Anti-Semitism in Europe

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The Museum presents to you an article originally published in 1903 regarding a report submitted by an Associated Press correspondent who visited Gomel after the pogrom. Following is an editorial written to the Washington Times by J. T. Loeb, Rabbi of the Congregation Adath Israel, Washington, D. C, Sept. 28, 1903.

Troops Aid Infuriated Gomel Mob, San Francisco Call, Sept. 24, 1903.
Rabbi Loeb's letter, Washington Times, Sept. 28, 1903.

Troops Aid Infuriated Gomel Mob
From the San Francisco Call, Sept. 24, 1903.

Anti-Semites Receive Protection From Military.

Shield is Formed to Prevent Interference With Plunderers.

Latest Attack Upon Russian Jews, Though Less Bloody
Than Kishenev, Exhibits Especially Cruel Features.

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 did so.

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 injuries.

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.


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."


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 Jewish families.The 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 their fright.



From the Washington Times, Sept. 28, 1903.



False Charges Against Jews Followed by Slaughter.

To the Editor of The Washington Times:

Who spoke the truth? Was it the Russian government, through its mouthpiece, the gracious Count Cassini, and the others of his kind, or those who knew the situation and feared the worst for the future of the helpless Jews in Russia?

A pogrom in Gomel is the latest! This infernal manipulation was like that at Kishinev, thoroughly planned and organized. As in the Kishinev case a fictitious story was circulated abroad of a Jewish carasol man hitting a Christian woman, which, however, subsequently proved to be a mean falsehood; so here, too, the Russian officials have prepared a yarn with a Russian moujik, whom the Jews at Gomel killed because he refused to pay the price for a herring, in consequence of which the pogrom ensued.

The truth is now developing. Jews positively felt that the foul movement was at hand and they had accordingly prepared to defend their lives with such missiles as sticks and stones. They had, indeed, succeeded in warding off the hoodlums once, but on the Monday following the Jew-baiting cutthroats had gathered again and under the actual protection of the militia, and with the loud incitement of the "intellectual," they mercilessly battered, butchered, outraged and plundered.

The details of the Gomel pogrom are most shocking. Nearly all that had occurred at Kishinev was copied at Gomel.

The European world will now doubtless take a stand. In Paris the newspapers earnestly agitate the suggestion that the Powers combine now to present a note to the Russian government urging an immediate granting of equal rights and religious freedom for Jews in Russia, which alone will put an end to such and similar bloody outrages.

The Kishinev relief committees at all places in the United States are now requested to send to the New York central committee whatever money of the collections left in hand, so that it be now employed for the relief of the Gomel sufferers.

J. T. LOEB, Rabbi Congregation Adath Israel. Washington, D. C., Sept. 28, 1903.






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