Trotsky Backs Jewish Homeland in Planned Society; Hits Soviet Policy
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Trotsky Backs Jewish Homeland in Planned Society; Hits Soviet Policy

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Reversing his advocacy of assimilation of Jews, Leon Trotsky declared today that he recognized the Jews’ need for a “common homeland,” but emphasized that the final solution of the Jewish question would come only through the “emancipation of entire humanity” by international Socialism.

In an exclusive interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the exiled Russian revolutionary, charging that Soviet Russia had not solved its Jewish problem, went further to accuse the Soviet “bureaucracy” of anti-Semitic tendencies.

Closely guarded by police in the home of Diego Rivera, the painter, Mr. Trotsky sketched his attitude on Jewish issues, Zionism, cultural development and emigration problems, but declined to discuss political questions. He revealed he was working on a book dealing with the Moscow trials and general questions.

The exiled journalist and former associate of Lenin appeared in good health. He gave written replies in French to questions submitted to him in writing. Expressing regret that he did not know Yiddish, Mr. Trotsky recalled that he had been inclined toward the idea of assimilation of Jews, but had changed his attitude because of “historical developments.”

He linked anti-Semitism to capitalism, declaring:

“Declining capitalism has led everywhere to savage nationalism of which anti-Semitism is a part. The Jewish question arose in the most highly developed capitalist countries of Europe, as happened in Germany. On the other hand, the Jews of the various countries built up their own press and developed their own language–Yiddish–as an instrument suitable to modern culture.

“We must bear in mind that the Jewish people will exist a long time. But the people cannot exist without a common territory. Zionism is based on this idea, but the everyday facts do not demonstrate to us that Zionist is capable of solving the Jewish question. The conflict between the Jews and the Arabs is assuming very tragic and threatening proportions.

“I do not believe the Jewish question can be solved within the framework of decayed capitalism and under the control of English imperialism.

“How, you will ask me, will Socialism finally solve this question? I can only speculate about it. Socialism, which has come into a leading position on our planet, or at least in its most important parts, will provide unbelievable possibilities in all fields.

“In the history of humanity there has been an epoch of mass emigrations on a barbaric basis. Socialism will make possible large emigrations on the basis of the most developed technic and culture. Of course, it is not a matter of forced emigration–that is, to create new ghettos for certain nationalities–but of voluntary emigration; or rather, the question is of emigration which will be demanded by certain peoples or parts of peoples themselves.


“The dispersed Jewish masses which will desire to live in a separate community will surely find a place large and rich enough under the sun. The same possibilities will be open for the Arabs and other dispersed peoples.

“The national topography will become a part of a planned economy. This is the great historic perspective as I see it. To work for international Socialism means to work also for the solution of the Jewish question.

“You ask me if there still exists a Jewish question in Soviet Russia. Yes, it exists, just as there exists a Ukrainian question, a Georgian question and even a Russian question.

“The all-powerful bureaucracy throttles the development of national culture as well as culture in general. Furthermore, the country of the great proletarian revolution is now living through a period of deep reaction. If the ascendancy of the revolution brought out the best feelings of human solidarity, the Thermidorean reaction brought to the surface everything that is low, underland, backward in the environment of 170,000,000 people.

“In order to strengthen its rule the bureaucracy did not even hesitate at causing certain dizzying fumes of chauvinistic tendencies, particularly anti-Semitism. The recent trial in Moscow, for instance, was prepared with the almost open object of making the internationalists appear as Jews without ideals and law, capable of selling themselves to the German Gestapo (State secret police).


‘Since 1925, and particularly since 1926, there has been in progress well-camouflaged anti-Semitic demagogy, hand in hand with symbolic trials against open pogromists.

“You ask me if the old Jewish small bourgeoisie in Soviet Russia has been socially assimilated in the new Soviet society. I am forced to give you a clear reply. Social and national statistics in Soviet Russia are narrowly tendentious; they do not serve to prove the truth but glorify the leaders and the creators of the good.

“A substantial part of the Jewish small bourgeoisie, and particularly of the lower and middle class categories were taken in to the gigantic apparatuses of Government industry, trade, cooperatives, etc; that created a spirit of anti-Semitism which the leaders are using experts to direct especially against the Jews the dissatisfaction which existed against the bureaucracy.

“About Biro-Bidjan (autonomous Jewish territory in Soviet Siberia) I cannot give you my personal evaluations. I do not know the territory, and know even less the conditions under which the Jews are setting there. In any event there is only the question here of a partial experiment. Soviet Russia is still too poor to solve its own Jewish question, even if there existed a much more Socialistic regime than the present one.

“The Jewish question, I emphasize again, is closely connected with the emancipation of entire humanity. Everything being done differently in this field cannot be more than a palliative and a retraversal, as proven by the example of Palestine.”

The interview was arranged through Mr. Trotsky’s private secretary. The correspondent was aided by Kalman Landau, Abraham Weisbaum and Moses Glickofsky, of the local Yiddish paper, Der Weg.

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