NEW YORK (Jan. 13)
Jews throughout the world were electrified today by news from Moscow that a "Jewish plot" against the lives of top Soviet leaders had been "discovered" and that nine prominent doctors, most of whom are Jews, had been arrested by the Soviet authorities and charged with "terrorism" and with taking orders from the American intelligence service through Jewish organizations.
The Moscow report, which was broadcast over the Soviet radio for publication in the entire Soviet press, was seen as an indication that a virulent campaign against the more than 2,000,000 Jews in the U.S.S.R. is now in the making and that the green light for unprecedented Soviet anti-Jewish propaganda has been given by the Kremlin.
The implications of the Soviet charges were considered here as dangerous for Soviet Jewry as was the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" forgery disseminated by the Czarist regime and the notorious Czarist "ritual murder" trials of Jews. Fear for the fate of the Jews in the Soviet Union as well as in the satellite countries was expressed as a result of this open move against the Jews.
MOSCOW INVOLVES J.D.C. WHICH WITHDREW FROM RUSSIA 15 YEARS AGO
The Moscow broadcast said that the nine arrested doctors "confessed" killing Andrei Zhdanov, one of the top members of the Politbureau who was once considered a likely successor to Stalin and who died in 1948, and in bringing about the death, through false diagnosis, of Alexander Sherbakov, head of the political administration of the Soviet Army, who died in 1945.
Although the American Joint Distribution Committee ceased its relief activities in the Soviet Union in 1938, the Moscow authorities charged the doctors with being "connected with the intenational Jewish bourgeois-nationalist organization ‘Joint’ set up by the American intelligence service. " A statement calling this charge "fantastic", was issued in New York by Edward M. M. Warburg, chairman of the J.D.C.
The arrested doctors are also charged with having tried to kill Marshal Alexander M. Vasilevsky and other military leaders including Marshal Leonid A. Govorov, commander of the Soviet armies in Finland in World War H; Marshal Ivan Konev, former commander of ground forces; a one-time chief of the general staff, Gen. S. M. Shtemenko, and Adm. P.I. Levchenko, deputy navel minister, it was said.
"The unmasking of the band of doctors and prisoners constitutes a crushing blow to the Anglo-American warmongers," Izvestia, the Soviet government newspaper, said. "Their agencies were caught and rendered harmless, the true face of the slave-owners and cannibals of the U. S. and England now stands revealed," the newspaper said.
The nine doctors were identified as Profs. M.S. Vovsi, V.N. Vinogradov, M.B. Kogan, B.B. Kogan, P.I. Yegorov, A. L Feldman, Y. A. Etinger, A.M. Drinshtein and G.I. Mayorov. All were identified as "therapeutic doctors" except Professor Grinshtein, who was described as a neuropathologist.
Three of the accused doctors were among the five physicians who signed the official Soviet medical report on Zhdanov’s death. They were Yegorov, described in the medical report as director of medical administration at the Kremlin; Vinogradov, a member of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and Mayorov, physician emeritus of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic–largest of the republics making up the Soviet Union. The other two signatories of the 1948 report were Prof. Vasilenko, a corresponding member of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and A. Fedorov, a candidate of medical sciences.
MIKHOELS, SOVIET JEWISH ARTIST, CALLED AN AGENT OF AMERICAN JEWRY
Soviet press accounts today claimed that instructions concerning "the destruction of the leading personnel of the Soviet Union" were sent from the American headquarters of the "Joint" through a Dr. Shimyelievich and "the well-known Jewish bourgeois nationalist Mikhoels." There was no further identification of them.
Solomon Mikhoels, prominent Jewish actor and president of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow, was the head of the Moscow Yiddish Art Theatre until his death in January 1948 in the Soviet capital. He visited the United States in 1943 as head of a Soviet-Jewish mission and was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1931.
In a front-page editorial today, Pravda, official organ of the Communist Party, declared the "exposure of the gang of doctor prisoners is a crushing blow at the American-English warmongers. Their agents have been caught and rendered harmless. Once more before the whole world, there is shown the real face of the slave-owner cannibals of the United States and England," Pravda added. However, the paper criticized the Soviet Ministry of Health and other state organs for not uncovering the group earlier.
The Moscow radio said that "investigation has established that members of this terrorist group, by taking advantage of their positions as doctors and by violating the trust of ill people with premeditation, criminally undermined their health and deliberately made incorrect diagnoses and then, by incorrect healing methods, destroyed them."
Regarding Mr. Zhdanov’s death, the broadcast said: "The criminals confessed they made an incorrect diagnosis of his disease and, concealing the miocardial infraction from which he suffered, prescribed a regime which was contra-indicated for this serious illness and thereby killed Comrade A.A. Zhdanov." The broadcast added that in the case of Mr. Sherbakov, the doctors "incorrectly applied strong medicines for his treatment, introduced an experimental regime and thus caused his death."