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The latest Moscow process

The last major political process under the Stalin regime took place in 1952. It was the culmination of Stalinist anti-Semitism. Moreover, the defendants behaved differently than in the well-known viewing processes of the 1930s.

(Note: The article is mostly machine-translated from Norwegian by Gtranslate)

A few years later, in the newly opened archives, the papers from the trial were found, and these are the basis for a book by J. Rubenstein and V. Naumov called Stalin's Secret Pogrom (Yale 2001). This chronicle is based, among other things, on reviews of this book, but things have been tried in a larger context, both in relation to the breach of Stalinism represented in Soviet history and in relation to how racial prejudice is typically used in politics in general.

In 1948-1949, the most prominent Jews in the Soviet Union were arrested. There were not many Jews left in leading positions after the clean-up in the 1930s. Then, as is well known, most disappeared in the Bolshevik Old Guard, many of them with Jewish background. But even if one can find expression of anti-Semitism in the mention of some of the charges, and especially of the main prosecutor who was not present, Lev Trotsky, one cannot say that the Moscow processes of the 30s had anti-Semitism as their starting point or main content. It was about removing too well any real or potential center of power that could threaten Stalin's own personal omnipotence. Therefore, the purges affected regardless of nationality, and eventually also regardless of whether they had had differing political ideas, ie Stalinists.

Typical of the open Moscow processes of the 1930s was the acting. It was a tight stance, in which the defendants played their roles following a severe pressure that included physical and mental abuse and threats to the families, as well as appeals to a misunderstood loyalty. It took only a few months from arrest to judgment and execution.

But in what I have here called the last Moscow process, it took four years. The reason must be that several defendants refused to play the roles they had been assigned, although eventually confessions were pressed. And finally, the ruler did not dare to let the trial go to open doors anyway. For good reason, it should turn out.

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The recent Moscow process was outstanding, not least thanks to the main defendant, Solomon Lozovsky. In 1952 he was a man in his 70s. He had been a leading Bolshevik from the Revolutionary era, organizer of the Red Trade Union, avoided the purges of the 30s, led the Soviet Union's Information Office and the anti-fascist committees during the war, among them the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee (JAK). Lozovsky had also written under a so-called confession, but when the trial started, he withdrew it and went into a violent counterattack against the charges and the court. So did several other defendants, all Jews, most affiliated with JAK or institutions that maintained the Judeo-German language Yidish in the Soviet Union.

Lozovsky opened his main post as follows: “As you know, my family name is Drizdo. This name cannot be translated. When we asked father what that meant, he told us that according to a story that had passed from father to son, a distant ancestor was among the 800.000 Jews who fled Spain in 1492 when Chief Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada issued a decree forcing Jews to convert to Catholicism or leave the country. " The point was clear: This is like the Spanish Inquisition.

Lozovsky went on to tear apart the testimony of police officer Fefer, whom he called "gossip", "nonsense" and "adventure". He even made fun of the whole basis of the case, that they were Jewish nationalists and imperialist agents, and had made the Sovinformbyrån "a synagogue": "It is as if there were no fans of any central committee, any government, only Lozovsky and a couple Jews to who did everything. It's amazing. ”

The Yiddish writers Markish, Bergelson and Kvitko followed up, and then something completely unheard of happened, as if this open track was not enough: The Chief Justice, General Alexander Tsheptsov, realized that the whole case was a fabrication, and tried to stop it! He approached the Ministry of the Interior to have the trial canceled, but was directly threatened by the political leadership to continue. This "revolt" of a judge in a Stalinist court must be unique in the history of Stalinism!

But the result was given: The defendants were sentenced to death and shot, with only two exceptions. The result was also that the remnants of the Yiddish culture were broken, and this is also an expression of the Stalinist counter-revolution. For it was precisely the revolution of 1917 and the first years of the Soviet regime that had liberated the Jews in general and the Yiddish culture in particular from the oppression of Tsarist Russia. End of all pogroms (the latter were committed to a large extent by the "white" forces that were supported by the "West" during the Civil War). Full equality in all contexts, equal opportunity for leading positions in society, and official support for the Yiddish culture, which flourished vigorously.

But as Stalinism turned most of the original ideas of the revolution upside down, so too in this case: In the 30s, space became increasingly cramped, even for the Yiddish culture. The purges of Jewish communists were increasingly accompanied by anti-Semitic slaps, not least after the non-aggression pact with Germany in 1939, and until the attack in 1941. At that time, Jewish resistance was openly expressed, not least through the work of Lozovsky and JAK. But with the trial in 1952, the ring is closed: a program in the form of a trial that removed the last of the Jewish Bolshevik veterans, and put an end to Yiddish as part of Soviet culture (except in the distant "reserve" of Birobidjan).

The relationship between communism and the Jews is paradoxical: First the revolution freed the Jews, then Stalinism began to forcibly assimilate them, many were killed during the exterminations, but not yet because they were Jews. When the Nazis tried to exterminate all of Europe's Jews, this was hindered primarily by the Soviet Union's war effort. However, a few years after the war, the Stalin regime succeeded in arranging a direct anti-Semitic trial. One thing is certain: Although original Bolshevism had weak sides and authoritarian features, this still shows that Stalinism had meant a counter-revolution, that communism before and after Stalin's takeover of power is different. This had been completely unthinkable under Lenin.

Then one can ask whether Stalin was anti-Semitic out of conviction, or whether he "only" used anti-Semitism as an instrument. I'm holding a button lately. When Stalin gradually removes Jews from leading positions in the Soviet Union and allows representatives of territorial nationalities (with partly anti-Jewish populations) to a greater extent instead, when he lets his people sing first half-kveda shows and then clearer tones of anti-Semitism, it is probably first and foremost an expression of the typical Stalinist opportunism and unprincipledness.

And this leads to a more general view of racism as a political phenomenon. Racism is, of course, prejudice and fear and sometimes conviction. But racism is also something instrumental, which can be a key factor in a type of political alliance between the "top" and "bottom" of the majority population in society. Racism is then used by forces that want to mobilize the masses without threatening (and possibly to promote) the fundamental interests of the real upper class in society. Fascism is the typical example, but the phenomenon is both older and broader, nor did it die with Hitler in 1945. The question is then whether it is in this pattern that Stalinist anti-Semitism is included, and likewise the various outgrowths of the new right-wing populism – also in Norwegian Hagen. But now it is the Muslim who is mostly used as a scarecrow and scapegoat.

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