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California on the Crimea
In 1943 a world-famous actor of the Moscow Yiddish State Art Theater, Solomon Mikhoels, together with well-known poet Itzik Feffer, toured the United States on behalf of the Jewish Antifascist Committee. Before their departure, KGB Chief Lavrenti Beria instructed Mikhoels and Feffer to emphasize the great contribution of Jews to science and culture in the Soviet Union. Their assignment was to raise money and convince American public opinion that Soviet anti-Semitism had been crushed as a result of Joseph Stalin's policies.
In 1944 and the first half of 1945, Stalin's strategic motivation was to use the Jewish issue as a bargaining chip to bring in international investment to rebuild the war-torn Soviet Union and to influence the postwar realignment of power in the Middle East. Stalin planned to use Jewish aspirations for a homeland to attract Western credits.
Intentions to form a Jewish republic actually existed, based on a letter addressed to Stalin from the Jewish Antifascist Committee. Part of the letter, published for the first time in 1993, stated:
The creation of a Jewish Soviet republic will once and forever, in a Bolshevik manner, within the spirit of Leninist-Stalinist national policy, settle the problem of the state legal position of the Jewish people and further development of their multicentury culture. This is a problem that no one has been capable of settling in the course of many centuries. It can be solved only in our great socialist country.
The letter, whose existence is officially admitted in the journals of the Communist party, is still not declassified. Kheifetz said the letter was a proposal with details for a plan to make the Crimean Socialist Republic a homeland for Jewish people from all over the world.
Coordination and execution of Stalin's plans to lure foreign investors was entrusted to Kheifetz. The Soviet plan was for him to lay the groundwork for American investment in the metal and coal mining industries in the Soviet Union. It was rumored that Mikhoels might be offered the post of chairman of the Supreme Soviet in the proposed new republic. Apart from Molotov, Lozovsky, and other high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mikhoels was the only one aware of Stalin's plans to establish another Soviet republic. Stalin hoped to receive $10 billion in credits from the U.S. for the restoration of the Soviet economy after the war.
The plan to lure American capital was associated with the idea of a Jewish state in the Crimea was called California in the Crimea. Kheifetz widely discussed the plan in America.
- The Venona Story, Robert L. Benson, Center for Cryptological History, National Security Agency.
- Literaturnaya Gazeta, July 7, 1933.
- Izvestia CC CPSU, no. 12, 1989, p. 37. The letter was not shown with the archival material of the Jewish Antifascist Committee that was displayed in Washington, D.C., during President Yeltsin's visit in 1992.