By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: History of the Jews in Russia and Poland. Volume II - From the death of Alexander I. until the death of Alexander - III. (1825-1894)
Author: Dubnow, S. M. (Simon Markovich), 1860-1941
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the Jews in Russia and Poland. Volume II - From the death of Alexander I. until the death of Alexander - III. (1825-1894)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.








Copyright 1918 by


It was originally proposed to give the history of Russian
Jewry after 1825--the year with which the first volume concludes--in a
single volume. This, however, would have resulted in producing a volume
of unwieldy dimensions, entirely out of proportion to the one preceding
it. It has, therefore, become imperative to divide Dubnow's work into
three, instead of into two, volumes. The second volume, which is
herewith offered to the public, treats of the history of Russian Jewry
from the death of Alexander I. (1825) until the death of Alexander III.
(1894). The third and concluding volume will deal with the reign of
Nicholas II., the last of the Romanovs, and will also contain the
bibliographical apparatus, the maps, the index, and other supplementary
material. This division will undoubtedly recommend itself to the reader.
The next volume is partly in type, and will follow as soon as
circumstances permit.

Of the three reigns described in the present volume, that of Alexander
III., though by far the briefest, is treated at considerably greater
length than the others. The reason for it is not far to seek. The events
which occurred during the fourteen years of his reign laid their
indelible impress upon Russian Jewry, and they have had a determining
influence upon the growth and development of American Israel. The
account of Alexander III.'s reign is introduced in the Russian original
by a general characterization of the anti-Jewish policies of Russian
Tzardom. Owing to the rearrangement of the material, to which reference
was made in the preface to the first volume, this introduction, which
would have interrupted the flow of the narrative, had to be omitted. But
a few passages from it, written in the characteristic style of Mr.
Dubnow, may find a place here:

  Russian Tzardom began its consistent role as a persecutor of the
  Eternal People when it received, by way of bequest, the vast Jewish
  population of disintegrated Poland. At the end of the eighteenth
  century, when Western Europe had just begun the emancipation of the
  Jews, the latter were subjected in the East of Europe to every
  possible medieval experiment.... The reign of Alexander II., who
  slightly relieved the civil disfranchisement of the Jews by
  permitting certain categories among them to live outside the Pale
  and by a few other measures, forms a brief interlude in the Russian
  policy of oppression. His tragic death in 1881 marks the beginning
  of a new terrible reaction which has superimposed the system of
  wholesale street pogroms upon the policy of disfranchisement, and
  has again thrown millions of Jews into the dismal abyss of

  Russia created a lurid antithesis to Jewish emancipation at a time
  when the latter was consummated not only in Western Europe, but also
  in the semi-civilized Balkan States.... True, the rise of Russian
  Judaeophobia--the Russian technical term for Jew-hatred--was
  paralleled by the appearance of German anti-Semitism in which it
  found a congenial companion. Yet, the anti-Semitism of the West was
  after all only a weak aftermath of the infantile disease of
  Europe--the medieval Jew-hatred--whereas culturally retrograde
  Russia was still suffering from the same infection in its acute,
  "childish" form. The social and cultural anti-Semitism of the West
  did not undermine the modern foundations of Jewish civil equality.
  But Russian Judaeophobia, more governmental than social, being fully
  in accord with the entire régime of absolutism, produced a system
  aiming not only at the disfranchisement, but also at the direct
  physical annihilation of the Jewish people. The policy of the
  extermination of Judaism was stamped upon the forehead of Russian
  reaction, receiving various colors at various periods, assuming the
  hue now of economic, now of national and religious, now of
  bureaucratic oppression. The year 1881 marks the starting-point of
  this systematic war against the Jews, which has continued until our
  own days, and is bound to reach a crisis upon the termination of the
  great world struggle.

Concerning the transcription of Slavonic names, the reader is referred
to the explanations given in the preface to the first volume. The
foot-notes added by the translator have been placed in square brackets.
The poetic quotations by the author have been reproduced in English
verse, the translation following both in content and form the original
languages of the quotations as closely as possible. As in the case of
the first volume, a number of editorial changes have become necessary.
The material has been re-arranged and the headings have been supplied in
accordance with the general plan of the work. A number of pages have
been added, dealing with the attitude of the American people and
Government toward the anti-Jewish persecutions in Russia. These
additions will be found on pp. 292-296, pp. 394-396, and pp. 408-410. I
am indebted to Dr. Cyrus Adler for his kindness in reading the proof of
this part of the work.

The dates given in this volume are those of the Russian calendar, except
for the cases in which the facts relate to happenings outside of Russia.

As in the first volume, the translator has been greatly assisted by the
Hon. Mayer Sulzberger, who has read the proofs with his usual care and
discrimination, and by Professor Alexander Marx, who has offered a
number of valuable suggestions.


NEW YORK, February 25, 1918.


CHAPTER                                   PAGE

   1. Military Service as a Means of De-Judaization                   13
   2. The Recruiting Ukase of 1827 and Juvenile Conscription          18
   3. Military Martyrdom                                              22
   4. The Policy of Expulsions                                        30
   5. The Codification of Jewish Disabilities                         34
   6. The Russian Censorship and Conversionist Endeavors              41

   1. Enlightenment as a Means of Assimilation                        46
   2. Uvarov and Lilienthal                                           50
   3. The Abolition of Jewish Autonomy and Renewed Persecutions       59
   4. Intercession of Western European Jewry                          66
   5. The Economic Plight of Russian Jewry and Agricultural
      Experiments                                                     69
   6. The Ritual Murder Trial of Velizh                               72
   7. The Mstislavl Affair                                            84

   1. Plans of Jewish Emancipation                                    88
   2. Political Reaction and Literary Anti-Semitism                   94
   3. Assimilationist Tendencies Among the Jews of Poland            100
   4. The Jews and the Polish Insurrection of 1831                   105

   1. The Uncompromising Attitude of Rabbinism                       111
   2. The Stagnation of Hasidism                                     116
   3. The Russian Mendelssohn (Isaac Baer Levinsohn)                 125
   4. The Rise of Neo-Hebraic Culture                                132
   5. The Jews and the Russian People                                138

   1. The "Assortment" of the Jews                                   140
   2. Compulsory Assimilation                                        143
   3. New Conscription Horrors                                       145
   4. The Ritual Murder Trial of Saratov                             150

   1. The Abolition of Juvenile Conscription                         154
   2. "Homeopathic" Emancipation and the Policy of "Fusion"          157
   3. The Extension of the Right of Residence                        161
   4. Further Alleviations and Attempts at Russification             172
   5. The Jews and the Polish Insurrection of 1863                   177

   1. Change of Attitude Toward the Jewish Problem                   184
   2. The Informer Jacob Brafman                                     187
   3. The Fight Against Jewish "Separatism"                          190
   4. The Drift Toward Oppression                                    198

   1. The Russification of the Jewish Intelligenzia                  206
   2. The Society for the Diffusion of Enlightenment                 214
   3. The Jewish Press                                               216
   4. The Jews and the Revolutionary Movement                        221
   5. The Neo-Hebraic Renaissance                                    224
   6. The Harbinger of Jewish Nationalism (Perez Smolenskin)         233
   7. Jewish Literature in the Russian Language                      238

   1. The Triumph of Autocracy                                       243
   2. The Initiation of the Pogrom Policy                            247
   3. The Pogrom at Kiev                                             251
   4. Further Outbreaks in South Russia                              256

   1. The Vacillating Attitude of the Authorities                    259
   2. The Pogrom Panic and the Beginning of the Exodus               265
   3. The Gubernatorial Commissions                                  269
   4. The Spread of Anti-Semitism                                    276
   5. The Pogrom at Warsaw                                           280

   1. The Despair of Russian Jewry                                   284
   2. The Voice of England and America                               287
   3. The Problem of Emigration and the Pogrom at Balta              297
   4. The Conference of Jewish Notables at St. Petersburg            304

   1. The "Temporary Rules" of May 3, 1882                           309
   2. Abandonment of the Pogrom Policy                               312
   3. Disabilities and Emigration                                    318

   1. Disillusionment of the Intelligenzia and the National
      Revival                                                        324
   2. Pinsker's "Autoemancipation"                                   330
   3. Miscarried Religious Reforms                                   333

   1. The Pahlen Commission and New Schemes of Oppression            336
   2. Jewish Disabilities Outside the Pale                           342
   3. Restrictions in Education and in the Legal Profession          348
   4. Discrimination in Military Service                             354

   1. Aftermath of the Pogrom Policy                                 358
   2. The Conclusions of the Pahlen Commission                       362
   3. The Triumph of Reaction                                        369
   4. American and Palestinian Emigration                            373

   1. Intensified Reaction                                           378
   2. Continued Harassing                                            382
   3. The Guildhall Meeting in London                                388
   4. The Protest of America                                         394

   1. Preparing the Blow                                             399
   2. The Horrors of Expulsion                                       401
   3. Effect of Protests                                             407
   4. Pogrom Interludes                                              411

   1. Negotiations with the Russian Government                       434
   2. The Jewish Colonisation Association and Collapse of the Argentinian
      Scheme                                                         419
   3. Continued Humiliations and Death of Alexander III.             423




The era of Nicholas I. was typically inaugurated by the bloody
suppression of the Decembrists and their constitutional demands, [1]
proving as it subsequently did one continuous triumph of military
despotism over the liberal movements of the age. As for the emancipation
of the Jews, it was entirely unthinkable in an empire which had become
Europe's bulwark against the inroads of revolutionary or even moderately
liberal tendencies. The new despotic regime, overflowing with aggressive
energy, was bound to create, after its likeness, a novel method of
dealing with the Jewish problem. Such a method was contrived by the iron
will of the Russian autocrat.

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 410, n. 1.]

Nicholas I., who was originally intended for a military career, was
placed on the Russian throne by a whim of fate.[1] Prior to his
accession, Nicholas had shown no interest in the Jewish problem. The
Jewish masses had flitted across his vision but once--in 1816--when,
still a young man, he traveled through Russia for his education. The
impression produced upon him by this strange people is recorded by the
then grand duke in his diary in a manner fully coincident with the
official views of the Government:

[Footnote 1: After the death of Alexander I. the Russian crown fell to
his eldest brother Constantine, military commander of Poland.
Accordingly, Constantine was proclaimed emperor, and was recognized as
such by Nicholas. Constantine, however, who had secretly abdicated some
time previously, insisted on resigning, and Nicholas became Tzar.]

  The ruin of the peasants of these provinces [1] are the Zhyds. [2] As
  property-holders they are here second in importance to the landed
  nobility. By their commercial pursuits they drain the strength of
  the hapless White Russian people.... They are everything here:
  merchants, contractors, saloon-keepers, mill-owners, ferry-holders,
  artisans.... They are regular leeches, and suck these unfortunate
  governments [3] to the point of exhaustion. It is a matter of
  surprise that in 1812 they displayed exemplary loyalty to us and
  assisted us wherever they could at the risk of their lives.

[Footnote 1: Nicholas is speaking of White Russia. Compare Vol. I, pp.
329 and 406.]

[Footnote 2: See on this term Vol. I, p. 320, n. 2.]

[Footnote 3: See on this term Vol. I, p. 308, n. 1.]

The characterization of merchants, artisans, mill-owners, and
ferry-holders as "leeches" could only spring from a conception which
looked upon the Jews as transient foreigners, who, by pursuing any line
of endeavor, could only do so at the expense of the natives and thus
abused the hospitality offered to them. No wonder then that the future
Tzar was puzzled by the display of patriotic sentiments on the part of
the Jewish population at the fatal juncture in the history of Russia.

This inimical view of the Jewish people was retained by Nicholas when he
became the master of Russian-Jewish destinies. He regarded the Jews as
an "injurious element," which had no place in a Slavonic Greek-Orthodox
monarchy, and which therefore ought to be combated. The Jews must be
rendered innocuous, must be "corrected" and curbed by such energetic
military methods as are in keeping with a form of government based upon
the principles of stern tutelage and discipline. As a result of these
considerations, a singular scheme was gradually maturing in the mind of
the Tzar: to detach the Jews from Judaism by impressing them into a
military service of a wholly exceptional character.

The plan of introducing personal military service, instead of the
hitherto customary exemption tax, [1] had engaged the attention of the
Russian Government towards the end of Alexander I's reign, and had
caused a great deal of alarm among the Jewish communities. Nicholas I.
was now resolved to carry this plan into effect. Not satisfied with
imposing a civil obligation upon a people deprived of civil rights, the
Tzar desired to use the Russian military service, a service marked by
most extraordinary features, as an educational and disciplinary agency
for his Jewish subjects: the barrack was to serve as a school, or rather
as a factory, for producing a new generation of de-Judaized Jews, who
were completely Russified, and, if possible, Christianized.

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 318.]

The extension of the term of military service, marked by the ferocious
discipline of that age, to a period of twenty-five years, the enrolment
of immature lads or practically boys, their prolonged separation from a
Jewish environment, and finally the employment of such methods as were
likely to produce an immediate effect upon the recruits in the desired
direction--all this was deemed an infallible means of dissolving Russian
Jewry within the dominant nation, nay, within the dominant Church. It
was a direct and simplified scheme which seemed to lead in a straight
line to the goal. But had the ruling spheres of St. Petersburg known the
history of the Jewish people, they might have realized that the
annihilation of Judaism had in past ages been attempted more than once
by other, no less forcible, means and that the attempt had always proved
a failure.

In the very first year of the new reign, the plan of transforming the
Jews by "military" methods was firmly settled in the emperor's mind. In
1826 Nichola instructed his ministers to draft a special statute of
military service for the Jews, departing in some respects from the
general law. In view of the fact that the new military reform was
intended to include the Western region [1], which was under the military
command of the Tzar's brother. Grand Duke Constantine [2], the draft was
sent to him to Warsaw for further suggestions and approval, and was in
turn transmitted by the grand duke to Senator Nicholas Novosiltzev, his
co-regent [3], for investigation and report. As an experienced statesman,
who had familiarized himself during his administrative activity with the
Jewish conditions obtaining in the Western region, Novosiltzev realized
the grave risks involved in the imperial scheme. In a memorandum
submitted by him to the grand duke, he argued convincingly that the
sudden imposition of military service upon the Jews was bound to cause
an undesirable agitation among them, and that they should, on the
contrary, be slowly "prepared for such a radical transformation."

[Footnote 1: The official designation for the territories of Western
Russia which were formerly a part of the Polish Empire.]

[Footnote 2: Constantine was appointed by his brother Alexander I,
Commander-in-chief of the Polish army after the restoration of Poland in
1815. He remained in this post until his death in 1831. See also above,
p. 13, n. 2.]

[Footnote 3: He was the imperial Russian Commissary in Warsaw, and was
practically in control of the affairs in Poland. See below, p. 92 et

Novosiltzev was evidently well informed about the state of mind of the
Jewish masses. No sooner had the rumor of the proposed ukase reached the
Pale of Settlement than the Jews were seized by a tremendous excitement.
It must be borne in mind that the Jewish population of Western Russia
had but recently been incorporated into the Russian Empire. Clinging
with patriarchal devotion to their religion, estranged from the Russian
people, and kept, moreover, in a state of civil rightlessness, the Jews
of that region could not be reasonably expected to gloat over the
prospect of a military service of twenty-five years' duration, which was
bound to alienate their sons from their ancestral faith, detach them
from their native tongue, their habits and customs of life, and throw
them into a strange, and often hostile, environment. The ultimate aim of
the project, which, imbedded in the mind of its originators, seemed
safely hidden from the eye of publicity, was quickly sensed by the
delicate national instinct, and the soul of the people was stirred to
its depths. Public-minded Jews strained every nerve to avert the
calamity. Jewish representatives journeyed to St. Petersburg and Warsaw
to plead the cause of their brethren. Negotiations were entered into
with dignitaries of high rank and with men of influence in the world of
officialdom. Rumor had it that immense bribes had been offered to
Novosiltzev and several high officials in St. Petersburg for the purpose
of receiving their co-operation. But even the intercession of leading
dignitaries was powerless to change the will of the Tzar. He chafed
under the red-tape formalities which obstructed the realization of his
favorite scheme. Without waiting for the transmission of Novosiltzev's
memorandum, the Tzar directed the Minister of the Interior and the Chief
of the General Staff to submit to him for signature an ukase imposing
military service upon the Jews. The fatal enactment was signed on August
26, 1827.

2. The Recruiting Ukase of 1827 and Juvenile Conscription

The ukase announces the desire of the Government "to equalize military
duty for all estates," without, be it noted, equalizing them in their
rights. It further expresses the conviction that "the training and
accomplishments, acquired by the Jews during their military service,
will, on their return home after the completion of the number of years
fixed by law (fully a quarter of a century!), be communicated to their
families and make for greater usefulness and higher efficiency in their
economic life and in the management of their affairs."

However, the "Statute of Conscription and Military Service," subjoined
to the ukase, was a lurid illustration of a tendency utterly at variance
with the desire "to equalize military duty." Had the Russian Government
been genuinely desirous of rendering military duty uniform for all
estates, there would have been no need of issuing separately for the
Jews a huge enactment of ninety-five clauses, with supplementary
"instructions," consisting of sixty-two clauses, for the guidance of the
civil and military authorities. All that was necessary was to declare
that the general military statute applied also to the Jews. Instead, the
reverse stipulation is made: "The general laws and institutions are not
valid in the case of the Jews" when at variance with the special statute
(Clause 3).

The discriminating character of Jewish conscription looms particularly
large in the central portion of the statute. Jewish families were
stricken with terror on reading the eighth clause of the statute
prescribing that "the Jewish conscripts presented by the [Jewish]
communes shall be between the ages of twelve and twenty-five." This
provision was supplemented by Clause 74: "Jewish minors, i.e., below the
age of eighteen, shall be placed in preparatory establishments for
military training."

True, the institution of minor recruits, called _cantonists_, [1] existed
also for Christians. But in their case it was confined to the children
of soldiers in active service, by virtue of the principle laid down by
Arakcheyev [2] that children born of soldiers were the property of the
Military Department, whereas the conscription of Jewish minors was to be
absolute and to apply to all Jewish families without discrimination. To
make things worse, the law demanded that the years of preparatory
training should not be included in the term of active service, the
latter to start only with the age of eighteen (Clause 90); in other
words, the Jewish cantonists were compelled to serve an additional term
of six years over and above the obligatory twenty-five years. Moreover,
at the examination of Jewish conscripts, all that was demanded for their
enlistment was "that they be free from any disease or defect
incompatible with military service, but the other qualifications
required by the general rules shall be left out of consideration"
(Clause 10).

[Footnote 1: From _Canton_, a word applied in Prussia in the eighteenth
century to a recruiting district. In Russia, beginning with 1805, the term
"cantonists" is applied to children born of soldiers and therefore liable
to conscription.]

[Footnote 2: See Vol. I, p. 395, n. 1.]

The duty of enlisting the recruits was imposed upon the Jewish communes,
or Kahals, which were to elect for that purpose between three and six
executive officers, or "trustees," in every city. The community as such
was held responsible for the supply of a given number of recruits from
its own midst. It was authorized to draft into military service any Jew
guilty "of irregularity in the payment of taxes, of vagrancy, and other
misdemeanors." In case the required number of recruits was not
forthcoming within a given term, the authorities were empowered to
obtain them from the derelict community "by way of execution." [1] Any
irregularity on the part of the recruiting "trustees" was to be punished
by the imposition of fines or even by sending them into the army.

[Footnote 1: The term "execution" (_ekzekutzia_) is used in Russian to
designate a writ empowering an officer to carry a judgment into effect,
in other words, to resort to forcible seizure.]

The following categories of Jews were exempted from military duty:
merchants holding membership in guilds, artisans affiliated with
trade-unions, mechanics in factories, agricultural colonists, rabbis,
and the Jews, few and far between at that time, who had graduated from a
Russian educational institution. Those exempted from military service in
kind were required to pay "recruiting money," one thousand rubles for
each recruit. The general law providing that a regular recruit could
offer as his substitute a "volunteer" was extended to the Jews, with the
proviso that the volunteer must also be a Jew.

The "Instructions" to the civil authorities, appended to the statute,
specify the formalities to be followed both at the recruiting stations
and in administering the oath of allegiance to the conscripts in the
synagogues. The latter ceremony was to be marked by gloomy solemnity.
The recruit was to be arrayed in his prayer-shawl (Tallith) and shroud
(Kittel). With his philacteries wound around his arm, he should be
placed before the Ark and, amidst burning candles and to the
accompaniment of shofar blasts, made to recite a lengthy awe-inspiring
oath. The "Instructions" to the military authorities accompanying the
statute prescribe that every batch of Jewish conscripts "shall be
entrusted to a special officer to be watched over, prior to their
departure for their places of destination, and shall be kept apart from
the other recruits." Both in the places of conscription and on the
journey the Jewish recruits were to be quartered exclusively in the
homes of Christian residents.

The promulgated "military constitution" surpassed the very worst
apprehension of the Jews. All were staggered by this sudden blow, which
descended crushingly upon the mode of life, the time-honored traditions,
and the religious ideals of the Jewish people. The Jewish family nests
became astir, trembling for their fledglings. Barely a month after the
publication of the military statute, the central Government in St.
Petersburg was startled by the report that the Volhynian town of
Old-Constantine had been the scene of "mutiny and disorders among the
Jews" on the occasion of the promulgation of the ukase. Benckendorff,
the Chief of the Gendarmerie, [1] conveyed this information to the Tzar,
who thereupon gave orders that "in all similar cases the culprits be
court-martialed". Evidently, the St. Petersburg authorities apprehended a
whole series of Jewish mutinies, as a result of the dreadful ukase, and
they were ready with extraordinary measures for the emergency.

[Footnote 1: Since 1827 the Gendarmerie served as the executive organ of
the political police, or of the so-called Third Section, dreaded
throughout Russia on account of its relentless cruelty in suppressing
the slightest manifestation of liberal thought. The Third Section was
nominally abolished in 1880.]

However, their apprehensions were unfounded. Apart from the incident
referred to, there were no cases of open rebellion against the
authorities. As a matter of fact, even in Old-Constantine, the "mutiny"
was of a nature little calculated to be dealt with by a court-martial.
According to the local tradition, the Jewish residents, Hasidim almost
to a man, were so profoundly stirred by the imperial ukase that they
assembled in the synagogues, fasting and praying, and finally resolved
to adopt "energetic" measures. A petition reciting their grievances
against the Tzar was framed in due form and placed in the hands of a
member of the community who had just died, with the request that the
deceased present it to the Almighty, the God of Israel. This childlike
appeal to the heavenly King from the action of an earthly sovereign and
the emotional scenes accompanying it were interpreted by the Russian
authorities as "mutiny." Under the patriarchal conditions of Jewish life
prevailing at that time a political protest was a matter of
impossibility. The only medium through which the Jews could give vent to
their burning national sorrow was a religious demonstration within the
walls of the synagogue.


The ways and means by which the provisions of the military statute were
carried into effect during the reign of Nicholas I. we do not learn from
official documents, which seem to have drawn a veil over this dismal
strip of the past. Our information is derived from sources far more
communicative and nearer to truth--the traditions current among the
people. Owing to the fact that every Jewish community, at the mutual
responsibility of all its members, was compelled by law to supply a
definite number of recruits, and that no one was willing to become a
soldier of his own volition, the Kahal administration and the recruiting
"trustees," who had to answer to the authorities for any shortage in
recruits, were practically forced to become a sort of police agents,
whose function it was to "capture" the necessary quota of recruits.
Prior to every military conscription, the victims marked for prey, the
young men and boys of the burgher class, [1] very generally took to
flight, hiding in distant cities, outside the zone of their Kahals, or
in forests and ravines. A popular song in Yiddish refers to these
conditions in the following words;

[Footnote 1: Compare on the status of the burgher in Russian law Vol. I,
p. 308, n. 2. Nearly all the higher estates were exempt.]

      _Der Ukas is arobgekumen auf judische Selner,
      Seinen mir sich zulofen in die puste Wälder.....
      In alle puste Wälder seinen mir zulofen,
      In puste Gruber seinen mir verlofen_..... Oi weih, oi weih!_....[1]

[Footnote 1:

      When the ukase came down about Jewish soldiers,
      We all dispersed over the lonesome forests;
      Over the lonesome forests did we disperse,
      In lonesome pits did we hide ourselves.... Woe me, Woe!]

The recruiting agents hired by the Kahal or its "trustees," who received
the nickname "hunters" or "captors," [1] hunted down the fugitives,
trailing them everywhere and capturing them for the purpose of making up
the shortage. In default of a sufficient number of adults, little
children, who were easier "catch," were seized, often enough in
violation of the provision of the law. Even boys under the required age
of twelve, sometimes no more than eight years old, were caught and
offered as conscripts at the recruiting stations, their age being
misstated. [2] The agents perpetrated incredible cruelties. Houses were
raided during the night, and children were torn from the arms of their
mothers, or lured away and kidnapped.

[Footnote 1: More literally "catchers"; in Yiddish _Khappers_.]

[Footnote 2: This was the more easy, as regular birth-registers were not
yet in existence.]

After being captured, the Jewish conscripts were sent into the
recruiting jail where they were kept in confinement until their
examination at the recruiting station. The enlisted minors were turned
over to a special officer to be dispatched to their places of
destination, mostly in the Eastern provinces including Siberia. For it
must be noted that the cantonists were stationed almost to a man in the
outlying Russian governments, where they could be brought up at a safe
distance from all Jewish influences. The unfortunate victims who were
drafted into the army and deported to these far-off regions were mourned
by their relatives as dead. During the autumnal season, when the
recruits were drafted and deported, the streets of the Jewish towns
resounded with moans. The juvenile cantonists were packed into wagons
like so many sheep and carried off in batches under a military
convoy. When they took leave of their dear ones it was for a quarter of a
century; in the case of children it was for a longer term, too often it
was good-bye for life.

How these unfortunate youngsters were driven to their places of
destination we learn from the description of Alexander Hertzen, [1] who
chanced to meet a batch of Jewish cantonists on his involuntary journey
through Vyatka, in 1835. At one of the post stations in some
God-forsaken village of the Vyatka government he met the escorting
officer. The following dialogue ensued between the two:

[Footnote 1: Hertzen, a famous Russian writer (d. 1870), was exiled to the
government of Vyatka for propagating liberal doctrines.]

  "Whom do you carry and to what place?"

  "Well, sir, you see, they got together a bunch of these accursed
  Jewish youngsters between the age of eight and nine. I suppose they
  are meant for the fleet, but how should I know? At first the command
  was to drive them to Perm. Now there is a change. We are told to
  drive them to Kazan. I have had them on my hands for a hundred
  versts or thereabouts. The officer that turned them over to me told
  me they were an awful nuisance. A third of them remained on the road
  (at this the officer pointed with his finger to the ground). Half of
  them will not get to their destination," he added.

  "Epidemics, I suppose?", I inquired, stirred to the very core.

  "No, not exactly epidemics; but they just fall like flies. Well, you
  know, these Jewish boys are so puny and delicate. They can't stand
  mixing dirt for ten hours, with dry biscuits to live on. Again
  everywhere strange folks, no father, no mother, no caresses. Well
  then, you just hear a cough and the youngster is dead. Hello,
  corporal, get out the small fry!"

  The little ones were assembled and arrayed in a military line. It
  was one of the most terrible spectacles I have ever witnessed. Poor,
  poor children! The boys of twelve or thirteen managed somehow to
  stand up, but the little ones of eight and ten.... No brush, however
  black, could convey the terror of this scene on the canvas.

  Pale, worn out, with scared looks, this is the way they stood in
  their uncomfortable, rough soldier uniforms, with their starched,
  turned-up collars, fixing an inexpressibly helpless and pitiful gaze
  upon the garrisoned soldiers, who were handling them rudely. White
  lips, blue lines under the eyes betokened either fever or cold. And
  these poor children, without care, without a caress, exposed to the
  wind which blows unhindered from the Arctic Ocean, were marching to
  their death. I seized the officer's hand, and, with the words: "Take
  good care of them! ", threw myself into my carriage. I felt like
  sobbing, and I knew I could not master myself....

The great Russian writer saw the Jewish cantonists on the road, but he
knew nothing of what happened to them later on, in the recesses of the
barracks into which they were driven. This terrible secret was revealed
to the world at a later period by the few survivors among these martyred
Jewish children.

Having arrived at their destination, the juvenile conscripts were put
into the cantonist battalions. The "preparation for military service"
began with their religious re-education at the hands of sergeants and
corporals. No means was, neglected so long as it bade fair to bring the
children to the baptismal font. The authorities refrained from giving
formal instructions, leaving everything to the zeal of the officers who
knew the wishes of their superiors. The children were first sent for
spiritual admonition to the local Greek-Orthodox priests, whose efforts,
however, proved fruitless in nearly every case. They were then taken in
hand by the sergeants and corporals who adopted military methods of

These brutal soldiers invented all kinds of tortures. A favorite
procedure was to make the cantonists get down on their knees in the
evening after all had gone to bed and to keep the sleepy children in
that position for hours. Those who agreed to be baptized were sent to
bed, those who refused were kept up the whole night till they dropped
from exhaustion. The children who continued to hold their own were
flogged and, under the guise of gymnastic exercises, subjected to all
kinds of tortures. Those that refused to eat pork or the customary
cabbage soup prepared with lard were beaten and left to starve. Others
were fed on salted fish and then forbidden to drink, until the little
ones, tormented by thirst, agreed to embrace Christianity.

The majority of these children, unable to endure the tortures inflicted
on them, saved themselves by baptism. But many cantonists, particularly
those of a maturer age (between fifteen and eighteen), bore their
martyrdom with heroic patience. Beaten almost into senselessness, their
bodies striped by lashes, tormented to the point of exhaustion by
hunger, thirst, and sleeplessness, the lads declared again and again
that they would not betray the faith of their fathers. Most of these
obstinate youths were carried from the barracks into the military
hospitals to be released by a kind death. Only a few remained alive.

Alongside of this passive heroism there were cases of demonstrative
martyrdom. One such incident has survived in the popular memory. The
story goes that during a military parade [1] in the city of Kazan the
battalion chief drew up all the Jewish cantonists on the banks of the
river, where the Greek-Orthodox priests were standing in their
vestments, and all was ready for the baptismal ceremony. At the command
to jump into the water, the boys answered in military fashion "Aye,
aye!" Whereupon they dived under and disappeared. When they were dragged
out, they were dead. In most cases, however, these little martyrs
suffered and died noiselessly, in the gloom of the guard-houses,
barracks, and military hospitals. They strewed with their tiny bodies
the roads that led into the outlying regions of the Empire, and those
that managed to get there were fading away slowly in the barracks which
had been turned into inquisitorial dungeons. This martyrdom of children,
set in a military environment, represents a singular phenomenon even in
the extensive annals of Jewish martyrology.

[Footnote 1: A variant of the legend speaks of a review by the Tzar

Such was the lot of the juvenile cantonists. As for the adult recruits,
who were drafted into the army at the normal age of conscription
(18-25), their conversion to Christianity was not pursued by the same
direct methods, but their fate was not a whit less tragic from the
moment of their capture till the end of their grievous twenty-five
years' service. Youths, who had no knowledge of the Russian language,
were torn away from the heder or yeshibah, often from wife and children.

In consequence of the early marriages then in vogue, most youths at the
age of eighteen were married. The impending separation for a quarter of
a century, added to the danger of the soldier's apostasy or death in
far-off regions, often disrupted the family ties. Many recruits, before
entering upon their military career, gave their wives a divorce so as
not to doom them to perpetual widowhood.

At the end of 1834 rumors began to spread among the Jewish masses
concerning a law which was about to be issued forbidding early marriages
but exempting from conscription those married prior to the promulgation
of the law. A panic ensued. Everywhere feverish haste was displayed in
marrying off boys from ten to fifteen years old to girls of an equally
tender age. Within a few months there appeared in every city hundreds
and thousands of such couples, whose marital relations were often
confined to playing with nuts or bones. The misunderstanding which had
caused this senseless matrimonial panic or _beholoh,_[1] as it was
afterwards popularly called, was cleared up by the publication, on April
13, 1835, of the new "Statute on the Jews." To be sure, the new law
contained a clause forbidding marriages before the age of eighteen, but
it offered no privileges for those already married, so that the only
result of the _beholoh_ was to increase the number of families robbed by
conscription of their heads and supporters.

[Footnote 1: A Hebrew word, also used in Yiddish, meaning _fright,

The years of military service were spent by the grown-up Jewish soldiers
amidst extraordinary hardships. They were beaten and ridiculed because
of their inability to express themselves in Russian, their refusal to
eat _trefa_, and their general lack of adaptation to the strange
environment and to the military mode of life. And even when this process
of adaptation was finally accomplished, the Jewish soldier was never
promoted beyond the position of a non-commissioned under-officer,
baptism being the inevitable stepping-stone to a higher rank. True, the
Statute on Military Service promised those Jewish soldiers who had
completed their term in the army with distinction admission to the civil
service, but the promise remained on paper so long as the candidates
were loyal to Judaism. On the contrary, the Jews who had completed their
military service and had in most cases become invalids were not even
allowed to spend the rest of their lives in the localities outside the
Pale, in which they had been stationed as soldiers. Only at a later
period, during the reign of Alexander II., was this right accorded to
the "Nicholas soldiers" [1] and their descendants.

[Footnote 1: In Russian, _Nikolayevskiye soldaty_, i.e., those that had
served in the army during the reign of Nicholas I.]

The full weight of conscription fell upon the poorest classes of the
Jewish population, the so-called burgher estate, [1] consisting of petty
artisans and those impoverished tradesmen who could not afford to enrol
in the mercantile guilds, though there are cases on record where poor
Jews begged from door to door to collect a sufficient sum of money for a
guild certificate in order to save their children from military service.
The more or less well-to-do were exempted from conscription either by
virtue of their mercantile status or because of their connections with
the Kahal leaders who had the power of selecting the victims.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 23, n. 1.]


In all lands of Western Europe the introduction of personal military
service for the Jews was either accompanied or preceded by their
emancipation. At all events, it was followed by some mitigation of their
disabilities, serving, so to speak, as an earnest of the grant of equal
rights. Even in clerical Austria, the imposition of military duty upon
the Jews was preceded by the _Toleranz Patent_, this would-be Act of
Emancipation. [1]

[Footnote 1: Military service was imposed upon the Jews of Austria by
the law of 1787. Several years previously, on January 2, 1782, Emperor
Joseph II. had issued his famous Toleration Act, removing a number of
Jewish disabilities and opening the way to their assimilation with the
environment. Nevertheless, most of the former restrictions remained in

In Russia the very reverse took place. The introduction of military
conscription of a most aggravating kind and the unspeakable cruelties
attending its practical execution were followed, in the case of the
Jews, by an unprecedented recrudescence of legislative discrimination
and a monstrous increase of their disabilities. The Jews were lashed
with a double knout, a military and a civil. In the same ill-fated year
which saw the promulgation of the conscription statute, barely three
months after it had received the imperial sanction, while the moans of
the Jews, fasting and praying to God to deliver them from the calamity,
were still echoing in the synagogues, two new ukases were issued, both
signed on December 2, 1827--the one decreeing the transfer of the Jews
from all villages and village inns in the government of Grodno into the
towns and townlets, the other ordering the banishment of all Jewish
residents from the city of Kiev.

The expulsion from the Grodno villages was the continuation of the
policy of the _rural_ liquidation of Jewry, inaugurated in 1823 in White
Russia. [1] The Grodno province was merely meant to serve as a starting
point. Grand Duke Constantine, [2] who had brought up the question, was
ordered "_at first_ to carry out the expulsion in the government of
Grodno alone," and to postpone for a later occasion the application of
the same measure to the other "governments entrusted to his command."
Simultaneously considerable foresight was displayed in instructing the
grand duke to wait with the expulsion of the Jews "until the conclusion
of the military conscription going on at present." Evidently there was
some fear of disorders and complications. It was thought wiser to seize
the children for the army first and then to expel the parents--to get
hold of the young birds and then to destroy the nest.

[Footnote 1: It may be remarked here that the principal enactments of
that period, down to 1835, were, drafted in their preliminary stage by
the "Jewish Committee" established in 1823. See Vol. I, p. 407 _et

[Footnote 2: Commander-in-Chief of the former Polish provinces. See p.
16, n. 2.]

The expulsion from Kiev was of a different order. It marked the
beginning of a new system, the narrowing down of the _urban_ area
allotted to the Jews within the Pale of Settlement. Since 1794 [1] the
Jews had been allowed to settle in Kiev freely. They had formed there,
with official sanction, an important community and had vastly developed
commerce and industry. Suddenly, however, the Government discovered that
"their presence is detrimental to the industry of this city and to the
exchequer in general, and is, moreover, at variance with the rights and
privileges conferred at different periods upon the city of Kiev." The
discovery was followed by a grim rescript from St. Petersburg,
forbidding not only the further settlement of Jews in Kiev but also
prescribing that even those settled there long ago should leave the city
within one year, those owning immovable property within two years.
Henceforward only the temporary sojourn of Jews, for a period not
exceeding six months, was to be permitted and to be limited, moreover,
to merchants of the first two guilds who arrive "in connection with
contracts and fairs" or to attend to public bids and deliveries.

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 317.]

In 1829 the whip of expulsion cracked over the backs of the Jews
dwelling on the shores of the Baltic and the Black Sea. In Courland and
Livonia measures were taken "looking to the reduction of the number of
Jews" which had been considerably swelled by the influx of
"newcomers"--of Jews not born in those provinces and therefore having no
right to settle there. The Tzar endorsed the proposal of the "Jewish
Committee" to transfer from Courland all Jews not born there into the
cities in which their birth was registered. Those not yet registered in
a municipality outside the province were granted a half-year's respite
for that purpose. If within the prescribed term they failed to attend to
their registration, they were to be sent to the army, or, in case of
unfitness for military service, deported to Siberia.

In the same year an imperial ukase declared that "the residence of
civilian Jews in the cities of Sevastopol and Nicholayev was
inconvenient and injurious," in view of the military and naval
importance of these places, and therefore decreed the expulsion of their
Jewish residents: those owning real property within two years, the
others within one year. By a new ukase issued in 1830 the Jews were
expelled from the villages and hamlets of the government of Kiev. Thus
were human beings hurled about from village to town, from city to city,
from province to province, with no more concern than might be displayed
in the transportation of cattle.

This process of "mobilization" had reached its climax when the Polish
insurrection of 1830-1831 broke out, affecting the whole Western
region. [1] Fearing lest the persecuted Jews might be driven into the
arms of the Poles, the Government decided on a strategic retreat. In
February, 1831, in consequence of the representations of the local
military commander, who urged the Government "to take into consideration
the present political circumstances, in which they (the Jews) may
occasionally prove useful," the final expulsion of the Jews from Kiev
was postponed for three years. At the end of the three years, the
governor of Kiev made similar representations to St. Petersburg,
emphasizing the desirability of allowing the Jews to remain in the city,
even though it might become necessary to segregate them in a special
quarter, "this (i.e., their remaining in the city) being found useful
also in this respect that, on account of their temperate and simple
habits of life, they are in a position to sell their goods considerably
cheaper, whereas in the case of their expulsion many articles and
manufactures will rise in price." Nicholas I. rejected this plea, and
only agreed to postpone the expulsion until February, 1835, for the
reason that the new "Statute Concerning the Jews," then in preparation,
which was to define the general legal status of Russian Jewry, was
expected to be ready by that time. Similar short reprieves were granted
to the Jews about to be exiled from Nicholayev, from the villages of the
government of Kiev, and from other places.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 16, n. 1.]


No sooner had the conscription ukase been issued than the bureaucrats of
St. Petersburg began to apply themselves in the hidden recesses of their
chancelleries to a new civil code for the Jews, which was to supersede
the antiquated Statute of 1804. The work passed through a number of
departments. The projected enactment was framed by the "Jewish
Committee," which had been established in 1823 for the purpose of
bringing about "a reduction of the number of Jews in the monarchy," and
consisted of cabinet ministers and the chiefs of departments. [1]
Originally the department chiefs had elaborated a draft covering 1230
clauses, a gigantic code of disabilities; evidently founded on the
principle that in the case of Jews everything is forbidden which, is not
permitted by special legislation. The dimensions of the draft were such
that even the Government was appalled and decided to turn it over to the
ministerial members of the Committee.

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 407 et seq.]

Modified in shape and reduced in size, the code was submitted in 1834 to
the Department of Laws forming part of the Council of State, and after
careful discussion by the Department of Laws was brought up at the
plenary sessions of the Council. The "ministerial" draft, though smaller
in bulk, was marked by such severity that the Department of Laws found
it necessary to tone it down. The ministers, with the exception of the
Minister of Finance, had proposed to transfer all Jews, within a period
of three years, from the villages to the towns and townlets. The
Department of Laws considered this measure too risky, pointing to the
White Russian expulsion of 1823, which had failed to produce the
expected results, and, "while it has ruined the Jews, it does not in the
least seem to have improved the condition of the villagers." [1] The
plenum of the Council agreed with the Department of Laws that "the
proposed expulsion of the Jews (from the villages), being extremely
difficult of execution and being of problematic benefit, should be
eliminated from the Statute and should be stopped even there where it
had been decreed but not carried into effect."

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p. 407.]

The report was laid before the Tzar, who attached to it the following
"resolution": [1] "Where this measure (of expulsion) has been started, it
is inconvenient to repeal it; but it shall be postponed for the time
being in the governments in which no steps towards it have as yet been
made." For a number of years this "resolution" hung like the sword of
Damocles over the heads of rural Jewry.

[Footnote 1: See on the meaning of the term "resolution" Vol. I, p. 253,
n. 1.]

Less yielding was the Tzar's attitude on the question of the partial
enlargement of the Pale of Settlement. The Department of Laws had
suggested to grant the merchants of the first guild the right of
residence in the Russian interior in the interest of the exchequer and
big business. At the general meeting of the Council of State only a
minority (thirteen) voted for the proposal. The majority (twenty-two)
argued that they had no right to violate the time-honored tradition,
"dating from the time of Peter the Great," which bars the Jews from the
Russian interior; that to admit them "would produce a very unpleasant
impression upon our people, which, on account of its religious notions
and its general estimate of the moral peculiarities of the Jews, has
become accustomed to keep aloof from them and to despise them;" that the
countries of Western Europe, which had accorded fall citizenship to the
Jews, "cannot serve as an example for Russia, partly because of the
incomparably larger number of Jews living here, partly because our
Government and people, with all their well-known tolerance, are yet far
from that indifference with which certain other nations look upon
religious matters." After marking his approval of the last words by the
marginal exclamation "Thank God!", the Tzar disposed of the whole matter
in the following brief resolution: "This question has been determined by
Peter the Great. I dare not change it; I completely share the opinion of
the twenty-two members."

While on this occasion the Tzar endorsed the opinion of the Council as
represented by its majority, in cases in which it proved favorable to
the Jews he did not hesitate to set it aside. Thus the Department of
Laws, as part of the Council of State, and, following in its wake, the
Council itself had timidly suggested to Nicholas to comply in part with
the plea of the Jews for a mitigation of the rigors of conscription, [1]
but the imperial verdict read: "To be left as heretofore." Nicholas
remained equally firm on the question of the expulsions from Kiev. The
Department of Laws, guided by the previously-mentioned representations
of the local governor, favored the postponement of the expulsion, and
fourteen members of the plenary Council agreed with the suggestion of
the Department, and resolved to recommend it to the "benevolent
consideration of his Majesty," in other words to request the Tzar to
revoke the baneful ukase. But fifteen, members rejected all such
propositions on the ground that, as far as that question was concerned,
the imperial will was unmistakable, the Tzar having decided the matter
in a sense unfavorable to the Jews. In a similar manner, numerous other
decisions of the Council of State were dictated not so much by inner
conviction as by fear of the clearly manifested imperial will, which no
one dared to cross.

[Footnote 1: The Kahal of Vilna, in a memorandum submitted in 1835,
pleaded for the abolition of the dreadful institution of cantonists, and
begged that the age limit of Jewish recruits be raised from 12-15 to

Under these circumstances, the entire draft of the statute passed
through the Council of State. In its session of March 28, 1835, the
Council voted to submit it to the emperor for his signature. On this
occasion a solitary and belated voice was raised in defence of the Jews,
without evoking an echo. A member of the Council, Admiral Greig, who was
brave enough to swim against the current, submitted a "special opinion"
on the proposed statute, in which he advocated a number of alleviations
in the intolerable legal status of the Jews. Greig put the whole issue
in a nut-shell: "Are the Jews to be suffered in the country, or not?"
If they are, then we must abandon the system "of hampering them in their
actions and in their religious customs" and grant them at least "equal
liberty of commerce with the others," for in this case "we may
anticipate more good from their gratitude than from their hatred."
Should, however, the conclusion be reached that the Jews ought not to be
tolerated in Russia, then the only thing to be done is "to banish them
all without exception from the country into foreign lands." This might
be "more useful than to allow this estate to remain in the country and
to keep it in a position which is bound to arouse in them continual
dissatisfaction and resentment." It need scarcely be added that the
voice of the "queer" admiral found no hearing.

Nor did the Jewish people manage to get a hearing. Stunned by the
uninterrupted succession of blows and moved by the spirit of martyrdom,
Russian Jewry kept its peace during those dismal years. Yet, when the
news of an impending general regulation of the Jewish legal status began
to leak out, a section of Russian Jewry became astir. For to anticipate
a blow is more excruciating than to receive one, and it was quite
natural that an attempt should be made to stay the hand which was lifted
to strike. Towards the end of 1833 the Council of State received, as
part of the material bearing on the Jewish question, two memoranda, one
from the Kahal of Vilna, signed by six elders, and another from Litman
Feigin of Chernigov, well known in administrative circles as merchant
and public contractor.

The Kahal of Vilna declared that the repressive policy, pursued during
the last few years by the "Jewish Committee," had thrown a large part of
the Jewish people "into utmost disorder," and had made the Jews "shiver
and shudder at the thought that a general Jewish statute had been
drafted by the same Committee and had now been submitted to the Council
of State for revision." The petitioners go on to say that, weighed down
by a succession of cruel discriminations affecting not only their rights
but also their mode of discharging military service, the Jews would
succumb to utter despair, did they not repose their hopes in the
benevolence of the Tzar, who, on his recent trip through the Western
provinces, had expressed to the deputies of the Jewish communes his
imperial satisfaction with the loyalty to the throne displayed by the
Jews during the Polish insurrection of 1831. The Kahal of Vilna,
therefore, implored the Council of State "to turn its attention to this
unfortunate and maligned people" and to stop all further persecutions.

A more emphatic note of protest is sounded in the memorandum of Feigin.
By a string of references to the latest Government measures he
demonstrates the fact that "the Jewish people is hunted down, not
because of its moral qualities but because of its faith."

  The Jews, faced by the new statute, have lost all hope for a better lot,
  inasmuch as the Government has embarked upon this measure without having
  solicited the explanations or justifications of this people, whereas,
  according to common legal procedure, even an individual may not be
  condemned without having been called upon to justify himself.

The rebuke had no effect. The Government preferred to render its verdict
_in absentia_, without listening to counsel for the defence and without
any safeguards of fair play. In line with this attitude, it also denied
the petition of the Vilna Kahal to be allowed "to send at least four
deputies to the capital as spokesmen of the entire Jewish people for the
purpose of submitting to the Government their explanations and
propositions concerning the reorganization of the Jews, after having
been presented with a draft of the statute." The final verdict was
pronounced in the spring of 1835, and in April the new "Statute
concerning the Jews" received the signature of the Tzar.

This "Charter of Disabilities," which was destined to operate for many
decades, represents a combination of the Russian "ground laws"
concerning the Jews and the restrictive by-laws issued after 1804. The
Pale of Settlement was now accurately defined: it consisted of Lithuania
[1] and the South-western provinces, [2] without any territorial
restrictions, White Russia [3] minus the Villages, Little Russia [4]
minus the crown hamlets, New Russia [5] minus Nicholayev and Sevastopol,
the government of Kiev minus the city of Kiev, the Baltic provinces for
the old settlers only, while the rural settlements on the entire
fifty-verst zone along the Western frontier were to be closed to
newcomers. As for the interior provinces, only temporary "furloughs"
(limited to six weeks and to be certified by gubernatorial passports)
were to be granted for the execution of judicial and commercial affairs,
with the proviso that the travellers should wear Russian instead of
Jewish dress. The merchants affiliated with the first and second guilds
were allowed, in addition, to visit the two capitals, [6] the sea-ports,
as well as the fairs of Nizhni-Novgorod, Kharkov, and other big fairs
for wholesale buying or selling. [7]

[Footnote 1: The present governments of Kovno, Vilna, Grodno, and Minsk.]

[Footnote 2: The governments of Volhynia and Podolia.]

[Footnote 3: The governments of Vitebsk and Moghilev.]

[Footnote 4: The governments of Chernigov and Poltava.]

[Footnote 5: The governments of Kherson, Yekaterinoslav, Tavrida, and

[Footnote 6: St. Petersburg and Moscow.]

[Footnote 7: The time-limit was six months for the merchants of the
first guild and three months for those of the second.]

The Jews were further forbidden to employ Christian domestics for
permanent employment. They could hire Christians for occasional services
only, on condition that the latter live in separate quarters. Marriages
at an earlier age than eighteen for the bridegroom and sixteen for the
bride were forbidden under the pain of imprisonment--a prohibition which
the defective registration of births and marriages then in vogue made it
easy to evade. The language to be employed by the Jews in their public
documents was to be Russian or any other local dialect, but "under no
circumstances the Hebrew language."

The function of the Kahal, according to the Statute, is to see to it
that the "instructions of the authorities" are carried out precisely and
that the state taxes and communal assessments are "correctly remitted."
The Kahal elders are to be elected by the community every three years
from among persons who can read and write Russian, subject to their
being ratified by the gubernatorial administration. At the same time the
Jews are entitled to participation in the municipal elections; those who
can read and write Russian are eligible as members of the town councils
and magistracies--the supplementary law of 1836 fixed the rate at
one-third, [1] excepting the city of Vilna where the Jews were entirely
excluded from municipal self-government.

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p. 368.]

Synagogues may not be built in the vicinity of churches. The Russian
schools of all grades are to be open to Jewish children, who "are not
compelled to change their religion" (Clause 106)--a welcome provision in
view of the compulsory methods which had then become habitual. The
coercive baptism of Jewish children was provided for in a separate
enactment, the Statute on Conscription, which is declared "to remain in
force." In this way the Statute of 1835 reduces itself to a codification
of the whole mass of the preceding anti-Jewish legislation. Its only
positive feature was that it put a stop to the expulsion from the
villages which had ruined the Jewish population during the years


With all its discriminations, the promulgation of this general statute
was far from checking the feverish activity of the Government. With
indefatigable zeal, its hands went on turning the legislative wheel and
squeezing ever tighter the already unbearable vise of Jewish life. The
slightest attempt to escape from its pressure was punished ruthlessly.
In 1838 the police of St. Petersburg discovered a group of Jews in the
capital "with expired passports," these Jews having extended their stay
there a little beyond the term fixed for Jewish travellers, and the Tzar
curtly decreed: "to be sent to serve in the penal companies of
Kronstadt." [1] In 1840 heavy fines were imposed upon the landed
proprietors in the Great Russian governments for "keeping over" Jews on
their estates.

[Footnote 1: A fortress in the vicinity of St Petersburg.]

Considerable attention was bestowed by the Government on placing the
spiritual life of the Jews under police supervision. In 1836 a
censorship campaign was launched against Hebrew literature. Hebrew
books, which were then almost exclusively of a religious nature, such as
prayer-books, Bible and Talmud editions, rabbinic, cabalistic, and
hasidic writings, were then issuing from the printing presses of Vilna,
Slavuta, [1] and other places, and were subject to a rigorous censorship
exercised by Christians or by Jewish converts. Practically every Jewish
home-library consisted of religious works of this type. The suspicions
of the Government were aroused by certain Jewish converts who had
insinuated that the foreign editions of these works and those that had
appeared in Russia itself prior to the establishment of a censorship
were of an "injurious" character. As a result, all Jewish home-libraries
were subjected to a search. Orders were given to deliver into the hands
of the local police, in the course of that year, all foreign Hebrew
prints as well as the uncensored editions, published at any previous
time in Russia, and to entrust their revision to "dependable" rabbis.
These rabbis were instructed to put their stamp on the books approved by
them and return the books not approved by them to the police for
transmission to the Ministry of the Interior. The regulation involved
the entire ancient Hebrew literature printed during the sixteenth,
seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, prior to the establishment of the
Russian censorship. In order to "facilitate the supervision" over new
publications or reprints from older editions, all Jewish printing
presses which existed at that time in various cities and towns were
ordered closed, and only those of Vilna and Kiev, [2] to which special
censors were attached, were allowed to remain.

[Footnote 1: A town in Volhynia.]

[Footnote 2: The printing-press of Kiev was subsequently transferred to

As the Hebrew authors of antiquity or the Middle Ages did not fully
anticipate the requirements of the Russian censors, many classic works
were found to contain passages which were thought to be "at variance
with imperial enactments." By the ukase of 1836 all books of this kind,
circulating in tens of thousands of copies, had to be transported to St.
Petersburg under a police escort to await their final verdict. The
procedure, however, proved too cumbersome, and, in 1837, the emperor,
complying with the petitions of the governors, was graciously pleased to
command that all these books be "delivered to the flames on the spot."
This _auto-da-fé_ was to be witnessed by a member of the gubernatorial
administration and a special "dependable" official dispatched by the
governor for the sole purpose of making a report to the central
Government on every literary conflagration of this kind and forwarding
to the Ministry of the Interior one copy of each "annihilated" book.

But even this was not enough to satisfy the lust of the Russian
censorship. It was now suspected that even the "dependable" rabbis might
pass many a book as "harmless," though its contents were subversive of
the public weal. As a result, a new ukase was issued in 1841, placing
the rabbinical censors themselves under Government control. All
uncensored books, including those already passed as "harmless," were
ordered to be taken away from the private libraries and forwarded to the
censorship committees in Vilna and Kiev. The latter were instructed to
attach their seals to the approved books and "deliver to the flames" the
books condemned by them. Endless wagonloads of these confiscated books
could be seen moving towards Vilna and Kiev, and for many years
afterwards the literature of the "People of the Book," covering a period
of three milleniums, was still languishing in the gaol of censorship,
waiting to be saved from or to be sentenced to a fiery death by a
Russian official.

It is almost unnecessary to add that the primitive method of solving the
Jewish problem by means of conversion, was still the guiding principle
of the Government. The Russian legislation of that period teems with
regulations concerning apostasy. The surrender of the Synagogue to the
Church seemed merely a question of time. In reality, however, the
Government itself believed but half-heartedly in the sincerity of the
converted Jews. In 1827 the Tzar put down in his own handwriting the
following resolution: "It is to be strictly observed that the baptismal
ceremony shall take place unconditionally on a Sunday, and with all
possible publicity, so as to remove all suspicion of a pretended
adoption of Christianity." Subsequently, this watchfulness had to be
relaxed in the case of those "who avoid publicity in adopting
Christianity," more especially in the case of the cantonists, "who have
declared their willingness to embrace the orthodox faith"--under the
effect, we may add, of the tortures in the barracks. Sincerity under
these circumstances was out of the question, and, in 1831, the battalion
chaplains were authorized to baptize these helpless creatures, even
"without applying for permission to the ecclesiastical authorities."

The barrack missionaries were frequently successful among these
unfortunate military prisoners. In the imperial rescripts of that period
the characteristic expression "privates from among the Jews _remaining
in the above faith_" figures as a standing designation for that group of
refractory and incorrigible soldiers who disturbed the officially
pre-established harmony of epidemic conversions by remaining loyal to
Judaism. But among the "civilian" Jews, who had not been detached from
their Jewish environment, apostasy was extraordinarily rare, and law
after law was promulgated in vain, offering privileges to converts or
leniency to criminals who were ready to embrace the orthodox creed. [1]

[Footnote 1: Under Clause 157 of the Russian Penal Code of 1845, the
penalty of the law was softened, not only in degree but also in kind,
for those criminals who had embraced the Greek-Orthodox faith during the
investigation or trial.]




There was a brief moment of respite when, in the phrase of the Russian
poet, "the fighter's hand was tired of killing." The Russian Government
suddenly felt the need of passing over from the medieval forms of
patronage to more enlightened and perfected methods. Among the leading
statesmen of Russia were men, such as the Minister of Public
Instruction, Sergius Uvarov, who were well acquainted with Western
European ways and fully aware of the fact that the reactionary
governments of Austria and Prussia had invented several contrivances for
handling the Jewish problem which might be usefully applied in their own
country. Though anxious to avoid all contact with the "rotten West," and
being in constant fear of European political movements, the Russian
Government was nevertheless ready to seize upon the relics of
"enlightened absolutism" which were still stalking about, particularly
in Austria, in the early decades of the nineteenth century. As far as
Prussia was concerned, the abundance of assimilated and converted Jews
in that country and their attempts at religious reform, which to a
missionary's imagination were identical with a change of front in favor
of Christianity, had a fascination of its own for the Russian
dignitaries. No wonder then that the Government yielded to the
temptation to use some of the contrivances of Western European reaction,
while holding in reserve the police knout of genuine Russian

In 1840 the Council of State was again busy discussing the Jewish
question, this time from a theoretic point of view. The reports of the
provincial administrators, in particular that of Bibikov,
governor-general of Kiev, dwelled on the fact that even the "Statute" of
1835 had not succeeded in "correcting" the Jews. The root of the evil
lay rather in their "religious fanaticism and separatism," which could
only be removed by changing their inner life. The Ministers of Public
Instruction and of the Interior, Uvarov and Stroganov, took occasion to
expound the principles of their new system of correction before the
Council of State. The discussions culminated in a remarkable memorandum
submitted by the Council to Nicholas I.

In this document the Government confesses its impotence in grappling
with the "defects" of the Jewish masses, such as "the absence of useful
labor, their harmful pursuit of petty trading, vagrancy, and obstinate
aloofness from general civic life." Its failure the Government ascribes
to the fact that the evil of Jewish exclusiveness has hitherto not been
attacked at its root, the latter being imbedded in the religious and
communal organization of the Jews. The fountain-head of all misfortunes
is the Talmud, which "fosters in the Jews utmost contempt towards the
nations of other faiths," and implants in them the desire "to rule over
the rest of the world." As a result of the obnoxious teachings of the
Talmud, "the Jews cannot but regard their presence in any other land
except Palestine as a sojourn in captivity," and "they are held to obey
their own authorities rather than a strange government." This explains
"the omnipotence of the Kahals," which, contrary to the law of the
state, employ secret means to uphold their autonomous authority both in
communal and judicial matters, using for this purpose the uncontrolled
sums of the special Jewish revenue, the meat tax. The education of the
Jewish youth is entrusted to melammeds, "a class of domestic teachers
immersed in profoundest ignorance and superstition," and, "under the
influence of these fanatics, the children imbibe pernicious notions of
intolerance towards other nations." Finally, the special dress worn by
the Jews helps to keep them apart from the surrounding Christian

The Russian Government "had adopted a series of protective measures
against the Jews," without producing any marked effect. Even the
Conscription Statute "had succeeded to a limited extent only in altering
the habits of the Jews." Mere promotion of agriculture and of Russian
schooling had been found inadequate. The expulsions from the villages
had proved equally fruitless; "the Jews, to be sure, have been ruined,
but the condition of the rustics has shown no improvement."

  It is evident, therefore--the Council declares--that restrictions
  which go only half way or are externally imposed by the police are
  not sufficient to direct this huge mass of people towards useful
  occupations. With the patience of martyrs the Jews of Western Europe
  had endured the most atrocious persecutions, and had yet succeeded
  in keeping their national type intact until the governments took the
  trouble to inquire more deeply into the causes separating the Jews
  from general civic life, so as to be able to attack the causes

After blurting out the truth that the Government's ultimate aim was the
obliteration of the Jewish individuality, and modestly yielding the palm
in inflicting "the most atrocious persecutions" upon the Jews to Western
Europe, where after all they were receding into the past, while in
Russia they were still the order of the day, the Council of State
proceeds to consider "the example set by foreign countries," and lingers
with particular affection over the Prussian Regulation of 1797 issued by
that country for its recently occupied Polish provinces--the Prussian
Emancipation Edict of 1812 the memorandum very shrewdly passes over in
silence--and on the system of compulsory schooling adopted by Austria.

Taking its clue from the West, the Council delineates three ways of
bringing about "a radical transformation of this people":

1: _Cultural reforms_, such as the establishment of special secular
schools for the Jewish youth, the fight against the old-fashioned
heders and melammeds, the transformation of the rabbinate, and the
prohibition of Jewish dress.

2. _Abolition of Jewish autonomy_, consisting in the dissolution of
the Kahals and the modification of the system of special Jewish

3. _Increase of Jewish disabilities_, by segregating from their
midst all those who have no established domicile and are without a
definite financial status, with a view of subjecting them to
disciplinary correction through expulsions, legal restrictions,
intensified conscription, and similar police measures.

  In this manner--the memorandum concludes--it may be hoped that by
  co-ordinating all the particulars of this proposition with the
  fundamental idea of reforming the Jewish people, and _by taking
  compulsory measures to aid_, the goal of the Government will be

As a result of this _exposé_ of the Council of State, an imperial
rescript was issued on December 27, 1840, calling for the establishment
of a "Committee for Defining Measures looking to the Radical
Transformation of the Jews of Russia." Count Kiselev, Minister of the
Crown Domains, was appointed chairman. The other members included the
Ministers of Public Instruction and the Interior, the Assistant-Minister
of Finance, the Director of the Second Section of the imperial
chancellery, and the Chief of the Political Police, or the dreaded
"Third Section." [1] The latter was entrusted with the special task "to
keep a watchful eye on the intrigues and actions which may be resorted
to by the Jews during the execution of this matter."

[Footnote 1: See p. 21, n. 1.]

Moreover, the _exposé_ of the Council of State, which was to serve as
the program of the new Committee, was sent out to the governors-general
of the Western region [1] "confidentially_, for personal information and
consideration." The reformatory campaign against the Jews was thus
started without any formal declaration of war, under the guise of
secrecy and surrounded by police precautions. The procedure to be
followed by the Committee was to consider the project in the order
indicated in the memorandum: first "enlightenment," then abolition of
autonomy, and finally disabilities.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 16, n. 1.]


An elaborate _exposé_ on the question of enlightenment was composed and
laid before the Committee by the Minister of Public Instruction, Sergius
Uvarov. Having acquired the _bon ton_ of Western Europe, Uvarov prefaces
his statement by the remark that the European governments have abandoned
the method of "persecution and compulsion" in solving the Jewish
question and that "this period has also arrived for us." "Nations,"
observes Uvarov, "are not exterminated, least of all the nation which
stood at the foot of Calvary." From what follows, it seems evident that
the Minister is still in hopes that the gentle measures of enlightenment
may attract the Jews towards the religion which derives its origin from

  The best among the Jews--he states--are conscious of the fact that
  one of the principal causes of their humiliation lies in the
  perverted interpretation of their religious traditions, that ... the
  Talmud demoralized and continues to demoralize their
  co-religionists. But nowhere is the influence of the Talmud so
  potent as among us (in Russia) and in the Kingdom of Poland. [1]
  This influence can be counteracted only by enlightenment, and the
  Government can do no better than to act in the spirit that animates
  the handful of the best among them.... The re-education of the
  learned section among the Jews involves at the same time the
  purification of their religious conceptions.

[Footnote 1: See on the meaning of the latter term Vol. I, p. 390, n. 1.]

What "purification" the author of the memorandum has in mind may be
gathered from his casual remark that the Jews, who maintain their
separatism, are rightly afraid of reforms: "for is not the religion of
the Cross the purest symbol of universal citizenship?" This, however,
Uvarov cautiously adds, should not be made public, for "it would have no
other effect except that of arousing from the very beginning the
opposition of the majority of the Jews against the (projected) schools."

Officially the reform must confine itself to the opening in all the
cities of the Jewish Pale of elementary and secondary schools in which
Jewish children should be taught the Russian language, secular sciences,
Hebrew, and "religion, according to the Holy Writ." The instruction
should be given in Russian, though, owing to the shortage in teachers
familiar with this language, the use of German is to be admitted
temporarily. The teachers in the low-grade schools shall provisionally
be recruited from among melammeds who "can be depended upon"; those in
the higher-grade schools shall be chosen from among the modernized Jews
of Russia and Germany.

The Committee endorsed Uvarov's scheme in its principal features, and
urgently recommended that, in order to prepare the Jewish masses for the
impending reform, a special propagandist be sent into the Pale of
Settlement for the purpose of acquainting this obstreperous nation with
"the benevolent intentions of the Government." Such a propagandist was
soon found in the person of a young German Jew, Dr. Max Lilienthal, a
resident of Riga.

Lilienthal; who was a native of Bavaria (he was born in Munich in 1815)
and a German university graduate, was a typical representative of the
German Jewish intellectuals of that period, a champion of assimilation
and of moderate religious reform. Lilienthal had scarcely completed his
university course, when he was offered by a group of educated Jews in
Riga the post of preacher and director of the new local Jewish school,
one of the three modern Jewish schools then in existence in Russia.[1]
In a short time Lilienthal managed to raise the instruction in
secular and Jewish subjects to such a high standard of modernity that he
elicited a glowing tribute from Uvarov. The Minister was struck by the
idea that the Riga school might serve as a model for the net of schools
with which he was about to cover the whole Pale of Settlement, and
Lilienthal seemed the logical man for carrying out the planned reforms.

[Footnote 1: The other two schools were located in Odessa and in

In February, 1841, Lilienthal was summoned to St. Petersburg, where he
had a prolonged conversation with Uvarov. According to the testimony of
the official Russian sources, he tried to persuade the Minister to
abolish all "private schools," the heders, and to forbid all private
teachers, the melammeds, to teach even temporarily in the projected new
schools, and to import, instead, the whole teaching staff from Germany.
Lilienthal himself tells us in his Memoirs that he made bold to remind
the Minister that all obstacles in the path of the desired re-education
of the Russian Jews would disappear, were the Tzar to grant them
complete emancipation. To this the Minister retorted that the initiative
must come from the Jews themselves who first must try to "deserve the
favor of the Sovereign." At any rate, Lilienthal accepted the proffered
task. He was commissioned to tour the Pale of Settlement, to organize
there the few isolated progressive Jews, "the lovers of enlightenment,"
or Maskilim, as they styled themselves, and to propagate the idea of a
school-reform among the orthodox Jewish masses.

While setting out on his journey, Lilienthal himself did not fully
realize the difficulties of the task he had undertaken. He was to
instill confidence in the "benevolent intentions of the Government" into
the hearts of a people which by an uninterrupted series of persecutions
and cruel restrictions had been reduced to the level of pariahs. He was
to make them believe that the Government was a well-wisher of Jewish
children, those same children, who at that very time were hunted like
wild beasts by the "captors" in the streets of the Pale, who were turned
by the thousands into soldiers, deported into outlying provinces, and
belabored in such a manner that scarcely half of them remained alive and
barely a tenth remained within the Jewish fold. Guided by an infallible
instinct, the plain Jewish people formulated their own simplified theory
to account for the step taken by the Government: up to the present their
children had been baptized through the barracks, in the future they
would be baptized through the additional medium of the school.

Lilienthal arrived in Vilna in the beginning of 1842, and, calling a
meeting of the Jewish Community, explained the plan conceived by the
Government and by Uvarov, "the friend of the Jews." He was listened to
with unveiled distrust.

  The elders--Lilienthal tells us in his Memoirs [1]--sat there
  absorbed in deep contemplation. Some of them, leaning on their
  silver-adorned staffs or smoothing their long beards, seemed as if
  agitated by earnest thoughts and justifiable suspicions; others were
  engaging in a lively but quiet discussion on the principles
  involved; such put to me the ominous question: "Doctor, are you
  fully acquainted with the leading principles of our government? You
  are a stranger; do you know what you are undertaking? The course
  pursued against all denominations but the Greek proves clearly that
  the Government intends to have but one Church in the whole Empire;
  that it has in view only its own future strength and greatness and
  not our own future prosperity. We are sorry to state that we put no
  confidence in the new measures proposed by the ministerial council,
  and that we look with gloomy foreboding into the future."

[Footnote 1: I quote from _Max Lilienthal, American Rabbi, Life and
Writings_, by David Philipson, New York, 1915, p, 264.]

In his reply Lilienthal advanced an impressive array of arguments:

  What will you gain by your resistance to the new measures? It will
  only irritate the Government, and will determine it to pursue its
  system of repression, while at present you are offered an
  opportunity to prove that the Jews are not enemies of culture and
  deserve a better lot.

When questioned as to whether the Jewish community had any guarantee
that the Government plan was not a veiled attempt to undermine the
Jewish religion, Lilienthal, by way of reply, solemnly pledged himself
to throw up his mission the moment he would find that the Government
associated with it secret intentions against Judaism. [1] The circle of
"enlightened" Jews in Vilna pledged its support to Lilienthal, and he
left full of faith in the success of his enterprise.

[Footnote 1: Op. Cit. p. 266.]

A cruel disappointment awaited him in Minsk. Here the arguments which
the opponents advanced in a passionate debate at a public meeting were
of a utilitarian rather than of an idealistic nature.

  So long as the Government does not accord equal rights to the Jew,
  general culture will only he his misfortune. The plain uneducated
  Jew does not balk at the low occupation of factor [1] or peddler,
  for, drawing comfort and joy from his religion, he is reconciled to
  his miserable lot. But the Jew who is educated and enlightened, and
  yet has no means of occupying an honorable position in the country,
  will be moved by a feeling of discontent to renounce his religion,
  and no honest father will think of giving an education to his
  children which may lead to such an issue. [2]

[Footnote 1: The Polish name for agent. See Vol. I, p. 170, n. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Quoted from Lilienthal's own account in _Die Allgemeine
Zeitung des Judentums_, 1842, No. 41, p. 605b.]

The opponents of official enlightenment in Minsk were not content with
advancing arguments that appealed to reason. Both at the meeting and in
the street, Lilienthal was the target of insulting remarks from the

On his return to St. Petersburg, Lilienthal presented Uvarov with a
report which convinced the Minister that the execution of the
school-reform was a difficult but not a hopeless task.

On June 22, 1842, an imperial rescript was issued, placing all Jewish
schools, including the heders and yeshibahs, under the supervision of
the Ministry of Public Instruction. Simultaneously it was announced that
the Government had summoned a Commission of four Rabbis to meet in St.
Petersburg for the purpose of "supporting the efforts of the Government"
in the realization of the school-reform. This Committee was to serve
Russian Jewry as a security that the school-reforms would not be
directed against the Jewish religion.

At the same time Lilienthal was ordered to proceed again to the Pale of
Settlement. He was directed to tour principally through the
South-western and New-Russian governments and exert his influence upon
the Jewish masses in accordance with the instructions received from the
ministry. Before setting out on his journey, Lilienthal published a
Hebrew pamphlet under the title _Maggid Yeshu'ah_ ("Herald of
Salvation") which called upon the Jewish communities to comply readily
with the wishes of the Government. In his private letters, addressed to
prominent Jews, Lilienthal expressed the assurance that the school ukase
was merely the forerunner of a series of measures for the betterment of
the civic status of the Jews.

This time Lilienthal met with a greater measure of success than on his
first journey. In several large centers, such as Berdychev, Odessa,
Kishinev, he was accorded, a friendly welcome and assured of the
co-operation of the communities in making the new school system a
success. Filled with fresh hopes, Lilienthal returned in 1843 to St.
Petersburg to participate in the work of the "Rabbinical Commission"
which had been convoked by the Government and was now holding its
sessions in the capital from May till August.

The make-up of the Rabbinical Commission did not fully justify its
appellation. Only two "ecclesiastics" were on it, the president of the
Talmudic Academy of Volozhin, [1] Rabbi Itzhok (Isaac) Itzhaki, and the
leader of the White Russian Hasidim, Rabbi Mendel Shneorsohn, [2] while
the South-western region and New Russia had sent two laymen: the banker
Halperin of Berdychev, and the director of the Jewish school in Odessa,
Bezalel Stern. The two representatives of the "clergy" put up a warm
defence for the traditional Jewish school, the heder, endeavoring to
save it from the ministerial "supervision," which aimed at its
annihilation. Finally a compromise was effected: the traditional heder
was to be left intact for the time being, but the proposed Crown school
was to be given full scope in competing with it. The Commission even
went so far as to work out a program of Jewish studies for the new type
of school.

[Footnote 1: In the government of Vilna. See Vol I, p. 380, et seq.]

[Footnote 2: The grandson of Rabbi Shneor Zalman, the founder of that
faction. See Vol. I, p. 372.]

The labors of the Rabbinical Commission were submitted to the Jewish
Committee, under the chairmanship of Kiselev, and discussed by it in
connection with the general plan of a Russian school-reform. It was
necessary to find the resultant between two opposing forces: between the
desire of the Government to substitute the Russian Crown school for the
old-fashioned Jewish school and the determination of Russian Jewry to
preserve its own school as a bulwark against the official institutions
foisted upon it. The Government was bent on carrying out its policy, and
found itself compelled to resort to diplomatic contrivances.

On November 13, 1844, Nicholas signed two enactments, the one a public
ukase relating to "the Education of the Jewish Youth." the other a
confidential rescript addressed to the Minister of Public Instruction.
The public enactment called for the establishment of Jewish schools of
two grades, corresponding to the courses of instruction in the parochial
and county schools, and ordered the opening of two rabbinical institutes
for the training of rabbis and teachers. The teaching staff in the
Jewish Crown schools was to consist both of Jews and Christians. The
graduates of these schools were granted a reduction in the term of
military service. The execution of the school reforms in the respective
localities was placed in the hands of "School Boards," composed of Jews
and Christians, which were to be appointed provisionally for that

In the secret rescript the tone was altogether different. There it was
stated that "the aim pursued, in the training of the Jews is that of
bringing them nearer to the Christian population and eradicating the
prejudices fostered in them by the study of the Talmud"; that with the
opening of the new schools the old ones were to be gradually closed or
reorganized, and that as soon as the Crown schools have been established
in sufficient numbers, attendance at them would become obligatory; that
the superintendents of the new schools should only be chosen from among
Christians; that every possible effort should be made "to put obstacles
in the way of granting teaching licenses" to the melammeds who lacked a
secular education; that after the lapse of twenty years no one should
hold the position of teacher or rabbi without having obtained his degree
from one of the official rabbinical schools.

It was not long, however, before the secret came out. The Russian Jews
were terror-stricken at the thought of being robbed of their ancient
school autonomy, and decided to adopt the well-tried tactics of passive
resistance to all Government measures. The school-reform was making slow
progress. The opening of the elementary schools and of the two
rabbinical institutes in Vilna and Zhitomir did not begin until 1847,
and for the first few years they dragged on a miserable existence.
Lilienthal himself disappeared from the scene, without waiting for the
consummation of the reform plan. In 1845 he suddenly abandoned his post
at the Ministry of Public Instruction, and left Russia for ever. A more
intimate acquaintance with the intentions of the leading Government
circles had made Lilienthal realize that the apprehensions voiced in his
presence by the old men of the Vilna community were well-founded, and he
thought it his duty to fulfill the pledge given by him publicly. From
the land of serfdom, where, to use Lilienthal's own words, the only way
for the Jew to make peace with the Government was "by bowing down before
the Greek cross," he went to the land of freedom, the United States of
America. There he occupied important pulpits in New York and Cincinnati
where he died in 1882.


No sooner had the school reform, which was tantamount to the abrogation
of Jewish school autonomy, been publicly announced than the Government
took steps to realize the second article of its program, the
annihilation of the remnants of Jewish communal autonomy. An ukase
published on December 19, 1844, ordered "the placing of the Jews in the
cities and countries under the jurisdiction of the general (i.e.,
Russian) administration, with the abolition of the Kahals." By this
ukase all the administrative functions of the Kahals were turned over to
the police departments, and those of an economic and fiscal character to
the municipalities and town councils; the old elective Kahal
administration was to pass out of existence.

Carried to its logical conclusions, this "reform" would necessarily have
led, as it actually did lead in Western Europe, to the abolition of the
Jewish community, outside the narrow limits of a synagogue parish, had
the Jews of Russia been placed at the same time on a footing of equality
in regard to _taxation_. But such European consistency was beyond the
mental range of Russian autocracy. It was neither willing to abandon the
special, and for the Jews doubly burdensome, method of conscription, nor
to forego the extra levies imposed upon the Jews, over and above the
general state taxes, for needs which, properly speaking, should have
been met by the exchequer. Thus it came about that for the sake of
maintaining Jewish disabilities in the matter of conscription and
taxation, the Government itself was obliged to mitigate the blow at
Jewish autonomy by allowing the institutions of Jewish "conscription
trustees" and tax-collectors, elected by the Jewish communes "from among
the most dependable men," to remain in force. The Government, moreover,
found it necessary to establish a special department for Jewish affairs
at each municipality and town council. In this way the law managed to
destroy the self-government of the Kahal and yet preserve its
rudimentary function as an autonomous fiscal agency which was to be
continued under the auspices of the municipality. In point of fact, the
Kahal, which, through its "trustees" and "captors," had acted the part
of a Government tool in carrying out the dreadful military conscription,
had long become thoroughly demoralized and had lost its former prestige
as a great Jewish institution. Its transformation into a purely fiscal
agency was merely the formal ratification of a sad fact.

Having disposed of the Kahal as a vehicle of Jewish "separatism," the
Government next attacked the special Jewish "system of taxation," not to
abolish it, of course, but rather to place it under a more rigorous
control for the purpose of preventing it from serving in the hands of
the Jews as an instrument for the attainment of specific Jewish ends. It
is significant that on the same day on which the Kahal ukase was made
public was also issued the new "Regulation Concerning the Basket Tax."
[1] The revenue from this tax which had for a long time been imposed
upon Kosher meat was originally placed at the free disposal of the
Kahals, though subject, since 1839, to the combined control of the
administration and municipality. According to the new enactment, the
proceeds from the meat tax which was to be let to the highest bidder
were to be left entirely in the hands of the gubernatorial
administration. The latter was instructed to see to it that the income
from the tax should first be applied to cover the fiscal arrears of the
Jews, then to provide for the maintenance of the Crown schools and the
official promotion of agriculture among Jews, and only as a last item to
be spent on the local charities.

[Footnote 1: The tax is called in Russian _korobochny sbor_, or, for
short, _korobka_, a word related to German _Korb_. It was partly in use
already under the Polish régime.]

In addition to the general basket tax, imposed upon all Jews who use
Kosher meat, an "auxiliary basket tax" was instituted to be levied on
immovable property as well as on business pursuits and bequests.
Moreover, following the Austrian model, the Government instituted, or
rather reinstituted, the "candle tax," a toll on Sabbath candles. The
proceeds from this impost on a religions ceremony were to go
specifically towards the organization of the Jewish Crown schools, and
were placed entirely at the disposal of the Ministry of Public

Thus in exact proportion to the curtailment of communal autonomy,
voluntary self-taxation was gradually supplanted by compulsory
Government taxation, a circumstance which not only increased the
financial burden of the Jewish masses, but also tended to aggravate it
from a moral point of view. The "tax," as the meat tax was called for
short, became in the course of time one of the scourges of Jewish
communal life, that same life which the "measures" of the Government had
merely succeeded in disorganizing.

Anxious as the Government was to act diplomatically and, for fear of
intensifying the distrust of Russian Jewry towards the new scheme, to
stem the flood of restrictions during the execution of the school
reform, it could not long restrain itself. The third plank in the
platform of the Jewish Committee, the increase of Jewish disabilities,
which had hitherto been kept in reserve, was now pressing forward, and
issued forth from the recesses of the chancelleries somewhat earlier
than tactical considerations might have dictated. On April 20, 1843,
while the "enlightenment" propaganda was in full swing, there suddenly
appeared, in the form of a resolution appended by the Tzar's own hand to
the report of the Council of Ministers, the following curt ukase:

  All Jews living within the fifty verst zone along the Prussian and
  Austrian frontier are to be transferred into the interior of the
  (border) governments. Those possessing their own houses are to be
  granted a term of two years within which to sell them. _To be
  carried out without any excuses._

On the receipt of this grim command, the Senate was at first puzzled as
to whether the imperial order was a mere repetition of the former law
concerning the expulsion of the Jews from the villages and hamlets on
the frontier,[1] or whether it was a new law involving the expulsion of
all Jews on the border, without discrimination, including those in the
cities and towns. Swayed by the harsh and emphatic tone of the imperial
resolution, the Senate decided to interpret the new order in the sense
of a complete and absolute expulsion. This interpretation received the
Tzar's approbation, except that the time-limit for the expulsion of real
estate owners was extended for two years more and the ruined exiles were
promised temporary relief from taxation.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 40.]

The new catastrophe which descended upon tens of thousands of families,
particularly in the government of Kovno, caused a cry of horror, not
only throughout the border-zone but also abroad. When the Jews doomed to
expulsion were ordered by the police to state the places whither they
intended to emigrate, nineteen communities refused to comply with this
demand, and declared that they would not abandon their hearths and the
graves of their forefathers and would only yield to force. Public
opinion in Western Europe was running high with indignation. The French,
German, and English papers condemned in no uncertain terms the policy of
"New Spain." Many Jewish communities in Germany petitioned the Russian
Government to revoke the terrible expulsion decree. There was even an
attempt at diplomatic intervention. During his stay in England, Nicholas
I. was approached on behalf of the Jews by personages of high rank. Yet
the Government would scarcely have yielded to public protests, had it
not become patent that it was impossible to carry out the decree without
laying waste entire cities and thereby affecting injuriously the
interests of the exchequer. The fatal ukase was not officially repealed,
but the Government did not insist on its execution.

In the meantime the "Jewish Committee" kept up a correspondence with the
governors-general in regard to the ways and means of carrying into
effect the third article of its program, the "assortment," or
"classification" of the Jews. The plan called for the division of all
Russian Jews into two categories, into useful and useless ones. The
former category was to consist of merchants affiliated with guilds,
artisans belonging to trade-unions, agriculturists, and those of the
burgher class who owned immovable property with a definite income. All
other burghers who could not claim such a financial status and had no
definite income, in other words, the large mass of petty tradesmen and
paupers, were to be labelled as "useless" or "detrimental," and
subjected to increased disabilities.

The inquiry of the Ministry of the Interior regarding the feasibility of
such an "assortment" met with a strongly-worded rebuttal from the
governor-general of New Russia, Vorontzov. While on a leave of absence
in London, this Russian dignitary, who had evidently been affected by
English ideas, prepared a memorandum and sent it, in October, 1843, to
St. Petersburg with the request to have it submitted to the Tzar.

  I venture to think--quoth Vorontzov with reference to the projected
  segregation of the "useless" Jews--that the application of the term
  "useless" to several hundred thousand people who by the will of the
  Almighty have lived In this Empire from ancient times is in itself
  both cruel and unjust. The project labels as "useless" all those
  numerous Jews who are engaged either in the retail purchase of goods
  from their original manufacturers for delivery to wholesale
  merchants, or in the useful distribution among the consumers of the
  merchandise obtained from the wholesalers. Judging impartially, one
  cannot help wondering how these numerous tradesmen can be regarded
  as useless and consequently as detrimental, if one bears in mind
  that by their petty and frequently maligned pursuits they promote
    not only rural but also commercial life.

The atrocious scheme of "assorting" the Jews is nailed
down by Vorontzov as "a bloody operation over a whole class
of people," which is threatened "not only with hardships, but
also with annihilation through poverty."

  I venture to think--with these words Vorontzov concludes his
  memorandum--that this measure is both harmful, and cruel. On the one
  side, hundreds of thousands of hands which assist petty industry in
  the provinces will be turned aside, when there is no possibility,
  and for a long time there will be none, of replacing them. On the
  other side, the cries and moans of such an enormous number of
  unfortunates will serve as a reproach to our Government not only in
  our own country but also beyond the confines of Russia.

Since the time of Speranski and the like-minded members of the "Jewish
Committee" of 1803 and 1812[1] the leading spheres of St. Petersburg had
had no chance to hear such courageous and truthful words. Vorontzov's
objections implied a crushing criticism of the whole fallacious economic
policy of the Government in branding the petty tradesmen and middlemen
as an injurious element and building thereon a whole system of
anti-Jewish persecutions and cruelties. But St. Petersburg was not
amenable to reason. The only concession wrested from the "Jewish
Committee" consisted in replacing the term "useless" as applied to small
tradesmen by the designation "not engaged in productive labor."

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 340.]

The cruel project continued to engage the attention of the "Jewish
Committee" for a long time. In April, 1815, the chairman of the
Committee, Kiselev, addressed a circular to the governors-general in
which he pointed out that after the promulgation of the laws concerning
the establishment of Crown schools and the abolition of the
Kahals--laws-which were aimed at "the weakening of the influence of the
Talmud" and the destruction of all institutions "fostering the separate
individuality of the Jews"--the turn had come for carrying into effect,
by means of the proposed classification, the measures directed towards
"the transfer of the Jews to useful labor." Of the regulations tending
to affect the Jews "culturally" the circular emphasizes the prohibition
of Jewish dress to take effect after the lapse of five years.

  All the regulations alluded to--Kiselev writes--have been issued and
  will be issued separately, _in order to conceal their interrelation
  and common aim from the fanaticism, of the Jews_. For this reason
  his Imperial Majesty has been graciously pleased to command me to
  communicate all the said plans to the Governors-General

It would seem, however, that the Russian authorities had grossly
underestimated the political sense of the Jews. They were not aware of
the fact that St. Petersburg's conspiracy against Judaism had long been
exposed in the Pale of Settlement, if only for the reason that the
conspirators were not clever enough to hide even for a time the
chastising knout beneath the cloak of "cultural" reforms.


The mask of the Russian Government was soon torn down also before the
yes of Western Europe. In the initial stage of Lilienthal's campaign,
public-minded Jews of Western Europe were inclined to believe that a
happy era was dawning upon their coreligionists in Russia. At the
instance of Uvarov, Lilienthal had entered into correspondence with
Philippson, Geiger, Crémieux, Montefiore, and other leaders of
West-European Jewry, bespeaking their moral support on behalf of the
school-reform and going so far as to invite them to participate in the
proceedings of the Rabbinical Commission convened at St. Petersburg. The
replies from these prominent Jews were full of complimentary references
to Uvarov's endeavors. The _Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums_,[1] in the
beginning of the forties, voiced the general belief that the era of
persecutions in Russia had come to an end.

[Footnote 1: A weekly founded by Dr. Ludwig Philippson in 1837. It still
appears in Berlin.]

The frontier expulsions of 1843 acted like a cold douche on these
enthusiasts. They realized that the pitiless banishment of thousands of
families from home and hearth was not altogether compatible with
"benevolent intentions." A sensational piece of news made its rounds
through Germany: the well-known painter Oppenheim of Frankfurt-on-the-Main
had given up working at the large picture ordered by the leaders of
several Jewish communities for presentation to the Tzar. The painting
had been intended as an allegory, picturing a sunrise in a dark realm,
but the happy anticipations proved a will o' the wisp, and the plan had
to be given up. Instead, Western Europe was resounding with moans from
Russia, betokening new persecutions and even more atrocious schemes of
restrictions. The sufferings of the Russian Jews suggested the thought
that it was the duty of the influential Jews of the West to intercede on
behalf of their persecuted brethren before the emperor of Russia.

The choice fell on the famous Jewish philanthropist in London, Sir Moses
Montefiore, who stood in close relations to the court of Queen Victoria.
Having established his fame by championing the Jewish cause in Turkey
during the ritual murder trial of Damascus in 1840, Montefiore resolved
to make a similar attempt in the land of the Tzar. In the beginning of
1846 he set out for Russia, ostensibly in the capacity of a traveler
desirous of familiarizing himself with the condition of his
coreligionists. Montefiore, who was the bearer of a personal
recommendation from Queen Victoria to the Russian emperor, was received
in St. Petersburg with great honors. During an audience granted to
Montefiore in March, 1846, the Tzar expressed his willingness to receive
from him, through the medium of the "Jewish Committee," suggestions
bearing on the condition of the Russian Jews, based on the information
to be gathered by him on his travels. Montefiore's journey through the
Pale of Settlement, including a visit to Vilna, Warsaw, and other
cities, was marked by great solemnity. He was courteously received by
the highest local officials, who acted according to instructions from
St. Petersburg, and he met everywhere with an enthusiastic welcome from
the Jewish masses, who expected great results from his intercession
before the Tzar.

Needless to say, these expectations were not realized. On his return to
London, Montefiore addressed various petitions to Kiselev, the chairman
of the Jewish Committee, to Minister Uvarov and to Paskevich, the then
viceroy of Poland. Everywhere he pleaded for a mitigation of the harsh
laws which were pressing upon his unfortunate brethren, for the
restoration of the recently abolished communal autonomy, for the
harmonization of the school-reform with the religious traditions of the
Jewish masses. The Tzar was informed of the contents of these petitions,
but it was all of no avail.

In the same year another influential foreigner made an unsuccessful
attempt to improve the condition of the Russian Jews by emigration. A
rich Jewish merchant of Marseille, named Isaac Altaras, came to Russia
with a proposal to transplant a certain number of Jews to Algiers, which
had recently passed under French rule. Fortified by letters of
recommendation from Premier Guizot and other high officials in France,
Altaras entered into negotiations with the Ministers Nesselrode and
Perovski in St. Petersburg and with Viceroy Paskevich in Warsaw, for the
purpose of obtaining permission for a certain number of Jews to emigrate
from Russia.[1] He gave the assurance that the French Government was
ready to admit into Algiers, as full-fledged citizens, thousands of
destitute Russian Jews, and that the means for transferring them would
be provided by Rothschild's banking house in Paris. At first, while in
St. Petersburg, Altaras was informed that permission to leave Russia
would be granted only on condition that a fixed ransom be paid for every

In Warsaw, however, which city he visited later, in October, 1846, he
was notified that the Tzar had decided to waive the ransom. For some
unexplained reason Altaras left Russia suddenly, and the scheme of a
Jewish mass emigration fell through.

[Footnote 1: A law on the Russian statute books forbids the emigration
of Russian citizens abroad. See later, p. 285, n. 1.]


The attempt at thinning the Jewish population by emigration having
failed, the congested Jewish masses continued to gasp for air in their
Pale of Settlement. The slightest effort to penetrate beyond the Pale
into the interior was treated as a criminal offence. In December, 1847,
the Council of State engaged in a protracted and earnest discussion
about the geographical point up to which the Jewish coachmen of Polotzk
should be allowed, to drive the inmates of the local school of cadets on
their annual trips to the Russian capital. The discussion arose out of
the fact that the road leading from Polotzk to St. Petersburg is crossed
by the line separating the Pale from the prohibited interior. A proposal
had been made to permit the coachmen to drive their passengers as far as
Pskov. But when the report was submitted to the Tzar, he appended the
following resolution: "Agreeable; though not to Pskov, but to
Ostrov"--the town nearest to the Pale. Of this trivial kind were
Russia's methods in curtailing Jewish rights three months before the
great upheaval which in adjoining Germany and Austria dealt the
death-blow to absolutism and inaugurated the era of the "Second

As for the economic life of the Jews, it had been completely undermined
by the system of ruthless tutelage, which the Government had employed
for a quarter of a century in the hope of "reconstructing" it. All these
drumhead methods, such as the hurling of masses of living beings from
villages into towns and from the border-zone into the interior, the
prohibition of certain occupations and the artificial promotion of
others, could not but result in economic ruin, instead of leading to
economic reform.

Nor was the governmental system of encouraging agriculture among Jews
attended by greater success. In consequence of the expulsion of tens of
thousands of Jews from the villages of White Busier in 1823, some two
thousand refugees had drifted into the agricultural colonies of New
Russia, but all they did was to replace the human wastage from increased
mortality, which, owing to the change of climate and the unaccustomed
conditions of rural life, had decimated the original settlers. During
the reign of Nicholas, efforts were again made to promote agricultural
colonization by offering the prospective immigrants subsidies and
alleviations in taxation. Even more valuable was the privilege relieving
the colonists from military service for a term of twenty-five to fifty
years from the time of settlement. Yet only a few tried to escape
conscription by taking refuge in the colonies. For the military regime
gradually penetrated into these colonies as well. The Jewish colonist
was subject to the grim tutelage of Russian "curators" and
"superintendents," retired army men, who watched his every step and
punished the slightest carelessness by conscription or expulsion.

In 1836 the Government conceived the idea of enlarging the area of
Jewish agricultural colonization. By an imperial rescript certain lands
in Siberia, situated in the government of Tobolsk and in the territory
of Omsk, were set aside for this purpose. Within a short time 1317 Jews
declared their readiness to settle on the new lands; many had actually
started on their way in batches. But in January, 1837, the Tzar quite
unexpectedly changed his mind. After reading the report of the Council
of Ministers on the first results of the immigration, he put down the
resolution: "The transplantation of Jews to Siberia is to be stopped." A
few months later orders were issued to intercept those Jews who were on
their way to Siberia and transfer them to the Jewish colonies in the
government of Kherson. The unfortunate emigrants were seized on the way
and conveyed, like criminals, under a military escort into places in
which they were not in the least interested. Legislative whims of this
kind, coupled with an uncouth system of tutelage, were quite sufficient
to crush in many Jews the desire of turning to the soil.

Nevertheless, the colonization made slow progress, gradually spreading
from the government of Kherson to the neighboring governments of
Yekaterinoslav and Bessarabia. Stray Jewish agricultural settlements
also appeared in Lithuania and White Russia. But a comparative handful
of some ten thousand "Jewish peasants" could not affect the general
economic make-up of millions of Jews. In spite of all shocks, the
economic structure of Russian Jewry remained essentially the same. As
before, the central place in this structure was occupied by the liquor
traffic, though modified in a certain measure by the introduction of a
more extensive system of public leases. Above the rank and file of
tavern keepers, both rural and urban, there had arisen a class of
wealthy tax-farmers, who kept a monopoly on the sale of liquor or the
collection of excise in various governments of the Pale. They functioned
as the financial agents of the exchequer, while the Jewish employees in
their mills, store-houses, and offices acted as their sub-agents,
forming a class of "officials" of their own. The place next in
importance to the liquor traffic was occupied by retail and wholesale
commerce. The crafts and the spiritual professions came last. Pauperism
was the inevitable companion of this economic organization, and "people
without definite occupations" were counted by the hundreds of thousands.


The "ordinary" persecutions under which the Jews in Russia were groaning
were accompanied by afflictions of an extraordinary kind. The severest
among these were the ritual murder trials which became of frequent
occurrence, tending to deepen the medieval gloom of that period. True,
ritual murder cases had occurred during the reign of Alexander I., but
it was only under Nicholas that they assumed a malign and dangerous
form. In the year 1816, shortly before Passover, a dead body was found
in the vicinity of Grodno and identified as that of the four year old
daughter of a Grodno resident, Mary Adamovich. Rumors were spread among
the superstitious Christian populace to the effect that the girl had
been killed for ritual purposes, and the police, swayed by these rumors,
set about to find the culprit among the Jews. Suspicion fell on a member
of the Grodno Kahal, Shalom Lapin, whose house adjoined that of the
Adamovich family. The only "evidence" against him were a hammer and a
pike found in his house. A sergeant, named Savitzki, a converted Jew,
appeared as a material witness before the Commission of Inquiry, and
delivered himself of a statement full of ignorant trash, which was
intended to show that "Christian blood is exactly what is needed
according to the Jewish religion"--here the witness referred to the
Bible story of the Exodus and to two mythical authorities, "the
philosopher Rossié and the prophet Azariah." He further deposed that
"every rabbi is obliged to satisfy the whole Kahal under his
jurisdiction by smearing with same (with Christian blood) the lintels of
every house on the first day of the feast of Passover." Prompted by
greed and by the desire to distinguish himself, the sergeant declared
himself ready to substantiate his testimony from Jewish literature, "if
the chief Government will grant him the necessary assistance."

The results of this "secret investigation" were laid before the governor
of Grodno and reported by him to St. Petersburg. In reply, Alexander I.
issued a rescript in February, 1817, ordering that the "secret
investigation be cut short and the murderer be found out" intimating
thereby that search be made for the criminal and not for the tenets of
the Jewish religion. However, all efforts to discover the culprit
failed, and the case was dismissed.

This favorable issue was in no small measure due to the endeavors of the
"Deputies of the Jewish People," [1] in particular to Sonnenberg, the
deputy from Grodno. These deputies, who were present in St. Petersburg
at that time, addressed themselves to Golitzin, the Minister of
Ecclesiastical Affairs, protesting against the ritual murder libel. The
trial at Grodno and the ritual murder accusations which simultaneously
cropped up in the Kingdom of Poland made the Minister of Ecclesiastical
Affairs realize that there was in the Western region a dangerous
tendency of making the Jews the scapegoats for every mysterious murder
case and of fabricating lawsuits of the medieval variety by bringing
popular superstition into play. Golitzin, a Christian pietist, who was
nevertheless profoundly averse to narrow ecclesiastic fanaticism,
decided to strike at the root of this superstitious legend which was
disgracing Poland in her period of decay and was about to fall as a dark
stain upon Russia. He succeeded in impressing this conviction upon his
like-minded sovereign Alexander I. In the same month in which the ukase
concerning "the Society of Israelitish Christians" was published [2]
Golitzin sent out the following circular to the governors, dated March
6, 1817:

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 394.]

[Footnote 2: Compare Vol. I, p. 396.]

  In view of the fact that in several of the provinces acquired from
  Poland, cases still occur in which the Jews are falsely accused of
  murdering Christian children for the alleged purpose of obtaining
  blood, his Imperial Majesty, taking into consideration that similar
  accusations have on previous numerous occasions been refuted by
  impartial investigations and royal charters, has been graciously
  pleased to convey to those at the head of the governments his
  Sovereign will: that henceforward the Jews shall not be charged with
  murdering Christian children, without any evidence and purely as a
  result of the superstitious belief that they are in need of
  Christian blood.

One might have thought that this emphatic rescript would suffice to put
a stop to the efforts of ignorant adventurers to resuscitate the bloody
myth. And, for several years, indeed, the sinister agitation kept quiet.
But towards the end of Alexander's reign it came to life again, and gave
rise to the monstrous Velizh case.

In the year 1823, on the first day of the Christian Passover, a boy of
three years, Theodore Yemelyanov, the son of a Russian soldier,
disappeared in the city of Velizh, in the government of Vitebsk. Ten
days later the child's body was found in a swamp beyond the town,
stabbed all over and covered with wounds. The medical examination and
the preliminary investigation were influenced by the popular belief that
the child had been tortured to death by the Jews. This belief was
fostered by two Christian fortune-tellers, a prostitute beggar-woman,
called Mary Terentyeva, and a half-witted old maid, by the name of
Yeremyeyeva, who by way of divination made the parents of the child
believe that its death was due to the Jews. At the judicial inquiry,
Terentyeva implicated two of the most prominent Jews of Velizh, the
merchant Shmerka [1] Berlin, and Yevzik [2] Zetlin, a member of the
local town council.

[Footnote 1: A popular form of the name Shemariah.]

[Footnote 2: The Russian form of _Yozel_, a variant of the name Joseph.]

Protracted investigations failed to substantiate the fabrications of
Terentyeva, and in the autumn of 1884 the Supreme Court of the
government of Vitebsk rendered the following verdict:

  To leave the accidental death of the soldier boy to the will of God;
  to declare all the Jews, against whom the charge of murder has been
  brought on mere surmises, free from all suspicion; to turn over the
  soldier woman Terentyeva, for her profligate conduct, to a priest
  for repentance.

However, in view of the exceptional gravity of the crime, the Court
recommended to the gubernatorial administration to continue its

Despite the verdict of the court, the dark forces among the local
population, prompted by hatred of the Jews, bent all their efforts on
putting the investigation on the wrong track. The low, mercenary
Terentyeva became their ready tool. When in September, 1825, Alexander
I. was passing through Velizh, she submitted a petition to him,
complaining about the failure of the authorities to discover the
murderer of little Theodore, whom she unblushingly designated as her own
child and declared to have been tortured to death by the Jews. The Tzar,
entirely oblivious of his ukase of 1817,[1] instructed the White-Russian
governor-general, Khovanski, to start a new rigorous inquiry.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 74.]

The imperial order gave the governor-general, who was a Jew-hater and a
believer in the hideous libel, unrestricted scope for his anti-Semitic
instincts. He entrusted the conduct of the new investigation to a
subaltern, by the name of Strakhov, a man of the same ilk, conferring
upon him the widest possible powers. On his arrival in Velizh, Strakhov
first of all arrested Terentyeva, and subjected her to a series of
cross-examinations during which he endeavored to put her on what he
considered the desirable track. Stimulated by the prosecutor, the
prostitute managed to concoct a regular criminal romance. She deposed
that she herself had participated in the crime, having lured little
Theodore into the homes of Zetlin and Berlin. In Berlin's house, and
later on in the synagogue, a crowd of Jews of both sexes had subjected
the child to the most horrible tortures. The boy had been stabbed and
butchered and rolled about in a barrel. The blood squeezed out of him
had been distributed on the spot among those present, who thereupon
proceeded to soak pieces of linen in it and to pour it out in
bottles.[1] All these tortures had been perpetrated in her own presence,
and with the active participation both of herself and the Christian
servant-girls of the two families.

[Footnote 1: According to her testimony, the Jews are in the habit of
using Christian blood to smear the eyes of their new-born babies, since
"the Jews are always born blind," also to mix it with the flour in
preparing the unleavened bread for Passover.]

It may be added that Terentyeva did not make these statements at one
time, but at different intervals, inventing fresh details at each new
examination and often getting muddled in her story. The implicated
servant-girls at first denied their share in the crime, but, yielding to
external pressure--like Terentyeva, they, too, were sent for frequent
"admonition" to a local priest, called Tarashkevich, a ferocious
anti-Semite--they were gradually led to endorse the depositions of the
principal material witness.

On the strength of these indictments Strakhov placed the implicated Jews
under arrest, at first two highly esteemed ladies, Slava Berlin and
Hannah Zetlin, later on their husbands and relatives, and finally a
number of other Jewish residents of Velizh. In all forty-two people were
seized, put in chains, and thrown into jail. The prisoners were examined
"with a vengeance"; they were subjected to the old-fashioned judicial
procedure which approached closely the methods of medieval torture. The
prisoners denied their guilt with indignation, and, when confronted with
Terentyeva, denounced her vehemently as a liar. The excruciating
cross-examinations brought some of the prisoners to the verge of
madness. But as far as Strakhov was concerned, the hysterical fits of
the women, the angry speeches of the men, the remarks of some of the
accused, such as: "I shall tell everything, but only to the Tzar,"
served in his eyes as evidence of the Jews' guilt. In his reports he
assured his superior, Khovanski, that he had got on the track of a
monstrous crime perpetrated by a whole Kahal, with the assistance of
several Christian women who had been led astray by the Jews.

In communicating his findings to St. Petersburg, the White Russian
governor-general presented the case as a crime committed on religious
grounds. In reply he received the fatal resolution of Emperor Nicholas,
dated August 16, 1828, to the following effect:

  Whereas the above occurrence demonstrates that the Zhyds[1] make
  wicked use of the religious tolerance accorded to them, therefore,
  as a warning and as an example to others, let the Jewish schools
  (the synagogues) of Velizh be sealed up until farther orders, and
  let services be forbidden, whether in them or near them.

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p, 320, n. 2.]

The imperial resolution was couched in the fierce language of the new
reign which had begun in the meantime. It rose in the bloody mist of the
Velizh affair. The fatal consequences of this synchronism were not
limited to the Jews of Velizh. Judging by the contents and the harsh
wording of the resolution, Nicholas I. was convinced at that time of the
truth of the ritual murder libel. The mysterious and unloved tribe rose
before the vision of the new Tzar as a band of cannibals and evil-doers.
This sinister notion can be traced in the conscription statute which was
then in the course of preparation in St. Petersburg and was soon
afterwards to stir Russian Jewry to its depths, dooming their little
ones to martyrdom.

While punishment was to be meted out to the entire Jewish population of
Russia, the fate of the Velizh community was particularly tragic. It was
subjected to the terrors of a unique state of siege. The whole community
was placed under suspicion. All the synagogues were shut up as if they
were dens of thieves, and the hapless Jews could not even assemble in
prayer to pour out their hearts before God. All business was at a
standstill; the shops were closed, and gloomy faces flitted shyly across
the streets of the doomed city.

The stern command from St. Petersburg ordering that the case be
"positively probed to the bottom" and that the culprits be apprehended
gladdened only the heart of Strakhov, the chairman of the Commission of
Inquiry, who was now free to do as he pleased. He spread out the net of
inquiry in ever wider circles. Terentyeva and the other female
witnesses, who were fed well while in prison, and expected not only
amnesty but also remuneration for their services, gave more and more
vent to their imagination. They "recollected" and revealed before the
Commission of Inquiry a score of religious crimes which they alleged had
been perpetrated by the Jews prior to the Velizh affair, such as the
murder of children in suburban inns, the desecration of church utensils
and similar misdeeds.

The Commission was not slow in communicating the new revelations to the
Tzar who followed vigilantly the developments in the case. But the
Commission had evidently overreached itself. The Tzar began to suspect
that there was something wrong in this endlessly growing tangle of
crimes. In October, 1827, he attached to the report of the Commission
the following resolution: "It is absolutely necessary to find out who
those unfortunate children were; this ought to be easy if the whole
thing is not a miserable lie." His belief in the guilt of the Jews had
evidently been shaken.

In its endeavors to make up for the lack of substantial evidence, the
commission, personified by Khovanski, put itself in communication with
the governors of the Pale, directing them to obtain information
concerning all local ritual murder cases in past years. The effect of
these inquiries was to revive the Grodno affair of 1818 which had been
"left to oblivion." A certain convert by the name of Gradlnski from the
townlet of Bobovnya, in the government of Minsk, declared before the
Commission of Inquiry that he was ready to point out the description of
the ritual murder ceremony in a "secret" Hebrew work. When the book was
produced and the incriminated passage translated, it was found that it
referred to the Jewish rite of slaughtering animals. The apostate, thus
caught red-handed, confessed that he had turned informer in the hope of
making money, and was by imperial command sent into the army. The
confidence of St. Petersburg in the activity of the Velizh Commission of
Inquiry vanished more and more. Khovanski was notified that "his Majesty
the Emperor, having observed that the Commission bases its deductions
mostly on surmises, by attaching significance to the fits and gestures
of the incriminated during the examinations, is full of apprehension
lest the Commission, carried away by zeal and anti-Jewish prejudice, act
with a certain amount of bias and protract the case to no purpose."

Soon afterwards, in 1830, the case was taken out of the hands of the
Commission which had become entangled in a mesh of lies--Strakhov had
died in the meantime--, and was turned over to the Senate.

Weighed down by the nightmare proportions of the material, which the
Velizh Commission had managed to pile up, the members of the Fifth
Department of the Senate which was charged with the case were inclined
to announce a verdict of guilty and to sentence the convicted Jews to
deportation to Siberia, with the application of the knout and whip
(1831). In the higher court, the plenary session of the Senate, there
was a disagreement, the majority voting guilty, while three senators,
referring to the ukase of 1817, were in favor of setting the prisoners
at liberty, but keeping them at the same time under police surveillance.

In 1834 the case reached the highest court of the Empire, the Council of
State, and here for the first time the real facts came to light. Truth
found its champion in the person of the aged statesman, Mordvinov, who
owned some estates near Velizh, and, being well-acquainted with the Jews
of the town, was roused to indignation by the false charges concocted
against them. In his capacity as president of the Department of Civil
and Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Council of State, Mordvinov, after
sifting the evidence carefully, succeeded in a number of sessions to
demolish completely the Babel tower of lies erected by Strakhov and
Khovanski and to adduce proofs that the governor-general, blinded by
anti-Jewish prejudice, had misled the Government by his communications.
The Department of Civil and Ecclesiastical Affairs was convinced by the
arguments of Mordvinov and other champions of the truth, and handed down
a decision that the accused Jews be set at liberty and rewarded for
their innocent sufferings, and that the Christian women informers he
deported to Siberia.

The plenary meeting of the Council of State concurred in the decision of
the Department, rejecting only the clause providing for the reward of
the sufferers. The verdict of the Council of State was submitted to the
Tzar and received his endorsement on January 18, 1835. It read as

  The Council of State, having carefully considered all the
  circumstances of this complex and involved case, finds that the
  depositions of the material female witnesses, Terentyeva, Maximova,
  and Koslovska, containing as they do numerous contradictions and
  absurdities and lacking all positive evidence and indubitable
  conclusions, cannot be admitted as legal proof to convict the Jews
  of the grave crimes imputed to them, and, therefore, renders the
  following decision:

  1. The Jews accused of having killed the soldier boy Yemelyanov and
  of other similar deeds, which are implied in the Velizh trial, no
  indictment whatsoever having been found against them, shall be freed
  from further judgment and inquiry.

  2. The material witnesses, the peasant woman Terentyeva, the soldier
  woman Maximova, and the Shiakhta woman[1] Kozlovsta, having been
  convicted of uttering libels, which they have not in the least been
  able to corroborate, shall be exiled to Siberia for permanent

  3. The peasant maid Yeremyeyeva, having posed among the common
  people as a soothsayer, shall be turned over to a priest for

[Footnote 1: i.e., a member of the Polish nobility; comp. Vol. I, p. 58,
n. 1.]

After attaching his signature to this verdict. Nicholas I. added in his
own handwriting the following characteristic resolution, which was not
to be made public:

  While sharing the view of the Council of State that in this case,
  owing to the vagueness of the legal deductions, no other decision
  than the one embodied in the opinion confirmed by me could have been
  reached, I deem it, however, necessary to add that I do not have,
  and, indeed, cannot have, the inner conviction that the murder has
  not been committed by the Jews. Numerous examples of similar
  murders.... go to show that among the Jews there probably exist
  fanatics or sectarians who consider Christian blood necessary for
  their rites. This appears the more possible, since unfortunately
  even among us Christians there sometimes exist such sects which are
  no less horrible and incomprehensible. In a word, I do not for a
  moment think that this custom is common to all Jews, but I do not
  deny the possibility that there may be among them fanatics just as
  horrible as among us Christians.

Having taken this idea into his head, Nicholas I. refused to sign the
second decision of the Council of State, which was closely allied with
the verdict: that all governors be instructed to be guided in the future
by the ukase of 1817, forbidding to stir up ritual murder cases "from
prejudice only." While rejecting this prejudice in its full-fledged
shape, the Tzar acknowledged it in part, in a somewhat attenuated form.

Towards the end of January of 1835 an imperial ukase reached the city of
Velizh, ordering the liberation of the exculpated Jews, the reopening of
the synagogues, which had been sealed since 1826, and the handing back
to the Jews of the holy scrolls which had been confiscated by the
police. The dungeon was now ready to give up its inmates, whose strength
had been sapped by the long confinement, while several of them had died
during the imprisonment. The synagogues, which had not been allowed to
resound with the moans of the martyrs, were now opened for the prayers
of the liberated. The state of siege which for nine long years had been
throttling the city was at last taken off; the terror which had haunted
the ostracized community came to an end. A new leaf was added to the
annals of Jewish martyrdom, one of the gloomiest, in spite of its
"happy" finale.


The ritual murder trials did not exhaust the "extraordinary" afflictions
of Nicholas' reign. There were cases of wholesale chastisements
inflicted on more tangible grounds, when misdeeds of a few individuals
were puffed up into communal crimes and visited cruelly upon entire
communities. The conscription horrors of that period, when the Kahals
were degraded to police agencies for "capturing" recruits, had bred the
"informing" disease among the Jewish communities. They produced the type
of professional informer, or _moser_[1], who blackmailed the Kahal
authorities of his town by threatening to disclose their "abuses," the
absconding of candidates for the army and various irregularities in
carrying out the conscription, and in this way extorted "silence money"
from them. These scoundrels made life intolerable, and there were
occasions when the people took the law into their own hands and secretly
dispatched the most objectionable among them.

[Footnote 1: The Hebrew and Yiddish equivalent for "informer."]

A case of this kind came to light in the government of Podolia in 1836.
In the town Novaya Ushitza two _mosers_, named Oxman and Schwartz, who
had terrorized the Jews of the whole province, were found dead. Rumor
had it that the one was killed in the synagogue and the other on the
road to the town. The Russian authorities regarded the crime as the
collective work of the local Jewish community, or rather of several
neighboring Jewish communities, "which had perpetrated this wicked deed
by the verdict of their own tribunal."

About eighty Kahal elders and other prominent Jews of Ushitza and
adjacent towns, including two rabbis, were put on trial. The case was
submitted to a court-martial which resolved "to subject the guilty to an
exemplary punishment." Twenty Jews were sentenced to hard labor and to
penal military service, with a preliminary "punishment by _Spiessruten_
through five hundred men." [1] A like number were sentenced to be
deported to Siberia; the rest were either acquitted or had fled from
justice. Many of those who ran the gauntlet died under the strokes, and
are remembered by the Jewish people in Russia as martyrs.

[Footnote 1: Both the word and the penalty were introduced by Peter the
Great from Germany. The culprit was made to run between two lines of
soldiers who whipped his bare shoulders with rods. The penalty was
abolished in 1863.]

The scourge of informers was also responsible for the Mstislavl affair.
In 1844, a Jewish crowd in the market-place of Mstislavl, a town in the
government of Moghilev, came into conflict with a detachment of soldiers
who were searching for contraband goods in a Jewish warehouse. The
results of the fray were a few bruised Jews and several broken rifles.
The local police and military authorities seized this opportunity to
ingratiate themselves with their superiors, and reported to the governor
of Moghilev and the commander of the garrison that the Jews had
organized a "mutiny." The local informer, Arye Briskin, a converted Jew,
found this incident an equally convenient occasion to wreak vengeance on
his former coreligionists for the contempt in which he was held by them,
and allowed himself to be taken into tow by the official Jew-baiters.

In January, 1844, alarming communications concerning a "Jewish mutiny"
reached St. Petersburg. The matter was reported to the Tzar, and a swift
and curt resolution followed: "To court-martial the principal culprits
implicated in this incident, and, in the meantime, as a punishment for
the turbulent demeanor of the Jews of that city, to take from them one
recruit for every ten men." Once more the principles of that period were
applied: one for all; first punishment, then trial.

The ukase arrived in Mstislavl on the eve of Purim, and threw the Jews
into consternation. During the Fast of Esther the synagogues resounded
with wailing. The city was in a state of terror: the most prominent
leaders of the community were thrown into jail, and had to submit to
disfigurement by having half of their heads and beards shaved off. The
penal recruits were hunted down, without any regard to age, since,
according to the Tzar's resolution, a tenth of the population had to be
impressed into military service. Pending the termination of the trial,
no Jew was allowed to leave the city, while natives from Mstislavl in
other places were captured and conveyed to their native town. A large
Jewish community was threatened with complete annihilation.

The Jews of Mstislavl, through their spokesmen, petitioned St.
Petersburg to wait with the penal conscription until the conclusion of
the trial, and endeavored to convince the central Government that the
local administration had misrepresented the character of the incident.
To save his brethren, the popular champion of the interests of his
people, the merchant Isaac Zelikin, of Monastyrchina, [1] called
affectionately Rabbi Itzele, journeyed to the capital. He managed to get
the ear of the Chief of the "Third Section" [2] and to acquaint him with
the horrors which were being perpetrated by the authorities in

[Footnote 1: A townlet in the neighborhood of Mstislavl.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 21, n. 1.]

As a result, two commissioners were dispatched from St. Petersburg in
quick succession. On investigating the matter on the spot, they
discovered the machinations of the over-zealous officials and
apostasized informers who had represented a street quarrel as an
organized uprising. The new commission of inquiry, of which one of the
St. Petersburg commissioners, Count Trubetzkoy, was member, disclosed
the fact that the Jewish community as such had had nothing whatsoever to
do with what had occurred. The findings of the commission resulted in an
"Imperial Act of Grace": the imprisoned Jews were set at liberty, the
penal conscripts were returned from service, several local officials
were put on trial, and the governor of Moghilev was severely censured.

This took place in November, 1844, after the Mstislavl community had for
nine long months tasted the horrors of a state of siege. The synagogues
were filled with Jews praising God for the relief granted to them. The
community decreed to commemorate annually the day before Purim, on which
the ukase inflicting severe punishment on the Jews of Mstislavl was
promulgated, as a day of fasting and to celebrate the third day of the
month of Kislev, on which the cruel ukase was revoked, as a day of
rejoicing. Had all the disasters of that era been perpetuated in the
same manner, the Jewish calendar would consist entirely of these
commemorations of national misfortunes, whether in the form of
"ordinary" persecutions or "extraordinary" afflictions.




Special mention must be made of the position occupied by the Jews in the
vast province which had be n formed in 1815 out of the territory of the
former duchy of Warsaw and annexed by Russia under the name of "Kingdom
of Poland." [1] This province which from 1815 to 1830 enjoyed full
autonomy, with a local government in Warsaw and a parliamentary
constitution, handled the affairs of its large Jewish population,
numbering between three hundred to four hundred thousand souls,
independently and without regard to the legislation of the Russian
Empire, Even after the insurrection of 1830, when subdued Poland was
linked more closely with the Empire, the Jews continued to be subject to
a separate provincial legislation. The Jews of the Kingdom remained
under the tutelage of local guardians who were assiduously engaged in
solving the Jewish problem during the first part of this period.

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p. 390, n. 1.]

The initial years of autonomous Poland were a time of storm and stress.
After having experienced the vicissitudes of the period of partitions
and the hopes and disappointments of the Napoleonic era, the Polish
people clutched eagerly at the shreds of political freedom which were
left to it by Alexander I. in the shape of the "Constitutional
Regulation" of 1815.[1] The Poles brought to bear upon the upbuilding of
the new kingdom all the ardor of their national soul and all their
enthusiasm for political regeneration. The feverish organizing activity
between 1815 and 1820 was attended by a violent outburst of national
sentiment, and such moments of enthusiasm were always accompanied in
Poland by an intolerant and unfriendly attitude towards the Jews. With a
few shining exceptions, the Polish statesmen were far removed from the
idea of Jewish emancipation. They favored either "correctional" or
punitive methods, though modelled after the pattern of Western European
rather than of primitive Russian anti-Semitism.

[Footnote 1: The author refers to the Constitution granted by Alexander
I., on November 15, 1815, to the Polish territories ceded to him by the
Congress of Vienna. The Constitution vouchsafed to Poland an autonomous
development under Russian auspices. It was withdrawn after the
insurrection of 1830.]

In 1815 the Provisional Government in Warsaw appointed a special
committee, under the chairmanship of Count Adam Chartoryski, to consider
the agrarian and the Jewish problem. The Committee drew up a general
plan of Jewish reorganization which was marked by the spirit of
enlightened patronage. In theory the Committee was ready to concede to
the Jews human and civil rights, even to the point of considering the
necessity of their final emancipation. But "in view of the ignorance,
the prejudices and the moral corruption to be observed among the lower
classes of the Jewish and the Polish people"--the patrician members of
the Committee in charge of the agrarian and Jewish problem accorded an
equal share of compliments to the Jews and the Polish peasants--immediate
emancipation was, in their opinion, bound to prove harmful, since it
would confer upon the Jews freedom of action to the detriment of the
country. It was, therefore, necessary to demand, as a prerequisite for
Jewish emancipation, the improvement of the Jewish masses which was
to be effected by removal from the injurious liquor trade and inducement
to engage in agriculture, by abolishing the Kahals, i.e., their communal
autonomy, and by changing the Jewish school system to meet the civic
requirements. In order to gain the confidence of the Jews for the
proposed reforms, the Committee suggested that the Government should
invite the "enlightened" representatives of the Jewish people to
participate in the discussion of the projected measures of reform.

Turning their eyes towards the West, where Jewish assimilation had
already begun its course, the Polish Committee decided to approach the
Jewish reformer David Frieländer, of Berlin, who was, so to speak, the
official philosopher of Jewish emancipation, and to solicit his opinion
concerning the ways and means of bringing about a reorganization of
Jewish life in Poland. The bishop of Kuyavia,[1] Malchevski, addressed
himself in the name of the Polish Government to Friedländer, calling
upon him, as a pupil of Mendelssohn, the educator of Jewry, to state his
views on the proposed Jewish reforms in Poland. Flattered by this
invitation, Friedländer hastened to compose an elaborate "Opinion on the
Improvement of the Jews in the Kingdom of Poland." [2]

[Footnote 1: A former Polish province, compare Vol. I, p. 75, n. 2.]

[Footnote 2: It was written in February, 1816, and published later in

According to Friedländer, the Polish Jews had in point of culture
remained far behind their Western coreligionists, because their progress
had been hampered by their talmudic training, the pernicious doctrine of
Hasidism, and the self-government of their Kahals. All these influences
ought, therefore, to be combated. The Jewish school should be brought
into closer contact with the Polish school, the Hebrew language should
be replaced by the language of the country, and altogether assimilation
and religious reform should be encouraged. While promoting religious and
cultural reforms, the Government, in the opinion of Friedländer, ought
to confirm the Jews in the belief that they would "receive in time civil
rights if they were to endeavor to perfect themselves in the spirit of
the regulations issued for them."

  This flunkeyish notion of the necessity of _deserving_ civil rights
  coincided with the views of the official Polish Committee in Warsaw.
  Soon afterwards a memorandum, prepared by the Committee, was
  submitted through its Chairman, Count Chartoryski, to the Polish
  viceroy Zayonchek. [1] Formerly a comrade of Koszciuszko, Zayonchek
  later turned from a revolutionary into a reactionary, who was
  anxious to curry favor with the supreme commander of the province,
  Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich. [2] No wonder, therefore, that the
  plan of the Committee, conservative though it was, seemed too
  liberal for his liking. In his report to Emperor Alexander I., dated
  March 8, 1816, he wrote as follows:

[Footnote 1: He was appointed viceroy in 1815, after the formation of
the Kingdom of Poland, and continued in this office until his death in

[Footnote 2: He was the military commander of the province. See above,
p. 13, n. 2.]

  The growth of the Jewish population in your Kingdom of Poland is
  becoming a menace. In 1790 they formed here a thirteenth part of the
  whole population; to-day they form no less than an eighth. Sober and
  resourceful, they are satisfied with little; they earn their
  livelihood by cheating, and, owing to early marriages, multiply
  beyond measure. Shunning hard labor, they produce nothing
  themselves, and live only at the expense of the working classes
  which they help to ruin. Their peculiar institutions keep them apart
  within the state, marking them as a foreign nationality, and, as a
  result, they are unable in their present condition to furnish the
  state either with good citizens or with capable soldiers. Unless
  means are adopted to utilize for the common weal the useful
  qualities of the Jews, they will soon exhaust all the sources of the
  national wealth and will threaten to surpass and suppress the
  Christian population.

In the same year, 1816, a scheme looking to the solution of the Jewish
question was proposed by the Russian statesman Nicholas Novosiltzev, the
imperial commissioner attached to the Provincial Government in
Warsaw.[1] Novosiltzev, who was not sympathetic to the Poles, showed
himself in his project to be a friend of the Jews. Instead of the
principle laid down by the official Committee: "correction first, and
civil rights last," he suggests another more liberal procedure: the
immediate bestowal of civil and in part even political rights upon the
Jews, to be accompanied by a reorganization, of Jewish life along the
lines of European progress and a modernized scheme of autonomy. All
communal and cultural affairs shall be put in charge of "directorates,"
one central directorate in Warsaw and local ones in every province of
the Kingdom, after the pattern of the Jewish consistories of France.
These directorates shall be composed of rabbis, elders of the community,
and a commissioner representing the Government; in the central
directorate this commissioner shall be replaced by a "procurator" to be
appointed directly by the king.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 16.]

This whole organization shall be placed under the jurisdiction of the
Minister of Public Instruction, who shall also exercise the right of
confirming the rabbis nominated by the directorates. The functions of
the directorates shall include the registration of the Jewish
population, the management of the communal finances, the dispensation of
charity, and the opening of secular schools for Jewish children. A
certificate of graduation from such a school shall be required from
every young man who applies for a marriage license or for a permit to
engage in a craft or to acquire property. "All Jews fulfilling the
obligations imposed by the present statute shall be accorded full
citizenship," while those who distinguish themselves in science an art
may even be deemed worthy of political rights, not excluding membership
in the Polish Diet. For the immediate future Novosiltzev advises to
refrain from economic restrictions, such as the prohibition of the
liquor traffic, though he concedes the advisability of checking its
growth, and advocates the adoption of a system of economic reforms by
stimulating crafts and agriculture among the Jews. In the beginning of
1817 Novosiltzev's project was laid before the Polish Council of State.
It was opposed with great stubbornness by Chartoryski, the Polish
viceroy Zayonchek, Stashitz, and other Polish dignitaries, whose
hostility was directed not so much against the pro-Jewish plan as
against its Russian author. The Council of State appointed a special
committee which, after examining Novosiltzev's project, arrived at the
following conclusions:

  1. It is impossible to carry out a reorganization of Jewish life
  through the Jews themselves.

  2. The establishment of a separate cultural organization for the
  Jews will only stimulate their national aloofness.

  3. The complete civil and political emancipation of the Jews is at
  variance with the Polish Constitution which vouchsafes special
  privileges to the professors of the dominant religion.

In the plenary session of the Polish Council of State the debate about
Novosiltzev's project was exceedingly stormy. The Polish members of the
Council scented in the project "political aims in opposition to the
national element of the country." They emphasized the danger which the
immediate emancipation of the Jews would entail for Poland. "Let the
Jews first become real Poles," exclaimed the referee Kozhmyan, "then
will it be possible to look upon them as citizens." When the same
gentleman declared that it was impossible to accord citizenship to
hordes of people who first had to be accustomed to cleanliness and cured
from "leprosy and similar diseases," Zayonchek burst out laughing and
shouted: "Hear, hear! These sluts won't get rid of their scab so
easily." After such elevating "criticism," Novosiltzev's project was
voted down. The Council inclined to the belief that "the psychological
moment" for bringing about a radical reorganization of the inner life of
the Jews had not yet arrived, and, therefore, resolved to limit itself
to isolated measures, principally of a "correctional" and repressive


Such "measures" were not long in coming. The only restriction the
Government of Warsaw failed to carry through was the enforcement of the
law of 1812 forbidding the Jews to deal in liquor. This drastic measure
was vetoed by Alexander I., owing to the representations of the Jewish
deputies in St. Petersburg, and in 1816 the Polish viceroy was compelled
to announce the suspension of this cruel law which had hung like the
sword of Damocles over the heads of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

On the other hand, the Polish Government managed in the course of a few
years (1816-1823) to put into operation a number of other restrictive
laws. Several cities which boasted of the ancient right _de non
tolerandis Judaeis_[1] secured the confirmation of this shameful
privilege, with the result that the Jews who had settled there during
the existence of the duchy of Warsaw were either expelled or confined to
separate districts. In Warsaw a number of streets were closed to Jewish
residents, and all Jewish visitors to the capital were forced to pay a
heavy tax for their right of sojourn, the so-called "ticket impost,"
amounting to fifteen kopecks (7½c) a day. Finally the Jews were
forbidden to settle within twenty-one versts of the Austrian and
Prussian frontiers. [2]

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, pp. 85 and 95.]

[Footnote 2: The law in question was passed by the Polish Government on
January 31, 1823, barring the Jews from nearly one hundred towns. It was
repealed by Alexander II. in 1862. See below, p. 181.]

At the same time, the Polish legislators were fair-minded enough to
refrain from forcing the Jews, these disfranchised pariahs, into
military service. In 1817 an announcement was made to the effect that,
so long as the Jews were barred from the enjoyment of civil rights, they
would be released from personal military service in Poland, in lieu
whereof they were to pay a fixed conscription tax. About the same time,
during the third decade of the nineteenth century, was also realized the
old-time policy of curtailing the Jewish Kahal autonomy, though, as will
be seen later, this "reform" did not proceed from the Government
spheres, but was rather the product of contemporary social movements
among the Poles and the Jews.

The political literature of Poland manifested at that time a tendency
similar to the one which had prevailed during the Quadrennial Diet.[1]
Scores of pamphlets and magazine articles discussed with polemical ardor
the Jewish problem, the burning question of the day. The old Jew-baiter
Stashitz, a member of the Warsaw Government who served on the Commission
of Public Instruction and Religious Denominations, resumed his attacks
on Judaism. In 1816 he published an article under the title "Concerning
the Causes of the Obnoxiousness of the Jews," in which he asserted that
the Jews were responsible for Poland's decline. They multiplied with
incredible rapidity, forming now no less than an eighth of the
population. Should this process continue, the Kingdom of Poland would be
turned into a "Jewish country" and become "the laughing-stock of the
whole of Europe." The Jewish religion is antagonistic to Catholicism: we
call them "Old Testament believers," [2] while they brand us as
"pagans." It being impossible to expel the Jews from Poland, they ought
to be isolated like carriers of disease. They should be concentrated in
separate quarters in the cities to facilitate the supervision over them.
Only well-deserving merchants and craftsmen, who have plied their trade
honestly for five or ten years, should be allowed to reside outside the
ghetto. The same category of Jews, in addition to those married to
Christian women, should also be granted the right of acquiring landed
property. The ghetto on the one end of the line, and baptism on the
other--this medieval policy did not in the least abash the patriotic
reformers of the type of Stashitz.

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p. 279 et seq.]

[Footnote 2: Referring to the term _Starozakonni_, the Polish
designation for Jews.]

Stashitz's point of view was supported by certain publicists and opposed
by others, but all were agreed on the necessity of a system of
correction for the Jews. The discussion became particularly heated in
1818, after the convocation and during the sessions of the first [1]
Polish Diet in Warsaw. Three different tendencies asserted themselves: a
moderate, an anti-Jewish, and a pro-Jewish tendency. The first was
represented by General Vincent Krasinski, a member of the Diet. In his
"Observations on the Jews of Poland," he proceeds from the following
twofold premise: "The voice of the whole nation is raised against the
Jews, and it demands their transformation." This titled publicist
declares himself an opponent of the Jews as they are at present. He
shares the popular dread of their multiplication, the fear of a "Jewish
Poland," and is somewhat sceptical about their being corrigible.
Nevertheless he proposes liberal methods of correction, such as the
encouragement of big Jewish capital, the promotion of agriculture and
handicrafts among the Jewish masses, and the bestowal of the rights of
citizenship upon those worthy of it.

[Footnote 1: i.e., the first to be convoked after the reconstitution of
Poland in 1815.]

Krasinski was attacked by an anonymous writer in an anti-Semitic
pamphlet entitled "A Remedy against the Jews." Proceeding from the
conviction that no reforms, however well conceived, could have any
effect on the Jews, the writer puts the question in a simplified form:
"Shall we sacrifice the welfare of three million Poles to that of
300,000 Jews, or _vice versa?_" His answer is just as simple: the Jews
should be forced to leave Poland. Emperor Alexander I., "the benefactor
of Poland," ought to be petitioned to rid the country of the Jews by
transferring them to the uninhabited steppes in the South of Russia or
even "on the borders of Great Tartary." The 300,000 Jews might be
divided into 300 parties and settled there in the course of one year.
The means for expelling and settling the Jews should be furnished by the
Jews themselves.

This barbarous project aroused the ire of a noble-minded Polish army
officer, Valerian Lukasinski, a radical in politics, who subsequently
landed in the dungeon of the Schlueselburg fortress. [1] In his
"Reflections of an Army Officer Concerning the Need of Organizing the
Jews," published in 1818, Lukasinski advances the thought that the
oppression and disfranchisement of the Jews are alone responsible for
their demoralized condition. They were useful citizens in the golden age
of Casimir the Great and Sigismund the Old [2] when they were treated
with kindness. The author lashes the hypocrisy of the Shlakhta who hold
the Jews to account for ruining the peasants by selling them alcohol in
those very taverns which are leased to them by the noble pans.
Lukasinski contends that the Jews will become good citizens once they
will be allowed to participate in the civil life of Poland, when that
life will be founded on democratic principles.

[Footnote 1: In the government of St. Petersburg.]

[Footnote 2: i.e., Sigismund I. (1506-1548). See on his attitude towards
the Jews Vol. I, p. 71 et seq.]

The choir of Polish voices was but faintly disturbed by the opinions
expressed by the Jews. An otherwise unknown rabbi, who calls himself
Moses ben Abraham, echoes in his pamphlet "The Voice of the People of
Israel" the sentiments of Jewish orthodoxy. He begs the Poles not to
meddle in the inner affairs of Judaism: "You refuse to recognize us as
brothers; then at least respect us as fathers! Look at your genealogical
tree with the branches of the New Testament, a d you will find the roots
in us." Polish culture cannot be foisted upon the Jews. Barbarous as may
appear the plan of expelling the Jews from Poland, the persecuted tribe
will rather submit to this alternative than renounce its faith and its
ancestral customs.

The views of the progressive Jews of Poland were voiced by a young
pedagogue in Warsaw, subsequently the well-known champion of
assimilation, Jacob Tugenhold. In a treatise entitled "Jerubbaal, or a
Word Concerning the Jews," Tugenhold contends that the Jews have already
begun to assimilate themselves to Polish culture. It was now within the
power of the Government to strengthen this movement by admitting
"distinguished Jews to civil service."

While this literary feud concerning the problem of Judaism was raging,
an unhealthy movement against the Jews started among the dregs of the
Polish population. In several localities of the Kingdom there suddenly
appeared "victims of ritual murder" in the shape of dead bodies of
children, the discovery of which was followed by a series of legal
trials against the Jews (1815-1816). Innocent people were thrown into
prison, where they languished for years, and were subjected to
cross-examinations, though without the inquisitorial apparatus of
ancient Poland. It is impossible to say whither this orgy of
superstition might have led, had it not been stopped by a word of
command from St. Petersburg. In 1817, as a result of the energetic
representations of "the Deputies of the Jewish People," [1] Sonnenberg
and his fellow-workers, the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs,
Golitzin, gave orders that the ukase which had just been issued by him,
forbidding the arbitrary injection of a ritual element into criminal
cases, be strictly enforced in the Kingdom of Poland. This action saved
the lives of scores of prisoners, and put a stop to the obscure
agitation which endeavored to revive the medieval spectre.

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p. 394, and above, p. 74.]

The Polish Diet of 1818 reflected the same state of mind which had
previously found expression in political literature: an unmistakable
preponderance of the anti-Jewish element. Some of the deputies appealed
to Alexander I. in their speeches and openly called upon him to give
orders to lay before the next session of the Diet "a project of Jewish
reform, with a view to saving Poland from the excessive growth of the
Hebrew tribe, which now forms a seventh of all the inhabitants, and in a
few years will surpass in numbers the Christian population of the
country." For the immediate future the deputies recommend the
enforcement of the suspended law barring the Jews from the liquor
traffic [1] and their subjection to military conscription.

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p. 304, and above, p. 94.]

One might have thought that the Diet had no need of extra measures to
"curb" the Jews. It was quite enough that it tacitly sanctioned the
prolongation of the ten years term of Jewish rightlessness which had
been fixed by the Government of the Varsovian duchy in 1808. [1] This
term ended in 1818, while the first Diet of the Kingdom of Poland was
holding its sessions, but neither the Polish Diet nor the Polish Council
of State gave any serious thought to the question whether the Government
of the province had a right to prolong the disfranchisement of the Jews.
This right was taken for granted by the Polish legislators who were
planning even harsher restrictions for the unloved tribe of Hebrews.

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p. 299.]


In the beginning of the third decade of the nineteenth century the noise
caused by the Jewish question had begun to subside both in Polish
political circles and in Polish literature. Instead, the agitation
within the Jewish ranks became more vigorous. That group of Jews already
assimilated or thirsting for assimilation, which on an earlier occasion,
during the existence of the Varsovian duchy, had segregated itself from
the rest of Jewry, assuming the label of "Old Testament believers," [1]
occupied a very influential position within the Jewish community of the
Polish capital. It was made up of wealthy bankers and merchants and
boasted of a few men with a European education. The members of this
group were hankering after German models and were anxious to renounce
the national separatism of the Jews which was a standing rebuke in the
mouths of their enemies. To these "Old Testament believers" the
abolition of the Kahal and the limitation of communal self-government to
the narrow range of synagogue interests appeared the surest remedy
against anti-Semitism. Behind the abrogation of communal autonomy they
saw the smiling vision of a Jewish school-reform, leading to the
Polonization of Jewish education, while in the far-off distance they
could discern the promised land of equal citizenship.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 96, n. 1.]

The efforts of the Jewish reformers of Warsaw were now systematically
directed towards this goal. In 1820 there appeared an anonymous pamphlet
under the title "The Petition, or Self-defence, of the Members of the
Old Testament Persuasion in the Kingdom of Poland." The main purpose of
this publication is to show that the root of the evil lies in the Kahal
organization, in the elders, rabbis, and burial societies, who expend
enormous sums of taxation money without any control--i.e., without the
control of the Polish municipality--who oppress the people by their
_herems_ (excommunications), and altogether abuse their power. It is,
therefore, necessary to abolish this power of the Kahals and transfer it
to the Polish municipalities, or even, police authorities; only then
will order be established in the Jewish communities, and the Jews will
be transformed into "useful citizens."

The Government spheres of Poland were greatly pleased by these
utterances of the "Old Testament believers" of Warsaw. They had long
contemplated the curtailment of the autonomy of the Kahals, and now "the
very Jews" clamored for it. In consequence, there appeared in 1821 a
series of edicts by the viceroy and various rescripts by the Commission
of Public Instruction and Religious Denominations, resulting in the
demolition of the ancient communal scheme, in which certain forms of
self-government, but by no means its underlying fundamental principles,
had become obsolete.

These measures were sanctioned by an imperial ukase dated December 20,
1821, [1] decreeing the abolition of the Kahals and their substitution by
"Congregational Boards," whose scope of activity was strictly limited to
religious matters, while all civil and fiscal affairs were placed under
the jurisdiction of the local Polish administration. The Congregational
Boards were to consist of the rabbi, his assistant or substitute, and
three trustees or supervisors.

[Footnote 1: Corresponding to January 1, 1822, of the West-European

At first, the majority of Jewish communities in Poland were indignant at
this curtailment of their autonomy, and adopted a hostile attitude
towards the new communal organization. The "supervisors" elected on the
Congregational Boards often refused to serve, and the authorities were
compelled to appoint them. But in the course of time the communities
became reconciled to the new scheme of congregations, or _Gminas,_[1]
whose range of activity was gradually widened. In 1830 the suffrage of
the Polish Jews within the Jewish communities was restricted by a new
law to persons possessed of a certain amount of property. The result was
particularly noticeable in Warsaw where the new state of things helped
to strengthen the influence of the group of the "Old Testament
believers" and enabled them to gain control of the affairs of the
metropolitan community. The leaders of Warsaw Jewry managed soon to
establish intimate relations with the Polish Government, and co-operated
with it in bringing about the "cultural reforms" of the Jews of Poland.

[Footnote 1: _Gmina_ is the Polish word for community, derived from the
German _Gemeinde_.]

In 1825 the Polish Government appointed a special body to deal with
Jewish affairs. It was called "Committee of Old Testament Believers,"
though composed in the main of Polish officials. It was supplemented by
an advisory council consisting of five public-spirited Jews and their
alternates. Among the members of the Committee, which included several
prominent Jewish merchants of Warsaw, such as Jacob Bergson, M. Kavski,
Solomon Posner, T. Teplitz, was also the well-known mathematician
Abraham Stern, one of the few cultured Jews of that period who remained
a steadfast upholder of Jewish tradition. The "Committee of Old
Testament Believers" embarked upon the huge task of civilizing the Jews
of Poland and purging the Jewish religion of its superstitious

The first step taken by the Committee was the establishment of a
Rabbinical Seminary in Warsaw for the training of modernized rabbis,
teachers, and communal workers. The program of the school was arranged
with a view to the Polonization of its pupils. The language of
instruction was Polish, and the teachers of many secular subjects were
Christians. No wonder then that when the Seminary was opened in 1826,
Stern refused to accept the post of director which had been offered to
him, and yielded his place to Anton Eisenbaum, a radical assimilator.
The tendency of the school may be gauged from the fact that the
department of Hebrew and Bible was entrusted to Abraham Buchner, who had
gained notoriety by a German pamphlet entitled _Die Nicktigkeit des
Talmuds_, "The Worthlessness of the Talmud." [1]

[Footnote 1: He was also the author of a Jewish catechism in Hebrew,
entitled _Yesode ha-Dat_, "The Fundamental Principles of the Jewish

Characteristically enough, Buchner had been recommended by the ferocious
Jew-baitor Abbé Chiarini, a member of the "Committee of Old Testament
Believers," which, one might almost suspect, was charged with the
supervision of Jewish education for no other reason, than that to spite
the Jews. Chiarini was professor of Oriental Languages at the University
of Warsaw. As such he considered himself an expert in Hebrew literature,
and cherished the plan of translating the Talmud into French to unveil
the secrets of Judaism before the Christian world. In 1828 Chiarini
suggested to the "Committee of Old Testament Believers" to arrange a
course in Hebrew Archaeology at the Warsaw University for the purpose of
acquainting Christian students with rabbinic literature and thus
equipping prospective Polish officials with a knowledge of things
Jewish. The plan having been approved by the Government, Chiarini began
to deliver a course of lectures on Judaism. The fruit of these lectures
was a French publication, issued in 1829 under the title _Theorie du
Judaïsme_. It was an ignorant libel upon the Talmud and rabbinism, a
worthy counterpart of Eisenmenger's "Judaism Exposed." [1] Chiarini did
not even shrink from repeating the hideous lie about the use of
Christian blood by the Jews. He was taken to task by Jacob Tugenhold in
Warsaw and by Jost and Zunz in Germany. Yet the evil seed had sunk into
the soil. Polish society, which had long harbored unfriendly sentiments
against the Jews, became more and more permeated with anti-Semitic bias,
and this bias found tangible expression during the insurrection of

[Footnote 1: The book of a famous anti-Semitic writer who lived in
Germany in the seventeenth century. _Entdecktes Judentum_, the book
referred to in the text, appeared in 1700.]


When, under the effect of the July revolution in Paris, the "November
insurrection" of 1830 broke out in Warsaw, it put on its mettle that
section of Polish Jewry who hoped to improve the Jewish lot by their
patriotic ardor. In the month of December one of the "Old Testament
believers," Stanislav Hernish, [1] addressed himself to the Polish
dictator, Khlopitzki, in the name of a group of Jewish youths, assuring
him of their eagerness to form a special detachment of volunteers to
help in the common task of liberating their fatherland. The dictator
replied that, inasmuch as the Jews had no civil rights, they could not
be permitted to serve in the army. The Minister of War Moravski
delivered himself on this occasion of the following characteristic
utterance: "We cannot allow that Jewish blood should mingle with the
noble blood of the Poles. What will Europe say when she learns that in
fighting for our liberty we have not been able to get along without
Jewish help?"

[Footnote 1: Polish patriot and publicist. He subsequently fled to
France. See later, p. 109.]

The insulting refusal did not cool the ardor of the Jewish patriots.
Joseph Berkovich, the son of Berek Yoselovitch, who had laid down his
life for the Polish cause, decided to repeat his father's experiment [1]
and issued a proclamation to the Jews, calling upon them to join the
ranks of the fighters for Polish independence. The "National Government"
in Warsaw could not resist this patriotic pressure. It addressed itself
to the "Congregational Board" of Warsaw, inquiring about the attitude of
the Jewish community towards the projected formation of a separate
regiment of Jewish volunteers. The Board replied that the community had
already given proofs of its patriotism by contributing 40,000 Gulden
towards the revolutionary funds, and by collecting further contributions
towards the equipment of volunteers. The formation of a _special_ Jewish
regiment the Board did not consider advisable, inasmuch as such action
was not in keeping with the task of uniting all citizens in the defence
of the fatherland. Instead, the Board favored the distribution of the
Jewish volunteers over the whole army.

[Footnote 1: Compare Vol. I, p. 293 et seq.]

From now on the Jews were admitted to military service, but more into
the militia than into the regular army. The commander of the National
Guard in Warsaw, Anton Ostrovski, one of the few rebel leaders who were
not swayed by the anti-Semitic prejudices of the Polish nobility,
admitted into his militia many Jewish volunteers on condition that they
shave off their beards. Owing to the religious scruples of many Jewish
soldiers, the latter condition had to be abandoned, and a special
"bearded" detachment of the metropolitan guard was formed, comprising
850 Jews.

The Jewish militia acquitted itself nobly of its duty in the grave task
of protecting the city of Warsaw against the onrush of the Russian
troops. The sons of wealthy families fought shoulder to shoulder with
children of the proletariat. The sight of these step-children of Poland
fighting for their fatherland stirred the heart of Ostrovski, and he
subsequently wrote: "This spectacle could not fail to make your heart
ache. Our conscience bade us to attend to the betterment of this most
down-trodden part of our population at the earliest possible moment."

It is worthy of note that the wave of Polish-Jewish patriotism did not
spread beyond Warsaw. In the provincial towns the inhabitants of the
ghetto were, as a rule, unwilling to serve in the army on the ground
that the Jewish religion forbade the shedding of human blood. This
indifference aroused the ire of the Polish population, which threatened
to wreak vengeance upon the Jews, suspecting them of pro-Russian
sympathies. Ostrovski's remark with reference to this situation deserves
to be quoted: "True," he said, "the Jews of the provinces may possibly
be guilty of indifference towards the revolutionary cause, but can we
expect any other attitude from those we oppress?" [1] It may be added
that soon afterwards the question of military service as affecting the
Jews was solved by the Diet. By the law of May 30, 1831, the Jews were
released from conscription on the payment of a tax which was four times
as large as the one paid by them in former years.

[Footnote 1: In the Western provinces outside the Kingdom of Poland, in
Lithuania, Volhynia, and Podolia, the Jewish population held itself
aloof from the insurrectionary movement. Here and there the Jews even
sympathized with the Russian Government, despite the fact that the
latter threw the Polish rulers into the shade by the extent of its
Jewish persecutions. In some places the Polish insurgents made the Jews
pay with their lives for their pro-Russian sympathies.]

When the "aristocratic revolution," having failed to obtain the support
of the disinherited masses, had met with disaster, the revolutionary
leaders, who saved themselves by fleeing abroad, indulged in remorseful
reflections. The Polish historian Lelevel, who lived in Paris as a
refugee, issued in 1832 a "Manifesto to the Israelitish Nation," calling
upon the Jews to forget the insults inflicted upon them by present-day
Poland for the sake of the sweet reminiscences of the Polish Republic in
days gone by and of the hopes inspired by a free Poland in days to come.
He compares the flourishing condition of the Jews in the ancient Polish
commonwealth with their present status on the same territory, under the
yoke of "the Viennese Pharaohs," [1] or in the land "dominated by the
Northern Nebuchadnezzar," [2] where the terror of conscription reigns
supreme, where "little children, wrenched from the embraces of their
mothers, are hurled into the ranks of a debased soldiery," "doomed to
become traitors to their religion and nation."

[Footnote 1: Referring to Galicia.]

[Footnote 2: Nicholas I.]

  The reign of nations--exclaims Lelevel--is drawing nigh. All peoples
  will be merged into one, acknowledging the one God Adonai. The rulers
  have fed the Jews on false promises; the nations will grant them
  liberty. Soon Poland will rise from the dust. Let then the Jews living
  on her soil go hand in hand with their brother-Poles. The Jews will then
  be sure to obtain their rights. Should they insist on returning to
  Palestine, the Poles will assist them in realizing this consummation.

Similar utterances could be heard a little later in the mystic circle of
Tovyanski and Mitzkevitch in Paris, [1] in which the historic destiny of
the two martyr nations, the Poles and the Jews, and their universal
Messianic calling were favorite topics of discussion. But alongside of
these flights of "imprisoned thought" one could frequently catch in the
very same circle the sounds of the old anti-Semitic slogans. The
Parisian organ of the Polish refugees, _Nowa Polska_, "New Poland,"
occasionally indulged in anti-Semitic sallies, calling forth a
passionate rebuttal from Hernish, [2] an exiled journalist, who reminded
his fellow-journalists that it was mean to hunt down people who were the
"slaves of slaves." Two other Polish-Jewish revolutionaries, Lubliner
and Hollaenderski, shared all the miseries of the refugees and, while in
exile, indulged in reflections concerning the destiny of their brethren
at home. [3]

[Footnote 1: Andreas Tovyanski (In Polish _Towianski_, 1799-1878), a
Christian mystic, founded in Paris a separate community which fostered
the belief in the restoration of the Polish and the Jewish people. The
community counted among its members several Jews. The famous Polish poet
Adam Mitzkevich (in Polish _Mickiewicz_, 1798-1855) joined Tovyanski in
his endeavors, and on one occasion even appeared in a Paris synagogue on
the Ninth of Ab to make an appeal to the Jews.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 105.]

[Footnote 3: Lubliner published _Des Juifs en Pologne_, Brussels, 1839;
Hollaenderski wrote _Les Israélites en Pologne_, Paris, 1846.]

In pacified Poland, which, deprived of her former autonomous
constitution, was now ruled by the iron hand of the Russian viceroy,
Paskevich, the Jews at first experienced no palpable changes. Their
civil status was regulated, as heretofore, by the former Polish
legislation, not by that of the Empire. It was only in 1843 that the
Polish Jews were in one respect equalized with their Russian brethren.
Instead of the old recruiting tax, they were now forced to discharge
military service in person. However, the imperial ukase extending the
operation of the Conscription Statute of 1827 to the Jews of the Kingdom
contained several alleviations. Above all, its most cruel provision, the
conscription of juveniles or cantonists, was set aside. The age of
conscription was fixed at twenty to twenty-five, while boys between the
age of twelve and eighteen were to be drafted only when the parents
themselves wished to offer them as substitutes for their elder sons who
were of military age. Nevertheless, to the Polish Jews, who had never
known of conscription, military service lasting a quarter of a century,
to be discharged in a strange Russian environment, seemed a terrible
sacrifice. The "Congregational Board" of Warsaw, having learned of the
ukase, sent a deputation to St. Petersburg with a petition to grant the
Jews of the Kingdom equal rights with the Christians, referring to the
law of 1817 which distinctly stated that the Jews were to be released
from personal military service so long as they were denied equal civil
rights. The petition of course proved of no avail; the very term "equal
rights" was still missing in the Russian vocabulary.

Only in point of disabilities were the Jews of Poland gradually placed
on an equal footing with their Russian brethren. In 1845 the Russian law
imposing a tax on the traditional Jewish attire [1] was extended in its
operation to the Polish Jews, descending with the force of a real
calamity upon the hasidic masses of Poland. Fortunately for the Jews of
Poland, the other experiments, in which St. Petersburg was revelling
during that period, left them unscathed. The crises connected with the
problems of Jewish autonomy and the Jewish school, which threatened to
disrupt Russian Jewry in the forties, had been passed by the Jews of
Poland some twenty years earlier. Moreover, the Polish Jews had the
advantage over their Russian brethren in that the abrogated Kahal had
after all been replaced by another communal organization, however
curtailed it was, and that the secular school was not forced upon them
in the same brutal manner in which the Russian Crown schools had been
imposed upon the Jews of the Empire. Taken as a whole, the lot of the
Polish Jews, sad though it was, might yet be pronounced enviable when
compared with the condition of their brethren in the Pale of Settlement,
where the rightlessness of the Jews during that period bordered
frequently on martyrdom.

[Footnote 1: A law to that effect had been passed on February 1, 1843.
It was preparatory to the entire prohibition of Jewish dress. See below,
p. 143 et seq.]




The Russian Government had left nothing undone to shatter the old Jewish
mode of life. Despotic Tzardom, whose ignorance of Jewish life was only
equalled by its hostility to it, lifted its hand to strike not merely at
the obsolete forms but also at the sound historic foundations of
Judaism. The system of conscription which annually wrenched thousands of
youths and lads from the bosom of their families, the barracks which
served as mission houses, the method of stimulating and even forcing the
conversion of recruits, the establishment of Crown schools for the same
covert purpose, the abolition of communal autonomy, civil
disfranchisement, persecution and oppression, all were set in motion
against the citadel of Judaism. And the ancient citadel, which had held
out for thousands of years, stood firm again, while the defenders within
her walls, in their endeavor to ward off the enemies' blows, had not
only succeeded in covering up the breaches, but also in barring the
entrance of fresh air from without. If it be true that, in pursuing its
system of tutelage and oppression, the Russian Government was genuinely
actuated by the desire to graft the modicum of European culture, to
which the Russia of Nicholas I. could lay claim, upon the Jews, it
certainly achieved the reverse of what it aimed at. The hand which dealt
out blows could not disseminate enlightenment; the hammer which was
lifted to shatter Jewish separatism had only the effect of hardening it.
The persecuted Jews clutched eagerly at their old mode of life, the
target of their enemies' attacks; they clung not only to its permanent
foundations but also to its obsolete superstructure. The despotism of
extermination from without was counterbalanced by a despotism of
conservation from within, by that rigid discipline of conduct to which
the masses submitted without a murmur, though its yoke must have weighed
heavily upon the few, the stray harbingers of a new order of things.

The Government had managed to disrupt the Jewish communal organization
and rob the Kahal of all its authority by degrading it to a kind of
posse for the capture of recruits and extortion of taxes. But while the
Jewish masses hated the Kahal elders, they retained their faith in their
spiritual leaders, the rabbis and Tzaddiks. [1] Heeding the command of
these leaders, they closed their ranks, and offered stubborn resistance
to the dangerous cultural influences threatening them from without. Life
was dominated by rigidly conservative principles. The old scheme of
family life, with all its patriarchal survivals, remained in force. In
spite of the law, embodied in the Statute of 1835, which fixed the
minimum age of the bridegroom at eighteen (and that of the bride at
sixteen), the practice of early marriages continued as theretofore.
Parents arranged marriages between children of thirteen and fifteen.
Boys of school age often became husbands and fathers, and continued to
attend heder or yeshibah after their marriage, weighed down by the
triple tutelage of father, father-in-law, and teacher. The growing
generation knew not the sweetness of being young. Their youth withered
under the weight of family chains, the pressure of want or material
dependence. The spirit of protest, the striving for rejuvenation, which
asserted itself in some youthful souls, was crushed in the vise of a
time-honored discipline, the product of long ages. The slightest
deviation from a custom, a rite, or old habits of thought met with
severe punishment. A short jacket or a trimmed beard was looked upon as
a token of dangerous free-thinking. The reading of books written in
foreign languages, or even written in Hebrew, when treating of secular
subjects, brought upon the culprit untold hardships. The scholastic
education resulted in producing men entirely unfit for the battle of
life, so that in many families energetic women took charge of the
business and became the wage earners, [2] while their husbands were
losing themselves in the mazes of speculation, somewhere in the recesses
of the rabbinic _Betha-Midrash_ or the hasidic _Klaus_.

[Footnote 1: See on the latter term, Vol. I, p. 227.]

[Footnote 2: This type of Jewish woman, current in Russia until recent
times, was called _Eshet Hayil_, "a woman of valour," with allusion to
Prov. 31.10.]

In Lithuania the whole mental energy of the Jewish youth was absorbed by
Talmudism. The synagogue served as a "house of study" outside the hours
fixed for prayers. There the local rabbi or a private scholar gave
lectures on the Talmud which were listened to by hosts of _yeshibah
bahurs_. [1] The great yeshibahs of Volozhin, Mir, [2] and other towns
sent forth thousands of rabbis and Talmudists. Mentality, erudition,
dialectic subtlety were valued here above all else. Yet, as soon as the
mind, whetted by talmudic dialectics, would point its edge against the
existing order of things, or turn in the direction of living knowledge,
of "extraneous sciences," [3] it was checked by threats of
excommunication and persecution. Many were the victims of this petrified
milieu, whose protests against the old order of things and whose
strivings for a newer life were nipped in the bud.

[Footnote 1: On the _bahur_ or Talmud student see Vol. I, p. 116 et

[Footnote 2: On the yeshibah in Volozhin, in the government of Vilna,
see Vol. I, p. 380 et seq. Mir is a townlet in the government of Minsk.]

[Footnote 3: An old Hebrew expression for secular learning.]

Instructive in this respect is the fate of one of the most remarkable
Talmudists of his time, Rabbi Menashe Ilyer. Ilyer spent most of his
life in the townlets of Smorgoni and Ilya (whence his surname), in the
government of Vilna, and died of the cholera, in 1831. While keeping
strictly within the bounds of rabbinical orthodoxy, whose adepts
respected him for his enormous erudition and strict piety, Menashe
assiduously endeavored to widen their range of thought and render them
more amenable to moderate freedom of research and a more sober outlook
on life. But his path was strewn with thorns. When on one occasion he
expounded before his pupils the conclusion, which he had reached after a
profound scientific investigation, that the text of the Mishnah had in
many cases been wrongly interpreted by the Gemara,[1] he was taken to
task by a conference of Lithuanian rabbis and barely escaped

[Footnote 1: The Mishnah is a code of laws edited about 200 C.E. by
Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi. The Gemara consists largely of the comments of the
talmudic authorities, who lived after that date, on the text of this

Having conceived a liking for mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy,
Menashe decided to go to Berlin to devote himself to these studies, but
on his way to the German capital, while temporarily sojourning in
Koenigsberg, he was halted by his countrymen, who visited Prussia on
business, and was cowed by all kinds of threats into returning home. By
persistent private study, this native of a Russian out-of-the-way
townlet managed to acquire a fair amount of general culture, which, with
all its limitations, yielded a rich literary harvest. In 1807 he made
his _début_ with the treatise _Pesher Dabar_ ("The Solution of the
Problem"), [1] in which he gave vent to his grief over the fact that the
spiritual leaders of the Jewish people kept aloof from concrete reality
and living knowledge. While the book was passing through the press in
Vilna, Lithuanian fanatics threatened the author with severe reprisals.
Their threats failed to intimidate him. When the book appeared, many
rabbis threw it into the flames, and made every possible effort to
arrest its circulation, with the result that the voice of the "heretic"
was stifled.

[Footnote 1: Literally, "The Interpretation of a Thing," from Eccl.

Ten years later, while residing temporarily in Volhynia, the hot-bed of
hasidism, Menashe began to print his religio-philosophic treatise _Alfe
Menassheh_ ("The Teachings of Manasseh"). [1] But the first proof-sheets
sufficed to impress the printer with the "heretical" character of the
book, and he threw them together with the whole manuscript into the
fire. The hapless author managed with difficulty to restore the text of
his "executed" work, and published it at Vilna in 1822. Here the
rabbinical censorship pounced upon him. The book had not yet left the
press, when the rabbi of Vilna, Saul Katzenellenbogen, learned that in
one passage the writer deduced from a verse in Deuteronomy (17.9) the
right of the "judges" or spiritual leaders of each generation to modify
many religious laws and customs in accordance with the requirements of
the time. The rabbi gave our author fair warning that, unless this
heretical argument was withdrawn, he would have the book burned publicly
in the synagogue yard. Menashe was forced to submit, and, contrary to
his conviction, weakened his heterodox argument by a number of

[Footnote 1: With a clever allusion to the Hebrew text of Deut. 33.17.]

These persecutions, however, did not smother the fire of protest in the
breast of the excommunicated rural philosopher. In the last years of his
life he published two pamphlets, [1] in which he severely lashed the
shortcomings of Jewish life, the early marriages, the one-sided school
training, the repugnance to living knowledge and physical labor.
However, the champions of orthodoxy took good care to prevent these
books from reaching the masses. Exhausted by his fruitless struggle,
Menashe died, unappreciated and almost unnoticed by his contemporaries.

[Footnote 1: One of these, entitled _Samme de-Hayye_ ("Elixir of Life"),
was written in Yiddish, being designed by the author for the lower


A critical attitude toward the existing order of things could on
occasions assert itself in the environment of Rabbinism, where the mind,
though forced into the mould of scholasticism, was yet working at high
speed. But such "heretical" thinking was utterly inconceivable in the
dominant circles of Hasidism, where the intellect was rocked to sleep by
mystical lullabies and fascinating stories of the miraculous exploits of
the Tzsaddiks. The era of political and civil disfranchisement was a
time of luxuriant growth for Hasidism, not in its creative, but rather
in its stationary, not to say stagnant, phase.

The old struggle between Hasidism and Rabbinism had long been fought
out, and the Tzaddiks rested on their laurels as teachers and
miracle-workers. The Tzaddik dynasties were now firmly entrenched. In
White Russia the sceptre lay in the hands of the Shneorsohn dynasty, the
successors of the "Old Rabbi," Shneor Zalman, the progenitor of the
Northern Hasidim. [1] The son of the "Old Rabbi," Baer, nicknamed "the
Middle Rabbi" (1813-1828), and the latter's son-in-law Mendel Lubavicher
[2] (1828-1866) succeeded one another on the hasidic "throne" during
this period, with a change in their place of residence. Under Rabbi
Zalman the townlets of Lozno and Ladi served as "capitals"; under his
successors, they were Ladi and Lubavichi. The three localities are all
situated on the border-line of the governments of Vitebsk and Moghilev,
in which the Hasidim of the _Habad_ persuasion [3] formed either a
majority, as was the case in the former government, or a substantial
minority, as was the case in the latter.

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 372.]

[Footnote 2: From the townlet Lubavichi. See later in the text.]

[Footnote 3: Compare Vol. I, p. 234, n. 2.]

Rabbi Baer, the son and successor of the "Old Rabbi," did not inherit
the creative genius of his father. He published many books, made up
mostly of his Sabbath discourses, but they lack originality. His method
is that of the talmudic _pilpul_, [1] transplanted upon the soil of
Cabala and Hasidism, or it consists in expatiating upon the ideas
contained in the _Tanyo_. [2] The last years of Rabbi Baer were darkened
by the White Russian catastrophes, the expulsion from the villages in
1823, and the ominous turn in the ritual murder trial of Velizh. On his
death-bed he spoke to those around him about the burning topic of the
day, the conscription ukase of 1827.

[Footnote 1: i.e., Dialectics. Comp. Vol. I, p. 122.]

[Footnote 2: The title of the philosophic treatise of Rabbi Shneor
Zalman. See Vol. I, p. 372, n. 1.]

His successor Rabbi Mendel Lubavicher proved an energetic organizer of
the hasidic masses. He was highly esteemed not only as a learned
Talmudist--he wrote rabbinical _novellae and response--and as a preacher
of Hasidism, but also as a man of great practical wisdom, whose advice
was sought by thousands of people in family matters no less than in
communal and commercial affairs. This did not present him from being a
decided opponent of the new enlightenment. In the course of Lilienthal's
educational propaganda in 1843, Rabbi Mendel was summoned by the
Government to participate in the deliberations of the Rabbinical
Committee at St. Petersburg. There he found himself in a tragic
situation. He was compelled to give his sanction to the Crown schools,
although he firmly believed that they were subversive of Judaism, not
only because they were originated by Russian officials, but also because
they were intended to impart secular knowledge. The hasidic legend
narrates that the Tzaddik pleaded before the Committee passionately, and
often with tears in his eyes, not only to retain in the new schools the
traditional methods of Bible and Talmud instruction, but also to make
room in their curriculum for the teaching of the Cabala. Nevertheless,
Rabbi Mendel was compelled to endorse against his will the "godless"
plan of a school reform, and a little later to prefix his approbation to
a Russian edition of Mendelssohn's German Bible translation. His
attitude toward contemporary pedagogic methods may be gauged from the
epistle addressed by him in 1848 to Leon Mandelstamm, Lilienthal's
successor in the task of organizing the Jewish Crown schools. In this
epistle Rabbi Mendel categorically rejects all innovations in the
training of the young. In reply to a question concerning the edition of
an abbreviated Bible text for children, he trenchantly quotes the famous
medieval aphorism:

  The Pentateuch was written by Moses at the dictation of God. Hence
  every word in it is sacred. There is no difference whatsoever
  between the verse "And Timna was the concubine" (Gen. 36. 12) and
  "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Deut 6. 4). [1]

[Footnote 1: See Maimonides' exposition of the dogma of the divine
origin of the Torah in his Mishnah Commentary, _Sanhedrin_, chapter X.]

Withal, the leaders of the Northern Hasidim were, comparatively
speaking, "men of the world," and were ready here and there to make
concessions to the demands of the age. Quite different were the Tzaddiks
of the South-west. They were horrified by the mere thought of such
concessions. They were surrounded by immense throngs of Hasidim,
unenlightened, ecstatic, worshipping saints during their lifetime.

The most honored among these hasidic dynasties was that of Chernobyl.
[1] It was founded in the Ukraina toward the end of the eighteenth
century by an itinerant preacher, or Maggid, called Nahum. [2] His son
Mordecai, known under the endearing name "Rabbi Motele" (died in 1837),
attracted to Chernobyl enormous numbers of pilgrims who brought with
them ransom money, or _pidyons_. [3] Mordecai's "Empire" fell asunder
after his death. His eight sons divided among themselves the whole
territory of the Kiev and Volhynia province.

[Footnote 1: A townlet in the government of Kiev.]

[Footnote 2: See Vol. I, p. 382.]

[Footnote 3: The term is used in the Bible to denote a sum of money
which "redeems" or "ransoms" a man from death, as in the case of a
person guilty of manslaughter (Ex. 22. 30) or that of the first-born son
(Ex. 13. 13; 34. 20). The Hasidim designate by this term the
contributions made to the Tzaddik, in the belief that such contributions
have the power of averting from the contributor impending death or

Aside from the original center in Chernobyl, seats of Tzaddiks were
established in the townlets of Korostyshev, Cherkassy, Makarov, Turisk,
Talno, Skvir and Rakhmistrovka. This resulted in a disgraceful rivalry
among the brothers, and still more so among their hasidic adherents.
Every Hasid was convinced that reverence was due only to his own
"Rebbe," [1] and he brushed aside the claims of the other Tzaddiks.
Whenever the adherents of the various Tzaddiks met, they invariably
engaged in passionate "party" quarrels, which on occasions, especially
after the customary hasidic drinking bouts, ended in physical violence.

[Footnote 1: Popular pronunciation of the word "rabbi," A hasidic
Tzaddik is designated as "Rebbe," in distinction from the rabbi proper,
or the _Rav_ (in Russia generally pronounced _Rov_), who discharges the
rabbinical functions within the community.]

The whole Chernobyl dynasty found a dangerous rival in the person of the
Tzaddik Israel Ruzhiner (of Ruzhin), the great-grandson of Rabbi Baer,
the apostle of Hasidism, known as the "Mezhiricher Maggid." [1] Rabbi
Israel settled in Ruzhin, a townlet in the government of Kiev, about
1815, and rapidly gained fame as a saint and miracle-worker. His
magnificent "court" at Ruzhin was always crowded with throngs of
Hasidim. Their onrush was checked by special "gentlemen in waiting," the
so-called _gabba'im,_ who were very fastidious in admitting the people
into the presence of the Tzaddik--dependent upon the size of the
proffered gifts. Israel drove out in a gorgeous carriage, surrounded by
a guard of honor. The gubernatorial administration of Kiev, presided
over by the ferocious Governor-General Bibikov, received intimations to
the effect "that the Tzaddik of Ruzhin wielded almost the power of a
Tzar" among his adherents, who did not stir with out his advice. The
police began to watch the Tzaddik, and at length found an occasion for a

[Footnote 1: On Rabbi Baer see Vol. I, p. 229 et seq.]

When, in 1838, the Kahal of Ushitza, in the government of Podolia, was
implicated in the murder of an informer, [1] Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin was
arrested on the charge of abetting the murder. The hasidic "Tzar"
languished in prison for twenty-two months. He was finally set free and
placed under police surveillance. But he soon escaped to Austria, and
settled in 1841 in the Bukovina, in the townlet of Sadagora, near
Chernovitz, where he established his new "court." Many Hasidim in Russia
now made their pilgrimage abroad to their beloved Tzaddik; in addition,
new partisans were won among the hasidic masses of Galicia and the
Bukovina. Rabbi Israel died in 1850, but the "Sadagora dynasty" branched
out rapidly, and proved a serious handicap to modern progress during the
stormy epoch of emancipation which followed in Austria soon afterwards.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 84 et seq.]

Another hot-bed of the Tzaddik cult was Podolia, the cradle of Hasidism.
In the old residence of Besht, [1] in Medzhibozh, the sceptre was held
by Rabbi Joshua Heshel Apter, who succeeded Besht's grandson, Rabbi
Borukh of Tulchyn. [2] For a number of years, between 1810 and 1830, the
aged Joshua Heshel was revered as the nestor of Tzaddikism, the haughty
Israel of Ruzhin being the only one who refused to acknowledge his
supremacy. Heshel's successor was Rabbi Moyshe Savranski, who
established a regular hasidic "court," after the pattern of Chernobyl
and Ruzhin.

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 222 et seq.]

[Footnote 2: See Vol. I, p. 384.]

The only Tzaddik to whom it was not given to be the founder of a dynasty
was the somewhat eccentric Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav, [1] a great-grandson
of Besht. After his death, the Bratzlav Hasidim, who followed the lead
of his disciple Rabbi Nathan, suffered cruel persecutions at the hands
of the other hasidic factions. The "Bratzlavers" adopted the custom of
visiting once a year, during the High Holidays, the grave of their
founder in the city of Uman, in the government of Kiev, and subsequently
erected a house of prayer near his tomb. During these pilgrimages they
were often the target of the local Hasidim who reviled and often
maltreated them. The "Bratzlavers" were the Cinderella among the
Hasidim, lacking the powerful patronage of a living Tzaddik. Their
heavenly patron, Rabbi Nahman, could not hold his own against his living
rivals, the earthly Tzaddiks--all too earthly perhaps, in spite of their

[Footnote 1: A town in Podolia. See Vol. I, p. 382 et seq.]

The Tzaddik cult was equally diffused in the Kingdom of Poland. The
place of Rabbi Israel of Kozhenitz and Rabbi Jacob-Isaac of Lublin, who
together marshalled the hasidic forces during the time of the Varsovian
duchy, was taken by founders and representatives of new Tzaddik
dynasties. The most popular among these were the dynasty of Kotzk, [1]
established by Rabbi Mendel Kotzker (1827-1859), and that of Goora
Kalvaria, [2] or Gher, [3] founded by Rabbi Isaac Meier Alter [4] (about
1830-1866). The former reigned supreme in the provinces, the latter in
the capital of Poland, in Warsaw, which down to this day has remained
loyal to the Gher dynasty.

[Footnote 1: A town not far from Warsaw. Comp. Vol. I, p. 303, n. 1.]

[Footnote 2: In Polish, _Góra Kalwarya_, a town on the left bank of the
Vistula, not far from Warsaw.]

[Footnote 3: This form of the name is used by the Jews.]

[Footnote 4: Called popularly in Poland _Reb Itche Meier_, a name still
frequently found among the Jews of Warsaw, who to a large extent are
adherents of the "Gher dynasty."]

The Polish "Rebbes" [1] resembled by the character of their activity the
type of the Northern, or _Habad_, Tzaddiks rather than those of the
Ukraina. They did not keep luxurious "courts," did not hanker so
greedily after donations, and laid greater emphasis on talmudic

[Footnote 1: See p. 120, n. 1.]

Hasidism produced not only leaders but also martyrs, victims of the
Russian police regime. About the time when the Tzaddik of Ruzhin fell
under suspicion, the Russian Government began to watch the Jewish
printing-press in the Volhynian townlet of Slavuta. The owners of the
press were two brothers, Samuel-Abba and Phinehas Shapiro, grandsons of
Besht's companion, Rabbi Phinehas of Koretz. The two brothers were
denounced to the authorities as persons issuing dangerous mystical books
from their press, without the permission of the censor. This
denunciation was linked up with a criminal case, the discovery in the
house of prayer, which was attached to the printing-press, of the body
of one of the compositors who, it was alleged, had intended to lay bare
the activities of the "criminal" press before the Government. After a
protracted imprisonment of the two Slavuta printers in Kiev, their case
was submitted to Nicholas I. who sentenced them to _Spiessruten_ [1] and
deportation to Siberia. During the procedure of running the gauntlet,
while passing through the lines of whipping soldiers, one of the
brothers had his cap knocked off his head. Unconcerned by the hail of
lashes from which he was bleeding, he stopped to pick up his cap so as
to avoid going bare-headed, [2] and then resumed his march between the
two rows of executioners. The unfortunate brothers were released from
their Siberian exile during the reign of Alexander II.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 85, n. 1.]

[Footnote 2: According to an ancient Jewish notion, which is current
throughout the Orient, baring the head is a sign of frivolity and
disrespect towards God.]

Hasidic life exhibited no doubt many examples of lofty idealism and
moral purity. But hand in hand with it went an impenetrable spiritual
gloom, boundless credulity, a passion for deifying men of a mediocre and
even inferior type, and the unwholesome hypnotizing influence of the
Tzaddiks. Spiritual self-intoxication was accompanied by physical. The
hasidic rank and file, particularly in the South-west, began to develop
an ugly passion for alcohol. Originally tolerated as a means of
producing cheerfulness and religious ecstasy, drinking gradually became
the standing feature of every hasidic gathering. It was in vogue at the
court of the Tzaddik during the rush of pilgrims; it was indulged in
after prayers in the hasidic "Shtiblach," [1] or houses of prayer, and
was accompanied by dancing and by the ecstatic narration of the
miraculous exploits of the "Rebbe." [2] Many Hasidim lost themselves
completely in this idle revelry and neglected their business affairs and
their starving families, looking forward in their blind fatalism to the
blessings which were to be showered upon them through the intercession
of the Tzaddik.

[Footnote 1: The word, which is a diminutive of German _Stube_, "room,"
denotes, like the word _Klaus_, the room, or set of rooms, in which the
Hasidim assemble for prayer, study, and recreation.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p, 120, n. 1.]

It would be manifestly unjust to view the hasidic indulgence in alcohol
in the same light as the senseless drunkenness of the Russian peasant,
transforming man into a beast. The Hasid drank, and in moderate doses at
that, "for the soul," "to banish the grief which blunteth the heart," to
arouse religious exultation and enliven his social intercourse with his
fellow believers. Yet the consequences were equally sad. For the habit
resulted in drowsiness of thought, idleness and economic ruin,
insensibility to the outside world and to the social movements of the
age, as well as in stolid opposition to cultural progress in general. It
must be borne in mind that during the era of external oppression and
military inquisition the reactionary force of Hasidism acted as the only
antidote against the reactionary force from the outside. Hasidism and
Tzaddikism were, so to speak, a sleeping draught which dulled the pain
of the blows dealt out to the unfortunate Jewish populace by the Russian
Government. But in the long run the popular organism was injuriously
affected by this mystic opium. The poison rendered its consumers
insensible to every progressive movement, and planted them firmly at the
extreme pole of obscurantism, at a time when the Russian ghetto
resounded with the first appeals calling its inmates toward the light,
toward the regeneration and the uplift of inner Jewish life.


It was in the hot-bed of the most fanatical species of Hasidism that the
first blossoms of Haskalah [1] timidly raised their heads. Isaac Baer
Levinsohn, from Kremenetz in Podolia (1788-1860), had associated in his
younger days with the champions of enlightenment in adjacent Galicia,
such as Joseph Perl, [2] Nahman Krochmal, [3] and their followers. When
he came back to his native land, it was with the firm resolve to devote
his energies to the task of civilizing the secluded masses of Russian
Jewry. In lonesome quietude, carefully guarding his designs from the
outside world which was exclusively hasidic, he worked at his book
_Te'udah, be-Israel_ ("Instruction in Israel"), which after many
difficulties he managed to publish in Vilna in 1828. In this book our
author endeavored, without trespassing the boundaries of orthodox
religious tradition, to demonstrate the following elementary truths by
citing examples from Jewish history and sayings of great Jewish

[Footnote 1: A Hebrew term meaning "enlightenment." It is a translation
of the German _Aufklaerung_, and was first applied to the endeavors made
in the time of Moses Mendelssohn (died 1886) to introduce European
culture among the Jews of the ghetto.]

[Footnote 2: Died 1839. He became famous through his anti-hasidic parody
_Megalle Temirin_, "Revealing Hidden Things," written in the form of
letters in imitation of the hasidic style. Peri's book has been
frequently compared with the medieval _Epistolae obscurorum vivorum_,
which are ascribed to Ulrich von Hutten (d. 1523). See P. 127.]

[Footnote 3: Died 1840. Famous as the author of _More Nebuke ha-Zeman_,
"Guide of the Perplexed of (Our) Time," a profound treatise, dealing
with Jewish theological and historical problems.]

  1. The Jew is obliged to study the Bible as well as Hebrew grammar
  and to interpret the biblical text in accordance with the plain
  grammatical sense.

  2. The Jewish religion does not condemn the knowledge of foreign
  languages and literatures, especially of the language of the
  country, such knowledge being required both in the personal interest
  of the individual Jew and in the common interest of the Jewish

  3. The study of secular sciences is not attended by any danger for
  Judaism, men of the type of Maimonides having remained loyal Jews,
  in spite of their extensive general culture.

  4. It is necessary from the economic point of view to strengthen
  productive labor, such as handicrafts and agriculture, at the
  expense of commerce and brokerage, also to discourage early
  marriages between persons who are unprovided for and have no
  definite occupation.

These commonplaces sounded to that generation like epoch-making
revelations. They were condemned as rank heresies by the all-powerful
obscurantists and hailed as a gospel of the approaching renaissance by
that handful of progressives who dreamt of a new Jewish life and, cowed
by the fear of persecution, hid these thoughts deep down in their

A similar fear compelled Levinsohn to exercise the utmost reserve and
caution in criticizing the existing order of things. The same
consideration forced him to shield himself behind a pseudonym in
publishing his anti-hasidic satire _Dibre Tzaddikim_, "The Words of the
Tzaddiks," [1] (Vienna, 1830), a rather feeble imitation of _Megalle
Temirin_, the Hebrew counterpart of the "Epistles of Obscure Men," by
Joseph Perl. [2] His principal work, entitled _Bet Yehudah_, "The House
of Judah," a semi-philosophic, semi-publicistic review of the history of
Judaism, remained for a long time in manuscript. Levinsohn was unable to
publish it for the reason that even the printing-press of Vilna, the
only one to issue publications of a non-religious character, was afraid
of bringing out a book which had failed to receive the approbation of
the local rabbis. Several years later, in 1839, the volume finally came
out, clothed in the form of a reply to inquiries addressed to the author
by a high Russian official.

[Footnote 1: Literally, "The Words of the Righteous," with reference to
Ex. 23. 8:]

[Footnote 2: See the preceding page, n. 1.]

From the point of view of Jewish learning, _Bet Yehudah_ can claim but
scanty merits. It lacks that depth of philosophic-historic insight which
distinguishes so brilliantly the "Guide of the Perplexed of Our Time" of
the Galician thinker Krochmal. [1] The writer's principal task is to
prove from history his rather trite doctrine that Judaism had at no time
shunned secular culture and philosophy.

[Footnote 1: See the preceding page, n. 2.]

For the rest, the author fights shy of the difficult problems of
religious philosophy, and is always on the lookout for compromises. Even
with reference to the Cabala, with which Levinsohn has but little
sympathy, he says timidly: "It is not for us to judge these lofty
matters" (Chapter 135). Fear of the orthodox environment compels him to
observe almost complete silence with reference to Hasidism, although, in
his private correspondence and in his anonymous writings he denounces it
severely. Levinsohn concludes his historic review of Judaism with a
eulogy upon the Russian Government for its kindness toward the Jews (Ch.
151) and with the following plan of reform suggested to it for execution
(Ch. 146):

  To open elementary schools for the teaching of Hebrew and the tenets
  of the Jewish religion as well as of Russian and arithmetic, and to
  establish institutions of higher rabbinical learning in the larger
  cities; to Institute the office of Chief Rabbi, with a supreme
  council under him, which should be in charge of Jewish spiritual and
  communal affairs in Russia; to allot to a third of the
  Russian-Jewish population parcels of land for agricultural purposes;
  to prohibit luxury in dress and furniture in which even the
  impecunious classes are prone to indulge.

Levinsohn was not satisfied to propagate his ideas by purely literary
means. He anticipated meagre results from a literary propaganda among
the broad Jewish masses, in which the mere reading of such "licentious"
books was considered a criminal offence. He had greater faith in his
ability to carry out the regeneration of Jewish life with the powerful
help of the Government. As a matter of fact, Levinsohn had long before
this begun to knock at the doors of the Russian Government offices. Far
back in 1823 he had presented to the heir-apparent Constantine
Pavlovich [1] a memorandum concerning Jewish sects and a project looking
to the establishment of a system of Jewish schools and seminaries.
Moreover, before publishing his first work _Te'udah_, he had submitted
the manuscript to Shishkov, the reactionary Minister of Public
Instruction, applying for a Government subsidy towards the publication
of a work which demonstrates the usefulness of enlightenment and
agriculture, "instills love for the Tzar as well as for the people with
which we share our life, and recounts the innumerable favors which they
have bestowed upon us."

[Footnote 1: Being the eldest brother of Alexander I., Constantine was
the legitimate heir to the Russian throne. He resigned in favor of his
younger brother Nicholas. See above, p. 13, n. 2.]

These words were penned on December 2, 1827, three months after the
promulgation of the baneful conscription ukase ordering the compulsory
enlistment of under-aged cantonists! The request was complied with. A
year later the humble Volhynian littérateur received by imperial command
an "award" of 1000 rubles ($500) "for a work having for its object the
moral transformation of the Jews." This "award" came when the volume had
already appeared in print, in the terrible year 1828 which was marked by
the first conscription of Jewish recruits, the ominous turn in the
ritual murder trial of Velizh and the constant tightening of the knot of

But these events failed to cure the political _naiveté_ of Levinsohn. In
1831 he laid before Lieven, the new Minister of Public Instruction, a
memorandum advocating the necessity of modifications in Jewish religious
life. Again in 1833 he came forward with the dangerous proposal to close
all Jewish printing-presses, except those situated in towns in which
there was a censorship. The project was accompanied by a "list of
ancient and modern Hebrew books, indicating those that may be considered
useful and those that are harmful"--the hasidic works were declared to
belong to the latter category. Levinsohn's project was partly
instrumental in prompting the grievous law of 1836, which raised a cry
of despair in the Pale of Settlement, ordering a revision of the entire
Hebrew literature by Russian censors. [1]

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 42 et seq.]

Levinsohn's action would have been ignoble had it not been naive. The
recluse of Kremenetz, passionately devoted to his people but wanting in
political foresight, was calling Russian officialdom to aid in his fight
against the bigotry of the Jewish masses, in the childish conviction
that the Russian authorities had the welfare of the Jews truly at heart,
and that compulsory measures would do away with the hostility of the
Jewish populace toward enlightenment. He failed to perceive, as did also
some of his like-minded contemporaries, that the culture which the
Russian Government of his time was trying to foist upon the Jews was
only apt to accentuate their distrust, that, so long as they were the
target of persecution, the Jews could not possibly accept the gift of
enlightenment from the hands of those who lured them to the baptismal
font, pushed their children on the path of religious treason, and were
ruthless in breaking and disfiguring their whole mode of life.

In his literary works Levinsohn was fond of emphasizing his relations
with high Government officials. This probably saved him from a great
deal of unpleasantness on the part of the fanatic Hasidim, but it also
had the effect of increasing his unpopularity among the orthodox. The
only merit the latter were willing to concede to Levinsohn was that of an
apologist who defended Judaism against the attacks of non-Jews. During
the epidemic of ritual murder trials, the rabbis of Lithuania and
Volhynia addressed a request to Levinsohn to write a book against this
horrid libel. At their suggestion he published his work _Efes Damim_,
"No Blood!" (Vilna, 1837), [1] in the form of a dialogue between a Jewish
sage and a Greek-Orthodox patriarch in Jerusalem.

[Footnote 1: With a clever allusion to the geographic name Ephes-dammim,
I Sam. 17. 1.]

Somewhat later Levinsohn wrote other apologetic treatises, defending the
Talmud against the attacks contained in the book _Netibot 'Olam_ [1]
published in 1839 by the London missionary M'Caul. Levinsohn's great
apologetic work _Zerubbabel_, which appeared several years after his
death, was equally dedicated to the defence of the Talmud. It has,
moreover, considerable scientific merit, being one of the first research
works in the domain of talmudic theology. A number of other publications
by Levinsohn deal with Hebrew philology and lexicography. All these
efforts support Levinsohn's claim to the title of Founder of a modern
Jewish Science in Russia, though his scholarly achievements cannot be
classed with those of his German and Galician fellow-writers, such as
Rapoport, Zunz, Jost and Geiger.

[Footnote 1: "Old Paths," with reference to Jer. 6. 16.]

Levinsohn stood entirely aloof from the propaganda of bureaucratic
enlightenment which was carried on by Lilienthal in the name of Uvarov.
The Volhynian hermit was completely overshadowed by the energetic young
German. Even when Lilienthal, after realizing that a union between
Jewish culture and Russian officialdom was altogether unnatural, had
disappeared from the stage, Levinsohn still persisted in cultivating his
relations with the Government. But by that time the bureaucrats of St.
Petersburg had no more use for the Jewish friends of enlightenment.
Broken in health, chained to his bed for half a lifetime, without means
of subsistence, lonely amidst a hostile orthodox environment, Levinsohn
time and again addressed to St. Petersburg humiliating appeals for
monetary assistance, occasionally receiving small pittances, which were
booked under the heading "Relief in Distress," accepted subventions from
various Jewish Mæcenases, and remained a pauper till the end of his
life. The pioneer of modern culture among Russian Jews, the founder of
Neo-Hebraic literature, spent his life in the midst of a realm of
darkness, shunned like an outcast, appreciated by a mere handful of
sympathizers. It was only after his death that he was crowned with
laurels, when the intellectuals of Russian Jewry were beginning to press
forward in close formation.


The Volhynian soil proved unfavorable for the seeds of enlightenment.
The Haskalah pioneers were looked upon as dangerous enemies in this
hot-bed of Tzaddikism. They were held in disgrace and were often the
victims of cruel persecutions, from which some saved themselves by
conversion. A more favorable soil for cultural endeavors was found in
the extreme south of the Pale of Settlement as well as in its northern
section: Odessa, the youthful capital of New Russia, and Vilna, the old
capital of Lithuania, both became centers of the Haskalah movement.

As far as Odessa was concerned, the seeds of enlightenment had been
carried hither from neighboring Galicia by the Jews of Brody, who formed
a wealthy merchant colony in that city. As early as 1826 Odessa saw the
opening of the first Jewish school for secular education, which was
managed at first by Sittenfeld and later on by the well-known public
worker Bezalel Stern. Among the teachers of the new school was Simha
Pinsker, who subsequently became the historian of Karaism. This school,
the only educational establishment of its kind during that period,
served in Odessa as a center for the "Friends of Enlightenment." Being a
new city, unfettered by traditions, and at the same time a large
sea-port, with a checkered international population, Odessa outran other
Jewish centers in the process of modernization, though it must be
confessed that it never went beyond the externalities of civilization.
As far as the period under discussion is concerned, the Jewish center of
the South can claim no share in the production of new Jewish values.

While yielding to Odessa in point of external civilization, Vilna
surpassed the capital of the South by her store of mental energy. The
circle of the Vilna Maskilim, which came into being during the fourth
decade of the nineteenth century, gave rise to the two founders of the
Neo-Hebraic literary style: the prose writer Mordecai Aaron Ginzburg
(1796-1846) and the poet Abraham Baer Lebensohn (1794-1878).

Ginzburg, born in the townlet Salant, in the Zhmud region, [1] lived for
some time in Courland, and finally settled in Vilna. He managed to
familiarize himself with German literature, and was so fascinated by it
that he started his literary career by translating and adapting German
works into Hebrew. His translation of Campe's "Discovery of America" and
Politz' Universal History, as well as his own history of the
Franco-Russian War of 1812, compiled from various sources, were, as far
as Russia is concerned, the first specimens of secular literature in
pure Hebrew, which boldly claimed their place side by side with rabbinic
and hasidic writings. In that juvenile stage of the Hebrew renaissance,
when the mere treatment of language and style was considered an
achievement, even the appearance of such elementary books was hailed as

[Footnote 1: Zhmud, or Samogitia, is part of the present government of
Kovno. Compare Vol. I, p. 293, n. 1.]

The profoundest influence on the formation of the Neo-Hebraic style must
be ascribed to two other works by the same author, _Kiriai Sefer_, [1]
an epistolary manual containing specimens of personal, commercial, and
other forms of correspondence (Vilna, 1835, and many later editions),
and _Debir_, [2] a miscellaneous collection of essays, consisting for
the most part of translations and compilations (Vilna, 1844). Ginzburg's
premature death in 1846 was mourned by the Vilna Maskilim as the loss of
a leader in the struggle for the Neo-Hebraic renaissance, and they gave
expression to these sentiments in verse and prose. Ginzburg's
autobiography _(Abi-'ezer,_ 1863) and his letters _(Debir,_ Vol. II.,
1861) portray the milieu in which our author grew up and developed.

[Footnote 1: See next note.]

[Footnote 2: Both titles are derived from the message in Josh. 15. 15,
according to which _Debir_, a city in the territory of the tribe of
Judah, was originally called _Kiriat Sefer_, "Book City."]

Abraham Baer Lebensohn, [1] a native of Vilna, awakened the dormant
Hebrew lyre by the sonorous rhymes of his "Songs in the Sacred Tongue"
(_Shire Sefat Kodesh_, Vol. I., Leipsic, 1842). In this volume solemn
odes celebrating events of all kinds alternate with lyrical poems of a
philosophical content. The unaccustomed ear of the Jew of that period
was struck by these powerful sounds of rhymed biblical speech which
exhibited greater elegance and harmony than the Mosaïd of Wessely, the
Jewish Klopstock. [2] His compositions, which are marked by thought
rather than by feeling, suited to perfection the taste of the
contemporary Jewish reader, who was ever on the lookout for
"intellectuality," even where poetry was concerned. Philosophic and
moralizing lyrics are a characteristic feature of Lebensohn's pen. The
general human sorrow, common to all individuals, stirs him more deeply
than national grief. His only composition of a nationalistic character,
"The Wailing of the Daughter of Judah," seems strangely out of harmony
with the accompanying odes which celebrate the coronation of Nicholas I.
and similar patriotic occasions, although the "Wailing" is shrewdly
prefaced by a note, evidently meant for the censor, to the effect that
the poem refers to the Middle Ages. At any rate, the principal merit of
the "Songs in the Sacred Tongue" is not to be sought in their poetry but
rather in their style, for it was this style which became the basis of
Neo-Hebraic poetic diction, perfected more and more by the poets of the
succeeding generations.

[Footnote 1: He assumed the pen-name "Adam," the initials of Abraham Dob
(Hebrew equivalent for Baer) Mikhailishker (from the town of
Mikhailishok, in the government of Vilna, where he resided for a number
of years). See later, p. 226.]

[Footnote 2: The author refers to Naphtali Hirz Wessely (d. 1805), an
associate of Mendelssohn in his cultural endeavors. He wrote _Shire
Tif'eret_, "Songs of Glory," an epic in five parts dealing with the
Exodus. The poem was patterned after the epic _Der Messias_ of his
famous German contemporary Gottlieb Friedrich Klopstock, who, in turn,
was influenced by Milton.]

Ginzburg and Lebensohn were the central pillars of the Vilna Maskilim
circle, which also included men of the type of Samuel Joseph Fünn, the
historian, Mattathiah Strashun, the Talmudist, the censor Tugendhold,
the bibliographer Ben-jacob, N. Rosenthal, in a word, the "radicals" of
that era--for the mere striving for the restoration of biblical Hebrew
and for elementary secular education was looked upon as bold radicalism.
The same circle made an attempt to create a scientific periodical after
the pattern of similar publications in Galicia and Germany, In 1841 and
1843 two issues of the magazine _Pirhe Tzafon_, "Flowers of the North,"
appeared in Vilna, under Fünn's editorship. The volumes contained
scientific and publicistic articles as well as poems, contributed by the
feeble literary talents which were then active in the Hebrew literary
and educational revival in Russia--all of them efforts of not very high
merit. But even these poor hot-house flowers were fated to be nipped in
the Northern chill. The ruthless Russian censorship scented in the
unassuming magazine of the Vilna Maskilim a criminal attempt to publish
a Hebrew periodical. Such an undertaking required an official license
from the central Government in St. Petersburg, and the latter was not in
the habit of granting licenses for such purposes.

In Vilna, as in Odessa, the coterie of local Maskilim formed the
mainstay of Lilienthal, the apostle of enlightenment, in, his struggle
with the orthodox. In the year 1840, prior to Lilienthal's arrival, when
the first intimation of Uvarov's plans reached the city of Vilna, the
local Maskilim responded to the call of the Government in a circular
letter, in which the following four cardinal reforms were emphasized:

  1. The transformation of the Rabbinate through the establishment of
  rabbinical seminaries, the appointment of graduates from German
  universities as rabbis, and the formation of consistories after the
  pattern of Western Europe.

  2. The reform of school education through the opening of secular
  schools after the model of Odessa and Riga and the training of new
  teachers from among the Maskilim.

  3. The struggle with the fiends of obscurantism, who stifle every
  endeavor for popular enlightenment.

  4. The improvement of Jewish economic life by intensifying
  agricultural colonization, the establishment of technical and arts
  and crafts schools, and similar measures.

Several years later the authors of this circular had reason to share
Lilienthal's disillusionment over the "benevolent intentions" of the
Government. This, however, was not strong enough to uproot the original
sin of the Haskalah: its constant readiness to lean for support upon
"enlightened absolutism." The despotism of the orthodox and the
intolerance of the unenlightened masses forced the handful of Maskilim
to fall back upon those who in the eyes of the Jewish populace were the
source of its sorrow and tears. There was a profound tragedy in this

The culture movement in Russia of the second quarter of the nineteenth
century corresponds in its complexion to the early stage of the
Mendelssohnian enlightenment in Germany, the period of the
_Me'assefim_. [1] But there were also essential differences between the
two. The beginning of German enlightenment was accompanied by a strong
drift toward assimilation which led to the elimination of the national
language from literature. In Russia the initial period of Haskalah was
not marked by any sudden social and cultural upheavals.

[Footnote 1: So named after the Hebrew periodical _ha-Me'assef_ "The
Collector," which was founded in Berlin in 1784. Compare Vol. I, p. 386,
n. 3.]

On the contrary, it laid the foundations for a national literary
renaissance which in the following period was destined to become an
important social factor.


As for the Russian people, an impenetrable wall continued as theretofore
to keep it apart from the Jewish population. To the inhabitants of the
two Russian capitals and of the interior of the Empire the Pale of
Settlement seemed as distant as China, while among the Russians living
within the Pale the sparks of former historic conflagrations, the
prejudices of the ages and the unenlightened notions of days gone by
were still glimmering beneath the ashes. The ignorance of some and the
vicious prejudices of others could not very well manifest themselves in
periodical literature, for the simple reason that in pre-reformatory
Russia, throtled by the hand of the censorship, none was in existence.
Only in Russian fiction one might see the shadow of the Jew moving
across. In the imagination of the great Russian poet Pushkin this shadow
wavered between the "despised Jew" of the street (in the "Black Shawl,"
1820) and the figure of the venerable "old man reading the Bible under
the shelter of the night" (in the "Beginning of a Novel," 1832). On the
other hand, in Gogol's "Taras Bulba" (1835-1842) the Jew bears the
well-defined features of an inhuman fiend. In the delineation of the
hideous figure of "Zhyd Yankel," a mercenary, soulless, dastardly
creature, Gogol, the descendant of the haidamacks, [1] gave vent to his
inherited hatred of the Jew, the victim of Khmelnitzki [2] and the
haidamacks. In these dismal historic tragedies, in the figures of the
Jewish martyrs of old Ukraina, Gogol can only discern "miserable,
terror-stricken creatures." Thus one of the principal founders of
Russian fiction set up in its very center the repelling scarecrow of a
Jew, an abomination of desolation, which poured the poison of hatred
into the hearts of the Russian readers and determined to a certain
extent the literary types of later writers.

[Footnote 1: Name of the Ukrainian rebels who rose in the seventeenth
century against the tyranny of their Polish masters. Compare Vol. I, p.
182, n. 3.]

[Footnote 2: Compare Vol. I, p. 144 et seq.]

In the back-yards of Russian literature, which were then most of all
patronized by the reading public, the literary slanderer Thaddeus
Bulgarin delineated in his novel "Ivan Vyzhigin" (1829) the type of a
Lithuanian Jew by the name of Movsha (Moses), who appears as the
embodiment of all mortal sins. The product of an untalented and tainted
pen, Bulgarin's novel was soon forgotten. Yet it contributed its share
toward instilling Jew-hatred into the minds of the Russian people.




The beginning of the "Second Emancipation" of 1848 in Western Europe
synchronized with the last phase of the era of oppression in Russia.
That phase, representing the concluding seven years of pre-reformatory
Russia, was a dark patch in the life of the country at large, doubly
dark in the life of the Jews. The power of absolutism, banished by the
March revolution from the European West, asserted itself with
intensified fury in the land of the North, which had about that time
earned the unenviable reputation of the "gendarme of Europe." Thrown
back on its last stronghold, absolutism concentrated its energy upon the
suppression of all kinds of revolutionary movements. In default of such
a movement in Russia itself, this energy broke through the frontier line
and found an outlet in the punitive expedition sent to support the
Austrians in the pacification of mutinous Hungary. The triumphant
passwords of political freedom which were given out on the other side of
the Western frontier only intensified the reactionary rage on this side.
Since it was impossible to punish action--for under the vigilant eye of
the terrible "Third Section" [1] revolutionary endeavors were a matter
of impossibility--word and thought were subject to punishment.
Censorship ran riot in the subdued literature of Russia, tearing out by
the roots anything that did not fit into the mould of the bureaucratic
way of thinking. The quiet precincts of the Russian _intelligenzia_,
who, in the retirement of their homes, ventured to dream of a better
political and social order, were invaded by political detectives who
snatched thence numerous victims for the scaffold, the galleys, and
conscription. Such were the contrivances employed during the last years
of pre-reformatory Russia to hold together the old order of things in
the land of officialdom and serfdom, in that Russia which the poet
Khomyakov, though patriot and Slavophile, branded thus:

[Footnote 1: Compare above, p. 21, n. 1.]

    Blackened in court with falsehood's blackness,
    And stained by the yoke of slavery,
    Full of godless flattery, of vicious lying,
    And ev'ry possible knavery.

But the full weight of "the yoke of slavery" and "falsehood's
blackness," by which pre-reformatory Russia was marked, fell upon the
shoulders of the most hapless section of Russian subjects, the Jews. The
tragic gloom of the end of Nicholas' reign finds its only parallel in
Jewish annals in the beginning of the same reign. The would-be "reforms"
proposed in the interval, in the beginning of the forties, did not
deceive the popular instinct. The Jews of the Pale saw not only the hand
which was holding forth the charter of enlightenment but also the other
hand which hid a stone in the form of new cruel restrictions. Soon the
Government threw off the mask of enlightenment, and set out to realize
its reserve program, that of "correcting" the Jews by police methods.

It will be remembered that the principal item in this program was "the
assortment of the Jews," i.e., the segregation from among them of all
persons without a certain status as to property or without definite
occupations, for the purpose of proceeding against them as criminal
members of society. As far back as 1846 the Government forewarned the
Jews of the imminent "bloody operation over a whole class," against
which Governor-General Vorontzov had vainly protested. [1] All Jews were
ordered to register at the earliest possible moment among the guilds and
estates assigned to them, "with the understanding that in case this
measure should fail, the Government would of itself carry out the
assortment," to wit: "it will set apart the Jews who are not engaged in
productive labor, and will subject them, as burdensome to society, to
various restrictions." The threat fell flat, for it was rather too much
to expect that fully a half of the Jewish population, doomed by civil
disabilities and general economic conditions to a life of want and
distress, could obtain at a stroke the necessary "property status" or
"definite occupations."

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 64 et seq.]

Accordingly, on November 23, 1851, the Tzar gave his sanction to the
"Temporary Rules Concerning the Assortment of the Jews." All Jews were
divided into five categories: merchants, agriculturists, artisans,
settled burghers, and unsettled burghers. The first three categories
were to be made up of those who were enrolled among the corresponding
guilds and estates. "Settled burghers" were to be those engaged in
"burgher trade" [1] with business licenses, also the clergy and the
learned class. The remaining huge mass of the proletariat was placed in
the category of "unsettled burghers," who were liable to increased
military conscription and to harsher legal restrictions as compared with
the first four tolerated classes of Jews. This hapless proletariat,
either out of work or only occasionally at work, was to bear a double
measure of oppression and persecution, and was to be branded as despised

[Footnote 1: i.e., petty trade, as distinguished from the more
comprehensive business carried on by the merchants who were enrolled in
the mercantile guilds.]

By April 1, 1852, the Jews belonging to the four tolerated categories
were required to produce their certificates of enrolment before the
local authorities. Those who had failed to do so were to be entered in
the fifth category, the criminal class of "unsettled burghers." Within
the brief space allotted to them the Jews found themselves unable to
obtain the necessary documents, and, thanks to the representations of
the governors-general of the Western governments, the term was extended
till the autumn of 1852, but even then the "assortment" had not yet been
accomplished. The Government was fully prepared to launch a series of
Draconian laws against the "parasites," including police inspection and
compulsory labor. But while engaged in these charitable projects, the
law-givers were taken aback by the Crimean War, which, with its
disastrous consequences for Russia, diverted their attention from their
war against the Jews. Yet for a successive number of years the law
concerning the "assortment," or _razryaden_, as it was popularly styled
by the Jews, hung like the sword of Damocles over the heads of hundreds
of thousands of Jews, and the anxiety of the suffering masses was poured
out in sad popular ditties:

     _Ach, a tzore, a gzeire mit die razryaden!_ [1]

[Footnote 1: "Alas! What misfortune and persecution there is in the


As for the measures of compulsory assimilation long ago foreshadowed by
the Government, such as the substitution of the Russian or German style
of dress for the traditional Jewish attire, the long coats of the men,
they were without any effect on Jewish life, and merely resulted in
confusion and consternation. A curt imperial ukase issued on May 1,
1850, prohibited "all over (the Empire) the use of a distinct Jewish
form of dress, beginning with January 1, 1851," though the
governors-general were given the right of permitting aged Jews to wear
out their old garments on the payment of a definite tax. The prohibition
extended to the earlocks, or _peies_, of the men.

A year later, in April, 1851, the Government made a further step in
advance and proceeded to deal with the female attire. "His Imperial
Majesty was graciously pleased to command that Jewish women be forbidden
to shave their heads upon entering into marriage." [1] In October, 1852,
this ukase was supplemented by the regulation that a married Jewess
guilty of shaving her head was liable to a fine of five rubles ($2.50),
and the rabbi abetting the crime was to be prosecuted. Since neither the
Jews nor the Jewesses were willing to submit to imperial orders, the
former from habit, the latter from religious scruples, the provincial
authorities entered upon a regular warfare against these "rebels." Both
the governors-general and the governors subordinate to them displayed
extraordinary enthusiasm in this direction. The officials tracked
with utmost zeal not only the women culprits but also their accomplices
the rabbis who attended the wedding ceremony, even including the barbers
who were called in to shave the heads of the Jewish ladies. Jewish women
were examined at the police stations to find out whether they still wore
their own hair beneath their kerchiefs or wigs. Frequently the struggle
manifested itself in tragic-comic and even repulsive forms. In some
places the police adopted the practice of cutting the _peies_ or
shortening the long coats of the Jews by force.

[Footnote 1: In accordance with orthodox Jewish practice, married women
are not allowed to expose their own hair. Apart from the wearing of a
wig, or _Sheitel_, it was also customary for women to cut or shave their
hair before their wedding and cover their heads with a kerchief.]

The opposition to the authorities was particularly vigorous in the
Kingdom of Poland where the rank and file of Hasidim were ready to
suffer martyrdom for any Jewish custom, however obsolete. The fight was
drawn out for a long time and even reached into the following reign, but
the victory remained with the obstreperous masses. Though at a later
period, as the result of general cultural tendencies, the traditional
Jewish costume made way in certain sections of Jewry for the European
form of dress, it was not in obedience to police measures, but in spite
of them. Compulsory assimilation was as little successful now as had
been compulsory isolation in the Middle Ages. The medieval rulers had
imposed upon the Jews a distinct form of garment and a "yellow badge" to
keep them apart from the Christians. Nicholas I. employed forcible means
to make the Jews by their style of dress appear similar to the
Christians. The violence resorted to in both cases, though different in
form, sprang from the same motive.


There was yet one domain in which the squeezing and pressing power of
Tzardom could fully employ its destructive energy. We refer to military
conscription. This genuine creation of the imperial brain became more
and more intolerable, serving in Jewish life as a penal and correctional
agency, with its "capture" of old and young, its inquisitorial régime of
cantonists, its deportation for a quarter of a century and longer into
far-off regions. Even the Russian peasants were stricken with terror at
the thought of Nicholas' conscription, which in the reminiscences of the
portrayers of that period is pictured as life-long deportation, and they
frequently shirked military duty by fleeing from the land-owners and
hiding themselves in the woods. How much more terrible must then
conscription have been for the Jew, whose family was robbed both of a
young father and a tender son. No means was left unused to evade this
atrocious obligation. The reports of the governors refer to the
"immeasurable difficulties in carrying out the conscription among the

  Apart from innumerable cases of self-mutilation--to quote the words
  of one of these reports written in 1850--the disappearance, without
  exception, of all able-bodied Jews has become so general that in
  some communities, outside of those unfit for military service
  because of age or physical defects, not a single person can be found
  during conscription who might be drafted into the army. Some flee
  abroad, whilst others hide in adjacent governments.

Those in hiding were hunted down like wild beasts. Their life, as a
contemporary witness testifies, was worse than that of galley slaves,
for the slightest indiscretion brought ruin upon them. Many resorted to
self-mutilation to render themselves unfit for military service. They
chopped off their fingers or toes, damaged their eyesight, and
perpetrated every possible form of maiming to evade a military service
which was in effect penal servitude. "The most tender-hearted mother,"
to quote a contemporary, "would place the finger of her beloved son
under the kitchen knife of a home-bred quack surgeon."

This evasion resulted in immense shortages which pressed heavily upon
the Jewish communities, since the latter were held collectively
responsible for supplying the full quota of recruits. The reports about
the unsatisfactory conscription results among the Jews filled the
Government in St. Petersburg with rage. The persistent reluctance of
human beings to be parted almost for life from those near and dear to
them, or to see their little ones carried off to an early grave or to
the baptismal font, was regarded as a manifestation of criminal
self-will. Accordingly, the former measures of "cutting short" and
"curbing" this self-will were improved upon by new ones. In December,
1850, the Tzar gave orders that for every missing Jewish recruit in a
given community three men of the minimum age of twenty from the same
community and one more recruit for every two thousand rubles ($1000) of
tax arrears should be impressed into service. A year later the following
atrocious measures were issued for the purpose "of cutting short the
concealment of Jews from military service": the fugitives were to be
captured, flogged, and drafted into the army over and above the required
quota of recruits. The communities in which they were hidden were to be
fined. The relatives of a recruit who failed to present himself in
proper time were to be taken in his stead, even if these relatives
happened to be heads of families. The official representatives of the
communities were equally liable to being sent into the army if found
convicted of any inaccuracy in carrying out the conscription.

A reign of terror followed in the Jewish communities upon the
promulgation of these laws. The Kahal elders--it will be remembered that
they continued to exist after the abrogation of the Kahals, acting as
the fiscal agents of the Government [1]--now faced a terrible
alternative: to become, in the words of a contemporary, "either
murderers of martyrs," i.e., either to capture and send into the army
any youth or boy, without discrimination, or themselves to don the gray
uniform and be impressed into military services as "penal" recruits. In
consequence, a fiendish hunt after human beings was set afoot in the
Pale of Settlement. Adults were seized and, regardless of their being
the only mainstay of their families, were taken captive, and children of
eight were captured and presented to the recruiting authorities as being
of the obligatory age of twelve. But despite all this hunting, many
communities were not able to furnish their quota of soldiers, and the
number of "penal" recruits from among the Kahal elders was very

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 60.]

Weeping and moaning resounded in the neighborhood of the recruiting
stations in the Jewish towns where parents and relatives took leave from
their dear ones who were doomed to a perpetual barrack life. And yet the
fury of the Government was not satisfied. In 1853 new "temporary rules"
were issued, "by way of experiment," whereby not only communities but
also individuals among Jews were granted the right of offering as their
substitutes any fellow-Jew from another city than his own who was caught
without a passport. Any Jew who happened to absent himself from his
place of residence without a passport could be seized and drafted into
service as a substitute for a regular recruit due from the family of the
captor. The "captive," regardless of age, was made a soldier, and the
captor was given a receipt for one recruit.

A new ferocious hunt began. The official "captors" employed by the
Kahals were no longer the only ones to prowl after living prey. The
chase was now taken up by every private individual who wished to find a
substitute for a member of his family, or who simply wanted to turn a
penny by selling his recruiting receipt. Hordes of Jewish bandits sprang
up who infested the roads and the inns, and by trickery or force made
the travellers part with their passports and then dragged them to the
recruiting stations as "captives" to be sent into the army. Never before
had the Jewish masses, yielding to pressure from above, sunk to such
depths of degradation. The Jew became a beast of prey to his fellow-Jew.
Jews were afraid of budging an inch from their native cities. Every
passer-by was suspected of being a captor or a bandit. The recruiting
inquisition of Nicholas inflicted upon the Jews the utmost limit of
martyrdom. It set Jew against Jew, called forth "a war of all against
all," threw the tortured and the torturers into one heap, and sullied
the Jewish soul.

All this took place while the Crimean War was going on. The Russian
army, on the altar of which so many human sacrifices had been offered in
the course of thirty years, marched to save "the honor of Russia," in
truth, to save the old régime. Squadron upon squadron issued from the
inner recesses of Russia, and marched towards the battlefields of the
South, marched to the slaughter, into the mouths of the cannons of the
English and French, who knew how to conquer without penal conscriptions
and without inflicting tortures upon tender-aged cantonists. The
"gendarme of Europe," who, armed to his teeth, had contemptuously
threatened to "finish the enemy with his soldier caps," could not hold
out against the army of the "rotten West." Hundreds of thousands of
Russian soldiers fell beneath the walls of Sevastopol, upon the heights
of Inkerman. Thousands of Jewish soldiers were laid among them in
"brotherly graves." The Jews, enslaved by pre-reformatory Russia, died
for a fatherland which treated them as pariahs, which had bestowed upon
them a monstrous conscription, the unexampled institutions of
cantonists, penal recruits, and "captives." However, it soon became
clear that those who had fallen under the walls of Sevastopol had sealed
by their death not the honor but the dishonor of the old régime of blood
and iron. Beneath the rotting corpse of an obsolete statecraft, built
upon serfdom and maintained by soldiery and police, the germ of a new
and better Russia began to stir.


One more detail was lacking to complete the dismal picture and to bring
out the full symmetry between the end of Nicholas' reign and its ominous
beginning: a medieval ritual murder trial after the pattern of the
Velizh case. And a trial of this nature did not fail to come. In
December, 1852, and in January, 1853, two Russian boys from among the
lower classes disappeared in the city of Saratov, in central Russia.
Their bodies were found two or three months later in the Volga, covered
with wounds and bearing the traces of circumcision. The latter
circumstance led the coroners to believe that the crime had been
perpetrated by Jews. Saratov, a city situated outside the Pale of
Settlement, harbored at that time a small Jewish settlement consisting
of some forty soldiers of the local garrison and several civilian Jewish
tradesmen and artisans who lived in the prohibited Volga town by the
grace of the police. There were also a few converts.

The vigilant eyes of the coroners were riveted on this settlement. An
official by the name of Durnovo, who had been dispatched from St.
Petersburg to take charge of the case, began at once to direct the
inquiry into the channel of a ritual murder case. Needless to say there
were soon found material witnesses from among the ignorant or criminal
class who were under the hypnotic influence of the ritual murder myth. A
private, called Bogdanov, who had been convicted of vagrancy, and an
intoxicated gubernatorial official by the name of Krueger testified that
they were present at the time when the Jews squeezed out the blood from
the bodies of the murdered boys. They also mentioned by name the
principal perpetrators of the murder, the "circumcision expert" in the
local Jewish settlement, a soldier called Shlieferman, and a furrier
named Yankel Yushkevicher, a devout Jew. The incriminated Jews were
thrown into prison, but, despite excruciating cross-examinations, they
and the other defendants indignantly denied not only their complicity in
the murder but also the ritual murder accusation as a whole.

The investigation became more and more involved, drawing into its net a
constantly growing number of persons, until in July, 1854, a special
"Judicial Commission" was appointed by order of Nicholas I. for the
purpose of disclosing not only the particular crime committed at Saratov
but also "of investigating the dogmas of the religious fanaticism of the
Jews." The latter task, being of a theoretic nature, was entrusted, in
1855, to a special commission under the auspices of the Ministry of the
Interior. Among the theologians and Hebraists who were members of that
Commission was also the baptized professor Daniel Chwolson who had
scientifically disproved the ritual legend. In 1856, after a protracted
inquiry of two years, the judicial commission, having failed to discover
evidence against the accused, decided to set them at liberty, but "to
leave them under strong suspicion."

In the meantime, Alexander II. had ascended the throne of the Tzars, and
the dawn of Russian renascence began to disperse the nightmares of the
past era. Yet so deeply ingrained were the old prejudices in many
bureaucratic minds that when the conclusion reached by the judicial
commission was submitted to the Senate the votes were divided. The case
was transferred to the Council of State, and there the high dignitaries
managed to effect a compromise between their medieval prejudices and
their involuntary concessions to the spirit of the age. They refused to
enter into a discussion of "the still unsolved question as to the use of
Christian blood by the Jews," but they "unhesitatingly recognized the
existence of the crime itself," which had been perpetrated at
Saratov--this in spite of the fact that the only ground on which the
crime was ascribed to alleged fanatical practices and laid at the door
of the Jews were the traces of circumcision on the dead bodies. Ignoring
this inner contradiction and setting aside the weighty objections of the
liberal Minister of Justice Zamyatin, the Council of State brought in a
verdict of guilty against the impeached Jews, the soldier Shlieferman
and the two Yushkevichers, senior and junior, sentencing them to penal

The sentence was confirmed by Alexander II. in May, 1860. The
representatives of the St. Petersburg community, Baron Joseph Günzburg
and others, petitioned the Tzar to postpone the verdict until the
scholarly commission of experts should have rendered its decision with
regard to the compatibility of ritual murder with the teachings of
Judaism. But the president of the Council of State, Count Orlov,
presented the matter to the Tzar in a different light, asserting that
all that the Jews intended by their petition was "to keep off for an
indefinite period the decision on a case in which their coreligionists
are involved." He, therefore, insisted on the immediate execution of the
sentence, and the Tzar yielded.

After eight long years of incarceration, in the course of which two of
the impeached Jews committed suicide, the principal "perpetrators" were
found to be physical wrecks and no longer able to discharge their penal
servitude. The innocent sufferer, old Yushkevicher, languished in prison
for seven more years, and was finally liberated in 1867 by order of
Alexander II., who had been petitioned by Adolph Crémieux, the president
of the Alliance Israélite Universelle, to pardon the unhappy man. In
this way the heritage of the dark past protruded into the increasing
brightness of the new Russia, which in the beginning of the sixties was
passing through the era of "Great Reforms."




When after the Crimean War, which had exposed the rottenness of the old
order of things, a fresh current of air swept through the atmosphere of
Russia, and the liberation of the peasantry and other great reforms were
coming to fruition, the Jewish problem, too, was in line of being placed
in the forefront of these reforms. For, after having done away with the
institution of serfdom, the State was consistently bound to liberate its
three million of Jewish serfs who had been ruthlessly oppressed and
persecuted during the old régime.

Unfortunately the Jewish question, which was nothing more nor less than
the question of equal citizenship for the Jews, was not placed in the
line of the great reforms, but was pushed to the rear and solved
fragmentarily--on the instalment plan, as it were--and within narrowly
circumscribed limits. Like all the other officially inspired reforms of
that period, which proceeded up to a certain point and halted before the
prohibited zone of constitutional and political liberties, so, too, the
solution of the Jewish problem was not allowed to pass beyond the
border-line. For the crossing of that line would have rendered the whole
question null and void by the simple recognition of the equality of all
citizens. The regenerated Russia of Alexander II., stubborn in its
refusal of political freedom and civil equality, could only choose the
path of half-measures. Nevertheless, the transition from the
pre-reformatory order of things to the new state of affairs signified a
radical departure both in the life of Russia in general and in Jewish
life in particular. It did so not because the new conditions were
perfect, but because the old ones were so inexpressibly ugly and
unbearable, and the mere loosening of the chains of servitude was hailed
as a pledge of complete liberation.

Far more intense than in the political life of Russia was the crisis in
its social life. While a chilling wind was still blowing from the wintry
heights of Russian officialdom, while a grim censorship was still
holding down the flight of the printed word, the released social energy
was whirling and swirling in all classes of Russian society, sometimes
breaking the fetters of police restraint. The outbursts of young Russia
ran far ahead of the slow progress of the reforms inspired from above.
It blazed the path for political freedom which the West of Europe had
long traversed, and which was to prove in Russia tortuous and thorny.

The phase of Jewish life which claimed the first thought of Alexander
II.'s Government was the military conscription. Prior to the conclusion
of the Crimean War, the Committee on Jewish Affairs [1] called the
Tzar's attention to the necessity of modifying the method of Jewish
conscription, with its fiendish contrivances of seizing juvenile
cantonists and enlisting "penal" and "captive" recruits. Nevertheless
the removal of this crying evil was postponed for a year, until the
promulgation of the Coronation Manifesto [2] of August 26, 1856, when it
was granted as an act of grace.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 49.]

[Footnote 2: On the meaning of Manifesto see later, p. 246, n. 1.]

  Prompted by the desire--the Manifesto reads--of making it easier for
  the Jews to discharge their military duty and of averting the
  inconveniences attached thereto, we command as follows:

  1. Recruits from among the Jews are to be drafted in the same way as
  from among the other estates, primarily from among those unsettled
  and not engaged in productive labor. [1] Only in default of
  able-bodied men among these, the shortage is to be made up from
  among the category of Jews who by reason of their engaging in
  productive labor are recognized as useful.

  2. The drafting of recruits from among other estates and of those
  under age is to be repealed.

  3. In regard to the making up of the shortage of recruits, the
  general laws are to be applied, and the exaction of recruits from
  Jewish communities as a penalty for arrears is to be repealed.

  4. The temporary rules, enacted by way of experiment in 1853,
  granting Jewish communities and Jewish individuals the right of
  presenting as recruits in their own stead coreligionists seized
  without passports [2] are to be repealed.

[Footnote 1: See on these designations pp. 64 and 142.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 148 et seq.]

The abolition of juvenile conscription followed automatically upon the
annulment, by virtue of the same Coronation Manifesto, of the general
Russian institution of "cantonists" and "soldier children," who were now
ordered to be returned to their parents and relatives. Only in the case
of the Jews a rider was attached to the effect that those Jewish
children who had embraced Christianity during their term of military
service should not be allowed to go back to their parents and relatives,
if the latter remained in their old faith, and should be placed
exclusively in Christian families.

The Coronation Manifesto of 1856 marks the end of the recruiting
inquisition, which had lasted for nearly thirty years, adding a unique
page to the annals of Jewish martyrdom. In the matter of conscription,
at least, the Jews were, in a certain measure, granted equal rights. The
operation of the general statute concerning military service was
extended to them, with a few limitations which were the heritage of the
past. The old plan of the "assortment of the Jews" is reflected in the
clause of the Manifesto, providing for increased conscription from among
"those unsettled and not engaged in productive labor," i.e., of the mass
of the proletariat, as distinct from the more or less well-to-do
classes. Nor was the old historic crime made good: the Jewish cantonists
who had been forcibly converted to the Greek-Orthodox faith were not
allowed to return to their kindred. As heretofore, baptism remained a
_conditio sine qua non_ for the advancement of a Jewish soldier, and
only in 1861 was permission given to promote a Jewish private to the
rank of a sergeant for general merit, without special distinction on the
battlefield which had been formerly required. Beyond this rank no Jew
could hope to advance.


Following upon the removal of the "black stain" of conscription came the
question of lightening the "yoke of slavery," that heavy burden of
rightlessness which pressed so grievously upon the outcasts of the
Jewish Pale. Already in March, 1856, Count Kiselev, a semi-liberal
official and formerly the president of the "Jewish Committee" which had
been appointed in 1840 [1] and which was composed of the heads of the
various ministries, submitted a memorandum to Alexander II. in which he
took occasion to point out that "the attainment of the goal indicated in
the imperial ukase of 1840, that of bringing about the fusion of the
Jews with the general population, is hampered by various provisionally
enacted restrictions which, when taken in conjunction with the general
laws, contain contradictions and engender confusion."

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 49 et seq.]

The result was an imperial order, dated March 31, 1856, "to revise all
existing regulations affecting the Jews so as to bring them into harmony
with the general policy of fusing this people with the original
inhabitants, as far as the moral status of the Jews may render it
possible." The same ministers who had taken part in the labors of the
Jewish Committee were instructed to draft a plan looking to the
modification of the laws affecting the Jews and to submit their
suggestions to the Tzar.

In this way the inception of the new reign was marked by a
characteristic slogan: the fusion of the Jews with the Russian people,
to be promoted by alleviations in their legal status. The way leading to
this "fusion" was, in the judgment of Russian officialdom, blocked by
the historic unity of the Jewish nation, a unity which in governmental
phraseology was styled "Jewish separatism" and interpreted as the effect
of the inferior "moral status" of the Jews. At the same time it was
implied that Jews with better "morals," i.e., those who have shown a
leaning toward Russification, might be accorded special legal advantages
over their retrograde coreligionists.

From that moment the bureaucratic circles of St. Petersburg became
obsessed with the idea of picking out special groups from among the
Jewish population, distinguished by financial or educational
qualifications, for the purpose of bestowing upon them certain rights
and privileges. It was the old coin--Nicholas' idea of the "assortment"
of the Jews--with a new legend stamped upon it. Formerly it had been
intended to penalize the "useless" or "unsettled burghers" by
intensifying their rightlessness; now this plan gave way to the policy
of rewarding the "useful" elements by enlarging their rights or reducing
their rightlessness. The objectionable principle upon which this whole
system was founded, the division of a people into categories of
favorites and outcasts, remained in full force. There was only a
difference in degree: the threat of legal restrictions for the
disobedient was replaced by holding out promises of legal alleviations
for the obedient.

A small group of influential Jewish merchants in St. Petersburg, which
stood in close relations to the highest official spheres, the purveyor
and banker Baron Joseph Yozel Günzburg [1] and others, seized eagerly
upon this idea which bade fair to shower privileges upon the well-to-do
classes. In June, 1856, this group addressed a petition to Alexander
II., complaining about the disabilities which weighed so heavily upon
all Jews, "from the artisan to the first guild merchant, from the
private soldier to the Master of Arts, and forced them down to the level
of a degraded, suspected, untolerated tribe." At the same time they
assured the Tzar that, were the Government to give a certain amount of
encouragement to the Jews, the latter would gladly meet it half-way and
help in the realization of its policy to draw the Jews nearer to the
original inhabitants and turn them in the direction of productive labor.

[Footnote 1: Popularly known by his middle name as _Yozel_.]

  Were--the petitioners declare--the new generation which has been
  brought up in the spirit and under the control of the Government,
  were the higher mercantile class which for many years has diffused
  life, activity, and wealth in the land, were the conscientious
  artisans who earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, to receive
  from the Government, as a mark of distinction, larger rights than
  those who have done nothing to attest their well-meaningness,
  usefulness, and industry, then the whole Jewish people, seeing that
  these few favored ones are the object of the Government's
  righteousness and benevolence and models of what it desires the Jews
  to become, would joyfully hasten to attain the goal marked out by
  the Government. Our present petition, therefore, is to the effect
  that our gracious sovereign may bestow his kindness upon us, and, by
  distinguishing the grain from the chaff, may be pleased to accord a
  few moderate privileges to the most educated among us, to wit:

  1. "Equal rights with the other (Russian) subjects or with the
  Karaite Jews [1] to the educated and well-deserving Jews who possess
  the title of Honorary Citizens, to the merchants affiliated for a
  number of years with the first or second guild and distinguished by
  their business integrity, to the soldiers who have served
  irreproachably in the army."

  2. The right of residence outside the Pale of Settlement "to the
  best among the artisans" who possess laudatory certificates from the
  trade-unions. The privileges thus accorded to "the best among us"
  will help to realize the consummation of the Government "that the
  sharply marked traits which distinguish the Jews from the native
  Russians should be levelled, and that the Jews should in their way
  of thinking and acting become akin to the latter." Once placed
  outside their secluded "Pale," the Jews "will succeed in adopting
  from the genuine Russians the praise-worthy qualities, by which they
  are distinguished, and the striving for culture and useful endeavor
  will become universal."

[Footnote 1: On the emancipation of the Karaites see Vol. I, p. 318.]

The petition reflects the humiliating attitude of men who were standing
on the boundary line between slavery and freedom, whose cast of mind had
been formed under the régime of oppression and caprice. Pointing to the
example of the West where the bestowal of equal rights had contributed
to the success of Jewish assimilation, the St. Petersburg petitioners
were not even courageous enough to demand equal rights as the price of
assimilation, and professed, perhaps from diplomatic considerations, to
content themselves with miserable crumbs of rights and privileges for
"the best among us." They failed to realize the meanness of their
suggestion to divide a nation into best and worst, into those worthy of
a human existence and those unworthy of it.


After some wavering, the Government decided to adopt the method of
"picking" the best. The intention of the authorities was to apply the
gradual relaxation of Jewish rightlessness not to groups of
restrictions, but to groups of persons. The Government entered upon the
scheme of abolishing or alleviating certain restrictions not for the
whole Jewish population but merely for a few "useful" sections within
it. Three such sections were marked off from the rest: merchants of the
first guild, university graduates, and incorporated artisans.

The resuscitated "Committee for the Amelioration of the Jews" [1]
displayed an intense activity during that period (1856-1863). For fully
two years (1857-1859) the question of granting the right of permanent
residence in the interior governments to merchants of the first guild
occupied the attention of that Committee and of the Council of State.
The Committee had originally proposed to restrict this privilege by
imposing a series of exceedingly onerous conditions. Thus, the merchants
intending to settle in the Russian interior were to be required to have
belonged to the first guild within the Pale for ten years previously,
and they were to be allowed to leave the Pale only after securing in
each case a permit from the Ministers of the Interior and of Finance.
But the Council of State found that, circumscribed in this manner, the
privilege would benefit only a negligible fraction of the Jewish
merchant class--there were altogether one hundred and eight Jewish
first-guild merchants within the Pale--and, therefore, considered it
necessary to reduce the requirements for settling in the interior.

[Footnote 1: Compare above, p. 49.]

A long succession of meetings of this august body was taken up with the
perplexing problem how to attract big Jewish capital into the central
governments and at the same time safeguard the latter against the
excessive influx of Jews, who, for the sake of settling there, would
register in the first guild and, under the disguise of relatives, would
bring with them, as one of the members of the Council put it, "the whole
tribe of Israel." After protracted discussions, a resolution was adopted
which was in substance as follows:

  The Jewish merchants who have belonged to the first guild for not
  less than two years prior to the issuance of the present law shall
  be permitted to settle permanently in the interior governments,
  accompanied by their families and a limited number of servants and
  clerks. These merchants shall be entitled to live and trade on equal
  terms with the Russian merchants, with the proviso that, after the
  settlement, they shall continue their membership in the first guild
  as well as their payment of the appertaining membership dues for no
  less than ten years, failing which they shall be sent back into the
  Pale. Big Jewish merchants and bankers from abroad, "noted for their
  social position," shall be allowed to trade in Russia under a
  special permit to be secured in each case from the Ministers of the
  Interior and of Finance.

The resolution of the Council of State was sanctioned by the Tzar on
March 16, 1859, and thus became law.

In this manner the way was opened for big Jewish capital to enter the
two Russian capitals and the tabooed interior. The advent of the big
capitalists was followed by the influx of their less fortunate brethren,
who, driven by material want from the Pale, were forced to seek new
domiciles, and in the shape of first guild dues paid for many years a
heavy toll for their right of residence and commerce. The position of
these merchants offers numerous points of contact with the status of the
"tolerated" Jewish merchants in Vienna and Lower Austria prior to 1848.

Toleration having been granted to the Jews with a proper financial
status, the Government proceeded to extend the same treatment to persons
with educational qualifications. The latter class was the subject of
protracted debates in the Jewish Committee as well as in the Ministries
and in the Council of State. As early as in 1857 the Minister of Public
Instruction Norov had submitted a memorandum to the Jewish Committee in
which he argued that "religious fanaticism and prejudice among the Jews"
could only be exterminated by inducing the Jewish youth to enter the
general educational establishments, "which end can only be obtained by
enlarging their civil rights and by offering them material advantages."
Accordingly, Norov suggested that the right of residence in the whole
Russian Empire should be granted to the graduates of the higher and
secondary educational institutions. [1] Those Jews who should have
failed to attend school were to be restricted in their right of entering
the mercantile guilds. The Jewish Committee refused to limit the rights
of those who did not attend the general schools, and proposed, instead,
as a bait for the Jews who shunned secular education, to confer special
privileges in the discharge of military service upon those Jews who had
attended the _gymnazia_ [2] or even the Russian district schools, [3] or
the Jewish Crown schools, [4] more exactly, to grant them the right of
buying themselves off from conscription by the payment of one hundred to
two hundred rubles (1859). But the Military Department vetoed this
proposal on the ground that education would thus bestow privileges upon
Jews which were denied even to Christians. The suggestion, relating to
military privileges was therefore abandoned, and the promotion of
education among Jews reduced itself to an extension of the right of

[Footnote 1: The latter category comprises primarily the _gymnazia_ (see
next note) in which the classic languages are taught, and the so-called
_real gymnazia_ in which emphasis is laid on science. The higher
educational institutions, or the institutions of higher learning, are
the universities and the professional schools, on which see next page,
n. 4.]

[Footnote 2: The name applies on the European continent to secondary
schools. A Russian _gymnazia_ (and similarly a German _gymnazium_) has
an eight years' course. Its curriculum corresponds roughly to a combined
high school and college course in America.]

[Footnote 3: _i.e._, schools found in the capitals of districts (or
counties), preparatory to the _gymnazia._]

[Footnote 4: See above, p.58 and below, p.174.]

In this connection the Jewish Committee warmly debated the question as
to whether the right of residence outside the Pale should be accorded to
graduates of the higher and secondary educational institutions, or only
to those of the higher. The Ministers of the Interior and Public
Instruction (Lanskoy and Kovalevski) advocated the former more liberal
interpretation. But the majority of the Committee members, acting "in
the interests of a graduated emancipation," rejected the idea of
bestowing the universal right of residence upon the graduates of
_gymnazia_, and _lyceums_ and even upon those of universities and other
institutions of higher learning, [1] with the exception of those who had
received a learned degree, Doctor, Magister, or Candidate. [2] The
Committee was willing, on the other hand, to permit the possessors of a
learned degree not only to settle in the interior but also to enter the
civil service. The Jewish university graduate was thus expected to
submit a scholarly paper or even a doctor dissertation for two purposes,
for procuring the right of residence in some Siberian locality and for
the right of serving the State. Particular "circumspection" was
recommended by the Committee with reference to Jewish medical men: a
Jewish physician, without the degree of M.D., was not to be permitted to
pass beyond the Pale.

[Footnote 1: Such as technological, veterinary, dental, and other
professional schools, which are independent of the universities.]

[Footnote 2: _Magister_ in Russia corresponds roughly to the same title
in England and America. It is inferior to the doctor degree and precedes
it. _Candidate_ is a title, now mostly abolished, given to the best
university students who have completed their course and have presented a
scholarly paper, without having passed the full examination.]

In this shape the question was submitted to the Council of State in
1861. Here opinions were evenly divided. Twenty members advocated the
necessity of "bestowing" the right of residence not only on graduates of
universities but also of _gymnazia_, advancing the argument that even in
the case of a Jewish _gymnazist_ [1] "it is in all likelihood to be
presumed that the gross superstitions and prejudices which hinder the
association of the Jews with the original population of the Empire will
be, if not entirely eradicated, at least considerably weakened, and a
further sojourn among Christians will contribute toward the ultimate
extermination of these sinister prejudices which stand in the way of
every moral improvement."

[Footnote 1: _i.e._, the pupil of a _gymnazium_.]

Such was the opinion of the "liberal" half of the Council of State. The
conservative half argued differently. Only those Jews deserve the right
of residence who have received "an education such as may serve as a
pledge of their having renounced the errors of fanaticism. "The wise
measures adopted" as a precaution against the influx of Jews into the
interior governments" would lose their efficacy, "were permission to
settle all over Russia to be granted suddenly to all Jews who have for a
short term attended a _gymnazium_ in the Western and South-western
region, for no other purpose, to be sure, than that of pursuing on a
larger scale their illicit trades and other harmful occupations." Hence
only Jews with a "reliable education," i.e., the graduates of higher
educational institutions, who have obtained a learned degree, should be
permitted to pass the boundary of the Pale.

Alexander II. endorsed the opinion of the conservative members of the
Council of State. The law, promulgated on November 37, 1861, reads as

  Jews possessing certificates of the learned degree of Doctor of
  Medicine and Surgery, or Doctor of Medicine, and likewise of Doctor,
  Magister, or Candidate of other university faculties, are admitted
  to serve In all Government offices, without their being confined to
  the Pale established for the residence of Jews. They are also
  permitted to settle permanently in all the provinces of the Empire
  for the pursuit of commerce and Industry.

In addition, the law specifies that, apart from the members of their
families, these Jews shall be permitted to keep, as a maximum, "two
domestic servants from among their coreligionists."

The promulgation of this law brought about a curious state of affairs,
the upshot of the genuinely Russian homoeopathic system of emancipation,
A handful of Jews who had obtained learned degrees from universities
were permitted not only to reside in the interior of t e Empire, but
were also admitted here and there to Government service, in the capacity
of civil and military physicians. Yet both of these rights were denied
to all other persons with the same university education, "Physicians and
Active Students," [1] who had not obtained learned degrees. On one
occasion the Minister of Public Instruction put before the Council of
State the following legal puzzle: A Jewish student, while attending the
university of the Russian capital, enjoys the right of residence there.
But when he has successfully finished his course and has obtained the
customary certificate, without the learned degree, he forfeits this
right and must return to the Pale.

[Footnote 1: Both titles are given at the conclusion of the prescribed
university course; the former to medical students, the latter to
students of other faculties.]

Yet the Government in its stubbornness refused to make concessions, and
when it was forced to make them, it did so rather in its own interest
than in that of the Jews. Owing to the scarcity of medical help in the
army and in the interior, ukases issued in 1865 and 1867 declared Jewish
physicians, even without the title of Doctor of Medicine, to be
admissible to the medical corps and later on to civil service in all
places of the Empire, except the capitals St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Nevertheless, the extension of the plain right of domicile, without
admission to civil service, remained for a long time dependent on a
learned degree. It was only after two decades of hesitation that the law
of January 19, 1879, conferred the right of universal residence on _all_
categories of persons with a higher education, regardless of the nature
of the diploma, and also including pharmacists, dentists,
_feldshers_, [1] and midwives.

[Footnote 1: From the German _Feldscherer_, a sort of combination of
leech, first-aid, and barber, who frequently gave medical advice.]

The privileges bestowed upon the big merchants and "titled"
intellectuals affected but a few small groups of the Jewish population.
The authorities now turned their attention to the mass of the people,
and, in accordance with its rules of political homoeopathy, commenced to
pick from it a handful of persons for better treatment. The question of
admitting Jewish artisans into the Russian interior occupied the
Government for a long time. In 1856 Lanskoy, the Minister of the
Interior, entered into an official correspondence concerning this matter
with the governors-general and governors of the Western provinces. Most
of the replies were favorable to the idea of conferring upon Jewish
artisans the right of universal residence. Of the three governors-general
whose opinion had been invited the governor-general of Vilna was the
only one who thought that the present situation needed no change. His
colleague of Kiev, Count Vasilchikov, was, on the contrary, of the
opinion that it would be a rational measure to transfer the surplus of
Jewish artisans who were cooped up within the Pale and had been
pauperized by excessive competition to the interior governments where
there was a scarcity of skilled labor. [1]

[Footnote 1: The official statistics of that time (about the year 1860)
brought out the fact that the number of Jews in the fifteen governments
of the Pale of Settlement, exclusive of the Kingdom of Poland, but
Inclusive of the Baltic region, amounted to 1,430,800, forming 8% of the
total population of that territory. The number of artisans in the
"Jewish" governments was far greater than in the Russian interior. Thus
in the government of Kiev there were to be found 2.06 artisans to every
thousand inhabitants, against 0.8 in the near-by government of Kursk,
i.e., 2% times more. In reality, the number of Jews in the Western
region, without the Kingdom of Poland, exceeded considerably 1 and
one-half millions, there being no regular registration at that time.]

A surprisingly liberal pronouncement came from, the governor-general of
New Russia, Count Stroganov. In the world of Russian officialdom
professing the dogma of "gradation" and "caution" in the question of
Jewish rights he was the only one who had the courage to raise his voice
on behalf of complete Jewish emancipation. He wrote:

  The existence in our times of restrictions in the rights of the Jews
  as compared with the Christian population in any shape or form is
  neither in accord with the spirit and tendency of the age nor with
  the policy of the Government looking towards the amalgamation of the
  Jews with the original population of the Empire.

The count therefore concluded that it was necessary "to permit the Jews
to live in all the places of the Empire and engage without any
restrictions and on equal terms with all Russian subjects in such crafts
and industries as they themselves may choose, in accordance with their
habits and abilities." It is scarcely necessary to add that the bold
voice of the Russian dignitary, who in a lucid interval spoke up in a
manner reminiscent of the civilized West, was not listened to by the
bureaucrats of St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, as far as the specific
question of Jewish artisans was concerned, the favorable replies were
bound to have a decisive effect.

However, red-tape sluggishness managed to retard the decision for
several years. In 1863 the question was referred back to the Jewish
Committee, only a short time before the dissolution of that body, which
for a quarter of a century had perpetrated every conceivable experiment
over the "amelioration of the Jews." Thence the matter was transferred
to the Committee of Ministers and finally to the Council of State.

In the ministerial body, Valuyev, Minister of the Interior, favored the
idea of granting the right of settling outside the Pale to Jewish
artisans and mechanics, dependent on certain conditions, "by practising
caution and endeavoring to avert the rapid influx into the midst of the
population of the interior governments of an element hitherto foreign to
it." In reply to Baron Korff, who had advocated the admission of the
Jewish artisans beyond the Pale not only with their families but also
with Jewish domestics, Valuyev argued that this privilege "will enable
Jewish business men of all kinds to reside in the interior governments,
under the guise of employes of their coreligionists." "The Jews,"
according to Valuyev, "will endeavor to transfer their activity to a
field economically more favorable to them, and it goes without saying
that they will not fail to seize the first best opportunity of
exploiting the places of the Empire hitherto inaccessible to them." The
Council of State passed the law in the formulation of the Ministry of
the Interior, adding the necessary precautions against the entirely
legitimate endeavor of Jewish business men "to transfer their activity
to a field economically more favorable to them."

After nine years of preparation, on June 28, 1865, Alexander II. finally
gave his sanction to the law permitting Jewish artisans, mechanics and
distillers, including apprentices, to reside all over the Empire. Both
in the wording of the law and in its subsequent application the
privilege was hedged about by numerous safeguards. Thus, the artisan who
wished to settle outside the Pale had to produce not only a certificate
from his trade-union testifying to his professional ability but also a
testimony from the police that he was not under trial. At stated
intervals he had to procure a passport from his native town in the Pale,
since outside the Pale his status was that of a temporary resident. In
his new place of residence he was permitted to deal only in the wares of
his own workmanship. If he happened to be out of work, he was to be sent
back to the Pale.

While opening a valve in the suffocating Pale, the Government took good
care to prevent the artificially pent-up Jewish energy from rushing
through it. However, heaving cooped up for so long, the Jews began to
press through the opening. In the wake of the artisans, who, on account
of the indicated restrictions of the law or because of the lack of
travelling expenses, emigrated in comparatively small numbers, followed
the commercial proletariat, using the criminal disguise of artisans, in
order to transfer their energies to a "field economically more favorable
to them." The position of these people was tragic. The fictitious
artisans became the tributaries of the local police, depending entirely
on its favor or disfavor. The detection of such "criminals" outside the
Pale was followed by their expulsion and the confiscation of their

As a matter of fact, the Russian Government did everything in its power
to stem the influx of Jews into the interior. Only with the greatest
reluctance did it widen the range of the "privileged" Jewish groups. The
Tzar himself, held in the throes of the old Muscovite tradition,
frequently put his veto upon the proposals to enlarge the area of Jewish
residence. A striking illustration of this attitude may be found in the
case of the retired Jewish soldiers, who, after discharging their
galley-like army service of a quarter of a century, were expelled from
the places where they had been stationed and sent back into the Pale. To
the report submitted in 1858 by the Jewish Committee, pointing out the
necessity of granting the right of universal residence to these
soldiers, the Tzar attached the resolution: "I decidedly refuse to grant
it." When petitions to the same effect became more insistent, all he did
was to permit in 1860, "by way of exemption," a group of retired
soldiers who had served in St. Petersburg in the body-guard to remain in
the capital. Ultimately, however, he was obliged to yield, and in 1867
he revoked the law prohibiting retired Jewish soldiers to live outside
the Pale. Thus after long wavering the right of domicile was finally
bestowed upon the so-called "Nicholas soldiers" and their offspring--a
rather niggardly reward for having served the fatherland under the
terrible hardships of the old form of conscription.


Nevertheless, the liberal spirit of the age did its work slowly but
surely, and partial legal alleviations were granted by the Government or
wrested from it by the force of circumstances. The barriers which had
been erected for the Jews within the Pale itself were done away with.
Thus the right of residence was extended to the cities of Nicholayev and
Sevastopol, which, though geographically situated within the Pale, had
been legally placed outside of it. The obstructions in the way of
temporary visits to the holy city of Kiev were mitigated. The
disgraceful old-time privilege of several cities, such as Zhitomir and
Vilna, entitling them to exclude the Jews from certain streets, [1] was
revoked. Moreover, by the law of 1862, the Jews were permitted to
acquire land in the rural districts on those manorial estates in which
after the liberation of the peasants the binding relation of the
peasants to the landed proprietors had been completely discontinued.
Unfortunately, what the Jews thus gained through the liberation of the
peasants, they lost to a large extent soon afterwards through the Polish
insurrection of 1863, forfeiting the right of acquiring immovable
property outside the cities in the greater part of the Pale. For in
1864, after quelling the Polish insurrection, the Government undertook
to Russify the Western region, and both Poles and Jews were strictly
barred from acquiring estates in the nine governments forming the
jurisdiction of the governors-general of Vilna and Kiev.

[Footnote 1: On the medieval privilege _de non tolerandis Judaeis_ see
Vol. I, pp. 85 and 95.]

The two other great reforms, that of rural self-government and the
judiciary, were not stained by the ignominious label _kromye Yevreyev_,
"excepting the Jews," so characteristic of Russian legislation. The
"Statute concerning Zemstvo Organizations," [1] issued in 1864, makes no
exceptions for Jews, and those among them with the necessary agrarian or
commercial qualifications are granted the right of active and passive
suffrage within the scheme of provincial self-government. In fact, in
the Southern governments the Jews began soon afterwards to participate
in the rural assemblies, and were occasionally appointed to rural
offices. Nor did the liberally conceived Judicial Regulations of 1864
[2] contain any important discriminations against Jews. Within a short
time Jewish lawyers attained to prominence as members of the Russian
bar, although their admission to the bench was limited to a few isolated

[Footnote 1: A system of local self-government carried on by means of
elective assemblies and its executive organs. There is an assembly for
each district (or county) and another for each government.]

[Footnote 2: Among other reforms they instituted the Russian bar as a
separate organization.]

Little by little, another dismal spectre of the past, the missionary
activity of the Government, began to fade away. In the beginning of
Alexander's reign, the conversion of Jews was still encouraged by the
grant of monetary assistance to converts. The law of 1859 extended these
stipends to persons embracing any other Christian persuasion outside of
Greek Orthodoxy. But in 1864 the Government came to the conclusion that
it was not worth its while to reward deserters and began a new policy by
discontinuing its allowances to converts serving in the army. A little
later it repealed the law providing for a mitigation of sentence for
criminal offenders who embrace Christianity during the inquiry or trial.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 45.]

In encouraging "the fusion of the Jews with the original population,"
the Government of Alexander II. had in mind civil and cultural fusion
rather than religious assimilation, which even the inquisitorial
contrivances of Nicholas' conscription scheme had failed to accomplish.
But as far as the cultural fusion or, for short, the Russification of
the Jews was concerned, the Government even now occasionally indulged in
practices which were borrowed from the antiquated system of enlightened

The official enlightenment, which had been introduced during the
forties, was slow in taking root. The year 1848 was the first scholastic
year in the two enlightenment nurseries, the rabbinical schools of Vilna
and Zhitomir. Beginning with that year a number of elementary Crown
schools for Jewish children were opened in various cities of the Pale.
The cruel persecutions of the outgoing regime affected the development
of the schools in a twofold manner. On the one hand, the Jewish
population could not help turning away with disgust from the gift of
enlightenment which its persecutors held out to it. On the other hand,
the horrors of conscription induced many a Jewish youth, to seek refuge
in the new rabbinical schools which saved their inmates from the
soldier's uniform. Many a parent who regarded both the barracks and the
Crown schools as training grounds for converts preferred to send his
children to the latter, where, at least, they were spared the martyrdom
of the barracks. The pupils of the rabbinical schools came from the
poorest classes, those that carried on their shoulders the whole weight
of conscription. True, the distrustful attitude towards the official
schools was gradually weakening as the new Government of Alexander II.
was passing from the former policy of oppression to that of reforms. By
and by, the compulsory attendance at these schools became a voluntary
one, prompted by the desire for general culture or for a special
training as rabbi or teacher. Nevertheless the expectation of the
Russian Government under Nicholas I. that the new schools would take the
place of the time-honored educational Jewish institutions, the heder and
yeshibah, remained unfulfilled. Only an insignificant percentage of
Jewish children went to the Crown schools, and even these children did
so only after having received their training at the heder or yeshibah.

Realizing this, the Government decided to combat the traditional school
as the rival of the new. Immediately upon his accession to the throne,
Alexander confirmed the following resolution adopted by the Jewish
Committee on May 3, 1855: "After the lapse of twenty years no one shall
be appointed rabbi or teacher of Jewish subjects, except graduates of
the rabbinical schools [1] or of the general educational establishments
of a higher or secondary grade."

[Footnote 1: i.e., the Government training schools for rabbis provided
by the ukase of 1844. See the preceding page.]

Having fixed a term of twenty years for abolishing the institution of
melammeds and religious leaders, the product of thousands of years of
development, the Government frequently brandished this Damocles sword
over their heads. In 1856 a strict supervision was established over
heders and melammeds. A year later the Jewish communities were
instructed to elect henceforward as "official rabbis" [1] only graduates
of the rabbinical Crown schools or of secular educational
establishments, and, in default of such, to invite educated Jews from
Germany. But all these regulations proved of no avail, and in 1859 a new
ukase became necessary, which loosened the official grip over the
heders, but made it at the same time obligatory upon the children of
Jewish merchants to attend the general Russian schools or the Jewish
Crown schools.

[Footnote 1: Crown (In Russian _kazyonny_) rabbis in Russia are those
that discharge the civil functions connected with their office, in
distinction from the "spiritual" or ecclesiastic rabbis who are in
charge of the purely religious affairs of the community. This division
has survived in Russia until to-day.]

The enforcement of school attendance would scarcely have produced the
desired effect--the orthodox managed somehow to give the slip to
"Russian learning"--were it not for the fact that under the influence of
the inner cultural transformation of Russian Jewry the general Russian
school became during that period more and more popular among the
advanced classes of the Jewish population, and gymnazium and university
took their place alongside of heder and yeshibah. Yet the hundreds of
pupils in the new schools faded into insignificance when compared with
the hundreds of thousands who were educated exclusively in the old
schools. The fatal year 1875, the last of the twenty years of respite
granted to the melammeds for their self-annihilation, arrived. But the
huge melammed army was not willing to pass out of Jewish life, in which
they exercised a definite function, with no substitute to take its
place. The Government was forced to yield. After several brief
postponements the melammeds were left in peace, and by an ukase issued
in 1879 the idea of abolishing the heders was dropped.

Towards the end of this period the Government abandoned altogether its
attempts to reform the Jewish schools, and decided to liquidate its
former activity in this direction. By an ukase issued in 1873 the two
rabbinical schools and all Jewish Crown schools were closed. On the
ruins of the vast educational network, originally projected for the
transformation of Judaism, only about a hundred "elementary schools" and
two modest "Teachers Institutes," [1] which were to supply teachers for
these schools, were established by the Government. The authorities were
now inclined to look upon the general Russian schools as the most
effective agencies of "fusion," and put their greatest trust in the
elemental process of Russification which had begun to sweep over the
upper layers of Jewry.

[Footnote 1: In Vilna and Zhitomir. The latter was closed in 1885. The
former is still in existence.]


While the official world of St. Petersburg was obsessed with the idea of
the Russification of Jewry, in Warsaw the tendency of Polonization, as
applied to the Jews of the Western region, cropped up in the wake of the
revolutionary Polish movement in the beginning of the sixties. At the
inception of Alexander's reign the Russian Government set out to
equalize the legal status of the Jews in the Kingdom of Poland with that
of the Empire, and to abolish the surviving special restrictions, such
as the prohibition of residing in certain towns, or in certain parts of
towns, disabilities in acquiring property, and others. But the highest
Polish administration in Warsaw was obstructing in every possible way
the liberal attempts of the Russian Government. Prior to the
insurrection of 1863, the attitude of Polish society towards the Jews
was one of habitual animosity, and this notwithstanding the fact that by
that time Warsaw harbored already a group of Jewish intellectuals who
were eager to assimilate with the Poles and were imbued with Polish
patriotism. When, in 1859, the _Warsaw Gazette_ published an
anti-Semitic article in which the Jews were branded as foreigners, the
Polish-Jewish patriots, including the banker Kronenberg, a convert, were
stung to the quick, and they came forward with violent protests. This
led to passionate debates in the Polish press, generally unfriendly to
the Jews. The radical Polish organs, published abroad by political
exiles, took occasion to denounce bitterly the anti-Semitic trend of
Polish society. The veteran historian Lelevel, who had not yet forgotten
Poland's historic injustice of 1831, [1] issued a pamphlet in Brussels,
calling upon the Poles to live in harmony with the race with which it
had existed side by side for eight hundred years.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 105.]

Lelevel's kindly words would scarcely have brought the anti-Semites to
reason, had not the Poles at that moment embarked upon an enterprise for
the success of which they sorely needed the sympathy and co-operation of
their Jewish neighbors. The revolutionary movement which engulfed
Russian Poland in 1860-1863 required the utmost exertion of effort on
the part of the entire population, in which the half-million Jews played
no small part. All of a sudden Polish society opened its arms to those
whom it had but recently branded as foreigners, and out of the ranks of
Warsaw Jewry came a hearty response, expressing itself not only in
patriotic manifestations but also in sacrifices and achievements for the
sake of the common fatherland.

At the head of the Warsaw community during this stormy period stood a
man who combined Polish patriotism with rabbinic orthodoxy. Formerly
rabbi in Cracow, Berush [1] Meisels had as far back as 1848 been sent as
deputy to the parliament at Kremsier, [2] and stood in the forefront of
the Polish patriots of Galicia. In 1856 he accepted the post of rabbi in
Warsaw. When the revolutionary movement had broken out, Meisels
endeavored to instruct his flock in the spirit of Polish patriotism.
Revered by the Jewish masses for his piety, and by the intellectuals for
his political trend of mind, this spiritual leader of Polish Jewry
played in the revolutionary Polish movement a role equal in importance
to that of the leading ecclesiastics of Poland. The harmonious
co-operation of the orthodox Chief Rabbi Meisels, the reform preacher
Marcus Jastrow, [3] and the lay representatives of the community lent
unity and organization to the part played by the Jews in preparing the

[Footnote 1: A variant of the name _Baer_.]

[Footnote 2: A town in Moravia, where, after the rising of 1848, the
Austrian parliament met provisionally till March, 1849.]

[Footnote 3: After the suppression of the Polish insurrection, Jastrow
went to the United States, and became a leading rabbi in Philadelphia.
He died in 1903.]

The Jews of Warsaw participated in all street manifestations and
political processions which took place during the year 1860-1861. Among
those pierced by Cossack bullets during the manifestation of February
27, 1861, were several Jews. The indignation which this shooting down of
defenceless people aroused in Warsaw is generally regarded as the
immediate cause of the mutiny. Rabbi Meisels was a member of the
deputation which went to Viceroy Gorchakov to demand satisfaction for
the blood that had been spilled. In the demonstrative funeral procession
which followed the coffins of the victims the Jewish clergy, headed by
Meisels, marched alongside of the Catholic priesthood. Many Jews
attended the memorial services in the Catholic churches at which fiery
patriotic speeches were delivered. Similar demonstrations of mourning
were held in the synagogues. An appeal sent out broadcast by the circle
of patriotic Jewish Poles reminded the Jews of the anti-Jewish hatred of
the Russian bureaucracy, and called upon them "to clasp joyfully the
brotherly hand held forth by them (the Poles), to place themselves under
the banner of the nation whose ministers of religion have in all
churches spoken of us in words of love and brotherhood."

The whole year 1861 stood, at least as far as the Polish capital was
concerned, under the sign of Polish-Jewish "brotherhood." At the
synagogue service held in memory of the historian Lelevel Jastrow
preached a patriotic sermon. On the day of the Jewish New Year prayers
were offered up in the synagogues for the success of the Polish cause,
accompanied by the singing of the national Polish hymn _Boze cos
Polske_. [1] When, as a protest against the invasion of the churches by
the Russian soldiery, the Catholic clergy closed all churches in Warsaw,
the rabbis and communal elders followed suit, and ordered the closing of
the synagogues. This action aroused the ire of Lieders, the new viceroy.
Rabbi Meisels, the preachers Jastrow and Kramshtyk as well as the
president of the "Congregational Board" were placed under arrest. The
prisoners were kept in the citadel of Warsaw for three months, but were
then released.

[Footnote 1: Pronounce, _Bozhe, tzosh Polske_, "O Lord, Thou that hast
for so many ages guarded Poland with the shining shield of Thy
protection!"--the first words of the hymn.]

In the meantime Marquis Vyelepolski, acting as mediator between the
Russian Government and the Polish people, had prepared his plan of
reforms as a means of warding off the mutiny. Among these reforms, which
aimed at the partial restoration of Polish autonomy and the improvement
of the status of the peasantry, was included a law providing for the
"legal equality of the Jews." Wielding considerable influence, first as
director of the Polish Commission of Ecclesiastical Affairs and Public
Instruction, and later as the head of the whole civil administration of
the Kingdom, Vyelepolski was able to secure St. Petersburg's assent to
his project. On May 24, 1862, Alexander II. signed an ukase revoking the
suspensory decree of 180 1808, [1] which had entailed numerous disabilities
for the Jews incompatible with the new tendencies in the political and
agrarian life of the Kingdom. This ukase conferred the following rights
upon the Jews:

[Footnote 1: See Vol. I, p. 299.]

  1. To acquire immovable property on all manorial estates on which
  the peasants had passed from the state of serfs into that of

  2. To settle freely in the formerly prohibited cities and city
  districts, [1] not excluding those situated within the twenty-one
  verst zone along the Prussian and Austrian frontier. [2]

  3. To appear as witnesses in court on an equal footing with
  Christians in all legal proceedings and to take an oath in a new,
  less humiliating form.

[Footnote 1: See above, pp. 172 and 178.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 95.]

Bestowing these privileges upon the Polish Jews in the hope of bringing
about their amalgamation with the local Christian population, the Tzar
forbids in the same ukase the further use of Hebrew and Yiddish in all
civil affairs and legal documents, such as contracts, wills,
obligations, also in commercial ledgers and even in business
correspondence. In conclusion, the ukase directs the Administrative
Council of the Kingdom of Poland to revise and eventually to repeal all
the other laws which hamper the Jews in their pursuit of crafts and
industries by imposing special taxes upon them.

This ukase of Alexander II., though revoking only part of the insulting
restrictions in the elementary civil rights of the Jews, was given the
high-sounding title of an "Act of Emancipation." The secluded hasidic
mass of Poland was glad to accept the legal alleviations offered to it,
without thinking of any linguistic or other kind of assimilation. On the
other hand, the assimilated Jewish _intelligentzia_, which had joined
the ranks of the Polish insurgents, was dreaming of complete
emancipation, and confidently hoped to attain it upon the successful
termination of the revolutionary enterprise.

In the meantime the revolution was assuming ever larger proportions. The
year 1863 arrived. The demonstrations on the streets of Warsaw were
succeeded by bloody skirmishes between the Polish insurgents and the
Russian troops in the woods of Poland and Lithuania. The Jews took no
active part in this phase of the rebellion. As far as Poland proper was
concerned, their participation was limited to the secret revolutionary
propaganda. In Lithuania again neither the Jewish masses nor the newly
arisen class of intellectuals sympathized with the Polish cause. In that
part of the country the systematic Jew-baiting of the Polish pans, or
noble landowners, was still fresh in the minds, and the Jews, moreover,
were pinning all their faith to the emancipation to be bestowed by St.
Petersburg. The will o' the wisp of Russification had already begun to
lure the Jewish professional class. In many Lithuanian localities the
Jews who failed to show their sympathy with the Polish revolutionaries
ran the risk of being dealt with severely. Here and there, as had been
the case in 1831, the rebels were as good as their word, and hanged or
shot the Jews suspected of pro-Russian sympathies.

The reserved attitude of the Lithuanian Jews throughout the mutiny
proved their salvation after the suppression of the rebellion, when the
ferocious Muravyov, the governor-general of Vilna, took up his bloody
work of retribution. As for the Kingdom of Poland, neither the
revolution nor its suppression entailed any serious consequences for
them. True, the fraternization of the Warsaw Jews with the Poles during
the revolutionary years weakened for a little while the hereditary
Jew-hatred of the Polish people, and helped to intensify the fever of
Polonization which had seized the Jewish upper classes. But indirectly
the effects of the Polish rebellion were detrimental to the Jews of the
rest of the Empire. The insurrection was not only followed by a general
wave of political reaction, but it also gave strong impetus to the
policy of Russification which was now applied with particular vigor to
the Western provinces, and was damaging to the Jews both from the civil
and the cultural point of view.




The decided drift toward political reaction in the second part of
Alexander's reign affected also the specific Jewish problem, which the
homoeopathic reforms, designed to "ameliorate" a fraction of the Jewish
people, had tried to solve in vain. The general reaction showed itself
in the fact that, after having carried out the first great reforms, such
as the liberation of the peasantry, the introduction of rural
self-government and the reorganization of the administration of the law,
the Government considered the task of Russian regeneration to be
completed, and stubbornly refused, to use the expression current at the
time, "to crown the edifice" by the one great political reform, the
grant of a constitution and political liberty. This refusal widened the
breach between the Government and the progressive element of the Russian
people, whose hopes were riveted on the ultimate goal of political
reorganization. The striving for liberty, driven under ground by police
and censorship, assumed among the Russian youth the character of a
revolutionary movement. And when the murderous hand of the "Third
Section" [1] descended heavily upon the champions of liberty, the
youthful revolutionaries retorted with political terrorism which
darkened the last days of Alexander II. and led to his assassination.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 21, n. 1.]

The complete emancipation of the Jews was out of place in this
atmosphere of growing official reaction. The same bureaucracy which
halted the march of the "great reforms" for the country at large was not
inclined to allow even minor reforms when affecting the Jews only. Even
the former desire for a "graded" and partial amelioration of the
position of the Jews had vanished. Instead, the center of the stage was
again occupied by the old red-tape activities, by discussions about the
Jewish question--endless no less than fruitless--in the recesses of
bureaucratic committees and sub-committees, by oracular animadversions
of governors and governors-general upon the conduct of the Jews, and so
on. Theory-mongering of the reactionary variety was again at a premium.
Once more the authorities debated the question whether the Jews were to
be regarded as useful or harmful to the State, instead of putting the
diametrically opposite question of simple justice: whether the State
which is called upon to serve the Jews as part of the civic organism of
Russia is useful to them to an extent which may be lawfully claimed by

Under Nicholas I. the Government chancelleries had been busy inventing
new remedies against the "separatism" of the Jews and their "harmful
pursuits." During the first liberal years of Alexander's reign commerce
ceased to be branded as "a harmful pursuit." Yet as soon as the Jewish
merchants, stimulated by the partial extension of their right of
residence and occupation, displayed a wider economic activity and became
successful competitors of the "original" Russian business men, they were
met with shouts of protest demanding that this Jewish "exploitation" be
effectively "curbed."

In this connection it must be pointed out that the economic advancement
of the Jews was not altogether due to the privileges accorded to them by
the Russian legislation, but was rather the effect of general economic
conditions. The great progress in industrial life during "the era of
reforms," more particularly the expansion of railroad enterprises during
the sixties and seventies, opened up a wide field for the energies of
Jewish capitalists. Moreover, the abolition, in 1861, of the old system
of farming out the sale of liquor transferred a part of the big Jewish
capital from the liquor traffic into railroad building. The Jewish
"excise farmers" [1] were converted into railroad men, as shareholders,
supply merchants, or contractors. A new Jewish plutocracy came into
being, and its growth excited jealousy and fear among the Russian
mercantile class. The Government, filled with enthusiasm for the
cultivation of large industries, was not as yet prepared to discriminate
against the Jews whenever big capital was concerned. But it lent an
attentive ear to the "original" Russian merchants whenever they
complained about Jewish competition in petty trade, on which the lower
Jewish classes depended for their livelihood. The Government, which had
not yet emancipated itself from the habit of "assorting" its citizens
and dividing them into a protected and a tolerated class, set out to
elaborate measures for "curbing" the Jews belonging to the latter

[Footnote 1: i.e., those that leased from the Government the collection
of excise on liquor. They were designated as _aktzizniks_, from
_aktziz_, the Russian word for "excise."]

The question which confronted the Government next was this: to what
extent have the hopes for a fusion of the Jews with the original
population been justified by the events? Here, too, the reply was
unsatisfactory. The naive expectation that a few gratuities offered to
the Jews in the shape of privileges would fill them with the eager
desire to "fuse" with the Russians did not come true. Strong as was the
trend towards Russification in the new Jewish _intelligenzia_ of the
sixties, the broad masses of Jewry knew nothing of such a tendency. The
authorities became suspicious: what if these crafty Hebrews should fool
us again and refuse to pay for the donated rights by fusing with the
Christians? Russian officialdom received new food for reflection which
was to last it for years, nay, for decades.


Several occurrences were instrumental in determining the Government to
embark upon a new policy, that of investigating assiduously the inner
life of the Jews. At the end of the sixties a man appeared in Vilna who
offered his services to the authorities as a detective and spy among the
Jews. Jacob Brafman, a native of the government of Minsk, had deserted
his race and religion in the last years of Nicholas' conscription,
hoping thereby to escape the nets of the vigilant Kahal "captors" who
wished to draft him into the army. Embittered against the Kahal agents
who had become mere police tools, Brafman desired to wreak vengeance
upon the Kahal as a whole, nay, upon the very idea of a Jewish communal

When the "fusion," or assimilation, of the Jews became the watchword of
the highest official circles, the astute convert found that he could
make his way by exposing the influences which in his opinion checked the
endeavors of the Government. A memorandum presented by him to Alexander
II., when the latter was passing through Minsk in 1858, opened to him
the doors of the Holy Synod. He was appointed instructor of Hebrew at a
Greek-Orthodox seminary and entrusted with the task of finding ways to
remove the difficulties placed by the Jews in the path of their
coreligionists intending to go over to Christianity. His mission to
facilitate apostasy among the Jews proved a failure, and his services as
detective were not yet appreciated during the liberal years of
Alexander's reign.

However, with the reactionary turn in Russian politics, in the middle of
the sixties, these services were once more in demand. Brafman hastened
to the hot-bed of reactionary chauvinism, the city of Vilna, which was
firmly held in the iron grip of Muravyov, [1] and there began "to expose
the separatism of the inner life of the Jews" before the highest
administration of the province. He contended that the Kahal, though
officially abolished in 1844, [2] continued in reality to exist and to
maintain a widely ramified judiciary (_Bet Din_), that it constituted a
secret, uncanny sort of organization which wielded despotic power over
the communities by employing such weapons as the _herem_
(excommunication) and _hazakah_ (the Jewish legal practice of securing
property rights), [3] that it incited the Jewish masses against the
State, the Government, and the Christian religion, and fostered in these
masses fanaticism and dangerous national separatism. In the opinion of
Brafman, the only way to eradicate this "secret Jewish government," was
to destroy the last vestiges of Jewish communal autonomy by closing all
religious and charitable societies and fraternities. The Jewish
community itself ought to share the same fate, and the Jews forming part
of it should be included among the Christian estates in the cities and
villages. In a word, Judaism as a communal organization should pass out
of existence altogether.

[Footnote 1: Michael Muravyov (see above, p. 183) was appointed in 1863
military governor of the governments of Vilna, Kovno, Grodno, Vitebsk,
Minsk, and Moghilev, which he endeavored to Russify with relentless
cruelty. He died in 1866.]

[Footnote 2: See p. 58 et seq.]

[Footnote 3: More exactly, the acquisition of property by continued and
undisturbed possession for a period of time. This right of acquisition
was formerly granted by the Kahal on the payment of a certain tax; see
Vol. I, p. 190.]

The heads of the Russian administration in Lithuania listened eagerly to
the sinister revelations of the new Pfefferkorn. [1] In 1866
Governor-General Kauffmann appointed a commission, which also included a
few Jewish experts, to look into the material compiled by Brafman. This
material consisted of the minutes of the Kahal of Minsk from the first
half of the nineteenth century, recording the entirely legitimate
enactments which the communal administration had passed by virtue of the
autonomous rights granted to it by the Government. Brafman published his
material in a series of articles in the official organ of the province,
the _Vilenski Vyestnik_, "The Vilna Herald"; the articles were later
republished in a separate volume, under the title _Kniga Kahala_, "The
Book of the Kahal." [2] The data collected by Brafman were embellished
with the customary anti-Semitic quotations from talmudic and rabbinic
literature, and put in such a light that the Government was placed on
the horns of a dilemma: either to destroy with one stroke the entire
Jewish communal organization and all the cultural agencies attached to
it, or to run the risk of seeing Russia captured by the "Universal
Kahal." It may be added that the _Alliance Israélite Universelle_, which
had shortly before been founded in Paris for the purpose of assisting
Jews in various countries, figured in Brafman's indictment as a
constituent society of the universal Jewish Kahal organization.

[Footnote 1: A medieval convert (died ab. 1521) who wrote against
Judaism, especially the Talmud.]

[Footnote 2: The first edition appeared in 1869, the second in 1871.]

The "Book of the Kahal" was printed at public expense and sent out to
all Government offices to serve as a guide for Russian officials and
enable them to fight the "Inner enemy." It was in vain that Brafman's
ignorance of rabbinic lore and his entire distortion of the role played
by the Kahal in days gone-by was exposed by Jewish writers in articles
and monographs; it was in vain that the Jewish members of the commission
appointed by the governor-general of Vilna protested against the
barbarous proposals of the informer. The authorities of St. Petersburg
seized upon Brafman's discoveries as incontrovertible evidence of the
existence of Jewish separatism and as a justification for the method of
"cautiousness" which they saw fit to apply to the solution of the Jewish


Another incident which took place about the same time served in the eyes
of the leading Government circles as an additional illustration of
Jewish separatism. In 1870 Alexander II. was on a visit to the Kingdom
of Poland, and there beheld the sight of dense masses of Hasidim with
their long earlocks and flowing coats. The Tzar, repelled by this
spectacle, enjoined upon the Polish governors strictly to enforce in
their domains the old Russian law prohibiting the Jewish form of
dress. [1] Thereupon the administration of the Kingdom threw itself with
special zest upon the important task of eradicating "the ugly costumes
and earlocks" of the Hasidim.

[Footnote 1: See above p. 144.]

Shortly afterwards the question of Jewish separatism was the subject of
discussion before the Council of State. Under the unmistakable influence
of the recent revelations of Brafman, the Council of State arrived at
the conclusion that "the prohibition of external differences in dress is
yet far from leading to the goal pursued by the Government, _viz_., to
destroy the exclusiveness of the Jews and the almost hostile attitude of
the Jewish communities towards Christians, these communities forming in
our land a secluded religious and civil caste or, one might say, a state
in a state." Hence the Council proposed to entrust a special commission
with the task "of considering ways and means to weaken as far as
possible the communal cohesion among the Jews" (December, 1870). As a
result, a commission of the kind suggested by the Council was
established in 1871, consisting of the representatives of the various
ministries and presided over by the Assistant-Minister of the Interior,
Lobanov-Rostovski. The Commission received the name "Commission for the
Amelioration of the Condition of the Jews." [1]

[Footnote 1: Compare above, pp. 161 and 169.]

While the Government was again engaged in one of its numerous
experiments over the problem of Jewish separatism, an event, unusual in
those days, took place: the Odessa pogrom [1] of 1871. In this granary
of the South, which owed its flourishing commerce to Jews and Greeks, an
unfriendly feeling had sprung up between these two nationalities, which
competed with one another in the corn trade and in the grocery business.
This competition, though of great benefit to the consumers, was a thorn
in the flesh of the Greek merchants. Time and again the Greeks would
scare the Jews during the Christian Passover by their barbarous custom
of discharging pistols in front of their church, which was situated in
the heart of the Jewish district. But in 1871, with the approach of the
Christian Passover, the Greeks proceeded to organize a regular pogrom.

[Footnote 1: _Pogrom_, with the accent on the last syllable, signifies
_ruin_, _devastation_, and was originally applied to the ravages of an
invading army.]

To arouse the mob the Greeks spread the rumor that the Jews had stolen a
cross from the church fence and had thrown stones at the church
building. The pogrom began on Palm Sunday (March 28). The Jews were
maltreated, and their houses and shops were sacked and looted. Having
started in the immediate vicinity of the church, the riot spread to the
neighboring streets and finally engulfed the whole city. For three days
hordes of Greeks and Russians gave free vent to their mob instincts,
demolishing, burning, and robbing Jewish property, desecrating
synagogues and beating Jews to senselessness in all parts of the city,
undisturbed by the presence of police and troops who did nothing to stop
the atrocities. The appeal of representative Odessa Jews to
Governor-General Kotzebue was met by the retort that the Jews themselves
were to blame, "having started first," and that the necessary measures
for restoring order had been adopted. The latter assertion proved to be
false, for on the following day the pogrom was renewed with even greater

Only on the fourth day, when thousands of houses and shops had already
been destroyed, and the rioters, intoxicated with their success,
threatened to start a regular massacre, the authorities decided to step
in and to "pacify" the riff-raff by a rather quaint method. Soldiers
were posted on the market place with wagon-loads of rods, and the
rioters, caught red-handed, were given a public whipping on the spot.
The "fatherly" punishment inflicted by the local authorities upon their
"naughty" children sufficed to put a stop to the pogrom.

As for the central Government in St. Petersburg, the only thing it
wanted to know was whether the pogrom had any connection with the secret
revolutionary propaganda which, beginning with the Jews, might next set
the mob against the nobility and Russian bourgeoisie. Since the official
inquiry failed to reveal any political motives behind the Odessa riots,
the St. Petersburg authorities were set at ease, and were only too glad
to take the word of the satraps of the Pale who reported that the
anti-Jewish movement had started as "a crude protest of the masses
against the failure to solve the Jewish question"--_viz_., to solve it
in a reactionary spirit--and as a manifestation, of the popular
resentment against Jewish exploitation.

The old charge of separatism against the Jews thus found a companion in
a new accusation: their economic "exploitation" of the Christian
population of the Pale. The Committee appointed at the recommendation of
the Council of State was enjoined to conduct a strict inquiry into both
these "charges." Concretely the work of the Committee reduced itself to
a consideration of two questions, one relating to the Kahal, or "the
amelioration of the spiritual life of the Jews," and the other referring
to the feasibility of thinning out the Pale of Settlement with the end
in view of weakening the economic competition of the Jews.

The material bearing on these questions included, apart from Brafman's
"standard work," a "Memorandum concerning the more important
Administrative Problems in the South-west," which had been submitted in
1871 by the governor-general of Kiev, Dondukov-Korsakov, to the Tzar.
The author of the memorandum voices his conviction that "the principal
endeavors of the Government must be concentrated upon the Jewish
question." The Jews are becoming a great economic power in the
South-western provinces. They purchase or mortgage estates, and obtain
control of the factories and mills as well as of the grain, timber, and
liquor trade, thereby arousing the bitter resentment of the Christian
population, particularly in the rural districts. [1] Moreover, the Jewish
masses, refusing to follow the lead of the handful of Russified Jewish
intellectuals, live entirely apart and remain in the throes of talmudic
fanaticism and hasidie obscurantism. They "possess complete
self-government in their Kahals, their own system of finance in the
basket tax, their separate charitable institutions," their own
traditional school in the heders, of which there are in the South-west
no less than six thousand. In addition, the Jews possess an
international organization, the "World Kahal," represented by the
_Alliance Israélite "Universelle_ in Paris, whose president, Adolph
Crémieux, had had the audacity to protest to the Russian Government
against acts of violence perpetrated upon the Jews. For all these
reasons the governor-general is of the opinion that "the revision of the
whole legislation affecting the Jews has become an imperative

[Footnote 1: According to the official figures, quoted in the
memorandum, the number of Jews in the three South-western governments,
i.e., Volhynia, Podolia, and the Kiev province, amounted to 721,080. Of
these, 14 per cent lived in rural districts and 86 per cent in cities
and towns. They owned 27 sugar refineries out of 105; 619 distilleries
out of 712; 5700 mills out of 6353; and so forth. The production of the
industrial establishments in the hands of the Jews reached the sum of
seventy million rubles.]

A similar tone was adopted in the other official documents which came
into the hands of the "Committee for the Amelioration of the Condition
of the Jews." The communications of the governors and the reports of the
members of the Committee were all animated by the same spirit, the
spirit that spoke through Brafman's "Book of the Kahal." This was but
natural. The officials, to whom this book had been sent by the central
Government "for guidance," drew from it their whole political wisdom in
things Jewish, and in their replies endeavored to fall in with the
instructions of the Council of State, conveyed to them by the Committee,
_viz_., "to consider ways and means to weaken the communal cohesion
among the Jews."

In the Kingdom of Poland the governors complained similarly in their
reports that the Jews of the province, though accorded equal rights by
Vyelepolski, [1] had not complied with the conditions attached to that
act, to wit, "to abandon the use of their own language and script, in
exchange for the favors bestowed upon them." Outside of a handful of
assimilated "Poles of the Mosaic Persuasion," who were imbued with
Polish chauvinism, [2] the hasidic rank and file was permeated by
extreme separatism, fostered by "the Kahal through its various agencies,
the Congregational Boards, the rabbinate, the heders, and a host of
special institutions."

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 181.]

[Footnote 2: And hence objectionable from the Russian point of view.]

These and similar communications formed the groundwork of the reports,
or more correctly, the bills of indictment in which the members of the
Committee charged the Jews with the terrible crime of constituting "a
religio-political caste," in other words, a nationality. Following the
lead of Brafman, the members of the Committee laid particular emphasis in
their reports on the obnoxiousness of the Talmud and the danger of
Jewish separatism. Needless to say, the conclusions offered by them were
of the kind anticipated in the instructions of the Council of State: the
necessity of wiping out the last vestiges of Jewish self-government,
such as the Jewish community, the school, the mutual relief societies,
in a word, everything that tends to foster "the communal cohesion among
the Jews."

The barbarism of these proposals was covered by the fig-leaf of
enlightenment. When the benighted Jewish masses will have fused with the
highly cultured populance of Russia. In other words, when the Jews will
have ceased to be Jews, then will the Jewish question find its solution.
In the meantime, however, the Jews are to be curbed by the bridle of
disabilities. The referee of the Committee on the question of the Pale
of Settlement, Grigoryev, frankly stated: "What is important in this
question is not whether the Jews will fare better when granted the right
of residence all over the Empire, but rather the effect of this measure
on the economic well-being of an enormous part of the Russian people."
From this point of view the referee finds that it would be dangerous to
let the Jews pass beyond the Pale, since "the plague, which has thus far
been restricted to the Western provinces, will then spread over the
whole Empire."

For a long time the Committee was at a deadlock, held down by
bureaucratic reaction. It was only toward the end of its existence that
the voice from another world, the posthumous voice of dead and buried
liberalism, resounded in its midst. In 1880 the Committee was presented
with a memorandum by two of its members, Nekhludov and Karpov, in which
the bold attempt was made to champion the heretic point of view of
complete Jewish emancipation. The language of the memorandum was one
which the Russian Government had not heard for a long time.

In the name of "morality and justice" the authors of the memorandum call
upon the Government to abandon its grossly utilitarian attitude towards
the Jews who are to be denied civil rights so long as they do not prove
useful to the "original" population. They expose the selfish motive
underlying the bits of emancipation which had been doled out to the Jews
during the preceding spell of liberalism: the desire, not to help the
Jews, but to exploit their services. First-guild merchants, physicians,
lawyers, artisans were admitted into the interior for the sole purpose
of developing business in those places and filling the palpable shortage
in artisans and professional men. "As soon as this or that category of
Jews was found to be serviceable to the Russian people, it was relieved,
and relieved only in part, from the pressure of exceptional laws, and
received into the dominant population of the Empire." But the millions
of plain Jews, abandoned by the upper classes, have continued to
languish in the suffocating Pale. [1] The Jewish population is denied the
elementary rights guaranteeing liberty of pursuit, freedom of movement
and land ownership, such as only a criminal may be deprived of by a
verdict of the courts. As it is, discontent is rife among these
disinherited masses. "The rising generation of Jews has already begun to
participate in the revolutionary movement to which they had hitherto
been strangers." The system of oppression must be set aside. All the
Jewish defects, their separatism and one-sided economic activity, are
merely the fruits of this oppression. Where the law has no confidence in
the population, there inevitably the population has no confidence in the
law, and it naturally becomes an enemy of the existing order of things,
"Human reason does not admit of any considerations which might justify
the placing of many millions of the Jewish population, on a level with
criminal offenders." The first step in the direction of complete
emancipation ought to be the immediate grant of the right of domicile
all over the Empire.

[Footnote 1: The narrow utilitarianism of the governmental policy in the
Jewish question may also be illustrated by the official attitude towards
the promotion of agriculture among the Jews. Under Alexander I. and
Nicholas I. Jewish agricultural colonization in the South of Russia was
encouraged by the grant of special privileges, though the Jewish
settlers were subjected to the stern tutelage of bureaucratic
inspectors. But under Alexander II., when Southern Russia was no longer
in need of artificial colonization, the Government discontinued its
policy of promoting Jewish colonization, and an ukase issued in 1866
stopped the settlement of Jews in agricultural colonies altogether. A
little later the Jewish colonies in the South-west were deprived of a
large part of their lands, which were distributed among the peasants.]

These bold words which turned the Jews from defendants into plaintiffs
ran counter to the fundamental task of the Committee, which, according
to the original instructions received by it, was expected to draft its
plans in a spirit of reaction. At any rate, these words were uttered too
late. A new era was approaching which in solving the Jewish question
resorted to methods such as would have horrified even the conservative
statesmen of the seventies: the era of pogroms and cruel disabilities.


During the last decade of Alexander's reign, the machinery of Jewish
legislation was working at a slow rate, pending the full "revision" of
Jewish rights. Yet the steps of the approaching reaction could well be
discerned. Thus in 1870, during the discussion of the draft of the new
Municipal Statute by a special committee of the Ministry of the
Interior, which included as "experts" the burgomasters of the most
important Russian cities, the question arose whether the former
limitation of the number of Jewish aldermen in the municipal councils to
one-third of the whole number of aldermen [1] should be upheld or not.
The cities involved were those of the Pale where the Jews formed the
majority of the population, and the committee was searching for ways and
means to weaken "the excessive influence" of this majority upon the city
administration and to subordinate it to the Christian minority.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 41.]

One solitary member, Novoselski, the burgomaster of Odessa, advocated
the repeal of the old restriction, with the one proviso that the Jewish
aldermen should be required to possess certain educational
qualifications, inasmuch as educated Jews were "not quite as harmful" as
uneducated ones.

A minority of the members of the Committee favored the limitation of the
number of Jewish aldermen to one-half, but the majority staunchly
defended the old norm, which was one-third. The representatives of the
majority, in particular Count Cherkaski, the burgomaster of Moscow,
argued that the Jews constituted not only a religious but also a
national entity, that they were still widely removed from assimilation
or Russification, that education, far from transforming the Jews into
Russians, made them only more successful in the struggle for existence,
that it was inadvisable for this reason "to subject the whole Russian
element (of the population) to the risk of falling under the domination
of Judaism."

The curious principle of municipal justice by virtue of which the
majority of house owners and tax-payers were to be ruled by the
representatives of the minority carried the day. The new Municipal
Statute sanctioned the norm of one-third for "non-Christians," and
reaffirmed the ineligibility of Jews to the post of burgomaster.

The law of 1874, establishing general military service and abolishing
the former method of conscription, proved the first legal enactment
which imposed upon the Jews equal obligations with their
fellow-citizens, prior to bestowing upon them equal rights. To be sure,
the new regulation brought considerable relief to the Jews, inasmuch as
the heavy burden of military duty which had formerly been borne entirely
by the poor burgher class, [1] was now distributed over all estates,
while the burden itself was lightened by the reduction of the term of
service. Moreover, the former collective responsibility of the community
for the supply of recruits, which had given rise to the institution of
"captors" and many other evils, was replaced by the personal
responsibility of every individual conscript. All this, however, was not
sufficient to change suddenly the attitude of the Jewish populace
towards military service.

[Footnote 1: On the "burghers" see Vol. I, p. 308, n. 2. Concerning the
military duty imposed on them see above, p. 23.]

The formerly privileged merchantile class could not reconcile itself
easily to the idea of sending their children to the army. The horrors of
the old conscription were still fresh in their minds, and even in its
new setting military service was still suggestive of the hideous horrors
of the past. Those who but yesterday had been dragged like criminals to
the recruiting stations could not well be expected to change their
sentiments over night and appear there of their own free will. The
result was that a considerable number of Jews of military age (21)
failed to obey the summons of the first conscription. Immediately the
cry went up that the Jews evaded their military duty, and that the
Christians were forced to make up the shortage. The official pens in St.
Petersburg and in the provincial chancelleries became busy scribbling.
The Ministry of War demanded the adoption of Draconian measures to stop
this "evasion," As a result, the whole Jewish youth of conscription age
was registered in 1875. At the recruiting stations the age of the young
Jews was determined by their external appearance, without regard to
their birth certificates. Finally, in the course of 1876-1878, a number
of special provisions were enacted, by way of exception from the general
military statute, for the purpose "of insuring the regular discharge of
their military duty by the Jews."

According to the new legal provisions, the Jews who had been rejected as
unfit for military service were to be replaced by other Jews and under
no circumstances by Christians. For this purpose, the Jewish conscripts
were to be segregated from the Christians after the drawing of lots, the
first stage in the recruiting process. [1] Moreover, in the case of Jews
a lower stature and a narrower chest were required than in that of
non-Jews. In the case of a shortage of "unprivileged" recruits,
permission was given to draft not only Jews enjoying, by their family
status, the third and second class privileges, but also those of the
first class, i.e., to deprive Jewish parents of their only sons. [2]

[Footnote 1: Since the number of men of military age greatly exceeds the
required number of recruits, the Russian law provides that lots be drawn
by the conscripts to determine the order in which they are to present
themselves for examination to the recruiting officers. When the quota is
completed, the remaining conscripts, i.e., those who, having drawn a
high number, have not yet been examined, are declared exempt from
military service.]

[Footnote 2: "According to Russian law, the following three categories
of recruits are exempt from military service: 1) the only sons; 2) the
only wage-earning sons, though there be other sons in the family; 3)
those who have an elder brother or brothers in the army. The first
category is exempt under all circumstances; the last two on condition
that the required number of recruits be secured out of the
"unprivileged" conscripts. Only in the case of the Jews is the first
category drawn upon in the case of a shortage.]

In this manner the Government sought to "insure" with ruthless vigor the
discharge of this most onerous duty on the part of the Jews, without
making any attempt to insure at the same time the rights of this
population of three millions which was made to spill its blood for the
fatherland. In the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, many Jewish soldiers
fought for Russia, and a goodly number of them were killed or wounded on
the battlefield. Yet in the Russian military headquarters--the post of
commander-in-chief was occupied by the crown prince, the future Tzar
Alexander III.--no attention was paid to the thousands of Jewish
victims, but rather to the fact that the "Jewish" firm of army
purveyors, Greger, Horvitz & Kohan [1] was found to have had a share in
the commissariat scandals. When at the Congress of Berlin in 1878 a
resolution was introduced calling upon the Governments of Roumania,
Servia, and Bulgaria to accord equal rights to the Jews in their
respective dominions, and was warmly supported by all plenipotentiaries,
such as Waddington, Beaconsfield, Bismarck, and others, the only one to
oppose the emancipation of the Jews on principle was the Russian
chancellor Gorchakov, In his desire to save the prestige of Russia,
which herself had failed to grant equal rights to the Jews, the
chancellor could not refrain from an anti Semitic sally, remarking
during the debate that "one ought not to confound the Jews of Berlin,
Paris, London, and Vienna, who cannot be denied civil and political
rights, with the Jews of Servia, Roumania, and several Russian
provinces, where they are a regular scourge to the native population."

[Footnote 1: Greger was a Greek, and Horvitz a converted Jew. See later,
p. 244.]

Altogether the growth of anti-Semitism in the Government circles and in
certain layers of Russian society, towards the close of the seventies,
became clearly pronounced. The laurels of Brafman, whose "exposure" of
Judaism had netted him many personal benefits and profitable connections
in the world of officialdom, were apt to stimulate all sorts of
adventurers. In 1876 a new "exposer" of Judaism appeared on the scene, a
man with a stained past, Hippolyte Lutostanski. He was originally a
Roman Catholic priest in the government of Kovno. Having been unfrocked
by the Catholic Consistory "on account of incredible acts of lawlessness
and immoral conduct," including libel, embezzlement, rape committed upon
a Jewess, and similar heroic exploits, he joined the Greek-Orthodox
church, entered the famous Troitza Monastery near Moscow as a monk, and
was admitted as a student to the Ecclesiastical Academy of the same

As a subject for his dissertation for the degree of Candidate [1] the
ignorant monk chose a sensational topic: "Concerning the Use of
Christian Blood by the Jews." It was an unlettered and scurrilous
pamphlet, in which the author, without indicating his sources,
incorporated the contents of an official memorandum on the ritual murder
legend from the time of Nicholas I., supplementing it by distorted
quotations from talmudie and rabbinic literature, without the slightest
knowledge of that literature or the Hebrew language.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 165, n. 1.]

The monastic adventurer, finding himself in financial straits, brought
his manuscript to Rabbi Minor of Moscow, declaring his willingness to
forego the publication of his brochure, which no doubt would cause great
harm to the Jews, for a consideration of 500 rubles ($250). His
blackmail offer was rejected Lutostanski thereupon published his hideous
book in 1876, and travelled with it to St. Petersburg where he managed
to present it to the crown prince, subsequently Alexander III., and to
secure from him a grateful acknowledgement. The book also found the
approval of the Chief of Gendarmerie, [1] who acquired a large number of
copies and distributed them among the secret police all over Russia.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 21, n. 1.]

Encouraged by his success, Lutostanski issued a few years later, in
1879, another libellous work in two volumes, under the title "The Talmud
and the Jews," which exhibits the same crudeness in style and content as
his previous achievement--a typical specimen of a degraded back-yard
literature. The editor of the Hebrew journal _ha-Melitz_, Alexander
Zederbaum, demonstrated clearly that Lutostanski had forged his
quotations, and summoned him to a public disputation, which offer was
wisely declined.

Nevertheless, the agitation of this shameless impostor had a
considerable effect on the highest official spheres in which an ever
stronger drift toward anti-Semitism was clearly noticeable. In 1878 this
anti-Semitic trend gave rise to a new ritual murder trial. The discovery
in the government of Kutais, in the Caucasus, of the body of a little
Gruzinian girl, named Sarra Modebadze, who had disappeared on the eve of
Passover, was deemed a sufficient reason by the judicial authorities to
enter a charge of murder against ten local Jews, although the ritual
character of the murder was not put forward openly in the indictment.
The case was tried before the District Court of Kutais, and the counsel
for the defence succeeded by their brilliant speeches not only to
demolish completely the whole structure of incriminating evidence but
also to deal a death-blow to the sinister ritual legend. The case ended
in 1879 with the acquittal of all the accused.

Withal, the "ritual" agitation left a nasty sediment in the Russian
press. When in 1879 the famous Orientalist Daniel Chwolson, a convert to
Christianity and professor at the Greek-Orthodox Ecclesiastical Seminary
of St. Petersburg, who had written a learned apologetic treatise
"Concerning the Medieval Accusations against the Jews," published a
refutation of the ritual myth under the title "Do the Jews use Christian
Blood?," he was attacked in the _Novoye Vremya_ by the liberal historian
Kostomarov who attempted to disprove the conclusions of the defender of
Judaism. The paper itself, hitherto liberal in its tendency, changed
front about that time, and, steering its course by the prevailing moods
in the leading Government circles, launched a systematic campaign
against the Jews. The anti-Semitic bacilli were floating in the social
atmosphere of Russia and preparing the way for the pogrom epidemic of
the following decade.




In the inner, cultural life of Russian Jewry a radical break took place
during this period. True, the change did not affect the rank and file of
Russian Jewry, being rather confined to its upper layers, to Jewish
"society," or the so-called _intelligenzia._ But as far as the latter
circles are concerned, the rapidity and intensity of their spiritual
transformation may well be compared with the stormy eve of Jewish
emancipation in Germany. This wild rush for spiritual regeneration was
out of all proportion to the snail-like tardiness and piecemeal
character of civil emancipation in Russia. However, the modern history
of Western Europe has shown more than once that such pre-emancipation
periods, including those that evidently prove abortive, offer the most
favorable conditions for all kinds of mental and cultural revolutions.
Liberty as a hope invariably arouses greater enthusiasm for
self-rejuvenation, than liberty as a fact, when the romanticism of the
unknown has vanished.

Hurled into the abyss of despair by the last events of Nicholas' régime,
the Russian Jews suddenly received what may be called an earnest of
civil emancipation. The Jewish "Pale" knew but vaguely what was taking
place in the recesses of the St. Petersburg chancelleries during the
decade of reforms, but that a striking change in the attitude of the
Government had taken place was seen and felt by all. Freedom had been
granted to the victims of the military inquisition, the cantonists. The
gates of the Russian interior had been opened to Jews possessing certain
qualifications with regard to property, education, or labor. The
educated Jews, in particular, were smiled upon benevolently "from
above": they were regarded by the Government as a factor making for
assimilation and as a connecting link with the lower Jewish classes. The
vernal sun of Russian liberty, which flooded with its rays the social
life of the whole country, just then emerging from serfdom, shone also
for the hapless Jewish people, and filled their hearts with cheer and
hope. The blasts of the reveille which had been sounded in the best
circles of Russian society by such humanitarians as Pirogov, [1] and
such champions of liberty as Hertzen, [2] Chernyshevski, [3] and
Dobrolubov, [4] were carried through the air into the huge Jewish ghetto
of Russia. True, the Jewish question received, during the decade of
reforms, but scanty attention in the Russian press, but the little that
was said about it was permeated by a friendly spirit. The former habit
of making sport of the Zhyd was energetically repudiated.

[Footnote 1: Nicholas Pirogov (1810-1881), famous as pedagogue and
administrator. He was a staunch friend of the Jews, and was
deeply interested in their cultural aspirations.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 24, n. 1.]

[Footnote 3: Famous publicist and author, died 1889.]

[Footnote 4: A famous literary critic, died 1861.]

This change of attitude may well be illustrated by the following
incident. In 1858 the magazine _Illustratzia_ ("Illustration") of St.
Petersburg published an anti-Semitic article on "the Zhyds of the
Russian West." The article was answered by two cultured Jews, Chatzkin
and Horvitz, in the influential periodicals _Russki Vyestnik_ ("The
Russian Herald") and _Atyeney_ ("Athenaeum"). In reply to this
refutation, the _Illustratzia_ showered a torrent of abuse upon the two
authors who were contemptuously styled "Reb Chatzkin" and "Reb Horvitz,"
and whose pro-Jewish attitude was explained by motives of avarice. The
action of the anti-Semitic journal aroused a storm of indignation in the
literary circles of both capitals. The conduct of the _Illustratzia_ was
condemned in a public protest which bore the signatures of 140 writers,
including some of the most illustrious names in the Russian literary
world. The protest declared that "in the persons of Horvitz and Chatzkin
an insult has been offered to the entire (Russian) people, to all
Russian literature," which has no right to let "naked slander" pass
under the disguise of polemics.

Though the protesting writers were wholly actuated by the
desire to protect the moral purity of Russian literature and
did not at all touch upon the Jewish question, the Jewish
public workers were nevertheless enchanted by this declaration
of literary Russia, and were deeply gratified by the implied
assumption that the Jews of Russia formed part of the Russian people.

Several sympathetic articles in influential periodicals, advocating the
necessity of Jewish emancipation, seemed to complete the happiness of
the progressive section of Russian Jewry. Even the Slavophile publicist
Ivan Aksakov, who subsequently joined the ranks of Jew-baiters,
recognized at that time, in 1862, the need of a certain measure of
emancipation for the Jews. The only thing that worried him was the
danger that the admission of the Jews to the Russian civil service "in
all departments," might result "in filling with Jews" the Senate and
Council of State, not excluding the possibility of a Jew occupying the
post of Procurator-General of the Holy Synod. Unshakable in his
friendship for the Jews was the physician and humanitarian N.
Pirogov, [1] who, in his capacity of superintendent of the Odessa School
District, was largely instrumental in encouraging the Jewish youth in
their pursuit of general culture and in creating a Russian Jewish press.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 207, n. 1.]

The most efficient factor of cultural regeneration was the secular
school, both the general Russian and the Jewish Crown school. A flood of
young men, lured by the rosy prospects of a free human existence in the
midst of a free Russian people, rushed from the farthermost nooks and
corners of the Pale into the _gymnazia_ and universities whose doors
were kept wide open for the Jews. Many children of the ghetto rapidly
enlisted under the banner of the Russian youth, and became intoxicated
with the luxuriant growth of Russian literature which carried to them
the intellectual gifts of the contemporary European writers. The masters
of thought in that generation, Chernyshevski, Dobrolubov, Pisaryev,
Buckle, Darwin, Spencer, became also the idols of the Jewish youth. The
heads which had but recently been bending over the Talmud folios in the
stuffy atmosphere of the heders and yeshibahs were now crammed with the
ideas of positivism, evolution, and socialism. Sharp and sudden was the
transition from rabbinic scholasticism and soporific hasidic mysticism
to this new world of ideas, flooded with the light of science, to these
new revelations announcing the glad tidings of the freedom of thought,
of the demolition of all traditional fetters, of the annihilation of all
religious and national barriers, of the brotherhood of all mankind. The
Jewish youth began to shatter the old idols, disregarding the outcry of
the masses that had bowed down before them. A tragic war ensued between
"fathers and children," [1] a war of annihilation, for the belligerent
parties were extreme obscurantism and fanaticism, on the one hand, and
the negation of all historic forms of Judaism, both religious and
national, on the other.

[Footnote 1: The title of a famous novel by Turgenieff, written in 1862,
depicting the break between the old and the new generation.]

In the middle between these two extremes stood the men of the
transitional period, the adepts of Haskalah, those "lovers of
enlightenment" who had in younger years suffered for their convictions
at the hands of fanatics and now came forward to make peace between
religion and culture. Encouraged by the success of the new ideas, the
Maskilim became more aggressive in their struggle with obscurantism.
They ventured to expose the Tzaddiks who scattered the seeds of
superstition, to ridicule the ignorance and credulity of the masses, and
occasionally went so far as to complain of the burdensome ceremonial
discipline, hinting at the need of moderate religious reforms. Their
principal task, however, was the cultivation of the Neo-Hebraic literary
style and the rejuvenation of the content of that literature. They were
willing to pursue the road of the emancipated Jewry of Western Europe,
but only to a certain limit, refusing to cut themselves adrift from the
national language or the religious and national ideals.

On the other hand, that section of the young generation which had passed
through a Russian school refused to recognize any such barriers, and
rushed with elemental force on the road of self-annihilation.
_Russification_ became the war cry of these Jewish circles, as it had
long been the watchword of the Government. The one side was anxious to
Russify, the other was equally anxious to be Russified, and the natural
result was an _entente cordiale_ between the new Jewish _intelligenzia_
and the Government.

The ideal of Russification was marked by different stages, beginning
with the harmless acquisition of the Russian language, and culminating
in a complete identification with Russian culture and Russian national
ideals, involving the renunciation of the religious and national
traditions of Judaism. The advocates of moderate Russification did not
foresee that the latter was bound, by the force of circumstances, to
assume a radical form, while the champions of extreme Russification saw
no harm for Jewry in following the example of complete assimilation set
by Western Europe. To the former all that Russification implied was the
removal of the obnoxious excrescences of Judaism but not the demolition
of the national organism itself. Progressive Jewry was rightly incensed
against the obsolete forms of Jewish life which obstructed all healthy
development; against the fierce superstition of the hasidic environment,
against the charlatanism of degenerating Tzaddikism, against the
impenetrable religious fanaticism which was throttling the noblest
strivings of the Jewish mind. But this struggle for freedom of thought
should have been fought out within the confines of Judaism, by means of
a thorough-going cultural self-improvement, and not on the soil of
assimilation, nor in alliance with the powers that be, which were aiming
not at the rejuvenation but at the obliteration of Judaism, in accordance
with the official program of "fusion."

At any rate, the league between the new Jewish _intelligenzia_ and the
Government was an undeniable fact. The "Crown rabbis" [1] and school
teachers from among the graduates of the rabbinical schools of Vilna and
Zhitomir played the rôle of Government agents who were apt to resort to
police force in their fight against orthodoxy. Feeling secure beneath
the protecting wings of the Russian authorities, they often went out of
their way to hurt the susceptibilities of the masses by their
ostentatious disregard of the Jewish religious ceremonies. When the
communities refused to appoint rabbis of this class, the latter obtained
their posts either by direct appointment from the Government or by
bringing the pressure of the provincial administration to bear upon the

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 176, n. 1.]

Needless to say, the "enlightenment" propagated by these Government
underlings did not win the confidence of the orthodox masses who
remembered vividly how official enlightenment was disseminated by the
Government of Nicholas I. during the era of juvenile conscription.

The new Jewish _intelligenzia_ showed utter indifference to the
sentiments of the Jewish masses, and did not hesitate to induce the
Government to interfere in the affairs of inner Jewish life. Thus by a
regulation issued in 1864 all hasidic books were subjected to a most
rigorous censorship, and Jewish printing-presses were placed under a
more vigilant supervision than theretofore. The Tzaddiks were barred
from visiting their parishes for the purpose of "working miracles" and
"collecting tribute," a measure which only served to surround the
hasidic chieftains with a halo of martyrdom and resulted in the
pilgrimage of vast numbers of Hasidim to the "holy places," the
"capitals" of the Tzaddiks. All this only went to intensify the distrust
of the masses toward the college-bred, officially hall-marked Jewish
intellectuals and to lower their moral prestige, to the detriment of the
cause of enlightenment of which they professed to be the missionaries.

A peculiar variety of assimilationist tendencies sprang up among the
upper class of Jews in the Kingdom of Poland, more especially in Warsaw.
It was a most repellent variety of assimilation, exhibiting more
flunkeyism than pursuit of culture. The "Poles of the Mosaic
Persuasion," as these assimilationists styled themselves, had long been
begging for admission into Polish society, though rudely repulsed by it.
During the insurrection of 1861-1863, when they were graciously received
as useful allies, they were indefatigable in parading their Polish
patriotism. In the Polish Jewish weekly, _Jutrzenka_, [1] "The Dawn," the
organ of these assimilationists, the trite West-European theory, which
looks upon Judaism as a religious sect and not as a national community,
was repeated _ad nauseam_. One of the most prominent contributors to
that journal, Ludwig Gumplovich, the author of a monograph on the
history of the Jews in Poland, who subsequently made a name for himself
as a sociologist, and, after his conversion to Christianity, received a
professorship at an Austrian university, opened his series of articles
on Polish-Jewish history with the following observation: "The fact that
the Jews had a history was their misfortune in Europe.... For their
history inevitably presupposes an isolated life severed from that of the
other nations. It is just this which constitutes the misfortune alluded

[Footnote 1: Pronounce _Yutzhenka_.]

After the insurrection, the Polonization of the Jewish population
assumed menacing proportions. The upper layer of Polish Jewry consisted
exclusively of "Poles of the Mosaic Persuasion" who rejected all
elements of Jewish culture, while the broad masses, following blindly
the mandates of their Tzaddiks, rejected fanatically even the most
indispensable elements of European civilization. Riven between such
monstrous extremes, Polish Jewry was unable to attain even to a
semblance of normal development.


Though intensely engaged in this cultural movement, Russian Jewry did
not yet command sufficient resources for carrying on a well-ordered and
well-systematized activity. The only modern Jewish organization of that
period was the "Society for the Diffusion of Enlightenment amongst the
Jews," which had been founded in 1867 by a small coterie of Jewish
financiers and intellectuals of St. Petersburg. It would seem that the
Jewish colony of the Russian metropolis, consisting of big merchants and
university graduates, who, by virtue of the laws of 1859 and 1861,
enjoyed the right of residence outside the Pale, did not yet contain a
sufficient number of competent public workers. For during the first
decade of the Society its Executive Committee included, apart from its
Jewish founders--Baron Günzburg, Leon Rosenthal, Rabbi Neuman--, two
apostates, Professor Daniel Chwolson and the court physician, I.

The purpose of the Society was explained by one of the
founders, Leon Rosenthal, in the following unsophisticated manner:

  We constantly hear men in high positions, with whom we come in
  contact, complain about the separatism and fanaticism of the Jews
  and about their aloofness from everything Russian, and we have
  received assurances on all hands that, with, the removal of these
  peculiarities, the condition of our brethren in Russia will be
  improved, and we shall all become full-fledged citizens of this
  country. Actuated by this motive, we have organized a league of
  educated men for the purpose of eradicating our above-mentioned
  shortcomings by disseminating among the Jews the knowledge of the
  Russian language and other useful subjects.

What the Society evidently aimed at was to place itself at the head of
the Russian-Jewish _intelligenzia_, which had undertaken to act as
negotiators between the Government and the Jews in the cause of
Russification. In reality, the mission of the Society was carried out
within exceedingly narrow limits. "Education for the sake of
Emancipation" became the watchword of the Society. It promoted higher
education by granting monetary assistance to Jewish students, but it did
nothing either for the upbuilding of a normal Jewish school or for the
improvement of the heders and yeshibahs. The dissemination of the
knowledge of "useful subjects" reduced itself to the grant of a few
subsidies to Jewish writers for translating a few books on history and
natural science into Hebrew.

Even more circumscribed and utilitarian was the point of view adopted by
the Odessa branch of the Society. This branch, founded in 1867, adopted
as its slogan "the enlightenment of the Jews through the Russian
language and _in the Russian spirit_." The Russification of the Jews was
to be promoted by translating the Bible and the prayer-book into the
Russian language, "which must become the national tongue of the Jews."
However, the headlong rush for assimilation was soon halted by the
sinister spectacle of the Odessa pogrom of 1871. The moving spirits of
the local branch could not help, to use the language of its president,
"losing heart and becoming rather doubtful as to whether the goal
pursued by them is in reality a good one, seeing that all the endeavors
of our brethren to draw nearer to the Russians are of no avail so long
as the Russian masses remain in their present unenlightened condition
and harbor hostile sentiments towards the Jews." The pogrom put a
temporary stop to the activity of the Odessa branch.

As for the central Committee in St. Petersburg, its experience was not
less disappointing. For, despite all the endeavors of the Society to
adapt itself to the official point of view, it was regarded with
suspicion by the powers that be, having been included by the informer
Brafman among the constituent organizations of the dreadful and
mysterious "Jewish Kahal." The Russian assimilators, now branded as
separatists, found themselves in a tragic conflict. Moreover, the work
of the Society in promoting general culture among the Jews was gradually
losing its _raison d'être_, since, without any effort on its part, the
Jews began to flock to the _gymnazia_ and universities. The former
practical stimulus to general culture--the acquisition of a diploma for
the sake of equal rights--was intensified by the promulgation of the
military statute of 1874 which conferred a number of privileges in the
discharge of military duty on those possessing a higher education. These
privileges induced many parents, particularly among the merchant class
which was then drafted into the army for the first time, to send their
children to the middle and higher educational institutions. As a result,
the role of the Society in the dissemination of enlightenment reduced
itself to a mere dispensation of charity, and the great crisis of the
eighties found this organization standing irresolute at the cross-roads.


In the absence of a comprehensive net-work of social agencies, the
driving force in this cultural upheaval came from the periodical Jewish
press. The creation of several press organs in Hebrew and Russian in the
beginning of the sixties was a sign of the times. Though different in
their linguistic medium, the two groups of publications were equally
engaged in the task of the regeneration of Judaism, each adapting itself
to its particular circle of readers. The Hebrew periodicals, and partly
also those in Yiddish which addressed themselves to the masses, preached
_Haskalah_ in the narrower sense. They advocated the necessity of a
Russian elementary education and of secular culture in general; they
emphasized the uselessness of the traditional Jewish school training,
and exposed superstition and obscurantism. The Russian publications,
again, which were intended for the Jewish and the Russian
_intelligenzia_, pursued in the main a political goal, the fight for
equal rights and the defence of Judaism against its numerous detractors.

In both groups one can discern the gradual ripening of the social Jewish
consciousness, the advance from elementary and often naive notions to
more complex ideas. The two Hebrew weeklies founded in 1860,
_ha-Karmel_, "The Carmel," in Vilna, and _ha-Melitz_, "The Interpreter,"
in Odessa, the former edited by Fünn and the latter by Zederbaum, [1]
were at first adapted to the mental level of grown-up children,
expatiating upon the benefits of secular education and the "favors" of
the Government consequent upon it. _Ha-Karmel_ expired in 1870, while
yet in its infancy, though it continued to appear at irregular intervals
in the form of booklets dealing with scientific and literary subjects.
_Ha-Melitz_ was more successful. It soon grew to be a live and
courageous organ which hurled its shafts at Hasidism and Tzaddikism, and
occasionally even ventured to raise its hand against rabbinical Judaism.
The Yiddish weekly _Kol Mebasser_, [2] which was published during
1862-1871 as a supplement to _ha-Melitz_ and spoke directly to the
masses in their own language, attacked the dark sides of the old order
of things in publicistic essays and humoristic stories.

[Footnote 1: Before that time, the only weekly in Hebrew was
_ha-Maggid_, "The Herald," a paper of no particular literary
distinction, published since 1856 in the Prussian border-town Lyck,
though addressing itself primarily to the Jews of Russia.]

[Footnote 2: "A voice Announcing Good Tidings."]

Another step forward was the publication of the Hebrew monthly
_ha-Shahar_, "The Dawn," which was founded by Perez Smolenskin in 1869.
This periodical, which appeared in Vienna but was read principally in
Russia, pursued a two-fold aim: to fight against the fanaticism of the
benighted masses, on the one hand, and combat the indifference to
Judaism of the intellectuals, on the other. _Ha-Shahar_ exerted a
tremendous influence upon the mental development of the young generation
which had been trained in the heders and yeshibahs. Here they found a
response to the thoughts that agitated them; here they learned to think
logically and critically and to distinguish between the essential
elements in Judaism and its mere accretions. _Ha-Shahar_ was the staff
of life for the generation of that period of transition, which stood on
the border-line dividing the old Judaism from the new.

The various stages in the Russification of the Jewish _intelligenzia_
are marked by the changing tendencies of the Jewish periodical press in
the Russian language. In point of literary form, it approached the
European models more closely than the contemporary Hebrew press. The
contributors to the three Russian-Jewish weeklies, all of them issued in
Odessa, [1] had the advantage of having before them patterns of Western
Europe. Jewish publicists of the type of Riesser and Philippson [2]
served as living examples. They had blazed the way for Jewish
journalism, and had shown it how to fight for civil emancipation, to
ward off anti-Semitic attacks, and strive at the same time for the
advancement of inner Jewish life.

[Footnote 1: _Razswyet_, "The Dawn," 1860, _Sion_, "Zion," 1861, _Dyen_,
"The Day," 1869-1871.]

[Footnote 2: Gabriel Riesser (died 1863), the famous champion of Jewish
emancipation in Germany, established the periodical _Der Jude_ in 1832.
Ludwig Philippson (died 1889) founded in 1837 _Die Allgemeine Zeitung
des Judentums_, which still appears in Berlin.]

However, as soon as the Russian Riessers applied themselves to their
task, they met with insurmountable difficulties. When the _Razswyet_,
which was edited by Osip (Joseph) Rabinovich, attempted to lay bare the
inner wounds of Jewish life, it encountered the concerted opposition of
all prominent Jews, who were of the opinion that an organ employing the
language of the country should not, on tactical grounds, busy itself
with self-revelations, but should rather limit itself to the fight for
equal rights. The latter function again was hampered by the "other
side," the Russian censorship. Despite the moderate tone adopted by the
_Razswyet_ in its articles on Jewish emancipation, the Russian
censorship found them incompatible with the interests of the State. One
circular sent out by the Government went even so far as to prohibit "to
to discuss the question of granting the Jews equal rights with those of
the other (Russian) subjects." On one occasion the editor of the
_Razswyet_, _, in appealing to the authorities of St. Petersburg against
the prohibition of a certain article by the Odessa censor, had to
resort to the sham argument that the incriminated article referred
merely to the necessity of granting the Jews equality in the right
of residence but not in other rights. But even this stratagem failed
of its object. After a year of bitter struggle against the interference
of the censor and against financial difficulties--the number of Russian
readers among Jews was still very small at that time--the _Razswyet_
passed out of existence.

Its successor _Sion_ ("Zion"), edited by Solovaychik and Leon Pinsker,
who subsequently bec me the exponent of pre-Herzlian Zionism,[1]
attempted a different policy: to prove the case of the Jews by
arraigning the anti-Semites and acquainting the Russian public with the
history of Judaism. _Sion_, too, like its predecessors, had to give up
the fight in less than a year.

[Footnote 1: See later, p. 330 et seq.]

After an interval of seven years a new attempt was made in the same
city. The _Dyen_ ("The Day") [1] was able to muster a larger number of
contributors from among the increased ranks of the "titled"
_intelligenzia_ than its predecessors. The new periodical was bolder in
unfurling the banner of emancipation, but it also went much further than
its predecessors in its championship of Russification and assimilation.
The motto of the _Dyen_ was "complete fusion of the interests of the
Jewish population with those of the other citizens." The editors looked
upon the Jewish problem "not as a national but as a social and economic"
issue, which in their opinion could be solved simply by bestowing upon
this "section of the Russian people" the same rights which were enjoyed
by the rest. The Odessa pogrom of 1871 might have taught the writers of
the _Dyen_ to judge more soberly the prospects of "a fusion of
interests," had not a meddlesome censorship forced this periodical to
discontinue its publication after a short time.

[Footnote 1: The name was meant to symbolize the approaching day of
freedom. It was a weekly publication.]

The next few years were a period of silence in the Russian-Jewish
press. [1] The rank and file of the Russian Jewish intellectuals, who
formed the backbone of the reading public of this press, became
indifferent to it. Living up conscientiously to the principle of a
"fusion of interests," they failed to recognize the special interests of
their own people, whose only duty they thought was to be Russified,
i.e., obliterated and put out of existence. The better elements among
the _intelligenzia_, however, looked with consternation upon this
growing indifference to everything Jewish among the college-bred Jewish
youth. As a result, a new attempt was made toward the very end of this
period to restore the Russian-Jewish press. Three weeklies, the _Russki
Yevrey_ ("The Russian Jew"), the _Razswyet_ ("The Dawn"), and later on
the _Voskhod_ ("The Sunrise"), were started in St. Petersburg, all
endeavoring to gain the hearts of the Russian Jewish _intelligenzia_. In
the midst of this work they were overwhelmed by the terrific cataclysm
of 1881, which decided the further destinies of Jewish journalism in

[Footnote 1: We disregard the colorless _Vyestnik Russkikh "Yevreyev"_
("The Herald of Russian Jews"), published by Zederbaum in the beginning
of the seventies in St. Petersburg, and the volumes of the _Yevreyskaya
Bibliotyeka_ ("The Jewish Library"), issued at irregular intervals by
Adolph Landau.]


The Russian school and literature pushed the Jewish college youth head
over heels into the intellectual currents of progressive Russian
society. Naturally enough a portion of the Jewish youth was also drawn
into the revolutionary movement of the seventies, a movement which, in
spite of the theoretic "materialism" of its adepts, was of an
essentially idealistic tendency. In joining the ranks of the
revolutionaries, the young Jews were less actuated by resentment against
the continued, though somewhat mitigated, rightlessness of their own
people than by discontent with the general political reaction in Russia,
that discontent which found expression in the movement of "Populism," [1]
of "Going to the People," [2] and similar currents then in vogue. Jewish
students, attending the rabbinical and teachers' institutes of the
Government, or autodidacts from among former heder and yeshibah pupils,
also began to "go to the people"--the Russian people, to be sure, not
the Jewish. They carried on a revolutionary propaganda, both by direct
and indirect means, among the Russian peasants and workingmen, known to
them only from books. It was taken for granted at that time that the
realization of the ideals of Russian democracy would carry with it the
solution of the Jewish as well as of all other sectional problems of
Russian life, so that these problems might for the moment be safely set

[Footnote 1: In Russian, _narodnichestvo_, from _narod_, "People," a
democratic movement In favor of the down-trodden masses, particularly
the Russian peasantry.]

[Footnote 2: Under the influence of the democratic movement many
Russians of higher birth and culture settled among the peasantry, to
which they dedicated their lives. The name of Leo Tolstoi readily
suggests itself in this connection.]

As far as the Jewish youth was concerned, the whole movement was doubly
academic, for the only points of contact of that youth with younger
Russia was not living reality but the book, problems of the intellect,
the search for new ways, the attempt to work out a _Weltanschauung_. The
fundamental article of faith of the Jewish socialists was
cosmopolitanism, and they failed to discern in Russian "Populism" the
underlying elements of a Russian national movement. Jewry was not
believed to be a nation, and as a religious entity it was looked upon as
a relic of the past, which was doomed to disappearance.

One attempt of coupling socialism with Judaism ought not to be passed
over in silence. In the beginning of the seventies there existed in
Vilna a Jewish revolutionary circle made up principally of the pupils of
the rabbinical school and of the teachers' institute of the same city.
In 1875, the police tracked the members of the circle. Some were
arrested, others escaped. One of the refugees, A. Lieberman, managed to
reach London where he associated with the circle of Lavrov and the
editors of the revolutionary journal _Vperyod_ ("Forwards").

In the following year, Lieberman founded in London the "League of Jewish
Socialists" for the purpose of carrying on a propaganda among the Jewish
masses. It was a small society of students and workingmen which busied
itself with arranging lectures and debates, and penning Hebrew appeals
on the need of organizing the proletariat. The society was soon
dissolved, and Lieberman emigrated to Vienna, where, under the name of
Freeman, he started in 1877 a socialistic magazine in Hebrew under the
name _ha-Emet_ ("The Truth"). The first two issues of _ha-Emet_ were
admitted into Russia, but the third was confiscated by the censor. The
magazine had to be discontinued. It yielded its place to a paper called
_Asefat Hakamim_ ("The Assembly of Wise Men"), published in Koenigsberg
in 1878 by M. Winchevski as a supplement to the paper _ha-Kol_ ("The
Voice"), which was issued there by Rodkinson. Soon this whole species of
socialistic literature was put out of existence. In 1879, Lieberman in
Vienna and his comrades in Berlin and Koenigsberg were arrested and
expelled from the borders of Austria and Prussia. They emigrated to
England and America, and lost touch with Russia.

In Russia itself the Jewish revolutionaries were heart and soul devoted
to the cause. The children of the ghetto displayed considerable heroism
and self-sacrifice in the revolutionary upheaval of the seventies. Jews
figured in all important political trials and public manifestations;
they languished in the gaols, and suffered as exiles in Siberia. But
this idealistic fight for general freedom lacked a Jewish note, the
endeavor to free their own nation which lived in greater thraldom than
any other. And no one at that time ever dreamt that after all these
sacrifices the Jews of Russia would be visited by still greater
misfortunes, by pogroms and increased disabilities.


With all deflections from the course of normal development, such as are
unavoidable in times of violent mental disturbances, the main line of
the whole cultural movement, the resultant of the various forces within
it, was headed towards the healthy progress of Judaism. The most
substantial product of this movement was the Neo-Hebraic literary
renaissance which had already appeared in faint outlines on the sombre
background of external oppression and internal obscurantism during the
preceding period. The Haskalah, formerly anathematized, was now able to
unfold all its creative powers. What in the time of Isaac Baer Levinsohn
had been accomplished stealthily by a few isolated conspirators of
enlightenment in some petty society in Vilna or in some out-of-the-way
town like Kamenetz-Podolsk was now done in the full light of the day.
Instead of a few stray writers, the harbingers of the new literature,
there now appeared this literature itself, new both in form and content.
The restoration of the Hebrew language to its biblical purity and the
removal of the linguistic excrescences of the later rabbinic idiom
became for some writers an end in itself, for others a weapon in the
fight for enlightenment. _Melitzah_, a conventionalized style, which,
moving strictly within the confines of the biblical diction, endeavored
to adapt the form of an ancient language to the content of a modern
life, became the fashion of the day.

In point of content rejuvenated Hebrew literature was of necessity
elementary. Mental restlessness and naiveness of thought were not
conducive to the development of that "science of Judaism" which had
attained to such luxurious growth in Germany. The Hebrew writers of
Russia during that period had no means of propagating their ideas,
except through the medium of poetry, fiction, or journalism. The results
of historic research were squeezed into the mould of a poem or novel, or
it furnished the material for a press article, in which the Jewish past
was considered from the point of view of the present. Objective
scientific investigation could find no place, and the little that was
accomplished in that direction did not bear the character of a living
account of the past, but was rather in the nature of crude
archaeological material. At the same time, as the crest of the social
progress was rising, the border-line between poetry and fiction, on the
one hand, and topical journalism, on the other, was gradually
obliterated. The poet or novelist was often turned into a fighter, who
attacked the old order of things and defended the new.

Even before the first blush of dawn, when every one in Russia was yet
groaning under the strokes of an autocratic tyranny, which the
presentiment of its speedy end had driven into madness, the bewitching
strains of the new Hebrew lyre resounded through Lithuania. They came
from Micah Joseph Lebensohn, the son of "Adam" Lebensohn, author of
high-flown Hebrew odes [1]--a contemplative Jewish youth, suffering from
tuberculosis and _Weltschmerz_. He began his poetic career in 1840 by a
Hebrew adaptation of the second book of Virgil's _Aeneid_ [2] but soon
turned to Jewish _motifs_. In the musical rhymes of the "Songs of the
Daughter of Zion" (_Shire bat Zion_, Vilna, 1851), the author poured
forth the anguish of his suffering soul, which was torn between faith
and science, weighed down by the oppression from without and stirred to
its depth by the tragedy of his homeless nation. [3] A cruel disease cut
short the poet's life in 1852, at the age of twenty-four. A small
collection of lyrical poems, published after his death under the title
_Kinnor bat Zion_ ("The Harp of the Daughter of Zion"), exhibited even
more brilliantly the wealth of creative energy which was hidden in the
soul of this prematurely cut-off youth, who on the brink of the grave
sang so touchingly of love, beauty, and the pure joys of life.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 134 et seq.]

[Footnote 2: It was made from the German translation of Schiller]

[Footnote 3: See the poems "Solomon and Koheleth," "Jael and Sisera,"
and "Judah ha-Levi."]

A year after the death of our poet, in 1853, there appeared in the same
capital of Lithuania the historic novel _Ahabat Zion_ ("Love of Zion").
Its author, Abraham Mapu of Kovno (1808-1867), was a poor melammed who
had by his own endeavors and without the help of a teacher raised
himself to the level of a modern Hebrew pedagogue. He lived in two
worlds, in the valley of tears, such as the ghetto presented during the
reign of Nicholas, and in the radiant recollections of the far-off
biblical past. The inspired dreamer, while strolling on the banks of the
Niemen, among the hills which skirt the city of Kovno, was picturing to
himself the luminous dawn of the Jewish nation. He published these
radiant descriptions of ancient Judaea in the dismal year of the
"captured recruits." [1] The youths of the ghetto, who had been poring
over talmudic folios, fell eagerly upon this little book which breathed
the perfumes of Sharon and Carmel. They read it in secret--to read a
novel openly was not a safe thing in those days--, and their hearts
expanded with rapture over the enchanting idyls of the time of King
Hezekiah, the portrayal of tumultuous Jerusalem and peaceful Beth-lehem.
They sighed over the fate of the lovers Amnon and Tamar, and in their
flight of imagination were carried far away from painful reality. The
naive literary construction of the plot was of no consequence to the
reader who tasted a novel for the first time in his life. The _naïveté_
of the plot was in keeping with the naive, artificially reproduced
language of the prophet Isaiah and the biblical annals, which
intensified the illusion of antiquity.

[Footnote 1: See on this expression above, p. 148 et seq.]

Several years after the publication of his "Love of Zion," when social
currents had begun to stir Russian Jewry, Mapu began his five volume
novel of contemporary life, under the title _'Ayit Tzabua'_, "The
Speckled Bird," or "The Hypocrite" (1857-1869). In his naive diction,
which is curiously out of harmony with the complex plot in sensational
French style, the author pictures the life of an obscure Lithuanian
townlet: the Kahal bosses who hide their misdeeds beneath the cloak of
piety; the fanatical rabbis, the Tartuffes of the Pale of Settlement,
who persecute the champions of enlightenment. As an offset against these
shadows of the past, Mapu lovingly paints the barely visible shoots of
the new life, the _Maskil_, who strives to reconcile religion and
science, the misty figure of the Jewish youth who goes to the Russian
school in the hope of serving his people, the profiles of the Russian
Jewish intellectuals, and the captains of industry from among the rising
Jewish plutocracy.

Toward the end of his life Mapu returned to the historical novel, and in
the "Transgression of Samaria" (_Ashmat Shomron_, 1865) he attempted to
draw a picture of ancient Hebrew life during the declining years of the
Northern Kingdom. But this novel, appearing as it did at the height of
the cultural movement, failed to produce the powerful effect of his
_Ahabat Zion_, although its charming biblical diction enraptured the
lovers of _Melitzah_. [1]

[Footnote 1: An imitation of the biblical Hebrew diction. Compare p.

The noise of the new Jewish life, with its constantly growing
problems, invaded the precincts of literature, and even the poets were
impelled to take sides in the burning questions of the day. The most
important poet of that era, Judah Leib Gordon (1830-1892), who began by
composing biblical epics and moralistic fables, soon entered the field
of "intellectual poetry," and became the champion of enlightenment and a
trenchant critic of old-fashioned Jewish life. As far back as 1863,
while active as a teacher at a Crown school [1] in Lithuania, he
composed his "Marseillaise of Enlightenment" (_Hakitzah 'ammi_, "Awake,
My People"). In it he sang of the sun shedding its rays over the "Land
of Eden," where the neck of the enslaved was freed from the yoke and
where the modern Jew was welcomed with a brotherly embrace. The poet
calls upon his people to join the ranks of their fellow-countrymen, the
hosts of cultured Russian citizens who speak the language of the land,
and offers his Jewish contemporaries the brief formula: "Be a man on the
street and a Jew in the house," [2] i.e., be a Russian in public and a
Jew in private life.

[Footnote 1: See on the Crown schools pp. 74 and 77.]

[Footnote 2: _Heye adam be-tzeteka, wihudi be-oholeka._]

Gordon himself defined his function in the work of Jewish regeneration
to be that of exposing the inner ills of the people, of fighting
rabbinical orthodoxy and the tyranny of ceremonialism. This carping
tendency, which implies a condemnation of the whole historic structure
of Judaism, manifested itself as early as 1868 in his "Songs of Judah"
(_Shire Yehudah_), in strophes radiant with the beauty of their Hebrew

    To live by soulless rites hast thou been taught,
    To swim against life, and the lifeless letter to keep;
    To be dead upon earth, and in heaven alive,
    To dream while awake, and to speak while asleep.

During the seventies, Gordon joined the ranks of the official agents of
enlightenment. He removed to St. Petersburg, and became secretary of the
Society for the Diffusion of Enlightenment. The new Hebrew periodical
_ha-Shahar_ [1] published several of his "contemporary epics" in which
he vented his wrath against petrified Rabbinism. He portrays the misery
of a Jewish woman who is condemned to enter married life at the bidding
of the marriage-broker, without love and without happiness, or he
describes the tragedy of another woman whose future is wrecked by a "Dot
over the _i_." [2] He lashes furiously the orthodox spiders, the official
leaders of the community, who catch the young pioneers of enlightenment
in the meshes of Kabal authority, backed by police force. Climbing
higher upon the ladder of history, the poet registers his protest
against the predominance of the spiritual over the worldly element in
the whole evolution of Judaism. He assails the prophet Jeremiah who in
beleaguered Jerusalem preaches submission to the Babylonians and strict
obedience to the Law: the prophet, dressed up in the garb of a
contemporary orthodox rabbi, was to be exhibited as a terrifying
incarnation of the soulless formula "Law above Life." [3]

[Footnote 1: See p. 218.]

[Footnote 2: The title of a famous poem by Gordon, _Kotzo shel Yod_,
literally "the tittle of the Yod" the smallest letter in the Hebrew
alphabet. The poem in question pictures the tragedy of a woman who
remained unhappy the rest of her life because the Hebrew bill of divorce
which she had obtained from her husband was declared void on account of
a trifling error in spelling.]

[Footnote 3: The author alludes to Gordon's poem "_Tzidkiyyahu be-bet
hapekuddot_" ("Zedekiah in Prison"), in which the defeated and
blinded Judean ruler (see Jer. 52. 11) bitterly complains of the
evil effects of the prophetic doctrine.]

The implication is obvious: the power of orthodoxy must be broken and
Jewish life must be secularized. But while unmasking the old, Gordon
could not fail to perceive the sore spots in the new, "enlightened"
generation. He saw the flight of the educated youth from the Jewish
camp, its ever-growing estrangement from the national tongue in which
the poet uttered his songs, and a cry of anguish burst from his lips:
"For Whom Do I Labor?" [1] It seemed to him that the rising generation,
detached from the fountain-head of Jewish culture, would no more be able
to read the "Songs of Zion," and that the poet's rhymes were limited in
their appeal to the last handful of the worshippers of the Hebrew Muse:

[Footnote 1: Title of a poem by Gordon, _Lemi ani 'amel!_]

    Who knows, but I am the last singer of Zion,
    And you are the last who my songs understand.

These lines were penned on the threshold of the new era of the eighties.
The exponent of Jewish self-criticism lived to see not only the horrors
of the pogroms but also the misty dawn of the national movement, and he
could comfort himself with the conviction that he was destined to be the
singer for more than one generation.

The question "For whom do I labor?" was approached and solved in a
different way by another writer, whose genius expanded with the
increasing years of his long life. During the first years of his
activity, Shalom Jacob Abramovich (born in 1836) tried his strength in
various fields. He wrote Hebrew essays on literary criticism (_Mishpat
Shalom_ [1] 1859), adapted books on natural science written in modern
languages (_Toldot ha-teba'_, "Natural History," 1862, ff.), composed a
social _Tendenzroman_ under the title "Fathers and Children" (_Ha-abot
we-ha-banim_, 1868 [2]); but all this left him dissatisfied. Pondering
over the question "For whom do I labor?," he came to the conclusion that
his labors belonged to the people at large, to the down-trodden masses,
instead of being limited to the educated classes who understood the
national tongue. A profound observer of Jewish conditions in the Pale,
he realized that the concrete life of the masses should be portrayed in
their living daily speech, in the Yiddish vernacular, which was treated
with contempt by nearly all the Maskilim of that period.

[Footnote 1: "The Judgment of Shalom," with reference to the author's
first name and with a clever allusion to the Hebrew text of Zech. 8.16.]

[Footnote 2: Written under the influence of Turgenyev's famous novel
which bears the same title. See above, p. 210, n. 1.]

Accordingly, Abramovich began to write in the dialect of the people,
under the assumed pen-name of _Mendele Mokher Sforim_ (Mendele the
Bookseller). Choosing his subjects from the life of the lower classes,
he portrayed the pariahs of Jewish society and their oppressors (_Dos
kleine Menshele_, "A Humble Man"), the life of Jewish beggars and
vagrants (_Fishke der Krummer_, "Fishke the Cripple"), and the immense
cobweb which had been spun around the destitute masses by the
contractors of the meat tax and their accomplices, the alleged
benefactors of the community (_Die Taxe, oder die Bande Stodt Bale
Toyvos_, "The Meat Tax, or the Gang of Town Benefactors"). His trenchant
satire on the "tax" hit the mark, and the author had reason to fear the
ire of those who were hurt to the quick by his literary shafts. He had
to leave the town of Berdychev in which he resided at the time, and
removed to Zhitomir.

Here he wrote in 1873 one of his ripest works, "The Mare, or Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals" (_Die Klache_). In his allegorical narrative he
depicts a homeless mare, the personification of the Jewish masses, which
is pursued by the "bosses of the town" who do not allow her to graze on
the common pasture-lands with the "town cattle," and who set street
loafers and dogs at her heels. "The Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals" (the Government) cannot make up its mind whether the
mare should be granted equal rights with the native horses, or should be
left unprotected, and the matter is submitted to a special commission.
In the meantime, certain horsemen from among the "communal benefactors"
jump upon the back of the unfortunate mare, beat and torment her
well-nigh to death, and drive her for their pleasure, until she

Leaving the field of polemical allegory, Abramovich published the
humorous description of the "Travels of Benjamin the Third" (_Masse'ot
Benyamin ha-Shelishi_, 1878), [1] portraying a Jewish Don Quixote and
Sancho Panza, who make an oversea journey to the mythical river
Sambation--on the way from Berdychev to Kiev. A subtle observation of
existing conditions combined with a profound analysis of the problems of
Jewish life, artistic power matched with publicistic skill--such are the
salient features of the first phase of Abramovich's literary activity.

[Footnote 1: A famous Jewish traveller by the name of Benjamin lived in
the twelfth century. Another modern Jewish traveller by the name of
Joseph Israel, who died in 1864, adopted the name Benjamin II.
Abramovich humorously designates his fictitious travelling hero as
Benjamin III.]

In the following period, beginning with the eighties, his literary
creations exhibit greater artistic harmony in their content. As far as
their linguistic garb is concerned, they combine the Yiddish vernacular
with the Hebrew national tongue, which are employed side by side by our
author as the vehicles of his thought, and reach at his hands an equally
high state of perfection.


The artistic portrayer of life was, however, a rare exception in the
literature of the Haskalah. Riven by social and cultural strife, the
period of enlightenment called rather for theories than for art, and the
novelist no less than the publicist was called upon to supply the want.
This theoretic element was paramount in the novels of Perez Smolenskin.
(1842-1885), the editor of the popular Hebrew magazine _ha-Shahar_. [1]
The pupil of a White Russian yeshibah, he afterwards drifted into
frivolous Odessa and still later to Vienna, suffering painfully from the
shock of the contrast. Personally he had emerged unscathed from this
conflict of ideas. But round about him he witnessed "the dead bodies of
enlightenment, which are just as numerous as the victims of ignorance."
He saw the Jewish youth fleeing from its people and forgetting its
national language. He saw Reform Judaism of Western Europe which had
retained nothing of Jewish culture except the modernized
superficialities of the synagogue. Repelled by this spectacle,
Smolenskin decided from the very beginning to fight on two fronts:
against the fanatics of orthodoxy in the name of European progress, and
against the champions of assimilation in the name of national Jewish
culture, and more particularly of the Hebrew language. "You say,"
Smolenskin exclaims, addressing himself to the assimilators, "let us be
like the other nations. Well and good. Let us, indeed, be like the other
nations: cultured men and women, free from superstition, loyal citizens
of the country. But let us also remember, as the other nations do, that
we have no right to be ashamed of our origin, that it is our duty to
hold dear our national language and our national dignity."

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 218.]

In his first great novel "A Rover on Life's Paths" (_Ha-to-'eh bedarke
ha-hayyim_, 1869-1876), Smolenskin carries his hero through all the
stages of cultural development, leading from an obscure White Russian
hamlet to the centers of European civilization in London and Paris. But
at the end of his "rovings" the hero ultimately attains to a synthesis
of Jewish nationalism and European progress, and ends by sacrificing his
life while defending his brethren during the Odessa pogrom of 1871. The
other _Tendenz_-novels of Smolenskin reflect the same double-fronted
struggle: against the stagnation of the orthodox, particularly the
Hasidim, and against the disloyalty of the "enlightened."

Smolenskin's theory of Judaism is formulated in two publicistic works:
"The Eternal People" (_'Am 'olam_, [1] 1872) and "There is a Time to
Plant" (_'Et la-ta'at_ [2], 1875-1877). As a counterbalance to the
artificial religious reforms of the West, he sets up the far-reaching
principle of Jewish evolution, of a gradual amalgamation of the national
and humanitarian element within Judaism. The Messianic dogma, which the
Jews of the West had completely abandoned because of its alleged
incompatibility with Jewish citizenship in the Diaspora, is warmly
defended by Smolenskin as one of the symbols of national unity. In the
very center of his system stands the cult of Hebrew as a national
language, "without which there is no Judaism." In order the more
successfully to demolish the idea of assimilation, Smolenskin bombards
its substructure, the theory of enlightenment as formulated by Moses
Mendelssohn, with its definition of the Jews as a religious community,
and not as a nation, though in his polemical ardor he often goes too
far, and does occasional violence to historic truth.

[Footnote 1: From Isa. 44. 7.]

[Footnote 2: From Eccles. 3. 2.]

In both works one may discern, though in vague outlines only, the theory
of a "spiritual nation." [1] However, Smolenskin did not succeed in
developing and consolidating his theory. The pogroms of 1881 and the
beginning of the Jewish exodus from Russia upset his equilibrium once
more. He laid aside the question of the national development of Jewry in
the Diaspora, and became an enthusiastic preacher of the restoration of
the Jewish people in Palestine. In the midst of this propaganda the life
of the talented publicist was cut short by a premature death.

[Footnote 1: The conception of a "spiritual nation" as applied to
Judaism has been formulated and expounded by the author of the present
volume in a number of works. See his "Jewish History" (Jewish
Publication Society, 1903) p. 29 et seq., and the translator's essay
"Dubnow's Theory of Jewish Nationalism" (reprinted from the
Maccabaean, 1905). More about this theory will be found in Vol. III.]

The same conviction was finally reached, after a prolonged inner
struggle, by Moses Leib Lilienblum (1843-1910), who might well be called
a "martyr of enlightenment." However, during the period under
consideration he moved entirely within the boundaries of the Haskalah,
of which he was a most radical exponent. Persecuted for his harmless
liberalism by the fanatics of his native town of Vilkomir, [1]
Lilienblum began to ponder over the question of Jewish religious
reforms. In advocating the reform of Judaism, he was not actuated, as
were so many in Western Europe, by the desire of adapting Judaism to the
non-Jewish environment, but rather by the profound and painful
conviction that dominant Rabbinism in its medieval phase did not
represent the true essence of Judaism. Reform of Judaism, as interpreted
by Lilienblum, does not mean a revolution, but an evolution of Judaism.
Just as the Talmud had once reformed Judaism in accordance with the
requirements of its time, so must Judaism be reformed by us in
accordance with the demands of our own times. When the youthful writer
embodied these views in a series of articles, published in the
_ha-Melitz_ under the title _Orhot ha-Talmud_ ("The Ways of the Talmud,"
1868-1869), his orthodox townsmen were so thoroughly aroused that his
further stay in Vilkomir was not free from danger, and he was compelled
to remove to Odessa. Here he published in 1870 his rhymed satire _Kehal
refa'im_, [2] in which the dark shadows of a Jewish town, the Kahal
elders, the rabbis, the Tzaddiks, and other worthies, move weirdly about
in the gloom of the nether-world.

[Footnote 1: In the government of Kovno.]

[Footnote 2: "The Congregation of the Dead," with allusion to Prov.

In Odessa Lilienblum joined the ranks of the Russified college youth,
and became imbued with the radical ideas of Chernyshevski and Pisaryev,
gaining the reputation of a "nihilist." His theory of Jewish reform,
superannuated by his new materialistic world view, was thrown aside, and
a gaping void opened in the soul of the writer. This frame of mind is
reflected in Lilienblum's self-revelation, "The Sins of Youth" (_Hattot
ne'urim_, 1876), this agonizing cry of one of the many victims of the
mental cataclysm of the sixties. The book made a tremendous impression,
for the mental tortures depicted in it were typical of the whole age of
transition. However, the final note of the confession, the shriek of a
wasted soul, which, having overthrown the old idols, has failed to find
a new God, did not express the general trend of that period, which was
far from despair.

As for our author, his tempestuous soul was soon set at rest. The events
which filled the minds of progressive Jewry with agitation, the horrors
of the pogroms and the political oppression of the beginning of the
eighties, brought peace to the aching heart of Lilienblum. He found the
solution of the Jewish problems in the "Love of Zion," of which he
became the philosophic exponent. At a later stage he became an ardent
champion of political Zionism.


The left wing of "enlightenment" was represented during this period by
Jewish literature in the Russian language, which had several noteworthy
exponents. It is interesting to observe that, whereas all the prominent
writers in Hebrew were children of profoundly nationalistic Lithuania,
those that wrote in Russian, with the sole exception of Levanda, were
natives of South Russia, where the two extremes, stagnant Hasidism and
radical Russification, fought for supremacy. The founder of this branch
of Jewish literature was Osip (Joseph) Rabinovich (1817-1869), a
Southerner, a native of Poltava and a resident of Odessa. [1] Alongside
of journalistic articles he wrote protracted novels. His touching
"Pictures of the Past," his stories "The Penal Recruit" and "The
Inherited Candlestick" (1859-1860) called up before the generation
living at the dawn of the new era of reforms the shadows of the passing
night: the tortures of Nicholas' conscription and the degrading forms of
Jewish rightlessness.

[Footnote 1: See above, p, 219.]

The fight against this rightlessness was the goal of his
journalistic activity which, prior to the publication of the _Razswyet_,
he had carried on in the columns of the liberal Russian press. The
problems of inner Jewish life had but little attraction for him. Like
Riesser, he looked upon civil emancipation as a panacea for all Jewish
ailments. He was snatched away by death before he could be cured of this

Rabinovich's work was continued by a talented youth, the journalist Ilya
(Elias) Orshanski of Yekaterinoslav (1846-1875), who was the main
contributor to the _Dyen_ of Odessa and to the _Yevreyskaya
Bibliotyeka_. [1] To fight for Jewish rights, not to offer humble
apologies, to demand emancipation, not to beg for it, this attitude
lends a charm of its own to Orshanski's writings. His brilliant analysis
of "Russian Legislation concerning the Jews" [2] offers a complete
anatomy of Jewish disfranchisement in Russia, beginning with Catherine
II. and ending with Alexander II.

[Footnote 1: Compare above, p. 220 et seq.]

[Footnote 2: The title of his work on the same subject which appeared in
St. Petersburg in 1877.]

Nevertheless, being a child of his age, he preached its formula. While a
passionate Jew at heart, he championed the cause of Russification,
though not in the extreme form of spiritual self-effacement. The Odessa
pogrom of 1871 staggered his impressionable soul. He was tossing about
restlessly, seeking an outlet for his resentment, but everywhere he
knocked his head against the barriers of censorship and police. Had he
been granted longer life, he might, like Smolenskin, have chosen the
road of a nationalistic-progressive synthesis, but the white plague
carried him off in his twenty-ninth year.

The literary work of Lev (Leon) Levanda (1835-1888) was of a more
complicated character. A graduate of one of the official rabbinical
schools, he was first active as teacher in a Jewish Crown school in
Minsk, and afterwards occupied the post of a "learned Jew" [1] under
Muravyov, the governor-general of Vilna. He thus moved in the hot-bed of
"official enlightenment" and in the headquarters of the policy of
Russification as represented by Muravyov, a circumstance which left its
impress upon all the products of his pen. In his first novel, "The
Grocery Store" (1860), of little merit from the artistic point of view,
he still appears as the naive bard of that shallow "enlightenment," the
champion of which is sufficiently characterized by wearing a European
costume, calling himself by a well-sounding German or Russian name (in
the novel under discussion the hero goes by the name of Arnold),
cultivating friendly relations with noble-minded Christians and making a
love match unassisted by the marriage-broker.

[Footnote 1: In Russian, _Uchony Yevrey_, an expert in Jewish matters,
attached, according to the Russian law of 1844, to the superintendents
of school districts and to the governors-general within the Pale.]

During this stage of his career, Levanda was convinced that "no educated
Jew could help being a cosmopolitan." But a little later his
cosmopolitanism displayed a distinct propensity toward Russification. In
his novel "A Hot Time" (1871-1872), Levanda renounces his former Polish
sympathies, and, through the mouth of his hero Sarin, preaches the
gospel of the approaching cultural fusion between the Jews and the
Russians which is to mark a new epoch in the history of the Jewish
people. Old-fashioned Jewish life is cleverly ridiculed in his "Sketches
of the Past" ("The Earlocks of my Mellammed," "Schoolophobia," etc.,
1870-1875). His peace of mind was not even disturbed by the
manifestation, towards the end of the sixties, of the anti-Semitic
reaction in those very official circles in which the "learned Jew" moved
and in which Brafman was looked up to as an authority in matters
appertaining to Judaism. [1] But the catastrophe of 1881 dealt a
staggering blow to Levanda's soul, and forced him to overthrow his
former idol of assimilation. With his mind not yet fully settled on the
new theory of nationalism, he joined the Palestine movement towards the
end of his life, and went down to his grave with a clouded soul.

[Footnote 1: Levanda sat side by side with this renegade and informer in
the Commission on the Jewish Question which had been appointed by the
governor-general of Vilna. (See p. 189.)]

One who stuck fast in his denial of Judaism was Grigory Bogrov
(1825-1885). The descendant of a family of rabbis in Poltava, he passed
"from darkness to light" by way of the curious educational institution
of Nicholas' brand, the office of an excise farmer in which he was
employed for a number of years. The enlightened _Aktziznik_ [1] became
conscious of his literary talent late in life. His protracted "Memoirs
of a Jew," largely made up of autobiographic material, were published in
a Russian magazine as late as 1871-1873. [2] They contain an acrimonious
description of Jewish life in the time of Nicholas I. No Jewish artist
had ever yet dipped his brush in colors so dismal and had displayed so
ferocious a hatred as did Bogrov in painting the old Jewish mode of life
within the Pale, with its poverty and darkness, its hunters and victims,
its demoralized Kahal rule of the days of conscription. Bogrov's account
of his childhood and youth is not relieved by a single cheerful
reminiscence, except that of a young _Russian_ girl. The whole
patriarchal life of a Jewish townlet of that period is transformed into
a sort of inferno teeming with criminals or idiots.

[Footnote 1: See p. 186, n. 1.]

[Footnote 2: Shortly afterwards the "Memoirs" were supplemented by
another autobiographic novel, "The Captured Recruit."]

To the mind of Bogrov, only two ways promised an escape from this hell:
the way of cosmopolitanism and rationalism, opening up into humanity at
large, or the way leading into the midst of the Russian nation. Bogrov
himself stood irresolute on this fateful border-line. In 1878 he wrote
to Levanda that as "an emancipated cosmopolitan he would long ago have
crossed over to the opposite shore," where "other sympathies and ideals
smiled upon him," were he not kept within the Jewish fold "by four
million people innocently suffering from systematic persecutions."

Bogrov's hatred of the persecutors of the Jewish people was poured forth
in his historic novel "A Jewish Manuscript" (1876), the plot of which is
based on events of the time of Khmelnitzki. [1] But even here, while
describing, as he himself puts it, the history of the struggle between
the spider and the fly, he finds in the life of the fly nothing worthy
of sympathy except its sufferings. In 1879 Bogrov began a new novel,
"The Scum of the Age," picturing the life of the modern Jewish youth who
were engulfed in the Russian revolutionary propaganda. But the hand
which knew how to portray the horrors of the old conscription was
powerless to reproduce, except in very crude outlines, the world of
political passions which was foreign to the author, and the novel
remained unfinished.

[Footnote 1: See on that period Vol. I, p. 144 et seq.]

The reaction of the eighties produced no change in Bogrov's attitude. He
breathed his last in a distant Russian village, and was buried in a
Russian cemetery, having embraced Christianity shortly before his death,
as a result of a sad concatenation of family circumstances.

Before the young generation which entered upon active life in the
eighties lay the broken tablets of Russian Jewish literature. New
tablets were needed, partly to restore the commandments of the preceding
period of enlightenment, partly to correct its mistakes.




On March 1, 1881, Alexander II. met his death on one of the principal
thoroughfares of St. Petersburg, smitten by dynamite bombs hurled at him
by a group of terrorists. The Tzar, who had freed the Russian peasantry
from personal slavery, paid with his life for refusing to free the
Russian people from political slavery and police tyranny. The red
terrorism of the revolutionaries was the counterpart of the white
terrorism of the Russian authorities, who for many years had suppressed
the faintest striving for liberty, and had sent to gaol and prison, or
deported to Siberia, the champions of a constitutional form of
government and the spokesmen of social reforms. Forced by the
persecutions of the police to hide beneath the surface, the
revolutionary societies of underground Russia found themselves compelled
to resort to methods of terrorism. This terrorism found its expression
during the last years of Alexander II. in various attempts on the life
of that ruler, and culminated in the catastrophe of March 1.

Among the members of these revolutionary societies were also some
representatives from among the young Jewish _intelligenzia._ They were
in large part college students, who had been carried away by the ideals
of their Russian comrades. But few of them were counted among the active
terrorists. The group which prepared the murder of the Tzar comprised
but one Jewish member, a woman by the name of Hesia Helfman, who,
moreover, played but a secondary role in the conspiracy, by keeping a
secret residence for toe revolutionaries. Nevertheless, in the official
circles, which were anxious to justify their oppression of the Jews, it
became customary to refer to the "important role" played by the Jews in
the Russian revolution.

It was with preconceived notions of this kind that Alexander III.
ascended the throne of Russia, a sovereign with unlimited power but with
a very limited political horizon. Being a Russian of the old-fashioned
type and a zealous champion of the Greek-Orthodox Church, he shared the
anti-Jewish prejudices of his environment. Already as crown prince he
ordered that a monetary reward be given to the notorious Lutostanski,
who had presented him with his libellous pamphlet "Concerning the Use of
Christian Blood by the Jews." [1] During the Russo-Turkish war of 1877,
when as heir-apparent he was in command of one of the Balkan armies, he
allowed himself to be persuaded that the abuses in the Russian
commissariat were due to the "Jewish" purveyors who supplied the army.
[2] This was all that was known about Judaism in the circles from which
the ruler of five million Jews derived his information.

[Footnote 1: See p. 203.]

[Footnote 2: The business firm in question was that of Greger, Horvitz,
and Kohan, of whom the first was a Greek, and the second a converted
Jew. See above, p. 202, n. 1.]

In March and April, 1881, the destinies of Russia were being decided at
secret conferences, which were held between the Tzar and the highest
dignitaries of state in the palace of the quiet little town of Gatchina,
whither Alexander III. had withdrawn after the death of his father. Two
parties and two programs were struggling for mastery at these
conferences. The party of the liberal Minister Loris-Melikov,
championing a program of moderate reforms, pleaded primarily for the
establishment of an advisory commission to be composed of the deputies
deputies of the rural and urban administrations for the purpose of
considering all legal projects prior to their submission to
the Council of State. This plan of a paltry popular representation,
which had obtained the approval of Alexander II. during the last
days of his life, assumed in the eyes of the reactionary party the
proportions of a dangerous "constitution," and was execrated
by it as an encroachment upon the sacred prerogatives of autocracy.
The head of this party was the procurator-general of the Holy Synod,
Constantine Petrovich Pobyedonostzev, a former professor at
the University of Moscow, who had been Alexander III.'s tutor in the
political sciences when the latter was crown prince. As the
exponent of an ecclesiastical police state, Pobyedonostzev contended
that enlightenment and political freedom were harmful to Russia,
that the people must be held in a state of patriarchal submission to
the authority of the Church and of the temporal powers, and that the
Greek-Orthodox masses must be shielded against the influence of
alien religions and races, which should accordingly occupy in the
Russian monarchy a position subordinate to that of the dominant
nation. The ideas of this fanatic reactionary, who was dubbed "The
Grand Inquisitor" and whose name was popularly changed into
_Byedonostzev_ [1] carried the day at the Gatchina conferences. The
deliberations culminated in the decision to refrain from making any
concessions to the revolutionary element by granting reforms, however
however modest in character, and to maintain at all cost the regime of a
police state as a counterbalance to the idea of a legal state
prevalent in the "rotten West."

[Footnote 1: _Byedonostzev_ means in Russian "Misfortune-bearer," a play
on the name _Pobyedonostzev_ which signifies "Victory-bearer."]

Accordingly, the imperial manifesto [1] promulgated on April 29, 1881,
proclaimed to the people that "the Voice of God hath commanded us to
take up vigorously the reins of government, inspiring us with the belief
in the strength and truth of autocratic power, which we are called upon
to establish and safeguard." The manifesto "calls upon all faithful
subjects to eradicate the hideous sedition and to establish faith and
morality." The methods whereby faith and morality were to be established
were soon made known, in the "Police Constitution" which was bestowed
upon Russia in August, 1881, under the name of "The Statute concerning
Enforced Public Safety."

[Footnote 1: A manifesto is a pronouncement issued by the Tzar on solemn
occasions, such as accession to the throne, events in the imperial
family, declaration of war, conclusion of peace, etc., accompanied, as a
rule, by acts of grace, such as conferring privileges, granting pardons,
and so on. Compare also above, p. 115.]

This statute confers upon the Russian satraps of the capitals (St.
Petersburg and Moscow) and of many provincial centers--the
governors-general and the governors--the power of issuing special
enactments and thereby setting aside the normal laws as well as of
placing under arrest and deporting to Siberia, without the due process
of law, all citizens suspected of "political unsafety." This travesty of
a _habeas corpus_ Act, insuring the inviolability of police and
gendarmerie, and practically involving the suspension of the current
legislation in a large part of the monarchy, has ever since been
annually renewed by special imperial enactments, and has remained in
force until our own days. The genuine "Police Constitution" of 1881 has
survived the civil sham Constitution of 1905, figuring as a symbol of
legalized lawlessness.


The catastrophe of March 1 had the natural effect of pushing not only
the Government but also a large part of the Russian people, who had been
scared by the spectre of anarchy, in the direction of reactionary
politics. This retrograde tendency was bound to affect the Jewish
question. The bacillus of Judaeophobia [1] became astir in the
politically immature minds which had been unhinged by the acts of
terrorism. The influential press organs, which maintained more or less
close relations with the leading Government spheres, adopted more and
more a hostile attitude towards the Jews. The metropolitan newspaper
_Novoye Vremya_ ("The New Time") [2] which at that time embarked upon
its infamous career as the semi-official organ of the Russian reaction,
and a number of provincial newspapers subsidized by the Government
suddenly began to speak of the Jews in a tone which suggested that they
were in the possession of some terrible secret.

[Footnote 1: The term used in Russia for anti-Semitism.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 205.]

Almost on the day following the attempt on the life of the Tzar, the
papers of this ilk began to insinuate that the Jews had a hand in
it, and shortly thereafter the South-Russian press published alarming
rumors about proposed organized attacks upon the Jews of that region.
These rumors were based on facts. A sinister agitation was rife among
the lowest elements of the Russian population, while invisible hands
from above seemed to push it on toward the commission of a gigantic
crime. In the same month of March, mysterious emissaries from St.
Petersburg made their appearance in the large cities of South Russia,
such as Yelisavetgrad (Elizabethgrad), Kiev, and Odessa, and entered
into secret negotiations with the highest police officials concerning a
possible "outburst of popular indignation against the Jews" which they
expected to take place as part of the economic conflict, intimating the
undesirability of obstructing the will of the Russian populace by police
force. Figures of Great-Russian tradesmen and laborers, or _Katzaps,_ as
the Great Russians are designated in the Little-Russian South, began to
make their appearance in the railroad cars and at the railroad stations,
and spoke to the common people of the summary punishment soon to be
inflicted upon the Jews or read to them anti-Semitic newspaper articles.
They further assured them that an imperial ukase had been issued,
calling upon the Christians to attack the Jews during the days of the
approaching Greek-Orthodox Easter.

Although many years have passed since these events, it has not yet been
possible to determine the particular agency which carried on this pogrom
agitation among the Russian masses. Nor has it been possible to find out
to what extent the secret society of high officials, which had been
formed in March, 1881, under the name of "The Sacred League," with the
object of defending the person of the Tzar and engaging in a terroristic
struggle with the "enemies of the public order," [1] was implicated in
the movement. But the fact itself that, the pogroms were carefully
prepared and engineered is beyond doubt: it may be inferred from the
circumstance that they broke out almost simultaneously in many places of
the Russian South, and that everywhere they followed the same routine,
characterized by the well-organized "activity" of the mob and the
deliberate inactivity of the authorities.

[Footnote 1: The League existed until the autumn of 1882. Among its
members were Pobyedonostzev and the anti-Jewish Minister Ignatyev.]

The first outbreak of the storm took place in Yelisavetgrad
(Elizabethgrad), a large city in New Russia, [1] with a Jewish
population of fifteen thousand souls. On the eve of the Greek-Orthodox
Easter, the local Christians, meeting on the streets and in the stores,
spoke to one another of the fact that "the Zhyds are about to be
beaten." The Jews became alarmed. The police, prepared to maintain
public order during the first days of the Passover, called out a small
detachment of soldiers. In consequence, the first days of the festival
passed quietly, and on the fourth day, [2] on April 15, the troops were
removed from the streets.

[Footnote 1: On the term New Russia see p. 40, n. 3.]

[Footnote 2: The Greek-Orthodox Passover lasts officially three days,
but an additional day is celebrated by the populace.]

At that moment the pogrom began. The organizers of the riots sent a
drunken Russian into a saloon kept by a Jew, where he began to make
himself obnoxious. When the saloon-keeper pushed the trouble maker out
into the street, the crowd, which was waiting outside, began to shout:
"The Zhyds are beating our people," and threw themselves upon the Jews
who happened to pass by.

This evidently was the prearranged signal for the pogrom. The Jewish
stores in the market-place were attacked and demolished, and the goods
looted or destroyed. At first, the police, assisted by the troops,
managed somehow to disperse the rioters. But on the second day the
pogrom was renewed with greater energy and better leadership, amidst the
suspicious inactivity both of the military and police authorities. The
following description of the events is taken from the records of the
official investigation which were not meant for publication and are
therefore free from the bureaucratic prevarications characteristic of
Russian public documents:

  During the night from the 15th to the 16th of April, an attack was
  made upon Jewish houses, primarily upon liquor stores, on the
  outskirts of the town, on which occasion one Jew was killed. About
  seven o'clock in the morning, on April 16, the excesses were
  renewed, spreading with extraordinary violence all over the city.
  Clerks, saloon and hotel waiters, artisans, drivers, flunkeys, day
  laborers in the employ of the Government, and soldiers on
  furlough--all of these joined the movement. The city presented an
  extraordinary sight: streets covered with feathers and obstructed
  with broken furniture which had been thrown out of the residences;
  houses with broken doors and windows; a raging mob, running about
  yelling and whistling in all directions and continuing its work of
  destruction without let or hindrance, and, as a finishing touch to
  this picture, complete indifference displayed by the local
  non-Jewish inhabitants to the havoc wrought before their eyes. The
  troops which had been summoned to restore order were without
  definite instructions, and, at each attack of the mob on another
  house, would wait for orders of the military or police authorities,
  without knowing what to do. As a result of this attitude of the
  military, the turbulent mob, which was demolishing the houses and
  stores of the Jews before the eyes of the troops, without being
  checked by them, was bound to arrive at the conclusion that the
  excesses in which it indulged were not an illegal undertaking but
  rather a work which had the approval of the Government. Toward
  evening the disorders increased in intensity, owing to the arrival
  of a large number of peasants from the adjacent villages, who were
  anxious to secure part of the Jewish loot. There was no one to check
  these crowds; the troops and police were helpless. They had all lost
  heart, and were convinced that it was Impossible to suppress the
  disorders with the means at hand. At eight o'clock at night a rain
  came down accompanied by a cold wind which helped in a large measure
  to disperse the crowd. At eleven o'clock fresh troops arrived on the
  spot. On the morning of April 17 a new battalion of infantry came,
  and from that day on public order was no longer violated in

The news of the "victory" so easily won over the Jews of Yelisavetgrad
aroused the dormant pogrom energy in the unenlightened Russian masses.
In the latter part of April riots took place in many villages of the
Yelisavetgrad district and in several towns and townlets in the
adjoining government of Kherson. In the villages, the work of
destruction was limited to the inns kept by Jews--many peasants
believing that they were acting in accordance with imperial orders. In
the towns and townlets, all Jewish houses and stores were demolished and
their goods looted. In the town of Ananyev, in the government of
Kherson, the people were incited by a resident named Lashchenko, who
assured his townsmen that the central Government had given orders to
massacre the Jews because they had murdered the Tzar, and that these
orders were purposely kept back by the local administration. The
instigator was seized by the police, but was wrested from it by the
crowd which thereupon threw itself upon the Jews. The riots resulted in
some two hundred ruined houses and stores in the outskirts of the town,
where the Jewish proletariat was cooped up. The central part of the
town, where the more well-to-do Jews had their residences, was guarded
by the police and by a military detachment, and therefore remained


The movement gained constantly in momentum, and the instincts of the mob
became more and more unbridled. The "Mother of Russian cities," ancient
Kiev, where at the dawn of Russian history the Jews, together with the
Khazars, had been the banner-bearers of civilization, became the scene
of the lawless fury of savage hordes. Here the pogrom was carefully
prepared by a secret organization which spread the rumor that the new
Tzar had given orders to exterminate the Jews, who had murdered his
father, and that the civil and military authorities would render
assistance to the people, whilst those who would fail to comply with the
will of the Tzar would meet with punishment. The local authorities, with
Governor-General Drenteln at their head, who was a reactionary and a
fierce Jew-hater, were aware not only of the imminence of the pogrom,
but also of the day selected for it, Sunday, April 26.

As early as April 23 a street fight took place which was accompanied by
assaults on Jewish passers-by--a prelude to the pogrom. On the day
before the fateful Sunday, the Jews were warned by the police not to
leave their houses, nor to open their stores on the morrow. The Jews
were nonplussed. They failed to understand why in the capital of the
governor-general, with its numerous troops, which, at a hint from their
commander, were able to nip in the bud disorders of any kind, peaceful
citizens should be told to hide themselves from an impending attack,
instead of taking measures to forestall the attack itself. Nevertheless,
the advice of the police was heeded, and on the fateful day no Jews were
to be found on the streets. This, however, did not prevent the numerous
bands of rioters from assembling on the streets and embarking upon their
criminal activities. The pogrom started in Podol, a part of the town
densely populated by Jews. The following is the description of an

  At twelve o'clock at noon, the air saddenly resounded with, wild
  shouts, whistling, jeering, hooting, and laughing. An immense crowd
  of young boys, artisans, and laborers was on the march. The whole
  city was obstructed by the "bare-footed brigade." [1] The
  destruction of Jewish houses began. Window-panes, and doors began to
  fly about, and shortly thereafter the mob, having gained access to
  the houses and stores, began to throw upon the streets absolutely
  everything that fell into their hands. Clouds of feathers began to
  whirl in the air. The din of broken window-panes and frames, the
  crying, shouting, and despair on the one hand, and the terrible
  yelling and jeering on the other, completed the picture which
  reminded many of those who had participated in the last
  Russo-Turkish war of the manner in which the Bashi-buzuks [2] had
  attacked Bulgarian villages. Soon afterwards the mob threw itself
  upon the Jewish synagogue, which, despite its strong bars, locks and
  shutters, was wrecked in a moment. One should have seen the fury
  with which the riff-raff fell upon the [Torah] scrolls, of which
  there were many in the synagogue. The scrolls were torn to shreds,
  trampled in the dirt, and destroyed with incredible passion. The
  streets were soon crammed with the trophies of destruction.
  Everywhere fragments of dishes, furniture, household utensils, and
  other articles lay scattered about. Barely two hours after the
  beginning of the pogrom, the majority of the "bare-footed brigade"
  were transformed into well-dressed gentlemen, many of them having
  grown excessively stout in the meantime. The reason for this sudden
  change was simple enough. Those that had looted the stores of
  ready-made clothes put on three or four suits, and, not yet
  satisfied, took under their arms all they could lay their hands on.
  Others drove off in vehicles, carrying with them bags filled with
  loot.... The Christian population saved itself from the ruinous
  operations of the crowd by placing holy ikons in their windows and
  painting crosses on the gates of their houses.

[Footnote 1: The Russian nickname for a crowd of tramps.]

[Footnote 2: Name of the Turkish irregular troops noted for their

While the pogrom was going on, troops were marching up and down on the
streets of the Podol district, Cossaks were riding about on their
horses, and patrols on foot and horse-back were moving to and fro.

  Here and there army officers would pass through, among them generals
  and high civil officials. The cavalry would hasten to a place whence
  the noise came. Having arrived there, it would surround the mob and
  order it to disperse, but the mob would only move to another place.
  Thus, the work of destruction proceeded undisturbed until three
  o'clock in the morning. Drums were beaten, words of command were
  shouted, the crowd was encircled by the troops and ordered to
  disperse, while the mob continued its attacks with ever-increasing
  fury and savagery.

While some of the robber bands were "busy" in Podol, others were active
in the principal thoroughfares of the city. In each case, the savage and
drunken mob--"not a single sober person could be found among them," is
the testimony of an eye-witness--did its hideous work in the presence of
soldiers and policemen, who in a few instances drove off the rioters,
but, more often, accompanied them from place to place, forming, as it
were, an honorary escort. Occasionally, Governor-General Drenteln
himself would appear on the streets, surrounded by a magnificent
military suite, including the governor and chief of police. These
representatives of State authority "admonished the people," and the
latter, "preserving a funereal silence, drew back," only to resume their
criminal task after the departure of the authorities.

In some places there were neither troops nor police on the spot, and the
rioters were able to give full vent to their beastly instincts.
Demiovka, a suburb of Kiev, was invaded by a horde of rioters during the
night. They first destroyed the saloons, filling themselves with
alcohol, and then proceeded to lay fire to the Jewish houses. Under the
cover of night indescribable horrors were perpetrated, numerous Jews
were beaten to death or thrown into the flames, and many women were
violated. A private investigation carried on subsequently brought out
more than twenty cases of rape committed on Jewish girls and married
women. Only two of the sufferers confessed their misfortune to the
public prosecutor. The others admitted their disgrace in private or
concealed it altogether, for fear of ruining their reputation.

It was only on April 27--when the pogrom broke out afresh--that the
authorities resolved to put a stop to it. Wherever a disorderly band
made its appearance, it was immediately surrounded by soldiers and
Cossaks and driven off with the butt ends of their rifles. Here and
there it became necessary to shoot at these human beasts, and some of
them were wounded or killed. The rapidity with which the pogrom was
suppressed on the second day showed incontrovertibly that if the
authorities had only been so minded the excesses might have been
suppressed on the first day and the crime nipped in the bud. The
indifference of the authorities was responsible for the demolition of
about a thousand Jewish houses and business places, involving a monetary
loss of several millions of rubles, not to speak of the scores of killed
and wounded Jews and a goodly number of violated women. In the official
reports these orgies of destruction were politely designated as
"disorders," and _The Imperial Messenger_ limited its account of the
horrors perpetrated at Kiev to the following truth-perverting dispatch:

  On April 26, disorders broke out in Kiev which were directed against
  the Jews. Several Jews received blows, and their stores and
  warehouses were plundered. On the morning of the following day the
  disorders were checked with the help of the troops, and five hundred
  men from among the rioters were arrested.

The later laconic reports are nearer to the facts. They set the figure
of arrested rioters at no less than fourteen hundred, and make mention
of a number of persons who had been wounded during the suppression of
the excesses, including one gymnazium and one university student. Yet
even these later dispatches contain no reference to Jewish victims.


The barbarism displayed in the metropolis of the south-west communicated
itself with the force of an infectious disease to the whole region.
During the following days, from April to May, some fifty villages and a
number of townlets in the government of Kiev and the adjacent
governments of Volhynia and Podolia were swept by the pogrom epidemic.
The Jewish population of the town of Smyela [1] and the surrounding
villages, amounting to some ten thousand souls, experienced, on a
smaller scale, all the horrors perpetrated at Kiev. It was not until the
second day, May 4, that the troops proceeded to put an end to the
violence and pillage which had been going on in the town and which
resulted in a number of killed and wounded. In a near-by village a
Jewish woman of thirty was attacked and tortured to death, while the
seven year old son of another woman, who had saved herself by flight,
was killed in beastly fashion for his refusal to make the sign of the

[Footnote 1: In the government of Kiev.]

In many cases the pogroms had been instigated by the newly arrived
Great-Russian "bare-footed brigade" who having accomplished their
"work," vanished without a trace.

A similar horde of tramps arrived at the railway station of Berdychev.
But in this populous Jewish center they were met at the station by a
large Jewish guard who, armed with clubs, did not allow the visiting
"performers" to leave the railway cars, with the result that they had to
turn back. This rare instance of self-defence was only made possible by
the indulgence of the local police commissioner, or _Ispravnik_, who,
for a large consideration, blinked at the endeavor of the Jews to defend
themselves against the rioters. In other places, similar attempts at
self-defence were frustrated by the police; occasionally they made
things worse. Such was the case in the town of Konotop, in the
government of Chernigov, where, as a result of the self-defence of the
Jews, the mob passed from plunder to murder. In the villages the
ignorant peasants scrupulously discharged their "pogrom duty," in the
conviction that it had been imposed upon them by the Tzar. In one
village in the government of Chernigov, the following characteristic
episode took place. The peasants of the village had assembled for their
work of destruction. When the rural chief, or Elder, [1] called upon the
peasants to disperse, the latter demanded a written guarantee that they
would not be held to account for their failure to comply with the
imperial "orders" to beat the Jews. This guarantee was given to them.
However, the sceptical rustics were not yet convinced, and, to make
assurance doubly sure, destroyed six Jewish houses. In various villages
the priests found it exceedingly difficult to convince the peasants that
no "order" had been issued to attack the Jews.

[Footnote 1: The president of the village assembly.]

The series of spring pogroms was capped by a three days' riot in the
capital of the South, in Odessa (May 3-5), which harbored a Jewish
population of 100,000. In view of the immense riff-raff, which is
generally found in a port of entry of this size, the excesses of the mob
might have assumed terrifying dimensions, had not the authorities
remembered that the task entrusted to them was not exactly that of
forming an honorary escort for the rioters, as had actually been the
case in Kiev. The police and military forces of Odessa attacked the
rioting hordes which had spread all over the city, and, in most cases,
succeeded in driving them off. The Jewish self-defence, organized and
led by Jewish students of the University of Odessa, managed in a
number of cases to beat off the bloodthirsty crowds from the gates of
Jewish homes. However, when the police began to make arrests among the
street mob, they drew no line between the defenders and the assailants,
with the result that among the eight hundred arrested persons there
were one hundred and fifty Jews, who were locked up on the charge of
carrying fire-arms. In point of fact, the "arms" of the Jews
consisted of clubs and iron rods, with the exception of a very few
who were provided with pistols. Those arrested were loaded on three
barges which were towed out to sea, and for several days were kept
in that swimming jail.

The Odessa pogrom, which had resulted in the destruction of several city
districts populated by poor Jews, did not satisfy the appetites of the
savage crowd, whose imagination had been fired by stories of the
"successes" attained at Kiev. The mob threatened the Jews with a new
riot and even with a massacre. The panic resulting from this threat
induced many Jews to flee to more peaceful places, or to leave Russia
altogether. The same lack of completeness marked the pogroms which took
place simultaneously in several other cities within the jurisdiction of
the governor-general of New Russia. In the beginning of May the
destructive energy characterizing the first pogrom period began to ebb.
A lull ensued in the "military operations" of the Russian barbarians
which continued until the month of July of the same year.




In the beginning of May, 1881, the well-known diplomatist Nicholas
Pavlovich Ignatyev was called by the Tzar to the post of Minister of the
Interior. At one time ambassador in Constantinople and at all times a
militant Pan-Slavist, Ignatyev introduced the system of diplomatic
intrigues into the inner politics of Russia, earning thereby the
unenviable nickname of "Father of Lies."

A programmatic circular, issued by him on May 6, declared that the
principal task of the Government consisted in the "extirpation of
sedition," i.e., in carrying on a struggle not only against the
revolutionary movement but also against the spirit of liberalism in
general. In this connection, Ignatyev took occasion to characterize the
anti-Jewish excesses in the following typical sentences:

  The movement against the Jews which has come to light during the
  last few days in the South is a sad example, showing how men,
  otherwise devoted to Throne and Fatherland, yet yielding to the
  instigations of ill-minded agitators who fan the evil passions of
  the popular masses, give way to self-will and mob rule and, without
  being aware of it, act in accordance with the designs of the
  anarchists. Such violation of the public order must not only be put
  down vigorously, but must also be carefully forestalled, for it is
  the first duty of the Government to safeguard the population against
  all violence and savage mob rule.

These lines reflect the theory concerning the origin of the pogroms,
which was originally held in the highest Government spheres of St.
Petersburg. This theory assumed that the anti-Jewish campaign had been
entirely engineered by revolutionary agitators and that the latter had
made deliberate endeavors to focus the resentment of the popular masses
upon the Jews, as a pre-eminently mercantile class, for the purpose of
subsequently widening the anti-Jewish campaign into a movement directed
against the Russian mercantile class, land-owners and capitalists in
general. [1] Be this as it may, there can be no question that the
Government was actually afraid lest the revolutionary propaganda attach
itself to the agitation of those "devoted to Throne and Fatherland" for
the purpose of giving the movement a more general scope, "in accordance
with the d signs of the anarchists." As a matter of fact, even outside
of Government circles, the apprehension was voiced that the anti-Jewish
movement would of itself, without any external stimulus, assume the form
of a mob movement, directed not only against the well-to-do classes but
also against the Government officials. On May 4, 1881, Baron Horace
Günzburg, a leading representative of the Jewish community of St.
Petersburg, waited upon Grand Duke Vladimir, a brother of the Tzar, who
expressed the opinion that the anti-Jewish "disorders, as has now been
ascertained by the Government, are not to be exclusively traced to the
resentment against the Jews, but are rather due to the endeavor to
disturb the peace in general."

[Footnote 1: John W. Poster, United States Minister to Russia, in
reporting to the Secretary of State, on May 24, 1881, about the recent
excesses, which "are more worthy of the dark ages than of the present
century," makes a similar observation: "It is asserted also that the
Nihilist societies have profited by the situation to incite and
encourage the peasants and lower classes of the towns and cities in
order to increase the embarrassments of the Government, but the charge
is probably conjectural and not based on very tangible facts." See
_House of Representatives, 51st Congress, 1st Session. Executive
Document No. 470, p. 53_]

A week after this visit, the deputies of Russian Jewry had occasion to
hear the same opinion expressed by the Tzar himself. The Jewish
deputation, consisting of Baron Günzburg, the banker Sack, the lawyers
Passover and Bank, and the learned Hebraist Berlin, was awaiting this
audience with, considerable trepidation, anticipating an authoritative
imperial verdict regarding the catastrophe that had befallen the Jews.
On May 11, the audience took place in the palace at Gatchina. Baron
Günzburg voiced the sentiments of "boundless gratitude for the measures
adopted to safeguard the Jewish population at this sad moment," and
added: "One more imperial word, and the disturbances will disappear." In
reply to the euphemistic utterances concerning "the measures adopted,"
the Tzar stated in the same tone that all Russian subjects were equal
before him, and expressed the assurance "that in the criminal disorders
in the South of Russia the Jews merely serve as a pretext, and that it
is the work of anarchists."

This pacifying portion of the Tzar's answer was published in the press.
What the public was not allowed to learn was the other portion of the
answer, in which the Tzar gave utterance to the view that the source of
the hatred against the Jews lay in their economic "domination" and
"exploitation" of the Russian population. In reply to the arguments of
the talented lawyer Passover and the other deputies, the Tzar declared:
"State all this in a special memorandum."

Such a memorandum was subsequently prepared. But it was not submitted to
the Tzar. For only a few months later the official attitude towards the
Jewish question took a turn for the worse. The Government decided to
abandon its former view on the Jewish pogroms and to adopt, instead, the
theory of Jewish "exploitation," using it as a means of justifying not
only the pogroms which had already been perpetrated upon the Jews but
also the repressive measures which were being contemplated against them.
Under these circumstances, Ignatyev did not see his way clear to allow
the memorandum in defence of Jewry to receive the attention of the Tzar.

It is not impossible that the pacifying portion of the imperial reply
which had been given at the audience of May 11 was also prompted by the
desire to appease the public opinion of Western Europe, for at that time
European opinion still carried some weight with the bureaucratic circles
of Russia. Several days before the audience at Gatchina, [1] the English
Parliament discussed the question of Jewish persecutions in Russia. In
the House of Commons the Jewish members, Baron Henry de Worms and Sir
H.D. Wolff, calling attention to the case of an English Jew who had been
expelled from St. Petersburg, interpellated the Under-Secretary of State
for Foreign Affairs, Sir Charles Dilke, "whether Her Majesty's
Government have made any representations to the Government at St.
Petersburg, with regard to the atrocious outrages committed on the
Jewish population in Southern Russia," Dilke replied that the English
Government was not sure whether such a protest "would be likely to be
efficacious." [2]

[Footnote 1: On May 16 and 19=May 4 and 7, according to the Russian

[Footnote 2: The Russian original has been amended in a few places in
accordance with the report of the parliamentary proceedings published in
the _Jewish Chronicle_ of May 20, 1881.]

A similar reply was given by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
Lord Granville, to a joint deputation of the Anglo-Jewish Association
and the Board of Deputies, two leading Anglo-Jewish bodies, which waited
upon him on May 13, [1] two days after the Gatchina audience. After
expressing his warm sympathy with the objects of the deputation, the
Secretary pointed out the inexpediency of any interference on the part
of England at a moment when the Russian Government itself was adopting
measures against the pogroms, referring to "the cordial reception lately
given by the emperor to a deputation of Jews"

[Footnote 1: May 25, according to the European Calendar. From the issue
of the _Jewish Chronicle_ of May 27, 1881, p. 12b, it would appear that
the deputation was received on Tuesday, May 24.]

Subsequent events soon made it clear that the Government, represented by
Ignatyev, was far from harboring any sympathy for the victims of the
pogroms. The public did not fail to notice the fact that the Russian
Government, which was in the habit of rendering financial help to the
population in the case of elemental catastrophes, such as conflagrations
or inundations, had refrained from granting the slightest monetary
assistance to the Jewish sufferers from the pogroms. Apart from its
material usefulness, such assistance would have had an enormous moral
effect, inasmuch as it would have stood forth in the public eye as an
official condemnation of the violent acts perpetrated against the
Jews--particularly if the Tzar himself had made a large donation for
that purpose, as he was wont to do in other cases of this kind. As it
was, the authorities not only neglected to take such a step, but they
even went so far as to forbid the Jews of St. Petersburg to start a
public collection for the relief of the pogrom victims. Nay, the
governor-general of Odessa refused to accept a large sum of money
offered to him by well-to-do Jews for the benefit of the sufferers.

Nor was this the worst. The local authorities did everything in their
power to manifest their solidarity with the enemies of Judaism. The
street pogroms were followed by administrative pogroms _sui generis_.
Already in the month of May, the police of Kiev began to track all the
Jews residing "illegally" in that city [1] and to expel these "criminals"
by the thousands. Similar wholesale expulsions took place in Moscow,
Oryol, and other places outside the Pale of Settlement. These
persecutions constituted evidently an object-lesson in religious
toleration, and the Russian masses which had but recently shown to what
extent they respected the inviolability of Jewish life and property took
the lesson to heart.

[Footnote 1: It will be remembered that the right of residence in Kiev
was restricted in the case of the Jews to a few categories: first-guild
merchants, graduates from institutions of higher learning, and

One hope was still left to the Jews. The law courts, at least, being the
organs of the public conscience of Russia, were bound to condemn
severely the sinister pogrom heroes. But this hope, too, proved
illusory. In the majority of cases the judges treated act of open
pillage and of violence committed against life and limb as petty street
brawls, as "disturbances of the public peace," and imposed upon their
perpetrators ridiculously slight penalties, such as three months'
imprisonment--penalties, moreover, which were simultaneously inflicted
upon the Jews who, as in the case of Odessa, had resorted to
self-defence. When the terrible Kiev pogrom was tried in the local
Military Circuit Court, the public prosecutor Strelnikov, a well-known
reactionary who subsequently met his fate at the hands of the
revolutionaries, delivered himself on May 18 of a speech which was
rather an indictment against the Jews than against the rioters. He
argued that these disorders had been called forth entirely by the
"exploitation of the Jews," who had seized the principal economic
positions in the province, and he conducted his cross-examination of the
Jewish witnesses in the same hostile spirit. When one of the witnesses
retorted that the aggravation of the economic struggle was due to the
artificial congestion of the Jews in the pent-up Pale of Settlement, the
prosecutor shouted: "If the Eastern frontier is closed to the Jews, the
Western frontier is open to them; why don't they take advantage of it?"
This summons to leave the country, doubly revolting in the mouth of a
guardian of the law, addressed to those who under the influence of the
pogrom panic had already made up their minds to flee from the land of
slavery, produced a staggering effect upon the Jewish public. The last
ray of hope, the hope for legal justice, vanished. The courts of law had
become a weapon in the hands of the anti-Jewish leaders.


The feeling of safety, which had been restored by the published portion
of the imperial reply at the audience of May 11, was rapidly
evaporating. The Jews were again filled with alarm, while the
instigators of the pogroms took courage and decided that the time had
arrived to finish their interrupted street performance. The early days
of July marked the inauguration of the second series of riots, the
so-called summer pogroms.

The new conflagration started in the city of Pereyaslav, in the
government of Poltava, which had not yet discarded its anti-Jewish
Cossack traditions. [1] Pereyaslav at that time harbored many fugitives
from Kiev, who had escaped from the spring pogroms in that city. The
increase in the Jewish population of Pereyaslav was evidently
displeasing to the local Christian inhabitants. Four hundred and twenty
Christian burghers of Pereyaslav, avowed believers in the Gospels which
enjoin Christians to love those that suffer, passed a resolution calling
for the expulsion of the Jews from their city, and, in anticipation of
this legalized violence, they decided to teach the Jews a "lesson" on
their own responsibility. On June 30 and July 1, Pereyaslav was the
scene of a pogrom, marked by all the paraphernalia of the Russian
ritual, though unaccompanied this time by human sacrifices. The epilogue
to the pogrom was marked by an originality of its own. A committee
consisting of representatives of the municipal administration, four
Christians and three Jews, was appointed to inquire into the causes of
the disorders. This committee was presented by the local Christian
burghers with a set of demands, some of which were in substance as

[Footnote 1: Comp. Vol. I, p. 145.]

  That the Jewish aldermen of the Town Council, as well as the Jewish
  members of the other municipal bodies, shall voluntarily resign from
  these honorary posts, "as men deprived of civic honesty" [1]; that
  the Jewish women shall not dress themselves in silk, velvet, and
  gold; that the Jews shall refrain from keeping Christian domestics,
  who are "corrupted" in the Jewish homes religiously and morally;
  that all Jewish strangers, who have sought refuge in Pereyaslav,
  shall be immediately banished; that the Jews shall be forbidden to
  buy provisions in the surrounding villages for reselling them; also,
  to carry on business on Sundays and Russian festivals, to keep
  saloons, and so on.

[Footnote 1: This insolent demand of the unenlightened Russian burghers
met with the following dignified rebuttal from the Jewish
office-holders: "What bitter mockery! The Jews are accused of a lack of
honesty by the representatives of those very people who, with clubs and
hatchets in their hands, fell in murderous hordes upon their peaceful
neighbors and plundered their property." The replies to the other
demands of the burghers were coached in similar terms.]

Thus, in addition to being ruined, the Jews were presented with an
ultimatum, implying the threat of further "military operations."

As in previous cases, the example of the city of Pereysslav was followed
by the townlets and villages in the surrounding region. The unruliness
of the crowd, which had been trained to destroy and plunder with
impunity, knew no bounds. In the neighboring town of Borispol a crowd of
rioters, stimulated by alcohol, threatened to pass from pillage to
murder. When checked by the police and Cossacks, they threw themselves
with fury upon these untoward defenders of the Jewish population, and
began to maltreat them, until a few rifle shots put them to flight.

The same was the case in Nyezhin, [1] where a pogrom was enacted on July
20 and 22. After several vain attempts to stop the riots, the military
was forced to shoot at the infuriated crowd, killing and wounding some
of them. This was followed by the cry: "Christian blood is flowing--beat
the Jews!"--and the pogrom was renewed with redoubled vigor. It was
stopped only on the third day.

[Footnote 1: In the government of Chernigov.]

The energy of the July pogroms had evidently spent itself in these last
ferocious attempts. The murderous hordes realized that the police and
military were fully in earnest, and this was enough to sober them from
their pogrom intoxication. Towards the end of July, the epidemic of
vandalism came to a stop, though it was followed in many cities by a
large number of conflagrations. The cowardly rioters, deprived of the
opportunity of plundering the Jews with impunity, began to set fire to
Jewish neighborhoods. This was particularly the case in the
north-western provinces, in Lithuania and White Russia, where the
authorities had from the very beginning set their faces firmly against
all organized violence.

The series of pogroms perpetrated during the spring and summer of that
year had inflicted its sufferings on more than one hundred localities
populated by Jews, primarily in the South of Russia. Yet the misery
engendered by the panic, by the horrible apprehension of unbridled
violence, was far more extensive, for the entire Jewish population of
Russia proved its victim. Just as in the bygone Middle Ages whenever
Jewish suffering had reached a sad climax, so now too the persecuted
nation found itself face to face with the problem of emigration. And as
if history had been anxious to link up the end of the nineteenth century
with that of the fifteenth, the Jewish afflictions in Russia found an
echo in that very country, which in 1492 had herself banished the Jews
from her borders: the Spanish Government announced its readiness to
receive and shelter the fugitives from Russia. Ancient Catholic Spain
held forth a welcoming hand to the victims of modern Greek-Orthodox
Spain. However, the Spanish offer was immediately recognized as having
but little practical value. In the forefront of Jewish interest stood
the question as to the land toward which the emigration movement should
be directed: toward the United States of America, which held out the
prospect of bread and liberty, or toward Palestine, which offered a
shelter to the wounded national soul.

While the Jewish writers were busy debating the question, life itself
decided the direction of the emigration movement. Nearly all fugitives
from the South of Russia had left for America by way of the Western
European centers. The movement proceeded with elemental force, and
entirely unorganized, with the result that in the autumn of that year
some ten thousand destitute Jewish wanderers found themselves huddled
together at the first halting-place, the city of Brody, which is
situated on the Russo-Austrian frontier. They had been attracted hither
by the rumor that the agents of the French _Alliance Israélite
Universette_ would supply them with the necessary means for continuing
their journey across the Atlantic. The central committee of the
_Alliance_, caught unprepared for such a huge emigration, was at its
wit's end. It sent out appeals, warning the Jews against wholesale
emigration to America by way of Brody, but it was powerless to stem the
tide. When the representatives of the French _Alliance_, the well-known
Charles Netter and others, arrived in Brody, they beheld a terrible
spectacle. The streets of the city were filled with thousands of Jews
and Jewesses, who were exhausted from material want, with hungry
children in their arms. "From early morning until late at night, the
French delegates were surrounded by a crowd clamoring for help. Their
way was obstructed by mothers who threw their little ones under their
feet, begging to rescue them from starvation."

The delegates did all they could, but the number of fugitives was
constantly swelling, while the process of dispatching them to America
went on at a snail's pace. The exodus of the Jews from Russia was due
not only to the pogroms and the panic resulting from them, but also to
the new blows which were falling upon them from all sides, dealt out by
the liberal hand of Ignatyev.


After wavering for some time, the anti-Semitic Government of Ignatyev
finally made up its mind as to the attitude it was henceforth to adopt
towards the Jewish problem. Taken aback at the beginning of the pogrom
movement, the leading spheres of Russia were first inclined to ascribe
it to the effects of the revolutionary propaganda, but they afterwards
came to the conclusion that, in the interest of the reactionary policies
pursued by them and as a means of justifying the disgraceful anti-Jewish
excesses before the eyes of Europe, it was more convenient to throw the
blame upon the Jews themselves. With this end in view, a new theory was
put forward by the Russian Government, the quasi-economic doctrine of
"the exploitation of the original population by the Jews." This doctrine
consisted of two parts, which, properly speaking, were mutually

  _First_, the Jews, as a pre-eminently mercantile class, engage in
  "unproductive" labor, and thereby "exploit" the productive classes
   of the Christian population, the peasantry in particular.

  _Second_, the Jews, having "captured" commerce and industry--here
  the large participation of the Jews in industrial life, represented
  by handicrafts and manufactures, is tacitly admitted--compete with
  the Christian urban estates, in other words, interfere with them in
  their own "exploitation" of the population.

The first part of this strange theory is based upon, primitive economic
notions, such as are in vogue during periods of transition, when natural
economic production gives way to capitalism, and when all complicated
forms of mediation are regarded as unproductive and harmful. The thought
expressed in the second part of the thesis is implied in the make-up of
a police state, which looks upon the occupation of certain economic
positions by a given national group as an illegitimate "capture" and
regards it as its function to check this competition for the sole
purpose of insuring the success of the dominant nationality.

The Russian Government was disturbed neither by the primitive character
of this theory nor by the resort to brutal police force implied in
it--the idea of supporting the "exploitation" practised by the Russians
at the expense of that carried on by the Jews; nor was it abashed by its
inner logical contradictions. What the Government needed was some means
whereby it could throw off the responsibility for the pogroms and prove
to the world that they were a "popular judgment," the vengeance wreaked
upon the Jews either by the peasants, the victims of exploitation, or by
the Russian burghers, the unsuccessful candidates for the rôle of
exploiters. This point of view was reflected in the report of Count
Kutaysov, who had been sent by the Tzar to South Russia to inquire into
the causes of the "disorders." [1]

[Footnote 1: It may be added that Kutaysov recognized that the Russian
masses were equally the victims of the commercial exploitation of the
Russian "bosses," but was at a loss to find a reason for the pogroms
perpetrated in the Jewish agricultural colonies, i.e., against those
who, according to this theory, were themselves the victims of

Ignatyev seized upon this flimsy theory, and embodied it in a more
elaborate form in his report to the Tzar of August 22. In this report he
endeavored to prove the futility of the policy hitherto pursued by the
Russian Government which "for the last twenty years [during the reign of
Alexander II.] had made efforts to bring about the fusion of the Jews
with the remaining population and had nearly equalized the rights of the
Jews with those of the original inhabitants." In the opinion of the
Minister, the recent pogroms had shown that "the injurious influence" of
the Jews could not be suppressed by such liberal measures.

  The principal source of this movement [the pogroms], which is so
  incompatible with the temper of the Russian people, lies--according
  to Ignatyev--in circumstances which are of an exclusively economic
  nature. For the last twenty years the Jews have gradually managed to
  capture not only commerce and industry but they have also succeeded
  in acquiring, by means of purchase and lease, a large amount of
  landed property. Owing to their clannishness and solidarity, they
  have, with few exceptions, directed their efforts not towards the
  increase of the productive forces [of the country] but towards the
  exploitation of the original inhabitants, primarily of the poorest
  classes of the population, with the result that they have called
  forth a protest from this population, manifesting itself in
  deplorable forms--In violence.... Having taken energetic means to
  suppress the previous disorders and mob rule and to shield the Jews
  against violence, the Government recognizes that it is justified in
  adopting, without delay, no less energetic measures to remove the
  present abnormal relations that exist between the original
  inhabitants and the Jews, and to shield the Russian population
  against this harmful Jewish activity, which, according to local
  information, was responsible for the disturbances.

Alexander III. hastened to express his agreement with these views of his
Minister, who assured him that the Government had taken "energetic
measures" to suppress the pogroms--which was only true in two or three
recent cases. At the same time he authorized Ignatyev to adopt
"energetic measures" of genuine Russian manufacture against those who
had but recently been ruined by these pogroms.

The imperial ukase published on August 22, 1831, dwells on "the abnormal
relations subsisting between the original population of several
governments and the Jews." To meet this situation it provides that in
those governments which harbor a considerable Jewish population special
commissions should be appointed consisting of representatives of the
local estates and communes, to be presided over by the governors. These
commissions were charged with the task of finding out "which aspects of
the economic activity of the Jews in general have exerted _an injurious
influence_ upon the life of the original population, and what measures,
both legislative and administrative, should be adopted" for the purpose
of weakening that influence. In this way, the ukase, in calling for the
appointment of the commissions, indicated at once the goal towards which
their activity was to be directed: to determine the "injurious
influence" of the Jews upon Russian economic life.

The same thought was expressed even more directly by Ignatyev, who in
his circular to the governors-general, dated August 25, reproduced his
report to the Tzar, and firmly established the dogma of "the harmful
consequences of the economic activity of the Jews for the Christian
population, their racial separatism, and religious fanaticism."

We are thus made the witnesses of a singular spectacle: the ruined and
plundered Jewish population, which had a right to impeach the Government
for having failed, to protect it from violence, was itself put on trial.
The judges in this legal action were none other than the agents of the
ruling powers--the governors, some of whom had been guilty of connivance
at the pogroms--on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the
representatives of the Christian estates, urban and rural, who were
mostly the appointees of these governors. In addition, every commission
was allotted two Jewish representatives, who were to act in the capacity
of experts but without voting power; they were placed in the position of
defendants, and were made to listen to continuous accusations against
the Jews, which the; were constantly forced to deny. Altogether there
were sixteen such commissions: one in each of the fifteen governments of
the Pale of Settlement--exclusive of the Kingdom of Poland--and one in
the government of Kharkov. The commissions were granted a term of two
months within which to complete their labors and present the results to
the Minister.

The sessions of all these "gubernatorial commissions" [1] took place
simultaneously during the months of September and October.

[Footnote 1: In Russian, _Gubernskiya Kommissit_, literally, "Government
Commissions," using "Government" in the sense of "Province."]

The prisoner at the bar was the Jewish people which was tried on the
charges contained in the official bill of indictment--the imperial ukase
as supplemented and interpreted in the ministerial circular. A
well-informed contemporary gives the following description of these
sessions in an official memorandum:

  The first session of each commission began with the reading of the
  ministerial circular of August 25. The reading invariably produced a
  strong effect in two different directions: on the members from among
  the peasantry and on those from among the Jews. The former became
  convinced of the hostile attitude of the Government towards the
  Jewish population and of their leniency towards the instigators of
  the disorders, which, according to an assertion made in Ignatyev's
  circular, were due exclusively to the Jewish exploitation of the
  original inhabitants. Needless to say, the peasants did not fail to
  communicate this conviction, which was strengthened at the
  subsequent sessions by the failure to put any restraint upon the
  wholesale attacks on the Jews on the part of the anti-Semitic
  members, to their rural communes.

  As for the Jewish members (of the commissions), the effect of the
  ministerial circular upon them was staggering. In their own persons
  they beheld the three millions of Russian Jewry placed at the
  prisoner's bar: one section of the population put on trial before
  another. And who were the judges? Not the representatives of the
  people, duly elected by all the estates of the population, such as
  the rural assemblies, but the agents of the administration,
  bureaucratic office-holders, who were more or less subordinate to
  the Government. The court proceedings themselves were carried on in
  secret, without a sufficient number of counsel for the defendants
  who in reality were convicted beforehand. The attitude adopted by
  the presiding governors, the speeches delivered by the anti-Semitic
  members, who were In an overwhelming majority, and characterized by
  attacks, derisive remarks, and subtle affronts, subjected the Jewish
  members to moral torture and made them lose all hope that they could
  be of any assistance in attempting a dispassionate, impartial, and
  comprehensive consideration of the question. In the majority of the
  commissions, their voice was suppressed and silenced. In these
  circumstances the Jewish members were forced, as a last resort, to
  defend the interests of their coreligionists in writing, by
  submitting memoranda and separate opinions. However, the instances
  were rare in which these memoranda and protests were dignified by
  being read during the sessions.

This being the case, it is not to be wondered at that the commissions
brought in their "verdicts" in the spirit of the indictment framed by
the authorities. The anti-Semitic officials exhibited their "learning"
in ignorant criticisms of the "spirit of Judaism," of the Talmud and the
national separatism of the Jews, and they proposed to extirpate all
these influences by means of cultural repression, such as the
destruction of the autonomy of the Jewish communities, the closing up of
all special Jewish schools, and the placing of all phases of the inner
life of the Jews under Government control. The representatives of the
Russian burghers and peasants, many of whom had but recently co-operated
or, at least, sympathized with the perpetrators of the pogroms,
endeavored to prove the economic "injuriousness" of the Jews, and
demanded that they should be restricted in their urban and rural
pursuits, as well as in their right of residence outside the cities.
Notwithstanding the prevailing spirit, five commissions voiced the
opinion, which, from the point of view of the Russian Government, seemed
rank heresy, that it was necessary to grant the Jews the right of
domicile all over the empire so as to relieve the excessive congestion
of the Jewish population in the Pale of Settlement.


While the gubernatorial commissions--gubernatorial in the literal sense
of the word, because entirely dominated by the governors--were holding
their sessions, the satraps-in-chief of the Pale of Settlement, the
governors-general, were busy sending their expressions of opinion to St.
Petersburg. The governor-general of Kiev, Drenteln, who himself was
liable to prosecution for allowing a two days' pogrom in his own
residential city, condemned the entire Jewish people in emphatic terms,
and demanded the adoption of measures calculated "to shield the
Christian population against so arrogant a tribe as the Jews, who refuse
on religions grounds to have close contact with the Christians." It was
necessary, in his opinion, to resort to legal repression in order to
counteract "the intellectual superiority of the Jews," which enables
them to emerge victorious in the straggle for existence.

Similar condemnations of Judaism came from the governors-general of
Odessa, Vilna, and Kharkov, although they disagreed as to the dimensions
which this repression should assume. Totleben, the master of the Vilna
province, who had refused to countenance the perpetration of pogroms in
Lithuania, nevertheless agreed that the Jews should henceforth be
forbidden to settle in the villages, though he was generous enough to
add that he found it somewhat inconvenient "to rob the whole Jewish
nation of the possibility of earning a livelihood by its labor." The
impression prevailed that militant Judaeophobia was determined to
deprive the Jews even of the right of securing a piece of bread.

The Government was well aware beforehand that the labors of the
gubernatorial commissions would yield results satisfactory to it. It,
therefore, found it unnecessary to wait for their reports and
resolutions, and proceeded to establish in St. Petersburg, on October
19, "a Central Committee for the Revision of the Jewish Question." The
committee was attached to the Ministry of the Interior, and consisted of
several officials, under the chairmanship of Assistant-Minister
Gotovtzev. The officials were soon busy framing "temporary measures" in
the spirit of their patron Ignatyev, and, as the resolutions of the
gubernatorial commissions were coming in, they were endeavoring to
strengthen the foundations for the projected enactment. In January,
1882, the machinery for the manufacture of Jewish disabilities was in
full swing.

This organized campaign of the enemies of Judaism, who were preparing
administrative pogroms as a sequel to the street pogroms, met with no
organized resistance on the part of Russian Jewry. The small conference
of Jewish notables in St. Petersburg, which met in September in secret
session, presented a sorry spectacle. The guests from the provinces, who
had been invited by Baron Günzburg, engaged in discussions about the
problem of emigration, the struggle with the anti-Semitic press, and
similar questions. After being presented to Ignatyev, who assured them
in diplomatic fashion of the "benevolent intentions of the Government,"
they returned to their homes, without having achieved anything.

The only social factor in Jewish life was the press, particularly the
three periodicals published in Russian, the _Razsvyet_ ("the Dawn"), the
_Russki Yevrey_ ("the Russian Jew"), and the _Voskhod_ ("the
Sunrise"), [1] but even they revealed the lack of a well-defined policy.

[Footnote 1: See on these papers, p. 219 et seq.]

The political movements in Russian Jewry were yet in an embryonic stage,
and their rise and development were reserved for a later period. True,
the Russian-Jewish press applied itself assiduously to the task of
defending the rights of the Jews, but its voice remained unheard in
those circles of Russia in which the poisonous waters of Judaeophobia
gushed forth in a broad current from the columns of the semi-official
_Novoye Vremya_, the pan-Slavic _Russ_, and many of their anti-Semitic

While the summer pogroms were in full swing, the _Novoye Vremya_,
reflecting the views of the official spheres, seriously formulated the
Jewish question in the paraphrase of Hamlet: "to beat or not to beat."
Its conclusion was that it was necessary to "beat" the Jews, but, in
view of the fact that Russia was a monarchical state with conservative
tendencies, this function ought not to be discharged by the people but
by the Government, which by its method of legal repression could beat
the Jews much more effectively than the crowds on the streets.

The editor of the Moscow newspaper _Russ_, Ivan Aksakov, [1] attacked the
Russian liberal press for expressing its sympathy with the Jewish pogrom
victims, contending that the Russian people demolished the Jewish houses
under the effect of a "righteous indignation," though he failed to
explain why that indignation also took the form of plundering and
stealing Jewish property, or violating Jewish women. Throwing into one
heap the arguments of the medieval Church and those of modern German
anti-Semitism, Aksakov maintained that Judaism was opposed to "Christian
civilization," and that the Jewish people were striving for "world
domination" which they hoped to attain through their financial power.

[Footnote 1: Compare above, p. 208.]

The bacillus of German anti-Semitism had penetrated even into the
circles of the Russian radical _intelligenzia_. Among the "Populists,"
[1] who were wont to idealize the Russian peasantry, it became the
fashion to look upon the Jew as an economic exploiter, with this
distinction, however, that they bracketed him with the host of Russian
exploiters from among the bourgeois class. This resulted in a most
unfortunate misunderstanding. A faction of South Russian revolutionaries
from among the party known as "The People's Freedom" [2] conceived the
idea that the same peasants and laborers who had attacked the Jews as
the representatives of the non-Russian bourgeoisie might easily be
directed against the representatives of the ruling classes in general.
During the spring and summer pogroms, several attempts were made by
mysterious persons, through written appeals and oral propaganda, to turn
the pogrom movement also against the Russian nobles and officials. [3]
Towards the end of August, 1881, the Executive Committee of "The
People's Freedom" issued an appeal in which it voiced the thought that
the Tzar had enslaved the free Ukrainian people and had distributed the
lands rightfully belonging to the peasants among the pans [4] and
officials, who extended their protection to the Jews and shared the
profits with them. Therefore, the people should march against the Jews,
the landlords, and the Tzar. "Assist us, therefore," the appeal
continues, "arise, laborers, avenge yourselves on the landlords, plunder
the Jews, and slay the officials!"

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 222.]

[Footnote 2: In Russian, _Narodnaya Vola_. It was organized in 1879, and
was responsible for the assassination of Alexander II.]

[Footnote 3: These endeavors were evidently the reason why the Russian
Government was originally inclined to ascribe the anti-Jewish movement
to revolutionary tactics.]

[Footnote 4: The Polish noble landowners. See Vol. I, p. 93, n. 2.]

True, the appeal was the work of only a part of the Revolutionary
Executive Committee, which at that time had its headquarters in Moscow.
It failed to obtain the approval of the other members of the Committee
and of the party as a whole, and, being a document that might compromise
the revolutionary movement, was withdrawn and destroyed after a number
of copies had been circulated. Nevertheless, the champions of "The
People's Freedom" continued for some time to justify theoretically the
utilization of the anti-Jewish movement for the aims of the general
social revolution. Only at a later stage did this section of the
revolutionary party realize that these tactics were not only mistaken
but also criminal. For events soon made it clear that the anti-Jewish
movement served as an unfailing device in the hands of the black
reactionaries to divert the popular wrath from the source of all
evil--the rule of despotism--and direct it towards the most unfortunate
victims of that despotism.


When the July pogroms were over, it seemed as if the pogrom epidemic had
died out, and no one expected that it would soon break out afresh. The
greater was the surprise when, in December, 1881, the news spread that a
pogrom, lasting three days, had taken, place in the capital of the
Kingdom of Poland, in Warsaw. Least of all was this pogrom expected in
Warsaw itself, where the relations between the Poles and the Jews were
not yet marked by the animosity they assumed subsequently. But the
organizers of the pogrom who received their orders from above managed to
adapt themselves to local conditions, and the unexpected came to pass.
On the Catholic Christmas day, when the Church of the Holy Cross in the
center of the town was crowded with worshippers, somebody suddenly
shouted "Fire!" The people rushed to the doors, and in the terrible
panic that ensued twenty-nine persons were crushed to death, and many
others were maimed. The alarm proved a false one. There was no trace of
a fire in the church, and nobody doubted but that the alarm had been
given by pick-pockets--there were a goodly number of them in Warsaw--who
had resorted to this well-known trick to rob the public during the
panic. But right there, among the crowd which was assembled in front of
the church, gazing in horror at the bodies of the victims, some unknown
persons spread the rumor--which, it may be parenthetically remarked,
proved subsequently unfounded--that two Jewish pickpockets had been
caught in the church.

At that moment whistles were suddenly heard--nobody knew whence they
came--which served as the signal for a pogrom. The street mob began to
assault the Jews who happened to pass by, and then started, according to
the established procedure, to attack the Jewish stores, saloons, and
residences in the streets adjoining the church. The hordes were under
the command of thieves, well known to the police, and of some unknown
strangers who from time to time gave signals by whistling, and directed
the mob into this or that street. As in all other cases in which the
danger did not threaten the authorities directly, there were but few
policemen and soldiers on hand--which circumstance stimulated the
rioters in their further activity.

On the following day the rioters were "busy" on many other streets, both
in the center of the town and in its outskirts, except for the streets
which were densely populated by Jews, where they were afraid of meeting
with serious resistance. [1]

[Footnote 1: In some places the Jews defended themselves energetically,
and in the ensuing fight there were wounded on both sides.]

The police and the troops arrested many rioters, and carried them off to
the police stations. But for some unknown reason they did not summon
enough courage to disperse the crowd, so that the mob frequently engaged
in its criminal work in the very presence of the guardians of public

In accordance with the well-known pogrom routine, the authorities
remembered only on the third day that it was time to suppress the riots,
the "lesson" being over. On December 15, the governor-general of Warsaw,
Albedinski, issued an order dividing the town into four districts and
placing every district under the command of a regimental chief. Troops
were stationed in the streets and ordered to check all crowds, with the
result that on the same day the disorders were stopped.

This, however, came too late. For in the meantime some fifteen hundred
Jewish residences, business places, and houses of prayer had been
demolished and pillaged, and twenty-four Jews had been wounded, while
the monetary loss amounted to several million rubles. Over three
thousand rioters were arrested--among them a large number of under-aged
youths. On the whole, the rioters were recruited from the dregs of the
Polish population, but there were also found among them a number of
unknown persons that spoke Russian. The _Novoye Vremya_, in commenting
upon the pogrom, made special reference to the friendly attitude of the
Polish hooligans to the Russians in general and to the officers and
soldiers in particular--a rather suspicious attitude, considering the
inveterate hatred of the Poles towards the Russians, especially towards
the military and official class. Here and there the soldiers themselves
got drunk in the demolished saloons, and took part in looting Jewish

The Polish patriots from among the higher classes were shocked by this
attempt to engineer a barbarous Russian pogrom in Warsaw. In an appeal
which the representatives of the Polish intellectuals addressed to the
people not later than on the second day of the pogrom they protested
emphatically against the hideous scenes which had been disgracing the
capital of Poland. The archbishop of Warsaw acted similarly, and the
Catholic priests frequently marched through the streets with crosses in
their hands, admonishing the crowds to disperse. It is interesting to
note that, while the pogrom was going on, the governor-general of Warsaw
refused to comply with the request of a number of Poles, who applied for
permission to organize a civil guard, pledging themselves to restore
order in the city in one day. It would seem as if the official pogrom
ritual did not allow of the slightest modification. The disorders had to
proceed in accordance with the established routine, so as not to violate
the humane commandment: "Two days shalt thou plunder, and on the third
day shalt thou rest." Evidently some one had an interest in having the
capital of Poland repeat the experiment of Kiev and Odessa, and in
seeing to it that the "cultured Poles" should not fall behind the
Russian barbarians in order to convince Europe that the pogrom was not
exclusively a Russian manufacture.

As a matter of fact, the opposite result was attained. The revolting
events at Warsaw, which completed the pogrom cycle of 1881, made a much
stronger impression upon Europe and America than all the preceding
pogroms, for the reason that Warsaw stood in close commercial relations
with the West, and the havoc wrought there had an immediate effect upon
the European market.




The civil New Year of 1882 found the Jews of Russia in a depressed state
of mind: they were under the fresh impression of the excesses at Warsaw
and were harassed by rumors of new measures of oppression. The
sufferings of the Jewish people, far from stilling the anti-Jewish fury
of the Government, had merely helped to fan it. "You are maltreated,
_ergo_ you are guilty"--such was the logic of the ruling spheres of
Russia. The official historian of that period is honest enough to
confess that "the enforced role of a defender of the Jews against the
Russian population [by suppressing the riots] weighed heavily upon the
the Government." Upon reading the report of the governor-general of
Warsaw for the year 1882, in which reference was made to the
suppression of the anti-Jewish excesses by military force, Alexander
III. appended the following marginal note: "This is the sad thing in
all these Jewish disorders."

Those among Russian Jewry who could look further ahead were not slow in
realizing the consequences which were bound to result from this hostile
attitude of the ruling classes. Those of a less sensitive frame of mind
found it necessary to inquire of the Government itself concerning the
Jewish future, and received unequivocal replies. Thus, in January, 1882,
Dr. Orshanski, a brother of the well-known publicist, [1] approached
Count Ignatyev on the subject, and was authorized to publish the
following statement:

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 238 et seq.]

  The Western frontier is open for the Jews. The Jews have already
  taken ample advantage of this right, and their emigration has in no
  way been hampered. [1] As regards your question concerning the
  transplantation of Jews into the Russian interior, the Government
  will, of course, avoid everything that may further complicate the
  relations between the Jews and the original population. For this
  reason, though keeping the Pale of Jewish Settlement intact, I have
  already suggested to the Jewish Committee [attached to the Ministry]
  [2] to indicate those localities which, being thinly populated and
  in need of colonization, might admit of the settlement of the Jewish
  element ... without injury to the original population.

[Footnote 1: According to an old Russian law which had come into
disuse, departure from the country without a special Government
permit is punishable as a criminal offence.]

[Footnote 2: See p. 277.]

This reply of the all-powerful Minister, which was published as a
special supplement to the Jewish weekly _Razsvyet_, increased the panic
among the Jews of Russia. The Jews were publicly told that the
Government wished to get rid of them, and that the only "right" they
were to be granted was the right to depart; that no enlargement of the
Pale of Settlement could possibly be hoped for, and that only as an
extreme necessity would the Government allow groups of Jews to colonize
the uninhabitable steppes of central Asia or the swamps of Siberia.
Well-informed people were in possession of much more serious
information: they knew that the Jewish Committee attached to the
Ministry of the Interior was preparing a monstrous plan of reducing the
territory of the Pale of Settlement itself by expelling the Jews from
the villages and driving them into the over-crowded cities.

The soul of the Jewish people was filled with sorrow, and yet there was
no way of protesting publicly in the land of political slavery. The Jews
had to resort to the old medieval form of a national protest by pouring
forth their feelings in the synagogue. Many Jewish communities seemed to
have come to an understanding to appoint the 18th of January as a day of
mourning to be observed by fasting and by holding religious services in
the synagogues. This public mourning ceremony proved particularly
impressive in St. Petersburg. On the appointed day the whole Jewish
population of the Russian capital, with its numerous Jewish
professionals, assembled in the principal synagogue and in the other
houses of prayer, reciting the hymns of perpetual Jewish martyrdom, the
_Selihot_. In the principal synagogue the rabbi delivered a discourse
dealing with the Jewish persecutions.

  When the preacher--an eye-witness narrates--began to picture in a
  broken voice the present position of Jewry, one long moan, coming,
  as it were, from one breast, suddenly burst forth and filled the
  synagogue. Everybody wept, the old, the young, the long-robed
  paupers, the elegant dandies dressed in latest fashion, the men in
  Government service, the physicians, the students, not to speak of
  the women. For two or three minutes did these heart-rending moans
  resound--this cry of common sorrow which had issued from the Jewish
  heart. The rabbi was unable to continue. He stood upon the pulpit,
  covered his face with his hands, and wept like a child.

Similar political demonstrations in the presence of the Almighty were
held during those days in many other cities. In some places the Jews
observed a three days' fast. Everywhere the college youth, otherwise
estranged from Judaism, took part in the national mourning, full of the
presentiment that it, too, was destined to endure decades of sorrows and


The political protest, which could not be uttered in Russia, was soon to
be heard in England. During the very days on which the Russian Jews were
weeping in their synagogues, their English coreligionists, in
conjunction with prominent English political leaders, organized
indignation meetings to protest against the horrors of Russian
Judaeophobia. Already at an earlier date, shortly after the pogrom of
Warsaw, the London _Times_ had published a series of articles under the
heading "The Persecutions of the Jews in Russia," containing a
heartrending description of the pogroms of 1881 and an account of the
anti-Semitic policy of the Russian rulers. [1] The articles produced a
sensation. Reprinted in the form of a special publication, which in a
short time went through three editions, they spread far beyond the
confines of England. Numerous voices were soon to be heard demanding
diplomatic intercession in favor of the oppressed Jews and calling for
the organization of material relief for the victims of the pogroms.

[Footnote 1: The author of these articles was Joseph Jacobs who
afterwards settled in New York, where he died in 1916.]

Russian diplomacy was greatly disconcerted by the growth of this
anti-Russian agitation in a country, whose Government, headed at that
time by Gladstone, endeavored to maintain friendly relations with
Russia. The organ of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the
_Journal de St. Petersbourg_, published two articles, attempting to
refute the most revolting facts contained in the articles of the _Times_;
it denied that there had been cases of rape, and asserted that "murders
were exceedingly rare." [1] The official organ further stated that "the
Government has already begun, to consider new legislative measures
concerning the Jews," without mentioning, however, that these "measures"
were of a repressive character. The mouthpiece of Russian diplomacy
asked In an irritated tone whether the pro-Jewish agitators wished "to
sow discord between the Russian and the English people" and spoil the
friendly relations between these two Powers which Gladstone's Government
had established, reversing the contrary policy of Beaconsfield.

[Footnote 1: It is true that the account in the _Times_ contained a few
exaggerations as far as the number of victims and the dimensions of the
catastrophe in general are concerned, but the picture as a whole was
entirely in keeping with the facts, and the cases of murder and rape,
as, for instance, in Kiev, were, on the whole, stated correctly.]

However, these diplomatic polemics were unable to restrain the English
political leaders from proceeding with the arrangements for the
projected demonstrations. After a whole series of protest meetings in
various cities of England, a large mass meeting was called at the
Mansion House in London, [1] under the chairmanship of the Lord Mayor.
The élite of England was represented at the meeting, including Members
of Parliament, dignitaries of the Church, the titled aristocracy, and
men of learning, A number of prominent persons who were unable to be
present sent letters expressing their warm sympathy with the aims of the
gathering; among them were Tennyson, Sir John Lubbock, and others.

[Footnote 1: On February 1, 1882.]

The first speaker, the Earl of Shaftesbury, pointed out that the English
people did not wish to meddle in the inner affairs of Russia, but
desired to influence it by "moral weapons," in the name of the principle
of the "solidarity of nations." The official denials of the atrocities
he brushed aside with the remark that, if but a tenth part of the
reports were true, "it is sufficient to draw down the indignation of the
world." It was necessary, in the opinion of Shaftesbury, to appeal
directly to the Tzar and ask him "to be a Cyrus to the Jews, and not an
Antiochus Epiphanes."

The Bishop of London, speaking in the absence of the Archbishop of
Canterbury, the Primate of the Anglican Church, reminded his audience
that only several years previously England had been horrified by the
outrages perpetrated by the Turkish Bashi-buzuks[1] upon the Bulgars,
who were then defended by Russia, and it had now a right to protest
against Christian Russia as it had formerly done against Mohammedan

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 253, n. 2.]

The most powerful speech was delivered by Cardinal Manning, the great
Catholic divine. He pointed to the fact that the Russian Jews were not
only the object of temporary pogroms but that they constantly groaned
under the yoke of a degrading legislation which says to the Jew: "You
may not pass beyond that boundary; you must not go within eighteen miles
of that frontier; you must not dwell in that town; you must live only in
that province." He caused laughter in the audience by quoting from
Ignatyev's famous circular concerning the appointment of the
gubernatorial commissions, in which, commenting upon the terrible
atrocities recently perpetrated upon the _Jews_, the Minister lamented
"the sad condition of the _Christian_ inhabitants of the southern
provinces." Cardinal Manning concluded his eloquent address with the
following words marked by a lofty, prophetic strain:

  There is a book which is common to the race of Israel and to us
  Christians. That book is the bond between us, and in that book I
  read that the people of Israel are the eldest people upon the earth.
  Russia and Austria and England are of yesterday, compared with the
  imperishable people, which, with an inextinguishable life and
  immutable traditions, and faith in God and in the laws of God,
  scattered, as it is, all over the world, passed through the fires
  unscathed, trampled into the dust, and yet never combining with the
  dust into which it is trampled, lives still, a witness and a warning
  to us. [1]

[Footnote 1: In reproducing the quotations I have followed in the
main the account of the Mansion House Meeting contained in the
pamphlet published In New York under the title _Proceedings of
Meetings held February 1, 1882, at New York and London, to Express
Sympathy with the Oppressed Jews in Russia_. The account of the
_Jewish Chronicle of_ February 8, 1882, offers a number of

After several more speeches by Canon Farrar, Professor Bryce,[1] and
others, the following resolutions were adopted:

[Footnote 1: James Bryce, the famous writer and statesman, subsequently
British ambassador at Washington.]

  1. That, in the opinion of this meeting, the persecution and the
  outrages which the Jews in many parts of the Russian dominions have
  for several months past suffered are an offence to Christian
  civilization, and to be deeply deplored.

  2. That this meeting, while disclaiming any right or desire to
  interfere in the internal affairs of another country, and desiring
  that the most amicable relations between England and Russia should
  be preserved, feels it a duty to express its opinion that the laws
  of Russia relating to Jews tend to degrade them in the eyes of the
  Christian population, and expose Russian Jewish subjects to the
  outbreaks of fanatical ignorance.

  3. That the Lord Mayor be requested to forward a copy of these
  resolutions to the Right Honourable W.B. Gladstone and the Right
  Honourable Earl Granville, in the hope that Her Majesty's Government
  may be able, when an opportunity arises, to exercise a friendly
  influence with the Russian Government in accordance with the spirit
  of the preceding resolutions.

Finally a resolution was adopted to open a relief fund for the sufferers
of the pogroms and for improving the condition of Russian Jewry by
emigration as well as by other means. The committee chosen by the
meeting for this purpose included the Lord Mayor, the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Cardinal Manning, the Bishop of London, Nathaniel de
Rothschild, and others.

A few days after the Mansion House Meeting the English Government
responded to the resolutions adopted on that occasion. The following
dispatch, dated London, February 9, appeared in the Russian papers:

  In the House of Commons, Gladstone, replying to an interpellation of
  Sir John Simon, stated that reports concerning the persecutions of
  the Jews in Russia had been received from the English consuls, and
  could not but inspire sentiments of the utmost pain and horror. But
  the matter being an internal affair of another country, it could not
  become the object of official correspondence or inquiry on the part
  of England. All that could be done was to make casual and unofficial
  representations. All other actions touching the question of the
  relations of the Russian Government to the Jews were more likely to
  harm than to help the Jewish population. [1]

[Footnote 1: On this occasion Gladstone merely repeated the words of
the Russian official communication which had been published on the
eye of the Mansion House Meeting in the hope of scaring the
organizers of the protest: "The Russian Government, which has always
most scrupulously refrained from interfering in the inner affairs of
other countries, is correspondingly unable to allow a similar
violation of international practice by others. Any attempt on the
part of another Government to intercede on behalf of the Jewish
people can only have the result of calling forth the resentment of
the lower classes and thereby affect unfavorably the condition of
the Russian Jews." In addition to this threat, the _Imperial
Messenger_ endeavored to prove that the measures adopted by the
Government against the pogroms "were not weak," as may be seen from
the large number of those arrested by the police after the
disorders, which amounted to 3675 in the South and to 3151 in

Another telegram sent from London on February 14 contained the following

  In the House of Commons, Gladstone, replying to Baron Worms, stated
  that no humane purposes would be achieved by parliamentary debates
  about the Jews of Russia, Such debates were rather likely to arouse
  the hostility of a certain portion of the Russian population against
  the Jews and that therefore no day would be appointed for the
  debate, as requested by Worms. [1]

[Footnote 1: Compare the _Jewish Chronicle_ of February 17, 1882.]

In this way matters were smoothed over, to the great satisfaction of
Russian diplomacy. The public and Government of England confined
themselves to expressing their feelings of "disgust" at the treatment of
the Jews in Russia, but no immediate representations to St. Petersburg
were attempted by Gladstone's Cabinet. For the same reason the English
Prime Minister refused to forward to its destination a petition
addressed to the Russian Government by the Jews of England, with Baron
Rothschild at their head. Count Ignatyev had no cause for worry. The
misunderstanding with the friendly Government had been removed, and the
fiery protests at the English meetings interfered but little with his
peace of mind. He pursued his course, unabashed by the "disgust" which
it aroused in the whole civilized world.

The voice of protest against the Russian barbarities which resounded
throughout England was seconded in far-off America. Long before the
accession of Alexander III. the Government of the United States had
repeated occasion to make representations to the Russian Government with
reference to its treatment of the Jews. These representations were
prompted by the fact that American citizens of the Jewish faith were
subjected during their stay in Russia to the same disabilities and
discriminations which the Russian Government imposed upon its own Jews.
[1] Yet, actuated by broader humanitarian considerations, the United
States Government became interested in the general question of the
position of Russian Jewry, and invited reports from its representatives
at St. Petersburg on the subject. [2] On April 14, 1880, the Secretary
of State, William M. Evarts, responding to a petition of the Union of
American Hebrew Congregations, who had complained about "the
extraordinary hardships" which the Jews of Russia were made to suffer at
that time, directed the United States Minister at St. Petersburg, John
W. Foster, to bear in mind "the liberal sentiments of this Government"
and to express its views "in a manner which will subserve the interests
of religious freedom." [3] Acting upon these instructions, Foster took
occasion to discuss the Jewish question in his conversations with
leading Russian officials about which he reported fully to his
Government. [4]

[Footnote 1: See the correspondence between the United States and Russia
collected in _House of Representatives, 51st Congress, 1st Session.
Executive Document_ No. 470, dated October 1, 1890.]

[Footnote 2: A "memorandum on the legal position of the Hebrews in
Russia" was transmitted by the American legation to the Secretary of
State on September 29, 1872 (_loc. cit_. pp. 9-13). An abstract from a
Russian memorandum on the Jewish right of residence was forwarded in the
same manner on March 15, 1875 (_loc. cit_., pp. 25-28). The circular of
Tolstoi against the pogroms (see later in the text, p. 314) is
reproduced in full, _loc. cit_., p. 68 et seg.]

[Footnote 3: _loc. cit._, p. 33.]

[Footnote 4: An account of Foster's conversation on the problem of
Russian Jewry with de Giers, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Loris-Melikov, the Minister of the Interior, and "the Minister of
Worship" is found in his dispatch of December 30, 1880, _loc. cit._, p.
43 et seq.]

On May 22 of the same year a resolution was passed by the House of
Representatives requesting the President to lay before it all available
information relating to the cases of expulsion of American citizens of
the Jewish faith from Russia, and at the same time "to communicate to
this House all correspondence in reference to the proscription of Jews
by the Russian Government." [1]

[Footnote 1: Compare _Congressional Record_, Vol. 13, part 7,
_Appendix,_ p. 651. The same request for information was repeated by the
House of Representatives on January SO, 1882 (_loc. cit._., Vol. 13, p.
738; see also p. 645). In reply to the latter resolution President
Arthur submitted, under date of May 22, 1882, all the diplomatic papers
on the subject which were printed as _Executive Document_ No. 192. These
papers were reprinted on October 1, 1890, as part of _Executive
Document_ No. 470, under President Harrison]

The pogroms of 1881, and the indignation they aroused among the American
people induced the United States Government to adopt a more energetic
form of protest. In his dispatch to the United States Minister at St.
Petersburg, dated April 15, 1882, the new Secretary of State, Frederic
T. Frelinghuysen, takes account of the prevailing sentiment in the
country in these words: "The prejudice of race and creed having in our
day given way to the claims of our common humanity, the people of the
United States have heard with great regret the stories of the sufferings
of the Jews in Russia." He therefore notifies the Minister "that the
feeling of friendship which the United States entertains for Russia
prompts this Government to express the hope that the Imperial Government
will find means to cause the persecution of these unfortunate beings to
cease." [1]

[Footnote 1: _Executive Document_ No. 470, p. 65.]

A more emphatic note of protest was sounded in the House of
Representatives by Samuel S. Cox, of New York, who, in his lengthy
speech delivered on July 31, 1882, scathingly denounced the repressive
methods practiced by the Russian Government against the Jews, and, more
particularly, the outrages which had been perpetrated upon them during
the preceding year. [1] He makes the former directly responsible for the
latter. In his opinion the pogroms were not merely a spontaneous and
sudden outburst of the Eussian populace against the Jews, but rather the
slow result of the disabilities and discriminations which are imposed
upon the Jews by the Russian Government and are bound to degrade them in
the eyes of their fellow-citizens:

[Footnote 3: _Congressional Record_, Vol. 13, part 7, _Appendix,_ p. 651
et seq. The speech is accompanied by an elaborate tabulated statement of
the pogroms and a map of the area in which they had taken place.]

  Is it said that the Russian peasantry, and not the Government, are
  responsible, I answer: If the peasantry of Russia are too ignorant
  or debased to understand the nature of this cruel persecution, they
  have warrant for their conduct in the customs and laws of Russia to
  which I have referred. These discriminate against the Jews. They
  have reference to their isolation, their separation from Russian
  protection, their expulsion from certain parts of the Empire, and
  their religion. When a peasant observes such forceful movements and
  authoritative discriminations in a Government against a race, it
  arouses his ignorance, and inflames his fanatical zealotry. Adding
  this to the jealousy of the Jews as middlemen and business-men, and
  you may account for, but not justify, these horrors. The
  Hebraic-Russian question has been summed up in a few words:
  "Extermination of two and one-half millions of mankind because they
  are--Jews!" [1]

[Footnote 1: loc. _cit_., p. 653.]

After giving an elaborate account of the horrors which had taken place
in Russia during 1881, he wound up his speech with the following
eloquent appeal:

  This people is one of the survivors, with Egypt, China and India, of
  the infancy of mankind. It is at the mercy of the cruel despot of
  the North. With a lineage unrivalled for purity, a religious
  sentiment and ethics drawn out of the glory and greatness of Mount
  Sinai ... with an eternal influence from its law-givers, prophets,
  and psalmists never vouchsafed to any language, race or creed, It
  outlives the philosophies and myths of Greece and the grandeur and
  power of Rome. It is this race, broken-hearted and scattered, to
  which the Czar of all the Russias adds the enormities of his rule
  upon the victims of the ignorance and slander of the ages. The
  birthright of this race is thus despoiled; and, Sir, have we no word
  of protest? Struggling against adversities which no other people
  have encountered, do they not yet survive--the wine from the crushed
  grape? [1]

[Footnote 1: _loc. cit_., p. 656.]

The resolution introduced by him on that occasion was to the following

  Whereas the Government of the United States should exercise its
  influence with the Government of Russia to stay the spirit of
  persecution as directed against the Jews, and protect the citizens
  of the United States resident in Russia, and seek redress for
  injuries already inflicted, as well as to secure by wise and
  enlightened administration the Hebrew subjects of Russia and the
  Hebrew citizens of the United States resident in Russia against the
  recurrence of wrongs; Therefore

  Resolved, That the President of the United States, if not
  incompatible with the public service, report to this House any
  further correspondence in relation to the Jews in Russia not already
  communicated to this House." [1] [Footnote 1: _Congressional Record_,
  Vol. 13, p. 6691.]

The resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs,
was finally passed by the House on February 23, 1883.

The sentiments of the broad masses of the American people had found
utterance somewhat earlier at a big protest meeting which was held in
February, 1882, in the city of New York, where the first refugees from
Russia had begun to arrive. [1] A resolution was adopted protesting
"against the spirit of medieval persecution thus revived in Russia" and
calling upon the Government of the United States to make energetic
representations to St. Petersburg. One of the speakers at the New York
meeting, Judge Noah Davis, said, amidst the enthusiastic applause of the

[Footnote 1: The meeting was held on Wednesday, February 1, 1882, on the
same day as the Mansion House Meeting in London. The chair was occupied
by the Mayor, William R. Grace. See the _American Hebrew_ of February 3,
1882, p. 138 et seq.]

  Let them come! I would to Heaven it were in our power to take the
  whole three million Jews of Russia. The valley of the Mississippi
  alone could throw her strong arms around, and draw them all to her
  opulent bosom, and bless them with homes of comfort, prosperity, and
  happiness. Thousands of them are praying to come. The throne of
  Jehovah is besieged with prayers for the powers of escape, and if
  they cannot live in peace under Russian laws without being subject
  to these awful persecutions, let us aid them in coming to us. [1]

[Footnote 1: See _Proceedings of Meetings held February 1, 1882, at
New York and London, to Express Sympathy with the Oppressed Jews in
Russia_. New York, p. 20 et seq.]

These words of the speaker, uttered in a moment of oratorical
exultation, voiced the secret wish cherished by many enthusiasts of the
Russian ghetto.


In Russia itself a large number of emigration societies came into being
about the same time, which had for their object the transfer of Russian
Jews to the United States, the land of the free. The organizers of these
societies evidently relied on some miraculous assistance from the
outside, such as the _Alliance Israélite_ of Paris and similar Jewish
bodies in Europe and America. Under the immediate effect of Ignatyev's
statement to Dr. Orshanski in which the Russian Minister referred to the
"Western frontier" as the only escape for the Jews, the Russian-Jewish
press was flooded with reports from hundreds of cities, particularly in
the South of Russia, telling of the formation, of emigrant groups. "Our
poor classes have only one hope left to them, that of leaving the
country. 'Emigration, America,' are the slogans of our brethren"--this
phrase occurs at that time with stereotyped frequency in all the reports
from the provinces.

Many Russian-Jewish intellectuals dreamed of establishing Jewish
agricultural and farming colonies in the United States, where some
batches of emigrants who had left during the year 1881 had already
managed to settle on the land. A part of the Jewish youth was carried
away by the idea of settling in Palestine, and conducted a vigorous
propaganda on behalf of this national idea among the refugees from the
modern Egypt. There was urgent need of uniting these emigration
societies scattered all over the Pale of Settlement and of establishing
central emigration committees to regulate the movement which had gripped
the people with elemental force.

Unfortunately, there was no unity of purpose among the Jewish leaders in
Russia. The intellectuals who stood nearer to the people, such as the
well-known oculist, Professor Mandelstamm, who enjoyed great popularity
in Kiev, and others like him, as well as a section of the Jewish press,
particularly the _Bazsvyet_, insisted continually on the necessity of
organizing the emigration movement, which they regarded as the most
important task confronting Russian Jewry at that time. The Jewish
oligarchy in St. Petersburg, on the other hand, was afraid lest such an
undertaking might expose it to the charge of "disloyalty" and of a lack
of Russian patriotism. Others again, whose sentiments were voiced by the
Russian-Jewish periodical _Voskhod_ and who were of a more radical turn
of mind, looked upon the attempt to encourage a wholesale emigration of
Jews as a concession to the Government of Ignatyev and as an indirect
abandonment of the struggle for emancipation in Russia itself.

In the spring of 1882, the question of organizing the emigration
movement had become so pressing that it was decided to convene a
conference of provincial Jewish leaders in St. Petersburg to consider
the problem. Before the delegates had time to arrive in the capital, the
sky of South Russia was once more lit up by a terrible flare. Balta, a
large Jewish center in Podolia, where a Jewish emigration society had
had sprung into being shortly before the catastrophe, became the scene
of a frightful pogrom.

It was shortly before the Russian Passover, the high season of pogroms,
when the Russian public was startled by a strange announcement published
towards the end of March in the _Imperial Messenger_ to the effect that
from now on it would accurately report all cases of "Jewish disorders"
in accordance with the official information received from the governors.
The announcement clearly implied that the Government knew beforehand of
the imminence of new pogroms. Even the conservative _Moscow News_
commented on the injudicious statement of the official organ in emphatic
and sarcastic terms:

  The _Imperial Messenger_ is comforting the public by the
  announcement that it would in due time and at due length report all
  cases of excesses perpetrated upon the Jews. One might think that
  these are every-day occurrences forming part of the natural course
  of events which demand nothing else than timely communication to the
  public. Is there indeed no means to put a stop to this crying

Events soon made it clear that there was no desire to put a stop to this
"scandal," as the Moscow paper politely termed the exploits of the
Russian robber bands. The local authorities of Balta were forewarned in
time of the approaching pogroms. Beginning with the middle of March the
people in Balta and the surrounding country were discussing them openly.
When the Jews of that town made their apprehensions known to the local
police commissioner, they received from him an evasive reply. In view of
the fact that the Jewish population of Balta was three times as large as
the Christian, it would not have been difficult for the Jews to organize
some sort of self-defence. But they knew that such an organization was
strictly forbidden by the Government, and, realizing the consequences,
they had to confine themselves to a secret agreement entered into by a
few families to stand up for one another in the hour of distress. On the
second day of the Russian Easter, corresponding to the seventh day of
the Jewish festival, on March 29, the pogrom began, surpassing by the
savagery of the mob and the criminal conduct of the authorities all the
bacchanalia of 1881. A contemporary observer, basing his statements on
the results of a special investigation, gives the following account of
the events at Balta:

  At the beginning of the pogrom, the Jews got together and forced a
  band of rioters to draw back and seek shelter in the building of the
  fire department. But when the police and soldiers appeared on the
  scene, the rioters decided to leave their place of refuge. Instead
  of driving off the disorderly band, the police and soldiers began to
  beat the Jews with their rifle butts and swords. This served as a
  signal to start the pogrom. At that moment, somebody sounded an
  alarm bell, and, in response, the mob began to flock together.
  Fearing the numerical superiority of the Jews in that part of the
  town, the crowd passed across the bridge to the so-called Turkish
  side, where there were fewer Jews. The crowd was accompanied by the
  military commander, the police commissioner, the burgomaster, and a
  part of the local battalion, which fact, however, did not prevent
  the mob, while passing the Cathedral street, from demolishing a
  Jewish store and breaking the windows in the house of another Jew, a
  member of the town-council. After the mob had crossed over to the
  Turkish side, the authorities drew up military cordons on all the
  three bridges leading from that side to the rest of the town, with
  the order not to allow any Jews to pass. Needless to say, the order
  was carried out. At the same time the Christians of the remaining
  sections of the town and of the village of Alexandrovka were allowed
  to pass unhindered. Thanks to these arrangements, the Turkish side
  was sacked in the course of three to four hours, so that by one
  o'clock in the morning the rioters found nothing left to do. During
  the night, the police and military authorities arrested twenty-four
  rioters and a much larger number of Jews. The latter were arrested
  because they ventured to stay near their homes. The following
  morning, the Christians were released and allowed to swell the ranks
  of the pillaging mob, while the Jews were kept in jail until the
  following day and freed only when the governor arrived.

  On the following day, March 30, at four o'clock in the morning, a
  large number of peasants, amounting to about five thousand and armed
  with clubs, began to arrive in town, having been summoned by the
  Ispravnik [1] from the adjacent villages. The arrival of the
  peasants was welcomed by the Jews, who thought that they had been
  called to come to their aid. But they soon found out their mistake,
  for the peasants declared that they had come to beat and plunder the
  Jews. Simultaneously with the arrival of the peasants, large numbers
  from among the local mob began to assemble around the Cathedral, and
  at eight o'clock in the morning signals were given to renew the
  pogrom. At first this was prevented. The officers of the local
  battalion, who patrolled the city, ordered the soldiers to surround
  the mob and hold it off for about an hour, during which time the
  Greek-Orthodox bishop [2] Radzionovski admonished the rioters and
  tried to make them understand that such doings were contrary to the
  laws of the Church and the State. But when the police commissioner,
  the military chief, and Ispravnik arrived before the Cathedral, the
  military cordon was withdrawn, and the crowd, now let loose, threw
  itself upon a near-by liquor store, and, after demolishing it and
  filling itself with alcohol, resumed its work of destruction, with
  the co-operation of the peasants who had been summoned by the
  Ispraynik and the assistance of the soldiers and policemen. It was
  on this occasion that those wild, savage scenes of murder, rapine,
  and plunder took place, the account of which as published in the
  newspapers is but the pale shadow of the real facts.... The pogrom
  of Balta was called forth not by the mere inactivity but by the
  direct activity of the local authorities.

[Footnote 1: The head of the district (or county) police. The police
in the larger towns of the county is subject to the police
commissioner of the town, who is referred to earlier in the text.]

[Footnote 2: In Russian, _Protoyerey_, a term borrowed from the
Greek. It corresponds roughly to the title of bishop.]

What these "savage scenes" were we do not learn from the newspapers,
which were forbidden by the censor to report them, but we know them
partly from unpublished sources and partly from the later court
proceedings. Aside from the demolition of twelve hundred and fifty
houses and business places and the destruction and pillage of property
and merchandise--according to a statement of the local rabbi, "all
well-to-do Jews were turned into beggars, and more than fifteen thousand
people were sent out into the wide world "--a large number of people
were killed and maimed, and many women were violated. Forty Jews were
slain or dangerously wounded; one hundred and seventy received slight
wounds; many Jews, and particularly Jewesses, became insane from fright.
There were more than twenty cases of rape. The seventeen year old
daughter of a poor polisher, Eda Maliss by name, was attacked by a horde
of bestial lads before the eyes of her brother. When the mother of the
unfortunate girl ran into the street and called to her aid a policeman
who was standing near-by, the latter followed the woman into the house,
and then, instead of helping her, dishonored her on the spot. The
fiendish hordes invaded the home of Baruch Shlakhovski, and began their
bloody work by slaying the master of the house, whereupon his wife and
daughter fled and hid themselves in a near-by orchard. Here a Russian
neighbor lured them into his house under the pretext of defending their
honor against the rioters, but, once in his house, he disgraced the
daughter in the presence of her mother. In many cases the soldiers of
the local garrison assaulted and beat the Jews who showed themselves on
the streets while the "military operations" of the mob were going on. In
accordance with the customary pogrom ritual, the human fiends were left
undisturbed for two days, and only on the third day were troops summoned
from a near-by city to put a stop to the atrocities.

On the same day the governor of Podolia arrived to make an
investigation. It was soon learned that the local authorities, the
police commissioner, the Ispravnik, the military commander, the
burgomaster, and the president of the nobility [1] had either directly or
indirectly abetted the pogrom. Many rioters, who had been arrested by
the police, were soon released, because they threatened otherwise to
point out to the higher authorities the ringleaders from among the local
officials and the representatives of Russian society. The Jews, again,
were constantly terrorized by these scoundrels and cowed by the fear of
massacres and complete annihilation, in case they dared to expose their
hangmen before the courts.

[Footnote 1: The nobility of each government forms an organization of
its own. It is headed by a president for the entire government who has
under his jurisdiction a president for each district (or county). Such a
county president is referred to in the text.]

The pogrom of Balta found but a feeble echo in the immediate
neighborhood--in a few localities of the governments of Podolia and
Kherson. It seemed as if the energy of destruction and savagery had
spent itself in the exploits at Balta. On the whole, the pogrom campaign
conducted in the spring of 1882 covered but an insignificant territory
when compared with the pogrom enterprise of 1881, though
surpassing it considerably in point of quality. The horrors of Balta
were a substantial earnest of the Kishinev atrocities of 1903
and the October pogroms of 1905.


The horrors of Balta cast their shadow upon the conference of Jewish
delegates which met in St. Petersburg on April 8-11, 1882. The
conference, which had been called by Baron Horace Günzburg, with the
permission of Ignatyev, was made up of some twenty-five delegates from
the provinces--among them Dr. Mandelstamm of Kiev, Rabbi Isaac Elhanan
Specter of Kovno--and fifteen notables from the capital, including Baron
Günzburg himself, the railroad magnate Polakov, and Professor Bakst. The
question of Jewish emigration was the central issue of the conference,
although, in connection with it, the general situation of Russian Jewry
came up for discussion. There was a mixed element of tragedy and
timidity in the deliberations of this miniature congress, at which
neither the voice of the masses nor that of the _intelligentzia_ were
given a full hearing. On the one hand, the conference listened to
heartrending speeches, picturing the intolerable position of the Jews;
and one of the delegates, Shmerling from Moghilev, who had just
delivered such a speech, was so overcome that he fainted and died in a
few hours. On the other hand, the most influential delegates,
particularly those from the capital, were looking about timorously,
fearing lest the Government suspect them of a lack of patriotism. Others
again looked upon emigration as an illicit form of protest, as
"sedition," and they clung to this conviction, even when the conference
had been told in the name of the Minister of the Interior that it was
expected to consider the question of "thinning out the Jewish population
in the Pale of Settlement, in view of the fact that the Jews will not be
admitted into the interior governments of Russia."

At the second meeting of the conference, the rabbi of St. Petersburg,
Dr. Drabkin, reported to the delegates about his last conversation with
Ignatyev. In reply to the rabbi who had stated that the Jews were
waiting for an imperial word ordering the suppression of the pogroms,
and were anticipating the removal of their legal disabilities, the
Minister had characterized these assertions as "commonplaces," and had
added in an irritated tone: "The Jews themselves are responsible for the
pogroms. By joining the Nihilists they thereby deprive the Government of
the possibility of sheltering them against violence." The sophistry of
the Minister was refuted on the spot by his own confession that the
Balta pogrom was due to "a false rumor charging the Jews with having
undermined the local Greek-Orthodox church," in other words, that the
cause of the Balta pogrom was not to be traced to any tendencies within
Jewry but rather to the agitation of evil-minded Jew-baiters.

At the same session, the discussion of the emigration question was
side-tracked by a new design of the slippery Minister. The financier
Samuel Polakov, who was close to Ignatyev, declared in a spirit of base
flunkeyism that the labors of the conference would prove fruitless
unless they were carried on in accordance with "Government
instructions." On this occasion he informed the conference that in a
talk which he had with the Minister the latter had branded the
endeavors to stimulate emigration as "an incitement to sedition," on the
ground that "emigration does not exist for Russian citizens." Asked by
the Minister for suggestions as to the best means of relieving the
congestion of the Jews in the Pale, Polakov had replied: "By settling
them all over Russia." To this the Minister had retorted that he could
not allow the settlement of Jews except in Central Asia and in the newly
conquered oasis of Akhal-Tekke, [1] In obedience to these ministerial
utterances, the obsequious financier sharply opposed the plan of a
Jewish emigration to foreign lands, and seriously recommended to the
conference to consider the proposal made by Ignatyev. The Minister's
suggestion was bitterly attacked by Dr. Mandelstamm, who saw in it a new
attempt to make sport of the Jews, Even Professor Bakst, who objected to
emigration on principle, declared that the proposed scheme of settling
the Jews amounted in reality to "a deportation to far-off places" and
was tantamount to an official "classification of the Jews as criminals."

[Footnote 1: In the Trans-Caspian region. It had been occupied by
Russian troops shortly before--in 1880.]

From the project of deportation, which failed to meet with the sympathy
of the conference, the delegates proceeded to discuss the burning
question of pogroms. It was proposed to send a deputation to the Tzar,
appealing to him to put a stop to the legislative restrictions, which
were bound to inspire the Russian population with the belief that the
Jews were outside the pale of the law.

In the question of foreign emigration the majority of the conference
voted against the establishment of emigration committees, on the ground
that the latter might give the impression as if the Jews were desirous
of leaving Russia.

After a debate lasting four days the following resolutions were adopted:

  _First_, to reject completely the thought of organizing emigration,
  as being subversive of the dignity of the Russian body politic and
  of the historic rights of the Jews to their present fatherland.

  _Second_, to point to the necessity of abolishing the present
  discriminating legislation concerning the Jews, this abolition being
  the only means to regulate the relationship of the Jewish population
  to the original inhabitants.

  _Third_, to bring to the knowledge of the Government the passive
  attitude of the authorities which had clearly manifested itself
  during the time of the disorders.

  _Fourth_, to petition the Government to find means for compensating
  the Jewish population, which had suffered from the pogroms as a
  result of inadequate police protection.

At the same time the conference took occasion to refute the old
accusation, which had again been brought up in the gubernatorial
commissions, that the Jews still retained their ancient autonomous Kahal
organization, and that the latter was operating secretly and was
fostering Jewish separatism to the detriment of the other elements of
the population.

The resolution of the conference on this score read as follows:

  We, the undersigned, the representatives of various centers of
  Jewish settlement in Russia, rabbis, members of religious
  organizations and synagogue boards, consider it our sacred duty,
  calling to witness God Omniscient, to declare publicly, in the
  presence of the whole of Russia, that there exists neither an open
  nor a secret Kahal administration among the Russian Jews; that
  Jewish life is entirely foreign to any organization of this kind and
  to any of the attributes ascribed to such an organization by evil
  minded persons.

The signers of this solemn pronouncement were evidently unaware of the
degrading renunciation of national rights which was implied in the
declaration that not only had the Jews lost their former comprehensive
communal organization--this was in accordance with the facts--but that,
were such an inner autonomous organization to exist, they would regard
it as a criminal offence, subversive of the public order and punishable
by the forfeiture of civil rights.




During the interval between the pogrom of Warsaw and that of Balta the
Government was preparing for the Jews a series of legislative pogroms.
In the recesses of the Russian Government offices, which served as the
laboratories of police barbarism, the authorities were busy forging a
chain of legal and administrative restrictions in order to "regulate"
Jewish life in the spirit of complete civil disfranchisement. The
Central Committee on Jewish Affairs, attached to the Ministry of the
Interior, which was called for short "the Jewish Committee" but might
far more appropriately have been called "the Anti-Jewish Committee," was
basing its labors upon the opinions submitted by the gubernatorial
commissions and rearing on this foundation a monstrous structure of

The new project was based upon the following theory: The old Russian
legislation was marked by its hostility to the Jews as a secluded group
of alien faith and race. A departure from this attitude was attempted
during the reign of Alexander II., when the rights of certain categories
of Jews were enlarged, and "a period of toleration was inaugurated." But
subsequent experience proved the inexpediency of this tolerant attitude
towards the Jews, as has been demonstrated by the recent manifestation
"of an anti-Jewish movement abroad" (German anti-Semitism) and "the
popular protest" in Russia itself, where it assumed the form of pogroms.
Since Russia has now chosen the path of a "national policy," it follows
also in regard to the Jewish question that this country cannot but "turn
to its ancient tradition, throw aside the innovations which have proved
useless, and follow vigorously the principles, evolved by the whole past
history of the monarchy, according to which the Jews must be regarded as
aliens," and therefore can lay no claim to full toleration.

This barbarous theory, which brought Russia back to the traditions of
ancient Muscovy, was expounded elaborately in the protocol of the
session of the "anti-Jewish Committee," as a sort of preamble to the
legal project submitted by it.

While engaged in these labors, the members of the committee received the
news of the pogrom in Warsaw, and were greatly heartened by it. They did
not fail to make an entry in the protocol to the effect that the
"disorders" which had taken place in the Kingdom of Poland "where the
Jews enjoy equal rights" (i.e., the right of residence) tend to support
the theory of the "injuriousness" of the Jewish people. Official pens
began to scribble more rapidly, and within a short time, by the spring
of 1882, a project was ready, to be inflicted as a severe punishment
upon the Jews for the atrocities perpetrated upon them. The "conquered
foe," represented by the Jewish population, was to be dislodged from a
large area within, the Pale of Settlement, overcrowded though the latter
had become, by forbidding the Jews to settle anew outside of the cities
and towns, i.e., in the country-side. Those already settled there were
either to be evicted by the verdict of the rural communes[1], or to be
deprived of a livelihood by the prohibition to buy or lease immovable
property and to trade in liquor.

[Footnote 1: "To allow the communes to evict the Jews by a verdict,"
according to the exact wording of the law.]

This project was submitted by Ignatyev to the Committee of Ministers,
accompanied by the suggestion that the new disabilities be enacted not
in due legal procedure (by the Council of State) but in the form of
"Temporary Rules" to be sanctioned in an extra-legal way by the Tzar,
with the end in view "to do away with the aggravated relations between
the Jews and the original population."

However, even the members of the reactionary Committee of Ministers were
embarrassed by Ignatyev's project. The Committee felt that it was
impossible to carry out the expropriation of personal and property
rights on so extensive a scale without the due process of law and that
the permission to be granted to rural communes of expelling the Jews
from the villages was tantamount to leaving the latter to the tender
mercies of the benighted Russian masses, which would thus more than ever
be strengthened, in their conviction that the Jews might be expelled and
assaulted with impunity, so that the relations between the two elements
of the population, instead of improving, would only become more
aggravated. On the other hand, the Committee of Ministers went on record
that it considered it necessary to adopt rigorous measures against the
Jews in order that the peasants should not think "that the Tzar's will
in ridding them of Jewish exploitation was not put into execution."

As a result of these contentions, several concessions were made by
Ignatyev, and the following compromise was reached: The clause ordering
the expulsion of the hundreds of thousands of Jews already settled in
the villages was eliminated, and the prohibition was restricted to the
Jews who wished to settle outside of the towns and townlets _anew_. In
turn, the Committee of Ministers yielded to Ignatyev's demand that the
project should be enacted with every possible dispatch, without
preliminary submission to the Council of State.

Such was the genesis of the famous "Temporary Rules" which were
sanctioned by the Tzar on May 3, 1882. Shorn of all bureaucratic
rhetoric, the new laws may be reduced to the following laconic

  _First_, to forbid the Jews henceforth to settle anew outside of the
  towns and townlets.

  _Second_, to suspend the completion of instruments of purchase of
  real property and merchandise in the name of Jews outside of the
  towns and townlets.

  _Third_, to forbid the Jews to carry on business on Sundays and
  Christian holidays.

The first two "Rules" contained in their harmless wording a cruel
punitive law which dislodged the Jews from nine-tenths of the territory
hitherto accessible to them, and tended to coop up millions of human
beings within the suffocating confines of the towns and townlets of the
Western region. And yet, notwithstanding its tremendous implications,
the law was passed outside the ordinary course of legal procedure--under
the disguise of "Temporary Rules," which, in spite of their title, have
been enforced with merciless cruelty for more than a generation.


After imposing a severe and immediately effective penalty upon Russian
Jewry for having been ruined by the pogroms, the Government suddenly
remembered its duty, and dangled the threat of future penalties before
the prospective instigators of Jewish disorders. On the same fateful
third of May, the Tzar sanctioned the decision of the Committee of
Ministers concerning the necessity of declaring solemnly that "the
Government is firmly resolved to prosecute invariably any attempt at
violence on the person and property of the Jews, who are under the
protection of the general laws." In accordance with this declaration, a
senatorial ukase dated May 10 was sent out to the governors, warning
them that "the heads of the gubernatorial administrations would be held
responsible for the adoption of timely measures looking to the
prevention of the conditions leading to similar disorders and for the
suppression of these disorders at the very outset, and that any
negligence in this regard on the part of the administration and the
police authorities would result in the dismissal from office of those
found guilty." This warning was accompanied by the following confession:

  In view of the fact that sad occurrences in the past have made it
  evident that the local population, incited by evil-minded persons
  from covetous or other motives, has taken part in the disorders, it
  is the duty of the gubernatorial administration to make it clear to
  the local communes that they are obliged to adopt measures for the
  purpose ... of impressing upon the inhabitants the gross criminal
  offence implied in willfully perpetrating violent acts against
  anybody's person and property.

It would almost seem as if the Government, by promulgating on one and
the same day the "Temporary Rules" against the Jews and the circular
against the pogroms, wished to intimate to the Russian people that,
inasmuch as the Jews were now being exterminated through the agency of
the law, there was no further need to exterminate them on the streets.
The originators of the "Temporary Rules" did not seem to realize that
the latter were nothing but a variation of those "violent acts against
person and property," from which the street mob was warned to refrain,
for the loss of the freedom of movement is violence against the person,
and the denial of the right of purchasing real estate is violence
against property. Even the Russian press, though held at that time in
the grip of censorship, could not help commenting on the fact that the
effect of the official circular against the pogroms had been greatly
weakened, by the simultaneous promulgation of the "Temporary Rules."

It would seem as if the terrible atrocities at Balta had made the
highest Government spheres realize that the previous policy of
connivance at the pogroms, which had been practised for a whole year,
could not but disgrace Russia in the eyes of the world and undermine
public order in Russia itself. As soon as this was realized, the
luckless Minister, who had been the pilot of Russian politics throughout
that terrible year, was bound to disappear from the scene. On May 30,
Count Ignatyev was made to resign, and Count Demetrius Tolstoi was
appointed Minister of the Interior.

Tolstoi was a grim reactionary and a champion of autocracy and police
power, but he was at the same time an enemy of all manifestations of mob
rule which tended to undermine the authority of the State. A few days
after his appointment the new Minister issued a circular in which he
reiterated the recent declaration of his predecessor concerning the
"resolve of the Government to prosecute every kind of violence against
the Jews," announcing emphatically that "any manifestation of disorders
would unavoidably result in the immediate prosecution of all official
persons who are in duty bound to concern themselves with the prevention
of disorders."

This energetic pronouncement of the Government had a magic effect. All
provincial administrators realized that the central Government of St.
Petersburg had ceased to trifle with the promoters of the pogroms, and
the pogrom epidemic was at an end. Beginning with June, 1882, the
pogroms assumed more and more a sporadic character. Here and there
sparks of the old conflagration would flare up again, but only to die
out quickly. In the course of the next twenty years, until the Kishinev
massacre of 1903, no more than about ten pogroms of any consequence may
be enumerated, and these disorders were all isolated movements, with a
purely local coloring, and without the earmarks of a common organization
or the force of an epidemic, such as characterized the pogrom campaigns
of 1881, or those of 1903-1905. This is an additional proof for the
contention that systematic pogroms in Russia are impossible as long as
the central Government and the local authorities are honestly and firmly
set against them.

The stringent measures adopted by Tolstoi were soon reflected in the
legal trials arising out of the pogroms. Formerly, the local authorities
refrained as a rule from putting the rioters on trial lest their
testimony might implicate the local administration, and even when action
was finally brought against them, the culprits mostly escaped with
slight penalties, such as imprisonment for a few months. But after the
declaration of the Government in June the courts adopted a more rigorous
attitude towards the rioters. [1] In the summer of 1882, a number of
cases arising out of the pogroms at Balta and in other cities were tried
in the courts. The penalties imposed by the courts were frequently
severe, though fully deserved, such as deportation and confinement at
hard labor, drafting into penal military companies, etc. In one case,
two soldiers, having been convicted of pillage and murder, were
court-martialled and sentenced to death. When the sentence was submitted
for ratification to Drenteln, governor-general of Kiev, the rabbi of
Balta, acting on behalf of the local Jewish community, betook himself to
Kiev to support the culprits in their petition for pardon. It was
strange to listen to this appeal for mercy on behalf of criminals guilty
of violence and murder, coming from the camp of their victims, from the
demolished homes which still resounded with the moans of the wounded and
with the weeping over lost lives and dishonored women. One finds it
difficult to believe that this appeal for mercy was due entirely to an
impulse of forgiveness. Associated with it was probably the apprehension
that the death of the murderers would be avenged by their like-minded
accomplices who were still at liberty.

[Footnote 1: This, by the way, was not always the case. The court of
Chernigov, which was compelled to bring in a verdict of guilty against
the perpetrators of the pogrom in the townlet of Karpovitchin the same
government, decided to recommend the culprits to the clemency of the
superior authorities, in view of the dissatisfaction of the people with
the "exploitation" of the Jews. There were many instances of these
anti-Jewish political manifestations in the law-courts.]

The Jews of Balta were soon to learn that their humility was
ill-requited by the highly-placed promoters of the riots. In the
beginning of August, Governor-General Drenteln came to Balta. He was
exceedingly irritated, not only on account of the recent circular of
Tolstoi which implied a personal threat against him as one who had
connived at a number of pogroms within his dominions, but also because
of the steps taken by the representatives of the Balta Jewish community
at St. Petersburg in the direction of exposing the spiritual fathers of
the local riots. Having arrived in the sorely stricken city, the head of
the province, who _ex officio_ should have conveyed his expression of
sympathy to the sufferers, summoned the rabbi and the leaders of the
Jewish community, and, in the presence of his official staff, treated
them to a speech full of venomous hatred. He told them that by their
actions the Jews had "armed everybody against themselves," that they
were universally hated, that "they lived nowhere as happily as in
Russia," and that the deputation they had sent to St. Petersburg for the
purpose of presenting their complaints and "slandering the city
authorities and representatives as if they had incited the tumultuous
mob against the Jews" had been of no avail. In conclusion, he branded
the petition of the Balta community for a commutation of the death
sentence passed upon the rioters as an act of hypocrisy, adding
impressively that "these persons have been pardoned irrespective of the
requests of the Jews."

The speech of the bureaucratic Jew-baiter, whose proper place was in the
dock, side by side with the convicted murderers, produced a terrible
panic in the whole region of Kiev. The militant organ of the Jewish
press, the _Voskhod_, properly remarked:

  After the speech of General-Adjutant Drenteln, our confidence in the
  impossibility of a repetition of the pogroms has been decidedly
  shaken. Of what avail can ministerial circulars be when the highest
  administrators on the spot paralyze their actions in public by the
  living word?

The apprehensions voiced by the Jewish organ were fortunately unfounded.
True, the Minister Tolstoi was not able to punish the criminal harangue
of the savage governor-general who had powerful connections at the
Russian court. But the firm resolution of the central Government to hold
the heads of the administration to account for their connivance at
pogroms had the desired effect. All that the snarling dogs could do was
to bark.


The pogrom machinery was thus stopped by a word of command from St.
Petersburg. As a counterbalance, the machinery for the manufacture of
Jewish disabilities continued in full operation. The "Temporary Rules"
of May third established a system of legal persecutions which were
directed against the Jews on the ground of their "economic
injuriousness," The fact that the Jewish population was in many regards
outside the operation of the general laws of Russia opened up a wide
field for the grossest forms of arbitrariness and lawlessness. At one
stroke, all the exits from the overcrowded cities into the villages
within the Pale of Settlement were tightly closed. All branches of
industry connected with Jewish land ownership outside the cities were
curtailed and in some places entirely cut off. In many villages the
right bestowed on the rural communes of ostracising "vicious members" by
a special verdict [1] was used as a weapon to expel those Jews who had
long been settled there.

[Footnote 1: The official term applied to the resolutions passed by the
village communes. Compare p. 310.]

It will be remembered that Ignatyev had proposed to encourage the
peasants officially in the use of this weapon against the Jews, and that
the Committee of Ministers had rejected his proposal. There were now
administrators who did the same thing unofficially. Prompted by selfish
motives, the local _Kulaks_ [1] or "bosses," from among the Russian
tradesmen, acting in conjunction with the rural elders, would convene
peasant assemblies which were treated to liberal doses of alcohol. The
intoxicated, half-illiterate _moujiks_ would sign a "verdict" demanding
the expulsion of the Jews from their village; the verdict would be
promptly confirmed by the governors and would immediately become law.
Such expulsions were particularly frequent in the governments under the
jurisdiction of Drenteln, governor-general of Kiev, and no one doubted
but that this ferocious Jew-baiter had passed the word to that effect
throughout his dominions.

[Footnote 1: Literally "Fists."]

The economic misery within the Pale drove a number of Jews into the
Russian interior, but here they were met by the whip of the law, made
doubly painful by the scorpions of administrative caprice. Wholesale
expulsions of Jews took place in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov,
and other forbidden centers. The effect of these expulsions upon the
commercial life of the country was so disastrous that the big Russian
merchants of Moscow and Kharkov appealed to the Government to relax the
restrictions surrounding the visits of Jews to these cities.

The civil authorities were now joined by the military powers in hounding
the Jews. There were in the Russian army a large number of Jewish
physicians, many of whom had distinguished themselves during the
preceding Russo-Turkish war. The reactionary Government at the helm of
Russian affairs could not tolerate the sight of a Jewish physician
exercising the rights of an army officer which were otherwise utterly
utterly unattainable for a Jewish soldier. Accordingly, the Minister of
War, Vannovski, issued a rescript dated April 10, 1882, to the following

  _First_, to limit the number of Jewish physicians and _feldshers[1]_
  in the Military Department to five per cent of the general number of
  medical men.

  _Second_, to stop appointing Jews on the medical service in the
  military districts of Western Russia, and to transfer the surplus
  over and above five per cent into the Eastern districts.

  _Third_, to appoint Jewish physicians only in those contingents of
  the army in which the budget calls for at least two physicians, with
  the proviso that the second physician must be a Christian.

[Footnote 1: See p. 167, n. 2.]

The reason for these provisions was stated in a most offensive form:

  It is necessary to stop the constant growth of the number of
  physicians of the Mosaic persuasion in the Military Department, in
  view of their deficient conscientiousness in discharging their
  duties and their unfavorable influence upon the sanitary service in
  the army.

This revolting affront had the effect that many Jewish physicians handed
in their resignations immediately. The resignation of one of these
physicians, the well-known novelist Yaroshevski, was couched in such
emphatic terms, and parried the moral blow directed at the Jewish
professional men with such dignity that the Minister of War deemed it
necessary to put the author on trial. Among other things, Yaroshevski

  So long as the aspersions cast upon the Jewish physicians so
  pitilessly are not removed, every superfluous minute spent by them
  in serving this Department will merely add to their disgrace. In the
  name of their human dignity, they have no right to remain there
  where they are held in abhorrence.

Under these circumstances it seemed quite natural that the tendency
toward emigration, which had called forth a number of emigration
societies as far back as the beginning of 1882 [1], took an ever
stronger hold upon the Jewish population of Russia. The disastrous
consequences of the resolution adopted by the conference of notables in
St. Petersburg [2] were now manifest. By rejecting the formation of a
central agency for regulating the emigration, the conference had
abandoned the movement to the blind elemental forces, and a catastrophe
was bound to follow. The pogrom at Balta called forth a new outburst of
the emigration panic, and in the summer of 1882 some twenty thousand
Jewish refugees were again huddled together in the Galician border-town
of Brody. They were without means for continuing their journey to
America, having come to Brody in the hope of receiving help from the
Jewish societies of Western Europe. The relief committees established in
the principal cities of Europe were busily engaged in "evacuating" Brody
of this destitute mass of fugitives. In the course of the summer and
autumn this task was successfully accomplished. A large number of
emigrants were dispatched to the United States, and the rest were
dispersed over the various centers of Western Europe.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 297 et seq.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 307.]

Aside from the highway of American emigration went, along a tiny
parallel path, the Jewish emigration to Palestine. The Palestinian
movement which had shortly before come into being [1] attracted many
enthusiasts from among the Jewish youth. In the spring of 1882, a
society of Jewish young men, consisting mostly of university students,
was formed in Kharkov under the name _Bilu_, from the initial letters of
their Hebrew motto, _Bet Ya'akob leku we-nelka_"O house of Jacob, come
ye, and let us go." [2] The aim of the society was to establish a model
agricultural settlement in Palestine and to carry on a wide-spread
propaganda for the idea of colonizing the ancient homeland of the Jews.
As a result of this propaganda, several hundred Jews in various parts of
Russia joined the _Bilu_ society. Of these only a few dozen pioneers
left for Palestine --between June and July of 1882.

[Footnote 1: See later, p. 268.]

[Footnote 2: From Isa. 2.5.]

At first, the leaders of the organization attempted to enter into
negotiations with the Turkish Government, with a view to obtaining from
it a large tract of land for colonizing purposes, but the negotiations
fell through. The handful of pioneers were obliged to work in the
agricultural settlements near Jaffa, in _Mikweh Israel_, a foundation of
the _Alliance Israélite_ in Paris, and in the colony _Rishon le-Zion_,
which had been recently established by private initiative. The youthful
idealists had to endure many hardships in an unaccustomed environment
and in a branch of endeavor entirely alien to them. A considerable part
of the pioneers were soon forced to give up the struggle and make way
for the new settlers who were less intelligent perhaps but physically
better fitted for their task. The foundations of Palestinian
colonization had been laid, though within exceedingly narrow limits, and
the very idea of the national restoration of the Jewish people in
Palestine was then as it was later a much greater social factor in
Jewish life than the practical colonization of a country which could
only absorb an insignificant number of laborers. At those moments, when
the Russian horrors made life unbearable, the eyes of many sufferers
were turned Eastward, towards the tiny strip of land on the shores of
the Mediterranean, where the dream of a new life upon the resuscitated
ruins of gray antiquity held out the promise of fulfilment.

A contemporary writer, in surveying recent events in the Russian valley
of tears, makes the following observations:

  Jewish life during the latter part of 1882 has assumed a
  monotonously gloomy, oppressively dull aspect True, the streets are
  no longer full of whirling feathers from torn bedding; the
  window-panes no longer crash through the streets. The thunder and
  lightning which were recently filling the air and gladdening the
  hearts of the Greek-Orthodox people are no more. But have the Jews
  actually gained by the change from the illegal persecutions [in the
  form of pogroms] to the legal persecutions of the third of May?
  Maltreated, plundered, reduced to beggary, put to shame, slandered,
  and dispirited, the Jews have been cast out of the community of
  human beings. Their destitution, amounting to beggary, has been
  firmly established and definitely affixed to them. Gloomy darkness,
  without a ray of light, has descended upon that bewitched and narrow
  world in which this unhappy tribe has been languishing so long,
  gasping for breath in the suffocating atmosphere of poverty and
  contempt. Will this go on for a long time? Will the light of day
  break at last?




The catastrophe at the beginning of the eighties took the Jews of Russia
unawares, and found them unprepared for spiritual self-defence. The
impressions of the recent brief "era of reforms" were still fresh in
their minds. They still remembered the initial steps of Alexander II's
Government in the direction of the complete civil emancipation of
Russian Jewry, the appeals of the intellectual classes of Russia calling
upon the Jews to draw nearer to them, the bright prospects of a
rejuvenated Russia. The niggardly gifts of the Russian Government were
received by Russian Jewry with an outburst of gratitude and devotion
which bordered on flunkeyism. The intellectual young Jews and Jewesses
who had passed through the Russian public schools made frantic
endeavors, not only towards association but also towards complete
cultural amalgamation with the Russian people. Assimilation and
Russification became the watchwords of the day. The literary ideals of
young Russia became the sacred tablets of the Jewish youth.

But suddenly, lo and behold! that same Russian people, in which the
progressive forces of Jewry were ready to merge their identity, appeared
in the shape of a monster, which belched forth hordes upon hordes of
rioters and murderers. The Government had changed front, and adopted a
policy of reaction and fierce Jew-hatred, while the liberal classes of
Russia showed but scant sympathy with the downtrodden and maltreated
nation. The voice of the hostile press, the _Novoye Vremya_, the _Russ_,
and others, resounded through the air with fall vigor, whereas the
liberal press, owing partly--but only partly--to the tightening grip of
the censor, defended the Jews in a perfunctory manner. Even the
publicists of the radical type, who were principally grouped around the
periodical _Otyechestvennyia Zapiski_ ("Records of the Fatherland"),
looked upon the pogroms merely as the brutal manifestation of an
economic struggle, and viewed the whole complicated Jewish problem, with
all its century-long tragic implications, in the light of a subordinate
social-economic question.

The only one whose soul was deeply stirred by the sight of the new
sufferings of an ancient people was the Russian satirist,
Shchedrin-Saltykov, and he poured forth his, sentiments in the summer of
1882, after the completion of the first cycle of pogroms, in an article
marked by a lyric strain, so different from his usual style. [1] But
Shchedrin was the only Russian writer of prominence who responded to the
Jewish sorrow. Turgenyev and Tolstoi held their peace, whereas the
literary celebrities of Western Europe, Victor Hugo, Renau, and many
others, came forward with passionate protests. The Russian
_intelligenzia_ remained cold in the face of the burning tortures of
Jewry. The educated classes of Russian Jewry were hurt to the quick by
this chilly attitude, and their former enthusiasm gave way to

[Footnote 1: The article appeared in the _Otyechestvennyia Zapiski_ in
August, 1882. The following sentences in that article are worthy of
re-production: "History has never recorded in its pages a question more
replete, with sadness, more foreign to the sentiments of humanity, and
more filled with tortures than the Jewish question. The history of
mankind as a whole is one endless martyrology; yet at the same time it
is also a record of endless progress. In the records of martyrology the
Hebrew tribe occupies the first place; in the annals of progress it
stands aside, as if the luminous perspectives of history could never
reach it. There is no more heart-rending tale than the story of this
endless torture of man by man."

In the same article the Russian satirist draws a clever parallel between
the merciless Russian _Kulak_, or "boss," who ruins the peasantry, and
the pitiful Jewish "exploiter," the half-starved tradesman, who in turn
is exploited by everyone.]

This disillusionment found its early expression in the lamentations of
repentant assimilators. One of these assimilators, writing in the first
months of the pogroms, makes the following confession:

  The cultured Jewish classes have turned their back upon their
  history, have forgotten their traditions, and have conceived a
  contempt for everything which might make them realize that they are
  the members of the "eternal people." With no definite ideals,
  dragging their Judaism behind them as a fugitive galley-slave drags
  his heavy chain, how could these men justify their belonging to the
  tribe of "Christ-killers" and "exploiters"?... Truly pitiful has
  become the position of these assimilators, who but yesterday were
  the champions of national self-effacement. Life demands
  self-determination. To sit between two stools has now become an
  impossibility. The logic of events has placed them before the
  alternative: either to declare themselves openly as renegades, or to
  take their proper share in the sufferings of their people.

Another representative of the Jewish _intelligenzia_ writes in the
following strain to the editor of a Russian-Jewish periodical:

  When I remember what has been done to us, how we have been taught to
  love Russia and Russian speech, how we have been induced and
  compelled to introduce the Russian language and everything Russian,
  into our families so that our children know no other language but
  Russian, and how we are now repulsed and persecuted, then our hearts
  are filled with sickening despair from which there seems to be no
  escape. This terrible insult gnaws at my vitals. It may be that I am
  mistaken, but I do honestly believe that even if I succeeded in
  moving to a happier country where all men are equal, where there are
  no pogroms by day and "Jewish commissions" by night, I would yet
  remain sick at heart to the very end of my life--to such an extent
  do I feel worn out by this accursed year, this universal mental
  eclipse which has visited our dear fatherland.

Russian-Jewish literature of that period is full of similar
self-revelations of disillusioned intellectuals. However, this
repentant mood did not always lead to positive results. Some
of these intellectuals, having become part and parcel of Russian
cultural life, were no longer able to find their way back to
Judaism, and they were carried off by the current of assimilation,
culminating in baptism. Others stood at the cross-roads,
wavering between assimilation and Jewish nationalism. Still
others were so stunned by the blow they had received that
they reeled violently backward, and proclaimed as their slogan
the return "home," in the sense of a complete renunciation
of free criticism and of all strivings for inner reforms.

However, in the healthy part of Russian Jewry this change of mind
resulted in turning their ideals definitely in the direction of national
rejuvenation upon modern foundations. The idea of a struggle for
national rejuvenation in Eussia itself had not yet matured. It appeared
as an active force only in the following decade. [1] During the era of
pogroms the salvation of Judaism was primarily associated with the idea
of emigration. The champions of American emigration were prone to
idealize this movement, which had in reality sprung from practical
necessity, and they saw in it, not without justification, the beginning
of a new free center of Judaism in the Diaspora. The Hebrew poet Judah
Leib Gordon [2] addresses "The Daughter of Jacob [the Jewish people],
disgraced by the son of Hamor [the Russian Government]" [3] in the
following words:

[Footnote 1: That idea was subsequently championed by the writer of this
volume. See more about it in Vol. III.]

[Footnote 2: See p. 228 et seq.]

[Footnote 3: An allusion to Gen. 34, with a play on the words
_Bem-hamor,_ "the son of an ass."]

        Come, let as go where liberty's light
        Doth shine upon all with equal might,
        Where every man, without disgrace,
        Is free to adhere to his creed and his race,
        Where thou, too, shalt no longer fear
        Dishonor from brutes, my sister dear![1]

[Footnote 1: From his Hebrew poem _Ahoti Ruhama_, "My Beloved Sister."]

The exponents of American emigration were inspired by the
prospect of an exodus from the land of slavery into the land
of freedom. Many of them looked forward to the establishment
of agricultural and farming settlements in that country
and to the concentration of large Jewish masses in the thinly
populated States of the Union where they hoped the Jews
might be granted a considerable amount of self-government.

Side by side with the striving for a transplantation of Jewish centers
centers within the Diaspora, another idea, which negatives the Diaspora
Diaspora altogether and places in its stead the resuscitation of the
Jewish national center in Palestine, struggled to life amidst the
birth pangs of the pogroms. The first theoretic exponent of this
new movement, called "Love of Zion," [1] was M.L. Lilienblum, who in a
former stage of radicalism had preached the need of religious
reforms in Judaism. [2] As far back as in the autumn of the first pogrom
year Lilienblum published a series of articles in which he interpreted
the idea of Palestinian colonization, which had but recently sprung
to life, in the light of a common national task for the whole of
Jewry. Lilienblum endeavored to show that the root of all the
historic misfortunes of the Jewish people lay in the fact that it
was in all lands an alien element which refuses to assimilate in
its entirety with the dominant nation--with the landlord, as it
were. The landlord tolerates his tenant only so long as he finds him
convenient; let the tenant make the slightest attempt at competing
with the landlord, and he will be promptly evicted. During the Middle
Ages the Jews were persecuted in the name of religious fanaticism.
Now a beginning has been made to persecute them in the name of
national fanaticism, coupled with economic factors, and this "second
chapter of our history will no doubt contain many a bloody page."

[Footnote 1: A translation of the Hebrew term _Hibbat Zion_. In Russian
it was generally termed _Palestinophilstvo_, i.e., "Love of Palestine."]

[Footnote 2: See p. 236 et seq.]

Jewish suffering can only be removed by removing its cause. We must
cease to be strangers in every land of the globe, and establish
ourselves in a country where we ourselves may be the landlords. Such a
country can only be our ancient fatherland, Palestine, which belongs to
us by the right of history. "We must undertake the colonization of
Palestine on so comprehensive a scale that in the course of one century
the Jews may be able to leave inhospitable Europe almost entirely and
settle in the land of our forefathers to which we are legally entitled."

These thoughts, expounded with that simplified logic which will strike
certain types of mind as incontrovertible, were fully attuned to the
sentiments of the Jewish masses which were standing with "girded loins,"
ready for their exodus from, the new Egypt. The emigration societies
formed in the beginning of 1882 counted in their ranks many advocates of
Palestinian colonization. Bitter literary feuds were waged between the
"Americans" and "Palestinians." A young poet, Simon Frug[1], composed
the following enthusiastic exodus march, which he prefaced by the
biblical verse "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward"
(Ex. 14.15):

[Footnote 1: He became later a celebrated poet in Russian and Yiddish.
He died in 1916.]

        Thine eyes are keen, thy feet are strong, thy staff is firm--
           why then, my nation,
        Dost thou on the road stop and droop, thy gray head
           lost in contemplation?
        Look up and see: in numerous bands
        Thy sons return from all the lands.
        Forward then march, through a sea of sorrow,
        Through a chain of tortures, towards the dawn of the
        Forward--to the strains of the song of days gone by!
        For future ages like thunder to us cry:
        "Arise, my people, from thy grave,
        And live once more, a nation free and brave!"
        And in our ears songs of a _new_ life ring,
        And hymns of triumph the storms to as sing.

This march voiced the sentiments of those who dreamed of the Promised
Land--whether it be on the shores of the Jordan or on the banks of the


The conception of emigration as a means of national rejuvenation, which
had sprung to life amidst the "thunder and lightning" of the pogroms,
found a thoughtful exponent in the person of Dr. Leon Pinsker, a
prominent communal worker in Odessa, who had at one time looked to
assimilation as promising a solution of the Jewish problem. In his
pamphlet "Autoemancipation" (published in September, 1882), which is
marked by profound thinking, Pinsker vividly describes the mental agony
experienced by him at the sight of the physical slavery of the Jewry of
Russia and the spiritual slavery of the emancipated Jewry of Western
Europe. To him the Jewish people in the Diaspora is not a living nation,
but rather the ghost of a nation, haunting the globe and scaring all
living national organisms. The salvation of Judaism can only be brought
about by transforming this ghost into a real being, by re-establishing
the Jewish people upon a territory of its own which might be obtained
through the common endeavor of Jewry and through international Jewish
co-operation in some convenient part of the globe, be it Palestine or
America. Such is the way of Jewish autoemancipation, in
contradistinction from the civic emancipation, which had been bestowed
by the dominant nationalities upon the Jews as an act of grace and which
does not safeguard them against anti-Semitism and the humiliating
position of second-rate citizens. The Jewish people can be restored, if,
instead of many places of refuge scattered all over the globe, it will
be concentrated in one politically guaranteed place of refuge. For this
purpose a general Jewish congress ought to be called which should be
entrusted with the financial and political issues involved in the plan.
The present generation must take the first step towards this national
restoration; posterity will do the rest.

Pinsker's pamphlet, which was written in German and printed abroad [1]
with the intention of appealing to the Jews of Western Europe, failed to
produce any effect upon that assimilated section of the Jewish people.
In Russia, however, it became the catechism of the "Love of Zion"
movement and eventually of Zionism and Territorialism. The theory
expounded in Pinsker's pamphlet made a strong appeal to the Russian
Jews, not only on account of its close reasoning but also because it
gave powerful utterance to that pessimistic frame of mind which seemed
to have seized upon them all. Its weakest point lay in the fact that it
rested on a wrong historic premise and on a narrow definition of the
term "nation" in the sense of a territorial and political organism.
Pinaker seems to have overlooked that the Jews of the Diaspora, taken as
a whole, have not ceased to form a nation, though of a type of its own,
and that in modern political history nations of this "cultural"
complexion have appeared on the scene more and more frequently.

[Footnote 1: The first edition appeared in Berlin, in 1882. It bears the
sub-title: "An Appeal to his Brethren by a Russian Jew," It was
published anonymously.]

Lacking a definite practical foundation, Pinsker's doctrine could not
but accomodate itself to the Palestinian colonization movement, although
its insignificant dimensions were entirely out of proportion to the
far-reaching plans conceived by the author of "Autoemancipation."
Lilienblum and Pinsker were joined by the old nationalist Smolenskin and
the former assimilator Levanda. _Ha-Shahar_ and _ha-Melitx_ in Hebrew
and the _Razsvyet_ in Russian became the literary vehicles of the new
movement. In opposition to these tendencies, the _Voskhod_ of St.
Petersburg[1] reflected the ideas of the progressive Russian-Jewish
_intelligenzia_, and defended their old position which was that of civil
emancipation and inner Jewish reforms. In the middle between these two
extremes stood the Russian weekly _Russki Yevrey_ ("The Russian Jew"),
in St. Petersburg, and the Hebrew weekly _ha-Tzefirah_ ("The Dawn"), in
Warsaw, voicing the moderate views of the Haskalah period, with a
decided bent towards the nationalistic movement.

[Footnote 1: See p. 221, It appeared simultaneously as a weekly and a


The storm of pogroms not only broke many young twigs on the tree of
"enlightenment," which had attained to full bloom in the preceding
period, but it also bent others into monstrous shapes. This abnormal
development is particularly characteristic of the idea of religious
reforms in Judaism which sprang to life in the beginning of the
eighties. A fortnight before the pogrom at Yelisavetgrad, which
inaugurated another gloomy chapter in the annals of Russian Jewry, the
papers reported that a new Jewish sect had appeared in that city under
the name of "The Spiritual Biblical Brotherhood." Its members denied all
religious dogmas and ceremonies, and acknowledged only the moral
doctrines of the Bible; they condemned all mercantile pursuits, and
endeavored to live by physical labor, primarily by agriculture.

The founder of this "Brotherhood" was a local teacher and journalist,
Jacob Gordin, who stood at that time under the influence of the
South-Russian Stundists [1] as well as of the socialistic Russian
Populists. [2] The "Spiritual Biblical Brotherhood" was made up
altogether of a score of people. In a newspaper appeal which appeared
shortly after the spring pogroms of 1881 the leader of the sect, hiding
his identity under the pen-name of "A Brother-Biblist," called upon the
Jews to divest themselves, of those character traits and economic
pursuits which excited the hatred of the native population against them:
the love of money, the hunt for barter, usury, and petty trading. This
appeal, which, sounded in unison with the voice of the Russian
Jew-baiters and appeared at a time when the wounds of the pogrom victims
were not yet healed, aroused profound indignation among the Jews.
Shortly afterwards the "Spiritual Biblical Brotherhood" fell asunder.
Some of its members joined a like-minded sect in Odessa which had been
founded there in the beginning of 1883 by a teacher, Jacob Priluker,
under the name of "New Israel."

[Footnote 1: A Russian sect with rationalistic tendencies which are
traceable to Western Protestantism.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 222.]

The aim of "New Israel" was to facilitate, by means of radical religious
reforms conceived in the spirit of rationalism, the contact between Jews
and Christians and thereby pave the way for civil emancipation. The
twofold religio-social program of the sect was as follows:

  The sect recognizes only the teachings of Moses; it rejects the
  Talmud, the dietary laws, the rite of circumcision, and the
  traditional form of worship; the day of rest is transferred from
  Saturday to Sunday; the Russian language is declared to be the
  "native" tongue of the Jews and made obligatory in every-day life;
  usury and similar distasteful pursuits are forbidden.

As a reward for all these virtuous endeavors the sect expected from the
Russian Government, which it petitioned to that effect, complete civil
equality for its members, permission to intermarry with Christians, and
the right to wear a special badge by which they were to be marked off
from the "Talmudic Jews." As an expression of gratitude for the
anticipated governmental benefits, the members of the sect pledged
themselves to give their boys and girls who were to be born during the
coming year the names of Alexander or Alexandra, in honor of the Russian

The first religious half of the program of "New Israel" might possibly
have attracted a few adherents. But the second "business-like" part of
it opened the eyes of the public to the true aspirations of these
"reformers," who, in their eagerness for civil equality, were ready to
barter away religion, conscience, and honor, and who did not balk at
betraying such low flunkeyism at a time when the blood of the victims of
the Balta pogrom had not yet dried.

Thus it was that the withering influence of reactionary Judaeophobia
compromised and crippled the second attempt at inner reforms in Judaism.
Both movements soon passed out of existence, and their founders
subsequently left Russia. Gordin went to America, and, renouncing his
sins of youth, became a popular Yiddish playwright. Priluker settled in
England, and entered the employ of the missionaries who were anxious to
propagate Christianity among the Jews. A few years later, during 1884
and 1885, "New Israel" cropped up in a new shape, this time in Kishinev,
where the puny "Congregation of New Testament Israelites" was founded by
I. Rabinovich, having for its aim "the fusion of Judaism with
Christianity." In the house of prayer, in which this "Congregation,"
consisting altogether of ten members, worshipped, sermons were also
delivered by a Protestant clergyman.

A few years later this new missionary device was also abandoned. The
pestiferous atmosphere which surrounded Russian-Jewish life at that time
could do no more than produce these poisonous growths of "religious
reform." For the wholesome seeds of such a reform were bound to wither
after the collapse of the ideals which had served as a lode star during
the period of "enlightenment."




The "Temporary Rules" of May 3, 1882, had been passed, so to speak, as
an extraordinary "war measure," outside the usual channel of legislative
action. Yet the Russian Government could not but realize that sooner or
later it would be bound to adopt the customary legal procedure and place
the Jewish question before the highest court of the land, the Council of
State. To meet this eventuality, it was necessary to prepare materials
of a somewhat better quality than had been manufactured by the
"gubernatorial commissions" and the "Central Jewish Committee" which
owed their existence to Ignatyev, forming part and parcel of the general
anti-Jewish policy of the discharged Minister. Even prior to the
promulgation of the "Temporary Rules," the Council of Ministers had
called the Tzar's attention to the necessity of appointing a special
"High Commission" to deal with the Jewish question and to draft legal
measures for submission to the Council of State.

This suggestion was carried out on February 4, 1883, on which day an
imperial ukase was issued calling for the formation of a "High
Commission for the Revision of the Current Laws concerning the Jews."
The chairmanship of the Commission was first entrusted to Makov, a
former Minister of the Interior, and after his untimely death, to Count
Pahlen, a former Minister of Justice, who guided the work of the
Commission during the five years of its existence--hence its popular
designation as the "Pahlen Commission," The membership of the Commission
was made up of six officials representing the various departments of the
Ministry of the Interior, and of one official for each of the Ministries
of Finance, Justice, Public Instruction, Crown Domains, and Foreign
Affairs, and, lastly, of a few experts who were consulted casually.

The new bureaucratic body received no definite instructions as to the
period of time within which it was expected to complete its labors. It
was evidently given to understand that the work entrusted to it could
well afford to wait. The first session of the High Commission was held
fully ten months after its official appointment by the Tzar, and its
business proceeded at a snail's pace, surrounded by the mysterious air
characteristic of Russian officialdom. For several years the High
Commission had to work its way through the sad inheritance of the
defunct "gubernatorial commissions," represented by mounds of paper with
the most fantastic projects of solving the Jewish question, endeavoring
to bring these materials into some kind of system. It also received a
number of memoranda on the Jewish question from outsiders, among them
from public-minded Jews, who in most cases used Baron Horace Günzburg as
their go-between--memoranda which sought to put the various aspects of
the question in their right perspective. After four years spent on the
examination of the material, the Commission undertook to formulate its
own conclusions, but, for reasons which will become patent later on,
these conclusions were never crystallized in the form of legal

While the High Commission was assiduously engaged in the "revision of
the current laws concerning the Jews," in other words, was repeating the
Sisyphus task abandoned by scores of similar bureaucratic creations in
the past, the Government pursued with unabated vigor its old-time policy
of making the life of the Jews unbearable by turning out endless
varieties of new legal restrictions. These restrictions were generally
passed "outside the law," i.e., without their being previously submitted
to the Council of State; they were simply brought up as suggestions
before the Council of Ministers, and, after adoption by the latter,
received legal sanction through ratification by the Tzar. Without
awaiting the results of the revision of Jewish legislation which it had
itself undertaken, the Russian Government embarked enthusiastically upon
the task of forging new chains for the hapless Jewish race. For a number
of years the High Commission was nothing more than a cover to screen
these cruel experiments of the powers at the helm of the state. At the
very time in which the ministerial officials serving on the High
Commission indulged in abstract speculations about the Jewish question
and invented various methods for its solution, the Council of Ministers
anticipated this solution in the spirit of rabid anti-Semitism, and was
quick to give it effect in concrete life.

The wind which was blowing from the heights of Russian bureaucracy was
decidedly unfavorable to the Jews. The belated coronation of Alexander
III., which took place in May, 1883, and, in accordance with Russian
tradition, brought, in the form of an imperial manifesto, [1] various
privileges and alleviations for different sections of the Russian
population, left the Jews severely alone. The Tzar lent an attentive ear
to those zealous governors and governors-general, who in their "most
humble reports" propounded the new-fangled theory of the "injuriousness"
of the Jews; the marginal remarks frequently attached by him to these
reports assumed the force of binding resolutions. [2] In the beginning
of 1883, the governor-general of Odessa, Gurko, took occasion in his
report to the Tzar to comment on the excessive growth of the number of
Jewish pupils in the _gymnazia_ [3] and on their "injurious effect" upon
their Christian fellow-pupils. Gurko proposed to fix a limited
percentage for the admission of Jews to these schools, and the Tzar made
the annotation: "I share this conviction; the matter ought to receive

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 246, n. 1]

[Footnote 2: See on the term "Resolution," Vol. I, p. 253, n. 1.]

[Footnote 3: See above, p. 161, n. 1.]

The matter did of course "receive attention." It was brought up before
the Committee of Ministers. But the latter was reluctant to pass upon it
at once, and thought it wiser to have it prepared and duly submitted for
legislative action at some future time. However, when the
governor-general of Odessa and the governor of Kharkov, in their reports
for the following year, expatiated again on the necessity of fixing a
school norm for the Jews, the Tzar made another annotation, in a more
emphatic tone: "It is desirable to decide this question finally." This
sufficed to impress the Committee of Ministers with the conviction "that
the growing influx of the non-Christian element into the educational
establishments exerts, from a moral and religious point of view, a most
injurious influence upon the Christian children." The question was
submitted for consideration to the High Commission under the
chairmanship of Count Pahlen. The Minister of Public Instruction was
ordered to frame post-haste an enactment embodying the spirit of the
imperial resolution. Soon the new fruit of the Russian bureaucratic
genius was ready to be plucked--"the school norm," which was destined to
occupy a prominent place in the fabric of Russian-Jewish disabilities.

The center of gravity of the system of oppression lay, as it always did,
in the restrictions attaching to the right of domicile and free
movement--restrictions which frequently made life for the Jews
physically impossible by cutting off their access to the sources of a
livelihood. The "Temporary Rules" of the third of May displayed in this
domain a dazzling variety of legal tortures such as might have excited
the envy of medieval inquisitors. The "May laws" of 1882 barred the Jews
from settling outside the cities "anew," i.e. in the future, exempting
those who had settled in the rural districts prior to 1882. These
old-time Jewish rustics were a thorn in the flesh of the Russian
anti-Semites, who hoped for a sudden disappearance of the Jewish
population from the Russian country-side. Accordingly, a whole set of
administrative measures was put in motion, with a view to making the
life of the village Jews unbearable. In another connection [1] we had
occasion to point out that the Russian authorities as well as the
Christian competitors of the Jews made it their business to expel the
latter from the rural localities as "vicious members," by having the
peasant assemblies render special "verdicts" against them. This method
was now supplemented by new contrivances to dislodge the Jews. A village
Jew who happened to absent himself for a few days or weeks to go to town
was frequently barred by the police from returning to his home, on the
ground that he was "a new settler." There are cases of Jewish families
on record which, according to custom, had left the village for the High
Holidays to attend services in an adjacent town or townlet, and which,
on their return home, met with considerable difficulties; because their
return was interpreted by the police as a "new settlement." In the
dominions of the anti-Jewish satrap Drenteln the administration
construed the "Temporary Rules" to mean that Jews were not allowed to
move from one village to another, or even from, one house to another
within the precincts of their native village. [2]

[Footnote 1: See p. 318 et seq.]

[Footnote 2: Evidence of this is found in the circular of the governor
of Chernigov, issued In 1883.]

Moreover, the police was authorized to expel from the villages all those
Jews who did not possess their own houses upon their own land, on the
ground that these Jews, in renting new quarters, would have to make a
new lease with their owners, and such a lease was forbidden by the May
laws. [1] These malicious misinterpretations of the law affected some ten
thousand Jews in the villages of Chernigov and Poltava. These Jews lived
habitually in rented houses or in houses which were their property but
were built upon ground belonging to peasants, and they were consequently
liable to expulsion. The cry of these unfortunates, who were threatened
with eviction in the dead of the winter, was heard not in near-by Kiev
but in far-off St. Petersburg. By a senatorial ukase, published in
January, 1884, a check was put on these administrative highway methods.
The expulsion was stopped, though a considerable number of Jewish
families had in the meantime been evicted and ruined.

[Footnote 1: See p. 312.]

At the same time other restrictions which were in like manner deduced
from the "Temporary Rules" were allowed to remain in full force. One of
these was the prohibition of removing from one village to another, even
though they were contiguous, so that the rural Jews were practically
placed in the position of serfs, being affixed to their places of
residence. This cruel practice was sanctioned by the law of December 29,
1887. As a contemporary writer puts it, the law implied that when a
village in which a Jew lived was burned down, or when a factory in which
he worked was closed, he was compelled to remove into one of the towns
or townlets, since he was not allowed to search for a shelter and a
livelihood in any other rural locality. In accordance with the same law,
a Jew had no right to offer shelter to his widowed mother or to his
infirm parents who lived in another village. Furthermore, a Jew was
barred from taking over a commercial or industrial establishment
bequeathed to him by his father, if the latter had lived in another
village. He was not even allowed to take charge of a house bequeathed to
him by his parents, if they had resided in another village, though
situated within the confines of the Pale.

While this network of disabilities was ruining the Jews, it yielded a
plentiful harvest for the police, from the highest to the lowest
officials. "Graft," the Russian _habeas Corpus_ Act, shielded the
persecuted Jew against the caprice and Violence of the authorities in
the application of the restrictive laws, and Russian officialdom held on
tightly to Jewish rightlessness as their own special benefice. Hatred of
the Jews has at all times gone hand in hand with love of Jewish money.


Outside the Pale of Settlement the net of disabilities was stretched out
even more widely and was sure to catch the Jew in its meshes. Throughout
the length and breadth of the Russian Empire, outside of the fifteen
governments of Western Russia and the ten governments of the Kingdom of
Poland, there was scattered a handful of "privileged" Jews who were
permitted to reside beyond the Pale: men with an academic education,
first guild merchants who had for a number of years paid their guild
dues within the Pale, and handicraftsmen, so long as they confined
themselves to the pursuit of their craft. The influx of "illegal" Jews
into this tabooed region was checked by measures of extraordinary
severity. The example was set by the Russian capital, "the window
towards Europe," which had been broken through by Peter the Great. The
city of St. Petersburg, harboring some 20,000 privileged Jews who lived
there legally, became the center of attraction for a large number of
"illegal" Jews who flocked to the capital with the intention, deemed a
criminal offence by the Government, of engaging in some modest business
pursuit, without paying the high guild dues, or of devoting themselves
to science or literature, without the diploma from a higher educational
institution in their pockets. The number of these Jews who obtained
their right of residence through a legal fiction, by enrolling
themselves as artisans or as employees of the "privileged" Jews, was
very considerable, and the police expended a vast amount of energy in
waging a fierce struggle against them. The city-governor of St.
Petersburg, Gresser, who was notorious for the cruelty of his police
régime, made it his specialty to hunt down the Jews. A contemporary
writer, in reviewing the events of the year 1883, gives the following
description of the exploits of the metropolitan police:

  The campaign was started at the very beginning of the year and
  continued uninterruptedly until the end of it. Early in March the
  metropolitan police received orders to search most rigorously the
  Jewish residences and examine the passports. In the police stations
  special records were instituted for the Jews. St. Petersburg was to
  be purged of the odious Hebrew tribe. The contrivances employed were
  no longer novel, and were the same which had been successfully tried
  in other cities. The Jews were raided in regular fashion. Those that
  were found with doubtful claims to residence in the capital were,
  frequently accompanied by their families, immediately dispatched to
  the proper railroad stations, escorted by policemen.... The time for
  departure was measured by hours. The term of expulsion was generally
  limited to twenty-four hours, or forty-eight hours, as if it
  involved the execution of a court-martial sentence. And yet, the
  majority of the victims of expulsion were people who had lived in
  St. Petersburg for many years, and had succeeded in establishing
  homes and business places, which could not be liquidated within
  twenty-four hours or thereabout.... The hurried expulsions from the
  capital resulted in numerous conversions to Christianity.... Amusing
  stories circulated all over town concerning Jews who had decided to
  join the Christian Church, and had applied for permission to remain
  in the capital for one or two weeks--the time required by law for a
  preliminary training in the truths of the new faith--but whose
  petition was flatly refused because the police believed that a
  similar training might also be received within the boundaries of the
  Pale of Settlement.

As a matter of fact, fictitious conversions of this kind were but seldom
resorted to in the fight against governmental violence. As a rule, the
evasion of the "law" was effected by less harmful, perhaps, but no less
humiliating and even tragic fictions. Many a Jewish newcomer would bring
with him on his arrival in St. Petersburg an artisan's certificate and
enrol himself as an apprentice of some "full-fledged" Jewish artisan.
But woe betide if the police happened to visit the workshop and fail to
find the fictitious apprentice at work. He was liable to immediate
expulsion, and the owner of the shop was no less exposed to grave risks.
Some Jews, in their eagerness to obtain the right of residence,
registered as man-servants in the employ of Jewish physicians or
lawyers. [1] These would-be servants were frequently summoned to the
police stations and cross-examined as to the character of their
"service." The answers expected from them were something like: "I clean
my master's boots, carry behind him his portfolio to court," etc.
Several prominent Jewish writers lived for many years in St. Petersburg
on this "flunkeyish" basis--among them the talented young poet Simon
Frug, [2] the singer of Jewish sorrow who was fast establishing for
himself a reputation both in Jewish and in Russian literature.

[Footnote 1: Under the Russian law [see p. 166] Jews possessing a
university diploma of the first degree were entitled to employ two
"domestic servants" from among their coreligionists.]

[Footnote 2: See p. 330.]

It can easily be realized how precarious was the position of these men.
Any day their passports might be found ornamented by a red police
notation ordering their expulsion from the capital within twenty-four
hours. All Russia was stirred at that time by the sensational story of a
young Jewess, who had come to St. Petersburg or Moscow to enter the
college courses for women, and in order to obtain the right of residence
found herself compelled to register fictitiously as a prostitute and
take out "a yellow ticket." When the police discovered that the young
woman was engaged in studying, instead of plying her official "trade,"
she was banished from the capital. In 1886, England was shocked by the
expulsion from Moscow of the well-known English Member of Parliament,
the banker Sir Samuel Montagu (later Lord Swaythling). Despite his
influential position, Montagu was ordered out of the Russian capital
"within twenty-four hours," like an itinerant vagrant.

None of these tragedies, however, was able to produce any effect upon
the ringleaders and henchmen of the Russian inquisition. The energy of
the authorities spent itself primarily in the fight against the natural,
yet, according to the Russian code, "illegal" struggle of the Jews for
their existence and against the sacred right of man to move about
freely. The merciless Russian law, trampling upon this inviolable right,
drove human beings from village to town and from one town to another. In
the hotbed of militant Judaeophobia, in Kiev, raids upon "illegal"
Jewish residents were the order of the day. During the year 1886 alone
more than two thousand Jewish families were evicted from the town. [1]
Not satisfied with the expulsion of the Jews from the towns prohibited
to them by law, the authorities contrived to swell the number of these
towns by adding new localities which were part of the Pale and as such
open to the Jews. In 1887, the large South-Russian cities Rostov-on-the
Don and Taganrog were transferred from the Pale of Settlement [2] to the
tabooed territory of the Don Army. Those Jews who had lived in these
cities before the promulgation of the law were allowed to remain, but
the new settling of Jews was strictly forbidden.

[Footnote 1: These intensified persecutions were popularly explained as
an act of revenge on the part of the highest administration of the
region, owing to a quarrel which had taken place between a rich Kiev Jew
and a Russian dignitary.]

[Footnote 2: They formed part of the government of Yekaterinoslav.]

Not satisfied with constantly lessening the area in which, without any
further restrictions, the Jewish population was gasping for breath, the
Government was on the look-out for ways and means to narrow also the
sphere of Jewish economic activity. The medieval system of Russian
society with its division into estates and guilds became an instrument
of Jewish oppression. The authorities openly followed the maxim that the
Jew was to be robbed of his profession, to the end that it may be turned
over to his Christian rival. Under Alexander II, the Government had
endeavored to promote handicrafts among the Jews as a counterbalance
against their commercial pursuits, and had therefore conferred upon
Jewish artisans the right of residence all over the Empire. The change
of policy under Alexander III is well illustrated by the ukase of 1884
closing the Jewish school of handicrafts in Zhitomir which had been in
existence for twenty-three years. The reason for the enactment is stated
with brazen impudence:

  Owing to the fact that the Jews living in the towns and townlets of
  the south-western region form the majority of handicrafts-men, and
  thereby hamper the development of handicrafts among the original
  population of that region, which is exploited by them, the existence
  of a specific Jewish school of handicrafts seems, in view of the
  lack of similar schools among the Christians, an additional weapon
  in the hands of the Jews for the exploitation of the original
  population of that region.

Here the pursuit of handicrafts is actually stigmatized as a means of
"exploitation." The true meaning of that terrible word, an invention of
the Russian Government, is thereby put in a glaring light: the Jew is an
"exploiter" so long as he follows any pursuit, however honorable and
productive, in which a Christian might engage in his stead.

The slightest attempt of the Jew to enlarge his economic activity met
with the relentless punishment of the law. The Jewish artisan, though
permitted to live outside the Pale, had only the right to sell the
products of his own workmanship. When found to sell other merchandise
which was not manufactured by him he was liable, under Article 1171 of
the Penal Code, not only to be immediately expelled from his place of
residence but also to have his goods confiscated. The Christian
competitors of the Jews, shoulder to shoulder with the police, kept a
careful watch over the Jewish artisans and saw to it that a Jewish
tailor should not dare to sell a piece of material, a watchmaker--a new
factory-made watch with a chain (being only allowed to repair old
watches), a baker--a pound of flour or a cup of coffee. The discovery of
such a "crime" was followed immediately by cutting short the career of
the poor artisan, in accordance with the provisions of the law.


A salient feature of that gloomy era of counter-reforms was the endeavor
of the Government to dislodge the Jews from the liberal professions,
and, as a corollary, to bar them from the secondary and higher schools
which were the training ground for these professions. What the
Government had in view was to reduce the number of those "privileged"
Jews, who, under the law passed in the time of Alexander II., had been
rewarded for their completion of a course of studies in an institution
of higher learning by the right of unrestricted residence throughout the
Empire. The authorities now found it to their purpose to hamper the
spread of education among the Jews rather than promote it. The
highly-placed obscurantists contended that the Jewish students exerted
an injurious influence upon their Christian comrades from the religious
and moral point of view, while the political police [1] reported that the
Jewish college men "are quick in joining the ranks of the revolutionary
workers." The fear of educated Russian subjects who were not of the
dominant faith was natural in a country in which Pobyedonostzev, the
moving spirit of inner Russian politics, looked upon popular education
in general as a destructive force, fraught with danger to throne and
altar. There can be but little doubt that the previously-mentioned
imperial "resolutions" [2] indicating the necessity of curtailing the
number of Jews in the Russian educational establishments were inspired
by the "Grand Inquisitor."

[Footnote 1: The secret police charged with tracking the followers of
liberal and revolutionary tendencies.]

[Footnote 2: See p. 339_et seq_.]

Notwithstanding the opposition of the majority of the Pahlen Commission,
whose members had not yet entirely discarded the enlightened traditions
of the reign of Alexander II., the question was decided in accordance
with the wishes of the Tzar. Here, too, as in the case of the "Temporary
Rules," the Government was resolved to enact the new disabilities by the
sovereign will of the emperor, without submitting them to the highest
legislative body of the land, the Council of State, for fear that
undesirable debates might arise in that august body concerning the
expediency of putting an embargo on education. On December 5, 1886, the
Tzar, acting on the suggestion of the Committee of Ministers, directed
the Minister of Public Instruction, Dyelanov, to adopt measures for the
limitation of the admission of Jews to the secondary and higher
educational establishments.

For six long months the Minister, whose official duty was the promotion
of education, was wavering between a number of schemes designed to
restrict education among the Jews. Suggestions for such restrictions
came from officials of the ministry and from superintendents of school
districts. Some proposed to close the schools only to the children of
the lower classes among the Jews; in which "the unsympathetic traits of
the Jewish character" were particularly conspicuous. Others recommended
a restrictive percentage for Jews in general, without any class
discrimination. Still others pleaded for moderation lest excessive
restriction in admission to Russian universities should force the Jewish
youth to go to foreign universities and make them even "more dangerous,"
since they were bound to return to Russia with liberal notions
concerning the political form of government.

At last, in July, 1887, the Minister of Public Instruction, acting on
the above-mentioned imperial "resolution," published his two famous
circulars limiting the admission of Jews to the universities and to
secondary schools. The following norm was established: in the Pale of
Settlement the Jews were to be admitted to the schools to the extent of
ten per cent of the Christian school population; outside the Pale the
norm was fixed at five per cent, and in the two capitals, St. Petersburg
and Moscow, at three per cent. Although decreed before the very
beginning of the new scholastic year, the percentage norm was
nevertheless immediately applied in the case of the _gymnazia,_ the
"Real schools," [1] and the universities. In the higher professional
institutions, such as the technological, veterinarian, and agronomical
schools, the restrictions had been, practised even before the
promulgation of the circular, or were introduced immediately after it.

[Footnote 1: Or _Real Gymnazia_, see above, p. 163, n, 1.]

This was the genesis of the educational "percentage norm," the source of
sorrow and tears for two generation of Russian Jews--both fathers and
sons now having run the gauntlet. In the months of July and August of
every year, thousands of Jewish children were knocking at the doors of
the _gymnazia_ and universities, but only tens and hundreds obtained
admission. In the towns of the Pale where the Jews form from thirty to
eighty per cent of the total population, the admission, of Jewish pupils
to the _gymnazia_ and "Real schools" was limited to ten per cent, so
that the majority of Jewish children were deprived of a secondary

The position of the _gymnazium_ and "Real school" graduates who were
unable to continue their studies in the institutions of higher learning
was particularly tragic. Many of these unfortunates addressed personal
appeals to the Minister of Public Instruction, Dyelanov, who, being
good-natured, would, despite his reactionary proclivities, frequently
sanction the admission of the petitioners over and above the school
norm. But the majority of the young men, barred from the colleges, found
themselves compelled to go abroad in search of education, and, being
generally without means, suffered untold hardships.

Nevertheless, the cruel restrictions could not suppress the need for
education in a people with an ancient culture. Those that had failed to
gain admission to the _gymnazia_ completed the prescribed course of
studies at home, under the guidance of private tutors or by private
study, and afterwards presented themselves for examination for the
"maturity certificate" [1] as "externs," braving all the difficulties of
this thorny path. Having successfully passed their secondary course,
they found again their way barred as soon as they wished to enter the
universities, and the "martyrs of learning" had no choice left except to
take up their pilgrim staff and travel abroad. Year in, year out, two
processions of emigrants wended their way from Russia to the West: the
one was travelling across the Atlantic, in search of bread and liberty;
the other was headed towards Germany, Austria, England, and France, in
search of a higher education. The former were driven from their homes by
a peculiar _interdictio ignis et aquae_; the other--by an _interdictio

[Footnote 1: The name given in Russian (and German) to the diploma of a

Having closed the avenues of higher education to the bulk of Russian
Jewry, the Government now went a step further and contrived to
dispossess even those Jews who had already managed to obtain a higher
education, in spite of all difficulties. It was not satisfied with
barring college-bred Jews from the civil service and an academic career,
thus limiting the Jewish physicians and lawyers to private practice; it
was anxious to restrict even this narrow field of activity still open to
Jews. In view of the fact that the Jewish jurists had no chance to apply
their knowledge in the civil service, and were entirely excluded from
the bench, they naturally turned to the bar, with the result that they
soon occupied a conspicuous place there, both quantitatively and
qualitatively. Their success was a source of annoyance to the Russian
anti-Semites, both those who hated the Jews on principle and those who
did so selfishly, being themselves members of the bar. These enemies of
Judaism called the attention of the Government to the large number of
Jewish lawyers at the St. Petersburg bar--a circumstance due partly to
the natural gravitation towards the administrative and legal center of
the country, and partly to the fact that the admission of Jews to the
bar met with less obstruction from the judicial authorities in the
capital than in the provinces, where professional jealousy frequently
stood in the way of the Jews.

The reactionary Minister of Justice, Manasseïn, managed to convince the
Tzar that it was necessary to check the further admission of Jews to the
bar. However, from diplomatic considerations, it was thought wiser to
carry this restriction into effect not under an anti-Jewish flag, but
rather as a general measure directed against all members of
"non-Christian persuasions." The restriction was therefore extended to
Mohammedans and the handful of privileged Karaites, [1] and the religious
intolerance of the new measure was thus thrown into even bolder relief.

[Footnote 1: See on the Karaites, Vol. I, p. 318.]

On November, 1889, an imperial ukase decreed as follows:

  That, pending the enactment of a special law dealing with this
  subject, the admission of public and private attorneys of
  non-Christian denominations by the competent judicial institutions
  and bar associations [1] shall not take place, except with the
  permission of the Minister of Justice, on the recommendation of the
  presidents of the above-mentioned institutions and associations.

[Footnote 1: "Public (literally, sworn) attorneys" are lawyers of academic
standing admitted to the bar by the bar associations. "Private
attorneys" are lawyers without educational qualifications who
receive permission to practise from the "judicial institutions,"
i.e., the law courts. They are not members of the bar.]

It goes without saying that the Russian Minister of Justice made ample
use of the right conferred upon him of denying admission to Jews as
public and private attorneys. While readily sanctioning the admission of
Mohammedans and Karaites, the Minister almost invariably refused to
confirm the election of young Jewish barristers, however warmly they may
have been recommended by the judicial institutions and bar
associations. [1] In this way, many a talented Jewish jurist, who might
have filled a university chair with distinction or might have attained
brilliant success in the legal profession, was forced out of his path
and deprived of an opportunity to serve his country by his labors and
pursue a career for which he had fitted himself at the university.
Instead, these derailed professionals went to swell the hosts of those
who had been wronged and disinherited by the injustice of the law.

[Footnote 1: During the following five years, until 1895, not a single
Jew received the sanction of the Minister.]


It seemed as if the Government was intent on making a one-sided compact
with Russian Jewry: "We shall deprive you of all the elementary rights
due to you as men and citizens; we shall rob you of the right of
domicile and freedom of movement, and of the chance of making a
livelihood; we shall expose you to physical and spiritual starvation,
and shall cast you out of the community of citizens--yet you dare not
swerve an inch from the path of your civic obligations." A lurid
illustration of this unique exchange of services was provided by the
manner in which military duty was imposed upon the Jews. Russian
legislation had long since contrived to establish revolting restrictions
for the Jews also in this domain. Jews with physical defects which
rendered Christians unfit for military service, such as a lower stature
and narrower chest, were nevertheless taken into the army. In the case
of a shortage of recruits among the Jewish population even only sons,
the sole wage-earners of their families or of their widowed mothers,
were drafted, whereas the same category of conscripts among Christians
were unconditionally exempt. [1] Moreover, a Jew serving in the army
always remained a private and could never attain to an officer's rank.

[Footnote 1: Compare p. 201.]

As if the Government intended to make sport of the Jewish soldiers, the
latter were deprived of their right of residence in the localities
outside the Pale where they had been stationed, and as soon as their
term of service had expired, were sent back into the territory of the
Russian-Jewish ghetto. Thus, even Nicholas I, was out-Nicholased. The
discharged Jewish soldiers who had served under the old recruiting law
enjoyed, both for themselves and their families, the right of residence
throughout the Empire. [1] The new military statute of 1874 [2] withdrew
from the retired Jewish soldiers this reward for faithfully performed
duty, and in 1885 the Senate sustained the disfranchisement of these
Jews who had spent years of their life in the service of their
fatherland. A Jew from Berdychev, Vilna, or Odessa, who had served five
or six years somewhere in St. Petersburg, Moscow, or Kazan, was forced
to leave these tabooed cities and return home on the very day on which
he had taken off his soldier's uniform.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 172.]

[Footnote 2: See p. 199 et seq.]

Yet, despite this curious encouragement of Jewish patriotism, the
Government had the audacity to charge the Jews continually with the
"evasion of their military duty." That a tendency towards such evasion
was in vogue among the Jews admits of no doubt. It would have been
contrary to human nature if people who were subject to assaults from
above and kicks from below, whose right of residence was limited to
one-twentieth of the territory of their fatherland, who were robbed of
shelter, air, and bread, and deprived of the hope to place themselves,
even by means of military service, on an equal footing with the lowest
Russian moujik, should have felt a profound need of sacrificing
themselves for their country, and should not have shirked this heaviest
of civil obligations to a larger extent than the privileged Russian
population, in which cases of evasion were by no means infrequent. In
reality, however, the complaints about the shortage of Jewish recruits
were vastly exaggerated. Subsequent statistical investigations brought
out the fact that, owing to irregular apportionment, the Government
demanded annually from the Jews a larger quota of recruits than was
justified by their numerical relation to the general population in the
Pale of Settlement. On an average, the Jews furnished twelve per cent of
the total number of recruits in the Pale, whereas the Jewish population
of the Pale formed but eleven per cent of the total population. The
Government further refused to consider the fact that, owing to
inaccurate registration, the conscription lists often carried the names
of persons who had long since died, or who had left the country to
emigrate abroad. In fact, the annual emigration of Jews from Russia, the
result of uninterrupted persecutions, reduced the number of young men of
conscription age. But the Russian authorities were of the opinion that
the Jews who remained behind should serve in the Russian army instead of
those of their brethren who had become citizens of the free American
Republic. The "evasion of military duty" and the annual shortage of a
few hundred recruits, as against the many thousands of those enlisted,
was charged as a grave crime against that very people towards which the
Government on its part failed to fulfil even its most elementary
obligations. Reams of paper were covered with all kinds of official
devices to "cut short" this evasion of military duty by the Jews. On one
beautiful April morning of 1886, the Government came out with the
following enactment:

  The family of a Jew guilty of evading military service is liable to
  a fine of three hundred rubles ($150). The collection of the fine
  shall be decreed by the respective recruiting station and carried
  out by the police. It shall not be substituted by imprisonment in
  the case of destitute persons liable to that fine.

In addition, a military reward was promised for the seizure of a Jew who
had failed to present himself to the recruiting authorities.

By virtue of this barbarous principle of collective responsibility, new
hardships were inflicted upon the Jews of Russia. Since the law provided
that the fine for evading military service be imposed upon the _family_
of the culprit, the police interpreted that term "liberally," taking it
to include parents, brothers, and near relatives. The following
procedure gradually came into vogue. In the autumn of every year, the
Russian conscription season, the names of the young Jews who have
completed their twenty-first year are called out at the recruiting
station from a prepared list. When a Jew whose name has been called has
failed to present himself on the same day, the recruiting authorities
issue an order on the spot imposing a fine on his family. The police
then appear in the house of his parents to collect the sum of three
hundred rubles. In default of cash, they attach the property of the
paupers and have it subsequently sold at public auction. In the case of
those who possess nothing that can be taken from them the police insist
on their giving a signed promise not to leave the town. Their passports
are taken from them, so that, not being able to absent themselves from
town to earn a living, they are frequently left to starve. If the
parents are dead or absent, the brothers and sisters of the culprit, and
then his grandfathers and grandmothers are held answerable with their

Thus, a large number of Jewish families were completely ruined, merely
because one of their members had emigrated abroad, or, as was frequently
the case, had surrendered his soul to God in his beloved fatherland
itself, and the relatives had failed to see to it that the dead soul was
stricken from the recruiting lists. Yet, despite all these efforts,
there still remained a considerable number of uncollected
fines--"arrears," as they were officially termed--to the profound regret
of the Russian Jew-baiters, who had to look on while the victims were
slipping unpunished from their hands.




In this wise, beginning with the May laws of 1882, the Government
gradually succeeded in monopolizing all anti-Jewish activities by
letting bureaucratic persecutions take the place of street pogroms.
However, in 1883 and 1884, the "street" made again occasional attempts
to compete with the Government. On May 10, 1883, on the eve of Alexander
III.'s coronation, a pogrom took place in the large southern city of
Rostov-on-the-Don. About a hundred Jewish residences and business places
were demolished and plundered. All portable property of the Jews was
looted by the mob, and the rest was destroyed. As was to be expected,
"the efforts of the police and troops were unable to stop the
disorders," and only after completing their day's work the rioters fled,
pursued by lashes and shots from the Cossaks. The Russian censorship
strictly barred all references to the pogroms in the newspapers, for
fear of spoiling the solemnity of the coronation days. The press was
only allowed to hint at "alarming rumors," the effect of which extended
even to the stock exchange of Berlin. Not before a year had passed was
permission given to make public mention of the Rostov events.

There was reason to fear that the pogrom at Rostov was only a prelude to
a new series of riots in the South. But more than two months had passed,
and all seemed to be quiet. Suddenly, however, on July 20, on the
Greek-Orthodox festival dedicated to the memory of the prophet Elijah,
the Russian mob made an attack upon the descendants of the ancient
prophet at Yekaterinoslav. The memory of the great biblical Nazirite who
abhorred strong drink was appropriately celebrated by his Russian
votaries in Yekaterinoslav who filled themselves with an immense
quantity of alcohol and became sufficiently intoxicated to embark upon
their daring exploits as robbers.

The ringleaders of the pogrom movement were not local residents but
itinerant laborers from the Great-Russian governments, who were employed
in building a railroad in the neighborhood of the South-Russian city.
These laborers, to quote the expression of a contemporary, attended to
the "military part of the undertaking," whereas the "civil functions"
were discharged by the local Russian inhabitants:

  While the laborers and the stronger half of the residents were
  demolishing the houses and stores and throwing all articles and
  merchandise upon the street, the women and children grabbed
  everything that came into their hands and carried them off, by hand
  or in wagons, to their homes.

The looting and plundering continued on the second day, July 21, until a
detachment of soldiers arrived. The mob, intoxicated with their success,
attempted to beat off the soldiers, but naturally suffered defeat. The
sight of a score of killed and wounded had a sobering effect upon the
crowd. The pogrom was stopped, after five hundred Jewish families had
been ruined and a Jewish sanctuary had been defiled. In one devastated
synagogue the human fiends got hold of eleven Torah scrolls, tearing to
pieces some of them and hideously desecrating other copies of the Holy
Writ, inscribed with the commandments, "Thou shalt not murder," "Thou
shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not commit adultery"--which evidently ran
counter to the beliefs of the rioters.

The example set by Yekaterinoslav, the capital of the government of the
same name, proved to be contagious, for during August and September
pogroms took place in several neighboring towns and townlets. Among
these the pogrom at Novo-Moskovsk on September 4 was particularly
violent, nearly all Jewish houses in that town having been destroyed by
the mob.

The year 1884 was marked by a novel feature in the annals of pogroms: an
anti-Jewish riot outside the Pale of Jewish Settlement, in the ancient
Russian city of Nizhni-Novgorod, which sheltered a small Jewish colony
of some twenty families. While comparatively circumscribed as far as the
material loss is concerned, the Nizhni-Novgorod pogrom stands out in
ghastly relief by the number of its human victims. A report, based upon
official data, which endeavors to tone down the colors, gives the
following description of the terrible events:

  The "disorders" [a euphemism for excesses accompanied by murder]
  began on June 7 about nine o'clock in the evening, due to the
  instigation of several half-drunk laborers who happened to overhear
  a Christian mother telling her child, who was playing with a Jewish
  girl, to stop playing with her, as the Jews might slaughter her. The
  work of destruction began with the Jewish house of prayer which was
  crowded with worshippers. It was followed by the demolition of five
  more houses owned by Jews. In these houses the mob destroyed
  everything that fell into its hands. The doors and windows were
  broken and everything inside was thrown into the streets. On this
  occasion six adults and one boy was killed; five Jews were wounded,
  two of whom died soon afterwards.

The governor of Nizhni-Novgorod reported that the disorders could not
possibly have been foreseen. Yet there can be no doubt that the people
were to a certain extent prepared for them. The investigations of the
police and the judicial inquiry both converged to prove that the
Nizhni-Novgorod excesses were prompted primarily, if not exclusively, by
the desire for plunder. In all demolished houses not a single article of
value that could be removed was destroyed, and not only money but
anything at all that was fit for use was looted. That the disorders
broke out on the seventh of June was, in the opinion of the governor,
entirely accidental, but that they were directed against the Jews was
due to the fact that the _people had been led to believe that even the
the gravest crimes were practically unpunishable, so long as they were
were committed against the Jews, and not against other nationalities_.

An additional reason for the pogrom was the reputed wealth of a goodly
number of the Jewish families of Nizhni-Novgorod. The judicial
investigation brought out the fact that before attacking the offices of
Daitzelman, a big Moscow merchant, the mob was directed by shouts: "Let
us go to Daitzelman; there is a lot to be gotten there." The murder of
Daitzelman, who was beloved by his Russian laborers, and that of other
Jews, was not prompted by revenge, but by mere purposeless savagery. It
is impossible to assume that the mob was moved to action by the rumor
which had been spread by the ringleaders of the rioting hordes
concerning the kidnapping of a Christian child by the Jews--the more so
since at the very beginning of the excesses the police produced the
supposedly kidnapped child whole and intact, and showed it to the crowd.
The pogrom was due primarily to the savagery of brutal and unenlightened
mobs, who found an opportunity to vent their beastly instincts,
fortified by the conviction of complete immunity, which is referred to
in the report of the governor.

Even the central Government in St. Petersburg was alarmed by the St.
Bartholemew night which had been enacted at Nizhni-Novgorod. At the
recommendation of Governor Baranov, the murderers were tried by
court-martial and suffered heavy punishment. Nevertheless, the same
governor thought it his duty to appease the Russian popular conscience
by ordering the expulsion of those Jews whom the police had found to
live outside the Pale "without a legal basis." In this wise, the Russian
administration once more managed to follow up a street pogrom by a legal
one, not realizing the fact that the atrocities perpetrated upon the
Jews by the mob were merely a crude copy of the atrocities perpetrated
upon them by the Government, and that the outlawed condition of the Jews
bred the lawlessness and violence of the mob, which was fully aware of
the anti-Semitic sentiments of the official world. The bloody saturnalia
of Nizhni-Novgorod had, however, the beneficent effect that the
Government, fearing the spread of the conflagration outside the Pale and
even outside Jewry, took energetic steps to prevent all further
excesses. As a matter of fact, the Nizhni-Novgorod pogrom was the last
in the annals of the eighties--with the exception of a few unimportant
occurrences in various localities. For six years "the land was quiet,"
and the monopoly of "silent pogroms," in the shape of the systematic
denial of Jewish rights, remained firmly in the hands of the Government.


Whilst the Russian bureaucrats who had been ordered by the Tzar to take
"active" measures towards solving the Jewish problem abandoned
themselves entirely to a policy of repression, those of their
fellow-bureaucrats who had been commissioned to consider and judge the
same question from a purely theoretic point of view came to the
conclusion that the repressive policy pursued by the Government was not
only injurious but even dangerous. Contrary to expectations, the "High
Commission" under the chairmanship of Count Pahlen, consisting of aged
dignitaries and members of various ministries, approached the Jewish
question, at least as far as the majority of the Commission was
concerned, in a much more serious frame of mind than did the promoters
of the "active" anti-Jewish policies, who had no time for contemplation
and were driven by the pressure of their reactionary energy to go ahead
at all cost. In the course of five years the Pahlen Commission succeeded
in investigating the Jewish question in all its aspects. It studied and
itself prepared a large mass of historic, juridic, as well as economic
and statistical material. It probed the labors of Ignatyev's
gubernatorial commissions, quickly ascertaining their biased tendency,
and examined the entire history of the preceding legislation concerning
the Jews. It finally came to the conclusion that the whole century-long
system of restrictive legislation had failed of its purpose, and must
give way to a system of emancipatory measures, to be carried out
gradually and with extreme caution. The majority of the members of the
Commission concurred in this opinion, including Count Pahlen, its
chairman. In the following we present a few brief extracts from the
conclusions formulated by this conservative and bureaucratic commission
in its comprehensive "General Memoir" which was written in the beginning
of 1888:

  Can the attitude of the State towards a population of five millions,
  forming one-twentieth of its subjects--though belonging to a race
  different from that of the majority--whom that State itself had
  incorporated, together with the territories populated by them, into
  the Russian body politic, differ from its attitude towards all its
  other subjects?.... Hence, from the political point of view, the Jew
  is entitled to equality of citizenship. Without granting him equal
  rights, we cannot, properly speaking, demand from him equal civic
  obligations.... Repression and disfranchisement, discrimination and
  persecution have never yet leaded to improve groups of human beings
  and make them more devoted to their rulers. It is, therefore, not
  surprising that the Jews, trained in the spirit of a century-long
  repressive legislation, have remained in the category of those
  subjects, who are less accurate in the discharge of their civic
  duty, who shirk their obligations towards the State, and do not
  fully join Russian life. _No less than six hundred and fifty
  restrictive laws directed against the Jews may be enumerated in the
  Russian Code_, and the discriminations and disabilities implied in
  these laws are such that they have naturally resulted in making
  until now the life of an enormous majority of the Jews in Russia
  exceedingly onerous....

  The prejudice against the Jews is largely nurtured by the dislike
  which the common people secretly harbor towards them until to-day as
  non-Christians.... The names "Non-Christian" and "Christ-killer" may
  often be heard from the lips of the Russian common man as abusive
  terms directed against the Jew. The attitude of our Church and of
  the law of the State towards the Jewish religion is different. For,
  while they designate the Jewish religion as a "pseudo-doctrine,"
  they nevertheless sanction religious toleration on as large a scale
  as possible [?!], and refrain from carrying on a compulsory and
  official missionary propaganda.

  In the course of the last twenty-five years a new accusation has
  been brought forward against the Jews in Russia and those outside of
  Russia. The Jews have been found to form a considerable percentage
  among the champions of anarchistic and revolutionary doctrines,
  consisting mostly of half-educated youngsters who have drifted away
  from one shore and have not succeeded in reaching the other. This
  extremely deplorable fact is used as evidence for the purpose of
  showing that Judaism itself contains within it a destructive force,
  and is, therefore, doubly dangerous to State and society. The Jewish
  progressives and socialists are wont to speak of their mission to
  reconstruct the world and of their innate love of mankind.... These
  statements need hardly be taken seriously, for present-day Jewry, by
  the very essence of its nature, professes strictly conservative
  principles, which to a large extent are egotistic and have for their
  aim the practical welfare of its adherents. The interpretation of
  the spirit of Judaism in a directly opposite sense is but an
  unsuccessful attempt on the part of Jewish anarchists who wish to
  proclaim themselves as the apostles of a new national mission
  invented by them. The fact of their forming a large percentage in
  the camp of those opposed to the Russian civic order may be
  explained by the artificial manner in which vast numbers of pupils
  from among the lowest classes of the Jewish population are attracted
  into the secondary and elementary educational establishments. These
  pupils are without means of a livelihood, and they lack, moreover,
  all religious beliefs; they are embittered not only by their
  personal unfortunate position but also by the pressure of the
  restrictive laws which weigh heavily upon their fellow-Jews in

  The defects which should be truly combated by Government and society
  are: a) Jewish exclusiveness and separatism; b) the endeavor of the
  Jews to bring the economic forces of the population, in the midst of
  which they live, under their influence (i.e., exploitation)....

  Having established the true dimensions and characteristics of the
  "Jewish evil," we are naturally expected to answer a question of an
  opposite nature: are the Jews to any extent useful to State and
  society? This question, though very frequently heard, is not quite
  intelligible, for every subject, who fulfils his obligations, is
  useful to State and society. It would be strange to put a similar
  question concerning other nationalities of Eastern origin in Russia,
  such as the Greeks, Armenians, and Tartars. And yet this question is
  raised with great frequency in the case of the Jews, for the purpose
  of proving the need of repressive measures and framing a stronger
  indictment against the Jewish population. There is no doubt that in
  certain lines of endeavor the Jews are extremely useful. This was
  already realized by Catherine, who admitted them to the
  South-Russian coast in order to introduce commercial activities and
  bring life into the country,.... The peculiar nature of their
  commerce and credit is useful to the State, because they connect the
  remotest regions by commercial ties and are satisfied with
  considerably smaller profits than are the Christian merchants....

  We must not, first of all, engage in too comprehensive plans of
  reform and imagine that the Jewish question can be considered in all
  its aspects and solved at one stroke.... Gradation and cautiousness
  must above all become the guiding principles of the future activity
  of the legislator.

  The repressive policy, taken by itself, has been and will always be
  the first and main source of the clannishness of the Jews and their
  aloofness from Russian life.... The prohibitive laws have not
  improved the Jews. On the contrary, they have developed in them the
  spirit of opposition, and have prompted them to devise all the time
  most dexterous means of evading the law, thereby corrupting the
  lower executives of the State power. These laws affect the daily
  doings of every member of the Jewish population, and they extend to
  such spheres of life and activity in which State control is almost
  impossible. They touch the domain of private contract law (the
  prohibition of land leases), the domain of physical liberty and the
  need of human locomotion (the prohibition to transgress the Pale of
  Settlement, or to live in villages within fifty versts of the
  border), the domain of daily pursuits and earnings (the prohibition
  of several professions), and many others.

  No law will ever be able to check effectively the legal violations
  in these hourly acts and common relations of life. It is impossible
  to attach a policeman or a public prosecutor or a justice of the
  peace to every Jew. And yet it is perfectly natural that, being
  restricted in the most elementary rights of a subject--to take as
  one instance only the right of free movement--every Jew should daily
  attempt to violate and evade such burdensome regulations. This is
  perfectly natural and intelligible....

  About ninety per cent of the whole Jewish population form a mass of
  people that are entirely unprovided for, and come near being a
  proletariat--a mass that lives from hand to mouth, amidst poverty,
  and most oppressive sanitary and general conditions. This very
  proletariat is occasionally the target of tumultuous popular
  uprisings. The Jewish mass lives in fear of pogroms and in fear of
  violence. It looks with envy upon the Jews of the adjacent
  governments of the Kingdom of Poland, who are almost entirely
  emancipated, though living under the jurisdiction of the same State.
  [1] The law itself places the Jews in the category of "alien races,"
  on the same level with the Samoyeds and pagans. [2] In a word the
  abnormal condition of the present position of the Jews in Russia is
  evidenced by the instability and vagueness of their juridic rights.

[Footnote 1: The law of 1862 conferred upon the Jews of "the Kingdom
of Poland," i.e., of Russian Poland, the right of unrestricted
residence throughout the Kingdom, including the villages (see p.
181). This privilege was practically annulled by the enactment of
June 11, 1891, which severely restricts the property rights of the
Polish Jews.]

[Footnote 2: The Russian Code of Laws classifies the Jews as follows
(Volume IX., Laws of Social Orders, Article 762): "Among the Aliens
inhabiting the Russian Empire are the following: 1) The Siberian
Aliens; 2) The Samoyeds of the Government of Archangel; 3) The
nomadic Aliens of the Government of Stavropol; 4) The Kalmycks
leading a nomadic life in the Governments of Astrakhan and
Stavropol; 5) The Kirgiz of the Inner Ord; 6) The Aliens of the
Territories of Akmolinsk, Semipalatinsk, Semiryechensk, Ural, and
Turgay; 7) the alien populations of the Trans-Caspian Territory; 8)
The Jews."]

  Looking at the problem, not at all as Jewish apologetes or
  sympathizers, but purely from the point of view of civic
  righteousness and the highest principles of impartiality and
  justice, we cannot but admit that the Jews have a right to complain
  about their situation.... However unpleasant it might sound to the
  enemies of Judaism, it is nevertheless an axiom which no one can
  deny that the whole five million Jewish population of Russia,
  unattractive though it may appear to certain groups and individuals,
  is yet an integral part of Russia and that the questions affecting
  this population are at the same time purely Russian questions. We
  are not dealing with foreigners, whose admission to Russian
  citizenship might be conditioned by their usefulness or uselessness
  to Russia. The Jews of Russia are not foreigners. For more than one
  hundred years they have formed a part of that same Russian Empire,
  which has incorporated scores of other tribes many of which count by
  the millions....

  The very history of Russian legislation, notwithstanding the fact
  that this legislation has developed largely under the influence of a
  most severe outlook on Judaism, teaches us that there is only one
  way and one solution--to emancipate and unite the Jews with the rest
  of the population under the protection of the same laws. All this is
  attested not by theories and doctrines but by the living experience
  of centuries.... Hence the final goal of any legislation concerning
  the Jews can be no other than its abrogation, a course demanded
  equally by the needs of the times, the cause of enlightenment, and
  the progress of the popular masses.

  The fitness of the Jews for full civil equality, to be attained by
  degrees and in the course of many long years, will be the final goal
  of the reforms, and will lead at last to the disentangling of that
  age-long knot. In saying this, we do not mean to imply that
  by that time the Jews will have cast off or transformed all those
  obnoxious qualities which are at present responsible for the fight
  in which all are engaged against them. But, as in the case of
  Europe, this fight can only be terminated by according them full
  emancipation and equal citizenship. To place obstacles in the way of
  this solution would be nothing more than a fruitless attempt to
  check the course of development of human society and Russian civil
  life. Unsympathetic as the Jews may be to the Russian masses, it is
  impossible not to agree with this axiomatic truth.

  Turning now to the execution of its task, the High Commission has up
  to the present been able to carry out but a very small part of the
  program indicated. It was tied down by that gradation and
  cautiousness which it considers an indispensable condition for every
  improvement in the status of the Jews.... The principal task of the
  legislation, as far as it affects the Jews, must consist in uniting
  them as closely as possible with the general Christian population.
  It is not advisable to frame a new legislation in the form of a
  special "Statute" or "Regulation," since such a course would be
  fundamentally subversive of the efforts of the Government to remove
  Jewish exclusiveness. _The system of repressive and discriminating
  measures must give way to a graduated system of emancipatory and
  equalizing laws_. The greatest possible _cautiousness_ and
  _gradation_ are the principles to be observed in the solution of the
  Jewish question.


With all their moderate and cautious phraseology, the conclusions of the
Pahlen Commission, whose members, as hide-bound conservatives, were
forced to reckon with the anti-Semitic trend of the governing circles,
implied an annihilating criticism of the repressive policy of that very
Government by which the Commission had been appointed. From the loins of
Russian officialdom issued the enemy who opposed it in its manner of
dealing with the Jewish question.

It must be added, however, that the opinions voiced by the Commission in
its memorandum were by no means shared by its entire membership. For
while the majority of the Commission were in favor of gradual reforms,
the minority advocated the continuation of the old repressive policy.
Owing to these internal disagreements, the Commission was slow in
submitting its conclusions to the Government. One more attempt was made
to procrastinate the matter. At the end of 1888 the Commission invited a
group of Jewish "experts," being desirous, as it were, to listen to the
last words of the prisoner at the bar. The choice fell upon the same
Jewish notables of St. Petersburg, who had displayed so little courage
at the Jewish conference of 1882. [1] The cross-examination of these
Jewish representatives turned on the question of the internal Jewish
organization, the existence of a secret Kahal, the purposes of the
"basket tax," [2] and so on. Needless to say the replies were given in
an apologetic spirit. The Jewish "experts" renounced the idea of a
self-governing communal Jewish organization, and pleaded merely for a
limited communal autonomy under the strict supervision of the
Government. True, a few of the questions referred besides to the legal
position of the Jews, but this was done more as a matter of form.
Everybody knew that the opinion of the majority of the Commission,
favoring "cautious and gradual" reforms, did not have the same prospects
of success as the views of the anti-Semitic minority which advocated the
continuance of the old-time repressive policy.

[Footnote 1: See p. 304 et seq. In addition to those mentioned, M.
Margolis was invited as an expert.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 61, n. 1.]

Soon the worst apprehensions proved to be true. Count Tolstoi, the
reactionary Minister of the Interior, blocked the further progress of
the plans formulated by the Pahlen Commission which should have been
submitted in due course to the Council of State. There were persistent
rumors to the effect that Alexander III., being decidedly in favor of
continuing the policy of oppression towards the Jews, had "attached
himself to the opinion of the minority" of the Pahlen Commission.
According to another version, the question was actually brought up
before the Council of State, and there, too, the anti-Semites proved to
be in the minority, but the Tzar threw the weight of his opinion on
their side. The project of the Commission, being out of harmony with the
current Government policies, was disposed of at some secret session of
leading dignitaries. The labor of five years was buried in the official

As for the Jews themselves, they were at no time deceived about the
effects that were likely to attend the work of the High Commission. They
clearly understood that, if the Government had been genuinely desirous
of "revising" the system of Jewish disabilities, it would have stopped,
for a time at least, to manufacture new legislative whips and scorpions.
The dark polar night of Russian reaction reigned supreme. There seemed
to be no end to these orgies of the Russian night owls, the
Pobyedonostzevs and Tolstois, who were anxious to resuscitate the
savagery of ancient Muscovy, and who kept the people in the grip of
ignorance, drunkenness, and political barbarism. Every one in Russia
kept his peace and held his breath. The progressive elements of the
Empire were held down tightly by the lid of reaction. The press groaned
under the yoke of a ferocious censorship. The mystic doctrine of
non-resistance preached by Leo Tolstoi was attuned to the mood
prevailing among educated Russians, for, in the words of the Russian
poet, "their hearts, subdued by storms, were filled with silence and

In Jewish life, too, silence reigned supreme. The sharp pangs of the
first pogrom year were now dulled, and only suppressed moans echoed the
uninterrupted "silent pogrom" of oppression. These were years of which
the Jewish poet, Simon Frug, could sing:

        Round about all is silent and cheerless,
        Like a lonesome and desert-like plain.
        If but one were courageous and fearless
        And would cry out aloud in his pain!
        Neither storm-wind nor starshine by night,
        And the days neither cloudy nor bright:
        O my people, how sad is thy state,
        How gray and how cheerless thy fate!

But in this silence the national idea was slowly maturing and gaining in
depth and in strength. The time had not yet arrived for clearly marked
tendencies or well-defined systems of thought. But the temper of the
intellectual classes of Russian Jewry was a clear indication that they
were at the cross-roads. The "titled" _inteligenzia_, reared in the
Russian schools, who had drifted away from Judaism, was now joined by
that other _intelligenzia_, the product of heder and yeshibah, who had
acquired European culture through the medium of neo-Hebraic literature,
and was in closer contact with the masses of the Jewish people.

True, the Jewish periodical press in the Russian language, which had
arisen towards the end of the seventies, had lost in quantity. The
_Razvyet_ had ceased to appear in 1883, and the _Russki Yevrey_ in 1884.
The only press organ to remain on the battlefield was the militant
_Voskhod_, which was the center for the publicistic, scientific, and
poetic endeavors of the advanced intellectuals of that period. But the
loss of the Russian branch of Jewish literature was made up by the
growth of the Hebrew press. The old Hebrew organs _ha-Melitz_ and
_ha-Tzefirah_ took on a new lease of life, and grew from weeklies into
dailies. Voluminous annuals with rightful claims to scientific and
literary importance, such as the _ha-Asif_ ("The Harvest") and _Keneset
Israel_ ("The Community of Israel") in Warsaw, and other similar
publications, began to make their appearance in Russia. New literary
forces began to rise from the ground, though only to attain their full
bloom during the following years. Taken as a whole, the ninth decade of
the nineteenth century may well be designated as a period of transition
from the older Haskalah movement to the more modern national revival.


As for the emigration movement, which had begun during the storm and
stress of the first pogrom year, this passive but only effective protest
against the new Egyptian oppression proceeded at a slow pace. The Jewish
emigration from Russia to the United States served as a barometer of the
persecutions endured by the Jews in the land of bondage. During the
first three years of the eighties the new movement showed violent
fluctuations. In 1881 there were 8193 emigrants; in 1882, 17,497; in
1883, 6907. During the following three years, from 1884 to 1886, the
movement remained practically on the same level, counting 15,000 to
17,000 emigrants annually. But in the last three years of that decade,
it gained considerably in volume, mounting in 1887 to 28,944, in 1888 to
31,256, and in 1889 to 31,889. The exodus from Russia was undoubtedly
stimulated by the law imposing a fine for evading military service and
by the introduction of the educational percentage norm--two restrictions
which threw into bold relief the disproportionate relation between
rights and duties in Russian Jewry. In the Empire of the Tzars the Jews
were denied the right of residence and the privilege of a school
education, but forced at the same time to serve in the army. In the
United States they at once received full civil equality and free
schooling without any compulsory military service.

It goes without saying that the emigrants who had no difficulty in
obtaining equality of citizenship were nevertheless compelled, during
their first years of residence in the New World, to engage in a severe
struggle for their material existence. Among the emigrants who came to
America in those early years there were many young intellectuals who had
given up their liberal careers in the land of bondage and were now
dreaming of becoming plain agriculturists in the free republic. They
managed to obtain a following among the emigrant masses, and founded, in
the face of extraordinary difficulties, and with the help of charitable
organizations, a number of colonies and farms in various parts of the
United States, in Louisiana, North and South Dakota, New Jersey, and
elsewhere. After a few years of vain struggling against material want
and lack of adaptation to local conditions, a large number of these
colonies were abandoned, and only a few of them have survived until

In the course of time the idealistic pioneer spirit which had
animated the Russian intellectuals gave way to a sober realism
which was more in harmony with the conditions of American
life. The bulk of the emigrant masses settled in the cities,
primarily in New York. They worked in factories or at the
trades, the most important of which was the needle trade;
they engaged in business, in peddling, and in farming, and,
lastly, in the liberal professions. Many an immigrant passed
successively through all these economic stages before obtaining
a secure economic position.

The result of all these wanderings and vicissitudes was a
well-established community in the United States of some 200,000 Jews,
who formed the nucleus for the rapidly growing new Jewish center in
America. One of the active participants and leaders in this movement,
who had in his own life experienced all the hardships connected with it,
concludes his account of the emigration to the United States at the end
of the eighties with the following words:

  No one who has seen the poor, down-trodden, faint-hearted inhabitant
  of the infamous Pale, with the Damocles sword of brutal mob rule
  dangling constantly over his head, shaking like an autumn leaf at
  the sight of an inspector or even a plain policeman; who has seen
  this little Jew transformed, under the influence of the struggle for
  existence and an independent life, into a free American Jew who
  holds his head proudly, whom no one would dare to offend, and who
  has become a citizen in the full sense of the word--no one who has
  seen this wonderful transformation can doubt for a moment the
  enormous significance of the emigration movement for the 200,000
  Jews that have found shelter in America.

Idealistic influences rather than realistic factors were at work in the
Palestinian colonization movement, which proceeded on a parallel line
with the American emigration, as a small stream sometimes accompanies a
large river. The ideas preached by the first "Lovers of Zion" were but
slowly assuming concrete shape. The pioneer colonists in the ancient
fatherland met with enormous obstacles in their path: the opposition of
the Turkish Government which hindered in every possible way the purchase
of land and acquisition of property; the neglected condition of the
soil, the uncivilized state of the neighboring Arabs, the lack of
financial means and of agricultural experience. Despite all these
drawbacks, the efforts of a few men led to the establishment in the very
first year of the movement, in 1882, of the colony Rishon le-Zion, near
Jaffa. Subsequently a few more colonies were founded, such as Ekron and
Ghederah in Judea, Yesod Hama'alah, Rosh-Pinah, Zikhron Jacob in
Galilee--the last two founded by Roumanian Jews. Called into life by
enthusiasts with inadequate material resources, these colonies would
have scarcely been able to survive, had not their plight aroused the
interest of Baron Edmond de Rothschild in Paris. Beginning with 1884,
the baron, pursuing purely philanthropic aims, gave his support to the
colonies, spending enormous sums on cultivating in them the higher forms
of agriculture, particularly wine-growing. Gradually, the baron became
the actual owner of a majority of the colonies which were administered
by his appointees, and most of the colonists were reduced to the level
of laborers or tenants who were entirely in the hands of the baron's
administration. This state of affairs was unquestionably humiliating and
almost too hard to bear for men who had dreamed of a free life in the
Holy Land. Yet there can be no doubt that under the conditions
prevailing at the time the continued existence of the colonies was only
made possible through the liberal assistance which came from the

The progress of the Palestinian colonization, slow though it was,
provided a concrete basis for the doctrines preached by the "Lovers of
Zion" in Russia. The propaganda of these _Hobebe Zion_--the Hebrew
equivalent for "Lovers of Zion"--who acknowledged as their leaders the
first exponents of the territorial restoration of Jewry, Pinsker and
Lilienblum, led to the organization of a number of societies in various
cities. Towards the end of 1884 the delegates of these societies met at
a conference in the Prussian border-town Kattowitz, such a conference
being impossible in Russia, in view of the danger of police
interference. On that occasion a fund was established under the name of
_Mazkeret Moshe_, "A Memorial to Moses," in honor of the English
philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore, whose hundredth birthday was
celebrated in that year. The fund, which formed the main channel for all
donations in favor of the Palestinian colonies, was administered by the
two _Hobebe Zion_ centers in Odessa and Warsaw. The movement which had
been called into life by representatives of the _intelligenzia_
succeeded in winning over several champions of rabbinical orthodoxy,
among them Samuel Mohilever, the well known rabbi of Bialystok; their
affiliation with the new party was largely instrumental in weakening the
opposition of the orthodox masses which were inclined to look upon this
political movement as a rival of the traditional Messianic idea of
Judaism. The lack of governmental sanction hampered the _Hobebe Zion_
societies in Russia in their activities, and the funds at their disposal
were barely sufficient for the upkeep of one or two colonies in
Palestine. Realizing this, the conference of the "Lovers of Zion" which
met at Druskeniki [1] in 1887 decided to apply to the Russian Government
for the legalization of the _Hobebe Zion_ organization, a consummation
which was realized a few years later, in 1890.

[Footnote 1: A watering-place in the government of Grodno.]

Thus did, during the first decade of the war waged by the Tzars against
their Jewish subjects, the tide of Russian-Jewish emigration slowly roll
towards various shores, until a fresh storm in the beginning of the new
decade whipped its waves to unprecedented heights. Whereas in the course
of the eighties the Russian Government wished to give the impression as
if it merely "tolerated" the departure of the Jews from Russia--although
in reality it was the ultimate aim of its policies--in the beginning of
the nineties it suddenly cast off its mask and gave its public sanction
to a Jewish exodus from the Russian Empire. As if to strengthen the
effect of this sanction, the Jews were to taste even more fully the whip
of persecution and expulsion than they had done during the preceding




The poisonous Judaeophobia bacilli seemed to thrive more than ever in
the highest Government circles of St. Petersburg. However, not only the
hatred against the Jews but also the fury of general political reaction
became more rabid than ever after the "miraculous escape" of the
imperial family in the railroad accident near Borki on October 17, 1888.
[1] Amidst the ecclesiastic and mystic haze with which Pobyedonostzev
and his associates managed to veil this episode the conviction became
deeply ingrained in the mind of the Tzar that it was the finger of God
which pointed to him the way in which Russia might be saved from
"Western" reforms and brought back into the fold of traditional Russian
orthodoxy. This conviction of Alexander III. led to the counter-reforms
which marked the concluding years of his reign, having for their purpose
the strengthening of the police and Church régime in Russia, such as the
curtailment of rural and urban self-government, the increase of the
power of the nobility and clergy, the institution of Zemstvo chiefs, [2]
and the multiplication of Greek-Orthodox parochial schools at the
expense of secular schools. The same influences also stimulated the
luxurious growth of Judaeophobia which from now on assumed in the
highest Government circles a most malignant character. A manifestation
of this frame of mind may be found in the words of the Tzar which he
penned on the margin of a report submitted to him in 1890 by a high
official, describing the sufferings of the Jews and pleading for the
necessity of stopping the policy of oppression: "_But we must not forget
that it was the Jews who crucified our Lord and spilled his priceless
blood_." Representatives of the court clergy publicly preached that a
Christian ought not to cultivate friendly relations with a Jew, since it
was the command of the gospel "to hate the murderers of the Savior." The
Ministry of the Interior, under the direction of two fanatic
reactionaries, Durnovo and Plehve, [3] set on foot all the inquisitorial
contrivances of the Police Department, of which both these officials had
formerly been the chiefs.

[Footnote 1: Borki is a village in the government of Kherson. Of the
fifteen cars of the imperial train only five remained intact.
Fifty-eight persons were injured, twenty-one fatally. The members of the
imperial family were saved, although their car had been completely

The following quotation from Harold Frederic, _The New Exodus_, p. 168
et seq., is of interest in this connection: "It was reported about that
the Tzar regarded the escape alive of himself and family from the
terrible railway accident at Borki as the direct and miraculous
intervention of Providence. The facts were that the imperial train was
being driven at the rate of ninety versts an hour over a road calculated
to withstand at the utmost a speed of thirty-five versts; that the
engineer humbly warned the Tzar of the danger, and was gruffly ordered
to go still faster if possible, and that the miracle would have been the
avoidance of calamity."]

[Footnote 2: On the Zemstvos compare p. 173, n. 1. The reactionary law
of June 12, 1890 (see later, p. 358 et seq.) puts in place of the
executives formerly elected by the people the "Zemstvo chiefs,"
officials appointed from among the landed proprietors.]

[Footnote 3: Durnovo became Minister of the Interior in 1889, after the
demise of Tolstoi; Plehve was assistant-minister.]

The press was either tamed or used as a tool of the governmental
policies. The most widely read press organs of the capital, with the
exception of the moderately liberal _Novosti_ ("The News") which managed
to survive the shipwreck of the liberal press, became either openly or
secretly the official mouthpieces of the Government. The venal _Novoye
Vremya,_ which the Russian satirist Shchedrin had branded as "the
sewer," embarked, towards the end of the eighties, on the noble
enterprise of hunting down the Jews with a zeal which was clear evidence
of a higher demand for Judaeophobia in the official world. There was no
accusation, however hideous, which Suvorin's paper, steered
simultaneously by the Holy Synod and by the Police Department, failed to
hurl in the face of the Jews. As an organ generally reflecting the views
of the Government, the _Novoye Vremya_ served at that time as a source
of political information for all dignitaries and officials. The
ministers, governors and the vast army of subordinate officials, who
wished to ascertain the political course at a given moment, consulted
this "well-informed" daily, which, as far as the Jewish question was
concerned, pursued but one aim: to make the life of the Jews in Russia
unbearable. Apart from the _Novoye Vremya_, which was read by the Tzar
himself, the work of Jew-baiting was also carried on with considerable
zeal by the Russian weekly _Grazhdanin_ ("The Citizen"), whose editor,
Count Meshcherski, enjoyed not only the personal favor of Alexander III.
but also a substantial Government subsidy. These metropolitan organs of
publicity gave the tone to the whole official and semi-official press in
the provinces, and the public opinion of Russia was systematically
poisoned by the venom of Judaeophobia.

When the Pahlen Commission was discharged, the Tzar having "attached
himself to the opinion of the minority," [1] the Government had no
difficulty in finding a few kind-hearted officials who were eager to
carry the project framed by this reactionary minority into effect. The
project itself, which had been elaborated in the Ministry of the
Interior under the direction of Plehve, the sinister Chief of Police,
was guarded with great secrecy, as if it concerned a plan of military
operations against a belligerent Power. But the secret leaked out very
soon. The Minister had sent out copies of the project to the
governors-general, soliciting their opinions, and ere long copies of the
project were circulating in London, Paris, and Vienna. In the spring of
1890, Russia and Western Europe were filled with alarming rumors
concerning an enactment of some "forty clauses," which was designed to
curtail the commercial activities of the Jews, to increase the rigor of
the "Temporary Rules" within the Pale, and restrict the privileges
conferred upon several categories of Jews outside of it, to establish
medieval Jewish ghettos in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev, and similar
measures. The foreign press made a terrible outcry against these
contemplated new acts of barbarism.

[Footnote 1: See p. 370.]

The voice of protest was particularly strong in England. The London
_Times_ assailed in violent terms the reactionary policies of Russia,
and a special organ, called _Darkest Russia_, was published for this
purpose by Russian political refugees in England. The Russian Government
denied these rumors through its diplomatic channels, though at the very
same time the well-informed _Novoye Vremya_ and _Grazhdanin_ were not
barred from printing news items concerning the projected disabilities or
from recommending ferocious measures against the Jews for the purpose
"of removing them from all branches of labor."

This comedy was well understood abroad. At the end of July and in the
beginning of August interpellations were introduced in both Houses of
the English Parliament, as to whether Her Majesty's Government found it
possible to make diplomatic representations in defence of the persecuted
Russian Jews for whom England would have to provide, were they to arrive
there in large masses. Premier Salisbury, in the House of Lords, and
Fergusson, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in the
House of Commons, replied that "these proceedings, which, if rightly
reported to us, are deeply to be regretted, concern the internal affairs
of the Russian Empire, and do not admit of any interference on the part
of Her Majesty's Government." [1] When shortly afterwards preparations
were set on foot for calling a protest meeting in London, the Russian
Government hastened to announce through the British ambassador in St.
Petersburg that no new measures against the Jews were in contemplation,
and the meeting was called off. Rumor had it that the Lord Mayor of
London, Henry Isaacs, who was a Jew, did not approve of this meeting,
over which, according to the English custom, he would have to preside.
The action of the Lord Mayor may have been "tactful," but is was
certainly not free from an admixture of timidity.

[Footnote 1: See _The Jewish Chronicle_ of August 8, 1890, p. 18b.]


While anxiously endeavoring to appease public opinion abroad, the
Russian Government at home did all it could to keep the Jews in an
agitated state of mind. The legal drafts and the circulars which had
been sent out secretly by the central Government in St. Petersburg
elicited the liveliest sympathy on the part of the provincial
administrators. Not satisfied with signifying to the Ministry their
approval of the contemplated disabilities, many officials of high rank
began to display openly their bitter hatred of the Jews.

At one and the same time, during the months of June, July, and August of
1890, the heads of various local provincial administrations published
circulars calling the attention of the police to the "audacious conduct"
of the Jews who, on meeting Russian officials, failed to take off their
hats by way of greeting. The governor of Moghilev instructed the police
of his province to impress the local Jewish population with the
necessity of "polite manners," in the sense of a more reverent attitude
towards the representatives of Russian authority. In compliance with
this order, the district chiefs of police compelled the rabbis to
inculcate their flock in the synagogues with reverence for Russian
officialdom. In Mstislavl, a town in the government of Moghilev, the
president of the nobility [1] assembled the leading members of the
Jewish community, and cautioned them that those Jews who would fail to
comply with the governor's circular would be subjected to a public
whipping by the police. The governor of Odessa, the well-known despot
Zelenoy, issued a police ordinance for the purpose of "curbing the
impudence displayed by the Jews in places of public gathering and
particularly in the suburban trolley cars" where they do not give up
their seats and altogether show disrespect towards "persons of advanced
age or those wearing a uniform, testifying to their high position." Even
more brutal was the conduct of the governor-general of Vilna, Kakhanov,
who, despite his high rank, allowed himself, in replying to the speech
of welcome of a Jewish deputation, to animadvert not only on Jewish
"clannishness" but also on the "licentiousness" of the Jewish
population, manifesting itself in congregating on the streets, and
similar grave crimes.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 303.]

The simultaneous occurrence of this sort of official actions in widely
separated places point to a common source, probably to some secret
instructions from St. Petersburg. It would seem, however, that the
provincial henchmen of the central Government had overreached themselves
in their eagerness to carry out the behest of "curbing the Jews." The
pettiness of their demands, which, moreover, were illegal, such as the
order to take off the hats before the officials, or to give up the seats
in the trolley cars, merely served to ridicule the representatives of
Russian officialdom, giving frequent rise to tragi-comic conflicts in
public and to utterances of indignation in the press. The public
pronouncements of these genteel _chinovniks_ who were anxious to train
the Jewish masses in the fear of Russian bureaucracy and inculcate in
them polite manners aroused the attention both of the Russian and the
foreign press. It was universally felt that these farcical performances
of uncouth administrators were only the manifestations of a bottomless
hatred, of a morbid desire to insult and to humble the Jews, and that
these administrators were capable at any moment to proceed from
moralizing to more tangible forms of ill-treatment. This danger
intensified the state of alarm.

While making preparations for storming the citadel of Russian Jewry, the
Government took good care to keep it meanwhile in its normal state of
siege. The resourcefulness of the administration brought the _technique_
of repression to perfection. The officials were no longer content with
inventing cunning devices for expelling old Jewish residents from the
villages. [1] They now made endeavors to reduce even the area of the
_urban_ Pale in which the Jews were huddled together, panting for
breath. In 1890, the provincial authorities, acting evidently on a
signal from above, began to change numerous little townlets into
villages, which, as rural settlements, would be closed to the Jews. As a
result, all the Jews who had settled in these localities after the
issuance of the "Temporary Rules" of May 3, 1882, were now expelled, and
even the older residents who were exempt from the operation of the May
laws shared the same fate unless they were able (which in very many
cases they were not) to produce documentary evidence that they had lived
there prior to 1882. Simultaneously a new attempt was made to drive the
Jews from the forbidden fifty verst zone along the Western border of the
Empire, particularly in Bessarabia. These expulsions had the effect of
filling the already over-crowded cities of the Pale with many more
thousands of ruined people.

[Footnote 1: There are cases on record when Jewish soldiers who returned
home after the completion of their term of service were refused
admission to their villages, on the ground that they were "new

At the same time the life of the outlawed Jews was made unbearable in
the cities outside the Pale, particularly in the large centers, such as
Kiev, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. The governor-general of Kiev
prohibited the wives of Jewish artisans who were legally entitled to
residence in that city to sell eatables in the market, on the technical
ground that under the law artisans could only trade in the articles of
their own manufacture, thus robbing the poor Jewish workman of the
miserable pittance which his wife was anxious to contribute by her
honest labor towards the maintenance of the family.

A great _political_ blow for the Jews was the clause in the new
reactionary "Statute Concerning the Zemstvo Organizations" issued on
June 12, 1890, [1] under which the Jews, though paying the local taxes,
were completely barred from participating in the election of deputies to
the organization of local self-government. This clause was inserted in
the legal draft by the three shining lights of the political inquisition
active at that time, Pobyedonostzev, Durnovo, and Plehve. They justified
this restriction on the following grounds: the object of the new law is
to transform local self-government into a state administration and to
strengthen in the former the influence of the central Government at the
expense of the local Government; hence the Jews, "being altogether an
element hostile to Government," are not fit to participate in the
Zemstvo administration. The Council of State agreed with this
bureaucratic motivation, and the humiliating clause passed into law.

[Footnote 1: The new law invalidated to a large extent the liberties
granted to the Zemstvos by Alexander II. in 1864 (compare p. 173) by
placing them under state control.]

While a large part of the Russian public and of the Russian press had
succumbed to the prevailing tendencies under the high pressure of the
anti-Semitic atmosphere, the progressive elements of the Russian
_intelligenzia_ were gradually aroused to a feeling of protest. Vladimir
Solovyov, "the Christian philosopher," a friend of the Jewish people,
who had familiarized himself thoroughly with its history and literature,
conceived the idea of issuing a public protest against the anti-Semitic
movement in the "Russian Press," [1] to be signed by the most prominent
Russian writers and other well-known men. During the months of May and
June, 1890, he succeeded under great difficulties to collect for his
protest sixty-six signatures in Moscow and over fifty signatures in St.
Petersburg, including those of Leo Tolstoi, Vladimir Korolenko, and
other literary celebrities. Despite its mild tone, the protest which had
been framed by Solovyov [2] was barred from publication by the Russian
censor. Professor Ilovaiski, of Moscow, a historian of doubtful
reputation, but a hide-bound Jew-baiter, had informed the authorities of
St. Petersburg of the attempt to collect signatures in Moscow for a
"pro-Jewish petition." As a result, all newspapers received orders from
the Russian Press Department to refuse their columns to any collective
pronouncements touching the Jewish question.

[Footnote 1: The latter expression was a euphemism designating the
Russian Government and its reactionary henchmen in the press. The
severity of the police made this evasion necessary.]

[Footnote 2: The following extracts from this meek appeal deserve to be
quoted: "The movement against the Jews which is propagated by the
Russian press represents an unprecedented violation of the most
fundamental demands of righteousness and humanity. We consider it our
duty to recall these elementary demands to the mind of the Russian
public.... In all nationalities there are bad and ill-minded persons but
there is not, and cannot be, any bad and ill-minded nationality, for
this would abrogate the moral responsibility of the individual.... It is
unjust to make the Jews responsible for those phenomena in their lives
which are the result of thousands of years of persecution in Europe and
of the abnormal conditions in which this people has been placed.... The
fact of belonging to a Semitic tribe and professing the Mosaic creed is
nothing prejudicial and cannot of itself serve as a basis for an
exceptional civil position of the Jews, as compared with the Russian
subjects of other nationalities and denominations.... The recognition
and application of these simple truths is important and is first of all
necessary for ourselves. The increased endeavor to kindle national and
religious hatred, which is so contradictory to the spirit of
Christianity and suppresses the feelings of justice and humaneness, is
bound to demoralize society at its very root and bring about a state of
moral anarchy, particularly so in view of the decline of humanitarian
ideas and the weakness of the principle of justice already noticeable in
our life. For this reason, acting from the mere instinct of national
self-preservation, we must emphatically condemn the anti-Semitic
movement not only as immoral in itself but also as extremely dangerous
for the future of Russia."]

Solovyov addressed an impassioned appeal to Alexander III., but received
through one of the Ministers the impressive advice to refrain from
raising a cry on behalf of the Jews, under pain of administrative
penalties. In these circumstances, the plan of a public protest had to
be abandoned. Instead, the following device was resorted to as a
makeshift. Solovyov's teacher of Jewish literature, F. Goetz, was
publishing an apology of Judaism under the title "A Word from the
Prisoner at the Bar." Solovyov wrote a preface to this little volume,
and turned over to its author for publication the letters of Tolstoi and
Korolenko in the defence of the Jews. No sooner had the book left the
press than it was confiscated by the censor, and, in spite of all
petitions, the entire edition of this innocent apology was thrown into
the flames. In this way the Russian Government succeeded in shutting the
mouths of the few defenders of Judaism, while according unrestricted
liberty of speech to its ferocious assailants.


The cry of indignation against Jewish oppression, which had been
smothered in Russia, could not be stifled abroad. The Jews of England
took the initiative in this matter. On November 5, 1890, the London
_Times_ published a letter from N.S. Joseph, honorary secretary to the
Russo-Jewish Committee in London, passionately appealing to the public
men of England to intercede on behalf of his persecuted coreligionists.
The writer of the letter called attention to the fact that, while the
Russian Government was officially denying that it was contemplating new
restrictions against the Jews, it was at the same time applying the
former restrictions on so comprehensive a scale and with such
extraordinary cruelty that the Jews in the Pale of Settlement were like
a doomed prisoner in a cell with its opposite walls gradually
approaching, contracting by slow degrees his breathing space, till they
at last immure him in a living tomb.

The writer concludes his appeal in these terms:

  It may seem a sorry jest but the Russian law, in very truth, now
  declares: The Jew may live here only and shall not live there; if he
  lives here he must remain here; but wherever he lives he shall not
  live--he shall not have the means of living. This is the operation
  of the law as it stands, without any new edict. This is the sentence
  of death that silently, insidiously, and in the veiled language of
  obscurely worded laws has been pronounced against hundreds of
  thousands of human beings.... Shall civilized Europe, shall the
  Christianity of England behold this slow torture and bloodless
  massacre, and be silent?

The appeal of the Russo-Jewish Committee and the new gloomy tidings from
Russia published by the _Times_ decided a number of prominent Englishmen
to call the protest meeting which had been postponed half a year
previously. Eighty-three foremost representatives of English society
addressed a letter to the Lord Mayor of London calling upon him to
convene such a meeting. The office of Lord Mayor at that time was
occupied by Joseph Savory, a Christian, who did not share the
susceptibilities which had troubled his Jewish predecessor. Immediately
on assuming office, Savory gave his consent to the holding of the

On December 10, 1890, the meeting was held in the magnificent Guildhall,
belonging to the City of London, and was attended by more than 2000
people. The Lord Mayor who presided over the gathering endeavored in his
introductory remarks to soften the bitterness of the protest for the
benefit of official Russia.

  As I hear--he said--the Emperor of Russia is a good husband and a
  tender father, and I cannot but think that such a man must
  necessarily be kindly disposed to all his subjects. On his Majesty
  the Emperor of Russia the hopes of the Russian Jews are at the
  present moment fixed. He can by one stroke of his pen annul those
  laws which now press so grievously upon them and he can thus give a
  happy life to those Jewish subjects of his who now can hardly be
  said to live at all.

In conclusion, the Lord Mayor expressed the wish that Alexander III. may
become the "emancipator" of the Russian Jews, just as his father
Alexander II. had been the emancipator of the Russian serfs.

Cardinal Manning, the warm-hearted champion of Jewish emancipation, who
was prevented by illness from being present, sent a long letter which
was read to the meeting. The argument against interfering with the inner
politics of a foreign country, the cardinal wrote, had found its first
expression in Cain's question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" There is a
united Jewish race scattered all over the world, and the pain inflicted
upon it in Russia is felt by the Jewish race in England. It is wrong to
keep silent when we see six million men reduced to the level of
criminals, particularly when they belong to a race "with a sacred
history of nearly four thousand years."

The speakers who followed the Lord Mayor pictured in vivid colors the
political and civil bondage of Russian Jewry.

The first speaker, the Duke of Westminster, after recounting the
sufferings of Russian Jewry, moved the adoption of the protest
resolution, notwithstanding the fact that the "great protest of 1882"
(at the Mansion House meeting)[1] had brought no results. "We read in
the history of the Jewish race that 'God hardened the heart of Pharaoh
so that he would not let the people of Israel go'; but deliverance came
at last by the hand of Moses."

[Footnote 1: See p. 288 et seq.]

After brilliant speeches by the Bishop of Ripon, the Earl of Meath, and
others, the following resolution was adopted:

  That in the opinion of this meeting the renewed sufferings of the
  Jews in Russia from the operation of severe and exceptional edicts
  and disabilities are deeply to be deplored, and that in this last
  decade of the nineteenth century religious liberty is a principle
  which should be recognized by every Christian community as among the
  natural human rights.

At the same time a second resolution was adopted to the following

  That a suitable memorial be addressed to his Imperial Majesty the
  Emperor of all the Russias, respectfully praying his Majesty to
  repeal all the exceptional and restrictive laws and disabilities
  which afflict his Jewish subjects; and begging his Majesty to confer
  upon them equal rights with those enjoyed by the rest of his
  Majesty's subjects; and that the said memorial be signed by the
  Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, in the name of the citizens of London,
  and be transmitted by his Lordship to his Majesty.

A few extracts from the memorandum may be quoted by way of illustrating
the character of this remarkable appeal to the Russian emperor:

  We, the citizens of London, respectfully approach your Majesty and
  humbly beg your gracious leave to plead the cause of the afflicted.

  Cries of distress have reached us from thousands of suffering
  Israelites in your vast empire; and we Englishmen, with pity in our
  souls for all who suffer, turn to your Majesty to implore for them
  your Sovereign aid and clemency.

  Five millions of your Majesty's subjects groan beneath the yoke of
  exceptional and restrictive laws. Remnants of a race, whence all
  religion sprung--ours and yours, and every creed on earth that owns
  one God--men who cling with all devotion to their ancient faith and
  forms of worship, these Hebrews are in your empire subject to such
  laws that under them they cannot live and thrive....

  Pent up in narrow bounds within your Majesty's wide empire, and even
  within those bounds forced to reside chiefly in towns that reek and
  overflow with every form of poverty and wretchedness; forbidden all
  free movement; hedged in every enterprise by restrictive laws;
  forbidden tenure of land, or all concern in land, their means of
  livelihood have become so cramped as to render life for them
  well-nigh impossible.

  Nor are they cramped alone in space and action. The higher education
  is denied them, except in limits far below the due proportion of
  their needs and aspirations. They may not freely exercise
  professions, like other subjects of your Majesty, nor may they gain
  promotion in the Army, however great their merit and their

  Sire! we who have learnt to tolerate all creeds, deeming it a
  principle of true religion to permit religious liberty, we beseech
  your Majesty to repeal those laws that afflict these Israelites.
  Give them the blessing of equality! In every land where Jews have
  equal rights, the nation prospers. We pray you, then, annul those
  special laws and disabilities that crush and cow your Hebrew

  Sire! your Royal Sister, our Empress Queen (whom God preserve!)
  bases her throne upon her people's love, making their happiness her
  own. So may your Majesty gain from your subjects' love all strength
  and happiness, making your mighty empire mightier still, rendering
  your Throne firm and impregnable, reaping new blessings for your
  House and Home.

The memorial was signed by Savory, who was Lord Mayor at that time, and
forwarded by him to St. Petersburg. It was accompanied by a letter,
dated December 24, from the Lord Mayor to Lieutenant-General de Richter,
aide-de-camp of the Tzar for the reception of petitions, with the
request to transmit the document to the emperor.

It is almost unnecessary to add that this touching appeal for justice by
the citizens of London failed to receive a direct reply. There were
rumors that the London petition threw the Tzar into a fury, and the
future court annalist of Russia will probably tell of the scene that
took place in the imperial palace when this document was read. An
indirect reply came through the cringing official press. The mouthpiece
of the Russian Government abroad, the newspaper _Le Nord_ in Brussels,
which was especially engaged in the task of whitewashing the black
politics of its employers, published an article under the heading "A
Last Word concerning Semitism," in which the rancor of the highest
Government circles in Russia found undisguised expression:

  The Semites--quoth the semi-official organ with an impudent
  disregard of truth--have never yet had such an easy life in Russia
  as they have at the present time, and yet they have never complained
  so bitterly. There is a reason for it. It is a peculiarity of
  Semitism: a Semite is never satisfied with anything; the more you
  give him the more he wishes to have.

In the evident desire to fool its readers, _Le Nord_ declared that the
protesters at the London meeting might have saved themselves the trouble
of demanding "religious liberty" for the Jews--which in the London
petition was understood, of course, to imply civil liberty for the
professors of Judaism--since nobody in Russia restricted the Jews in
their worship. Nor did the civil disabilities weigh heavily upon the
Jews. On the contrary, they felt so happy in Russia that even the Jewish
emigrants in America dreamt of returning to their homeland.


The same attitude of double-dealing was adopted by the smooth-tongued
Russian diplomats toward the Government of the United States. Aroused
over the inhuman treatment of the Jews in Russia, and alarmed by the
effects of a sudden Russian-Jewish immigration to America, which was
bound to follow as a result of this treatment, the House of
Representatives adopted a resolution on August 20, 1890, requesting the

  To communicate to the House of Representatives, if not incompatible
  with the public interests, any information in his possession
  concerning the enforcement of proscriptive edicts against the Jews
  in Russia, recently ordered, as reported in the public press; and
  whether any American citizens have, because of their religion, been
  ordered to be expelled from Russia, or forbidden the exercise of the
  ordinary privileges enjoyed by the inhabitants.

In response to this resolution, President Harrison laid before Congress
all the correspondence and papers bearing on the Jewish question in
Russia. [1]

[Footnote 1: The material was printed as _Executive Document_ No. 470,
dated October 1, 1890. It reproduced all the documents originally
embodied in _Executive Document_ No. 192 (see above, p. 294, n. 1), in
addition to the new material.]

A little later, on December 19 of the same year, the following
resolution of protest was introduced in the House of Representatives and
referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs:

  _Resolved_, That the members of the House of Representatives of the
  United States have heard with profound sorrow, and with feelings
  akin to horror, the reports of the persecution of the Jews in
  Russia, reflecting the barbarism of past ages, disgracing humanity,
  and impeding the progress of civilization.

  _Resolved_, That our sorrow is intensified by the fact that such
  occurrences should happen in a country which has been, and now is,
  the firm friend of the United States, and in a nation that clothed
  itself with glory, not long since, by the emancipation of its serfs
  and by its defense of helpless Christians from the oppression of the

  _Resolved_, That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the
  Secretary of State, with a request that he send it to the American
  Minister at St. Petersburg, and that said Minister be directed to
  present the same to his Imperial Majesty Alexander III., Czar of all
  the Russias. [1]

[Footnote 1:_Congressional Record_, Vol. 22, p. 705.--The resolution
was reported back on February 5, 1891, in the following amended form
(loc. cit., p. 2219):

_Resolved_, That the members of the House of Representatives of the
United States have heard with profound sorrow the reports of the
sufferings of the Jews in Russia; and this sorrow is intensified by
the fact that these occurrences should happen in a country which is,
and long has been the friend of the United States, which emancipated
millions of its people from serfdom, and which defended helpless
Christians in the East from persecution for their religion; and we
earnestly hope that the humanity and enlightened spirit then so
strikingly shown by His Imperial Majesty will now be manifested in
checking and mitigating the severe measures directed against men of
the Jewish religion.]

In the meantime the Department of State was flooded with protests
against the Russian atrocities.

  Almost every day--Secretary of State, James G. Blaine, writes to Charles
  Emory Smith, United States Minister at St. Petersburg, on February 27,
  1891--communications are received on this subject; temperate, and
  couched in language respectful to the Government of the Czar; but at the
  same time indicative and strongly expressive of the depth and prevalence
  of the sentiment of disaprobation and regret. [1]

[Footnote 1: _Foreign Relations of the United States_, 1891, p. 740.]

The American Minister was therefore instructed to exert his influence
with the Russian Government in the direction of mitigating the severity
of the anti-Jewish measures. He was to point out to the Russian
authorities that the maltreatment of the Jews in Russia was not purely
an internal affair of the Russian Government, inasmuch as it affected
the interests of the United States. Within ten years 200,000 Russian
Jews had come over to America, and continued persecutions in Russia were
bound to result in a large and sudden immigration which was not
unattended with danger. While the United States did not presume to
dictate to Russia, "nevertheless, the mutual duties of nations require
that each should use his power with a due regard for the other and for
the results which its exercise produces on the rest of the world." [1]

[Footnote 1: _Loc. cit_., p. 737.]

The remonstrances of the American people which were voiced by their
representatives at St. Petersburg were received by the Russian
Government in a manner which strikingly illustrates the well-known
duplicity of its diplomatic methods. While endeavoring to justify its
policy of oppression by all kinds of libellous charges against the
Russian Jews, it gave at the same time repeated assurance to the
American Minister that no new proscriptive laws were contemplated, and
the latter reported accordingly to his Government. [1] On February 10,
1891, the American Minister, writing to Secretary Blaine, gives a
detailed account of the conversation he had had with the Russian
Minister for Foreign Affairs, de Giers. The latter went out of his way
to discuss with him unreservedly the entire Jewish situation in Russia,
and, while making all kinds of subtle insinuations against the character
of the Russian Jew, he expressed himself in a manner which was
calculated to convince the American representative of the conciliatory
disposition of the Russian Government. [2] Less than three weeks later
followed the cruel expulsion edict against the Jews of Moscow.

[Footnote 1: Compare in particular his dispatch, dated September 25,
1890, published in _Executive Document_ No. 470, p. 141.]

[Footnote 2: _Foreign Relations_, 1891, p. 734.]

While the Russian Government, abashed by the voices of protest, made an
effort to justify itself in the eyes of Europe and America and perverted
the truth with its well-known diplomatic skill, the _Russkaya Zhizn_
("Russian Life"), a St. Petersburg paper, which was far from being
pro-Jewish, published a number of heart-rending facts illustrating the
trials of the outlawed Jews at Moscow. It told of a young talented Jew
who maintained himself and his family by working on a Moscow newspaper
and, not having the right of residence in that city, was wont to save
himself from the night raids of the police by hiding himself, on a
signal of his landlord, in the wardrobe. Many Jews who lived honestly by
the sweat of their brow were cruelly expelled by the police when their
certificates of residence contained even the slightest technical
inaccuracy. By way of illustrating the "religious liberty" of the Jews
in the narrower sense of the word, the paper mentioned the fact that
after the opening of the new synagogue in Moscow, which accommodated
five hundred worshippers, the police ordered the closing of all the
other houses of prayer, to the number of twenty, which had been attended
by some ten thousand people.

The governor of St. Petersburg, Gresser, made a regular
sport of taunting the Jews. One ordinance of his prescribed
that the signs on the stores and workshops belonging to
Jews should indicate not only the family names of their
owners but also their full first names as well as their fathers'
names, exactly as they were spelled in their passports, "with
the end in view of averting possible misunderstandings." The
object of this ordinance was to enable the Christian public
to boycott the Jewish stores and, in addition, to poke fun at
the names of the owners, which, as a rule, were mutilated
in the Russian registers and passports to the point of ridiculousness
by semi-illiterate clerks.

Gresser's ordinance was issued on November 17, 1890, a
few days before the protest meeting in London. As the
Russian Government was at that time assuring Europe that
the Jews were particularly happy in Russia, the ordinance
was not published in the newspapers but nevertheless applied
secretly. The Jewish storekeepers, who realized the malicious
intent of the new edict, tried to minimize the damage resulting
from it by having their names painted in small letters so as
not to catch the eyes of the Russian anti-Semites. Thereupon
Gresser directed the police officials (in March 1891) to see to
it that the Jewish names on the store signs should be indicated
"clearly and in a conspicuous place, in accordance with
the prescribed drawings" and "to report immediately" to
him any attempt to violate the law. In this manner St. Petersburg
reacted upon the cries of indignation which rang at that
time through Europe and America.




The year 1891 had arrived. The air was full of evil forebodings. In the
solitude of the Government chancelleries of St. Petersburg the
anti-Jewish conspirators were assiduously at work preparing for a new
blow to be dealt to the martyred nation. A secret committee attached to
the Ministry of the Interior, under the chairmanship of Plehve, was
engaged in framing a monstrous enactment of Jewish counter-reforms,
which were practically designed to annul the privileges conferred upon
certain categories of Jews by Alexander II. The principal object of the
proposed enactment was to slam the doors to the Russian interior, which
had been slightly opened by the laws of 1859 and 1865, by withdrawing
the privilege of residing outside the Pale which these laws had
conferred upon Jewish first guild merchants and artisans, subject to a
number of onerous conditions.

The first object of the reactionary conspirators was to get rid of those
"privileged" Jews who lived in the two Russian capitals. In St.
Petersburg this object was to be attained by the edicts of Gresser,
referred to previously, which were followed by other similarly harassing
regulations. In February, 1891, the governor of St. Petersburg ordered
the police "to examine the kind of trade" pursued by the Jewish artisans
of St. Petersburg, with the end in view of expelling from the city and
confiscating the goods of all those who should be caught with articles
not manufactured by themselves [1]. A large number of expulsion followed
upon this order. The principal blow, however, was to fall in Moscow.

[Footnote 1: See above, p. 170 et seq., and p. 347 et seq.]

The ancient Muscovite capital was in the throes of great changes. The
post of governor-general of Moscow, which had been occupied by Count
Dolgoruki, was entrusted in February, 1891, to a brother of the Tzar,
Grand Duke Sergius. The grand duke, who enjoyed an unenviable reputation
in the gambling circles of both capitals, was not burdened by any
consciously formulated political principles. But this deficiency was
made up by his steadfast loyalty to the political and religious
prejudices of his environment, among which the blind hatred of Judaism
occupied a prominent place. The Russian public was inclined to attach
extraordinary importance to the appointment of the Tzar's brother. It
was generally felt that his selection was designed to serve as a
preliminary step to the transfer of the imperial capital from St.
Petersburg to Moscow, symbolizing the return "home"--to the
old-Muscovite political ideals. It is almost superfluous to add that the
contemplated change made it necessary to purge the ancient capital of
its Jewish inhabitants.

The Jewish community of Moscow, numbering some thirty thousand souls who
lived there legally or semi-legally, had long been a thorn in the flesh
of certain influential Russian merchants. The burgomaster of Moscow,
Alexeyev, an ignorant merchant, with a very shady reputation, was
greatly wrought up over the far-reaching financial influence of a local
Jewish capitalist, Lazarus Polakov, the director of a rural bank, with
whom he had clashed over some commercial transaction. Alexeyev was only
too grateful for an occasion to impress upon the highest Government
spheres that it was necessary "to clear Moscow of the Jews," who were
crowding the city, owing to the indulgence of Dolgoruki, the former
governor-general. The reactionaries of Moscow and St. Petersburg joined
hands in the worthy cause of extirpating Judaism, and received the
blessing of the head of the Holy Synod, Pobyedonostzev. This
inquisitor-in-chief appointed Istomin, a ferocious anti-Semite, who had
been his general utility man at the Holy Synod, the bureau-manager of
the new governor-general, and thus succeeded in establishing his
influence in Moscow through his acting representative who was
practically the master of the second capital.

The secret council of Jew-haters decided to accomplish the Jewish
evacuation of Moscow prior to the solemn entrance of Grand Duke Sergius
into the city, either for the purpose of clearing the way for the new
satrap, or in order to avoid the unpleasantness of having his name
connected with the first cruel act of expulsion. Pending the arrival of
Sergius the administration of Moscow was entrusted to Costanda, the
chief of the Moscow Military District, an adroit Greek, who was to begin
the military operations against the Jewish population. The first blow
was timed to take place on the festival of Israel's liberation from
Egyptian bondage, as if the eternal people needed to be reminded of the
new bondage and of the new Pharaohs.


It was on March 29, 1891, the first day of the Jewish Passover, when in
the synagogues of Moscow which were filled with worshippers an alarming
whisper ran from mouth to mouth telling of the publication of an
imperial ukase ordering the expulsion of the Jews from the city. Soon
afterwards the horror-stricken Jews read in the papers the following
imperial order, dated March 28:

  Jewish mechanics, distillers, brewers, and, in general, master
  workmen and artisans shall be forbidden to remove from the Jewish
  Pale of Settlement as well as to come over from other places of the
  Empire to the City and Government of Moscow.

This prohibition of settling in Moscow _anew_ was only one half of the
edict. The second, more terrible half, was published on the following

  A recommendation shall be made to the Minister of the Interior,
  after consultation with the Governor-General of Moscow, to see to it
  that measures be taken to the effect that the above-mentioned Jews
  should gradually depart from the City and Government of Moscow into
  the places established for the permanent residence of the Jews.

At first sight it seemed difficult to realize that this harmless surface
of the ukase, with its ambiguous formulation, [1] concealed a cruel
decree ordering the uprooting of thousands of human beings. But those
who were to execute this written law received definite unwritten
instructions which were carried out according to all the rules of the
strategic game.

[Footnote 1: The Byzantine perfidy of this formulation lies in the
phrase "above-mentioned Jews," which gives the impression of referring
to those that had "removed" to Moscow from other parts of the Empire,
i.e., settled there _anew_, whereas the real object of the law was to
expel _all_ the Jews of the "above-mentioned" categories of master
workmen and artisans, even though they may have lived in the city for
many years. This amounted to a repeal, illegally enacted outside the
Council of State, of the law of 1865, conferring the right of universal
residence upon Jewish artisans. Moreover, the enactment was given
retroactive force--a step which even the originators of the "Temporary
Rules" of May 3 were not bold enough to make. In distinction from the
May Laws, the present decree was not even submitted to the Council of
Ministers, where a discussion of it might have been demanded; it was
passed as an extraordinary measure, at the suggestion of the Ministry of
the Interior represented by Durnovo and Plehve. This is indicated by the
heading of the ukase: "The Minister of the Interior has applied most
humbly to his Imperial Majesty begging permission to adopt the following
measures." This succession of illegalities was to be veiled by the
ambiguous formulation of the ukase and the addition of the hackneyed
stipulation: "Pending the revision of the enactments concerning the Jews
in the ordinary course of legislation."]

The first victims were the Jews who resided in Moscow illegally or
semi-legally, the latter living in the suburbs. They were subjected to a
sudden nocturnal attack, a "raid," which was directed by the savage
Cossack general Yurkovski, the police commissioner-in-chief. During the
night following the promulgation of the ukase large detachments of
policemen and firemen made their appearance in the section of the city
called Zaryadye, where the bulk of the "illegal" Jewish residents were
huddled together, more particularly in the immense so-called Glebov
Yard, the former ghetto of Moscow. The police invaded the Jewish homes,
aroused the scared inhabitants from their beds, and drove the semi-naked
men, women, and children to the police stations, where they were kept in
filthy cells for a day and sometimes longer. Some of the prisoners were
released by the police which first wrested from them a written pledge to
leave the city immediately. Others were evicted under a police convoy
and sent out of the city like criminals, through the transportation
prison. [1] Many families, having been forewarned of the impending raid,
decided to spend the night outside their homes to avoid arrest and
maltreatment at the hands of the police. They hid themselves in the
outlying sections of the city and on the cemeteries; they walked or rode
all over the city the whole night. Many an estimable Jew was forced to
shelter his wife and children, stiffened from cold, in houses of ill
repute which were open all night. But even these fugitives ultimately
fell into the hands of the police inquisition.

[Footnote 1: Transportation prisons are prisons in which convicts
sentenced to deportation (primarily to Siberia) are kept pending their
deportation. Such prisons were to be found in the large Russian centers,
among them in Moscow.]

Such were the methods by which Moscow was purged of its rightless Jewish
inhabitants a whole month before Grand Duke Sergius made his entrance
into the city. The grand duke was followed soon afterwards, in the month
of May, by the Tzar himself, who stopped in the second Russian capital
on his way to the Crimea. A retired Jewish soldier was courageous enough
to address a petition to the Tzar, imploring him in touching terms to
allow the former Jewish soldiers to remain in Moscow. The request of the
Jewish soldier met with a quick response: he was sent to jail and
subsequently evicted.

The establishment of the new régime in Moscow was followed, in
accordance with the provisions of the recent ukase, by the "gradual"
expulsion of the huge number of master workmen and artisans who had
enjoyed for many years the right of residence in that city and were now
suddenly deprived of this right by a despotic caprice. The local
authorities included among the victims of expulsion even the so-called
"circular Jews," i.e., those who had been allowed to remain in Moscow by
virtue of the ministerial circular of 1880, granting the right of
domicile to the Jews living there before that date. This vast host of
honest and hard-working men--artisans, tradesmen, clerks, teachers--were
ordered to leave Moscow in three installments: those having lived there
for not more than three years and those unmarried or childless were to
depart within three to six months; those having lived there for not more
than six years and having children or apprentices to the number of four
were allowed to postpone their departure for six to nine months; finally
the old Jewish settlers, who had big families and employed a large
number of workingmen, were given a reprieve from nine to twelve months.

It would almost seem as if the maximum and minimum dates within each
term were granted specifically for the purpose of yielding an enormous
income to the police, which, for a substantial consideration, could
postpone the expulsion of the victims for three months and thereby
enable them to wind up their affairs. At the expiration of the final
terms the unfortunate Jews were not allowed to remain in the city even
for one single day; those that stayed behind were ruthlessly evicted. An
eye-witness, in summing up the information at his disposal, the details
of which are even more heart-rending than the general facts, gives the
following description of the Moscow events:

  People who have lived in Moscow for twenty, thirty, or even forty
  years were forced to sell their property within a short time and
  leave the city. Those who were too poor to comply with the orders of
  the police, or who did not succeed in selling their property for a
  mere song--there were cases of poor people disposing of their whole
  furniture for one or two rubles--were thrown into jail, or sent to
  the transportation prison, together with criminals and all kinds of
  riff-raff that were awaiting their turn to be dispatched under
  convoy. Men who had all their lives earned their bread by the sweat
  of their brow found themselves under the thumb of prison inspectors,
  who placed them at once on an equal footing with criminals sentenced
  to hard labor. In these surroundings they were sometimes kept for
  several weeks and then dispatched in batches to their "homes" which
  many of them never saw again. At the threshold of the prisons the
  people belonging to the "unprivileged" estates--the artisans were
  almost without exception members of the "burgher class"--had wooden
  handcuffs put on them....[1]

  It is difficult to state accurately how many people were made to endure
  these tortures, inflicted on them without the due process of law. Some
  died in prison, pending their transportation. Those who could manage to
  scrape together a few pennies left for the Pale of Settlement at their
  own expense. The sums speedily collected by their coreligionists, though
  not inconsiderable, could do nothing more than rescue a number of the
  unfortunates from jail, convoy, and handcuffs. But what can there be
  done when thousands of human nests, lived in for so many years, are
  suddenly destroyed, when the catastrophe comes with the force of an
  avalanche so that even the Jewish heart which is open to sorrow cannot
  grasp the whole misfortune?....

  Despite the winter cold, people hid themselves on cemeteries to avoid
  jail and transportation. Women were confined in railroad cars. There
  were many cases of expulsions of sick people who were brought to the
  railroad station in conveyances and carried into the cars on
  stretchers.... In those rare instances in which the police physician
  pronounced the transportation to be dangerous, the authorities insisted
  on the chronic character of the illness, and the sufferers were brought
  to the station in writhing pain, as the police could not well be
  expected to wait until the invalids were cured of their chronic
  ailments. Eye-witnesses will never forget one bitterly cold night in
  January, 1892. Crowds of Jews dressed in beggarly fashion, among them
  women, children, and old men, with remnants of their household
  belongings lying around them, filled the station of the Brest railroad.
  Threatened by police convoy and transportation prison and having failed
  to obtain a reprieve, they had made up their mind to leave, despite a
  temperature of thirty degrees below zero. Fate, it would seem, wanted to
  play a practical joke on them. At the representations of the police
  commissioner-in-chief, the governor-general of Moscow had ordered to
  stop the expulsions until the great colds had passed, but ... the order
  was not published until the expulsion had been carried out. In this way
  some 20,000 Jews who had lived in Moscow fifteen, twenty-five, and even
  forty years were forcibly removed to the Jewish Pale of Settlement.

[Footnote 1: Under the Russian law (compare Vol. I, p. 308, n. 2)
burghers are subject to corporal punishment, whereas the higher
estates, among them the merchants, enjoy immunity in this


All these horrors, which remind one of the expulsion from Spain in 1492,
were passed over in complete silence by the Russian public press. The
cringing and reactionary papers would not, and the liberal papers could
not, report the exploits of the Russian Government in their war against
the Jews. The liberal press was ordered by the Russian censor to refrain
altogether from touching on the Jewish question. The only Russian-Jewish
press organ which, defying the threats of the censor, had dared to fight
against official Russian Judaeophobia, the _Voskhod_, had been
suppressed already in March, before the promulgation of the Moscow
expulsion edict, "for the extremely detrimental course pursued by it." A
similar fate overtook the _Novosti_ of St. Petersburg which had printed
a couple of sympathetic articles on the Jews.

In this way the Government managed to gag the independent press on the
eve of its surprise attack upon Moscow Jewry, so that everything could
be carried out noiselessly, under the veil of a state secret.
Fortunately, the foreign press managed to unveil the mystery. The
Government of the United States, faced by a huge immigration tide from
Russia, sent in June, 1891, two commissioners, Weber and Kempster, to
that country. They visited Moscow at the height of the expulsion fever,
and, travelling through the principal centers of the Pale of Settlement,
gathered carefully sifted documentary evidence of what was being
perpetrated upon the Jews in the Empire of the Tzar.

While decimating the Jews, the Russian Government was at the same time
anxious that their cries of distress should not penetrate beyond the
Russian border. Just about that time Russia was negotiating a foreign
loan, in which the Rothschilds of Paris were expected to take a leading
part, and found it rather inconvenient to stand forth in the eyes of
Europe as the ghost of medieval Spain. It was this consideration which
prompted the softened and ambiguous formulation of the Moscow expulsion
decree and made the Government suppress systematically all mention of
what happened afterwards.

Notwithstanding these efforts, the cries of distress were soon heard all
over Europe. The Russian censorship had no power over the public opinion
outside of Russia. The first Moscow refugees, who had reached Berlin,
Paris, and London, reported what was going on at Moscow. Already in
April, 1891, the European financial press began to comment on the fact
that "the Jewish population of Russia is altogether irreplaceable in
Russian commercial life, forming a substantial element which contributes
to the prosperity of the country," and that, therefore, "the expulsion
of the Jews must of necessity greatly alarm the owners of Russian
securities who are interested in the economic progress of Russia." Soon
afterwards it became known that Alphonse de Rothschild, the head of the
great financial firm in Paris, refused to take a hand in floating the
Russian loan of half a billion. This first protest of the financial king
against the anti-Semitic policy of the Russian Government produced a
sensation, and it was intensified by the fact that it was uttered in
France at a time when the diplomats of both countries were preparing to
celebrate the Franco-Russian alliance which was consummated a few months

The expulsion from Moscow found a sympathetic echo on the other side of
the Atlantic. President Harrison took occasion, in a message to
Congress, to refer to the sufferings of the Jews and to the probable
effects of the Russian expulsions upon America:

  This Government has found occasion to express in a friendly spirit,
  but with much earnestness, to the Government of the Czar its serious
  concern because of the harsh measures now being enforced against the
  Hebrews in Russia. By the revival of anti-Semitic laws, long in
  abeyance, great numbers of those unfortunate people have been
  constrained to abandon their homes and leave the Empire by reason of
  the impossibility of finding subsistence within the Pale to which it
  is sought to confine them. The immigration of these people to the
  United States--many other countries being closed to them--is largely
  increasing, and is likely to assume proportions which may make it
  difficult to find homes and employment for them here and to
  seriously affect the labor market. It is estimated that over
  1,000,000 will be forced from Russia within a few years. The Hebrew
  is never a beggar; he has always kept the law--life by toil--often
  under severe and oppressive restrictions. It is also true that no
  race, sect, or class has more fully cared for its own than the
  Hebrew race. But the sudden transfer of such a multitude under
  conditions that tend to strip them of their small accumulations and
  to depress their energies and courage is neither good for them nor
  for us.

  The banishment, whether by direct decree or by not less certain
  indirect methods, of so large a number of men and women is not a
  local question. A decree to leave one country is in the nature of
  things an order to enter another--some other. This consideration, as
  well as the suggestion of humanity, furnishes ample ground for the
  remonstrances which we have presented to Russia; while our historic
  friendship for that Government cannot fail to give assurance that
  our representations are those of a sincere well-wisher.[1]

[Footnote 1: Third Annual Message to Congress by President Harrison,
December 9, 1891, _Messages and Papers of the Presidents_, Vol. IX,
    p. 188.]

The sentiments of the American people were voiced less guardedly in a
resolution which was passed by the House of Representatives on July 21,

  _Resolved_, That the American people, through their Senators and
  Representatives in Congress assembled, do hereby express sympathy
  for the Russian Hebrews in their present condition, and the hope
  that the Government of Russia, a power with which the United States
  has always been on terms of amity and good will, will mitigate as
  far as possible the severity of the laws and decrees issued
  respecting them, and the President is requested to use his good
  offices to notify the Government of Russia to mitigate the said laws
  and decrees. [1]

[Footnote 1: _Congressional Record_, Vol. 23, p. 6533.]

The highly-placed Jew-baiters of St. Petersburg were filled with rage,
The _Novoye Vremya_ emptied its invectives upon the _Zhydovski_
financiers, referring to the refusal of Alphonse de Rothschild to
participate in the Russian loan. Nevertheless, the Government found
itself compelled to stem the tide of oppression for a short while.

We have already had occasion to point out that the Government had
originally planned to reduce the Jewish element also in the city of St.
Petersburg, whose head, the brutal Gresser, had manifested his attitude
toward the Jews in a series of police circulars. Following upon the
first raid of the Moscow police on the Jews, Gresser ordered his
gendarmes to search at the St. Petersburg railroad stations for all
Jewish fugitives from that city who might have ventured to flee to St.
Petersburg, and to deport them immediately. In April there were
persistent rumors afloat that the Government had decided to remove by
degrees all Jews from St. Petersburg and thus make both Russian capitals
_judenrein_. The financial blow from Paris cooled somewhat the ardor of
the Jew-baiters on the shores of the Neva. The wholesale expulsions from
St. Petersburg were postponed, and the Russian anti-Semites were forced
to satisfy their cannibal appetite with the consumption of Moscow Jewry,
whose annihilation was carried out systematically under the cover of
bureaucratic secrecy.


Under the effect of the officially perpetrated "legal" pogroms little
attention was paid to the street pogrom which occurred on September 29,
1891, in the city of Starodub, in the government of Chernigov, recalling
the horrors of the eighties. Though caused by economic factors, the
pogrom of Starodub assumed a religious coloring. The Russian merchants
of that city had long been gnashing their teeth at their Jewish
competitors. Led by a Russian fanatic, by the name of Gladkov, they
forced a regulation through the local town-council barring all business
on Sundays and Christian holidays. The regulation was directed against
the Jews who refused to do business on the Sabbath and the Jewish
holidays, and who would have been ruined had they also refrained from
trading on Sundays and the numerous Greek-Orthodox holidays, thus
remaining idle on twice as many days as the Christians. The Jews
appealed to the governor of Chernigov to revoke or at least to mitigate
the new regulation. The governor's decision fell in favor of the Jews
who were allowed to keep their stores open on Christian holidays from
noon-time until six o'clock in the evening. The reply of the local
Jew-baiters took the form of a pogrom.

On Sunday, the day before Yom Kippur, when the Jews opened their stores
for a few hours, a hired crowd of ruffians from among the local street
mob fell upon the Jewish stores and began to destroy and loot whatever
goods it could lay its hands on. The stores having been rapidly closed,
the rioters invaded the residences of the Jews, destroying the property
contained there and filling the streets with fragments of broken
furniture and leathers from torn bedding. The plunderers were assisted
by the peasants who had arrived from the adjacent villages. In the
evening, a drunken mob, which had assembled on the market-place, laid
fire to a number of Jewish stores and houses, inflicting on their owners
a loss of many millions.

All this took place during the holy Yom Kippur eve. The Jews, who did
not dare to worship in their synagogues or even to remain in their
homes, hid themselves with their wives and children in the garrets and
orchards or in the houses of strangers. Many Jews spent the night in a
field outside the city, where, shivering from cold, they could watch the
glare of the ghastly flames which destroyed all their belongings. The
police, small in numbers, proved "powerless" against the huge hordes of
plunderers and incendiaries. On the second day, the pogrom was over, the
work of destruction having been duly accomplished. The subsequent
judicial inquiry brought out the fact clearly that the pogrom had been
engineered by Gladkov and his associates, a fact of which the local
authorities could not have been ignorant. Gladkov fled from the city but
returned subsequently, paying but a slight penalty for his monstrous

It should be added, however, that the Government was greatly displeased
with the reappearance of the terrible spectre of 1881, as it only tended
to throw into bolder relief the policy of legal pogroms by which Western
Europe was alarmed. As a matter of fact, already in October, the
semi-official _Grazhdanin_ had occasion to print the following news

  Yesterday [October 15] the financial market [abroad] was marked by
  depression; our securities have fallen, owing to new rumors
  concerning alleged contemplated measures against the Jews.

Commenting upon this, the paper declared that these rumors were entirely
unfounded, for the reason that "at the present time all our Government
departments are weighed down with problems of first-rate national
importance which brook no delay, [1] and they could scarcely find time
to busy themselves with such matters as the Jewish question, which
requires mature consideration and slow progress in action."

[Footnote 1: The paper had in mind the crop failures of that year and
the famine which prevailed in consequence in the larger part of Russia.]

The subdued tone adopted by Count Meshcherski, the court journalist, was
only partially in accord with the facts. He was right in stating that
the terrible country-wide distress had compelled the deadly enemies of
Judaism to pause in the execution of their entire program. But he forgot
to add that the one clause of that program, the realization of which had
already begun--the expulsion from Moscow--was being carried into effect
with merciless cruelty. The huge emigration wave resulting from this
expulsion threw upon the shores of Europe and America the victims of
persecution who re-echoed the cries of distress from the land of the

Soon afterwards a new surprise, without parallel in history, was sprung
upon a baffled world: the Russian Government was negotiating with the
Jewish philanthropist Baron Hirsch concerning the gradual removal of the
three millions of its Jewish subjects from Russia to Argentina.




Towards the end of the eighties the plan of promoting Jewish emigration
from Russia, which had been abandoned with the retirement of Count
Ignatyev, was again looked upon favorably by the leading Government
circles. The sentiments of the Tzar were expressed in a marginal note
which he attached to the report of the governor of Podolia for the year
1888. The passage of the report in which it was pointed out that "the
removal of the Jewish proletariat from the monarchy would be very
desirable" was supplemented in the Tzar's handwriting by the words "and
even very useful." In reply to the proposal of the governor of Odessa to
deprive Jewish emigrants of the right to return to Russia, the Tzar
answered with a decided "yes." The official Russian chronicler goes even
so far as to confess "that it was part of the plan to stimulate the
emigration of the Jews (as well as that of the German colonists) by a
more rigorous enforcement of the military duty "--a design which, from
the political point of view, may well be pronounced criminal and which
was evidently at the bottom of the severe military fines imposed upon
the Jews. The same open-hearted chronicler adds:

  It may be easily understood how sympathetically the Government
  received the proposal of the Jewish Colonization Association in
  London, which had been founded by Baron de Hirsch in 1891, to
  remove, in the course of twenty-five years, 3,250,000 Jews from
  Russia. [1]

[Footnote 1: This figure represents the official estimate of the
number of Russian Jews. In other words, the Government hoped to get
rid of all Jews.]

The name of Maurice de Hirsch was not unknown to the Russian Government.
For a few years previously it had had occasion to carry on negotiations
with him, with results of which it had scant reason to boast. This great
German-Jewish philanthropist, who was resolved to spend hundreds of
millions on the economic and agricultural advancement of his
co-religionists in Eastern Europe, had donated in 1888 fifty million
francs for the purpose of establishing in Russia arts and crafts
schools, as well as workshops and agricultural farms for the Jews. It
was natural for him to assume that the Russian Government would only be
too glad to accept this enormous contribution which was bound to
stimulate productive labor in the country and raise the welfare of its
destitute masses. But he had forgotten that the benefits expected from
the fund would accrue to the Jewish proletariat, which, according to the
catechism of Jew-hatred, was to be "removed from the monarchy." The
stipulation made by the Russian Government to the representatives of
Baron Hirsch was entirely unacceptable: it insisted that the money
should not be handed over to Jewish public agencies but to the Russian
Government which would expend it as it saw fit. Somebody conceived the
shameful idea, which was accepted by the representatives of Baron
Hirsch, of propitiating Pobyedonostzev by a gift of a million francs for
the needs of his pet institution, the Greek-Orthodox parochial schools.
The "gift" was accepted, but Hirsch's proposal was declined. Thus it
came about that the Russian Jews were deprived of a network of model
schools and educational establishments, while a million of Jewish money
went to swell the number of the ecclesiastic Russian schools which
imbued the Russian masses with crass ignorance and anti-Semitic
prejudices. The Hirsch millions, originally intended for Russia, went
partly towards the establishment of Jewish schools in Galicia, a work
which met with every possible encouragement from the Austrian

The generous Jewish philanthropist now realized that the assistance he
was anxious to render to his Russian coreligionists could not take the
form of improving their condition in their own country but rather that
of settling them outside of it--by organizing the emigration movement.
Hirsch's attention was called to the fact that, beginning with 1889,
several groups of Russian Jews had settled in Argentina and, after
incredible hardships, had succeeded in establishing there several
agricultural colonies. The baron sent an expedition to Argentina, under
the direction of Professor Loewenthal, an authority on hygiene, for the
purpose of investigating the country and finding out the places fit for
colonization. The expedition returned in March, 1891, and Hirsch decided
to begin with the purchase of land in Argentina, in accordance with the
recommendations of the expedition.

This happened at the very moment when the Moscow catastrophe had broken
out, resulting in a panicky flight from "Russia to North and South
America, and partly to Palestine. Baron Hirsch decided that it was his
first duty to regulate the emigration movement from Russia, and he made
another attempt to enter into negotiations with the Russian Government.
With this end in view he sent his representative to St. Petersburg, the
Englishman Arnold White, a Member of Parliament, belonging to the
parliamentary anti-alien group, who was opposed to foreign immigration
into England, on the ground of its harmful effect upon the interests of
the native workingmen. Simultaneously White was commissioned to travel
through the Pale of Settlement and find out whether it would be possible
to obtain there an element fit for agricultural colonization in

White arrived in St. Petersburg in May and was received by
Pobyedonostzev and several Ministers. The martyrdom of the Moscow Jews
was then at its height. Shouts of indignation were ringing through the
air of Europe and America, protesting against the barbarism of the
Russian Government, and the latter was infuriated both by these protests
protests and the recent refusal of Rothschild to participate in the
Russian loan. The high dignitaries of St. Petersburg who had been
disturbed in their work of Jew-baiting by the outcry of the
civilized world gave full vent to their hatred in their
conversations with Baron Hirsch's deputy. White reported
afterwards that the functionaries of St. Petersburg had painted
to him the Russian Jew as "a compound of thief and usurer."
Pobyedonostzev delivered himself of the following malicious observation:
"The Jew is a parasite. Remove him from the living organism in which and
and on which he exists and put this parasite on a rock--and he will
die." While thus justifying before the distinguished foreigner their
system of destroying the five million Jewish "parasites," the Russian
Ministers were nevertheless glad to lend a helping hand in removing them
from Russia, on condition that in the course of twelve years a
large part of the Jews should be transferred from the country--in the
confidential talks with White three million emigrants were
mentioned as the proposed figure. White was furnished with
letters of recommendation from Pobyedonostzev and the Minister of
the Interior to the highest officials in the provinces,
whither the London delegate betook himself to get acquainted with
the living export material. He visited Moscow, Kiev, Berdychev, Odessa,
Kherson, and the Jewish agricultural colonies in South Russia.

After looking closely at Jewish conditions, White became convinced that
the perverted type of Jew which had been painted to him in St.
Petersburg "was evolved from the inner consciousness of certain orthodox
statesmen, and has no existence in fact." Wherever he went he saw men
who were sober, industrious, enterprising business men, efficient
artisans, whose physical weakness was merely the result of insufficient
nourishment. His visit to the South-Russian colonies convinced him of
the fitness of the Jews for colonization.

  In short--he writes in his report--if courage--moral courage,--hope,
  patience, temperance are fine qualities, then the Jews are a fine
  people. Such a people, under wise direction, is destined to make a
  success of any well-organized plan, of colonization, whether in
  Argentina, Siberia, or South Africa.

On his return to London, White submitted a report to Baron Hirsch,
stating the above facts, and also pointing out that the assistance which
should he rend red to the emigration work by the Russian Government
ought to take the form of granting permission to organize in Russia
emigration committees, of relieving the emigrants of the passport
tax, [1] and of allowing them free transportation up to the Russian

[Footnote 1: The tax levied on passports for travelling abroad amounting
to fifteen rubles ($7.50).]


White's report was discussed by Baron Hirsch in conjunction with the
leading Jews of Western Europe. As a result, the decision was reached to
establish a society which should undertake on a large scale the
colonization of Argentina and other American territories with Russian
Jews. The society was founded in London in the autumn of 1891, under the
name of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), in the form of a
stock company, with a capital of fifty million francs which was almost
entirely subscribed by Baron Hirsch. White was dispatched to St.
Petersburg a second time to obtain permission for organizing the
emigration committees in Russia and to secure the necessary privileges
for the emigrants. The English delegate, who was familiar with the frame
of mind of the leading Government circles in Russia, unfolded before
them the far-reaching plans of Baron Hirsch. The Jewish Colonization
Association was to transplant 25,000 Jews to Argentina in the course of
1892 and henceforward to increase progressively the ratio of emigrants,
so that in the course of twenty-five years, 3,250,000 Jews would be
taken out of Russia.

This brilliant perspective of a Jewish exodus cheered the hearts of the
neo-Egyptian dignitaries. Their imagination caught fire. When the
question came up before the Committee of Ministers, the Minister of the
Navy, Chikhachev, proposed to pay the Jewish Colonization Association a
bonus of a few rubles for each emigrant and thus enable it to transfer
no less than 130,000 people during the very first year, so that the
contemplated number of 3,250,000 might be distributed evenly over
twenty-five years. A suggestion was also made to transplant the Jews
with their own money, i.e., to use the residue of the Jewish meat tax
for that purpose, but the suggestion was not considered feasible. The
official chronicler testifies that "the fascinating proposition of Baron
Hirsch appeared to the Russian Government hardly capable of
realization." Nevertheless, prompted by the hope that at least part of
the contemplated millions of Jews would leave Russia, the Government
sanctioned the establishment of a Central Committee of the Jewish
Colonization Association in St. Petersburg, with branches in the
provinces. It further promised to issue to the emigrants free of charge
permits to leave the country and to relieve them from military duty on
condition that they never return to Russia.

In. May, 1893, the constitution of the Jewish Colonization Association
was ratified by the Tzar. At that time the emigration tide of the
previous year was gradually ebbing. The flight from Russia to North and
South America had reached its climax in the summer and autumn of 1891.
The expulsion from Moscow as well as alarming rumors of imminent
persecutions, on the one hand, and exaggerated news about the plans of
Baron Hirsch, on the other, had resulted in uprooting tens of thousands
of people. Huge masses of refugees had flocked to Berlin, Hamburg,
Antwerp, and London, imploring to be transferred to the United States or
to the Argentinian colonies. Everywhere relief committees were being
organized, but there was no way of forwarding the emigrants to their new
destination, particularly to Argentina, where the large territories
purchased by Hirsch were not yet ready for the reception of colonists.
Baron Hirsch was compelled to send out an appeal to all Jewish
communities, calling upon they to stem for the present this disorderly
human avalanche.

Ere long Baron Hirsch's dream of transplanting millions of people with
millions of money proved an utter failure. When, after long
preparations, the selected Jewish colonists were at last dispatched to
Argentina, it was found that the original figure of 25,000 emigrants
calculated for the first year had shrunk to about 2500. Altogether,
during the first three years, from 1892 to 1894, the Argentinian
emigration absorbed some six thousand people. Half of these remained in
the capital of the republic, in Buenos Ayres, while the other half
managed to settle in the colonies, after enduring all the hardships
connected with an agricultural colonization in a new land and under new
climatic conditions. A few years later it was commonly realized that the
mountain had given birth to a mouse. Instead of the million Jews, as
originally planned, the Jewish Colonization Association succeeded in
transplanting during the first decade only 10,000 Jews, who were
distributed over six Argentinian colonies.

The main current of Jewish emigration flowed as heretofore in the
direction of North America, towards the United States and Canada. In the
course of the year 1891, with its numerous panics, the United States
alone absorbed more than 100,000 emigrants, over 42,000 of whom
succeeded in arriving the same year, while 76,000 were held back in
various European centers and managed to come over the year after. The
following two years show again the former annual ratio of emigration,
wavering between 30,000 to 35,000.

The same fateful year of 1891 gave rise to a colonization fever even in
quiet Palestine. Already in the beginning of 1890 the Russian Government
had legalized the Palestinian colonization movement in Russia by
sanctioning the constitution of the "Society for Granting Assistance to
Jewish Colonists and Artisans in Syria and Palestine," which had its
headquarters in Odessa. [1] This sanction enabled the _Hobebe Zion_
societies which were scattered all over the country to group themselves
around a legalized center and collect money openly for their purposes.
The Palestinian propaganda gained a new lease of life. This propaganda,
which was intensified in its effect by the emigration panic of the
"terrible year," resulted in the formation of a number of societies in
Russia with the object of purchasing land in Palestine. In the beginning
of 1891 delegates of these societies suddenly appeared in Palestine _en
masse_, and, with the co-operation of a Jaffa representative of the
Odessa Palestine Society, began feverishly to buy up the land from the
Arabs. This led to a real estate speculation which artificially raised
the price of land. Moreover, the Turkish Government became alarmed, and
forbade the wholesale colonization of Jews from Russia. The result was a
financial crash.

[Footnote 1: The first president of the Society was the exponent of the
idea of "Antoemancipation," Dr. Leon Pinsker, who occupied this post
until his death, at the end of 1891.]

The attempt at a wholesale immigration into destitute Palestine with its
primitive patriarchal conditions proved a failure. During the following
years the colonization of the Holy Land with Russian Jews proceeded
again at a slow pace. One colony after another rose gradually into
being. A large part of the old and the new settlers were under the
charge of Baron Rothschild's administration, with the exception of two
or three colonies which were maintained by the Palestine Society in
Odessa. It was evident that, in view of the slow advance of the
Palestinian colonization, its political and economic importance for the
Russian-Jewish millions was practically nil and that its only advantage
over and against the American emigration day in its spiritual
significance, in the fact that on the historic soil of Judaism there
there rose into being a small Jewish center with a purer national
culture than was possible in the Diaspora. This idea was championed
by Ahad Ha'am[1], the exponent of the neo-Palestine movement, who had
made his first appearance in Hebrew literature in 1889 and in a
short time forged his way to the front.

[Footnote 1: "One of the People," the Hebrew pen-name of Asher


In the meantime, in the land of the Tzars events went their own course.
The Moscow tragedy was nearing its end, but its last stages were marked
by scenes reminiscent of the times of the inquisition. After banishing
from Moscow the larger part of the Jewish population, the
governor-general, Grand Duke Sergius, made up his mind to humble the
remaining Jewish population of the second Russian capital so thoroughly
that its existence in the center of Greek Orthodoxy might escape public
public notice. The eyes of the Russian officials at Moscow were offended
by the sight of the new beautiful synagogue structure which had been
finished in the fateful year of the expulsion. At first, orders were
given to remove from the top of the building the large cupola capped
by the Shield of David, which attracted the attention of all
passers-by. Later on, the police, without any further ado, shut
down the synagogue, in which services had already begun to be held,
pending the receipt of a new special permit to re-open it. Rabbi Minor
of Moscow and the warden of the synagogue addressed a petition to
the governor-general, in which they begged permission to hold
services in the building, the construction of which had been duly
sanctioned by the Government, pointing to the fact that Judaism was
one of the religions tolerated in Russia. In answer to their
petition, they received the following stern reply from St.
Petersburg, dated September 23, 1892:

  His Imperial Majesty, after listening to a report of the Minister of
  the Interior concerning the willful opening of the Moscow Synagogue
  by Rabbi Minor and Warden Schneider, was graciously pleased to
  command as follows:

  _First_. Rabbi Minor of Moscow shall be dismissed from his post and
  transferred for permanent residence to the Pale of Jewish

  _Second_. Warden Schneider shall be removed from the precincts of
  Moscow for two years.

  _Third_. The Jewish Synagogue Society shall be notified that,
  unless, by January 1, 1893, the synagogue structure will have been
  sold or transformed into a charitable institution, it will be sold
  at public auction by the gubernatorial administration of Moscow.

The rabbi and the warden went into exile, while the dead body of the
murdered synagogue--its structure--was saved from desecration by placing
in it one of the schools of the Moscow community.

The fight against the places of Jewish worship was renewed by the police
a few years later, during the reign of Nicholas II. The principal
synagogue being closed, the Jews of Moscow were compelled to hold
services in uncomfortable private premises. There were fourteen houses
of prayer of this kind in various parts of the city, but, on the eve of
the Jewish Passover of 1894, the governor-general gave orders to close
nine of these houses, so that the religious needs of a community of ten
thousand souls had to be satisfied in five houses of worship, situated
in narrow, unsanitary quarters. The Government had achieved its purpose.
The synagogue was humbled into the dust, and its sight no longer
offended the eyes of the Greek-Orthodox zealots. The Jews of Moscow were
forced to pour out their hearts before God in some back yards, in the
stuffy atmosphere of private dwellings. As in the days of the Spanish
inquisition, these private houses of worship would, on the solemn days
of Rosh ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur, be stealthily visited by the
"marranos" of Moscow, those Jews who had saved themselves from the
wholesale expulsions by fictitious conversion to Christianity. The
passionate prayers of repentance of these involuntary apostates rose up
to heaven as they had done in centuries gone-by from the underground
synagogues of Seville, Toledo, and Saragossa.

By and by, the attempt to take the Jewish citadel by storm gave way to
the former regular state of siege, which had for its object to starve
out the Jews. The municipal counterreform of 1892 dealt a severe
political blow to Russian Jewry. Under the old law, the number of Jewish
aldermen in the municipal administration had been limited to one-third
of the total number of aldermen, aside from the prohibition barring the
Jews from the office of burgomaster [1]. Notwithstanding these
restrictions, the Jews played a conspicuous part in municipal
self-government, and could boast of a number of prominent municipal
workers. This activity of the Jews went against the grain of the
inquisitorial trio, Pobyedonostzev, Durnovo, and Plehve, and they
decided to bar the Jews completely from participation in the municipal

[Footnote 1: See p. 198 et seq.]

The reactionary, anti-democratic "Municipal Regulation" of 1892
proclaimed publicly this new Jewish disfranchisement. The new law
deprived the Jews of their right of passive and active election to the
municipal Dumas, merely granting the local administration the right to
_appoint_ at its pleasure a number of Jewish aldermen, not to exceed
one-tenth of the total membership of the Duma. Moreover, these Jewish
aldermen "by the grace of the police" were prohibited from serving on
the executive organs of the Duma, the administrative council, and the
various standing committees. As a result, even there where the Jews
formed sixty and seventy per cent of the total urban population, their
only representatives in the municipal administration were men who were
the willing tools of the municipal powers and who, moreover, were
quantitatively restricted to five or ten per cent of the total number of

In this wise, the law providing for an inverse ratio of popular
representation came into effect: four-fifths of the population were
limited to one-tenth of the number of aldermen, while one-fifth of it
were granted nine-tenths of aldermen in the city government. The law
seemed to tell the Jews: "True, in a given city you may form the
overwhelming majority of tax-payers, yet the city property shall not be
managed by you but by the small Christian, minority which shall do with
you as it pleases."

It goes without saying that the Christian minority, which was not
infrequently hostile to the Jews, managed the city affairs in a manner
subversive of the interests of the majority. Even the imposts on special
Jewish needs, such as the meat and candle tax, were often used by the
the municipal Dumas towards the maintenance of institutions and schools to
to which Jews were admitted in an insignificant number or not admitted at
at all. This condition of affairs was in full accord with the medieval
medieval Church canons: A Jew living in a Christian country has no right to
to dispose of any property and must remain in slavish subjection to his
his Christian fellow-citizens.

A number of laws passed during that period are of such a nature as to
admit of but one explanation, the desire to insult and humiliate the Jew
and to brand him by the medieval Cain's mark of persecution. The law,
issued in 1893, "Concerning Names" threatens with criminal prosecution
those Jews who in their private life call themselves by names differing
in form from those recorded in the official registers. The practice of
many educated Jews to Russianize their names, such as Gregory, instead
of Hirsch, Vladimir, instead of Wolf, etc., could now land the culprits
in prison. It was even forbidden to correct the disfigurements to which
the Jewish names were generally subjected in the registers, such as
Yosel, instead of Joseph; Srul, instead of Israel; Itzek, instead of
Isaac, and so on. In several cities the police brought action against
such Jews "for having adopted Christian names" in newspaper
advertisements, on visiting cards, or on door signs.

The new Passport Regulation of 1894 orders to insert in _all_ Jewish
passports a physical description of their owners, even in the case of
their being literate and, therefore, being able to affix their signature
to the passport, whereas such description was omitted from the passports
of literate Christians. In some places the police deliberately tried to
make the Jewish passports more conspicuous by marking on them the
denomination of the owner in red ink. Even in those rare instances in
which the law was intended to bring relief, the Government managed to
emphasize its hostile intent. The law of 1893, legalizing the Jewish
heder and putting an end to the persecutions, which this traditional
Jewish school had suffered at the hands of the police, narrowed at the
same time its function to that of an exclusively religious institution
and indirectly forbade the teaching in it of general secular subjects.
There are cases on record in which the keepers of these heders, the
so-called melammeds, were put on trial for imparting to their pupils a
knowledge of Russian and arithmetic.

However, the most effective whip in the hands of the Government remained
as theretofore the expulsion from the governments of the interior. In
1893, this whip cracked over the backs of thousands of Jewish families.
Durnovo, the Minister of the Interior, issued a circular, repealing the
old decree of 1880, which had sanctioned the residence outside the Pale
of Settlement of all those Jews who had lived there previously.[1] That
decree had been prompted by the motive to prevent the complete economic
ruin of the Jews who were settled in places outside the Pale and had
created there industrial enterprises. But such a motive, which even the
anti-Semitic Ministry of Tolstoi had not been bold enough to disregard,
did not appeal to the new Hamans. Many thousands of Jewish families, who
had lived outside the Pale for decades, were threatened with exile. The
difficulties attending the execution of this wholesale expulsion forced
the Government to make concessions. In the Baltic provinces the
banishment of the old settlers was repealed, while in the Great Russian
governments it was postponed for a year or two.

[Footnote 1: Compare p. 404.]

There was a particularly spiteful motive behind the imperial ukase of
1893, excluding the Crimean resort place Yalta from the Pale of
Settlement, [1] and ordering the expulsion from there of hundreds of
families which were not enrolled in the local town community. No
official reason was given for this new disability, but everybody knew
it. In the neighborhood of Yalta was the imperial summer residence
Livadia, where Alexander III. was fond of spending the autumn, and this
circumstance made it imperative to reduce the number of the local Jewish
residents to a negligible quantity. To avert the complete ruin of the
victims, many were granted reprieves, but after the expiration of their
terms they were ruthlessly deported. The last batches of exiles were
driven from Yalta in the month of October and in the beginning of
November, 1894, during the days of public mourning for the death of
Alexander III. On October 20, the Tzar was destined to die in the
neighborhood of the town which was purged of the Jewish populace for his
benefit. While the earthly remains of the dead emperor were carried on
the railroad tracks to St. Petersburg, trains filled with Jewish
refugees from Yalta were rolling on the parallel tracks, speeding
towards the Pale of Settlement.

[Footnote 1: The Crimean peninsula, forming part of the government of
Tavrida, is situated within the Pale.]

Such was the symbolic _finale_ of the reign of Alexander III. which
lasted fourteen years. Having begun with pogroms, it ended with
expulsions. The martyred nation stood at the threshold of the new reign
with a silent question on its lip: "What next?"

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of the Jews in Russia and Poland. Volume II - From the death of Alexander I. until the death of Alexander - III. (1825-1894)" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.