Inter-war Ethnic Relations and Soviet Policy: The Case of Eastern Belorussia
The article examines inter-ethnic relations in the northeastern parts of Belorussia, during a period of far-reaching political, economic, and social change. Despite the Soviet regime’s efforts to promote close relations among ethnic groups, the largely conservative Belorussian population continued to express its frustration with various aspects of daily life in antisemitic terms. The increase in this phenomenon in 1928-1929 prompted the government to warn the population and to take punitive measures. Antisemitism was addressed within the framework of dealing with “counter-revolutionary”, “nationalistic”, and “chauvinist” activities, which affected Jews as well. During the second half of the 1930s, reports of antisemitism diminished and finally disappeared from the Soviet media (including the Jewish media). This was a period when local hostility was aimed at the authorities. Whereas open antisemitism declined, it did not disappear. Exposure to Nazi propaganda in the 1930s and the existence of latent antisemitism had their effects in the violence that followed the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.