A report which was circulated some time ago that Stalin planned to deport all the Jews of the Soviet Union to Birobidjan and that he died in a fit of rage when Marshal Klementi Voroshilov opposed his plan, was confirmed by P.K. Ponomarenko, Soviet Ambassador in Poland, according to an article in Paris-Soir, widely read French newspaper.
The Paris paper, in an article published last Friday, said that Ambassador Ponomarenko gave the details to a group of Polish Communist journalists in Warsaw. According to the article, Stalin called in 25 members of the Soviet Presidium in February 1953 soon after the revelation of the “doctors’ plot” against key Soviet leaders. The article said that Stalin announced at this conference he planned to send all Russian Jews to Birobidjan, the so-called autonomous Jewish republic which is more than 3,000 miles from Moscow.
Stalin said he was doing so, according to the article, because of the “Zionist and imperialist” plot against the Soviet Union and against Stalin. Lazar M. Kaganovich, the “only Jewish member” present asked if the plan included every Jew in Russia and Stalin replied a “certain selection” would be made.
The newspaper account reported that V. M. Molotov, then Soviet Foreign Minister–who has a Jewish wife–said in a “trembling” voice that such deportation would have a “deplorable” effect on world opinion. At this point, according to the story, Marshal Voroshilov threw his Communist Party card on the table and said: “If such a step is taken, I would be ashamed to remain a member of our party, which will be completely dishonored. “Stalin, in a rage, roared: “Comrade Klementi, it is I who will decide when you no longer have the right to keep your membership card.”
The article reported that, with the meeting in an uproar, Stalin fell to the floor, stricken. Lavrenti Beria, then chief of the secret police, jumped to his feet, danced around Stalin’s prostrate form, and shouted happily, “We are free. Finally! finally!” The doctors arrived a few minutes later and the dictator was taken to his rooms where he remained until his death was announced in March.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.