28 May 2011

Russia: Lenin's Jewish roots on display

A letter by Lenin's sister claiming their maternal grandfather was a Ukrainian Jew is on display in Russia's State History Museum.

The Jerusalem Post - reporting on the AP story on May 24 - indicated that Stalin told the sister to keep quiet.
Among newly released documents displayed at the museum is a letter written by Lenin’s sister, Anna Ulyanova, claiming that their maternal grandfather was a Jew from the Ukraine who converted to Christianity to escape persecution in the Pale of Settlement and have access to higher education, the report said.

"He came from a poor Jewish family and was, according to his baptismal certificate, the son of Moses Blank, a native of [the western Ukrainian city of] Zhitomir,” Ulyanova wrote in 1932 in a letter cited by AP.

In the letter written to Josef Stalin, who replaced Lenin after his death in 1924, Ulyanova wrote, “Vladimir Ilych had always thought of Jews highly. I am very sorry that the fact of our origin – which I had suspected before – was not known during his lifetime.”
Lenin, born Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov in 1870, adopted the name Lenin while in Siberian exile in 1901. Under Czarist anti-Semitism, he identified only as Russian.

According to the AP, he oversaw a brief period of promotion of Jewish culture ending in the early 1930s when Stalin encouraged anti-Semitic purges and planned to relocate Soviet Jews. Lenin's sister requested that her brother's Jewish background be made public to combat anti-Semitism.

Stalin ignored the request, telling her to “keep absolute silence," according to exhibit curator Tatyana Koloskova. Lenin's official biography (written by his niece Oga Ulyanova) refers to the family's Russian, German and Swedish roots.

In the early 1900s, Russian historians found the sister's letter, but questioned its authenticity.

Read the complete article at the link above.

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