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Josef Stalin Headshot


Joseph Stalin

The genocidal plan of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who actually murdered more people than Adolph Hitler, was stymied on the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Stalin, like Hitler, was an anti-Semite and the Jews of the Soviet Union suffered immensely under his rule. Many Jews were forced into slave labor under Stalin upon fleeing Nazi-controlled areas. Jewish refugee children also grew up under horrendous conditions in the Soviet gulag. By 1953, the status of Soviet Jewry had deteriorated even further and Soviet Jews faced a possible genocide. Inexplicably, Soviet dictator Stalin collapsed on Purim. Soon afterward, he died, sparing the Jewish people another Holocaust. It was a miracle!

Stalin’s Final Solution

Stalin’s plan to annihilate the Jews of the Soviet Union, which he formulated immediately prior to his death, remains one of the lesser known facts of history. Not even ten years after the conclusion of the Holocaust, there was a full-scale attack upon Soviet Jews, complete with purges, executions, imprisonments, and the imposed exile of tens of thousands of Jews. In early 1953, the Soviet media alleged that Jewish doctors had conspired to poison top-level Soviet officials, thus increasing the level of hostility directed toward Soviet Jews. The Jews lived in terror under Stalin, especially in the early 1950s. In the midst of the so-called doctors’ plot, Stalin planned to deport two to four million Jews to Siberia and Central Asia, where they would be annihilated as a collective punishment for a conspiracy invented by the Stalin-controlled Soviet media.

Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov

Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov

During a meeting with top-level Soviet officials, there were government members who did oppose Stalin’s plan. Vyacheslav Molotov, who was married to a Jewish woman, staunchly objected to Stalin’s plans and had the audacity to tell the dictator that such a move would be horrendous for public relations. Another official, Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov, actually went as far as chasing away Soviet agents from his home using a rifle in order to protect his Jewish wife. He then told Stalin that he no longer wished to be a member of the Communist Party. An enraged Stalin responded that only he had the right to determine who was a member of the Communist Party. Soon after that, on Purim day, Stalin collapsed on the floor and died not long after.

The Lubavitch Rebbe’s Purim Gathering

Interestingly, on the same day that Stalin collapsed, the leader of the Chabad movement, the Lubavitch Rebbe, lead a Purim gathering. Members of the Jewish community had asked him to pray for the Soviet Jewish community. However, instead of doing this, the Lubavitch Rebbe told a story. He proclaimed, “After the czar fell in Russia, it was announced that the government would be holding elections. The Rebbe Rashab, fifth to Chabad dynasty, sent word to the Chasidim that they were to participate in the voting process. There was one particular Chasid who was completely removed from the affairs of the world; to him the political arena was foreign territory. Nonetheless, having received an explicit instruction from the Rebbe, he set out to fulfill his command. With a sense of awe and reverence he immersed himself in a mikvah (ritual bath), donned his gartel (belt for prayer) and set out for the polling booth. Of course, when he got there, he had no idea what he was expected to do, but some of the more worldly Chasidim helped him cast his vote. Adjusting his gartel, the Chasid did what everyone else was doing. When the votes were cast, everyone cried out ‘Hurrah!’ Taking his cue from those around him he likewise cried out, ‘Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!’”


The Lubavitch Rebbe at a gathering with his Chasidim. (chabad.org)

In this holy man’s heart, he meant to cry out in Hebrew the phrase, “hu ra,” which means “he is evil.” As the Lubavitch Rebbe stated the words “hu ra,” his face shown in such an inspiring way that his Purim gathering also began to shout “hu ra” with regard to Stalin. Soon after that, Stalin passed away. It is as if the Jewish people were praying for a miracle, and they got one.

According to Dr. Alex Rashin, author of Why Stalin Didn’t Murder All of the Jews, Stalin’s death “in itself [is] such a happy end to a huge threat [that] deserves to be remembered and commemorated by all Jews.” Traditionally, Jews believe that whenever the community is miraculously saved from disaster, this date should be celebrated on the appropriate date. Thus, in 1996, Dr. Rashin initiated Little Purim celebrations in honor of Soviet Jewry being saved, a tradition which continues in over 100 synagogues across the United States.

By Rachel Avraham

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