Escalation of the Anti-Jewish Purges
The anti-Jewish purges in the various organizations that were predominantly under the propaganda apparatus's authority had been prepared as far back as the late 1930s, began during the war, gradually gained momentum, and expanded somewhat during the first few years after the war. However, their scale was limited. We have already seen some of the factors that restrained anti-Semitism. Until the autumn of 1948 the equilibrium between ideological and police control over society kept anti-Jewish sentiments in check, even if indirectly. The many branches of the propaganda apparatus were united by a single system; yet there was a rivalry between adherents of the moderate and extreme positions. Back when Zhdanov had held the ideological reins, "discussion" methods and "courts of honor" prevailed over arrests and exiles. (Examples of "discussion" methods were the mass media campaigns against formalism in music.) Stalin at that time took Zhdanov's opinion into consideration; but Zhdanov was superseded by Malenkov, a typical executive administrator devoid of any ideological pretensions whatsoever, who invariably relied on Stalin for his political orientation.
Being more of a pragmatist than a theoretician, Malenkov preferred punitive measures to persuasion or "re-education." He preferred eradicating "heresy" by administrative use of the ACP(b) and the MGB. Thus the period from 1946 to 1948 may be described as a relatively peaceful stage in postwar Stalinism; and propaganda campaigns, despite their extensive scale and hysterical character, were bloodless, so to speak, and resulted "merely" in the victims' dismissals from work and from the Party. This period was followed by the escalation of blatant political terror from 1949 through early 1953. The preference for resolving ideological problems by force helped strengthen the Party-police coalition that directed staff purges. With Malenkov at the helm, expulsion from the Party was often followed