OUT OF THE RED SHADOW by Gennady V. Kostyrchenko


Anti-Semitism in Stalin's Russia
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 A disturbing, significant contribution to our knowledge of official Soviet anti-Semitism, based on recently declassified Communist Party and KGB archives. Kostyrchenko earned his doctorate and high positions in the Soviet Union as a researcher and archivist of WW II history and the USSR's aircraft industry. As formerly secret archives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the KGB became available to the public, Kostyrchenko began recording this dispassionate yet voluminous study of the Soviet Union's obsession with obliterating Jewish life. Soviet Jews were the first to discover that ``the victory over fascism did not put an end to the Jewish national tragedy'' in Eastern Europe. At first, Stalin's attacks on organized Jewish life appeared to be just another arm of his Russification program that affected Armenians and other Soviet nationalities. But the author cites several reports and letters that make clear how disturbed the inner circle of the Kremlin was that so many prominent figures in the Soviet arts and sciences were Jews. Stalin appeared to give Jewish nationhood a boost with the 1934 establishment of the semi-autonomous region of Birobidzhan. Documentation published here, however, suggests that the remote region, far from being a ``Crimean Zion,'' was a typically cynical response to Stalin's fears of a ``Soviet Zionism.'' The uncanny ability of Stalin's kingpins to sniff out ``hidden sedition'' in anything Jewish is linked to large and small policies, from the Soviet Union's turning on the fledgling (and then quite socialist) state of Israel to the banning of Jewish burial societies. Kostyrchenko considers whether state anti-Semitism was Stalin's personal vendetta against Jews or a logical outgrowth of totalitarianism, concluding that the answer lies squarely between the two. Lurid documentation here, heaping layers of bitter irony upon Jewish and gentile hopes that the USSR would be the anti-fascist champion of multiethnic comradeship. (36 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1995
ISBN: 0-87975-930-5
Page count: 331pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1994


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