On January 13, 1953, the authorized news agency of the Soviet Union, TASS, reported the following in the official communist newspaper Pravda under the headline “Vicious Spies and Murderers under the Mask of Academic Physicians”:

A terrorist group of doctors, uncovered some time ago by organs of state security, had a murderous goal of shortening the lives of leaders of the Soviet Union by means of medical sabotage.

Investigation established that participants in the terrorist group, exploiting their position as doctors and abusing the trust of their patients, deliberately and viciously undermined their patients' health by making incorrect diagnoses, killing them with the aid of false treatments. Cloaking themselves with the noble and merciful calling of physicians and men of science, these fiends and killers dishonored the holy banner of medicine and science. Having taken the path of monstrous crimes, they defiled the honor of scientists….

The majority of the participants of this terrorist group…were bought by American intelligence. They were recruited by a branch-office of American intelligence—the international Jewish bourgeois-nationalist called the “Joint.” The filthy face of this Zionist spy organization, covering up their vicious actions under the mask of charity, is now completely revealed….

Unmasking the gang of poison-doctors struck a blow against the international Jewish Zionist organization.... Now all can see what sort of philanthropists and "friends of peace" hid beneath the honorable sign-board of the "Joint."

The investigation will conclude shortly.

The names of nine individuals who had been arrested were listed, all of whom were top doctors in Russia at the time. Six of them were Jewish.

Thus began the infamous blood libel that was later termed “The Doctors’ Trial.” The newspapers and radio reported this along with “commentary” which was actually an incitement against the Jews of the Soviet Union and Jews worldwide. The commentators and those who wrote articles called upon the public to be wary of the “enemy of the people” and asked all citizens to be on the alert for “terrorists in the guise of doctors.”

In all sorts of public venues—schools, universities, factories, army camps, and foremost, in all medical institutions—they held “explanatory meetings.” The speakers, members of the party and secret police, defamed the “terrorist doctors” and called upon the public to guard themselves against additional fraudulent doctors.

The antisemitic rhetoric intensified. Day after day, a vast number of articles appeared in the major newspapers about robberies, corruption, and swindling. The common denominator in all of them was that all of the suspects in these crimes had obvious Jewish names. At first, the newspapers did not refer to Jews explicitly. They used euphemisms such as “rootless cosmopolitans,” bourgeois, Zionist agents, and so on. Within a short time however, they stripped off their kid gloves and began writing explicitly: we mean the Jews, reactionary Jews who work for Zionistic and capitalistic purposes, etcetera.

The Russian nation was affected by this massive propaganda campaign and believed the party line. Non-Jewish patients were afraid to be treated by Jewish doctors. Numerous Jews were fired from their positions, especially in institutes of science, education, and medicine.

The incitement grew and we were all terrified. We anxiously awaited the show trial. If the doctors were found guilty as charged – and it was without doubt that they would be – the Jews of Russia would be in grave danger of lethal pogroms that would be even more severe than the pogroms that the Jews had suffered under the czarist reign.

The few non-Jews that understood that this was all a pretense did not dare speak out against the national effort. At that time, a non-Jew by the name of Kriyakov, who worked with my father, said to him: “So Zaltzman! What do you say about the new Bailis trial?” (This referred to the infamous blood libel directed against Mendel Bailis in 1914.)

After Stalin’s death, it was discovered that the Doctors’ Plot was the final component in the calculated plan that Stalin had devised. Stalin’s plan was organized down to the minutest of details. The doctors would be incriminated, the public would be enraged, and at the last moment Father Stalin would come to the protection of the Jews. His “protection” would entail a mass exile of the Jews to Siberia.

Stalin had a timetable to execute this expulsion: On March 5, the doctors would be tried and a week later, on March 12, they would be executed. Immediately after that, the expulsion plan would begin to be implemented.

Two to three weeks before the designated expulsion date, dozens of trains were readied at stations in all of the big cities in the Soviet Union, waiting to take the droves of panicked Jews to Siberia. In enclosed and covert areas in Siberia, concentration camps were quickly set up with 40,000 barracks built to contain the estimated million Jews that would survive the pogroms. The calculation was simple: a third would be killed by Russian murderers in the pogroms, a third would die en route to Siberia, and the final third would arrive at the barracks in Siberia.

As the date for the trial of the doctors approached, we suffered effusively from insults and degradation. We were humiliated and persecuted wherever we went, on the street, at work, and by our neighbors. The antipathy reached such intensity that Jews refrained from leaving their homes. When Jews were assaulted on the street and the police were called, they would tell the attackers, “Don’t strike them now because in a little while we’ll be able to beat them publicly with full government support.”

My brother-in-law, Aryeh Leib, lived in the city of Minsk. His appearance was noticeably Jewish and when he took the bus, the non-Jews mocked and degraded him. No one cared to intervene on his behalf. When he tried to defend himself, an army officer grabbed him by the neck and threw him off the bus. Under these unnerving circumstances, every passing day seemed longer than a year and our hearts beat in constant fear, waiting with bated breath as our fate hung precariously in the balance.

In February 1953, a 15-kilogram bomb was planted at the Soviet embassy at 46 Rothschild Street in Tel Aviv. The building was severely damaged. The Soviet Union reacted in a fury and cut off all diplomatic ties with Israel. The Russian papers publicized this vociferously, which only piled additional fuel onto the fire of malicious hatred.