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Jews, Pogroms, and the White Movement

Jews, Pogroms, and the White Movement

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Published by: Silvioara Constantin on Mar 29, 2011
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Jews, Pogroms, and the White Movement: A Historiographical Critique

Oleg Budnitskii During the Russian Civil War (1918–20) Russian Jewry1 suffered a tragedy comparable to the period of Hetman Bohdan Khmel¢nytskyi and surpassed only by the Holocaust. Historians differ in their estimates of the number of victims of anti-Jewish pogroms, the bloodiest of which occurred in Ukraine from 1919 to the beginning of 1920. No statistics were kept, of course, and the numbers put forth in the literature range from 50,000 to 200,000 dead.2 To these we should add tens of thousands who were maimed, raped, and robbed. Despite the magnitude of these events, their circumstances and consequences have been insufficiently studied. The tragedy of Russian Jewry in 1918–20 has tended to exist “in the shadow” of the Holocaust. Some historians, not without basis, see connections between the pogroms in the era of the Russian Revolution
* The author is grateful to Peter Holquist and Ben Nathans for comments on an earlier version of

this article. It has benefited as well from discussion during the Maryland Workshop on New Approaches to Russian and Soviet History, “Occupations and Liberations from 1812 to World War II” (University of Maryland, College Park, 25–26 March 2000). I am also indebted to Peter Holquist for his efforts in editing the English-language version of this text. Support for the work in this article was provided by the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism. 1 In discussing “Russian Jewry,” I mean the Jewish population of the former Russian empire, including Ukraine, Belorussia, etc. 2 Salo Baron calculated that the number of victims “easily” exceeds 50,000 (The Russian Jew under Tsars and Soviets, 2nd ed. [New York: Macmillan, 1975], 184); Nora Levin gives the figure of 50–60,000 (The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917, vol. 1[New York: New York University Press, 1988], 49); Shmuel Ettinger estimates 75,000 (in A History of the Jewish People, ed. Haim Hiller Ben-Sasson [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976], 954); Nahum Gergel (“The Pogroms in the Ukraine in 1918–21,” YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science, vol. 6 [1951], 251) and Sergei Ivanovich Gusev-Orenburgskii (Kniga o evreiskikh pogromakh na Ukraine v 1919 g. [Petrograd: Izdatel¢stvo Z. I. Grzhebina, n. d.], 14) both speak of about 100,000 fatalities. Finally, the number of 200,000 victims is given in Iurii Larin, Evrei i anti-Semitizm v SSSR (Moscow and Leningrad: Gosizdat, 1929), 55. See also Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), 112. Gergel considered it possible to document 50–60,000 Jewish dead due to pogroms, but noted that, considering the lack of precise data, the actual number could actually well be twice that figure. The author of a recent study accepts the relatively lower figures (Henry Abramson, A Prayer for the Government: Ukrainians and Jews in Revolutionary Times, 1917–1920 [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999], 110). Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 2(4): 1–23, Fall 2001.



and the Nazi genocide. “In some ways,” writes Abraham Greenbaum about the pogroms of the Civil War epoch, “especially since killings were sometimes carried out as a kind of ‘national duty’ without the usual robbery – they bear comparison with the Holocaust some twenty years later.”3 Richard Pipes writes, possibly with some exaggeration, that “in every respect except for the absence of a central organization to direct the slaughter, the pogroms of 1919 were a prelude to and rehearsal for the Holocaust.” The accusation of Jewish “involvement in Bolshevism” and the “deadly identification of Communism with Jewry” paved the way for the mass destruction of European Jewry, and in this respect the “spontaneous looting and killings left a legacy that two decades later was to lead to the systematic mass murder of Jews at the hands of the Nazis.”4 It is true that Fedor Viktorovich Vinberg and other Russian rightists emigrated to Germany and there disseminated to a German audience the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and Alfred Rosenberg had a distinct influence upon the emergence of Nazi ideology. However, the influence of certain Russian antiSemites on the German scene should not be denied, and their influence should not be treated as decisive. Pipes’ claim, following Walter Laqueur, that “the rationale for Nazi extermination of the Jews came from Russian right-wing circles” is greatly overstated.5 Ultimately, the notion that the involvement of Jews in Bolshevism (or, more precisely, the indissoluble link between Judaism and Bolshevism) led to the destruction of European Jewry during World War II is no more than a variation on the theme of Nazism as a “response” to Bolshevism.6 The importance of the “Jewish question” in the history of Russia’s Civil War cannot be overemphasized, and the events of these years had an even greater significance for the fate of Russian Jewry (and, indeed, European Jewry in general)

3 Abraham Greenbaum, “Bibliographical Essay,” in Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Rus-

sian History, ed. John D. Klier and Shlomo Lambroza (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 380. 4 Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 112. 5 Ibid., 258; Walter Laqueur, Russia and Germany (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1965), 115. 6 For a critique of these views, formulated most clearly in the works of the German historian Ernst Nolte, see Richard Evans, In Hitler’s Shadow (New York: Pantheon Books, 1989). As Evans rightly notes regarding the origins of Nazi anti-Semitism, “Nazi anti-Semitism was gratuitous: it was not provoked by anything, it was not a response to anything. It was born out of a political fantasy, in which the Jews, without a shred of justification, were held responsible for all that the Nazis believed was wrong with the modern world” (40). Everything else was just Nazi attempts to rationalize the irrational. A study of events, and particularly of pogroms in the period of the Russian Civil War, is surely of more than “academic interest” – not so much because the Nazis learned anything from the Whites, but rather because the sources of the Whites’ anti-Semitism, its ideological justifications (thereby providing it with a quasi-rational foundation), and the methods for “solving” the “Jewish question” may be comparable to the Nazis. It is precisely the degree to which this was the case that should, in my view, become the subject of specific historical investigation.



in the 20th century. Before investigating this problem further, we must first analyze the existing historiography on the “Jewish question” in the Russian Civil War. This article critically explores the literature concerning one of its most important aspects – the history of the relationship between participants in the White movement and the Jewish population of the former Russian empire. Analysis of several of the more significant works demonstrates that these relations were much more complex than has been hitherto recognized. They cannot be reduced simply to a duality of executioners and their victims. I of course do not mean to “whitewash” the White movement; its participants so besmirched its name that no objective historian could bleach it clean. Rather, my task is to formulate, on the basis of the existing literature, the essential questions that confront historians examining the “Jewish question” in the Russian Civil War. I wish to emphasize that my goal is not to cover all the existing literature on the topic, but to consider those works that are both most significant and representative. However, the number of works devoted to these events is surprisingly modest. The vast majority were published in the 1920s and 1930s, and were primarily documentary collections rather than works of history.7 In addition, research tended to localize its topic in both geographic and chronological terms: as a rule, studies focused on Ukraine in the years 1919–20. The reasons for this localization are easy to explain: the bulk of the pogroms occurred in 1919, and most of the Jews of the former Russian empire resided in Ukraine (and Poland). It was natural for authors of the first works dealing with Russian Jewry during the Civil War – in particular, those preoccupied with the problem of how anti-Bolshevik forces related to the Jewish population – to focus primarily on the history of the pogroms. The major task of these historians, who themselves were mostly Jewish, was to tell the world the truth about the pogroms and their perpetrators. The White army – often termed “Volunteers,” a title derived from the army’s first military contingent, the Volunteer Army – occupied an “honorary” position among the pogromists. Il ¢ia Mikhailovich Cherikover [Tsherikover] was not far from the truth when he calculated in 1932 that “in relation to the total number of pogroms in the Ukraine in those years the pogroms by the Volunteer
7 For example, Elias Heifetz, The Slaughter of the Jews in the Ukraine in 1919 (New York: Seltzer, 1921); Gusev-Orenburgskii, Kniga o evreiskikh pogromah na Ukraine v 1919 g.; idem, Bagrovaia kniga: Pogromy 1919–20 gg. na Ukraine (Kharbin: Izdatel ¢stvo Dal ¢nevostochnogo Evreiskogo Obschestvennogo Komiteta Pomoschi Sirotam–Zhertvam Pogromov [“Dekopo”], 1922); Nahum I. Shtiff, Pogromy na Ukraine (period Dobrovol¢cheskoi armii) (Berlin: Izdatel¢stvo “Vostok,” 1922); Il¢ia Mikhailovich Cherikover, Anti-Semitizm i pogromy na Ukraine, 1917–1918 gg. (K istorii ukrainsko-evreiskikh otnoshenii) (Berlin: Ostjudisches Historisches Archiv, 1923); Joseph B. Schechtman, Pogromy Dobrovol¢cheskoi armii na Ukraine (k istorii antisemitizma na Ukraine v 1919–1920 gg.) (Berlin: Ostjudisches Historiches Archiv, 1932), and others. For greater detail, see Greenbaum, “Bibliographical Essay,” 380–82.



Army constitute just one fifth.” But his total is for all the years from 1918 to 1921, while the pogroms by the Volunteer Army lasted only several months. In those few months the Volunteers broke all records. Their pogroms were more intensive than the others, their blows sharper, and their numbers greater.8 These pioneering works attempted not only to register these tragic events, but also to find an adequate explanation for them. In March 1920 Nahum I. Shtiff, a member of the editorial board for collection and processing of materials about the pogroms in Ukraine, wrote the first “chronicle.” Two years later it was published in Berlin in an augmented edition under the title Pogromy na Ukraine (period Dobrovol¢cheskoi armii) (Pogroms in Ukraine: The Period of the Volunteer Army). Shtiff pointed out that one part of his work was descriptive, based primarily on the stories of surviving witnesses of the pogroms, while the other part sprang from the innate necessity to comprehend past events, to find a key to the origin of the described events … It was necessary to demonstrate the inherent organic connection of the pogroms, as a part of the military life, to the military, social, and political program of the Volunteer Army … Its sociopolitical part manifested all the signs of restoration, a return to pre-revolutionary Russia. This affected the Volunteers’ attitude towards the three main constituencies of Russian life: the peasants, workers, and peripheral nationalities. The return of the land to estate owners, the suppression of the workers’ movement, and overt Russification, contempt for the national needs of inorodtsy [non-Russian inhabitants of the Russian empire] – such were the three major parts of that program. The denial of rights to Jews and their enslavement were an inalienable, organic part of the program.9 In his introduction Shtiff set forth his views about the causes of the pogroms: “Pogroms were the reaction of the restorationists to the civic emancipation of Jews that had been obtained during the hated revolution; they were the first step towards the enserfment of the Jews. Such is the main view, developed in the second part of my work, regarding the origin of the Volunteer pogroms.”10 Shtiff did not set himself the task of discerning different trends in the White camp, or the nuances of White ideology. His work was simultaneously a testimony and an indictment. At the same time, Shtiff noted the attempts of the
8 Cherikover, “Beloe dvizhenie i evrei,” in Pogromy Dobrovol ¢cheskoi armii, ed. Schectman, 26. By

Gergel’s estimates, which Abramson accepts, Whites were responsible for 17% of the total number of pogroms in the Ukraine in 1919, killing 5,235 individuals, or 16.9% of the overall total of victims. Given these figures, it is obvious that each tenth of a percentage point represents several human lives (Abramson, Prayer, 115, 120). 9 Shtiff, Pogromy na Ukraine, vii–viii. 10 Ibid., viii. Emphasis in orig.



Volunteer command to put an end to the pogroms. However, as he correctly observed, these attempts were “languid and insincere.”11 Semen Markovich Dubnov [Shimon Dubnow] interpreted the Volunteer pogroms somewhat differently in his introduction to Cherikover’s 1923 book Antisemitizm i pogromy na Ukraine, 1917–1918 gg. (K istorii ukrainsko-evreiskih otnoshenii) (Antisemitism and Pogroms in Ukraine, 1917–1918: Towards a History of Ukrainian-Jewish Relations). In his introductory article, bearing the telling title “Tret¢ia gaidamakshchina” (“The Third Haidamak Period”), Dubnov wrote: Many nations have inscribed their names into the Jews’ millennial martyrology, but not many would measure up to such a prominent and, of course, unenviable position as the Ukrainians. Since the middle of the 17th century, this nation in times of disturbances has undertaken the “mission” of exterminating Jews with more zeal than its predecessors in the centuries of the Crusades. Dubnov made the reservation that when contemplating the “pogromist mission” of the Ukrainians in Jewish history, he meant “people” in a relative rather than absolute sense, i.e. “relatively large masses of people of a certain level of spiritual culture, exclusive of the layers of society that rose above that level of culture.”12 It is not hard to see that the “Volunteer” pogroms do not fit into Dubnov’s schema. The great Jewish historian realized this and tried to reconcile the contradiction. A footnote indicated that “Denikiia” [Denikin’s domain], or the pogroms by the anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army, the most monstrous of all the pogroms of that time, seems to constitute an exception from our general thesis. Among the perpetrators were heterogeneous ethnic elements of Russia, from the former tsarist Guards to Caucasian inorodtsy. But here the following circumstances should be brought to mind: 1) the theater of military engagement was the territory of Ukraine; 2) the instigators of the butchery against the Jews were for the most part Cossacks, who since the 17th century had been the precursors of the Haidamaks in such feats; 3) just as in the previous epochs, hard on the heels of the Cossack military pogroms follows “civilian” peasant butchery – the Haidamak looting, and transport of the plunder from the cities to the countryside, etc.13 In this instance Dubnov’s thesis does not stand up well to examination. One has only to recall the extermination of the Jews by Konstantin Konstantinovich Mamontov’s cavalry units during his famous raid through the rear of the Red
11 Ibid., 88–90. 12 Semen Markovich Dubnov, “Tret ¢ia gaidamakshchina,” in Cherikover, Anti-Semitizm, 9. 13 Ibid., 14. Ironically enough, in Russian the word “civilian” also denotes “peaceful.”



Army in the fall of 1919. In this case, the massacre of the Jews occurred on Great Russian territory (Elets and other cities), and thus Ukrainian territory could have had nothing to do with these slaughters. The predominantly “Ukrainian” quality of the pogroms had earlier been noted by one of their first chroniclers, Sergei Ivanovich Gusev-Orenburgskii, who compiled his 1922 Bagrovaia kniga (Crimson Book) from the materials of the Committee for Assistance to the Victims of Pogroms under the Russian Red Cross in Kiev. Gusev-Orenburgskii, like Shtiff, first wrote his book in Kiev, and then moved to Rostov when the Whites were fleeing in panic. GusevOrenburgskii also incorporated descriptions of the Volunteers’ actions, yet he stressed that “the history of the Ukraine is a chronicle of anti-Jewish pogroms.… Before our very eyes passes the fifth [such] Ukrainian mass, bloody action – a horrible bloody tide, surpassing all horrors of past times.”14 In 1932, ten years after the appearance of Shtiff’s book, Cherikover wrote an introduction to a work Joseph Schechtman published in Berlin devoted to the same topic, entitled Pogroms of the Volunteer Army in the Ukraine: Towards the History of Anti-Semitism in the Ukraine in 1919–1920. The work that Cherikover introduced was based upon a wider range of sources than earlier publications on the same topic. Over the preceding decade numerous memoirs about the Civil War had been published which touched upon the pogroms and Russian Jewry. Schechtman published some of the more important documents in his appendix, which amounted to a third of the book. In the introduction, Cherikover specifically addressed the problem of the White movement and the Jews: It is hard to understand the viciously anti-Semitic ideology and the pogromist actions of the Volunteer Army without realizing beforehand the nature of the Volunteer White movement and its effective forces, the army and government in particular, without sizing up the roots of that regime. The appearance in the emigration of a very rich memoir literature enables this issue to be well illuminated. But it is also important to shed light upon it from the Jewish perspective, from the standpoint of the ordeal Ukrainian Jewry underwent under Volunteer authority. 15 Cherikover emphasized that the founders of the Volunteer movement were “the generals of the tsarist army Kornilov, Alekseev, Kaledin, and Denikin, who managed to summon to the Don a large military force consisting of Russian officer volunteers, imbued with hatred not only for the October, but also for the February, not only for the Bolsheviks, but for the Revolution altogether.”16

14 Gusev-Orenburgskii, Bagrovaia kniga, 3. 15 Cherikover, “Beloe dvizhenie i evrei,” in Schechtman, Pogromy Dobrovol¢cheskoi Armii, 7. 16 Ibid., 8.



Cherikover’s interpretation, however appealing, does not correspond well with the facts. The generals he listed had certainly served in the tsarist army – in Russia there had been no other – but it was precisely those generals who, to a large extent, can be considered the “creators” of the February Revolution, quite possibly to a greater degree than some “professional revolutionaries.” It was these generals, among them Alekseev and Denikin, who pressed in February 1917 for the abdication of the emperor (who at the time was also their unsuccessful commander in chief), and their intervention largely determined the demise of a 300year-old dynasty. In addition, all the generals Cherikover lists could boast very “democratic” social origins, since they had peasant or Cossack roots. Nor did these generals ever manage to gather a “large military force” on the Don. From its formation in November 1917 through February 1918, when it was forced by Bolshevik pressure to abandon the region, the Volunteer Army numbered a paltry 4,000 men, including a student battalion and civilian followers. According to Denikin’s own memoirs, among those Volunteers who participated in the army’s first campaign, the storied “Ice March” from the Don through the Kuban steppes, there were several dozen Jewish officers.17 The Declaration of the Volunteer Army, published in November 1917, was written by Pavel Nikolaevich Miliukov, one of the leaders of Russian liberalism. Miliukov was a prime actor in the February Revolution, and was broadly identified as having Judeophilic views. All these circumstances seem to rule out any intentionally restorationist and pogromist nature to “Volunteerism.” Indeed, Schechtman himself noted this fact in his 1932 work, stating that anti-Semitism did not initially manifest itself in Volunteer circles. However, as the army expanded and inducted new officers, anti-Semitic tendencies grew. Had anti-Semitism, or in any case “official” antiSemitism, been inherent to the White movement from its very beginnings, how are we to explain the “active gravitation” Schechtman observed “in certain Jewish circles” towards the Volunteer Army in June–July 1918? Still, even in this early period, Jews were frequently refused admission not only into officer ranks or medical positions, but even as soldiers.18 Schechtman relates a rather revealing episode. A renowned Rostov public activist, Abram Al ¢perin, met on 8 September 1918 in Ekaterinodar, then the seat of the White leadership, with General Mikhail Alekseev. He “had to draw the latter’s attention to the facts of the refusal to accept Jews into the army and other manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Volunteer Army. General Alekseev, however, replied firmly: ‘I and all of the high command stand firmly on the grounds of equality for all citizens, and anti-Semitism is foreign to us. So long as I am

17 Anton Ivanovich Denikin, “Ocherki russkoi smuty,” Voprosy istorii, no. 10 (1994), 104. 18 Schechtman, Pogromy Dobrovol¢cheskoi Armii, 54.



head of the Volunteer Army, there will be no anti-Semitism in it.’ But,” stresses Schechtman, “right after this … assertion followed an equivocal additional phrase which in effect nullified the meaning of that programmatic statement: ‘But, of course, history has its weight, and the sentiments formed over the years cannot be overcome at once.’”19 Unfortunately, it seems evident that the former tsarist general had a more realistic understanding of the situation and public opinion at the time than the Jewish historian did 15 years later. Not all White generals countenanced antiSemitic sentiments, and even more so anti-Semitic actions, regardless of whatever personal opinions they might have held regarding Jews. Thus, Maksim Moiseevich Vinaver recalled an incident that occurred while he was at Denikin’s staff headquarters in Ekaterinodar in November 1918. He received a telegram from the Crimea about the fear of pogroms by Volunteers occupying the territory, and about the panic reigning among the Jews. He went to General Abram Mikhailovich Dragomirov, one of the primary figures of the Russian anti-Soviet movement, and showed him the telegram. At that time, there was discussion of publishing a declaration clearly laying out the objectives of the Volunteer Army to the population of Crimea. “Dragomirov himself,” recalled Vinaver, “proposed including a point in the declaration unequivocally warning against any nationalistic ‘excesses’ and edited it in ‘the most decisive manner.’” The text of the declaration was sent by telegraph to the highest ranks of the Volunteer Army, and to Vinaver as a member of the Crimean government, on 7 November 1918. Its third point read: “The Volunteer Army is highly indignant at the attempts to pit one nationality or one class against another.”20 Dragomirov was certainly no liberal. Most contemporaries considered him an outright anti-Semite. If Dragomirov warned the “ranks of the Volunteer Army” against nationalistic excesses, and subsequently ordered the trial of several pogromists in Kiev, it was for purely pragmatic reasons. The general was a sensible man and realized that pogroms led to the decomposition of the army. Had leaders of the Jewish communities believed Denikin was conducting a deliberately anti-Semitic policy, they surely would not have asked him during a meeting on 26 July 1919 not only to clearly and resolutely condemn pogroms, but also to insist that Jews be accepted into the Volunteer Army.21 Cherikover in 1932 correctly stressed that orders against pogroms always contained qualifications and were issued too late. Such orders were certainly implemented in a lukewarm manner. The mere fact that orders were issued,

19 Ibid., 54–55. 20 Ibid., 35–36; Maksim M. Vinaver, Nashe pravitel¢stvo (Krymskiia vospominaniia 1918–1919 gg.)

(Paris: Imprimerie d’art voltaire, 1928), 52, 53.
21 Denikin, “Ocherki,” 108.



Cherikover contended, did not matter much. Even so, Denikin issued fewer such orders than, say, Simon Vasil ¢evich Petliura, whose supporters in Paris even republished a whole volume of them in a 1927 French translation. 22 Yet was there a government that cared about its image abroad that did not issue such decrees? Cherikover, who insisted on the restorationist and reactionary character of Denikin’s regime, wrote that “the public groupings on which General Denikin leaned directly and that participated in his government were the Sovet gosudarstvennogo ob≤edineniia [Council of State Unification] … headed by former tsarist minister Krivoshein, and especially the Natsional¢nyi tsentr [National Center], whose soul was the Constitutional Democrats.”23 In point of fact, the “government,” or, to be more exact, Osoboe soveshchanie pri glavnokomanduiushchem (Special Conference under the Commander-in-Chief), was coalitionist. Krivoshein did not participate in it. The Constitutional Democrats (Kadets) did indeed play a decisive role in the Special Conference, but one can hardly accuse members of that left-center “liberal” party of “restorationism.” Moreover, adversaries considered the Kadets to be a “Jewish” party. The Kadets consistently spoke up for Jewish civic equality, and there are no grounds for suspecting them, at least in the pre-October period, of anti-Semitism.24 However, it is difficult to refute Schechtman’s assertion that the Volunteer Army’s pogromist anti-Semitism “did not incubate in the special conditions of the Ukrainian environment, but they brought it to the Ukraine prefabricated.”25 The allegations cited above by historians writing in the 1920s regarding the mystical effects of the Ukrainian “soil,” which somehow provoked the pogroms, are unsound. So are the reflections of one recent Russian historian, Sergei Alekseevich Pavliuchenkov, who writes that while the Denikinites “were still within the boundaries of the Don, Kuban, Crimea and even Kharkov, everything was more or less calm for the Jews …. But as soon as the White armies set foot in Ukraine proper and encountered the prepared ground (gotovuiu pochvu), they joined the pogroms fully and enthusiastically.”26 Other than the incomparable modifier “more or less calm,” what serves as this author’s criteria? It is most implausible that advancing several dozen or even hundreds of kilometers – even on that magical “Ukrainian soil” – could in the course of several weeks turn a regular
22 Cherikover, “Beloe dvizhenie i evrei,” in Pogromy Dobrovol¢cheskoi Armii, ed. Schechtman, 17;

Documents sur les pogromes en Ukraine et l’assassinat de Simon Petlura à Paris (1917–1921–1926) (Paris: Comité Commémoratif Simon Petlura, 1927). 23 Ibid., 12. 24 See Oleg Budnitskii, “ V. A. Maklakov i evreiskii vopros,” Vestnik Evreiskogo universiteta [Moscow and Jerusalem], no. 1 (19) (1999), 42–93. 25 Schechtman, Pogromy Dobrovol¢cheskoi Armii, 33. 26 Sergei Alekseevich Pavliuchenkov, Voennyi kommunizm v Rossii: Vlast¢ i massy (Moscow: RKTIstoriia, 1997), 258.



military unit into a band of pogromists and murderers had there been no preconditions, first and foremost ideological and psychological ones. The American historian Peter Kenez devotes special attention to the place of anti-Semitism in the ideology of the White movement. Proceeding from the study of “secret reports and contemporary correspondence of participants of the White movement,” he came to the conclusion that “anti-Semitism was neither a peripheral nor an accidental aspect of White ideology; it was a focal point of their world view.” As he elaborates, the Russian officer corps had long been anti-Semitic in Imperial Russia … [Officers] identified Jews with liberalism and socialism, ideologies which they loathed. The great majority of them had no trouble at all condoning tsarist policy, which regarded Jews as a hostile and alien minority, whose very existence was somehow threatening to the Russian people … Yet their “normal” anti-Semitism was mild compared to the murderous obsession, which they developed in the course of the Civil War. Seeing Jews in important positions in the Soviet regime no doubt contributed to their hatred, but this cannot be the full explanation, for obviously most of the Soviet leaders and most of the workers of the Cheka were as Russian as themselves.27 In other treatments Kenez writes even more boldly, comparing Russian White officers to the Nazis: They always disliked Jews; now their anti-Semitism reached pathological proportion. This new and passionate anti-Semitism was born out of the need to explain, not so much to others, as to themselves, why the revolution had occurred. In the view of the reactionary officers it was the alien Jews who were primarily responsible. They were the microbes that destroyed the healthy body politic of old Russia. As the officers became even more frustrated by the confusing world around them, their antiSemitism became increasingly pathological. They murdered more and more Jews and it was necessary to justify themselves by thinking up sinister Jewish conspiracies. Perhaps paradoxically, participation in pogroms increased anti-Semitism.… It alone enabled them to make sense of a world that to them seemed senseless. In this respect, at least, the White officers were precursors of the Nazis.28

27 Peter Kenez, Civil War in South Russia, 1919–1920 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1977), 176–77. 28 Peter Kenez, “Pogroms and White Ideology in the Russian Civil War,” in Pogroms, ed. Klier and Lambroza, 310–11.



Kenez’s assertion that Denikin and some of his generals, like the notorious antiSemite Vasilii Shulgin, were concerned with the pogroms primarily in the sense that they undermined the military discipline is undoubtedly correct. “On the other hand, anti-Semitism was a trump card in the hands of White propagandists. Associating Bolshevism with Judaism harmed not only the Jews, but also Soviet power.”29 The Whites never managed to find a more effective means of propaganda. In opposition to Kenez, Pipes considers i t absurd “ t o depict t h e White movement as proto-Nazi, with anti-Semitism the “focal point of [its] world-view.” As discussed above, Pipes contends that the pogroms helped cement an influential association of Jews with Bolshevism, not that the Whites paved the ideological way for Nazism. In Pipes’ opinion, this “focal point” w a s nationalism, not antiSemitism. He agrees, of course, that “the White officer corps, not to speak of the Cossacks, was increasingly contaminated” with anti-Semitism a s the Civil War unfolded. “Even so,” h e writes, “it would b e a mistake t o draw any direct link between this emotional virulence and the anti-Jewish excesses during the Civil War.” On the one hand, notes Pipes, “most of the massacres were perpetrated not by Russian White troops but by Ukrainian irregulars and Cossacks.” On the other hand, “the pogroms were inspired far less by religious and national passions than by ordinary greed: the worst atrocities on the White side were committed by the Terek Cossacks, who had never known Jews and regarded them merely as objects of extortion.”30 Following one of the authors of the renowned collection Rossiia i evrei ( Russia a n d t h e Jews), I o s i f Menassievich B i k e rman [Joseph M . Bikermann],31 Pipes contends that t h e anti-Jewish pogroms, despite having “certain unique features, in a broader perspective” were b u t a part of t h e allRussian pogrom initiated b y t h e Bolsheviks. “Once pogroms a n d razgromy [destruction of property] became the order of the day, i t was inevitable that the Jews would be the principal victims: they were seen as aliens, were defenseless, and were believed rich.”32 Pipes takes t h e momentary, contagious spread o f antiSemitism following the February Revolution to be the result of a fatal confluence of circumstances, including the effective liquidation of the Pale o f Settlement during World War I and the appearance o f the Jews i n the Russian hinterland. Then, after 1917, the widespread appearance of Jews in the halls of power created the impression that “whereas everybody else h a d lost from the revolution, the Jews, and they alone, had benefited from it.”33
29 Ibid. 30 Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 105. 31 Iosif Menassievich Bikerman, “Rossiia i russkoe evreistvo,” in Rossiia i evrei: Sbornik pervyi

(Berlin: Osnova, 1924), 61. 32 Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 106. 33 Ibid., 101.



On the whole, these observations are indisputably correct, although it seems to me that Pipes underestimates the historical and religious roots of Russian antiSemitism. The picture that he draws is too schematic and some of his statements too categorical. For instance, it is hard to agree that “[t]he White movement in the first year of its existence was free of anti-Semitism, at any rate, in its overt manifestations,” and that everything changed in the winter of 1918–19 when “hostility towards the Jews … emerged in the Southern White Army.” There were, in Pipes’ opinion, three causes for this development. First, he points to the active role of the Jews in the Cheka, which carried out the Red Terror. Second, he emphasizes the consequences following from the evacuation of the German troops. Contrary to White expectations, the Bolshevik regime, which in their opinion was holding onto power due solely to German support, remained in power after it had ended. Russian anti-Bolsheviks, naturally, searched for a new scapegoat, and found one in the Jews. Finally, the murder of the imperial family “was immediately blamed on Jews, who in fact played a secondary role in it.”34 It is hard to imagine that “the hostility towards the Jews,” which supposedly emerged in the winter of 1918–19, could erupt so abruptly into monstrous pogroms as early as the spring–summer of 1919. Moreover, why should one separate the Southern Army, the supposed incubator for the Volunteers’ antiSemitism, from other units in the Armed Forces in the South of Russia, which was the official title of Denikin’s troops? In any case, the population itself made no distinction between discrete White military formations – they were all termed “Volunteers.” In attempting to distinguish the Southern Army from the Volunteer Army, Pipes is in fact following General Denikin’s own “instructions” regarding Shtiff’s book: “Identification of the Volunteer Army with the Armed Forces in the South of Russia, which also included the Cossacks and the mountaineers, sometimes causes awkwardness. Shtiff’s book portrays the case in a very biased manner. Besides, he mixes together the Volunteer Army with the Southern Army – the organization of Duke Leikhtenberg, Akatsatov, and Semenov, assigning to us the anti-Semitic declarations of the Southern Army.”35 Denikin seems to forget here that he had in fact been the “Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces in the South of Russia,” which encompassed the Southern Army. Soviet historians of the Russian Revolution and Civil War cautiously or bashfully avoided the “Jewish question,” but it is now being fitted into its legitimate place in scholarly works. Pavliuchenkov, author of the highly acclaimed monograph on War Communism, goes so far as to state that “without the Jewish question there is no history of the Revolution.” In his opinion,

34 Ibid., 105. 35 Denikin, “Ocherki,” 120.



[a]ny serious analysis of the Russian Revolution and of the history of communism in general invariably raises the so-called Jewish question. Its significance in the course of the revolution and the Civil War … was exceptionally great, and there is no issue of any importance that was not tied to it to one or another degree. The attitudes of the peasantry and the working class, terror, struggle in the highest levels of communist leadership, the speculative free market, etc. – all these problems focus attention on the Jewish question in the years of establishment of Soviet power in Russia and its union republics.36 Pavliuchenkov attributes such prominence to the Jewish question that it is even the subject of the essay that forms the conclusion of his book, “The Jewish Question in the Revolution, or the Causes of the Bolsheviks’ Defeat in Ukraine in 1919.” 37 However, it remains unclear why the author, who attaches such prominence to the Jewish question, does not deal with it in other chapters of his work. His limited knowledge of the historiography is also surprising. Pavliuchenkov seems not even to suspect the existence of several books specifically devoted to the history of anti-Jewish pogroms in the Ukraine during the Civil War, or to other aspects of the history of Russian Jewry. Pavliuchenkov justifiably sees the reasons for the Jews’ active participation in the revolutionary movement in the disabilities imposed on Jewish people “by tsarist legislation and Russian society,” restrictions that “clearly did not correspond to the cultural level, ambitions, and financial-economic power of a significant part of the Jewish community.” The author stresses that “the Jewish milieu during the revolution was subject to a deep schism” between well-to-do, established traditionalists and “pretentious” younger “neophytes” in the shtetl.38 Pavliuchenkov’s reflections on the existence of divisions within the Jewish community are in themselves not contentious. However, one can hardly state with such assurance that the split was determined by the degree of economic wellbeing and “establishment.” Indeed, most revolutionary leaders of Jewish descent came from a relatively prosperous background, particularly from among families that had managed to escape from the Pale of Settlement. One has only to recall the son of nearly the sole Jewish estate owner, Lev Davydovich Trotskii (Bronstein), or the children of the prominent Moscow entrepreneurs, the brothers Mikhail Rafailovich and Abram Rafailovich Gots, or Il¢ia Isidorovich Bunakov (Fondaminskii), Iulii Osipovich Martov (Tsederbaum), etc. Evidently, the shtetl Jewry was more conservative than the largely assimilated Jewish environment of large cities outside the Pale of Settlement. However, it was the Ukrainian me36 Pavliuchenkov, Voennyi kommunizm, 251. 37 Ibid., 251–63. 38 Ibid., 252–53.



stechko Jews, often greeting their future tormentors and executioners with bread and salt as the bearers of order and liberators from the Bolshevik lawlessness, who had to pay with its blood for others’ real or illusionary sins. Pavliuchenkov correctly notes that the attitude of the peasantry was a crucial factor in the Civil War. Speaking of the causes of the Red Army’s reverses in Ukraine in the spring and summer of 1919, particularly the loss of support for Soviet power in the Ukrainian countryside, he points out that the decisive factor was not only the agrarian policies of the Bolsheviks, who attempted to transform the former noble estates, objects of the peasants’ longing, into collective farms. Possibly an even more important cause, he asserts, was the preponderance of Jews in Soviet structures of authority. In January–February of 1919, when the Red Army took over Left-Bank Ukraine and proceeded to create a Soviet and party apparatus, the only source of “cadres” for the new ruling institutions were the Jewish shtetl youth. The Ukrainian peasantry was illiterate and very negatively disposed towards the idea of “kommuniia.” The Russian population of the cities was either fighting in Denikin’s ranks or also had a negative attitude towards Soviet power. Thus, the only group that remained loyal to Soviet power was the Jews, and they comprised about half of the urban population of the former Western borderlands of the Russian empire. On the basis of reports and letters to the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, Pavliuchenkov depicts “Jewish dominance” and the growth of mass anti-Semitism not only among the Ukrainian peasantry but also among the Red Army soldiers and party and soviet cadres. The documentary fragments he cites, most of them found in the former Central Party Archive, are rather dramatic. For example, a high official in the Moscow soviet’s department of food supply, N. Materanskii, wrote after a trip to Ukraine that a population with longstanding negative sentiments about the Jews was now certain that all power was in Jewish hands, and protested against subjection to “Yid authority.” Materanskii continues: “In addition to the aforementioned reasons, hatred for the Jews is inflamed by a whole array of other causes, one of them being the role of Jews in food speculation. In Ukraine Jews have been predominantly occupied in trade, and now almost all of the remaining private [trade] apparatus is in their hands.” Cagily, Materanskii observed: I have no idea for what reason, but they are protected by the authorities to a great degree, and this gives them an opportunity to play a dominant role in food procurement, purchasing and shipping of goods, raising prices, and in the food supply problem (prodovolstvennyi vopros) in general … it is understandable that all the blame for the crisis falls on the same unfortunate Jews, especially those in power, whom the population for the most part accuses of the most vicious speculation. Anti-Semitism



is well developed in all layers of the population. It can be observed among the peasants, in the intelligentsia, and among the Red Guards, who accuse the Jews of unwillingness to go to the front and ability to “settle in” in the rear. Curiously enough, even among Russian Communists the bitterness of some sort of enmity and unfriendliness towards the Jews is breaking out.39 On the basis of Materanskii’s report and “a whole range of other” sources (which he unfortunately does not cite), Pavliuchenkov concludes that “by the beginning of 1919 communist power had created favorable conditions in Ukraine for the formation of a kind of alliance between the structures of authority and speculative circles on the basis of nationality (po natsional¢nomu priznaku).”40 Possibly for the first time in the Russian historiography, Pavliuchenkov directs attention to “Soviet anti-Semitism.”41 In particular, he refers to two dramatic documents: a 22 April 1919 dispatch by G. S. Moroz, a member of the collegium of the Cheka, to the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party after a trip to the Ukraine, and an appeal to the Central Committee of a former member of the Ukrainian party of borot¢bisty, G. Klunnyi, who considered the root cause of Judeophobia in the countryside to have been the traditional Jewish sphere of activity – trade. He wrote: The countryside primarily knows the Jew-trader as someone who exploited it by all means possible, especially by trade in grain. When a peasant fed the Jew with his produce, the Jew did nothing in return: the Jew-artisan served the bourgeoisie (panstvo) and meshchanstvo [petty bourgeoisie] … and the Ukrainian countryside has almost never seen the Jewish proletariat. Because the peasant does not consider trade to be labor, all Jews are not considered laborers. Such views of the Jews explain the embitterment of the peasantry with “the commissar Yids” and a popular Ukrainian phrase: “Zhydy z nas ranish[e] tiahly, ta i teper khotiat¢ sisty na shiiu.”42 The nation that stands aside from both the culture of

39 Ibid., 255–56, citing Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii (GARF) f. 1235, op. 94, d. 143, l. 8. Emphasis in orig. 40 Ibid., 256. 41 In modern Russian historiography, the first to write about the pogroms carried out by the famous First Cavalry Army in the period of the Soviet-Polish war of 1920 was V. L. Genis, who also employed sources from RGASPI, the former Central Party Archive. See his article, “Pervaia Konnaia armiia: Za kulisami slavy,” Voprosy istorii, no. 12 (1994), 64–77. 42 “The Yids have long taken advantage of us, but now they want to run us into the ground [lit: sit on our neck].”



the masses and the labor principle of economic construction becomes the enemy of the masses, [and] is enlisted in the class of oppressors.43 In 1919, concludes Pavliuchenkov, “it was vain to hope that the Ukrainian peasantry, armed almost to the last man, would tolerate the syndicate of Soviet functionaries and bourgeois speculators on its ‘neck’ … [I]n the space of a couple of months of Soviet power the Jews managed to pit the Ukrainian muzhiki against them to such an extent that their vengeance was terrible.” In May–June 1919, writes the historian – evidently assuming he has at last uncovered their true causes – a wave of severe pogroms broke out, but “the literature on the topic as a rule simply establishes the fact of their occurrence and does not delve into their origins or the circumstances behind their outbreak.”44 Pavliuchenkov evidently follows his sources (almost all of them originate in the archival collection of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party), but fails to provide any analysis of such issues as, for example, the identification of trade with “speculation.” Following the logic of War Communism, any trading at all was regarded as outright speculation. On this point, the views of the ideologues proclaiming the dawn of a bright new future for mankind coincided with the archaic views of the peasantry. Regular features of anti-Semitic rhetoric in tsarist Russia included depictions of Jewish exploitation of peasants, or of Jewish tavern-keepers seducing naïve and good-natured peasants into drink. The fears this rhetoric provoked even predetermined such “defensive” measures as the prohibition against Jews residing in the countryside and engaging in agriculture. The ideas of the newly-minted Communist Klunnyi were not new at all. On the whole, I find Pavliuchenkov’s treatment overly indebted to a form of socio-economic and political determinism. In reality, the Jewish masses within the Pale of Settlement were materially destitute. Vladimir Prokhorovich Buldakov, the author of one of the most interesting recent books on the Revolution and the Civil War, Krasnaia smuta (Red Time of Troubles), notes that the average income of a Jewish artisan in the beginning of the century was one-and-a-half to two times lower than that of a peasant (150–300 and 400–500 rubles respectively), and that 19 percent of the Jews “found themselves in the position of paupers who owed their existence to the charity of their fellow Jews.”45 Thus, the most significant factor shaping the attitude of the Ukrainian peasantry

43 Pavliuchenkov, Voennyi kommunizm, 256, citing Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Sotsial¢no-

Politicheskoi Istorii (RGASPI) f. 2, op. 1, d. 1190, l. 6.
44 Ibid., 257. 45 Vladimir Prokhorovich Buldakov, Krasnaia smuta: Priroda i posledstviia revolutsionnogo nasiliia

(Moscow: ROSSPEN, 1997), 33; Sbornik materialov ob ekonomicheskom polozhenii evreev v Rossii (St. Petersburg: Izdanie Evreiskogo kolonizatsionnogo obshchestva, 1903), vol. 1, 35–39; vol. 2, 226.



towards the Jews was not the Jews’ actual economic role but myths about that role.46 Furthermore, it is hard to imagine that “a couple of months” of Soviet power, together with the presence of a considerable number of Jews serving it, could lead to such an outburst of bestial hatred towards them on the part of the local peasantry. “The cruelty with which the rebels got even (raspravlialis¢) with Jews who were Soviet and party functionaries was exceptional even for the Civil War,” writes Pavliuchenkov. A “communist soup” was made from Jewish Communists “boiled alive in a huge boiling pot on the central square of the shtetl,” which those Jews left alive were forced to eat. Others were buried alive or drowned, while those who tried to stay afloat were “put to rest by rifle butts,” or were “laid in rows on rails and then run over with a locomotive,” etc. Of course, among the victims of such unprecedented cruelty and sadism, “functionaries” were a negligible minority, all the more so in that, as the author himself notes, many of them hastened to escape to the Great Russian provinces, “closer to Moscow.”47 Buldakov to a certain degree agrees with Pavliuchenkov. In discussing the abominable acts of anti-Jewish violence cited by Pavliuchenkov, he writes that “the horrors of both the Red and the White Terror pale in comparison to the fierceness of the peasant masses…” Neither Whites nor Reds – or any movement that set its sights on power on an all-Russian level – were “capable of such sadistic tactics of terror.” But Buldakov justifiably concludes that the atrocities cannot be explained exclusively as retaliation for the consequences of Bolshevik rule in the Ukraine. “In the Civil War one must distinguish between authorized (vlastnyi) terror and the psychopathology of elemental (stikhiinyi) mass sadism. There were more victims of the latter.”48 Buldakov’s Krasnaia smuta is specifically devoted, as its subtitle indicates, to “the nature and consequences of revolutionary violence.” The history of the Rus46 It would be wrong, of course, to deny the socio-economic roots, or, rather, the socio-economic component of Ukrainian anti-Semitism. Henry Abramson tends to overemphasize the role of the economic factor. Yet even he writes that “premodern anti-Semitism in Ukraine, which extended to the beginning of the twentieth century in many regions, was primarily social and economic in nature, reflecting the pressure points in the castelike division of labor as market forces were increasingly brought to bear in Ukrainian society. With the Ukrainian revolution, however, the conflict takes on unmistakably political overtones” (Abramson, Prayer, 32 [emphasis in orig.]). At the same time, it seems to me that Abramson has not sufficiently accounted for the religious roots of Ukrainian anti-Semitism. The fact that the Ukrainian language lacked the terminology employed in Western European anti-Semitic literature (the author of a 1919 anti-Semitic pamphlet had to explain the very term “anti-Semitism” to his readers, notes Abramson), does not in itself demonstrate the absence of religiously-based anti-Semitism. Similar concepts could be expressed in different, oral forms. 47 Pavliuchenkov, Voennyi kommunizm, 257–58. 48 Buldakov, Krasnaia smuta, 237.



sian Revolution, Buldakov writes, “is first and foremost the history of a drastic change in relations of people to authority, to those like them, and to those around them, i.e., the history of violence from below.”49 The question, however, is how spontaneous that violence was, and what role ideologists and leaders played in cultivating it. Buldakov’s general conclusion is unquestionably true: “the most atrocious side of the ‘White Terror,’ and of all the mutually repressive acts of the Civil War, were the anti-Jewish pogroms.” I suppose he is also right in suggesting that were even “one-tenth” of the data about the Whites’ perpetration of anti-Jewish pogroms in the Ukraine 1919 true, it would still prompt the conclusion that the Whites “had no chances at all for victory in the struggle for Russian statehood (rossiiskuiu gosudarstvennost ¢).”50 Bestial anti-Semitism led to the demoralization and disintegration of the army, and definitively stained the already doubtful purity of the “White cause.” However, I think the explanation for the phenomenon of anti-Jewish violence is simpler and more frightening than the one offered by the author of Krasnaia smuta: “that perception of one’s own powerlessness, the transcendence of which requires sadistic forms of self-affirmation.”51 In this case the matter is not simply centuries-old traditions of anti-Semitism, heated up by the indisputably active role of revolutionaries of Jewish origin in Russia’s second great Time of Troubles. The massacres were ideologically prepared. As Peter Kenez convincingly demonstrates in his works, aggressive nationalism, most intensively manifested as anti-Semitism, became the surrogate ideology of the White move-

49 Ibid., 8. Emphasis in orig. 50 Ibid., 236–37. In this respect, I find unconvincing Evan Mawdsley’s assertion that “pogroms had no effect on the outcome of the Civil War, although they perhaps turned some public opinion in the West against the White cause” (Mawdsley, The Russian Civil War [Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1987], 210). In addition to the loss of moral “credit” abroad, pogroms also caused the demoralization of the armed forces, transforming battle-capable and relatively disciplined units into bands of thieves and murderers. Perhaps the most glaring example is the infamous “Mamontov raid,” pushing deep behind the Red Army’s lines in the late summer and autumn of 1919. Instead of exploiting this success by moving west, along the Kursk-Orel-Tula-Moscow axis, Mamontov’s corps, weighed down with wagons of plunder, turned south, occupying Voronezh. After returning from the raid in the autumn of 1919, at the moment of the Civil War’s decisive battles, Mamontov released many Cossacks home on leave. By 2 December 1919 the erstwhile hero was removed from his command in the corps by General Wrangel for his “criminal negligence” (Petr Nikolaevich Wrangel, Vospominaniia, chast¢ 1 [Moscow: Terra, 1992], 437–38. As noted above, Mamontov’s troops executed Jews they came across in these central Russian provinces with the same enthusiasm as their compatriots in Ukraine. Judging by the amount of plundered goods, they looted everyone they could. 51 Ibid., 237.



ment.52 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was republished from Taganrog to Khabarovsk, and the idea of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy as the initial cause for all of Russia’s troubles traveled as far as Cossack villages on the upper Don, the population of which had never before encountered a single Jew. 53 The pogroms carried out by the Volunteers were the most organized. There was almost no chance of surviving them: while one could fight off or evade armed bands, it was next to impossible to hide from a massive regular army. Of course, no one had any interest in the actual involvement of the shtetl population with Bolshevism. For tradesmen and artisans in the Pale of Settlement, the Bolshevik regime was particularly burdensome. As noted earlier, the tragic paradox was that mestechko locals not infrequently greeted the Volunteers with bread and salt as liberators. In certain cases, the delegations sent to welcome these “liberators” were the first to fall under their sabers. Kenez is absolutely right to note that the mass murder of Jews in Ukraine in 1919 was extremely “modern” and entirely consistent with the “tradition” of the 20th century.54 Clearly, there are good reasons to situate the pogroms of the Civil War period in the historical perspective of earlier outbreaks of violence against the Jews in Russia. The anti-Jewish violence of 1917–21 was at very least the third wave of pogrom violence directed against Jews in the late imperial period. The volume edited by John Klier and Shlomo Lambroza, Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History attempts to survey the entire phenomenon. Curiously, however, this valuable work devotes the least attention to the most bloody period of pogroms, that of the Civil War. The relevant section contains an article by Peter Kenez that, while significantly expanded and revised, nevertheless remains a reworking of his earlier studies. This is indicative of the current state of research on the topic. In Kenez’s view, pogroms carried out by White forces “were the best organized, carried out like military operations, and the most ideologically motivated.”55 Henry Abramson has also recently attempted to compare the pogroms of 1917–20 with the preceding period. In his view, “comparison of the violence in the revolutionary era to earlier pogroms reveals elements of both continuity and discontinuity,” although “elements of discontinuity are perhaps more striking than elements of continuity.” Abramson considers the similarity with the earlier

52 In addition to Kenez’s works cited above, see also his article “The Ideology of the White Movement,” Soviet Studies 32: 1 (1980), 58–83. 53 Oleg Budnitskii, “The Jews in Rostov-on-Don in 1918–1919,” Jews and Jewish Topics in the Soviet Union and Western Europe, no. 3 (19) (1992), 23–26. 54 Kenez, Civil War in South Russia, 1919–1920, 166–77. 55 Kenez, “Pogroms and White Ideology in the Russian Civil War,” in Pogroms, ed. Klier and Lambroza, 302.



pogroms of 1881–84 and 1905–6 first in terms of their geographic localization: the majority occurred, as in earlier times, in Ukraine. One rule of thumb – the more Jews, the more pogroms – remained unchanged. This concept, however, is not strikingly original. Abramson views the main feature distinguishing the first two waves of pogroms from those of 1917–21 as the colossal rise in the number of victims. As he notes, “the scale of the pogroms of 1919 dwarfed previous violence.”56 Indeed, when we are speaking of dozens or hundreds (or, in relation to 1905–06, perhaps several thousand) victims, on the one hand, and tens of thousands, on the other, this is already a qualitatively different form of violence. If in the former case we can speak of disorders that are accompanied by the loss of human life, in the latter we must speak of extermination. Of course, not all pogroms in the period 1917–21 resulted in large-scale murder of Jews, regardless of age or sex. But this new type of “pogrom” appeared for the first time in modern Russian history, and indeed for the first time in 20th-century Europe. Abramson emphasizes that a characteristic aspect of the revolutionary period was the extended absence of central authority, leading to anarchy and violence. Despite the importance of this observation, I would also emphasize another feature of this period. For the first time, the authorities – or, rather, those forces aspiring to the role of central authority – began to initiate anti-Jewish violence. For the first time, pogroms were conducted by units of a more or less regular army (the White troops more, and the Directory troops less). It is telling that between them the Whites, the Directory, and its allies were responsible for more than 50 percent of the total number of Jewish victims. 57 Army units proved to be much more “capable” at the task of mass killing. One should note that in pre-revolutionary Russia anti-Jewish violence always originated from below. (An exception was the deportations of the Jewish population during World War I, but that was a special case.) Police and army units might have been passive, and even might have sympathized with those conducting the pogrom, but they themselves rarely participated in them. Indeed, the authorities always restored order eventually. 58 By 1919, one could no longer ap-

56 Henry Abramson, Prayer, 109–10. 57 Peter Kenez was undoubtedly mistaken when he wrote that “the Volunteer Army succeeded in

murdering as many Jews as all other armies put together” (“Pogroms and White Ideology,” 302); Directory troops and their allies in this case definitely took first place. The reason why “Volunteers” were judged so severely lies in the fact that they were viewed as a regular army and were led by graduates of the General Staff Academy. 58 See Stephen M. Berk, Year of Crisis, Year of Hope: Russian Jewry and the Pogroms of 1881–1882 (Westport, CT and London: Greenwood Press, 1985); I. Michael Aronson, Troubled Waters: The Origin of the 1881 Anti-Jewish Pogroms in Russia (Pittsburg: Pittsburg University Press, 1990); Edward H. Judge, Easter in Kishinev: Anatomy of a Pogrom (New York: New York University Press, 1992), esp. 68–69, 139–40; Klier and Lambroza, eds., Pogroms.



peal to the authorities. More precisely, there was only one authority to which one could appeal: Soviet power. The tragedy of the situation was that, at the very least, the White high command was opposed to pogroms – in principle. However, White leaders wished to avoid any “disagreements” with their units, and took no decisive measures for preventing pogroms. Nor did they seriously punish those who committed them. Indeed, it is unclear whether the White command would have found forces that were both reliable enough and sufficiently free of pogromist sentiments to carry out that task. Later, in 1920, Wrangel appeared to demonstrate that it was possible to prevent pogroms if one showed sufficient political will to do so. However, he was in a special situation, with control over nothing more than Tauride province.59 Finally, anti-Semitic propaganda of a type hitherto unprecedented in Russia emerged during the Civil War as a discrete phenomenon. This propaganda built upon both the recent, officially-sanctioned participation of the armed forces in violence against Jews during the 1914–15 deportations, as well as upon traditional, primarily religious anti-Semitism, which was further incited during the Civil War by certain church leaders and popular preachers. Such propaganda provided thieves and murderers with a quasi-ideological justification for their actions. 60 We are thus confronted by a paradox. The White movement began with Jewish participation. Its leaders, former generals of the tsarist army, rarely made openly anti-Semitic declarations. On the contrary, they frequently declared (in more or less resolute form) their repudiation of pogromist anti-Semitism. The ideology of the White movement, moreover, was to a large extent shaped by the Constitutional Democrats – a leftist, “liberal” party that consistently advocated equality for the Jews. Kadets were well represented in General Denikin’s retinue – indeed, it was initially Kadets (at first Nikolai Elpidiforovich Paramonov, and then Konstantin Nikolaevich Sokolov) who headed Denikin’s Propaganda Agency. It would seem that the Jewish population should have expected less trouble from the Volunteers than from any other anti-Bolshevik formation. A series of questions thus present themselves for future research. Why, during the initial stage of the Civil War (and to some extent later as well, after the onset of the Volunteer pogroms) did a segment of politically active Jewry support the White movement and even participate in it to varying degrees? How and why did the Whites, who began their struggle against the Bolsheviks under slogans that were quite liberal, turn en masse into pogromists? What was the role of the

59 See the documentary publication “The Russian Ambassador in Paris on the Whites and the Jews,” introduced by Oleg Budnitskii, Jews in Eastern Europe, no. 3 (28) (1995), 53–66. 60 See Schechtman, Pogromy Dobrovol¢cheskoi Armii, 78–85, 105–07; “The Russian Ambassador in Paris,” 61–64.



Russian liberal intelligentsia – and especially the Kadet Party – in terms of ideological support for the White movement? How did some members of that party, who were traditionally considered advocates of Jewish equality, ultimately come to an effective acquittal of anti-Semitism?61 We could formulate a range of other, more specific questions, which ultimately converge into one: did Russian Jews have a choice between the Reds and the Whites? Or, in other words, was there any “proper” response for the Jews in a country split by internal contradictions, in which they were an unwanted and unloved minority? To my mind, to begin to answer these kinds of questions requires, first and foremost, to cease viewing the Jews only in the capacity of victims. Jewish figures were active political participants not only in the Red camp, as is well known, but also on the other side of the lines. It is characteristic that the Jews on the Red side as a rule were internationalists and denounced their Jewishness, as did Trotskii, while the Jews in the White ranks included practically no apostates. Alas, most of the fatalities were suffered by the shtetl Jews who adhered to neither side. Second, the “Jewish question” must be viewed in the context of the Russian Civil War. More broadly, it must be viewed in the context of the Russian Revolution as a whole, of which the Civil War was both an immediate continuation and an integral part. Third, the problem of relations between Jews (I stress once again that I mean Jewish political and public figures) and the leadership and ideologists of the Whites should be viewed as dynamic, and examined from the outset of the anti-Bolshevik movement. Of course, a deeper understanding of the events of the Civil War – the part that pertained to the Jewish population of the former Russian empire – is possible only inasmuch as new sources are uncovered. In the post-Soviet period, this requirement for advancing scholarship on a neglected set of historical problems has become eminently possible to pursue. Finally, these events should be subjected to revision in light of the historical experience of the entire 20th century. Trans. Eugene Budnitsky Institut rossiiskoi istorii Rossiiskaia akademiia nauk Ul. Dmitriia Ul¢ianova, 19 Moscow 117036 Russia

61 See the brief discussion of this issue in William Rosenberg, Liberals in the Russian Revolution:

The Constitutional Democratic Party, 1917–1921 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 426–27; Natal ¢ia Georgievna Dumova, Kadetskaia kontrrevoliutsiia i ee razgrom (Moscow: Mysl¢, 1982), 313–14; Oleg Budnitskii, V. A. Maklakov i evreiskii vopros, 60–63.

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