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A pogrom (from Russian: "погром" (meaning "wreaking of havoc") is a massive violent attack on a particular ethnic or religious group with simultaneous destruction of their environment (homes, businesses, religious centers). The term has historically been used to denote massive acts of violence, either spontaneous or premeditated, against Jews, but has been applied to similar incidents against other minority groups.


Pogroms Against the Jews

In Russia

Though there were "pogrom-like" attacks against Jews dating back at least to the Crusades or earlier (see History of anti-Semitism), the first pogrom is often considered to be the 1821 anti-Jewish riots in Odessa after the death of the Greek patriarch in Constantinople, in which 14 Jews were killed.[1] (http://www.moria.farlep.net/vjodessa/en/pogroms.html) (Other sources, such as the Jewish Encyclopedia say the first pogrom was the 1859 riots, also in Odessa) Pogroms became a common term after a large-scale wave of anti-Jewish riots swept southern Russia in 1881, after Jews were wrongly blamed for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II.

In the 1881 outbreak, there were pogroms in 166 Russian towns. In these riots thousands of Jewish homes were destroyed, many families reduced to extremes of poverty; women sexually assaulted, and large numbers of men, women, and children killed or injured. The new czar, Alexander III, blamed the Jews for the riots and issued a series of harsh restrictions on Jewish movements, but large numbers of pogroms continued until 1884, with at least tacit government knowledge.

An even bloodier wave of pogroms broke out from 1903-1906, leaving an estimated 2,000 Jews dead, and many more wounded. The New York Times described the First Kishinev pogrom of Easter, 1903: "The anti-Jewish riots in Kishinev, Bessarabia, are worse than the censor will permit to publish. There was a well laid-out plain for the general massacre of Jews on the day following the Russian Easter. The mob was led by priests, and the general cry, "Kill the Jews," was taken- up all over the city. The Jews were taken wholly unaware and were slaughtered like sheep. The dead number 120 and the injured about 500. The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babes were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and bloodthirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror, and the city is now practically deserted of Jews." ("Jewish Massacre Denounced," New York Times, April 28, 1903, p 6)

At least some of the pogroms are believed to have been organized or supported by the Tsarist Russian secret police, the Okhranka. Such facts as the indifference of Russian police and army were duly noted, e.g., during the three-day First Kishinev pogrom of 1903, as well as the preceding inciting anti-Jewish articles in newspapers, a hint that pogroms were in line with the internal policy of Imperial Russia. There is also evidence that the police knew in advance about some pogroms, and chose not to act. Members of the army also actively participated in pogroms in Bialystok (June 1906) and Siedlce (September 1906). The most violently anti-Semitic movement during this period was the Black Hundred, which actively participated in the pogroms.

Even outside of these main outbreaks, pogroms remained common -- there were anti-Jewish riots in Odessa in 1859, 1871, 1881, 1886 and 1905 in which hundreds were killed in total. Many pogroms accompanied the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the following Russian Civil War at the hands of the White Army, who acted in accord with their "Jewish-Bolshevik plot" view of the Russian Revolution, derived from active Jewish participation in the Bolshevik movement.

Outside of Russia

Pogroms spread throughout Eastern Europe, and anti-Jewish riots broke out elsewhere in the world. Pogroms happened in Warsaw in 1881, and in 1918 and in the 1930s there were large-scale pogroms in Poland. In 1927, there were pogroms in Oradea Mare, Romania. Anti-Jewish rioting also broke out in Tripoli, Libya in 1945 in which 140 Jews were killed, and in Argentina in 1919.

Pogroms were also encouraged by the Nazis, especially early in the war before the larger mass killings began. The first of these pogroms was Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany, often called Pogromnacht, in which Jewish homes and business were destroyed and up to 200 Jews were killed. Particularly brutal was the Jedwabne Pogrom of 1941, in which Polish citizens killed 1,600 of their Jewish neighbors without any German assistance. Even after the end of World War II, there were still isolated pogroms, the most notable being the Polish Kielce Pogrom of 1946, in which 40 Jews were killed.

The History of anti-Semitism lists a number of anti-Jewish pogroms in various countries.

Influence of Pogroms

These first pogroms of the 1880s caused a worldwide outcry and, along with harsh laws, propelled mass Jewish emigration. Two million Jews fled Russia between 1880 and 1914, many going to the United States.

In reaction to the pogroms and other oppressions of the Tzarist period, Jews increasingly became politically active. The Bund, the Jewish labor union, and Jewish participation in the Bolshevik movements were directly influenced by the pogroms. Similarly, the organization of Jewish self-defence leagues (which stopped the pogromists in certain areas during the second Kishinev pogrom) such as Hibbat Zion led naturally into a strong embrace of Zionism, and especially by Russian Jews.

Modern usage

Missing image
Anti-Caucasian pogrom in Yekaterinburg, Russia, Sept. 9, 2004

Other peoples suffered this kind of targeted riots, at various times and in different countries, for example ethnic Greeks living in Constantinople, now Istanbul on September 67, 1955. Therefore this word is seen today to be used in contexts other than Jews in Russia.

A modern example of a race riot qualified by some as a pogrom is the August 1991 events in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Similarly, violent race riots in Gujarat, India in 2002 have led to accusations of an anti-Muslim pogrom sponsored by the ruling Hindu party (and counter-claims of terrorism).

Modern examples of pogroms against other nationals include those of anti-caucasus ( see Caucasophobia) actions of Russian skinheads

Outside Russia

Related articles

External Links

da:Pogrom de:Pogrom it:Pogrom he:פוגרום nl:Pogrom ja:ポグロム nn:Pogrom pt:Pogrom sv:Pogrom


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