The fall of the USSR has revealed that a number of 'authoritative' works on the Soviet Union published in the West are in actual fact forgeries. In 1987 the United States publisher, Morrow, published a book by one Stuart Kahan under the title 'Wolf of the Kremlin: First Biography of L.M. Kaganovich, the Soviet Union's Architect of Fear". The volume was published in 1989 in the UK by the British publishing house, Hale. In 1991 a Russian translation, 'Kremlyovskii volk', was published in Moscow by Progress Publishers, and a chapter of this volume appeared in the 'Nedyelya' weekly magazine. This statement was sent in the form of a letter of protest to the Director of Progress Publishers and the Chief Editor of 'Nedyelya'. No reply was ever received. The statement is published for the first time in this journal. We are grateful to the grandson of L.M. Kaganovich for having translated this text into English. Citations from the book are given in backward translation from the Russian. The pagination is that of the Russian edition.
We, the close relatives of the late Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich, are full of indignation due to the publication of the Russian translation of the book "The Wolf in the Kremlin" by the American journalist Stuart Kahan. The translation was published by Progress Publishers, and one chapter of the book also appeared in the weekly magazine "Nedyelya" No. 5, 1991.
We insist that this book is full of lies and slander. The author of the book falsely claims to be LMK's grand-nephew and makes an attempt to persuade the readers to trust his writings. In fact, he is an adventurer and neither LMK himself, nor we ever had any idea about his existence. On May 31, 1981 LMK sent a letter to A.A. Gromyko (who was at that time the USSR Foreign Minister) with a request to protect him against Stuart Kahan's pressing attempts to visit him (through the USSR Embassy in Washington). LMK vigorously denied the existence of any nephew in the USA. He wrote that he had not and would not ever receive him.
Being quite ignorant of the facts of LMK's life, Stuart Kahan has misinterpreted LMK's biography and has distorted totally his image. Relying on false information, on his own fabrications, as well as on all sorts of gossips circulating around LMK, he imputed to him absurd and dirty intentions, statements, and aspirations which in fact were alien to him, and attributed to him improper and even criminal actions which he had never committed. Throughout the whole book the author permits himself to make rude and insulting remarks in an intolerable tone.
We, who for many years had associated with LMK and were closely acquainted with his private life, his moral principles and his human nature, decisively refute the slanderous figments about LMK and testify that his personality was, in fact, entirely unlike the one worked out by this unscrupulous American "relative" who in pair with his daddy obviously intended to make a lot of money with this libel. In any case LMK's personality belongs to history, so all the facts connected with him should be authentic and reliable. That is why we cannot remain indifferent to such a crying distortion of facts, to such lies and falsifications.
The following are our particular observations and disproofs to the whole set of materials displayed in the book.
The author claims that LMK supposedly placed his sister by Stalin's side as a home doctor and at the same time, according to the author's expression, as the "dictator's wife", and with her assistance to several Politburo members the step-by-step poisoning of Stalin was carried out. All this is a wicked calumny.
The absurdity and falsity of this version is proved by the fact that LMK's only sister, by mistake named in the book as Rosa (her name was Rachel), died in 1926 and was buried in Kiev at the Baykov Cemetery. She was married, and she brought up five children. She had never been a doctor, she never went either to Arzamas, or to Nizhny Novgorod or Moscow, so she could not have taken part in the actions so zealously ascribed to her by the author (pp. 238-245). It goes without saying that the dialogue described in the book (pp. 219-223) which supposedly LMK had with his already late sister is fictitious.
A wicked calumny is the assertion on page 217 that LMK supposedly was present at the interrogation of his brother Mikhail and managed to slip a pistol into his pocket, which later was used by Mikhail to commit suicide. In reality, according to LMK's account, the circumstances of Mikhail's death were as follows. Mikhail, being at that time the director of an airplane construction plant in Kazan and not the Narkom (minister) of the Aviation Industry, was summoned to the Kremlin for confrontation with a high-ranking government official, who was arrested at the time (we do not reveal his name) and under specific pressure of well known kind slandered both Mikhail and himself. LMK was not present at the confrontation, he was informed later about what had happened. There was no funeral and no official announcement, even Mikhail's wife (her name was not Anna, but Cecilia) was not informed officially. All that happened not in 1945, as the author writes, but in 1941. After rehabilitation Mikhail's ashes were buried
at the Novodevichye Cemetery in Moscow where a monument to his memory has been erected.
Here are several examples of the author's slandering inventions of absurd actions and statements ascribed by him to LMK:
- LMK made a bet on a bottle of vodka for the foretelling of the date of Lenin's death; - LMK gave false information about Krupskaya and organized her shadowing (p. 137); - LMK introduced harder restrictions and quotas for Jews than anybody' else; - Stalin commissioned LMK for the shadowing of his wife Nadezhda.
The author writes about LMK: "The man who created the security service of KGB" (p. 9) and "organized the murder department in the NKVD" (p. 141). He ascribed to LMK the following absurd words: "I want to survive, for that I am ready to oppose my family, my religion, and even my Motherland" (p. 220).
This is a calumny. LMK had always felt great esteem and love for Lenin and Krupskaya. He had never worked in any NKVD organizations and had no relationship with them. The outrageous views and statements ascribed to him on page 220 are in deep contrast to his ideas and moral principles, to his devotion to his Motherland.
During 1935-1944 and in 1937-1938 the years of mass repressions in particular he headed the Commissariats (ministries) of heavy industry, of fuel and oil industry, of railway transport, and later that of construction materials industry so he had not and could not have taken direct participation in the repressions.
Note should be taken of the devices absolutely inadmissible for a journalist which are used by the author: he expresses his own artificial and groundless speculations about the thoughts, statements and actions of other people in such a way as if they all had taken place in his presence. It inevitably leads to calumny.
It is necessary to note that the information sources the author refers to can not be regarded as reliable and do not prove anything.
In his Preface the author refers to his father's (Jack Kahan) testimony under oath, in which the latter asserted that "the majority of the materials included in the book were based on conversations with two persons - LMK whom the book is written about, and Morris Levik Kaganovich, LMK's cousin, his friend in childhood and my father". The author also mentions another uncle Levik, who as well as Morris associated with LMK and accompanied Morris to the USA. Let us see now whether these information sources are reliable.
1. The information the author received from Morris and uncle Levik. These names had never been mentioned in our families. If we assume that they actually lived in our village in the days of LMK's early youth, they could not know anything about his later political and government activities and inform the author about them. At the same time the information, which he supposedly received from them, concerning the locality where LMK had been born and had spent his youth, concerning the members of his family and other facts and events, is far from being correct.
On page 27 the place "Kabany" is described as a small town with a bookstore, a bakery, a railway station, and a police-station. In fact Kabany was a remote village. There was neither a bookstore, nor a bakery, nor a police-station, and as for the railway it passed at the time and still passes some tens of kilometres from the village.
On page 21 the author writes that 2600 people lived in the village, 70% of them being Jews. In fact there were only 12 Jewish families among the total of 300 homesteads.
Contrary to the author's allegation (p. 31) there had never been any Cossack raids on the village.
During World War I nobody had been evacuated from the village, as the author alleges on page 25. The battle front was much more westward from our village and there had been no migrants from the western regions.
The author has no idea about LMK's family. LMK's parents did not leave the villages at that time, his mother did not die on the way from it and was not buried in the fields (pp. 90-91). LMK's mother died in the 1930's in Kiev and was buried at the Baykov Cemetery next to her daughter's grave.
LMK did not have two brothers - Mikhail and Julius, as is stated on page 25, there were four of them including two elder brothers Aaron and Israel, who are not mentioned in the book. The names of LMK's mother and sister given by the author are wrong (pp. 24, 40). The mother's name was not Sasha or Sarah, but Ghenya, the sister's name was not Rosa, but Rachel. LMK's father Moisey (Moses) had never been a tailor (p. 6), he was an unskilled labourer. LMK's grandfather had never been a cantor (p. 20), he was absolutely illiterate and during almost all of his life he worked as a shepherd at a merchant's sheep-fold and had no musical talent. Mikhail and Julius had never worked at a steel mill in Gomel (p. 36). There had never been such a plant there.
2. The information supposedly received in the conversations with LMK. The author writes on page 5: "The most important point is that the main part of the materials has been written down according to the words of Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich." So what materials had the author received? The description of the supposed 10-hour conversation with LMK clearly shows that the author has invented such absurd statements, ascribed to LMK, as: "Don't you think after you leave I'll at once call up Andropov?", or "I'll let Leonid know and he'll protect you from troubles", or Do you know that I am a champion in dominoes?", and so on. The author writes: "Lazar would like to know whether he would live to the day, when his grandchildren appear. Maya was still unmarried" (p. 288). All this is undoubtedly made up by the author himself. In actuality LMK's daughter Maya married in 1939 and by 1981 she and his adopted son had already given him four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
We confirm that such a meeting had never taken place. LMK avoided meeting with journalists, all the more he would never meet with an American who called himself his nephew, whom he had never heard about.
Estimating the help given to him by his father Jack (p. 6) the author writes the following words: "Thank God for his knowing Yiddish". According to his words he himself had visited LMK without his father, knowing neither Yiddish, nor Russian. We testify that LMK could not speak Yiddish, neither did he know English. By means of what language did they converse in that case?
The author's description of the apartment and its furnishing does not correspond to reality. On page 14 the author writes that on the shelf in LMK's flat there stood a photo of Morris and uncle Levik, and on page 292 he writes that a portrait of Trotsky also stood there. These things had never been in LMK's flat.
The book is full of many other figments, perverting LMK's biography.
On page 104 it is written that after his return from Tashkent in 1922 he visited Nizhny Novgorod where he was introduced to Maria. In fact at that time he had already been married to Maria and they had a three year old daughter. He had made the acquaintance of Maria in Kiev.
On page 236 the author writes that after his dismissal from all the government posts LMK went on a trip to his birthplace - the village Kabany, which, according to the author, has become an industrial centre with artillery production plants, a fertilizer factory etc. We testify that at the time LMK did not go there and in reality no such objects existed there. All these are the author's fibs.
Many other examples of the author's fabrications can be listed (pp. 112, 174, 200, 225, 233, etc.), but we believe it is no use going on citing them because the dishonesty of Stuart Kahan as the author of the book is quite evident.
To our great regret and distress the respected publishers in pursuit of sensation have made this concoction public without verifying and critically evaluating the contents of the book. The behaviour of the "Nedyelya" editors, who hastened to publish the chapter which relates a quite improbable version of Stalin's poisoning, also should be regarded as improper.
The people who have irresponsibly authorized the publication of these false and slandering figments are worth disapproving. We call upon the editorial board to publish our refutation and to present apologies to the relatives of LMK and his maliciously slandered sister. It is the honour, the dignity and the good memory of our relatives who are no longer with us which is dear to us.
Maya L. Kaganovich (1919), LMK's daughter.
Boris A. Kaganovich (1904-1992), LMK's cousin, was born and grew up in the same village.
Oscar M. Lantsman (b. 1912), LMK's nephew, son of his sister.
Rachel J. Kaganovich (1918-1994), LMK's niece.
Rosa I. Kaganovich (b. 1919), LMK's niece.
Leonid M. Kaganovich (1927-1993), LMK's nephew.
Translated from the Russian by Igor Minervin.
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