Russia is

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ERIC HEINZE

to meet these new teenage in­mates in their camps in the 1930s.

Boris Gins­burg was one of the many face­less Jews who strug­gled to reach the Yishuv and per­ished. In this year of an­niver­saries, we should also re­mem­ber them. As the Baal Shem Tov com­mented, “For­get­ful­ness leads to ex­ile while re­mem­brance is the se­cret of re­demp­tion.”

This ar­ti­cle is based on a talk given by Colin Shindler to Lim­mud FSU

Coura­geous: Gins­burg

NAZISM IN­FLICTED his­tory’s most hor­ren­dous crimes against Jews. But Germany has by no means been his­tory’s top pur­veyor of global an­tisemitism.

That dis­tinc­tion goes to Russia, which spread an­tisemitism more widely and durably.

Ger­man and Rus­sian strands can­not, of course, be tidily sep­a­rated. Nazi rhetoric of Jewish fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­trol and of Jewish blood­lust had roots through­out Europe. It re­ceived a mighty boost, how­ever, through the Pro­to­cols of the El­ders of Zion, a forgery at­trib­uted to the Tsarist se­cret po­lice.

We can­not com­pare Rus­sian and Ger­man pat­terns of an­tisemitism in quan­ti­ta­tive terms with­out first not­ing their qual­i­ta­tive dif­fer­ences. For Nazism, Europe needed an on­to­log­i­cal cleans­ing: not a sin­gle Jew was to re­main. Russia, too, has known that kind of “pure­blood”, na­tion­al­ist an­tisemitism. But it never shaped of­fi­cial pol­icy.

Russia’s state-di­rected an­tisemitism has his­tor­i­cally taken more tar­geted, strate­gic forms — less fren­zied na­tion­al­ism than old-style im­pe­ri­al­ism. It has eas­ily co­ex­isted with Rus­sian Jews hold­ing po­si­tions of po­lit­i­cal or cul­tural promi­nence. And it has gone through phases: Sovi­ets con­demned Tsarist pogroms be­fore turn­ing an­tisemitism into a tool of their own.

The two types of an­tisemitism also dif­fer over time. The Nazis achieved un­par­al­leled depth with shock­ing speed. The Krem­lin’s more cal­cu­lated ma­noeu­vres, by con­trast, have spanned far greater geo­graph­i­cal breadth, and over a longer pe­riod.

Af­ter the war, West Germany steadily ac­knowl­edged Nazi atroc­i­ties by pro­mot­ing pub­lic education and in­de­pen­dent en­quiry.

Seeds of open scrutiny had sprouted in the East as well. By the early 1950s, how­ever, the new Is­raeli state, first seen as a po­ten­tial Krem­lin ally, sud­denly posed prob­lems. Jews would want to leave Soviet-ruled lands in which they had faced his­tor­i­cal dis­crim­i­na­tion. Any such mass em­i­gra­tion, how­ever, would con­firm Soviet rule as re­pres­sive. It also risked in­cit­ing break­away move­ments among over 100 other eth­nic­i­ties liv­ing un­der the dic­ta­tor­ship. The last thing the Sovi­ets needed was sym­pa­thy for Jews.

The Holo­caust was cer­tainly never de­nied. What was crushed was any dis­cus­sion of it as an­tisemitism — or in­deed any open ex­am­i­na­tion of his­tor­i­cal an­tisemitism. A com­pul­sory si­lence about an­tisemitism, en­com­pass­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple over a stun­ning land­mass, per­sisted over decades. Few in the east, out­side lib­eral elites, had ever con­fronted their na­tions’ an­tisemitic pasts, let alone their gov­ern­ments’ and


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