Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (10 January 2018, 23 Tevet, 5778)
Why did the Soviet communists persecute Jews when many, including Hitler and the Nazis, saw Karl Marx and other Jews as the vanguard of Bolshevism and communism?
The picture is of Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (1839-1933) also known as the "Chofets Chaim." He was the leading Jewish Religious authority in the period under consideration.
We were asked,
"Why did the Soviet communists persecute Jews when many, including Hitler and the Nazis, saw Karl Marx and other Jews as the vanguard of Bolshevism and communism?"
Concerning Hitler and his friends they had already decided that the Jews were what they were against. It did not matter whether or not Jews were involved with Communism. The Jews would have been blamed for it at all events.
This brings us to another aspect of the question. How involved were the Jews in the Communist Movement? Karl Marx was of Jewish descent but he had been raised in the Christian Religion. He disliked Jews and wrote against them. His work was used a major ideological reference source for communist revolutionaries. Other works existed. The writings of Marx were of use to the movement but not indispensable.
Meanwhile the Russian and Prussian secret services between them concocted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This was a forgery much used by enemies of the Jewish People. It claimed there was a plot by the Jews to take over the world. It is still a popular work in Arab countries, in Japan, Latin America, and among anti-Semites everywhere. The anti-Semites of Europe were working towards an intended extermination of Jewry. Hitler later gave voice to these forces and brought them to fruition. These anti-Jewish machinations do not seem to have been a Conspiracy in the Classical sense. It was simply a case of "Birds of a feather flock together." Kindred dark spirits instinctively understood what was possible and what was wanted by their peers. Under the Tsar of Russia pogroms sponsored by the government were conducted against the Jewish people . The Tsar and his lackeys were also oppressing their own Gentile subjects. Elements in the Russian Secret service had already decided for their own reasons that the Tsar was a liability. There was a Revolution. Kerensky, a half-Jew, headed the new government. Kerensky wanted a liberal social democracy. The majority of Jews had supported Kerensky. There was a struggle within the Revolutionary ranks. Lenin, a paid agent of the German government, took over. Lenin belonged to the Bolshevik faction that at first had been only a minority group. Lenin however had been helped generously with gold from Germany. Lenin took Russia out of the war (World War-1) as he had been sent (from exile in Switzerland) by Germany into Russia to do. Germany was promised territory and economic concessions that would have given it virtual control of the Ukraine. Much of what Hitler later wanted the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk would already have given Germany. The German forces however were defeated by the Allies in the west and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk fell into abeyance.
Meanwhile forces loyal to the Old Order, together with anti-Bolshevik socialists and supported by contingents of foreign soldiers attempted to take control. Foreign troops that were involved included forces from France, Britain, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Greece, the USA, Estonia, Italy, China, Australia, Japan, and Canada. The participation of the foreigners was important at the first but diminished to have only a marginal influence. During the Civil War the White Russian (anti-Communist) forces attacked and massacred thousands of Jews. The fighting continued until 1920 in southern Russia and ca. 1922 in Siberia and elsewhere. Both sides were bad but the Whites were worse and committed atrocities against Gentile Russian citizens killing 100s of thousands of them. They also murdered from 75,000 to 100,000 Jews. Many of the "White Russians" were of non-Russian origin such as Germans, Balts, and Ukrainians. The White Russians waged a war against both the Jews and the Russian people on whose behalf they claimed to be fighting. The war was accompanied by massacres, expulsions, famine and epidemics. About 2 million White Russians later fled to the west spreading anti-Jewish propaganda wherever they went. The Reds took over. Many of the early Red leaders were Jews or descendants of Jews. The Jew presence however lasted for only a short while. As soon as Gentile candidates became available they replaced the Jews. In ca. 1924 Stalin became dictator. Stalin was anti-Jewish. Just before his death in 1953, Stalin, or forces around him, had planned the mass expulsion of Jews to Siberia. This would have meant a de facto extermination since the preparations (huts etc) made for them were designed to hasten their speedy demise. Nevertheless in the eyes of foreigners the early Jewish presence in the Red leadership had suggested a Jewish involvement in its own right. This was not the case.
Even so, as mentioned, there had been a window in time in which Jews were dominant in the Communist leadership. These Jews were anti-Jewish. They were atheists and dedicated socialist revolutionaries. They waged a war against the Jewish religion.
Antisemitism in the Soviet Union
Â In 1918, the Yevsektsiya was established to promote Marxism, secularism and Jewish assimilation into Soviet society, and supposedly bringing Communism to the Jewish masses and to destroy Zionism alongside traditional Jewish culture.
Â "... religious traditions among the Jewish population were suppressed. In August 1919 Jewish properties, including synagogues, were seized and many Jewish communities were dissolved. The anti-religious laws against all expressions of religion and religious education were being taken out on all religious groups, including the Jewish communities. Many Rabbis and other religious officials were forced to resign from their posts under the threat of violent persecution. This type of persecution continued on into the 1920s.
It was forbidden to practice circumcision, Jewish studies were prohibited, the practice of Judaism was virtually outlawed.
Jewish Europe Between the Wars
These Jewish communists were incredibly ruthless in stamping out any type of religious activity by fellow Jews. They killed rabbis, closed the yeshivos and synagogues, banned all religious practices, and enforced it by getting friends to turn in neighbors, children to turn in parents and send them to Siberia for observing the religion. It was the Yevsektsia more than anything else that destroyed the Jewish community in Russia.
Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (1839-1933) also known as the "Chofets Chaim" had been the leading Jewish Religious authority in his time. He lived and died in Poland but was closely concerned with what was happening in Russia. He once said that in hindsight the Jewish leadership erred by not resisting the Yevsektsia at the beginning by force of arms.
The anti-Jewish measures against the Jewish Religion continued in some form or other until US President Ronald Reagan helped enable the Jews to leave Russia and move to Israel or elsewhere from 1986 onwards.
The USSR imploded in 1991.
From all of the above (and still more that could be said) it should be clear that the Jews are not to be blamed for the Communist takeover of Russia nor for Communist activities afterwards. On the contrary. Jewish Communists were anti-Jewish. Despite all this, even those anti-Jewish Jews in the Communist ranks, relatively speaking×ª were if anything usually a tempering moderating influence when compared with their Gentile peers.