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Three Waves of Jewish pogroms in Russia

I Wave

I Wave of pogroms: 1881-1884


II Wave of pogroms: 1903-1906

Destroyed synagogue in Borisov

III Wave of pogroms: 1919-1923


​I Wave of Jewish pogroms: 1881-1884

On March 1, 1881, Russian Emperor Alexander II was assassinated by Narodnaya Volya terrorists. The end of the short period of Jewish “freedom” in Russia has come. The crime was called “the work of Jewish hands.” “The first of March 1881 came,” wrote a contemporary, “something ominous seemed to sweep over the earth. Everything hid and waited anxiously. It became especially creepy in Jewish dwellings. I felt something was approaching: dark and heavy...” On March 23, 1881, a pogrom took place in Lubny. April 15-18, 1881 - pogrom in Elizavetgrad. The streets were littered with fluff and broken furniture. The crowd, led by non-local people who had recently appeared in the city specifically for this purpose, moved from house to house, breaking and ruining everything around. Three days later, police and soldiers appeared and restored order in the city. April 25, 1881 - pogrom in the town of Beryozovka, Kherson region. April 26-27, 1881 - pogrom in Kyiv. The authorities knew about its approach for a month, but did nothing. The pogrom began in Podol. A huge crowd of boys, artisans, workers was walking, glass and doors were thrown, everything that came to hand was thrown into the street, the synagogue was smashed, the Torah was torn to shreds. In one day, the rioters destroyed about 1,000 houses and shops, killed and injured several dozen people, and many women were raped. The authorities used the army only the next day. This was the most brutal pogrom that happened in 1881. April 27, 1881 - pogrom in the city of Ananyev, Kherson province. April 27-29, 1881 - pogrom in Konotop (one Jew was killed). The Jews attempted to organize self-defense. May 1, 1881 - pogrom in the city of Aleksandrovsk, Ekaterinoslav province. May 3-5, 1881 - pogrom in Odessa. Decisive actions of the police, Jewish student and workers' self-defense units made it possible to avoid great casualties and destruction. May 3, 1881 - pogrom in the city of Romny, Poltava province. May 4-5, 1881 - pogrom in the city of Orekhovo. During these same days, attacks were organized on Jewish agricultural colonies in the Ekaterinoslav and Tauride provinces. May 9, 1881 - pogroms in Shpola and Ananyev. May 10, 1881 - pogroms in Konotop and Vasilkov. On May 17, 1881, Moscow Metropolitan Macarius made a speech condemning the pogroms: “After all, both Jews and Russians, like all the tribes that are part of the Russian state, are subjects of our Sovereign. How dare we raise our hands against our brothers, no matter what faith they may be? If they offended us in some way, then we have laws, we have authorities.” June 12, 1881 - pogrom in Boryspil. June 30 - July 2, 1881 - pogrom in Pereyaslav. July 20-22, 1881 - pogrom in Nezhin. He was stopped by troops who opened fire on a crowd of peasant rioters; several people were killed and wounded. On December 13, 1881, on Catholic Christmas Day, a pogrom began in Warsaw, clearly inspired by the Russian authorities. Among the leaders of the pogrom were people who spoke Russian, and Russian soldiers carried out the destruction of Jewish houses and shops. Of the Poles, it was mainly the lower classes of society who took part in the pogrom, while representatives of the Polish intelligentsia sharply condemned it, and priests walked the streets and persuaded the pogromists to disperse. Only on the third day was the pogrom stopped by troops. About one and a half thousand Jewish apartments and other premises were destroyed, 24 people were injured. On January 11, 1882, the Times newspaper published an article by historian D. Jacobson about the persecution of Jews in Russia: “These atrocities are in the nature of the most terrible atrocities in the history of mankind. Men are brutally murdered, women are raped, children are burned alive.” On January 18, 1882, in the St. Petersburg synagogue, the rabbi gave a speech analyzing the current situation of the Jews of Russia and “a drawn-out groan, as if from one breast, suddenly spread throughout the synagogue. On February 1, 1882, a London public meeting was held to condemn the Russian Tsar’s policies towards the Jews. £100,000 in donations raised. A message was sent to Alexander III, which he returned through the Foreign Ministry. On the same day, a meeting was held in defense of Russian Jews in New York. “Let them come here. I would thank heaven if it were in our power to accept all 3 million Jews of Russia,” said member of the Supreme Court N. Davis. March 29, 1882 - pogrom in Balta. 12 Jews were killed, 211 Jews were injured, 39 of them seriously. At first, a self-defense detachment, consisting of loaders, cab drivers, and artisans, tried to operate. It was well organized and repelled the rioters, but the police intervened and dispersed the self-defense. 24 robbers and many more Jews were arrested. The first ones were soon released, and they returned to their old ways. The Jews were kept under arrest for 2 days. June 7, 1884 - a brutal pogrom in Nizhny Novgorod, where the Jewish population was small. Although the main purpose of this pogrom was robbery, nine Jews died in the process. According to the governor’s statement, “... the people of Russia have developed a belief in complete impunity for sacrificial acts.”

Погромы 1881–83 гг. впервые приобрели массовый характер, охватив большую территорию на юге и юго-востоке Украины. Погромы начались в ночь с 15 на 16 апреля 1881 г. в Елисаветграде (ныне Кировоград) во время православной Пасхи. В них участвовали мещане, деклассированные элементы и крестьяне окрестных сел, прибывшие в город после начала погромов для грабежа еврейского имущества. Было разграблено большое количество еврейских домов и магазинов, один еврей убит. Погром был подавлен 17 апреля войсками, стрелявшими в толпу громил. Вслед за Елисаветградом погромы произошли в ряде окрестных деревень и местечек, после чего перекинулись в Херсонскую губернию (Березовка, 25 апреля, Ананьев, 27 апреля). 26 апреля вспыхнул погром в Киеве, который по количеству разгромленных еврейских домов и магазинов (более тысячи) и по числу жертв (несколько евреев было убито и около 20 женщин изнасиловано) был самым жестоким из погромов 1881 г. В конце апреля — начале мая 1881 г. погромы произошли в 50 местечках и селах Киевской губернии. Наиболее разрушительным был погром в местечке Смела, во время которого в близлежащей деревне был убит семилетний еврейский мальчик за отказ осенить себя крестным знамением. Погромы произошли в Жмеринке Подольской губернии, в ряде населенных пунктов Черниговской губернии; наиболее разрушительным из них был погром в Конотопе (27–29 апреля; один еврей был убит), где евреи предприняли попытку организовать самооборону. Антиеврейские беспорядки вспыхнули в ряде населенных пунктов Волынской губернии. В начале мая произошли погромы в городе Александровске Екатеринославской губернии (1 мая), в городе Ромны Полтавской губернии (3 мая), в городе Орехове (4–5 мая) и в нескольких деревнях Таврической губернии. Были совершены нападения на еврейские сельскохозяйственные колонии в Екатеринославской и Таврической губерниях (4–5 мая). Три дня (3–5 мая) продолжался погром в Одессе; здесь погромщикам противостояли отряды еврейской самообороны (в основном из студентов Новороссийского университета), которым удалось защитить ряд еврейских кварталов в центре города. В июне–июле погромы охватили Полтавскую губернию: Борисполь (12 июня), Переяслав (30 июня и 2 июля), Нежин (20–22 июля). В погроме, кроме местных жителей, активно участвовали крестьяне. В Нежине войска остановили погром, открыв огонь по толпе крестьян-погромщиков; несколько человек было убито и ранено. 13 декабря 1881 г., в день католического Рождества, начался погром в Варшаве, явно инспирированный русскими властями. Отмечалось, что среди руководителей погрома были люди, говорившие по-русски, а разгромом еврейских домов и магазинов занимались русские солдаты. Из поляков в погроме участвовали в основном низы общества, в то время как представители польской интеллигенции резко его осуждали, а ксендзы ходили по улицам и уговаривали погромщиков разойтись. Только на третий день погром был остановлен войсками (разгромлено около полутора тысяч еврейских квартир и других помещений, ранено 24 человека). В 1882 г. погромы вновь произошли в нескольких населенных пунктах Подольской и Херсонской губерний; наиболее кровавый из них разразился на Пасху в Балте, где к погромщикам присоединились солдаты. Представители гражданских и военных властей отдали войскам приказ прекратить погром только на третий день (несколько евреев было убито, сотни ранены, многие женщины изнасилованы).   Pogroms of 1881–83 first acquired a mass character, covering a large territory in the south and south-east of Ukraine. The pogroms began on the night of April 15-16, 1881 in Elisavetgrad (now Kirovograd) during Orthodox Easter. They included burghers, declassed elements and peasants from surrounding villages, who arrived in the city after the pogroms began to plunder Jewish property. A large number of Jewish houses and shops were looted, one Jew was killed. The pogrom was suppressed on April 17 by troops shooting at the mob of thugs. Following Elisavetgrad, pogroms occurred in a number of neighboring villages and townships, after which they spread to Kherson gubernia (Berezovka, April 25, Ananyev, April 27). On April 26, a pogrom broke out in Kiev, which by the number of destroyed Jewish houses and shops (more than a thousand) and by the number of victims (several Jews were killed and about 20 women were raped) was the most brutal of the pogroms of 1881. In late April - early May 1881, pogroms occurred in 50 townships and villages of the Kiev province. The most devastating was a pogrom in the town of Smela, during which a seven-year-old Jewish boy was killed in a nearby village for refusing to sign the sign of the cross. Pogroms took place in Zhmerinka, Podolsk province, in a number of settlements in the Chernigov province; the most devastating of these was the pogrom in Konotop (April 27–29; one Jew was killed), where the Jews attempted to organize self-defense. Anti-Jewish riots erupted in a number of settlements in the Volyn province. In early May, pogroms occurred in the city of Aleksandrovsk in the Yekaterinoslav Province (May 1), in the town of Romny in the Poltava Province (May 3), in the town of Orekhov (May 4–5) and in several villages of the Tauride Province. There were attacks on Jewish agricultural colonies in Yekaterinoslav and Tauride provinces (May 4-5). The pogrom in Odessa lasted for three days (3-5 May); here, rioters were opposed by detachments of Jewish self-defense (mainly from students of Novorossiysk University), who managed to protect a number of Jewish quarters in the city center. In June and July, pogroms swept Poltava province: Boryspil (June 12), Pereyaslav (June 30 and July 2), Nizhyn (July 20–22). In the pogrom, except for local residents, peasants actively participated. In Nizhyn, the troops stopped the pogrom, opening fire on the crowd of pogrom peasants; several people were killed and injured. December 13, 1881, on the day of the Catholic Christmas, a pogrom began in Warsaw, clearly inspired by the Russian authorities. It was noted that among the leaders of the pogrom were people who spoke Russian, and Russian soldiers were engaged in the defeat of Jewish houses and shops. Of the Poles, mainly the lower classes of society participated in the pogrom, while representatives of the Polish intelligentsia sharply condemned him, and the priests walked around the streets and persuaded the pogromists to disperse. Only on the third day, the pogrom was stopped by the troops (about one and a half thousand Jewish apartments and other premises were crushed, 24 people were wounded). In 1882, pogroms again occurred in several settlements of the Podolsk and Kherson provinces; the bloodiest of them broke out on Easter in Balta, where soldiers joined the rioters. Representatives of civilian and military authorities ordered the troops to stop the pogrom only on the third day (several Jews were killed, hundreds were injured, many women were raped).

On May 5, a crowd of peasants gathered from the village of Konsky Rozdor (Alexandrovsky district, Ekaterinoslav province), destroyed Jewish shops and destroyed everything there. The village priest came to us to beg them to renounce the crime, but the crowd did not listen to his words. Similarly, events occurred in the villages of Popiko and Andreevka and in the city of Orekhov. Many families came here naked, hungry and thirsty. The day before, a rumor spread that the Jewish colonies in the Aleksandrovsky and Mariupol districts were attacked by bandits. There could be no charges against the Jews living there, since they support themselves and their families with the labor of their hands, working in the fields. Nevertheless, the rioters attacked them and dealt them a severe blow. Their houses were completely destroyed, their sheep and cattle, and all their booty, were taken by the rioters. Therefore, I call on our people, wherever you are, to wake up and help our robbed and abandoned colonists who have been left deprived of everything. Anyone who wishes must send their donation to the address of Rabbi Grumin in Mariupol or to the address of Rabbi Bruk in the Grafskaya colony, and they will distribute the money among the disadvantaged people. We were in great fear here and sent a telegram to the ruler of our land, Duke Dondukoborsov. Yesterday a battalion of soldiers arrived from Pavlograd, and the minister from Simferopol personally came and assured us that there would be peace and quiet in our city. Several families went from here to Kerch, and also sent help to other cities. All Russians signed the decision to expel the Jews from here, and on every corner you can hear murmurs that the Jews, drunk on the blood of Russians, must disappear from the face of the earth, so that even the memory of them will disappear. - Yosef, son of David Hacoen. Hamelitz 1881; May 26 (June 7)) From the Jewish colonies in the Ekaterinoslav province on May 13: Weeping, I write these lines to announce to our brothers of the children of Israel that our brothers, the workers, have drunk the poisoned cup. On May 5, 6, 7, 8, the Russians attacked the colonies of Trudolyubovka, Nechaevka, Grafskaya and Mezerets. With rage they emptied, like an empty vessel, those unfortunates who live by the labor of their hands and have no support in trade with the peasants, their neighbors. Their houses were destroyed to the ground, all their property was plundered, Torah scrolls were broken and destroyed, all printed books were torn and desecrated. Fear of the Almighty gripped the colonists, as Russian peasants boasted that once they filled their bags with booty, Jewish life here would come to an end. In the darkness of the night, men, women and children ran to save the lives of their families. They hid in holes and cracks in an open field, far from those places where a man's foot had set foot. And because of the chaos that ensued, mothers lost their children and men lost their wives. In vain I try with my meager pen to describe all the horror that has befallen us and the horror of death that engulfs us. Thank you for the government sending soldiers to protect us and disperse the attackers. But the bread ran out in our vessels; therefore we call upon the generosity of our nation. Wake up, please, have pity on your brothers who support their families with the labor of their hands, then their foreheads. They are innocent, except that they are Jews. Call for donations to save the souls and lives of those in need. Our German neighbors sent us wagons loaded with food for our salvation. Of course, you, our brothers, flesh and blood, merciful sons of the merciful, if you do not help us, who will save us then? I sign these lines in tears. Official government rabbi for the Jewish colonies in the Ekaterinoslav province. Jacob Brook. My address is Mariupol, Ekaterinoslav province, Ambassador of Rabbi Brook in the Jewish colony of Grafskaya Colony Nechaevka On Wednesday, May 6, in the morning, our neighbors, Russian peasants, attacked us like angry, hungry wolves. At first, the residents of the Trudolobovka colony managed to escape from the robbers with the help of the residents of Nechaba and Grafsky, as well as some Germans who rushed to their aid. But when we saw that we could not resist them, we fled to save the lives of our loved ones. Then the rioters broke into our houses and broke windows and doors, smashed ovens and took away all our property, as well as our horses, cattle, all arable and harvesting tools. They destroyed everything that they did not take with them. They destroyed shops to the ground, ten Torah scrolls and many books, which they tore into shreds, threw them on the ground and trampled on them. They took the Holy Ark and the pulpit. What we managed to save from the villains and ourselves, we hid in the German colony of Marenfeld, about seven miles from us. They returned on Thursday, plundered everything, and we barely escaped death. We are forced to flee at night (men, women, children and old people) about ten miles to the Vilner colony, where we found a trustee who came to protect us. Thanks to the authorities who did everything possible to shelter us,

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II Wave of pogroms: 1903-1906

October pogroms (1905-1906) The number of pogroms increased during the period of the first Russian revolution in 1905. And the peak of violence occurred in October 1905, after the Tsar’s Manifesto was published on October 17, 1905, granting political rights and civil liberties. The manifesto caused rejoicing and inspiration among the progressive sections of society. Hundreds of people with red flags took to the streets, and mass rallies and demonstrations took place. Monarchists, “true patriots,” Black Hundreds opposed revolutionary actions and called for reprisals against the intelligentsia, students, and Jews. From words and appeals we moved on to action. Fights and riots escalated into pogroms against Jews. The so-called “October” pogroms took place in Kyiv, Zhitomir, Odessa, Bialystok and many, many other cities and towns. ​

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III Wave of pogroms in Ukraine: 1919-1923

The pogroms of the period described differ sharply from the previous pogroms of the tsarist period in a number of characteristic features. Previous pogroms took place in a peaceful atmosphere, were calmly and carefully prepared by the tsarist secret police, and were carried out with some caution and an eye on civilized Europe, where anti-Semitism has a hidden form. The pogroms were carried out in such a way that they would not cause serious damage to trade and industry and would not disrupt the normal course of life. The main goal of the pogroms was political: it was necessary to terrorize the Jewish population in order to distract its proletarian elements from the revolutionary movement and at the same time with the same goal of arousing feelings of national hatred and darkening the class consciousness of the Jewish and Russian working masses. Such pogroms played out like clockwork: everything was calculated and foreseen in advance; the perpetrators, or, in extreme cases, skirmishers, were always disguised policemen and spies, Black Hundreds and professional hooligans. The authorities acted covertly: they only orchestrated and gave signals for the beginning and end of the pogroms, and at the right moment the riots immediately stopped, and the thugs disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared. The pogroms of the period described presented a completely different picture: here the authorities not only organize, but also actively carry out these pogroms with armed force. Moreover, Jewish pogroms are even an indispensable part of the military-strategic program. That this is exactly the case, a whole series of strictly military-style pogroms, which will be discussed below, convinces us of this; This is also evidenced by numerous official announcements, orders, proclamations, bulletins and other printed materials, saturated with the poison of boundless hatred of the Jewish people without distinction of classes and groups. It goes without saying that under such conditions the very nature, size and pace of the pogroms differ sharply from the previous ones: here we often encounter not only robberies, but also the mass extermination of the Jewish population, occurring in different places in different versions. In some cases, there is a complete extermination of the Jewish population at home using hand grenades and bladed weapons (for example, in Elisavetgrad, Proskurov, Uman, etc.). In other cases, only the heads of families are killed (for example, in the Trudolyubovka colony, etc.). Further, only the male population is slaughtered without distinction of age (Trostinets and others). Finally, in many places women, old people, children and the sick are killed, i.e. all those less able to take cover or escape. But what is especially striking about the pogroms of the period described is the methodicality, equanimity and composure with which the executioners carried out their greatest cruelties and atrocities. The pogromists, in the consciousness of complete impunity, carry out their bloody deed, slowly, with the calmness and efficiency of ordinary everyday activities. Murders are usually committed with cold weapons, piercing or cutting; Firearms or explosive shells are used only in exceptional cases. Before the murder or during the murder itself, subtle and cruel torture is used with the aim of mocking the unfortunate victim, and sometimes for the purpose of extortion. To understand the nature of the torture of the executioners over the helpless victims, it is enough to point out that in the most tragic moments, when blood is pouring all around and piles of corpses are lying around, and the survivors and those awaiting their bitter fate fill the air with inhuman, insane screams - at this very time the executioners and murderers, degenerates of the human race, sing and play, revel in the grief and suffering of their victims, force these unfortunates to sing and dance, carry out humiliating orders and tasks, etc. As for the methods of physical torture, it should be noted, firstly, the most often used, especially by Denikin, was cauterization of the most tender organs with fire, then there is an exemplary hanging, with repeated extraction from the noose, followed by slow strangulation with a rope, cutting off individual members and organs - nose, ears, tongue, limbs and genitals; gouging out eyes, pulling out beard hair, severe flogging and beating with whips until he was half to death. The last three types of torture were especially widely used by the Poles in Belarus. Finally, the Petliurists and bandits also practiced drowning in rivers and wells, burning and burying alive... Torture can also include mass violence against women, most often against teenagers and very young girls, and all this was cynically committed in front of their parents and close relatives. In such cases, the unfortunate victim passed from hand to hand, often immediately giving up the ghost. Those who survived this torment usually fell ill wit