Author Topic: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.  (Read 136160 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Forum Admin

  • Administrator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 4665
  • www.alexanderpalace.org
    • View Profile
    • Alexander Palace Time Machine
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #165 on: June 12, 2008, 06:50:55 PM »
Mexjames.

I suggest you read this entire thread first. then search Nicholas and Jews....there are many documented instances, including the Bayliss affair. 

Offline LisaDavidson

  • Moderator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 2665
    • View Profile
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #166 on: June 12, 2008, 08:50:32 PM »
As a new member I totally enjoy everything on this forum and thank everyone for their wonderful comments.  I am a Jewish Cantor.  My very dear friend is from Moscow and heads the Moscow Jewish Capella Choir.  They have sung all over the world and are reknown for introducing Jewish Music that was confiscated after the revolution by the "government "  All of this music was put into hiding in Moscow, and when Gorbachov became the new head of Russia the music was found and released to my dear friend and now the choir is brining it back to life, and this has started my interest in Russian history and has led speciafcally to Nicholas II.

I guess what does this have to do with anti-semitism.  Naturally the subject is quite imposing on my interest in Nicholas and Alexandra, and especially as a Cantor in the Jewish Faith I am trying to find other things about them that I can handle.  I think you can see my dilema with this, but I have purchased numerous books on this family and come across occasional ani-semetic actions by the czar, but I am looking at the ENTIRE life of these individuals and hoping to come to some resolution in my own mind.  Does this make any sense????

Thanks again for such a wonderful site.

Tany

Dear Cantor Tany:

What you say makes perfect sense. It is difficult for many people to understand how pervasive anti-Semitism was in Europe - and also in Russia - prior to WWII. (And perhaps how pervasive it is becoming once again in countries such as France). 

I think that Nicholas' attitudes changed over time. He was certainly raised to be an anti-Semite. But, I think he was intelligent enough and sensitive enough that I think he must have questioned these views when they did not match his direct experiences with Jewish people, which seemed to be very positive. We do know that his last argument with his brother in law, Alexander Mikhailovich, was over Nicholas' plans to repeal anti-Jewish laws within the Russian Empire, a move Sandro opposed.

Now this alone doesn't mean he didn't continue to be anti-Semitic, but I think it does mean that at a certain point in his life, he became open to the possibility of change. I quite agree with you, by the way, that we need to look at the whole person, good and bad, and not just his attitude about Jewish people, the latter of which I think most of us find unfortunate, if not bigoted.

And, I am pleased so say that some of our most articulate members here, including some of us who help run the Forum, are also Jewish and also struggle with many of the same issues you outline. (Oh, and I hope it is correct to address you as Cantor Tany. If it is not, I hope I will be forgiven my ignorance.)

Lisa

Just out of curiosity, Lisa, what were those positive experiences of the Emperor and the Jews you mention above?  Are any documented, even on an anecdotal basis?

I'm asking this because my grandparents came from there, and they didn't have any good memories of their time in the Empire or the Soviet Union.  I know their parents had a hard time as well.

Also, I don't know if the Emperor might have been forced to change his mind about the Jews, as the famous (at the time) Bayliss affair put some international pressure on the Empire.  That wasn't the first time, I read that the House of Rotschild wouldn't issue Russian bonds unless actions were taken to ease the lives of the Jews in the Empire, mostly by eliminating pogroms.

If you can't find the information by reading through the links provided in this thread and elsewhere, go ahead and start a new topic on that particular question. The short answer is, yes, there were documented cases of the Emperor having positive experiences with Jewish people.

I never said, nor is it my belief, that Jewish people living in Imperial Russia had a great time of it and were not subject to unreasonable prejudice. Clearly, the experiences of your family were sadly not unique. But, that does not mean that the Emperor was not willing to consider change, either by recognizing the correct action himself or perhaps as you suggest for pragmatic reasons.

Offline Mexjames

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #167 on: June 13, 2008, 10:13:21 AM »
Many thanks for your answer!

I'll do my homework.

I don't have like Cantor Tany a private collection of IF pictures, but when my cell phone rings it plays "God Save the Tsar", and its alarms go off playing the  "Preobrazhensky March".  The National Anthem caught the attention of a Russian emigrĂ©, he thought it was part of Tchaikovsky's 1812 and he was right, but I explained what that part was, he didn't know.

Offline Harvey

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #168 on: June 15, 2008, 03:42:35 PM »
Thousands of Jews were beaten to death in public with Nicholas' open support throughout his 23-year reign.

Offline Forum Admin

  • Administrator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 4665
  • www.alexanderpalace.org
    • View Profile
    • Alexander Palace Time Machine
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #169 on: June 15, 2008, 10:19:56 PM »
Harvey,  this statement is not accurate. Please do your research. While the pogroms were supported by local officals, Nicholas was not "openly" supportive, in fact the opposite, he was openly AGAINST them.


Offline Harvey

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #170 on: June 16, 2008, 02:49:50 PM »
The virulently anti-semitic Nicholas openly supported the murder of the Jews, and his own words and letters show.

Offline Forum Admin

  • Administrator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 4665
  • www.alexanderpalace.org
    • View Profile
    • Alexander Palace Time Machine
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #171 on: June 16, 2008, 03:43:49 PM »
Harvey,

I must insist that you bring the specific letters and words to support your contention that Nicholas II was "virulently" anti-semitic, and secondly "openly supported the murder of Jews."

Offline Harvey

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #172 on: June 16, 2008, 03:48:37 PM »
It's all recorded in "The Murder of the Romanovs" and plenty of other books. It's no wonder that King George V wanted nothing to do with his cousin in 1917.

Offline Forum Admin

  • Administrator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 4665
  • www.alexanderpalace.org
    • View Profile
    • Alexander Palace Time Machine
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #173 on: June 16, 2008, 03:52:10 PM »
Thats not good enough Harvey. I must insist you bring the specific words and letters here to support such an blind and broad statement. While I wait:

Here is Spiridovitch's take on Nicholas, from his memoir:
There was an opinion widely repeated in which the Emperor had detested the Jews.  That is incorrect.  As he was a Russian, and a man well versed in political and social history, the Emperor would not love the Jews, however he never once displayed the slightest hatred toward them.  He always showed himself to be as equally fair in regards to them as he was to many other groups.
     Those who created the anti-Jewish policies were acting in accordance with their own personal beliefs, and were hiding behind the Emperor and were trying to make him the scapegoat for them.  All of that was for nothing."


Also, several soldiers of the Orchestra of Nicholas' own Praeobrazhenskaya Regiment were Jews, there was a huge row when Dombadze tried to have them expelled from Yalta during one of Nicholas's stays at Livadia. The Tsar was most angry.


Plevhe was involved in the Kishnev pogrom of 1903.  April 6, 1903, the first day of Orthodox Easter, rumors spread in Kishnev that a ritual killing took place in nearby town of Dubossary by Jews during passover, and that in Kishnev itself a jewish doctor had tried to get blood for a passover ritual from a young servant girl.  The pogrom broke out just before noon that day.

Fontanka 16, pg. 233:
"By mid afternoon the governor R.S. von Raaben, issued orders to the police and military and by evening they had largely suppressed the pogrom.
     Groups opposed to the government laid the blame for the Kishnev pogrom on the authorities and in particular on the minister of the interior.

pg 234 "...Documents show that Plevhe, 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 impose measures of strengthened security.  I approved the request by telegram." [document in GARF 601/1/1046 sheet 2]
    Following the pacification of 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 Kishnev to investigate the conduct of the local authorities at the time of the pogroms.  Lopukhin did not discover any trances 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 Gendarme officers seemed duplicitous. ... the minister [Plehve] frankly condemned the police in a report to Nicholas II."
« Last Edit: June 16, 2008, 04:00:00 PM by Forum Admin »

Offline Forum Admin

  • Administrator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 4665
  • www.alexanderpalace.org
    • View Profile
    • Alexander Palace Time Machine
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #174 on: June 16, 2008, 04:03:24 PM »
After the celebrated Beyliss trial, which  ended with a verdict which, while recognizing the ritual character of the murder, nevertheless acquitted Beyliss; the Tsar, informed of the verdict (he was then still at Yalta) said to someone in his entourage who later repeated his words to me:
     "It is certain that this had been a ritual murder.  However I am happy that Beyliss was acquitted, as he is innocent." (Spiridovitch)

Spiridovitch re Dombadzye: Deprived of any instruction, however he was intelligent, cunning and positive and wily, he knew how to  monopolize his bosses and profit from their weaknesses.  He pretended to encourage and flatter not only his superiors, but also those near to them, including their wives.
     The population suffered greatly under Gvozdyevitch's machinations, but could do nothing against him because he had protectors everywhere.  Each new governor began his administration by announcing loudly that he intended to "chase out this scoundrel", but after just a little while Gvozdyevitch had become necessary and indispensible to the man, an invariable Michael Ivanovitch.  And so the arbitrary policeman continued both in Yalta and its suburbs to enrich himself here and there with new "plots" of land and new "little houses" which he had acquired under advantageous circumstances, so much so that having started out life as an errand-boy, he had become one of the richest landowners in the region.
     It was Gvozdyevitch who maneuvered General Dombadze, and Dombadze let himself be maneuvered completely, despite his pretensions of independence.
The socialists and the Jews were the principal elements against whom the police fought in Yalta.  However if, in regard to the socialists, the police were impartial and disinterested, so much more so as the police force watched them, it was not at all the same with regard to their attitude toward the Jews who could reconcile themselves with the policemen by knowing the right moment when to be "generous".
     It goes without saying that Gen. Dombadze was completely outside of these prevailing forces, and that he was not the least part touched by them, and was unaware of them deliberately.  He served only in his office and left his subordinates to serve in his name and to invoke his authority.  Every poor Jew, who did not have a right to domicile was immediately apprehended, rousted and expelled without any further legal process; while hundreds of other people, also without the right to domicile were not disturbed, because they had made their own private arrangements with the police.
     During Gen. Dyedyuline's stay in the Crimea, Gen. Dombadze made such a display of feelings of devotion for the Emperor and of such hatred for the revolutionaries that the commandant of the Palace was literally seduced and conquered by him. ...Pushed by Gvozdyevitch, Dombadze at that time created a major storm of trouble about several Jewish musicians, soldiers in the Praeobrazhenskaya Regiment, who were part of the military orchestra hired by the administration to play in the public garden in Yalta. He demanded their expulsion from Yalta, pretending that they could not be sure about their political views.  This was of course a manifest absurdity.  This "story" created an unbelievable row.  Dombadze was even more proud than ever before and walked through town with the air of triumph. Judge for yourself: he was not even afraid to expel soldiers from the Praeobrazhenskaya Regiment from Yalta!! When they learned about this story in the higher circles, one was contented to smile as Dombadze was treated as the source.  And, the source was strongly brought to account for the affair as his involvement in the affairs was a means of pleasure for him, and he wore that pleasure publicly."

Offline Harvey

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #175 on: June 16, 2008, 04:05:46 PM »
I'll find some quotations from the book, such as when he wrote, "There are too many Yids already". The anti-semitic policies of Nicholas II were far worse than anything that happened under Alexander III.

Offline Forum Admin

  • Administrator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 4665
  • www.alexanderpalace.org
    • View Profile
    • Alexander Palace Time Machine
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #176 on: June 16, 2008, 04:15:25 PM »
also Spiridovitch:
this about the Jew Bogrov's murder of Stolypin:
Count Kokovtzev told me much later that the Tsar had thanked him most warmly in Kiev for having succeeded, as he had replaced the murdered Stolypin, in preventing a pogrom, and had even embraced him, a sign of personal recognition.    (my emphasis)

The "too many Yids" comes from the denial of a Residence permit for a Jew in Yalta. So far, that doesn't seem like a smoking gun for his approval of murder of Jews...


Offline Forum Admin

  • Administrator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 4665
  • www.alexanderpalace.org
    • View Profile
    • Alexander Palace Time Machine
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #177 on: June 16, 2008, 04:16:52 PM »
and my personal favorite from Spiridovitch:
On those days when they did not hunt, (at Spala) the Emperor would happily go for walks on foot.  A few days after he arrived, he left the Palace alone, and went rather far and found himself in front of a small distillery where the farmer, a Jew, made turpentine.  Having greeted the farmer, the Emperor asked him for a bottle of turpentine.
     "Impossible" the Jew said, "we do not sell retail."  The Emperor smiled, said goodbye to the farmer and went along his way.
     "What did the Emperor ask you?" the security agent following the Emperor from a distance asked when he came up to the Jew.
     "What Emperor? Where?? The Emperor??" the Jew asked, and he suddenly understood what the agent meant, and he fell to the agent's feet.
     He was scared to death, when he realized the mistake that he had made, and he expected the most terrible consequences as a result of it.
     When the Emperor was told about the state of anxiety the poor Jew was in, the Emperor was amused, and had him sent 25 rubles along with another request for a bottle of his turpentine.

Offline Harvey

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #178 on: June 16, 2008, 04:21:26 PM »
The Easter Massacre at Kishinev in 1903 was organised with the Tsar's full knowledge and support. When 50 Jews were beaten to death in the streets and 600 more tortured he congratulated his minister of war and added, "Jews ought to be taught a lesson, they have got above themselves and are taking the lead of the revolutionary movement." In the autumn of 1906 he refused a request from the Council of Ministers that the most restrictive measures against Jews be lifted. Like the Kaiser, Nicholas and his wife believed in a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, and said, "Everywhere one sees the directing and destroying hand of Jewry!"

Offline Forum Admin

  • Administrator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 4665
  • www.alexanderpalace.org
    • View Profile
    • Alexander Palace Time Machine
Re: Nicholas II and Anti-Semitism.
« Reply #179 on: June 16, 2008, 04:25:26 PM »
"Prologue to Revolution" by Michael Cherniavsky, 1967.which is essentially an English traslation of the official and secret meetings of the Russian Imperial Council of Ministers from July, August and early September 1915. There is much information on this subject, and others in this forgotten and valuable (historically speaking) book.

While civil rights for the Jews had been promised in 1905, nothing had been done. By 1915, the government was now forced to deal with the issue, because the Military had ordered the expulsion of all Jews from the areas under their control as "German spies". Given that the front of the war encompassed virtually all of the Pale of Settlement, it meant that the Jews would have to relocate to Russia proper. The Duma was useless, totally inept at coming to any decision. Nicholas approved of giving the Jews full civil rights and property ownership in the cities, but would not act alone, so the Ministers attempted to reach a solution by issuing a series of edicts. The discussions on the subject reveal much about the nature and origins of the anti-Semitism prevalent in Russians and I think are insightful as to Nicholas's personal beliefs and perspective.

In short, it reveals that the fundemental basis of active anti-Semitism came from two sources: the Military which actively maintained that postion and the peasant class.  Their meetings reveal that for years, the main reason for NOT granting civil rights to Jews was because the Tsar and Ministers were afraid that there was no way to grant these rights without a violent backlash from these sources. Prince N.B. Shcherbatov, 4 August, 1915:"Our attempts to reason with Headquarters have been in vain...All together and separately we have spoken and written and pleaded and complained frequently. [The Military commander] Ianushkevich thinks that national considerations and interests are not binding on him. It is his plan to maintain the army's prejudice against the Jews and to represent them as responsible for the defeats at the front. Such policy is bearing fruit, and a disposition towards pogroms is growing in the army. ... we are apparantely deprived of the possibility of kiling this evil at its roots and there remains for us to search for ways of diminishing its baleful influence on the internal policy of the Government. Even if Headquarters were to give the order to stop the outrages against the Jews, the evil has spread so deeply that one could not manage the situation."

They also recognize that for years, the local police and authorities had been ignoring government orders to stop persecuting Jews, and were taking matters into their own hands and lying to their superiors about their anti-Semitic actions, or blaming others. That situation was becoming worse by 1915. Their fears from the past ten years were coming true.  On August 25 1915 there was a proposal to the Duma which included "The complete and definitive termination of all persecutions for religious beliefs, on no matter what pretexts and the abrogation of all circulars designed to limit or distort the meaning of the Decree of April 19, 1905." It is interesting to note that the Council was equally concerned with the Baptists and Catholics and Poles as the Jews on this issue. That proposal died in the Duma.