«Jewish Observer»
September 2002
5763 Tishrei

to 120th birth anniversary of Yury Larin
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Yury Larin (Mikhail (Iekhiel-Mikhoel) Alexandrovich (Zalmanovich) Lurje (1882-1932), buried in the Kremlin wall, astoundingly combined his Bolshevism with an active participation in solving Jewish problems of the country. He was born in the family of a Jewish writer - Palestinophile Shneur Zalman Lurje (1851-1908) who at the end of his life was a public Rabbi in Kiev. Iekhiel-Mikhoel first went in touch with the police in his eighth form of the gymnasium where he headed a mutual aid fund. Aged 19 he wrote his first political leaflet calling on the Odessa workers to take to streets and organize a demonstration. In early XX century I.-M.Lurje, whose underground nickname was "Yury", headed a social-democratic organization in Simferopol and, in effect, founded the Crimean union of RSDRP. After the exile and escape he emigrated to Geneva where he joined the Mensheviks.

Unlike other revolutionaries of those times, Yury endured arrests and exiles with a much greater difficulty (he, then, was known after the pseudonym "Larin" - a famous character from "Yevgeny Onegin"). He suffered from developing muscle atrophy, moved with difficulty and had to hold a receiver with both hands talking on the phone. When the Bolsheviks came to power he became one of the eminent experts in economy. Already during the civil war he offered to introduce NEP (New Economic Policy). His voice remained that of one crying in the wilderness, and only the thunder of Kronshtadt's canons compelled Lenin's leadership to put an end to the policy of military communism. Soon after Larin had entered the KOMZET leadership and headed the OZET, his works on the agrarian issue were re-published in the book "Economy of Soviet village". Yury Alexandrovich considered it possible to relocate 280 thousand Jews to Crimea. But the Jewish communities in Crimea were found far from the sea, on the fossilized soil, where dry grueling winds exacerbated a water problem. Settlers lived in dugouts or hastily knocked-up barracks. Larin made much to attract funds of the "Agro-Joint", Jewish colonizing society, ORT and other foreign organizations to help those people. Largely due to this Jewish households of the region began intensively developing. In 1935 one of the Jewish national districts in Crimea was named Larinsdorf. Larin considered the project to re-locate Jews on the banks of rivers Bira and Bejan unreal for which he underwent criticism on the part of members of Jewish section and a number of party leaders.

Larin was one of organizers of the campaign aimed at struggling against anti-Semitism in the second half of 1920's. Among the CPSU leadership he was, probably, the most active in this question. Beside many articles, Larin published books "Social structure of Jewish population" (1928), "Territorial re-grouping of Jewish population" (1928), "Jews and anti-Semitism in USSR" (1929). The last monograph is substantial enough to become topical nowadays. Larin wrote a preface to the brochure by a lawyer S.Shwarzbard's assistant, French writer B.Lekhash "When Israel is dying "(1928). In his book Lekhash presented materials collected during the trip about the pogrom scenes of the civil war in Ukraine. The collection "Against anti-Semitism" (1930) included Larin's article "Dilettante and bourgeois anti-Semitism in USSR".

Considering the fact there were almost no anti-Semitic publications in Ukraine of 1920's and the amount of editions against anti-Semitism as well as the activity of other forms of struggle against it were rather considerable, we need to borrow something from the experience of those times.

First of all, we should thoroughly study and interpret publications and activity in this sphere by Y.Larin-Lurje.


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