Sources

Declassified KGB File: Lenin Was Part-Jewish

The cult of Lenin lives on in modern-day Russia among hardline nostalgics. But new proof revealing Lenin had Jewish roots may not sit well with those who long for a Soviet past that included state-backed anti-Semitism.

Statue of Vladimir Lenin in the front of the House of Government in Belarus
Statue of Vladimir Lenin in the front of the House of Government in Belarus
Emmanuel Grynszpan

MOSCOW – A recently opened exhibition in Moscow's State Historical Museum is shedding some light on a long-guarded Russian secret: the origins of Soviet founding father Vladimir Lenin. Lenin's maternal grandfather, the exhibition revealed, was born Jewish.

This fascinating morsel of information, gleaned from declassified KGB files, is not a minor detail in a country where anti-Semitism was a recognized state doctrine for decades. Starting in the 1930s, the Soviet regime – spurred on by its leader Joseph Stalin – launched a violent discriminatory campaign against Jewish citizens.

Born in 1870, Lenin identified himself simply as "Russian." His official biography only mentions his Russian, German and Swedish origins. But one of the exhibition's priceless pieces adds a key new element to the official narrative.

In a letter written to Stalin in 1932 – six years after Lenin's death – Anna Ulyanova, Lenin's older sister, wrote that their maternal grandfather "came from a poor Jewish family and was, according to his baptismal certificate, the son of Moses Blank." Blank was born in Zhitomir, Ukraine. In her letter, Anna Ulyanova said her brother "had always thought highly of Jews." She also urged Stalin to reveal Lenin's Jewish background, concluding that "it would be wrong to hide it from the masses."

Stalin, however, ordered Anna Ulyanova to keep Lenin's Jewish roots under wraps. A few years later Stalin began to purge Jews from among the leaders of the Russian revolution. Prior to his death in 1953, furthermore, he was preparing to send the whole Jewish population living in the Soviet Union to concentration camps in Siberia.

Most provincial Russian towns have a main road named "Lenin Street." You can usually find shops selling luxury goods and banking centers there. They tend to contain all the flashiest symbols of the country's now capitalist society.

In the middle of virtually every central square, including in Belarus and in Ukraine, there is a high-rise statue of Lenin looking down on the rowdy shopkeepers. The Lenin paradox even goes further. Lenin is revered by Russia's radical fringe – people who feel nostalgic for the Soviet regime in general, and for anti-Semitic Stalinism in particular.

A contested legacy

The "Cult of Lenin" has its physical focal point in Moscow's Red Square, where Lenin's mummified body is on permanent display in a mausoleum. In the past, Soviet citizens were expected to carry out pilgrimages to the Communist leader's resting place.

Lenin's legacy is the subject of debate. Some Russian Communists want Lenin's cult to endure forever. But there are Russian Orthodox Christians who loathe Lenin because he destroyed Tsarism and because he turned atheism into a cornerstone of the official ideology. The latter, like many ordinary Russian people, want the man to be buried – with or without the honors reserved for a statesman.

Russians who began their working lives after the fall of the communist system often see things in the same ambivalent way. "Soviet children almost regarded Grandfather Lenin as Santa Claus," says Daria Beliaeva, a thirty-year-old financial analyst who looks back at the Soviet era with nostalgia. "But later, I heard that the Germans sent him to Russia in an armored train to trigger the Russian revolution. I also heard that he ordered the destruction of about 100 churches," the practicing Orthodox adds disapprovingly.

Daria wasn't particularly moved one way or the other when she heard the Soviet idol had Jewish roots. "He had elements of good and evil in him. He put his mark on Russian history. Now, he needs to be buried."

Political expert Boris Kagarlitski, a former dissident and proud Leninist, says "the Russian authorities are using the debate about Lenin's Jewish background and about his burial as a pretext for taking people's mind off the real problems and issues facing our society."

Even if latent anti-Semitism does not play an active role in contemporary Russian politics, the Lenin exhibition could end up cutting into the famed revolutionary's enduring popularity. It might also convince authorities to once and for all put his embalmed body to rest.

Read the original article in French.

Photo - Archer10(Dennis)

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Spencer Tunick Nude Installation in Israel

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Salam!*

Welcome to Monday, where the UK pays homage to slain MP David Amess, Myanmar frees thousands of prisoners, and Facebook gets ready to build its "metaverse." Please fasten your seatbelts: Worldcrunch also takes stock of the long-lasting effects — good and bad — the pandemic has had on the air travel industry.

[*Azeri - Azerbaijan]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Myanmar to free political prisoners: Myanmar's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the release of 5,636 prisoners who had been jailed for protesting the coup that ousted the civilian government in February 2021.

• Powerful Haiti gang behind the kidnapping of U.S. missionaries: The notorious 400 Mawozo gang is believed to be behind the kidnapping in Haiti of a group of Christian missionaries, including 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian. The brazen kidnapping on Saturday comes as crime is spiking since the killing of President Jovenel Moise in July.

• UK to pay tribute to David Amess: British lawmakers will pay homage in parliament to colleague David Amess, who was stabbed to death Friday in what was described by the police as a "terrorist incident." Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect whose father, Harbi Ali Kullane, worked as a media adviser to a former prime minister of Somalia.

• COVID update: Russia has registered more than 34,000 cases of new infections in the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, police in the northeast Italian city of Trieste used water cannons to clear striking dockworkers protesting Italy's new requirements that all employees be vaccinated.

• At least 26 killed in floods in India: Torrential rain has triggered floods and landslides in India's southern coastal state of Kerala, killing at least 26 people.

• Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to develop "metaverse": The U.S. social media giant plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to build a "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the company touts as the future.

Punishing parents for children's bad behavior: After limiting gaming hours for minors, China is now considering legislation to reprimand parents if their children exhibit "very bad behavior" or commit crimes.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Colombian daily El Espectador dedicates its front page to Alex Saab, "owner of the secrets" of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The Colombian businessman, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly laundering money on behalf of Venezuela's government, has been extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. where he is scheduled to appear in court today.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

4.9%

China's economy registered its slowest pace in a year as the country faces a looming energy crisis with power shortages and increasing pressure on its property sector. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the period between July-September rose 4.9%, the weakest numbers since the third quarter of 2020 and significantly lower than forecasts. The world's second-largest economy faces a debt crisis linked to the China Evergrande Group debt crisis, while energy shortfalls have dropped factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy COVID-19 curbs were in place.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

7 ways the pandemic may change the airline industry for good

Will flying be greener? More comfortable? Less frequent? As the world eyes a post-COVID reality, we look at ways the airline industry has been changing through a pandemic that has devastated air travel.

⛽ Cleaner aviation fuel: With air travel responsible for roughly 12% of all CO2 emissions from transport, and stricter international regulation on the horizon, the industry is increasingly seeking sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based fuel. In Germany, state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the world's first factory producing CO2-neutral kerosene recently started operations in the town of Wertle, in Lower Saxony. The plant, for which Lufthansa is set to become the pilot customer, will produce CO2-neutral kerosene through a circular production cycle incorporating sustainable and green energy sources and raw materials

.🛃 Smoother check-in: The pandemic has also accelerated the shift towards contactless traveling, with more airports harnessing the power of biometrics — such as facial recognition or fever screening — to reduce touchpoints and human contact. Similar technology can also be used to more efficiently scan physical objects, such as explosive detection. Ultimately, passengers will be able to "check-in" and go through a security screening anywhere at the airports, removing queues and bottlenecks.

✈️ The billion-dollar question: Will we fly less? At the end of the day, even with all these (mostly positive) changes that we've seen take shape over the past 18 months, the industry faces major uncertainty about whether air travel will ever return to the pre-COVID levels. Not only are people wary about being in crowded and closed airplanes, but the worth of long-distance business travel, in particular, is being questioned as many have seen that meetings can function remotely, via Zoom and other online apps.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"The crimes committed that night are unforgivable for the Republic."

— Emmanuel Macron became the first French president to commemorate the killing of as many as 200 Algerian independence protesters by Parisian police in 1961. For 40 years, French officials ignored the massacre, which took place a year before Algeria gained its independence from France after an eight-year war. In 2012, French President François Hollande acknowledged the killings for the first time on a visit to Algeria, and Macron took it further by attending Sunday's commemoration at the site where the events happened in the French capital. Still, many had hoped the French President would go further and take responsibility for a "state massacre," for a crime many historians consider the most violent repression of a peaceful demonstration in post-War Europe.

📈💥  IN OTHER NEWS

​Low trust, high risk: The global rise of violence targeting politicians

The deadly stabbing of British Parliament Member David Amess confirms an ongoing study on trust and governance in democracies around the world: It's bad. In The Conversation, James Weinberg — the study's author and a lecturer in Political Behavior at the University of Sheffield — writes:

⏪ The assassination of Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency on Friday, is a tragic moment for democracy. What makes it even more devastating is that such a catastrophic failure is not without precedent or predictability. Labour MP Jo Cox was shot at her constituency surgery in 2016. Before her, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing in 2010. And Andrew Pennington, a Gloucestershire county councilor, died in a frenzied attack in 2001 while trying to protect local Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones.

☝️ Beyond these critical junctures in the public debate about politicians' safety, elected representatives must live with an increasingly insidious level of popular cynicism that threatens violence on an almost daily basis.

🇬🇧🇳🇿🇿🇦 Not only are these experiences of abuse or threats of physical violence felt across both sides of the political aisle in the UK — they also appear to be growing more common in other democratic contexts where the climate of politics has been presumed to be both calmer and more volatile, from New Zealand to South Africa.


Read the full piece from The Conversation, now on Worldcrunch.com

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ