Antiszemitizmus – holokauszt - államszocializmus

TitleAntiszemitizmus – holokauszt - államszocializmus
Publication TypePublication review
AuthorsBartha, Anikó Eszter
Author(s) of reviewed materialKrausz, Tamás

Book. Title translated:
Antisemitism - Holocaust - State Socialism. Series: Európai iskola

PublisherBudapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó
ISSNISBN 963-19-4487-5
Review year


Full Text

While in the Western countries a voluminous number of studies have appeared that explore the history of the Holocaust, in the Soviet Union from 1948 until its collapse there was a conspiracy of silence surrounding the specific Jewish tragedy. There was no official mentioning of it and the Jewish victims became absorbed in the general sacrifice of the Soviet people. Numerically, they constituted 10% of the Soviet victims, but even so more than half of the Soviet Jewry was killed in the genocide. Silence reigned in spite of the fact that the genocide of the Jewish people in the occupied areas of the Soviet Union was relatively well documented. [For instance, on the initiative of Ilya Ehrenburg the compilation of the Black Book documenting the Nazi genocide started in 1943, an edited version of which was published in the United States (playing a role even in the Nuremberg trials). This book was, however, not published in Russia until 1993.]

In this relatively short book Tamás Krausz seeks to accomplish two tasks: on the one hand, to introduce this tragic chapter of the Soviet Jewry from a historical perspective and on the other, to explain the problem of Soviet anti-Semitism in a wider political and international context, in particular in relation to the rivalry of the great powers in the Middle East. On the latter topic, the author’s main argument is that Soviet anti-Zionism was motivated by great power politics rather than anti-Semitism. Stalin’s persecution of the “Zionists” was triggered by his disappointment in Israel he originally expected to be an allied country. Stalin regarded the American orientation of Israel as his betrayal, and the rules of the bipolar world system continued to determine the Soviet-Israeli relations even after Stalin's death. A main advantage of the book is that it examines the reception of the Holocaust reception and the problem of anti-Semitism during and after the times of the Soviet Union historically. While the holocaust was officially silenced in the Soviet period because of ideological reasons, after the collapse of the socialist regimes it remained an ideological question in the region.

Tamás Krausz argues that in many Eastern European countries discourses on totalitarian rule serve as a means to “whitewash” the policies of the interwar period and present countries as eternal martyrs, first victim to Nazism and then to communism, and thus relieving the local elites and populations of responsibility or a need to confront their own history. Such discourses help little to understand historical relations. As mentioned earlier, the book also attempts to interpret the history of the Holocaust from an Eastern European perspective, as it provides a brief overview of the history of the Russian Jewry after the October revolution and presents its complex relation to the Soviet regime. The regime changed radically from the revolution to the Stalinist consolidation, which significantly impacted on the Jewish-non Jewish relations. By following the changing political-historical situation, the book seeks to help us understand not only the history of the Jews in the Soviet Union but also the functioning of the state socialist regimes as such.

The book also appeared in English in 2006 under the title The Soviet and Hungarian Holocausts: A Comparative Essay, and is published in Boulder, Colorado in the Social Science Monographs series.