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 Posted Wednesday, July 14, 1999

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How Far was the KGB "Jewish"?

One of History's most Controversial Questions: Who were the officers of Stalin's Secret Police Armies, the NKVD and KGB?

We reproduce these excerpts from an article by Ukrainian researcher Lubomyr Prytulak [and we would welcome other serious contributions to this debate: Submit].

The Membership of this [Ukranian] NKVD was predominantly Jewish:

What was the membership of this NKVD that we see above being so repeatedly blamed for the massacre of Ukrainians in the days before occupation by German forces? In my analysis [of statistical data in the Ukrainian Archives in the USA] presented by Yuri Shapoval, I arrive at the conclusion that the senior membership in Ukraine of the organization one of whose names became the NKVD was as follows:

Out of every 10 senior members of the Cheka-GPU-NKVD in Ukraine:

  • 6 were Jewish,
  • 2 were Russian,
  • 1 was Ukrainian, and
  • 1 was other.

Statements made by others support the conclusion that the NKVD was predominantly a Jewish organization. For example, Yoram Sheftel, Ivan Demjanjuk's Israeli defense attorney, reports that in connection with his visit to the Simferopol, Ukraine, KGB headquarters in 1990, [he found that] a plaque memorializing the "KGB" dead of the war showed that all thirty of the thirty names were Jewish:

On the right-hand wall was a stone memorial plaque engraved with the names of about thirty KGB men from Simferopol who had fallen in the Great Patriotic War, as the Soviets call World War II. I was shocked and angry as I read the names: the first was Polonski and the last Levinstein, and all those between were ones like Zalmonowitz, Geller and Kagan - all Jews. The best of Jewish youth in Russia, the cradle of Zionism, had sold itself and its soul to the Red Devil.

The Demjanjuk Affair: The Rise and Fall of a Show-Trial, Victor Gollancz, London, 1994, p. 301

Of course Sheftel's sample of thirty is not necessarily a sample that is representative of the entire NKVD in Ukraine; however the Jewish domination of the entire NKVD is not a rare or dubious hypothesis, but is one, rather, that is upheld from more than one direction:

square As a Jew, I'm interested in another question entirely: Why were there so many Jews among the NKVD-MVD investigators -- including many of the most terrible? It's a painful question for me but I cannot evade it."

Yevgenia Albats, The State Within a State: The KGB and its Hold on Russia, Past, Present and Future, 1994, p. 147

square Jews abounded [also] at the lower levels of the Party machinery - especially in the Cheka and its successors, the GPU, the OGPU and the NKVD.... It is difficult to suggest a satisfactory reason for the prevalence of Jews in the Cheka. It may be that having suffered at the hand of the former Russian authorities they wanted to seize the reins of real power in the new state for themselves.

Leonard Shapiro, The Role of Jews in the Russian Revolutionary Movement, Slavonic and East European Review, 1961, 40, p. 165)


Related links:

Jewish NKVD torturers committed against Lithuanian partisans and innocent civilians, writes John Bedarfas

Richard Korherr report, on percentage of Jews in Russian Communist Party, 1926/27

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