Throughout Jewish history malicious Haman figures have risen and B”H fallen. In our minds Germany’s Hitler, yemach shmo, is the Haman of the last generation. But Russia’s Joseph Stalin, yemach shmo, ranks very close. Responsible for the deaths of about 15-20 million of his own people, Stalin had a special place in his black heart for the Jewish people.
On the miraculous Purim of 1953, Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror ended.
Stalin was a maniacal murderer. Paranoid, he saw those around him as enemies. The Jews were a Fifth Column to him, disloyal, dangerous. In well-orchestrated actions, Stalin executed scientists, intellectuals, writers, artists, peasants, landowners and his own Army’s generals - with a special emphasis on the Jews.
The Night of the Murdered Poets of 1952 eliminated Jewish culture along with poets, writers, playwrights, artists. The Doctors’ Plot of 1953 launched a vicious anti-Semitic media campaign when Stalin accused the nation’s Jewish doctors of planning to poison Soviet leaders.
Building on the need to eliminate the three million Jews from Soviet Society, Stalin reportedly planned mass deportations of Soviet Jews to Siberian concentration camps.
Only a few days before the doctors were to go on trial, and before the reported deportations were to take effect, Stalin suffered a massive stroke on March 1, 1953 on the holiday of Purim. He died a few days later, and not long after, the doctors were found innocent and (if they had truly been planned) no trains carried mass numbers of Jews to the Gulag.
Soviet Jewry had been saved on Purim 1953. And while the Soviet Union didn’t stop using its secret police or gulags until the rule of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Jewish population lived on, some assimilating into Soviet Society and some courageous figures fighting to retain their Judaism and even to emigrate to Israel.
This year IY”H, The Women’s Performance Community of Jerusalem in partnership with OU Israel will bring to the Jerusalem stage, “Whisper Freedom”, the story of the struggle of Soviet Jewry in the 1970s. Follow our journey to Moscow on facebook.