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The Russian Revolution: Separating Truth from Myth
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There is a deceitful and ahistorical myth that frequently resurfaces in right-wing circles seeking to discredit socialism with lies about the Russian Revolution. No matter how many times it has been invalidated as fabrication, the reactionary mythos endures. As might be expected, the author is referring to the preposterous claim that American capitalists — or “Wall Street bankers” — secretly financed one of the most epochal political revolutions in world history which overthrew the Romanov dynasty and ended the Russian Empire, leading to the establishment of the Soviet Union. One would be hard pressed to find anyone on the political left who has not encountered this mendacious propaganda which has a few variations depending on how far to the right its adherent lands on the political spectrum, but it usually shares the same core set of evidence-free claims.

Leaving aside whether or not the absurd premise makes any sense politically, what can be acknowledged is that at the heart of these false assertions are tiny elements of truth that have been distorted and overstated to the point of deception. Any research into this allegation inevitably leads one to its most popularly cited source, Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution by British-American conservative academic, Antony C. Sutton. The primary argument deduced by Sutton is that “Wall Street” indirectly funded the Bolsheviks via the Swedish financier Olof Aschberg, a prominent banker and communist sympathizer who supported a variety of left-wing causes throughout his life, including later the Popular Front in the Spanish Civil War. During WWI, Aschberg was a banker in neutral Sweden before expanding his business into Germany where he then transferred sums to aid the Bolsheviks in Russia. However, the links that Sutton makes between Aschberg and “Wall Street” are contradictory and tenuous at best.

While it is evident that Aschberg visited New York in 1916 to convince a group of private American businessmen that the wartime financial opportunities in Russia would continue to flourish after its conclusion, by Sutton’s own admission he was in the United States on behalf of the Tsarist government to negotiate a $50 million loan for the imperial Russian Ministry of Finance. Sutton then debunks his own claim by alleging that Aschberg simultaneously siphoned money “from the German government” to the Russian revolutionaries just as he was acting as an agent in place of Nicholas II’s finance minister, Pyotr Bark. If that is the case, then the socialist Aschberg likely defrauded a partnership of American private bankers into inadvertently lending financial support to the Bolsheviks, at the very time he was employed as a representative for the Russian monarchy. It should be noted that this deal occurred during America’s neutrality in the war at the time, as the U.S. would not enter the conflict until the following year and Aschberg is known to have gotten into trouble with the Allies. Apparently, Sutton could not discern that these Yankee capitalists were being duped by the “Bolshevik Banker” and instead assigned conscious intent to their money passing through the Swede financier to the communist revolution.

Even if true, the conduit of funds from Aschberg’s Nya Banken would have constituted a minuscule portion compared with the primary subsidies for the Bolsheviks which came via the fortunes they seized from wealthy merchants, landed nobility, and senior members of the Russian Orthodox Church, not to mention the ruling class of the Tsar and his family who amassed incalculable riches going back hundreds of years. After the Russian Civil War, Aschberg founded the USSR’s first foreign trade bank, Roskombank, as one of the inaugural decrees of the Soviet government was the nationalization of the financial industry where the assets of private bankers were confiscated by the state. Thereafter, banking in the USSR functioned solely for the purpose of sponsoring foreign trade and the rapid industrialization of the agrarian country into a modern global superpower. If any American bankers were fooled by Aschberg into funding a Marxist revolution, they sealed their own fate.

Sutton’s accusation that the German state sponsored the Bolsheviks first came from the Alexander Kerensky-led Provisional Government which took power following the abdication of Nicholas II in the February Revolution. The short-lived interim government based its claims on telegraphic cables which purportedly showed payments between Berlin and the revolutionaries which was then used as evidence to smear Vladimir Lenin as a “German agent.” Historians have since debated the authenticity of the telegrams, but if Germany did divert funds toward the Bolsheviks, it was only because the revolutionary opposition to Russian participation in the imperialist war was an opening to undermine its enemy. For this reason in April 1917, German intelligence permitted Lenin’s return to Russia from exile in Switzerland via train through Germany, Sweden and Finland in an arrangement made by the Social Democrat Alexander Parvus. However, this meddling was no different than similar interference by the British and French governments who also attempted to influence Russia’s affairs. In fact, it was reportedly the French who intercepted the dispatches given to the Provisional Government showing the supposed transactions between Germany and the Bolsheviks.

If any Bolshevik was truly an agent of a foreign government, that distinction would belong to Leon Trotsky who was not admitted to the majority faction of the Russian socialist movement until September 1917 after previously siding with the Menshevik wing during the initial party split before straddling the fence for years as a self-described “non-factional social democrat.” If the truth should be told, Trotsky was never a dedicated Bolshevik and his opportunism proved useful to the interests of Western imperialism, namely the British who suspiciously ordered Canadian authorities to release him from internment in Nova Scotia that April. Why the British would free a revolutionary to return to Russia and presumably withdraw another Allied nation from the war might seem puzzling, except Trotsky’s advocation of “neither war nor peace” was an opportunity to obstruct Lenin’s efforts to make a separate cease-fire with Germany and accept the Central Powers terms. This would have consequences five months after the October Revolution during the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918, where Trotsky led the negotiations as Foreign Minister and nearly sabotaged the peace talks by disrupting them with his unauthorized tactics.

Of the original incumbents in the first Soviet cabinet, Trotsky was the only minister of Jewish descent. However, this did not prevent the Tsarist White movement from spreading propaganda during the Russian Civil War about the predominance of “Jews” within the Bolsheviks. Apart from the racism of such conjecture, it also turns out to be factually incorrect as shown in statistics published by the Moscow-based Vedomosti newspaper:

“If we discard the speculations of pseudoscientists who know how to find the Jewish origin of every revolutionary, it turns out that in the first composition of the Council of People’s Commissars of Jews there were 8%: of its 16 members, only Leon Trotsky was a Jew. In the government of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic of 1917–1922 Jews were 12% (six out of 50 people). Apart from the government, the Central Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) on the eve of October 1917 had 20% Jews (6 out of 30), and in the first composition of the political bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) — 40% (3 out of 7)”.

This sensationalist big lie of “Jewish Bolshevism” was really an extension of the infamous hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which itself had been forged in 1903 by Okhrana, the secret police of the Russian Empire, who disseminated the fabricated text to deflect growing discontent under the Tsarist regime against a scapegoat. After the Romanovs were ousted in 1917, the White movement turned the propaganda against its opponents in the Russian Civil War while this sentiment was promoted by its backers in the West such as Winston Churchill and Henry Ford. At some point, the “Judeo-Bolshevism” hoax became “Jewish bankers” or “Wall Street” funding the Bolsheviks.

Sutton alleges the German-born Jewish-American banker, Jacob Schiff, was a clandestine financier of the Bolsheviks. This too is demonstrably false, as Schiff was a supporter of the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom, a transatlantic organization which was as vehemently anti-Bolshevik as it was anti-tsar. Today, reactionary historical revisionists would like us to forget that the treacherous Provisional Government, which was to some extent financed and backed by foreign bankers, ever existed in the months between the February and October Revolutions. Schiff had previously backed the failed 1905 Revolution because of the numerous anti-semitic pogroms that occurred under the Russian Empire but immediately withdrew his support from the 1917 Revolution once the Bolsheviks removed the pro-war Provisional Government, as explained by Kenneth Ackerman in Trotsky in New York, 1917: A Radical on the Eve of Revolution:

“Schiff’s gripe against Russia had been its anti-Semitism. At home Schiff had never shown any sympathy for socialism, not even the milder Morris Hillquit variety. Schiff had declared victory for his purposes in Russia after the tsar was toppled in March 1917 and Alexander Kerensky, representing the new provisional government, had declared Jews to be equal citizens. In addition to repeated public statements of support, he used both his personal wealth and the resources of Kuhn Loeb to float large loans to Kerensky’s regime. When Lenin and Trotsky seized power for themselves in November 1917, Schiff immediately rejected them, cut off further loans, started funding anti-Bolshevist groups, and even demanded that the Bolsheviks pay back some of the money he’d loaned Kerensky. Schiff also joined a British-backed effort to appeal to fellow Jews in Russia to continue the fight against Germany.”

Another member of the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom was the American explorer George Kennan, second cousin of future U.S. diplomat and influential strategist during the Cold War, George F. Kennan. Kennan is quoted in a March 1917 New York Times article explaining how Schiff and the Society of American Friends of Russian Freedom funded the February Revolution. However, the elder Kennan was also adamantly against the October Revolution and when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson approved American participation in the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, it was after being persuaded by his report in 1918 criticizing the Bolsheviks. If Wall Street bankers funded the Bolsheviks, why did the Anglo-Americans send their army to join the Allied nations to invade Russia and fight the Reds? Kennan’s final denunciation of the Soviets was written in 1923:

“The Russian leopard has not changed its spots…. The new Bolshevik constitution… leaves all power just where it has been for the last five years — in the hands of a small group of self-appointed bureaucrats which the people can neither remove nor control.”

Years later, part of the inspiration as an envoy for George F. Kennan to found anti-communist Soviet émigré groups like the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (ACLPR, AMCOMLIB) stemmed from his knowledge of the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom begun by his great uncle during the Russian Empire. Also going by the name of the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, AMCOMLIB was set up in 1950 as part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Project QKACTIVE in which U.S. intelligence also established Radio Liberation, later known as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, to broadcast behind the Iron Curtain. So not only was the Society of Friends of Russian Freedom anti-Bolshevik, it’s activities became the impetus for part of Kennan’s influential Cold War containment strategy.

Oddly enough, it was George F. Kennan who later proved the infamous ‘Sisson Documents’ purporting that Lenin and his associates were “German agents” to be forgeries in a 1956 article for the Journal of Modern History. The 1918 documents published by Edgar Sisson of the U.S. government’s Committee on Public Information ministry were part of a propaganda operation to discredit the Bolsheviks which reinforced the theory of a German-Bolshevik plot and gave further grounds for the Allied invasion of Russia. With eerie parallels to U.S. media coverage of the Iraq War, apart from war correspondent John Reed, most of the yellow press at the time accepted the Sisson Documents uncritically. While it is now generally acknowledged that the German Foreign Office funded the Bolsheviks to some degree, Kennan’s scholarly work showed the danger of believing deceptive information when it affirms preconceived notions and provides justification for desired actions, especially war.

Edgar Sisson
Edgar Sisson

In recent years, such fiction about the Russian Revolution has not been relegated to the margins but even found its way into the pages of The New York Times when it allowed pseudo-historian Sean McMeekin to take out an op-ed on the 100th anniversary resurrecting the hoax that Lenin was a “German agent.” The ratcheting up of tensions between the U.S. and Russia in the new Cold War and the bogus allegations of interference by Moscow in American elections has normalized disinformation and fake narratives made up of anecdotes and distortion. Now, it is not just the right-wing which is a gullible audience for such psychological warfare regarding Soviet history but credulous Western liberals. In his defense, at least paleolibertarians like Sutton are willing to question the ‘official’ narrative of the Russian Revolution but unfortunately, because of the Red Scare begun by Sisson’s forgeries, like a matryoshka doll there is only more propaganda within the propaganda regarding communism which runs deeper than any right-wing canard. If those seeking the truth about history are sincere, they will keep searching even when it reveals truths that call their whole political views into question. Keep searching.

Max Parry is an independent journalist and geopolitical analyst. His writing has appeared widely in alternative media. Max may be reached at [email protected]

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  1. Wyatt says:

    There is a deceitful and ahistorical myth that frequently resurfaces in right-wing circles seeking to discredit socialism with lies about the Russian Revolution. No matter how many times it has been invalidated as fabrication, the reactionary mythos endures.

  2. Magylson says:

    So in other words its all true. The Germans did support the Bolsheviks and Walter Schiff did finance the 1906 socialist coup attempt despite being a vulture capitalist. He also boasted about donating 10 million to the 1917 coup (it wasn’t a real peoples revolution). Also the very first Bolshevik ruling committee had seven members not 16 and of that seven four were Jewish. These tiny grains of truth are the size of boulders.

  3. As the author’s Bolshevik pals would have said, if anyone but a Bolshevik wrote this disjointed and pointless essay: “that’s just a lot of ‘whataboutism’”
    Boichik, you don’t disprove nothing by critiquing one other guy’s writings, in all this was just a long rant in the style of commenting on the other commenter’s comment on the original comment that had nothing to do with the original headline article. What’s even worse, it’s your own headline article…

  4. Regarding Swedish Jew Olof Aschberg (1877-1960) named above as involved with the Russian Revolution –

    His grandson Robert Aschberg (1952- ) is a key pro-globalist media figure in Sweden today, long engaged in campaigns of intimidation of nationalist and anti-immigration etc media and political figures … Aschberg famously going around with a film crew and a baseball bat in his hand.

    Journalist Bechir Rabani confronted Robert Aschberg at his home, and then was found dead, said to have been murdered.

    Granskning Sverige produced a well researched documentary about Aschberg exposing his shocking control of Swedish law courts. In total he has scammed at least 50 Million USD from innocent Swedes while being acquitted of all his crimes thanks to his connections.

    Many people are interviewed and they all say he is a psychopath and gangster. Not only that, there are several suspicious murders connected to Aschberg.

    Aschberg stated that sex with animals is nothing strange … Aschberg admits that he acquired child pornography with permission from a Swedish court.

    Aschberg has a show called “Trolljägarna” on TV 3 where he makes home visits to ordinary Swedish people that opposed the marxist tyranny in Sweden on the internet. He scares them with his film team and his baseball bat and he tries to destroy their life by outing them on tv. A persistent rumour states that Aschberg belongs to the class of satanist Jewish gangsters …

  5. BuelahMan says:

    I think Max’s Kippah is showing.

  6. Jewish over representation in the Russian Revolution acknowledged

    “Was the Russian Revolution Jewish?” SETH J. FRANTZMAN PHD, Jerusalem Post

    • Replies: @Craig Nelsen
  7. Let´s see …
    Jacob Schiff and Kuhn, Loeb&Co. (then still fond of hearing themselves called “the German barons”) financed (((communist))) subversion since the 19th century, the Russo-Japanese War (triggered by a (((plot))) to get the Romanow court invested in the Yalu Sawmill Cie.), the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, then withdrew their money from the (((Bolshewiks))) for not being Jewish enough.

    At UR we are not often treated to rejects from the Vorwärts, but this should be too stupid even for Fran to touch.

    (((Kerensky))) was of course right about (((Lenin))) on every count;
    (((Nya Banken´s))) mainstay was laundering money for Israil Lasarewich Gelfand who put the Lenin plot before the Germans (((Erzberger))) in the first place.
    The delegation in Brest-Litowsk was 100% Jewish (as von Seeckt noted with some disgust) with the exception of a drunk muschik they kidnapped at the rail station to represent the “people”.
    The only goy in the first Central Committee was Uncle Joe, and even he was dubious.

    Should the goy-washing of early lifers proceed at this pace, in two or three years you will no doubt be surprised to learn that not only were these mass murderers not Jewish at all …
    [whisper] they were secretly Germans!

    You heard it here first 😛

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  8. Bartolo says:

    Max Parry, you are a liar.

    For those who want the truth, other commenters make excellent suggestions, but let me add:

    Re Jewish involvement in the Revolution, see The Jewish Century, by (half-Jewish) Berkeley professor Yuri Slezkine AND Two Hundred Years Together, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (I have the French edition).

    Re the source of the revolutionaries’ funding, see The Russian Revolution (2017), by Sean McMeekin. In this regard, not all Parry says is false (and I have no clue about the Wall Street funding, tbh), but much of it is lies, too.

    I have no problem whatsoever with people being Russia-friendly (I am myself) or communist. Just don’t lie.

  9. @nokangaroos



    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  10. Andrei says:

    Antisemites love the Romanovs for the same reason they love Hitler or the “Palestinians”: anybody who hates Jews openly is good in their book. Doesn’t matter that Russians lived in abject misery during Tsarist Russia with life expectancy around 30. Doesn’t matter that Hitler started a war which mostly killed non-Jewish Slavs. These small shortcomings can be easily overlooked and absolved as long as they have the cardinal virtue of hating Jews, blaming them for everything, suppressing and hunting them down.

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
    , @Malla
  11. Max Parry doesn’t know a damn thing about Russian history. One can only laugh at half of the text he wrote. I am from Russia and I find it funny that he was taught this way at a bourgeois university.

    • Replies: @Max Parry
  12. Max Parry says:
    @Renics Nykoros

    You mean you are a self-loathing Westernized emigre? If only I did learn this version from academia.

  13. Tom Verso says:

    I would not presume to make a judgment about the role of Jews in the Russian Revolution.

    However, I do know that there is a large body of ostensively scholarly work that argues as such.

    To dismiss that volume of documentation with a 2300 word antidotal journalistic ‘motif’ seriously calls into judgment the intellectual integrity of Max Perry.

    Anything he writes on these pages henceforth will not be taken seriously; if read at all.

  14. @Andrei

    Can´t seem to get your point …

    – Hitler did not “start” any war except in the Napoleonic sense
    (i.e. he refused to surrender).
    – The history of Jews vs. Russia (unlike, say, Germany) is simple:
    Rabid hatred ever since Katharina the Great´s (German, what else)
    social reforms, with a pause when they ran the place (1917 – 1975 and the “oligarchs”).
    Prince Potemkin (of the “villages”) was the first victim of their hate campaigns.
    Alexander II was in the middle of necessary reforms when the (((Narodnaja Wolja)))
    retired him; Nikolai II was a weakling who shouldn´t have been in that position,
    but if someone is to blame it´s not his (German, what else) wifey nor Rasputin
    (the same (((hate campaigns))) as against, say, Marie Antoinette) but Pobiedonoszew
    (General Procuror of the Holy Synod and maybe not Jewish, but given that no one has ever heard of him … )
    – As for the “Palestinians” methinks a lot of people would be a lot more pro-Israel if only the Jews deigned to get out of their faces 😀

    • Replies: @Andrei
  15. Andrei says:

    My point is you people are religious fanatics and there’s no point debating you just as there’s no point debating a Jehovah’s Witness about whether God exists or not. You don’t want an open discussion, you want to convert people to your dogmas.

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  16. Malla says:

    However, this did not prevent the Tsarist White movement from spreading propaganda during the Russian Civil War about the predominance of “Jews” within the Bolsheviks.

    Ex-KGB President Vladimir Putin admits that 80-85% of the early Soviet Government were made of Jews, who were BTW just 2% of the population of Russia.

    Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Ben Porat admits huge Jewish influence in the Communist movement and early Soviet Government. Hitler was afraid Jews would do to Germans what they did to Russians.

  17. Malla says:

    Antisemites love the Romanovs for the same reason they love Hitler or the “Palestinians”: anybody who hates Jews openly is good in their book.

    And most Russian Jews were innocent little victims. LOL. Not according to Fyodor Dostoevski’s observation
    From the book From Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin: A Dialogue Between Adolf Hitler and Me
    (BTW a must book to understand Bolshevism and Communism in general)

    “From long years of experience,” I brought out, “Dostoevski depicted the hair-raising conceit of the Russian Jew. [58] For a long time he lived with all kinds of convicts, including several Jews, sleeping on the same wooden bunks with them. Everyone treated these Jews in a friendly manner, he reported, not even taking offense at their raving-mad manner of praying. Probably their own religion had once been like that, thought the Russians to themselves, and they quietly let the Jews do as they pleased. But, on the other hand, the Jews haughtily rejected the Russians, didn’t want to eat with them, and looked down on them. And where was this? In a Siberian prison! All over Russia Dostoevski found this antipathy and loathing of the Jews for the natives. Nowhere, however, did the Russian people resent their behavior, indulgently believing it to be a part of the Jewish religion.”

    • Replies: @Andrei
    , @nokangaroos
  18. @Andrei

    I do not wish to “convert” anyone …
    feel free to point out any (factual, not doxological) errors – discourse is progress*.

    – No one disputes Russia was a backwards shithole to make a pig barf, but before the Bolshewiks the prize for demoralizing the people goes to Iwan IV (autocracy, vodka monopoly and not even a Romanow).
    Peter the Great – like Mustafa Kemal – discovered one lifetime is not enough to make a European country, and the backlash was inevitable; Katharina the Great and Alexander I and II tried in their own ways, followed by their own backlashes and hatreds; everything in between was power struggle against the bojars played on the backs of the peasantry, reminiscent of the German Empire from Friedrich II onwards.
    – As Fran has made plausible all agreeable Jews assimilated and those who were sociopaths but sucked at coverup were culled (actually the implications of the “genetic bottleneck” go a bit further, but that´s for a different time).
    The Jewish way of life lent itself to conspiracy and it doesn´t matter what was first, the duck or the water – it is not necessary to assume some uniquely evil design (“Protocols”) so there probably wasn´t one. Denial, however, is a dead end.

    *I admit to the scientists´shared disdain for history but if it is to serve any purpose it is to piece together webs of causality.
    You decided to believe someone woke up in the morning and said:
    “Geez, I feel like gassing me some six million today … quick! Who are the most innocent ones?” so if there is a religious wacko here it´s not the humble one.
    You are not among friends, but neither am I; your only handicap is you cannot call the Holy Inquisition. It´s either that, or back to your safe space.

    So, what´s your timeline?

  19. Andrei says:

    Dostoevski and Solzhenitsyn aren’t objective arbiters of reality. They’re writers with huge personal biases. I’m not denying their literary talent, but what they claim is not some sort of word of God. They’re very subjective interpretations.

    That doesn’t mean Jews are blameless. But the idea that Jews are primarily to blame for Russia’s (or the world’s) problems is ridiculous. Among foreign actors, western powers like Prussia, Imperial Britain and the USA are far more to blame for Russia’s troubles and isolation in the last two centuries than Jews are. It’s their imperial obssession with keeping Russia out of Europe that was and is Russia’s biggest external issue.

    • Replies: @nokangaroos
  20. @Malla

    Authentic Russian revolutionaries in Switzerland were unanimous in their verdict on the Lenin kamarilla (“Judenhetzer”, usually accompanied by hopes of seeing them hang).

    • Thanks: Malla
  21. @Andrei

    What kept Russia out of Europe long-term was what landed Austria out of Germany and what will pry the US out of Europe: Outside interests.
    Under weak rulers the purges of Germans became almost a ritual (Exhibit A: Count Witte 1904; thank god he bore no grudge when peace had to be negotiated).
    And yes, Little Britain feared a German-Russian alliance even more than a German-French one (as USrael does now).

    – Jews formed a distinct extractive sublayer (usury, vodka, tax farming) in Russian society; one might call it the Byzantinisation of Hofjuden if Byzantium had allowed such a thing.
    Again what is of most interest are the differences (French and German Jews vehemently opposed immigration from Russia) – and the waves of immigration to the US: refugees from the 1848 National Revolution (social reformers like Carl Schurz), the 1873 bankruptcies (bankers and robber barons), the 1881 pogroms and the 1905 Stolypin Reaction (revolutzers and ragmen).

    Lesson One (“Nothing is ever that simple”) well taken 😀

  22. Malla says:

    Dostoevski and Solzhenitsyn aren’t objective arbiters of reality. They’re writers with huge personal biases

    Yeah right, just because they honestly write about Jews they have “personal biases”. ya right.

    But the idea that Jews are primarily to blame for Russia’s (or the world’s) problems is ridiculous.

    Sadly that is how it is.

    western powers like Prussia, Imperial Britain and the USA are far more to blame

    You do not seem like an objective arbiter of reality. You seem to have personal biases against the West.
    LOL, moving on, yes that is an important point you have raised.

    • LOL: nokangaroos
  23. @Jack McArthur

    Stalin was a Georgian. Felix Dzerzhinsky, who established the Soviet secret police, was a Polish aristocrat.

    And the thoroughly evil Dzerzhinsky was, in addition to being the founder of the bloody CheKa, the son of a Polish Jew who had changed the family name in a successful bid for a place among the Polish nobility.

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