How the Jews of Palestine helped the Soviet Red Army

Speech by Comrade S. Mikhailov, First Secretary of the USSR Embassy in Ankara, at the League Congress in Tel Aviv, Israel.

By Yan Toporovsky
May 12, 2021 Anno Domini
Translated from the Russian

Jewish Palestine was buzzing like a beehive. On August 25, 1942, the first delegation of the Soviet Union arrived in the Promised Land. They were S. Mikhailov, first secretary of the USSR Embassy in Ankara, and diplomatic officer T. Petrenko. Indeed, the distinguished guests arrived at the First All-Palestinian Congress of the V League. It did not fit in my head: a great power turned its gaze on a piece of Jewish land! For the first time in the history of relations between the USSR and the inhabitants of the Promised Land (there was no Jewish state yet!), Official representatives of the great state came to Palestinian Jewry as their ally in the war against fascism. Although similar Leagues were opened in many countries: England, India, USA, Canada, Australia, South America….

But in the beginning there was an “Appeal to the citizens of Palestine: on October 2, 1941, the Executive Committee of the Gistradrut (Israeli trade union) announces an urgent collection of aid from the USSR.” And a few weeks later, £10,000 was transferred to England. These funds were used to purchase two disinfection chambers, which were handed over in London by the representative of Histadrut to the USSR Ambassador Maysky for sending to Russia.

A check for £10,000 from members of the Histadrut to the USSR Ambassador in London.

On October 18 of the same year, the “Public Committee for Assistance to the SSSR was registered in Palestine in its war against fascism”. The Jews of Eretz Israel were grouped around this committee. But the number of applicants was so huge that there was a need to create a special organization. And on May 2, 1942, a meeting was held at which it was announced the creation of the “League” V “for aid to the Soviet Union.” And already at the end of the month in Jerusalem (Edison Theater), the first All-Palestinian Congress of the League members took place. The opening was attended by about 2,000 people. And this despite the fact that the Jewish population of Palestine was less than the Arab and amounted to about 500,000 of the poorest people. The unusual event was that representatives of the USSR were present at the congress, and among the local delegates there were such well-known personalities as the writer Arnold Zweig, Professor Martin Buber…. And the first thing the League V congress demanded from the allies was to open a second front.

From the greetings of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee

“We send our heartfelt wishes to the Congress of Palestinian Jewry, convened to organize aid to the heroic Red Army. Two millennia ago, Yehuda Maccabi and Bar-Kokhba raised an uprising in Palestine against the ideological forefathers of Hitler and Mussolini. On the land of Palestine, Yehuda Halevi sang his swan song, a song of boundless love for his country and his people. Naturally, the Jews of Palestine were the first to respond to the call of our courageous fighters, the Jews of the Soviet Union, to close ranks and join the front of freedom-loving peoples fighting against the fascist murderers. Our great homeland serves as a stronghold of indestructible friendship between free peoples and the brotherhood of national cultures.

…The despicable enemy seeks to enslave our country, to wipe out the Jewish people and its ancient culture from the face of the earth. There are no boundaries to his atrocities in relation to the peoples of the countries temporarily conquered by him, especially to their Jewish population. …The tragic fate of our brothers and sisters in the areas occupied by the enemy threatens to become the fate of the entire Jewish people, if the enemy is not crushed in the fields of the Soviet Union, which the enemy attacked with all savagery and cruelty, the same fate threatens Palestine, in which the Jews, through creative efforts and initiative, managed to ensure an honorable existence for themselves. Therefore, the national duty commands every Jew to strengthen aid to the Red Army with great self-sacrifice defending the honour, freedom, and independence of all peoples – and thus the Jewish. (..). We are confident that the resolutions of your Congress will strengthen our mutual understanding and friendship.

Prof. S. Mikhoels, People’s Artist of the Republic – Chairman.

Shakhno Epstein – secretary.

Committee members: Major General Yakov Kreiser, submarine commander Captain Fisanovich, Colonel Mikhlin, writer Ilya Ehrenburg, poet Itzik Fefer, writer David Bergelson, composers Alexander Kerin and I. Pulver, violinist, professor David Oistrakh, pianist Emil Gilels, etc.”

Three-point program

The program of the League was adopted at the congress. There are only three points:

1). Strengthening the participation of the Jews of Palestine in the assistance rendered by the world democracy to the Soviet Union in its struggle against fascism;
2). In the course of its activities, the League seeks to gain the support and sympathy of the Soviet Union for Zionist construction, the social liberation of the Jewish people in Palestine;
3). The League is a nation-wide and independent organization, to which, regardless of nationality and social affiliation, everyone who accepts its program and is ready to help it can join.

First thing

The League announced the creation of a “Fund for Assistance and Solidarity to the Soviet Union and the Red Army, Waging a Heroic Fight.” Fundraising for the purchase of ambulances was scheduled for November 7, 1942 – the day of the October Revolution, and on June 22, 1943 – on the day of the second anniversary of the war with Germany – a collection for the purchase of dressing materials for the Red Army. At the same time, they raised money for dressing materials, then for the purchase of surgical instruments, medicines and medical equipment. This “medical initiative” belonged to the Soviet embassy in Tehran, which prefers medical assistance to all other types of assistance.

League stamp about fundraising for dressings for the Red Army

Stingy lines of cases and numbers

The League’s documents list the assistance it provided during a short period of its existence: “In July 1942, the first 1050 pounds sterling were transferred to London in the name of the USSR Ambassador, Comrade Maisky, to be transferred to the Fund for Bomb Carriers and Tanks, the collection for which was announced Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee “,” in February 1943, the first transport of woolen clothes and two tons of bromine was sent through Tehran “,” in April 1943 – three ambulances, including a mobile surgery room, and behind them the transport of fats, soap and vaccines against loose typhus ”,“ followed by three more ambulances with surgical equipment and 500 woolen blankets ”,“ purchased and sent (from collection funds for dressing materials) 500,000 dressing bags and cotton wool … ”.

Personal impressions

Soviet diplomats represented Jewish Palestine as “wastelands scorched by the sun,” “desert,” “three palm trees,” and Tel Aviv, as a Jewish place within the Pale of Settlement … But in his speech at the League Congress, Comrade T. Petrenko admitted: “ Tel Aviv surprised us. And your villages, in all their diversity, made an even greater impression on us. Although we saw only a small part of your agricultural centers, we were deeply impressed by everything that the Jewish workers created in such a short time … Your attitude towards the Soviet Union testifies that we met with people close to us. We have learned the greeting “Shalom haveirim!” Here. (“Peace be with you, comrades!”) And we say it from the bottom of our hearts. Palestinian Jewishness does a lot … We appreciate your help to the front. We have seen that you are preparing for an urgent war with the enemy. … I hope that after the victory we will live in close friendship. ”

“Ambulances for the Red Army, bought with the money of the working Jewish people …”

Residents of Tel Aviv at a rally dedicated to the dispatch of ambulances and dressings to Tehran, Iran.

On April 18, 1943, League V sent (via Tehran) to the Red Army three ambulances with medical and surgical equipment. Before the ambulances and accompanying persons set off, they were given a solemn farewell in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, Haifa … Huge crowds enthusiastically saw off the transport, thus expressing their sympathy for the USSR. Seeing off was filmed, and the film was sent to the Soviet Embassy in Ankara and VOKS (All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Abroad). It must be said that the Jewish volunteers took upon themselves the delivery of the cargo and the escort of the transport. They covered a distance of 2000 km. And on May 2, a military parade was held in Tehran. Lieutenant Colonel Khoroshev greeted the arrivals: “… Accepting on behalf of the Red Army ambulances sent from the distant Jordan Valley, from the ancient walls of Jerusalem, bought with the money of the working Jewish people, with the money collected by the League“ V ”, I see in this a proof of the great the commonwealth of peoples in the struggle against German fascism, and the desire of the Jewish people of Palestine to help the peoples of the USSR against a common enemy. I ask you to convey to the Jewish people of Palestine a warm, Russian thank you. ”

ACT on the acceptance of ambulances and medicines from Jewish Palestine in Tehran. (Click to enlarge)


“We, the undersigned representatives of the units of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army stationed in the city of Tehran, Lieutenant Colonel Horoshev, Major Savitsky, doctor Artykov drew up an act stating the following: equipment from working Jews from Palestine. The machines are technically sound. The property complies with the attached inventories. ”

Parade in honour of the Jews of Palestine

A military parade was held in Tehran in honor of the Jews of Palestine. The first in the history of the Jewish and Russian peoples. And after the parade, the volunteers went back to Palestine.

Fundraising “Everything for the front!” – only part of the League’s activities. There were exhibitions about the struggle of the USSR against fascism, performances of the theaters “Habima”, “Matate”, the fees from which were deducted to help the Red Army, radio programs, as well as the creation of the “All-Palestinian Committee of Youth Organizations” under the auspices of the League, which included “Working Youth” , “Camp of Pioneers”, “Gashomer ha-tsoir”, “Marxist circle named after Borokhov”.

And all this was colored by memories of a miracle: a military parade of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Army. The Kremlin knew about the parade in Tehran. The newspaper Pravda published information that “the workers, farmers and intellectuals of Palestine are participating with enthusiasm in collecting funds to help the Red Army.”


  1. The Dönmeh rise to power in Turkey
    Many Dönmeh, along with traditional Jews, became powerful political and business leaders in Salonica. It was this core group of Dönmeh, which organized the secret Young Turks, also known as the Committee of Union and Progress, the secularists who deposed Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II in the 1908 revolution, proclaimed the post-Ottoman Republic of Turkey after World War I, and who instituted a campaign that stripped Turkey of much of its Islamic identity after the fall of the Ottomans. Abdulhamid II was vilified by the Young Turks as a tyrant, but his only real crime appears to have been to refuse to meet Zionist leader Theodore Herzl during a visit to Constantinople in 1901 and reject Zionist and Dönmeh offers of money in return for the Zionists to be granted control of Jerusalem.

  2. Refusniks :
    During the Cold War, Soviet Jews were thought to be a security liability or possible traitors.[6] To apply for an exit visa, the applicants (and often their entire families) would have to quit their jobs, which in turn would make them vulnerable to charges of social parasitism, a criminal offense.[5]

    Many Jews encountered systematic, institutional antisemitism which blocked their opportunities for advancement. Some government sectors were almost entirely off-limits to Jews.[6][7] In addition, Soviet restrictions on religious education and expression prevented Jews from engaging in Jewish cultural and religious life. While these restrictions led many Jews to seek emigration,[8] requesting an exit visa was itself seen as an act of betrayal by Soviet authorities. Thus, prospective emigrants requested permission to emigrate at great personal risk, knowing that an official refusal would often be accompanied by dismissal from work and other forms of social ostracism and economic pressure.[citation needed] At the same time, strong international condemnations caused the Soviet authorities to significantly increase the emigration quota.

    The Inversion Reality:

    Many terrorist organizations sprang up in Palestine in an effort
    to force the creation of a Zionist state. The largest of these was
    Irgun Zvai Leumi, led by Menachim Begin. Another was the Stern
    Gang, among whose leaders was Yitzhak Shamir. These, according
    to the Los Angeles Times, formed “Israel’s underground beginnings:
    and used assassination as a political tool” (June 1, 1980, Part V, p. 2).
    As the terror and bloodshed escalated, a Select Committee on
    Estimates of the British House of Commons announced that “very
    large numbers of Jews, almost amounting to a second Exodus, have
    been migrating from Eastern Europe to the American zones of
    Germany and Austria with the intention in the majority of cases of
    finally making their way to Palestine. It is clear that it is a highly
    organized movement, with ample funds and great influence behind
    it, but the Subcommittee were unable to obtain any real evidence
    who are the real instigators.” A War Investigating Committee,
    sent to Europe by the United States Senate, stated that “heavy migration of Jews from Eastern Europe into the American zone of
    Germany is part of a carefully organized plan financed by special
    groups in the United States.”
    It should be noted that this massive ‘exodus’ took place from
    Russia and the nations of Eastern Europe which had been aban-
    doned and sealed off behind what Churchill called the “Iron
    It is obvious that this “second exodus” took place with the
    consent and full co-operation of Washington, London and Moscow.
    Nobody leaves the Soviet Union without permission, yet here we
    have clear evidence of the Iron Curtain parting to allow a massive
    flood of ‘Jews’ to leave that area and head for Palestine. It was
    “carefully planned and financed by special groups in the United
    The reader will note that thirty years earlier, when key personnel were being shuttled from New York to Petrograd in preparation
    for the Russian Revolution, the frontiers of a variety of leading
    nations miraculously opened up to accomplish the feat. Obviously,
    on the highest level of international politics, there are no allies,
    enemies or neutrals. All governments bow to the will of the
    supreme authority in political affairs! At the Yalta Conference in
    1945, according to an authoritative government document, “Roosevelt said he was a Zionist and asked if Stalin was one. Stalin replied that he was one in principle, but recognized the problem.”
    (Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, issued by the State Department on March 16, 1955, p. 924).
    During 1946 and 1947 the Zionist terror campaign reached a
    crescendo. Hundreds of British soldiers were ambushed, shot while
    they slept or were blown up in a variety of ways. Two British
    soldiers were tortured to death in an orchard and left hanging there.
    The British showed a real reluctance to handle this violence in a
    firm manner.
    Faced with an ever increasing wave of terrorism from within
    Palestine, a mounting wave of hundreds of thousands of ‘Jews’
    from the Soviet bloc countries and “irresistible pressure” from
    Zionists at home and the Truman Administration in Washington, the British government referred the Palestinian problem to the
    recently formed United Nations. On November 29, 1947 the U.N .
    voted to partition Palestine into two independent states, one Jewish
    and one Arab, by October 1, 1949. P206

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