May 4, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 9948

Russian Foreign Ministry Defends Lavrov's Remarks About Hitler's Jewish Blood, Some Russian Journalists Voice Mild Criticism

May 4, 2022
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 9948

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov provoked tensions in Russia's relations with Israel by his remarks during a May 1, 2022 interview with the Italian Mediaset network. The interviewer prodded Lavrov about the Russian narrative that views the current regime in Kyiv as aiding and abetting the Nazism that has gripped Ukraine:

Interviewer: "This is how you see it, while Vladimir Zelensky puts it differently. He believes denazification doesn’t make any sense. He is a Jew..."  Lavrov responded:"... His argument is: How can there be Nazism in Ukraine if he is a Jew? I may be mistaken but Adolf Hitler had Jewish blood, too. This means absolutely nothing. The wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews. “Every family has its black sheep,” as we say.[1]

Lavrov's remarks aroused outrage in Israel. Israel' Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned them: "Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error," Lapid said Monday. He also said that the Israeli Foreign Ministry had summoned the Russian ambassador to “clarify” the comments.

"Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism, Lapid explained. [2]

The Russian Ministry fired back with the following tweet: Pay attention to the anti-Russian announcements by the head of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid that largely explain the policy of the current Israeli government in support of the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev.[3]

The Russian Foreign Ministry tweet

For Ukraine, Lavrov's remarks represented a propaganda bonanza. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: FM Lavrov could not help hiding the deeply-rooted antisemitism of the Russian elites. His heinous remarks are offensive to President @ZelenskyyUa, Ukraine, Israel, and the Jewish people. More broadly, they demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations.[4]

Political scientist Petr Oleshchuk, a lecturer at Taras Shevchenko National University claimed that Lavrov's remarks were not a gaffe but a well thought out statement: But this is not the main thing. Lavrov, is of course, an odious figure, but he is incredibly experienced, and is definitely not stupid. Everything that is said in public must have meaning and significance. And he voices the fable about "Jewish Hitler" not because he suddenly remembered some article that he had read decades ago. No, this is probably a well-thought-out and verified argument. And this argument cannot be without consequences.

I want to remind you that now Russians are actively compiling lists of "traitors", and it should not surprise anyone that most of the names on this list are Jewish. Every Muscovite knows that the president of hostile Ukraine is a Jew. Now they will be told that Hitler, the personification of the same "Nazism" with which they are still fighting, is also a Jew. So, all Jews are Nazis. There is literally half a step to this conclusion. And now it may seem crazy, but we live in a world where yesterday's nonsense becomes a reality almost instantly."[5]

The Russian media generally reported the controversy objectively quoting both the Russian and Israeli positions. It generally avoided taking a firm position. There were a few exceptions that mildly took Lavrov to task. The political scientist and columnist George Bovt and Kommersant's foreign affairs correspondent Marianna Belenkaya claimed that it was not the wisest course to stir up a fight with Israel, considering that Moscow and Jerusalem generally saw eye to eye in preserving the memory of World War II and Israel consistently revered the Soviet Union's decisive role. They also pointed out that Israel despite its close ties with the West did not embrace the sanctions regime against Russia. Bovt, additionally debunked Lavrov's statement, while cushioning his criticism of Lavrov with praise for other parts of the interview. The entire article by Bovt and excerpts from Belenkaya's article follow below:

Yair Lapid and Sergey Lavrov in friendlier times (Source:

"Sergey Lavrov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, gave a long interview to the Italian TV company Mediaset. In particular, he said that the Russian military would not customize its actions to any date, including Victory Day. Regarding negotiations with Ukraine, Lavrov said that Kyiv is sabotaging these negotiations, and Vladimir Zelensky himself has 'changed his mind a lot.'

"Also, according to Lavrov, the Kyiv authorities are trying by all means to achieve the withdrawal of the radicals remaining there from Azovstal, since among them there may be Western officers and mercenaries. Adding that Russia is demanding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky order the national battalions to stop resistance and release civilians, Lavrov also accused the US and Canada of training neo-Nazi units that have been integrated into the ranks of the Ukrainian army. And Vladimir Zelensky himself, according to him, is thinking about how to use neo-Nazis to fight Russia. Also, Lavrov, speaking about hypersonic weapons, said that Russia was forced to develop it, knowing that the US missile defense system would be directed against Russia.

"However, one of the Russian minister's statements triggered quite a scandal in Israel. Namely, the suggestion made that the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, could be of Jewish lineage. The Israeli Foreign Minister called Lavrov's statements 'unforgivable'. And Russia's Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov was summoned to the Israeli Foreign Ministry for a meeting with the Deputy Director General of the Ministry for a clarification.

"'Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks are both an inexcusable and outrageous statement and a terrible historical error. Jews did not kill themselves during the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse the Jews themselves of anti-Semitism,' Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement. What will be the consequences?

"There was a lot in the Russian minister's interview that merits the attention of those trying to predict Russia's further actions. As in Ukraine in particular, and regarding the prospects for a third world war in a 'nuclear mode' and the inadmissibility of the use of nuclear weapons. Also, from the interview, one can draw a completely coherent and logically consistent presentation by Moscow regarding the events in Ukraine since 2014 and how we arrived at the current military conflict. And the resolute tone itself indirectly confirms Moscow's readiness to go all the way towards achieving its goals while not yielding to political or economic pressure.

"It is also worth noting that Lavrov gave specific examples of the fact that the national battalions of the Azov type are Nazi in their ideology.

"However, for a part of the audience, everything was overshadowed by the passage where the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry touched on Hitler, mentioning, as if in passing, that he allegedly could have had a share of Jewish blood. We emphasize, with a reservation: 'I, if I remember correctly, I'm afraid to make a mistake.' However, he aggravated his reservation by the fact that supposedly 'the most ardent anti-Semites', as a rule, are Jews.

"I will take the liberty of suggesting that if Lavrov himself were a Jew, then he would almost certainly have been forgiven for these reservations, or, in other words, bloopers. Just as an African American will be forgiven for any jokes about negroes, no matter how he calls them...

"But in general, if we talk about diplomacy, particularly diplomacy during hostilities, then, as often happens, quite harmless peacetime bloopers during a conflict begin 'a road to nowhere.' It's like if the Armenians and Azerbaijanis, instead of negotiating a ceasefire during the recent conflict over Karabakh, would start a historical dispute about its 'original ownership.' Or as if a Turk began to give historical lectures to the Armenians on the topic where and in what they allegedly made mistakes, according to such a Turk, in the history of the Armenian massacre of 1915.

"So, in such sensitive historical moments, it is preferable not to reopen history, leaving it to the historians until serene and peaceful times. All the more so, when Israel, a country belonging in many respects to the 'collective West', today remains one of the few who refrain from anti-Russian sanctions, while maintaining a relatively neutral position. In this sense, now is not the most opportune moment to verify the correctness of dubious stories related to such a painful thing for Jews as the Holocaust.

"In other, calmer times, when Zelensky was not yet president, but was just a prankster, and our country had not yet planned the “denazification” of the neighboring one, we repeat, this passage would not have caused such a scandal.

"Theories that Hitler had a share of Jewish blood have been around for a very long time, although they have been refuted more than once. The information that his father might have been a Jew first appeared in the memoirs of Hans Frank, one of the Führer's confidants who was Governor General of occupied Poland during the Second World War. And he had a residence, here is another fatal coincidence, in Lvov, where he was engaged in the extermination of Jews. Frank was executed after sentencing by the Nuremberg Tribunal. Well, he claimed to have discovered in 1930 that Hitler's paternal grandfather was a Jew who lived in Graz, Austria. This was allegedly indicated by correspondence between Hitler's grandmother, Maria Anna Schicklgruber, and a man of Jewish origin named Frankenberger, in whose house she worked. From the letter it followed that Schicklgruber could become pregnant from the 19-year-old son of the owner of the house.

"It was, in general, an invention, that was frequently disproven. First, the correspondence Frank referred to has never been found. Secondly, there is a lot of confusion in his memoirs. Finally, thirdly, in 1836, which dated the correspondence of Hitler's grandmother, there were no Jews living in Graz at all. The well-known researcher of Nazism, British historian Richard Evans, argued that there is no evidence that a Jewish family named Frankenberger ever lived in Graz at all. There is also no evidence that Hitler's mother ever lived in Graz. There is an assumption that gossip about the presence of Jewish blood in Hitler was launched in order to explain his bestial anti-Semitism with allegedly personal motives. And one historian of the Holocaust, Chava Dreyfus from Tel Aviv University, once suggested that since "Hitler's paternal grandmother was not married, it is therefore quite natural that there were rumors that she had brought up a child from a Jew," From whom else [could it be]?

"The current scandal, God willing, will somehow blow over. But it will be like in that Jewish joke about the teaspoons that were found, but the sediment remained. In the meantime, it is better to isolate diplomacy and history into different rooms. So, they don't encounter each other for a while."[6]

After the Russian Foreign Ministry defended its boss and accused Israel Kommersant's Belenkaya claimed that the scandal had upset the consensus between Russia and Israel on the Holocaust: "The conflict in Ukraine has separated Russia and Israel on opposite sides of the barricades regarding the interpretation of history. Before that, with no other state outside the post-Soviet space, Russia had such a deep mutual understanding on issues related to the preservation of the memory of the Second World War. Now Israel is accusing Russia of "historical mistakes", and the Russian Foreign Ministry is accusing the Israeli Foreign Minister of being "anti-historic"

"Recall, however, that Israel has repeatedly sharply criticized Warsaw for distorting history, and also reminded Kyiv of the inadmissibility of rehabilitating and glorifying Nazi accomplices. In particular, the then President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, said this during a visit to Ukraine in 2016."

"Israeli politicians constantly talk about the heroism of the Soviet soldiers, whose exploits saved the Jewish people from destruction. The same Yair Lapid, on every suitable occasion, recalls that Soviet soldiers saved his father from death."

Kommersant reported that the Israeli Minister of Finance Avigdor Lieberman had advised Lavrov to apologize, but his advice was rejected. The paper also claimed that the foreign ministries of both countries were leading the verbal escalation but the top levels were trying to restrain the deterioration that was influenced by the Ukraine crisis.[7]

Marianna Belenkaya (Source:

Israel's President Isaac Herzog while sharply condemning the remarks held out hope for an apology: “At first, I couldn’t believe that they had been uttered by a Russian foreign minister. They made me angry and disgusted. During a week when we are remembering the Holocaust, of all weeks, the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov chooses to spread lies, terrible lies, which smell of antisemitism. I expect him to retract his words and apologize." Herzog coupled his rebuke with praise for the Red Army and its major role in the defeat of Nazi Germany.[8]

An apology by Lavrov does not appear imminent and even less so a positive response to the appeal by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet "The use of the Holocaust of the Jewish people as a political battering ram must be stopped immediately." [9] The idea that the Zelensky government is a reincarnation of the Third Reich has become too important a theme for mobilizing popular support.


[1], May 1, 2022.

[2], May 3, 2022.



[5], May 2, 2022.

[6], May 4, 2022.

[7], May 4, 2022.

[8], May 4, 2022.

[9] May 2, 2022.

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