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Jews in the Soviet Union: 1941 to present

The Campaign against "Cosmopolitans" and the "Doctor's Plot"


No one was safe...



The final scene of "Tevye the Milkman"...



The gravestone of Solomon Mikhoels...



The Czech Jewish party
leader Rudolf Slansky...



Part of the announcement...



"Evidence of a crime"...



Decree of the USSR...


THE YEARS FOLLOWING THE VICTORY over Nazi Germany are marked by a wave of Russian nationalism and the anti-Western campaigns of the emerging Cold War. Soviet policy makers, and Stalin in particular, harbor a growing suspicion about the loyalty of Soviet Jews, many of whom have relatives in the United States, now the enemy.

The mysterious murder of Solomon Mikhoels in Minsk on January 13, 1948, is an ominous sign. The same year, an increasing number of articles in the press accuse so-called "rootless cosmopolitans" of "demolishing national pride," "harboring anti-patriotic views" and "fawning on the West." More and more the attacks take on an anti-Jewish character, as most of the attacked bear distinctly Jewish names, often given in brackets next to their Russified names.

From November 1948 onward, the Soviet authorities start a deliberate campaign to liquidate what is left of Jewish culture. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee is dissolved, its members arrested. Jewish literature is removed from bookshops and libraries, and the last two Jewish schools are closed. Jewish theaters, choirs and drama groups, amateur as well as professional, are dissolved. Hundreds of Jewish authors, artists, actors and journalists are arrested. During the same period, Jews are systematically dismissed from leading positions in many sectors of society, from the administration, the army, the press, the universities and the legal system. Twenty-five of the leading Jewish writers arrested in 1948 are secretly executed in Lubianka prison in August 1952.

The anti-Jewish campaign culminates in the arrest, announced on January 13, 1953, of a group of "Saboteurs-Doctors" accused of being paid agents of Jewish-Zionists organizations" and of planning to poison Soviet leaders. Fears spread in the Jewish community that these arrests and the show trial that is bound to follow will serve as a pretext for the deportation of Jews to Siberia. But on March 5, 1953, Stalin unexpectedly dies. The "Doctor's Plot " is exposed as a fraud, the accused are released, and deportation plans, already discussed in the Politburo, are dropped.


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