FIRST SOVIET GENERATION

 

The Bolsheviks, victorious in the 1917 Russian Revolution, promised a new utopia: equality for the people, rights for workers, and a vast improvement in quality of life.   Eager for change, young Russians – Jews included – quickly became loyal subjects of the new Soviet regime; dedication to the Motherland was nurtured in all spheres of society.  The first generation of Soviet Jews pursued previously unavailable educational and professional opportunities, and were grateful for the upward mobility they achieved.  For many, however, communist policies proved disastrous.  The forced collectivization of farms and banning of private enterprise devastated agricultural output, causing mass starvation, especially in Ukraine.  Accelerated industrialization, designed to modernize the USSR extremely rapidly, meant very strict labor discipline. At the same time, mass political purges resulted in the incarceration, forced labor or deaths of untold millions.  Nevertheless, until the 1939-1940 annexation of the Baltics, eastern Poland, and parts of Romania, the majority of the Soviet population seemed to believe in the ideals – and propaganda – of their government.  In the newly “liberated” territories, however, locals loathed Stalinist communism and blamed the Jews for the “Judeo-Bolshevik” takeover.


VETERAN TESTIMONY

DENNIS STAROSVETSKY

Effects of early Soviet policies on the family.