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Rafes, Moses


RAFES, MOSES (1883–1942), leading member of the Russian Bund. Rafes, born into a family of merchants, was associated in his youth with revolutionary circles and in 1902–03 joined the *Bund in Vilna, where he had some connection with the terrorist act of Hirsch *Lekert. He was also active in *Gomel (1906) and St. Petersburg and was a Bund delegate to the London convention of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Russia (1907). In 1912 he was coopted to the central committee of the Bund. During World War i he supported the "defensist" wing of the Social Democrats, which preferred the victory of Russia. Together with H. *Erlich he represented the Bund on the "industrial war committees." After the revolution of February 1917 he was a member of the Executive Council of the Petrograd Soviet and was later active within the Ukrainian Bund. He was at first an extremist of the right and anti-Bolshevist wing, then turned toward the center, and after the revolution in Germany made a sharp turn toward communism. He played a central role in the divisions in the Bund, creation of the Kombund and Komfarband, and the amalgamation of its majority with the Communist Party in Soviet Russia, and he was then also sent to work for the liquidation of the Bund in Poland. In a 1919 memorandum he appealed to the Kommissariat of Interior Affairs to immediately liquidate all Jewish institutions, organizations, and parties, claiming that they were a danger to the Soviet state. He acted with particular energy as the head of the Liquidation Committee for Jewish Affairs of the *Yevsektsiya, subsequently adhering to the assimilationist trend and abandoning Jewish activities. After having served as a commissar in the Red Army, he worked in the government in Moscow, and also for the Comintern and the Soviet Foreign Service (Chinese affairs). He was finally transferred to the sphere of cinema work. He was arrested in May 1938, and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, and died in the camps of Komi assr.

Before World War i, he contributed to the Bundist press and continued to write from time to time in the Soviet Yiddish press. He published some works on the history of the Bund which, in spite of their bias, are of some historiographic value. These include (in Russian): "Two Years of Revolution in the Ukraine" (1920) and "Chapters on the History of the Bund" (1923). He edited the anthology Der Yidisher Arbeter (4 vols., 1925–28) of A. *Kirzhnitz.


Ch. Shmeruk (ed.), Pirsumim Yehudiyyim bi-Verit ha-Mo'aẓot (1961), index; Rejzen, Leksikon, 4 (1929), 237–43; I.S. Hertz et al. (eds.), Geshikhte fun Bund 1–3 (1960–66), index; M. Altschuler (ed.), Russian Publications on Jews and Judaism in the Soviet Union (1970), index.

[Moshe Mishkinsky]

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