Shortly before he died on March 5, 1953, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin accused nine doctors, six of them Jews, of plotting to poison and kill the Soviet leadership. The innocent men were arrested and, at Stalin's personal instruction, tortured in order to obtain confessions. "Beat, beat, and again beat," Stalin commanded the interrogators.
The unfortunate physicians can be described as lucky only in comparison with Stalin's eighteen million other victims. The dictator died days before their trial was to begin. A month later, Pravda announced that the doctors were innocent and had been released from prison. It later became known that after their pro-forma trial and conviction, Stalin intended to organize pogroms around the country, after which prominent members of the Jewish community would publicly beg him to protect the Jews by sending them all to Siberia.