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About Jewish Pogroms

This is an umbrella project for Jewish Pogroms though the ages. Please join the project and add your profiles.

In the Shadow of the Holocaust

The term "pogrom" was first used in the 19th century. It is the destruction by one section of the population against another. The pogroms occurred during periods of severe political crisis in Eastern Europe.

The Russian Empire, previously had very few Jews and had acquired territories with large Jewish populations during 1791-1835. These territories were designated "the Pale of the Russian government, within which pogroms took place.

The area comprised territory of European Russia and included much of present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Moldova, Ukraine, and parts of western Russia. Most Jews were forbidden from moving to other parts of the Empire, unless they converted to Orthodox Christianity.

Russia’s Jewish Question

In 1772 the Russian Empire orchestrated the first partition of Poland, and in so doing oversaw “the dissolution of the largest Jewish collective in the world.” Polish Jewry was divided into three parts :

- those in Posen came under the sovereignty of Prussia - those in Galicia came under the sovereignty of Austria
- those in Poland proper that came under the sovereignty of the Russian Empire.

In the decades prior to partition, Polish Jewry had enjoyed a demographic explosion, with Jews now representing almost 20% of the entire population. Jews now controlled a full 75% of Polish exports, through sale of liquor to peasants.

On the eve of the assassination of Alexander II, Russia’s Jewish Question remained unanswered. Jews had swamped the schools, and added to a group of fast growing Jewish capitalists.

By 1860, more than half of world Jewry resided in the Pale.

Storms in the negev (Storms in the South)

The Jews of Russia were the victims of three large-scale waves of pogroms, each of which surpassed the preceding in scope and savagery. These occurred between the years:

  • 1881 and 1884
  • 1903 and 1906
  • 1917 and 1921

There were outbreaks in Poland after it regained independence in 1918, and in Romania from 1921.

The pogroms and the official reaction to them led many Russian Jews to reassess their perceptions of their status within the Russian Empire, and so to significant Jewish emigration, mostly to the United States.

These pogroms were referred to among Jews as the 'storms in the negevand indirectly boosting the early Zionist movement.


A much bloodier wave of pogroms broke out from 1903 to 1906, leaving an estimated 2,000 Jews dead and many more wounded.

The most serious pogrom was in 1905 in which up to 2,500 Jews killed. In contrast, there were no pogroms either in present-day Poland or Lithuania. There were also very few incidents in Belarus or Russia proper. The pogroms in October 1905 took 800 Jewish lives, the material damages estimated at 70,000,000 rubles.


Despite the period of relative peace, a third and final wave of pogroms began in 1917, lasting for about five years. This wave of riots was easily the bloodiest, leaving potentially tens of thousands dead. At least one thousand pogroms occurred, with 887 being reported as "major".

- Petlyura's trident symbol was replaced by the swastika. The riots were massive, sometimes claiming the lives of thousands of Jews in a few hours. The total is put between 50,000 to 250,000.

- This wave marked the end of violent anti-Semitism in modern Russian history. It was stopped by the end of the Russian Civil War (1918-1922) won by Bolsheviks, who were internationalist and atheist by ideology and enlisted a relatively large number of educated non-religious ("ethnic") Jews (e.g. Lev Trotsky).

Organization of the pogroms

The pogroms are generally thought to have been either organized or at least condoned by the authorities.

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

Similarly, the organization of Jewish self-defense leagues (which stopped the pogromists in certain areas during the second Kishinev pogrom), such as Hovevei Zion, led to a strong embrace of Zionism, especially by Russian Jews.

See also

  • History of the Jews in Russia and the Soviet Union
  • Emancipation of the Jews in England#Pogroms in Russia
  • British responses to the anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire
  • Antisemitism in the Russian Empire

European Pogroms from Middle Ages to Early Modern Era

During the first two Crusades (1096–1102 and 1147–1149), the Jews of central Europe, especially in Germany, fell victim to persecutions and sacrifices. Thus the great epidemic and plague of the late Middle Ages in the mid-fourteenth century resulted in pogroms against the Jewish population of unseen magnitude.

'Pogroms in Russia under the Czars and during the Revolution'

  • The first followed the assassination of Czar Alexander II (1818–1881), when anti-Semitic circles blamed his death on the Jews.
  • The outbreak of the second wave of pogroms, from 1903 to 1906. The first pogrom of this era took place at the Jewish holiday of Passover in 1903 in the town of Kishinev, with roughly 1, 500 Jewish houses and businesses looted.
  • The most devastating pogrom to date occurred involving sixty-four cities and six hundred villages. More than eight hundred Jews fell victim to its violence.

The wave of pogroms from 1917 to 1921 occurred in the context of world war. Even before the end of World War I (1914–1918), deserters committed terrible massacres and robberies of Jewish property in villages near the front.

The worst pogroms took place in the Ukrainian republic.”’

Pogroms in Germany

German Jews only achieved full civil rights with the creation of the Second German Empire, after 1871.

The first pogrom against the Jews during this period broke out on 9 and 10 November 1938 and was referred to as Reichskristallnacht or Kristallnacht (night of broken glass) and murdered one hundred German Jews.

During World War II members of the NSDAP, or Nazi Party, committed massive numbers of pogroms against Jewish populations in occupied areas of Eastern Germany.