The Jewish Purge in the Satellite Countries:
Behind the Communist Turn to Anti-Semitism
When Rudolf Slansky, the Secretary General of the Communist party of Czechoslovakia, was removed from his post in September 1951, and arrested on charges of treason ten weeks later, many people wondered if this was the beginning of a general purge of Jews in the satellite countries. In May 1952, a second prominent Communist leader of Jewish origin, Ana Pauker of Rumania, shared Slansky’s fate: she was first removed from party office, and then from her post as Foreign Minister. In the meantime, it was discovered that almost every Czechoslovak Jew of prominence, whether in Slansky’s circle or outside it, whether in the party or in the government, had been demoted, expelled from the party, or arrested. In Rumania, the same process started after Ana Pauker’s fall. Concurrently, a distinct note of anti-Semitism began to creep into official statements and press articles in the satellite countries. The long-sustained witch hunt against “Zionists” and “cosmopolitans” was now accompanied by rather open hints that Jews were apt to spread subversive infections. And behind the smoke screen of this propaganda, mass deportations of “bourgeois,” “parasitic,” “unreliable,” and “alien” elements, among them a great and disproportionate number of Jews, were conducted in the cities of Hungary, Rumania, and Slovakia.
Equality of citizenship irrespective of race, religion, or ethnic origin is still “guaranteed” by the satellite constitutions. Anti-Semitism and racist propaganda are still banned by the penal codes. Prominent Communists of Jewish origin still hold offices in Hungary and Poland. But the general trend is unmistakable; and if we had any doubts, they would be overcome by the fact that what is now happening in the satellite states only follows the pattern already established in the Soviet Union. The Jews of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, and Poland are again an “alien,” suspect group, condemned to the role of scapegoats for the failures and crimes of a totalitarian regime. Those Budapest deportees who sewed on yellow stars when ordered by the Communist authorities to appear for “relocation” instinctively grasped the similarity between the two totalitarian regimes.
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