Was Joseph Stalin Jewish?
A common assertion among anti-Semites is that Joseph Stalin, the infamous Soviet dictator, was in fact a jew. This argument is so tenuous that it can be dealt with relatively quickly. However it is important to state that this argument occurs with alarming rapidity despite the obviously problematic nature of the assertion: hence it is important to deal with the few ‘proofs’ offered for this argument.
The argument that Stalin was a jew would seem to have been popularised by the reference to it in Maurice Pinay’s famous anti-Semitic book, ‘The Plot against the Church’
, which was translated into at least three languages  and has been reprinted four times in English since its original publication . Pinay argues as follows:
‘[…] at the head of the names stands Stalin himself, who for a long time was regarded as a Georgian of pure descent. But it has been revealed, that he belongs to the Jewish race; for Djougachvili, which is his surname, means “Son of Djou,” and Djou is a small island in Persia, whither many banished Portuguese “Gypsies” migrated, who late settled in Georgia.
Today it is almost completely proved, that Stalin has Jewish blood, although he neither confirmed or denied the rumours, about which mutterings began in his direction.’
Then if we compare this to the most commonly cited source on the internet for this allegation, to which many anti-Semites challenged on this subject reference back to. We are told as follows:
‘Stalin's childhood origins were supposedly Georgian, but the truth is his mother was Ossete, from the Khazarian region.In the Georgian language "shvili" means son of, or son, as in Johnson. "Djuga" means Jew. Therefore Djugashvili means Jewison.
So Joe Stalin's real name, before he changed it, was Joe Jewison. It gets better, his name was Joseph David Djugashvili, a typical Jewish name. During his revolutionary days he changed his name to "Kochba", the leader of the Jews during one of the anti-Roman uprisings of the Jews. Russians don't change their names. Georgians don't change their names. Jews change their names.
Stalin's mother Ekaterina did laundry and housekeeping for David Papisnedov, a local Jew, who was Stalin's real father. Their nickname for Stalin was "Soso". Stalin received Papisnedov at the Kremlin often. Comrade Papisnedov often was visited by Nikolai Przhevalsky, a Jewish trader, and he is also considered a possibility as Stalin's father.’
We can immediately see that Stalin's surname, Djougaschvili, meaning the ‘son of Djou’
has been transliterated by the author of the second; more modern, argument from the first argument (i.e. Pinay's) into being ‘son of a jew’
(the phonetics in English pronunciation apparently being similar). This has allowed the author of the second argument to claim that Stalin was jewish by taking the second part of Pinay’s assertion and combining it with the first via what I can only speculate to be the phonetic sound of the two words in English: ‘Djou’
. We can see this referenced more in Pinay’s argument when he refers to Portuguese gypsies in that Sephardi jews (and some Ashkenazim) were known in Europe as ‘Portuguese’
(for example when you asked the question: ‘How many Portuguese lived in London in 1600?’
you would simply be asking how many jews and Marranos [secret jews who outwardly kept to Roman Catholicism but practiced jewish rites, fasts, and feasts privately] were in London in 1600). This might infer that Stalin’s parents were the descendents of settled Mizrahi and/or Sephardi jews, but this has been taken by the author of the second argument and folded into the claim that Stalin’s father was a jewish merchant and that Stalin’s surname means ‘son of a jew’
Therefore we first of all establish the ostensible evolution of this argument in noting how close the arguments are, but how the second oft-cited argument likely takes Pinay’s  argument and then twists it into a new form.
If we look at both arguments: we can see they particular stress on the meaning of the surname ‘Djougachvili’
and that in Pinay’s opinion it means ‘son of Djou’
 and in the second argument it means ‘son of a jew’
. Neither of these are, in fact, correct since the word ‘Djuga’
) in old Georgian does not mean ‘jew’
, but rather it roughly equates ‘steel’
. The old Georgian words for jew were actually ‘Ebraeli’
, which bear absolutely no resemblance to ‘Djuga’
So Stalin’s surname would actually mean something equivalent to ‘son of steel’
, which then makes sense of Stalin’s adoption of ‘Stalin’
as his surname, which in Russian roughly means ‘man of steel’
in Russian). Since in Stalin’s eyes he was the ‘son of steel’
in Georgia and hence has become the ‘man of steel’
in Russia. Hence Stalin didn’t change his name particularly much, but rather simply added in ‘man’
rather than ‘son’
, which can easily be suggested to be a sign of his coming of age as an atheist marxist revolutionary and a devout follower of Lenin (rather than the seminary student on a scholarship from a poor broken family in a little town in Georgia).
Pinay’s argument is by the far the more sophisticated and educated out the two. Since his reference to Djou is a historically plausible one. Although I can find no reference to an island of/called ‘Djou’
outside of Pinay: it is quite possible that Pinay’s reference to an island where ‘Portuguese’
were sent is accurate. Since this was a policy in the Ottoman Empire who did send jews to economically backward areas in order to boost the economy in that area and make the territory more profitable for the Ottoman Sultan through his (largely jewish) tax-farmers, administrative and customs service. However since ‘Djougachvili’
does not actually mean ‘son of Djou’
Pinay’s argument must be regarded as incorrect, but it is at the very least an educated conjecture (since it is unlikely Pinay could have found a suitable source as to the meaning of old Georgian words). The second argument seems on the other hand to be completely inventing its interpretation out of whole cloth by alleging that ‘Djuga’
in old Georgian (again perhaps ‘Djuga’
if pronounced a certain way might sound like a similar word to ‘jew’
: hence one could reasonably speculate that the origin of the argument made is from the author, whose first language is English, pronouncing the words and then because they to some ears might sound alike claiming that one means the other).
Hence Pinay’s argument can be reasonably said to be disposed of, but there still remain a series of assertions in the second argument that deserve consideration. Firstly is the note that Stalin’s mother, Ekaterina Gheladze Djugashvili, was from the ‘Khazarian region’
is a indirect argument by implication that Stalin was jewish since it is commonly claimed by anti-Semites that Ashkenazi jews are the descendents of the jewish Khazar Khanate (or Khazaria). There is no evidence for this on both counts: i.e. we have no evidence that Stalin is descended from Khazars and secondly the evidence is heavily against the Khazars being the origin of the Ashkenazim .
Therefore we can only suggest this is an attempt to suggest a stronger argument that Stalin was of jewish descent than has been offered. It is in fact contradicted by the author in the reference page  he has added regarding Stalin’s mother when he asserts that she was that she was from tribe of the Alans  and not a Georgian. However this is essentially irrelevant since the Alan territory was in the borderlands of northern Georgia and they are closely related to the Georgians. Hence the argument being made not only contradicts the early inference, but then secondly derives into pure Semantics to claim that Stalin’s mother was not Georgian.
Further on this reference page it asserts that there are doubts as to the identity of Stalin’s biological father. There has been little doubt expressed in the biographies of Stalin for the simple reason that there is no evidence suggesting that Stalin’s father was anyone but Vissarion Ivanovich Djugashvili. This claim is asserted in more detail in the second argument when it is claimed that there are two candidates who are reported to be jews: David Papismedov and Nikolai Przhevalsky.
The claims are then referred back to the reference page and the detail of why the author thinks these two were Stalin’s father is given. The claim surrounding Nikolai Przhevalsky is given as follows under the title of ‘Stalin’s Real Father’
‘The most notable such speculation was that Stalin's father was the Belorussian Nikolai Przhevalsky. The face of Joseph Stalin is almost identical to that of Nikolai Przhevalsky. Apparently Przhevalsky did stop off in the town of Gori in Georgia on his way to Tibet. According to the story, in Georgia he was hosted at the home of wealthy Georgian where Ekaterina Gheladze worked as a maid. According to the speculation Przhevalsky seduced Ekaterina and left her pregnant as he journeyed off to Tibet. According to the story the Georgian family (or Przhevalsky) to avoid scandal paid Vissarion Djugashvili a substantial amount of money for him to marry Ekaterina Gheladze and this was the source of the capital for him to have run a shoe-making business employing about thirty cobblers. He subsequently lost the business and later died in a drunken knife fight.
There appears to be no hard evidence for Przhevalsky being the father of Stalin. There was a city in Siberia that was named after Przhevalsky. The Bolsheviks changed the name after they came to power but Stalin later changed it back to Przhevalsky. However it would not be out of line for Stalin to deviously promote the notion that he was really Russian rather than Georgian. he was of Jewish blood from the Dinaric race.’
It is worth noting firstly that the use of the qualifiers ‘apparently’
, ‘according to the story’
, ‘according to speculation’
denotes that these are essentially bits of gossip heard and enlarged upon as time has gone on (if indeed they are genuine: since no originating source is cited) in the manner consistent with folklore in general. If I was to suggest that Elizabeth I of England was jewish and then say ‘according to speculation’
, ‘according to the story’
etc ad infinitum: then I could not suggest that this is the case without corroborating sources of a primary nature or examining the secondary literature explaining why they are wrong. The author does neither so one must take his words with more than a pinch of salt.
The author himself admits that there is ‘no hard evidence’
, but then speculates in his title that Przhevalsky is ‘Stalin’s Real Father’
and then asserts in direct contradiction to the earlier sentences in his own paragraph that Stalin ‘was of Jewish blood from the Dinaric race’
. In fact Przhevalsky during his travels to the East was in a different part of central Asia during 1878-1879 (the years between which Stalin was presumably conceived) and there is no evidence that he even visited Georgia in his lifetime. There also no evidence I am aware of that Przhevalsky was jewish, but rather a scion of an aristocratic Polish family (not a ‘jewish trader’
as asserted in the second argument, but rather a famous Russian geographer). If we have no evidence to suggest that Stalin was the product of a lover's tryst between Przhevalsky and Stalin's mother then we cannot assert that it is simply a fact as the author does: contradicting himself in the process.
We must secondly note that this story about Stalin’s father being paid off to marry Stalin’s mother and that Stalin’s father is without any apparent factual foundation. Stalin’s father would seem to have created his own success by hard work (employing several apprentices [the number of 30 seems excessive]), which then deteriorated as he began to drink heavily and came into conflict with Stalin’s mother over Stalin’s future occupation. Stalin’s father also did not die in a drunken knife fight (this is again a folkloric rumour), but rather from tuberculosis and pneumonia according to current academic opinion.
Thirdly the assertion that the changing of the name of the city of Karakol, the city’s original name, back to Przhevalsk in 1939 by Stalin after it had been changed back to Karakol in 1921 by the Bolsheviks (in reaction to popular demand) is not an indication or evidence of Przhevalsky’s asserted status as Stalin’s biological father, but rather that Stalin was changing place names back to those of great Russian heroes (of which Przhevalsky was but one: as a famous Russian geographer) in order in inspire nationalism in his population (which was a key element in much of Stalin’s internal policy).
Fourthly in the second argument the author claims that Przhevalsky often visited David Papismedov who was a local jew in Gori and whom was one of Stalin’s mother’s laundry clients. Papismedov certainly showed kindness to the young Stalin giving him books to read and giving donations of money to his mother. However there is no evidence Przhevalsky even knew Papismedov (or visited Georgia or Gori for that matter) let alone was a frequent guest in Papismedov’s house: as I have said Przhevalsky was at the time (1878-1879) far away in the East and a long way away from Georgia.
This leads us to discuss the second alternative candidate for Stalin’s biological father: David Papismedov. Who unlike Nikolai Przhevalsky was, in fact, jewish. The evidence cited for this is even thinner than that given for Przhevalsky’s fatherhood and it consists entirely of Stalin’s relationship with Papismedov, which is given on the reference page as:
‘Stalin's mother Ekaterina did laundry and housekeeping for David Papisnedov, a local Jew, who was Stalin's real father. Their nickname for Stalin was "Soso". Stalin received Papisnedov at the Kremlin often.'
The fact that Stalin’s mother did the laundry and housekeeping for a local jew who treated her and Stalin himself comparatively well, certainly in comparison to Vissarion, does not make him the father of Stalin nor does it offer evidence of such. Since Stalin’s mother had other clients, for whom she did laundry and housekeeping as well, if Stalin was not Vissarion’s son then one would have to look at the other clients who would have equal opportunity of having a lovers tryst with Stalin’s mother as Papismedov. In terms of giving Stalin’s mother money and Stalin books to read: these can be seen simply as acts of charity rather than an acknowledgement of paternity. It is well to remember that acts of charity by monastic orders, for example, towards single mothers or married women does not mean the monk or monks having sired that single mother’s or married woman’s children. So therefore we can’t simply assert that because Papismedov was kind to Stalin and his mother that he was Stalin’s real biological father and that as a result Stalin is jewish.
Papismedov did indeed call Stalin by his family nickname; ‘Soso’
, but then so did his mother and Vissarion. For it was a family tradition with Vissarion’s family nickname being: ‘Beso’
. Again it is not proof of paternity or an acknowledgement of such for a family friend to call Stalin by his family nickname and speculations of such can hold no evidential merit. When Papismedov went to the Kremlin he went there to look for a boy of whom he was presumably fond and to see if he was still alive (and if so what had happened to him). Stalin greeted him much as he did any old friend whom he thought warmly of and was quite congenial and friendly towards him as an early kind influence in his life (who he probably saw as giving him the means and the skills to begin his career as a marxist revolutionary i.e. books). It is again not an argument in favour of Papismedov’s paternity that Stalin treated him well when he came to the Kremlin, of his own volition, looking for Stalin. In fact had Papismedov been Stalin’s father and Stalin had known this there would have been no reason for Stalin not to openly proclaim this when he was the Soviet dictator, but yet he did not.
Hence we must conclude that the claim that either Nikolai Przhevalsky or David Papismediv was Stalin’s biological father is without foundation and until sufficient primary evidence is brought forward for this interpretation of the argument that Stalin must be regarded as nothing but un-evidenced speculation.
The only other piece of evidence brought forward to support the contention that Stalin was jewish by this second argument is that Stalin used the name; ‘Kochba’
, in his early revolutionary days. Kochba, or more properly bar Kochba, is a reference to the jewish leader of the Bar Kochba revolt against Rome in 132-135 A.D. In fact Stalin didn’t use ‘Kochba’
but rather ‘Koba’
. Koba is a mythological figure in old Georgian literature roughly approximate to the figure of Robin Hood: i.e. a noble outlaw who robbed from rich and gave to the poor. The parallel between the figure of Koba and Stalin’s political beliefs is obvious as it coincides with Marxist ideas concerning the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor to make a more equal society. Bar Kochba was a fanatical jewish zealot who fought on religious grounds to install a jewish theocratic dictatorship free from Roman control on Judea (as well as potentially much of North Africa, Syria and Cyprus). The parallel, in Stalin's marxist thought, between Stalin the Marxist revolutionary and bar Kochba the fanatical jewish zealot is non-existent, but between Stalin and Koba the Georgian Robin Hood: it is obvious.
Therefore we can only conclude in summation that there is no evidence that Josef Stalin was in fact jewish and that the evidence that has been advanced for this being the case is inaccurate, highly speculative and possibly deliberately distorted.
 Maurice Pinay, Trans: Anon, 2000, , ‘The Plot against the Church’
, 4th Edition, Omni: Palmdale
 The original was written and published in Italian, but it was translated within a few years into Spanish, German (in which there are two separate editions: one for Germany and one for Austria) and English (as well as quite probably French, but I cannot find reference to a French edition).
 This is notable, because post-1945 anti-Semitic books don’t often run into multiple editions as well as printings and are rarely translated into different languages. Only anti-Semitic classics such as Arnold Leese’s ‘Jewish Ritual Murder’
, Henry Ford’s ‘The International Jew’
, Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’
and the 'Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion'
can boast such sales and/or perceived/actual importance: hence Pinay’s ‘The Plot against the Church’
must be regarded as an anti-Semitic classic irrespective of its intellectual merit.
 Pinay, Op. Cit., p. 65
[Accessed: 05/02/2009] (Warning: this site plays an awful rendition of classical music at you, which may frighten you, your children and/or your pets).
 Pinay cites Bernard Hutton in the French language magazine, ‘Constellation’
(of March 1962), as his source and having dealt with the author of the second argument before I am aware that he is not fluent in French (he also happens to be half-jewish as he admitted on LibertyForums some years ago). Therefore this lack of fluency in French and that the author is unlikely to have looked up the reference suggests that either the author of the second argument is taking Pinay’s argument and/or a citation of it (or possibly another earlier source) and twisting it into a slightly different argument from the one that Pinay offers.
 Simon Sebag Montefiore in his 2007, ‘Young Stalin’
, claims that it means ‘son of juga’
(similar to Pinay’s suggestion), suggesting it derives from ‘djogi’
meaning herd, but doesn’t make a compelling case for this interpretation.
 On this point please see Kevin Alan Brook, 2004, ‘The Jews of Khazaria’
, 2nd Edition, Rowman & Littlefield: New York.
 Who were famously used as light cavalry mercenaries by the Byzantine Empire.
Originally published at the following address: http://semiticcontroversies.blogspot...in-jewish.html