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Jewish Bolshevism, also Judeo–Bolshevism, is an antisemitic and anti-communist conspiracy theory that claims that the Russian Revolution of 1917 was a Jewish plot and that Jews controlled the Soviet Union and international communist movements, often in furtherance of a plan to destroy Western civilization. It was one of the main Nazi beliefs that served as an ideological justification for the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the Holocaust.[1]

After the Russian Revolution, the antisemitic canard was the title of the pamphlet The Jewish Bolshevism, which featured in the racist propaganda of the anti-communist White movement forces during the Russian Civil War (1918–1922). During the 1930s, the Nazi Party in Germany and the German American Bund in the United States propagated the antisemitic theory to their followers, sympathisers, and fellow travellers.[2][3] Nazi Germany used the trope to implement anti-Slavic policies and initiate racial war against Soviet Union, portraying Slavs as inferior humans controlled by Jews to destroy Aryan people.[4][5]

In Poland, Żydokomuna was a term for the antisemitic opinion that the Jews had a disproportionately high influence in the administration of Communist Poland. In far-right politics, the antisemitic canards of "Jewish Bolshevism", "Jewish Communism", and the ZOG conspiracy theory are catchwords falsely asserting that Communism is a Jewish conspiracy.[6]

Origins

White movement propaganda poster from the Russian Civil War era (1919), a caricature of Leon Trotsky, who was viewed as a symbol of Jewish Bolshevism[7]

The conflation of Jews and revolution emerged in the atmosphere of destruction of Russia during World War I. When the revolutions of 1917 crippled Russia's war effort, conspiracy theories developed far from Berlin and Petrograd. Some commentators in Britain ascribed the revolution to an "apparent conjunction of Bolsheviks, Germans and Jews".[8] By December 1917, five of the twenty-one members of the Communist Central Committee were Jews: the commissar for foreign affairs, the president of the Supreme Soviet, the deputy chairman of the Council of People's Commissars, the president of Petrograd Soviet, and the deputy director of the Cheka secret police.[9]

The worldwide spread of the concept in the 1920s is associated with the publication and circulation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fraudulent document that purported to describe a secret Jewish conspiracy aimed at world domination. The expression made an issue out of the Jewishness of some leading Bolsheviks (such as Leon Trotsky) of the October Revolution. Daniel Pipes said that "primarily through The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Whites spread these charges to an international audience."[10] James Webb wrote that it is rare to find an antisemitic source after 1917 that "does not stand in debt to the White Russian analysis of the Revolution".[11]

Jewish involvement in Russian Communism

Antisemitism in the Russian Empire existed both culturally and institutionally. The Jews were restricted to live within the Pale of Settlement, and they also suffered pogroms.[12]

As a result, many Jews supported gradual or revolutionary changes to the Russian Empire. Those movements ranged among the far left (Jewish Anarchism,[13] Bundists, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks,[14]) and moderate left (Trudoviks[15]) and constitutionalist (Constitutional Democrats[16]) parties. According to the 1922 Bolshevik party census, there were 19,564 Jewish Bolsheviks, comprising 5.21% of the total, and in the 1920s of the 417 members of the Central Executive Committee, the party Central Committee, the Presidium of the Executive of the Soviets of the USSR and the Russian Republic, the People's Commissars, 6% were ethnic Jews.[17] Between 1936 and 1940, during the Great Purge, Yezhovshchina and after the rapprochement with Nazi Germany, Stalin had largely eliminated Jews from senior party, government, diplomatic, security and military positions.[18]

Some scholars have grossly exaggerated Jewish presence in the Soviet Communist Party. For example, Alfred Jensen said that in the 1920s "75 per cent of the leading Bolsheviks" were "of Jewish origin".[19] According to David Aaronovitch, "a cursory examination of membership of the top committees shows this figure to be an absurd exaggeration".[19]

In 2013, speaking about the Schneerson Collection at the Moscow Jewish Museum and the Center for Tolerance, Russian President Vladimir Putin erroneously[20][21][22] said:

"The decision to nationalize the library was made by the first Soviet government, and Jews were approximately 80–85% members".[23]

According to historian Vladimir Ryzhkov, Putin's ignorant statement about the predominance of Jews in the Council of People's Commissars is due to the fact that "during the years of perestroika, he read the low-quality nationalist tabloid press".[22] Some media outlets also criticized the statements of the President of the Russian Federation. So the editors of the newspaper Vedomosti, condemning the head of state for marginality, posted the following statistics:[21][20]

"If we discard the speculations of pseudoscientists who know how to find the Jewish origin of every revolutionary, it turns out that in the first composition of the Council of People's Commissars of Jews there were 8%: of its 16 members, only Leon Trotsky was a Jew. In the government of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic of 1917–1922 Jews were 12% (six out of 50 people). Apart from the government, the Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) on the eve of October 1917 had 20% Jews (6 out of 30), and in the first composition of the political bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) – 40% (3 out of 7)".— Vedomosti (dated 17 June 2013).

Nazi Germany

"Great War itself then brought about [the last] a further bleeding of Russia’s Nordic-German elements, and the last remnants were finally eradicated by the revolution and Bolshevism.. With the help of the Slavic racial instinct, the Jews—pushing toward the upper class and therefore upper leadership—exterminated the previous foreign upper class... with the Bolshevik Revolution, Jews took over leadership in all areas of Russian life, then this is a self evident process, because in and of itself the Slavic people completely lack any organizational capability and thus also any state-forming and state-maintaining power. If one were to pull out of the Slavic people all of the elements that are not purely Slavic, then the state would also immediately break up."

Adolf Hitler outlining his view of the Bolshevik revolution, in Hitlers Zweites Buch[24]

Wochenspruch der NSDAP of 28 September 1941, accuses Jews of creating Marxism

Walter Laqueur traces the Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy theory to Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, for whom Bolshevism was "the revolt of the Jewish, Slavic and Mongolian races against the German (Aryan) element in Russia". Germans, according to Rosenberg, had been responsible for Russia's historic achievements and had been sidelined by the Bolsheviks, who did not represent the interests of the Russian people, but instead those of its ethnic Jewish and Chinese population.[25]

Michael Kellogg in his Ph.D. thesis argued that the racist ideology of Nazis was to a significant extent influenced by White émigrés in Germany, many of whom, while former subjects of the Russian Empire, were of non-Russian descent: ethnic Germans, residents of Baltic lands including Baltic Germans, and Ukrainians. Of particular note was their Aufbau organization (Aufbau: Wirtschafts-politische Vereinigung für den Osten (Reconstruction: Economic-Political Organization for the East), whose leader was instrumental in making The Protocols of The Elders of Zion available in German. He argues that the early Hitler was rather philosemitic, and became rabidly antisemitic after 1919 under the influence of White émigré convictions about a conspiracy of Jews, an unseen unity from financial capitalists to Bolsheviks, to conquer the world.[26] Therefore, he concluded, White émigrés were at the source of the Nazi concept of Jewish Bolshevism. Annemarie Sammartino argues that this view is contestable. While there is no doubt that White emigres were instrumental in reinforcing the idea of 'Jewish Bolshevism' among Nazis, the concept is also found in many early post–World War I German documents. Also, Germany had its own share of Jewish Communists "to provide fodder for the paranoid fantasies of German antisemites" without Russian Bolsheviks.[27]

Adolf Hitler primarily viewed Bolshevik Revolution as an usurpation of power from Nordic-Germanic elites by Jews. Hitler classified Slavs as among the inferior races and believed that they lacked an independent ability for statecraft. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that the Russian Empire had been dominated by an Aryan Germanic aristocracy who ruled over Russian masses, whom he viewed as primitive.[28][29] During the 1920s, Hitler declared that the mission of the Nazi movement was to destroy "Jewish Bolshevism".[30] Hitler asserted that the "three vices" of "Jewish Marxism" were democracy, pacifism and internationalism,[31] and that Jews were behind Bolshevism, communism and Marxism.[32] Nazi propaganda also used the trope to advance anti-Slavic racism, depicting Slavs as primitive hordes controlled by Jews to attack Aryans.[33] Hitler ordered Operation Barbarossa with firm convictions of an inevitable German victory, due to his beliefs that Judeo-Bolshevism had liquidated Russia's Aryan aristocracy, which in his view, made the country into a failed state.[34]

In Nazi Germany, this concept of Jewish Bolshevism reflected a common perception that Communism was a Jewish-inspired and Jewish-led movement seeking world domination from its origin. The term was popularized in print in German journalist Dietrich Eckhart's 1924 pamphlet "Der Bolschewismus von Moses bis Lenin" ("Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin") which depicted both Moses and Lenin as Communist and Jewish. This was followed by Alfred Rosenberg's 1923 edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Hitler's Mein Kampf in 1925, which saw Bolshevism as "Jewry's twentieth century effort to take world dominion unto itself".

According to French spymaster and writer Henri Rollin, "Hitlerism" was based on "anti-Soviet counter-revolution" promoting the "myth of a mysterious Jewish–Masonic–Bolshevik plot", entailing that the First World War had been instigated by a vast Jewish–Masonic conspiracy to topple the Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian Empires and implement Bolshevism by fomenting liberal ideas.[35][page needed] A major source for propaganda about Jewish Bolshevism in the 1930s and early 1940s was the pro-Nazi and antisemitic international Welt-Dienst [fr] news agency founded in 1933 by Ulrich Fleischhauer. Within the German Army, a tendency to see Soviet Communism as a Jewish conspiracy had grown since the First World War, something that became officialized under the Nazis. A 1932 pamphlet by Ewald Banse of the Government-financed German National Association for the Military Sciences described the Soviet leadership as mostly Jewish, dominating an apathetic and mindless Russian population.[36]

German antisemitic and anti-Soviet propaganda poster, written in the Polish language. The text reads "Death! to Jewish-Bolshevik pestilence of murdering!"

By the mid thirties, the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda had created a special agency called the Anti-Komintern, dedicated to creating anti-communist propaganda and heavily publicizing their theory of Judeo-Bolshevism.[37]

Propaganda produced in 1935 by the psychological war laboratory of the German War Ministry described Soviet officials as "mostly filthy Jews" and called on Red Army soldiers to rise up and kill their "Jewish commissars". This material was not used at the time, but served as a basis for propaganda in the 1940s.[38]

Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels speaking at the Nuremberg Party Rally in September 1935 said:

While National Socialism brought about a new version and formulation of European culture, Bolshevism is the declaration of war by Jewish-led international subhumans against culture itself. It is not only anti-bourgeois, but it is also anti-cultural. It means, in the final consequence, the absolute destruction of all economic, social, state, cultural, and civilizing advances made by western civilization for the benefit of a rootless and nomadic international clique of conspirators, who have found their representation in Jewry.[39]

Members of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) were encouraged to fight against "Jewish Bolshevik sub-humans". In the pamphlet The SS as an Anti-Bolshevist Fighting Organization, published in 1936, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler wrote:

We shall take care that never again in Germany, the heart of Europe, will the Jewish-Bolshevik revolution of subhumans be able to be kindled either from within or through emissaries from without.[40]

After Operation Barbarossa Nazi propaganda depicted the war as a "European crusade against Bolshevism" and Waffen-SS units consisted largely or solely of foreign volunteers and conscripts.[41] In private conversations held in 1940s, Hitler also labelled Christianity a Jewish product analogous to Judeo-Bolshevism:

"The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity. Bolshevism practises a lie of the same nature, when it claims to bring liberty to men, whereas in reality it seeks only to enslave them. In the ancient world, the relations between men and gods were founded on an instinctive respect. It was a world enlightened by the idea of tolerance. Christianity was the first creed in the world to exterminate its adversaries in the name of love. Its key-note is intolerance."

In his speech to the Reichstag justifying Operation Barbarossa in 1941, Hitler said:

For more than two decades the Jewish Bolshevik regime in Moscow had tried to set fire not merely to Germany but to all of Europe ... The Jewish Bolshevik rulers in Moscow have unswervingly undertaken to force their domination upon us and the other European nations and that is not merely spiritually, but also in terms of military power ... Now the time has come to confront the plot of the Anglo-Saxon Jewish war-mongers and the equally Jewish rulers of the Bolshevik centre in Moscow![45]

Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel gave an order on 12 September 1941 which declared: "the struggle against Bolshevism demands ruthless and energetic, rigorous action above all against the Jews, the main carriers of Bolshevism".[46]

Historian Richard J. Evans wrote that Wehrmacht officers regarded the Russians as "sub-human", and were from the time of the invasion of Poland in 1939 telling their troops the war was caused by "Jewish vermin", explaining to the troops that the war against the Soviet Union was a war to wipe out what were variously described as "Jewish Bolshevik subhumans", the "Mongol hordes", the "Asiatic flood" and the "red beast", language clearly intended to produce war crimes by reducing the enemy to something less than human.[47]

Joseph Goebbels published an article in 1942 called "the so-called Russian soul" in which he claimed that Bolshevism was exploiting the Slavs and that the battle of the Soviet Union determined whether Europe would become under complete control by international Jewry.[48]

Nazi propaganda presented Barbarossa as an ideological-racial war between German Nazism and "Judeo-Bolshevism", dehumanising the Soviet enemy as a force of Slavic Untermensch (sub-humans) and "Asiatic" savages engaging in "barbaric Asiatic fighting methods" commanded by evil Jewish commissars whom German troops were to grant no mercy.[49] The vast majority of the Wehrmacht officers and soldiers tended to regard the war in Nazi terms, seeing their Soviet opponents as sub-human.[50]

Outside Nazi Germany

Great Britain, 1920s

In the early 1920s, leading British antisemite Henry Hamilton Beamish stated that Bolshevism was the same thing as Judaism.[51] In the same decade, future wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill penned an editorial entitled "Zionism versus Bolshevism", published in the Illustrated Sunday Herald. In the article, which asserted that Zionism and Bolshevism were engaged in a "struggle for the soul of the Jewish people", he called on Jews to repudiate "the Bolshevik conspiracy" and make clear that "the Bolshevik movement is not a Jewish movement" but stated that:

[Bolshevism] among the Jews is nothing new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxemburg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing.[52]

Author Gisela C. Lebzelter noted that Churchill's analysis failed to analyze the role that Russian oppression of Jews had played in their joining various revolutionary movements, but instead "to inherent inclinations rooted in Jewish character and religion".[53]

Finland

Captain Arvi Kalsta addressing an SKJ meeting; "Liberate the working man from the lie of Judeo-Marxism!", 1933

In 1919, the White Guard-associated propaganda organ Church-National Enlightenment Bureau published "What is Bolshevism", targeted at former Red Guards. The book argued that communism was a Jewish plot and communist leaders were almost exclusively Jewish and Jews were a race "that has a peculiar ability to live without working at the expense of others by swindling".[54]

In 1920, the chief of the newly established Finnish Security Police advised his personnel on how to proceed with Jews coming from Russia: “One must be very much on one’s guard, particularly with the Jews, for according to the received information, at least 80 percent of all Bolshevik leaders are thought to be Jews”.[55]

The Finnish charge d'affaires to the USSR and future Prime Minister Antti Hackzell wrote in the 1920s that Jews controlled the state spying and terror apparatus.[56]

Elmo Kaila, the chairman of the Academic Karelia Society, one of the most prominent nationalist organizations in Finland, stated several times his belief that the Soviet Union was led by the Jews and that "the God-forsaken nation" invented communism:

That is why the Russian has never been able to build a state and to uphold it, it has instead been done by outwardly russified Vikings, Tatars, Germans and the English and others. After the German born royal house has fallen Jews have now taken control and are ruling in the name of Russia, like the Tsars once did.[57]

In the 1930s and 1940s, several far-right newspapers such as Ajan Suunta, Kansallissosialisti and Herää Suomi spread the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. The Patriotic Citizens of Viitasaari also spread leaflets in prints of tens of thousands, tirelessly trying to prove the Jews sought world domination through communism.[58]

After the war, Untersturmführer Unto Parvilahti's memoirs made the case the USSR was led by Jews, and Parvilahti's book became a great success, going through 11 editions and being translated into multiple languages. Parvilahti also became a sought after speaker in veterans events and conservative parties speaking tours.[59]

Works propagating the canard

The Octopus

The Octopus is a 256-page book self-published in 1940 by Elizabeth Dilling under the pseudonym "Rev. Frank Woodruff Johnson". In it, she describes her theories of Jewish Bolshevism.[60]

Behind Communism

Frank L. Britton, editor of The American Nationalist published Behind Communism in 1952. It disseminated the myth that Communism was a Jewish conspiracy originating in Palestine.[61]

Europa: The Last Battle

Europa: The Last Battle is a 2017 neo-Nazi propaganda film which promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories, including claims that communism was a Jewish ideology.[62]

Analysis

Researchers in the field such as Polish philosopher Stanisław Krajewski[63] or André Gerrits,[64] denounce the concept of Jewish Bolshevism as prejudice. Law professor Ilya Somin agrees, and compares Jewish involvement in other communist countries:

"Overrepresentation of a group in a political movement does not prove either that the movement was 'dominated' by that group or that it primarily serves that group's interests. The idea that communist oppression was somehow Jewish in nature is belied by the record of communist regimes in countries like China, North Korea, and Cambodia, where the Jewish presence was and is minuscule."[65]

Several scholars have observed that Jewish involvement in Communist movements was primarily a response to antisemitism and rejection by established politics.[66][67][68] Others note that this involvement was greatly exaggerated to accord with existing antisemitic narratives.[69][70][71][72][73][74]

Philip Mendes observed this on a policy level:

The increasing Jewish involvement in political radicalism... left government authorities with a number of potential options for response. One option was to recognize the structural link between the oppression of the Jews and their involvement in the Left, and to introduce social and political reforms which ended discrimination against Jews... This option would have meant accepting that Jews had as much right as any other religious or ethnic grouping to freely participate in political activities. The second option... was to reject any social or political emancipation of Jews... Instead, this policy blamed the Jewish victims for their persecution, and assumed that anti-Semitic legislation and violence was justified as a response to the alleged threat of ‘Jewish Bolshevism’. In short, cause and effect were reversed, and Jewish responses to anti-Semitism were utilized to rationalize anti-Semitic practices.[68]

See also

References

Citations

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  5. ^ Jones, Adam (2011). Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction (2nd ed.). 270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016: Routledge. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-415-48618-7.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
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Sources

Further reading

  • Mikhail Agursky: The Third Rome: National Bolshevism in the USSR, Boulder: Westview Press, 1987 ISBN 0-8133-0139-4
  • Harry Defries, Conservative Party Attitudes to Jews, 1900–1950 Jewish Bolshevism, p. 70, ISBN 0-7146-5221-0
  • Fay, Brendan (26 July 2019). "The Nazi Conspiracy Theory: German Fantasies and Jewish Power in the Third Reich". Library & Information History. 35 (2): 75–97. doi:10.1080/17583489.2019.1632574. S2CID 201410358.
  • Johannes Rogalla von Bieberstein: '"Juedischer Bolschewismus". Mythos und Realität'. Dresden: Antaios, 2003, ISBN 3-935063-14-8; 2.ed. Graz: Ares, 2010.
  • Muller, Jerry Z. (2010). "Radical Anticapitalism: the Jew as Communist". Capitalism and the Jews. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-3436-5.
  • Yuri Slezkine: The Jewish Century, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004 ISBN 0-691-11995-3
  • Scott Ury, Barricades and Banners: The Revolution of 1905 and the Transformation of Warsaw Jewry (Stanford, 2012). ISBN 978-0-804763-83-7
  • Hanebrink, Paul (2018). A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-04768-6.

External links