian
history are part of a drama that
emerges as fascinating reading
and forceful literature.
The attitudes towards Jews
are evident at the outset. In
Joseph's yeuthful environment
his mother, encouraging him to
study for the ministry, lived in
an environment in which "there
was a street for Turks and a
street for Jews; if she had to go
through them, she crossed her-
sell and recited all the prayers
There is a Jewish moneylender.
but he certainly did not pressure
for the money loaned. only for 'he
In the earlier portion of the story
there is the reference to Stalin's
son Jacob, who later had serious
differences with his father.
There is the conversation be-
tween Joseph and his wife Diana:
he asked why the son was named
-Why. don't you like the name?"
"It's all right. I simply won-
dered why you chose a Jewish
Diana stared. "It never struck
me . . Joseph is out pf the Bible
tco, after all."
"But Jacob sounds more Jew-
"Does it7 Oh well, under so-
cialism nobody will care about
this kind of thing."
The references to Leonard
(Trotsky) are so illuminating!
Ther e is discussion of his
speeches, his condemnation of
capitalism, his defining of so-
cialism. And there is this ex-
change, which has been estab-
lished historically, regarding his
Jewishness: "A supporter from
a factory branch asked him one
day: 'Are you Jewish. Comrade
Leonard?' 'By birth, yes. Why
do ycu ask?' Leonard replied.
'And Comrade Gregory and
Comrade Leo, too, isn't that
right?' *I'd never thought about
it.' The man repeated a phrase
from an official speaker: 'The
opposition can't find a single
leader who really belongs to our
people.' Leonard was too dis-
gusted to act."
And then there is this descrip-
tion of Trotsky the orator and the
mob's reactions: "As a young mar..
Leonard had mastered the street-
corner orator's knack of dealing
with interruptions. He could still
remember the stupid cries of
'Traitor to His ,Majesty"
. . Dirty .Tew!'
There had never been a time when
he failed to win a hearing . . ."
NVhile conquering the masses
there nevertheless was the per-
sistent evidence of anti-Semi:ism.
There is the tragic story of Jacob
and his Jewish friend Dav:d who
was going to Biro.-Bidzhan, who
was forced into the near-exile by
anti-Semitic pressures. David was
asked—told!?!—to volunteer by a
Jewish member of the Party. Ja-
cob went to Joseph in behalf of
his friend. David Stern, and his
father gave him a lecture on Com-
munist policies . . . Then follows
"Jacob said: 'I don't care
about all that theorizing. I only
luzo• what has been done to my
"Joseph was beginning to get
" •Don't come here with this
sentimental nonsense, Jaco b.'
he said. 'I'm talking about the
transformation of society. I'm
talking about the advance of
millions into a new epoch. Try
and think about that for once
instead of breaking your heart
over one bloody little Jew.'
"Jacob stood up. 'I'd better
go, Father. I'm wasting Your
time as well as mine.'
" 'All right. Come and see me
when you've got something bet-
ter to talk about.' "
Jones' novel rises to great
heights in its interpretive power.
There is, towards the end of the
book, Jacob's letter to his friend
David Stern, and in it he asserts:
"There will never — not for
centuries — be another age like
Comrade Joseph's time. But
what will come after it. I don't
know. Sometimes I believe that
our people will claim the better
world for which they've paid so
dearly. When the building is
done, when the achievement is
secure, the wastefulness of cruel-
ty- will be plain to all. When
there's time for happiness and
peaceful living and love, there
will be no need to worship power.
When the god is dead—and he's
a man, after all—the millions
will share out his greatness
among themselves. When knowl-
edge has made thought revive,
and thought has made minds
expand, freedom will come into
"Perhaps. But perhaps a time
will come when the memory of
freedom, the conception itself,
will have died. Obedience will
have become habit; worship will
have become a human need;
minds that fear the light will
contract of their cum accord.
There will be no living god, but
there will be high priests to
make faith a ritual. It will be a
time more dead and hollow than
ours: a time with the same
harshness and without the striv-
ing and the daring, a time of
small crimes and small ambi-
"We shan't know for many
years. If we ever meet again,
you and I, it will mean that
things have turned out well. It
will be our time, dear David.
I don't dare to hope for it. I
turn my face towards yours,
seeing nothing, gazing into dark-
ness, and say goodbye."
There are the concluding words
of the novel about the hero: "Com-
rade Joseph would triumph," and
the shout: ".His name--a litany of
devotion, a shout of gratitude. and
a pledge of sacrifice—rose inces-
santly from earth to sky: 'Joseph!
And from the horrors emerged
the hero. The concluding appendix.
containing a brief review of fact
and fiction, tells of the struggle '
for power that existed before
Lenin's death. It is a suitable ap-
pendix to a volume that is a great
novel and a valuable addition to a
history marked by intrigue, hor-
ror. power struggles. —P.S..
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
8—FridaY, September 11,
in Nixon's Name
C uban Press Inserting Swastika
NEW YORK (JTA)—In Castro's when it spells America; "Ameri-
Cuba, President Nixon is a Nazi; KKK."
at least that is how the controlled
Cuban press seeks to identify him
to the masses, reports CBS Radio
Network news correspondent Mike
Wallace, who just returned from
an assignment in Cuba.
KOSHER & PARVE
In all Cuban newspapers, the X
in the name Nixon is replaced by
a swastika, Wallace said. The
inference the Cuban government
hopes will be drawn from this
apparently is similar to that sought
by the Black Panther newspaper
Brightens a bagel.
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