This date marks the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin (1879-1953), on the very day that the "Doctors' Plot" trial was set to begin. The Doctors' Plot was one facet of Stalin's ruthless anti-Semitic campaign that falsely charged the Jews with espionage against the Communist Party. It accused some of Russia's most prestigious doctors -- mostly Jews -- of a vast plot to poison the top Soviet political and military leaders. Scores of Soviet Jews were fired from their jobs, arrested, sent to gulags or executed. This was accompanied by show trials and anti-Semitic propaganda. Pravda wrote: "Unmasking the gang of poisoner-doctors struck a blow against the international Jewish Zionist organization." Some historians contend that Stalin was preparing a Soviet-wide pogrom, a "Second Holocaust," but the scheme was cancelled upon Stalin's death. Soviet leaders later admitted that the charges had been entirely invented by Stalin and his cohorts.
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