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Anti-Semitism in Europe
THE BIALYSTOK POGROM

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From the San Francisco Call newspaper, dated June 19, 1906.

 

HORRIFYING BESTIALITY MARKS THE WORK OF BIELYSTOK MOBS
 


Bodies of Scores of Jewish Victims of Fanatical Rioters Mutilated and Beaten
Until They Are Deprived of All Semblance to Human Forms.


Even the Wounded That Crowd Hospitals Are Frightfully Mangled, Their
Hands, Arms or Legs Having Been Chopped Off by Persecutors.

 

Bialystok, June 18.--

Quiet reigned today throughout this devastated town. Firing was heard at midnight on the outskirts of Bialystok, near the cemetery, but no further disorders have occurred.

The total figures of the casualties are not available, but seventy bodies were buried today. This is claimed to be less than half the total killed. Jewish estimates say that not less than 200 killed. The number of wounded is enormous. Surgeons have arrived from Warsaw to assist the overworked staffs of the hospitals in caring for the injured.

A few instances of the excesses were the bestiality and brutality with which the victims of the massacre were treated. Some of the corpses were mere masses of pulped flesh, the wounded in some cases having scarcely a sound bone in the bodies.

Today the story of the riot was written in large letters in the aspect of streets, which were one continuous picture of arson and pillage. The windows and doors of the Jewish houses were wide open, giving a view of their wrecked interiors, or were boarded up with rude wooden shutters.

 



photo
: Printed caricature by painter Henryk Nowodworski, depicting pogrom białostocki of 1906. Note the assailant wearing a Tsarist army hat with a cockade sideways. From Wikipedia.

HOMES OF JEWS WRECKED.

Everywhere could be seen weeping women, hunting for traces of killed or wounded relatives. The principal stores were either devastated wrecks or mere mounds of ashes, among which the wretched proprietors, last week rich, but now reduced to poverty, were wandering about weakly endeavoring to ascertain the extent of their misfortunes. Before practically every house left intact hung an ikon, with a burning lamp, and the street doors were marked with great crosses, made with chalk or of cloth, to show that the inmates were Christians.

Another attack was made yesterday evening on the police station by armed revolutionists, who occupied a house near by. They opened fire from the building on the police, but a force of Cossacks was gathered, the house was stormed and the revolutionists were dispossessed.

It was feared that the latter, who are members off the Jewish Bund and are enraged and embittered by the slaughter of their co-religionists, would seize the occasion of the funeral of the victims today to make a new attack, but the Governor General took the necessary military measures to prevent it. The garrison has been strongly reinforced.

On account of the destruction of the stores of provisions, supplies are almost unobtainable just now, but food is being imported to relieve the destitution.

BODIES FRIGHTFULLY MUTILATED.

The scene at the Jewish Hospital, where the majority of the Jewish dead and the more severely wounded were taken, was terrible. The grass plot outside the hospital today was covered with mangled corpses, arranged in two long rows, awaiting burial. The wooden walk from the gate to the door, over which the bodies were carried, was stained with blood. The dead and wounded were still arriving. Many of them had been lying untouched in the streets for two days. Only the most severely wounded were taken inside the hospital. The bodies of some of these were frightfully bruised, broken and mangled.

A constant stream of unhappy persons visited the hospital yard and, when allowed to do so, the wards, endeavoring to locate and identify members of their families or friends, or obtain bodies of the dead for burial. Some of the bodies had already been removed, but the hospital attendants asserted that about a hundred in all had been brought in and that many more remained in the outskirts of Bialystok, where it was still unsafe for the Red Cross detachments to venture.

At the district hospital there were six dead persons and eight or ten wounded. These were all Christians. One man had been killed and two wounded as a result of the explosion of bombs. The others had bullet wounds. These bodies were not mangled or mutilated, as was the case with the Jews, whose hand, arms, and legs were chopped of from mere wantonness.
 


OUTBREAKS AGAINST JEWS.

WARSAW, June 18--The Chief of Police of Warsaw today issued a proclamation warning the people against the efforts to provoke racial hatred and stating that every attempt at rioting would be mercilessly suppressed by force of arms.

Anti-Jewish riots have broken out at Zabludow and Giuondz, in the province of Grodno and at Ossowiec, in the province of Lornza.

ODESSA, June 18--The Novosti of this city published a dispatch today from its correspondent in Bialystok, saying:
"I personally counted 290 Jewish corpses, a great number of which were horribly mutilated. Only six Christians were killed and eight wounded."

BERLIN, June 18--The Jewish Society today received a telegram from Grajewo, Russian Poland, dated Monday, saying that at Lapy, a village near Bialystok, five Jews had been killed and many wounded, and at Starcheltzi all the Jewish shops had been destroyed.


HORRORS PAST DESCRIPTION.
 


Words Fail Eye Witnesses Who give Details of the Atrocities.

ST. PETERSBURG, June 18--The embargo on news from Bialystok was lifted today and a press correspondent was for the first time allowed to telegraph directly from the sacked city a picture of the scene of ruin and desolation left in the wake of the mob. According to frequent bulletins, order was restored and maintained throughout the day, in spite of the incentive to disorder at funerals which were in progress almost the whole day; but the atmosphere is supercharged and a slight event may suffice to precipitate a renewal of street fighting. The authorities apparently realize this, and hope to avert either a catastrophe or a show of force. On one occasion the whole garrison was called out on some alarm and the streets were literally packed with horse, foot and artillery until the danger was passed.

The story told by the press correspondent is a dreadful one, but there are indications that he has been prevented by the censorship from relating further details about the conditions of corpses, the utter bestiality of the mob and the inability of the troops to cope with the excesses during the first days of the rioting.

It is evident from the dispatches that the excess assumed the character of a three-cornered fight between the military, the mob and armed members of the Jewish Bund, who, instead of submitting passively to slaughter, as their unarmed co-religionists have done heretofore, carried the war into the enemy's camp and fought bravely, though without inflicting appreciable loss on the troops, among whom no serious casualties have been reported.

Horrible details have been sent out by the correspondent of the Bourse Gazette, who managed to send his story by a messenger on Sunday afternoon. The correspondent, who accompanied Stchepkin directly to the hospital, escorted by a corporal's guard, says he was utterly unnerved by the sights he witnessed there.

"Merely saying that the corpses were mutilated," he correspondent writes, "fails to describe the awful scenes. The faces of the dead have lost all human semblance, and the corpses simply are crushed masses of flesh and bone soaking in blood. It is impossible to conceive of such bestiality. The corpse of Teacher Apstein lay in the grass with the hands tied. In the face and eyes had been hammered three-inch nails. Rioters entered his home and after fearful outrages, killed him thus and then murdered the rest of this family of seven. When the corpse arrived at the hospital, it was also marked with bayonet thrusts.

"Beside the body of Apstein lay the corpse of a child of 10 years, whose leg had been chopped off with an ax. Here also were the dead from the Schlachter home, where, according to witnesses, soldiers came and plundered the house and killed the wife, the son and a neighbor's daughter and seriously wounded Schlacter and his two daughters.

"I am told that soldiers entered the apartments of the Lapidus brothers, which were crowded with people who had fled from the streets for safety, and ordered the Christians to separate themselves from the Jews. A Christian student named Dikar protested and was killed on the spot. Three Jews were shot.

"Some of the corpses were marked with fire. These had been brought from a burned tannery and showed bullet and bayonet marks.

"In one corner of the yard was a demented Jewess trying to cover the body of her husband, but her efforts were in vain, as the blood simply oozed from beneath the inadequate covering.

"From the wounded in the hospital the correspondent heard many pitiable stories, all of the same general tenor. Here is the account of a badly wounded merchant named Nevyazhiky:

"I live in the suburbs. Learning of the pogrom, I tried to reach the town through the fields, but was intercepted by roughs. My brother was killed, my arm and leg were broken, my skull was fractured and I was stabbed twice in the side. I fainted from loss of blood and revived to find a soldier standing over me, who asked: "What! Are you still alive? Shall I bayonet you?" I begged him to spare my life. The roughs again came, but spared me, saying: "He will die; let him suffer longer.'"

The correspondent, who adopts the bitterest tone toward the Government, holds that the pogrom undoubtedly was provoked and attributes the responsibility to Police Lieutenant Schermatieff. He says the distinctive characteristic of the outbreak, in which it differs from the excesses at Odessa, Kishinev, Gomel and Kiev, aside from bestiality, is the comparatively small amount of actual robberies committed. The participants seemingly were not inspired by motives of loot, but of murder and destruction, pure and simple. He also holds that the participation of the troops has been completely proved, and quotes Deputy Stchepkin as saying this is clearly shown by the demoralization of the soldiery consequent on the removal of all restraint. The correspondent declares that not only the soldiers, but their officers also, participated, and that he himself was a witness as late as Saturday to the shooting down of a Jewish girl from the window of a hotel by Lieutenant Miller of the Vladimir regiment. The Governor of the Province of Grodno, who happened to be passing at the moment, ordered an investigation.

**Also read the AJC Archives Jewish Year Book article on the pogroms that occurred in Europe between 1903 and 1906, as well as the Duma Commission Report on the pogroms. Just click here.

 


 



 

 


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