Kontakt / contact      Hauptseite / page principale / pagina principal /
                  home     zurück / retour / indietro / astrás / back
Encyclopaedia Judaica

Anti-Semitism 1700-1914 in Russia

Racist Czar and his measures against revolutionary tendencies - Jews in the revolution movements - riots of 1881 - Lenin's assimilation doctrine

from: Anti-Semitism; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 3

presented by Michael Palomino (2008)



[Racist czar and drive for revolution - and more racist Czarist measures of discrimination]

<There was a radical difference between the situation in western Europe in the 19th century and that which prevailed i the Russian Empire. At least in theory the West European states were not anti-Jewish. Despite occasional liberalizations, the [[criminal racist]] czarist regime as a whole regarded it as its duty to protect the bulk of its population against the spread of Jewish economic influence or even of Jewish population. A few attempts in the course of the century at the assimilation of the Jews did not alter the basic outlook of the state, that Jews were dangerous aliens.

The [[criminal racist]] czar continued to derive the validation of his absolutism from [[criminal racist "Christian"]] theology, from the identification of the Caesar and Jesus by the Orthodox faith; anti-Semitism based on Christian religious prejudice thus remained alive and virulent. Whatever hopes the Jews had in the course of the 19th century for improvement in their status rested in the hopes for he evolution of czarist absolutism toward parliamentary democracy.

Repeated repressions made such hopes clearly illusory, and younger Jews in increasing numbers turned to helping to prepare revolution. This served to enrage the [[racist corrupt]] government, and the reactionary circles which supported it, even further. The regime kept imposing more economic disabilities on the Jews, keeping them in the least secure of middlemen occupations such as petty shopkeepers, innkeepers, and managers of estates for absentee [[not present]] landlords; in these capacities Jews were in direct, often unpleasant, contact with the poorest of the peasants. The government made it its business to use these resentments to draw attention away from the seething [[coming up]] angers which pervaded the whole of the social system. Anti-Semitism was thus encouraged and fostered as a tactical tool for preserving [[criminal racist "Christian"]] czarist absolutism.

[Czar murdered in 1881 - riots - all Jews are blamed - anti-Jewish economic legislation since 1882 - anti-Semitic parties and organizations, financed by the Czar - Beilis case]

The critically important event in the history of Russian anti-Semitism took place in 1881, when a wave of pogroms occurred involving outbreaks in some 160 cities and villages of Russia. The occasion for these outrages was the assassination of Czar Alexander II by revolutionary terrorists on March 13, 1881. Among the assassins was one Jewish girls who played a quite minor role, but reactionary newspapers almost immediately began to whip up anti-Jewish sentiment. The government probably did not directly organize these riots, but it stood aside as Jews were murdered and pillaged, and the regime used the immediate occasion to enact anti-Jewish economic legislation in 1882 (the *May Laws).

The situation continued to deteriorate to such a degree that in the next reign Czar *Nicholas II gave money to the anti-Semitic organization, the Black Hundreds, and made no secret of his personal membership, and that of the crown prince, in that organization (see *Union of Russian People). This body was associated with the government in directly fomenting pogroms during the revolutionary years of 1903 and 1905; in that latter year the Protocols of the *Elders of Zion was published under the auspices of the secret police by the press of the czar, although he himself believed the work to be a fraud.

The ordeal [[public suicide]] of Mendel *Beilis arose within the hysterical atmosphere of disintegrating czarism. He was accused in 1911 in Kiev of ritual murder, and the full weight of government power was put behind the prosecution. His acquittal at the trial in 1913 was the culmination of two years of battle between the regime and the Jews and their supporters in liberal humanitarian circles in Russia and throughout the world. (col. 123)

It was, indeed, in such circles, which were the Russian parallel to the forces which had created western parliamentary democracy and social and intellectual liberalism, that the Jews found support during a tragic period. When these elements came briefly to power in the revolution of February 1917 the Jews were immediately given the rights of equal citizens. Nonetheless, despite this later, brief, and abortive victory of liberalism, after 1882 this current seemed to weak and divided to afford the Jews much hope for the future. Men like Turgenev had mixed feelings about Jews and even Tolstoy did not always hasten to support them when they were under attack. The political left was even more ambiguous. Even some of the Jews within the general revolutionary movements saw the Jewish petty bourgeoisie not as a victim but as an oppressor. The anger of the peasants and the urban poor was, therefore, regarded as merited, and their pogrom activities were even viewed as positive stirrings toward the ultimate revolution. This was, for example, the stand of the Narodniki, the pro-peasant populist group, with regard to the pogroms of 1881. More fundamentally, the revolutionary groups in Russia had even less patience with specifically Jewish problems, or with any desires on the part of Jews to continue their own communal identity. than was to be found in the European left as a whole.

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Anti-Semitism, vol.
                3, col. 151b: cartoon of the electionof Kadet in 1907
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Anti-Semitism, vol. 3, col. 151b: cartoon of the election of Kadet in 1907

"Cast your vote for Kadet!!" ("Constitutional Democratic Party", a liberal party of the center). Front page of the Russian anti-Semitic weekly, Pluvium, 1907.

[Lenin with assimilation doctrine]

The young Lenin was an opponent of anti-Semitism, and he held that the problems of the Jews would disappear along with that of all other people in Russia in a new socialist order. On the other hand, Lenin insisted that Jews would have to undergo a mire radical and cultural transformation than any other element in Russia and that any Jews who opposed assimilation was "simply a nationalist philistine" ("The Position of the Bund in the Party", in Iskra, Oct. 22, 1903).

Any form of Jewish association of feeling had already been pronounced to be a form of particularly obnoxious reaction. the stage was thus set for the ultimate questioning by Stalin of the loyalty of even Communist Jews.> (col. 124)

Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971):
                        Anti-Semitism, vol. 3, col. 123-124
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Anti-Semitism, vol. 3, col. 123-124
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971):
                        Anti-Semitism, vol. 3, col. 151-152
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): Anti-Semitism, vol. 3, col. 151-152