Kishinev pogrom

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This article is part of the History of the Jews in Bessarabia.
Herman S. Shapiro. "Kishinever shekhita, elegie" [Kishinev Massacre Elegy]. New York: Asna Goldberg, 1904. Irene Heskes Collection. The illustration in the center of this elegy depicts the April 1903 Kishinev massacre.

The Kishinev pogrom was an anti-Jewish riot that took place in Kishinev, then the capital of the Bessarabia Governorate in the Russian Empire, on 19 and 20 April 1903. Further rioting erupted in October 1905.[1] In the first wave of violence, which was associated with Easter, 49 Jews were killed, a number of Jewish women were raped and 1,500 homes were damaged.[2][3] American Jews began large-scale organized financial help, and assisted in emigration.[4] The incident focused worldwide negative attention on the persecution of Jews in Russia.[5]

First pogrom

The most popular newspaper in Kishinev, the Russian-language anti-Semitic newspaper Бессарабец (Bessarabetz, meaning "Bessarabian"), published by Pavel Krushevan, regularly published articles with headlines such as "Death to the Jews!" and "Crusade against the Hated Race!" (referring to the Jews). When a gentile Ukrainian boy, Mikhail Rybachenko, was found murdered in the town of Dubossary, about 25 miles north of Kishinev, and a girl who committed suicide by poisoning herself was declared dead in a Jewish hospital, the Bessarabetz paper insinuated that both children had been murdered by the Jewish community for the purpose of using their blood in the preparation of matzo for Passover.[6] Another newspaper, Свет (Svet, "Light") made similar insinuations. These allegations, and the prompting of the town's Russian Orthodox bishop, sparked the pogrom.[1]

The pogrom began on 19 April (6 April according to the Julian calendar then in use in the Russian empire) after congregations were dismissed from church services on Easter Sunday. In two days of rioting, 47 (some put the figure at 49) Jews were killed, 92 were severely wounded and 500 were slightly injured, 700 houses were destroyed, and 600 stores were pillaged.[1][7] The Times published a forged dispatch by Vyacheslav von Plehve, the Minister of Interior, to the governor of Bessarabia, which supposedly gave orders not to stop the rioters,[8] but, in any case, no attempt was made by the police or military to intervene to stop the riots until the third day.[1]

Funeral of copies of the Sefer Torah which were damaged in the Chişinău pogrom

The New York Times described the first Kishinev pogrom:

The mob was led by priests, and the general cry, "Kill the Jews," was taken- up all over the city. The Jews were taken wholly unaware and were slaughtered like sheep. The dead number 120 and the injured about 500. The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babes were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and bloodthirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror, and the city is now practically deserted of Jews.[9]

The US President Theodore Roosevelt to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia: "Stop your cruel oppression of the Jews." A lithograph in relation to the first Kishinev pogrom. (Library of Congress)

The Kishinev pogrom captured the attention of the international public and was mentioned in the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine as an example of the type of human rights abuse which would justify United States involvement in Latin America. The 1904 book The Voice of America on Kishinev provides more detail[10] as does the book Russia at the Bar of the American people: A Memorial of Kishinef.[11]

Second pogrom

A second pogrom took place on 19–20 October 1905. This time the riots began as political protests against the Tsar, but turned into an attack on Jews wherever they could be found. By the time the riots were over, 19 Jews had been killed and 56 were injured. Jewish self-defense leagues, organized after the first pogrom, stopped some of the violence, but were not wholly successful. This Pogrom was part of a much larger movement of 600 pogroms that swept the Russian Empire after the October Manifesto of 1905.[1]

Russian response

The Russian ambassador to the United States, Count Arthur Cassini, characterised the first outbreak as a reaction of financially hard-pressed peasants to Jewish creditors in an interview on 18 May 1903:

The situation in Russia, so far as the Jews are concerned is just this: It is the peasant against the money lender, and not the Russians against the Jews. There is no feeling against the Jew in Russia because of religion. It is as I have said—the Jew ruins the peasants, with the result that conflicts occur when the latter have lost all their worldly possessions and have nothing to live upon. There are many good Jews in Russia, and they are respected. Jewish genius is appreciated in Russia, and the Jewish artist honored. Jews also appear in the financial world in Russia. The Russian Government affords the same protection to the Jews that it does to any other of its citizens, and when a riot occurs and Jews are attacked the officials immediately take steps to apprehend those who began the riot, and visit severe punishment upon them."[12]

There is a memorial to the 1903 pogroms in Kishinev.[13]

Impact

A rejected petition to the Tsar of Russia by US citizens, 1903, now kept at the US National Archives

Despite a worldwide outcry, only two men were sentenced to seven or five years respectively and twenty-two were sentenced for one or two years. This pogrom was instrumental in convincing tens of thousands of Russian Jews to leave for the West or Palestine.[1]

As such, it became a rallying point for early Zionists, especially what would become Revisionist Zionism, inspiring early self-defense leagues under leaders like Ze'ev Jabotinsky.[1]

Cultural references

Pogrom memorial in Kishinev on a postage stamp (2003)

A large number of artists and writers addressed the pogrom. Russian authors such as Vladimir Korolenko wrote about the pogrom in House 13, while Tolstoy and Gorky wrote condemnations blaming the Russian government—a change from the earlier pogroms of the 1880s, when most members of the Russian intelligentsia were silent. It also had a major impact on Jewish art and literature. After interviewing survivors of the Kishinev pogrom, the Hebrew poet Chaim Bialik (1873–1934) wrote "In the City of Slaughter," about the perceived passivity of the Jews in the face of the mobs.[5] In the 1908 play by Israel Zangwill titled The Melting Pot, the Jewish hero emigrates to America in the wake of the Kishinev pogrom, eventually confronting the Russian officer who led the rioters.[14]

More recently, Joann Sfar's series of graphic novels titled "Klezmer" depict life in Odessa, Ukraine, at this time; in the final Volume 5 "Kishinev-des-fous", the first pogrom affects the characters.[15] Playwright Max Sparber took the Kishinev pogrom as the subject for one of his earliest plays in 1994.[16]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g  Rosenthal, Herman; Rosenthal, Max (1901–1906). "Kishinef (Kishinev)". In Singer, Isidore; et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
  2. ^ "The pogrom that transformed 20th century Jewry". The Harvard Gazette. April 9, 2009. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  3. ^ Chicago Jewish Cafe (2018-09-20), Are Jewish men cowards? Conversation with Prof. Steven J. Zipperstein, retrieved 2018-10-08
  4. ^ Philip Ernest Schoenberg, "The American Reaction to the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903." American Jewish Historical Quarterly 63.3 (1974): 262-283.
  5. ^ a b Corydon Ireland (April 9, 2009). "The pogrom that transformed 20th century Jewry". harvard.edu. The Harvard Gazette.
  6. ^ Davitt, Michael (1903). Within The Pale. London: Hurst and Blackett. pp. 98–100.
  7. ^ Jewishgen.org, The Kishinev Pogrom of 1903; with online resources.
  8. ^ Klier, John (October 11, 2010). "Pogroms". YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. yivoencyclopedia.org. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  9. ^ "Jewish Massacre Denounced". New York Times. April 28, 1903. p. 6.
  10. ^ "The voice of America on Kishineff, ed. by Cyrus Adler". Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "Russia at the Bar of the American People". Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  12. ^ "Current Literature: A Magazine of Contemporary Record (New York). Vol. XXXV., No.1. July, 1903. Current Opinion. V.35 (1903). p. 16". babel.hathitrust.org.
  13. ^ "Picasa Web Albums - Ronnie - kishinev". Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  14. ^ Zangwill, Israel (2006). From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill's Jewish Plays : Three Playscripts. Wayne State University Press. p. 254. ISBN 9780814329559. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  15. ^ Weingrad, Michael (Spring 2015). "Drawing Conclusions: Joann Sfar and the Jews of France". Jewish Review of Books. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  16. ^ Sparber, Max (3 December 2014). "Staged reading of play by Max Sparber: Kishinev". MetaFilter. Retrieved 17 April 2018.

Further reading

  • Schoenberg, Philip Ernest. "The American Reaction to the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903." American Jewish Historical Quarterly 63.3 (1974): 262-283.
  • Zipperstein, Steven J. Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History. Liveright Publishing March 2018.

External links

  • Are Jewish men cowards? Interview in Chicago Jewish Cafe with Prof. Steven Zipperstein, the author of "Pogrom: Kishinev and the Tilt of History."
  • Kishinev Pogrom unofficial commemorative website
  •  Rosenthal, Herman; Rosenthal, Max (1901–1906). "Kishinef (Kishinev)". In Singer, Isidore; et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
  • Penkower, Monty Noam (2004). "The Kishinev Pogrom of 1903: A Turning Point in Jewish History". Modern Judaism. 24 (3): 187–225. JSTOR 1396539.
  • Resources about the pogrom

Coordinates: 47°0′00″N 28°55′00″E / 47.00000°N 28.91667°E / 47.00000; 28.91667

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