Moscow (Apr. 27)
(By our Moscow Correspondent)
The present brand of Russian anti-Semitism is essentially of more dangerous and serious nature than in former times because it is a more conscious one. It is no longer like the attitude of the peasant whose hatred of the Jews had no ground and no reason a hatred that was artificially produced and developed through the machinations of the Czar’s officials. Today the Russian hates the Jew because he thinks that the Jews is to blame for all his troubles; he hates the Jew when there is a shortage of butter in the city; he hates him when he cannot find work; he hates him because he and his whole family have to share one small room together with Jews due to the housing shortage in Moscow. The Jew is to blames for everything, despite the fact that he suffers as much, and in some respects more, than the Russian.
Anti-Semitism in Russia today is of a more biter nature than in the old days. The official Soviet organ. “Pravda.” admits this, observing in a recent issue: “We know well that anti-Semitism today has its roots in the present economic condition. We know that it is caused by the competition prevailing in the private trading where the Jewish “nepman” is also to be found; we know that it is caused by the competition among the applicants for employment where non-Jews compete with a considerable number of Jews; we know that it is caused also by the housing crisis which creates many unpleasant incidents. We call upon everybody to combat anti-Semitism which not only causes suffering to the Jews but also lowers the prestige of the Soviet Government.”
The “Pravda” is not the only newspaper to write this way. Many other official and unofficial Soviet papers speak in a similar vein. No one denies the presence of the danger.
Even some of the higher government officials are falling under the influence of anti-Semitism. When, some time ago, the “Pravda” revealed the facts of an outrageous incident in a Leningrad factory where Jewish workers were being tortured and persecuted no one took the trouble to do anything about it, and the persecution continued. The same situation prevails in many government bereaus. Thus, a drive for economy in government expense has been instituted. involving the discharge of many officials. And naturally it is the Jews who suffer most in this move. Even in cases where they are not discharged, they are subjected to all sorts of humiliations and persecutions from their non-Jewish fellow officials. The presence of even one Jew in a bureau is sufficient to arouse hatred and bitterness.
The situation in the schools is not much different, even though there is no economic foundation for it there. Anti-Semitism is to be found among the pupils as well as among the teachers. The acuteness of the condition was revealed recently when an investigation showed that a Jewish pupil had been tortured by his non-Jewish fellow pupils in a Charkoff school until his health was completely broken. In Ostashkoff a Jewish student was lured to an island by several Christian students and “punished” for the crucifixion of Jesus. He was found later unconscious and cruelly beaten up. The attitude of the teachers at the school on this matter was so outrageous that the ‘Pravda’ could not suppress a vigorous protest.
The recent incidents in the great Moscow Theatre brought to life by the activities of Golovanov, the director, give an idea of what is taking place among the so-called artistic intelligentsia in Russia today. Golovanov persecuted the best violin player in his orchestra so cruelly that the latter could find no escape except in suicide. This man has been brazen enough even after the suicide of the Jewish musician to declare openly that “we will get rid of the Jews in time.” He has gone as far as to reject a new opera which had been approved by the Commissariat on Education stating publicly that the reason for his action was the fact that the libretto was composed by a Jew, Halperin. “How can a reputable composer set the music to a libretto which was written by a Jew?” Golovanov asked of the composer.
Incidents in every day life revealing the presence of an ever spreading anti-Semitism could be cited endlessly. To walk through the streets of Moscow with one’s eyes and ears wide awake is sufficient to realize that the poison of Jew hatred, in its new form of venomous, conscious anti-Semitism, has taken firm hold of the masses as well as of the higher elements and government officials.
Up to now the Soviet Government has been combatting anti-Semitism as a product left over from the old Czarist regime. Now the Soviet Government is facing the problem of combatting not only that hang over product but also the one resulting from the new economic situation. One hopes that the Soviet Government will succed in solving this problem. The Soviet Government is strong today and can accomplish a great deal. It has shown itself firm in dealing with anti-Semitism and is evincing no sign of leting up in its drastic campaign against all forms of Jewish persecution.
The sharp form which anti-Semitism has assurned in Russia at the present time is probably a temporary manifestation, resulting from the economic depression which Russia is going through this year.