Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Anti-semitism Still Effective Among Soviet People, Mesta Reports

October 20, 1953
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Anti-Semitism “which Stalin had stirred up” in the USSR is still noticeable among the population, according to Perle Mesta, former United States Minister to Luxemburg, who has just returned from an extended visit to the Soviet Union.

Reporting her impressions, Mrs. Mesta says in an article in the New York Herald-Tribune today that during her visit to Kiev, in the Ukraine, she learned that Lavrenti Beria, the number two man in the Soviet Government, had been arrested by Malenkov as a spy. She attempted to interview some people on the street as to what they thought of the development.

Most were too frightened to say anything. Mrs. Mesta writes that this was “far too dangerous a subject to discuss,” especially with someone they did not know. But one woman volunteered this defense of Malenkov’s action in arresting the number two man of the Kremlin:

“My husband says Beria was nothing but a dirty Jew and they have found him out. Stalin could keep him in line, but after Stalin died they could not keep him in line and they had to do that. They did the right thing.”

Mrs. Mesta adds that as far as any responsible people knew, Beria was not a Jew. “But it seems that anti-Semitism which Stalin had stirred up just before he died was now helping to justify the liquidation of Beria, ” she concluded. She also was told in Kharkov, another large city in the Ukraine, that about one-third of the city’s 1,000,000 residents are Jews.

Recommended from JTA