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This seems like an extraordinary statement to make, that the Czar was an ardent anti semite, that the Russian state had a hand in establishing the Black Hundreds, Russia’s first proto fascist party, that anti semitism thrived long into the soviet era (The Doctors Plot), should tend to suggest that there is a deep tradition of hatred against the Jews in Russia.
Not really. The Czar belonged to the notoriously antisemitic League of Russian People (approximate translation) and ignored any and all requests to grant Jews equal rights, or allow them to live outside the Pale of Settlement, obtain educations (beyond the tiny quota allowed), or practice many professions. It’s a matter of history that Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevitch conducted his own pogroms, especially as he lost battles in WW I, torturing and slaughtering entire villages of Jews. Count Witte recounts that when the Czar was told of a 1905 pogrom in Gomel, the Czar’s reply was “How does this concern me?” I agree that there’s been a tradition of hatred of the Jews in Russia, which only lends credibility to the Czar’s own antisemitism. Russian author Andrei Amalrik, in his well-researched book, describes the Czar as “phobic” with regard to Jews. He blamed workers’ strikes and all military defeats on the Jews, claiming they were all German spies. As in many of the legal cases against Jews, the Mendel Beilis blood libel case, prosecuted by the Russian government, fabricated ‘evidence’ against the accused, as well as suppressing evidence for the defense and intimidating witnesses. The Black Hundreds weren’t the only ones conducting pogroms. If the Czar wasn’t an antisemite, wouldn’t he have abolished the laws restricting Jews, the ghetto called the Pale of Settlement, outlawed pogroms, and not have enforced the May Laws?
By the way, the Provisional government abolished the Pale of Settlement and accorded Jews equal rights. Of course, that didn’t last long.
I don’t know where V. Cher gets her info. My late grandparents, born in Kiev, would have disagreed.
Yes, the comments stunned me too, Fran. My grandparents were from Minsk and Elisavetgrad, and the stories they told were not exactly warm and fuzzy. And then there are the memoirs of my great- great uncle from Kiev, who describes a fearful and uncertain existence there. I think V. Cher may be very young, but certainly uninformed.
What could be the possible reasons of such a gruesome mistreatment of the jews in Russia? Just wonder.
Jews have been mistreated and scapegoated since they came into existence. Why does any society participate in ethnic cleansing? It’s very convenient to have a group to blame all of a country’s troubles on. It certainly takes the heat off the rulers. In some cases, it’s simply fear of the unknown, or of different customs and practices, or of ridiculous myths surrounding that group. In this case, what it all boils down to, is the belief that the Jews killed Christ, although it’s well known that it was the Romans who killed Christ (who was a Jew). It was very common for the Romans to crucify Jews for whatever reasons. But even if it had been true – we can’t punish people for what their ancestors have done, or might have done. Just because a people is mistreated doesn’t mean they’ve done something to deserve it.
Russian society was not at all ‘fanatically’ antisemitic at the time…
Interesting comment. Well, there were tons of laws on the books prohibiting Jews from educations, many occupations and their choice of residence, as they were confined to the Pale of Settlement for several centuries. (Read “The Legal Sufferings of Russian Jews” by Lucien Wolfe) The government sanctioned ‘pogroms’, raids where entire villages of Jews were tortured and slaughtered. My family would be larger if it hadn’t been for these raids. So would many others. The aristocracy, for the most part, saw nothing wrong with this. There was a widespread belief that Jews killed young Christian boys to use their blood to make matzoh. Nicholas II refused to accord Jews equal rights and even asked Count Sergei Witte, when told of various pogroms, “how does this concern me?” If all of this doesn’t amount to fanatical anti-Semitism, I’m not sure what does. Do there have to be concentration camps to be considered fanatical?
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