MOSCOW, JUNE -- Joseph Stalin's last living henchman, told an obscure neighborhood newspaper in Moscow this week that he was a Jew "by birth only" and that "unlike the Jews, who are prone to anarchy, I love order."
Kaganovich, 96 and sickly, lives in a spacious apartment near the Moscow River. A fulltime nurse and his daughter Maya care for him, and neighbors say they haven't seen much of him lately, although he used to be the unofficial dominoes champion of the Fruzenskaya district.
Kaganovich was one of Stalin's few trusted aides and helped carry out the mass terror campaign in the countryside that led to the deaths of millions and the establishment of the collective farming system in the 1930s.
In an interview with the tiny conservative newspaper Tushina Pulse, Kaganovich blamed Jews for "constantly stirring up the waters."
"They are always confused," he said. "Even today, during the time of the collapse of our state, they are in the first ranks of those who instigate public disorder. Before the war, we successfully overcame the heritage of Jewish bourgeois nationalism, but after the war they forgot who saved them from destruction by Hitler. We carried out an offensive against cosmopolitanism" -- the Stalinist codeword for Jews -- "and struck first of all at the Jewish intelligentsia, the primary army of the cosmopolitans."
Asked how he could make such comments when he himself was a Jew, Kaganovich said: "This is by birth only. In general, I never felt myself to be a Jew. I have a totally different mind-set. Unlike the Jews, who are prone to anarchy, I love order."
A foreign reporter seeking a meeting with the old Bolshevik was told on the phone by Kaganovich's nurse: "Lazar Moiseyevich is not feeling well. He won't talk to you. It's not even worth calling." The interview in Tushina Pulse was reprinted in Argumenty i Fakty.