Kamenskih M. S. Jewish Commissariat and Jews in Public Life of Perm Region in 1918 (On Archival Materials) (.pdf)


The paper analyzes the activities of the Perm department of the Commissariat for Jewish National Affairs in Perm province (PermskyEvkom) in 1918. The Bolsheviks attached great importance to working with Jews and Jewish public organizations, especially immediately after coming to power. The published and unpublished written sources preserved in the Perm archives and museums helped to reconstruct and analyze social processes in the Jewish community of that time. The creation of PermskyEvkom was initiated by the Moscow Commissariat for Jewish Affairs, which managed to attract only a few young representatives of the radical parties "Bund" and "Poalei Zion", whose age was under 30 years. The Evkom’s activity was concentrated in two directions: subordinating other Jewish public organizations by the forces of the administrative resource and building the loyalty of the local Jewish community. Throughout its existence, the Evkom was successful at working on the destruction of the Jewish Community Council, creating the Jewish working club "III International" and working with refugees, as well as organizing the mobilization of Perm Jews for the Red Army. In general, the Commissariat created with the support of Moscow did not succeed in attracting Jews to its side and organizing any useful work for the authorities. The work of the Evkom was of interest for the province executive committee only because of taxing prosperous Jews and mobilizing Jews for the Red Army. This work could not be organized by the Evkom, and that is why the province executive committee did not attach much importance to its work, but it also did not interfere with it. The history of the creation and activities of the Perm department of the Perm Central Commissariat for Jewish National Affairs makes it possible to evaluate several aspects of the Bolsheviks’ national policy during the first years of the Soviet power. In solving the national question in the Soviet state, Jews occupied a special status, which is proved by the creation of individual Jewish organizations, and their administrative and financial support. But the necessity of this status was dictated not by the uniqueness of the Jews, but by the presence of a large number of Jewish organizations, including revolutionary ones, throughout the country. At the end of 1917, this was a serious social force that represented a threat to the new government. By creating Jewish commissariats, the Bolsheviks tried to subordinate both old Jewish organizations and the newly emerged revolutionary Jewish public institutions to their influence. To achieve this goal, the new authorities were ready to make concessions related to supporting religious beliefs and financing controversial projects. In this work, the Bolsheviks placed their stakes on the most radical youth.


Key words: Jews, Commissariat for Jewish National Affairs in Perm Province (Permsky Evkom), national policy, Bolsheviks, national cultural movement, Perm region.


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