It happened many years back in Russia.

    The Doctors’ Plot is also known as the case of saboteur-doctors or killer-doctors. It was an anti-Semitic campaign also called anti-semitism. Don’t confuse it with the Doctor’s trial in Nuremberg.

   What is anti-Semitism? Anti-semitism is the strong dislike, or cruel and unfair treatment of Jewish people. Anti-semitism in the Russian Empire included numerous pogroms, acts of cruel behaviour, killings, organized massacre, of a particular ethnic group, in particular, that of the Jews in Russia or Eastern Europe and the designation or areas of the Pale of Settlement. Pale of Settlement is the territory of contemporary Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Poland, from which Jews were forbidden to migrate into the interior parts of Russia, unless they converted to the Russian Orthodox state religion, in some ways the Moscow-Patriarchate or Moscow Church. The Pale of Settlement was a western region of the Imperial Russia with varying borders that existed between, 1791 and 1917, in which, permanent residency by Jews was allowed but beyond which Jewish residency, permanent or temporary, was largely forbidden.

    Now let’s come to the Russian Revolution of 1917: It was a period of political and social revolution across the territory of the Russian Empire, commencing with the abolition of the monarchy in 1917, and concluded in 1923 after the Bolshevik establishment (that is the radical far left Marxist faction), of the Soviet Union, along with five other Soviet Republics, namely Ukraine, Belarus, Amenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, resulting in the end of the civil war.

     Anti-semitism campaign in the Soviet Union was organized by Joseph Stalin. In 1951–1953, a group of predominantly Jewish doctors from Moscow were accused of a conspiracy to assassinate Soviet leaders. This was later accompanied by publications of anti-Semitic character in the media, which talked about the threats of Zionism (a political movement whose original aim was the creation of a country, for the Jewish people, and that now supports the state of Israel). The publications went on to condemn people with Jewish names. Many doctors, officials and others, both Jews and non-Jews, were promptly dismissed from their jobs and arrested. But only after a few weeks of Stalin’s death, the new Soviet leadership said there was a lack of evidence, so the cases was dropped. Soon after, it was declared to have been fabricated. This was the gist of the doctor’s plot. Let me now give you some details about it.

    The anti-Jewish campaign was presum-ably set in motion by Stalin as a pretext to dismiss and replace Lavrenty Beria his close aide, and prosecute some other Soviet leaders, and to launch a massive purge within the Communist Party, and, according to some, even to prepare and consolidate the country for a future World War III.

   In 1951, (MGB) the Soviet Secret Police investigator Mikhail Ryu-min reported to his superior, Viktor Aba-kumov, Minister of the MGB, that Professor Yakov Etinger, who was arrested as a “bourgeois nationalist” with connections to the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, had in fact committed malpractice in treating Andrei Zhdanov (died in 1948) and Alexander Shcherbakov (died in 1945), and allegedly had done so with the intention of killing them. However, Abakumov the minister, refused to believe the story. Etinger later died in prison on 2nd March 1951 due to interrogations and harsh conditions. Mikhail Ryumin was then dismissed from his position in the MGB for misappropriating money and was held responsible for the death of Etinger. With the assistance of Georgy Malenkov a Soviet politician who briefly succeeded Joseph Stalin, Ryumin wrote a letter to Stalin, accusing Viktor Abakumov of killing Etinger in order to hide a conspiracy to kill the Soviet leadership. On 4 July 1951, the Politburo set up a commission (headed by Malenkov and Beria) to investigate the issue. Based on the commission’s report, the Politburo soon passed a resolution on the “bad situation in the MGB” and Abakumov was fired. Later both Beria and Malenkov tried to use the situation to expand their power through gaining control of the MGB.

    Abakumov was arrested and tortured soon after being dismissed as head of the MGB. He was charged with being a sympathizer and protector of the criminal Jewish underground. This arrest was followed by the arrests of many agents who worked for him in the central apparatus of the MGB, including most Jews.

    In December 1952, Stalin accused a large group of Jewish doctors, along with the minister of security Viktor Aba-kumov, and the head of the Kremlin Guards Nikolai Vlasik, and others of having participated in Zhdanov’s murder. The basis of this accusation was a letter written by Lidia Timashuk, the head of the Kremlin hospital’s, cardiographic unit, to Nikolai Vlasik, dated 29 August 1948, in which she warned that the doctors underestimated “the unquestionably grave condition of comrade Zhdanov,” and that “this regimen may lead to a fateful outcome.” Stalin claimed that this letter had been withheld from him by Abakumov. In January 1953, articles in Pravda and Izvestiia exposed the so-called “plot of the doctor-wreckers,” causing worldwide concern about the fate of Soviet Jews.

    From 1948 to 1952, Stalin schemed carefully to give the accusation credibility. Contrary to the legend, he did not discover Timashuk’s letter in December 1952. Rather, he had received it one day after it was sent and had filed it in his personal archive. He signed the document and wrote “archive” across the bottom. Among the doctors Lidia Timashuk accused none were Jewish. No conclusive evidence proved Timashuk’s charge of medical malpractice, but circumstantial evidence suggested that the doctors facilitated Zhdanov’s death, quite plausibly with Stalin’s approval.

    The plot assumed a Jewish character only after the death of the prominent Jewish doctor Iakov Etinger, arrested in November 1950 as part of the liquidation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Etinger died under mysterious circumstances in prison in March 1951. In July 1951, without any evidence, a “Secret Letter” composed by the Central Committee at Stalin’s behest alleged that Etinger had confessed to the medical murder in 1945 to the Central Committee secretary Aleksandr Shcherbakov; that this assassination was the work not of Etinger alone, but of a “conspiratorial group” of doctors; and that Victor Abakumov was implicated in the affair.

    From July 1951, when this “Secret Letter” was disseminated, to November 1952, the Ministry of State Security (MGB) sought to establish the specifically Jewish nature of the conspiracy by connecting the death of Zhdanov with the alleged confessions of Etinger.

    A key element in this was the effort to link Abakumov with the “Jewish conspiracy” and to prove that the conspiracy was directed by the American government. Abakumov was arrested in July 1951.

    The core group of 37 doctors (and their wives) arrested between 1951 and January 1953, when the “Plot” vastly expanded, included only 17 Jews. Many others were added between January and March 1953.

    In which a large number of prominent Jewish doctors were arrested. The interrogations of the doctors, were accompanied by torture, sought to establish links within a widespread conspiracy involving Jewish nationalists, and the American government.

    The reasons for Stalin’s actions are traceable to circumstances at the end of World War II: the onset of the cold war; Stalin’s failing physical condition; his desire to prevent the rise of any of his lieutenants to too dominant a role, particularly as undisputed heir apparent; and a revival of international Jewish solidarity associated with the founding of the State of Israel. Soon after the victory over Hitler, Stalin suffered some kind of physical collapse, which necessitated long periods of recovery in his Crimean residence. The exact nature of Stalin’s physical ailment is not known. This left Molotov and other members of the Politburo in charge of the daily affairs of the Soviet state. Western media speculated that Molotov would soon succeed Stalin. Molotov gave reason to believe that he favoured closer relations with the Western powers as well as a relaxation of censorship. Stalin criticized him bitterly for this, calling both him and Politburo member Anastas Mikoyan in December 1952 subversive.

    Upon Stalin’s death, the Doctors’ Plot was repudiated by Soviet authorities. The doctors were released from prison and rehabilitated, and those who put them in prison were themselves incarcerated. Eventually most of the latter were shot. Beria accused Mikhail Riumin, former deputy minister of the MGB, of having concocted the Doctors’ Plot out of opportunism. However, only Stalin had the comprehensive vision to guide the conspiracy from the Kremlin Hospital to the Ministry of Security to the Politburo and Central Committee, culminating in a possible nuclear confrontation with the United States.

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is a famous quote. I end with that. Goodbye and see you next week.

By Kamlesh Tripathi




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