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Jews in the Soviet Union

Jewish Life Between the Wars, cont.


Before setting off...



Poster calling upon...



Rolling logs...



Collective farmers...



The directorate of...



The Synagogue of Minsk...



Graduates and teachers...


The economic life of the shtetl lies in ruins after the successive disasters of the First World War, the Civil War and the years of "War Communism." The New Economic Policy of 1921 brings some relief as farmers and artisans are once more allowed to trade their own products, but this policy is reversed with the introduction of the first Five Year Plan in 1928.

The following rapid industrialization and collectivization completely destroy the socio-economic fabric of shtetl life. Traditional Jewish occupations like shopkeepers, artisans and traders disappear, and tens of thousands of Jews have to leave their homes to work in the new industries.

Because of their relatively high level of education, many Jews find employment in government services or work as doctors, engineers, managers, accountants etc. In order to promote agricultural work among Jews, and to offer a Soviet alternative to Zionism, the government establishes a Jewish Autonomous Region in the far-eastern region of Birobidzhan.

But the plan is a failure. The climate is extremely harsh, and the region is too far from the major centers of Jewish life. The Jewish population of Birobidzhan reaches its peak with 24 percent in 1937.

The massive migration of Jews out of Belorussia and the Ukraine, and the radical change in their occupational structure, result in a rapid assimilation into Soviet society. Yiddish is more and more replaced by Russian, and the number of mixed marriages rises to almost a third in the 1930s. In the lifetime of one generation, the Russian Jewish community has undergone fundamental change.



Poster...



Group of students...


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