Author Topic: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.  (Read 135945 times)

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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2006, 09:54:09 PM »
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The difference between the Jews and Tatars of any variety, is that the Jews were immigrants who refused to assimilate . . . .

There are records as early as the 4th century of Jews occupying territory that eventually became part of Russia.  There were significant Jewish populations in Kiev and in Kievan Russia.

As Musovite Russia expanded, its policy was to eject Jews found in lands that were annexed.  That policy finally became impractical in the late 18th century when Russia annexed large parts of Poland and the Crimea, where there were large indigenous Jewish populations.  So Pales of Settlement were established in which Jews were sequestered from the bulk of the population.

The significant Jewish immigrations in Europe occurred in the late Middle Ages when western Europe became more hostile to Jews, who moved into the more tolerant regions of central and eastern Europe.  There they sat several centuries later when they were, quite unwillingly, annexed into the Russian Empire.

What on earth gave you the idea that "the Jews were immigrants" who trekked into Russia to enjoy the Pales and the barring from most trade and professional life?

If you lay claim to understand the past better than I, you should at least get the basic history right . . . and tell it accurately.

As for Nicholas II, the FA is right that he was probably less anti-semitic than many of his subjects -- and he was surely less anti-semitic than most of the Romanovs.  Also, the pogroms were a source of embarassment to him and his government on the international stage.  Shortly before WWI, the U.S. even suspended an economic treaty with Russia due to her inability to stop the pogroms.

On the other hand, Nicholas made his share of anti-semitic remarks in the family circle and took steps to reduce the number of "yids" (his word) in the precincts of Livadia.  He also officially received people involved with the "Black Hundreds".  And, while his government did not order pogroms, it often simply reassigned local officials who were implicated in both instigating and in failing to quell pogroms.  But, most reprehensibly, Nicholas' government financed the publication of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", which was both hugely incendiary and known by the government to be sheer propagandistic invention.

As with so many other aspects of Nicholas, it's very hard to know when his voice is his own and when it's an echo of others.

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2006, 10:00:12 PM »
There seems to have been a very casual, institutional anti-Semitism in the Romanovs. While NII might not have ordered pogroms, he used abusive language towards Jews in letters to his mother and others. In the Letters  of Tsar Nicholas and Empress Marie , a letter from NII to MF is quoted where he is quite defensive about the pogroms, writing that they wre a natural reaction of the populace to 'the impertinence of the Socialists and revolutionaries' and that 'because nine-tenths of troublemakers are Jews, the people's whole wrath turned against them...In England, of course, the Press says that these disorders were organised by the police. They can go on repeating this worn-out fable. But not only Jews suffered; some of the Russian agitators suffered as well.' There is a real lack of sympathy towards his Jewish subjects that is hard to reconcile with the many accounts of his gentle and kind nature. [And as for England, he couldn't understand the behavior of the British royal family towards Jews and was very uncomfortable with Jews invited to GV's wedding in 1893, writing that he tried to keep to himself as much as he could.]

It seems much the same as some racism that exists nowadays. A person may throw around epithets or make racist jokes and yet not consider themselves racist because they don't belong to the Klan or lynch people. And it wasn't NII alone by any means--his uncle (and BIL) GD Serge had a horrible history as Governor of Moscow and even in GDss George's memoirs, A Romanov Diary, she casually tosses in what many would consider anti-Semitic remarks.
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Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2006, 10:58:31 PM »
As I have mentioned in previous threads covering this subject, when I think of Nicholas II and his attitudes towards Jews I think of my father and his own sensibilities re: people who were different from him. My dad appreciated Jewish comedians (Jack Benny was a favorite) as well as Jewish musicians. And he was a basically good and kind man who, in person, was helpful and friendly no matter what that person's race, ethnicity, or religion. But when it came to people in the abstract he was a different person. Perhaps because he had issues of low self-esteem, combined with a sensibility that as a white Anglo Saxon male he was just a bit better than others who weren't, he had no problem in oversimplifying situations and tarring an entire group of people with one broad brush stroke. I will never forget the disgust I felt when, around the age of ten, my father proceeded to explain to me what was wrong with Jews.

David_Pritchard

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2006, 11:47:52 PM »
To the Ladies and Gentlemen of this Forum,

I found this subject a very difficult topic about which to write, a topic in which I had to both express my historical understanding as well as avoid offending our fellow members of this forum. The word immigrants may not have been the best term but seemed less offensive to me than 'adherents of a non-indigenous culture', this might have been the best choice as it would have included those non-indigenous Jews of Hebrew blood and the Kazars, an indigenous Turkic people who converted to Judaism in the ninth century

David
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by David_Pritchard »

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2006, 07:01:25 AM »
And I learned some months ago where your head was when, in describing the Russian Revolution, you chose the phrase "packed full of Jews."

Quote
In simplest terms, they refused to assimilate and thus became a target for abuse.

The victims asked for it.  Well, there is certainly a timeless quality to this logic.  It is already emerging as the U.S. immigration debate heats up and reports of anti-Latino hate crimes begin to increase.  And it served the Nazis well in riding out the diplomatic repercussions from Kristallnacht.

The Jews did not refuse to assimilate.  They sought and would have welcomed integration into the economic and social life of Russia.  It was the government that fenced them off from those things.  What they refused to do was let others dictate to them their form of worship.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2006, 07:23:47 AM »
Can we please not have personal insults directed at fellow posters? Topics like this one can bring up many passionate responses and can get rather heated but please try to keep it on the subject. If you don't have regard for a person's postings debate them without mockery please.
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Offline Ortino

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2006, 10:19:28 AM »
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Can we please not have personal insults directed at fellow posters? Topics like this one can bring up many passionate responses and can get rather heated but please try to keep it on the subject. If you don't have regard for a person's postings debate them without mockery please.

It is becoming clear to me that David is often the source of these personal arguments. Perhaps you ought to direct your attention at him.

Quote
The Jews did not refuse to assimilate.  They sought and would have welcomed integration into the economic and social life of Russia.  It was the government that fenced them off from those things.  What they refused to do was let others dictate to them their form of worship.

Correct. The Pale of Settlement was created by Catherine the Great in the 1790's with the purpose of keeping Jews out of Imperial Russia. They could not travel or leave without special permission from the government. Or how about Alexander III's May Laws in 1882? They placed strict quotas on the number of Jews that could obtain secondary or higher education and limited their professions. They remained in place until 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution. There was also an edict of expulsion from Kiev in 1886 and the cleansing of Moscow of its Jews in 1891 again under Alexander III. So how exactly did the Jews refuse to assimilate? History clearly indicates that this was not the case.

Frankly, I'm not willing to be so kind towards Nicholas. I don't believe in degrees of anti-Semitism. You either are, or you aren't anti-Semitic. The fact that he owned a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, did nothing to physically stop the pogroms occuring in his empire, like the Kishinev Pogrom in 1903, and his casual attitude towards getting rid of "Yids" indicates that he clearly was.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Ortino »

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2006, 11:58:26 AM »
Ortino,

First, GDElla's statement was a general one to all posters.

Second, PLEASE read some source material, like "Fontanka 16" by Ruud & Stepanov.

Re Kishniev 1903 (at pg. 233 et. seq.)
"In any event the documents show that Plehve, having received news of the pogrom from the local authorities, undertook all measures possible under the law to restore order.  He also reported to the tsar about his supplementary measures: "Despite the summoning of the military and the arrest of more than 60 rioters, disorders continued.  The governor requested authority to impost measures of strengthened security.  I approved the request by telegram. (GARF 601/1/1046, sheet 2)

Following the pacificationof the outbreak, Plehve secured the tsar's agreement to dismiss von Raaben because of his poor handling of the disturbances.  He sent his director of police, A.A. Lopukhin to Kishniev to investigate the conduct of the local authorities at the time of the pogroms.  Lopukhin did not discover any trace of premeditated preparation of the pogrom, but he concluded that the events could not have taken place without the participation of the lower police ranks.
...
the minister (Plehve) frankly condemned the police in a report to Nicholas II.

David_Pritchard

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2006, 12:28:13 PM »
[ch1054][ch1088][ch1090][ch1080][ch1085][ch1086],

You seem to overlook the fact that assimilated Jews were not required to live in the Pale of Settlement. Only unassimilated Jews, that is those who did not convert to Russian Orthodoxy, were excluded from society. Let us remember that within the lifetimes of many of the members of this forum here in the United States that it was common place for real estate deeds to have legal restrictions barring Jews from purchasing the properties; for private clubs and societies to bar Jewish membership. Memories seem to be so short these days that the actions or inactions of a man, Nikolai II, living one hundred years ago loose their social context. Do you know if the use of the term 'Yid' was a pejorative in 1890's Russia or simply a slang term referring to a speaker of Yiddish? The meaning of words do change over time so one should not assume that the meaning was what it is today.


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Offline Janet_W.

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2006, 01:21:11 PM »
It is true that we need to study the attitude of Nicholas II--or indeed anyone--within the context of that person's times, also taking into consideration formative influences such as family attitudes and schooling. In many ways I think Nicholas, in his early years as Tsar, was quite remarkable. However, as is the case with many people, he became increasingly conservative--even reactionary--as he aged. Certainly the reports he received, and the continued and accelerated threats of assassination were influences. Also I can accept that he was not the one to issue certain directives. But a leader sets the style and tone of his nation. Nicholas had many roadblocks to overcome, and not all of them of his own making. But I regretfully must add that in many critical situations he made decisions which ultimately led to the demise of all he cherished. When people feel fenced in and threatened they do try to find ways of blaming others, and keeping in mind that Nicholas II had a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion reminds me of some of the right wing trash I found among my father's effects after his death. Still it must be remembered that during the captivity of Nicholas his words and actions often belied any expected ill will and sometimes indicated a sense of repentance for his own mistakes, coupled with hope and even optimism for Russia's tsarless future. Nicholas did have his prejudices. But I think, had he lived, his thoughtful nature, combined with all that he had observed and experienced while in captivity, might have balanced and even trumped the knee-jerk reactions that sometimes even the best of us fall back on when making decisions.  

Offline Ortino

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2006, 01:25:12 PM »
It has been suggested that Plehve organized the pogrom himself and Lopukhin recalled that leaflets inciting the violence were printed under his direction on Minister of the Interior presses. Please define what "undertook all measures possible under the law to restore order" means. Intervening only after three days of vicious rioting and following the death of about 50 Jews does not in my mind constitute taking "all measures possible."  

Quote
Do you know if the use of the term 'Yid' was a pejorative in 1890's Russia or simply a slang term referring to a speaker of Yiddish?

It's not slang--the word "Yiddish" is the Yiddish word for "Jewish," so calling someone a "Yid" is the same as calling them a Jew. I've never heard or seen the word "Yid" used in a positive context, only as a derogatory term for someone who speaks Yiddish--in this case, Jews.

Quote
Still it must be remembered that during the captivity of Nicholas his words and actions often belied any expected ill will and sometimes indicated a sense of repentance for his own mistakes, coupled with hope and even optimism for Russia's tsarless future.

It's very nice to think about your mistakes afterwards, but that can't fix the damage already done.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Ortino »

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2006, 01:39:39 PM »
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Re Kishniev 1903 (at pg. 233 et. seq.)
"In any event the documents show that Plehve, having received news of the pogrom from the local authorities, undertook all measures possible under the law to restore order.  He also reported to the tsar about his supplementary measures: "Despite the summoning of the military and the arrest of more than 60 rioters, disorders continued.  The governor requested authority to impost measures of strengthened security.  I approved the request by telegram. (GARF 601/1/1046, sheet 2)

Following the pacificationof the outbreak, Plehve secured the tsar's agreement to dismiss von Raaben because of his poor handling of the disturbances.  He sent his director of police, A.A. Lopukhin to Kishniev to investigate the conduct of the local authorities at the time of the pogroms.  Lopukhin did not discover any trace of premeditated preparation of the pogrom, but he concluded that the events could not have taken place without the participation of the lower police ranks.
...
the minister (Plehve) frankly condemned the police in a report to Nicholas II.

It does seem established that the government in St. Petersburg did not order the Kishinev pogrom and that it later removed Governor von Raaben for inaction.

However, the story neither begins nor ends there.

There were rumors of trouble building in the city for some weeks before the disturbances broke out on Easter Sunday.  These rumors were fanned by vitriolic attacks on the Jews by the newspaper Bessarabetz, which ran a series of articles accusing Jews of murdering a young boy in a nearby village for ritual purposes.  (It transpired that the boy was killed by a relative, who was later apprehended.)

Six days before the riots began, a letter was received and publicized by a popular tavern.  The text read:

"Brethren Christians!

Here comes the great day of Christ's resurrection.  Many years ago our Saviour, tormented by the Jews, atoned our sins and the sins of the whole world by His blood.  Meanwhile, the base Zjids are not satisfied with the blood of our Saviour, crucified by them.  Every year they shed the innocent blood of Christians and use it for their rituals.  Have you not heard that they crucified a Christian boy in Dubossari [the accusation being published in "Bessarabetz"] and bled him?  Yes, it is true.  It is known to authorities, but they do not declare it so as not to excite us against these bloody bastards who should have been expelled from Russia long ago.

This is the way of their jeering at us Russians.  And how much harm do they bring to our Mother Russia!  They want to take possession of her.  They publish various proclamations to the people in order to excite them against authority, even against our Father the Tsar, who knows the mean, cunning, deceitful and greedy nature of this nation, and does not grant them liberties.

But if you give liberty to the Zjid, he will reign over our Holy Russia and take everything in his paws.  There will be no more Russia, but only "Zjidovia".  Brothers, in the name of our Saviour, who shed his blood for us; in the name of our Father the Tsar, who cares for his people and grants them alleviating manifests, let us exclaim in the forthcoming great day -- Down with Zjids!  Beat these mean degenerates, blood suckers drunk with Russian blood!  Remind them of the Odessa pogrom, during which even the army was on the side of the people.  No need to say, they will help us this time."


(Perhaps this letter will help establish the connotation of the word "Zjid" at the turn of the 20th century in Russia.)

This was the climate in Kishinev heading into the Easter holidays, and there is evidence the authorities -- both secular and spiritual -- were well aware that the situation was a powderkeg.  Both Governor von Raaben and the head of the local Okhrana were specifically warned.  When violence finally broke out on Easter Sunday (with Orthodox priests in the vanguard) and raged for three days, von Raaben disappeared during the entire time.  Nor was the local garrison of over 5,000 army troops called into action while 47 Jews were killed, hundreds more injured, and over 1300 houses and businesses destroyed.

The single most influential factor in the rise of anti-semitic hatred in Kishinev -- a town with a population that was one-third Jewish and that had historically had relatively good community relations -- was the newspaper Bessarabetz and its editor Krushevan.

Several protests about the paper's violently anti-semitic editorial policies had been raised with authorities, who consistently refused to censor the paper.  In fact, the government placed frequent ads in the paper.  And -- most significantly -- shortly after the Kishinev pogrom, Nicholas II thanked Krushevan for the work of his newspaper in keeping the region informed of critical events.

Did Nicholas order the pogrom?  Certainly not.  Other than the embarassment it caused his government by the huge international outcry, though, did he really mind that it happened?  Well . . . not so sure there.


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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2006, 01:40:16 PM »
The first unrest started in Kishniev on 6 April. The first killing happened at noon on 7 April.  The pogrom was suppressed by evening of 7 April. I don't see that being three days of inaction.

Please cite exactly where it is "suggested" Plehve organized the pogrom. The documents in GARF totally are at odds with such a statement.  Please cite exactly where "Lopukhin recalled that leaflets inciting the violence were printed under his direction on Minister of the Interior presses" Again, the documentation in GARF disagrees totally with that statement as well. There is no evidence that there ever WERE leaflets inciting the violence.

Further, Lopukhin himself later criticized Witte for writing in his memoirs an unsubstantiated allegation without any proof that Plehve was responsible for the Kishniev pogrom (see Fontanka 16 pg 233 note 21 citing Lopukhin, Otryvki iz vospominanii (Po povodu 'Vospominanii' br. S.Iu. Witte) 14-15 ). Lopukhin wrote "it is unjust to attribute the Kishnev pogrom to (Plehve).  His anti-Semitism is not subject to doubt, but this one fact does not justify blaming an intelligent man for an act which is not merely repulsive, but also politically stupid."
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by admin »

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2006, 01:41:44 PM »
Jews who become Russian Orthodox are no longer Jews. They are Christians.

Frankly, I don't think that Nicholas II would have objected to being called "anti-Semitic", would he? His private correspondence and his public actions make it clear that he didn't like Jews, was uncomfortable in their presence and preferred to avoid them when possible. He certainly wasn't alone in his anti-Semitism among royalty; Edward VII was the exception to the rule, not Nicholas II.
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2006, 01:59:58 PM »
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The first unrest started in Kishniev on 6 April. The first killing happened at noon on 7 April.  The pogrom was suppressed by evening of 7 April. I don't see that being three days of inaction.

The violence seemed to proceed according to a pre-laid plan.  Sunday, April 6, was marked by organized groups of 20 or so men each who spread out fairly evenly over the Jewish quarter.  On April 7 these groups were joined by less organized masses, when the violence escalated from property damage to death and injury.  The police were finally called into action about 6:00 p.m. on April 7.  However, order was not restored in the outlying precincts of the city until sometime on April 8.

As far as I know, only the police were called into action, although belatedly.  The army garrison -- both the largest force available and the one most likely to maintain internal discipline -- was not called out during any of the three days of unrest in the region.

And . . . in an era that already had telegraph and telephone, what possible reason can explain 30 hours of police inaction while residents of a city are attacked and burned out of home and business?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Tsarfan »