Survivors Step Up

The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants (holy crap that’s a mouthful) has just launched a blog as part of their growing effort to organize Holocaust survivors and their children and grandchildren. Their hope is to help build a survivor network in order to combat fascism, genocide, and other pertinent issues, and to bring attention to the misuse of Holocaust reparation funds which few survivors in need are benefitting from. The site launched on the anniversary of Kristallnacht yesterday, emerging like a big middle finger pointed towards ol’ Adolph, wherever his wretched remains may lie. Am Yisrael chai beyotch. Check it out at AmericanGathering.com.
Full disclosure: My mom is the editor and I built the site.

8 thoughts on “Survivors Step Up

  1. Please excuse the length of this post, but i believe it necessary considering the short shrift I got from one “mobius” when I pointed out the irony of Jews pushing group guilt onto people of European descent for the German holocaust while they deny the role of Jews in the much greater Soviet holocaust against White Russia. If you are unfamiliar with this sordid history, may I refer you to “The Jewish Century” by Yuri Slekine. If that is too taxing, feel free to read the following paraphrase of professor Kevin MacDonald’s review:
    “UC Berkeley professor Yuri Slezkine’s recent book “The Jewish Century” (which garnered rave reviews all around) sets the historical record straight on the importance of Jews in the Bolshevik Revolution and its aftermath. He summarizes previously available data and extends our understanding of the Jewish role in revolutionary movements before 1917 and of Soviet society thereafter. His book provides a fascinating chronicle of the Jewish rise to elite status in all areas of Soviet society—culture, the universities, professional occupations, the media, and government. Indeed, the book is also probably the best, most up-to-date account of Jewish economic and cultural pre-eminence in Europe (and America) that we have.
    The once-common view that the Bolshevik Revolution was a Jewish revolution and that the Soviet Union was initially dominated by Jews has now been largely eliminated from modern academic historiography. The current view, accepted by almost all contemporary historians, is that Jews played no special role in Bolshevism and indeed, were uniquely victimized by it. Slezkine sets the record straight, showing that the original view was the correct one.
    After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia, millions of Jews left the shtetl towns of the Pale of Settlement, migrating to Moscow and the other cities to man elite positions in the Soviet totalitarian state.
    Jewish populations in Eastern Europe had the highest rate of natural increase of any European population in the nineteenth century. The grinding poverty that this produced caused an upsurge of fundamentalist extremism that coalesced in the Hasidic movement and, later in the nineteenth century, into political radicalism and Zionism as solutions to Jewish problems.
    Slezkine shows that the traditional pattern of Jewish economic aggression effectively continued in Russia after the Revolution: Jews became part of a new exploitative elite. But here boundaries between Jews and non-Jews were unusually blurred—in traditional societies, barriers between Jews and non-Jews at all social levels were always high.
    Slezkine supposes that Jews performed economic tasks deemed inappropriate for the natives for religious reasons. But this is only part of the story. Often these were situations where the natives were simply comparatively less ruthless in exploiting their fellows, which put them at a competitive disadvantage. This was especially the case in Eastern Europe, where conducive economic arrangements, such as tax farming, estate management, and monopolies on retail liquor distribution, lasted far longer than in the West.
    Although in the decades immediately before the Russian Revolution Jews had already made enormous advances in social and economic status, a major contribution of Slezkine’s book is to document that Communism was, indeed, “good for the Jews.” After the Revolution, there was active elimination of any remnants of the older order and their descendants. Anti-Semitism was outlawed.  Jews benefited from “antibourgeois” quotas in educational institutions and other forms of discrimination against the middle class and aristocratic elements of the old regime, which could have competed with the Jews. While all other nationalities, including Jews, were allowed and encouraged to keep their ethnic identities, the revolution maintained an anti-majoritarian attitude. (Some might argue that the parallel with post ’65 Civil Rights Act America)
    Beyond the issue of demonstrating that the Jews benefited from the Revolution lies the more important question of their role in implementing it. Having achieved power and elite status, did their traditional hostility to the leaders of the old regime, and to the peasantry, contribute to the peculiarly ghastly character of the early Soviet era?
    On this question, Slezkine’s contribution is a decisive yes.
    Despite the important role of mostly foreign Jews among the Bolsheviks, most Jews in Russia were not Bolsheviks before the Revolution. However, once the Revolution was underway, the vast majority of Russian Jews became sympathizers and active participants in the pograms that eliminated the former White Russian intelligentia and elte. .
    Jews were particularly visible in the cities and as leaders in the army and in the revolutionary councils and committees. For example, there were 23 Jews among 62 Bolsheviks in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee elected at the Second Congress of Soviets in October, 1917. Jews were leaders of the movement and to a great extent they were its public face.
    Their presence was particularly notable at the top levels of the Cheka and OGPU (two successive acronyms for the secret police). Here Slezkine provides statistics on Jewish overrepresentation in these organizations, especially in supervisory roles, and quotes historian Leonard Shapiro’s comment that “anyone who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the Cheka stood a very good chance of finding himself confronted with and possibly shot by a Jewish investigator.”
    During the 1930s, Slezkine reports, the secret police, now known as the NKVD, “was one of the most Jewish of all Soviet institutions”, with 42 of the 111 top officials being Jewish. At this time 12 of the 20 NKVD directorates were headed by ethnic Jews, including those in charge of State Security, Police, Labor Camps, and Resettlement (deportation).
    The Gulag was headed by ethnic Jews from its beginning in 1930 until the end of 1938, a period that encompasses the worst excesses of the Great Terror.
    They were, in Slezkine’s remarkable phrase, “Stalin’s willing executioners”.
    Lev Kopelev, a Jewish writer who witnessed and rationalized the Ukrainian famine in which millions died horrible deaths of starvation and disease as an “historical necessity” is quoted saying “You mustn’t give in to debilitating pity. We are the agents of historical necessity. We are fulfilling our revolutionary duty.”
    On the next page, Slezkine describes the life of the largely Jewish elite in Moscow and Leningrad where they attended the theater, sent their children to the best schools, had peasant women (whose families were often the victims of mass murder) for nannies, spent weekends at pleasant dachas and vacationed at the Black Sea.
    Again, Slezkine discusses the heavily Jewish NKVD and the Jewish leadership of the Great Terror of the 1930s. Then, he writes that in 1937 the prototypical Jewish State official  “probably would have been living in elite housing in downtown Moscow . . . with access to special stores, a house in the country (dacha), and a live-in peasant nanny or maid”. He writes long and lovingly detailed sketches of life at the dachas of the elite—the “open verandas overlooking small gardens enclosed by picket fences…”  
    The reader is left on his own to recall the horrors of the Ukrainian famine, the liquidation of the Kulaks, and the Gulag.
    Slezkine attempts to dodge the issue of the degree to which the horrors perpetrated by the early Soviet state were rooted in the traditional attitudes of the Jews who in fact played such an extensive role in their orchestration. He argues that the Jewish Communists were Communists, not Jews.
    This does not survive factual analysis.
    One might grant the possibility that the revolutionary vanguard was composed of Jews like Trotsky, apparently far more influenced by a universalist utopian vision than by their upbringing in traditional Judaism.  But, even granting this, it does not necessarily follow for the millions of Jews who left the shtetl towns, migrated to the cities, and to such a large extent ran the USSR.
    It strains credulity to suppose that these migrants completely and immediately threw off all remnants of the Eastern European shtetl culture—which, as Slezkine acknowledges, had a deep sense of estrangement from non-Jewish society, a fear and hatred of peasants, hostility toward the Czarist upper class, and a very negative attitude toward Christianity.
    In other words, the war against what Slezkine terms “rural backwardness and religion” — major targets of the Revolution — was exactly the sort of war that traditional Jews would have supported wholeheartedly, because it was a war against everything they hated and thought of as oppressing Jews.  
    However, while Slezkine seems comfortable with the notion of revenge as a Jewish motive, he does not consider traditional Jewish culture itself as a possible contributor to Jewish behavior in the new Communist state.
    Moreover, while it was generally true that Jewish servants of the Soviet regime had ceased being religious Jews, this did not mean they ceased having a Jewish identity.
    In the early decades of the Soviet Union, the ruling class was so heavily a  Jewish milieu, that there was no need to renounce a Jewish identity and no need to aggressively push for Jewish interests. Jews had achieved elite status.
    But ethnic networking continued nonetheless. Indeed, Slezkine reports that when a leading Soviet spokesmen on anti-Semitism, Yuri Larin (Lurie), tried to explain the embarrassing fact that Jews were, as he said, “preeminent, overabundant, dominant, and so on” among the elite in the Soviet Union, he mentioned the “unusually strong sense of solidarity and a predisposition toward mutual help and support”—ethnic networking by any other name.
    Obviously, “mutual help and support” required that Jews recognize each other as Jews. Jewish identity may not have been much discussed. But it operated nonetheless, even if subconsciously, in the rarified circles at the top of Soviet society.
    Things changed.  Slezkine shows that the apparent de-emphasis of Jewish identity by many members of the Soviet elite during the 1920s and 1930s turned out to be a poor indicator of whether or not these people identified as Jews—or would do so when Jewish and Soviet identities began to diverge in later years: when National Socialism reemphasized Jewish identity, and when Israel emerged as a magnet for Jewish sentiment and loyalty.
    In the end, despite the rationalizations of many Soviet Jews on Jewish identity in the early Soviet period, it was blood that mattered.
    After World War II, in a process which remains somewhat obscure, the Russian majority began taking back their country. One method was “massive affirmative action” aimed at giving greater representation to underrepresented ethnic groups. Jews became targets of suspicion because of their ethnic status. They were barred from some elite institutions, and had their opportunities for advancement limited. Overt anti-Semitism was encouraged by the more covert official variety apparent in the limits on Jewish advancement.
    Under these circumstances, Slezkine says that Jews became “in many ways, the core of the antiregime intelligentsia”. Applications to leave the USSR increased dramatically after Israel’s Six-Day War of 1967 which, as in the United States and Eastern Europe, resulted in an upsurge of Jewish identification and ethnic pride. The floodgates were eventually opened by Gorbachev in the late 1980s. By 1994, 1.2 million Soviet Jews had emigrated—43% of the total. By 2002, there were only 230,000 Jews remaining in the Russian Federation, 0.16% of the population.
    Nevertheless these remaining Jews remain overrepresented among the elite. Six of the seven mafia oligarchs who emerged in control of the Soviet economy and media in the period of de-nationalization of the 1990s were Jews.
    Slezkine’s caricature of American history is close to preposterous. He sees the United States as a Jewish promised land precisely because it is not defined tribally and “has no state-bearing natives”. In fact, of course, the Founding Fathers very explicitly saw themselves as Englishmen defending a specific political tradition. When the Founding Fathers’ descendents percieve that tradition under threat, they reacted powerfully and decisively, with the Know-Nothing movement in the 1850s and the Immigration Restriction (and associated  “Americanization” requirements)
    in the early 20th Century Slezkine’s acceptance of the “Proposition Nation” myth reflects the triumph of intellectuals and  propagandists, many of them Jewish, led by Horace Kallen in the 1920s. These succesfully replaced the previously standard view by which many Americans knew themselves to be members of a very successful ethnic group derived from Great Britain and with strong cultural and ethnic connections to Europe, particularly Northern Europe.
    If there is any lesson to be learned, it is that Jews not only became an elite in all these areas, they became a hostile elite—hostile to the traditional people and cultures of all three areas they came to dominate.
    So far, the greatest human tragedies have occurred in the Soviet Union. But the presence of Israel in the Middle East is creating obvious dangers there. And alienation remains a potent motive for the disproportionate Jewish involvement in the transformation of the U.S. into a non-European society through non-traditional immigration.”

  2. Long ago, when I was still in High School, I was studying philosophy with a teacher. I expressed myself regarding some issue of class warfare or something along those lines and my teacher broke into a wide grin and proclaimed “Why, you’re a bolshevik!”
    And I was proud

  3. T, I found your post entertaining… I find you much less annoying than the people who run this blog… By spreading your anti-semitic propaganda you are doing much less damage to the Jewish people than the self-righteous Jews who parrot their enemies’ propaganda. Having said that, let me toy with you a bit…
    You say:
    “I pointed out the irony of Jews pushing group guilt onto people of European descent for the German holocaust while they deny the role of Jews in the much greater Soviet holocaust against White Russia”
    You have yet to make the case that the Jews are “pushing group guilt onto people of European descent”. I am a Ukrainian Jew, my people have lived in Europe for at least a 1000 years and I consider myself to be of European descent (though originally my people came from the Middle East). I surely don’t blame myself for the Holocaust, nor do I blame anyone who is not a part of the Nazi regime. I am not sure what makes you think that Jews are blaming anyone other than the people responsible, but you sure seem to be bent on pushing “group guilt” on the Jews as a collective. Also, I am not sure what makes you think that what happened in the Soviet Union was much greater than the Holocaust. I have heard ridiculous numbers ranging from 50 to 120 million who died during Stalin’s reign. That would have been an imposible feat for the bolshevics to accomplish in a country comprised of only 180 million people. The realistic number I have heard is 3 million, based on a census figures.
    What exactly is White Russia? Are you talking about Belarus? Belarus means “White Russia” in Slavic languages. The Soviet Union was comprised of 15 separate republics, and Russia was only one of them. Or maybe you are somehow implying that Jews who are not white people according to your definition somehow perpetrated a “holocaust” against the white Russians? I have debated neo-nazis on the internet for years and I have yet to meet one who can come up with a coherent definition of a white race. Are you sure you put the ethnic Russians in the white category? Afterall, they may not be so white: http://tinyurl.com/bq4r5. You never know, you might have a bit of a mongol in yourself  Also, what about the Ukrainians, Belarussians, Poles, Kazakhs, and yes, Jews who died in Stalin’s camps? And they were indeed Stalin’s camps. He was the head of State, don’t you think he had SOMETHING to do with what was going on? Stalin wasn’t Jewish by any stretch of imagination.
    I am not going to go into all the mindless gibberish coming from Kevin McDonald because I have already wasted too much time on you. Afterall, the whole essay would take hours of work to debunk, hours that I would surely find a much better use for. However, let me ask you this, if you truly believe that the Jews are solely responsible for the Russian revolution, then shouldn’t we as a group get credit for its positive outcomes as well as its negative outcomes? Afterall, the Gulags, the Ukrainian famine and other horrible things that happened in the USSR were not the only outcomes. After the revolution the USSR became a major superpower, a superpower that once rivaled the United States. As the result of programs promoted by the communist government the rate of literacy in the USSR was close to 100%. The USSR became a major industrial power. The USSR was the first to launch an artificial satellite, and the first to launch man into space. The USSR also almost single-handedly defeated Nazi Germany. There are many more major accomplishments in pretty much all fields of science. Now, don’t we as Jews get credit for that? 
    I want to make it clear, that I am not trying to justify the atrocities that were perpetrated by Stalin or his suboridinates whether they were Jewish or not. However, blaming them entirely on the Jews as a collective is one of the most ridiculous slanders that the anti-semites have come up with.

  4. This is a general comment and it’s not addressed to T.
    Speaking of the Soviet Union, and the persecution of Jews, one is reminded of the Yevsektzia (The Jewish Section). The Yevsektzia was the Jewish branch of the communist party that was responsible for spying on their fellow Jews, especially the religious Jews. I can’t help but find a parallel between the Yevsektzia and the modern day “human rights activists” such as B’Tzelem, Machsom Watch and the Rabbis for Human rights. Both the Yevsektzia and the “human rights activists” had lofty ideals. In the case of the former it was Communism, and in the case of the latter it’s “Humanism”. Both faithfully served their bosses, the communist party officials and the “international community”. And both would stop at nothing to please their respective bosses. However, the Jewish people is eternal. The obsession the “humanists” have with chastising Israel will be looked upon by the future generations of Jews with the same contempt and disgust we look upon the Yevsektia today.

  5. what a cop out, mobius.
    i site up-to-date academic work from a jew-friendly professor at UC berkeley in support of my assertion that jewish people played a disproportionate role in the bloody Bolshevik revolution and its bloody aftermath (something you denied), and all you can do is say “nazi”. you lost this debate and now you’re too cowardly to own up to it so you call names. not very impressive.

  6. Sheikh Yahudi,
    What specifically was “anti-semitic propaganda” in my post? I am semitic myself and have nothing against semites.
    I don’t think you read my post very carefully or you would have noticed the evidence was not mine but was from Yuri Slezkine, a jew-friendly UC Berkeley professor whose recent book “The Jewish Century” got rave reviews from the NY Times, Washington Post etc., hardly bastions of neo-Nazi propaganda.If anything, the book is excessively Judeophilic.
    Was there anything factually incorrect in professor Slezkine’s work as cited in my post? You didn’t point out any factual errors, so I consider the facts in the post to be so far unchallenged. I didn’t cite any numbers but your 3 million is way too low if we are talking about the current academic consensus which is in the tens of millions. See “The Black Book of Communism”. Numbers as low a 3 million are only cited in
    leftist agit-prop apologia.
    You are correct that collective guilt is a stupid idea, which is why jews should drop it.
    As far as neo-Nazis. I don’t know any (my family lost members fighting Nazi’s and so I can only laugh at idiots like mobius that call me one) and it sounds like you have much more experience with them than I do.
    When I refer to white Russians i’m distinguishing native Russians from the New York jews that popped into Russia via Sweden with jewish financing courtesy of Jacob Schiff (historical fact and well documented) to foment a revolution to overthrow the Czar. Those New York jews were not Russians.
    If you are questioning the reality of race, you are probably unfamiliar with the work of Stanford’s LL Cavalli-Sforza, the world’s leading expert on population genetics. A good intro to the subject for you might be “Race: The Reality of Human Differences” by Vincent Sarich, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.
    No, Stalin wasn’t jewish. Trotsky was, and the original plan was for Trotsky to take power on Lenin’s death, but that plan went amiss. Of course the financing was jewish, and the ideology behind it was jewish, (Karl Marx was jewish) and the disproportionate numbers of jews enforcing the terror before Stalin came to power is all addressed in “The Jewish Century” which takes pride in the jewish role in creating the Soviet Union.
    As far as the positive outcomes you mention, I am happy to give credit whereever credit is due, and the Russians (and jews) have produced some fine scientists. The Soviet Union’s economic “accomplishments” however, are negligible. The Soviet Union’s economic might to the extent that it wasn’t an illusion, was based on an extremely aggressive but hugely inefficient and unsustainable marshalling of its natural factor endowments which left the country an environmental disaster and economic basketcase when the rate of input inevitably declined. It was one of the most inefficient (wasteful) economies of the twentieth century.
    Since you are not trying to excuse Soviet atrocities (just minimize their scale), and are honest enough to acknowledge that jewish people had a hand in them you seem fairly candid.
    Of course I’m not trying to hang collective guilt on all jewish people for this. I am trying to counteract the ahistorical stereotype that jews are only sinned against rather than sinners.
    Over 100 million people were murdered by their governments in the last century. That those governments were using jewish ideas to justify their mass murders is something jewish people should probably reflect on a bit more instead of spending more time contemplating their righteous victimhood.

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