The persecution of the Jews in the central part of the
country recalls the fanaticism of the darkest days of the
Middle Ages. What false prophets preached in theory has
become a terrible reality in this land of Caesarism, through
the intolerance of orthodox disciples; a reality which
proves as nothing else the lack of European civilization.
Men who fulfill every duty required by the State, who perform
every duty performed by other citizens, are termed by law, "inorodcy,"
(foreigners), and are treated by the folk as enemies. Why?
Simply because they acknowledge a religion in which the
founder of Christianity was born.
Since 1881, when
Ignatieff promulgated the terrible Jewish laws the lives of
the 5,000,000 Russian Hebrews who, with few exceptions led a
pitiful, beggarly existence, have been passed in unbroken
war against the frightful abuse and persecution of the
authorities. Eternal lies are the cause of this; false
accusations against the Jews of crimes against the State,
the authorities, Russian citizens and a Draconic code of
laws which robs them of the privileges of honest subjects. A
late cause of this inhuman condition is the desire of
dishonest Government servants to bent upon the plunder of
their fellow citizens. Robbers! Men who are obliged to live
crowded together paint the Jews to the Czar as terrible
robbers, like so many sheep; who have no whole pieces of
clothing upon their backs; men whose rags draw tears to the
eyes of the beholder; whose only pleasure is the practice of
the commands of their religion! If the head officer of the
district--the Pristaw--happens to owe a gambling debt, the
poor creatures are not even sure of their miserable lives.
As in the Middle Ages, the unfortunate people save, with
great difficulty, a few hundred dollars for their children,
only to be robbed in the middle of the night. They are
plundered every week, every day, every hour by the almighty
policemen. And when their money is gone they are driven from
The Ignatieff laws forbade the Jews the right of
sojourn outside of the cities and the market places, the
renting of farms, the acceptance of mortgages. The hardest
measure, however, was the confinement of all Jewish
inhabitants of the country to certain governments or
districts. In addition to Poland, these districts are Vilna,
Kovno, Witebsk, Grodno, Minsk, Mohilev, Volhynia, Podolia,
the eight governments of West Russia; Kiew, Tschernigow; and
Pultova, the three governments of Russia-Minor, and
Jekatarinoslaw, Tauria, Cherson and Bessarabia, the four
governments of South Russia. Beyond the boundaries of these
districts the Russian Hebrew dare not go, unless he has
secured special privileges by education or money. Merchants
of the first order--that is, those who are ranked in the
highest tax list--and Hebrews with academic degrees have the
privilege of settling in other parts of Russia. It is more
correct to say that such Hebrews had that privilege, as the
attempt has been made to withdraw even that. Reforms are
planned for the professions of law and engineering, with the
intention of decreasing the percentage of Hebrews within
them. Even the privilege of studying at the university is to
be restricted. Many boys who have been able to graduate from
the gymnasia after heavy monetary sacrifices on the part of
their parents, have not received Governmental permission to
enter the universities.
For the laborer it is harder. One day the head of a
city government orders the Jews to sell only wares which
they themselves have manufactured; another day he drives
them from the city. And yet these same Jewish citizens are
obliged to perform military service as other citizens; to
pay heavier taxes than their Russian neighbors! Is it any
wonder that policemen try to gain the favor of their
superiors by a cruel interpretation of the law? Can one
wonder that they take advantage of a source of income which
is easy to control?
The terrible persecutions in Moscow became known to
the Russian public only by accident. It was reported in
Governmental circles that the aged Prince Dolgorukoff was
bribed continually by the Jews; that thus only could the
increase in the number of Jews in Moscow be explained. They
decided, therefore, to get rid of the octogenarian. They
would not admit that he had been influenced by feelings of
pity and humanity. They feared to see the Jews increase in
numbers even during the few years allotted to him on earth.
They deprived the aged man of one of the principal offices
in the kingdom and sent him to Western Europe for
recreation. They drove hundreds and thousands of the people
whom he had protected from their beds and exposed them to
the elements, hunger and sickness. What excuses are given
for this cruel conduct? At times they say that the laws
require it; at times they acknowledge its illegality, but
assert that they cannot permit the ancient capital of Russia
to be made a new Jerusalem!
A few days ago twenty-five Jewish workmen were
dismissed from a printing establishment in Moscow and sent
back to the Jewish districts. The majority of these men had
worked as pirates in Moscow since 1874. In extenuation of
the expulsion it was alleged that printing was to be classed
among the arts and not among the trades.
Similar assertions are made whenever necessary. A
cutter, for instance, is called upon to do the work of a
presser. If the poor fellow cannot accomplish the work he is
expelled from the laborers' guild and is maltreated and
persecuted by the police. The greatest sufferers are
hoary-headed men who are no longer able to do their own
In the village of Lepetischa 100 families have
received orders to leave the place, because, it is alleged,
their names were not in the registers before the year 1882!
What do registers signify in Russia? Little attention is
paid to registration and the Jews have seldom the
opportunity to register themselves. It would be impossible,
therefore, to obtain a Governmental proof of the
establishment of these families. Many of them could prove
that they had worked in the village before 1882. That,
however, was not sufficient. The 100 families must leave the
village within thirty days or submit to the degradation of
being chained together and led away as common criminals.
The stand which the authorities have taken toward the
schools founded by the Jews is an excellent illustration of
the cruelty allowed by the laws. Almost one-half of the
25,000 inhabitants of this city of Winizra [Vinnitsia?-ed.], in Podolia, are
Hebrews. A wealthy member of the colony named Weinstein
founded a technical college. Despite the large percentage of
Hebrews in the city and the history of the institution, only
five Jewish children were admitted to the college halls. The
other pupils number about 100. Thus are the laws fulfilled!
A similar state of affairs exists in Goslowka [Gorlovka?-ed.], where
the well-known railroad contractor, S. S. von Poljakoff,
established a school of mines. A large number of young men
succeeded in preparing themselves for the course in the
school. Only five per cent of the candidates were enrolled
on the list of attendants!
A few weeks ago the twenty-fifth anniversary of an
institute for ladies of noble birth was celebrated in St.
Petersburg. Baron Guenzburg had founded the institute with
his own money. Guenzburg, it is true, was invited to the
celebration, which was also attended by the Czar. The other
guests, however, took such pains to ignore and insult Baron
Guenzburg that has determined to leave St. Petersburg.
One of the most degrading of the recent edicts is that
of the Governor-General of Odessa. In accordance with it,
the local police are directed to punish Jews who do not show
them proper respect on the streets. The poor Hebrews, in
order to protest against the degrading order, decided to
boycott all the restaurants of Odessa. It is possible that
the edict will be rescinded. However, the men are still
obliged to take their hats off before all city officials if
they wish to escape punishment.
The Jews called "foreign vagabonds" by the police
form a class by themselves. This term, in reality, is
to be applied only to foreigners who do not comply
immediately with their orders to emigrate. The police,
however, seem to take pleasure in including native Jews in
this category. Recently, two citizens of Letetscheff, in
Podolia, were brought before the civil and criminal courts
to answer the charge of vagabondage. One of these men was
the possessor of a small house and fortune, which he had
inherited from his father; the other was a respectable
cabman. Both were sentenced to prison! In all probability
they will remain there until their relatives can prove that
they are native Russians.
A few weeks ago a poor fellow from Trostcaniz was
summoned to trial because he was unable to prove where had
been born At his request a period of seven days was granted
to him to produce the papers in proof of his statements.
Owing to the condition of the registers mentioned above,
this was impossible? What was the result? The unfortunate
man was sentenced to four years' imprisonment and to
lifelong banishment to Siberia. Shortly after his
incarceration his relatives succeeded in obtaining
documentary evidence proving his nativity. The courts,
however, declined to reopen the case or change the sentence.
The man has a wife and seven children who have been thrown
upon their own resources.
Does the Czar know what happens in his great Empire?
No! For many years the reports of the officials presented to
His Majesty have been filled with lies and
misrepresentations. The Hebrew is the chief source of income
to the officials. A policeman is able to force as much money
from a Jew in a single day as his income amounts to in a
month. For these reasons his reports are colored and
distorted. They are full of false accusations. And the ruler
of the land, misled by the statements, promulgates laws
which have their foundation in the avarice of his
The people of Europe who read of the inquisitorial
conduct of the Russian officials evidently overlook the
connection which the measures against the Jews have with the
spirit now ruling in Russia. The Jews, as has been the case
in all history, are sacrificed first. But they will not be
the last to suffer. Nothing that is not orthodox Russian is
to be tolerated; everything else is doomed. Differences in
religion and language are not to be considered. "Russia is
for the Russians" is the prevailing cry. Noble men like
Bishop Nikanor are not listened to. Voices like that of
Bishop Ambrosius only are heard.