On the Supposed Non-Russian Character of Bolshevism

[begin quote]

The active role of non-Russians in the revolutionary parties
naturally resulted in their having a significant presence in
the government bodies that began to take shape after the October
revolution. In evaluating the importance of this fact, however,
all the contributing factors should be taken into account, rather
than drawing up arbitrary lists or devising tables of arbitrary
facts based on preconceived notions.
     For example, those who wish to demonstrate the "alien"
character of the first agencies of Soviet power point to the fact
that the chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the
Soviets was Sverdlov, a Jew, and that the head of the Cheka was
Dzerzhinsky, a Pole, and that the head of the Red Army was Trotsky,
also a Jew. In the summer of 1918 the most battleworthy unit
of the Red Army was the Latvian Division, while many combat
units of the Cheka were made up of Hungarians, Czechs, Chinese,
Latvians, and Finns. In focusing on these facts, however,
many more important ones were ignored.
      The Sixth Congress of the Bolshevik party was its
last before the October Revolution. This was the congress
that approved the policy of armed insurrection and the delegates
to this congress became the main driving force in the leadership
of the October revolution in the capital and local areas. What
did this congress represent from a national point of view?
Of the delegates at the congress 55 percent were Russians,
3 percent were Georgians and Armenians, 17.5 percent were Jews,
10 percent Latvians, 4 percent Poles, and 3.5 percent Lithuanians
and Estonians. The Congress elected a Central Committee
consisting of twenty-eight full and candidate members.
Sixteen of them were Russians or Russified Ukrainians,
six were Jews, two were Georgians, two Latvians, one was
Armenian, and one a Pole. These figures reveal the
significant political activism of Jews and Latvians in 1917,
but certainly they do not confirm the thesis that the role
of Jewish and Latvian revolutionaries was decisive.
     The main government body after the October revolution
was the Sovnarkom, or Council of People's Commissars, elected
by the Second Congress of Soviets. The first Sovnarkom
consisted of twelve Russians, one Pole, one Georgian, and
one Jew. Although Trotsky was the head of the Red Army,
Russians made up the bulk of the command staff, including
more than ten thousand former officers of the tsarist army.
It is true that many "internationalist" units fought on the
side of the Soviet power--Hungarians, Czechs, Germans,
Latvians, Chinese--but altogether they constituted an
insignificant part of the Red Army, which totaled three
million and was predominantly Russian.
     At the height of the civil war in March 1919, the
Eighth Party Congress was held in Moscow. As can be seen by
the questionnaires that were filled out, 63 percent of
the delegates were Russians, 16 percent Jews, 7 percent
Latvians, 4 percent Ukrainians, and 3 percent Poles.
At the Ninth Party Congress out of the 530 delegates
who filled out questionnaires 70 percent were Russians,
14.5 percent Jews, 6 percent Latvians, 3 percent
Ukrainians, 2 percent Belorussians. All other national groups
at the congress added up to 4 percent. As we can see, there
was an obvious tendency for the number of Russians to increase
and the number of Jews and Latvians to decline.
     The myth of the non-Russian, or more narrowly,
the Jewish character of the October Revolution and
Soviet government first arose during the civil war. The
White Guard press, and later the Russian emigre press were
full of references to the "Kike-Bolshevik commissars" and
the "Kike-Bolshevik Red Army." Even the London Times wrote
on March 5, 1919, that Jews held 75 percent of the leading
positions in the RSFSR. The proceedings of the 439th and
469th sessions of the U.S. Senate contain the assertion
that "in 1918 the Government in Petrograd consisted of 16
Russians and 371 Jews, with 265 of those Jews having come from
New York." The story is still being told in many Russian emigre
publications, though not in such fantastic form.
     The figures I have quoted above provide in my opinion
a sufficiently convincing refutation of this tale. The national
composition of the Politburo of the Bolshevik Party provides
additional refutation. In 1922 there were four Russians, three
Jews, and one Georgian on the Politburo. By 1927, however--
ten years before Stalin's alleged "national revolution"--the
Politburo consisted of thirteen Russians, two Ukrainians, one
Georgian, one Armenian, and one Jew.

[end quote]

(Roy Medvedev, Let History Judge, Trans. George Shriver,
Columbia University Press, 1989, pp. 559-560)


Back to Site Index
Back to Main Page