(JTA) — Documents showing that Soviet Communist leader Vladimir Lenin had a Jewish heritage are on display in Moscow.
The documents include a letter written by Lenin’s oldest sister saying that their maternal grandfather was a Ukrainian Jew who converted to Christianity in order to gain access to higher education, The Associated Press reported. The letter, which has been fiercely disputed, was written by Anna Ulyanova in 1932 to Joseph Stalin, Lenin’s successor following his death in 1924.
“He came from a poor Jewish family and was, according to his baptismal certificate, the son of Moses Blank, a native of (the western Ukrainian city of) Zhitomir,” read the letter. “Vladimir Ilych had always thought of Jews highly. I am very sorry that the fact of our origin — which I had suspected before — was not known during his lifetime.”
Ulyanova asked Stalin to make Lenin’s Jewish heritage known in an effort to stanch the rise of anti-Semitism, according to the AP. But Stalin ordered her to “keep absolute silence” about her letter, the exhibition’s curator, Tatyana Koloskova, told the AP.