From Kishinev to Kristallnacht
Anti-Semitism in Pre-War Europe


From the New-York Daily Tribune newspaper, June 14, 1907.

An interview with the editor/owner of "Novoye Vremya" Aleksey Suvorin.

Jews in Russia.

Why Editor of "Novoye Veremya" as a Russian Patriot Opposes Them.

"The American Hebrew" publishes to-day an interview with M. Suvorin, the editor of the "Novoye Vreyma," of St. Petersburg, in course of which he says:

"You ask me why I am against the Jews," Suvorin began, when the conversation turned upon the Jewish Question. "Personally, I have nothing against them, but as a Russian patriot I am opposed to them."

"For what reasons?" I asked.

"First of all, the Jews are more cultured and cleverer than the native population."

"Is that, in your opinion, a crime?"

"No; but this reflects itself disadvantageously upon the native population. If the Jews were given freedom in Russia, the entire native population, because it is so uncultured, would find itself in the hands of the Jews. All the wealth of Russia would go over to the Jewish people."

"Until recently you have been saying that the Jews have intoxicated the native population and have robbed the peasants of all they possessed. Now a Jew is not allowed to run a liquor store, for the dram shopkeeper at present is a government functionary. Has drunkenness decreased on this account? Has the famine subsided? Should Russian patriotism consist only of seeking, instead of the truth, a scapegoat? And, of course, the Jews are the most desirable element as a scapegoat?"

"You are wrong in thinking as you do....The reason I have pointed out to you is of a very serious character....We Russians cannot look upon the Jews as upon Russian citizens....The Jews are not patriots....The Jews evade military service....The Jews despise everything Russian; the Jews isolate themselves...."

"According to you, then, the Jew's love for his country should be expressed in kissing the knout with which he is being beaten, in embracing the Cossack or policeman who has violated his wife or his daughter?"

"Why should the authorities like the Jews, who are their enemies? The Jews are positively a troublesome element. They undermine the foundation of the church and the government....The Jews are to blame for the revolutionary movement in Russia. Pleveh once showed me the statistics of political criminals, and would you believe it, 72 per cent of them were Jews....Which government in the world would protect a nation which produces such an enormous percentage of enemies? Of course, the revolution is advantageous to the Jews. Seizing the reins of government in their hands, they would rule Russia as they please....Therefore the native Russian resists the Jews in the form of pogroms. The struggle is beyond question a savage one, but then our people are savages....And now, give freedom to such savages...."

photo: Aleksey Suvorin, before 1912. From Wikipedia.


Aleksey Surovin.

"But why do the Jews in Europe usually incline toward the conservative and government parties? In Russia the Jews are with the Opposition parties because they are oppressed by the government. Besides, as far as I know, two-thirds of the statistical figures of revolutionists, as compiled by Pleveh, consists of Zionists and Jewish nationalists, whom Pleveh managed to classify as Russian revolutionists."

"Are not the Zionists and Jewish nationalists a part of the revolutionary movement? Do you consider those that have armed themselves with a stock of revolvers and bombs as peaceful citizens?"

"Are you referring to the Jewish self-defense?" I asked.

"Of course," he answered, quickly.

"The very name of the organization shows that it is not of a revolutionary character. The people simply do not want to be slain like cattle, and they defend themselves, since they cannot expect protection from the government."

"However that may be, a well regulated government cannot bear such organizations."

"And how about the pogrom organizers--such as the 'Union of the Real Russian People'--are such organizations tolerated by well regulated governments?"

"No, our government is fighting them."

"How? By demanding officially that these pogrom-makers be deprived of their firearms, and yet allowing these bandits to carry on their diabolical work?"

"Do you really believe this stupid Jewish slander, according to which the Russian government is responsible for the massacres?"

"I do! For I have convinced myself that whenever it is advantageous for the government that the massacres be stopped, it checks them immediately. The local authorities would never encourage any massacres if they knew that they would be held responsible for them. Recall the case of Neidgardt. I had a conversation with senator Kuzminsky, who was investigating the Odessa pogrom. He frankly declared that his investigations convinced him that Neidgardt, the Prefect of Odessa, had organized the pogrom in Odessa, and in reporting the matter stated that Neidgardt should be tried. What were the results? Durnovo declared to the Senate commission that if Neidgardt will be tried, then all those carrying out honestly the orders from above will resign....And Neidgardt, instead of going to prison, was promoted to be a Senator; that is, he became one of Kuzminsky's colleagues."....

"Nonsense! Kuzminsky is foolish? Neidgardt acted as a real Russian. When they began to abuse the Czar and the government, he stepped aside. He allowed the people themselves to fight it out with the Jews."

"Why, then, did Neidgardt send out Cossacks against the Jews, who merely defended their houses?"

"Because the Jews were firing at the Christians, and the latter did not refuse the aid of the administration....This is so self-evident to every impartial observer."

"If, as you say, the Jews are such an undesirable element in Russia, would it not be more honest to propose to them to leave Russia?"

"We do not hold them back, but we will not drive them out of Russia, for, under certain conditions, the Jews might become an extremely desirable element for us."

"Under what conditions, for instance?"

"Well, for instance, if the Jews were to intermarry with the Christians. This would have exerted a beneficial influence upon our Slavic race. Together with the lazy blood of our race, the blood of the energetic and enterprising people would flow in the veins of our prosperity. And the Jews would become thoroughly assimilated with us."

"Are you jesting?"

"No; I am in earnest....Picture to yourself an old estate owner. His only heir is a son, who is a drunkard, who leads a fast life and who will surely squander everything. The old man has a workman who is sober, industrious and clever. The old man is greatly indebted to the workman, who has devoted his life to his master. The question is, To whom shall he leave his fortune? to the workman, with the understanding that he support the son, or to the son? Reason dictates that he should leave it to the workman, and yet the old man decided that the son was, after all, a son to him, even though he was a drunkard. And he left the estate to his son. The same is true of us Russians. The Russians are, after all, our own people, while the Jew is the workingman."



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