- In 1952, 14 important Soviet doctors, almost all of whom were Jewish or had Jewish connections, were arrested on charges of murdering members of the leadership, planning the murder of Joseph Stalin, and working for British, American, and Israeli intelligence. Among the doctors detained was Stalin’s cardiologist, who had advised him to retire. The doctors were brutally tortured on Stalin’s orders to confess their crimes and name their accomplices in the Communist Party and the police. Only one physician, Sophia Karpai, was able to hold out against torture and refused to confess. In February and March 1953, the Soviet press announced that there would be a series of trials and executions. The press also hinted of a possible banishment of all Jews from Moscow and a new series of purge trials. Stalin’s death on 5 March ended the affair. The 11 doctors who survived interrogation were released, and the security officers involved in investigating the conspiracy were arrested in 1953 and shot in 1954–1956.The Doctors’ Plot and public trials of Jews in Moscow and Czechoslovakia in 1952 were initiated by Stalin to create public support for a new series of purges. Stalin, always suspicious of Jews, had received the initial denunciation of the doctors as early as 1948 but chose to act four years later. His target was the senior members of the party leadership. In late 1952 Stalin hinted in public speeches that Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov and Minister of Foreign Trade Anastas Mikoyan were enemy agents. In February 1953 all Jews were dismissed from the security services. Only the supreme leader’s death prevented a new round of political violence that would have rivaled the Yezhovshchina of the late 1930s in terror.
Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. Robert W. Pringle. 2014.
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