1st Edition

Class War or Race War The Inner Fronts of Soviet Society during and after the Second World War

By Tamás Kende Copyright 2024

    Class War or Race War is more than an anti-thesis of the master narrative regarding the Soviet state antisemitism. Kende not only refutes the originally anti-Communist myth of the systemic nature of (state) socialism, but tries to re-, and deconstruct, the origins of this myth.

    With intensive use of historical documents, memoirs and the related historiography, the book attempts to make historical sense from the myth it intends to refute. Kende goes beyond the contemporary perceptions of the “Jewish question” and antisemitism, and with close reading of original documents, reconstructs the real frontlines of the Soviet society of the 1940s, which were not constructed along identity-political lines. The book reinvests the long-forgotten understanding of social classes in an allegedly classless and monolithic society. The spontaneous formations of the actual frontlines in the hinterland, or on the actual fronts (battlefields, in the Red Army) lacked the participants’ class consciousness, thus its occurrences in the form of conflict producing historical records were recorded as acts of antisemitism. As the book advocates, Jews could have been found on both sides of the inner frontlines of Soviet society during and right after WWII.

    An insightful read for scholars of Soviet history that presents a bold and challenging interpretation of the regime and its flaws—both perceived and real.


    Introduction: Anti-Semitism as a window to the possible history

    Chapter 1. Perceptions of a pogrom

    Chapter 2. Evacuation and Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union during WWII

    Chapter 3. Jewish Communism versus Bolshevik anti-Semitism or the Quest for the Right Adjective

    Chapter 4. Post-war anti-Jewish violence in the collective memory of Soviet Jewry

    Chapter 5. Evacuation and Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union during WWII

    Chapter 6. Other inner frontlines: Housing, hunger, and food supply in Jewish memoirs

    Chapter 7. The rising Jewish self-esteem

    Chapter 8. The Selected but not elected The Jewish Antifascist Committee and the rise of Soviet-Jewish national pride.

    Chapter 9. Contemporary echoes of the Holocaust

    Chapter 10. Anti-Semitism or inner frontlines on the front – The Red Army's soldiers on the Jewish question

    Chapter 11. Jews remembering Jews on the other side of the front-line in the post-war period

    Chapter 12. The spontaneous "Us" and "Them" in a pogrom in Uzbekistan through the eyes of a Soviet Jewish child

    Conclusion: Class and/or race





    Tamás Kende is a research fellow at the University of Miskolc, Hungary. He has published on the social and cultural history and historiographies of Eastern Europe. His newest book deals with the property and status rescue of the Hungarian financial elite in 1944 known as Jewish rescue.