Stalin´s Death 50 Years Ago This Month: A "Little Purim"

During this month marking 50 years since the death of the vicious tyrant Josef Stalin, theories again abound as to the cause of his demise. He fell into a coma on Purim 1953.


During this month marking 50 years since the death of the vicious tyrant Josef Stalin, theories again abound as to the cause of his demise. The New York Times reported ten days ago on a new book, entitled "Stalin's Last Crime," which brings new evidence to support an old theory that Stalin was poisoned. Another new book, however, puts the likely poisoning into historical perspective. Dr. Alex Rashin, author of newly-published "Why Didn't Stalin Murder All the Jews?," notes that Stalin collapsed into his fatal coma on March 1, 1953 - the holiday of Purim - precisely as he was in the midst of planning to deport and/or annihilate 2-4 million Jews.

Rashin writes that Stalin's entire last murderous campaign, known as the Doctors' Plot, "was directed against the Jews, Zionists, Israel, and 'their American imperialist masters.' Zionism became one of Stalin's major avowed enemies when, in 1947-49, he failed in his plans to make Israel one of his puppets. Voluminous testimony reveals that in 1953 he had planned to deport and annihilate 2 to 4 million Jews. The campaign ended upon Stalin's abrupt collapse into a coma on March 1, 1953, and his death on March 5."

Dr. Rashin writes that Stalin's death "in itself [is] such a happy end to a huge threat [that] deserves to be remembered and commemorated by all Jews." In addition, however, he adds much evidence to suggest that Stalin’s collapse on Purim was not just a coincidence: "It is often told that Stalin staged his purges exploiting the same script repeatedly and borrowing scripts from others. The biblical Book of Esther - the basis of Purim - can be looked upon as an elaborate script for a purge" that Stalin tried, to a certain extent, to follow. The Book of Esther recounts how King Ahasuerus of ancient Persia approved his minister Haman's plan for the wholesale annihilation of the Jews, but then turned around and killed his powerful deputy. Stalin's associates, carefully tracking his twisted logic, realized that they themselves were next on his hit-list, and, with nothing to lose, poisoned the murderous dictator. "Stalin's poisoning," Rashin says, "is strongly indicated by medical reports published in 1972 and 1992 [referring to] important hemorrhages in the cardiac muscle, stomach and intestine - atypical for a heart attack, and [to the fact that] Stalin vomited blood..."

According to long-standing Jewish tradition, any 'miraculous' deliverance of a Jewish community from disaster at the hands of Jew-haters should continue to be celebrated each year on the appropriate day. Such events, called 'Little Purim,' have been celebrated in many communities. In 1996, Dr. Rashin initiated the commemoration of a 'Little Purim' in honor of the deliverance of Russian Jewry from the hands of Stalin, and it has since been held in over 100 synagogues across the United States.