On the night of January 12-13, 1948, Solomon Mikhailovich Mikhoels, a prominent actor and director in the Yiddish language Soviet theater and winner of the Stalin prize in 1946, together with a friend, Vladimir Golubov, were killed in a hit-and-run accident on a dark street in Minsk, Byelorussian SSR.

Mikhoels was buried with honors and praised in the Soviet press. Nevertheless, rumors that he had been murdered by the Soviet state began to circulate almost immediately. During the 1960s these rumors multiplied, occasionally being repeated in official sources.

Beginning in 1991 documents began to appear claiming that Joseph Stalin had ordered Mikhoels murdered. These documents continued to appear during the 1990s. Several of them have now been inserted in Soviet archives to give the impression that they are genuine. Today the story that Stalin ordered Mikhoels murdered is repeated by all researchers and popularizers of Soviet history. 

The Mikhoels murder case is an unusually blatant example of fraudulent “scholarship” intended to smear Stalin and the Stalin-era Soviet Union.

Grover Furr is an American professor of Medieval English literature at Montclair State University and a widely-published author focusing on Stalin and the USSR.