Rafes, Moisei

Rafes, Moisei [Рафес, Моше], b 1883 in Vilnius, d 1942 in Komi ASSR. Jewish-Russian revolutionary. A wig-maker by profession, he was a leading member of the social democratic Jewish Workers' Bund from 1903, and after the February Revolution of 1917 he represented it in the Ukrainian Central Rada and Little Rada. In July 1917 he was appointed general secretary of state control, and he went with Volodymyr Vynnychenko and Khrystofor Baranovsky to Moscow to present the Statute of the Higher Administration of Ukraine to the Russian Provisional Government. In November 1917 he became a member of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution in Ukraine. In January 1918 he voted against adopting the Fourth Universal that proclaimed the Ukrainian National Republic as an independent state (see Universals of the Central Rada). He was critical of the UNR law on national-personal autonomy, and he spoke out against the creation of a national army. In March 1918 he voted against the UNR’s signing a separate peace treaty with the Central Powers at Brest-Litovsk (see Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk). He was imprisoned under the Hetman government. At the Ukrainian Labor Congress in January 1919, Rafes voiced the Bund’s support for rule by revolutionary soviets, argued for a UNR Directory–Soviet Russian military alliance against the White Volunteer Army and the Allied intervention, and condemned the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic for its war with the Bolsheviks and its inability to prevent pogroms against the Jews. In March 1919 he joined the Bolshevik party, and in December he was elected deputy chairman of the CP(B)U in Kyiv gubernia. Rafes served as a leader of the Jewish Section in the Bolshevik Central Executive Committee and as a Red Army commissar. After the 1917–21 Ukrainian-Soviet War ended, he directed the agitation and propaganda section of the Comintern Secretariat in Moscow and worked for the Comintern in China. Under Joseph Stalin he was removed from the Comintern, and worked in the Soviet film industry. He wrote memoirs about Ukraine in 1918 (1919) and books about the Bund in Ukraine in 1917–19 (1920), the national question (1921), the history of the Bund (1923), and the Chinese revolution (1927). He was arrested during the Stalinist purges, and probably died in a Soviet concentration camp.

Roman Senkus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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