GOMEL, Government of Mohile,
Russia, Sept. 21 -- The Associated Press correspondent
has made an investigation on the spot of the "pogrom," as
the Russians describe the anti-Semitic riots which occurred
here on Sept. 11 and were renewed for several days. The
riots were smaller, but perhaps more remarkable than those
which took place at Kishenev, because the police and
military openly aided the plunderers and murderers, the
"pogromshiks," as the Russians called them. The troops,
supported by many educated and well-to-do Christians, formed
a movable shield behind which the "Pogromshiks" ruthlessly
demolished the Jewish homes and shops and cruelly clubbed
such Jews as fell into their hands, leisurely proceeding
from street to street and from district to district as they
The commerce and industry of
Gomel, which is considerable, is largely in the hands of the
Jewish population, numbering 25,000. Few of the residents
are wealthy, but none is a pauper. The Jewish artisans
incline to socialism.
The trouble began on Sept. 11, a
holiday, the day of the beheading of John the Baptist, in a
wrangle in the fruit and fish markets between Moujiks
(peasants) and Jews. The wrangle ended in a free fight, in
which many were wounded, one moujik succumbing to his
The moujiks demanded vengeance
and employed the following days, Saturday and Sunday, in
inflaming the anti-Semitic feeling, the leaders being an
officer, Penski, and a rich merchant, Petrachenko.
EXPECTED THE "POGROM."
Everybody knew that a pogrom
would occur on Monday, and the Jews appealed for protection
to Chief of Police Ravaki, who summoned an infantry regiment
from its summer encampment. There were 1,600 soldiers in the
town. At luncheon hour on Monday the anti-Semitic railway
workmen to the number of some hundreds began an organized
attack on the Jews in Zamovkaya street, sacking them and
demolishing or spoiling the bulky articles by soaking them
with kerosene. Police Chief Ravaki had placed policemen and
troops on the street, but they acted as though they intended
to protect the pogromshiks from interference. The Jews from
the outside who attempted to rescue their co-religionists
were brutally clubbed by the soldiers with guns, bayoneted
or arrested. Meanwhile recruits for the pogromshiks poured
in steadily over the bridge leading from the railway
workshops. A bystander begged the commander of the
gendarmerie to send troops to guard the exit from the
bridge. The officer replied, threatening the man with arrest
and saying: "We know what we have to do."
The plunderers now proceeded from street
to street, the troops and police following them and cutting
off access to the devastated Jewish houses. They
subsequently visited the Jewish quarter called "America,"
then Konnaya Square, the upper end of Roumianzovskaya
street, the principal thoroughfare of the town, and the
district called "Caucasus."
FIRE UPON JEWS.
Altogether nearly 400 houses and
shops were wholly or partially wrecked, the windows smashed,
the blinds and frames being splintered and every scrap of
furniture and effects, even the samovars, sewing machines,
mirrors and lamps, destroyed or stolen. The Jews who did not
take refuse with compassionate Christians or conceal
themselves in cellars were severely beaten, and in many
cases dangerously wounded. Some young Jews, exasperated by
the action of the police and the troops, armed themselves
with any available weapons and tried to force their way to
the threatened houses. One Jewess attempted to shoot a
non-commissioned officer and twenty-five revolver shots were
heard in the vicinity of the bazaar, but were apparently
fired in the air, as no one was hurt.
The police then undertook to
disarm the Jews. Forty building laborers collected in the
busiest part of Roumianzovskaya street and stopped and beat
every passing Jew. This gang was encouraged by assistant
Police Captain Charlononsky and Rural Police Commander
Yeleinski. The gang clubbed Berg Kevesh to death in the
presence of these officers, and after the victim had been
removed to a hospital, Yeleinski continued an amicable
conversation with the murderers, none of whom was arrested.
The Jews rallied in force in Kennaya square at 4 o'clock in
the afternoon, when the military fired on them, killing
three and wounding others. Presumably on the governor's
instructions, the military employed their firearms against
the pogromshiks in the Caucasus, killing three. This action
and nightfall put an end to the pogrom.
Four hundred peasants arrived in
Gomel early the following day, Tuesday, but were easily
driven away by the military. A few houses were pillaged that
day and two more on Wednesday, after which no disorders
occurred until Sept. 18, when a fruit gardener, Zvagelsky,
was barbarously slaughtered by thieves. The other Jews
killed were Pilatsky, murdered by peasants in the village of
Verouimo, five miles distant, where he had taken refuge with
his wife, who has become insane, and in Gomelitzif, Davidov,
Leikin and Elpern, clubbed to death by the military or the
mob, and Kagansky and Oberman, shot and bayoneted.
Sixty-four Jews were registered as wounded and probably
forty others left the city without being registered.
During the week following the riots all
the trains leaving the city were crowded with a thousand
Christian dead numbered five, of whom the troops shot three.
Ten Christians are recorded as wounded.
The Jewish committee claims to be able to
identify ninety-five pogromshiks, but only about twenty-five
Christians have been arrested, including one telegraph
official. Over fifty Jews were arrested for carrying weapons
or conspiring against the police.
Fears are expressed that the coming
market days, September 27 and 28, may witness a repetition
of the pogrom. The present attitude of the military is
disquieting. Last night the soldiers playfully clicked their
rifles at the Jewish ladies and then laughed boisterously at