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Anti-Jewish Violence

Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History

Edited by Jonathan Dekel-Chen, David Gaunt, Natan M. Meir, and Israel Bartal

Publication Year: 2011

Although overshadowed in historical memory by the Holocaust, the anti-Jewish pogroms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were at the time unrivaled episodes of ethnic violence. Incorporating newly available primary sources, this collection of groundbreaking essays by researchers from Europe, the United States, and Israel investigates the phenomenon of anti-Jewish violence, the local and transnational responses to pogroms, and instances where violence was averted. Focusing on the period from World War I through Russia's early revolutionary years, the studies include Poland, Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, Crimea, and Siberia.

Published by: Indiana University Press

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Preface: A Tribute to John D. Klier

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pp. ix-xi

John Doyle Klier was the Sidney and Elizabeth Corob Professor of Modern Jewish History at University College, London. He began his university teaching career at Fort Hays State University, Kansas. John moved to University College, London in 1990 and rose to the rank of Professor in 1996 ...

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pp. xiii

The idea for this book originated at an international academic conference held in Stockholm in May 2005, titled “Anti- Jewish Violence: Reconceptualizing ‘the Pogrom’ in Europe an History, 17th– 20th Century.” The articles in this book are a product of that conference. The partners in its organization included the International Center for Russian and East Europe an Jewish ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xv-xvi

Map: Sites of Major Pogroms

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pp. xviii

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pp. 1-18

In the history of Europe, the anti-Jewish pogroms of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been overshadowed in importance by the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. This is a reasonable valuation given the relatively limited nature of the pogroms and the universal destructiveness of the Holocaust. However, the pogroms that erupted in late imperial Russia were, at the time of the events themselves, unrivaled episodes of ethnic violence and tended toward increasing ...

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1. What’s in a Pogrom? European Jews in the Age of Violence

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pp. 19-37

A historian of Poland once took me to task in print for having re-ported in my 1987 book, In the Shadow of Auschwitz, that information about mass killings of Jews by Poles in Galicia and the Russo- Polish borderlands during the months following the end of World War I, and the large- scale protests by Jews abroad that ensued, prompted the U.S. and British governments, during the second half of 1919, to dis-patch special investigating commissions to probe the extent and causes of ...

Part 1. Twentieth- Century Pogroms

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2 . 1915 and the War Pogrom Paradigm in the Russian Empire

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pp. 41-51

The series of pogroms and riots that occurred in 1915 represents one of the most significant pogrom waves in Russian history, yet it has often been left out of broader generalizations and conceptual discussions on this topic. Drawing upon a large collection of reports on pogroms compiled by Jewish organizations and archival sources, this article analyzes this pogrom wave. It aims to identify similarities and differences by comparing the anti- Jewish violence to that of other such waves, and to ...

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3 . The Role of Personality in the First (1914– 1915) Russian Occupation of Galicia and Bukovina

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pp. 52-73

The Russian army during World War I engaged in a wide range of anti- Jewish measures. In occupied Galicia and Bukovina— where Jews comprised 11 percent and 12 percent of the population, respectively— its conduct was particularly brutal.¹ Of course, there were institutional, cultural, and political reasons for the Russian army’s ...

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4 . Freedom, Shortages, Violence: The Origins of the “Revolutionary Anti-Jewish Pogrom” in Russia, 1917–1918

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pp. 74-91

Conventional wisdom holds that pogroms and antisemitism in general were provoked by criminals or bigots belonging to the Black Hundreds (Chernaia sotnia) and carried out by the “ignorant masses” during the period when Russia was governed by liberals and socialists. In contrast, the present article attempts to show that after the February ...

Part 2. Responses to Pogroms

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5. Preventing Pogroms: Patterns in Jewish Politics in Early Twentieth- Century Russia

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pp. 95-110

The word pogrom was very popular in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century. Starting on 6 April 1903, when a sudden and cruel pogrom broke out in Kishinev (Chişinău), this word did not cease to be an important and frequent element in Jewish political discourse. And indeed, the first years of the century witnessed a terrible wave of pogroms: from Kishinev and Gomel in 1903, through 43 pogroms during the conscription campaigns for the Russo- Japanese War in 1904, and the 50- ...

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6. “The Sword Hanging over Their Heads”: The Significance of Pogrom for Russian Jewish Everyday Life and Self-Understanding (The Case of Kiev)

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pp. 111-128

This paper seeks to understand the role that the pogrom as idea played in the self- understanding of the urban Jewish community of the late Russian Empire (looking specifically at the case of Kiev) and in its relations with non- Jewish residents of the city. Great attention has been paid to the mechanics of the waves of pogroms that engulfed Ukraine and other areas of the Russian Pale of Settlement, and especially the role of official policy and institutions, but we still do not fully under-...

Part 3. Regional Perspectives

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7. The Possibility of the Impossible: Pogroms in Eastern Siberia

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pp. 131-143

Siberia as a whole, and even more specifically, eastern Siberia, the vast colonial borderlands of the Russian Empire, would seem the least likely area for anti- Jewish pogroms.

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8. Was Lithuania a Pogrom-Free Zone? (1881– 1940)

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pp. 144-158

Until very recently, evaluations of the relations between Lithuanians and Jews generally reflected the ethnic identity of individual authors. Thus, Lithuanian and general historiography asserted that—prior to the events of 1941—life in Lithuania was not characterized by everyday violence against Jews, to say nothing of eruptions of mass violence described as anti- Jewish pogroms.¹ In contrast, some Jewish authors considered that conflict and a level of violence that foreshadowed the ...

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9. The Missing Pogroms of Belorussia, 1881– 1882: Conditions and Motives of an Absence of Violence

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pp. 159-173

The presumed absence of violence in the provinces of historic Lithuania and Belorussia/Belarus played a very important role in the formation of the classic interpretations of anti- Jewish pogroms of 1881—1882. The quiet and order that reigned in the region was attributed to the determined stance of Eduard I. Totleben, the governor- general of the northwest region of the Russian Empire (the provinces of Vilna, Grodno, and Kovno). Totlebenâ's behavior indicated to his subordinates that po-...

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10. Ethnic Conflict and Modernization in the Interwar Period:The Case of Soviet Belorussia

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pp. 174-185

The tempo of modernization in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s was rapid in both the social and family spheres. This tempo led to increased interethnic hostility, with ethnic intolerance being manifest both on the part of non-Jews toward Jews and that of Jews toward non-Jews. However, the former hostility predominated and, in general, actions by non-Jews tended to be more violent. Despite regional differences, the case of Belorussia was typical for all of the former Pale of ...

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11. Defusing the Ethnic Bomb: Resolving Local Conflict through Philanthropy in the Interwar USSR

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pp. 186-204

At first glance, this essay may seem a bit oddly placed in a volume dedicated to a reappraisal of the forces behind, and the realities of, anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Europe. After all, it often seems that the history of Jewish relations with non-Jewish neighbors can be understood mainly through an interpretive prism of when, how, and why the former inevitably were targeted and victimized by the latter. Or is Jewish history better understood through the looking- glass of when, how, and ...


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pp. 205

List of Contributors

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pp. 207-208


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pp. 209-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004789
E-ISBN-10: 0253004780
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253355201

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 1 map
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Persecutions -- Europe, Eastern -- History -- 19th century -- Congresses.
  • Jews -- Persecutions -- Europe, Eastern -- History -- 20th century -- Congresses.
  • Pogroms -- Russia -- Congresses.
  • Jews -- Persecutions -- Soviet Union -- Congresses.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Ethnic relations.
  • Russia -- Ethnic relations.
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