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Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich, a revolutionary Bolshevik who was enormously loyal to Stalin and responsible for implementing the agricultural collectivization policies that led to mass starvation in the Ukraine, 1932-33, was born in Ukraine on this date in 1893. Among his roles in the USSR were commissar for Red Army propaganda, 1918; leader of anti-Muslim campaign in Turkmenistan, 1920-22; chief of staff for Stalin, 1922; member of the party’s Central Committee, 1924; First Secretary of the Ukrainian CP, 1925-28; secretary of the Central Committee of the whole party, 1928-39; and signatory on more than half of Stalin’s 357 documented execution lists during the Great Terror, which led to the murder of nearly all of the original Bolsheviks as well as hundreds of thousands of other Soviet citizens, including Kaganovich’s own brother, Mikhail. Known as “Iron Lazar” for his ruthlessness, Kaganovich was also said to be tasked with preparing a round-up of Jews planned by Stalin in the early 1950s, which was aborted by the dictator’s death in 1953 (by which time Kaganovich was perhaps the only remaining Jew in the leadership of the Communist Party). He was essentially decommissioned after Stalin’s death, and was expelled from the Communist Party in 1961 after conspiring to create a putsch against Khrushchev. He nevertheless lived until 97. Some attribute to Kaganovich the cynical comment usually attributed to Stalin: “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.”
“A Jew himself, Kaganovich was against the Jews!” —Nikita Khrushchev