Judeo-Bolshevism: Fact from Fiction
an overview of Jewish involvement in the Bolshevik regime through Stalin
The concept of Jewish Bolshevism, or “Judeo-Bolshevism,” is one of the most recognizable antisemitic talking points from the last century, and remains the subject of immense misunderstanding in fringe political circles to this day. According to the narrative, Bolshevism represents a project of Jewish design with the goal of extending sadism and supremacy over the Christians of Eastern Europe. The episode was so monstrous, and its true authors so unmistakably apparent, that it’s frequently taken for granted as a cornerstone of Jewish “collective guilt.” In the words of E. Michael Jones, “Trotsky's Jewishness brings up the issue of collective responsibility.”
Of course, Jones confuses all sorts of basic information in his writing on Bolshevism, including mixing up the February and October revolutions. I seek to clarify and correct such confusion with this article. In the following, I touch on the attitudes toward Bolshevism among the Jewish masses, the Jewish share of the highest bodies of party and state over time, conflicts between Soviet policy and Jewish interests, and the origins of much of the disinformation.
This is not technically a fully comprehensive takedown of the conspiracy. For the sake of focus and feasibility, other relevant subject matters I aim to cover sometime in the future include the Holodomor, Stalin’s alleged Jewish affinities — a favorite among the paranoid schizophrenics over at Bitchute — and the relationship between (Jewish) finance and the revolution. The following also sets aside Jewish activity in the Russian revolutionary movement as well as the Left more broadly, specifically focusing on the Jews and the Bolsheviks after they seized power.
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Were the Jews Bolsheviks?
“When the October revolution came, the Jewish workers had remained totally passive, and a large part of them were even against the Revolution. The Revolution did not reach the Jewish street. Everything remained as before.”
—Semyon Dimanstein, chairman of the CPSU’s Jewish section
There are two ways to look at Jewish involvement in Bolshevism: with respect to the Bolsheviks and with respect to the Jews. Firstly, it’s undoubtedly true, as we’ll see, that among early Bolshevik elites Jews were substantially overrepresented. But it is also a generally accepted fact that the Bolsheviks were never popular among the Jews as a population, at least until the other options were taken out of the picture by force. In other words, there’s a marked disparity between the views of the average Jew, or the Jews of the region collectively, and that of a small minority of Jews who managed to rise to the top of the Bolshevik ranks.
The views of the Jewish masses are best revealed in their voting patterns, which were demonstrated on a handful of occasions. Rabinovitch’s (2009) thorough analysis of Jewish votes in the elections held shortly after the February Revolution concludes that “Jews living in the territories of the former Russian Empire, when given the opportunity to participate in general elections, expressed only marginal support for the Jewish socialist parties and instead voted for parties and coalitions that principally demanded Jewish collective rights within a liberal framework.” This observation is made evident with the provided chart:
The same trend was seen in Jewish voting for the 1919 Polish legislative election, which “demonstrated the moderate social views of a basically conservative population much more interested in protecting its civil and national rights than in promoting social change” in the words of a relevant historian on the subject.
And we encounter it once again in the 1918 election of the Ukrainian Jewish National Assembly:
The first three parties [in the following chart], comprising over half the entire electorate, were outspokenly bourgeois, whereas the three at the end of the list were socialist parties but were extremely anti-Bolshevik; they received over a third of the vote. The Zeirei-Zion party was a people's socialist party, bridging, as it were, the Right and the moderate Left camps. (Nedava 1971, 154)
Popular support for Bolshevism came not from the Jews but primarily from the Russian proletariat of its large, industrial cities. Pipes (1994, 113) summarizes these facts well:
[W]hile not a few Communists were Jews, few Jews were Communists. When Russian Jewry had the opportunity to express its political preferences, as it did in 1917, it voted not for the Bolsheviks, but either for the Zionists or for parties of democratic socialism. The results of the elections to the Constituent Assembly indicate that Bolshevik support came not from the region of Jewish concentration, the old Pale of Settlement, but from the armed forces and the cities of Great Russia, which had hardly any Jews. The census of the Communist Party conducted in 1922 showed that only 959 Jewish members had joined before 1917.
In terms of rank-and-file membership in the CPSU itself, which was for most of its history seen as a privilege to obtain, Jews were consistently, though rather modestly, overrepresented with respect to their proportion of the Soviet population: “Representing just 1.8 percent of the total population in the 1926 census, Jews comprised 5.2 percent of party members in 1922 and 4.3 percent in 1927” (YIVO). To put things into context, the following chart compiles information on ethnic representation taken from the 1922 All-Russian party census.
While in 1922, 5.2% of the party was Jewish with respect to a population of around 2%, just 7.2 Jews per 1,000 were members. This becomes significant when one recognizes two facts:
certain large populations like the Ukrainians (21.2% of the population based on that 1926 Census) were seriously underrepresented, which naturally increases the share of the other ethnic groups
no fewer than six other ethnic groups were more overrepresented than Jews, Latvians at an incredible 78 Bolsheviks per thousand and the Baltic peoples in general doing very well
Also note that this data comes from 1922, or toward the conclusion of the Russian Civil War which saw an increase in support for the Bolsheviks and Red Army among Jews. This was no organic change of heart in the Jewish population. The White Army had worked to promulgate the myth this article is covering, and the worst pogroms in the history of the region up til then were committed or instigated by White soldiers themselves, culminating in perhaps 100,000 deaths. Bolshevik forces were not free from sporadic anti-Jewish excesses, to be sure1, but by and large they stood opposed to antisemitic violence in rhetoric and action.
In terms of the actual sentiments of the Jewish masses, however, it’s clear they were far more moderate and far less sympathetic to Bolshevism than occasionally assumed.
Were the Bolsheviks Jews?
To avoid confusion, we will first need to briefly go through the structure of the Soviet bureaucracy through Stalin. Although the Soviet Union was a one-party state, Lenin deliberately severed the party itself from governmental institutions, though with the former ultimately in charge. These structures were also frequently altered and replaced, so things can easily get tricky.
Starting with government:
The USSR was, as the name would have it, a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, each possessing an individual government subordinate to the overarching Soviet government. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), being the largest, was naturally most important among the republics.
When one refers to the Russian or Soviet “government” of this era, what they typically mean is its Council of People’s Commissars (CPC, also called Sovnarkom): the commissars presiding over specific policy areas like agriculture or defense, along with the chairman, his deputies, and a couple other, minor positions. There was a CPC for the USSR along with one per each of the republics. Before the USSR’s CPC was established in 1923, however, that of the RSFSR governed the entire state. In 1946, the CPCs were replaced with Councils of Ministers (CM) which functioned similarly.
The Congress of Soviets, formed in 1922, appointed these commissars/ministers, and was succeeded in 1936 by the Supreme Soviet. Both bodies were ultimately beholden to the decisions of the Communist Party per the doctrine of democratic centralism.
The Congress of Soviets also elected a Central Executive Committee (not to be confused with the party’s Central Committee discussed later) which held most of the real power and acted between congresses. For the Supreme Soviet, this body was called the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. (The CEC had multiple, simultaneous chairmen, while the Presidium had singular, successive chairmen.)
Regarding the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU):
The party’s Congress was officially to play the definitive role in Soviet affairs, electing Central Committee (CC) members to govern in between sessions (much like the government’s CEC), but it was ultimately beholden to whatever de facto leadership was in power at the time. The Congress convened typically every five years, but from 1939 through Stalin’s death, it was completely neglected.
The CC housed a few important subdivisions: the Politburo (Political Bureau) was most important, and under Stalin basically preempted the CC itself; the Orgburo assigned members to various positions and oversaw the execution of party goals; the Secretariat was intended to perform technical, administrative work, but came to dictate day-to-day party activities, and its leader, the General Secretary (otherwise known as the Technical, Responsible, or First Secretary), was also a member of the Politburo.
“Candidate members” served advisory roles in these committees and were formally the pool of potential committee member replacements, but they had no voting rights by themselves.
The annotated chart above2 offers a chronological look at the Jewishness of the Central Committee and Politburo in the period from the Politburo’s first convocation all the way to Stalin’s death. “Jewishness,” here, is defined simply as possessing at least one Jewish parent; this means the Russian-Jewish mischling Kamenev is counted as Jewish, but the quarter-Jewish Lenin is not.3
Of all the members of the Politburo from its formal establishment in 1919 to the end, there were four individual Jews (Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Kaganovich), along with four Georgians, 11 Ukrainians, and 89 Russians. If we go earlier to its de facto beginning at the sixth party Congress up until 1919, there were 14 unique members, fully half of whom were Jewish (Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Sverdlov, Ioffe, Uritsky, Sokolnikov); of the 26 total member positions for this period, half were also occupied by Jews. Of all the bodies of power, this earliest period of the Communist Party saw the most extreme Jewish overrepresentation. In three brief periods, there was even a technical Jewish majority in the small Politburo compositions.
Coming to terms with the Central Committee as body of political power to which even the Politburo was technically beholden, a couple of investigations have been carried out for this early period:
Mawdsley (1995)5 examined the 78 full or candidate members of the CC from 1917–April, 1923 — the “first generation of the Soviet elite” — and found that “[o]nly half (38/78) were Great Russian. The second largest ethnic group were the Jews, who numbered 13 (17 per cent). Eight more were Ukrainians, eight and five were from the minorities of the Baltic and the Transcaucasus respectively. Six further individuals belonged to as many different nationalities.”
Riga’s (2008)6 analysis provides greater clarity on questions of ethnicity, analyzing CC members ostensibly from a slightly greater time period7 and finding roughly the same Jewish proportion as Mawdsley: 15%.
Mind you, both Mawdsley and Riga deal with unique members, while the available positions in the CC from year-to-year obviously frequently reused members. The chart displayed at the beginning of this section shows a consistently higher proportion of Jews in the CC session-to-session (although at no point numerical dominance as with the Politburo), likely reflecting the fact that Jewish Bolsheviks tended to reappear at a greater rate than non-Jewish Bolsheviks, although the data also excludes candidate members unlike either Mawdsley or Riga. Either way, it’s clear that Jews tended to be more successful in the Bolshevik apparatus.
A handful of Jews including Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev remained among the most prominent Bolsheviks throughout the early period, although eventually they were infamously purged by that notorious Georgian8, Joseph Stalin. The Jewish share of the Politburo diminishes greatly under the reign of Stalin, with the removal of all the Jews by the mid-1920s up until Kaganovich is installed in 1930. Jews become, in fact, underrepresented (~0.7% or six of 851 total post-Stalin elite in Mawdsley’s terms9) in the post-Stalin USSR where official antisemitism emerges.
Finally, regarding the other factions within the Central Committee, both were rather minimally Jewish:
Compared with the Communist Party, Jewish representation in the Russian and Soviet governments was much more modest. The following is a timeline of the leadership positions in the USSR:
Of the 12 Premiers, none were Jews.
Of the 11 chairmen of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, Yuri Andropov was the only Jew, albeit his claim to Jewishness was fairly weak. Regarding the earlier Soviet CEC chairmen, nine men held the role in overlapping terms; none of them were Jewish.
Of the 11 General Secretaries of the USSR, two were Jewish: Yakov Sverdlov (1918—1919) and Yuri Andropov (Nov. 1982—Feb. 1984).
For the RSFSR: of its 19 chairmen of the CPC/CM, none were Jews.
Of the 16 chairmen of the CEC/Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, the first two were Jewish: Lev Kamenev (Oct.—Nov. 1917), Yakov Sverdlov (—Mar. 1919).
In the first composition of the Russian government (below), Trotsky was the only Jewish commissar, serving as People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs. According to Vedomosti: “In the government of the RSFSR from 1917–1922, Jews were 12% (six people out of 50).”
As noted earlier, the RSFSR’s above CPC reigned supreme until the USSR’s was formed in 1923. Below is the ethnic composition of the first Soviet government:
On the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union (parallel to the Central Committee of the Communist Party) there were 60 Jews in 1927, 42 Latvians (from a relatively small population), 9 Germans and 7 Poles. That is to say, Jewish representation was low in comparison with the Latvians, but high in comparison with the other two nationalities, which were permanently under-represented in relation to their socio-economic weight. In 1929 the number of Jews on this body was 55, Russians 402, Ukrainians 95, Latvians 26, Poles 13, and Germans 12; so Jewish representation [9% of the total] declined slightly in comparison with the fourth Congress of the Soviets in 1927. In the 1937 elections, the first elections to be held after the ratification of the new Constitution of December 1936, 47 Jews were elected to the Supreme Soviet out of 1,143 delegates—that is, 4.1% of the delegates of both Houses—while their percentage of the whole population of the Soviet Union was less than 2%. So there was still Jewish over-representation in the highest representative institution of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet security infrastructure was as convoluted and subject to change as anything else. The agency began as the RSFSR’s Cheka from 1917. In 1922 the Cheka becomes the GPU and is subsumed by the RSFSR’s NKVD (its internal affairs ministry). In 1923 the GPU becomes the OGPU and is now independent of the NKVD. In 1934 the OGPU becomes the GUGB and is subsumed by the USSR’s new NKVD. In 1943 the GUGB becomes the NKGB, independent of USSR’s NKVD. In 1946 the NKGB becomes the MGB. In 1953 the MGB becomes the MVD. In 1954 the MVD becomes the KGB, and things remain as such until the dissolution of the USSR (Wikipedia).
Below is the consecutive leadership of each of these organizations, Jews indicated with blue:
Statistics regarding Jewish participation in the internal affairs of these organizations are far more scattered than those for the previous subjects. Regardless, a decent-enough understanding can be obtained. Much of the following relies on Krichevsky's "Jews in the apparatus of the Cheka-OGPU in the 20s,”11 digitally reproduced in parts one and two.
Under the notorious Cheka (1917–22) of the Pole, Felix Dzerzhinsky, only a slight Jewish presence is detected — along with a striking Latvian presence. In 1918, 4.3% of Cheka commissars (N = 70) were Jewish; 54.3%, however, were Latvian, a minority group comprising not 1% of the total. Jews comprised 8.6% of senior officials12 (N = 154) and 19.1% of investigators and deputy investigators (N = 42); Latvians 52.7% and 33.3%, respectively. Among the rank-and-file, or the approximately 50,000 members of the provincial Cheka offices, 9.1% were Jews, although this was naturally most pronounced in the former Pale of Settlement. Indeed Jewish representation was heterogeneous, and in this early period was highest among investigators. It's possible to find certain tasks or subdivisions which involved greater Jewish (or Polish, or Russian, etc.) participation, but on the whole Jews were not all that salient.
Budnitskii (2012, 108–109) enumerates the Cheka leadership:
From 1917 to 1920 the membership of the upper echelons of the Cheka varied. In its first year (the Cheka was founded on December 7 (20), 1917), the Cheka appointed by the Sovnarkom included F. E. Dzerzhinsky (chair), G. K. Ordzhonikidze, Ia. Kh. Peters, I. K. Ksenofontov, D. G. Evseev, K. A. Peterson, V. K. Averin, N. A. Zhidelev, V. A. Trifonov, and V. N. Vasilevskii. By the very next day, only Dzerzhinsky, Peters, Ksenofontov, and Eseev remained. They were joined by V. V. Fomin, S. E. Shchukin, N. I. Ilin, and S. Chernov. By January 8, 1918, the collegium included Dzerzhinsky, Peters, Ksenofontov, Fomin, Shchukin, and V. R. Menzhinskii. They were joined by the leftist SRs V. A. Aleksandrovich (deputy chair, though he was later replaced by G. D. Zaks, who had by then joined the Bolsheviks), V. D. Volkov, M. F. Emelianov, and P. F. Sidorov. After the elimination of the leftist SRs and their removal from positions of power, the membership roll included Peters (who ran the Cheka for a period until the investigation of the leftist SRs was completed), Dzerzhinsky, Peters, Fomin, I. N. Polukarov, V. V. Kamenshchikov, Ksenofontov, M. I. Latsis, A. Puzyrev, I. Iu. Pulianovskii, V. P. Ianushevskii, and Varvara Iakovleva, the sole woman to serve in the Collegium of the Cheka during the Civil War period. They were later joined by N. A. Skrypnik and M. S. Kedrov. In March 1919, a new collegium was announced, which included Dzerzhinsky, Peters, Ksenofontov, Fomin, Latsis, Kedrov, Avanesov, S. G. Uralov, A. V. Eiduk, F. D. Medved, N. A. Zhukov, G. S. Moroz, K. M. Valobuev, and I. D. Chugurin. By 1920 the collegium consisted of Dzerzhinsky, Ksenofontov, Latsis, N. I. Zimin, V. S. Kornev, Menzhinskii, Kedrov, Avanesov, S. A. Messing, Peters, Medved, V. N. Mantsev, and G. G. Yagoda. Thus, from 1918 to 1920, four Jews served in the highest governing body of the Cheka: Zaks, Messing, Moroz (who first headed the Instructional Section, and later headed the Investigation Section), and Yagoda, who would work in the Cheka from 1920 onwards. [Bold added]
In the rebranded OGPU of 1923, 15.7% of the leadership (N = 96) was Jewish. A greater proportion of Jews developed as the agency began to require education more extensively, Jews being a better-educated demographic: “14 out of 15 Jews in the leadership of the OGPU apparatus had a secondary and higher education (93%), among the Poles this figure was 8 out of 10 (80%), among Russians, 28 out of 54 (52%), among Latvians, 3 out of 12 (25%).”
Latvians (12.5%), while still more overrepresented than Jews, were on their way out of the organization as the fervor of the Civil War waned. In 1924, the Central Office (N = 2,402) was 8.49% Jewish and 8.66% Latvian. The district department heads in 1927 (N = 36) were 14.7% Jewish and 10.8% Latvian. In the same year, leading employees (N = 34) were endowed with “Orders of the Red Banner in connection with the 10th anniversary of the Cheka”; of this group, Jews were 23.5%, Latvians 8.8%. The Problem Gene’s research13 into the ethnic composition of the later (1929) OGPU leadership estimates that 22% was Jewish, 11% Latvian, and 5% Polish. Taken together, this suggests there was a gradual elevation of the Jewish proportion of Soviet secret police leaders to a high point at the very end of the OGPU, with Jews standing at an impressive 39% of high-level officials as shown below.
1934 is the year when the OGPU is replaced by the GUGB of the newly-created NKVD of the USSR. The Jewish Genrikh Yadoga remains at head until 1936, replaced by the Russo-Latvian Nikolai Yezhov. The high point of Jewish participation in the leadership of Soviet secret police occurs in the mid-1930s. When Yezhov takes over, he purges a great deal of Yagoda’s staff, and the proportion begins to fall. When the Georgian Lavrentiy Beria usurps him two years after that, the Jewish share plummets to just a couple percentage points; it never recovers. Petrov and Skorkin cover the purges of 1938–39 here, and note that many “foreign nationalities” — Jews, Latvians, Poles, Germans — take a hit, Georgians and Ukrainians being exceptions.
Bolshevism and the Jews
As noted in the introduction, the Judeo-Bolshevik conception holds that the Soviet Union, at least in its earlier half, was a vessel for Jewish sadism against and supremacy over non-Jews. It necessarily follows, then, that the state was committed to advancing specifically Jewish interests. There are certain ways in which this can be said to be true, i.e., in the Bolshevik opposition to the Tsardom and anti-Jewish pogroms. But what must be ignored to maintain Judeo-Bolshevism is all the ways in which Soviet policy contradicted Jewish collective interests. The following are a few such ways.
Of all national groups, Jews had the highest proportion of those classified lishentsy (“deprived”) standing at 23.6%–39.1% (Kimerling 1982, 44). Most lishenets were deemed exploiters of the workers — merchants, clergymen, those who earn income from capital rather than labor, many employers, prior Imperial officers, the mentally disabled. Once classified, you were unable to vote, be elected, receive higher education or training, obtain socialized health care or housing, etc., until you complete five years of industrial or agricultural labor. This classification applied until 1936.
While coming to respect other national ambitions, Bolshevism regarded Jews as an aberrant identity only kept in existence by the forces of capitalism; under the right conditions, it was expected to simply fall away. During the days of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, Lenin frequently clashed with the Jewish Bund as it began to demand increasing national autonomy for the Jewish proletariat. In his notes on the Jewish Question, he deals extensively with the Bundists, likening their demands to Southern segregation and self-imposed medieval ghettoization (p. 9); he sums up with “Whoever directly or otherwise puts forward the slogan of Jewish national culture (however well intentioned he may be) is the enemy of the proletariat, the defender of the old and caste element in Jewry, the tool of the rabbis and of the bourgeoisie” (p. 13). Stalin was even more blunt in Marxism and the National Question: “The question of national autonomy for the Russian Jews consequently assumes a somewhat curious character: autonomy is being proposed for a nation whose future is denied and whose existence has still to be proved!”
The USSR fiercely opposed Zionism as a counterrevolutionary force, and initially tasked the Yevsektsiya, the Jewish section of the CPSU, with crushing it, before eventually purging and disbanding the Yevsektisya itself. Pipes (1993, 366) relates: “In September 1919, the Evsektsii shut down the Zionist Central Office and the following year got the Cheka to arrest and exile numerous Zionists. In 1922, the campaign resumed with arrests and trials in Russian and Ukrainian cities. In September 1924, police raids resulted in the detention of several thousand Zionist activists.” The only break in Soviet anti-Zionism was a brief moment after WWII when the Soviet bloc voted to admit Israel into the UN and supply it with Czechoslovakian arms. These actions helped to remove British regional influence via a potential socialist ally; when it was clear Israel was instead leaning West, Soviet support vanished, and Stalin cut off all diplomatic ties. (Gyoo-hyoung 1998) The history of the Soviet-US Near Eastern proxy wars afterward is well-documented, and even saw Soviet troops fight directly with the Israelis in Operation Rimon 20 and the War of Attrition. In the post-Stalinist USSR, anti-Zionist imagery took on an obviously antisemitic look; see examples. Even during the period of warmer relations, however, the USSR steadfastly refused to let any of its Jews make aliyah contrary to their own desires, enforced Russification through mass arrests of Jewish leaders and closures of Yiddish schools, and staged notorious show trials like the Doctors’ Plot and the Slánský Trial.
The Soviets also fiercely opposed Jewish tradition life as reactionary. While Russian Orthodoxy was the main focus of the anti-religious campaigns for obvious reasons, contrary to the common portrayal, Judaism was not free from Soviet persecution in the slightest. The teaching of Hebrew, the language of Judaism and Zionist revivalism, was banned, rendering the training of rabbis officially impracticable. In 1921, all Jewish religious schools were closed. Later on, the preeminent Lubavitch Rebbe Yosef Schneersohn was expelled during a wave of synagogue closures. (See YIVO for more info.)
Wilton and the Whites
If you’ve been paying attention so far you’ll have noticed a significant disparity between narrative and reality when it comes to the theory of Judeo-Bolshevism. The prevalence of absurd falsehoods and inflated statistics by itself should raise red flags. What, then, accounts for all the disinformation on this subject?
Well, when one diligently traces these things back to their source, a striking amount of the residual propaganda is found to go back to one man: contemporary journalist Robert Wilton. The following provides a compilation of Wilton’s allegations — possibly familiar to you in one form or another — taken from IHR director Mark Weber in his reprinting of Wilton’s The Last Days of the Romanovs. Amusingly enough, Wilton supplies them in “order not to leave myself open to any accusation of prejudice.”
In an article on Wilton, Weber describes his book as “one of the most accurate and complete accounts of the murder of Russia’s imperial family.” He even adds an annotated citation:
On Wilton and his career in Russia, see: Phillip Knightley, The First Casualty (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976), pp. 141-142, 144-146, 151-152, 159, 162, 169, and, Anthony Summers and Tom Mangold, The File on the Tsar (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), pp. 102-104, 176.
Summers and Mangold (108–109) show agreement with Knightley’s work when they write the following:
This was Robert Wilton of The Times. In 1917, as correspondent in St Petersburg, he had incurred the wrath of both the local and foreign press corps. They had protested formally about his reactionary bias, and his personal involvement with tsarist officials. He then returned to England before the Bolshevik revolution, but went back to Russia in late 1918 with a group of White Russians travelling to Siberia. . . .
Wilton was deeply involved with White Russian politics, and wrote before leaving for Siberia: “I am in touch with a certain Russian organization … and thanks to this fact I would enjoy exclusive channels of information.” While he clashed with the British command, Wilton openly leaped on the White Russian bandwagon, becoming a de facto assistant to none other than General Diterikhs. . . .
Wilton quickly became a vociferous supporter of the Ipatiev House assassination story, long before the enquiry was over. His journalistic objectivity is best summed up in a well authenticated conversation he had with Commandant Joseph Lasies, a deputy in the French parliament who travelled to Siberia with the French Military Mission. . . . On 18 May 1919, the two men had a heated argument on Ekaterinburg station, during which Lasies expressed scepticism over the fact that no corpses had been found. Wilton appeared nonplussed, went away for a while and then returned to explain that all the bodies really had been destroyed—with fire and acid. Lasies remained unconvinced but Wilton became even more impatient and amazed his listeners by proclaiming: “Commandant Lasies, even if the Tsar and the imperial family are alive, it is necessary to say that they are dead!” The discussion ended rancorously, with Wilton promising that he, at any rate, was going to make quite sure that the world believed in the assassination story, by publishing articles about it in his newspaper, The Times. He was as good as his word. In 1920 the paper published a long series of articles on the massacre at the Ipatiev House—articles studded throughout with virulent anti-Bolshevik and anti-semitic comments in a style of subjective reporting that would never get into print today. In his definitive book on war reporting, Phillip Knightley of the Sunday Times writes of Wilton: “. . . he compromised any claim to objective reporting by joining the staff of one of the White Russian generals . . . it is clear that his part in the intervention on behalf of various White Russian elements made his value as a war correspondent virtually nil.” But in 1920 Wilton’s articles on the Romanov massacre, had the full authority of Printing House Square, and carried considerable weight. The articles, and the later book based on them were major factors in establishing the orthodox assassination version in Britain.
Quite the scathing review.
Wilton, like many of the era’s antisemitic propagandists, was intimately connected to the Bolsheviks’ ardent opponents, the force heavily responsible for the unprecedented destruction of Ukrainian Jewry. I now realize the exact extent of the White Army’s (and broader movement’s) influence in spawning, shaping, and disseminating the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism is hopelessly too intricate a topic to cover concisely in one section of a Substack post, but rest assured that it was profound and far-reaching. It was apparently thought effective to cast the adversary not as ideologically perverse but as just the latest disguise of that archetypal enemy all too familiar to the Slavic peasantry — albeit ultimately not effective enough. For more on the matter, consult Budnitsky’s Russian Jews between the Reds and the Whites, 1917–1920, particularly chapter five. For some trivial notes on the role of White émigrés in the mythology of Stalin, see my post about Rosa Kaganovich.
This is not to say that conspiratorial conceptions of Jewish leftism were wholly the result of a devious propaganda campaign, although that’s part of it. There was already a well founded association between Jews and the Left, and in the context of the Russian Empire which had previously excluded Jews from political office, this was all the more salient. This will be a subject for further scrutiny in another article.
The Bolshevik takeover in Russia saw an influx of the empire’s minorities, largely from intellectual backgrounds and the professions, into positions of leadership. Riga’s (2008) analysis found that two-thirds of the early Bolshevik elite belonged to an ethnic minority background. Of the ethnic groups, Jews were usually not the most numerous nor even the most overrepresented, but nonetheless were enough of each to make a considerable impact on the revolution and early institutions of Soviet power. Jewish representation was significantly more pronounced in the Communist Party leadership than among the commissars of the Russian and Soviet governments, but even that died out by the mid-1920s and never recovered. By the time Nazi partisans were advertising Judeo-Bolshevism the hardest, Jewish participation was far from dominant; and after Stalin, Jews were kept a nonentity among Soviet elites. Oddly enough, the positions most commonly associated with Jews — namely commissars and Chekists — saw the lowest level of Jewish representation in the early period.
Compilation of the members of the Bolshevik and RSDLP Central Committee, Politburo, Orgburo, Committee for Party Control, Central Inspection Commission, Commission for Soviet Control, and Central Control Commission, along with their ethnic backgrounds: http://holocaust.skeptik.net/misc/party.htm (https://archive.is/RIG8s)
All Politburo members over time: Lists of members of the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union - Wikipedia
An additional collection of links for the members of the sessions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party: The Central Committee of the CPSU
A Russian collection of the members of all the official bodies of the Communist Party and Soviet government, save the Council of People’s Commissars (says it’s under construction): knowbysight.info
A Russian collection of all the members of the Council of People’s Commissars over time, though compiled for each separate commissariat, as well as related bodies and organizations: http://2snk.site/
A list of the personal composition of all the governments of the RSFSR, in English (archived): elisanet.fi
A Russian collection of all the leaders of high-ranking bodies of power in the RSFSR, USSR, and Communist Party, though lacking their full personal composition: http://www.praviteli.org/records/
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I used multiple sources to corroborate information. The Skeptik.net list gave basic ethnic information, but was incomplete. There were many members listed without an ethnic identifier (71 of the 125 given for the XIX Congress, for example), so I had to search around the Web to find those whom I could confidently identify as Jewish or non-Jewish, which was a good majority.
Lenin’s maternal grandfather was most likely Jewish, a fact first discovered by his sister after his death, and thus unknown to Lenin during his life. Interestingly, this theory also posits that Lenin’s great-grandfather, a Christian convert who had his son baptized, had written a letter to Tsar Nicholas I requesting greater restrictions on the Empire’s Jews.
The book also clarifies important things about the nature of the early Politburo. The year 1919 marks the point where the “history begins” for the institution. Before then, inner circles of the Central Committee had been set up since 1908, but have “not always been recognized as the precursor to the all-powerful Politburo” (9). The first nominal convocation of October, 1917, for example, never formally convened past when it was assembled on the recommendation of Felix Dzerzhinsky, and there’s “no evidence that the Bureau worked during the Bolshevik seizure of power two weeks after its establishment” (8).
Mawdsley’s findings are also included in a 2000 book he cowrote: The Soviet Elite from Lenin to Gorbachev.
Mawdsley (N = 78) restricts his analysis up to April of 1923, intentionally excluding “an enlarged Central Committee was elected at the 12th party congress in that month.” It appears Riga (N = 93) includes the full year 1923.
See Mawdsley’s book mentioned in note 5: p. 109, footnote 42.
Benjamin Pinkus surveys Jewish involvement in Soviet institutions on pages 76–83 of his 1988 book The Jews of the Soviet Union.
This source is a standard for investigations into this topic, being used in works like The Jewish Century and Russian Jews between the Reds and the Whites. The reproduction is in the Russian original, so make good use of a browser translate extension if need be. Most of the relevant statistics are taken from the included charts.
Defined as “heads and secretaries of departments, commissioners, investigators and their deputies, instructors, etc.”
Definitions are important: “In the study, we took into account the people's commissars of internal affairs of the USSR and their deputies, heads of departments and departments of the central apparatus of the NKVD, people's commissars of internal affairs of all union and autonomous republics (the exception was the Nakhichevan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic), heads of the UNKVD of the territories and regions that were part of the RSFSR, the Ukrainian SSR, the Byelorussian SSR and the Kazakh SSR. The heads of the NKVD of those autonomous regions of the RSFSR that did not change their administrative status during the period under review, as well as the heads of the NKVD of the regions within the Kirghiz, Tajik, Turkmen and Uzbek SSRs, were not taken into account. At the same time, the heads of the NKVD of those autonomous regions of the RSFSR whose status has been upgraded to autonomous republics have been taken into account by us. The total number of leaders of the NKVD from July 1934 to February 1941 was constantly growing as a result of the formation of new administrative-territorial units, as well as changes in the structure of the central apparatus of the NKVD, the emergence of new departments and departments. The number of employees of the NKVD of the considered level almost doubled - from 96 to 182. Especially intensive growth was observed in 1938–1939, which was primarily due to the expansion of the structure of the central apparatus of the NKVD.”