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August 30, 1991 - Image 44

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-30

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Josef Stalin's Alter Ego:
The Decades Of Pogroms


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ews about the death
on July 25 of Lazar
Kaganovich in Moscow
reopens the pages of tragic
decades in the history of the
Union of Soviet Socialist Re-
publics. His record of ser-
vices to communism is listed
in the biography of this
communist leader, identified
as the only Jew to hold office
in official Russian commu-
It was in the years of his
having been the alter ego of
Stalin that he played
leading roles. However, the
failure to recall the in-
humanities and pogroms of
that era leaves journalistic
voids in the Kaganovich
In fairness to realities, it is
important to give credit to
the following portion of the
New York Times obituary:

With Stalin having turn-
ed against and liquidated
so many of his associates,
Kaganovich stands out in
Bolshevik history for sur-
viving at the dictator's
side longer than anyone.
His survival was more
remarkable because he
was the only Jew to hold
high office in Stalin's
final years in power.
Many Jews were being
arrested or purged from
office, and Stalin was
considering a campaign
to exterminate Jews when
he died in 1953.
One explanation may be
that Kaganovich's sister,
Rosa, was believed to be
intimately involved with
Stalin. Some biographers
have said she became his
third wife, though Stalin's
daughter from his second
marriage has denied
reports about the woman.
But Kaganovich's sup-
port for Stalin dated back
to the early Lenin years,
when he secretly sought
to cement their relations
within a welter of party
jealousies and rivalries.
Is it possible that both
Lazar and Rosa Kaganovich
failed to exert an influence
upon Stalin, who engineered
pogroms against Jewish ar-
tists, scholars and writers?
Revelations about the
pogroms were presented
more recently in an article
in the London Jewish
Chronicle. At the time of
these horrible events, Lazar

Kganovich was known to
have made an effort to
restore decency in commu-
nist-ruled Russia. The Jew-
ish Chronicle story about
those events must be recall-
ed for the record to prevent
its being forgotten and
buried. Here is one portion:

Members of the Jewish
Socialist Federa-
tion "Bund" held special
memorial meetings on the
20th anniversary of the
execution in a Russian
prison of Henrik Ehrlich
and Victor Alter. Both
were prominent leaders of
the Bund party in pre-war
Poland, and played an
outstading role in the
spread of socialism
among Jewish workers.
After nearly two years
in prison in Moscow and
other Russian gaols they
were freed after an
amnesty to all Polish

Kaganovich's role
in the pogroms is
still open to

prisoners granted as a
result of an agreement
between Stalin and the
Polish Government-in-
Exile in London. For a
while they were treated
well and allowed to coop-
erate with the Jewish an-
ti-Fascist Committee.
There was hope that they
would be allowed to rep-
resent the Bund in the
Polish National Council,
the pseudo-Polish Syem
which held regular
meetings here. But
suddenly, they were re-
arrested by the Soviet
police and shot.
According to the Polish
socialist Adam Ciolkos, a
political exile living in
London, the reason for
the brutal act would seem
to have been the demand
by the Jewish Bund
leaders that Stalin should
"proclaim an amnesty"
for the millions of other
political prisoners kept in
Russian concentration
A letter he received
from Ehrlich in November
1941 asked for his
intervention and support
in their appeal for an
amnesty and the release
of all political prisoners in
Russia. Stalin was afraid
that if these two Jewish
leaders were allowed to

leave and arrive in Lon-
don, they would disclose
details of the fate of Rus-
sian prisoners under his
The facts are that Mr.
Kaganovich never exerted
influence to prevent anti-
Semitism and the Stalin
pogroms. Yet there may
have been a time when he
was friendly to the Zionist
cause, if we are to believe a
story that appeared in the
Washington Post on Feb. 7,
1957. The story mentions
Mr. Kaganovich's alleged
pro-Israelism in a major ac-
count of communist policies
in the post-Stalin years. It
states in part:
Lazar Kagannovich, Dep-
uty Premier of the Soviet
Union, has been
mysteriously shot in a
struggle for power in the
Kremlin, and lies at
death's door in a Moscow
hospital, intelligence
sources reported last
The 64-year-old
Kaganovich, the only Jew
left in the Soviet hierar-
chy, represented the old
hard-core Stalinists who
wanted to kick Soviet
Party boss Nikita
Krushchev and Premier
Nikolai Bulganin from
Kaganovich, pro-Israel,
also had hoped to steer
Soviet policy away from a
harsh anti-Semitic line,
particularly in the Middle
East ...
According to intel-
ligence sources,
Krushchev also was quick
to see that if Kaganovich
were liquidated, Moscow
could show the Arab
world that not one Jew
remained in the top Soviet
communist set up. A
purge of Kaganovich and
perhaps other Jews by
the Kremlin might offset
President Eisenhower's
Middle East doctrine.
But something went
wrong. Kaganovich was
only gravely wounded,
when struck down by a
bullet Thursday night .. .
Intelligence sources for
some weeks have been
aware that a struggle for
power in the Kremlin has
been going on.
Kaganovich had re-
portedly been allied with
former premier V. M.
Molotov and perhaps with
Defense Minister Georgi
Zhukov to reshuffle the

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