‘The Jewish Commissariat in Soviet Russia’ by W. Kilmov from Soviet Russia (New York). Vol. 5 No. 4. October, 1921.

Members of the Jewish Communist Party “Poalei Zion” with portraits of B. Borokhov and V. Lenin. The inscription on the banner: “[Long live] the Jewish Communist Party (Poalei Zion)!”

An valuable document of early Soviet Jewish history, the new state’s practice on self-determination and national liberation, and the work of foreign Jewish groups int the first years of Soviet Russia. This lengthy, detailed account of the work of the Commissariat for Jewish National Affairs honestly assessing their work. At first its own entity, then from 1920 a subsection of the Commissariat for Commissariat for Nationalities until the Commissariat was folded in 1924.

‘The Jewish Commissariat in Soviet Russia’ by W. Kilmov from Soviet Russia (New York). Vol. 5 No. 4. October, 1921.

(Readers who follow Jewish affairs will be interested in the Jewish work of the Commissariat for Nationalities, here treated by an authority who recently visited America. Soviet Russia.)

A Short History of the Jewish Commissariat

Semyon Dimanstein.

One of the first tasks of the Soviet Government, immediately after the November Revolution, and as soon as it began to carry out its program, was to take care of the interests of the national minorities that were held in such oppression by the Tsarist regime. The People’s Commissariat for Nationalities was created for this purpose and proclaimed the right of every nationality to self- determination; a number of national commissariats were organized to carry out this self-determination in accordance with the specific conditions and demands of each different nationality. At the present time the Commissariat for Nationalities consists of about twenty branch Commissariats.

Each national commissariat is the highest authority for all questions affecting the nationality it represents. These commissariats bring forth and present to the government all questions affecting their field. They prepare all plans and projects, and the government rarely interferes with them, unless it is contrary to the policy of the government as a whole. Such cases are taken care of by the General Commissariat for National Affairs, which regulates the inter-relations between the various nationalities, and which gives them a general line, a general tendency. It may be truly said that there has never been, nor is there any other country, like Soviet Russia, where every nationality has such complete autonomy.

The Jewish Commissariat was one of the first to be created, immediately after the November Revolution. That was the period when the whole “intelligentsia” was sabotaging the Soviet rule, refused to cooperate, and used all its powers to break it up. The sabotage among the Jews was particularly obdurate. All Jewish socialist parties, particularly the “Bund,” the biggest Jewish socialist organization, were the most determined enemies of the Bolshevists. Under such conditions, it was of course not very easy to organize the Jewish Commissariat. The bolshevists among the Jews were very few, and it fell upon these few to proceed with the important work of carrying out the pro- gram of the November Revolution in the Jewish field. The Government did all it could to bring other Jewish socialist groups into the Jewish Commissariat, but without success.

Participants of the first conference of Evsektsii (Jewish section of the Bolsheviks). Samuil Agursky sits in the center. Moscow. October 1918.

The following is an illustration. The Jewish Commissariat began to organize towards the end of 1917. The only capable and suitable person at work was S. Dimandstein, an experienced and tried rebel, one of the first bolshevists, a man of extensive general and Jewish learning. Just at that time the Eighth Congress of the “Bund” was being held in Petrograd. The late Volodsrsky and Voskov, who played such a glorious role in the November overthrow, learned that at the conference of the Bund was present a good friend of theirs from America, who held a prominent position in the Bund. They came to persuade him to join the Jewish Commissariat, explaining that they did not mind his being a Menshevist, so long as he would work. The offer, however, was declined. In the face of this attitude prevailing in Jewish spheres, not excepting the Socialist groups, the Jewish Commissariat commenced its work. After great effort, Dimandstein succeeded in finding a few technical assistants, but even this help was vastly insufficient.

Notwithstanding this, after a little while an apparatus was created which began to attract attention to the Jewish Commissariat.

New Schools Provided

The first step of the Jewish Commissariat was in the direction of the school—to create a new Jewish school out of the old one. A special Jewish Department was formed in the general Commissariat for Education. On the initiative of the Commissariat the Government issued a decree recognizing the Yiddish language as the official language to be used in the Jewish schools; the Hebrew language, which the large Jewish masses do not know, became one of the foreign languages, not obligatory upon the pupils.

Riga’s Jewish gruntshul in 1922.

The ruling, naturally, produced consternation among the Zionists, who were particularly bitter in their attacks on the Jewish Commissariat. Their anger was further augmented when the Jewish Commissariat approached the so-called Jewish “Kehilla”, which served the darkest elements and which weighed heavily on the shoulders of the Jewish masses. The Zionists could not forgive this act. They, who had been the rulers, the leaders of the Jewish communities, were ousted by a few “‘whipper-snappers”. Of course, it was but natural that when all the old city councils were abolished, as contrary to the soviet system, the Jewish councils similarly had to go, as these played the same role in the Jewish life as do the city councils in the community at large. Besides their bourgeois character, the city councils, as also the Jewish councils, were nests of counter-revolutionary activity, of systematic treachery to the young workers’ republic, and the Government could not tolerate them. At the same time the Moscow organization of Zionists, under the chairmanship of Dr. Brutzkus, at a secret sitting, decided to support all enemies of the Soviet rule, but at the same time to join the Jewish Commissariat in order to disrupt it from within.

Gradually separate groups began to break away from the other socialist parties and offered them- selves for service to the Jewish Commissariat. Its activities became more animated, more systematized.

A publishing department was organized to issue Jewish books, in original, as well as in translation, a daily newspaper, at first called Warheit and later Emes, also a magazine Kultur und Bildung. Steps were taken to organize a Jewish Museum, a Central Jewish library, various art schools; finally even the bourgeois intelligentsia began to show signs of willingness to cooperate with the Commissariat.

Soviet workers reading Emes.

At the same time great attention was given by the Jewish Commissariat to the economic work among the Jewish masses. A strong campaign was made to convert the Jewish small middle-man into a land worker. With the full cooperation of the Government, which supplied timber, etc., land communes were founded in several districts of Russia, where land was set aside for this purpose. This movement, however, met with little response on the part of the small middleman, who preferred speculation and other illegal business projects to useful productive work.

When the peace negotiations with Germany began in Brest-Litovsk, the Commissariat was on guard to see that Jewish interests were protected, that the Jewish language should be recognized in the postal arrangements on an equal footing with German, Russian and Polish. As soon as the Brest-Litovsk negotiations were concluded, the Jewish Commissariat undertook to supervise the repatriation of refugees.

A special department was organized to send off refugees in special trains, to furnish them with the necessary documents and organize kosher kitchens at various points.

Branches of the Jewish Commissariat began to crop up in other cities, where the same work was carried out.

In Vitebsk, which is now. the largest Jewish city in Central Russia, the Jewish Commissariat took over the functions of the Jewish Council. A large kitchen was opened for the poor, also a number of schools, a library, a club, and a reading room.

Tetievsky refugees in the courtyard of the Department of Social Welfare in Odessa.

The same thing was done in Gomel, also along the Volga district, where a considerable Jewish population has congregated.

A strenuous campaign was inaugurated against anti-semitism, the “Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism” being organized and having as members leading representatives of the Government.

Of course, the Jewish Commissariat was not able all at once to develop all this activity on a large scale. It was hampered on all sides by the lack of teachers, writers, speakers, lecturers, agricultural experts and workers in general. But that which was accomplished in the short period of its existence showed amply that the Jewish Commissariat was on the right track and that it had become an important factor in the Jewish life in Soviet Russia.

A comparison will not be amiss here. In Ukraine, when the democratic, almost socialist “Central Rada” was in power, the Jews also obtained autonomy. A Jewish ministry existed with some sort of Jewish Parliament, called the “National Rat.” All classes of the Ukrainian Jewish population took part in the formulation of this Jewish autonomy; all parties cooperated- Right as well as Left, so that there was no lack of help. There were teachers aplenty, and writers, speakers, lecturers, agricultural experts, etc., yet very little actual work was done. Their entire energy was spent in wrangling with each other. There was much noise, but few useful results.

In Soviet Russia, on the other hand, with sabotage and boycott on every side, the Jewish Commissariat made but little noise, yet managed to accomplish practical results in beating out a path for very great activities.

Participants of the XII Conference of the Bund. In the center – M. Frumkina and A. Weinstein. March 1919.

A new era opened up for the Jewish Commissariat when the majority of the “Bund” and the “United Jewish Socialist Party’? became communist. With the new blood injected into the Jewish Commissariat, its activities increased and branched out in all directions.

Jewish Commissariat Helps Pogrom Sufferers

Let us take the branch for the relief of pogrom sufferers. This is taken care of by the Jewish Public Committee, which has developed immense activities.

There is an impression that the Jewish Public Committee is an independent organization having but little connection with the Jewish Commissariat. At any rate that was the impression conveyed he by a representative of the American Joint Distribution Committee, who claims to have created that Committee in Soviet Russia. It must be made clear that the said committee was organized exclusively at the initiative of the Jewish Commissariat, under whose control it has been working all the time, and of which it now represents a part.

Victims of the Haidamak massacre in Felshtin. February 1919.

When the representatives of the Joint Distribution Committee arrived in Russia, they wanted indeed to separate the Jewish Commissariat from the relief work; they wanted nothing less than to create a new form of benevolent institution, ringleaders whereof would be the same old bourgeois busy-bodies and philanthropic organizations, which have no reason for existence in Soviet Russia. But they did not succeed in this game. The matter was taken in hand by the Jewish Commissariat, which effected a compromise by inviting the bourgeois charitable organizations to cooperate in the work (this, insisted the American representatives, was the demand of the “rich aunt” — America), and the Public Committee was organized. Had the Jewish Commissariat been against it, the Committee would never have seen the light of day.

Months passed without anything being accompanied by the Committee. The representatives of the Jewish Commissariat, i.e., the Jewish Communists, felt themselves bound hand and foot through the sabotage of the bourgeois busy-bodies, who employed every means to make capital of the American representatives’ handiwork. Finally the latter, considering themselves slighted, or, rather, seeing that the Jewish Communists were not willing to have anything “put over on them,” were obliged to leave the Public Committee.

The Jewish Public Committee, now left in the hands of the Jewish communists, i.e., the Jewish Commissariat, immediately became a genuine and active force.

Victims of the pogrom in Proskurov February 1919.

Let us return to the question of pogroms. Rumors are being spread here that the Jewish Commissariat does not allow any Jewish self-defense against pogroms. This is a base lie. Just the contrary. The truth is that when last winter the bands of Balakhovich and Savinkov were let loose in White Russia, the Jewish Commissariat immediately applied to the Government for permission to organize Jewish self-defense. The question was widely discussed at an All-Russian sitting of the Jewish Sections of the Russian Communist Party, during the Tenth Congress of the latter in Moscow. The Jewish Commissariat also favored the organization of such self-defense in Ukraine. Naturally, care has to be taken that such self-defense should not be made use of for counter-revolutionary purposes. There are still such men around as Dr. Pasmanik, the Zionist, who urges the Jewish population to make use of every opportunity to come out against the Soviet rule with weapons in their hands.

The Jewish Commissariat, however, is not satisfied with this alone. Wherever outrages against Jews occur, representatives are immediately sent to the spot to investigate; these investigators gather authentic information, statistics, organize the necessary help, and on the basis of these statistics, memorandums and recommendations are made to the Government as to what is to be done; there has never been an instance where the recommendations were not accepted and acted upon.

Just now, on the recommendation of the Jewish Commissariat, a “Punitive Expedition” against pogrom makers in White Russia was sent out by the All-Russian Committee to Combat Counter- Revolution (the Cheka). In this punitive expedition are also to be found Jewish communists, delegated directly by the Jewish Commissariat.

Jewish Self-Defense Units, Odessa 1919.

Every incident, every smallest detail in connection with pogroms, is registered by the Jewish Commissariat and given the widest publicity. A special apparatus, with a special staff of men, is detailed to this work.

In order to render the best and most effectual help to the pogrom sufferers, a special department of the Commissariat for Public Welfare was organized on the initiative of the Jewish Commissariat, one of whose representatives is in charge of this department. Similar departments are now being organized in all cities.

Cultural Activity of the Jewish Commissariat

The keystone of the activity of the Jewish Commissariat is in the field of culture. For this purpose there are special Jewish Departments in the Commissariat for Education in every city where there is a Jewish population. These departments develop great energy and initiative. There is no corner in the Jewish cultural field, into which these departments have not penetrated.

CSemyon Dimanshtein’s “In the Light of Communist Ideals” Central Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, 1919.

The following figures speak for themselves. The State of Gomel has 280 Jewish government schools —elementary and secondary—where all instruction – is conducted in Yiddish, according to the latest pedagogical methods. The State of Vitebsk has 200 of these schools, and Ukraine about 400. Altogether there are about 1200 such Jewish schools in Soviet Russia. This figure does not include the Jewish Children’s Homes and Colonies, and Jewish professional schools, of which there is a great number in all parts of Soviet Russia, and their number is still increasing.

The Jewish Commissariat has a special department in the Committee for Professional Training, which carries on its work autonomously.

Last year a Committee for Political Enlightenment, Glavpolit, was formed. This Committee unites the entire cultural work of out-of-school training. In this Committee, of which the famous pedagogue, Krupskaya (Mrs. Lenin) is the head, the Jewish Commissariat also has a Jewish department, with sub-departments for the theatre, literature, art, music and academic studies. There is also a Jewish Section in the Government Publishing House and in the Government Museum.

During the period of its existence, in spite of the extreme shortage of paper and printing facilities, the Jewish Commissariat has published 300 books, translations as well as originals, covering all fields of knowledge; among them are such capital works as Professor Nikolsky’s Ancient Jewish History, Professor Timiriazev’a Life of Plants, a whole series of works by Lenin, Trotsky, Plekhanov, Bukharin’s A.B.C. of Communism, Jewish classics, also a number of Jewish text books for the schools. A number of important works are still in the press, such as Lissagaray’s History of the Paris Commune, Karl Marx’ historical works, Blas’ History of the Great French Revolution, two large volumes of communist handbooks, a richly-illustrated almanach about the November Revolution, songs by well-known Jewish poets; translations of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Tolstoi, and others.

Pupils and teachers of the orphanage named after the 3rd International in Malakhovka near Moscow. Below sits M. Chagall. In the second row, first from the left is the composer I. Engel, the second is the poet D. Gofshtein, the third is the critic I. Dobrushin. In the third row, second from the left is the director of the orphanage B. Shvartsman, third from the left is the prose writer Der Nister.

The Jewish Commissariat has a whole series of Government theatres, with dramatic schools attached. The Central Jewish Government Theatre is the Moscow Kammertheater, which is one of the leading theatres in Russia. At the head of it is the well-known director Gronovsky. Its studio is conducted by the greatest Jewish painter, Mark Shagal. The music given at most of the performances in the Jewish Kammertheater is specially composed by the well-known composers—Achron and Milner.

Kugel (homo novus), who is considered one of the best theatre and opera critics in Russia, former editor of the Russian Journal “Theatre and Art,” conducts a studio for Jewish opera in Petrograd. There are also Jewish state theatres in Kiev and in Odessa and Minsk.

A traveling Jewish theatre has lately been organizing to give performances in small towns and villages. A special railway carriage will be at their disposal for this purpose, furnished with all ‘the necessary equipment. The well-known founder of the famous Vilna Jewish Art troupe, Bertanov, is at the head of the Jewish Theatre. Bertanov is also well known on the Russian stage. In spite of lack of technical facilities, even in this respect their theatres have nothing to learn from the Jewish theatres here. So far as standards of art are concerned, our theatres will not stand comparison with theirs.

Almost every town and village has its local amateur troupe, which, through the Jewish Commissariat, is fostered and widely supported by the Government.

Moscow is the seat of a Jewish Philological Institute, an Historical Institute, and thither is also being transferred from Petrograd the Institute of Higher Jewish Learning. All these institutions, together with the musical and art schools, and the Petrograd Central Jewish Library, will be housed in Moscow in one building, which will be named “The House of Jewish Culture”.

The following must not be omitted: a special Jewish faculty is being added to the state university in Petrograd; a Jewish pedagogical institute is being organized in Vitebsk; several cities have seminaries for teachers, and pedagogical courses; a Jewish party-university was opened in Moscow, where the students are supported by the government; a whole system of evening classes has been erected for the grown-ups. All this speaks eloquently for the activity of the Jewish Commissariat in the cultural field.

It is natural, of course, that the Jewish Commissariat is at war with Hebrew. This could not be otherwise, since Hebrew is unknown to the majority of the Jewish masses and the “lovers of Hebrew” are carriers of reaction into Jewish life, whereas the Jewish Commissariat is a bitter foe of everything that smacks of reaction, that is foreign to and against the Jewish masses.

It is sufficient to visit but once the little Hebrew theatre “Habimo” in Moscow, to be convinced as to who desire to preserve the Hebrew culture. A small group of speculators, ““business-men” of all shades, bitter enemies of the Soviet Government, who still supplicate heaven for grace. In a workers’ republic such elements are a menace and it is the duty of the Jewish Commissariat to deal with them and their institutions accordingly.

Poster “Opening of the summer season of Evmusdrama Comedy”, Moscow, 1920s.

There came up the problem of the Cheder (a Jewish school where religious training is given). It is, of course, to be understood that since it is the task of the Jewish Commissariat to reconstruct the Jewish life in Soviet Russia, since it is the carrier of the new Jewish communist culture—it cannot have any love for the old archaic and mouldy Cheder, which has for long been an anomaly in modern Jewish life, and is particularly out of place at the present time. The Jewish Commissariat knows, however, that it is impossible to eradicate the Cheder all at once, as it is deeply imbedded in the old traditions of the Jewish petit bourgeois class. Furthermore, it is preferable to bring to light the harmfulness of the Cheder in the training of the Jewish youth, to tear the mask from those who uphold it, to make it odious in the eyes of the wide Jewish masses.

With this aim in view, the Jewish Commissariat had recourse to the widely practiced and successful method of propaganda, extensively used in Russia, viz., the staged trial.

A sham trial is put on exactly in all details like an actual trial, with witnesses, experts, prosecuting attorney, counsel for defense, etc. These trials are followed by the public with tremendous interest. On the one hand it is excellent entertainment: on a other it is a splendid means of elucidation. Russian newspapers frequently carry news of such trials of members of the Communist Party, not excluding Lenin and Trotsky, in order that the public may become better versed in the important questions under discussion.

A sham trial of this kind, on the subject of the Cheder, was staged by the Jewish Commissariat in Vitebsk. Everybody knew that it was only make-believe; the defendants, the “Leaders of society” of that city, who consented to participate in the staged trial, knew it. The affair provoked unprecedented interest. For five days the municipal theatre, where the trial was held, was packed. Big crowds thronged the streets around the theatre, which could not accommodate everybody. The president of the military-revolutionary tribunal acted as president in this court. He was a well-known Jewish communist, a former Bundist, who had been a sworn attorney during the previous regime.

It was made clear at the trial how out of date and obsolete the Cheder has become, how baneful its influence on the education of the young; and when a death sentence was pronounced, a sham one, of course, it brought forth enthusiastic and unanimous approval, so evident the harmfulness of the Cheder training had become to all. This method of propaganda was at once most successful in bringing about the desired results: it opened the eyes of the wide Jewish masses to a dark vista, which they held as holy; and since then the Cheder has lost its former glory. Very few parents now send their children there, although there is no obligation either way. Instead they send their children to the modern Jewish school.

“Dos revolutsyonere rusland” (Revolutionary Russia). Jewish Labor Bund in New York, 1917.

Special bulletins were printed during the trial and distributed as supplements to the daily Jewish newspaper The Red Star. These bulletins were gobbled up in the eagerness to see what had happened in the court room.

This staged trial, which the ignoramuses of the Jewish press on this side mistook to be a genuine legal action, aroused indignation, when it was published, even among some of the radical Jewish element. “See what enemies of the Jewish race the Jewish communists in Soviet Russia are,” it was asserted, “to pass this sentence on the Jewish Cheder!”

Another incident occurred in the same city of Vitebsk, which shocked many “radicals.” There are in the city of Vitebsk no less than 77 prayer-houses. With the prevailing house shortage, it was impossible to find accommodation for educational purposes, and it was therefore proposed to acquire five of these prayer-houses for the much needed schools, on the assumption that the pious population of the city could be amply accommodated in the remaining 72 prayer houses.

Again a trial was staged and the matter brought to the public notice. The urgent necessity of houses for school purposes became so clear during the trial that in spite of the protest of some over-zealous servants of God, the five prayer houses were converted into institutions of good modern Jewish culture, to the immense satisfaction of the majority.

Here should be refuted the lie regarding the Jewish Commissariat’s intention to abolish circumcision. The Jewish Commissariat has other more important matters to engage its attention.

Economic Activities of the Commissariat

One of the most difficult problems confronting Jewish life in Soviet Russia is to attract the Jewish masses to productive work. The Jewish Commissariat has devoted its utmost attention to this problem from the very beginning. Unfortunately, no great progress has been made in the solution of this problem, which is entirely the fault of the Jewish petit bourgeois. They simply refuse to become proletarians; they will risk their necks by shameful speculation, smuggling, illegal trade, etc., rather than by toil. In this respect a curse seems to lie over Jewish life in Soviet Russia.

It would have seemed that if the Jews were given sufficient land, they would grab it. The Zionists have been clamoring for decades that there is no better occupation than tilling the ground and that there are no better husbandmen than the Jews. To work on the land has been the dream of every Jew.

May Day demonstration on the Field of Mars in Petrograd. 1919.

But what do we see? In spite of all the endeavors of the Jewish Commissariat, in spite of the policy in this respect of the Soviet Government, which will give the Jews all the land they can use, there has been but little response and the matter moves very slowly.

Under the auspices of the Jewish Commissariat there was organized the “Union of Jewish Working Masses” (Setmas) with Rabbi Zhitnik at the head. This organization is heart and soul for the Soviet rule and has as its aim to draw the Jewish toilers into its fold to do productive work, primarily agricultural work. It has about 40,000 members, publishes its own magazine Labor, sends out itinerant agitators, and has the full cooperation of the Government. And after the greatest effort, after millions of money spent, it was possible to organize a few Jewish land-communes in the states of Vitebsk and Smolensk. These communes function very well, but their example is but tardily followed.

Attitude Toward the Setmas

The Setmas tends to become more and more an independent political organization of Jewish petit bourgeois, who under cover of its Soviet program endeavor to shirk their work duty, and at the same time to escape punishment for speculation.

This forced the Jewish Commissariat to change its attitude towards the Setmas and the entire economic work is now being carried on by ‘the Commissariat direct. For this purpose a staff of technical experts, such as agriculturists, engineers, statisticians, etc., have been engaged, and these travel around to ascertain the economic condition on the spot, prepare and carry out plans and projects of how to attract Jewish workers to factories, how to organize artels among them, how to persuade Jewish “free-traders” to engage in agriculture, gardening, etc. The state of Minsk has even an agricultural school, where agriculturists are trained, and it is proposed to open similar schools in other districts. But the work progresses at a snail’s pace, due to the apathy and frequently the animosity of the Jewish petit bourgeois. Vitebsk and Gomel are the only two cities where tangible results have been achieved. Many state factories there now have in their employ Jewish workers, who were formerly “free-traders”. In Vitebsk, for instance, they form the majority employed in the factories of the “Committee to Combat Unemployment”. In other cities, however, there is no vestige of such results, but the Commissariat does not diminish its efforts in this direction.

OZET poster, 1929.

The Jewish Commissariat has been devoting its attention lately to the colonies already long in existence in the south. A special committee sent to investigate these colonies reported that they are in good condition. Upon the suggestion of the Jewish Commissariat, these colonies were detached into separate independent units with the same rights as the agricultural soviet-communes.

The question of emigration is another item engaging the attention of the Commissariat, which tries to move Jewish laborers to places where their services are needed most, from smaller to larger cities, but this is a matter that requires years to organize properly, and in view of the present disorganization of railway traffic in Soviet Russia, the work of transferring workers from one place to another progresses slowly. This is, however, a question to which great attention is given by the Jewish Commissariat.

At the same time, the Commissariat is confronted by another problem. After the conclusion of peace with the border states, such as Latvia, Poland, etc., there is a stream of re-evacuation, repatriation; many Jews wish to return to their home towns, and here a new difficulty comes up in the form of the anti-semitic tendency of the newly created states, which seethe with anti-semitism, to establish a percentage for the returning Jews. This happened in Latvia, and the Jewish Commissariat, through the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, took the necessary steps that no such percentage rate should be applied. As regards Poland, where anti-semitism is considerably stronger, the Commissariat is already taking due measures to protect the interests of the returning Jews. Among the representatives comprising the Ukrainian Soviet Mission to Poland, there is one from the Jewish Commissariat, a distinguished Jewish communist.

While on the subject of Poland, it is worth while to remark that in the conditions of peace between the two countries arranged in Riga there was included, upon the demand of the Jewish Commissariat, a paragraph safeguarding the interests of the Jewish minority in Poland.

Anti-Semitism-Conscious Counter-Revolution.

When the Commissariat learned about the immigration of Ukrainian Jews into Bessarabia, which maltreats hundreds of Jewish families, a representative was immediately despatched to look into the matter, and arrangements were made with the necessary government authorities to regulate this question At the present moment, as is already known from the local press, the Jewish Commissariat is opening up offices at points in Europe to facilitate those who wish to emigrate from Soviet Russia.

Another illustration of how anxious the Jewish Commissariat is to serve the interests of the Jewish population: a special information department has been formed by the Jewish Commissariat to take care of letters exchanged between people in Russia and their friends and relatives in other countries. Thousands of such letters pass through this information office every month.

This department also publishes bulletins giving all available information regarding Jewish life in Soviet Russia, as well as abroad. The Jewish Commissariat also publishes a monthly journal, in the Russian language, which acquaints the Russian public with all events in Jewish life.


It is impossible in this brief article to touch more than lightly upon the activity of the Jewish Commissariat. General remarks and a few facts that give a bird’s eye view have to suffice. But we hope that the meagre facts here given will enable the reader to build up in his mind some conception of the scope and importance of the work of the Jewish Commissariat.

One thing stands out clearly: in the face of the tremendous difficulties under which they have to work, the Jewish Commissariat has accomplished incomparably more, and is more energetic and consistent in its work than the Jewish Ministry in bourgeois Lithuania, upon which so much praise has been showered by the Jewish press in America.

Soviet Russia began in the summer of 1919, published by the Bureau of Information of Soviet Russia and replaced The Weekly Bulletin of the Bureau of Information of Soviet Russia. In lieu of an Embassy the Russian Soviet Government Bureau was the official voice of the Soviets in the US. Soviet Russia was published as the official organ of the RSGB until February 1922 when Soviet Russia became to the official organ of The Friends of Soviet Russia, becoming Soviet Russia Pictorial in 1923. There is no better US-published source for information on the Soviet state at this time, and includes official statements, articles by prominent Bolsheviks, data on the Soviet economy, weekly reports on the wars for survival the Soviets were engaged in, as well as efforts to in the US to lift the blockade and begin trade with the emerging Soviet Union.

PDF of full issue: (large file): https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/srp/v4-5-soviet-russia%20Jan-Dec%201921.pdf

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