THE SILENT MILLIONS: A History of the Jews in the Soviet Union by Joel Cang

THE SILENT MILLIONS: A History of the Jews in the Soviet Union

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Writing on the position of the JeWish minority in the Soviet Union as a result of a deeply-felt visit to Babi Yar, uncommemorated site of the biggest single Nazi massacre of Jews, English journalist Cang gleans his information from the limited sources available to a foreign writer in a country where ""the Jewish problem"" officially does not exist. Propaganda, distortion, or deliberate silence, charges Cang, are used to obliterate from memory the wrongs of Stalin's policy, to conceal the reluctance of succeeding rulers to rectify them, and to hide the truth about Jewish life in present-day Russia. His account begins with some historical background (anti-Semitism under the Tsars was economic and religious, not-racial), and moves on to the early attitudes toward Jews of Lenin (friendly, but with an insistence upon eventual assimilation) and Stalin (hostile, with the re-emergence of anti--Semitism as an official policy culminating in the liquidation of Jewish intellectuals and the fabrication of the ""Doctors' Plot""). Despite a brief period of greater tolerance right after Stalin's death, Khrushchev's policy actually followed Stalin's principles, and the current government has inherited hardened anti-Jewish attitudes, complemented by their rigid restrictions on Soviet Jews regarding Zionism and Israel. The treatment concludes with an overview of the whole problem of Russification of the national minorities and a postscript on relations between Russia and Israel. Occasionally Cang slightly overstates his case, slipping into Jewish pride arguments instead of just exposing anti-Jewish prejudice (must Soviet texts identify every Bolshevik revolutionary who was Jewish as such and celebrate the percentage participation of Jews on the historic councils -- a somewhat different matter from slighting their contributions because of their religion). But the substance of the case is clear and compellingly presented.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1969
Publisher: Taplinger