Person of Jewish ethnicity

Person of Jewish ethnicity (Russian: Лицо еврейской национальности) is а Russian euphemism that was invented as a politically correct alternative term for an ethnic Jew. It was invented because the word "Jew" became derogatory during Soviet antisemitic campaigns.[1][2]

Several officially sanctioned antisemitic campaigns took place in the Soviet Union, most notably the Doctor's Plot and the struggle against the "rootless cosmopolitans". However, the entire Jewish population was never openly and officially declared the enemy of the people.[1] Instead, several euphemisms were used, such as zionists, rootless cosmopolitans and "persons of Jewish ethnicity". There was an important distinction between these words: zionist and rootless cosmopolitans served as a label for "bad Jews" as enemies of the state, whereas "persons of Jewish ethnicity" was a politically correct expression for good, loyal Jews who were called by some ordinary folks as trained Jews (the original Russian word "дресированные" (dressage) typically refers to animals trained to perform in circus).[1] However most people realized that all these euphemisms denoted all Jews. A dean of Marxism-Leninism department at one of Soviet Universities explained the policy to his students:[1]

One of you asked if our current political campaign can be regarded as antisemitic. Comrade Stalin said: "We hate Nazi not because they are Germans, but because they brought enormous suffering to our land". Same can be said about the Jews.

The analogous euphemism "person of Caucasian ethnicity" is used less frequently in modern Russian to refer to peoples of the Caucasus, such as Georgians or Armenians in Russia.[1][2]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Benedikt Sarnov,Our Soviet Newspeak: A Short Encyclopedia of Real Socialism., Moscow: 2002, ISBN 5-85646-059-6 (Наш советский новояз. Маленькая энциклопедия реального социализма.), "Persons of Jewish ethnicity", pages 287-293.
  2. 1 2 Person of Jewish ethnicity, RFE/RL
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