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Stalin Exonerated: Fact-checking the Death of Solomon Mikhoels

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Stalin Exonerated: Fact-checking the Death of Solomon Mikhoels

by Grover Furr & Vladimir L. Bobrov

On the night of January 12-13, 1948, Solomon Mikhailovich Mikhoels, a prominent actor and director in the Yiddish language Soviet theater and winner of the Stalin prize in 1946, together with a friend, Vladimir Golubov, were killed in a hit-and-run accident on a dark street in Minsk, Byelorussian SSR. 

Mikhoels was buried with honors and praised in the Soviet press. Nevertheless, rumors that he had been murdered by the Soviet state began to circulate almost immediately. During the 1960s these rumors multiplied, occasionally being repeated in official sources.

Beginning in 1991 documents began to appear claiming that Joseph Stalin had ordered Mikhoels murdered. These documents continued to appear during the 1990s. Several of them have now been inserted in Soviet archives to give the impression that they are genuine. Today the story that Stalin ordered Mikhoels murdered is repeated by all researchers and popularizers of Soviet history. 

Our investigation into the “Mikhoels case” began in 2004-5, continued in 2015-6 and 2021-3. Now it is complete. The evidence is unequivocal: Mikhoels was not killed by Stalin’s order. The documents on which this allegation is based are fakes. Several well-known anti-communist historians of Soviet history have forged these documents in order to falsely accuse Stalin of murdering Mikhoels.

The Mikhoels murder case is an unusually blatant example of fraudulent “scholarship” intended to smear Stalin and the Stalin-era Soviet Union.

Vladimir L’vovich Bobrov is an independent historian and translator based in Moscow. He has years of experience working in Soviet archives such as that of the former NKVD. He is the author of historical articles and translator of historical works about the Stalin period.

Grover Furr is the author of scholarly books on the Stalin period of Soviet history and has worked closely with Vladimir Bobrov for more than twenty years. He is a professor of English at Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA.