Jews in Russia and in the USSR
© 1967 by Andrey Iv. Diky
As the title of this sketch implies, it is limited by time and territory. By limited times, I mean by those three periods when the Jewish ethnic group lived within the territory of the Russian State. The first period was Kiev Russia era; the second period, when Western and Southwestern Russia was under the power of Poland; the third, during the Russian Empire, renamed the USSR. It is limited by territory by the lands held by the Russian people, and created by the State of Russia as it existed then. Any other era or occurrences beyond aforementioned boundaries are of no significance to this sketch.
During the two thousand years of their sojourn, many different Jewish groups were dispersed throughout different countries, different nationalities, and different eras. Inevitably, wherever these sects resided, conflicts arose between the Jews and the different local populations. Ultimately the “Jewish Question” or “Judaeophobia” developed, which from the middle of the Nineteenth Century came to be known as “anti-Semitism”. “Anti-Semitism” is not an entirely correct usage, as Semites include not only people of the Jewish faith; but today the word is used specifically in reference to anti-Jewish feeling, replacing the more exact terminology of “Judaeophobia” which was used for centuries prior to the emergence of the former word. “Judaeophobia” has a more precise meaning than “anti-Semitism”, designating negative, unfriendly feelings solely towards the Jewish people. “Judaeophilia”, on the other hand, would indicate a proclivity and friendliness towards the Jews.
The causes of “Judaeophobia” that existed in pre-Christian times, and which still exist now, are beyond the framework of this historical sketch, and therefore will not be the subject of examination here. Moreover, the existing opinions of different researchers concerning the cause of the well-known mutual repulsion of the Jews by non-Jews are diametrically opposed. Some claim the problem lies within the nations where Jewish people have resided and still do reside. Others look for the causes of “Judaeophobia” within the Jews themselves. Spinoza aptly phrased it when he said, “They carry it with themselves”.
Throughout the centuries much has been written on the subject of “Judaeophobia”, and its reaction towards the Jews. Much less, however, has been written on the causes of “Judaeophobia” despite the fact it is well-known that “Nothing occurs without cause”, (”Nihil sine causa” — N. S. C.). The volume and character 0f this sketch does not permit elaboration on the causes of these conflicts, however, bypass them silently is also impossible. It is therefore suggested that the reader become acquainted with the analysis of this question, dealt with in the second part of this book. The title of this analysis is, “Anti-Semitism in the Ancient World”, by Professor Solomon Lourie. In this discussion the author deals with the causes which used to promote and still do promote “Judaeophobia” both before and after the death of Christ.
In the course of this account there is some indirect mention of the causes of discord in the Russian-Jewish relationship that can neither be denied nor ignored. This discord, or mutual distrust, and the subsequent repulsion of both parties by each other, began with the first appearance of the Jews in Russia. All three major branches of the Russian people, the Great Russians, the Malorussian-Ukrainians and the Byelorussians are implicated in this “Judaeophobia”, but not without cause. This discord in its broadest sense existed not only between the Russians and the Jewish ethnic group but also between the entire population of the USSR and the Jews, throughout the country.
This discord and mutual mistrust and the subsequent repulsion of the Jews by the entire population of the USSR is labeled “anti-Semitism”. The initiative in this discrimination is cast upon the whole non-Jewish population of Russia, the Jewish people falling heir by default to the sole of the silent and abused sufferers. Everyone else is to blame, but the Jews themselves are always assumed to be in the right.
No serious researcher can agree with stereotyped suffering on the part of the Jews, with no one to blame but the various native populations with which they became associated. Yet there is scarcely anyone who would try to establish the causes for this, as had been done by Solomon Lourie in his research. The majority chooses to remain silent about the true causes of these conflicts, preferring to let the quilt lie with the non-Jews, and therefore, examines only the consequences, the outward manifestation which is labeled “anti-Semitism”.
“The timid and double-faced” Jews and non-Jews recommend that the causes be ignored, for fear that these talks of discrimination and defamation on the grounds of race and color only strengthen the spread of mutual prejudice, and therefore, do nothing to clarify the true historical issues.
This statement was made by the former secretary of the All Russian Constituent Assembly, Mark Vishniak, in his essay, ”International Convention Against Anti-Semitism”, published in the anthology entitled ”Jewish World”, (p. 98, New York 1939).
Vishniak himself was the initiator of this convention; however, he does not specify in any part of his work, how to understand this “anti-Semitism” in proper perspective. It is possible that he is incapable of understanding that there exists a basic difference between Jewish and non-Jewish races which goes far beyond race and color of the skin, and can be defined as “something else”?
This basic difference had been formulated thirty years before Mark Vishniak raised this question on an international scale, by Professor Solomon Lourie who said the “inner aspect” is that which distinguishes all Jews from non-Jews, regardless of skin color, hair color or any other trait related to their origin. It is this “something else”, this “inner aspect” that explains the present conflict between the Jews, the Semites, and the Arabs (a fact that cannot be explained if one accepts Mark Vishniak's theories on the subject). Everyone knows that these races are of basically the same origin. In what then do they differ? Is it not in this “inner aspect”? It is this very thing that alerts the Jews and non-Jews, including the Russians, to a state of mutual distrust. Full frankness does not exist between the Russians and Jews, and this was aptly phrased by Solomon Schwartz, a noted author, when he said in his book ”Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union” on p. 41, “that what a Russian would say to a Russian, he would not say to a Jew”. This is very true, but alternatively, so is its converse: “what a Jew would say to a Jew he would not say to a Russian”. He did not attempt to explain, however, the cause of this phenomenon. He felt the cause of this distrust needed no explanation.
The statements of the three Jewish writers quoted previously, who received their education in Russian universities and occupied notable positions in Russian cultural and political life, deserve special attention. Their statements are evidence themselves of this mutual distrust, a suspicion that quite often overflowed into relations and created possible conditions for all kinds of conflicts.
This phenomenon is not specific to the Russian-Jewish interrelationship; in fact, the conflict between the Jews and the entire multitribal population of Russia-USSR existed for the whole period of time that the Jews resided upon Russian soil, or any other soil foreign to them.
Sometimes these mutually scornful and contemptuous relations between the Jews and the native population intensified and overflowed into pogroms, persecutions which had few limits in their intensity. Sometimes when a “thaw” in these pogroms occurred, the opportunity for material improvement and participation in political spheres of a country by the Jews arose. There were even times when the Jewish people ingratiated themselves with the rulers of these countries and conducted their own personal persecution upon the native peoples.
These persecutions were carried out upon the people who in the Jewish opinion were ill-disposed towards them. They carried out this extermination of the native people in the manner that is described in the Bible – “The Book of Esther”. History also testifies to incidents where the Jewish ethnic group exterminated even their own tribesmen whom they believed to be renegades, with the consent and co-operation of the ruler of the country involved. The Jews were able to convince the ruler that renegades who changed their Judaic beliefs for those of Roman gods did it for personal profit; therefore they could not be trusted, as they would just as easily betray the emperor (in this case Ptolemy) as they had betrayed Jehovah.
All these conflicts and hesitations in the interrelationship between the Jews and the native population were of local origin, without overstepping the boundaries of any one country. One country would expel them, another would let them in; one ruler would be kind to them, while others only “tolerated them”.
For this reason, the “Jewish Question” that arose in every country where the Jews resided had little importance in the life of a country or its people. They did not have great significance, since Jewish groups were scattered throughout different countries and never exceeded several hundred thousand in any country.
This, however, was not the case in Russia or the USSR. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the overwhelming majority of the world's Jewry lived within the boundaries of Russia-USSR, numbering more than 6 million. This huge sector of the world's Jewish population lived according to the law of their Judaic religion and isolated itself from the rest of the native population. This isolation was self-imposed, and not inflicted, compulsory ghetto living. It was a time however, when the Jewish people in Russia were striving through all possible channels to participate in all the spheres of the country's life, an endeavor in which they became quite successful.
At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Russian Jewry was the centre of the Jewish religion, and its people's conscience. This centre, which gave direction to the life and the activities of the entire Jewish Diaspora, created purely Jewish ideological currents and political parties consisting solely of Jewish members, and produced from their ranks political personalities who became leaders of all Jewry.
In the late 1920s, Russian Jewry had turned from the insignificant four-percent minority limited in its rights into ruling class capturing most of the ruling positions in all spheres of Russian life. The occurrence was something unheard of throughout the whole history of mankind: an unequalled historical precedent.
The final point deserving special attention is the reaction of the whole free world, its press, and its public opinion, towards the change in the social conditions of the Jews in Russia, at the end of the second decade of the Twentieth Century. The reaction towards the change that occurred thirty years later after the Second World War must also be considered.
In less than one year, after the fall of the Czarist Regime in Russia, the Jewish ethnic minority of foreign origin had become the ruling majority, an incident unparalleled in human history. It was then that world public opinion, the greater part of its press, and even social and political leaders of that time, ignored this change and remained silent. They remained silent about the fact that four Jews concluded the Brest-Litovsk peace in the name of Russia, that all Russia's representatives on the League of Nations were also Jews, and that many of the leading political and social leaders of Russia were Jewish. Only a small number of uninfluential foreign press bodies saw and printed the truth about the exceptional change in the Jewish situation in Russia, and then only seldom and in a timid fashion. The émigré press of the “Right” orientation wrote of the change but this was of little avail for few people listened to or read these articles. The reason for this was that these émigré newspapers were groundlessly labeled as anti-Semitic and reactionary. The émigré periodical issues of so-called “democratic” orientation were all in the hands of the Russian-Jewish immigrants who wrote about anything but the Jewish domination in Russian political spheres. Only the individual representatives within the “democratic” camp of the Russian immigrants, who were watching the events in Russia, dared to touch upon the “Jewish Question” as it existed in the USSR. The well-known political activist, Mrs. E. Kuskova, and the equally famous leader and creator of the “Russian Peasant Party”, S. Maslov, expressed their opinion about this “ticklish question”, and pointed to the inversely proportional Jewish participation in the ruling class of Russia. These two outspoken activists claimed that this inversely proportional Jewish rule would create preconditions for Judaeophobia throughout the native population of Russia.
Other well-known activists, Mrs. A. Tyrkova-Williams, noted this change, and A. Stolypin, one of the leaders of the solidarists (N. T.S.), reported about the Jewish majority composition of the Russian delegation of the League of Nations in his book ”Counterrevolution”, published in July 1937.
Their voice was heard by no one, and no one upheld their findings. The “ticklish question” dared not to be raised or discussed on the pages of the “democratic” émigré press.
There was an attempt on the part of a group of Jewish immigrants to raise the question on the pages of the press and at public meetings. At the beginning of the second decade of the Twentieth Century, an organization called “Patriotic Union of Russian Jews in Foreign Countries”, centered in Berlin, called for all Jews to disassociate themselves from the activities of their fellow tribesmen in the USSR, in view of the latter's excessive participation in the pursue of Red terror. This organization claimed, not without foundation, that the negative attitude of the Russian people towards the Jews was brought about by Jewish participation in Red terror, and that ultimately these anti-Semitic views would spread throughout the country and encompass all Jews in the USSR. But their voice was not taken into consideration. Instead, it was sharply criticized by the world's Jewry, and through the protest the “Patriotic Union of Russian Jews in Foreign Countries” was forced to break off its criticism. In essence these demands for disassociation were quite limited. The Russian Jews and other Jews throughout the world were called upon to disassociate themselves only from those fellow tribesmen who actively took part in Red terror. But there was no mention of the numerous Jews who held many high ranking positions in Russian institutions. This infiltration could not have gone unnoticed. It is therefore necessary to assume that the authors of the appeal had no objection to the monopoly status of the Jews in all areas of Russian life except that of Red terror. But even this modest call provoked a burst of indignation in all immigrant Jews who felt that this question should not be raised in any form: it should be kept silent if it could neither be justified nor refuted.
The result of this was that the impenetrable curtain was drawn down for thirty years over the existence of Jewish domination in the USSR. This conspiracy, which no one dared to violate for fear of being labeled an “anti-Semite”, grew stronger. No one was prepared to accept the consequences of such a revelation.
After the Second World War everything changed radically. The “Jewish Question” in the USSR appeared on the pages of the world press and in the Russian émigré newspapers and journals, and then the expose began. But this expose preferred to ignore the truth and wrote of the oppression and persecution of the Russian Jews, much as had been done in 1917. The discrimination was underlined and the government of the USSR and its native population was openly accused of “cultural genocide” of a portion of its citizens, namely the Jews.
How serious and well-founded are these accusations? The reader will draw that conclusion for himself, after he has attentively read what is written in this sketch. These facts and events which are given are not disputed even by those who appear to be the accused. This is why here, in the preface, we will not preoccupy ourselves with the assertion of the real causes of the revival of the old pre-revolutionary accusations of Russia for its anti-Jewish politics.
The causes will be clearly ascertained by an attentive and objective examination of this “ticklish question”. These causes arise from Jewish dissatisfaction because of a gradual decline of the privileged position which they held for that thirty year period between the fall of Czarist Russia and the end of the Second World War.
In the atmosphere of the cold war, these accusations acquire special importance, overstepping the boundaries of one state and assuming an international character, thus creating the necessary preconditions for the hostile relations between Russia-USSR and the rest of the world. This hostile attitude is directed towards the country and people who supposedly committed overt “cultural genocide” and “discrimination” against the Jews.
In the last two decades (1947-1967), a great number of books and articles were written on this subject, and an endless number of meetings and protests took place emphasizing the “persecution of the Jews” in USSR.
Except for the rarest of cases, the Russian people and its present government are unconditionally condemned for this so-called “anti-Semitism”, the simplified label of repulsion and mistrust shown by any person towards an individual or group of individuals of Jewish origin. Many accept such condemnation without even considering the necessity of looking for its causes, or the feelings which promoted these occurrences. It is, however, well-known that nothing occurs without cause.
It would only be logical to expect that, having established the existence of these well-known feelings and occurrences and provoked by these very feelings, the accusers would also demand that the causes of this provocation be established. However, no one does this. The very thought that the cause of so-called “anti-Semitism”, should perhaps be sought within the Jews themselves and in their own distinction from all other nationalities and tribes, would be qualified as an anti-Semitic act against the very source of anti-Semitism. That is why this “ticklish” question remains unanswered.
As mentioned above, there were only few authors who attempted to touch upon this question, to justify or explain the age-old conflict between the Jews and the nations with whom they resided and still reside. One of the authors who dealt with this question is Professor Solomon Lourie, from whose work extensive excerpts are given in Part II of this book.
The second author who examined the question of the Jewish role in the life of those people among whom they lived is the well-known figure Jacob Klatskin, author of “Problems of Contemporary Jewry” published in Berlin in 1930. Examining the Jewish role in the cultural life of nations, participation in which is only possible on the basis of known assimilation, that is, through language proficiency and ability to acquire the outer aspect of the environment, Jacob Klatskin writes the following:
”In the first stage of assimilation, they are harmful not only to their own Jewish people from whom they have not entirely become disassociated, but also to the people or nation of whom they want to be part in order to rule them. They often make quite dull the source of the culture that is alien to them, vulgarizing it, even though they may appear to penetrate its inner depths. In doing this they abuse the culture's foundation. For the most part, they remain only superficially a part of the culture or turn into malicious and destructive mockers. Their power lies in humiliation and irony. They indulge in self-glorification, self-loving philosophy, asserting themselves as know-it-alls, knowing about everything without deep penetration into the very essence…
The Jewish assimilationists like to be considered cosmopolitan. They do not sense the mysterious power of the national genius, preferring to be intermediaries among versatile national cultures. They are bored with and despise organized society. They fail to comprehend ideas that are original and unique. They appear to know everything and are at home in any nation. They like to be considered radicals and the most forward of the forward thinkers. They like very well to play the rôle of nihilists, imitating those who would depreciate or destroy a society, possessing a type of bankruptcy of national possessions, unable to remain at peace, for they are merely torn-off pieces of the historical chain. Their idealism is thus easily made suspicious, for it is very easy for a people with no firm roots to be the apostles of freedom, and even to work against what is already free. Even their virtues carry a certain seal of evil. Despite this, if in a sense they are still connected with Jewry as a whole, then even then they do no good. They accommodate themselves, and find common ground among the alien elements. They are procurers of Jewry with the German culture, the French culture, and any other culture they seek to assimilate, and by this inflict damage to both sides and have a crippling rather than a healing effect on the nation concerned.Thus the Jewish assimilationists become accountable not only to the Jewish people, but also to the people of the nation whose culture they seek to invade. They, in effect, sin before the national structure of the other's cultural entity, falsify its historical originality, its national soul, by means of the falsified Jewish apostasy. They are double falsifiers, for they erase the cultural boundaries, as all boundaries are erased in their souls. Therefore the sacred duty of the people is to stand on guard for their national individuality.”
(p. 196-197 of the German edition)
Klatskin explains the above by saying that the Jews descended from the “spiritual elite”, highly developed intellectually, and rich in creative and destructive abilities, and that therefore they could not be assimilated like slaves, without a trace into another distinct culture.
His statements have something in common with those made by many authors, of both Jewish and non-Jewish nationality, who attempted to comprehend those quite exceptional Jewish abilities to preserve that integral quality of Jewishness under outward signs of complete assimilation.
This ability of preserving Judaic beliefs inevitably led to conflicts with the native populations. These conflicts became more perceptible as national feelings and the unity of the native people's conscience grew stronger.
In pre-revolutionary Russia, patriotism and feelings of national pride, due to the influence of liberal socialists and internationalist ideas, were in decline, especially among the intelligentsia and the youth: the older generation was losing its authority in the eyes of the young and more active generation.
Perhaps this account for the main reason why the Jewish ethnic group had actually become the ruling class in Russia with such ease by the end of the year 1917. It was this class that occupied the leading posts of all Russian institutions, and created the framework of the new power, without encountering proper opposition from the native population. The struggle with the new power had more an economic basis than a distinctly expressed unwillingness that foreigners be the rulers of their country. The Russian people did not have strong national feelings at that time, and the new power began a ruthless struggle to eradicate any such feeling from the people's memory. They ordered the destruction of all the monuments of culture and all the things that make a people proud and are therefore carefully preserved. The Russian national elite were virtually destroyed, and what remained was intimidated and thus brought to silence.
As soon as this nationalism seemed to be destroyed, national pride and Russian patriotism grew from these roots and started their slow and sure movement towards the ultimate liquidation of the “inversely proportional” representation that was the ruling class from 1917 to the end of the Second World War.
This movement proceeded steadfastly without any excesses, pogroms, or violence whatsoever. To replace the destroyed cultural elite of pre-revolutionary Russia, a new young intelligentsia sprang up as the master of its own country and the lawful heir of its historical past, and laid its claim. No one dared to refuse this claim. This, however, meant loss of power, prestige, and that position which was monopolistically occupied by the Jewish group, a position they had occupied unopposed for a quarter of a century.
It would be no mistake if we state that this is precisely the cause of the campaign in the press throughout the world, which accuses the Russian people and its government of anti-Jewish activity. Until the end of the Forties, all was in order, and the world looked on silently as the Jews ruled Russia and represented it in all international affairs.
All those who studied the ”Russian question” failed to mention that unique phenomenon of a country of two hundred million that was being monopolistically ruled by the representatives of the ethnic Jewish group consisting of only three million people. The rulers of Russia for this quarter century were a people alien to the native population in race, sense of justice and aspirations.
But, let us hope that this fact will not escape those, who, in the future, will devote themselves to the study of this question in a relaxed atmosphere, instead of a calculated cold war, in which the accusation of the Russian people of “Anti-Semitism” is used as one of the main trump in a propaganda war.
The task of those charged with this research will not be easy. Mountains of books, thousands of articles, and all other types of “evidence” about the “anti-Semitic” manifestations of the Russian people, and of the persecution of the Jews in Russia and the USSR, will be found by these researchers. They will find nothing or almost nothing that refutes these unfounded accusations. Few people have written refutations that objectively state the true nature and essence of the Russian-Jewish interrelationship, and the original causes that produced these accusations against the Russian people. Nothing will be found to elucidate the Russian position in this argument except in such works that explore this interrelationship from a religious or a mythical point of view. But even these religious texts obscure more than clarify the Russian-Jewish question.
Taking into consideration what has already been said, the conclusion is entrusted to what we, the contemporaries, ought to elucidate objectively in the interest of truth and historical justice. The truth about the Russian-Jewish interrelationship is systematically silenced, destroyed, or perverted.
The truth must be revealed not only to the future generation but also the present one. It is no secret what an enormous role the “Jewish Question” plays in the business of creating and sustaining anti-Russian feelings throughout the world. These anti-Russian feelings feed the cold war, creating a worldwide threat of eruption into a hot war which might end in worldwide catastrophe and the possible destruction of all mankind. This is why an objective elucidation of the Russian-Jewish interrelationship must be made.
Is it not the duty of us all, especially those who were born in Russia, regardless of race, religion, political convictions, or party affiliation, to elucidate this question? This is certainly the duty of all Russians as well as non-Russians, including the Russian Jews, who are better informed about what is taking place in USSR. But, alas, everyone remains silent, thus indirectly confirming the outrageous lies and propaganda that feeds anti-Russian feeling throughout the world.
There is one characteristic circumstance that deserves special attention in the analysis of this propaganda. The accused, in all these mortal sins against the Jews, is the Great Russian branch of the Russian people. Only this branch of the Russian population is accused of these “crimes”, excluding the Malorussian-Ukrainian branch, when it is well-known fact that it was in the Ukraine that all the excesses took place which are the bases of the Judaeophobia. It must also be taken into consideration that, in the past as well as now, the Ukrainians occupied the highest positions in the country, and actively participated in conducting that type of politics which irresponsible propaganda labeled as ”cultural genocide” in Warsaw of all relation to the Jews.
The absence of Ukrainians on the bench of the accused is not difficult to explain if the aim of those who accuse the Russian people of this “persecution” of the Jews is known. The aim is the liquidation of that united country created by the Russian people, now called the USSR. After this liquidation occurs, the aim is to create a whole range of sovereign states which includes the Ukraine.
The Ukrainian separatists strive towards this aim. They are allies of the forces that under the pretence of the struggle for freedom against Communism, seek to break up the alliance of the USSR. Their strongest plea to rest of the world is an appeal to save the Jews from a so-called “cultural genocide” being imposed by the USSR. The “cultural genocide” is nothing but a catchword, skillfully used in a propaganda campaign. The Russian people, the Russian Government, and Russian Communism are blamed for this “genocide”, and always Russian as opposed to Jew is underlined and emphasized. This emphasis is deliberately and conscientiously employed as a literary-journalistic trick, in order to foster anti-Russian feeling throughout the world.
It is a point to remember, that little more than twenty years ago, the press of the world, especially that of the émigré Jews, wrote disapprovingly of the part the Ukrainians took in the destruction of the Jews by the Germans in the Second World War. Here is what we read in the “Jewish World”, published in 1944, p. 235-236:
“A special rôle in their anti-Semitic campaign was reserved by the Germans for the Ukrainians. In the article devoted to the Ukrainian people, “Der Sturmer” has not only included the Ukrainians in the “North Dinarsk” racial type, but also made special effort to praise them for their anti-Semitic achievements of the past.”
The newspaper mentioned with pleasure the destruction of four hundred thousand Jews during the Chmielnitsky uprising in 1648 and the seventy thousand Jews butchered by Petlura and other Ukrainian bands in 1918-1919. The article ended with the pronouncement of the “convinced hope that the Ukrainians would find themselves at their height, and therefore revenge themselves against the Jews.”
“All sixty newspapers published in the Ukrainian language, on Ukrainian territory occupied by the Germans, are conducting ruthless anti-Jewish persecution.”
On the eve of 1942, a meeting was held in Warsaw of all the former officers and soldiers, who fought in 1918-1919 in the ranks of the Petlura army. At this meeting, a vow was taken to help the Nazi Germans in the liquidation of the Soviet Power, and in the destruction of Jews. In May of 1966 in New York, the fraternization of the Zionists and the men of the Petlura occurred along an again with a joint vow to destroy “Russian Communism”, without referring to the Jews this time. The details of this fraternization were published in the Ukrainian weekly “Our Fatherland” in May 1966. The comparison of these two vows given by the Petlura men shows that they changed from Jewish destroyers into their allies in their common business of liquidating the united USSR, and therefore deserves special attention. While the Jews of the USSR occupied the ruling positions, the Jewry of the whole world upheld the unity of the USSR. When the Soviet Jewry ceased to be this, the union of these Jews with all kind of separatists striving to destroy the USSR's unit began. This took place because the Jewry of the entire world realized that they could never return to their ruling position in the USSR.
In the future, undoubtedly there will be some researchers, who will take up the question of this most stormy epoch. As for ourselves, the contemporaries of these events, we must draw attention to this most unusual phenomenon in every way possible.
* * *
I belong to the “departing” generation, that generation which received their “school-leaving certificate” before the First World War, and ripened during the years of completely exceptional economic and cultural uplift in Russia. This period between the first revolution of 1905 up to the fatal years of 1914, the beginning of the First World War, was a truly exceptional period. I am of that generation to whose lot it fell to be the witness and participant in the stormy events of the first half of the Twentieth Century. This generation not only heard or read about these events, but also saw and endured them. We saw the good and the bad, saw all that took place in reality, and not what is now presented by the many chroniclers, who hush up certain facts and expose others, and in so doing distort the historical truth.
I was born and grew up in the heart of the Malorussia-Ukraine, not too far from the former capital of Baturin. I received my education in Kiev, where, still in times of peace, I donned the cap with a blue band of a university student. After the First World War and during the subsequent years of “overturns and indignations”, I had a quite difficult time, but never ceased to observe events that took place.
As I spent all of my grown life in the Ukraine where more than half of the Russian Jews lived, my special attention was always attracted by the so-called ”Jewish Question”, both before and after the revolution.
And now, after the Second World War, when this question ceased to be the internal problem of Russia, and became one of the basic factors of world politics with its innumerable perversions and distortions on the pages of the world press, I felt provoked into stating the truth as I know it. It became a matter of necessity that I give my modest contribution to truthful elucidation of the Russian-Jewish question. The distorted and perverted facts that the world press resented, provoked me into writing this far from complete but truthful sketch ”Jews in Russia and in the USSR” which I humbly present to the reader’s attention.
This sketch is based on facts. In it are presented those facts which took place in the past. It is not propaganda which can be printed en masse in any language of the world, in relation to the “Jewish Question” in Russia and the USSR.
* * *
While I was working on this sketch, I read over hundreds of books, articles, essays, statements and investigations, made by many different authors in different languages. I read books written both by authors deemed “Judaeophobes” or “anti-Semites” and those deemed “Judaeophiles” who have diametrically opposed ideas, the latter being in greater abundance. I read Jewish and non-Jewish texts, and I came to the conclusion that all attempts to solve or explain the “Jewish Question”, by all those who on the religious and mythical bases not only contribute to, but hinder the revelation of the truth to the whole world, make this truth almost impossible to find.
Neither the “Evil Forces” nor the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”, invariably appearing in one author's work, or those recognized as the tribes destined for a special “paradise”, or as the “Chosen People”, in another author's work, help to clarify the nature and age-long mutual repulsions and conflicts. Moreover, both points of view ultimately lead to contradictions with Christian teachings on the one hand, and understanding of democracy in the broadest sense on the other.
A true believer in the Christian doctrine cannot refuse to recognize as an equal the Jew who has become a Christian. Although all the trappings of the Jew do not disappear immediately upon the acceptance of the Christian faith, namely, that inner aspect of a Jew that gives rise to the mutual repulsion between Jews and non-Jews, the true Christian accepts him unconditionally as his equal. In much the same way, the true democrat, proceeding from the viewpoint that all people are equal in all respect, cannot refuse to give equal political and cultural rights to the Jews. Nonetheless he sees that the Jews, enjoying all these rights, constantly preserve their originality, their Jewish point of view, and their sense of justice. It is these elements of separatism and preservation of their unique difference that do not always correspond with the surrounding environment, and this leads to mutual mistrust and repulsion. To eliminate these separatist ideas is to solve the “Jewish Question” which exists in spite of all the laws prohibiting discrimination, and all attempts to hush up the violations of such laws. How to achieve this end, how much time is required, and what measures must be taken undoubtedly cannot be solved by our generation, because the roots of the “Jewish Question” extend too deeply into our past.
Meanwhile we will be, as we were in the past, witnesses of the unsuccessful attempts to solve this painful and age-old question. The entire objection to so-called “anti-Semitism”, without concrete proposals to terminate this problem will come to nothing as they have in the past, and will in the future. Neither strict punishments of anti-Semites applied by the government of the USSR, nor the constant silence of the free democratic world will help to solve this problem.
An objective study of this question will logically show three possible solutions:
- Total assimilation of the Jews with native people. This is only possible if the Jews reject their Hebrew religion and their racial and tribal distinction in favor of several generations of mixed marriages. However the very expression of such an idea is held as “anti-Semitic” and Jewry, believers and non-believers alike, rise up against such a solution.
- The creation of independent Jewish territorial units, sovereign and autonomous, within whose boundaries the Jewish nationality could live according to their own laws and develop their own culture. An example such as this, given by Birobidzhan, shows that the Jews looked upon such a solution as discrimination.
- The status of “foreigners” within a given state for the Jewish ethnic group. Such a status automatically deprives them of participation in the cultural life of the country in which they live, and of any possibility of political involvement and subsequent influence on its politics: a status totally unacceptable to the Jews, and they have failed to suggest a fourth possibility. The question remains unsolved, therefore, or to be more precise, hushed up.
We can hope that this question will be solved, once and for all, in the future, when time destroys the many biases age-old prejudices. Then hopefully after several generations of mixed marriage the “Jewish question” will disappear by itself. This will happen as soon as people realize that race and religion must not be inseparably linked.
* * *
In the vast literature dedicated to the “Jewish Question”, both from the “Judaeophobian” and “Judaeophilian” points of view, there appear invariably the indications of “Evil Forces”, “The Protocols of the Learned elders of Zion”, “Kabala”, “Satanism”, and other explanations of the Jewish question. As I do not have sufficient erudition to pass Judgment on this, I therefore do not make any attempt to give an exhaustive answer, nor to expound it comprehensively and objectively in this sketch. I am limiting myself solely to the facts and events that took place.
If one proceeds from the viewpoint that external facts exert an enormous influence on the spiritual aspect of man, cultivating this or that virtue of his character, it seems to me that this question deserves serious thought, in an attempt to explain certain Jewish characteristics that hamper their amicable co-existence with other nationalities.
This question is scientifically developed in Solomon Lourie's book, “Anti-Semitism in the Ancient World”, which answers many puzzling questions, and explains what at first sight seems mysterious and incomprehensible. An attentive and thoughtful reading of the excerpt from Lourie's book (which appears in the second part of this book) will explain and clarify much of what is attributed to “Evil Forces”, “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”, “Kabala” , “Satanism” and other such mythical explanations of this question.
All of what is found in the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion”, a recipe for success in life in the environment of another nation, will be found by the reader in Solomon Lourie's book. In it the reader will also find an explanation of what motivates the Jews to this or that tactic in their struggle for success. This is characteristic of not only the individual Jew but also the entire Jewry.
With this I will end my somewhat protracted introduction, leaving it to the reader to make his own judgment on the verity and expediency of my account in this sketch.
While Diky's work is a good expose on the knavery of the jews in Russia, he is nevertheless absolutely ignorant of their origins. The Bible is not, and never has been, a jewish book.
As stated in the Bible, which is the history of the Jewish people, the Jews are descendants of one family of semi-Asiatic, nomadic Semites who developed into a tribe of numerous nationalities, bound together by their unity of religion and origin.
Since they were scattered among other peoples for two thousand years, the Jews had no territory of their own. They used the language of those nations among whose people they lived, but nevertheless, they preserved their tribal unity by not mixing with other nationalities. They lived their own isolated life among these nations, adhering strictly to their religion, distinct from that of other nationalities, in that it is an inseparable part of their race and origin.
In addition, the Jewish religion teaches that the Jews are the "Chosen People", distinct from all other nationalities and tribes, and under the special protection of God. The Jews believe that they are the "Chosen People", a fact that elevates them in their own eyes, and contributes to their conscious awareness of their own superiority.
Owing to the peculiarities of their religion and the mode of life, the Jews always remained a foreign body in the countries in which they lived, in spite of the fact that they spoke its languages. They have forgotten the language of their ancestors, preserving it only in religious practices.
In whatever country or nation they lived, the Jews took an active part in its economic life. Their major sphere of activity was commerce, retail and wholesale trade, avoiding that part of the business activity which produced goods for consumption or supplied raw materials needed for such goods. Neither agriculture, nor cattle-breeding, nor pioneering in the development and cultivation of virgin lands attracted the Jews in the lands of dispersion.
The Jewish participation in cultural life of the people along whom they lived was quite insignificant up to the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries. The reason for this was the Christian and Jewish conflicts that arose from religious differences.
The Jews did not attempt to invite strangers to join their religion, because they could not accept them as equal members of their religious community. In the exact point of the Jewish religion, one must be born a Jew; one cannot become a Jew simply by accepting the Jewish religion.
As its people were considered the "Chosen People", the Jews jealously guarded the purity of their race and strove towards self-isolation in their mode of life and their daily living, which naturally hindered their assimilation with the surrounding native population.
As its people were considered the "Chosen People", the Jews jealously guarded the purity of their race and strove towards self-isolation in their mode of life and their daily living, which naturally hindered their assimilation with the surrounding native population.
The character of the Jewish business activity predetermined the times of their appearances in different countries of the ancient world as well as in the countries formed after the decline of ancient civilizations. They appeared where known law and order and strong power existed, essentials without which trade and commerce is impossible.
It was during the epoch of Hellenic cultural supremacy that the Jews appeared in Ancient Greece. In the Roman Empire, they appeared also when the Romans conquered North Africa and Western Europe and established their law and order.
They came not with the legions, but after them, settling in what is now Spain, England, Germany and France. Almost immediately they began their trading and intermediary activities which were favorably welcomed by the great powers, giving the Jews the opportunity to live and enrich themselves.
The character of their business activities, and also the tribal and religious peculiarities of the Jews during the two thousand years in which they were dispersed, caused endless conflicts with the nationalities among which they lived in secluded detached communities. This was especially true after Christianity became the supreme religion in these countries. In addition to the motives and the causes of their domestic and economic rivalry a greater role began to be played by their religion.
As the results of these conflicts periodically sharpened on different grounds and by different causes, the whole history of the Jewish sojourn abounded in the description of different limitations, exploitations and pogroms, whose victims were the Jews of the Diaspora.
Analysis and meticulous studies of these conflicts and their causes do not enter into the order of this work, which is a limited study as the title indicates. The work covers only that historical period which extends from the time of the Jewish appearance within the borders of the Russian Empire, when the Jewish ethnic group was either "the subjects of the Russian Judaic faith", until 1917 or "the citizens of USSR of the Jewish nationality", after 1917.
For those who are interested in this question, its causes and conflicts, I refer them to the book written by professor Solomon Lourie, "Anti-Semitism in the Ancient World", published in 1922 in Petrograd. Extensive excerpts from this book are featured in Part II of this work, as a separate supplement.
Jews in the Land of Kiev Russia and the Moscow State
Until the end of the Eighteenth Century, when numerous Jewish ethnic groups, as a result of certain historic events, became "subjects of the Russian Judaic faith", Russia did not have its so-called Jewish problem since there were no Jews. Before the Eighteenth Century Russian chroniclers scarcely referred to the Jews, or if they mentioned them, it was only casually in connection with other events, e. g., the pogrom in Kiev in the second half of the Eleventh Century that resulted in the murder of the duke, Andrey Bogolubsky in 1074, and was referred to as the “Judaizers” (Zhidovstvuyushchive).
In order to present a fuller account of these events, in this sketch, we pause for a short description.
Jews in Kiev
During the epoch in which Kiev Russia flourished and its might grew, a lively trade with the Byzantine Empire and the West was going on. Jews appeared as merchants and traders of Byzantine extraction from the Byzantine and Greek colonies of the Crimean Peninsula. They settled in Kiev, quickly got rich and resided in houses equal in richness an décor to the mansions of the wealthiest men, the boyars, who were in attendance on the Great Duke.
As the Great Dukes were frequently replaced, they did not show any hostility towards the Jews, and some even openly patronized them. An example of this was the Great Duke Yaropolk. This, at times, provoked displeasure among the rest of the population. The trading and enterprising activities of the Jews were profitable for the treasury of the Great Duke. The Jews did not interfere in any other sphere of life of either the people or the state, preferring to lead their own secluded religious communal life.
So they continued to live until the second half of the Eleventh Century, when the Jewish pogrom occurred in Kiev, in the year 1062. During this pogrom all the Jewish houses and the rich Jewish colony in Kiev were destroyed. Whether or not there were losses of Jewish lives is not mentioned in the chronicle.
According to the chronicler of these events, it was not only the Jewish but also non-Jewish homes of rich people which were destroyed and pillaged. This gives reason to believe that the grounds for the pogrom were not religiously but economically oriented, a fact that historians seem to ignore. They prefer to imply that the causes were basically religious in source, an explanation usual of all other conflicts between the Jewish Diaspora and the native population throughout history. These conflicts often led to various limitations, persecutions, pogroms and expulsions of the Jews from many countries.
This conflict between the Jews and the native population that ended in the pogrom of Kiev was not limited to Kiev alone, but was typical phenomenon in other cities of other principalities that were members of the single unit called Kiev Russia at that time. The indirect proof of this may be found in one of the decisions of the princes at the conference in Luebeck, at the very beginning of the Twelfth Century. The conference decided not to allow Jews to reside on any land that was part of Kiev Russia.
Jews in the North-East
Much of the information concerning the Jewish sojourn in the North East, in Vladimirsk-Suzdalsk Russia, is quite scanty and fragmented even now in comparison to that of Kiev. In the chronicles there is an indication that the closest persons in attendance on the great Duke Bogolubsky were Jews who were also the organizers of the conspiracy on his life that ended in his murder in the village of Bogolubovo In 1074. It is believed that these Jews were from the Kingdom of Khozar in the lower Volga region. The ruling classes of this Kingdom had converted to the Jewish religion. The chronicler, of course, did not deal with an examination of the question as to whether these were real Jews or the Khozars who had converted to Judaism. As far as the populace was concerned, they were Jews, as the chronicler had labeled them.
The invasion of the Tarters in the first half of Thirteenth Century emptied and destroyed the whole Kiev Russia, resulting in the disappearance of any possibility of trading activity. And for more than three centuries no mention is found in the chronicles about the Jews on Russian land. It was only at the end of the Fifteenth Century that the word "Hebrew" appeared again in the chronicles. This time it was not in connection with any conflicts between the Jews and the native population, but with the phenomenon which is known in history as the "Judaizers", otherwise called "Judaizing heresy", appearing in the North-West, in the city of Novgorod.
The Judaizing Heresy
The well-known historian Soloviev writes of this heresy:
"In the middle of the Fifteenth Century, and perhaps earlier, a heresy appeared in Kiev, which was under the power of the Polish-Lithuanian state, which seemed to be a combination of Judaic and Christian rationalism. Its leader and one of the members of the society of these heretics was a Jew named Zakharias. He arrived in Novgorod and, as the chronicle says, "with the help of five accomplices who were also Jews planted the seeds of the Novgorod heresy”.
As a result of clever propaganda, this heresy received great publicity, at first in Novgorod, and later in Moscow. Here it found quite a few adherents, mainly among the high clergy and the upper class of contemporary Moscow society, including the daughter-in-law of the Grant Duke. The daughter-in-law was the mother of the heiress to the throne, Princess Helen.
This expanding heresy became a menace to the Orthodox religion and its hierarchy, headed by the Father Superior Joseph Voloklamsky. The hierarchy started a violent fight with the "Judaizing heresy", which defended itself energetically, advocating its teaching rights in the ensuing disputes.
After a long struggle, the opponents of the "Judaizing heresy" won, and at the specially convened council to deal with this question in Moscow in 1504, the heretics were condemned. Some of them were executed, some escaped to Lithuania (Poland), and the Princess Helen was locked in a monastery.
The heresy died out and decayed, but memories of it lingered for a long time in the minds of the faithful Orthodox people. They considered it as an unsuccessful attempt by the Jews, by means of heresy, to ruin the unity of the Orthodox Church.
And about half a century later, in 1550, the following dialogue occurred between the Great Duke of Lithuania and the Great Duke of Moscow.
The Great Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland, through his ambassador Stanislav Edrovsky, said the following to the Great Duke of Moscow. "It bothers us and our subjects, especially the Jewish merchants of our state, that in the time of our ancestors, all merchants, both Jews and Christians, were free to trade in Moscow and throughout your state. Now, however, you do not allow the Jewish merchants to trade in any part of the state which you control."
John, the Great Duke of Moscow, replied. "We wrote to you more than once about the evil deeds committed by the Jews, how they led our people away from Christianity, brought to us poisonous potions and did many unfair things to our people. It does not befit you, our brother, even to write in their defense, since you have heard of their evil deeds."
Before this dialogue occurred all the Jews from Brest, that had lived and traded in Moscow previously, were expelled and their merchandise was burned.
Later, in 1563, during the Livonian war, when Polotsk was 'occupied by the Russians, all the Jews of that city were drowned in the river by order of Ivan the Terrible. This occurred when the local inhabitants, the Russian Polotskites, complained about the Jewish oppression and their evil deeds to him. The complaints were also made against leaseholders of the Polish authorities and magnates.
For more than two centuries after these events occurred, until the end of Eighteenth Century, the Jews in general were not allowed, even temporarily in any territory held by Russia, as it was in the Kingdom of Moscow, or the Russian Empire.
* * *
It was a different matter altogether concerning the Jewish sojourn on the Russian lands, occupied by the Power of the Polish-Lithuanian State after the breakup of Kiev Russia.
Rich and fertile lands on both sides of the Middle Dnieper, as well as the lands further west, were depopulated for almost three centuries. But as soon as the danger from Tartars began to recede, these lands were quickly occupied by settlers. New life sprang up, law and order was established, and the prospects of economic activities became promising, without the constant fear of Tartar raids, its ravages, and it’s capturing of people for slavery.
These lands, once settled, became the property of the state and the Polish-Lithuanian magnates, who were holders of vast (latifundiums), cities, towns, villages and farming settlements. The population was turned into lawless slave-serfs, called "Pospolites". Exploitation of these lands and the use of the forced labor of these slave-serfs "Pospolites" yielded enormous profits to the holders.
Industrious and energetic petty landowners, in the hope of free life which was promised to them in newly settled lands, rushed to the East, escaping from the oppression of serfdom which had become extremely heavy in Poland. But the serfdom followed close behind, and as soon as the newcomers settled and established themselves, again it reared its head. New settlers were forced to do all kinds of duties and to pay oppressive taxes, the intention of which was to turn them into slaves, whose possessions, labor and even lives became the property of the "owners", the Polish lords and magnates.
The conditions were made still worse by the presence of a whole army of intermediaries, between the owners and their "subjects". Usually the intermediaries were Jews who were used to farming out different articles of the owners' income such as, the running of taverns, tax collection in the cities ("Mito"), mills, fishing rights, rights of using bridges and collecting of tolls on them, and dykes, built by the serf's own labor, and even Orthodox churches, located within the confines of granted lands.
Often owners leased their whole estates with all the "articles of the income".
The intermediaries, (the middlemen) wanting to carve out from these "income articles" as much as possible, refined themselves in their duties, counting of course upon their own intermediary "earnings". In case of the slightest disobedience to their service, the whole police-administrative apparatus of the Polish Government would be set in motion.
Not having any direct relationship with their Polish "lords", the "Pospolites"-serfs dealt usually with the intermediary-Jews' and therefore their wrath, indignation, and dissatisfaction against all kinds of unbearably heavy extortions fell upon the Jews and provoked sharp anti-Semitic feeling.
The Ukrainian people created a whole cycle of "ballads", legends about the Jewish oppression, which the Ukrainian historian Grushevsky writes about in detail. As a socialist (Ukrainian ESER) and as a Bolshevik collaborator, repenting in his chauvinistic-separatist errors and returning from emigration to serve them, he could not be suspected of anti-Semitism.
In the chapter "Anti-Semitic Motives in the Explanations of Chmielnichiny" (p. 123 "The Beginnings of the Chmielnichiny") Grushevsky writes as follows.
The Jews, the leaseholders, rented all the Cossack roads, and blocked them with their taverns. Within every mile they had about three taverns, obliging the Cossacks to buy vodka and honey from them, and at the same time forbidding them to make these drinks for their own consumption. Here is how the "ballad" speaks about.
"When a Ukrainian Cossack bypassed a tavern,
The Jew-inn keeper would run out,
grab the Cossack by his forelock,
Pound with both fists on the back of his head,
pushing him in the tavern:
Why do you walk by and bypass my inn... " .
The Jew-inn keeper would run out,
grab the Cossack by his forelock,
Pound with both fists on the back of his head,
pushing him in the tavern:
Why do you walk by and bypass my inn... " .
The Jews leased all the Cossack market places and collected "to the last farthing" from pedestrians and horse travelers, for all kinds of cargo or loads. They even collected from beggars who were handed something. They took from one what was best, and as the "ballad" say:
"The Jewish leaseholders would not stop at that.
They have leased all the churches in the famous Ukraine.
So when God gave a child to a Cossack or a peasant, the
latter had to go to the Jewish leaseholder and pay him
first in order to get permission to open the church, to
baptize the child. "
They have leased all the churches in the famous Ukraine.
So when God gave a child to a Cossack or a peasant, the
latter had to go to the Jewish leaseholder and pay him
first in order to get permission to open the church, to
baptize the child. "
Of the extortions from different trades the famous "ballad about the Jewish oppression of Cossacks" said the following.
"If any Cossack or peasant wanted to catch some fish to feed his family, he did not have to go to a priest for blessing but to the Jew-leaseholder for the permission. Before the Cossack was allowed to fish, he had to promise to give part of his catch to the Jew, and then he could feed his wife and children with the rest. "
From the same "ballad" Grushevsky gives a long description of how a Cossack took a musket and walking on a road, bypassed the tavern. The Jewish innkeeper saw the Cossack and ran after him. "The Jew ran out from the tavern grabbed the Cossack by his bushy hair", cursing about how he dared to "kill a duck". Then the Cossack was forced to beg and address the Jew as "gracious lord".
How accurate these ballads are in depicting historical truth is difficult to establish, but it is known that they represent reflections of national feelings of that time without doubt.
Specifically, the question about the leasing of Orthodox churches by the Jews is disputed by many on the basis that there are no preserved lease agreements concerning this.
Advocates of this opinion that the Jews indeed were leaseholders of such churches bring forward a preserved contract for the year 1596. According to this contract the village of Slucha was mortgaged to two leaseholders together, one of Polish gentry, called Miklazchevsky, the other a Jew called Pesakhu. In the numerous income articles are mentioned the "churches and its collected alms". Thus, collected alms are income from the churches: The well-known historian Kostomorov completely shares his opinion, that it is a fact the churches were leased by the Jews. Grushevsky tends to consider it as an unproven fact, but some authors, for example Galant in the journal "Jewish Antiquity" for the year 1909, disputes this opinion.
Since this question is transformed from a historical platitude into a political platitude, justifying anti-Semitism among the Ukrainians the question is by no means fully and properly clarified and requires further objective investigation.
On the other hand, this question of the roles and activity of the Jewish intermediaries in general, excluding the question of leasing the churches, and appraisal of this activity by contemporary writers had been illustrated quite fully in the documents of that time.
From the preserved letter, written by Colonel Krivonos to the Duke of Zaslavsky, it can be seen that Krivonos considers the Jewish activity as the main cause for the uprising. Colonel Krivonos was one of the principle associates of Chmielnitsky. He writes to Zaslavsky: "The Jews, if I may, Your Grace, have to be turned back to the Vistula, because they are the cause of this war. It is they who are the cause of your grief".
The Muscovite merchant, Kunakov, driving through the Ukraine in the winter 1648-49, that is, immediately after the beginning of the uprising, stated the following examining its causes: "The Jews robbed and humiliated the Cherkass, that's the Ukrainians. As soon as some Cherkass distills vodka or makes beer without telling a Jew about it, or does not take his cap off before a Jew, the Jews seize upon this chance to rob, to destroy the product, to confiscate his possessions, and forcefully to take away his wife and children for hard labor.
Usefovich, the priest from city of Lvov, writes: “Polish domination has reached such an unbearable squeeze, that they even use to hand the power over the churches to the Jews. A Cossack priest, simply called “Pop”, could not conduct confessions, wedding ceremonies or other services in his own church if he did not pay the Jew for the keys in advance. Moreover, the priest was obliged to return the keys after each service. You, Poland, deserve the misfortune you are enduring now”. So writes the Pole, who was a Catholic priest and a contemporary of the events.
In the preserved letters of Chmielnitsky it is stated, as proof of the extreme oppression of the people that he himself had to endure all kinds of falsehoods from the Jews.
We find the same in the memoirs of the events, written by the contemporary Poles, Kokhovsky and Grondsky. The latter, writing in detail about all kinds of heavy duties, says that these duties "grew from day to day, mainly because they were farmed out by the Jews, who not only invented various incomes that were highly dishonest to peasants, but also dominated and appropriated the law-courts dealing with peasants".
A Jew from the province of Yolyn, Natan Hannover, writes in his memoirs about the serfs, stating that they "worked their corvée for magnates and gentry, who burdened them with heavy work in the house and in the field. The gentry demanded from the peasants and serfs heavy duties, and some of the gentry, using horrible methods, forced the serfs to accept the religion of the ruling class. The Russian-Ukrainian people were humiliated to such a degree, that even the most humiliated people of all the peoples — the Jews dominated them as well".
From all these excerpts, from the authentic historical documents it is obvious under what unbearably hard conditions the broad national masses of the Ukraine and Russia existed at that time.
It is also obvious what the causes were that gave birth to the hatred of the Jews, causes that were characteristic for the mood of the masses of that time. Whether this is the fault of the Jews or the Polish Government, behind who’s back stood the Jesuits, does not change the matter. The fact remains that on the Ukrainian-Russian territory, occupied by Poland at that time, such conditions were created where Jews, in order to exist, had to exploit the people.
* * *
Clearance of the Left Bank
The biggest magnate of the left bank of the Dnieper River, Vishnevetsky, learning about the uprising led by Chmielnitsky, collected a large army in order to help Pototsky to suppress the uprising. But, upon arriving at the river Dnieper, Vishnevetsky found all the river ferries destroyed and, as he was unwilling to detain his army by a slow crossing, moved towards the north to the province of Chernigov. Just a little north of Luebeck, Vishnevetsky was lucky enough to cross the river and move his army towards the province of Volyn, where he arrived already after the defeat of Pototsky near the Zholtye Vody and Korsoon. Vishnevetsky's residence, Lubny, was captured by the insurgents, who had massacred all Catholics and Jews that were unable to retreat in time with Vishnevetsky.
During the retreat from the Left Bank, where he was cut off by the river Dnieper from Poland, Vishnevetsky felt "as in a cage", according to the memoirs of his contemporary. From the many preserved documents it is obvious that this was not only an army retreat, but an evacuation of the whole Left Bank. All the people that were connected one way or the other with Poland and its social system were running away from the insurgents and retreated with Vishnevetsky. This included the gentry, the Jewish leaseholders, the Catholics and the Uniats. These people knew that if they fell into the hands of the insurgents, they would not be spared.
The contemporary Rabbi Hannover writes in highly accurate and colorful biblical style about this "exodus" of the Jews from the Left Bank along with the Poles, who treated the Jews well, gave them protection and defended them with special care, so that they would not fall into Cossack hands.
Hannover writes concerning the fate of those who had no time to join the retreating Vishnevetsky: "many communities which were located behind the Dnieper, near the places of war, such as Perreiaslav, Baryshevka, Piriatin, Lubny and Lokhovitza, had no time to run away and thus were destroyed. The people of these communities perished in the upheaval, amidst bitter and horrible torments.
Of some captured Jews the insurgents stripped their skin off threw the bodies to the dogs. From others they chopped hands and legs off and threw the bodies on the road where carts and horses crushed them... The same treatment was given the captured Polish gentry and the priests. Behind the Dnieper thousands of Jewish souls were killed..."
Information given by Hannover fully coincides with the descriptions of the events by other contemporaries, who even give the number that perished. Grushevsky in his book "Chmielnichina in its Bloom" speaks about two thousand Jews killed in the Chernigov, eight hundred in Gomel, several hundred in Sosnitsa, Baturin, and Nosovka and in other towns and settlements. The description given by Grushevsky about how these pogroms were carried out was also preserved. "Some were chopped up, others were ordered to dig ditches where wives and children were thrown and buried alive under the earth, and still other Jews were given muskets and ordered to shoot at one another ...”
As a result of this spontaneous pogrom on the Left Bank during a few weeks of the summer of 1648, all the Poles, Jews, Jesuits and Catholics disappeared, as well as the few orthodox gentry, which sympathetically collaborated with them.
During this time people composed the song which is still known:
"There is nowhere as nice as our Ukraine
There is no Polish gentry, no Polish nobles, no Jews
And no cursed Unia...”
There is no Polish gentry, no Polish nobles, no Jews
And no cursed Unia...”
These events refer only to the Left Bank of the Ukraine-Malorussia. (Before the revolution the Poltava and the Chernigov provinces belonged to the territory which was called Malorussia and now Ukraine). According to the "Everlasting Peace" of 1686 with Poland, a large part of Malorussia still remained under the Power of Poland. The river Dnieper was the borderline. The whole Right Bank, except the city of Kiev, again became the composed part of the Rechy Pospolite of Poland, with the same social and political system which provoked the uprising led by Chmielnitsky. The bloody struggle with the Poles, ending with their expulsion, has cleared only the Left Bank of the Ukraine-Russia.
In the years to come, right up to the fall of Poland and the reunion with Russia of the former territories of Kiev Russia that had been under Polish occupation for several centuries, the permanent sojourn of the Jews on Russian territory was not permitted.
But temporary stays for business reasons were not prohibited. When the Hetman Daniel Apostol requested during the years 1727-1734 that Jews be prohibited from entering the country, even for temporary stays in Malorussia, St. Petersburg answered him: "Jews are allowed to trade in
Malorussia on trade fairs, but only wholesale and are not permitted to take away gold, silver and copper, but are allowed for this money to purchase goods. Permanent residence for them in Malorussia is prohibited".
Jewish trading activity was profitable for the treasury of the Russian Empire, which is exactly what was said in the representations to the Empress Elisabeth about the admittance of the Jews into Russia. Elisabeth answered briefly and categorically: "From the enemies of my Lord Jesus Christ I desire no gain".
After this, the question of the Jewish admittance in Russia was not raised until the time when the large Jewish ethnic group automatically found itself in the territory of Russia and became subject of the Russian Empire. This occurred at the very end of the Eighteenth Century, after the so-called "Tripartite Division of Poland". After this "division" the former Russian territories were reunited with the main body of Russia. However, on these territories now were found numerous communities with dense Jewish populations which had not been there before the territorial seizure by the Lithuania-Polish state.
Jews of the Rechy Pospolite of Poland up to the time that they became subjects of Russia lived their own isolated life in Poland, not mixing with the native population, and represented themselves as a state within a state. They lived according to their Jewish laws, recognized by Poland. Poland did not interfere with their laws and their particular mode of life. It even sanctioned these laws by a whole range of acts, giving them a royal assented status.
A brief sketch of the lawful standing of Jews in Poland was provided with a highly favorable preface by the head rabbi of the British Empire. Doctor Hertz issued in London in 1942 in a separate pamphlet during the Second World War. The publisher of this pamphlet was the "Polish Ministry of Information", as Poland at that time was occupied by the Germans and its government had escaped and was residing in London. The headline of the pamphlet was the "Legal Status of Jews in Poland".
In the first part of this pamphlet he systematically stated all the forms of privileges, defining the rights and responsibilities' of the individual Jews and of their communities, called "Kahals", during the time of their life on the territories subjected to Poland, and after its "division" and entry into Russian Empire.
Therefore, to clarify the complexity of the problem arising before the Russian State, when if unexpectedly received, along with the reunited territories of the former Kiev Russia, a most one million Jews, it is necessary to familiarize the reader, even in the most brief outlines, with the particular mode of life of the Jews, up to the time when they became "Russian subjects of the Judaic faith".
Sections of the pamphlet, describing the life and rights of the Jews in those territories of Poland that went to Germany (Prussia) and Austria do not belong to the content of this book, and therefore they are not discussed here. The section entitled "Equality in Independent Poland" (1918-1939) is also not dealt with here. The pamphlet, painting everything pink, depicts the Polish-Jewish interrelations, omitting and hushing up very many facts that took place in "Democratic Poland", facts that contradict the depiction.
In order not to go without proof of one sort or another, it suffices to recall the unwillingness of the students in the high institutions of Poland to sit on the same benches with Jews, or of the prohibition of Jewish students dissecting non-Jewish dead bodies. It was for the "national dead bodies" that violent fights occurred. In its own time, the Polish press wrote quite a bit about these events, but in the pamphlet these characteristic facts are not mentioned at all.
The Soviet press also wrote about these fights. For example, a pamphlet written by D. Zaslavsky "Jews in USSR", published in Moscow by "Der Emes" in 1932, says that in Poland "in medical institutes and policlinics the fight goes on for national bodies" (p. 44).
But, because, this "war for the national dead bodies" took place outside of USSR limits, we will not deal with it, but will make only casual mention of it, to draw the attention of the reader to the fact that nothing like this ever occurred, either in pre-revolutionary Russia or in the USSR, in spite of the fact that the whole world accuses them of "anti-Semitism".
* * *
The biggest mass of Jews came to Poland from the West. The cause of the Jewish emigration was the persecution practiced in other countries. In Poland, owing to its tolerance, they found refuge. Because of this refuge Poland was given the Latin name "asilum haereticorum", in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, and was also called "asylum Iudeorum".
Besides the persecutions, according to the Jewish historians, there were other motives to immigrate to Poland. The main motive was prosperity in more favorable economic conditions that were in Poland in the Eleventh and in the following centuries. But the initial cause was the brutal persecution of the Jews in German territories during the period of the Crusades and later, in the time of the "Black Death".
The process of Jewish penetration from the west was very slow. But at times when the cruelty of the western persecutions mounted, the flow would become more spontaneous and a huge number of refugees would come to Poland. In all, there were four such waves of mass emigration to Poland. One was in 1096, resulting from the Crusader's persecution of the Jews. The second was when disorders sprung up in Germany, in connection with the Crusaders' campaign in the Thirteenth Century. The third, and the biggest wave of them all, was during the years 1348-49, at the time of the "Black Death" in Western Europe, during the reign of King Casimir the Great. The last wave of Jewish immigration from the west was at the end of the Fifteenth Century, in the days of the Inquisition in Germany, France and Spain.
Jewish newcomers pursued mainly financial operations. They farmed out tax collections from the population and minted coins, and also engaged in trade. Polish coins are preserved from the time of Mieszko the First, some of which have Jewish writings on them, others with Polish writings in the Jewish alphabet.
* * *
At the beginning there was no need to introduce special laws for the Jews in Poland, because there were not many of them, and they enjoyed the full freedom of the Polish State. But with time, when, on the one side, the number of Jews in Poland increased, and on the other, tendencies of intolerance had penetrated into Poland from Western Europe, it became necessary to establish special norms regulating the life of the Jews in Poland.
In the year 1264, Boleslaw Nabozhny granted the Jews in communities of Poznan and Kalisz privileges known under the title of "Kalisz Statute". With the annexation of other regions the "Kalisz Statute" became compulsory for the whole country. In 1334, according to the "Statute Visilitsy", King Casimir the Great confirmed the use of the "Kalisz Statute" in the whole country, and later, in 1364, also in the "Chervona Hossia", (Russia), which by that time was annexed to Poland. After this the "Kalisz Statute" received confirmation from almost all successors of Casimir, and was widely known as "General Privileges" or as "Jewish Statute — Statuta Judeoru", in distinction from special privileges, granted by the various kings or by the rulers to the separate Jewish communities. The last king who confirmed the Jewish Statute was the King of Poland, Stanislaw Poniatowski, in the year 1765. With time the "Kalisz Statute" became part of the Volumina Legum, the official collection of the Polish Common Law.
By the Kalisz Statute, a Jew was considered as a "servus” or a civil servant of the crown, that is actually in the service of the king himself. The Jews were obliged to pay into the treasury tax, and the king was obliged to defend them and to judge them, directly or through a person especially appointed for the task. Trial of Jews had to be done in a synagogue. Differences among the Jews were within the jurisdiction of the Jewish community itself.
For the murder of a Jew, according to these rights, the murderer could be executed and his possessions confiscated. The Kalisz Statute also contained a prohibition against accusing Jews in ritual murders, and these accusations were severely punished.
In the realm of economic activity the Jews were guaranteed complete freedom of trade, and were also allowed to lend money by promissory notes as well as by the use of personal possessions as collateral.
As we have said, the "Kalisz Statute" becomes the basis of legal existence for the Jews during the whole period of Polish independence up to 1792, with the exception of the short periods, when anti-Jewish elements had an upper hand. But the established limits, by these anti-Jewish elements, did not remain in force, and the "General Privileges" were confirmed again. So, for example, during the reign of Casimir Yagellon, in 1453, the Jews obtained the king's signature under the rights of their privileges. In that very same year the famous "lash of God", Yan Kapistrano, arrived in Krakow, and in its trading square pronounced inflammatory sermons against the Jews. But the efforts of Kapistrano and his Polish sponsor, the Cardinal Zbignev Olesnitsky, remained without results, because the king categorically refused to withdraw his signature.
However, Olesnitsky got the support from the Polish nobles and under the influence of this movement, the king was forced to grant the nobles the "Nieshavsky Statute" in 1454, which widened and multiplied the privileges of the nobles. At the same time, under the demand of Olesnitsky and upheld by the gentry, the king repealed the privileges granted to the Jews. But the king did not allow any persecution of Jews; when the pogroms of the Jews occurred in Krakow and Poznan, in 1463-64, the king took the Jewish side and imposed heavy fines on these cities, ordering compensation for all Jewish losses. In the year 1507, the successor to Casimir Yagellon, Cigizmund the First, again confirmed the "Kalisz Statute", from that point on it remained inviolable. In the year 1539 by way of the "Piotrovsky Statute" the king declined the right of jurisdiction over the Jews living in private villages and cities, and handed it over to the tutelage of those owners to whom these cities and villages belonged. From that time, the Jews in Poland were divided into new groups: the "crown Jews", that is, the ones living in the cities and ruled by the Magdeburg's law, and the "private Jews", living in towns and villages and belonging to the aristocracy or gentry.
The "General Privileges" granted considerable autonomy to the Jewish communities, called Jewish "Kahals". Within the sphere of activities of these communities were mainly the questions of religion, jurisdictions, charities, organizations, taxation of its own community, and, finally the budget of the community.
The wide autonomy that was received by the Jewish communities, led to the creation of ruling bodies that dealt with fiscal and religious questions. These bodies were called "zemstvo" or "provincial councils". At the moment of their appearance, in the Sixteenth Century, there were four such "zemstvos". But later their number increased and at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century there were more than twelve of them. More important "zemstvos" of the country were the "East-Polish" with big communities in Poznan and Kalisz, "Krakow-Sandomiersk", "Rutenskoe" which was the Russian territory of Galicia, and the "Lublin". Matters concerning the "zemstvos" were dealt with by the “Zemstvo Congress" which appointed its own administration and elected the "rabbi of the zemstvo", who at the same time was the judge of all the "zemstvos".
Besides the internal questions of each "zemstvo", there were also the questions common to all of them. One of these common questions was the necessity to levy taxes. It therefore became necessary to create a central apparatus, which, acting in the name of all the Jewish communities, would take upon itself the responsibility of collecting all the Jewish taxes throughout the republic. In addition came the necessity to 'institute a tribunal, which could act as the court of appeal for all the "zemstvos" courts, and as the superior court for the initial examination of especially important cases. With completion of this organization in the year 1591, the body of representatives of the Polish Jews, known under the name of "Council of the Four Lands", or the "Jewish Seim under Crown" came into existence. This representative body, which existed right up to 1764, had two central institutions: the Seim and the Tribunal.
The Seim convened, either annually or semi-annually in Lublin or in Yaroslaw, and consisted of the delegates of the "zemstvos" and the free cities. The Seim used to elect from amongst its delegates, a chairman, who bore the title, "Marshal of the Jews under the Crown"; one or more treasurers; and one or more secretaries. The "Marshal of the Jews under the Crown" was usually a member of the community with a layman's title; the secretary, however, had to be a rabbi. The "Marshal of the Jews under the Crown" was usually the most distinguished man amidst the Polish Jews, and was the Jewish spokesman before the King and the Seim of the Polish State.
Within the jurisdiction of the Jewish Seim came fiscal, administrative and educational matters, as well as the general upbringing of the Jews.
The Jewish Seim's task was to distribute assessments. It acted as an agent of the state on Jewish taxes, was wholly responsible for such, and distributed shares of taxation among the corresponding "zemstvos" and big communities. Under the Seim a special commission was created for the distribution of taxes whose members were called "Simplera". This commission held its meetings even when the Seim was not in session.
The Seim regulated a whole range of questions affecting industries and trade, issued regulations in granting credit among the Jews, decided the forms of bills of exchange and their usage, and in 1624 issued laws about bankruptcy, on the basis of which all the possessions of the debtor became the property of the creditor. Even the succession and the dowry must be included in the property of the debtor, if they were willed during the three months prior to the day bankruptcy was declared.
The Seim carried out instructions dealing with elections in the "Kahals", defined the term of office of the heads of the "Kahals", issued prohibitions against youth marriages below the age of twenty without parental consent, and forbade giving out bills of exchange to minors.
Matters of upbringing and education
Upbringing was one of the main tasks of the Seim. It directed the openings and the maintenance of the ecclesiastical schools, the printing of the books, and issuance of the same.
The second task of the Jewish representatives was to establish the "Tribunal". The roots of the Seim's tribunals can be found in the commercial law courts. Beginning from the Fifteenth Century, there was a custom that big Jewish communities had to send their best judges to the big marketplace of Lublin to preside at the most important trials and to take part in the discussions about special legal problems. When the Seim was created these marketplace law courts became permanently sanctioned establishments' and became known as the ''Seim's Tribunals". The Tribunal use to elect a marshal who usually was one of the known rabbis of the country.
The Tribunal was authorized to discuss questions handed over to it by Seim such as disputes between communities and their individual members, between communities and "zemstvos", or between two communities about their supremacy over one or the other. The Tribunal also dealt with questions of a theoretical nature, interpreting and explaining legal problems of contemporary life.
* * *
As can be seen from all that is stated above, the organization of Jews in Poland was a realization of the age-old aim of the Jews to be a "nation without a territory" and to live under their own rule, by their own laws, as a strictly centralized whole with a solid hierarchy inside and sharp isolation from the surrounding, non-Jewish masses of population. In addition, Jews did not have to perform military duties, substituting monetary payments for services rendered. From the beginning of the Eighteenth Century, owing to internecine wars in Poland and the decline of the authority of its government, the authority of the Jewish Seim also began to decline. In the year 1764, by the decision of the Polish Seim, the Jewish Seim was abolished. However, the whole organizational structure of Jewish communities or "Kahals" remained preserved and unchanged, and their authority and power over the individual Jews remained absolute.
In the same year the Polish Seim passed a resolution to tax all the Jews two zloty per person every year.
In connection with this tax, they appointed special officials who took a census of all the Jews living in the territory of the Rechy Pospolite of Poland. It was established that all together there were 577,889 Jews, living at that time in Poland.
Soon after the census, the "division" of Poland began, and subsequently the "Dukedom of Warsaw" was created; and after the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the "Tsarstvo Polskoe" was included as part of the Russian Empire.
After 1815 the borders of the divided parts of Poland did not change for more than a hundred years, until the end of the First World War and the subsequent restoration of the Polish State.
The majority of the Polish Jews remained in the territories that were included in the component part of Russia, such as the ethnographical Poland, Byelorussia and Malorussia, all of which went to Russia according to the first "division" of Poland.
Let us recall very briefly the distinctions of these "divisions" of Poland.
Actually, according to all three "divisions", Russia did not receive an inch of the ethnographical Poland, but only was restored the territories of the Kiev Russia, that had remained under the power of Poland for a long time. Even in this division not all its former territories were restored to Russia. Galicia, Northern Bukovina and Transcarpathia, which are the former territories of Kiev Russia, were captured by Austria-Hungary. Ethnographical Poland was divided between Prussia and Austria. Russia received Byelorussia (Polesie, Volyn) and the Right Bank Ukraine-Malorussia.
Prussia captured the lion's share of ethnographic Poland. In Warsaw there was a Prussian Governor. The city of Belostok was also part of the Kingdom of Prussia.
Such was the situation up to Napoleonic War, when Napoleon created the "Dukedom of Warsaw" from the ethnographic Polish territories that existed until the fall of Napoleon, in the year 1814.
The Vienna Congress of 1815 re-carved the map of Europe, and the "Dukedom of Warsaw" with small territorial changes, turned in to the "Tsarstvo Polskoe". The Emperor Alexander I was proclaimed as the "Tsar of Poland".
In essence, this was a personal union of the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Poland.
So, under the power of Russia, to be precise, after Congress of Vienna, the territories of the former land of the Rechy Pospolite of Poland inhabited by the Poles with a large percentage of Jews that had enjoyed the widest self-rule in Poland, now found themselves under the power of the Emperor of Russia, the Czar of Poland.
The "Tsarstvo Polskoe" had its own constitution, its own parliament, its own army, its own monetary system, and had customs border with Russia. From what has been said here of the Polish-Russian struggle, the reader himself can judge the differences between the Polish occupation of Ukrainian Russian territories, and the Russian occupation of Polish territories.
Only later, after the two Polish uprisings of 1830 and 1863, was all the territory of the "Tsarstvo Polskoe" called the "Privislensky Cry", also known as the Vistula Territory.
The First Jews in Russia
After many centuries of categorical prohibition to reside in Russia, Jews at last arrived legally in Russia. The last confirmation of such prohibition was made by the Empress Elizabeth. It was in the reign of Catherine II in 1764 that the first Jewish immigrants arrived in Russia to assume permanent residence.
Catherine II, shortly after ascending the throne, decided to open the door to colonists, especially in the southern provinces, and to revive trade, industry and agriculture. For this purpose by the nominal decree dated June 22, 1763, the "Conseliaria Opecunstva Inostrannykh" (Chancellery, for Guardianship of Foreigners) was created. At the head of this Chancellery the Empress placed the closest man to her, Gregory Orlov.
And, in defiance of all the existing prejudices, Catherine II decides to include in the number of these "foreigners" the Jews. However, knowing the backward culture that surrounded her, she was too apprehensive to state it openly. Owing to this, she officially permitted the Jews to settle in the newly created province of "Novorossiysk" — New Russia — only on November 1769 in the decree to the Governor General of Kiev, Voyeikov. Until this, the intention of the Empress to let Jews into Russia was expressed by her in a, so to say, conspiracy with persons in her attendance. This "conspiracy" was reflected in the correspondence with the Riga Governor, "General Braun. The correspondence in which the whole matter was treated secretly. In the letter, delivered to Braun by the Major Rtishchev, it was noted: ''When some foreign merchants of Novorossiysk province will be recommended by the Chancellory of Guardianship, permission shall be granted for them to live in Riga for the execution of trade, as is allowed by the law of Riga to merchants of other Russian provinces. If, furthermore, these merchants would their salesmen, representatives, and workers to settle in New Russia, proper passports must be issued to them, IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR RELIGION and escorts provided for their safe conduct. If, lastly, there come from Mitava three or four men, who might wish to go to Petersburg with their requirements to the treasury, passports must be issued to them WITHOUT INDICATION OF THEIR NATIONALITY, AND WITHOUT INQUIRIES ABOUT THEIR RELIGION. Only their names must be stated in their passports. For the identification of themselves these people would resent A LETTER FROM THE PETERSBURG'S MERCHANT LEVIN WOOLF”.
In such a mysterious way the settlement of Jews in Russia was initiated. As is seen, the autocracy of Catherine II did not free her from the necessity to respect the opinions and tastes of persons surrounding her, as well as the great masses of Russian people for whom all "Jews" were "enemies of Christianity". This is why in this letter the word "Jew" is carefully avoided. However Braun, obviously, understood Catherine's wish, or perhaps Rtishchev explained it to him verbally. The latter was at once sent to Mitava to the Russian envoy at the Duke's court Fon Smolin with a secret message, and on the seventh of May 1764, came back from Smolin with seven Jews. The Jews, who settled in New Russia, were merchants from Mitava. The names of these merchants were David Levy, Moses Aron, Israel Lazar and the worker Jacob Marcus. The thoughtful Catherine did not fail to include also a rabbi, Israel Haym and his assistant Natan Abram from Birzen, and even a "moel" Lazar Israel, obviously with the intention of establishing the religious requirements of a future Jewish community.
On the ninth of May these Jews in company with Rtishchev were sent to Petersburg. The Governor-General had entrusted Rtishchev with the covering report, in which he stated that he "does not guarantee that in this matter it would be possible to keep this secret, because the Jews arrived in
Riga openly and their departure, as much as he knows this nation, also could hardly be kept secret".
If we recall, by the way, that at that time, and still much later, up to Forties of the Nineteenth Century, the German burghers of Riga, who were of European appearance, led a fight against the admission of Jewish settlers into Riga, and even against the permission for a Jewish temporary stay AT THE ONLY INN, THE MOSCOW FORSHTAT. Thus it is possible to appreciate how far Catherine II had outstripped her time in breadth of views and humanism.
And the Jews of that time understood and appreciated this. In the year 1780, when Catherine visited Shclov, they welcomed her with a specially inscribed ode in the Jewish language with attached translations in Russian and German. The concluding verse of this ode says: "You permitted us to live in your country in peace and safety, under the canopy of your goodwill, and under the protection of your scepter, in agreement with native people. Like them, we admire your grandeur, and like them, we are happy that we are your subjects".
With the same ode, Catherine was welcomed also by the Jews of Mogilev and Polotsk. Later, in her honor, they organized a magnificent manifestation.
* * *
Now this event is forgotten, but, nevertheless, it deserves special attention, especially in our time, when, as the result of the prolonged and deliberate propaganda which created throughout the world an opinion that the Jews in Russia were always victimized, deprived of elementary civil rights and subjected to persecution.
Forgotten is the decree of Catherine II in the year 1791, equalizing the Jews in rights with merchants, artisans, and the lower middle class Russians of those towns and settlements in which they lived. At one time, when these towns and settlements were under the power of Poland or Lithuania, the
Ukrainian-Russian peasants had no rights whatsoever, unlike the Jews.
The decree of the Emperor Alexander I is also forgotten. In the year 1804, he allowed free access for the Jews to education, stating: "All Jews can be accepted and educated, without distinction from other children, in all the Russian schools, high schools and universities".
Student allowances given to the Jewish boys studying in the secular high schools are also not mentioned, while such allowances were not given to non-Jewish boys.
But never are we allowed forgetting the limitations, whatever there was, upon the Jews, and constantly we are reminded of them by the mass media, creating a picture of Russia as the country of lawlessness and persecution with respect to the Jews.
This will be discussed in detail at a later stage of this work. As with the measures taken by the Russian Government to equalize the Jews with the rest of population, so also the numerous limitations imposed will be discussed, with specific reference to the cause that provoked the imposition of such limitations.
The Further Growth Rate of the Jews in Russia
Assisting and promoting the settlement of Jews in Russia, Catherine II scarcely surmised that soon the historical events themselves would bring under the citizenship of the Russian Emperors, not separate small groups of Jews, as it was in the 1760's, but hundreds of thousands of individuals.
As was mentioned before, owing to the territorial changes at the end of Eighteenth and at the very beginning of Nineteenth Centuries, Russia took back a big part of her lands, which had been part of the former Kiev Russia. On these lands were found not only a native Russian-Ukrainian and Byelorussian population, but also a Jewish population solidly established during the Polish domination.
So more than half a million-citizen Jews, who, up to that time as a rule, were not allowed, appeared in Russia.
The total number of Jews of Russian citizenship in 1815 (after the completion of all the territorial changes) reached 1,200,000. They all lived outside the limit of the Russian state up to 1772, before the first division of Poland. Since they were splendidly organized as a state within a state, the Jews had their extensive self-rule, submitting not to the law of the state, but to their own Jewish laws.
One hundred years later, in 1915, there were 5 500 000 Jews in Russia. Besides that, towards t e end of Nineteenth Century, from the beginning of the Eighties, over 1,500,000 Jews had emigrated from Russia to America. That made a total Jewish population of 7,000,000.
This means that in a hundred years the number of Russian Jews increased six times. During the same period the total number of all other nationalities in Russia had increased only four times. In 1815 there were 48,000,000 people in Russia, and in 1915, 180,000,000.
It can be seen from these numbers that the growth of the Jewish population in Russia grew much faster than the rest of the population.
Without making any conclusions here, we can only note that this growth factor is very demonstrative and interesting in itself.
There is little doubt as to the accuracy of the numbers used here, since they were taken from the book of the well-known Jewish demographer J. Leshchinsky "Jewish People and Numbers", Berlin 1922. The numbers were checked and verified with the data of other demographers.
Politics of the Russian Government With Regard to the Jewish Question
After they received more than half a million subjects of the "Jewish faith" the "Jewish Question" as such arouse before the eyes of the Russian Government. What politics to follow in relation to this ethnic group, alien to the great bulk of population not only in religion, but also in language, mode of life, and even dress, became a distinct problem?
Mass migration or eviction of numerous ethnic groups in those times was considered impossible. People hit upon this idea only a hundred fifty years later, during the Second World War.
And where could they be evicted or migrated to? There were more than a million people involved. Western Europe, where the Jews came from, hardly would agree to take them back, even if the Jews themselves wanted to go or were evicted forcefully. This question was not raised by Russia at that time.
It remained for the Russians to simply settle with the fait accomple and to search for ways for establishment of a modus Vivendi with the new subjects.
This was the way that outlined by the Empress Catherine II at the beginning of her reign. The ultimate aim of this outline was the destruction of that Jewish self-isolation which was so solidly established during their life in Poland, and jealously guarded by the Jews themselves, because the self-isolation conformed to the Jewish religious mode of understanding and views on coexistence with alien nationalities.
Understanding this, the Russian Government, in 1791, had already undertaken steps for the equalization of Jews with non-Jews in the re-annexed provinces.
In that epoch all Russian subjects belonging to the so-called" subjects of estate", that is, peasants and lower middle class artisans and merchants, did not have the right to settle just anywhere or have the right of movement in today's meaning of the word. Each one was "ascribed" to the local "society" and he occupied and conducted his matters only in a given location.
In accordance with this order, the Jews, finding themselves Russian subjects after the "division" of Poland, were ascribed to the lower middle class and merchant societies of those localities of the South-Western territories in which they lived at the time of the transfer of these provinces to Russia.
In the decree issued in 1791, Catherine II confirmed this order and even spread its application, stating that the rights for Jews to settle in the newly created vicegerency territories of Ecatherinoslavsk and Tavrichesk province would be guarded.
The known Russian historian Milukov notes and emphasizes that the main aim of the decree was nominally to reaffirm to the Jews their equal rights with the rest of population of the annexed territories.
Dealing with Milukov's opinion in his sketch "The Legal Status of Jews in Russia", published in New York, an expert of this question and himself a Jew, A. Goldenweiser, adds "but at the same time, by special petition, fearing the competition of Muscovite Jewish merchants, the same decree had stated that the Jews had no right to join the associations of merchants in the central Russian cities and ports".
With this addition to the decree the beginning of the "Jewish Pale", also known as the "Pale of Settlement", was laid, yet it was not an equalizing measure, but a limitation lasting right up the revolution of 1917.
True, this “Pale” was easy transgressed, because there were many methods of overstepping it without coming into conflict with the strict letter of law, but nevertheless it existed and provoked the dissatisfaction of all the Jews, along with a significant part of Russian society.
The limitations of the "Jewish Pale" did not apply to the following categories of Jews: Those of non-Judaic faith (not Orthodox only); merchants of the first guild (that is, the more well to do Jews); those with completed higher education such as dentists, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, mechanics, distillers, brewers and, as was said in the decree, “all the specialists and artisans in general”. Beside that the limitations of the “Jewish Pale” did not apply also to the "salesmen or sales agents", who worked for the Jewish merchants of the first guild.
Owing to the existence of these numerous exceptions and the skilful use of them by the Jews, there was not, at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, a single city in Russia that did not have a large Jewish colony. In these colonies, as is mown, there were not so many poor Jews, as was the case in the "Jewish Pale".
The presence of the richest Jewish colonies in Petersburg, Moscow and other large cities that built such splendid buildings like the Moscow synagogue serves as the best proof that the "Pale" was easy to overstep.
As the "Pale" remained without being abolished it had not so much a practical as a psychological significance, creating and feeding among the Jews certain anti-governmental feelings that found a lively response in the liberal Russian society as well as in the press of the whole world.
To all of what is said above it is necessary to add that more and more educated Jews started to behave indifferently to the question of religion. They looked at the change in religion as an unimportant formality, fulfillment of which freed them from all limitations, including, first of all, the limitations of the "Jewish Pale". And this is why there were Jews who easily changed their religion usually to some Christian, not necessarily Orthodox faith. In most cases they took to Protestant branches of the Christian faith.
More and more Jews penetrated even the most reserved officers' environment, simply by changing their religion for any of the Christian once. Denikin in his book "Journey of a Russian Officer", published in New York, states, that in the year 1914, in the Russian army there were not only officers of the low ranks, but also generals who were of pure Jewish origin. General M. Grulevof the General Staff says the very same thing in his memoires. General Grulev was a Jew who had reached the highest rank, and was even a candidate in the War Ministry of the Russian Empire. There were also Jews among the students of privileged military institutions, for example, Kaufman, who graduated from the Pazharsky Corps.
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Soon after the decree of the year 1791, which had an equalizing significance for the Jews but did not limit their affair, came the decree of the Emperor Alexander I, in 1804 that stated: "all Jews can be accepted and educated without distinction from other children, in all Russian public schools, high schools and universities".
At that time, there did not exist in any other country of the world such a similar governmental order. In essence it is for that kind of equality or "desegregation", that even now, in the second half of the Twentieth Century, a desperate struggle is being waged, not only in backward countries, but also in the advanced ones, such as the USA, for example.
Moreover, the initiative came from the top, from the autocratic sovereign power.
By whose fault and for what reason was it then that, some eighty years later, the “percentage quota” was introduced in Russia which limited the number of Jews in higher institutions. This will be dealt with more fully in subsequent accounts.
It cannot be doubted that it was the wish and intention of the Russian Government to bring the whole Russian culture within the reach of the broad Jewish masses, without the rejection of their Judaism.
However, for some reason this "desegregation" that existed and was exercised for more than eighty years is so zealously hushed up. But the "percentage quota" which existed for only twenty seven years, from 1887 to 1916, is so overstressed and underlined that it has become a proof of "Governmental anti-Semitism" in Russia.
* * *
The life of the Jewish ethnic group within the borders of the Russian Empire lasted for almost a hundred and fifty years, from 1772 when the first "division" of Poland occurred, and the declaration of full equality for Jews made in 1917.
During this period the government and its individual representatives issued many "additions" and "explanations" which had the tendency and the character of limitations upon the Jews, distinct from the first two declarations of 1791 and 1804 that had an equalizing character or one of "desegregation".
An expert on this question, a lawyer, A. Goldenweizer, in his essay the "Legal Status of Jews in Russia", enumerates all the existing limitations upon Jews of the Judaic faith, excluding the Jews of Christian faith since the limitations did not affect the latter.
The limitations were in the following spheres:
1) The right of residence and the freedom of movement;
2) Admittance to the learning institutions;
3) Pursuit of trade and industry;
4) Entrance into the civil service and the participation in the organization of self-rule;
5) Order of serving in the army;
6) Acceptance of Jews in the legal profession.
Let us examine all these limitations in their order, pointing out at the same time their results.
1) The right of residence and freedom of movement.
The Jewish Pale.
The Jewish Pale.
The "Jewish Pale" has already been mentioned above, and its repetition here would serve no purpose. We are interested in its practical results and in the ending of the noble intentions of the government, wishing to equalize the Jews with surrounding population. These results, we must admit, were negative. The numerous exceptions from the general rules opened such wide possibilities for bypassing the law that both the rich and the enterprising Jews were practically able to evade the law entirely. The sales agents employed by Jewish merchants, belonging to the guild, could live anywhere, and their numbers were not limited by the law. Distillers, mechanics, specialists of various trades and the artisans enjoyed the same rights. Only the poor Jews from the "Jewish Pale" suffered as they did not have the opportunity to use the various loopholes to evade the law.
Jewish magnates of the sugar industry, railway-construction, flour milling, lumber trade, steam-ships, banking, tea trade and gold mining enjoyed all the rights, without changing their religion. The limitations of the "Jewish Pale" did not apply to them in any way whatsoever. Not only that, but according to the letter of the law, they could have Jewish "sales agents" and "specialists of various trades", understandably, with their numerous families. Messrs. Poliakov, Zlotopolsky and Vysotsky, in Moscow; Rubenstein and Ginzburg, in Petersburg; Brodsky, Margolin, Dobry, Ginsburg, Shirman and Zorokhovich in Kiev, lived in residences and palaces, even though according to their passports they were Russian subjects of the "Judaic faith".
At the same time, in the enterprises belonging to these wealthy Jews, Russian-Ukrainians worked in such unbearable conditions that they used to provoke great dissatisfaction and subsequent mutinies by these workers, which were brutally suppressed by the Russian Government. All of pre-revolutionary Russia was agitated and full of indignation at the news of the bloody suppression of the workers’ strike on the Lena gold-fields in Siberia in 1912. The cause of this strike was the inhuman exploitation of the workers and the demand of the administration of the gold-fields that the workers buy their supplies from the food stores owned by the gold-fields. In these stores the quality and price of goods were fixed by random will of the administration. Private trading on the territory of the gold-fields was not allowed. When the workers, brought to despair, refused to buy from the stores owned by the gold-fields these goods of bad quality and at inflated prices, and when they also refused to receive part of their earnings not in cash but in bonuses and rotten goods from these very stores, the administration concluded that it was mutiny. The administration called in the army and suppressed the “mutiny”, resulting in many killed and wounded workers who had resisted the army’s suppression. Many policemen, soldiers and their officers were killed during this suppression of the “mutiny”. In connection with this, a wave of demonstrations against the government’s action swept throughout of Russia. This was especially so in the higher institutions of learning, where the “Lena events” were traditionally marked from year to year by meetings and strikes. But never and in no place was a single word said, condemning one of the main share-holders of the “Lena gold-fields”, Ginzburg, who during the suppression of this “mutiny” was at his residence-palace in Petersburg, on Moscow Street, and upon whom depended the change those working conditions which had provoked the “mutiny”.
This case in point is far from being unique. The Russian Government brutally suppressed the strikes of Russian workers working in the Jewish enterprises, where even Jewish “salesclerks” ran the business in the name of their owners.
The Government stood on the side of law and order, without inquiring into the question to find out what provoked the disorders and upon whom depended the creation of working conditions which would eliminate these disorders.
But Russian general opinion and the opinion of the world as well, always attributed the guilt to the Russian Government and exaggerated every case where the authorities were forced by circumstances to use weapons.
2) Admittance in the learning institutions. The percentage quota.
The liberal decree of 1804, concerning the admittance of the Jews into all Russian learning institutions, not only provoked enthusiasm among the Jewish masses, but also came across fierce opposition from the whole Jewish hierarchy.
This was not unfounded, as they feared that the secular education could distract the Jews from their religion and their Talmudic direction. The rabbis and the Jewish communities or “Kahals” severely condemned the very thought of allowing the orthodox Jews the opportunities granted by this permission to obtain the secular education. The rabbis and the “Kahals” considered it sinful, and acted in every way they could against Jewish enrolment in these secular institutions of learning.
The existing Jewish schools, "khederas", with their teachers, "melamedams", the assiduous readers of the Talmud, "and the schools of the highest degree, "eshibots" were quite sufficient for the rabbis and the" Kahals". As for the secular schools, even with instructions in the Jewish language, they were considered to be a destructive element of the established mode of living in the racial-religious communities, the "Kahals". The spiritual life of these "Kahals" was guided by the rabbis who understood how dangerous to their authority this enlightening novelty could be. Up to this time the Jews had lived in their strictly isolated communities, based on the unity not only of their religion, but also their race and their blood, and the rabbis and the communities could rest at peace, because they were sure that a Jew would remain faithful to the religion and the Talmud, and the word of the rabbi would remain the law.
At the beginning Jews answered the call of the Russian Government to join the Russian culture, not only with silence but also with passive opposition. To learn in the secular schools was not at all appealing to the Jews.
And not only studying in schools, but even learning the language of the state of which they were subjects, was considered sinful and profane.
Their reasoning followed this pattern. Each new word of a foreign language mastered by a Jew unavoidably must force out one Jewish word, because Jehovah estimated exactly the quantity of words a Jew must be able to know. In this way the adherents of the Jewish faith lectured to the Jewish masses.
The ancient Jewish language, the language of the Holy Scripture, was known by only a few people, those especially dedicated to it. In their daily life the Jewish masses used the language which now is called "Yiddish", and up to the beginning of the Twentieth Century it was called "jargon".
Here is what Isaac Beer Levinson, the cultural enlightener of the Jews in the first half of Nineteenth Century, wrote about this question. (Levinson was born in 1788 and died in 1860. His whole life he fought to bring culture within the reach of the broad Jewish masses by means of secular education). "Jargon is not a language, but a shameful mixture of mutilated, corrupted biblical, Russian, Polish, German and other words. This strange mixture of different dialects, owing its poorness and rudeness, is unsuitable for the expression of refined feelings and serious abstract thoughts. Why do we need such gibberish? Speak either the German or Russian language". Referring to the Talmud and to history, Levinson states that the Jews usually spoke the language of that nation in which they lived. He points to many great Jewish scholars, who not only studied foreign languages, but also wrote their compositions in them. The philosophers Philo, Josephus Flavius, Saadyah Gaon, Yahudi Halevi, Maimonides, Bakhian-Ebn-Pecuda, these pillars of Jewish theological literature, wrote their compositions, of both philosophical and religious thoughts, in Greek, Arabic, Spanish and Italian, depending on the country in which they lived.
The thoughts of Levinson, stated above, were written at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, when the Jews had just began to participate in the secular studies and culture of individual European nations. Now, after a hundred and fifty years, the enumeration of the Jews who wrote and are writing their works in the languages of those nations among whom they lived would take many pages. Heine Marx Lassal Wassermann, Shnitsler. Einstein, Feuchtwanger and many others wrote in German. But this does not mean that they were Germans. Many Jews wrote their compositions in English also, starting from David Ricardo and ending with today's American playwright Arthur Miller. Bergson wrote in French; Jules Romain, Andre Moroa, Adolphe Cremieux and many others did so as well. Geor Brandes wrote in Swedish. Lamborozo wrote in Italian. Moshe Piade (Michail Porobich Wrote in Serbian, Anna Pauker in Romanian, Slansky in Czech and Rocoshi in Hungarian. But all of them were Jews. The majorities of the Jewish literary writers wrote and are writing in Russian, both under their own Jewish names and under the cover of Russian pen-names like Koltsov, Nikulin, Riazanov and Sedykh.
Mark Slonim, a Russian Jew, whom many consider to be an expert in Russian literature, and who writes and reads many lectures about Russian literature, writes the following lines in his sketch "Writers-Jews in Russian Literature", (The sketch was published in the "Jewish World". in 1944, Publication "Union of Russian Jews in New York".)
"There is no special 'Russian-Jewish' literature in the Soviet Union and there cannot be any, for the historian and the explorer of art can raise only one question: what influence did Russian Jewish writers exert on Russian literature?”
Depending upon this degree of influence and their contribution to the Russian literature with their Jewish theme and "spirit", Mark Slonim divides the Jews, who wrote in the Russian language, into three categories.
In the first category Slonim includes Jewish writers and poets who wrote their works in the Russian language; this was so much assimilated that M. Slonim does not sight any evidence in their writings of the "Jewish spirit", and in his sketch he quotes the words of the critic Lvov-Rogachevsky, who named this category "Jews only in their passports", and he agrees with this definition. "There is nothing specifically Jewish, either in the spirit or in the themes of their creative work", is the opinion of M. Slonim.
Some writers from this category "have disguised their real names under pen-names and do not eyen reveal in their autobiographies that they are Jews", says M. Slonim.
To this category Slonim attaches Pasternak, Mandelshtam, Vera Inber, Efrem Zozula, Nikulin, Lidina, Kirsanova, Lifshits, Marshak and many others.
The second category is formed by authors who, as Slonim say, "in spite of their quite obvious assimilation into the Russian element, sometimes write of Jewish themes and motives".
This category does not hide its Jewish origin, and sometimes thrusts it out and emphasizes it. Erenburg for example, begins his autobiography with the words: "I was born in 1891, a Jew".
Elizabeth Polonskaia in one of her poems says: "this blood of mine in your veins does sing, in a foreign language it speaks..." (An encounter of this poetess with an indigent Jewess who recognized her to be Jewess.)
To the second category, besides Erenburg and Polonskaia, Slonim also attaches Andrey Sobol and Lunts.
In the third category M. Slonim includes those Jewish authors who write on Jewish themes almost exclusively.
At the head of this category stands Isaac Babel, of whom Slonim writes that he, Babel, "was one of the Jewish types so frequently encountered in reality, a communist, fanatically believing in Lenin’s teachings and in a strange combination of the precepts of the Bible or the Talmud with, the requirements and the doctrine of the communist church".
Besides Babel in this category may be included Kozakova, Broide, Bergelson, Hait and other Jewish writers, many of whom wrote not only in Russian, but also in the Jewish language.
U. Margolin, a journalist whose articles frequently appear in the periodicals of the Russian press in emigration, also treats the very same question, the question of the existence of a "Russian-Jewish" literature. In the newspaper
"Novoe Russkoe Slovo" of January 11, 1962, Margolin wrote the following:
“Babel was a Jewish writer of the crumbling era. He treats Russian literature like a ring with a precious stone on a finger. The ring can be taken off, put aside for twenty years and again put on. The ring is not part of the body. In the Jewish literature of his time Babel becomes a meaningful part of his whole pathetic and thematic authorship.”
Jewish literature is generally multilingual. The Greek language of Josephus Flavius, the Arabic of Maimonides, the Latin of Spinoza and the German of Heine are all offshoots of the same stem.
The Jewish literature mentioned above is treated by the Jews themselves as the product of their whole people. All that was written by the people of the Jewish race in various languages in different times and epochs belongs to the people. S. L. Zinberg, the well known historian of this literature, writes: "In the Jewish literature, individual personality was always subordinated to the collective thought of the whole and dissolved in it. All spiritual wealth created and collected by the people, belongs to the people. The personages bear only the name of its people, for they know only one creator. It is the people of the whole Jewry". ("Jewish World", 11th collec. 1944, New York.)
Jewish literature in the Russian language became apparent only when a considerable number of Jews learned the Russian language, when they received their education in the highest learning institutions. This occurred only in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century. And at the turn of this century the number of the Jews joining the Russian literary and cultural life had increased considerably.
The joining was not a fusion, dissolution or an assimilation to the end, like that of a chemical formation of heterogeneous elements, but only a mechanical mixture or, by the more accurate definition of U. Margolin, "rings with precious stones" put on fingers of foreign-born bodies.
But the number of these "rings" was multiplying more and more, especially in the spheres of journalism, publicism, criticism and the legal profession.
This phenomenon did not remain unnoticed. And from the 1880’s the Russian Government, which at the turn of the century opened the doors of its learning institutions so wide for its Jewish subjects, took the path of limitations. It is these limitations that became the focal point of discontent and criticism from Jewish intellectuals. And it is about these limitations that so much is still written even now, notwithstanding the fact that for more than eighty years, 1804-1888, not only were there no limitations, but on the contrary, the Russian Government assisted the Jews in various ways, bringing them within the reach of the entire Russian culture by means of education.
The advantages of the secular education, with its resultant difficulties and its opening possibilities for material success, were so obvious and strong that a considerable part of the Jews, disregarding the displeasure of their rabbis, rushed into Russian institutions of learning.
The process of joining the Jews with those of the Russian subjects completing secondary and higher education grew swiftly and steadfastly. It was so fast that by the middle of the Eighties, one-third of all the students at the university of Kharkov and Odessa, graduating from the faculties of medicine and law, were Jews.
By these very means the Jews penetrated into the Russian intellectual environment as they received diplomas from high schools or universities. This was especially so in the free professions of medicine, law and journalism, and they began to influence more and more the whole cultural life of Russia. But this was not, as shown above, the assimilation towards which the Russian Government strived, assisted and encouraged Jewish education in the secular institutions of learning. In assisting and encouraging the Jews with the education, the Russian Government was hoping to fuse them with the Russian culture and "cook them altogether, Jews and Russians, in the All-Russian pot": this now exists in the USA with all the ethnic groups, the citizens of USA, where the "American nation" is created and "American patriotism" is emphasized. The creation of the "American nation and patriotism" is achieved not only by universal education based on the all English language, but also by mixed marriages, by one mode of living, and by common material and political interests.
Nothing of this sort took place in Russia. The Jew in Russia, in spite of everything, remained a Jew. The Jew, despite the completion of higher Russian education and the substitution of traditional "lapserdak" by ordinary clothing, cutting off his "paisas" and his abandonment of the secluded circle of the Jewish community, the "kahal", and his overstepping the "Jewish Pale", and even, in some cases, changing religion and receiving all, without exception, equal rights with the rest of population, nevertheless remained, above all, a Jew.
From his Jewish point of view he appraised all events, above all having in mind their usefulness and gain for the body of Jewry as a whole, not only for the many Jews in Russia, but for the whole Jewry of the Diaspora.
This however does not mean that they were not loyal subjects of Russia. But to them it was an alien and incomprehensible feeling which is inherent and characteristic to those who with their roots in the far past of their nation, saw their future inseparably linked with the future of their nation, and the state created by their forefathers of Russia.
With Jews, their past and their future was tied up not with Russia and Russian people, but with the Jewry of the whole world, with its own people of the past and the future.
Russia to them was only a temporary stage of their millennial sojourn in exile, in the same way as once the Roman Empire, Spain and Western Europe all were. As they did not become Romans, Greeks, Spaniards, Germans, so they did not become Russians, in spite of the fact that they learned the Russian language and rushed to take a lively part in the social and political life of Russia. This aspiration had every kind of support among the cultural Russian people, especially among the foremost and liberal intelligentsia.
The Jews joined the Russian cultural life as equal and even desired members of all kind of societies, professional amalgamations and cultural undertakings.
But for all that, they preserved and piously guarded what professor Lourie calls the "inner aspect of a Jew", characteristic only to Jews in whatever epoch and in whatever country they lived and in whatever language they spoke.
This "inner aspect" distinguished Jews from all other nations, tribes and races. The Jews themselves did not notice or did not want to notice this nor to speak or write about it. And to the non-Jews, accepting Jews in their own environment, the very thought of the possibility of discussion and the presence of this "inner aspect" was considered a manifestation of "Judaeophobia" or "anti-Semitism".
But the hidden and unsaid well-known conflict, brewing from as early as the Eighties of the last century, began to make itself felt between the Jews, who entered into the Russian cultural life, and the Russian intelligentsia with its roots deep in its national past.
This was "Judaeophobia" or aggressive "anti-Semitism" in the masses of Russian intelligentsia, which the cultural strata did not recognize and did not approve of. However, this was an unsaid and unrestrained acknowledgement that the desegregationist and assimilationist politics were not crowned with success, regardless of the enormous percentage of Jews who outwardly became similar to non-Jews.
The Jews quickly began to fill the ranks of the free profession, not because the other professions were closed to them or hindered in any way, but because they purposely avoided the others because .of their inborn antagonism to bureaucratic governmental officialdom. With themselves they carried into these professions their own Jewish specifications alien and little understood by the surrounding environment.
Slowly voices were raised, at first very timidly though, about the growing influence of the "Jewish spirit" in the free professions, first of all in the legal ones and then in journalism.
All these created the preconditions that forced the Russian Government to reconsider the political correctness and expediency in handling the Jewish question.
Starting from the 1880's, the Russian Government chose different kinds of limitations for persons of the Judaic faith. These limitations affected all spheres of Jewish life, from the economic to cultural activities, particularly the questions of education in the learning institutions, both state owned and private.
These limitations were received extremely negatively by Russian society except for a comparatively small part of the conservatively oriented Judaeophobes. Within the camp of the Jews, these limitations in general gave birth to sharp anti-governmental feelings, and pushed them towards the oppositionist and revolutionary groupings and organizations.
So the period of "assimilation" ended in the history of the Russian Jews. This period was completely utilized by the Jews for the creation of numerous intelligentsia of Jewish origin, inseparably linked with their religion and their own recognition of being the "Chosen People". The last two elements, the religion and the "Chosen People", were precisely the main obstacles that prevented the Jews from blending with the Russian people and its culture.
How numerous these Jewish specialists, belonging to the intelligentsia, were is easy to conclude from the given numbers of Jewish students that graduated from the universities and replenished the ranks of these specialists.
According to the "Books about Russian Jewry" (published in New York, 1960), 41.5% of the medical faculty of Kharkov University was Jews in 1886; and in Odessa university's medical faculty it was 30.7%; in the law faculty it was 41.2%.
Graduating from these universities the Jews poured into the ranks of Russian intelligentsia, carrying into it a lot of the specific Jewish peculiarities of this ancient race, the race that was able to preserve its purity during the millennial dispersion.
Observing its unsuccessful politics of assimilation, the Russian Government introduced in 1887 the so-called "percentage quota", despite the fact that the government considered it an undesirable step. The "percentage quota" stated that from then on, only a certain percentage of people belonging to the Judaic faith would be permitted in high schools and universities. In the "Jewish Pale" this was 10%, outside of the "Jewish Pale" 5%, and in Petersburg and Moscow, only 3%.
This provoked an explosion of indignation in the whole Jewry of Russia and finally pushed the Jews into the ranks opposing the regime. The Russian liberal community also reacted negatively and sharply.
However, the "percentage quota" did not bring about a substantial change in the percentage of Jews receiving high school and university education. They were changing their religion for the Lutheran and according to the letter of law ceased to count as Jews. Others went to complete their education in other countries and after their return to Russia began their professional practices. The third group passed its examinations by the "external" method, while the fourth group received their education in the institutions to which the "percentage quota" did not apply, such as schools of commerce and the whole range of private high schools and colleges. According to the "Books about Russian Jewry", in 1912 in the Kiev Institute of Commerce, there were 1875 Jewish students, while in the Psycho-Neurological Institute in Petersburg this book states that among the students there were "thousands of Jews".
The end result, of the thirty years in which the "percentage quota" existed, 1887 to 1917, the percentage of the Jewish students, that is those that did not change their Jewish religion, changed very little. In 1887 the average percentage for all of Russia was 14.5%, and in 1917, twelve per cent. These figures are taken from the "Books about Russian Jewry" and there is no basis to doubt its accuracy at all.
In these figures there is only one correction necessary, namely that the number of student Jews by their tribal and racial indications, but not of the Judaic faith, was not mentioned. These kind of students in 1887 were considerably less in number than in 1917. There is no exact information about the number of these students, but it is generally known that there were many of them.
Taking into consideration this correction, without the fear of making an error, it is possible to say that the introduction of the "percentage quota" did not change the percentage of the Jewish students in the Russian learning institutions, but only froze it at the level of the year 1887.
The "percentage quota" made itself felt with special sharpness in the Ukraine, where until 1917 there lived about two and half million or 41% of all Russian Jews. Nevertheless, even here the Jews managed in various ways to bypass the "percentage quota", mainly by creating their own learning institutions with the help of extensive Jewish capital. Besides this, there were many purely Jewish private schools, operated by the Jewish communities. In these schools the Jewish youth was getting its education, especially those who were unable to get into the Russian learning institutions. The enormous activities of these kinds of learning institutions are reported in quite great detail in the "Books about Russian Jewry", with documentary proof of the same in a separate chapter.
In the same book, on p. 360, we find the following lines: "still in June, 1914, it was announced that the promulgation of private learning institutions which did not enjoy governmental rights was increasing. The law provided nationalities with the freedom to choose the language of teaching. This opened wide possibilities for the development of the Jewish education in 'Yiddish' or in the ancient Hebrew Language".
* * *
Knowing the above, the unfounded assertion spread throughout the world that in pre-revolutionary Russia "access to education was closed to Jews" loses all the persuasiveness.
In spite of the "percentage quota" more than 12% of Jewish students attended the highest learning institutions, whereas the total Jewish population in Russia constituted less than 4%. In addition, based on the law stated above permitting various nationalities to open unlimited numbers of learning institutions in their own languages, including Jewish, the real situation of Jewish education in Russia at that time is irrefutably proven.
At this point it would not be without interest to notice that it is precisely this fact that explains why there are so many political figures in Israel today that have had a Russian education. In the newly created state of Israel the overwhelming majority of the intelligentsia, the ministers and political figures came from Russia where they received their education. This education they acquired in the same Russia where, they claim, "access to education was closed to Jews". Had it not been for all these universities of Poltava, Odessa and Kiev, these former student realists, Israel would have found itself in almost total absence of capable personnel for the creation of all the apparatus of power necessary in the new state.
* * *
Before the conclusion of the question dealing with Jewish education in Russia, it is necessary to state once more, without fear of repetition, that there were very wide possibilities open to the Jews to obtain any education they wished. This easily obtainable education offered the Jews the widest possibilities to penetrate the ranks of the Russian intelligentsia and to merge with it, especially when the attitude of this intelligentsia to Jews was quite friendly.
And the penetration into the deepest circles of all kinds of cultural levels in Russia went on continuously. But the process did not bring about total fusion with the Russian populace. This was not the fault of the Russian intelligentsia and the cultural part of its society. For the cause of this it is necessary to look into the Jewish strife towards self-isolation from the nations among whom they had to live throughout their history.
It is necessary to assume that this is the result of thousands of years of religious education which inspired the Jews with the knowledge that they are the "Chosen People", dispersed only temporarily, until that hour when they would gather again in the "Promised Land". All the other countries where they are living are not their motherland, but only a place of temporary sojourn. Their real motherland is the "Promised Land".
From the faith and immoveable conviction within their being the "Chosen People" logically and inescapably show their consciousness of superiority over other nations. This is why Jews do not want to fuse with other nations. The result of this unwillingness is self-restriction, which is characteristic of the Jews — even of those living among the nations which do not exact any limitations against this fusion with them. In pre-revolutionary Russia, especially in the Ukraine, these self-restrictionist Jewish tendencies used to manifest themselves with special distinction, and made them an alien body among the masses of the Ukrainian-Russian population.
3) Pursuits of trade and industry.
In Article 791, chapter IX of the Code of Law of the Russian Empire, Jewish artisans, merchants and lower middle classes, "have, in the place of permanent residence of their choice, all the rights and preferences granted to other Russian subjects of equal status, insofar as this does not contradict the special Jewish rights".
These "special rights" for the Jews, aside from those who belonged to First Guild, made it impossible to pursue trade and industry outside of the "Jewish Pale".
The one exception to this rule concerned the Jewish artisans, who were allowed to trade of the "Jewish Pale". They were only allowed to trade with "goods of their own making", however.
The presence of these two limitations deprived the numerous poor Jews of possibilities to participate in the middleman activities, outside of the "Jewish Pale".
The question about the rights of artisans to trade in objects of their own making was not sufficiently defined and was thus interpreted to meet the needs of expansion or limitation upon such trade, whichever proved more convenient. This loose definition made it possible for the local authorities to abuse the rights of the Jewish artisans.
In connection with this there were many "explanations" given by the Senate, often contradicting one another. An example of this can be found in the decision of the Senate to allow a Jewish watch trader who used foreign-made parts, but assembled them himself, to sell the watch as his merchandise. In another decision, concerning the trading of flour by a Jewish baker, it was considered that such activity was unlawful, because it contravened Article 1. 171 with all ensuing consequences outlined in the Code of Punishment of 1845, namely, the confiscation of all goods and immediate deportation.
All these limitations however, were easily circumvented in one way or another. It was quite easy to find loopholes and other means of avoiding them, sometimes by legal methods, but, in most cases, by only partially legal or completely illegal methods. This was due to the many possible interpretations' that allowed either expansion or limitation of Jewish trade, according to the whims of local authorities.
These limitations used to irritate the poor Jewish popu1ation of the "Jewish Pale", because the limitations deprived poor Jews of possibilities to make a living in the usual manner and prompted their affiliation with the forces of opposition to the régime.
Whether or not these limitations were expedient and corresponded with the interests of the whole state depends entirely upon your point of view, and there are several different existing opinions on this subject. Many ministers of finance, for example, Vitte and others were opponents of these limitations, believing that it was necessary to give these possibilities to all Jews, so that they could trade and provide a living for their families.
4) The civil service. The self-rule.
"The law states that people of different religious beliefs or tribes cannot be refused positions as civil servants, providing they meet the educational requirements of these positions. This meant that any Jew who held a Scholar's degree, which was the equivalent of a first degree diploma from a university, could not be refused admittance into any department of the civil service, if he wished to be employed by them, on the basis of his religious affiliation. Jewish people who wished to enter the civil service had to be put under oath to assure their loyalty to the service. This was decreed in the bill that pertained to ecclesiastical matters".
This was the ways the Russian laws read, which were written during the "assimilative" period, when the Russian Government strived to "fuse the Jews with the native population". This fusion was to be achieved by attracting the Jewish youth into Russian schools and at the same time trying to overcome the Jewish isolationist tendencies".
According to the text of laws, the Jews were allowed to have the widest opportunities… But at that time, right up the Seventies of the last century, there were no Jews with the corresponding qualifications. Until the end of the 1850's and the beginning of the 1860's, there were not many Jews with university degrees. At that time Jews who had graduated from Russian universities could be counted one by one. The mass influx of Jews to universities began only at the end of the Sixties and the beginning of the Seventies, after the great reforms of the Emperor Alexander II.
But the realization soon came that because a Jew held a university diploma in no way meant that he was on his way towards assimilation with the native population, an end towards which the government strived. In his "inner aspect" he remained, above all, Jewish, in spite of the cloak of a government official, excellent knowledge of Russian grammar and all the subtleties of Russian legislation.
The Jews became an integral part of the Russian culture, but they were never assimilated entirely nor did they accrete.
The national interests of Russia, in the widest and deepest meaning of the word, were, to them, alien and incomprehensible.
Realizing this, the Russian Government, in dealing with the question of Jewish tenure in the civil service, especially in the judicial department where the Jews had been attracted by their juristical education, arrived at the following methods of coping with their aggressive onrush. From the end of the 1870's the government stopped appointing Jews to such positions, and the Jews who already occupied those positions were retained without promotion. This brought about disappointment with their civil service occupations among the Jews and they themselves, of their own free will, openly switched over to the professions open to them, such as medicine, journalism, law, etc. Only a few Jewish individuals remained in the civil service, for example, the Real Councilor of State Teitel, and the Privy Councilor Halpern, who remained in these ranks until the Revolution of 1917.
The Jews had no desire to become a part of the other fields of the civil service with the exception of Jewish doctors, whose numbers in the military department were quite considerable. In the medical profession there was no limitation whatsoever, whether in private practice or in the military service.
The legal profession, although it was considered a public enterprise, was closely tied with the judicial department until 1889, and there were no limitations on the enrolment of Jews as barristers. Thus the number of Jewish lawyers swiftly grew. Into the intellectual environment the Jews took a lot of their specifically Jewish characteristics; this did not remain unnoticed, and provoked a familiar reaction among some circles of the Russian society, as well as in the government. From the fourth of November 1889, in order to attain the enrolment of a Jew as a barrister, the permission of the Minister of Justice was required in each individual case. This regulation affected only Jewish barristers, but did not apply to Jewish assistant barristers.
These permits were obtained only with great difficulty and by this action the number of Jewish barristers with full rights was considerably reduced.
From the year 1912 on, the limitations for barristers originating in 1889 were applied to the Jewish assistant barristers as well. In both cases the limitations applied only to the Judaic faith, and did not affect the Jews of non-Judaic faith.
In the same year it was decreed that in the introduction of local elective courts, Jews must not be elected to preside as Justices of Peace and District Judges. Jews were also not allowed to occupy teaching positions in high-schools.
Jews were allowed to be readers and heads of faculties in the highest learning institutions, but only in limited cases. For the Jews of non-Judaic faith, there were no limitations and no obstacles whatsoever. Thus, for example, even the chief of the Military-Surgical Academy in Petersburg at the beginning of this century was a Jew by blood. This fact created difficulties when his son sought admission to the Pavlovsk Military School.
* * *
At this point it is appropriate to explain that the civil service was of two kinds: service in the positions that led to titles and pensions, and service in the employment, the latter being the same as employment in private offices and industry. In the majority of cases, Jews that were in the civil service belonged to the category of the service in the employment.
Jews were not appointed to the higher administrative positions, but again this was applied only to the Jews of Judaic faith.
Participation in self-rule
The Jews did not know the limitations during the whole "assimilation" period of Russian legislation concerning self-rule.
But at the end of the 1880's, soon after the introduction of the "percentage quota" the limitations were also applied to the participation of Jews in urban and rural self-rule.
The Jews were no longer allowed to participate in Zemstvo meetings and electoral conventions. These limitations did not apply to the rural services, particularly to doctors.
Participation in city self-rule was limited for Jews by the well known "percentage quota" for the city public Dumas: namely, that no more than one-third of the total voters could be Jewish, and that no Jew could be elected as mayor of a city.
But at the same time there were no limitations concerning the election of Jews into the membership of the State Duma, and the State Council. There were Jewish deputies in all four State Dumas; one Jew, Vainshtain, was even a member of the State Council, and participated in its sittings alongside the highest dignitaries of the Russian Empire.
During their whole sojourn on the territory of Rechi Pospolite of Poland, the Jews did not have to perform military duties in peace or in war. Instead of direct participation in the defense of the country, they paid a special tax, freeing them from military service.
After becoming Russian subjects, the Jews were not called for military service either. Military duty was compulsory for the "subjects of all the estate — the lower middle classes, artisans, merchants. The Jews were allowed to substitute for their service a special monetary collection, levied from Jewish communities, called "Kahals", where the Jews permanently resided.
But in 1827 this order was changed. By the nominal decree of the Emperor Nicholas I, new rules were introduced compelling the Jews to fulfill their military duties in person.
The decision as to who was to be sent as a recruit was given to the authorities of the Jewish communities. The government demanded only a definite number of adult men, physically healthy and older than 25 years of age.
Who was an adult was the decision of the rabbis. According to the Jewish law a man is considered adult as soon as he reaches 13 years of age, and the appropriate religious ceremony is performed for him. In addition the Jewish communities were given the right to turn in as recruits some other in place of the draftees: either mercenaries or wanderers – “their own coreligionists" – caught without passports, free of charge.
The absence of direct instructions, as to who should be considered adult, and the giving of the right to the communities to decide who should be turned in as a recruit, opened the widest possibilities for all kinds of abuses.
The entire burden of this recruitment used to fall on the poorest part of Jewry, which had neither connections and protections, nor the means to hire a substitute.
The government remained blind by choice to the matter of the feeble boy unfit to carryon heavy military service, yet considered by the Jewish community to be adult. The main thing was that the required numbers of recruits were delivered into the military service.
One might believe that this was done consciously, hoping that the Jewish boy, cut off from his environment would more easily "fuse with the native population". This is what used to happen, in most cases, with these boys-soldiers, who survived various childhood diseases.
Those Jewish boy-soldiers who were unable to carry weapons, but had talents for music, were placed in musical detachments where they were taught the Russian language and then transplanted into the Orthodox religion without being asked for their consent. Sometimes they were placed in special schools where they were quickly "Russified" and then they carried the military service further without experiencing any limitations as a Jew. These limitations existed in Russia only with regard to religious inclination, and not to tribal or racial origin. These were so-called "kantonists", many of whom made a good career in the military and the civil service. They married Russians and became completely assimilated' and as a result were a complete loss for Jewry.
This cruel method of conducting assimilationist politics existed for more than a quarter of a century and was not abolished until 1856.
Furthermore, this method of assimilating the Jewish masses did not have any tangible results, because only a very small percentage of Jewish boys found themselves in the "kantonist" institutions.
With the introduction of conscription in Russia, all Jews reaching 21 years of age had to serve on a general basis and no kind of substitution was allowed.
On the other hand, during fulfillment of the military services more and more limitations were applied to Jews. They were not allowed promotions to officer status; they were prohibited from appointment to military clerks, to the commissariat, to sanitation units and to frontier services.
All these limitations only aggravated the already negative Jewish attitude to the military service and they were eager to free themselves from it in every possible way, even sometimes by going away to another country whenever the call for military duties arose.
The government responded to this by imposing fines on the families of dodgers. The Government not only failed to reach its aim by this method, but also provoked criticism from all Jewish circles as well as from the wide circles of Russian society.
The only way out of this situation, as some of the political personalities in pre-revolutionary Russia saw it, was the return to the times when the Jews were not obliged to serve in the military, but could pay special taxes instead. This question was heatedly debated in the corresponding circles in the period between the first revolution of 1905 and the eve of the First World War, but no decision was made. All the limitations for Jews in the military services remained in force.
When the First World War came, hundreds of thousands Jewish soldiers in the Russian army did not remain indifferent, knowing full well the conditions of their fellow tribesmen in the Austrian army. In situation like this, it was inevitable for these thoughts to occur and for them to compare the conditions of both warring armies, and to make their own conclusions which promote neither patriotism, nor a true fighting spirit. To deny this or to keep silent about it is to remain indifferent.
* * *
In addition to the previously enumerated measures of the Russian Government for assimilation and desegregation, one more decree of the Russian Government can be mentioned in conclusion. This is the decree which, when it was announced, agitated all "Russian subjects of the Judaic faith".
At the beginning of the Nineteenth Jewish men wore long skerts down to their heels called caftans or cloaks, which were some sort of national Jewish costume at that time. Emperor Nicholas I, who was a lover of uniformity and order, introduced measures for the Jews prescribing and exactly defining the length of the caftans or cloaks. Of course the order had to be fulfilled, and the Jews were forced to cut off the long skerts of their overcoats. Thus were created the Jewish overcoats which till the ear 1917 were called "lapserdak". But the "paisys" — long-curly sideburns which were popular in Jewish settlements — remained inviolable until the revolution of 1917. The sideburns were worn by the overwhelming majority of Jews in the "Jewish Pale". The exception was the insignificant number of Jews who broke off from the old Jewish custom.
The results and the conclusions of the assimilation and limitation politics
At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, in the years preceding the First World War, the results of the politics that were guided by the Russian Government in dealing with the Jewish question were clearly visible.
It may be said, in short, that neither the long period of striving to "fuse the Jews with the native population" by the measures of encouragement and desegregation, nor the considerably shorter period of various limitations, were of any great success and did not bring the desired results. The Jews did not become Russian patriots, in the full meaning of the word as it is understood throughout the world. They did not become patriots in the sense as Romans use to say "dulce et decorum est pro patria more" (sweet and honorable to die for motherland). There were of course, exceptions, but they were not numerous.
This is not surprising, due to the fact that the motherland for Jews of the whole world is not considered to be the country in which they were born, but the "Promised Land". That is the dream of their return, the dream that they cherish during the whole life of their sojourn in dispersion. They were taught this thought from infancy in their families, in "khederah", and in all modes of living in their Jewish communities. To reject this dream — for an orthodox Jew, especially in those times — was equal to rejection of the religion of his ancestors. This entails total personal contempt of the whole of Jewry. Anyone who changed religion was bemoaned as if dead. This scene was often seen in the "Jewish Pale", when a Jew or Jewess changed his or her religion. Crying and sobbing, powdering the head with ashes, moaning and lamenting were heard from that Jewish home overtaken by such a misfortune.
Besides the theory and dream about the "Promised Land", Jews were from their infancy implanted with the thought of being "God's Chosen People", superior in all respects to all other nations of the world. These inculcated ideas were and are the main themes of Jewish home education; the ideas in which no orthodox Jew doubts or ever doubted. This gave rise to and fed the complex of superiority and led to the self-isolation of Jews in their places of the dispersion.
If we take into consideration still another circumstance, namely that the Jewish religion is the only religion inseparably linked with race and blood – one has to be born but one cannot become one – and to that add another fact, that of the exactly determined geographic territory, the motherland of each Jew, it then becomes obvious why all the assimilative attempts of the Russian Government ended unsuccessfully.
Only the youthful "kantonists", turned away from their families and the influence of the rabbis, and later married non-Jewesses, produced offspring who completely fused with the native population. It is from among these assimilated Jews, it turned out later on, that quite a few notable personalities of the Russian Empire were developed.
A Portuguese Jew, Devrien, occupied one of the most responsible positions in the Empire during the reign of Peter the Great. Baron Shafirov brilliantly conducted finances under Peter the Great. Under Nicholas I, the Minister of Finance was Count Kankrin, the son of a Lithuanian rabbi. Kaufman Turcanstansky proved to be not only an excellent general but also an effective administrator General Grulev was worthy of great merit for his studies of the Far East and Manchuria, where, by his suggestion of location, the city of Harbin was built.
But all these people were few in numbers. The majority of Jews were never close to the fusion with the native popu1ation which the Russian Government sought.
Something quite different happened when the Jews received an education as a result of the assimilative politics of the state, and when they were deprived of the possibilities of occupying responsible administrative positions in the apparatus of the state as the result of the measures of limitations. They poured into the cultural and economic life of Russia. They rushed in to these spheres of Russian life by any channels available to them. It is in these spheres of the country's life that they were quite successful and by the beginning of the Twentieth Century they exerted their influence on the whole life of the country.
The legal practice, journalism, criticism, publishing, trade and industry, finance and newspapers made up the wide field of action where the Jews, not only were able to develop their activities, but were able to influence to a considerable degree all the spheres of the country's life, remaining at the same time an alien body, not tied organically with the national interests of Russia.
With their considerable capital accumulated by the end of the nineteenth Century, the Jews were able to give considerable financial support to all kinds of beginnings, which according to their opinion, might be useful at a given time in the future to the Jewish ethnic group in Russia. The opposite was also true. They could also counteract the creations, developments and those successful beginnings, which could bring harm or material or moral damage.
The Jews rushed with special energy into the periodical press, which was developing and acquiring more and more influence, and, by the beginning of the First World War, the majority of the periodical Russian press was either in the Jewish hands, or under Jewish influence and control. With this they acquired a powerful means of influencing the feelings of the broad masses, and thus the politics of the country.
Professor Solomon Lourie, in his book published in 1922 ("Anti-Semitism in the Ancient World") dealing with the questions of Jewish interrelations with nations and countries in which they sojourned, writes:
- 1. “The local law must be strictly observed, but only insofar as it does not contradict the attitudes of the still existing national Jewish sense of justice and insofar as its observance is not connected with any harm to the Jewish people. Thus the laws, directly or indirectly applied against the Jews, in any case should not be observed.
- 2. It is necessary to be strictly loyal with respect to the state which regards the Jews favorably. In the case of a struggle between two states or between two parties within a state, it is recommended to sympathize, and, as far as possible, to assist the side more sympathetic towards the Jews.” (p. 120)
In spite of these two rules, the instructions regarding the conduct and activities of the Jews in Russia never found any place in the Jewish press, or in the press under Jewish influence. These were not only unpublished but were also never orally discussed. Nevertheless, the broad Jewish masses which were Russian subjects, completely adhered to these rules.
Living among other nations through the centuries of Diaspora life, every Jew worked out his own peculiar and distinct approach and appraisal to all that took place outside of the closed circle of the Jewish tribes. That is what Professor Lourie formulated exactly in these two points given above.
Whatever happens and wherever it happens in any country at any point on this Earth, in any sphere of life, a Jew a ways, and invariably asks the question: "How about us?" Sometime he asks this question aloud sometime he asks only himself. Depending on the answer given, he determines his attitude to the actual events, to a state, to a people, to a political personality or party, or to other cultural manifestations of the life of the nation where he lives.
At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, Russia received more than a million Jews who had no knowledge of the Russian language, no large capital, and did not want to join or become accustomed to the Russian culture which was generally the All-Russian culture of the time, yet alien to them. At that time Jews neither wanted to participate in the Russian life and culture nor wished to exert their influence on the politics of the country, because they did not yet possess that kind of knowledge and economic power that made itself a force to be reckoned with.
But in less than one hundred years everything changed. Extensive capital was accumulated in Jewish hands; professional Jewish personnel were created, and they graduated from high schools and universities fully fluent in Russian. With the help of their accumulated capital, the Jews penetrated into all the spheres of the economic and cultural life of the country.
To this we must add another factor, namely, that in Europe, beginning in the middle of the Nineteenth Century, Jewish capital sometimes had decisive importance not only in the internal, but also in the external politics of many countries. At that time Russia was experiencing an acute shortage of foreign capital for the development of its industries. Upon the Rothschilds of France, England, Austria; and upon the Mendelssohn’s of Germany depended a lot of the decisions regarding various financial questions, which influenced the politics of these countries in their relationship with Russia.
The largest and the most influential newspapers and publishing houses of Europe, and the telegraph agencies, which created the “political atmosphere” belonged to the Jews or were under strong Jewish influence.
Understandably and naturally the wealthy European Jews paid special attention to the fate and wishes of their fellow tribesmen in Russia, and pushed the decisions of their governments in the direction of such wishes.
The question of loans and trade agreements frequently fell under the direct dependence of the politics of the Russian Government toward the "Jewish question".
From memoir literature we know that in the Berlin Congress, convened after the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, a Jew, Disraeli, and also Lord Palmerston, found it possible and appropriate to question Prince Gortchakov, the representative of Russia, about the "conditions of the Jews in Russia". We also know the answer given by Prince Gortchakov, which forced this self-confident "lord" to blush.
From the recollections of Vitte we know what kind of pressure the financial circles of France, with Rothschild at its head, tried to exert on Russian politics regarding the "Jewish Question" during the conclusion of Russian external loans.
It is well known that the largest amount of financial and propaganda help came from the American Jews and was connected with all the revolutionary beginnings in Russia.
In Russia itself, the question of the relationship with the Jews – "Judaeophobia" and "Judaeophilia" – became one of basic questions addressed to public figures, writers and journalists. Only those who unreservedly and without reason repeated and supported all pro-Jewish expressions and saw in Jews only the good side, closing their eyes to negative actions, relative to all nationalities and tribes including the Jewish tribes as well, were recognized and admired as "cultural", "honest" and "progressive".
Anyone who dared to say anything out of tune against the complaints of oppression, persecution, torment and suffering of the Jews, was repeatedly named, both orally and in the press, and was subsequently labeled a “Judaeophobe” or an "anti-Semite". His mind, honor and decency were questioned' his popularity declined, and no one would listen to him nor even read his works.
Frequently even those were considered doubtful who steered clear and had nothing to do with the "ticklish question". They were suspected as "hidden anti-Semites". (As Mark Vishniak stated in one of his articles. A Russian Jew, Vishniak was secretary of the All-Russian Constituent Assembly.)
Jews were watching vigilantly the attitudes of individual political and cultural personalities of Russia towards the Jewish question, and they used to divide these people into two groups, the friends and the enemies of Jews.
At the beginning of this century, the publishing house "Pravda" in Warsaw systematically issued small pamphlets under the general name "Friends and Enemies of Jews". The pamphlet was sold for 3-10 kopeks. In this pamphlet, as the title indicates, "portraits and characteristics of each individual were disclosed".
Russia was flooded with similar pamphlets which sold for pennies, or given away for nothing.
The propaganda machine was working at full blast, provoking and arousing the broad masses of Russia to make them feel that their duty was to strive to help "the oppressed" Jewry.
This aspiration, in its own turn, gave rise to sharp antigovernment feelings. The propaganda was repeated again and again, such that the initiative of all possible "discrimination" originated with the government, and was inspired and supported by big landowners, clergy and other "Black-Hundreders".
More than a few journalists and writers in pre-revolutionary Russia owe their popularity to a considerable degree to their statements relating to the "Jewish question", irrespective of the quality of their work.
On the other hand, if the smallest doubt was raised regarding the virtues and talents, not necessarily of the Jewish people as a whole, but of its individual representatives, the end result might be the boycott of the whole progressive society and the press. This phenomenon was typical in the socio-cultural life of Russia around the turn of the last century.
Lest you think that this statement is unsubstantiated, here are two examples which will clarify how great a role "Judaeophobia" and "Judaeophilia" played in the cultural life of Russia.
Alexander Amfiteatrov, a journalist and author of many lashing satirical and pamphlets write in his two pamphlets “Jewry and Socialism” and "Jewry as a Spirit of Revolution”, that: “the Jews were never satisfied with any government, under the power of which they were placed by historical fate. They cannot, and will not be satisfied because an ideal of the perfect democracy, put in their souls, has not been realized to this day...” As regarding the fact that there are quite a few Jewish capitalists who are not interested in real democracy, socialism or upheavals, Amfiteatrov explains in the following words. "A socialist by nature is a socialist to his bones. A Jew, for centuries, had been compelled by law for self-preservation to wrap himself so coarsely and cleverly in a coarse bourgeois shell that entire teachings, entire sociological theories concerning this inborn bourgeoisie appeared. The inborn bourgeoisie representing a typical racial symptom of Jewry…" Amfiteatrov writes further:
"But with the years the alien colors are shed as are its dilapidated scales, and in the voices of Lassal, Marx, and the revolutionary activities of the Russian-Jewish leaders of the liberating epoch, we hear the invariable howl of the old ebonites, the thunder of Isaiah, the crying of Jeremiah, the noble equalizing utopia of Galileo and Jesus... Yes, Jewry in the world is not only a nation, or a religious association, it also a social party... "
"Paul's Christianity" – continues Amfiteatrov – "came into the world to work out alliances, a theory and an ethic of the bourgeois system, while Jewry, with all its hereditary subdivisions in religion and philosophy, remained to live and be tormented in order that socialism in the world might be preserved".
After writings of this sort and especially after the appearance of his well known pamphlet ""Gentlemen Crooks", Amfiteatrov was exiled from Russia. But a long time before the year 1917, and even before the appearance of his pamphlet, a Jew, V. S. Mandel, said at one of the social gatherings:
"Be that as it may, but the Jewry should have replied to Mr. Amfiteatrov and the other apologists of his with the quotation from the Russian writer, known even to those Jewish nationalists who are against allowing anyone to speak Russian at their own gatherings: "God deliver me from fools."
Professor Konstantin Arabazhin of Petersburg university, a brilliant orator and speaker, had a reputation for progressive thinking, and his articles were willingly published in journals and newspapers. The auditorium where he read his lectures was always full. His speeches at literary gatherings were events in the literary world. His opinions and appraisals of literary works were held in high regard, his erudition and knowledge of literature was acknowledged nationally.
According to the custom of the time, new literary works were discussed openly at these literary gatherings. Once, at such a gathering, there was a discussion of the literary works by Simon Ushkevich, a Jew belonging to the third grade of fiction writers. Ushkevich wrote in Russian, depicting Jewish life and the mode of living in small towns.
Speaking at the gathering, professor Arabazhin made a comment on the Ushkevich work, noting the author's weak points.
The author, being present at the gathering, immediately responded with the following words: "why do you poke your nose into something that you don't know and do not understand?"
Arabazhin, being hot-tempered, did not remain speechless, but retaliated at once: "And why do you creep into Russian literature, which you neither know nor understand?"
The words of Arabazhin were directed only at Ushkevich as a reply to his remarks.
Unfortunately, the word "you" in the plural form is synonymous in Russian with the singular form "thou" if a polite form of address is required, (as in contemporary English) and in spite of this, the word was interpreted as a reference not only to Simon Ushkevich but also to all the Jews writing their literary works in Russian.
As a result the star of Arabazhin not only lost its luster, but completely disappeared. His works were no longer published by the "foremost and progressive" press; no longer was he invited to literary meetings and debates, his lectures lost their magnetic force to students and he was put on list of “reactionaries”, "Black-Hundreders" and "Jew-baiters".
Later on, during the civil war, prof. Arabazhin took an active part, closely collaborating with the "North-Western Government" of General Yudenich.
Something similar also occurred with M. Artzybashev, the most popular writer in Russia of his time, already in emigration in Warsaw, after his article dealing with the "Jewish Question" appeared in the press.
With regard to the incident with prof. Arabazhin, I had an opportunity to hear of this from several people who were present at the meeting. Similarly at the congress of Russian writers and journalists in Yugoslavia I heard the same thing, and in a conversation with the writers Evgeni Chirikov and Boris Lazarevsky the facts relating to this incident were confirmed.
After several decades I heard the very same thing from former Menshevik-"Bundist" G. Y. Aronson, who was living in New York and contributing to several newspapers and journals that are published in both the Russian and Jewish languages.
* * *
Jewish influence in all spheres of the cultural life in Russia was felt distinctly by all, except by those who did not want to hear or see, nor moreover to speak about it out of the fear of being taken for "backward", or "Black-Hundreders", with all the consequences which ensued. There were, of course, stout-hearted idealist-dreamers, who traditionally took part of those who cried about their sufferings, without reasoning how justified such cries were, nor wanting to "hear the other side of the story". If they are crying and moaning, that means they are suffering, therefore, they have to be helped and saved from these sufferings. Furthermore those, against whom the criers and the moaners complain, the power and the government, must be condemned...
Jews themselves regard as inconceivable altogether the fact that they sometimes and in some instances could be wrong. Here is what I. M. Bickerman writes about this question in his sketch "Russia and Russian Jewry", Collection I "Russia and Jews", published in Berlin in 1924.
"A Jew answers to everything with his usual gesture and with his usual words: it is a well known fact that we are at fault in everything. Wherever misfortune happened, a search into the matter would be made, and a Jew would be found as scapegoat. Nine-tenths of what is written in the Jewish peri0dical issues about the Jews in Russia constitutes only a retelling of this stereotyped phrase. Since the Jews, of course, cannot be at fault always and in everything, a Jew makes a conclusion, quite flattering and convenient for us, that we are always right in everything. Still worse, he simply refuses to subject his conduct to his own judgment. He refuses to realize what he is doing and what he is not, but, perhaps, ought to be doing. It must be concluded that since pretentions, reproaches and accusations are thrown at us from every different side, the accusers must be at fault, mankind must be at fault, everything else must be at fault, but not us…"
In another place in the same collection we also find the following phrase. "A Jew does not recognize the judgment of history. He himself judges the history..."
Not only the history, it should be added, he also carries out his own judgment about the culture, existence and life, of other nationalities, without admitting the thought that somebody, in general, not belonging to the Jewish tribe, might have his own judgment about the Jews, their culture, literature, entity and racial-tribal peculiarities.
And at the same time in every possible way, Jews strove to participate in all the sectors of social, political and cultural life in Russia.
From the beginning of the Sixties and Seventies of the Nineteenth Century, many Jews themselves strove to link up with Russians. At that time they were timid and unsure of themselves, but were inspired with assimilationist’s feelings. These two decades were characteristic in the respect that there were no limitations whatsoever for Jews within the Russian Government. This aroused some enthusiasm in many Jews, who received their highest education in the Russian institutions, "in order to become a Russian". But the full assimilation was hindered by religious differences, which in those times meant a great deal.
At that time Jewish political parties did not exist at all. Jews however enrolled in All-Russian political groups, without experiencing any obstacles either from Russian society or from well-educated Jews who considered it normal and natural.
And in Seventies we already encountered the Jews in the All-Russian groupings, not only as ordinary members, but also as leaders. It is true that not as many Jews assumed the rôles of leaders as the native Russians, but nevertheless they were there and no one ever questioned the right of Jewish participation.
In the last quarter of the century, and at the turn of this century in the years preceding the revolution of 1905-6, the Jews were filling the ranks and groupings of the All-Russian parties and formed the ranks of these parties as well. The big majority of those Jews were in the ranks of "Left" parties and in those groupings, especially the militant-revolutionary once, in which we frequently see Jews holding the most responsible and exalted positions.
The Jews did not, as a rule, participate in the so-called "Right" parties and groupings, with national or nationalistic inclinations. Yet it must be acknowledged, that there were cases when rich Jews supported such parties financially.
But the whole Jewish mass of five million, who were subjects of Russia, were, except in rare cases, of one mind in their oppositionist feelings towards the government. These Jewish masses consisted of the embodiment, closely welded by their origin, of the citizens who stroved to change the political system and the social order of Russia. These masses were ready and waiting only for the moment to employ their force in the task of reconstructing the country in which they lived.
Some of these Jewish masses wanted to reconstruct the Russian system by evolutionary means, by the means of various reforms, but there were not many such people. The majority of the Jews, if they did not state their aspirations, nevertheless silently approved the idea of forceful change of the existing order by revolutionary means.
The influence of the Jewish ethnic group on the cultural life in Russia and the creation of numerous Jewish personnel with a Russian education made it easier for the Jews to penetrate so quickly into all sectors of the economic life of the country. Many Jews were getting rich quickly and strove to give their children the highest education possible. The Jews did not spare their money on those social and cultural All-Russian undertakings which could be useful to them immediately or in the future. Special attention was directed to the periodical press, which was beginning to gain more and more influence throughout the whole world the internal and external politics of all countries.
It was necessary to have educated and able personnel for this, and also considerable direct or indirect financing.
How were the above mentioned personnel created? It is the result of assimilative politics of the Russian Government on one hand, and the assimilative attitude and striving of the Jews on the other.
How the Jews created the capital which they did not spare to use for various undertakings and for the support of those All-Russian cultural institutions which they desired will be summarized here only in a general way, because the volume of this work does not permit me to spare too much space in which to deal with this question.
* * *
Five and half million Russian Jews participated most actively in the economic life, not only in the "Jewish Pale", but also in Russia as a whole, and, in spite of existing limitations, had achieved remarkable success.
At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, when they became subjects of Russia, all the Jews were exclusively merchants, diverse lease-holders, brokers, intermediaries (the middle-men) and operators of drinking establishments. Neither the big bourgeoisie nor the people with secular education were among them. Neither were there any Jews of agricultural occupation of those who owned land.
But in one century the picture radically changed. On the eve of the 1917 Revolution, almost all of the most important largest enterprises of trade and industry in the “Jewish Pale”, and to a considerable degree in all of Russia as well, were either completely in Jewish hands or under their domination.
It is impossible to determine exactly the percentage of Jewish capital that participated in different sectors of the Russian economy, because a considerable part of the Jewish capital was camouflaged in order to evade some of the limitations which existed for Jewish enterprises. In order to bypass the law, Jewish enterprises often were operated under the figurehead of a non-Jewish enterprise, and gave an appearance that the enterprise was not Jewish.
The government had a difficult struggle against the above said methods. And to be frank, the government in reality did not struggle that much against such methods. For example, in the pre-revolutionary years, it was not a secret that one of Russia's largest joint-stock companies – "Grain-Sugar" – that controlled many sugar refineries and had a large trade of grain actually belonged to the well known Muscovite Jew-Zionist, M. Zlotopolsky. But the president of this enterprise was a Count, a person of non-Jewish faith. Thus formally at least, everything was in order. This phenomenon was not unique, but typical, and not only in the sugar industry, but also in the other sectors of economic life as well. Such practices were widespread in flour-milling, the grain trade, the lumber trade, and especially in the financial sector. Such practices however were more common in the "Jewish Pale" than in other parts of Russia.
As previously mentioned, although it is impossible to determine the exact amount of Jewish capital that was operating in the Russian economy, nevertheless, a great deal of information on this subject can be obtained from the book "Jews in Economic Life of Russia" written by I. Dizhura, who did extensive research into this question. The book was published in New York in 1960.
According to I. Dizhura's data, of 518 sugar refineries in Russia, 182 belonged to the Jews, or 31.5% of the whole. The 182 figure represents only those Jewish refineries which did not camouflage their capital. But in almost all other refineries, to a lesser or greater degree, Jewish capital was involved under the above described camouflage.
In the flour-milling business 365 large steam mills were in Jewish hands; 22% of all the breweries were also in Jewish hands, and in the textile industry — 30%. The grain trade was almost exclusively in Jewish hands. Out of 1000 grain trading posts, 930 belonged to Jews. The lumber trade, according to I. Dizhura, was one of the major Jewish businesses. And the river navigation on Dnieper was 70% controlled by the Jew, Mr. Margolin.
In the banking business, which nowadays plays such an important role in the economy life of a country, only two banks in all of Russia did not have Jews on its board of directors. Those were the Moscow Merchant Bank and the Volzhsko-Kamsky. All other banks were either completely or to a considerable degree under Jewish control, and had Jews on the board of directors.
From this brief review, made from Jewish sources, one can see how great the participation of Jewish capital was in the economic life of Russia.
Even the gold-fields in Russia were generally in Jewish hands. As was said before, the richest gold-fields of Lena were in Jewish hands, owned by Ginzburg. The same picture can be seen in the mining of platinum where Jewish capital had its liveliest participation. In gold and platinum mining in
Russia, Jewish capital closely collaborated with the "foreign" English or French capital, which in fact belonged to the Jews of these countries, and to be precise, this capital belonged to the largest European Jewish-controlled banks which were making investments in Russia.
The only exception where Jewish capital was not invested was large land holdings. Starting from the 1880's, Jews were prohibited from the acquisition of lands in rural areas. But those who bought land before the prohibition were allowed to keep their land and were permitted to do whatever they wished with it. The land in question was not used for individual cultivations (Jews did not strive towards such occupations), but for large-scale farming.
Owing to the purchase of large land-holdings by Jews before the prohibition, it was possible for some of them to operate large-scale farms. In the Ukraine there were Jewish land-owners who had hundreds of thousands of acres under cultivation. For instance, in the Konotopsk district of Chernigove province, near Hetman's capital of Baturin, around which were many estates of the Ukrainian nobles of Hetman's times, there were two Jewish wealthy land-owners, Messrs, Zorokhovich and Cherkinsky. Their country estates, which were well-cultivated and well-managed, had such an appearance that not only the peasants, serving on these estates, but also many other landowners residing in the vicinity, were made envious. In the neighboring district of Putilovsk in the Kursk province, which did not belong to the “Jewish Pale”, there were also wealthy Jewish landowners. The sugar producer Shirman, before the First World War, owned a large estate in Gruzinsk, which was for many centuries the ancestral land of the former Putilovsk voivod-boiars of Cherepovoy.
Still many other large estates were acquired not personally by Jews, but by the joint-stock companies, primarily of the sugar refineries, which were actually owned by the Jews.
How Jewish Capital Was Created in Russia
An exhaustive and documented answer as to how Jewish capital was created in Russia is given by the same Mr. Dizhura, an expert and investigator of this question.
"An accumulation of capital was the result of Jewish activity during the first half of the Nineteenth Century as tax-collectors, operators of wholesale liquor storehouses and tavern operators".
Besides this, many Jews used to lease distilleries from the big landowners.
In Kiev alone, there were several wholesale liquor storehouses and many taverns in Jewish hands. For example, Veinstein had a storehouse and seventy two taverns. In Mernery he also had a storehouse and ten taverns. In Cherkassy, Mr. Sklovsky had a storehouse and twenty three taverns. Generally speaking, the vodka trade in the "Jewish Pale" was almost without exception in Jewish hands.
As is known, at that time the activity of the tavern operators, who traded in vodka, was tied up and closely interwoven with the activity of loan-credit which was not subjected to any control whatsoever. Simply speaking; there were no control and no regulations over usury, the victims of which were not only peasants who used to mortgage their miserable possessions and bring the money away in the taverns, but also landlords who resorted to such loans. The banking business at that time was only in its initial stage, and this is why people who were in need of credit had to turn to private businessmen who had the money. Quite a few representatives of the administration, officials and officers, also resorted to loans operated by tavern-owners and tax-collectors. Being hooked by loan operators, these officials inevitably fell into dependence upon the loan operators, and the resulting circumstances hindered the government's struggle against dishonest usurers.
Thus having accumulated capital in this manner, at the beginning of the second half of the Nineteenth Century, Jews began to invest in the rapidly developing sugar industry, in railway transportation and in other sectors of the trade and industry of Russia, and especially in the banking business.
As a result of this before the revolution Russia had many dozens, if not hundreds, of Jewish millionaires and their influence and share in the economic life of the country grew quickly and steadfastly.
In a parallel manner, their influence grew not only in the economic life of the country, but also in the cultural, political and moral life of the whole of Russia.
The feeling of tribal solidarity, characteristic to all tribes and nationalities in general, was always, and still is, strongly developed in the Jews. This fact attracted the attention of Tacitus who, even at that time, said that the Jews had a special love for their tribes.
And, motivated and directed by such feelings, the Jews continually endeavored not only to help, but also to promote the interests of their tribesmen, by contributing to their success and counteracting the promotion and success of their potential competitors, the non-Jews.
Possessing the finances and being tightly bound by their race and religion, Jews were extremely successful in this direction.
The Social Structure of Russian Jewry
Owing to their money the Jews were able to join merchant guilds of the First Rank and receive the highest education, if not in Russian schools, then in the schools of foreign countries. These circumstances enabled the Russian Jewry to free itself from or to by-pass most limitations. In fact the social elite of Russian Jewry were not affected by the limitations and did not suffer from them.
But, besides the social elite, the Russian Jewish masses, which numbered more than five million, had within itself the middle class, the petty-bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
The middle class and the petty-bourgeoisie were almost exclusively merchants and intermediaries (middle-men), beginning with those whose business enterprises were in the thousands of rubles and ending with those who owned small business establishments. This group also included numerous Jewish artisans, from those who had their own workshops with hired workers to those with the itinerant "tinsmiths", "watch-makers" and "glass-cutters".
Having inborn abilities for trade and intermediary activities' the Jews almost completely forced out the non-Jewish tradesmen and artisans from the cities and towns of the "Jewish Pale" and also to a great extent from other places outside of the "Jewish Pale". This was possible because the
Jewish artisans and various specialists were allowed to live anywhere in Russia.
In the years preceding the First World War, in many cities and towns in Russia, nothing could be bought in stores, from Friday evening to Saturday evening: all tradesmen were Jews, whose religion forbids trading on Saturday.
The Russian Government, which is blamed by so many for the oppression of the Jews, treated this situation tolerantly and did not force Jews to trade on Saturday.
The non-Jewish population adapted to this phenomenon and there were no conflicts over this situation.
Besides the cities and towns, where the majority of the Jewish population dwelled, usually two to three Jewish families also lived in each village of the "Jewish Pale". These families operated variety stores where they used to buy up peasant produce t like eggs, poultry, wool and bristle. These Jewish families lived quite isolated lives, strictly keeping with the Talmudic rituals, and not only did not mix with the native population, but also did not even associate with them, except in business deals.
Side by side with the big, middle and petty-bourgeoisie, artisans and the people of free professions, Russian Jewry also had large numbers of proletariat, living in the cities and towns of the "Jewish Pale".
This proletariat, or a considerable part of it, eked out a miserable existence, working in the various capitalist enterprises of light industry or making both ends meet in petty-brokerage and intermediary services.
In their mode of living this Jewish proletariat also lived an isolated life, like all the other Jews.
Only the representatives of the free profession, including doctors, lawyers and journalists, and the social elite went outside, to a considerable extent, of the secluded circle of the pure Jewish mode of living, and if did not mix, then they closely associated with the surrounding native population.
However the main bulk of the Jewish population within the "Jewish Pale" as well as outside of it, kept closely to the precepts of their antiquity. They had a rare unity and harmony which preserved and protected them.
Because of such harmony, the whole Jewry of Russia, regardless of their sharp social stratification that usually leads to class differences was one monolithic whole. In all non-Jewish questions, all Jews from millionaire to beggar reacted unanimously.
Right up to the Revolution of 1917 t all the Jews were dissatisfied that some limitations for their coreligionists still existed in Russia. That is why they all supported and even took an active part in the All-Russian political parties, striving to change the existing social and political order in the country. Some Jews were inclined to the evolutionary reform method of changing the order; others preferred the revolutionary method and with their entire ardor rushed into the revolutionary parties and quickly occupied commanding positions.
Afterwards, when the revolution came and underground activists, agitators and propagandists who were former exiles became rulers of Russia's destiny, this feeling of interconnection and the unity of the whole Jewry saved the life of the members of the Jewish big bourgeoisie. Their fellow tribesmen occupied many ruling positions in those bodies of power, which could, according to their own judgment, have a free hand with the lives of Soviet citizens.
There were virtually no cases of the extermination of the representatives of the biggest Jewish bourgeoisie and the persons of free professions. But the extermination of the non-Jewish bourgeoisie, in the years of terror, was the order of the day.
Of course, the revolution and the abolition of private property could not bypass the Jewish capitalists and proprietors. Their capital was nationalized equally with all the rest and they suffered materially as well. But these losses were compensated by the surpluses which Jewry, on the whole received from the revolution.
The revolution of 1917 brought to all the Jews of Russia not only equality, but also, in fact, a privileged position and many of them were elevated to the position of important personages on a country-wide scale. To deny this means to deny all the known facts, which are not disputed even by the Jews.
The facts are too striking and too obvious. With equality, and even privileged positions, new possibilities opened for Russian Jewry, possibilities that were fully utilized by them in the first thirty-five years of Soviet rule.
The participation by Jews in all the spheres of economic, political and cultural life of Russia, renamed the USSR, was inversely proportional to their number in the country.
Jewish Participation and Their Role in the Cultural Life of Russia
The Jews began to take part in the cultural life of Russia only in the second half of the Nineteenth Century. There was no opposition to their participation from the government, or from the Russian intelligentsia, or from the Russian society as a whole. They were admitted into the Russian environment: in literature, the legal profession, political groupings and various other popular organizations as "Russiana of Judaic faith".
Their civil self-consciousness, in becoming accustomed to the Russian culture, and their peculiar realistic estimation of future possibilities, told them that the future of Russian Jewry was inseparably linked with the future of Russia. This consciousness pushed them in the direction of most active participation in the political life of the country. At that time the Russian Jews, or at least their most educated part, did not think in a serious manner about the "Promised Land", because they were directing their efforts into the betterment of the life of their fellow tribesmen in Russia, not only in the direction of their legal rights, but also in the sphere of the economic and other modes of living.
On the other hand, there were, however, still strong isolationist feelings. The consciousness of being "God's Chosen People", the unwillingness and even fear of fusing with other people by means of mixed marriages and becoming Russian, kept the Jews at a certain distance from the rest of Russia's masses.
Inwardly unexpressed, Jews, just the same, continued to consider themselves as the state within a state or, as Solomon Lourie defined it, "the nation without its language and territory, but with its own law".
Taking part in the All-Russian cultural, social and political life, the Jews brought in a lot of their own specific peculiarities, without even noticing and realizing it. Many of these peculiarities, of course, were of positive, not necessarily negative quality. Each nation, race and tribe has positive and negative qualities, if these qualities are regarded in a broader sense from the viewpoint of a state, nation or race.
Naturally and understandably so, the Jews, at the time of their choice, joined in with those social and political groupings, who had programs which were most advantageous to them.
And just at the time, when the Jews began to take part in All-Russian political organizations, as it is known, an outline of the conflict became apparent. The conflict was due to the divergence of opinions and judgments, appraisals of the known appearances expressed by the members of the same organization, Jewish as well as non-Jewish.
A striking example of this conflict is the attitude toward the Jewish pogroms, which resulted from the repercussions created at the beginning of the 1880’s by the most active revolutionary groupings. These groups known as "People's Freedom" and the "Black Repartition" resorted to terror in their political struggle and organized the murder of Alexander II.
This conflict is so characteristic and so typical of how differently one and the same event may be appraised by members of a same organization or party, holding even the same views, education and social disposition, differing from one another only by their Jewish or non-Jewish origin, that it is worthwhile to pause and elaborate on them. Moreover, similar or analogous conflicts can very frequently be detected in our time as well.
After the murder of the Czar on March 1, 1881, it is known that in some cities of the Ukraine Jewish pogroms occurred with their accompanying violence, destruction of possessions and loss of life.
A sudden change ensued as a result of this among the radically oriented Jewish youth who were taking the most active part in the revolutionary-terrorist activities of the "People's Freedom" and the "Black Repartition". Now the victims of the same terrorist activities which they themselves preached and practiced became their own fellow tribesmen, the Jews... At this time, a sudden turn of events within the conflict occurred. As long as the extermination of the representatives of authority was going on, including the Czar himself, as long as the call of the "Black Repartitionists" was directed at the destruction of properties belonging to the native bourgeoisie, disregarding the violence and murder, and as long as the Jews with their properties were not touched, the hearts of the whole of Russian Jewry were not disturbed.
Thus the Jews and the non-Jews worked harmoniously on the realization of the terrorist program. And no one questioned to which tribe, religion or race a selected victim of the terror belonged; or whether the victim was a "bourgeois" or a representative of power.
Members of the "People's Freedom", whose call was violence and terror, naturally could not remain silent about the Jewish pogroms. In autumn 1881, the executive committee of the "People's Freedom" released a leaflet in connection with the pogroms, and after a while, in the sixth edition of the "People's Freedom" the following was published: "all the attention of the defending people is concentrated now on the merchants, tavern operators and usurers, in a word, on the Jews, of this local bourgeoisie who hastily and passionately, as never before, are fleecing the working people".
As mentioned before, the above leaflet along with the article in the sixth edition of the "People's Freedom" considered the pogroms to be the manifestation and expression of people's anger, directed against the exploiters and oppressors' regardless of whether they were Jews or non-Jews.
Two years later, in the "Supplement" to the "Leaflet of the People's Freedom" an article was published "regarding the Jewish disorders", in which these disorders were interpreted as the beginning of the all-national movement, "not against Jews as Jews, but against the "Zhidy"-Jews, the ones who were the exploiters of the people". The people well understood that the authorities supported them not because they were Jews, not because they were an oppressed people, but only because they were those from whom they took bribes and with whom they made dishonest deals and shared the profits, associating thus in suppressing the working people. The working faction of the "People's Freedom", issuing the leaflet in connection with the Ecatherinoslavsk pogrom of 1883, spoke not against Jews in general, but only against the wealthy Jews, the exploiters of the workers. The "People's Freedom" has nothing against the first, the Jewish workers, and treated them as they did all the rest of Russian workers, but was against the second, the wealthy Jews, and "from its labor point of view has a lot of reckoning to do..."
At the end of the article, the author reminded us that the Great French Revolution also began with an assault against the Jews an referred to Karl Marx" who once explained that the Jews create, like in mirror, (not in an ordinary, but in a prolonged way) all the vices of the surrounding environment and all the evils of the social order, so that when an anti-Jewish movement begins, one can be sure that in it there is a hidden protest against the whole order, and thus the deeper movement starts".
The above excerpt was taken from an article by D. Shub: "Jews in the Russian Revolution" published in the Collection “Jewish World”, New York, 1944.
The author of the leaflet of the "People's Freedom" was a Jew, Saveli Zlotopolsky, a member of the executive committee of the "People's Freedom". Zlotopolsky somehow managed to remain free, after twenty members of the twenty eight member committee were arrested.
The author of the article, published in the sixth issue of the "People's Freedom", was a member of the executive committee named G. Romanenko, who was admitted to the committee after March 1, 1881.
The author of the article "Supplement" to the "Leaflet of the "People's Freedom", which was mentioned above, is unknown.
The authorship of S. Zlotopolsky, for over half a century, was not disputed by anyone, but after the year 1917, the authorship question again came up in connection with the recollections of Anna Korb, who was in 1881 a member of the executive committee of the "People's Freedom". Anna Korb reaffirms that the author of this leaflet was not Zlotopolsky, but Romanenko. An investigator of this question, David Shub, himself a Jew, accepts on faith in his sketch "Jews in Russian Revolution" the belated disclosure by Anna Korb, without explaining the causes why this revolutionary kept silent about it so long.)
But it was not the authorship – be it Jewish, Ukrainian or Russian – that agitated revolutionary circles of Russia so radically.
What was more important was not who wrote the article, but what was written. Furthermore, it was not individually written by anyone person, but in the name of the executive committee of the "People's Freedom" that counts. Because the participation in this revolutionary-terrorist organization was not based on race, religion, nationality and social disposition. The son of the Ukrainian magnate — Dmitri Lizogub, and the Generals daughter Sophia Perovska, and the son of the priest Jacob Stephanovich, the offspring of the wealthy Jewish family Saveli and Gregory Zlotopolsky, and the Jewess-proletarian Gesia Gelfman were active members of the organization.
It was psychologically unthinkable, ethically inadmissible and personally deeply insulting for any of this people, that they should not risk their own lives for the sake of the attainment of that, which according to their thinking, ought to have brought a better future. These people probably did not question what results their actions would bring upon their close or distant relatives.
Why was it possible for them to call for pogroms against landlords and their country estates, as well as against other "bourgeois", but impossible to justify the "people's anger" if its victim happens to be a Jew?
The controversy which took place within the radical-revolutionary circles, at the beginning of the 1880's, in connection with statements made by the members of the "People's Freedom" and the subsequent "Jewish disorder" attracted the most noted radicals-revolutionaries and founder s of the movement: Lev Tikhomirov, Jacob Stephanovich, P. Lavrov, Lev Deich and others.
Summarizing the controversy, David Shub, a Jew who studied it thoroughly many years later after all the passions had settled, wrote: "It cannot be denied, however, that the majority of the Russian revolutionaries at the beginning of Eighties openly evaded and disassociated themselves from the point of view of the Jewish question, expressed in the sixth issue of the "People's Freedom".
"The Jewish disorders", according to Jacob Stephanovich, who became a member of the executive committee of the "People's Freedom" after the first of March, 1881 "is a purely national movement and therefore, we have no right to behave in a negative or even indifferent manner... ". Lev Tikhomirov had also the same viewpoint. This is reaffirmed by Plekhanov who entered into a dispute with Tikhomirov in regard to this question in 1882, already in immigration.
The well known revolutionary P. P. Lavrov, whom D. Shub qualifies as the "doubtless friend of the Jewish people", in a letter he wrote on April 14, 1882 to P. B. Axelrod, who was a Jewish Russian revolutionary, states the following: "I must confess to you that the Jewish question is extremely complicated and practically impossible. For the party, having drawn nearer in our viewpoint with the people and making them rise against the government, it is extremely difficult to solve. To solve it theoretically on paper is very easy, but owing to the presence of people's passions and owing to the necessity of having the people ON ONE'S OWN SIDE wherever possible, it is quite another matter to solve it in practice".
Lavrov's thoughts and understandings were shared as well by many other Jewish revolutionaries who gave up their religious-racial-tribal approach and their demands to various questions, an exception to the general rules and conditions for their fellow tribesmen ( for which, even now, many Jews, occupying key political and cultural positions in the lives of different states and nations, are sory.)
Here is what a Jew L. Deich wrote to the Jew P. Axelrod on this question: "The Jewish question, in practice, actually now is almost insoluble for the revolutionaries. Well, for example, what must they do now in the Baltic region, where the Jews are beaten up? If they should defend them, which means, as Reclu says, "to provoke hate against the revolutionaries who not only killed the Czar but also support the Jews", and thus they find themselves between two contradictions, this' is a simply impossible situation, in practice and in action, for the Jews as well as for the revolutionaries. Of course, the latter must try to obtain for the Jews their rights and permission for them to settle anywhere. But this is, so to speak, activity in the highest sphere. And for the party to conduct reconcilable agitation is very, very difficult at this point in time. Don't you think that this did not grieve or confuse me? Nevertheless, I remain always a member of the RUSSIAN revolutionary party and I will not start to depart from it for a single day, because these contradictions, as well as some other ones, were not created by the party…"
But Axelrod does not agree with Deich's reasoning. In his unpublished article "About the Task of the Jewish Socialist Intelligentsia", which he wrote in 1882, is stated the following: "The programs and, still to an even greater degree, the manifested "public opinion" of the Russian educated classes appeared for the Jews-socialists in Russia something like a revelation, the meaning of which they decided frankly to formulate in front of themselves and others only after a difficult internal struggle. Being accustomed to the thought that the Jews, as a special nation, actually do not exist, that being the part of nowadays Russian subjects, and afterwards becoming Russian citizens, Jews are considered, depending on their class and cultural subdivisions, an inseparable part of corresponding elements of the "native" population. But the Jewish socialist intelligentsia, all of a sudden, saw that the great majority of Russian society and people consider Jews as a special nation, all the elements of which — whether it is a long-skerted Jew, the proletariat, a petty-bourgeois, a usurer, a Russified lawyer or whether he is a socialist getting ready for exile or penal servitude — it does not matter, are harmful; all are, without distinction, “Zhidy”-Jews. The Jews, who are undoubtedly harmful to Russia, must be gotten rid of by whatever means..."
The statements given above and the opinions of the two Jews, active participators in the socialist-revolutionary groupings of the Russian radical intelligentsia, deserve special attention. For, on the one hand, the stakes and created prerequisites for the mass emigration of the Jews from the boundaries of the Russian Empire were outlined; and on the other, prerequisites for the future Zionist movement, which had rapidly grown in less than twenty years, were created; finally, a great number of radically-oriented Jewish youth rushed into the revolutionary circles, endeavoring to restore the crushed and exhausted ideal of the “People's Freedom”.
Some of them, L. Shternberg and Bogoraz, distinguished themselves so much that they were entrusted to edit the last issues of the “People's Freedom” number 11-12, in October of 1885.
Others, for example, M. Gotz, M. Fundaminsky, O. Minor, S. Ginzburg, L. Zalkind and Bogoraz, after receiving experience in these circles, in the second half of the Eighties, later played major rôles in the revolutionary events at the beginning of this century, particularly in the creation of the
Socialist-revolutionary party which played an enormous rôle, in the years of the first revolution (1905), as well as in 1917.
The question raised at the beginning of the Eighties in the controversy between Deich and Axelrod was never raised again. Feelings at that time were such that anyone who dared to raise such a question would be unreservedly identified as one of the “Black Hundreders” and deleted once and for all from the membership of the “cultured and foremost people”, who at that time were synonymous with the "intelligentsia". However, this circumstance in no way hampered the rapidly developed Zionist movement. It was precisely among Russian Jewry that Zionism found its most fertile grounds from 1890 to 1910. Moreover, Zionism enjoyed sympathy and support from the progressive and foremost society.
The very existence and success of the Zionist movement that as evidence and confirmation of the self isolationist tendencies in the Russian Jewry, was never spoken or written about.
But, meanwhile, far from the whole spectrum of its reflections, Zionism ultimately was aimed at creating, in Palestine, a separate and independent state by means of resettlement of all the Jews of the Diaspora, consequently solving the age-long Jewish question once and for all; solving the question, not only in Russia, but also in many other countries, where it existed and demanded its solution.
In 1901, the "Zionists-socialists-internationalists", issued their "Appeal to Jewish Youth" (in the Russian language, published in London), stating accurately and clearly their final goal: "Creation of the Jewish state on a socialist basis.", "in the territory of Palestine and its neighboring countries:
Cyprus, Sinai...", "without the rabbis-obscurantists and the bigoted cult of the Jewish religion..." Among the Russian Jewry there were still many other shades of Zionism, depending on class affiliation, and the degree of education of the Russian Zionists. There were Zionists, who were big capitalists, Zionists who were middle and petty bourgeoisie, Zionists-liberals, Zionists-Marxists and Zionists-orthodox, to whom the Talmud was the highest law and the rabbi was the undisputable authority. Some of them openly enrolled in the membership of Zionist and pro-Zionist organizations, others only promoted them, in various ways, and supported them morally and materially.
But among those who could openly oppose the idea of collecting all the sons of Israel into the "Promised Land", the call of the Zionists was nowhere to be found, and their voices were not heard.
There were no Jewish voices that could call for the liquidation of these self-isolationist Jewish feelings which led to the creation of a "state within the state" and to the complete and unconditional fusion with the people among whom they lived and in whose language they got their education.
We are not interested in the separate nuances of Zionist and pro-Zionist feelings, while examining the Jewish question as a whole, from the point of view of the people of Russia, where the majority of the world's Jewry lived and supported Zionism to various degrees. It is interesting and important to establish something else: did the Jews really and sincerely want to abandon Russia and resettle in Palestine, or to remain in Russia under the condition of a state within a state, living "by their laws", in their isolated circle, without allowing anybody to interfere in solely Jewish matters. At the same time, however, they would take most active part in all the matters of the Russian people, on the same basis as did the native population.
Many public and political personalities of pre-revolutionary Russia began to realize this question with utmost precision and clarity. This question acquired special acuteness after when the Zionist movement took organizational shape at the end of the last century. In 1897, in Basel, Switzerland, on the initiative of Theodor Herzl, the First Zionist Congress was held. The participants were from all the countries in which Jews lived, including many from Russia. In that language which is called "Hebrew", only one delegate, M. Kahan from Gomel, Russia, could pronounce his speech. All the rest of the delegates spoke either in Russian or German, depending upon whether they came from Russia, or Austria and Germany.
Since the Zionist idea was in full conformity with the religious-mystical world outlook and the disposition of the whole of Jewry, it provoked the liveliest response among the Russian Jewry, who were the most numerous in the Diaspora.
The Zionist propaganda began to resound in all the places where even the smallest Jewish community existed. Collections were made for the "Jewish Colonial Fund", by means of selling corresponding shares. Furthermore, constant and regular communications began among the Russian Zionist organizations and those in the other countries.
This did not remain unnoticed by the Russian Government, and in 1903 the Ministry of Internal Affairs gave instructions to the provincial, city and police authorities to combat the Zionist movement within the Russian Jewry.
According to Gershon Svet, who is the present Israeli consul in New York, those measures taken were as follows: to forbid Zionist meetings and congresses; to prevent the conduct of Zionist propaganda in synagogues; to close all the Zionist organizations in Russia; to withdraw the privileges of Zionist activists travel to foreign countries for the purpose of participating in Zionist congresses and meetings; to forbid the sale and distribution of "Jewish Colonial Fund" shares under the penalty of confiscation if discovered in one's possession.
This prescription sounded an alarm to T. Herzl and he decided to obtain an audience with the all-mighty Pleve, then the Minister of Internal Affairs. Herzl succeeded in seeing Pleve at the end of 1903.
In his memoirs Herzl speaks about his journey to Petersburg, his conversation with Pleve and the results of their conversation.
Pleve did not answer Herzl immediately, but rather a while later by letter, giving Herzl to understand that the thoughts and considerations stated in the letter were reported by him to the Emperor Nicholas II.
In the letter to Herzl, Pleve states: "as Zionism has as its aim the creation of an independent state in Palestine, which, in this case, will lead to the emigration of a certain number Jewish Russian· subjects, the Russian Government could regard it favorably.
But, since that time, the Zionists have begun to deviate from their direct aim, and have started to spread propaganda of Jewish national unity in Russia itself. The Government cannot tolerate this course of action because it will lead to the appearance of a group of people in the country, alien and hostile to the patriotic feelings on which each state is founded.
If Zionism returns to its previous program, it can count' on the moral and material support of the Russian Government, especially from that day on, when some kind of practical undertaking will reduce the numbers of the Jewish population in Russia.
In such a case the Government is ready to support the Zionist aspirations, before those of Turkey, easing their activities and even granting subsidies to the emigrating societies".
During his stay in Petersburg Herzl obtained an audience with Vitte, who was known not only as an important dignitary, but also as a man with wide connections in the financial world of Europe, in which the Jews played a dominant rôle.
Vitte disappointed Herzl. In discussing the Jewish question in Russia, Vitte, as Herzl recalls, was rude and told Herzl directly that the government and all Russian patriots cannot be indifferent to the fact that the Jews constitute only five per cent of the population of the Empire, and make up fifty per cent of all the revolutionaries.
Herzl, himself the most ardent advocate of Jewish resettlement in Palestine, departed from Russia quite disappointed. Nevertheless, he obtained some promises from Pleve, even though they contained the condition that the Zionists not interfere in the internal problems of Russia. It is difficult to disagree with the fact that Pleve was, to a considerable extent, right, although from tactical considerations Herzl never said anything about whether he considered Pleve was right or wrong, but limited himself to the reading of Pleve's letter, which is stated above, at the Sixth Zionist Congress.
The projected possibilities of channeling the Zionist movement' or at least part of it in the direction of resettlement and subsequent creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, were acceptable to the Russian Government, but everything was interrupted by the revolutionary events that took place in the years 1904 to 1907.
The Russian Government had no time to deal with the Zionists. The Zionists, seeing the dazzling possibilities of success in their revolutionary endeavor, forgot about Palestine. Among their own masses, they concentrated upon the business of supporting that struggle which was conducted in order to attain realization of all the Jewish longings.
These longings boiled down to the longing for complete and unconditional equality for Jews in Russia, and, above all, towards the possible creation on a legal basis of "a state within the state", and the resultant acknowledgement of Jewish rights to their "personal-national autonomy", despite their dispersion throughout Russia.
The essence of the "personal-national autonomy" was the requirement for the maintenance of pure Jewish social and cultural establishments and organizations, such as newspapers' theatres and learning institutions at the expense of the state, in any settlement of Soviet Union where a certain number of Jews might settle. Non-Jews would have no right whatsoever to influence or to interfere in the internal life of Jewish communities of the would-be "personal-national autonomy", even though the non-Jewish population of a given settlement might be the overwhelming majority.
Jewish enrolment in Russian political life began right after the appearance of the qualified Jewish personnel, who had received their middle and higher education in the Russian schools.
This occurred at the beginning of the Sixties, of the past century, when the first revolutionary-radical circles began to appear, out of which later developed the "People's Freedom", the "Black Hundreders", and at the turn of this century, the "Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries".
A notable rôle in these circles, during the Sixties, was played by a Jew named Utin, who was sentenced to death, but was able to escape to a foreign country in the West. There he became secretary of the Russian section of the Firs International. Utin was in close relation with Karl Marx and actively upheld him in his struggle with Bakunin. Utin ended his career in Russia as a rich merchant. He made an appeal for pardon, was forgiven, and after his return to Russia, reached notable success in the field of trade and finance.
In the next decade, by the end of Seventies, we began to encounter Jews in the radical-revolutionary movement more often, where many of them occupied leading positions in these circles and parties, such as we have already mentioned above, Deich, Natanson, Axelrod, Zundelevich, and many others.
Furthermore, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of this one, the number of the Jewish revolutionaries had grown so big that Vitte having in his hands the statistical figures, could say to Herzl that 50% of the revolutionaries came from the Jewish population which made up 5% of the population of Russia. With this, Vitte had in mind only the revolutionaries, without adding to their number the "oppositionist", and the enemies of the régime. These "enemies of the régime" were made up, almost exclusively, of the Jewish intelligentsia of Russia.
All of what was said above refers to the radical-revolutionary trend of the "Narodism"-Russian populist orientations, which were unique in the Sixties and the Seventies of the last century.
In addition to them, beginning in Eighties, the Marxists started to spring up and develop in parallel form. The Marxists were fore-runners of the social-democratic party, which was the unified body which split, in 1903, into the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.
The first Marxist or Social-Democratic current in Russia was organized in 1883, when the "Liberation of Labor" group was founded. The founders of this group were G. Plekhanov, a Russian, P. Axelrod, a Jew, and L. Deich, also a Jew.
The group grew quickly, and at the beginning of the Nineties, presented itself as numerous current of large membership, consisting of Russians and many Jews as well. Somewhat later, many Georgians also became members.
Among the pioneers of this new movement in Russia were many Jews, who later played important rôles in the All-Russian Marxist revolutionary movement. Some of these were Riazanov (D. Goldendakh), Steklov (U. Nakhamkes, Kozlov (D. Ginzburg), Martov (U. Zederbaum, Dan (F. Gurvich), Martinov (A. Picker), Greenevich (M. Kohan) and many others. The majority of them used pseudonyms, as seen in the list given above.
The growth of the revolutionary feelings at the beginning of the current century extremely strengthened the influx of the new revolutionary power, among whom a great number of Jews were quite apparent.
But, besides that, in a parallel bastion, the Jewish Marxists had created their own party, the Jewish Marxist (social-democratic) party or "Bund". A study of the aims and program of the "Bund" shows that it was in no way different: the same All-Russian social-democratic party, which grew from the group known as the "Liberation of Labor", but it was a separate organization, the members of which could be only Jews.
The true Marxist-internationalists noticed this, and strongly protested against the limitations which were practiced, in fact, within one party. Moreover, the "Bund" had encased within its structure the Jewish symptoms of race and religion, which was the main difference between the “Bund” Marxist and the Marxist-internationalists. These were precisely the differences that Marxist-internationalists aimed to wipe out and destroy within the ranks of the proletarian movement.
At that time the creation and formation of the social-democratic organizations was accomplished on the basis of territorial subdivision, uniting all those who accepted the Marxist ideology and the party's program, regardless of race, religion and nationality.
Upon the creation of the "Bund", fierce controversy flared up about the inadmissibility of division on the basis of race, religion and nationality within the united proletarian movement.
In the process of this controversy the members of the "Bund" even issued a leaflet, in Russian, in which they justified their position by giving the following reasons:
"Generally speaking, it would be a delusion to think that any socialist party can conduct the liberation struggle of the proletariat of an alien nationality to which the party itself does not belong. The proletariat of each nation has worked out its own history, psychology, its own traditions, habits, and finally, its own national tasks. All these conditions reflect themselves in the class struggle of the proletariat, determine its program, form of organization, and so forth. These conditions and peculiarities must be taken into consideration, and must be skillfully exploited. But this is possible only for a party that has grown from the given proletariat which is tied in with it by thousands of fibers, which penetrate by its ideals and understand its psychology. For the party of an alien people, this is impossible".
This leaflet was printed in London, in March of 1903, before the split of the social-democrats into the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.
The controversy ended with the complete and unconditional victory of the "Bund", which not only continued to exist and develop, but also quite actively interfered in the life and activity of the other social-democratic organizations, the non-Jewish ones, specifically, in the activities of the "Russian Social-Democratic Party" both in the Menshevik and Bolshevik factions.
Not only the rank and file members of the "Bund", but also its leaders considered it possible and admissible for themselves most actively to participate in the All-Russian social-democratic organizations, not only as ordinary members, but also as the members of central committee, while at the same time, jealously guarding the "purity" of the Jewish "Bund". Even Jews, who changed their Judaism for Christianity, were not admitted to the membership of the "Bund". This phenomenon was not left unnoticed. But no one dared to raise this question. The psychological atmosphere in the revolutionary circles of that time was such that raising the question itself, would have been qualified as resorting to the methods of the "Black Hundreders" or "obscurantism", which were inadmissible among the foremost and intelligent people. Everyone tolerated this phenomenon, which, during one of the meetings held in Kiev, was called "double social-democratic citizenship". Furthermore, it was said that it would be impossible even for Karl Marx himself, who changed from Judaism to Christianity, to become even an ordinary member of the "Bund".
The Jews from the "Bund" played distinguished roles in "Russian social-democratic movement", before the revolution, during the revolution and even continue to play these roles today in emigration. To be convinced of this, one should only look at several issues of the magazine "Socialist Vestnik", which has been published for many decades in emigration, or to be present at some meeting or lecture of the "Russian Social-Democratic Party".
The non-Jews in this party and in the composition of the so-called "Foreign Delegation" can be counted on the fingers. Furthermore, at the congress of the Second International', representing the "Russian Social-Democrats", it would be futile and hopeless to look for the non-Jewish delegates.
The "Bund" and the RSDP have been so closely interwoven, that it is impossible to establish where the "Bund" ends and the RSDP begins.
Besides the two main currents of the Russian pre-revolutionary social and political life, having the radical-revolutionary character that originated in the circles and groups from the second half of the last century, there also existed in Russia currents of an oppositionist nature, but not of the revolutionary one.
These were the "liberals" and the "democrats" of various shades. The thing that all of them had in common was an oppositionist stand against the internal politics of the government and an opposition to the revolutionary methods to change those politics. Those who actively collaborated with Alexander II were also called "liberals", when he carried out the reforms in the first twenty years of his reign. The emancipation of peasants, judicial reforms, and the introduction of zemstvo and conscription were the major reforms he made. Those who took the oppositionist stand against the measures of limitation introduced by the government during the reign of Alexander II's successor were also called "liberals". Noblemen, city and rural dignitaries, and to a considerable degree, writers, publishers and professors filled the ranks of liberals at that time, before the Twentieth Century.
In the ranks of these "liberals" there were virtually no Jews, although sometimes there were exceptions.
Very soon, however, when these "liberals" took an organizational shape, by calling themselves the "Constitutional Democratic Party", in 1905, many Jews rushed in and in no time occupied leading positions, especially in the organs of the press belonging to or sympathizing with the party.
The founders of the "Constitutional Democratic Party", who were in abbreviated form called "Ca-De" or "Cadets", were liberal rural activists and included I. Petrunkevich, F. Rodichev, Duke Shakhovskoy, Duke Lvov, Duke Trubetskoy and all the big land-holders, as well as a number of distinguished professors, S. Muromzev, P. Milukov, Novgorodzev and others. The "Cadets" by full right were called the most cultured party of Russia.
The political ideal of the "Cadet" party was a constitutional monarchy of the English type, where the “king reigns, but does not rule”, full equality of all subjects of the state, freedom of the press, and broad local administration. In a word, they wanted parlamentarism as was founded in England or France, with ministers responsible to the parliament, and with a strict division of legislative, judicial and executive power.
These political demands by the "Cadets", in essence, were encroachments on prerogatives of the monarch and urged the limitation of his power, and therefore, in ruling circles, the attitude to the "Cadets" was distinctly negative, in spite of the fact that in the ranks of the party, there were many people with titles, rich land-holders and professors with well-known names.
There was a negative, or at best, a watchfully distrustful attitude engendered and strengthened by the circumstance that the ranks of the "Cadets" were being quickly filled by Jews, especially in the editorial office of their party organ "Rech" and in the ideologically nearest daily newspaper the "Russkie Vedomosti", that was published in Moscow and had been considered a serious, "professor's newspaper".
From the inception of the "Constitutional Democratic Party" its most influential leaders were M. Vinaver, I. Gessen, G. Sliozberg, G. Iollos, M. Mandelshtam and M. Sheftel. The opinion of Vinaver and his fellow tribesmen, who were members of the party, not only was taken into consideration, but frequently obeyed.
Among the members of the editorial staff and permanent contributors to the party organ "Rech", Jewish names were the most predominant. The editor was I. Gessen, and one member of the editorial staff was M. Ganfman. Permanent contributors were A. Landa, N. Efros, L. Kliachko, V. Ashkenazi, A, Kulisher, and S. Poliakov-Litovzev.
In the "Russkie Vedomosti" the leading position in the editorial office was occupied by G. Iollas, and among the permanent contributors we see I. Levin, N. Efros, L. Slonimsky, G. Shreider, M. Lourie-Larin, U. Engel, P. Zvezdich, and also the well-known Zionist V. Jabotinsky, who was the foreign correspondent of this newspaper.
The analogous correlation of the Jews to non-Jews was in the provincial and regional newspapers, staffed with an overwhelming Jewish majority, serving the population of various provinces and other parts of Russia. Odessa, Kharkov, Rostov-on-Don, Kiev, Saratov and even remote Irkutsk and Tashkent had smart newspapers with a circulation of many thousands, which actually belonged to Jewish hands. The publishers or editors, as well as a considerable percentage of permanent contributors, were Jews. For example, in Tashkent the largest newspaper was run by a Jew, Smorguner, and in Saratov the newspaper was run by Averbach, a brother-in-law of the well known communist Sverdlov. The "Kievskaia Mysl" was in the hands of a Jew, Kugel, and collaborating with this newspaper were famous Bronstein, known as "Trotsky", D. Zaslavsky-"Gomunkulus", A. Ginzburg-"Naumov", M. Litvakov-"Livrov".
The secretary-editor of the most widely read pre–revolutionary newspaper in Russia "Russkoe Slovo", which the well-known Sytin used to publish, was A. Poliakov, who previously worked for the "Odesskie Novosti" and for the "Birzhevye Vedomosti", the most popular newspaper in Petersburg.
* * *
The facts mentioned above are sufficient to support the point that the degree of Jewish participation in the Russian periodical press, regardless of these Jews' various political affiliations, bound within its influence the public opinion and could bend this opinion in any direction it chose. It thus goes without saying how strong this periodical press was.
I scarcely need to say that the Jewish journalists and publishers approached and elucidated any occurrence and event in the first place from their own point of view: is it useful and necessary for Jews or, on the contrary, is it bad, harmful or dangerous? They reacted according to the worn out common phrase: "what is good for us", meaning by "us" their own fellow tribesmen.
As a result, a great deal about the life of the country and people elucidated in the press was one-sided and tendentious: one thing was over-emphasized, thrusted out and underlined; the other questioned or completely suppressed.
The incident already been mentioned above is, in this respect, an illustration in point. The bloody suppression of the disorders that took place on the Lena gold-fields stirred the whole of Russia and awakened a loud response in the world press. In the press the killed, wounded and arrested workers were listed. Only casual mention was made of the fact that there were victims on the other side also, and that there were casualties among the police and soldiers as well. But generally, nothing was said about these casualties. It was futile to search In the newspapers of that time for a truthful explanation of the real causes that provoked these events. The workers were provoked to act the way they acted by the greediness and inhuman attitude to the just demands of workers who were shamefully exploited by the millionaire Ginzburg, the owner of the gold-fields. Standing on guard for law and order and defending private property the Russian Government had to resort to the extreme measures it took, and, in defending the interests of the Ginzburg, spilled a lot of Russian blood.
The newspapers of that time, which were not in the stream of the oppositionist-revolutionary feelings and were called "right", did not, for understandable reasons, go deeply into the examination of the question, in reporting these events, and did not show of what nationality was that Russian subject, whose property was defended at the expense of Russian blood. In this respect, all were equal before the law both the capitalist-Jew and capitalist non-Jew. Property rights were acknowledged by the law and therefore were guaranteed and defended unconditionally, and those who disturbed these rights were punished.
As a result of this one-sided elucidation of the events, oppositionist or revolutionary feelings were created among those who did not read the "right" press. This stirred up and strengthened anti-governmental currents among those who were already sufficiently agitated and who distrustfully treated and criticized everything that proceeded not from the "left", but from the government or was printed in the "right" press.
It would be appropriate to mention here that, beginning in 1905, in Russia, there was no preliminary censorship of the newspapers and journals.
Newspapers and journals used to come to a censor after they were issued, and if they contained anything that was inadmissible from the government's point of view, then appropriate measures would be taken against the editor and these could include a fine, an arrest of the "editor-in-chief", a ban on publishing the newspaper or journal for a certain period of time, or even closing it completely.
Under such conditions it was possible to issue newspapers and journals that were not only sharply-oppositionist, but even of "socialist-revolutionary", "social-democratic" or of Menshevik and Bolshevik orientation. True, editors frequently were subjected to various punishments, fines or arrests or both. But in spite of these measures, the newspapers and journals were published. It was possible to bypass the arrest or the serving of a sentence by various methods. There was always someone to bail out the editor or to take his place as "editor-in-chief". Money was always found with ease to pay these fines.
In the pre-revolutionary years wide circles of Russian society took a lively interest in the debates of the State Duma, in which there were frequently uttered sharp speeches criticizing the activities of the organs of power. Stenographic accounts were too long to print them fully in newspapers, and therefore, usually excerpts were printed from speeches and statements, which were given in the presence of the journalists, correspondents and representatives of newspapers. The method of formulating and "presenting" the contents of such speeches to readers depended on the correspondents. Frequent conflicts arose because of this. Once, in 1908, one member of the State Duma, in response to a statement from the opposition which demanded more freedom for the press, asserting that all the information, Russian and foreign went through censor ship, stated: "Yes, but, regrettably, not through government censorship, but through the censorship of the "Jewish Pale". He then pointed with his hand to the journalist box where newspaper representatives, who had gained access to the box, sat with the cards which were issued by editorial offices and in which neither the given names nor the surnames of the representatives were stated.
As a result of this statement, not only the cards of the editors were checked right on the spot, but also the passports, in which at that time, the "nationality" of the holder was not shown, as it is now, but rather the given name, surname and religion of the holder.
It turned out during the check that the overwhelming majority of the people who sat in the journalist box as correspondents" of various Russian newspapers were Jews. Only a few men turned out to be non-Jewish. In this journalist box it turned out that twenty-five men were of the "Hebrew faith", and these men were the representatives of various Russian newspapers. Furthermore, even the director of the "press Bureau at the State Duma was a Jew, one by the name Zait-sev-Bershtain. (The full list of these Russian Journalists is attached in the supplement.) Such was the picture, in a most general outline, of Jewish participation in the Russian periodical press which played an enormous role in the propaganda business.
Jews in Russian Literature and Criticism
Jewish participation in Russian literature right up to the revolution was minimal, but not because the works of Jewish authors were not printed or that there were some special governmental restrictions in this respect, or that readers were negatively biased against Jewish authors; quite the contrary, attitudes were courteously lenient towards the works of the few Jewish authors writing in Russian, even though these were less than mediocre.
Neither among the Russian classics of the turn of the century nor among the second-rate writer (if it is possible to categorize them) do we see Jewish authors. Only among third rate writers, who left little trace in Russian literature, do we encounter a few Jews: for example, Simen Ushkevich, Sholom-Alaikhem, Blialika, Chernikhovsky, Rathousz, and Braitman.
The Russian element was alien and incomprehensible to them, thus they limited themselves almost exclusively to fiction and poetry on Jewish themes and the Jewish mode of life. But they were hardly able to bear the criticism that came from Russians, even though it was a mild and well-wishing one. They took such criticism almost as personal insults or as "anti-Semitism and black-hundredism", although they themselves strove to appear at Russian literary gatherings and on the pages of the Russian press.
The matter stood quite differently in the sphere of literary criticism, reviews and "press comments". Here, Jewish journalists a most completely formed the literary attitudes of a wide circle of readers. But these journalists, when rating works of Russian authors, could not give up their own specifically Jewish approach. Only such big connoisseurs of literature as Vengerov, Aikhenwald and Gershenzon (all three Jews) were above purely subjective Jewish emotions and with their literary-critical works brought a valuable contribution into this sphere of Russian cultural life.
This applied to the author's personality, as well as the theme of his work, and to his "purity of vestry", in a reactionary sense. But the overwhelming majority writing reviews, literary as well as theatrical, synchronized their reviews with the existing opinion in the circles of the "foremost society".
The question of who was writing or where his work was printed earlier not only influenced but also determined the success or failure of the literary work of an author.
Russian writers were quite conscious about this and used to take this into consideration when choosing themes and depicting individual characters.
This was the "invisible and secret preliminary censorship" which was difficult to ignore if someone whished his works to appeal to readers.
For an author to publish his works in one of these organs of the press that was considered "reactionary" would automatically close possibilities for him to publish in all the rest of the newspapers and journals throughout Russia which were reputed to be "democratic", "foremost" and "progressive". In Russia periodicals of this sort were considerably more in number than the ones belonging to the "right" press, and their circulation greatly outnumbered those belonging to the latter.
Perhaps, mainly in this, one ought to look for an explanation of the phenomenon that in Russian fiction of the quarter century immediately preceding the revolution of 1917, one seldom encounters "positive heroes" among the patriotically inclined (in the finest sense of the word) conservative persons. An irreproachably honest policeman or a state official nor an ideological struggle against anti-patriotic or anti–state currents will be encountered in Russian fiction of that time. However, in real life such persons existed! And there were many of them; quite a few of them paid with their lives for loyalty to their duty, and to the oath which they made...
For each profession, class post or social group there existed certain firmly established patterns which it was not advisable to circumvent or to disregard if an author wanted his works to be published.
Without getting too deeply into this question, and without expanding it, let us glance at how in Russian literature, as in any other verisimilitudinous literature, the "Jewish question" and individual Jewish characters are represented. From an immoral viewpoint, we would be looking in vain for a common, negative Jewish character of the Shylock type or even an ordinary swindler in the Russian fiction of that time. But such types did exist among the six million Jewish masses in Russia, needless to say. To see them, one only has to be serious and objective in investigating this question.
Was this not the result of that "invisible and secret censorship" which used to oppress Russian literature during the last quarter century before the revolution in Russia?
This "censorship" exerted its influence not only contemporarily, but also extended into the past; appraising the great Russian writers, long since dead, putting them on the list of" Judaeophobes" (the term "anti-Semitism" did not exist at that time). Gogol, Pisemsky, Dostoevsky, Leskov were not "in good repute" among those who passed judgment about Russian literature.
You see, Gogol gave a true character of Yankel (in "Taras Bulba") and an accurate description of the Jewish pogrom. Pisemsky gave in “Turbulent Sea” a striking image of the Jewish tax-collector, Galkin, ("who diligently and precisely used to cross himself") and his sons. Dostoevsky foresaw the role of Jews in Russia and with this provoked the hatred of all of Jewry. Leskov made the Russian clergy positive types.
Lev Tolstoy also gave image of the nouveau-rich Jew – the contractor in his novel "Anna Karenina" – the well-known Moscow millionaire contractor, Poliakov, naming him "Bolgarinov". A patron of art, in the finest sense of the word and a great landlord, Bolgarinov receives Stive Oblonsky with impeccable manners, who arrives asking for a position. The reader will not find the slightest negative trace in the "gentleman" Bolgarinov; however, to make up for this, scarcely anyone would consider Oblonsky and his conversation with Bolgarinov an attractive or rousing tribute to Russian ancestral nobility.
Jews — Russian Lawyers
The judicial reform of Emperor Alexander II instituted the Russian legal profession as a free profession.
A lawyer (barrister) was placed by the law in a position completely independent of the executive power. This gave him possibilities of action, of course within the framework of the law, to initiate legal procedural changes and to maintain the expedience, justice and mercy of Russian courts.
Speeches delivered in court by barristers were not subject, on the strength of the Royal Decree to the Governmental Senate, to any limitations of censorship, even during the existence of preliminary censorship. Owing to this, it was possible to print them fully in the periodical press, even in those cases, when there were thoughts and words in the speeches which could not have been printed had they not been pronounced in court. Having such an advantage, barristers with oppositionist tendencies often inserted elements critical of the existing order and social system into their speeches.
On the other hand, a lawyer himself would arrange his own fees with his client. Whereas the client had to choose his lawyer according to his own discretion, he chose the one whom he considered to be most adroit and able to defend his interests. However, the interests of people who used to turn to lawyers were not always in harmony with norms of law and morality.
The independent legal profession, newly created in Russia, opened wide opportunities for persons with the juristic education which was required in order to be admitted to the bar. Opportunities for success in life were in no way smaller, perhaps even greater, than in the civil service.
Young educated jurists, regardless of their religion, racial or national origin, rushed into the legal profession. In this respect, there were no limitations for anyone during the first decades of the existence of the legal profession.
In the Sixties and Seventies of the last century the idealistic youth made up the first membership of the Russian bar and laid the foundation of that high morality which was characteristic of the whole Russian court, the judges, the prosecutors and the lawyers.
The Jews were not an exception. Because these were the decades when assimilationist tendencies among the educated Jews prevailed, they did not separate their future or the future of all Jewry from the future of Russia. The conflict of the beginning of the Eighties (in the last century) had not come yet.
The free profession of a lawyer, to a certain extent, is a profession of being an intermediary between two sides. And very frequently one or another court's decision depended on a clever and able intermediary. The very mediation of the two thousand years was the basic Jewish occupation, providing them with means of existence. It is in this sphere they reached perfection, feeling themselves in their own element. They rushed into the legal profession, preferring it to the civil service. At that time, there was no difficulty for Jews to enter legal professions.
A good example of this was when the prosecutor for the Odessa district court, a Jew, A. Passover, voluntarily refused a civil service position in favor of a legal profession. This incident took place in 1872, long before the appearance of real limitations for Jews in the civil service. Passover's case was not an exception. Many other Jews, upon entering the civil service, did the same thing.
Knowing this, it is impossible to believe the widely spread opinion that the Russian Government forced the Jewish jurists into the legal profession. It should be remembered that restrictive measures appeared only in the third decade after the reforms of 1864.
Besides these motives (they cannot be denied), there were also incentives of a different order, both idealistic and materialistic: a free lawyer was in a position to participate and influence political and social questions; also he was free to run his own life and to do better financially than in the civil service.
There were still two more motives, which did influence Jewish jurists, prompting them to prefer the legal profession to the civil service. Nothing was said or written about the motives, but their existence is undeniable. For a Jew, brought up in the private life of a Jewish environment, keeping up with all the numerous and complicated ceremonies of his religion, it was not easy psychologically to live in the Russian Orthodox environment, which was an environment of Russian officialdom. It was also not easy for an orthodox Jew to participate in the ceremonial parts of the Russian court, which was inseparably linked with Christianity.
Besides that, an overwhelming majority of them having grown up in the "Jewish Pale" and therefore well aware of the attitudes of the native populace towards the Jews, young Jewish jurists could not disregard these attitudes when choosing their careers. These Jews could not acquire, even in the cloak of the minister of justice, the due authority and respect at that time from the obscure masses of the semi-literate population, full of prejudices and bias against those, who, to their understanding, were "enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ". Subconsciously, they realized this and acted accordingly.
All this taken together pushed the Jews into the legal profession' which was continually filled with more Jews.
Entering into the legal profession, they understandably did not cease to be Jews, and therefore preserved that "inner aspect" which distinguishes them from all other nationalities. This did not remain unnoticed by their non-Jewish colleagues, although, as mentioned before, to raise this question in front of the jurists, was considered unethical and insulting to those of high principles, which were sacred for the Russian intelligentsia and which had been laid into the foundation of the Judicial Reform.
When in the Eighties the period of various limitations for Jews began, the majority of Russian jurists definitely disapproved of those measures which were introduced by the government, particularly those limiting the percentage quota for the Jewish lawyers. The same position was taken by an overwhelming majority of the Russian society and press.
Nevertheless the percentage quota of jurists was introduced: 15% for jurists of the Warsaw, Kiev and Odessa judicial districts; 10% for Petersburg and Moscow, and 5% for all the remaining districts of the Russian Empire.
These limitations were applied only to persons of the Judaic religion and did not extend to the Jews of Christian religion. This prompted quite a few Jews, who were indifferent to the religious question, to change to one of the Christian religions and to acquire immediately those rights from which they had been restricted while they remained in the Judaic religion.
The quota was introduced on the basis of the report by the Minister Manacein, approved by the Czar, and was considered "temporary", pending the conception and inauguration of the corresponding law.
The working-out of the permanent law concerning the Jews at the bar was entrusted to a special commission, comprising senators, judges, professors and representatives of lawyers.
This commission worked for several years (from 1894 to 1904), thoroughly studying and discussing this difficult question. The draft was presented only in 1904 to the State Council for approval, but was not approved owing to the situation on the eve of the first Russian revolution. The question of dealing with the Jewish percentage in the legal profession was until 1917 based on, as mentioned above, "temporary rights".
This question indeed was not easy. The opinions of individual members of the commission were quite divers. Some were against any sort of percentage quota; others were in favor of complete prohibition of Jews as barristers in Russian courts; and still others questioned the expediency and the logic in the established quota being guided exclusively by the Judaic faith.
To the latter faction belonged the well-known lawyer F. N. Plevko, who, when the commission passed the bill, reserved his opinion, which he stated in writing. "Limitations, based on religion", according to Plevko, "cannot be accepted as satisfactory, because morally unstable people can by-pass these limitations by means of baptism. Jews cannot possess the moral qualities inherent in Russian people, and therefore cannot be the bearers of Russian legal conscience. Acceptance into the ranks of barristers of certain categories must be based on nationality or belonging to a known people or tribe and not on religion. This is why, wrote Plevko, it is better to increase the Jewish percentage for the Jews of Judaic faith, up to 15 and even to 20%, but not to open the legal profession to the baptized Jews".
The opinion of Plevko was not approved by the majority of the commission. Thus right up to the Revolution of 1917 there existed in Russia some limitations for the Jews of""Judaic faith, but these did not apply to the baptized Jews.
Such was, in general, the condition of the Jewish barristers in Russian law-courts.
But besides the "barristers" there existed also the institution of the "assistant barristers" — jurists working for any rightful and competent barristers. Their number was not restricted and a great many Jews circumventing some of the limitations filled these ranks, which were actually the ranks of Russian lawyers.
The participation, the significance and the influence of Jews in the Russian legal profession was enormous and grew incessantly, in spite of all the limitations.
Russian Jewry at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century
Towards the beginning of this century Russian Jewry was a solidly united body of six million, in which, in spite of social stratification, all were unanimous concerning the question of mutual support in regard to the negative attitude towards the regime, which did not want to abolish the existing restrictions for people of the Judaic faith.
Making up less than four per cent of the population of Russia, and, in spite of the percentage quota, there were more than twelve per cent of Jews having higher education. This enabled them to take an active part in the cultural life of the country and to exert a considerable influence on the feelings of the broad masses, and in particular, on the attitudes of the intelligentsia and the youth.
The newspaper business, criticism, the legal profession and, to a considerable degree, literature were under strong Jewish influence and, as such, reflected the attitude of all of Jewry towards the regime.
And when, at the beginning of this century, the revolutionary and sharply oppositionist feelings towards the government started to grow and get stronger, the Jews treated them not only sympathetically but also took a most active part in them, coming at once to the surface in the crest of events.
For the government these feelings and the deliberate Jewish activity did not remain unnoticed and it started to show tendencies to further increasing the restrictive measures against the Jews. This reaction only aggravated in the Jews their negative feelings to the regime.
The Kishinev pogrom, the unsuccessful Japanese War, the ensuing terrorist activities (in which the Jews took more than a small part): all these taken together heated up passions and created preconditions for the big revolutionary events which came in the years 1904-1906.
Russian Jewry assisted in every possible way those who were struggling against the regime. Some openly and others covertly rendered moral and material support to the anti-government movement and in the proper way elucidated Russian and world events.
By this time more than a million Jews had emigrated from Russia to the USA. Many of these emigrants were taking an active part in the political life of America, particularly its periodical press, always maintaining the closest ties with their fellow tribesmen in Russia and, understandably, explaining many events from the point of view of those Jews who had remained in Russia.
Regular and lively connections were maintained, through the Jews living in border areas of Russia, with the European countries where a substantial number of revolutionaries from Russia resided as political émigrés ( among whose ranks was a large percentage of Jews). Through these connections, people were skillfully led across the border into Europe, and illegal propaganda literature was passed from Europe into Russia.
The government struggled with this situation, but without particular success: the channels for these illegal links with foreign countries were too numerous and too diverse.
The persons engaged in these activities were almost exclusively Jews.
Furthermore, inside the country, in all the oppositionist and revolutionary groupings, circles, organizations and parties, Jews played an enormous role. They were enrolling in committees and central organs as organizers (seldom as executives) or as initiators of all kinds of political activity, even as far as terrorism.
The many years' activity of Evno Azef, the instigator of many big terrorist acts, is well known to all. Michail Gotz, Bronstein-Trotsky, Nakhamkes-Steklov, Gertsenstain, Gershuni, the three Tsederbaums and a great many other Jews staffed the "revolutionary headquarters" and directed the activities of the government's enemies, the oppositionists as well as the revolutionaries.
And thus it is not surprising that the broad masses of Russia, watching all this, very frequently identified the word "Zhid" — Jew — with "revolutionary" or "rebel". In the eyes of the uncivilized masses, the latter began to substitute the former. This engendered sharp anti-Jewish feelings and created preconditions for the "Jewish disorders", as they were earlier called by the "People's Freedom", and later as "pogroms".
In the profoundness of the nation, whose ancestors created Russia and defended it with incredible sacrifices, a protest began to grow subconsciously against those new-comers who so easily and freely became the masters of the fate of their motherland. These new-comers began to treat scornfully many of those things which had been sacred to the nation and which were inseparably linked with the very concept of "Russia-Fatherland-Motherland".
To deny the presence and the growth of these feelings is hardly possible, especially now after the year 1917. It was in the turbulent years of the revolution that these feelings poured out in the bloody pogroms, perpetrated by the units of the Red Army which were commanded b the Jew Bronstein-Trotsky, (Glookhov, Novgorod-Seversk in 1918 and also the pogroms created by the Petlura men, among whose members of the government was one Ukrainian minister — a Jew from Kiev, Margolin. Another of the closest collaborators in organizing the movement of Makhno was the Jew, Arshinov. And finally, the feelings appeared as a certain "anti-Semitism", about which many books were written by the Jews, both communists (Larin): and non-communists (Schwartz and others).
These feelings latently existed in the first years of this century and irresponsible elements took advantage of them. This resulted, in the years of the first Russian revolution and in the years immediately preceding it, in a number of Jewish pogroms. The most known pogrom took place in the city of Kishinev in 1903, during which there were human sacrifices (49 killed).
The Kishinev pogrom provoked a storm of indignation not only in Russia but also in the whole world and embittered the Jews still more who were convinced that the pogrom was organized on "order" from the government, an attitude that was taken up by the world press.
That the "order" to organize the pogrom in Kishinev really existed may be sincerely doubted. Nowhere and at no time were there any proofs found that any such or similar "order" was issued by the Minister Pleve, neither before the 1917 nor after it, when all the archives of the Ministry of
Internal Affairs ended up in the hands of the revolutionary leaders. Through an objective study of all that was printed in connection with the pogrom (and very much was printed!), it is really possible to blame the government for its inability to put a stop to the pogrom with lightning speed by use of its police and army. The government was not able to stop the pogrom until after two days of strife, only after it made numerous arrests and dispersed the thugs. To call this delay an "order" means consciously to look for a reality.
No one accuses Kerens and Trotsky in pogroms, although during their command of the armed forces of Russia pogroms occurred which were incommensurably greater than in Kishinev. During these pogroms there were a great many victims and mass beatings of the Jews in Kalush and Tornopl in 1917 and in Glukhov and Novgorod-Seversk in 1918.
To organize a pogrom by means of an "order", without the presence of a corresponding feeling in the masses is not only difficult, but even impossible — it is scarcely necessary to prove this. In these cases it is appropriate to blame the authorities in using insufficient energy and speed to end the pogroms. And here Pleve, Kerensky, Trotsky and the Ukrainian minister Margolin would all be culpable; if it were proven that they could have stopped the pogroms immediately.
Two years later, in October of 1905, a pogrom occurred in Odessa, which resulted in many sacrifices. Among the victims were Jews, police and soldiers, who suppressed the pogrom instigators.
This time there was a good action by the Jewish fighting group created by the party "Poale-Zion", which, after the pogrom, sent its representative to Odessa to investigate the event. The account was published in 1906 in Paris in a pamphlet entitled "the Odessa Pogrom and Self-defense of Poale-Zion"
(94 pages) (Publisher — "The Western Central Committee of Self-defense of Poale-Zion").
The representative (whose name is not given), states, in giving the characteristics of Neigardt, the governor of the city of Odessa, the chief of police, General Val, and the public rabbi of Odessa, Kreps, in the following words:
"Neigardt — this is a Russian official, a Russian executioner, a provocateur, an official scoundrel, yet all in some European taste".
"The General Val — had a rough and sinister look, like to stamp with his feet, swear, growl bestially; in a word, he was a frank and unsophisticated executioner".
"The public rabbi — the well-known scoundrel Kreps reigned for a long time in the Odessa rabbinate contrary to the general wish".
Further in the pamphlet is a description of how the self-defense was created and armed: "a special committee of armament' which bought the weapons, was appointed; fifteen groups from the students were formed, where each group was identified by a number. Before the beginning of the pogrom, there were two hundred revolvers. But the next day, on Wednesday, one professor, a very brave man, got one hundred and fifty further revolvers". "On Wednesday a lot of weapons were distributed in one of the Zionist synagogues…"
On the previous page (51) of the same pamphlet, we read: "At the huge rallies in the university, the revolutionary organizations arranged money collections for the purchase of weapons, not only for defense but also for the possibility of an armed uprising..."
The acknowledgement, in the above pamphlet, by the representative of "Poale-Zion" himself that the aim of all the arming was not only self-defense but also "armed uprising" deserves special attention because it indicates that the activity of the Jewish self-defense went beyond the framework of the actual self-defense. It set itself a much wider task: the overthrow of the existing order by means of armed uprising. The distribution of weapons in one of the Zionist synagogues imparted to all the "disorders" or "pogroms" in Odessa a somewhat different character than normal and justified the self-defense of citizens, especially in those cases when local authorities were unable to establish order and to defend the lives and property of peaceful citizens.
Knowing all which is explained above, there is no need to be surprised that the Odessa pogrom far surpassed, in number of victims killed, 'the Kishinev pogrom.
There were three days of actual war in Odessa, not only with killed and wounded but also with numerous "prisoners". According to the newspaper reports of the time, there were 800-900 "captives" taken by the insurgents. The "captives" were taken to the university headquarters of the insurgent "self-defenders". According to the findings of the "Poale-Zion" representative, the number of "captives" was actually one-tenth of the above figure and did not exceed 80-90 persons. Also there, at the university, the insurgents were checking for any provocateurs among the "captives" and, as the representative expresses, used to make "personal" identity.
The Jewish groups of "self-defense", not only did checking but also searching, even of those who "walked by" and especially of gentiles. Here is how the pamphlet describes this checking: "A man, dressed in a sheepskin coat with a bundle tied in a red kerchief, walks on a street: we start to untie the bundle and find in it a revolver, like that carried by city police. Who? Where from? Not a word in reply, he only flattens himself against the wall and moves his eyes in all directions. I will never forget the expression of these eyes. All of a sudden a man rushes up and says: 'He is a policeman. He is from our station.' You are on watch there? Yes? No answer; his face is red. Ah! Provocateur! Changed your clothes, came to ruin ours! I shoot at him, wound him in stomach, but do not kill him. Then we start to finish him with sticks. I pushed him in some door: it is pitiful and ugly to watch how he is finished off. Behind the door he passes away".
About 500 human lives — such was the result of the Odessa pogrom. To establish this number with complete authenticity and to determine how many Jews and how many non-Jews were is hardly possible. According to Jewish sources, 302 Jews were killed; according to government sources, over 200 non-Jews were killed. Concerning the non-Jewish who were killed. The pamphlet states: "There were many ruffians killed. No one counted them and no one made an effort to find out their number; in any case, it is believed that there were at least a hundred".
The count and identification were also hampered by the fact that the corpses picked up were brought to places under the control of government authorities who did not bother themselves with the identification of the dead, or with who was Jewish or non-Jewish. It was for this reason there were arguments and accusations of the police later in the "theft of Jewish corpses" which should have been buried in the Jewish cemetery.
Without doubt, many Christians were among the killed "defenders" along with Jews — insurgents who took an active part in the struggle along with the Russians.
The "Poale-Zion" representative sees the cause of the pogrom in the "anti-Semitism of the masses", and explains this "anti-Semitism" in the mutually contemptuous relationship between the Jews and non-Jews wherever the two lived side by side. Christians, says the pamphlet, scare their children with the words: "a Jew will put you in a bag". And the Jews scare their children with: "goy will put you in a bag".
It is obvious that in the presence of such feelings the smallest spark can cause an explosion and turn tense relationship into an active pogrom.
What was the spark which provoked the pogrom in Odessa and in the other places during the stormy months of the first Russian revolution? An explanation of this as being the "order" or "command" of the Russian Government, as already mentioned above, cannot sustain serious criticism: since it lacked the corresponding feelings among the broad masses, it is hardly possible to rouse these masses with this "order".
Perhaps it was a provocation from the side of the authorities, as is frequently used to explain such pogroms? The representative of the "Poale-Zion" answers this question thus: "I travelled to Odessa precisely in order to find a purely provocative pogrom, but — alas! — did not find it... " And he continued: "The tales about hooligans (if this word is not to be understood ethically) had been invented by imbecile Jewish gossipers who were afraid to look at the truth, and by cunning liberals who wished to get rid of the frightful question with cheap solutions."
Besides the theories of "order" and "provocation" in the attempts to explain what may have served as a "spark" for the explosion there exists still one more version: the striking activity of the Jews in all kind of appearances and demonstrations directed against the government and the existing order; as rule, all these demonstrations were accompanied by shouts and slogans evidently of an insulting and blasphemous character against those, whom the broad masses, the national conscience, respected and esteemed. Heart-rending yells: "Down with Nicholashka! Down with priests!" at meetings and demonstrations, directed and inspired by "revolutionaries" consisting of an excessively large percentage of Jews, provoked a reaction, the edge of which had been directed against all the Jews in general.
The assertion about the Jewish role in revolutionary events of that time, not infrequently provoking Jewish pogroms, is confirmed even by the membership of the "Coalition-Soviet" in Odessa. The "Coalition-Soviet", capturing the university building, directed the "defense" and collected means and weapons "in case of armed uprising".
"The Coalition-Soviet" was composed of eight members: two representatives from the social-democrats (one from each of the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks); one from the "Bund"; one from the "S-Z" (socialist-Zionists); one from the S-P; one Armenian; one from the Georgians and one from the Poles. Both the social-democrats and the S-P representatives were Jews. There was not a single Russian or Ukrainian. (The latter is disputed, but nowhere and at no time, as much as could be established was the names and nationality of these three members of the "Coalition-Soviet" stated.)
In Kiev, approximately at the same time, a crowd of demonstrators under the leadership of two Jews – lawyers Shlikhter and Ratner, seized the building of the City Duma, broke and tore up portraits of the Czar and the State Emblem, and started to organize the "People's Militia". Also on the spot, in the City Duma, a collection of means and weapons was made. Shlikhter arrived at the meeting on horseback, followed by a crowd with red banners and flags. From the crowd came continued shouts, full of insults directed against the Czar, the government, the army, the police and religion. (Afterwards, in 1928, Shlikhter was Commissar of Agriculture in the Ukraine.)
In St Petersburg at that time the "Soviet of Workers' Deputies" was organized. The chairman was a Russian-Ukrainian, Khrustalev-Nosar, and the vice-chairman a Jew, Bronstein-Trotsky. On the proposal of Trotsky, in the absence of the chairman Khrustalev, (who at that time was already arrested) the resolution of an armed uprising was adopted. A call to an armed uprising or a participation in it entailed the heaviest penalties, including death. Khrustalev was aware of this and, not wishing to expose participants of the Soviet Workers' Deputies to such risk, was against such a resolution. Trotsky also knew and understood this. But, in spite of this, taking the advantage of the chairman's absence, he put the resolution of an armed uprising through, uprising that took the lives of those many who voted for the Trotsky's proposal.
(Afterwards, during the First World War, Khrustalev voluntarily appeared in Russia and expressed his wish to take part in the "defense of the Motherland"; whereas Trotsky spent this time in the USA, and left for Russia only after the overthrow of the Czar in 1917.)
* * *
A great many examples of similar Jewish activities in the Russian revolutionary movement can be given, but the above are sufficient in order to judge the cases and grounds for pogroms in Russia.
The fact that the opinion exists in the whole world about Russia and Russians as the people and the country of constant pogroms, systematic oppressions and persecutions of Jews necessitates at least a general clarification of the Jewish sojourn outside Russia and their interrelations with those nations on whose territories they lived in dispersion.
A work of this volume does not permit enumeration in detail all the conflicts between the Jews and the nations among which they were dispersed. Therefore, the list is given here contains only the pogroms registered by Jewish historians. The biggest pogrom, according to the number killed was in Alexandria, in the year 68 A. D. During this pogrom 56,000 Jews were killed. It occurred at a time when Christianity was only in its embryonic stage, and was not a predominant but a persecuted religion. The following pogroms took place
Mass pogrom in Spain
Toledo and Nuremberg
Toledo ( 1,640 killed)
Lisbon ( 2,000 killed)
All the English Jews in jail
Slaughter in Great Poland
Rothenburg and other cities
The above listed are only pogroms. Besides them there are far more registered "expulsions", "evictions" and all kinds of prohibitions and restrictions, and also orders that the Jews had to wear on themselves a sign of distinction such as a special form of pointed cap.
All these took place not in Russia and came not from Russian people, but from Italians, Spanish, Germans, English, Poles, Hungarians, Arabs, French, etc.
Perhaps we should give here a conclusion which was made by Solomon Lourie, the professor of the highest learning institution of Russia. This conclusion he stated in his book, published in 1922 in Leningrad: "The cause of anti-Semitism ought to be looked for in the Jews themselves. This is clear to a majority of scholars. But because anti-Semitism up to now remains the evil of the day, the fighting question, and then naturally, such an explanation of the anti-Semitism receives an appraising smack. Scholars are not content to ascertain that the Jews in these or other respects differ from the rest of the ancient world, but still find it necessary to explain the anti-Semitism in the way that the Jews are either much worse or much better than their neighbors". (The above stated words of the professor Lourie pertain to the pre–Christian period. But if the one word "ancient" is stricken out from the whole quotation then all that is said can be attributed to the present.)
To explain the fact as simply incidental, that wherever Jews appear also appear manifestations of "Judaeophobia" or (as it is now not quite precisely called) “anti–Semitism”, is hardly possible.
The Russian people, and the country they created, is no exception.
How to get rid of this more than two thousand years' old phenomenon is outside the scope of this work, which, as its title shows, is limited to the description of Jewish life in Russia and USSR.
Russia, if it is permissible to bring it once more to the reader's attention, was the first country in which the legislature on its own initiative proclaimed a complete desegregation in learning institutions (in 1804), hoping in this way painlessly to assimilate Jews with the native population. This hope was not realized. And after eighty-two years (in 1887) restrictive government measures appeared and the percentage quota was introduced into learning institutions, quota which was mentioned in the foregoing account.
Throughout the history of mankind runs the "mutual repulsion" between Jews and non-Jews, irrespective of their nationality, language and culture. Now getting stronger, now getting weaker, this "repulsion" engendered all the conflicts between the non-Jews and the Jews, conflicts that frequently turned into all kinds of discriminations and pogroms.
There exist different opinions about the real causes of this "repulsion". Some, for example prof. Lourie, see this cause in the "special spiritual aspect" of Jews, serving as an obstacle to the natural assimilative process in their long common life with other nationalities and tribes.
Others, for example M. Freedlender, see this cause in the envy of the non-Jews towards the morally perfect Jews and their material success in the economic sphere.
Thirdly, look for the root of all evil in the sphere of religious differences and the corresponding active propaganda of predominant Christian church. (This is the viewpoint of all Jewish and an overwhelming majority of non-Jewish investigators of this question.)
Without going into detailed examination, which point of view is closer to the truth — it is possible that a portion of the truth is in each one — here, in conclusion, is also interesting to note the statements on this question made by the well-known Jewish historian, Cicil Roth. The statements are given by S. Poliakov-Litovtsev in his "Agasphera Legenda", published in the ("Jewish World" Collec. II). "Records of our (Jewish) chroniclers, formerly quite truthful, are deprived of perspective, and therefore involuntarily distort historical objectivity describing these events. Quite often they are isolated from the conditions in which they have occurred and the circumstances from which they came. Thus our chroniclers invariably ascribe to anti-Semitism, the religious and racial hatreds, every act of mob violence, victims of which turned out to be Jews, even when these had other causes and were directed against not only the Jews alone. The Jewish martyrologists took little account of it and from this sorrow and misfortune common to all mankind acquired the character of a solely Jewish calamity in their records.
In the year 1278 in London, 267 Jews were hanged. They were accused of having cut off a fraction of the gold from coins. But at the same time, many Christian goldsmiths were executed with the Jews on the same charge".
Further, C. Roth gives the whole range of calamities and catastrophes in which the Jews also suffered; however the chroniclers were interested only in the Jewish victims. The result is a picture of calamities and pogroms affecting Jews only.
Besides that, as C. Roth correctly notices, during all mutinies and outrages it is much easier to ransack Jews for the simple reason that their possessions were moveable, while possessions of non-Jews often consisted of all kind chattel and real estate.
The corrective, introduced by C. Roth, merits special attention. If we consider the times during which various excesses occurred on the territory of Russia, then we will see that they always coincided with all kinds of other agitations and disturbances excited by the state of the national masses. In periods of peace there were no pogroms for decades.
The Bailis Affair
Most of the pogroms in Russia took place at the beginning of this century. The result of these pogroms was a still much greater solidarity of the Jewish ethnic group and strengthening of its conviction of the necessity of carrying on the struggle against the regime in every possible way. Besides the Jewish pogroms, there occurred still one more event that rocked not only all of Russian society but also the whole world. This was a trial in Kiev dealing with the accusation of Bailis in a ritual murder.
The possibility itself of such a trial in the enlightened Twentieth Century raised a storm of indignation and protests in the world press. The press did not spare any ink in describing everything that took place in connection with this trial, and, at the same time, making many uncomplimentary comments about Russia and its regime. The words "pogrom" and "trial of Bailis" were linked with Russia in the most uncomplimentary manner, raising ideas and feeding imaginations about the nation and the country as wild, uncultured and lawless. Accusations of Jews in ritual murders, with the aim of obtaining the blood of Christians for Jewish religious ceremonies are just as old as the history of the Jewish sojourn in dispersion. There is no country or nation (where Jews lived) in whose history there was not a case of accusations and trials in ritual murders.
Among the dark and unenlightened national masses of the Christian world, there existed throughout the centuries a conviction that the Jews do indeed commit the ritual murders, in spite of the fact that not a single religion can carry the responsibility for the deeds of its individual sects and that all kinds of religious cruelties are always condemned by religions.
It is not incidental and not without foundation that even in the Sixteenth Century (in 1564) in Poland it was most strictly forbidden by the decree of the King Sigismund-August to provoke accusations against the Jews of ritual murders. This decree was issued at the request of the Jews themselves. At that time they enjoyed great influence in Poland and had the widest "personal-national" autonomy.
And when in Kiev, in 1911, the body of a murdered boy was found, rumor ascribed the murder to the Jews; a judicial process, known as "The Bailis Affair", commenced.
The pages of the Russian and the world press were filled with reports of the trial, creating an unhealthy atmosphere, and, directly and indirectly, accusing the Russian Government of everything. And the government indirectly pointed an accusing finger not to any cruel faction or sect who may have committed the murder but to all Jews in general.
Here is what we read about this trial in the book by S. S. Oldenberg, "The Reign of Emperor Nicholas II", published in 1949 in Munich by the "Society for the Dissemination of Russian National and Patriotic Literature".
"From the 24th of September to the 28th of October in the court of Kiev, the examination of the trial – the famous Bailis Affair – took place, attracting hundreds of foreign correspondents and observers.
Even in March 1911, when a twelve year-old boy, Andrey Ushchinsky, was found killed in Kiev, whose body turned out to be bloodless and had 47 pricked wounds, the rumor was at once spread that the boy allegedly had been killed by the Jews, with the aim of using his blood in some kind of secret ceremony.
Some representatives of judicial power, in particular the public prosecutor of the Judicial Chamber, Chaplinsky, undertook the task of proving this version. The local police investigation, however, had indicated something completely different — there were findings indicating that the boy was killed by a gang of thieves. But the advocates of the "ritual" version stated that the police had been bribed by the Jews. In the Duma, the right-wingers even introduced an inquiry in connection with this (in May 1911).
Ignoring the criminal investigators who did not believe in the "ritual" version, the prosecutor, at last, found witnesses testifying that Ushchinsky had allegedly been kidnapped by an office employee of the brick factory, Mendel Bailis, and, along with other unidentified persons, killed him. In August 1911, Bailis was arrested. Contrary to Russian custom the investigation dragged on for over two years until finally, in the autumn of 1913, the affair was brought to court.
The Russian and foreign press showed their unusual interest in this affair. Notable Russian writers and publicists of left orientation protested against the "bloody calumny" on the Jews. The most distinguished lawyers of Russia gathered to defend Bailis. They were N. P. Karabchevsky, V.A. Maklakov, O. O. Gruzenberg and others.
From its side, the right-wing press, led by the "Novoe Vremia" was out to prove the ritual character of the murder. And in assistance to the prosecutor, G. G. Zamyslovsky, a member of the State Duma, and the well-known Moscow lawyer, A. S. Shmakov, author of several anti-Semitic investigations, were appearing as public plaintiffs.
From the very first days of the court, a weakness manifested itself in the validity of the accusation. An article, written by V. V. Shulgin in the old rightist organ, "Kievlianin", (on Sept. 27, 1913) provoked a big uproar. Shulgin wrote that he swore on the coffin of the deceased editor of the newspaper, D. I. Pikhno, to write only the truth. He recounted, from the words of police officials, how it was suggested to them from the top to find a "Jew" by all means: he cited the words of the investigator himself who said that it is not important whether Bailis is guilty or not — what is important is to prove the existence of the ritual murders.
"You yourself commit human sacrifices", Shulgin wrote. "You treated Bailis like a rabbit which is placed on a vivisection table." This issue of "Kievlianin" — for the first time in its existence — was confiscated. The nationalist action reproached Shulgin, though in a mild manner, which after this shifted to the group of center.
Police officials in their reports to St. Petersburg noted, day after day, weaknesses in the testimony of witnesses of the prosecution and conviction of experts of the defense. Among the experts of the prosecution were prominent professors of judicial medicine, but they could prove only that the body was intentionally exsanguinated — which was not an evidence that this was done with the "ritual" aim.
The composition of the jury was, as the saying goes, "gray"-peasants, lower middle class and one postal official. Leftist newspapers accused authorities beforehand of the wish to take advantage of the "people's darkness". V. G. Korolenko wrote that the decision of such a jury cannot be authoritative.
But these simple people treated their task seriously. "How can we judge Bailis when in the court no one talks about him?" — Thus spoke the jurors among themselves, as the police reported.
Speeches of the plaintiffs did not change this impression: a lot was said in them about ritual murder s in general and that the "Jews will ruin Russia", and almost nothing about Bailis.
On October 28, the jury acquitted Bailis. They replied affirmatively to the question that the murder was committed in the brick factory, belonging to a Jew named Zaiatsev, and that the body was exsanguinated there. And although the "Novoe Vremia" attached great importance to this question, it itself stated after two days, in the article written by Menshikov, that "Russia suffered defeat".
The exultation of the leftist press in the failure of this trial is understandable. But the very possibility of such an outcome, in the first place, is a striking illustration of the freedom and independence of the Russian Court and jury, and refutes the rumors about power pressure on the court".
With such words, the monarchist Oldenberg describes the much discussed trial of Bailis. He himself acknowledged that in this case the proof and evidence in the accusation and proof of the "ritual" murder did not carry enough weight.
The majority of Russian periodicals and all the foreign press, reported the Bailis trial in much harsher terms, throwing the shadow on those who stood at the head of the Ministry of Justice; and the shadow extended to the whole regime and system of pre-revolutionary Russia.
Rightist and extreme rightist Russian circles unconditionally supported not only the version of the "ritual" murder, the guilt of Mendel Bailis, but also extended the accusation to all Jewry. They were dissatisfied and disappointed with the outcome of the trial. It was clear to all that the acknowledgement of the bloodless body did not mean yet that the body was exsanguinated for any "ritual" purpose, and less so, that all Jewry was guilty in this.
There were quite a few people among the Russian community who assumed on purely theoretical grounds the existence among Jews of some kind of cruel sect, as for example, Scoptsy in the Orthodox religion. However, it can by no means be concluded that for the activities of a cruel sect, all members of such a sect can be responsible. And the government was reproached that at the trial this circumstance was not sufficiently emphasized and co-religionists were not protected at once from spreading interpretations.
But the ignorant national masses perceived the court's decision in their own way: the acknowledgement of the bloodless body was interpreted as a confirmation that the Jews indeed do commit ritual murder. And newspaper boys, after the announcement of the court's decision, shouted on the streets of Kiev: "Bailis acquitted, Jews are accused!"
In general the whole Bailis affair left a heavy feeling of resentment and contributed to discrediting the régime. Especially when it was discovered at the court that pressure was exerted from the side of Ministry of Justice on the conduct of the investigation. This provoked the disapproval and even indignation of those who considered themselves advocates of the regime, especially among the "rightists".
An immense interest in this affair was shown by ambassadors of foreign countries in St. Petersburg in their conversations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sazonov. The minister assured them that "Bailis will be acquitted". This statement is confirmed by documents (in ambassadorial reports). It further obscures and complicates the already obscure and complicated affair that brought so much harm to Russia.
In conclusion it should be mentioned that the Bailis trial took place at a time when the Jewish pogroms and the Dreyfus Affair, which agitated the whole world for many years, were still fresh in people's memories. There had been also, comparatively recently, the Mutansky trial in Russia, where heathens were accused of making human sacrifices. The heathens were Cheremis, later acquitted by the court.
The result of the trial was that all six and one half million Russian Jews, even the well-to-do and loyal classes, became united still more closely in their negative attitude towards the Russian regime, along with their numerous fellow tribesmen in the USA and in Europe.
* * *
A few months after the trial, World War I started and the feelings of Russian Jewry changed to a considerable degree. All understood that Russia’s coming out in alliance with democratic countries against the monarchies of Germany and Austria-Hungary, would, in the case of the latter’s defeat, inevitably lead Russia into the democratic camp and bring about the democratization of the Russian régime itself. This is why Jews in an overwhelming majority became, if not Russian patriots, in any case, the “defenders”, hoping that a Russian victory would bring benefits also to Russian Jewry.
However, these "defending" feelings were characteristic only of the majority of those Jews, who, having received a Russian education, joined the ranks of the Russian intelligentsia and well understood questions of international relations, and therefore could consider what victory or defeat would bring to Russian Jewry. These "defending" feelings had a different meaning to the Russian Jewry than to the native population, and were far from those patriotic feelings, which embraced all of Russia at the beginning of the war.
In essence, the calculation was thus that in case of a successful defense, that is, victory over the Central Powers, a change would also occur inevitably in the internal politics of Russia, in the direction desired by Jews. The "defending" feelings, expressed in support of participation in the war, did not mean at all that the same feelings were expressed in support of the regime and its internal politics. All Jews, without exception, had a definitely negative attitude to the regime, and did not make a secret of this.
The main body among the many millions of Russian Jews was far from patriotic and "defending" feelings, even though it cannot be asserted that all Russian Jews, one and all, were "defeatists" and wished German or Austro-Hungarian victory.
But neither can it be forgotten that the condition of the Jews in Germany and Austria was well known to the Russian Jews, and, naturally, they could not refrain from wishing that in Russia also Jews might occupy the same positions in public and political life, as well as in the army, without changing their religion. This wish cannot be considered unfounded. Moreover, in the Russian army were many Jews who not only fulfilled their duties loyally but a so showed bravery in the war and received decorations. But they had no hope whatsoever to be promoted to officer's position due to their Judaic faith.
Not much was said during the war about these contradictions, but they influenced the feelings of both all Russian Jewry and of those many thousands of Jews who served in the army. There is no need to doubt this; these contradictions could not generate special patriotic enthusiasm.
It would be appropriate to recall here, that in the pre-war years in Russia the question was seriously discussed of releasing all Jews from military duties. But no decision was made, although many articles were written and many speeches were made in dedication of this important question. Statements were made by the opponents and by the advocates of the "exclusion of Jews from the army". Both sides gave their reasons and considerations in confirming correctness and justification of their viewpoint. Whole books were even dedicated to this question, such as, for example "War and the Jews", written by Gessen and published in 1912, in St. Petersburg. This book consisted of 300 pages with numerous statistical data and a detailed account of Jewish conditions in foreign armies.
The size of this work does not permit the elaboration of this question, but what is said in the concluding chapter deserves attention: "The Jewish rôle in future wars in general, and on Western theatre in particular".
As subsequent events have shown, this rôle was not small, both during the war up to February of 1917 and after February, particularly in the years of the civil war, when the Jew, Bronstein-Trotsky, was in command of the Red Army and the fleet, and the Jew, Gamarnik, managed and ruled the political part of the armed forces, to say nothing of countless other Jewish high commanders.
But besides the loyal Jews and the Jews valiantly fighting on the front, there were quite a few Jews incited with "defeatism", which kept their feelings to themselves and in no way manifested or spoke about them. These were the broad Jewish masses, lacking culture, which in their tradition were disposed negatively to that regime which, according to their conviction, "persecuted" them. They carried over their negative attitude to all activities and measures of the regime, including here also the defense of the country. In their opinion Russia was not their motherland, but only a temporary sojourn till that moment when they would return to their Promised Land. This is why there could not be in them a patriotic gust of passion and uplift, peculiar to those whose past, present and future was inseparably linked with Russia.
There was still one more group among Russian Jewry which was openly "defeatist". The group was not large, but quite active, educated, well grounded in politics and able to conduct propaganda. These were Jewish members of revolutionary and socialist currents, groups and parties. A considerable number of them were either in exile or in emigration and, up to the February overthrow, were not able to act openly. This, however, does not mean that the group did not have any influence on the feelings of some part of Russian Jewry which formally remained loyal during the war years. This group had its influence not only on their fellow tribesmen but also on many Russian socialists and revolutionaries who believed that only in the event of losing the war could there be any hope for the overthrow of the regime.
Summarizing the foregoing, it is possible, without a. fear of making a mistake, to assert that all six million Russian Jews, in the years of the First World War, were unanimous in their negative attitude towards the regime of the Russian Empire. And if the Jewry supported some of the regime's beginnings during the war, then this was only in so far as these beginnings could bring benefits to the Jewry sooner or later, always putting the interests of Jewry in first place.
These attitudes were not secrets to the Russian Government and the supreme command, and provided grounds for doubts of Jewish loyalty; an overwhelming majority of Jews lived in the Jewish Pale, where military actions were taking place.
Without the possibility, in the conditions of war time, of investigating each separate case and verifying the loyalty of the Jews living in the areas of military actions, the military command compelled them to move from this areas, directing them to central provinces of Russia, where, before the war, Jews had been forbidden to reside.
With these measures, the Jewish Pale was actually abolished. But on the other hand, the forcible eviction of tens of thousands, frequently in hard conditions, with insufficiently organized transport, feeding and medical services on the way, was regarded by the Jews as new form of "persecution". And the doubt in their loyalty was interpreted as an undeserved and unsubstantiated insult. Such interpretation was made not only by the evicted Jews but by the whole Russian Jewry: this only intensified anti-government feelings. Such, in general, were the conditions during the years of the war right up to the February Revolution.