Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Birobidzhan: Stalin's Soviet-Jewish Homeland and its Revival

Stalin pushed for a Yiddish-based Soviet-Jewish homeland, wanting Jews to become farmers and thus "productive" members of the Soviet economy and culture.
One of the most unusual chapters in Soviet-Jewish history involves Josef Stalin and a chunk of land in Siberia next to China.  In the early 1920s the Soviet state was attempting to deal with "nationality issues."  To that end, different nationalities in the Soviet Union were given "autonomous" regions to develop their culture--a Soviet version of that culture.  Members of the Jewish "nationality"--as Jews were called in the USSR--were one of the benefactors of this program.  PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE ARTICLE. It was Stalin himself who was promoting a Jewish Autonomous Region, which was eventually also called Birobidzhan, where Jews could develop their own special Soviet-Jewish culture based in the Yiddish language.
Soviet Jews did not fit Stalin's definition of a "nation." Jewish poverty, unemployment, and overpopulation, as well as wide-spread anti-Semitism and pogroms after 1917, caused concern within the Kremlin...

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