A Yevsektsiya (Russian: Евсекция, IPA: [jɪfˈsʲektsɨjə]; Yiddish: יעווסעקציע) was a Jewish section of the Soviet Communist Party. These sections were established in fall of 1918 with consent of Vladimir Lenin to carry communist revolution to the Jewish masses. The Yevsektsiya published a Yiddish periodical, der Emes.
The stated mission of these sections was the "destruction of traditional Jewish life, the Zionist movement, and Hebrew culture". The Yevsektsiya sought to draw Jewish workers into the revolutionary organisations; chairman Semyon Dimanstein, at the first conference in October 1918, pointed out that, "when the October revolution came, the Jewish workers had remained totally passive ... and a large part of them were even against the revolution. The revolution did not reach the Jewish street. Everything remained as before".
The Yevsektsiya remained fairly isolated from both the Jewish intelligentsia and working class. The sections were staffed mostly by Jewish ex-members of the Bund, which eventually joined the Soviet Communist Party as the Kombund in 1921, and the United Jewish Socialist Workers Party.
The Yevsektsiya deemed Russian Zionist organisations to be counter-revolutionary, and agitated for them to be shut down. Delegates to a Zionist congress in March 1919 complained at administrative harassment of their activities - not from government agencies, but from Jewish communists. At the Yevsektsiya's second conference in July 1919, it demanded that the Zionist organizations be dissolved. After an appeal from the Zionists, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee issued a decree in that the Zionist organisation was not counter-revolutionary and its activities should not be disrupted. The campaign continued, however. In 1920, the first All-Russian Zionist Congress was disrupted by members of the Cheka and a female representative of the Yevsektsiya. At its third conference in July 1921, the Yevsektsiya demanded the "total liquidation" of Zionism.
According to Richard Pipes, "in time, every Jewish cultural and social organization came under assault". Acting together with local Soviet authorities, Evsektsii organized seizures of synagogues in Gomel, Minsk and Kharkov, which were subsequently converted to clubs or Communist centers. They particularly fought against the sixth Chabad Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn who urged his followers to resist to their last drop of blood attempts to uproot religion which went against Communist ideology, causing many of them to be arrested and sometimes killed, eventually causing the arrest of the Rebbe himself in 1927.
The Yevsektsiya attempted to use its influence to cut off state funds to Habima Theatre, branding it counter-revolutionary. The theatre left Russia to go on tour in 1926, before settling in Mandatory Palestine in 1928 to become Israel's national theatre.
The Yevsektsii were disbanded as no longer needed in 1929. Many leading members were murdered during the Great Purge of the late 1930s, including Chairman Dimanstein. Executed in 1938, he was posthumously rehabilitated in 1955, two years after the death of Joseph Stalin.
- History of the Jews in Russia
- Communist Party of the Soviet Union
- Jewish Communist Party (Poalei Zion)
- Also romanized Evsektsiya.
- A syllabic abbreviation for Jewish section (Russian: Еврейская секция).
- Pipes, Richard, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, New York: Vintage Books, Random House Inc., 1995, ISBN 0-394-50242-6, page 363
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- Pipes, page 363, quoted from book by Nora Levin, The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917, New York, 1988, page 57
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- Politzer, Heinz (August 1948). "Habimah in New York: A Great Theater Enters a New Period". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
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