Lenin: Respect Ukrainian peasants, treat the Jews with an iron rod
What kind of Jewish conspiracy was Bolshevism, when most Jews at the time flocked to the White Russians, the main enemy of Bolshevik power?
I’m working to finish the next part of my Ukrainian grandmother’s childhood story — the part where she and her family suddenly flee to Crimea in 1933. In the process of writing this, I’ve been churning through a lot of historical material and I frequently come across various documents and bits and pieces of trivia that, although interesting, are too small or disjointed to fit into my larger installments. So like any good historian, I’ve been hoarding them…hoping to use them one day.
Some are just too special or funny or have too much relevance to current events to leave sitting filed away. Like this one: a document Lenin wrote to the Politburo in 1919.
Why is it interesting? Well, in its own little way it helps contradict two very powerful (and often self-reinforcing) myths about the Bolsheviks. It’s the notion that: a) the Bolsheviks were the biggest enemies of Ukrainian culture and language and b) that Bolshevism was some kind of Jewish plot and all the Jews were in on it. These two myths have been kicking around for a long time — and in certain Ukrainian nationalist and fascist-adjacent movements they were combined into one arch antisemitic and anti-communist historical trope: the everlasting threat of Kike-Communaim to the Ukrainian nation! Jews are communists and communists are Jews — and they both want to wipe Ukraine off the map (with a bit of help from Muscovy)!
First a bit of context.
Lenin wrote the text sometime in November 1919, when the Red Army was starting to rout Anton Denikin’s White Russian Volunteer Army in modern-day Ukraine and Southern Russia. Victory for the Red Army was at hand. Soon it would the corner White Russian army in Crimea and then drive it out completely towards the end of 1920.