Tuesday, November 12, 2013

640 MISQUOTE - Stalin’s Willing Executioners

MISQUOTE - Stalin’s Willing Executioners

Newsletter published on 10 January 2014

A few minutes after I sent out my last bulletin, I realized that I had
misquoted Yuri Slezkine.

He did not say that Bolshevik Jews were "Stalin’s Willing Executioners".
He used the term of all who administered the Terror, not just Jews.

It was Kevin MacDonald who particularly linked Slezkine's expression to
Jewish Bolsheviks, in his paper Stalin’s Willing Executioners: Jews As A
Hostile Elite In The USSR.

MacDonald writes (he is reviewing Slezkine's book The Jewish Century):

Moreover, Slezkine pictures the {Jewish} middlemen as specializing in
“certain dangerous, marvelous, and distasteful” (p. 9), but nevertheless
indispensable, pursuits (p. 36)—a formulation that carries a grain of
truth, as in places where natives were prohibited from loaning money at
interest. However, he ignores, or at least fails to spell out, the
extent to which Jews have been willing agents of exploitative elites,
not only in Western societies, but in the Muslim world as well.8 This is
the overarching generalization which one can make about Jewish economic
behavior over the ages. Their role went far beyond performing tasks
deemed inappropriate for the natives for religious reasons; rather they
were often tasks at which natives would be relatively less ruthless in
exploiting their fellows. This was especially the case in Eastern
Europe, where economic arrangements such as tax farming, estate
management, and monopolies on retail liquor distribution lasted far
longer than in the West [...]

Jewish involvement in the Communist elite of the USSR can be seen as a
variation on an ancient theme in Jewish culture rather than a new one
sprung from the special circumstances of the Bolshevik Revolution.
Rather than being the willing agents of exploitative non-Jewish elites
who were clearly separated from both the Jews and the people they ruled,
Jews became an entrenched part of an exploitative and oppressive elite
in which group boundaries were blurred. This blurring of boundaries was
aided by four processes, all covered by Slezkine: shedding overt Jewish
identities in favor of a veneer of international socialism in which
Jewish identity and ethnic networking were relatively invisible; seeking
lower-profile positions in order to de-emphasize Jewish preeminence
(e.g., Trotsky); adopting Slavic names; and engaging in a limited amount
of intermarriage with non-Jewish elites.10 Indeed, the “plethora of
Jewish wives” among non-Jewish leaders11 doubtless heightened the Jewish
atmosphere of the top levels of the Soviet government, given that
everyone, especially Stalin, appears to have been quite conscious of
ethnicity.12 For their part, anti-Semites have accused Jews of having
“implanted those of their own category as wives and husbands for
influential figures and officials.”13

By emphasizing the necessity and distastefulness of traditional Jewish
occupations, Slezkine also ignores the extent to which Jewish
competition suppressed the formation of a native middle class in Eastern
Europe. [...]

While Slezkine’s treatment overemphasizes middlemen as a societal
necessity rather than as ethnic outsiders competing for scarce
resources, he does note that the rise of the Jews in the USSR came at
the expense of the Germans as a Mercurian minority in Russia prior to
the Revolution. (Jews were excluded from traditional Russia apart from
the Pale of Settlement, which included Ukraine, Lithuania, Byelorussia,
Crimea, and part of Poland.) Germans manned the imperial bureaucracy,
formed a large percentage of professionals, entrepreneurs, and artisans,
were more literate than the Russians, and had a sense of cultural
superiority and ethnic solidarity [...]

Although the replacement of Germans by Jews was well under way by the
time of the Bolshevik Revolution, a key consequence of the Revolution
was the substitution of one Mercurian group, the Germans, by another,
the Jews. The difference between the Jews and the Germans was that the
Jews had a longstanding visceral antipathy, out of past historical
grievances, both real and imagined, toward the people and culture they
came to administer. Indeed, Russians on the nationalist right admired
the Germans, at least up to World War I. For example, a statute of one
nationalist organization, Michael the Archangel Russian People’s Union,
expressed “particular trust in the German population of the Empire,”16
while its leader, Vladimir Purishkevich, accused the Jews of
“irreconcilable hatred of Russia and everything Russian.”17 Jews
disliked the Christian religion of the vast majority of Russians because
of the antagonistic relationship between Judaism and Christianity over
the ages; Jews distrusted the peasants, who “fell from grace” (p. 140)
with the intelligentsia after the numerous anti-Jewish pogroms,
especially after 1880; and Jews blamed the tsar for not doing enough to
keep the peasants in check and for imposing the various quotas on Jewish
advancement that went into place, also beginning in the 1880s—quotas
that slowed down but by no means halted Jewish overrepresentation in the
universities and the professions. [...] Thus when Jews achieved power in
Russia, it was as a hostile elite with a deep sense of historic
grievance. As a result, they became willing executioners of both the
people and cultures they came to rule, including the Germans.

Eugene Girin, an ex-Soviet Jew, objected to the claim that Jews were
responsible for the worst of Soviet communism. This debate took place
between him and MacDonald:


"Stalin's Willing Executioners"? Girin vs. MacDonald

By Eugene Girin on April 8, 2006 at 12:00am

In "Stalin's Willing Executioners"?, his VDARE.COM review of Yuri
Slezkine's The Jewish Century, Dr. Kevin MacDonald accused the Jews of
being responsible for the worst aspects of Soviet communism: the Red
Terror, Collectivization, and Stalin's bloody Purges.

As an ex-Soviet Jew and past contributor to VDARE.COM, and as someone
who agrees with most of VDARE.COM's positions, I was surprised to see
this canard, which usually circulates among Russian anti-Semitic cranks,
be given credence by an American professor who poses as a serious
researcher of evolutionary psychology.

MacDonald uses anecdotal evidence and out-of-context citations to assert
that the Soviet secret police (Cheka-OGPU-NKVD) and Gulag administration
were all overwhelmingly Jewish and that the Jews "to such a large extent
ran the USSR." This is utterly false.

But according to Slezkine in The Jewish Century, which MacDonald was
reviewing, "the vast majority of Bolshevik party members (72 percent in
1922) were ethnic Russians." The most overrepresented ethnic group was
the Latvians. Only 2.6 percent of Bolshevik party members in
revolutionary St. Petersburg and only 5.2 percent of Communists in the
Soviet Union in the year 1922 and were Jewish.

In 1920, only 9.1 percent of all Cheka operatives were Jews and in 1924,
Jews made up only 8.5 percent of the central apparatus of the Soviet
secret police.

I do agree that a tragically large number of Eastern European Jews—in
the purely ethnic sense, of course—actively supported communism. Two of
my great-grandfathers were among the first communists in Poland and
Romania. (One later spent eight years in Stalin's Gulag and the other
died of tuberculosis in exile in Central Asia. So much for the Red
Dream.) But these figures are hardly characteristic of a
Jewish-dominated organization.

Kevin MacDonald also demonstrates his utter ignorance of Soviet Jewish
historical realities when he argues that ex-Jews like Trotsky, Zinoviev,
Kamenev, and the thousands of Cheka operatives and Bolshevik party
members retained their Jewish identity and "Eastern European shtetl

In fact, Jewish Bolsheviks were simply apostates who turned their back
on their faith and people. Some of them were simply violent scoundrels
without any sense of ethnic pride and belonging, shunned and despised by
their community. Others were brutal revolutionaries—like Trotsky who
refused to bury his father in a Jewish cemetery, refused to meet with
Jewish delegations, and violently persecuted Russian Zionists. "I am not
a Jew and have nothing in common with the Jewish people," he said around

Jewish Communists viewed Judaism as a shameful relic of the pre-Soviet
past that had to be eradicated. Thousands of synagogues were desecrated
and closed down only to be re-opened as athletic societies, social
clubs, and warehouses. Rabbis were arrested and imprisoned with
Christian clergymen in the horrid Solovki prison camp. There, they were
housed in the same barracks as common criminals.

In 1918, the Ukrainian rabbinical congress, which met in Odessa, issued
a cherem—a declaration of excommunication—against Trotsky and other
prominent Jewish Bolsheviks. The famous Jewish sage Chofetz Chaim
characterized communism as the "destruction of the soul" and in 1927,
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, the leader of the Hassidic Chabad
Lubavitch movement, was arrested by the Soviet secret police and only
pressure from abroad prevented the Soviet authorities from sending him
to a labor camp.

Thousands of Jews were murdered, raped, assaulted, and robbed by units
of the Red Army in the Ukraine and Belarus during the Russian Civil War
(1918-22) and the Russo-Polish War (1919-20). In the town of Gluhov, Red
soldiers murdered over a hundred Jews, shot the rabbi, looted the
synagogue, and tore up the Torah scrolls. In another Ukrainian town of
Novgorod-Seversky, Red Army soldiers slaughtered eighty-eight Jews and
maimed many others. The anti-Semitic brutality of the Red Army is
magnificently depicted in Isaac Babel's haunting novel Red Cavalry.

Large numbers of Russian Jews were arrested, tortured, exiled, and
executed by the Bolsheviks for either belonging to "enemy parties" like
the Mensheviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and the Kadets, to "enemy
classes" like the merchants and the intellectuals. At least 200,000
Russian Jews fled Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution and the Red Terror.

Russian Jews were active contributors to the anti-Bolshevik struggle. A
Jewish Socialist Revolutionary, Fanya Kaplan attempted to assassinate
Lenin and was executed by the Bolsheviks. Dozens of Jews served in the
White (anti-Bolshevik) armies and one of them, David Pasmanik, organized
the Jewish Anti-Communist Committee in Paris. The army of the
anti-Bolshevik Western Ukrainian People's Republic in Galicia and
Bukovina had a Jewish detachment of 1,200 soldiers under the command of
Solomon Leinberg and dozens of Jews served in the guerrilla forces of
the Ukrainian anti-Bolshevik anarchist Nestor Makhno. The legendary
Ukrainian Jew, Lev ("Lyovka") Zadov was Makno's counter-intelligence chief.

Contrary to Kevin MacDonald's brazen assertions, Communist rule was a
tragedy for Russian Jews. We were deprived of our traditions, culture,
language, and communal cohesiveness. The Russian Jewish community has
been ravaged by assimilation, intermarriage, and indifference because of
Soviet rule. Many Russian Jews lost all sense of ethno-religious
identity and became perpetual outsiders, unaccepted by neither Jews nor

Kevin MacDonald's claims about the disproportional role of Jews in the
worst excesses of Russian communism betray a dark obsession with the
Jews, an obsession that harms and discredits real American conservatism
and the immigration-reform movement.


Eugene Girin [email him] immigrated (legally!) from the Republic of
Moldova in 1994 at the age of 10. He is a student at CUNY Baruch College
and has been published by VDARE.COM, Front Page Magazine, and other
websites. ==

Kevin MacDonald responds:

Fundamentally, Eugene Girin does not like Yuri Slezkine's findings. In
response, seeking to make these conclusions easier to dismiss, he adopts
the stratagem of trying to convince his readers that I have
misrepresented Slezkine. But I did not.

No one is saying that all Jews supported the USSR or denying that some
Jews suffered from the regime, even at the height of Jewish power. But
Slezkine provides overwhelming evidence that Jews constituted an elite
in the USSR and that the great majority of Soviet Jews supported
Bolshevism and benefited from it—evidence that fits well with previously
existing data that I have summarized in my writing on this topic.

Girin provides some Slezkine figures on Jewish representation in early
Bolshevism to suggest that Jews did not play a particularly outstanding
role. However, he fails to note how Slezkine contextualizes these
findings. After all, the title of Slezkine's book is The Jewish Century.
It would be odd to find that Slezkine's real view is that Jews were not
much of a factor in arguably the most significant upheaval of the 20th

For example, Girin quotes Slezkine that "the vast majority of Bolshevik
party members (72 percent in 1922) were ethnic Russians." But he fails
to note Slezkine's basic argument that the Jews formed an elite within
the Bolshevik movement: Jews formed 40 percent of the top elected
officials in the army, 5 of the 12 members of the Bolshevik Central
Committee that voted to launch an armed insurrection in 1917, and much
else (see Slezkine, pp. 175–180).

Jews did not form a particularly high percentage of the Cheka, says
Slezkine, "but even in the Cheka, Bolsheviks of Jewish origin combined
ideological commitment with literacy in ways that set them apart and
propelled them upward" (p. 177).

Slezkine's views on this matter are entirely compatible with my
previously published analysis of the Jewish role in Bolshevism: Jews
formed an indispensable elite that was a necessary condition for the
success of Bolshevism. (Even this is an understatement, as argued in the
longer Occidental Quarterly version of my VDARE.COM article.)

Historian Albert Lindemann makes the same point in his book Esau's Tears:

"Citing the absolute numbers of Jews [within the Bolshevik movement], or
their percentage of the whole, fails to recognize certain key if
intangible factors: the assertiveness and often dazzling verbal skills
of Jewish Bolsheviks, their energy, and their strength of conviction"
(p. 429).

There is no claim that all or even most Bolsheviks were Jews.

Jews formed less than five percent of the Russian population at the time
of the Revolution, and they were underrepresented in the major urban
areas of Moscow and Leningrad prior to the Revolution because of the
Pale of Settlement laws. But having a very large, even dominant
influence despite forming a small percentage of the population has been
a theme of Jewish history, most notably in Eastern and Central Europe
prior to the Revolution. The case of Revolutionary Russia once again
underscores the importance of philosemitism and building alliances for
the Jews. This has been typically necessary in Diaspora situations in
order to advance their perceived interests.

Girin makes the outrageous claim that I argued that "ex-Jews like
Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, and the thousands of Cheka operatives and
Bolshevik party members retained their Jewish identity and 'Eastern
European shtetl culture [his emphasis]""

But in fact I explicitly granted the possibility that they did not. And
I certainly did not say that Jewish Bolsheviks retained their Eastern
European shtetl culture in toto, but that they had retained some aspects
of traditional Jewish identity, specifically the ones I listed: a strong
sense of estrangement from non-Jewish society, a fear and hatred of
peasants, hostility toward the Czarist upper class, and a very negative
attitude toward Christianity.

Since this is a major issue on which I do not agree with Slezkine, I
spend almost eight pages on the issue of the Jewish identity of Jewish
Bolsheviks in the longer Occidental Quarterly review (pp. 75–82). I
would urge readers to look at this material as well as Chapter 3 of my
study The Culture of Critique.

And in the end, as Slezkine actually says (p. 286), by the time of World
War II most Jews

"knew that they were, in some sense, Jews. They may never have been to a
synagogue, seen a menorah, heard Yiddish or Hebrew, tasted gefilte fish
or indeed met their grandparents. But they knew they were Jews in the
Soviet sense, which was also—in essence—the Nazi sense. They were Jews
by blood."

As for Girin's other comments, they essentially contradict Slezkine's
argument that in fact the USSR was a Jewish haven and that Jews formed
an elite until the post-World War II era, when issues related to Zionism
and popular and official anti-Semitism combined to lessen Jewish power.

The fact that Jews were an elite in the USSR shouldn't be a surprise. As
Slezkine and others have documented, Jews were an economically and
culturally dominant elite throughout Eastern and Central Europe too, and
they soon became an elite in the U.S. after the massive upsurge in
Jewish immigration beginning in the late 19th century.

Nor should it be surprising that there is a massive taboo surrounding
Jewish involvement in the most murderous regime in history. After all,
despite the fact that Jews constitute less than 3 percent of the U.S.
population, the Holocaust has become a cultural icon as a direct result
of Jewish activism and influence in the media, Israel has become a
sacred cow in American politics, and the role of Jewish organizations in
helping unleash massive multiethnic immigration into the U.S., as well
as engineering the current American involvement in Iraq, goes
unmentioned in public debate.

Kevin MacDonald [email him] is Professor of Psychology at California
State University-Long Beach.

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