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Lazar Kaganovich: The Chief of Stalin’s Willing Executioners. Implications for HOLODOMOR, The Great Terror, and Katyn Massacre


jan-peczkis-book-review

 

This review is from: Iron Lazar: A Political Biography of Lazar Kaganovich (Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies)

 

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This work presents a great deal of information not only on leading Communist personages, but also on the functioning of the Soviet Union. I focus on a few main themes:

THE JEWISHNESS OF LAZAR KAGANOVICH

Lazar Kaganovich2

Author Rees repeatedly refers to Kaganovich as a deracinated Jewish revolutionary (e. g, p. 215, 268, 275). However, a better term might be the NON-JEWISH JEW, in accordance with the Jewish Communist Isaac Deutscher. [See my review.] In any case, the young Lazar Kaganovich had attended a Jewish school (KHEDER)(p. 3). Well into adulthood, Lazar openly identified with his Jewishness. Thus, in 1916, at the age of 23, he worked in a factory under the name of Boris Kosherovich (Yiddish-kosher), indicative of pride in his Jewish background, according to Rees. (p. 8). In later years, Kaganovich strongly opposed Zionism and other forms of Jewish separatism, but, then again, so did various other assimilationist Jews.

One common exculpation for Jews in Communism is their professed idealism, their professed identification with the disinherited, and their professed desire for a more just world. In the case of Kaganovich, at least, the motives were almost the exact opposite. Rees quips, “Kaganovich already in 1919 advanced a Machiavellian conception of how Bolshevik state power should be organized. He displayed a disregard for democracy.” (p. 275).

Let us put Kaganovich in broader context. Leading Jewish Communists showed different degrees of extremism in their Communist radicalism. For instance, during the 1918-1921 civil war, Zinoviev called for the extermination of the bourgeoisie as a class. (p. 23). In addition, during this time, Kaganovich endorsed Trotsky’s controversial policy of shooting military commanders and commissars for breaches of discipline. (p. 27).

Author Rees has some strong words about Kaganovich, portraying him a selfish opportunist, “Other examples of Kaganovich’s cowardice—his failure to defend his brother Mikhail, Mikoyan’s claim of his loss of nerve in 1941, his failure to resist the anti-Semitic course of Stalin in the later years—fit the stereotyped image of the ambitious but cowardly, self-serving Jew.” (p. 258).

NO ERRAND-BOY TO STALIN: THE POWER AND SIGNIFICANCE OF LAZAR KAGANOVICH

We sometimes hear the exculpation that Jewish Communists were not all that important in the scheme of things. [Much the same was claimed by Adolf Eichmann in his “cog in the machine” and “banality of evil” dissimulations.] Nothing could be further from the truth.

Rees identifies Lazar Kaganovich as the most prominent Jew in Soviet public life (p. 246), and as a person who was indispensable to Stalin in the 1930’s. (p. 247). Rees also says that Kaganovich, “contributed more than any other individual to shaping the [Stalin] regime in its formative years.” (p. 271). Between 1930 and 1935, Kaganovich was—according to Rees—“a figure of enormous power” who, moreover, appeared to be a possible successor to Stalin. (p. 273).

——The following [except for the titles in CAPS, and explanatory comments in brackets] are direct quotes——

KAGANOVICH RESPONSIBLE FOR THE UKRAINIAN FAMINE-GENOCIDE (HOLODOMOR)

Kaganovich, as general secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party, was a forthright exponent of forcible grain seizure. He now defended a policy of exploiting the peasants, a policy which, when advocated by [fellow Jews] Zinoviev and Trotsky, had had denounced only in November 1926. (p. 83).

He [Kaganovich] was the principal author of the Urals-Siberian method of grain procurement of 1929-30 that acted as a prelude to forcible collectivization. He facilitated the mass deportation of the kulaks and played a key role in expulsion of Kuban peasants in 1932. In the years of famine he was the most vocal supporter of Stalin’s draconian law of 7 August 1932… (p. 272).

[Note that Kaganovich was at the height of his power as Stalin’s deputy, in 1930-1935. (p. 123). This covered the years of the HOLODOMOR].

KAGANOVICH AND THE COMMUNIST WAR AGAINST THE KULAKS

It was in the context of collectivization and dekulakization that Stalin (the Man of Steel) applied to him the appellation ‘Iron Lazar’. (p. 209).

Kaganovich, in a lengthy report to the plenum [January 1933], castigated the kulaks, offering them as scapegoats for the catastrophic failure of official policy…Only by breaking kulak resistance had it been possible to consolidate the KOLKHOZY, he claimed, thus confounding the direst warnings of Rykov, Tomsky and Bukharin, who had wished to see a slackening of the class struggle. [pp. 111-112; See also p. 96, about Lenin, already by 1916 dissenting from Bukharin, and arguing against any soon-to-be withering-away of the state.]

At the XVII Party Congress, in January-February 1934, Kaganovich described the “revolution from above” as “the greatest revolution which human history has known, a revolution which smashed the old economic structure and created a new KOLKHOZ system on the base of the socialist industrialization of the country.” (p. 115).

SOVIET COMMUNISM GROWS EVER MORE ONEROUS—THANKS TO STALIN AND KAGANOVICH

Under the pressure of the radicalization of policies after 1928-30, the Bolshevik party-state evolved through a series of cycles of repression, culminating in the Terror of 1937-8. But Stalin managed the terror and was prescient enough to check these processes when they jeopardized the regime’s survival. Kaganovich was Stalin’s willing accomplice. He played a key role in promoting the Stalin cult and in developing the Stalinist political system. (p. 227).

KAGANOVICH AND THE GENOCIDE OF SOVIET POLES (1937-1938)

[Lazar Kaganovich evidently had a long-term enmity towards Poles. Already by the mid-1920’s, he had thought that his rule over Ukraine could serve as a model for an eventual Polish Soviet Socialist Republic. (p. 72)].

[During the Great Terror, NKVD Order No. 00447 led to the genocidal murder of over 100,000 Soviet Poles. Kaganovich, and other Politburo members, signed 38 decisions that expanded the number of victims. (p. 195). The “Polish Operation” was well-named. In addition to all this, Kaganovich was involved in moves to restrict the cultural rights of various non-Russian peoples. (p. 195).]

In one of his final interviews, Kaganovich asserted that the arrests and executions of 1937-38 had been done according to Soviet law. He thus ignored his own role as a leading advocate of Soviet state lawlessness. (p. 267).

KAGANOVICH AND HIS COMPLICITY IN PRECIPITATING THE KATYN MASSACRE (1940)

Kaganovich’s role in the Great Terror and his role in authorizing the murder of the Polish officers are among the most heinous of his crimes. (p. 274).

——-End of direct quotes———

STALIN AND THE JEWS (ZYDOKOMUNA): WHY STALIN DID NOT TRUST THEM

When it comes to rivals for Lenin’s position, Kaganovich appears to always have been on Stalin’s side. Otherwise, Rees generalizes that, “Most of Stalin’s opponents in the 1920s were Jews, but for many years thereafter, he had promoted Jewish into important positions.” (p. 268). In fact, Stalin’s chief rivals for the succession of Lenin were Trotsky [Jew], Zinoviev [Jew], and Kamenev [half-Jew]. (p. 59).

At later times, Jews worked in collusion (Jewish ethnic solidarity?) against Stalin. In 1925, with Trotsky eliminated, Zinoviev and Kamenev challenged Stalin’s concentration of power. (p. 53). At the Central Committee plenum in July 1926, Kamenev, Zinoviev, and Trotsky spoke out against Stalin. (p. 56).

Not surprisingly, Stalin feared people who could potentially become his enemies. For instance, in the mid-1930s, with the Jew Genrich Yagoda as head, the NKVD was a powerful agency not entirely under Stalin’s control. (p. 165). No wonder that Stalin felt more comfortable replacing him with Yezhov, a non-Jew. In 1935, Stalin even demoted Kaganovich out of the conviction that no deputy should get too powerful. (p. 224).

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https://www.amazon.com/gp/review/R7H5OLVHJ9SUI?ref_=glimp_1rv_cl

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One comment on “Lazar Kaganovich: The Chief of Stalin’s Willing Executioners. Implications for HOLODOMOR, The Great Terror, and Katyn Massacre

  1. Mr. Jan Peczkis
    April 8, 2017

    Zydokomuna Bombshell: I have just written a greatly-expanded version of my earlier review of this book:

    Uwaga! Zydokomuna: Niedawno napisalem wielko-rozszerzona recenzje tej ksiazki:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2ZYV1M3TE87H5/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00BSZTJEY

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