The Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the USSR in the Documents of the British Foreign Office (1952–1958)

Artur Patek


The Jewish Autonomous Oblast known as Birobijan in the USSR attracted the interest of the British diplomacy. This is reflected in the correspondence between British missions in the USSR and Israel and the Foreign Office. This analysis covers five documents from 1952–1958 kept in the National Archives in London. The documents pertain to two matters: (1) a discussion about the current status of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (whether rumours of its disappearance were true) and (2) reflections on the actual character of the oblast (to what extent it was Jewish and autonomous). The significance of these documents can be analysed on several levels – from the viewpoint of Birobijan’s history, the nature of British-Soviet relations, and the operating methods of diplomatic services. Reading the documents leads to several questions: why was Great Britain interested in the oblast? How was it perceived in the West? How did the Foreign Office obtain information about it? 

Słowa kluczowe: Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Birobijan, Foreign Office, Jews in the USSR

Archival sources

The National Archives, London:

FO 371/98797

FO 371/122938

FO 371/135342

Published primary sources

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