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Predominantly Jews

Pogrom httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Horrific scenes of 1941 ukrainian pogrom

A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at the massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group, particularly one aimed at Jews. The term originally entered the English language in order to describe 19th and 20th century attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire (mostly within the Pale of Settlement, what would become Ukraine and Belarus). Similar attacks against Jews at other times and places also became retrospectively known as pogroms. The word is now also sometimes used to describe publicly sanctioned purgative attacks against non-Jewish ethnic or religious groups.



First recorded in 1882, the Russian word pogrom (погро́м, pronounced [pɐˈgrom]) is a noun derived from the verb gromit' (громи́ть, pronounced [grɐˈmʲitʲ]) meaning "to destroy, to wreak havoc, to demolish violently". Its literal translation is "to harm". The noun pogrom, which has a relatively short history, is used in English and many other languages as a loanword, possibly borrowed via Yiddish (where the word takes the form פאָגראָם). Its widespread circulation in today's world began with the anti-Semitic excesses in the Russian Empire in 1881–1883.

Historical background

Anti-Jewish riots took place in Europe already in the Middle Ages. The Jewish communities were targeted in the Black Death Jewish persecutions of 1348–1350, in Toulon in 1348, in Barcelona and in other Catalan cities, during the Erfurt massacre (1349), the Basel massacre, massacres in Aragon, and in Flanders, as well as the "Valentine's Day" Strasbourg pogrom of 1349. Some 510 Jewish communities were destroyed in this period, extending further to the Brussels massacre of 1370. On Holy Saturday of 1389, a pogrom began in Prague that led to the burning of the Jewish quarter, the killing of many Jews, and the suicide of many Jews trapped in the main synagogue; the number of dead was estimated at 400–500 men, women, and children.

The first atrocities against Jewish civilians, on a genocidal scale of destruction, were committed during the Khmelnytsky Pogroms of 1648–1657 in present-day Ukraine. The precise number of dead is not known, although it is estimated that about 20 percent of Jews of the entire region were killed. Modern historians give estimates of the scale of the murders by Khmelnytsky's Cossacks ranging between 40,000 and 100,000 men, women and children, or perhaps many more.

Pogroms in the Russian Empire

The Russian Empire, which previously had very few Jews, acquired territories with the large Jewish populations during the military Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1791, 1793, and 1795 conducted jointly with the Austrian and Prussian armies, and resulting in Poland's elimination from the geopolitical map of Europe for the next 123 years. In conquered territories, a new political entity called Pale of Settlement was formed in 1791 by Catherine the Great. Most Jewish people from the former Commonwealth were only allowed to reside within the Pale, including families expelled by royal decree from St. Petersburg, Moscow, and other big Russian cites. The 1821 Odessa pogroms marked the beginning of the 19th century pogroms in Tsarist Russia; there were four more such pogroms in Odessa before the end of the century. Following the assassination of Alexander II in 1881 by Narodnaya Volya – blamed on the Jews by the Russian government, anti-Jewish events turned into a wave of over 200 pogroms by their modern definition, which lasted for several years. Jewish self-governing Kehilla was abolished by Tsar Nicholas I in 1844.

The first, in the 20th century Russia, was the Kishinev pogrom of 1903 in which 47 Jews were killed, hundreds wounded, 700 homes destroyed and 600 businesses pillaged. It was followed by the Kiev pogrom of October 1905, resulting in a massacre of approximately 100 Jews. However, at about the same time, the Jewish Labour Bund began organizing armed self-defence units ready to shoot, and the pogroms subsided for a number of years. According to professor Colin Tatz, between 1881 and 1920, there were 1,326 pogroms in Ukraine (see: Southwestern Krai parts of the Pale) which took the lives of 70,000 to 250,000 civilian Jews, leaving half a million homeless.

Russian Civil War period

Large-scale pogroms, which began in the Russian Empire several decades earlier, intensified during the period of the Russian Civil War and the Revolution of 1917. Professor Zvi Gitelman (A Century of Ambivalence) estimated that only in 1918–1919 over 1,200 pogroms took place in Ukraine thus amounting to a greatest slaughter of Jews in Eastern Europe since 1648. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his book Two Hundred Years Together, provided additional statistics from research into the pogroms in Ukraine, conducted by Nahum Gergel (1887–1931). Gergel counted 1,236 incidents of anti-Jewish violence and estimated that 887 mass pogroms occurred – the remainder being classified as "excesses" not assuming mass proportions. The Kiev pogroms of 1919, according to Gitelman, were the first of a subsequent wave of pogroms in which between 30,000 and 70,000 Jews were massacred across Ukraine. Of all the pogroms accounted for in Gergel's research, about 40 percent were perpetrated by the Ukrainian People's Republic forces led by Symon Petliura, 25 percent by the Ukrainian Green Army and various Ukrainian nationalist gangs, 17 percent by the White Army, especially the forces of Anton Denikin. A further 8.5 percent of Gergel's total was attributed to pogroms carried out by men of the Red Army – although these pogroms were not sanctioned by the Bolshevik leadership; the high command disarmed the regiments which had perpetrated pogroms. The Ukrainian People's Republic of Symon Petliura did also issue orders condemning pogroms, but it lacked authority to intervene. After May 1919 the Directory lost its role as a credible governing body; almost 75 percent of pogroms occurred between May and September of that year.

The instructions issued from above had only a limited impact on soldiers' attitudes toward violence against Jews, as related by author and future Nobel laureate Ivan Bunin. On May 15, 1919, Bunin wrote in his diary about yet another massacre:

Members of the Red Army in Odessa led a pogrom against the Jewish population in the town of Big Fountain. Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky and the writer Kipen happened to be there and told me the details. Fourteen comissars and thirty Jews from among the common people were killed. Many stores were destroyed. The soldiers tore through the night, dragged the victims from their beds, and killed whomever they met. People ran into the steppe or rushed into the sea. They were chased after and fired upon – a genuine hunt, as it were. Kipen saved himself by accident – fortunately he had spent the night not in his home, but at the White Flower sanitorium. At dawn, a detachment of Red Army soldiers appeared 'Are there any Jews here?' they asked the watchman. 'No, no Jews here.' 'Swear what you're saying is true!' The watchman swore, and they went on farther. Moisei Gutman, a cabby, was killed. He was a dear man who moved us from our dacha last fall.

Gergel's overall figures, which are generally considered conservative, are based on the testimony of witnesses and newspaper reports collected by the Mizrakh-yidish historiche arkhiv, which was first based in Kiev, then Berlin and later New York. The English version of Gergel's article was published in 1951 in the YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science titled "The Pogroms in the Ukraine in 1918–1921"

Pogroms outside Russia

In the early 20th century the pogroms broke out elsewhere in the world as well. In 1904 in Ireland, the Limerick boycott caused several Jewish families to leave the town. During the 1911 Tredegar riot in Wales, Jewish homes and businesses were looted and burned over the period of a week, before the British army was called in by then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill, who described the riot as a "pogrom". In 1919, in the Americas, there was a pogrom in Argentina, during the Tragic Week.

In the aftermath of the First World War, during the localized armed conflicts of independence, 72 Jews were killed and 443 injured in the 1918 Lwów pogrom. The following year, pogroms were reported by the New-York Tribune in several cities in the newly reborn Poland, however, the reports were not only exaggerated, but also manufactured by the German legation in Warsaw, quietly opposed to the rebirth of Poland after a century of imperial partitions. The German reports were delivered to Zionist headquarters and the foreign press elsewhere by the official services of the Wihelmstrasse. Meanwhile, in the Mandatory Palestine under British administration, the Jews have been targeted in the 1929 Hebron massacre and the 1929 Safed pogrom.

The first pogrom in Nazi Germany was the Kristallnacht, often called Pogromnacht, in which at least 91 Jews were killed, a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps, over 1,000 synagogues burned, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.

Nazi-occupied Europe

During World War II, the Nazi German death squads encouraged pogroms by local populations. Brand new battalions of Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz (trained by the SD agents) were mobilized from among the German minorities, in order to make the local populations share responsibility for the killings. During Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet forces in Eastern Europe Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler established the Schutzmannschaft collaborationist auxiliary battalions tasked with carrying out pogroms behind the front lines.

A large number of pogroms occurred during the Holocaust at the hands of non-Germans. Perhaps the deadliest of these Holocaust-era pogroms was the Iași pogrom in Romania, in which as many as 13,266 Jews were killed by Romanian citizens, police, and military officials.

On 1–2 June 1941, the two-day Farhud pogrom in Iraq, in which "rioters murdered between 150 and 180 Jews, injured 600 others, and raped an undetermined number of women. They also looted some 1,500 stores and homes".

In June–July, 1941, encouraged by the Einsatzgruppen in the city of Lviv – location of the Lwów Ghetto – the Ukrainian People's Militia soon reorganized as the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police perpetrated two city-wide pogroms, in which around 6,000 Polish Jews were murdered, in retribution for alleged collaboration with the Soviet NKVD; the controversy surrounding the Lviv pogroms of 1941 is still debated today. On 12 October 1941 in Stanisławów, some 10,000–12,000 Jewish men, women, and children were shot at the Jewish cemetery by the Germans and the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police during the so-called "Bloody Sunday" (de). The shooters began firing at 12 noon and continued without stopping by taking turns. It was the single largest massacre of Jews in General Government prior to mass gassings of Aktion Reinhard.

In Lithuania, some Lithuanian police led by Algirdas Klimaitis and the Lithuanian partisans – consisting of LAF units reinforced by 3,600 deserters from 29th Lithuanian Territorial Corps of the Red Army engaged in anti-Jewish pogroms in Kaunas along with occupying Nazis. On 25–26 June 1941 about 3,800 Jews were killed and synagogues and Jewish settlements burned.

During the Jedwabne pogrom of July 1941, some non-Jewish Poles burned at least 340 Jews in a barn-house (final findings of the Institute of National Remembrance) in the presence of Nazi German Ordnungspolizei. The role of the German Einsatzgruppe B remains the subject of debate.

After World War II

After the end of World War II, a series of violent anti-Semitic incidents occurred throughout Europe, particularly in the Soviet-occupied East, where most of the returning Jews came back after liberation by the Allied Powers, and where the Nazi propagandists had extensively promoted the notion of a Jewish-Communist conspiracy (see Anti-Jewish violence in Poland, 1944–1946 and Anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Europe, 1944–1946). Anti-Jewish riots also took place in Britain in 1947.

In the Arab world, anti-Jewish rioters killed over 140 Jews in the 1945 Anti-Jewish Riots in Tripolitania. Following the start of the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine, a number of anti-Jewish events occurred throughout the Arab world, some of which have been described as pogroms. In 1947, half of Aleppo's 10,000 Jews left the city in the wake of the Aleppo riots, while other anti-Jewish riots took place in British Aden and the French Moroccan cities of Oujda and Jerada.


According to Encyclopædia Britannica, "the term is usually applied to attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, [and] the first extensive pogroms followed the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881", and the Wiley-Blackwell Dictionary of Modern European History Since 1789 states that pogroms "were antisemitic disturbances that periodically occurred within the tsarist empire." However, the term is widely used to refer to many events which occurred prior to the Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire. Historian of Russian Jewry John Klier writes in Russians, Jews, and the Pogroms of 1881–1882 that "By the twentieth century, the word 'pogrom' had become a generic term in English for all forms of collective violence directed against Jews." Abramson wrote that "in mainstream usage the word has come to imply an act of antisemitism", since whilst "Jews have not been the only group to suffer under this phenomenon ... historically Jews have been frequent victims of such violence".

The term is also used in reference to attacks on non-Jewish ethnic minorities, and accordingly some scholars do not include antisemitism as a defining characteristic of pogrom. Reviewing its uses in scholarly literature, historian Werner Bergmann proposes that pogroms should be "defined as a unilateral, nongovernmental form of collective violence initiated by the majority population against a largely defenseless ethnic group, and he states that pogroms occur when the majority expects the state to provide them with no assistance in overcoming a (perceived) threat from the minority," but he adds that in western usage, the word's "anti-Semitic overtones" have been retained. Historian David Engel supports this, writing that "there can be no logically or empirically compelling grounds for declaring that some particular episode does or does not merit the label [pogrom]," but he states that the majority of the incidents "habitually" described as pogroms took place in societies significantly divided by ethnicity and/or religion where the violence was committed by the higher-ranking group against a stereotyped lower-ranking group against whom they expressed some complaint, and with the belief that the law of the land would not be used to stop them.

There is no universally accepted set of characteristics which define the term pogrom. Klier writes that "when applied indiscriminately to events in Eastern Europe, the term can be misleading, the more so when it implies that 'pogroms' were regular events in the region and that they always shared common features." Use of the term to refer to events in 1918–19 in Polish cities including Kielce, Pinsk and Lwów was specifically avoided in the 1919 Morgenthau Report (preferring "excesses"), whose authors argued that the term pogrom was inapplicable to the conditions existing in a war zone and required the situation to be antisemitic in nature rather than political, and media use of the term pogrom to refer to the 1991 Crown Heights riot caused public controversy. In 2008, two separate attacks in the West Bank by Israeli Jewish settlers on Palestinian Arabs were characterized as pogroms by then Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert.

Werner Bergmann suggests a particular unifying character for all such incidents: "[b]y the collective attribution of a threat, the pogrom differs from other forms of violence, such as lynchings, which are directed at individual members of a minority group, while the imbalance of power in favor of the rioters distinguishes pogroms from other forms of riot (food riots, race riots, or 'communal riots' between evenly matched groups), and again, the low level of organization separates them from vigilantism, terrorism, massacre and genocide".

List of events

This is a list of events for which one of the commonly accepted names includes the word "pogrom".


Pogrom Wikipedia