Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s “During the Soviet-German War” Chapter 21 of 200 Years Together

Solzhenitsyn’s Chapter 21, on the WWII years, is now available. See here, and again notice the link requesting donations.) As elsewhere, it stresses the reality behind Jewish complicity in Bolshevism. For example, he argues that evacuations of Jews during WWII were done without publicity—mainly because of sensitivity about German propaganda emphasizing “Judeo-Bolshevism”: “The Soviet leadership undoubtedly realized that they gave a solid foundation to this propaganda during the 1920s and 1930s.”

During the war, traditional anti-Jewish themes and hostility toward Jews because of their role as an elite during the most horrific periods of Soviet history was combined with a new accusation: That Jews served the Soviet military disproportionately in positions where they were less likely to suffer casualties. Solzhenitsyn’s own personal experience is compelling: “Yes, one could hear this among the soldiers on the front. And right after the war — who has not experienced that? — a painful feeling remained among our Slavs that our Jews could have acted in that war in more self-sacrificing manner, that among the lower ranks on the front the Jews could have been more represented.”

Solzhenitsyn is not saying that Jews did not serve, but that they tended to serve either as senior officers or support personnel, not as ordinary soldiers in the front lines. The result was that Jews suffered lower mortality rates:

What mattered is that not everybody could survive …. Meanwhile an ordinary soldier, glancing back from the frontline, saw all too clearly that even the second and third echelons of the front were also considered participants of the war: all those deep rear headquarters, suppliers, the whole Medical Corps from medical battalion to higher levels, numerous rear technical units and, of course, all kinds of service personnel there, and, in addition, the entire army propaganda machine, including touring ensembles, front performance troops — they all were considered war veterans and, indeed, it was apparent to everyone that the concentration of Jews was much higher there than at the frontline.

Such personnel have a “completely different psychology” because being at the front line is voluntary: “nobody would have forced him ‘to hold the position.’” He also provides examples of a Jew who left the frontline in favor of a newspaper position, and he scoffs at a Jewish musician’s claim to have dug trenches:  “As a war veteran, I say — an absolutely incredible picture.”

Similar attitudes were common in the American military during WWII, as discussed in Dynamics of Prejudice, by Bruno Bettelheim and Morris Janowitz, a volume in the Studies in Prejudice series, published by the American Jewish Committee. This is the same series that included the notorious The Authoritarian Personality (by the Frankfurt School folks), so one should be wary of the numbers. Nevertheless, using a sample of 150 soldiers, they found that a substantial minority of the White soldiers interviewed regarded Jews as tending to have rear echelon jobs (20%) or were poor combat soldiers (17%).

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But in the end, Solzhenitsyn acknowledges that the actual data do not allow for any firm conclusions: “Such anecdotal evidence cannot make up a convincing argument for either side and there are no reliable and specific statistics nor are they likely to surface in the future.” Nevertheless, the general picture one gets is that indeed Jews were less likely to put themselves in harm’s way.

Solzhenitsyn expresses amazement at the reaction of one Jew who felt that the war was not really his war:

Of course, Stalin’s regime was not any better than Hitler’s. But for the wartime Jews, these two monsters could not be equal! If that other monster won, what could then have happened to the Soviet Jews? Wasn’t this war the personal Jewish war, wasn’t it their own Patriotic War — to cross arms with the deadliest enemy in all of Jewish history? (Emphasis in text.)

Even though this case is presented as nothing more than an anecdote, Solzhenitsyn ascribes it to a lack of loyalty—an ancient and persistent source of anti-Jewish attitudes. His treatment implies that such attitudes are typical among Jews. Jews have proven they are good fighters by the behavior of the Israeli army. But “their interest in this country is partial. After all, they — even if many of them only unconsciously — saw ahead looming in the future their very own nation of Israel.” 

As usual, Solzhenitsyn does not shy away from criticizing the facile explanations of Jewish historians. Anti-Jewish attitudes increased dramatically as Jewish evacuees from Eastern Europe mixed with non-Jewish natives and with wounded Soviet military personnel in Central Asia. Here traditional themes of anti-Semitism surfaced—Jewish lack of involvement in physical labor, Jewish wealth (many Jewish evacuees were high-level bureaucrats) and the involvement of Jews in sharp economic practices. A Jewish author “explains” this as resulting from “Hitler’s propaganda.” Solzhenitsyn mocks him:

What a dizzying revelation! How could Hitler’s propaganda victoriously reach and permeate all the Central Asia when it was barely noticeable at the front with all those rare and dangerous-to-touch leaflets thrown from airplanes, and when all private radio receiver sets were confiscated throughout the USSR?

Anti-Jewish attitudes were also rife where Jews returned to areas formerly occupied by the Germans. This was particularly the case in Ukraine, and motivated by memories of the role of Jews in the Soviet repressions of the 1930s: “A secret German report from the occupied territories in October 1941 states that the ‘animosity of the Ukrainian population against Jews is enormous… they view the Jews … as informants and agents of the NKVD, which organized the terror against the Ukrainian people.’”

The organization of Ukrainian Nationalists of Bandera-Melnik (OUN) made the following remarkable statement: “The Yids in the Soviet Union are the most loyal supporters of the ruling Bolshevik regime and the vanguard of Moscow imperialism in Ukraine. … The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists considers the Yids as the pillar of the Moscow-Bolshevik regime, while educating the masses that Moscow is the main enemy.” Yaroslav Stetzko (who in July 1941 was named the head of the Ukrainian government): “The Jews help Moscow to keep Ukraine in slavery, and therefore, I support extermination of the Yids and the need to adopt in Ukraine the German methods of extermination of Jewry.”

Solzhenitsyn often juxtaposes Jewish and Russian suffering but emphasizes that Jewish suffering is better known. He describes Babi Yar, the site of mass executions, mostly of Jews, by the Germans and notes that “the executions at Babi Yar have become a symbol in world history.”  But immediately after he writes that

it should be recalled that within a few kilometers from Babi Yar, in the enormous Darnitskiy camp, tens of thousands Soviet prisoners of war, soldiers and officers, died during the same months: yet we do not commemorate it properly, and many are not even aware of it. The same is true about the more than two million Soviet prisoners of war who perished during the first years of the war.

So Russians actually suffered more than Jews, at least in terms of sheer numbers, but the events are simply forgotten.

Similarly, Solzhenitsyn discusses a study claiming that 2,733,000 Jews were lost during the war within the post-war Soviet boundaries from all causes—55% of the Jewish population. Immediately thereafter he points out that “the currently accepted figure for the total losses of the Soviet population during the Great Patriotic War is 27,000,000 and it may be still underestimated.”

And even though the percentage losses of Jews were larger, the long term effects have been more devastating for the Russians:

We must not overlook what that war was for the Russians. The war rescued not only their country, not only Soviet Jewry, but also the entire social system of the Western world from Hitler. This war exacted such sacrifice from the Russian people that its strength and health have never since fully recovered. That war overstrained the Russian people. It was yet another disaster on top of those of the Civil War and de-kulakization — and from which the Russian people have almost run dry.

One can’t help thinking that the Russians would not have had to make such a sacrifice in the absence of the widespread perception throughout conservative circles in Europe that the Soviet Union was dominated by a Jewish elite (see, e.g., BenderskyMayerNolte). In any case, Jews have recouped their population losses And the Holocaust has become a prime source of identity for Jews and the prime rationalization for Israel. The Russians are simply exhausted.

In the end, Solzhenitsyn believes that there is plenty of blame to go around:

I fully agree with Hannah Arendt that the Jews of our century were equal participants in the historical games of the nations and the monstrous Catastrophe that befell them was the result of not only evil plots of the enemies of mankind, but also of the huge fatal miscalculations on the part of the Jewish people themselves, their leaders and activists.

But the Russians must look into the mirror as well. Russians need to engage in self-criticism

despite the unbearable burden of realization that it was we, Russians, who ruined our history — through our useless rulers but also through our own worthlessness — and despite gnawing anxiety that this may be irreparable — to perceive the Russian experience as possibly a punishment from the Supreme Power. (my emphasis)

One wishes that Solzhenitsyn would have been more specific about what he feels were the “fatal miscalculations” of the Jews that led to the Holocaust. I suspect that the well-founded reality behind “Judeo-Bolshevism” mentioned in this chapter and the aggressively hostile Jewish stance toward the Czar leading up to the Revolution (which, as Chapter 5 shows, was largely unwarranted) –would have been high on his list.

As for the Russians, the central fact is that their “useless leaders” were not Russians during the period when they endured such horrifying losses as a result of the actions of their own government. Their leaders were ethnic outsiders — with Jews the preeminent and most loyal force. Solzhenitsyn  makes this clear in Chapter 18 and it is also asserted in a recent Russian textbook that has drawn the fire of Jewish activists.

The real lesson here is the horrifying fate suffered by ethnic groups that come under the control of a hostile, ethnically alien elite—a lesson that White Americans would do well to heed.

Kevin MacDonald is editor of The Occidental Observer and a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach. Email him

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