(Courtesy: Achievements News – Great Britain)
(by Dr Kozerod O.)
In 1921 power of Bolsheviks was outspreaded all over the country. Important problems risen before Jewish community on realization of measures hindering its decay and process of ideologizing of all spheres of public life. In policy on national problem Bolsheviks originated from Lenin’s position about presence of bourgeois and proletarian cultures in each of national cultures. Qeteheviks relegated religion chiefly to the first one. In 1921 instructions on struggle against any manifestations of the Jewish religious idea were sent to local governments from Kharkov. Decree of the Jewish section of the Department on National Education of the Chernigov region of 9 April 1921 declared: “… to liquidate yeshibots (Jewish high schools) existing in our city. In any case do not save them under any excuse” . The first non-party conference, which passed from May 31 till June 4 of 1922 in the Lubny district, stated: “Taking into consideration that kheders (Jewish primary schools) brake matter of normal education of children, their existence hereafter is categorically forbidden” . The decree also prohibited “tutoring of children till 18years in religion where that was” .
At once after the end of Civil war a stream of refugees from Ukraine, that was in more preferable geographical position before
Russia and more populated, rushed to the West. A newspaper “The Jewish Tribune” informed those days: “As it is known, crowds of Jews from Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and Romania saving themselves from pogroms have rushed to Germany. German reactionaries have lifted noise, demanding to dispatch “the east Jews”. The native land of classical anti-Semitism – reactionary Germany – continues to chew its “theoretical cud”. And French, English, Polish and Romanian anti-Semites are blindly tailing along German ones” . As a whole coming of the national policy of Bolsheviks into being took place in a situation of changing of hard policy of “war Communism”, native to realia of civil opposition, for policy of liberalism and economic innovations. In spite of this, methods demonstrated by leadership of Bolsheviks were evidence of their resoluteness to change the whole style of life of Jewish commune, established during many millenniums of galut (banishment).
West specialists valued the first steps directed to the state monopolization of trade and federalization of Soviet Russia sooner negatively. “Soviet national policy is an unworthy play, – was noted in one of the articles of a Warsaw collection on nationality problem, -more harmful, than oppression of the old regime which pressed physically hut did not corrupt soul. It is necessary only to wonder as here and there people, deeply dedicated to deal of national reviving, else believe false words and the whole properties of Soviet authorities” . Really, matter of reviving becomes very complex considering established relations in society in courses of wars and pogroms. Boris Mirsky wrote, noting consequences of Jewish pogroms and share of responsibility of Soviet Russia population: “… there are no court, no authority, no even organized public opinion in Russia pressed by Bolsheviks. This hour will come in emancipated
Russia. And this Court will he. And it will be not Jewish matter, but duty of Russian conscience” . Completion of Civil War has put Jews before a choice: to participate in construction of socialist future or to emigrate. It is necessary to note that beginning of transformations of economy, public style of life have forced many people to do its choice already in 1921. This has influenced upon range of emigration motion, which scales got enormous in 1921. Jewish “Press-agency in Ukraine” in its bulletin of the 28-th of February reports: “Situation is so that all Jewish population of the small town of Kamenets-Podolsky does not want to stay under Soviet power and wants to leave. Atmosphere of provocations, crimes and, in general, that mood “Emergency Commissions” have created, can not force the Jewry to stop emigration” . Several weeks later a newspaper “Svoboda” (“Liberty”) informed: “… a small town ofSkala is now asylum for all, which are forced to leave Kamenets-Podolsky. All classes of population of Kamenets-Podolsky are presented here… Population is terrorized with shooting up mainly Jewish merchants and peasants, which did not accept soviet money” . Such situation was characteristic of many cities and small towns becoming parts of the new communist empire. July 8, 1921 an agency “Ukrainepress” reported that “emigration and particularly of Jewish wave takes greater amplitude with each daytime. Following facts speak of its rate: in small towns of Mashkov, Teterev, Pyatigory, Stavishche, Volodarka, where lived before 20 000 Jews in each, now you will not find there a family” . This was explained also that thousands families were deprived of means of subsistence after any private trade was forbidden by Soviet power. Authorities stopped any attempts to break decree-laws much cruelly. “Such conditions were created, -noted an agency “Ukrainepress”, – under which every merchant had to
choice one of two ways: to emigrate or to die of hunger. Majority emigrated or left to rebels” . Such situation could not disturb communities of the west settlements, which in 1921 begin a company of help to refugees and to those who wanted to emigrate. In April of 1921 a chairman of the Jewish Committee of Help Drakhler addressed to American Jews an open letter, in which the following was spoken: “… A danger of full disappearance threatened Jewish population of the Podolie region due to “red terror”. Numerous “Emergency Commissions” with hundreds of agents celebrate orgies in cities and small towns. Nearly 90% Jews are ranked to the bourgeoisie and they are considered as profiteers. 19 February in a small town of Kamenets-Podolsky “Emergency Commission” shooted up 16persons from a number of conspicuous Jewish figures. Terror makes Jews to tend to emigration, however authorities fight against it” . Keen criticism of Zionism was unrolled in press. In one of the letters published in the newspaper “Izvestia” (Elisavetgrad), former Zionist repented publicly, noting: “It becomes easier for me, when after long-lasting disease I have thrown of myself the whole medieval trash referring to Zionism literature” . The first trials on figures of Zionist movement began in Ukraine; deprivations of civil rights and closings of organizations were the first stage of straggle against leaders of Zionism in Soviet country.
In spite of all difficulties and low economic showings Soviet power puts before itself problems of political and ideological changing of the whole society of the East Ukraine. Realization of the Bolshevik policy was first of all reflected in activity of traditional Jewish institutes – synagogues, charitable societies, hospitals etc. “Separation of Church from State, – former owner of a tobacco factory in Kharkov German Porath noted in his letter “Jewish clergy in the
USSR”, – was not made in Soviet Russia by the same way as in other states of civilized world. Here wild mobs … threw themselves in our defenseless houses of prayer and charitable institutions and destroyed all of them. During the Easter barbarians named themselves “comrades of all working people” rushed into a free of charge dining room placed in Kulikovskaya Street. They have profaned dishes, dispersed Jewish personnel, … threw “khomets” on the table. Talmud “• – Tor ah was torn to pieces, teachers were arrested” . First of all reprisals touched Jewish educational institutions, and there is nothing of surprising in it. Anti-Semites always understood that separation the Jewry from Torah would be the strongest blow against them. “According to reports of a newspaper “Ernes” in Yuzovka, – noted “The Jewish Tribune”, – teachers ofkheders were subjected to court because of continuing of their functioning despite of repeated orders”  In Konotop (Poltava region) teachers accused of teaching in yeshibots were sentenced by two years of prison . By decree of the Council of the National Commissars of January 21, 1921 authority restricted civil rights of Jewish religious figures. Next prohibitions were established for them: 1) to occupy any post in the Departments of National Education, Justice, Agriculture, Management and Foodstuffs; 2) generally to occupy any post outside of any regional and district cities and small towns; 3) to occupy any post paid above the 16-th category on distribution of wage rates . As a result clergy was referred not only to the lowest category of “workers” in Soviet Russia. In the latter it forms a group of people especially belittled in a legal attitude. So, according to an explanation No. 264 of the 8 April of 1920, “any exceptions on labor duty are not established for clergy” . The following stage was an interference of authority’s organs on institute of Jewish family and community. So, in
October 19, 1922 an agency “Judische Presscentral Zurich” (No. 211) informed: “A rabbi recently arrived in Palestine confirms a fact of prosecution of Jews by Soviet authorities. So, a 90-year’s old man was arrested because of the fact he forced his grandsons to pray. Large taxes are imposed on synagogues, a half-million on each. Rabbi is responsible for fulfillment of these instructions” . The special procedure concerning all religious and Zionist organizations consisting of two main stages was produced: closing of all organizations, assertion of Statutes and registration of new organizations. So, a newspaper “Communist” (Kharkov) from July 21 of 1923 wrote: “1. The order on closing of houses of prayer. Owing to complaints arriving in the NKVD (the National Commissariat of Internal Affairs) from groups of believers that Executive committees of districts in one or other places under their initiative without sanction of Executive committees of higher ranks on that, close houses of prayer, the NKVD explains that any closing of houses of prayer of various creed can not take place without a preliminary consent of Regional Liquidation Commissions, which are obliged to send to the NKJ^D their decrees on closing without bringing the decrees in performance before obtaining sanctions from the Center. 2. Assertion of Statutes of religious communities. All Statutes should meet the Typical Statute authorized by the Central Inter-Departmental Commission on Matters about Communities and Unions. 10.07.1921” . All religious communities were forced to pass through registrations in District Executive Committees, paying an appropriate local stamp-duty. Kharkov religious community headed by Elia-Girsch Mileykovskiy was…one of the first communities of Ukraine registered in Kharkov in 1922. In the Statute of the community among main purposes the next were declared: “a) It (community) keeps
spiritual rabbi and assistants for supervision on religious rites; b) It keeps hackers and butchers for manufacturing and sale kosher meat, sausage etc… g) It organizes and keeps theological courses for adults from 18years” . Soviet authority in Kharkov conducted policy of associating of all existing religious organizations in some large assosiations, which could be inspected by smaller forces. So, the Council of Religious Communities was created in the capital of Ukraine; it consisted of authorized persons of Kharkov Jewish houses of prayer, annually elected by parishioners from each house of prayer -at the rate of 2 authorized persons from each 100 parishioners . In the given period Soviet authority does attempt of ideological diversion and public discrimination upon a national indication.
On 30 May of 1921 a newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” prints a circular sent by Bolshevik Government to Communist organizations abroad, which was said in: “In our disposal there are documents establishing a fact of close relations between Zionist organization in Russia and English government, for which it performs a role of an espionage office. For a long time we were indulgent to Zionists. We have detected, however, that after abandoning Russia these persons immediately entered into relations with agents of the Allies. The workers sympathizing with Zionism should be eliminated from trade unions” . In Soviet Russia a period of underground Zionist parties does begin. Y. Margolin – a known investigator of a problem on origin of underground organizations and history of emigration of Jews inclined to Zionism to Palestine – wrote: “In the first ten years after ending of Civil war in Russia two processes of Jewish resettlement took place. Ship of revolution run into Jewish life has broken it off in two parts, has thrown off one wave to the West, another – to the East. People left to the West legally and illegally. Chronicle of these years
is full of stories about illegal transitions of boundaries” . Soviet authority gradually conducts more and more cruel actions on liquidation of Zionist organizations acting on territory of Ukraine. In August 26,1922 in Kiev show-trial on Zionists was organized; despite of careful preparation in the press, it was failed owing to sympathy of masses of population to the defendants. On this matter 37 participants of the Congress of “Zeire-Zion” Party were accused. In the bill of indictment it was spoken about connection “of the defendants with reactionary (from Father Tyutyunnik up to the Pope, from Poincare up to Lloyd-George); 12 persons were sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment each, remained were sentenced on probation. A multithousand demonstration passed aside a building of the court during the process.
Further realization of “show-trials” was acknowledged inexpedient. Era of mass arrests and administrative measures begins. In September 18-22 of 1922 “September arrests” have gone, more than 1000 active members were arrested in Kharkov, Poltava, Odessa, Cherkassy, Romny, Mirgorod, Priluki, Kremenchug, Nezhin, Ekatherinoslav, Berdychev, Uman, Shpola, Boguslav, Proskurov, Zhytomir, Bachmut, Kerch, Zvenigorodka, Borisov . Certainly, such processes and actions, which were carried out by authority, were perceived by ordinary people as anti-Jewish actions that caused an aggravation of anti-Semitism in that period. For many people spiritual circumstances were intolerable. A newspaper “The Jewish tribune” (Paris) informs in this period: “According to a story of Jewish refugee, a known doctor from Odessa Mandelschtam finished by suicide by rushing from the second floor. The reason is a sensation of terrible situation in Soviet Russia” . According to another source – a newspaper “Der Togg” – “Jews dispatching by Polish authorities from
Gusiatin (close of Romanian boundary) to Russia, were seized and shot by Bolsheviks” . At the same time a flow of letters and complaints from synagogues, attended by thousands of believers, has rushed in the District Execution committees of all towns of Ukraine. So, parishioners of the 2-nd Jewish House of prayer placed in Kharkov in Grazhdanskaya street 11/13 wrote: “A newspaper “Vseukrainskiy (All-Ukrainian) proletariat” of June 4 published a note that the Kharkov District Execution committee has sent a case on transfer of our House of prayer for Ukrainian Medical Trade Warehouse to the City Council on consideration … Formerly in Kharkov there were 18 houses of prayer and synagogues, … only three ones are remained now… Being already existed more than 100 years our House of prayer is the first Jewish House of prayer in Kharkov founded yet by cantonists. That is why its close-down… will strike feelings of believers with the peculiar painfulness” . Working Jews, who have yet not got rid of religious prejudices, quite justly blamed Soviet authority that Judaic religion both was and remains persecuted. The reason of these blames was that any orthodox parish temple was not yet transferred anywhere. Soviet authority does not oppress any religion, but does not give any religion advantages, privileges, withdrawals from a common rule.
“Preservation of houses of prayer of one and only Judaic confession is unconditional offence against the decree about separation of Church from State.
The decrees about separation of Church from State and School from Church and instructions to them that any religion would not be prevailing or oppressed should be strictly observed in locals.
December 21, 1922.
National Commissar of Justice S. Buzdalin
Head of the Liquidation Department Iv. Sukhoplyuyev ” .
All of this promoted an amplification of the process of emigration of Jews from Ukraine, which has amplified just in the beginning of the 20-th years. It is thought, that reasons of the given fact lie in active anti-religious and anti-Zionist policy of Soviet state, which has beaten out soil from under legs of Jewish patriarchal community, which in 1919-1920 has believed in possibility and desire of Soviet authority to stop Jewish pogroms. “In 1920-1922 more than 200 thousands of Jews have emigrated from Ukraine, – a known investigator V. I. Gusev marks. – Severe policy of restriction of category of people authorized to leave abroad has played its role, and also there was order of the Council of National Commissars that “refugees, which have not sufficient reasons for departure abroad, must be returned at their former places of residing” . However, public of the western states and internal tension in Ukraine have forced the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee of Soviets to allow to pass refugees repaired to the USA, Romania on a constant place of residing by the special decree of March 30, 1921. And on April 2, 1921 the Political Board of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine has made a decree, which allowed almost all Jews easily to leave boundary of Ukraine . After some period the Political Board has accepted a new decree, which again limited departure, allowing it only to women with children going to their husbands and to parents going to their children for treatment.
In Ukraine within all year of 1921 underground organizations, communities and settlements of the Jews hidden from Cheka (Emergency Commission) and tending to go away abroad acted. So in a collection “Naftuley-Gador” (“Generation of Straggle”), published
in Tel Aviv in a 1945, numerous stories of forced emigrants and refugees are saved. One of inhabitants of Kfar-Vitkin village told: “In February, 1921 the Elisavetgrad Committee of “Zeire-Zion ” Party has gathered a group of 44 young men and girl. With holding all secrecy we stayed in Berdichev therefrom to pass a boundary to Poland. Our leader was Isaac Geyber. Because of unforeseen difficulties the transition of the boundary was postponed. We have stuck in Berdichev … and organized something like “kvutsa” in two houses, with own bakery and shoe workshop. When, at last, the first party has gone away to boundary, the train, they went in, has suffered a ruin and most of those people have perished…. Few reached eventually Palestine in the end” . Soviet authority undertakes counter-measures of ideological character with purpose to stop Jewish emigration, widely distributing and advertising the following document:
“To Jewish working masses
Receipt of letters and cables by individual citizens from abroad are recently observed; herein unknown persons call addressees abroad allegedly on behalf of their relatives. These well wishers promise any boons and advise to move to boundary. There are informations, that in cities suspicious persons spread this propagation. They hide all difficulties which government of the USA has created recently for emigrants… Department of Jews of the National Commissariat of Internal Affaires reminds that in accordance with the decree accepted by government of the USA from July 1 of 1921 till April 1 of 1922 number of emigrants should not. exceed more than 3 % of total emigrants living in the USA. From the USSR 35 thousands can emigrate only” .
By the beginning of 1922 western charitable organizations organize mass help for starving and survived pogroms people. Soviet authority does not make obstacles to activity of foreign emissaries, arriving with purpose of clearing up a scale of famine and disasters of Ukrainian Jewry and with purpose of development of necessary measures of help and assistance. “Despite of American help, – “The Jewish Tribune” marked, – famine in Odessa region forms an increasing volume. 160 000 starving persons and 5000 children are doomed on death” . In the given period a humanitarian mission of Dr. Nansen (Norway) unrolls its activity in Ukraine. Due to it in various regions of Ukraine dining rooms were opened, which supplied 75 000 starving persons, 60% of which were children. These dining rooms were opened first of all due to Norwegian parcels and products purchased on money sent from Spain . “Head of the Dr. Nansen’s mission in Kharkov captain Quielling, – was marked in a report of news of July 6 of 1922, – applies all gains in order to an opening of dining-rooms would be the first stage of matter of help in Ukraine. He expects that within June Europe will give the Supreme commissioner means to help to 200 000 starving persons… To execute this program captain Quielling was need to receive within June 1000 tons of grain with delivery to Nikolaev and Odessa” , Taking into account a heavy position of Jews in 1922 Joint has offered Russian government to conclude a special agreement: “Considering that the American -Jewish Committee (Joint)… expended 6 million dollars on business of help to starving persons of Russia, recognizes, that a moment, when alongside with a prolongation of work infield of rendering assistance by foodstuffs, dress, medicines has occurred now… it is necessary and possibly to begin reconstruction of help infield of restoring national economy in Russia…” . The present agreement was contracted by
government of the RSFSR and the Ukrainian SSR, named as “Russian government”, represented by K. Lander, and by the American Jewish Committee represented by authorized person Josef Rosen on duration period from November 1 of 1922 till November 1 of 1923. Unfortunately, supply of the help was limited by Soviet power and was hampered due to economic and political isolation of Soviet State. It has complicated position of starving persons of Jewish communities > in cities and small towns of Ukraine. In the beginning of 1923 messages from locales specified: “… All over Ekatherinoslav region, not considering Ekatherinoslav itself, there are 30 000 starving Jews. Trade and industry almost died down, Jewish population is in an especially difficult conditions” . “Famine in Crimea expands. Half of all population is starving. On a command of government there are only a quarter of one million poods (1 pood =16 kilogram) of grain for needs of help” ; “According to data published by Ukrainian government 1 000 000 adults and 800 000 children constantly requires help in Ukraine” . Particularly heavy hunger was in the Crimea, where situation was complicated with bad crop, caused not only by requisitioners of Cheka as well as weather conditions. “Under an incredible drought, when nor one rain did not fall in the Crimea from 12 April till 30 July 1921, – noted a professor of the Tavria university M. E. Benenson, – all of 400 thousand dessiatinas (1 dessiatina = 1,09 hectare) of sown area perished. In December began terrible hunger, since all reserves of the past years were eaten even in villages. Total number of starving persons increased from 18 thousand in December up to 400 thousand in February. Now there are only 720 thousand inhabitants of the Crimea from 2 millions. 70 thousands of them are Jews…. At this moment 85% Jewry are hungering.”
In some regions authority did not help to liquidate famine as well as in a lot of cases authority used its force for simple robbery. A newspaper “Der Tog” informed that “Bolsheviks collect in their favor wear sent by American Jews for their relatives… Very often “comrades” armed from head to foot came to representative of Idgezkom (Jewish committee) and asked to dress them “a la American”. “If you are not agree, bulldozers added, there are five , bullets, which I shall thrust in your head” . Before Jewish community of the western states there was a vital problem of moral and material help to Jewish community of Ukraine met with difficult situation of survival in conditions of the total regime. So, Jewish community of Great Britain has undertaken to send till 1200 pound sterling to Ukraine monthly. In New York Committee of Help Hungers in Ukraine was created; in 1921 it has collected five millions dollars. In 1921 such a great number of remittances and parcels came there that the Department of National Commissariat of Nationalities… of the Central Committee of Russian Communist party (Bolsheviks) has issued an order to local organs to create commissions on distribution the help . Jewish communities of foreign countries were excited with a problem on increase of a negative role of Jewish sections in Ukraine. In a number of publications in the West the problem on destruction of a body of Jewish communities, about that negative role was lifted with such new organs as the Secretary of National Minorities, Jewish sections etc. played in life of community. “For co-ordination of agitation-propaganda work, – was marked in documents of the Central Committee of the CP(b)U, – for want of department of propaganda and propagation of the Central Committee ofCP(b)Uthe Secretary of National Minority is open. For want of it next sections exist: Latvian, Tartar, Estonian, Jewish, Lithuanian,
Hungarian, Romanian, In 1922 the Secretary was reorganized in
Section of National Minority. An amount of people occupied in its
work has considerably increased. 23 persons worked for want of
Jewish section” . ~ . ■
To the end of 1921 reprisals and prosecutions temporarily were stopped in connection with common calm in public life of Soviet Russia, small towns and cities of Ukraine begin to come in themselves after pogrom operations of Bolsheviks authorities. Describing a political and public situation of the end of 1921, G. Aronson wrote: “Vecheka showed tolerance. Experienced prisoners of jails knew price of this liberalism. But with the greater greed they tried to use of charm of the liberal regime. Books, newspapers, magazines, foreign press, Russian foreign printing – all this was rather accurately received and was read. The prison was more in the know of news of Russian and European life, than many and many free. But what the policy in December of 1921 was poor on a comparison with spring!” . Vision from prison was rather typical, then-huge amount of Zionists, socialists and religious figures have passed through this test in a period of Bolsheviks authority existence. “On personal observations of a correspondent of Kovel newspaper “Idishe chitime”, – “The Jewish tribune ” in December, 1921 informed, – “Kharkov, as Jewish center, is absolutely destroyed. The Council of Community was subjected to arrest under a charge in concealment of 17 millions. The investigation showed that half-million… deficit in cash department exists. “Cheka Commission” released people arrested earlier only after some months, when it was clarified that the second charge about organization of Committee of help to Volunteer army has been unreasonable” . In the given period N. Berdiaev, who considered a problem of correlation Marxism and Jewish idea in an interesting
aspect, wrote in 1923: “Doctrine of Marx outwardly tears with religious traditions of Jewry and breasts against any relic. But messianic idea, which was widespread on Jewish people as on the selected one… K. Marx transfers on class, on proletariat” . He, Berdiaev, as well as other philosophers developed the theses about regularity of co-operation of many leaders and members of Jewish communities with Soviet authority which has delivered under threat to their existence, lasting during many centuries.
Answering, however, articles of anti-Semites character in foreign press of White Guard, the same N. Berdiaev wrote: “Russian anti-Semites living in state of temporary insanity and obsessed by idea speak that now Jews govern Russia and banish Christians there. It actually is incorrect. At all not Jews stood in vanguard of… militant Atheism. Russian barin – anarchist Bakunin was its… spokesperson. Lenin liked him. Dostoyevskiy… has made great discoveries just of what concerns of Russian Atheism ” . As a whole, it is necessary to mark tendency to spreading of cruelty of anti-religious policy of Soviet authority and to amplification of measures directed on creation of working Jewish organizations, cultural companies, Jewish schools, theatres. So, in many districts of Poltava Region questionnaires of a Region education department, dated February, 1921 were widespread, in which there were the following questions: “… 1. Whether have you a Jewish section? 2. How is it organized (party structure)?.. 4. How many Jewish inhabitants are in the city? 5. How many children of school age are in the city?.. 12. Whether is there a Jewish theatrical circle: a) its structure; 6) its repertoire; 13. Whether exists in the city kheder or yeshibot?.. ” . Newspapers of that time informed about conferences of newly created Jewish organizations joining Jews on professional, class sign. “In June of 1922 District conference of
Jewish workers was held in Lubny, – noted a newspaper “Voice of labor”, – its main problem is creating of cultural center, around which working folk could unite” . The same question was discussed on a conference of Jew workers of culture in Kremenchug in 1923 . In spite of this, an activity of old consolidated institutes of Jewish community life continued to advance. So, in 1922 “Vaad Rabaney USSR” (“The Council of Rabbis of the USSR”) with rabbi Josef-Itskhak Schneyerson as a head was created; the Council diffused in more then 700 cities and small towns questionnaires, where questions on the amount of Jews in an inhabit point, their religiosity, age and etc were presented. After processing this inforaiation representatives of executive organ Vaad – “Merkaza” – were sent to communities to help believers in organizing their religious life . However, as a whole a tendency of repelling of Bolsheviks policy on nationality question and atheistic education of workers was saved in religious organizations, communes and institutes. A substantial part of rabbis was compelled to emigrate. So, yeshibot of rabbi Israel – Meir kha-Cohan known as Khofets-Khaim outlived war, revolution and Civil war, was compelled to emigrate for Poland in 1921 because of Soviet authorities’ forcing students of yeshibots to work on Saturdays. Up to the most departure a Rabbi Khofec-Khaim’s decision to follow Soviet authorities, considering this as “pikuakh nefesh” (“salvation lives”) acted . At the beginning of 20-th khasids of Chernobyl, rabbis of Talna, Skvir, Rakhmistr, adherents of tsadik Shlomo Bentsion Tverskoy and others left the country . On change to communes of Jewish small towns with their traditional institutes came “national regions”, organized by Soviet power as from the end 1923. In Ukraine several national regions embraced near 250 thousand Jews to the beginning of 30-th years, that formed 14,2 percent of the whole Jewish population, was
created . However, a main problem, gotten up before Soviet power in 1922-1923, was a problem of struggle against Zionism and against activity of Jewish athletic organizations; Soviet power decided the problem with methods of use force. An organization “Makkabi” was one of the most influential organizations in Ukraine. The most multiple its branches were in Odessa, Sumy, Kremenchug, Kharkov and Zhytomir. Their general number was near 20 . At the beginning of 1920-th athletic company “Makkabi” was a single half-legal center, which Zionist activists were grouping around. In 1920-th “Makkabi” organizations enumerated near 4 thousand youths and girls. Leading role in the company played Zionist-labor party and Youth organizations adjoined to it (Gistadrut, Gechover). Region associations were on territory of Kiev and Poltava regions; the largest organizations were in Kremenchug – near 700 persons and Kharkov -near 400 persons. Statute of one of the region organizations “Makkabi” indicated: “a) “Makkabi” unites Youth at age from 14 till 18 years… b) basically youths replenish rows of “Makkabi”; c) structure principle of building “Makkabi” is following: from a patrol, the least on the amount of persons in a group, to a troop and to the most unit – a legion. In 1923 Regional divisions were in the cities of Poltava, Kremenchug and Semionovka…” . In the same year 85 searches were executed in Region organizations, 30 persons were arrested, whereupon the GPU (the Central Political Administration) of the districts liquidated Kremenchug and other branches on base of resolution of June 15, 1923 . Similar processes took places in other regions of Soviet Ukraine, while Zionists led a very active political activity in west-ukrainian lands. So, in 1924 during electoral company of Parliament of Czechoslovakia from eleven parties, presented in it, Zionist Jewish Party (chairman A. Schpigel) took the
fifth place; intellectuals and workers of west-ukrainian cities entered in it, and Orthodox Jewish Party, which worked among rural inhabitants (chairman A. Kro), occurred the seventh place. The whole in Zakarpatie in 1921 there were 81 thousand 529 Jews . Beginning of 1920-th is characterized with struggle against Ivrit language, unrolled by Soviet power according to a resolution of the National Commissariat on Education of the Ukrainian SSR (August 1920), in which the following was indicated: “Maternal language of Jewish mass is Idish, rather then Ivrit (ancient Jewish language). Idish is a language of teaching in schools of all types on the whole territory of the Ukrainian SSR. Ivrit is excluded from programs of general education of seven-years labor schools” . In October 1923 the Central Jewish Library, which sizeable part consisted of books in ancient Jewish language, was taken under control by Jewish section of the Jewish Kiev Region Committee of KP(b)U.
In 1921-23 a great amount of literature in Idish was published by a co-operative publishing house “Culture-League”, which led fight for victory of “proletarian culture” in the country. Branches of the publishing house existed in Berdychev, Belaya Tserkov, Kamenets-Podolskiy and Mogilev-Podolskiy . “The most important factor, influenced upon situation in soviet Jewish small town, – notes a researcher E. Shkolnikova, – became coming of unified soviet culture… New culture and style of life, implanted in small town, attracted many Jews… came… Jewish culture in Idish – newspapers and journals on Idish, tours of Jewish theatres and singers, meetings with writers” . Really, the strongest blow on Jewish commune became deprivation of possibility for its members to talk, read, pray in Ivrite. The majority of newspapers, printed in 1920-1923, were newspapers in Idish – “Der Stern”, “Idisher”, “Poyer”, ╚Die Junger Garde”, there
was a journal “Die Rente Welt” and other publishing. A great number of private and public libraries consisted of books in Ivrite, which further fate is unknown, were allowed. So, disintegrated Jewish academic library based in 1920, which funds included book collection of Odessa Jewish Palestine Committee. There was a lot of rare books, ancient books, one of which was published in 1505 . The 1923-th year became a year of beginning of a new period of national policy of the RKP(b). The XII Congress of the Party declared that its official doctrine is directed into forming of a united socialist nation . This meant use of more cruel measures to Jewish organizations. Chekists established constant observation of all organizations operating in Ukraine both legally and illegally. So, Chief of the GPU of Ukraine V. Balitskiy, reporting about period of work from 01.10.1923 till 01.10.1924, marked that looking after Jewish organizations…: “Zeyre-Zion”, “Zion Union of Youth “Gistadrut”… “Makkabi”, “Gashomer-Gatsoir”, organizations of students “Droyer” and “Geholuts” was established . In May of 1923 Vice-President of the GPU G. Yagoda and the chief of the Confidential Department T. Deribas reported CK RKP(b), that “Confidential Department of the OGPUhas made by night from 13-th to 14-th these month searches at active members of Zionist organizations: Algemeinzion… Zeire-Zion… “Gehaver” (Zionist organization of students), that gave rather significant results. 49persons are arrested upon operation” . The first indications of totalitarianism and mass consciousness accompanying it have appeared in society. Documents more intrinsic to a Stalin period of Soviet history appears:
“The first non-party conference of Jewish workers of the city of Kharkov sends to the great leader of the world proletariat and guide
in struggle of all oppressed people hot proletarian greetings – to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
You are lovely and dear for us because you has created our the Great Communist Party and kept it as the apple of your eye, in order to go by correct way, and has putted the first stone in the building of the Komintern…
And we, Jewish workers, recant various Jewish so-called socialist parties. We, Jewish workers, know one and the only Party, which conducts us to struggle and victory – the Communist Party. Get up, patient the Leader, from your bed. This is our hot wish as well as of proletariat of all the world.
Correctly: Secretary of the Conference
of Jewish workers of the city of Kharkov Levin
April 28-29, 1923″ .
In 1923 measures in relation to religious and charitable organizations continue to become more cruel. ” Jewish synagogues always were places for propaganda of right parties in Jewish street, -It was marked in a report made by one of the Liquidation commissions of Kharkov, – To pull up by roots this contra-revolutionary propaganda heads of all synagogues were summoned and subscriptions were taken from them that any political propaganda should not be allowed… Almshouse, community “Esras Khoylim”, “Lekhem Eveynikhem” etc. were closed.” . In 1923 the Regional Liquidation commissions were filled up with applications from persons and organizations with requests for transfer of property of synagogues and communities; its content was approximately of the following character: “Hereby Kharkov Building Tekhnikum (Technical school) convincingly asks Kharkov District Liquidation commission to release for needs of joint club of Kharkov Building Tekhnikum… from
the synagogue. “Fainberg”, closed by you, placed in Ekatherinoslavskaya street No. 52 furniture in accordance with the enclosed inventory. Manager of the Tekhnikum the Political commissar Strelbitskiy” . Usually the Power of Attorney was applied further: “… Kharkov Building Tekhnikum trusts comrade Radko S. D. to receive furniture from the closed synagogue for the club of the Kharkov Building Tekhnikum through Regional Executive committee” with resolution “To receive marked things in October 6, 1923” . Under such scheme plundering and pilfering of property of majority of the Jewish communities took place. It has caused natural rebuff of the Jewish masses. In answer the religious communities tried to give reason for the right on possession synagogues:
“Thousands of Jewish citizens of various occupations and trades, among them large number workers and employees, use Khoralnaya synagogue for sufficing their religious needs, of what everyone may be easy convinced if will visit the synagogue on Saturdays and the more so on holidays when the synagogue is overcrowded with prayer people.
Synagogue is valuable and dear to overwhelming number of the Jews, as well as a national symbol connecting them with a one thousand years history of the people. Withdrawal of the chief synagogue from the local Jewish population in the capital of Ukraine, counter admitting principles of freedom of conscience, would call large bewilderment, moral pain and deep grief in hearts of the local Jewish population and far circles of Jewry.
We are sure the Regional Executive committee will satisfy our request.
Kharkov Jewish religious community” .
The beginning of the NEP de-escalation is characterized by the beginning of violent discussion of the problems of Jewish national autonomy. The majority of historians-specialists and public figures considered it to be positive but there was another opinion: “Inner life of Jews went on depleting”, said S. Dubnov, a historian who became famous in this period. “National cultural autonomy was actualized by the Jewish Section of the communist party which like bolshevism neophytes were ardently trying to excel their Russian friends in negating all historic Jewish legacy… “The Ukrainian newspapers “Dilo” (Action), “Novy Chas” (New Time), “Nova Zorya” (New Sunrise) clamored anti-Semitic materials; anti-Semitism gained acuity after the cause of Sh. Shvarzbard, the murderer of Simon Petlura. “Dilo”, the organ of the Ukrainian National Democratic Party, published a criminative article, calling all Jews the agents of the Comintern and Moscow’^This was unfortunately not the only defamatory article. The Jewish Community of Ukraine who rubbed through the Petlura pogroms in the present complex situation was supported by foreign communities. “Novy Mir” (New World) (Buenos Aires) of 6 June 1926 reported: “Under the initiative of Proskurov colony on Monday morning a meeting of the representatives of all Ukrainian and Jewish colonies was held. The question under consideration was how to give moral support to Sh. Shvarzbard’s defense.” In the interview with the representative of the Jewish Telegraph Agency the later stated that on the ground of archive data the anti-Semitic knocks on the communities are regarded as groundless for Petlura was responsible for the pogroms of Jews in Ukraine. On the whole Shvarzbard’s cause and discussing the pogroms of Jews was an important stage of Jewish history and contributed a lot into consolidation and development of Jewish
communities both of Western and Eastern Ukraine. “Voskreseniye” (Resuraction) (Buenos Aires) reported: “Shvarzbard’s defense had materials from Eastern Jewish Archive that contained 12000 cases of the perished during the pogroms.” Toreign Jewish communities were immediately informed about the progress of Shvarzbard’s defense and actively helped it to win. There were very many offers of help. In august 1926 Anri Torres, Sharzbard’s lawyer, in his special declaration referred to the words of Hanna Shvarzbard which said: “I am very grateful to you for the sympathy. I have never doubted the nobility of those who want to help me. My husband and I have always earned our living ourselves. Unless and until I have health and work I will earn my bread myself.” The struggle for Shvarzbard’s case and attempts to stand against Semitism made some Jewish leaders in the West of Ukraine make statements where they tried to make new appraisal of the old stereotypes and to denounce libelous assault on Jews in the twenties in Western press. In the digest of the Jewish Historical Archeological Commission there was published the article about Denikin’s pogroms and the Jewish self-defense. It cited Mandelsberg’s letter of 31 January 1923 : “All bourgeois December’s newspapers are fleckered with reports about unreal halfmillion army in Ukraine, which is perfectly armed with machineguns and has its central quarters in Kharkov headed by Zionists”. These absurd rumors are based on the Article by certain reporter from “New-York Times” and “Chicago Tribune”. ^11 Jewish historical archeological-geographical commissions were ordered to gather authentic information about the true state of Jewish self-defense in every area, their struggle against pogroms and brigandage.
M. Gorky gave his opinion of anti-Semitism and Shvarzbard’s case in press: “My observations of Jewish agricultural communities in Ekaterinoslav region give me right to state with all responsibility that Russian people can not be accused of anti-Semitism. It is true fact that Alexander the III used to tell colonel Gurko: “You know, I like it when Jews are beaten…” Thus this was the environment where people like Petlura were raised. After evaluation of one of the largest works on the history of Jews during World War II, the book by S. I. Gusev-Orenburgsky telling about the pogroms of Jews in 1919 in Ukraine A.M. Gorky wrote ” this book should be headlined “Acts of mad animals”. S. I. Gusev-Orenburgsky, a former priest, building up the bloody chronicles of atrocious deeds of religious Russian people must have felt depressed by the disgraceful truth he had to see and hear and which he had to tell1.’ Interesting enough that this opinion that stayed unchanged during the twenties raised multivalued reaction of Jewish bolshevists’ circles. For example regional department of Kharkov Politprosvet in 1923 held a representative trial over A. M. Gorky. Gorky was accused of intolerance to the Soviet Government and Jews. Prosecution comprised two University professors, the defense comprised two Jewish advocates. The Judge was a Jew-communist. The “Jewish Tribune” reported: “Gorky was charged with anti-Semitic pogroms. Amazing that the major accusatorial material was Gorky’s conversation with Sholom-Ashemom which was published in our newspaper. In that conversation Gorky denounced actions of Jewish communists in Russia.” The problems of Jewish-Ukrainian
relations were widely discussed in Western press. In 1926 two witnesses of Petlura’s murder made a declaration. They were Illarion Nosenko, the editor of ^ the Ukrainian newspaper “Trizub”, and R. Smith, an English language teacher. Nosenko noted that Shvarzbard was bolshevists’ agent and Petlura hated pogroms which had been carried out largely by Denikin and Bolsheviks. In respond to it the representatives of “Joint” in New-York organized a meeting of Jews-workers, devoted to the events in Paris. M. Kaz, one of the representatives of Joint inUkraine and Jakov Rachlis and Solomon Jakobi, organizations of Jewish self- defense in Ukraine addressed the meeting. They denounced the silence by which the rest of the world answered our heartbreaking grief. ,,The participants of the meeting do not condemn the Ukrainian people as a whole, they still commiserate with them in the struggle for their independent being”. On the whole anti-Jewish feeling connected with the events in Paris were present largely in the West of Ukraine. Sovetskaya Vlast created a thick screen for the information from abroad’ which resulted in isolation of the Jewish community from the rest of the world thus turning anti-Semitism from social phenomenon into quite a usual thing. Marking characteristic peculiarities of development of Jewish culture Dubnov criticized the state of literature: “The literature has absolutely wilted under the inquisitorial censure. Jewish press as well as the overall one was the monopoly of the governemnt. There were three newspapers (“Ernes” in Moscow, “Shtern” in Kharkov and “Oktyabr” in Minsk)” which were issued in native language by Jewish communes of every region and were meant for political propaganda… “Mediocrity and ignorance subdued everything and if there happened to appear a seed of talent it soon died deprived of soil and freedom. NEP de-escalation had more a psychological-social character than economic for this tendency itself would build up public opinion and in advance would prepare the people of Ukraine for the tight dictatorship of communism.
People began to be afraid of NEP trying to discard it first of all in their mind cultivating a feeling of shame for having merchant activities and developing adherence to working places and to the system that provided it. The activities headed for “kollectivizatsiya” (collectivization) and “industrializatsiya” (industrialization) came very soon leaving the dream of small merchants about self-realization to further generations. Impossibility to change anything created in the hearts of youth a special nihilistic attitude towards life and current events. It was the only media of demonstrating their protest. Lev Deich wrote about it: “Joining the Goy education Jewish youth soon joined the most advanced public movement which was widely spread at that time in our country… it was called “nihilism “. “From the middle twenties in Ukraine a lot of work was done to organize a state administrative management of the development of Jewish culture in the new regions, a rigid control was imposed over the life of the Jewish communities which were relocated to so-called “national areas”. By the decrees of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee and People’s Committee of 3 June 1926 about the measures of providing language equality the following positions were declared: “1. Equality of language of all nationalities and right of every citizen to speak to state
authority in native language; 2. Obligatory usage1 of the language of the majority for state organs in the administrative-territorial units where the majority of population sets national minority. At a time persecution of Zionists and the inmates of the regions started which did not want to bear up for the destruction of a community. The case of Zionist youth organization in Piryatin is a characteristic example of the above-mentioned. In 1926 a group of Jewish youth formed an organization which was composed of young men aged from 18 to 24, men of handicraft and merchants. Two handwritten magazines were spread “Der Wecker” (Alarm clock) and “Golos Truda” (Voice of Labor). The leaders were M. Mordukhovich, I. Mogilevsky and I. Rosinsky. On the 30 of July 1926 the arrests began, 56 men were under suspicion. By the decision of the Special Conference held by the college of OGPU (blueprint from Russian abbreviation which stands for “Unified State Political Department”) of the USSR the activists of the organization were deported to Kazakhstan with the further opportunity to immigrate to Palestine in 1927^ This was the way home of many dwellers of Ukrainian national areas who stood against the deporting policy of Bolsheviks.
N. Semashko, a distinguished ideologist of deporting policy, in 1926 wrote: “the Jewish problem” existed at the time of Zarism”. There is no problem indeed and none could ever be when due to the workers’ government all people have equal rights. Since Jews have rights same with other people, since they can do useful things… they will integrate into a large overall labor family.” xs
The protagonists of assimilating policy proposed creating an alternative educational system in regions, substituting religious institutions by a system of clubs, private schools and pioneer camps. In 1925 in Ukraine there were 342 Jewish schools with 56,3 thousand students, 59 Jewish clubs for workers, 57 reading houses, 47 libraries, 39 Jewish pioneer brigades. In April 1924 at All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee a special Central Committee for National Minorities was created. Its responsibility were trends of life of the Jewish and other national communities. On the whole in Ukraine in twenties lived about 40 nations and nationalities. On the statistic data of 1926 the number of non-Ukrainians was 6 mm people that is one fifth of the whole population. Out of this number 1,6 mm people were Jews that constituted 52 % of Jewish population of the USSR.
N. Semashko noted: “Now all working people both Jewish and Russian are building Socialism. Russian and Jewish people should destroy the remains of the hostility and misunderstanding which were settled by blood-suckers…'” Everyone who acts against Jews splits our unity of fighters and builders.
However class theory couldn’t neither explain nor restrain anti-Semitism, which was fomented by some political forces of the USSR in the twenties. A. Naiman, one of the most prominent specialist of this period, noted: “The activity of the Jewish organizations was impeded by the actions of anti-Bolshevist forces” which did not boggle at fomenting anti-Semitism ” Except for the “Protocols of Zion sages” other “documents” were spread. One of such documents was found in the things of Tsunder, a commander of Red Army, it
said: “To the representatives of Israeli League; we are on the brink of conquering the world. We must foment hatred among workers and peasants. ” Judo-phobic feelings were fomented by foreign media. Responding to the publications like this N. Berdyaev wrote: “It is not true… that Russia is governed by Jews… The statesmen are not Jews… Jews played not the least role in the revolution, they constituted an essential part of revolutionary revolutionaries-intellectuals… It is absolutely natural that it was defined by their suppressed state… I remember when in the depth of communist revolution the host of the house I lived in said: “It is not fair, you will not answer for Lenin being Russian but I will answer for Trotsky being Jew” We should note that strengthening of anti-Jewish feelings which concurred with Sovetskaya Vlast struggling against Zionism, played its role in antagonism of the members of the Jewish community, activizing the activity of Zionist sport organisations which acted most often illegally.
Regional authorities informed the Center that ╚Maccaby╩ and other oraganizations, lead by experienced Zionists hold the following activities: ╚1. In Cherkassy the Maccaby members held a ceremony of swearing allegiance to Zionism in front of a white-blue banner. 2. At night… in Kremenchug the Maccaby members held a procession with singing zionistic songs… 4. At the lecture ╚How a Jewish worker lives and fights in Palestine)) the Maccaby members maintained the point of view of bourgeois Zionism… ╩i0
In 1927 Josif-Itskhak Shneerson, rebe (Jewish priest) was arrested. He preached for promotion of homecraft industry in the country which would help the faithful working at home to fulfill all the precepts of Tora. Rebe exhorted the Joint and other foreign Jewish organizations to give money for teaching the Jewish handicraft, for purchasing the equipment they need and so on… Rebe was sentenced to capital punishment which was later substituted by deportation. A litle later he was pardoned and due to pleading of Peshkova Yekaterina Pavlovna he was allowed to emigrate. Analizing the anti-Semitic feelings in Ukraine Yu. Larin noted that most of all they were spread among intellectuals and remains of bourgeoisie. Harvest failure in 1926 raised anti-Semitic commotions in the Crimea and other regions. Thus the Jewish community was disrupted by the state policy of Soviets on the one hand and on the other by common anti-Semits which were supported by fly-sheets, different publications and emigrant press which was sent from abroad. It is noteworthy that at this difficult for the community time it was especially hard for the representatives of Jewish religion. L. Karsavin, a Russian philosopher, wrote about that period: ” We speak about unity, integrity and singularity of the Jewish culture taking it as a definition of the whole Jewish nation. But Jewish culture is religious and it can not be seperated from religion and that is its great value and mightiness” in 1924 a rule was imposed which implied permamnent control over the agents of religious organizations. There was found an explanatory note of Yeliya-Girsh Uryevich Mileisky, the rabbin of Kharkov synagogue, where he tried to explain his “unauthorized” departure from the city. It says: “To the Department of Cultural Supervision of the County Executive Committee. This is to certify that I was invited by the Kiev rabbin to
come to Kiev in order to solve some disputable questions concerning the commission of religious ceremony “Khalitsa” For that purpose I left Kharkov on 16 January of this year… I came back to Kharkov on 19 evening. The only reason why I did not register my departure is that I did not know about the rule. From now on I promise to declare my every departure in advance. In another note to Kharkov County Executive Committee Jews asked the authorities to allow them to celebrate Rosh a-Shana holiday. Mordkho Davidovich Barenburg wrote to the Administrative Department of Kharkov County Executive Committee “You have denied my request to allow me to pray during four days… We 15 men are old and inabled people. Our health does not let us go far to the synagogue. According to the laws of the Jewish religion we can not use any traffic during these days. “
Under controll of the authorities were all the actions of religious communities and individuals which were connected with an accomplishment of the precepts of Judaism. In the governmental organs and OGPU (blueprint from Russian abbreviation which stands for “Unified State Political Department”) special commissions were established. Their responsibility was to control synagogues and social agencies. Its activity as well as anti-semitic propaganda very often lead to anti-Semitic outbursts which were quite a common thing in the twenties. V. Mayakovsky wrote: “It is so hard to hear the word “zhid”(contemptuous name for Jews) Quite characteristic was the following document: “To the presidium of Kharkov County Executive Committee from Shemetov Bentsion Kastrelevich temporally residing in 7, Katsarskaya street, I was charged by a Special Session of OGPU of the USSR (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) on the base of clause 111 and 113 of the Criminal Code.
I was arrested by Korosten OGPU for organizing the Kheders and Yeshibots. Was put in prison and was released after I had signed a document which banned leaving Kharkov.
My case was heared by the Special Session of OGPU of the USSR. I was sentenced to deportation. My files were sent to OGPU of Moscow.
Krainiy, the prosecutor told me that I may replace my verdict by deportation abroad after that I was given requirements enclosed to the application and 20 US dollars in cash for expenses.”36
At the same time the Government worked in the direction of creating new organizations and institutions of communal life and this work without exaggeration can be called really great. In 1927 in Ukraine there were established 77 village Jewish councils, 30 Jewish vocational schools, 1 national area, 393 Jewish schools with 61352 students^
On the whole in Ukraine at the given period 81,6 % of all Jewish children aged 8-14 were engaged in educational process though only 36,3% of them were taught in their native language. The schools were supported by many Jewish and Zionist organizations which at that period were adopting a wide cultural policy aimed at the development of Jewish culture in Ukraine. I. Migovich, a Doctor of Philosophy noted: “formation of national intellectual groups has started… thus out of 79 graduates of Mukachevo Jewish gimnasium the half became teachers at comprehensive schools in other cities and towns…
The majority of them went on reading law and part of them emigrated to Palestine”^13
One of the achievement of the Soviet aducational policy was mass compulsory education of people. The campaignes for reducing illiteracy were supported by many members of communities of Ukraine which were anxious to learn Jewish language. Almost every city had its courses of intensive studying. From many places of that kind there came a lot of reports about the progress in overcoming illiteracy. One of them said: “To the responsible for the work with national minorities of the County Executive Committee. The Regional Executive Committee informs that in Zenkov there were oganized the courses of intensive education for grown-ups. The courses started working on 7 January 1927. The only difficulty in this work is lack of Jewish ABC-books and proper text-books. Gubrich, chairman of the Regional Executive Committee”
During the twenties in Poltavskaya oblast several Jewish schools were opened: School # 9 in Mirgorod (4 years’ education); Labour School # 4 in Kremencug (348 students); Labour school #2 in Luben, Labour School # 2 named in honur of the first of May. On the whole for this period the situation is representative when in the towns Kheder, Yeshibot and Talmud-Tora (primary religious school financed by the community) functioned paralelly. Some students along with Jewish schools managed to go to state schools, founded by the Soviet educational institutions.
One of the major trends of the activity of the department of national minorities was medical care about the students of Jewish schools. In the report of the administration of Labour School # 4 in Poltava which was sent to the Department of National Minorities of the County Executive Committee we read: “A great work was done. It lasted two years and was meant for medical examination of the students of the school at the health center of Poltava Society for Tuberculosis Treatment. There are 440 students at the school which constitute 27% of the whole population of Poltava. After the students were divided according to their health and physical state it was found out that only twenty children can be called healthy and well developped, 180 children had an average health and 240 children were found pimping and sick. “^
At Labour Schools there were centers for medical examination of adult Jews, artistic clubs, reading houses etc. On the whole Jewish schools became centers of education and cultural life of Jews. Statistics says that if in 1897 only 33% of Jews were educated, in 1928 this figure had grown to 73,5 %.iiS
However we can not agree with those authors who think that the period of the twenties was a period of revival of the Jewish culture because the Soviets pursued an assimilating policy aimed at ousting Hebrew out of everyday life and at engaging Jewish people into building of the state and at the destruction of religion and originality of the Jewish people.
In the West of Ukraine Tarbut (culture) schools were growing popular among the people. These schools were found by Zionistic organizations in the early twenties. In these schools the education went in Hebrew and the Jewish traditions were followed. In Western Ukraine in 1928/29 academic years there worked 52 incomplete secondary and secondary educational establishments like
“Jewish contribution to the Revolution” noted: “There are towns where the 1 May is celebrated with matsa (Jewis bread) and all traditional Easter dishes. The part of religion concerning meals survivied here. During the twenties the number of young people decreased in small towns. On the whole by the middle thirties the Jewish population of little towns thinned compared with the prerevolutionary period. From 1926 to 1935 it decreased to 20-50%. Jews constituted on the average 40-49 % of the whole population of the town though there were some towns where Jews formed the majority. Many Jews of Ukraine moved to Moscow, Leningrad and other big cities of Soviet Russia helping to develop the economy of these cities. M. M. Gorinov noted: “In the twenties the life in Moscow was quite stable. The economy developed quite successfully, social problems were resolved, political state normalized. Tn the second half of the twenties in the West of Ukraine Soviet authorities proceeded to inplementation of a plan of reforming the structure of Jewish areas and to exterminating them at all through deporting Jews to the South of Ukraine and to the Far East. Solution of the problem of creating Jewish nationhood was entrusted to Public Committee for Farming Questions of Jewish Workers headed by Yu. Larionov (M. A. Lurie). On the 19 of May 1926 All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee passed an enactment “The measures for imrovement of state of Jewish working people” which says about a need of economic reforms in a Jewish area. S. Dimanshtein stated in his article “Jewish national minority in the USSR. New stage.” There are a lot of such enactments… on the present stage we reached such condition when due to the whole set of circumstances we moved from solution of economic questions to organization of regional autonomy of Jews.”5i|
This new idea was the idea of establishment of Jewish republic in the Crimea and settling 280 thouthand Jews on its territory for creating Jewish majority in the region. A project was set forward by A. Bragin, head of the Jewish section of RKP(b) (blueprint from Russian abbreviation which stands for “Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks”) according to which Jewish autonomy was to be established on the territory of the North Crimea, prairie South lands of Ukraine and Black See coast to Abhasia. This project was even welcomed by L. Kamenev, L. Trotsky, N. Bukharin, A. Tsurupa, though it was brought into being due to antagonism of some Statesmen in particular A. Smirnov.