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The Role of Jews in the 1917 Russian Revolution

An senior air warrior and political observer who has the pulse of the region and can sense a change when it comes.

Most prominent Jew

Most prominent Jew

The beginning

The Jews at the turn of the 20th century constituted about 5% of the population of Russia. The Russians were mostly orthodox Christians and very rigid in their beliefs. Part of their mental make up was a virulent anti-Semitic attitude. The Czar who ruled Russia at that time added fuel to the fire and stoked the flames of anti-Semitism. At a conservative estimate, more than 100 laws were passed by the Duma and approved by the Czar that restricted opportunities and residence as well as freedom of worship for the Jews. The Jews were also confined to certain areas called the pale, and not allowed to settle in the big cities. At periodic intervals anti-Jewish pogroms took place and this had the approval of the Czarist regime.

Czar Nicholas II at the turn of the 20th century was an extremely shortsighted man and he made no attempt to change the feudal nature of Russia. He was also unaware of the discontent among the Russian peasants and the Army and Navy. He was sitting on a volcano. This erupted in the form of the famous October revolution led by Vladimir Lenin. His second in command and the driving force behind the revolution was Leon Trotsky who was born to wealthy Jewish parents.

When the Bolsheviks began to organize an insurrection against Nicholas II, the Jews were fertile ground as recruits for the revolution. They felt that if the Czar is overthrown there was a good chance their life would be better. They were only a microscopic minority of the Russian population yet they began to have a disproportionate share of the leadership of the Bolshevik revolution.

This was one of the reasons for the anti-Semitic policies of Adolf Hitler and his hatred of communism which he felt was a Jewish plot. He was well aware that the top leadership of the Bolsheviks were mostly Jews and he resolved to destroy communism and the Soviet Union.


Role of Jews in the Revolution

To the outside world, the Jews appeared to be the true architects of the revolution and were denounced by the newspapers all over the world as conspirators who had overthrown the Czarist regime. There is some truth in this assumption as in April 1917 almost half of the members of the Petrograd Soviet Bureau were Jews. It became more pronounced after the revolution. On 23rd October, 5 out of the 12 members of the Bolshevik Central Committee that decided to take power were Jews.

Initially, the revolution definitely gave hope to the Jews. A total of 650 anti-Jewish laws were abrogated. The first Jewish paper was also launched. Such a thing had never happened before in Russia. Some of the immediate benefits of the revolution were not available to the Jews as they were in the pale of the settlement but they began to move out to other population centers.

The influence of the Jews on the Bolshevik Revolution cannot be ignored though later Russians tried to minimize and discredit the contribution of the Jews. In 1918 Joseph Stalin established the commissariat of nationalities which included a Jewish section. The head of the section was Simon Dimanshstein who spoke Yiddish and had been ordained as a rabbi before he became a Marxist.

The Civil War of 1918-1920, between the whites and the communists, reinforced the support of the Jews for the Bolshevik Revolution. The whites were supported by the Western powers and they wished to restore the Czarist regime. Anti-Semitism became the banner of the whites. The armies of Kolchak, Denikin, and Wrangel made extensive use of anti-Semitism as a weapon in this struggle against the Soviet regime. In Ukraine, during the Civil War in 1918 -1920, almost 100,000 Jews were killed.

The period of the Bolshevik Revolution saw the rise of many leaders of Jewish origin to the top echelons of the communist party. They included Yakov Sverdlov, who was the executive secretary, Grigori Zinoviev, who was head of the communist international, and Karl Radek, the press commissioner with Maxim Litvinov as the foreign affairs commissioner. Topping all of them was the deputy leader of the revolution, Leon Trotsky. He was a powerful intellectual and prodigious writer. He was the man who established not only the Red Army but also the concentration camps.

Trotsky also took part in programs against the church. Many churches were just emptied and their occupants sent to concentration camps. I have a feeling that Trotsky's action against the Christians in Russia was dictated basically by the persecution the Jews had faced at their hands. Many of the top executors of the concentration camps program were Jews. The period from 1918 to 1925 was really bad as Trotsky and a few of his henchmen sent millions to death as 'counter-revolutionaries'.


Last word

The Bolshevik Revolution was a watershed in world history and at that time raised a lot of hopes. Unfortunately, Lenin and Trotsky never understood the significance of the Marxist theory as enunciated by Karl Marx who was also a Jew. Marx talked of a dictatorship of the proletariat; he had not talked of dictatorship by a political communist party. He had also not talked of the negation of the human spirit.

The Jews were at the forefront of the October revolution but after Trotsky was exiled from Russia their influence begins to wane. There is still an undercurrent of anti-Semitism among the Christian population but it has not manifested itself in a negative way like it was during the days of the Czar.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 08, 2021:

Thank you, Sangre, Nice that you commented.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on January 08, 2021:

Very interesting article. I don't know much about Russia's history in general. So it's interesting to read about the Bolshevik Revolution and the part the Jewish played in it.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 05, 2021:

Thank you Pamela, there are two sides to a coin and the Jew Trotsky got thousands of Christians executed.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 05, 2021:

Thank you Peggy, nice of you to coment

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 05, 2021:

Thanks for writing about this history. It was interesting to read.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 05, 2021:

This is a very informative article. I didn't know the Christians were persecuted in Russia and put it concentration camps that were sometimes run by a Jew.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 05, 2021:

Sankhajit, Nice of you to have spared time and commented.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 05, 2021:

Umesh, it is always a pleasure to read your comment.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 05, 2021:

Osman Ghazi, thank you so much for commenting.

Osman Ghazi on January 05, 2021:


Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 05, 2021:

Very informative. Thanks.

Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on January 05, 2021:

very important post...

though history is written by the victors, losers can never be ignored...

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 05, 2021:

Atma singh, thank you for your comment.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 05, 2021:

Thank you Tom for making the discussion an article more interesting. India has close relations with Israel. Military officers from Israel interact with Indian military and the latest antiship missile is from Israel not forgetting the radar used in AWAC. There is still a lot of anti-Semitism in Europe in particular Eastern Europe. It is good Czar was overthrown as he had made life of Jews miserable in Russia. It is true Christians have always persecuted Jews.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on January 05, 2021:

Thank you Tom, India has been a tolerant nation throughout history. You will remember the Parsi community also escaped persecution in Iran and came to Gujarat. The Jews by nature are very brilliant and creative and it is now proved that they are also good fighters as they have beaten the Arabs in 4 wars. The news about Malabar teak being used to build the Jerusalem Temple under Solomon is pretty exciting. I greatly admire Solomon and I remember I had written an article how he seduced the queen of Sheba.

tom on January 05, 2021:

once india had 20000 jews,now few,thirty three percent of nobel winners jews,hindu civilisation never persecuted jews,malabar teak used to build jerusalem temple under solomon

tom on January 05, 2021:

spanish inquistion was against jews,renaissance ended anti semtism,czar if stayed neutral would have continued in power,germans send lenin to russia by train,lenin was in switzerland where aw dulles tried to interview him ,hollywood is jewish,my state kerala never persecuted jews,malayali jews in israel,anti semtism ended by communism,stalin ruined russia,christ,eduard teller,marxwas a jew,shame on christanity,similarity of jews to sikhsim ,hasidic jews wear caps and beards ,synagogue gurudwara sharing in many countries,1967 manbir singh israeli air force pilot

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