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By Paul Stonehill
“Hey, little apple, where are you rolling to?
Get to the Vecheka, and it’ll be the end of you.”
- Russian folk
song in the 1920’s
On May 16, 1920, the Soviet newspaper IZVESTIA published a news story
about an arrest of Zionists in Moscow. The brief report sheds some light
on the tragic history of Russian Zionists after the huge country fell
under the control of Marxist-Leninist dictatorship. The arrest took place
on April 23, 1920. The KGB of that period, Vserossiyaskaya
Chrezvichaynaya Komissiya, better known by its abbreviated name
(Vecheka)-had “uncovered” and arrested the All-Russian Conference of
Zionists. Those attending the conference came there from all corners of
Russia. By the 16th of May, 75 people were arrested, 50 of them actual
conference delegates, the rest either guests, or delegates “without
mandates”. The conference was held in secret; those attending , according
to IZVESTIA, had arrived under the pretext of using Soviet
work travel assignments. The assignments were timed with the conference.
IZVESTIA states that the reason for the arrest was the “complete
silence”. No one outside “Zionist circles” knew of the conference. The
Central Committee of “this organization” was located in Petrograd (Saint
Petersburg), and the Vecheka had arrested zionists in the Petersberg area. IZVESTIA
mentions that the only people present at the conference were Zionists.
This fact somehow, according to the Soviet newspaper, “sheds light” on
the conference, and explains the “goal” of having the conference
conducted in secrecy.
A few words about Moscow and Russia in 1920. The bloody Civil War had
engulfed Russia. The Vecheka and its agents, the Chekists, had been
waging a campaign of Red Terror against the real and imaginary opponents.
Several concentration camps, created specifically on Lenin’s orders, had
been functioning in Russia since 1918. Russia was in the grips of the
Jewish pogroms had been unleashed against the
defenseless population by all sides in the Civil War: the Whites, the
Reds, the Greens; bandits and atamans (chieftains) of various political
beliefs and convictions encouraged the pogroms. The worst pogroms
committed by the Red Army were those perpetrated by the Semyon Budenny
troops. The murders and pillage perpetrated by the other sides of the
horrible war were usually much worse. Hence, the best opportunity for
able-bodies Jews to survive was to join the Red Army (as
did my grandfather, who served in the legendary Red cavalry of Commander
Kotovsky. The latter, a Gentile, son of a Russian aristocrat, a Robin
Hood of the Bessarabia, and a fearless fighter, was a mensch who made it
a policy to protect Jews in the areas under his control, and who was
murdered in 1929 by Stalin’s Chekists). The other choice, albeit quite
unrealistic, was to emigrate. Imagine an average Jewish family from a
shtettle making its way to the West by walking through the battlefields,
hostile villages, sinister forests, and hungry cities.
notably Vladimir Jabotinsky, tried to get Russian Jews out of danger, and
into the Land of Israel. Now we know there were also brave people who
tried to conduct Zionist activities in the very heart of Soviet
dictatorship. The Vecheka had waged such vicious terror campaigns that
even some seasoned Bolsheviks raised their voices in protest. Thus, the
Zionists had a good reason not to announce their conference through the
Soviet newspapers, lest they be murdered before they even made it to
Moscow. But Vecheka did come, and they were waiting for them.
IZVESTIA described the documents seized during the arrests. It is
important for us to see how the Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda was
conceived and born, because it is used by enemies of the Jewish people
among the “progressive forces” and Leftists of all shades ever since.
The Zionists, states IZVESTIA, had been in close ties with foreign
countries (the Entente coalition) united against the Soviet government.
Zionist couriers often traveled along the Moscow-London route, and back
again. The Zionist organization arrested by Vecheka was actually a part
of the Paris Peace Conference; its delegates attended meetings with Lloyd
George and others. The Entente had promised to give to the Zionists an
Arab country of Palestine. In return, the Zionist organization had to
support the Entente armies with its Jewish legionnaire troops,
approximately 80 thousand strong.
The Zionists of Russia were represented
at the Paris conference by Goldberg, Idelson, and Aleinikov. There,
members of their parties conducted intensive agitation against Soviet
Russia. IZVESTIA accused the Zionists of having supported Denikin ( a
White Guard army commander) in the world’s opinion, denying the pogromist
activities of the Whites. When it became impossible to continue to do so,
the Zionists tried to soften the impression left by those activities. As
for the American Zionists, they had financially supported
Admiral Kolchak (the commander of the anti-Communist White armies in
Siberia), and were the creditors of the Polish “White Guard” government.
In Warsaw, the official mouthpiece of the Zionists, “Gaint”, had
effectively supported the invasion of Polish legionnaires into Soviet
Russia, and called on Jews to join the Polish armed forces. Proclamations
issued in the name of the American agent, Zionist Morgenthau, in the city
of Minsk, called on Jews to support the existing
order. The pogroms, conducted by Poles, were justified by Zionists as a
response to gun fire unleashed by Jews .
As you can see, Russian Zionists had been demonized by Communists long
ago. But IZVESTIA did not stop there.
After the Entente victory over Turkey, Jews became the dominant nation in
Arabia (sic), although they comprise just 8% of the population. They had
begun a struggle against the Arab liberation movement, trying to maintain
the English occupation. The British had used the Jewish legionnaires to
suppress an uprising in Egypt; as a result, the legionnaires received
gratitude from the Zionist Central Committee. For their army (the Entente
forces, clarified IZVESTIA), the legionnaires had recruited Russian Jews,
and dispatched them overseas by various means. Once abroad, the Jewish
legionnaires had served with the armed forces of England, fought against
Soviet Russia on the Arkhangelsk front, and in Odessa. Young Jews had
been convinced by Zionists that the
Bolsheviks had conducted the pogroms. Such rumors had been widely
disseminated by Zionists, who even organized a demonstration in
Helsingforce against “Jewish pogroms in Soviet Russia”. Because of such
conduct on the part of Zionists, the Vecheka had to vigilantly observe
them. Last year, the Zionist Central Committee was arrested in Petrograd.
It was a complicated case, admits IZVESTIA. “Many compromising documents
were discovered, but Zionists managed to conceal the most important
secret of them, according to the Zionist newspaper “Gaint” in its issue #20 of this year”. There had been searches and arrests of Zionists in
different cities, because of the Zionists’ bourgeois and anti-Soviet
activities. The Vecheka found explosives in the Central Committee’s
facility. IZVESTIA then reveals that a “vigorous investigation” is in
store, with the participation of Jewish Communists.
We do not know what happened to the arrested Zionists. Those Russians and
foreigners who had survived the Vecheka’s “vigorous investigations” were
either executed, sent to the concentration camps, or annihilated in
some other way. Rumors had it some were fed to the starving animals in
the zoos (why not use “enemies of the people “ to sustain the lives of
animals belonging to the proletariat?).
No names of the arrested Zionists were provided. A digest of the
documents of the Moscow Cheka (1918-1921), published in 1978, does not
provide any. Let my article be a monument to them, for they should be
As for the continued danger to Russian Jewry and to Israel from
contemporary Communists in Russia, there should be no doubt that it
exists. During the 81st anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution , when
the Communist masses took to the streets, their speeches-and those of
their Leftist allies present-were heavily laced with anti-Semitic
rhetoric. Demonstrations were also held in more than 200 cities and towns
across Russia, as well as in several former Soviet republics.
Russia is in chaos and ruins today. This is a direct result of
mismanagement of the country by its contemporary “democratic” leaders
(selfish oligarchs, for the most part, surrounded by former secret police
functionaries), and of long years of Communist rule. Jews again are
blamed for Russia’s woes. Be it neo-Communists, neo-Nazis, or neo-Pagans
(a thriving, growing new political force in Russia), they all hate Jews.
Nothing changed much in Russia in this aspect, as the recent poll of the
St. Petersburg denizens confirms. When asked whether they would
participate in Jewish pogroms, or watch from the sidelines,
a large percentage of the polled “peterburzhtsi” cheerfully replied that
they would participate…
About the author:
Paul Stonehill is a Soviet-born researcher, writer, and consultant. His
articles have been published in the United States, Israel, Russia, and
Ukraine. Paul is fluent in Russian and Ukrainian; he immigrated from Kiev
as a teen. Paul has covered military conflicts in Israel and South
Africa. His book about the KGB was recently published in the United
States and Europe.
from the October/November 1999 of the Jewish Magazine
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