- The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee was authorized to raise money and support for the Soviet Union in the United States during World War II. Its leaders, including the actor Solomon Mikhoels, brought in more than $45 million, but its members were privately critical of Soviet anti-Semitism. When the news of the criticism reached Joseph Stalin, he ordered the MGB to murder Mikhoels and to begin an intensive investigation of the committee’s leadership. Stalin also authorized a general purge of Jews from high positions in the Soviet Union. In 1945, Jews held 12 percent of senior posts in the government bureaucracy and the media; in 1951, the figure was 4 percent. Articles in the press criticized Jews for lack of patriotism and insisted on greater vigilance by the Soviet people.As part of his plans for a purge of the Communist Party leadership in 1952, Stalin saw many uses for a series of trials in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia of “Zionists.” The trials would play to Russian anti-Semitism and enrage political opinion. Between 11 and 15 July 1952, 14 Jewish party officials and intellectuals were tried for espionage and treason in Moscow. The most famous of the defendants was Solomon Lozovsky (1878–1952), one of the few Jewish members of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. The trial was the scene of some of the most striking and revolting anti-Semitic denunciations heard outside the Third Reich. Colonel Vladimir Komarov, who conducted much of the case for the state, screamed at Lozovsky that “the Jews are a foul and dirty people” who wanted to “annihilate every Russian.” Lozovsky compared the court to the Spanish Inquisition, which had forced his family to flee Spain three centuries previously.All 14 defendants were convicted and 13 were sentenced to death and executed a month later, along with 10 Jewish “engineer-saboteurs” from a Moscow factory. Ultimately the series of trials resulted in the conviction of 125 Jews. Those who were alive on Stalin’s death in March 1953 were released. The executed men and women were posthumously rehabilitated in 1953–1954.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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