Documents apparently confirming rumors that Vladimir Lenin had Jewish ancestors
can now be seen at Russia’s State History Museum, AP reported on
Among the newly released documents on display at the museum is a
letter written by Lenin’s sister, Anna Ulyanova, claiming that their maternal
grandfather was a Jew from the Ukraine who converted to Christianity to escape
persecution in the Pale of Settlement and have access to higher education, the
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“He came from a poor Jewish family and was, according to his
baptismal certificate, the son of Moses Blank, a native of [the western
Ukrainian city of] Zhitomir,” Ulyanova wrote in 1932 in a letter cited by
In the letter written to Josef Stalin, who replaced Lenin after his
death in 1924, Ulyanova wrote, “Vladimir Ilych had always thought of Jews
highly. I am very sorry that the fact of our origin – which I had suspected
before – was not known during his lifetime.”
Lenin, who was born Vladimir
Ilych Ulyanov in 1870, identified himself only as Russian under the czarist rule
in the country, during which anti-Semitism was rampant.
He adopted the
name Lenin in 1901 while in exile in Siberia.
According to the AP report,
Lenin oversaw a brief period of promotion of Jewish culture which ended in the
early 1930s when Stalin encouraged anti-Semitic purges and created a plan to
relocate all Soviet Jews.
Ulyanova requested that Stalin make Lenin’s
Jewish background known to combat the rise of anti-Semitism, AP reported. She
wrote in her letter, “I hear that in recent years anti-Semitism has been growing
stronger again, even among Communists.
It would be wrong to hide the fact
from the masses.”
Stalin ignored Ulyanova’s request and told her to “keep
absolute silence” about the letter, according to the exhibition’s curator,
The documents counter information presented in Lenin’s
official biography, written by his niece Olga Ulyanova, in which she claims that
his family had only Russia, German and Swedish roots.
letter was discovered by Russian historians in the early 1990s, but its
authenticity was questioned.