By August 11, 1942, pioneer psychoanalyst Sabine Spielrein must have ditched all
illusions about German civility. On that day, she and her daughters –
accomplished cellist Renate, 28, and promising violinist Eva, 18 – were, like
thousands of other horrified Jews, force-marched through the central streets of
the Russian city of Rostov- on-Don. They were herded toward Zmiyevskaya Balka
(Snake Gully), where they were soon shot, together with many Red Army
Thus – ignominiously and brutally – ended the tempestuous 57-year
life of a strong-willed woman, exceptionally independent and nonconformist for
her time. In Western cultural enclaves, she’s sporadically remembered (in books,
plays and films) for her affair with one of the fathers of psychoanalysis, Carl
It was a big deal back in the early years of the 20th century, when
she lived in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It was a case of opposites
attracting. Jung, an unabashed anti-Semite, was both enticed by the spirited
petite and repelled by her Jewishness. She was mesmerized by his Aryan looks and
fantasized about a love-child in whom the best of the Jewish and Aryan would
Sigmund Freud, whose great break with Jung was
sparked – among other causes – by this liaison, wrote to Sabine: “You must learn
to discern the difference between friends and enemies (I mean Jung).”
1911, Sabine had settled down and married a Jewish physician from Russia, Pavel
Scheftel. She returned with him to Moscow in 1923 and then moved back to her
native Rostov. In 1936 the regime outlawed psychoanalysis, closed down her
psychiatric clinic and seized the family’s property. Pavel died in 1937 during
Stalin’s “Great Terror,” and Sabine’s three brothers, all noted academicians,
also perished in those purges.
When invading Nazi forces occupied Rostov,
Sabine said: “I know Germans, they are a civilized nation. They are not
capable of evil deeds.”
TODAY ASTONISHINGLY little is known in her native
land about Freud’s disciple and the founder of psychoanalysis in Russia. It’s as
if she never existed. But her elimination from Russian collective memory, only
underscores Sabine’s Jewish lot.
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After the Soviet Union’s fall, the
Russian Jewish Congress put up a plaque commemorating Jewish victims at the
Zmiyevskaya Balka mass grave of 27,000 – known as Russia’s Babi Yar. That plaque
was recently removed and arbitrarily replaced with a new marker, which, in the
style of the defunct USSR, identifies the dead only as “peaceful citizens of
Rostov-on- Don and Soviet prisoners-of-war.”
No rationale is given for
why certain Soviet citizens were targeted by the Nazis. Moreover, no mention is
made of slain Jewish refugees from Poland, who were decidedly not Soviet
It’s as if Jews were never there and none were annihilated
because of their Jewishness.
This isn’t an instance of localized
It’s commonplace throughout the former USSR, and not
only in Russia. Its roots reach deep and explain as much about today’s Russia as
about past Soviet idiosyncrasies and why they persist.
spawned their own singular version of Holocaust-denial. They didn’t deny the
carnage; they merely obfuscated the identity of whom Hitler singled out for
systematic extermination. Thus according to the official Soviet version, there
never was specific anti-Jewish butchery in Nazi-ruled Soviet
There was heroic resistance against German occupiers in which
Soviet citizens were callously massacred.
The distinct Jewish tragedy is
obscured by submerging it in the overall wartime narrative (which fails to dwell
on the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact).
LITTLE WONDER, then, that Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) authored his Holocaust-denial
treatise at Moscow’s communist-era Russian University for Friendship between
People (a.k.a. the People’s Friendship University of Russia, also a.k.a. the
Patrice Lumumba Friendship University).
There Abbas specialized in
revising history, an endeavor that in 1982 ripened into a PhD dissertation that
both denied the Holocaust and blamed Zionists for it. Two years later, Dr. Abbas
further expanded and embellished his “research.” He never apologized or
retracted a single nuance of his learned thesis. Neither did today’s Russia ever
censure the state-sanctioned fraud.
The mendacity lives on. Abbas
personally and the PA media he controls consistently glorify terrorist
atrocity-perpetrators, who with Nazi-like zeal lust after Jewish blood.
Palestinian Media Watch, for example, revealed that Abbas’s PATV broadcast
greetings and praise to the Fogel family’s slaughterers, tried and imprisoned in
Hakim Awad’s mother sent “greetings to dear Hakim, the apple of
my eye, who carried out the operation in Itamar.” His aunt extolled “Hakim Awad,
the hero, the legend.” The TV host effusively concurred.
Hakim and Amjad Awad invaded the Fogel home in Itamar and knifed to death a
father, mother and three youngsters (aged 11, four and three months). At the
time, Russian-educated Abbas insisted Arabs were incapable of such bestiality.
Yet now Abbas’s media turns convicted baby-killers into national heroes and role
BUT NOT only does Soviet-like duplicity endure and thrive in
Abbas’s latifundia; it takes on sinister incarnations in Russia.
convenient at the height of the Cold War to ascribe Moscow’s malevolence solely
to communist machinations. But communism is purportedly gone, while Russia
tenaciously clings to the wrong side of history, as in its obdurate defense of
Damascus despot Bashar Assad and its outright assistance in constructing Iran’s
nuclear facilities, to say nothing of its ongoing opposition to stringent
sanctions against Tehran’s ayatollahs.
This calls to mind USSR strategy
before the June 22, 1941 monstrous German betrayal. Until then, the Russians
ensconced themselves firmly on history’s wrong side.
Vyacheslav Molotov applauded the Third Reich’s conquest of Warsaw. The German
invasions of Denmark and Norway caused him to “wish Germany complete success in
these defensive measures.” Upon receiving news of the French collapse, Molotov
conveyed “the warmest congratulations of the Soviet government on the splendid
success of the German Wehrmacht.”
Putin’s Russia, despite its
quasi-democratic façade, seems to harbor the same wrongheaded great-power
aspirations as its Soviet predecessor. These had less to do with exporting
communist ideology than with Russian nationalist ambitions.
fact of the matter is that Russia still offers succor to the Jewish people’s
worst enemies. It emits exceedingly troublesome vibes. It reverts to type – be
it in critical geopolitical maneuverings or in just expunging the unique Jewish
Holocaust from its chronicles. It’s in this inimical ambiance that the
mass-murder of Jews at Zmiyevskaya Balka can be misrepresented.
parliamentarian Tamara Pletneva condescendingly advises Jews to “forget the
bitterness and live in peace.... The memorial should commemorate all the war
victims.... So why single out Jews?” Perhaps because the Nazis singled them out.
Despite rampant Pletneva-type portrayals of yesteryear’s Jews as incidental
victims and of present-day Jews as obsessively parochial, the only reason that
Sabine and millions of fellow ill-fated Jews were put to death was that they
In 1913, when Sabine was expecting her first child, Freud
wrote her, expressing the hope that the baby “will develop into a stalwart
Zionist.” He added: “We are and remain Jews. The others will only exploit us and
will never understand or respect us.”
There is a message here for the
Jewish state almost a century later.www.sarahhonig.com
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