Yevsektsiya

From Academic Kids

Yevsektsiya (alternative spelling: Yevsektsia), Russian: ЕвСекция, the abbreviation of the phrase "Еврейская секция" (Yevreyskaya sektsiya) was the Jewish section of the Soviet Communist party created to challenge and eventually destroy the rival Bund and Zionist parties, suppress Judaism and "bourgeois nationalism" and replace traditional Jewish culture with "proletarian culture", as well as to impose the ideas of Dictatorship of the proletariat onto the Jewish worker class. An important aim of the Yevsektsiya was to mobilize the world Jewry in favor of the Soviet regime. The first conference of Yevsektsiya took place in October 1918. For most of its existence, the Yevsektsya was headed by Semyon Dimanstein (Семен Диманштейн).

Persons of Jewish origin were over-represented in the Russian revolutionary leadership. However, most of them were hostile to traditional Jewish culture and Jewish political parties, and were eager to prove their loyalty to the Communist Party's atheism and proletarian internationalism, and committed to stamp out any sign of "Jewish cultural particularism". Yevsektsiya members were sometimes derogatorily called Yevseki (pl.).

In 1919, Zionist parties' headquarters in Moscow and Petrograd were taken over, their membership arrested and their newspapers shut down. In April 1920, the All-Russian Zionist Congress was broken up by the Yevsektsiya activists and the Cheka. Seventy-five delegates were arrested on the spot, thousands of members were sent to prison for "counter-revolutionary... collusion in the interests of the Anglo-French bourgeoisie... to restore the Palestine state."

Languages and culture

Lenin wrote in his Critical Remarks on the National Question (1913): "Whoever directly or indirectly puts forward the slogan of a Jewish "national culture" is (whatever his good intentions may be) an enemy of the proletariat, a supporter of the old and of the caste position of the Jews, an accomplice of the rabbis and the bourgeosie".

The Bolsheviks considered Hebrew language a "reactionary language" since it was associated with both Judaism and Zionism, and was officially banned by the Narkompros (Commissariat of Education) in 1919. Hebrew books were seized from the libraries. The famous Habima Theater had to obtain official permission to exist from Lenin, but later was branded a "zionist nest" and was forced to leave Russia for Palestine in 1926.

At the same time, an effort to encourage "Soviet proletarian culture" in Yiddish language was made, as a countermeasure against traditional Jewish "bourgeois" or "shtetl" culture. A Yiddish newspaper, Der Emeth ("The Truth") was published from 1920 to 1938. For some time in the 1920s Yiddish was designated one of the four official languages in Belarus. Many educational institutions in the former Pale of Settlement taught in Yiddish. In all Soviet schools the history subjects were replaced by the Marxist history of class struggle, and the pre-revolutionary history was ostracized.

When Stalin initiated anti-Semitic campaign in 1948, Yiddish fell out of favor. (See Solomon Mikhoels, Rootless cosmopolitan, Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee)

Minority national cultures were not completely abolished in the Soviet Union. By Soviet definition, national cultures were to be "socialist by content and national by form", to be used to promote the official aims and values of the state.

Break up

The Yevsektsia was disbanded in 1929, after the creation of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Many of its members perished in the Great Purge.


See also

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