unleashed by Stalin and the secret police between 1936 and 1938 directly affected the inhabitants of the Jewish Autonomous Region. No reliable estimates exist regarding the number of Jewish Autonomous Region residents who fell victim to the purges. In all probability, thousands of people were arrested, sent to the burgeoning labor camp system, or executed. The political leadership of the region was particularly hard hit by arrests and executions.
Matvei Khavkin, head of the Communist Party in the Jewish Autonomous Region, was arrested for "counter-revolutionary activities." Khavkin survived his interrogation by the secret police and managed to emerge alive from the gulag after Stalin's death in 1953. Khavkin's wife was also imprisoned after being accused of trying to poison the prominent party leader Lazar Kaganovich with homemade gefilte fish during his 1936 visit to the Jewish Autonomous Region.