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This exhibit is copyright 1995 J. Kniesmeyer and D.

. Brecher Maps copyright 1995 "BRON," Amsterdam Site design and production: M. F. Miller Russian-language production: Matvey B. Palchuk

Judaism and the Jewish People
THE JEWISH PEOPLE descend from nomadic tribes in the Middle East. In the 13th century BCE they establish towns and villages in the present-day area of Israel. Jewish kingdoms and states are centered around Jerusalem, the site of the Temple. Judaism, the religion that evolves in this period, demands ethical behavior, individual responsibility, tolerance and social justice. Jews believe in a single god, prohibit human sacrifice and practice communal worship. Many of the teachings of Judaism enter into Christianity and Islam and influence other religions and cultures. Judaism does not encourage conversions but has always accepted converts from other religions. In the Diaspora, the two thousand years of Jewish life in dispersion, Judaism develops into many different trends: mystical movements like the Kabbalah that search for hidden meanings and mysteries in the Biblical texts; pietistic movements like Hassidism that hold simple faith and intensity of religious experience higher than scholarship; and rationalistic schools of theology that explain the scriptures by the logic of reason and history.

A Torah scroll in a wooden case containing the Five Books of Moses. In Jewish tradition the Torah, together with the Oral Law, was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Five Books of Moses, the Prophets and the Writings together form the Jewish Bible, called the Old Testament by Christians. The Torah scroll must be written by hand. Every week, a portion is read aloud in the synagogue, the reading of the whole Torah taking one year. Torah scroll in wooden case; Baghdad, 1852.

A page from the Babylonian Talmud compiled from 200 - 500 CE in the religious academies of Babylon. It consists of 5,894 pages. The text in the center contains discussions of the Mischna, the Oral Law, which provides rules and laws for all aspects of life. Surrounding the text are commentaries written in the 11th - 13th centuries. The Talmud is the most important work of Jewish learning.

The Haggadah of Pessach, telling the story of Passover, one of the principal Jewish festivals, commemorating the liberation from slavery under the Pharaohs and the exodus from Egypt. Every year in spring, Jewish families and communities gather for a festive meal, such as the Passover meal pictured here. The Haggadah is read and events in the story are symbolically commemorated; matzo, unleavened bread, is eaten in memory of the primitive conditions the Israelites encountered during the forty years of wandering through the desert. Many Jewish festivals commemorate events recounted in the Bible. Darmstadt Haggadah; Germany, 15th century

Because of the Second Commandment prohibition against making "graven images," human figures in illuminated Hebrew manuscripts were sometimes given animal heads. Halakha, Jewish religious law, is based on the 613 Biblical commandments, rabbinical decisions and local customs. It provides norms for personal behavior, deals with civil and criminal law, gives rules for worship (daily prayers, the observance of the Sabbath and the festivals), for marriage and divorce and for business transactions. Kashrut, the dietary laws, forbid the consumption of certain foods such as pork and shellfish and the eating of milk products during meals containing meat. Ambrosian Bible; Southern Germany, 13th century

Communities in the Diaspora provide the framework for Jewish life: synagogues, schools, bathhouses and kosher food. Communities are often isolated, having little or no contact with groups in other countries. But Jews continue to use the same Biblical texts and prayers and adhere to the same religious laws. When Jews are granted equal rights and begin to live outside of Jewish communities, Judaism loses its unifying force. Modern religious movements develop, abandoning the common bases of traditional Judaism. In countries where no legal or social barriers exist, Jews begin to assimilate, and many embrace a secular identity. After the Holocaust, the idea of a common history and fate again gains strength among Jews.

Rabbis from Yemen. Since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70, Judaism has become a religion without a single center, without dogmas and priests. The teaching and religious leadership is provided by rabbis who study and interpret the scriptures. They also function as judges and expound religious law. Photo: M.E. Lilien, 1906

A bar mitzvah boy giving the traditional speech, thanking his parents and promising to be a good Jew. Jews become bar mitzvah (subject to the commandments) at the age of 13 (boys) and 12 (girls), attaining legal and religious maturity. To mark their entry as full members of the community, boys are called to read from the Torah for the first time. Similar ceremonies have been introduced for girls. Since Biblical times Jewish children have been taught to read and write, and Jews in the Diaspora were usually the only group that was literate. Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, "The Bar Mitzvah Speech," 1860

A group of male and female rabbis of the Reform Movement. Since the 19th century, Orthodoxy, or traditional Judaism, is being challenged by reform movements. These trends, known as Liberal, Progressive or Reform Judaism, all see Jewish religion as a constantly evolving set of beliefs and practices being adapted to changing circumstances. The reform movements identify monotheism and humanism as the unchanging essence of Judaism and no longer consider Jewish law and the Talmud as binding. They have introduced changes in the religious ritual and liberalized laws for marriage and divorce. Together with Conservative Judaism, a movement that combines adherence to the laws of traditional Judaism with tolerance toward different religious lifestyles, Orthodoxy and Reform make up the three main streams of modem Judaism. Ordination of rabbis in the West London Synagogue, June 1989

The Jewish Diaspora and Israel

THE FIRST JEWISH communities outside of Israel are established during the Babylonian Exile (700 BCE). Jews also settle on the Arabian Peninsula and in Egypt. After the Jewish revolts against the Roman occupation (66-135 CE), Jews are banned from living in Jerusalem Judea. Under Byzantine rule (324-640 CE), Christianity is introduced in Israel and and many anti-Jewish laws are enacted. By the 6th century, Jews have become a minority in their own land. After the Arab conquest, the Jewish population declines further. At the time of the first crusades (11th century), only a few thousand Jews remain in Israel. Jews for many centuries form the only religious and ethnic minority in the countries they settled in. They live in their own communities separate from the general population under special laws and restrictions. They use the Hebrew language or dialects that combined Hebrew with the language of the country: Yiddish among Ashkenasim, Jews who originally settled in Germany; Ladino among Sephardim, Jews who have migrated to Spain, and Judeo-Arabic among Jews in North Africa.

Roman soldiers carrying off the Menorah, the seven-branched candelabra, and other spoils from the Temple in Jerusalem. The Roman general Titus had the Temple destroyed (7O CE) and the Jewish population expelled. Jews began to settle throughout the Roman Empire, along the coast of North Africa, in Italy and Spain, along the river Rhine and in France. Detail from the Arch of Titus, Rome 1st century CE

Stamp issued by the Indian Post Office in 1968 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Paradesi Synagogue in Cochin in Southern India. A Jewish settlement in Cochin is first mentioned in documents at the end of the 10th century.

Bukharan Jews around 1890. Jewish communities in Bukhara and Samarkand were first described by travelers in the 12th and 13th century. With the establishment of the Bukharan khanate and the spread of Islam at the end of the 16th century, Jews were restricted to live in special quarters, forced to wear a badge and pay a special tax. In the 18th century, many Jews were forcibly converted to Islam. Bukharan Jews speak a TajikiJewish dialect. In the 1920s newspapers and books were published in the dialect. Because of the more restrained Soviet policies toward the Republic of Uzbekistan, Bukharan Jews could practice their religion and customs more freely than other Jewish groups in the Soviet Union. Today, no more than 12,000 Jews are left in the Republic. Photo ca. 1890

Despite their enforced separateness, Jewish communities in the Diaspora adopt many customs of the surrounding cultures. Integrating non-Jews into the community through marriage is common practice. Many also convert to Christianity or Islam. As a result, Jews in the Diaspora usually are members of two cultures (Jewish and Arabic, for example) and also resemble outwardly the surrounding population. Jewish communities in Moslem countries, in Spain and Portugal, prosper culturally and economically, despite some restrictions. Jews in Christian Europe are subject to oppression, persecution and sporadic expulsions alternating with periods of relative peace and prosperity. Sephardim and Ashkenasim develop different customs and religious practices over the centuries. With emancipation, the granting of equal rights, and the diminishing role of religion, Jews begin to integrate fully into the societies they have lived in for hundreds of years. For many, Jewishness becomes a secular and national identity. In the 19th century, Zionism, a Jewish national movement, proposes a return to Israel and the reestablishment of a Jewish state. In 1948 this new state is founded. Millions of Jews emigrate to Israel, but a majority of the Jewish population continues to live in the Diaspora.

Countries with more than 10,000 Jewish citizens in 1991.

Argentina Azerbaijan Belgium Canada France Germany Hungary Israel Kazakhstan Mexico Netherlands Russia Spain Switzerland Ukraine USA Venezuela

213,000 16,000 31,800 310,000 530,000 42,500 56,500 4,144,600 15,300 38,000 25,600 430,000 12,000 19,000 325,000 5,575,000 20,000

Australia Belarus Brazil Chile Georgia Great Britain Iran Italy Latvia Moldova Romania South Africa Sweden Turkey Uruguay Uzbekistan

89,000 58,000 100,000 15,000 20,700 300,000 18,000 31,100 15,800 28,500 16,800 114,000 15,000 19,600 24,000 55,500

The Jewish Diaspora 500 BCE - 500 CE

A cantor reading from the Passover story in a Spanish synagogue. Jewish communities in Spain and Portugal blossomed under the Muslim Caliphs and the Christian kings, and Jews played an important role in the administration and in sciences. In the 14th century attitudes of the authorities toward Jews began to change. Jews were forced to live in special quarters locked at night and during Christian holidays. In 1492, all Jews were forced to either convert to Christianity or to leave the country. Jews from the Iberian Peninsula migrated to Muslim North Africa, to Turkey, Western Europe and, in the 16th and 17th centuries, as far as Mexico and North America.
Full-page miniature from Haggadah, Spain 14th century.

The Austrian-Jewish playwright and novelist Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931) with his wife Olga and his children Heinrich and Lily. Jews in Central and Eastern Europe suffered most from the oppression and economic insecurity brought about by anti-Jewish policies. Only by the 19th century did Jewish communities begin to prosper and could Jews enjoy civil freedoms. Arthur Schnitzler belongs to the first generation of European Jews to profit from these new cultural and economic opportunities.
Vienna, 1910


Helena Rubenstein (1871-1965) wearing a ballroom dress by Worth. She was born in Krakow, emigrated first to Australia and in 1914 to America, where she founded the cosmetics empire bearing her name. In the United States of America, Jews enjoyed equal rights and religious freedom from the beginning. Ever greater numbers of Jews migrated to the USA in the 19th and 20th century, and today American Jewry constitutes the largest Jewish community in the world, with Jews well integrated into political, commercial and cultural life.
Helena Rubinstein Archive, New York

Russian Jews arriving at Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv. Since 1967 more than half a million Jews from the former Soviet Union have emigrated to Israel. The ancestral home of the Jews remained central to Jewish culture in the Diaspora, and Jews continued to return to Israel during the Middle Ages in small numbers. At the end of the 19th century, with the beginning of Zionism, immigration increased. After the Holocaust, the United Nations partitioned the country to make the establishment of a Jewish State possible. The Arab population and the Arab states bordering on Israel did not accept this solution. A bloody conflict ensued that culminated in three major wars between Israel and its neighbors. In recent years peace has been established with most of these states, and partition of the country is again being attempted. Today, Israel is again at the center of Jewish cultural and religious life.



Christian Images of the Jews
IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE, Christianity is the dominant religion. The Catholic Church not only holds the highest moral authority, but bishops also join the nobility in governing the Christian states. Because Christianity developed out of Judaism in the Middle East, the Church's attitude to Jews remains ambivalent: To force or entice all Jews to convert to Christianity; or to let them continue to practice their faith under many restrictions at the margins of society as a constant reminder of the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. In many churches, images appear that symbolize the "Victory of Christianity (Ecclesia) over Judaism (Synagoga)." Jews are portrayed as traitors and as murderers of God. They are often shown together with a pig - a particularly insulting image, as Jewish religion considers pigs unclean. As Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire, many medieval Bible illustrations diminish the role of the Romans in the trial and crucifixion of Christ. Instead, they show Jews in medieval clothes as the main culprits. In a time when the great majority of the population is uneducated and cannot read or write, these church images are the essential instruments in spreading a negative view of Jews and Judaism.

A variation on the "Church versus Synagogue" theme: the Church is a knight riding a horse, threatening the Synagogue, a Jew riding a pig, with his sword.
Cathedral of Erfurt, Germany , ca. 1420.


The Church versus the Synagogue: The Church is portrayed as a King riding a lion, the Synagogue is a blindfolded woman, her staff broken, the crown sliding off her head.
Glass window in the church of Werben, Germany.

The "Living Cross" in an Italian fresco: one arm of the cross places a crown on the head of a young man riding a lion (the Church); the other arm puts a sword through a blindfolded woman on a goat (the Synagogue).
Fresco in the San Petronio Cathedral of Bologna, Italy, ca. 1400


A Biblical scene in a German church: Judas is counting money - his reward for betraying Jesus. He is portrayed as a medieval Jew wearing the obligatory pointed hat.
Church of Naumburg, Germany, 13th century

Although Pontius Pilate, the man who condemned Jesus to death, was the Roman governor, he is identified in this 13th century Belgian psalm book as a Jew washing his hands of the crime.
The Liege Psalm book, Belgium, 13th century


"Church versus Synagogue" in a French cathedral: the Church, left, is a crowned young man with cross and chalice. The Synagogue is a blindfolded woman, her staff broken. She holds the Tables of the Law upside down.
Cathedral of Strasbourg, France, ca. 1230.

The First Crusade

DURING THE FIRST 700 years of Christendom, Jewish communities in Europe are rarely placed in direct physical danger. But the situation changes when, in 1095, Pope Urbanus calls for a crusade to liberate Jerusalem from the hands of the Muslims. On their way to Jerusalem, the crusaders leave a track of death and destruction behind in the Jewish communities along the Rhine and Danube. "Because," as they exclaim, "why should we attack the unbelievers in the Holy Land, and leave the infidels in our midst undisturbed ?" On May 25, 1096, about 800 Jews are murdered in Worms, Germany, while many others choose suicide. In Regensburg, the Jews are thrown into the Danube to be "baptized." In Mainz, Cologne, Prague and many other cities, thousands of Jews are killed and their possessions plundered. During the following hundred years, new crusades are accompanied by massacres and pillage among the Jewish population. With the crusades, the status of the Jews as second class citizens becomes entrenched in Church dogma and state laws throughout Christian Europe. A period of oppression and insecurity follows that ends only in the 18th century.


Pope Urban summoning the believers to the crusade in 1095, calling on Christians "to express [their] love for God by killing God's enemies in the East."

Three Jews, identifiable by their hats, are being put to the swords by Christian knights.
Bible illustration; France, 1250.


Jews are seen burning in hell in a medieval German manuscript. The devil is on the right. The inscription on the cauldron reads "Juda" ("Jews").
From the Hortus Deliciarum, 1175

Not only the Jews themselves, but also their books are attacked. In 1239, Pope Gregory orders the Talmud to be put on trial because it allegedly contains lies about the life of Christ and the Blessed Virgin. The Talmud is ordered confiscated and burned. The Talmud remains a target of suspicion until the 20th century.
Panel by Berruguete, 15th century.


Jews, and not the Romans, are shown to have nailed Jesus to the cross.
St. Catherine's Chapel, Landau, Germany 15th century.

A battle between Crusaders and Muslims in the Holy Land.

History of Godfrey of Bouillon; France, 14th century.


The Jewish population of Germany in the 10th - 13th centuries.

Anti-Jewish Myths - 1
IN THE MIDDLE AGES, belief in miracles and legends is common. Two myths with an anti-Jewish character appear throughout Europe: Jews desecrating the Host; and Jews committing ritual murder. Both myths survive into the 20th century. Other popular beliefs during the Middle Ages have Jews grow hems and tails - attributes of the devil. After the Church in 1215 establishes the doctrine that the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ is contained in the consecrated Host and wine, stories begin to surface that Jews steal, mutilate or burn the Host in order to kill Jesus once more. Miracles form an elementary part of this myth: the mutilated Host starts to bleed - thus proving the doctrine and the truth of the Christian faith.


An alleged desecration of the host by Jews in Sternberg, Germany, in 1492. As a result, 26 Jews were burned.
German woodcut, 1492.

Two of a series of six panels depicting the Desecration of the Host: a) A terrified Jewish family watches as blood flows from the Host they attempted to burn, while soldiers break down the door. b) The Jewish family is burned at the stake.
Panels by Paolo Uccello; Italy, 1465.


Panels from a woodcut showing the alleged desecration of the Host by Jews in Passau, Bavaria: a) Jews (with badges) carry a box containing the host into the synagogue. b) Blood flows from the Host when pierced by a Jew. c)The Jews are arrested ... d) ... and burned.
German woodcut, 1478

According to the "blood libels," Jews are killing Christian children in order to satisfy their supposed need for "Christian blood" in making Passover bread or in other religious rituals. While higher authorities of the Church and state often oppose the stories, the myth lives on in popular belief, supported and encouraged by local clergy who launch profitable pilgrimages to the sites of the alleged murders. The Blood Libels are the most influential and cruel legends in the arsenal of anti-Jewish beliefs, perpetuating the myth of the evil and inhuman nature of the Jews and inciting the Christian population to take bloody revenge. Allegations of ritual murder will surface in the 20th century, in Russia and in the propaganda spread by the Nazis.


"The murder of Simon of Trent by the Jews," one of the most notorious accusations of alleged ritual murder to have taken place in Trento, Italy, in 1475. After a fanatical Franciscan had been preaching against the Jews before Easter, the body of a child is found near the house of a Jew. All Jews of the town are arrested. After being tortured for 15 days, 17 Jews "confess." Eight are executed immediately and five later. Simon is beatified and venerated as a martyr until the Church withdraws the cult in 1965.
From the Chronicarum Mundi, Nuremberg, 1493.

"The Martyrdom of Simon of Trent"; the Jews are identified by the yellow badges on their dress.
Gandolfino d' Asti, late 15th century.


The synagogue of Regensburg is destroyed after an alleged desecration of the host. Just before the destruction the building is recorded in two etchings. A Maria Chapel is built in its place.
Etching by Altdorfer, 1519

The myth of ritual murder is still propagated by anti-Semites today: cover of the book "The Matzoh of Zion," written in 1983 by the Syrian Minister of Defense, Mustafa Tlas.


Patterns of Discrimination
IN 1215, THE POPE issues a decree that Jews must wear special marks on their dress to distinguish them more clearly from Christians. The Church wants to prevent Christians from unknowingly associating with Jews. These discriminating dress marks differ from place to place: sometimes Jews have to wear a yellow or red badge on their dress, sometimes a pointed hat, the so-called "Jew hat." Not only dress marks are used to separate Jews from Christians. More and more, Jews are forced to live together in isolation, in ghettos closed off by walls. As ghettos are usually not allowed to extend, they become increasingly crowded.

A Jewish couple from Worms, Germany, with the obligatory yellow badge on their clothes. The man holds a moneybag and bulbs of garlic, both often used in the portrayal of Jews.
Worms, Germany, 16th century.

Part of a Spanish fresco showing the Descent from the Cross, with a Jewish couple wearing yellow badges.
Saint Lucia Chapel, Tarragona, 14th century


The form and size of the "Jew Hat" as prescribed by law in Frankfurt, Germany.
15th century engraving

The most far-reaching act of discrimination concerns an even more basic right: Jews do not receive permission for permanent residence in towns and villages. As they have been forced more and more into trade, peddling and money lending, Jews are admitted to towns for limited periods only when economic development demands more trade and credit. They have to pay extra taxes. When the economic situation changes or local merchants have fallen too deeply into debts, the permits are not extended. Often, Jews are simply expelled. Many communities have to pay taxes to the king or prince in return for their protection. In the German states, Jews are considered property of the emperor who sells the right to tax them to local princes and bishops. Often, Jewish communities are caught between the rival economic interests of townspeople and the local princes who "own" the Jews.


A prophet in a church window in Winchester Cathedral, wearing the "Jew Hat."

Holy Sepulchre Chapel, Winchester, England, 13th century

The discriminating dress rules also appear in Jewish manuscripts. This Pentateuch illustration shows Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law; all Israelites wear the medieval "Jew Hat."
Regensburg Pentateuch, c. 1300


The ghetto in Rome in the late 19th century. In 1555, the Pope orders the Jews of Rome to live in a ghetto under particular harsh circumstances: the ghetto is closed between sunrise and sunset. This situation lasts until 1868.


The crescent-shaped "Jew Street" in Frankfurt, Germany, established in 1462. It was situated outside the city walls and had only two gates.


The ghetto in Frankfurt after the city walls were pulled down in the 19th century.

A Jewish family of Mantua, Italy, portrayed with dress marks in a painting of the Madonna which they were forced to pay for.
Detail of painting, Church of Sant'Andrea, Mantua, 1496.

Jews need permits to live and work in a town - a "privilege" for which they have to pay the prince, bishop or town magistrate. Here, the "privilege" of the Jews of Rome is reaffirmed by Emperor Henry VII.
Miniature in the Codex Balduini, early 14th century.


DURING THE SECOND HALF of the Middle Ages, towns grow and trade expands. Many economic functions the Jews had fulfilled in the past are taken over by other groups. More and more professions and crafts are organized in guilds. As only guild members are allowed to practice in these professions, and new members have to pledge an oath on the Bible, Jews are effectively excluded from membership. In Western and Central Europe, Jews are driven from one occupation after another. Only trade and money-lending remains open to them. Many Jewish communities sink into poverty, and only a few continue to prosper. As the Church forbids Christians to lend money against interest, but the need for credit in the expanding economy increases, Jews are often the only ones to provide loans. Interest on loans is high because of the risks involved and the lack of capital. Jews become identified with "usury," the lending of money against excessive interest. Another stereotype of "the Jew" is created against the background of the same economic circumstances: the Jews as poor peddlers of second-hand articles. These two contradictory images of the Jews, the harsh and unfair moneylender and the poor and untrustworthy peddler, survive into the 20th century - long after their origins in religious intolerance and economic marginalization have disappeared.


Warning against "Jewish usury"

Woodcut, Moravia, ca. 1475.


Playing card with the figure of a Jew (wearing a yellow badge) with two classical anti-Jewish attributes: the moneybag and the pig.
Germany, 15th century

A farmer and a Jewish moneylender.

Woodcut, Augsburg, 1531


"The Jurist, the Jew, and the Woman drive the world insane." The Jew is portrayed with moneybag and badge.
Germany , c. 1600

"How a Jew has to swear before Christian authorities." Swearing an oath was part of most legal transactions. Even here, Jews were humiliated. They had to stand barefoot on a pig's skin, their naked right arm placed on the Ten Commandments in Hebrew.
Broadsheet from Breslau, Poland, 17th century.


Caricature of a Jewish peddler.

Italy, c. 1700

"Jewish Greed."
Manchester, England, 1773

The Jewish Community

COMMUNITIES ARE AT THE CENTER of Jewish life in the Diaspora. In the Middle Ages, communities are usually very small, comprising one or two dozen families. In the larger cities, they can comprise a population of several thousand.


Being outsiders in the feudal order of the times, Jews enjoy a large degree of autonomy in regulating their own affairs. Communities raise taxes to pay for synagogues and cemeteries, for the employment of rabbis and teachers, and to feed and house the poor. They are administered by elders elected by members who also vote on the community's statutes.

A pupil being taught the principles of Judaism. The study of religious texts was considered one of the highest duties. Except for periods of extreme poverty, all children were taught to read and write. The pupil's book shows a quotation attributed to Hillel, a rabbi of the 1st century. A heathen demands to be taught the whole Torah while standing on one leg. Hillel is supposed to have answered: "Whatever is hateful to you, do not do to others. This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary."
A page from the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses); Coburg, Germany, 14th century


Top: The Synagogue in Nuremberg (Germany) before its destruction in 1349. During the Black Death massacre, 560 of about 2000 Jews in Nuremberg were burned to death. A church was built on the site. Middle row: A rabbi; a man and a women in synagogue dress. Bottom row: Three Jews in street or work dress; the man on the right is carrying kosher wine for use on the Sabbath Andreas Wrfel: Hist. Nachrichten von der Judengeimeinde zu Nuernberg, 1755.

Crimes inside the community and legal disputes between members are resolved by Rabbinical courts. There is no police force and no prisons. Courts punish by imposing fines or by banning perpetrators from the community temporarily or permanently. To enable members to abide by the dietary laws, communities provide for the slaughter of cows, goats, sheep and chicken in the prescribed manner. They also construct bathhouses to allow members to follow the rules of ritual purification. Larger communities maintain religious academies where the Torah and Talmud are studied and rabbis are trained.


A Jewish wedding: In the top panel, the bridegroom is led past the synagogue by the male members of the community to the wedding canopy visible on the right. In the bottom panel, the veiled bride is being escorted to the ceremony by the women of the community.
German copperplate engraving, ca. 1700

The Jewish cemetery at Frth, Germany, in the 18th century. As Jewish graves may not be re-used or moved, communities take great pains in maintaining ownership of cemeteries. Even after the Jews leave, cemeteries continue to be looked after by other communities. Today, Jewish cemeteries are often the only reminder of the presence of Jewish communities in the past.
18th century engraving


A Rabbinical court in session; these courts represent the highest authority in religious and legal matters. Three rabbis are necessary for a binding ruling. In some cities, Rabbinical courts also try cases between Jews and non-Jews.
Page from "Arba'ah Turim," a compendium of Jewish law; Mantua, 15th century

The Altneushul in Prague is the oldest European synagogue still in existence. It was built between 1230 and 1270 when Prague was an important center for the study of Jewish law.


Interior of Altneushul, Prague; at the eastern wall, oriented toward Jerusalem and with steps leading up to it, stands the Ark of the Law containing the Torah scrolls. Traditionally, these cabinets are covered by ornamented curtains inscribed with a dedication and the name of the sponsors.

The Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) is the most famous case of a Jew being banned for life from the Jewish community. Spinoza, whose father escaped from Portugal, questioned the authorship of the Five Books of Moses and the story of Genesis. A Rabbinical court in his native city of Amsterdam banned him in 1656 for his "evil opinions" from "the Nation of Israel." All members of the community were forbidden to maintain contact with him.
Holland, 17th century


Expulsions and the Black Death

AFTER THE CRUSADES, expulsions of entire Jewish communities become frequent events. In 1290, all Jews are expelled from England - about 16,000 people. Communities in England are again established only in the 17th century. In 1306, Jews are also expelled from France. Expulsions are often preceded by accusations of ritual murder and anti-Jewish riots. Taking advantage of these anti-Jewish sentiments, local rulers, town magistrates or merchants use the opportunity to rid themselves of Jewish moneylenders they owe money to, or of unwanted competition. Just as Jews are admitted to towns to promote trade or provide credit, expulsions are mostly grounded in economic interests as well.

King Philip August drives the Jews (with yellow badges on their dress) out of France. The almost total expulsion of Jews from France took place in 1306.
Miniature from a French Chronicle, 1321

Moyse's Hall in Bury St. Edmund's, England, believed to have been a synagogue before the expulsion. By the end of the 13th century, Jews in England have become so poor that taxes they pay to the king have become negligible. When Christian bankers take over their role as moneylenders, Jews are no longer necessary to the economy. In 1290, King Edward I has all Jews banished from the country.
Postcard, England ca. 1910


Expulsion of the Jews from Frankfurt on August 23, 1614, after riots in the "Jews Street" led by Vincent Fettmilch. According to the text, "1380 persons old and young were counted at the exit of the gate" and herded onto ships on the river Main. Jews were connected in business to the city's wealthy merchants, while Fettmilch led the small craftsmen and traders opposed to the Jewish presence in Frankfurt.
Contemporary etching by Georg Keller

The 14th century is overshadowed by a great disaster: Europe is hit by the plague. Between 1348 and 1350 the epidemics kill millions of people - a third of the European population.


As the real causes are unknown, foreigners, travelers and the Jews, the only non-Christian minority in all affected countries, are accused of having spread the disease. Many believe that Jewish communities are taking revenge for decades of anti-Jewish hostility by poisoning the wells and water supplies. While the disease is progressing from Spain and Italy north to England and Poland, about 300 Jewish communities are attacked, and thousands of Jews burned at the stakes or killed. In the German states almost all Jewish communities are expelled. With the forced conversions and expulsion from Portugal and Spain at the end of the 15th century, the highly developed communities of the Iberian Peninsula are destroyed and Sephardic Jews forced into renewed exile. Sporadic expulsion of Jewish communities in Europe continue into the 19th century.

After the arrest and execution of Fettmilch in 1616, the Jews of Frankfurt were brought back ceremoniously. The emperor's coat of arms was nailed to the entrance gate as a sign of protection, but the community was not allowed to expand again beyond 500 families.
German etching from 1616


The second expulsion of the Jews from Prague. "On the King's order, the reason being kept a secret ... 70,000 Jews have to leave the city in 1745." They are allowed back three years later after promising to pay higher taxes.
German engraving, 1745

A chronicle of the Black Death illuminated with an illustration of the burning of Jews.
Flemish Chronicle, ca. 1350


One of the most notorious cases of religious intolerance: the edict by which Ferdinand and Isabella order the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal in 1492. Approximately 150,000 Jews are driven out of the country, destroying one of the most flourishing cultural centers of Europe.


This Bible manuscript, written in the Portuguese-Hebrew style in the 1490s, is taken by its owner to Italy after the expulsion of Jews from Portugal.
Opening page of the Book of Isaiah; written and partly illustrated in Lisbon (Portugal); completed in Florence (Italy), end of the 15th century.


The interior of the beautiful synagogue of Toledo, Spain, with Hebrew writing on the wall. It is turned into a church after the expulsion of the Jews.
Il Transito Church, Toledo; 14th century

The Jews of Lithuania and Poland

JEWISH GROUPS WHO MIGRATE to Poland and Lithuania from the 13th century onward form the nucleus of Russian Jewry. After the expulsion of Spanish Jewry and the continued persecution of Jews in Western Europe, Poland and Lithuania become the new cultural center of Jewish life in Europe by the 16th century. Jews in Poland and Lithuania develop a particular mode of Talmudic study and enrich Jewish culture with many new religious streams and customs. Their religious academies attract students from all over the Jewish world. They speak Yiddish, a mixture of medieval German and Hebrew. Communities elect provincial councils and create for the first time a large representative body, the Council of the Lands, that regulates both economic and religious affairs for Jews in most Eastern European states.


Polish synagogues are typically constructed from wood, mirroring the prevailing timber architecture in Poland. In contrast to the more discreet building style in Western Europe, synagogues are usually large, conspicuous structures.
Wooden synagogue in Zabludow, late 17th century.

Synagogue interiors are adorned with elaborate ornaments - woodcarvings or colorful paintings with Biblical, faunal and floral motives.
Painted ceiling in the synagogue of Chodorov, 17th century


Moses Ben Israel Isserles (1525-1572), one of the great authorities on Jewish law in Poland. He founded a religious academy in Krakow. His rationalist theology, his interest in Greek philosophy, in sciences and secular knowledge make him one of the forerunners of Jewish enlightenment. In one of his legal responses, he wrote: "Better to live on dry bread and peace in Poland," than to live in greater prosperity in countries more dangerous for Jews. Until World War II, his grave in Krakow was the venue of an annual pilgrimage for Polish Jews.
Contemporary portrait

Immigration to Poland-Lithuania Until 1600; Jewish Communities in the 17th Century.

Jews in Poland enjoy greater freedom in the choice of their professions, but their legal status remains the same as in the West. In Lithuania, however, Jews practically enjoy equality with the Christian population and begin to form - together with Christian townspeople - a "third estate," a class of craftsmen and merchants. Jews in Poland and Lithuania work as craftsmen or moneylenders in villages and small towns, lease businesses for collecting taxes, for the sale of salt and alcohol or administer estates belonging to the state or the nobility. In the 16th through 18th centuries the Jewish population increases steadily. In 1764, on the eve of the first Polish partition and the annexation of territories by Russia, there are 0.75 million Jews in Poland-Lithuania, forming 20 to 30 percent of the population in the larger cities and 70 to 90 percent in smaller towns.


After the Mongol invasion in the 13th century brought death and destruction to Poland, Polish princes invite settlers from Germany in the hope of stimulating the economy. As the situation for Jews in Western Europe deteriorates during the 14th century, many move eastward. Communities are founded rapidly. By the year 1600 between 20,000 and 30,000 Jews live in 60 communities.


Characteristic Polish Jewish dress still worn today in some Hassidic and Orthodox circles. The dress evolved in the 16th century in imitation of earlier Polish upper-class attire. Men wear a streiml (fur hat), a caftan or kapote (open coat), knee-length trousers and white socks. Women wear plastrons (brust-tuch) or an apron and cover their head with bonnets, velvet hairbands or lace. Top panel: Polish Jewish dress in the 17th and 18th century. Bottom panel: Jewish types in Warsaw in the 18th century.

Viennese Jews leave for the Holy Land; a satirical depiction of Messianic hopes created by the appearance of the false Messiah Shabbetai Zevi in 1665. No other event shook the Jewish world since the fall of the Temple as strongly as the hope of being finally liberated from persecution and oppression. The news of the coming of the Messiah spread like wildfire all over the world, and Jews often learned about it through broadsheets.
"Neue Zeitung," Nuremberg 1666


Bogdan Chmielnicki, leader of the Cossack uprising against Polish rule in the Ukraine in 1648. Chmielnicki also attempted to rid the Ukraine of all Jews who were identified with Polish rule. In the course of the revolt, 300 Jewish communities were destroyed and tens of thousands killed. The massacres, considered the first modern pogrom, left Polish Jews dazed for generations and contributed greatly to the enthusiastic welcome given to the false Messiah twenty years later. Ukrainian nationalists consider Chmielnicki a national hero.
Statue of Bogdan Chmielnicki, Kiev, Ukraine.

A Hasid and his wife in typical dress of the 18th century. Hassidism, a religious movement that combines joyful religiosity with mystic and messianic ideas, originates in the areas of Poland most ravaged by the Chmielnicki massacres and the persecution of the 18th century. Israel Ben Eliezer, a charismatic rabbi, visited the Jewish communities as a miracle-worker (ba'al shem tov), gave advice and guidance and collected disciples around him (Hasidim). After his death in 1760, his followers spread his teaching all over Eastern Europe. At the center of the movement are the "courts" of the Hasidic "rebbes," rabbinical dynasties that trace their origins to the founder. Today, important groups are centered around the Rebbe of Lubavich (the Habad movement), the Rebbe of Satmar (both since the 1940s in New York), the Rebbe of Bratslav and the Rebbe of Gur (both in Jerusalem).



THE REFORMATION IN THE 16TH CENTURY creates a new appreciation of the Hebrew Bible and more understanding for the Jewish religion. After the bitter wars between Protestants and Catholics, the spirit of religious tolerance takes root in Europe, and attitudes toward Jews - no longer the only religious minority - begin to change. With the Enlightenment in the 18th century fostering respect for the individual and asserting the basic equality of all human beings, the stage is set for Jews to be finally admitted as equals into European societies. Restrictions on residence and work begin to be rescinded, and Jews are granted more and more rights. Emancipation, the granting of complete legal equality and full citizenship, is first given to Jews in the United States and France by 1791, followed in the 19th century by most European states. Jews in Russia, however, have to wait for their freedom more than a century longer - until the Revolution in 1917. But Jews are still seen as "abnormal." During the 19th century, the question is debated in countries like Germany and Russia of how Jews can be turned into better citizens. The work they have been forced into during centuries of discrimination - trading, peddling, money lending - is considered unnatural; their religious customs, their language and dress are considered uncivilized. In Germany and Russia, the granting of rights - and the acceptance of Jews into society - is made conditional on their "improvement." In countries like France, equality is granted in a single act.
Years in which full legal equality was granted to Jews. In some countries, emancipation came with a single act. In others, limited rights were granted first in the hope of "changing" the Jews "for the better."
USA France Netherlands Canada Great Britain Italy Habsburg Empire Germany Switzerland Bulgaria Serbia Ottoman Empire Spain Russian Empire 1789 1791 1796 1832 1856 1861 1867 1871 1874 1878 1878 1908 1910 1917


Napoleon granting freedom of worship in 1802: the Synagogue in the form of a woman is being helped on her feet. Jews could now practice their religion freely but as a group were expected to give up their separate culture and identity.
Colored print, ca. 1806.

The last "Protected Jew" in the German city of Lbeck. His right to residence had to be renewed regularly against payment of a special tax which was abolished in Prussia in 1812. This naive painting shows him to be still following a traditional Jewish occupation - peddling.
Lbeck, ca. 1830.


Three Jews from Alsace are told to give up their traditional occupations - crafts, small trade and music (represented by the tools strung up on the tree) - and to turn instead to agriculture (represented by a plow).
Frontispiece of the polemic "The Alsatian Jews - Should They Be Granted Equal Rights?" published in 1790.

The Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), the leading advocate of emancipation, translated the Hebrew Bible into German. He wanted Jews to have a better knowledge of their religion, learn the language of the society they lived in and become familiar with "enlightened" ideas. This portrait of Mendelssohn was dedicated to King Frederick William II of Prussia in 1787 by the Jewish "Free School" in Berlin. The school, founded in 1778, offered free education to the poor. It was the first to teach religious as well as general subjects.


Jews take advantage of the new freedoms and move into new professions, attend general schools and universities. But achieving social equality and acceptance is much more difficult. When Jews begin to emerge from their separate existence and their traditional occupations, many non-Jews are frightened and suspicious. Economic interests also play a role, and in some areas Jewish attempts to enter new economic activities are strongly resisted. New barriers against Jews are thrown up by nationalism. As people begin to define themselves by a shared cultural background, language and common "blood," even Jews who have become both Christian and fully assimilated are now considered "alien." The age-old stigma of hatred based on religious differences is revived by Nationalism - the basis of modern anti-Semitism.

Five generations of the Kalischer family, portrayed in 1889. After the Chmielnicki massacres in 1648, the family first moved to western Poland, then to Germany. In the 18th century, the family produced a number of well-known rabbis and Talmud scholars. In the 19th century, family members became lawyers, physicians, bankers, actors and writers - professions then accessible to Jews for the first time. Only one member, a composer, converted to Christianity in the mid-19th century.


Characters from the anti-Jewish play "Our Social Intercourse" by Karl Sessa. Despite protests, the play was staged in 1819. The play makes fun of "Jewish" mannerisms, particularly among Jews in new positions and occupations. The panels show the transition between old and new: rich and poor, merchants and peddlers, students and artists.
"Nrnberger Bilderbogen," 1825.

"Enlightenment: Dalles and his Family"; caricature of Jews moving into bourgeois society and taking dancing lessons.
Late 18th century engraving.


Popular Anti-Semitism
DURING THE 19TH CENTURY, anti-Jewish sentiments and stereotypes undergo changes. Rejection and discrimination of Jews is no longer based on religious differences alone. By the time the term "anti-Semitism" is first used in the late 1870s, Jews in Western Europe - though citizens with equal rights - are seen by many as alien to the nation or the people. Since the beginning of the century the notion has become popular that a "people" or "nation" is not a collection of individuals but a unique organism created by climate, landscape and traditions. These ideas, influenced mainly by the German Romantic Movement, repudiate the basic tenets of the enlightenment of common humanity and equality. In this view, Jews appear as alien intruders who need to be removed from the body of the nation. The distinction between "the people" or "the nation" and those who are felt not to belong to it, is used more generally to stigmatize everything as "Jewish" that is seen as negative or undesirable. For many, a "Jew" becomes the epitome of weakness, bad character and ugly appearance - the negative mirror image of all the positive characteristics embodied in the people or nation. Many of these new stereotypes develop on the background of industrialization and urbanization. These rapid social and economic changes are the source of great friction and conflict in society and come to be experienced by many as destructive and "unnatural." As Jews emerge from their restricted positions and take up new opportunities, they are often being identified as the forces behind these developments. Thus, the stereotype of the Jew as the exploiter and "usurer" who profits from the loss of others is brought into the modern world, as is the myth of the all-powerful "Jewish conspiracy" capable of bending the course of the world to its own will and profit.


A common element in anti-Semitic cartoons: the Jew holding the world in his hands.
"Rothschild," by C. Landre; France, 1898

A popular anti-Semitic subject is the Jew as a coward and as physically weak. A Jewish soldier running away : "Wai wai, help, they're going to kill me... " "But Schabs'l , don't you recognize me, it's Herschl, I've come to relieve you..." Vienna, 1848


"The Wandering Jew." Jews are seen as having no "roots" and no connection to the "national soil."
Gustave Dor, colored woodcut, 1852.

The outcome of the French Revolution in the eyes of the French anti-Semitic artist Caran d'Ache. The farmer, first oppressed by the nobility only, now has more burdens to carry than before, with the Jew on top.
"The French Revolution : Before and After," Caran d'Ache, 1898.


"The Jewish Broker"

Caricature by Thomas Rowlandson, England, 1801

In this caricature, the Jews are accused of speculating with grain as a means to gain world power. Globes and snakes - the Biblical animal of sin that corrupts humanity - are still widely used in anti-Semitic cartoons today to depict the alleged corrupting influence of Jews. Anti-Semitic themes could often be found on postcards which became popular in the late 19th century. This German postcard ridicules Jews as being ostentatious.
Austria, ca. 1900


"Bourse," ("Stock Exchange"), a French postcard from the series "Paris Metro Stations," repeats the well-known theme of Jews running after money.

Political Anti-Semitism
TOWARD THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, more and more people receive the right to vote. New parties are formed and the foundations are laid for modern mass movements. Groups and classes that held power for centuries are confronted with a new phenomenon: they have to compete in the political arena. Political parties begin to use modern mass propaganda in their attempt to attract voters. The exploitation of antiSemitic sentiments turns out to be a successful tool in the contest to win the electorate's favor. As Jews tend to become politically active in Liberal and Socialist parties, conservative forces use anti-Semitic propaganda to tarnish their political enemies by depicting them as "corrupted" through the presence of Jews. During a period of economic crisis in the last decades of the century, political parties are formed in France, Germany and Austria with anti-Semitism as the sole program of political action. For a while, these parties gain a very large following. But not only conservative parties abuse anti-Semitic prejudices. Even some socialists see capitalism as an expression of the "Jewish spirit" of exploitation, and in their eyes the struggle against capitalism has to be directed against "Jewish capital" or the "capitalist character" of Judaism. These tendencies among the Socialist parties are mostly resisted by the leadership, by Jean Jaurs in France and Karl Kautsky in Germany, among others.


Anti-Semitism from the left: the Jew (right) in an anti-progressive alliance with the Devil, the Monarchy and the Church.
German caricature, 1848.


Poster for Adolf Willette, "Anti-Semitic Candidate," for the French elections of 1889: "It is not a matter of religion. The Jews are a different race, hostile to ours... Judaism is the enemy!"


Adolf Stoecker, preacher at the court of the German Emperor in Berlin, and leader of the "Christian Social Movement." His party, addressing workers and the lower middle class, agitated against capitalist exploitation for which the Jews were blamed, and combined this with "traditional" Christian anti-Semitism.
Silver wedding anniversary photo, 1893.


The first copy of the anti-Semitic newspaper La Libre Parole ("The Free Word"); France suffered while "the Jew" has become rich. Edouard Drumont, the publisher, was elected member of Parliament on an anti-Semitic platform in 1892.


In 1886, the French writer Edouard Drumont published "La France Juive" ("Jewish France"), which became the catechism of the anti-Semitic movement. Apart from the usual accusations, such as usury and ritual murder, he accused the Jews of having organized the plunder of churches during the French Revolution.

Karl Lueger (in the carriage, left), the popular mayor of Vienna from 1897 until his death in 1910. He was elected on an anti-Semitic program. During his time in office, the young Adolf Hitler lived in Vienna, trying to enter the art academy.
Watercolor by Wilhelm Gause, 1904.


In the eyes of anti-Semites, "the Jew" rules everywhere, even where Jews have no rights. On this French anti-Semitic postcard, "The Dream of the Hebrew Usurers," the Jew with his money bag is portrayed as the new ruler of Russia.
Postcard, 1905.

The Jew as a snake on an election poster of the Austrian Christian Socialist Party: "German Christians, Save Austria!"
Design by Steiner, 1920.


The Dreyfus Affair

IN SPITE OF LEGAL EQUALITY and progressing integration into Western societies at the end of the 19th century, anti-Semitism remains a threat to Jews. But anti-Semitic attacks are now opposed by people who take up the continued discrimination of Jews as an issue of human rights. The greater integration, but also the greater exposure to antiSemitic discrimination, is reflected in the Dreyfus Affair, an anti-Semitic incident that engaged French society and the political forces for many years. In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an officer on the French general staff, is accused of spying for Germany, France's opponent in the last war. The only evidence is a scrap of paper, retrieved from the wastebasket by a cleaning woman, with handwriting that does not much resemble that of Dreyfus. But Dreyfus is Jewish, the only Jew on the general staff. And Jews are considered people without a fatherland, insufficiently loyal to the country they live in. Dreyfus is convicted, partly on evidence forged by anti-Semitic officers, and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island off the coast of South America. At his public demotion, a crowd - incited by the anti-Semitic press - shouts anti-Jewish slogans. A journalist publicizes Dreyfus's cause, but the real culprit, Major Esterhazy, whose guilt is now known to the government, continues to be protected.

Dreyfus's degradation after his conviction: he is stripped of his braid and buttons, and his sword is broken.
Le Petit Journal, January 13, 1895.


Police photograph of Albert Dreyfus after his conviction. The epaulets and buttons have been removed from his uniform.

The Dreyfus Affair produced an enormous amount of postcards. This card uses the well-known anti-Semitic image of the treacherous Jew (Dreyfus) in the form of a snake.
From the postcard series "Museum of Horror," no. 6 : "The Traitor."


An anti-Dreyfus poster: Jews are being driven out of France. The caption reads: "Long live France! Long live the Army! Down with the Jews! Death to the traitors!" The poster also calls for a boycott of Jewish shops.

The Dreyfus affair splits France in two. On one side stand the government, the conservative parties, the church and the army, who believe that the honor of the nation may not be sacrificed for the sake of one Jew, guilty or innocent. To the other side rally the progressive forces critical of the regime and its political direction - led by the writer Emile Zola and the politician Jean Jaurs. For them, the affair symbolizes the disregard of justice and human rights in the French republic. More trials follow, but it takes more than a decade - and the fall of the government - until Dreyfus is finally declared completely innocent of the charges.


The affair is followed all over the world. Theodor Herzl, a Jewish journalist from Vienna who covers the trial, concludes that assimilation is no protection against anti-Semitism and that even a person as well integrated as an officer on the French general staff is not safe from the hatred. He comes to believe that Jews will remain strangers in their countries of residence and need a country of their own. His book The Jewish State: A Modern Solution to the Jewish Question is published in 1896 and leads to the founding of the Zionist Organization one year later.

The author Emile Zola with his family. He is reading l'Aurore, the newspaper in which, on January 13, 1898, he published his famous article "J'Accuse" after a court martial had exonerated the guilty Major Esterhazy. For this article, Zola was sentenced to one year imprisonment and fled to England.

The retrial of Albert Dreyfus in which he claimed his innocence. He was found guilty again, but with extenuating circumstances. It meant that he was not sent back to Devil's Island.
The Illustrated London News, August 19, 1899.


Alfred Dreyfus, aged 75, in the year of his death in 1934.

In "The Jewish State" he wrote: "We have honestly attempted to assimilate everywhere into the societies surrounding us retaining nothing but the religion of our forefathers. But they will not let us assimilate. We are loyal, sometimes exaggerated, patriots - in vain. We bring the same sacrifices in life and in property as our fellow-citizens - in vain. We strive to increase the welfare of the countries we were born in - in vain. In the lands we have lived in for centuries we continue to be called strangers. It is useless to be a good patriot in order to be left in peace. I am afraid that we will never be left in peace."
Theodor Herzl as a young journalist in Vienna, ca. 1878.


A Renewal of Jewish Life

DURING THE 19TH CENTURY, the Jewish population in the world increases fourfold from about 2.5 million to over 10 million. Jews more and more adopt the language and culture of the societies they have lived in for centuries. In countries where they enjoy full equality, Jews quickly become integrated into society. In countries where only partial freedoms are granted, the process takes longer. Jews can now be found in most professions and economic activities, and for the first time enter universities and the academic professions. Natural sciences, medicine, law, engineering, journalism - the new professions brought about by progress in technology, by rapid changes in society and the economy are more accessible for Jews than older occupations still dominated by vested interests and traditional prejudice. Jewish culture also adapts to the changing circumstances. Religious reform movements bring the ideas of enlightenment and liberalism to bear on Jewish law and synagogue services. Orthodox Judaism also reforms itself to accommodate the new role of Jews as citizens in an open society. Jewish writers, painters and composers step into the cultural traditions of the Christian societies and now practice their art without much reference to their Jewish origins. In countries where the Jews - and the non-Jewish population as well - lack the basic freedoms, and where Jewish integration is more strongly opposed by anti-Semitism, many join the Socialist movement. A different response to the lack of emancipation is even more widely practiced: emigration. In the second half of the 19th century, Jewish nationalism formulates another answer to the unfulfilled hopes of Jews in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe: a revival of Jewish culture and identity, and a return to nationhood in the land of the forefathers.

Lionel Rothschild enters the House of Commons as its first Jewish member in 1858. Although elected before, he could not take his seat because he refused to swear the compulsory Christian oath .
Contemporary oil painting


Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), rabbi in Frankfurt and leader of the Neo-Orthodoxy, wears "reformed" rabbinical robes similar to the ornate of Protestant pastors. His slogan "MenschIsrael" - a human being, then a Jew - incorporates his ideas of religious renewal: participation in the secular world while remaining faithful to Jewish tradition.
Lithography, 1847.

Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) moved from Cologne to Paris at the age of 16. His operas and operettas became famous throughout the world. According to Richard Wagner, his contemporary, Jewish composers lacked true musicality because of their "non-European character."
Postcard, Paris


Advertisement from Levi Straus & Co. , ca. 1880.

"Something new - and already an immense success!" Levi Strauss (1829-1902, above) was born in Bavaria where the right of residency for Jews remained restricted until 1861 and only the oldest son was allowed to marry. Strauss emigrated to California, and in 1853 he began to manufacture pants from blue denim; reinforced with copper rivets. The garment - sold under the name "Levis" first became very popular with gold miners and farmers, and later with everybody else.

A contemporary caricature. The German expression "With your head through the wall" signifies great stubbornness.

Gabriel Riesser (1806-1863), the first Jewish judge in Germany, enters the Hamburg High Court, breaching the wall with his head. Riesser studied law but was refused a license to practice because of his religion. He became a leading advocate of Jewish emancipation, a member of the revolutionary parliament in 1848, a vice-president of the Hamburg city council and, finally, in 1860 a judge.


Ferdinand Lasalle (1825-1864), Socialist writer and politician, founded the "General German Association of Workers" in 1863, the first organization of the Workers Movement. His friend Karl Marx, himself of Jewish origin, called him "The Jewish Nigger Lasalle" because of his "Jewish looks," and because Lasalle was prepared to strike a deal with the German government over workers' rights.

The pogroms in Russia in 1881 and the failure of countries in Eastern Europe to emancipate the Jewish population provided the impetus for Zionism to develop into a political movement. The influential pamphlet "Autoemancipation!" written by the Odessa doctor Leon Pinsker in 1882 called for the Jews to take emancipation into their own hands. 1882.
"Autoemancipation!" An Appeal to his Co-Religionists by a Russian Jew; Berlin



A "Jewish Problem"
IN THE PRINCIPALITY OF MOSCOW and the Russian Empire the presence of Jews was not tolerated since the Middle Ages. Jews were considered the enemy of Christ by Orthodox Christianity and believed to aim at converting Christians to Judaism. The Czars, in their role as Protectors of the Faith, regularly refused permission even for Jewish merchants to enter Russia. When after the partitions of Poland several hundred thousand Jews become incorporated into the Russian Empire, the Russian government immediately perceives them as "the Jewish Problem," either to be solved by enforced assimilation or expulsion. The first "problem" the Jews pose is to the nationalist or panslavic conception of the Russian Empire. In this conception, the Jews do not fit into the aim to form "of all nationalities a single people" based on "common language, common religion and the Slavic Mir." The second issue is economic: the majority of Jews lives in villages and fulfills a vital role in the village economy. This poses a problem to the feudal order of the Empire, as free townspeople are not permitted to live in villages where both the land and the people serfs - are the private property of the nobility. The Polish nobility, having lost its feudal rights after the partition, wants to regain the economic functions they once delegated to the Jews - a political demand that Russian governments are eager to accommodate. Both issues, Jewish cultural and religious autonomy and Jewish residence in the villages, are addressed time and again by degrees and counter-degrees. However, both "problems" remain largely unresolved throughout the 19th century. Jews resist assimilation into a society that will only accept them if they renounce Judaism, and prefer their traditional village existence above forced residence in overcrowded cities. In his "Statute Concerning the Organization of the Jews" from 1804, Alexander I is the first to formulate the dual policy of forced assimilation and expulsion from the villages. With the aim to draw the Jews into the general stream of economic and cultural life, Jews may now enter public schools for the first time. In order to undermine the Jewish village economy, Jewish residence in the villages is prohibited, and expulsions begin soon afterward. Jews are also forbidden to distill or sell alcohol to peasants, or continue leasing activities in the villages.


The Pale of Settlement

From 1791 onward a "Pale of Settlement" is created after Catherine II restricts Jewish residence to either the territories annexed from Poland along the western border or to the territories taken from the Turks along the shores of the Black Sea. Later, other annexed territories were added to the Pale and Jews permitted to settle there as "colonizers." From the old Russia, Jews continue to be barred.


A Jewish family at home. Several Czarist decrees prohibited the traditional Jewish dress such as the caftan worn by the man on the right, and the growing of "peyot," or sidelocks, worn by the boy.
Ca. 1843.

Jewish children from the Ukraine. The boy wears the traditional caftan, sidelocks and the furtrimmed hat.
Ca, 1844.


Jewish tavern scene. In the Pale, many Jews traditionally earned a living by innkeeping, despite a government policy to move Jews out of this occupation.
Lithograph, ca. 1840.

Internal pass of a Russian Jew issued by the Minsk City Council in 1850. Temporary residence outside the Pale was strictly limited to six to eight weeks, and only for legal and commercial transactions.


Russian Jews showing the influence of government-imposed dress codes: the traditional caftan has been exchanged for a black frock coat.
Lithograph, 1843-44.

Crimean Jews (with beards, right) in a Tatar market. Permanent Jewish settlement outside the Pale was permitted only in areas where Jews had lived before the Russian conquest.
Drawing by Geissler, ca. 1800


Title page of Te'udah be-yisra'el, by Isaac Bar Levinson, a founder of the Russian Haskalah. In this book, published in Vilna in 1828, he formulated a secular educational and productivization program for the Jews. In 1836, Nicholas I ordered the closure of all Hebrew printing presses except the one in Kiev and in Vilna where two censors had to examine all printed books.

Jewish wedding scene.

Oil painting by Wincenty Smokowski (1797-1876).


Life in the Pale of Settlement

IN THE PROVINCES of the Pale of Settlement, Jews form approximately one-ninth of the population. As their number increases due to the high birth rate and better medical care, the confinement to the Pale causes growing poverty. Massive expulsions from the villages, and the restrictions on professions and trade, increases competition among a growing number of people. Within the Pale, the number of artisans per 1000 persons is three times higher than elsewhere. Although the government encourages Jews to engage in agriculture, the special settlements allotted for this purpose in Southern Russia cannot absorb the tens of thousands who are driven out of the villages. During the reign of Nicholas I, the position of the Jews deteriorates significantly. To alienate them from their religion, Jews are conscripted from 1827 onward into the army for a period of no less than 25 years. The Jewish communities are made responsible for supplying a required number of recruits ("Cantonists") aged between 12 and 25. Kidnapping by so-called "khapers" is often necessary to fill the quota. The children are to be "re-educated," and compulsory instruction in Christian religion and physical pressure are used to induce them to convert. In 29 years between 30,000 and 40,000 Jewish children served as "Cantonists." In 1843, the Jews are expelled from Kiev where they had lived for centuries. A new wave of expulsions follows when Jews are no longer allowed to live within 50 versts (1 verst = .6629 miles) of the western border. Even government officials consider the conditions in the Pale untenable. The governor of Kiev province, where 600,000 Jews live, urges the government in 1861 to lift the residence restrictions in order to relieve the congestion in the Pale. Outside the cities, the typical Jewish community in the Pale is the shtetl (mestechko), which usually has a few thousand inhabitants and is centered around the synagogue and marketplace. Jews earn their living as petty traders, middlemen, shopkeepers, peddlers and artisans, often working with woman and children as well. Those who are no longer able to find any employment join the growing number of Luftmenshen - doing anything to earn a living. At the end of the century, the Jewish population has become so impoverished that approximately one-third depend to some degree on Jewish welfare organizations.


Market day in Rzhishchev, Ukraine.

A water carrier. Most cities in the Pale had no other form of water distribution than by water carrier. According to the 1898 census there were still 5,378 water carriers in the Pale.


Two blacksmiths in Polonnoye, Ukraine.

Cobblers and apprentices in their workshop around 1900.


A familiar sight in the Pale: a porter with his rope, waiting for a work offer.

Old age home in Kiev. Pauperization in the Pale brought fourth a wide range of charitable activities, caring for the old and sick, distributing food and clothing.


A German postcard from the First World War: "ln a Polish Jew Town." Even then, most of the houses were made of wood.

Jews celebrating the completion of the writing of a torah scroll with a dance in Dubrovna, Belorussia, a city where most of the taleisim (prayer shawls) of Russia were produced.


Making wine in Kishinev, Bessarabia.

Although Jews are allowed to enter general schools, not many do because instructions are given in either Polish, Russian or German - not in Yiddish, which is by far the most widely spoken. From 1844 onward, special schools for Jews are established with the purpose of bringing them "nearer to the Christians and to uproot their harmful believes which are influenced by the Talmud." A special tax on candles is imposed to pay for them. Jewish parents regard these schools with suspicion and continue to send their children to the traditional kheyder. There, the melamed (teacher) instructs the children in the Hebrew language. As the Hebrew alphabet is also used for Yiddish, the children are able to read and write in their mother tongue as well. The number of students attending the Jewish state schools is very small: about 6000 in 1864. Some enter the mainstream of the Russian intelligentsia, and in this respect the schools fulfill their purpose. A number of these students later join the protest movement against the oppressive Czarist regime.
Literacy of the total Russian population and of the Jewish population in percentage in 1897

All Russia Jews Males 10 years or older 38.7 64.6 36.6 50.1

Females 10 years or older 17.0 Total, 10 years or older 27.7


Dvora Esther Gelfer (1817-1907), a Vilna philanthropist who founded a society for small, interestfree loans.

Herzl Yankl Tsam, the only Jewish officer in the 19th century. Drafted into the army as a 17-yearold Cantonist, he was made a captain only after 41 years of service. In spite of pressures, he never converted to Christianity.


A wedding in Polonnoye, Ukraine. The bride is standing under the chupah, the marriage canopy.

A melamed (teacher) in 19th century Podolia. Usually, the traditional Jewish kheyder was a single class school, consisting of 10 to 15 children. Only Bible and Talmud were studied.


The synagogue of Vilna. Vilna was the center of Jewish enlightenment, the Haskalah, and the rationalist mode of Talmudic studies.

Moyshe Tolpin, a teacher in a government school, with his family around the turn of the century in Ostrg, Ukraine. The government schools for Jews offered a mixture of Jewish and secular studies and often were a stepping-board into Russian society.

Simeon Bellison as a boy next to his father, the band leader, in Yelna. The family later emigrated to the United States where Bellison became the first clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.


Front page of a minutes or records book (pinkas) of the Mishna Study Society at the Klaus Synagogue in Medzhibozh (Podolia) for the year 5620 (=1860). The pinkas contains the findings and list of membership of the society.

Poor boys in Szereszw being measured for new clothes. The kehillot, or Jewish communal organizations, collected special taxes, such as the tax on kosher meat, to care for the needy.


Rabbi Isaac Reins (1839-1915), who instructed Leo Tolstoy in the Hebrew language, was an influential Talmud scholar and one of the founders of the religious Zionist movement Mizrachi.

The father of Yiddish literature, Mendele Mokher Sforim, pen name for Sholem Abramovitz (1836-1917). Born in Kapulye, Lithuania, he became the principal of a Jewish school in Odessa. His first Yiddish story was published in 1864.


The writer Sholem Aleichem with his family on a New Year's card from 1889. In one of his short stories, Sholem Aleichem created the figure of Tevje, on which the musical and film "Anatevka" are based.

Alexander II - A Brief Spring

THE REIGN OF ALEXANDER II brings fundamental changes for the Russian society at large, notably the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. For Russian Jews, it marks a period of great expectations now that the most oppressive measures are relaxed. On the first anniversary of Alexander's coronation the hated Cantonist system is repealed. Bit by bit, small groups of Jews considered "useful" are allowed to settle outside the Pale: merchants, medical doctors and artisans. The Jewish communities of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Odessa grow rapidly, and Jews start to participate in the intellectual and cultural life. The industrial development of the 1860s, following the disastrous Crimean War, creates opportunities for a small group of Jewish entrepreneurs, particularly in banking and the export trade, in mining and in the construction of railroads. But the sudden appearance of Jewish lawyers, journalists and entrepreneurs causes a sharp reaction. After the suppression of the Polish uprising in 1863, the position of all minorities in Russia is weakened, and the movement for Jewish emancipation suffers a serious setback. Anti-Semitic agitation, expressed in newspapers like Novoye Vremya, increases after a wave of Slavophile nationalism in the 1870s. Jews are accused of forming "a state within the state" and seen as aliens trying to dominate Russia. Even the old myth of the Blood Libel, outlawed by Alexander I in 1817, is brought to life again in Kutais in 1878.


The banker Baron Horace Ginzburg of St. Petersburg, a spokesman for Russian Jewry and promoter of the arts.

The Great Synagogue of St. Petersburg, also called "Baron Ginzburg synagogue" after its benefactor, opened in 1893.


The "Jews Walk" in Odessa. In the 1880s, the Jewish community of Odessa became the largest in Russia, growing from 17,000 (22 percent of the total population) in 1855 to 140,000 (35 percent) in 1897. Jewish companies assumed important positions in grain exports, banking and industry.
Illustrated Times, April 1856.

"Football in the Jews' Market in St. Petersburg." Only Jews with special residence permits were allowed to trade in the Tchukin Dvor and Apraxin Rinok markets.
Illustrated London News, April 1874.


The family of Jozef and Dora Hirszowicz. Jozef's father, Lejba Hirszowicz (1830-1907), had been an engraver of silverware for the Russian nobility. Jozef, the oldest son, established a printing and engraving plant in Moscow. In 1892, after the mass expulsion of Jews from Moscow, he moved to Warsaw.

A prayer service for Jewish soldiers during the Russian-Turkish War in 1877. In 1874, general conscription was introduced, but Jews had to serve in larger numbers and for a longer time.


Three generations of the Szabad family; Vilna, 1897. Yosef Szabad, seated center, was a merchant, his wife Pesa kept a shop in Vilna. Their son Cemach Szabad (back row center, behind his parents) was a prominent physician who later became a member of the Polish parliament.

Ha-Melits (The Advocate), a Hebrew newspaper printed in Odessa that was one of the most important promoters of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) in Russia.


Renewed Oppression - the "May Laws"

THE EVENTS FOLLOWING THE MURDER of Alexander II in 1881 dash all hopes the Jews might have had for further improvement of their situation. The assassination, by a small group of revolutionaries, takes place in an atmosphere of great social unrest, and the beleaguered regime falls back on a well-tried recipe: blaming the Jews. Beginning in Elizabetgrad, a wave of pogroms spreads throughout the southwestern regions, more than 200 in 1881 alone. The authorities condone them through their inaction and indifference, sometimes even showing sympathy for the pogromists. An official investigation confirms: the plunderers were convinced that the attacks were sanctioned by the Czar himself. The same investigation blames "Jewish exploitation" as the cause for the pogroms. With the so-called "Temporary Laws" of May 1882 a new period of anti-Jewish discrimination and severe persecution begins. It lasts until 1917. The area of the Pale of Settlement is reduced by 10 percent. Jews are once more prohibited from living in villages, to buy or rent property outside their prescribed residences, denied jobs in the civil service and forbidden to trade on Sundays and Christian holidays.

The opening of a temporary chapel on the Ekaterinski Canal, on the spot where Alexander II was killed. Rumors that "the Jews" were behind the assassination prompted a wave of pogroms.


Peisakh and Leah Zilberman of Bar, Ukraine, where they settled after being forced out of their village by the May Laws of 1882. All six of their children emigrated to the United States and never saw their parents again.

Russian liberals interview Jews of Kiev who sheltered in the Arsenal after the pogroms in May 1881. The pogroms continued for four days without interference by the military or police.
The Illustrated London News, June 18, 1881.


The June 15, 1881, declaration of Zemlia I Volia about the pogroms.

The pogroms of the 1880s generated a wave of Jewish migration that continued for decades. These refugees, photographed in the port of Liverpool in May 1882, were among the first of the estimated 2 million Jews who left Russia between 1881 and 1914, mostly for the United States.


The anti-Semitic campaigns intensify after Alexander III and his family miraculously survive a railway accident in 1888. The head of the Holy Synod and the Czar's spiritual adviser, K. Pobedonostsev, interprets this as a "sign from above" to turn away from the path of reform. In 1887, the number of Jewish students entering secondary schools in the Pale is restricted to 10 percent. As in some towns Jews constitute 50 to 70 percent of the population, many high school classes remain half empty. In 1891 a degree is passed that the Jews of Moscow, who had settled in the city since 1865, are to be expelled. Within a few months about 20,000 people are forced to give up their homes and livelihood and deported to the already overcrowded Pale. Alexander III dies in 1894 during a holiday in Yalta, some weeks after he had ordered the Jews from that city expelled as a precautionary measure.

Group of Jewish soldiers in Troitskossovsk in 1887. Jewish soldiers were not allowed to spend their leave in places where they were stationed but had to return to the Pale of Settlement.


The worsening of the situation of the Jews in Russia coincided with the growth of the press in Western Europe, and information about the Czar's policies prompted sharp protest. In London, a protest meeting with leading figures of church and society was organized under the auspices of the Lord Mayor.
Illustrated London News, December 1890.

In all major cities and ports of Europe Jewish migrants from Russia became a familiar sight. This scene depicts the arrival of a group of Russian Jews at the Gare de Lyon, Paris, in 1892.
Le Petit Journal, Paris, 1892.


The Great or Central Synagogue in Arkhipova Street, Moscow, opened in 1891, only to be immediately closed. First the dome had to be removed, then the order came to convert the building into a trade school, then into a religious school, a philanthropic institute, etc. The building was constantly under reconstruction, while the 10,000 Moscow Jews were allowed five prayer halls that could seat 816 persons. Only in 1906, during the First Duma, was the building finally allowed to function as a synagogue.

The "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"

THE "PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION," a major source for most anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to this day, were written by an anonymous author working for the Okhrana, the Russian secret police, in Paris at the end of the 19th century. The "protocols" are said to be the minutes of a conference of Jewish leaders drawing up plans to dominate the world. In the book, the "Elders of Zion" are accused of corrupting the country by spreading liberal ideas, undermining the rightful position of the nobility, stirring up social unrest and revolution. The "Protocols" do not immediately draw much attention when published in Russia in 1905, but this changes after the Revolution. Anti-Bolshevists point to the "Protocols" to explain the sudden and radical changes in Russia and to justify anti-Semitic violence during the Civil War. In 1921 evidence is produced that the "Protocols" are a forgery: the author has plagiarized whole sections from a French publication of 1864 which was directed against Napoleon III and had nothing to do with Jews. The leaders of the German National Socialist Party, notably Hitler and Goebbels, refer frequently to the "Protocols." In Hitler's "Mein Kampf" the "Protocols" are presented as proof of an alleged "Jewish conspiracy" to dominate the world, and the persecution of Jews as a necessary self-defense.


In this way, the "Protocols" come to justify the discrimination and later the extermination of Jews by the Nazis. After the Second World War, the "Protocols" find new adherents in the Arab world by providing an "explanation" for the military victories of Israel. Today, the book continues to be distributed by Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups.

Sergei Nilus, publisher of the first edition of the "Protocols" in 1905.

The Bolshevist Revolution is explained as part of an alleged "Jewish plot"; proof is seen in the fact that some Bolshevist leaders are Jewish.
Edition of the "Protocols," published by Russian emigrants in Paris, 1927.


Spanish edition of the "Protocols": "The Invisible World Government, or the Jewish Program to Subjugate the World."

French edition: "The Jewish Danger: Complete Text of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."


Cover of a Polish edition of the "Protocols," published during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
Poznan, 1943

Cover of an Arab translation of the "Protocols," published in Cairo in 1972.


This English translation of the "Protocols" uses the classic anti-Semitic image of the Jew as a snake encircling the globe.
London, 1978

Cover of a Russian edition of the "Protocols" published in 1992. Already in 1934, a Swiss Court concluded that the "Protocols" were a forgery. In 1992 a Ukrainian Court reached the same verdict.


The Pogroms of 1903 - 1906

NICHOLAS II, WHO SUCCEEDS Alexander III in 1894, makes it clear from the start that he will guard the fundamentals of autocracy with the same strictness as his father. But the movement for political reforms, freedom of speech and universal franchise has gained in strength. Successive riots of peasants, workers and students can no longer be crushed by oppression. The government tries to deflect the revolutionary movement by initiating a war with Japan abroad, and pogroms at home. After months of violent anti-Semitic campaigns a pogrom breaks out in Kishinev in 1903. Forty-five people are murdered, and 1,300 homes and shops plundered. For his anti-Semitic agitation, the editor of the local newspaper, Bessarabets, had received funds from the Minister of the Interior, Viacheslav Plehve. When the perpetrators of the Kishinev pogroms receive only very light sentences, it becomes clear that pogroms have now become an instrument of government policy, and Jews begin to form self-defense units. During the war with Japan the anti-Semitic press blames the Jews for conspiring with the enemy. These campaigns culminate in a new wave of pogroms after the disastrous defeat of Russia. The Black Hundreds now openly declare the extermination of the Jews as their program. But the worst orgy of violence breaks out after the Czar is forced to grant a constitution in October 1905. Mainly organized by the monarchist Union of Russian People, and with the cooperation of local government officials, pogroms are staged in more than 300 towns and cities, leaving almost a thousand people dead and many thousands wounded. Because there is no sign of change in the Czar's policies and as the pogroms took place with apparent approval by the authorities, a feeling of despair spreads among the Jewish communities.


Front page of Pluvium, an anti-Semitic weekly published in St. Petersburg.

Pluvium, February 1907.

Three members of the Black Hundreds with some of their newspapers. In many cases the antiSemitic press received financial support from the government for their agitation.


The flag of the Union of Russian People is ceremoniously handed over to the local chapter of the Union in Belce, Bessarabia, in January 1907.

The founding ceremony of a local chapter of the Union of Russian People in Belorussia.

Homes vandalized during the pogroms in Kishinev in 1903.


Victims, mostly children, of one of the pogroms in Ekaterinoslav in 1905. This photo was distributed by the self-defense organization of Poalei Zion as a postcard and drew worldwide attention to the pogroms of 1905.

Three pogrom victims in Odessa who were members of the self-defense organization of the Bund. During 1905-1906, more than 600 outbreaks of violence were recorded and 3,103 Jews killed.


Protest meeting at the funeral of Kagan, who was murdered in prison in Mosir, Belorussia, on the day of the Czar's proclamation of the Constitution in October 1905.

Jewish soldiers of the Russian army attending a Passover seder in 1905. Even during the war with Japan, Jewish soldiers had to spend their leave inside the Pale of Settlement. An estimated 425,000 Jews served in the Russian army between 1880 and 1909.

A Government Blood Libel: The Beilis Affair

IN FEBRUARY 1911, the liberal and socialist factions in the Third Duma introduce a proposal to abolish the Pale of Settlement. Right wing and monarchist organizations such as the Union of the Russian People and the Congress of the United Nobility react violently: they embark on a campaign to harshen anti-Jewish policies instead of lessening them. For this campaign, both organizations receive secret state subsidies from a


government that has lost practically all support in parliament. When in March 1911 the body of a young Christian boy is found in Kiev, the Czarist authorities seize the opportunity to revive the age-old accusation of ritual murder. A Jewish inhabitant of Kiev, Mendel Beilis, the superintendent of a brick kiln, is arrested and charged, although by that time the authorities already know the true perpetrators. For more than two years, Beilis remains in prison while the authorities try to build a case against him by falsifying papers and pressurizing "witnesses." But the case backfires. In October 1913, the jury unanimously declares Beilis not guilty. The Beilis case not only draws international attention to the plight of the Jews in Russia, it also unites the conservative Octobrists and the radical Bolsheviks in their opposition to the government. The Czarist government finds it difficult to accept this humiliating defeat. G. Zamyslovsky, one of the prosecutors in the case, repeats the accusation against Beilis in his book The Murder of Andrei Yushinsky. The book is published on the eve of the revolution in 1917 with secret funds of the Interior Ministry that have been approved by the Czar.

Mendel Beilis and his family. He was the last European Jew who had to defend himself against a Blood Libel.


During the Beilis trial, these anti-Semitic fliers were distributed in Kiev warning Gentile parents to watch over their children during the Jewish Passover.

"Beilis and his Defenders," a poster distributed during the Beilis trial. Oscar Gruzenberg, top left, was the leading defense attorney in the case.


In this telegram of October 14, 1913, the head of the Police Department stated that although the case against Beilis was very weak, he hoped that the jurors would find him guilty because of their animosity toward the accused man's race.


Mendel Beilis, reunited with his family after having spent two years in jail. He later emigrated to the United States.

Political Activity and Emigration

AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, the Jewish population increases to over 5 million. Russian Jews become more assimilated, and a secular Jewish culture develops, leading to greater political participation. The early Jewish revolutionaries among the Narodniki see themselves as Russians fighting for the right of the Russian people, and believe that the Jewish problem would be solved through assimilation after the liberation of the masses. But the generally indifferent reaction, even from the liberal Russian intelligentsia, to the wave of antiJewish violence in 1882 is a bitter disillusion to them. The conviction grows among Jews that the distinct economic and social discrimination targeted at them calls for the formation of a separate Jewish workers movement. In 1897, the Jewish labor movement Algemeyner Yiddisher Arbeter Bund is founded in Vilna. The Bund advocates national and cultural autonomy for the Jews, but not in the territorial sense; it argues for a middle course between assimilation and a territorial solution. The Bund also develops trade union activities and forms self-defense organizations against pogrom violence. In 1905, it has about 33,000 members.


Meeting of Russian-Jewish socialists in Berlin in 1875. Seated third from right is Aaron Liebermann, a pioneer of the Jewish socialist movement and founder of the first Hebrew-language socialist newspaper.

The "League for Struggle for the Liberation of the Working Class" meeting in St. Petersburg in 1905. Center: Vladimir I. Lenin; right: Julius Martov, the later leader of the Menshevik faction.


Chaim Weizmann, for many years the leader of the World Zionist Congress, was born in Motol, Belorussia, in 1874. After studies in Pinsk, he emigrated to Western Europe in 1892. When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, he became its first president.

Police photo of Leon Trotsky after his arrest for revolutionary activities in 1899. Born in an agricultural settlement for Jews in the Ukraine, he received a liberal, Western-oriented education in Odessa. He belonged to the Menshevik faction, and only joined the Bolsheviks after the revolution of February 1917.


Ber Borochov (with hat), the future leader of Paolei Zion, with friends in his hometown Poltava, Ukraine, in 1903. Standing on the left is Yizchak Ben Zwi, who became the second president of Israel.

The question of a national territory for Jews separates the Bundists from the Zionists. After the pogroms and the May Laws of the 1880s, many Jews no longer see any point in the struggle for emancipation within Russian society and turn after the publication of Herzl's "Der Judenstaat" in 1836 to Zionism instead. The largest Zionist party, Poalei Zion ("Workers of Zion"), founded in 1906, is Marxist in orientation and defines the establishment of a socialist-Jewish autonomous state in Palestine as its ultimate goal. Of all the Jews active in politics, a relatively small number join the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party; most of them join the Menshevik faction after the party splits. On the eve of the Revolution, the Bolshevik party has about 23,000 members, of which 364 are Jews. The most widespread response, though, to the continued discrimination can be found in the mass emigration of Jews to America and Western Europe. Between 1881 and 1914, more than 2 million Jews leave Russia.

Jewish Emigration from Russia: 1880 - 1928


Mass demonstration of the Bund in Smorgon, Belorussia, in May 1905.


Clandestine meeting of the self-defense group of the Socialist Zionist Party in Dvinsk, Latvia, in 1905. The evident approval by the authorities of the Kishinev pogrom in 1903 led many Jewish parties to form self-defense units.

Placard commemorating the uprising of political prisoners in Yakutsk, Siberia, in which many Bund members took part. After 17 days of fighting with the army, the rebels surrendered.
Vilna, 1904



Revolution and Emancipation
THE FALL OF THE CZARIST REGIME in March 1917 brings an end to decades of oppression and is greeted with joy among the Jewish community. The Provisional Government, as one of its first acts, abolishes all limitations based on religion or nationality. For the first time in their history, the Jews of Russia are free to organize and express themselves. Synagogues and schools are opened, publications appear in Hebrew and Yiddish, and political and cultural life flourishes. The Bolshevik seizure of power in November 1917 brings a halt to the developing Jewish communal life. The Bolshevik doctrine, as formulated by Lenin and Stalin, denies the existence of a national Jewish identity. Lenin declares national Jewish culture "the slogan of the rabbis and the bourgeois, the slogan of our enemies." According to Stalin, the Jews are a nationality on paper only, Zionism is a reactionary bourgeois movement, and Yiddish merely a jargon. The Bolsheviks believe that once socialism is firmly established, all nationality issues will automatically be resolved. For a period of transition, however, autonomy to national and cultural communities or to regions on a territorial base might be granted. In the case of the Jews, the result is both confusing and contradictory. The "Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia" recognizes the right to both religious and national autonomy, but subsequent decrees limit those rights profoundly. The separation of Church and State, introduced in January 1918, results in the confiscation of religious properties and the prohibition of religious instruction in schools. The creation of special "Jewish sections" (Yevsektsii) in the Bolshevik party seems at first a recognition of a Jewish nationality. In practice, however, the Yevsektsii conduct a systematic campaign against all aspects of Judaism and Jewish life. Its first decision is the dissolution of the kehilla, the Jewish community administration, which served as the main instrument of Jewish religious and cultural life. With the re-establishment of Poland and Lithuania in 1918, the more traditional part of Russian Jewry becomes separated from the newly founded Soviet Union where two and a half million Jews remain.


Bund members during a festive demonstration in 1917. The end of decades of oppression was celebrated by all Jewish organizations.

Demonstration of the Jewish Socialist Workers Party demanding national autonomy in a democratic republic; Ukraine, 1917. Like most Jewish socialist parties, it split over the question of whether or not to support the Bolshevik seizure of power.


A conference of Zionists in Siberia in 1917. Support for the Zionist parties, already substantial among Russian Jewry, increased even more after November 2, 1917, when Great Britain declared its support for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine (the Balfour Declaration).

The Eighth National Conference of the Bund, held in Petrograd in 1917. In the front row right is Esther Frumkin, who joined the Yevsektsii in the hope of saving the organization of the Bund. But the Bund was forced to dissolve in 1921. Esther Frumkin was arrested in 1938 and died in a labor camp in 1943.


Certificate issued to Rifkin as the Moscow representative of the United Jewish Socialist Workers Party in the elections for the "All-Russia Jewish Congress." The elections showed an overwhelming support for the Zionist parties, who in 1917 had a total membership of 300,000. Because of the uncertain political circumstances, the Congress was unable to meet.


First conference of the Yevsektsii in October 1918. Most Yevsektsii functionaries were completely assimilated Jews and had few, if any, links to Jewish religious or community life.

The Pogroms During the Civil War 1918 - 1921

THE CIVIL WAR THAT BREAKS OUT after the Bolshevik Revolution turns the Ukraine, where 60 percent of Russian Jews live, once again into a battlefield. A number of armies, armed gangs and units, each with a different objective, enter the conflict. In spring 1918, the Red Army has to defend itself against the Germans, the Ukrainian Army under Petlyura struggling for Ukrainian independence, and the "White" Armies under Denikin and Wrangel that try to topple the Bolshevik government. Apart from these more organized armies, armed gangs of bandits under their own leaders (atamans) join the fighting. All groups take part in anti-Jewish attacks, looting and murder. Only the Red Army Command prohibits anti-Semitic violence and even punishes some of the attackers. No such policy is introduced in the Ukrainian Army. During 1919, when the Ukrainians have to retreat, anti-Jewish violence on an unprecedented scale claims tens of thousands of lives. None of the perpetrators is prosecuted. The majority of Jews in the Ukraine, fearful of Ukrainian independence, come to regard the Red Army more and more as the only force capable to stop the violence. The other major participant in the Civil War, the "White" Army, also engages in looting, rape and murder, using the old slogan "Strike at the Jews and Save Russia." When they have to retreat southward at the end of 1919, they vent their rage on Jewish communities along the way. Jewish self-defense units are occasionally able to stop them, partly with material support from the Soviet government. By the time the Civil War is over, about 2,000 pogroms have left an estimated 100,000 Jews dead and more than half a million homeless.


Members of Ataman Struk's band, responsible for a great number of pogroms in the Chernobyl area, posing in front of a toy horse.

Corpses of Jews killed by Ataman Struk's band before their burial; Ivankoff, 1919. Neither Struk nor any other Ataman was ever arrested for the killings.


The synagogue of Demievka, Ukraine, vandalized in 1919 by Polish forces.

Orphans from Kovshitsy at the Bobruisk Children's Home. Between 1914 and 1921, an estimated 300,000 Jewish children were orphaned. The Soviet government allowed Western organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to give aid to pogrom victims.


Odessa Jews killed in a pogrom during the Civil War.

Four pogrom victims from Khodorkovtsy after treatment in the Alexandrov hospital in Kiev.


Records of the Soviet of People's Commissars from April 17, 1918, concerning measures against anti-Jewish pogroms. Special Jewish combat organizations were considered undesirable.

"Peace and Freedom in Sovdepya (Soviet Republic)" an anti-Semitic poster portraying Trotsky, published by the Whites.


Jewish self-defense unit from Odessa, photographed in April 1918.

Jewish Life Between the Wars

THE YEVSEKTSII, the Jewish sections of the Communist Party, are the main instrument of the new government in applying the Marxist doctrine of forced assimilation. The majority of Russian Jews support the various Zionist organizations; these become the first to be liquidated. Zionism is labeled "a bourgeois-clerical tendency," and thousands of Zionists are exiled to Siberia. The systematic attack of the Bolshevik government upon all organized religions also affects Judaism. The Yevsektsii close down synagogues and kheyders, confiscate religious books and objects, and conduct a campaign against rabbis, ritual slaughterers and other essential functionaries of Jewish religious and communal life. If they refuse to resign, they are arrested and deported.


On March 27, 1919, the EVKOM (the Jewish Commissariat, part of the Commissariat for Nationalities Affairs) decided to stop the activities of the Young Maccabi organization of Jewish sport clubs.


Torah scrolls piled up for destruction in the Vitebsk synagogue, one of the estimated 650 synagogues that were closed in the 1920s. Also in Vitebsk, a show trial was held against the kheyder, the traditional Jewish school, resulting in its immediate closure.

N. Edelberg, S. Isazro and L. Beigman, members of the Zionist Socialist Party, in exile in the Ural, ca. 1927.


Judaism is one of the religions attacked in this poster from 1922 for the magazine Bezjbozjnik (The Atheist). By 1934, 28 percent of the Orthodox churches, 42 percent of the mosques, and 52 percent of the synagogues in the Soviet Union had been closed down.

The Yevsektsii also campaign against the Hebrew language. In their eyes, Hebrew is the reactionary language of the Jewish bourgeoisie, whatever its content, and has to be eliminated in favor of Yiddish, the language of the Jewish proletariat. Hebrew schools and printing presses are closed. At the end of the 1920s, Hebrew becomes the only language which is officially outlawed in the Soviet Union. Jewish religious education is now impossible. The only permitted expressions of Soviet-Jewish life are secular Yiddish education, literature, press and theater. They flourish as long as they are permitted, until the mid 1930s. The newly established Yiddish schools are very popular at first. But as only few secondary school and no university courses are in Yiddish, their numbers decline. At the end of the 1930s, they have completely disappeared. With the almost complete elimination of organized Jewish religious and communal life, the Yevsektsii have become redundant and are dissolved in 1930. During the Stalinist purges of the late 1930s, most of its members are accused of having had "nationalist tendencies," and are deported or killed.


A Yiddish school in Kharkov, Ukraine, in 1922. The banner reads: "Children's home - the home of Communist culture." As the schools were Yiddish in language only, and Judaism the target of the anti-religious curriculum, the number of pupils diminished rapidly.

Outstanding students ("Shock Workers") of the Ratmansky school in Kiev, posing in front of a portrait of Lenin and the banner "Long Live the Komsomol Tribe - the Powerful Reserve and Reliable Helper of the Communist Party." The Yiddish spelling is a special orthography introduced by the Communists to stress the difference with Hebrew.


Designs for the Jewish Theater by Marc Chagal. In the years of its existence, the Jewish Theater gained an international reputation for its stage perfomances.

The painter Marc Chagal (front) with teachers and children at the Malakhovka children's colony near Moscow in 1923. Chagal settled in Paris in the same year. On the second row left sits the Yiddish writer Der Nister, one of many who had returned to the Soviet Union to participate in Yiddish cultural life. He became a victim of the campaign against "Cosmopolitans" in 1952.


The Presidium of the Institute for Proletarian Jewish Culture in Kiev. The Institute, founded in 1929, maintained a library of Yiddish literature and folklore, published periodicals, and organized scientific congresses. The Institute was closed down during the campaign against Jewish culture in 1948.

The economic life of the shtetl lies in ruins after the successive disasters of the First World War, the Civil War and the years of "War Communism." The New Economic Policy of 1921 brings some relief as farmers and artisans are once more allowed to trade their own products, but this policy is reversed with the introduction of the first Five Year Plan in 1928. The following rapid industrialization and collectivization completely destroy the socioeconomic fabric of shtetl life. Traditional Jewish occupations like shopkeepers, artisans and traders disappear, and tens of thousands of Jews have to leave their homes to work in the new industries. Because of their relatively high level of education, many Jews find employment in government services or work as doctors, engineers, managers, accountants etc. In order to promote agricultural work among Jews, and to offer a Soviet alternative to Zionism, the government establishes a Jewish Autonomous Region in the far-eastern region of Birobidzhan. But the plan is a failure. The climate is extremely harsh, and the region is too far from the major centers of Jewish life. The Jewish population of Birobidzhan reaches its peak with 24 percent in 1937. The massive migration of Jews out of Belorussia and the Ukraine, and the radical change in their occupational structure, result in a rapid assimilation into Soviet society. Yiddish is more and more replaced by Russian, and the number of mixed marriages rises to almost a third in the 1930s. In the lifetime of one generation, the Russian Jewish community has undergone fundamental change.


Before setting off to the city to work in industry, two young Jews have their photos taken.

Poster calling upon Jews to engage in agriculture: "Tilling the Soil instead of Trading in Air" (i.e. doing "Luftgeschefte").


Collective farmers from the Frayveg (Free Way) kolkhoz in Larindorf, Crimea, on their way to an election meeting in 1938. Collective farms in the Crimea attracted more Jewish settlers than Birobidzhan, but plans to settle Jews in the Crimea were stopped after protests from the local population.

The directorate of a Jewish agricultural cooperative in the Ukraine, ca. 1930. By 1928, there were about 220,000 Jewish farmers.


The Synagogue of Minsk turned into the Jewish State Theater in 1934. In Minsk and Odessa, some people were killed when the military closed the synagogues by force.

Graduates and teachers of the Yiddish Professional Technical School in Cherkassy, Ukraine, in 1929.


Poster from the campaign against the intensifying anti-Semitism at the end of the 1920s. This was the only campaign of its kind in the Soviet Union.

Group of students in an Agro-Joint workshop being trained as metal workers. Through the AgroJoint, the American Joint Distribution Committee gave aid to colonization schemes in order to relieve Jewish poverty. The Agro-Joint was liquidated in October 1937.



The Rise of Nazism in Germany
THE KILLING OF MILLIONS OF JEWS and other "non-Aryans" in the Holocaust is the greatest crime against humanity recorded in history. It was made possible by a unique combination of factors: the total control over the machinery of a modern state by the totalitarian regime of the National Socialists; the active cooperation or passive consent of a large part of the German population; the collaboration of like-minded regimes and people in the occupied territories; and a deeply rooted anti-Semitism common to all Christian countries in Europe. The catastrophic loss of humane standards in German society took place after the prolonged political and economic crisis of the 1920s. After the defeat in the First World War, Germany becomes a democracy. Social Democrats and Liberal parties form the new government. The enormous costs of the war cause rampant inflation. Unemployment rises to over five million. Large parts of the population live in fear of falling back into 19th-century poverty. Nationalist parties and the newly founded National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) blame the democratic constitution, the parties supporting the new republic and the unjust provisions of the peace treaty of Versailles for the chaos. But above all it is "the Jew" who is being blamed: The German worker is being ruined by "Jewish Capital" and threatened by "Jewish Bolshevism" that wants to turn him into a slave.

Unemployed workers queuing for scarce jobs or free meals were a common sight in the 1920s. After demobilization at the end of World War I, millions of Germans were unable to find work, and many sank into poverty. At the peak of the economic crisis in the late 1920s, 30 percent of the German work force was unemployed.
Photograph from the 1920s


Work and Bread: an election poster of the Nazi party. When Hitler came to power in 1933, the worst crisis was over, but the population credited the Nazis with the success.
Nazi Party election poster from the early 1930s

"Day of Versailles - Day of Dishonor": a demonstration against the Peace Treaty of Versailles. For many, the defeat of Germany was difficult to accept, and the reparations for war damages Germany had to pay under the treaty were considered a great injustice.
Photograph taken opposite the Royal Palace in Berlin in the 1920s


This anti-Semitic poster was pasted in 1920 on the walls of the German parliament, the Reichstag, in Berlin. The alleged "Jewish influence" - here seen to lead to the death of the German nation was blamed for many of the problems besetting German society in the 1920s.

The Nazi party under the leadership of Adolf Hitler gains more votes in every election. It promises to "restore honor" to the Germans, to renew political order and to bring back "work and bread." The Nazis pursue their political aims with aggressive propaganda and violence. In 1930 twelve years after its founding - the parties that supported the republic lose their majority. Right-wing parties take over the government and begin to dismantle the democratic system. In the elections of 1932, the NSDAP becomes the strongest party. The votes of the National Socialists are now needed to form the next government. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler is named Reich chancellor. In February, his democratically elected government passes a law suspending civil rights and political freedoms. In March, the government is empowered to rule without parliament, to pass laws and govern by decree. Germany becomes a dictatorship ruled by Hitler and the Nazi Party.


Nazi troopers in Munich on their way to seize power in Bavaria on the morning of November 9, 1923. Hitler led the coup, but it failed within hours. The Nazi party frequently used its paramilitary units - the SA and SS - to attack and terrorize political opponents.

The strong arm of the Nazi party gripping the snake that threatens to poison Germany. The snake stands both for "Marxism" and "High Finance" - an apparent contradiction but a typical argument in Nazi propaganda. The alternative to both capitalism and communism was to be the racially ordered state based on the "Fuehrer principle."
Nazi Party poster, 1920s


SA troopers and students burn books outside the State Opera in Berlin in May 1933. After Hitler gained power in January, he set in motion the "German Revolution" expurgating the "un-German" spirit from literature, art and music. As a prominent Nazi once said: "When I hear the word 'culture', I reach for my gun."

"One People, one Empire, one Leader!" The cult of the "Fuehrer" replaced elections and the often cumbersome process of democracy. In Nazi ideology, leadership is given to those who prove "worthy" and best represent "German-ness." People do not vote for, but "acclaim" the leader, who in turn relies on the "devotion" of his people.


The Racial Theories of the Nazis

THE RACIAL THEORIES OF THE NAZIS are based on pseudo-scientific "studies" of the 19th century. Influenced by mystic and romantic ideas, these political currents reject the principles of equality and common humanness advanced by the enlightenment. At the center of National Socialist ideology stands the idea of "race," people of the same "blood," sharing a common culture and territory. Races compete for territory and power, and only the fittest survive. Only "pure" races that do not mix with "inferior" groups are capable of creating lasting civilizations. Among the "white race," the "Aryans" form the elite, a "master race" destined to rule and enslave inferior races like the Slavs. But in order to fulfill their historic destiny, the Germans must first shake off "alien" political and cultural ideas and purge themselves of "inferior blood." German Jews are the first to be subjected to the program of "racial purification." Under German occupation during the Second World War, Jews of other countries and the "racially inferior" Slavs are also included in the "racial re-structuring" of Europe. The aim is to destroy the Slavic elite, enslave the workers and make the land and natural resources available to the superior race. In order to totally annihilate the cultures of occupied Eastern Europe and to prevent the Slavs from ever achieving a higher level of civilization again, large cities like Warsaw, Leningrad and Moscow are to be "pulled down and made uninhabitable." While other "Aryan" nations in Northern and Western Europe are to be won over and made to accept German leadership, one group must be totally eradicated: the Jews.

"For Aryans only." The racial theories are being put into practice within a few years after the Nazis assume power: With the "Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor" passed at Nuremberg in 1935, intermarriage between "Aryans" and members of "inferior" races like Jews, Slavs or Gypsies became prohibited. Only people of German "blood" remained citizens with full political rights.


Photograph ca. 1935

Graves of mental patients killed by the Nazis at Hadamar, Germany. To stop "unworthy life" from "weakening" the race, the physically and mentally handicapped are first subjected to a campaign of enforced sterilization. In 1939, Hitler orders the mass killings of patients in psychiatric hospitals. 80,000 to 100,000 people are killed until 1941, when the "action mercy death" is opposed by the churches and stopped.
Photograph ca. 1940

Opening of the traveling exhibition "The Eternal Jew" in Munich in 1937. Government and Party took great pains to "educate' the population in anti-Semitism. The propaganda show exploited traditional anti-Jewish prejudices: "Usury and the Sale of Stolen Goods" on the left panel; on the right panel the discriminatory Jewish dress code of the Middle Ages, said to have "warned off non-Jews not to commit racial disgrace," i.e. not to intermarry or have sex with Jews.
Photograph, 1937


The "Nuremberg Laws" established a pseudo-scientific basis for racial discrimination. Only people with four German grandparents (four white circles in top row left) were of "German blood." Jewish is who descends from three or four Jewish grandparents (black circles in top row right). In the middle stood people of "mixed blood" of the "first or second degree." These bizarre distinctions had deadly consequences. As there were no real racial differences, the Nazis had to use a trick: a Jewish grandparent was simply defined as a person who is or was a member of a Jewish religious community.
Chart published in 1935 to explain the "Nuremberg Laws"

"The NSDAP protects the Volk" (racial community). To strengthen the race, Nazism promoted a high birth rate and urged women to be "mothers and housewives." The Nazis propagated an ideal of subdued women and aggressive men. Homosexuality was considered an "infectious disease of body and mind" to be severely suppressed. Between 5,000 and 20,000 homosexuals were sent to concentration camps.
Nazi Party propaganda poster from the 1930s


"The cruel, animal-like enemy" - Soviet citizens - is contrasted with the "courageous and heroic" German soldiers. These racial stereotypes were used to dehumanize the opponent and limit feelings of compassion.
German propaganda publication, 1941

The idealized image the Nazi had of themselves as "Aryans."

Drawings by Oskar Just, 1938


Three pages from a German children's book. The hardworking German farmer on the left is diligently tilling the soil while the greedy Jewish stockbroker on the right is robbing him of the fruits of his honest labor. In the scene below, Jewish children and a Jewish teacher are expelled from school.
German children's book from the 1930s

Anti-Jewish Policies: 1933 - 1939

IMMEDIATELY AFTER ASSUMING POWER in 1933, the Nazis make the "expulsion of Jews from German society" one of their top priorities. They start a propaganda and terror campaign of unprecedented scope and violence to stigmatize German Jews, isolate them from the rest of the population and force them to emigrate. The Nazis also appeal to the traditional anti-Jewish attitudes in the population to gain approval for their regime. Anti-Semitism becomes the propagandistic rallying point of the "German Revolution." As it remains the only "revolutionary" policy the Nazis pursue with any seriousness, its successes are constantly proclaimed in the press and radio and displayed on the "Strmer" wall newspaper in every town and village. Beginning with a call to boycott Jewish shops and businesses in 1933, measure after measure is introduced to expel Jews from the civil service, the professions and from one economic sector after another. Gradually, German Jews are pushed to the margins of society. With the Nuremberg laws in 1935, they lose legal equality - three generations after emancipation - and full citizenship. At the same time, the regime introduces ever


new regulations to strip Jews of their property before they are forced abroad. More and more countries close their gates to German Jewish refugees. As the process of expulsion does not proceed fast enough in the eyes of the government, a nationwide "pogrom" is organized for the weekend of November 9 and 10, 1938. All synagogues in Germany are set on fire, Jewish shops are ransacked and about 30,000 Jews - ten percent of the remaining Jewish population - are arrested, beaten and imprisoned in concentration camps. They are released only upon proof of imminent emigration. At the eve of World War II, about 200,000 Jews remain in Germany. With the war in progress, emigration becomes almost impossible. In 1941, Jews in Germany - as all Jews in countries under German occupation - are made to wear a"Jewish star" - the yellow badge of the Middle Ages. In 1942, deportations to the "ghettos" and concentration camps in Poland begin. Of the Jews remaining in Germany after 1941, only about ten thousand survive the Holocaust.

"Germans! Defend yourself! Don't buy in Jewish shops!" Two SA men blocking entry to a Jewish shop in Berlin in April 1933. The "boycott" organized by the Nazi party was the first great "propaganda action' against Jews.


"Jewish Assassination Plan Against the Non-Jewish World Uncovered!" The May 1934 issue of "Der Strmer," the Nazi Party newspaper, revives the medieval accusation of ritual murder: Jews are alleged to have drawn the blood of Christian children.

The "Strmer" was present everywhere - spreading its vicious anti-Semitic propaganda in villages and towns.


"Jews not wanted!" In order to isolate the Jewish population further, these signs were introduced in 1935. During the Olympic Games held in Berlin in 1936, they were temporarily removed after foreign correspondents had written about them.

"I am the greatest pig in town - I have affairs with Jews only." This scene, organized for the press in Hamburg in 1935, appeared in all German newspapers. The man's sign says: "I only take German girls to my room." The Nuremberg laws of 1935 criminalized sexual relations between Jews and "Aryans."


The Great Synagogue of Frankfurt burning on November 9, 1938. The Nazi party had mobilized all local branches to participate in this centrally organized "progrom," but kept its authorship a secret. Instead, the riots were attributed to the "spontaneous wrath of the people." Great crowds passively and in silence - watched the burning of synagogues and the arrest of Jews.

A passport of a Jewish women stamped with "J" for "Jew." This stamp was added in 1938 on the request of the Swiss government. Switzerland wanted to be able to identify Jewish refugees at the border - in order to turn them back. Despite the reluctance of most countries to accept refugees, about 280,000 German Jews did find refuge abroad.


The star with the word "Jew" on it. Modeled on the yellow badge of the Middle Ages, this traditional symbol of discrimination was re-introduced by the Nazis.
Vienna ca. 1941

The Second World War - Poland

GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY is directed towards gaining territory in Eastern Europe and uniting ethnic German settlement areas with the "Fatherland." In March 1938, German-speaking Austria is incorporated into Germany. In October, a piece of Czechoslovakia inhabited by ethnic Germans is "peacefully" occupied, after the French and British governments give their consent at the Munich Conference. In March 1939, all of Czechoslovakia is invaded and the state dissolved. Bohemia and Moravia become part of Germany, Slovakia "independent" under a puppet regime. The German army also occupies the Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda. The crisis leading up to the Second World War is dominated by another German territorial demand: the city of Danzig, or Gdansk, in Poland. With the outbreak of war between Germany and Poland imminent, the German and the Soviet governments sign a Non-Aggression Pact in Moscow on August 23, 1939. Only opposed by Poland's distant allies in the West, Germany has now a free hand. On September 1, 1939, the Germany army invades Poland. Two weeks later, Soviet troops enter eastern Poland and occupy the provinces of western Belorussia and western Ukraine bordering on the Soviet Union - as agreed with Germany in a secret annex to the Hitler-Stalin Pact. The western parts of Poland, with the cities of Danzig, Poznan, Lodz and Katowice, are incorporated into Germany. The central part, including Warsaw, Lublin, Krakow and Lvov, becomes the "Generalgouvernment." Of the 3.3 million Jews in Poland, 2 million are trapped in the areas occupied by Germany. At the end of September, a directive


comes down from Berlin to the SS troops to move the 600,000 Jews from the incorporated areas into the "Generalgouvernment." There, the Jewish population is to be concentrated in "ghettos" in larger towns to await "a final solution." Mobile units of the SS, the "Einsatzgruppen," move in behind the regular army to "once and for all clean Poland of Jews, intelligentsia, clergy and nobility." The first attempt at a "final solution" is aimed at decimating the Jews by ghettoization, forced labor and starvation.

A Jewish family in the Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda being expelled on March 23, 1939. Klaipeda, or Memel in German, had an ethnically mixed population and was made an autonomous region by the League of Nations in 1924. Jews had lived here since the Middle Ages. In 1939, there were 10,000 Jews in the city, 17 percent of the total population.

SS men of the "Einsatzgruppen" cutting the beard of an elderly Polish Jew. SS troops terrorized the population, pressed Jews into work gangs and carried out killings. Synagogues were burned down, and communities of 5,000 people or less deported to the bigger ghettos.


Bridge connecting two parts of the Lodz "ghetto," the first major ghetto to be created. In February 1940, 160,000 Jews from Lodz and the suburbs were ordered to move into a slum quarter of the city. From October 1941 onward, the ghetto was used for Jews from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia as a transit camp to the death camps.

Boys and girls sewing leather jackets in a Lodz ghetto workshop. Jews were forced into slave labor for the German army or German industry throughout occupied Poland - either in ghetto workshops or special work camps.


A street in the Warsaw ghetto - the biggest ghetto in the Poland, with almost half a million Jews. By the end of 1941 most Polish Jews had been moved into ghettos. The Warsaw ghetto was also used to temporarily imprison Jews deported from other countries on the way to the death camps.

Lunch in a Warsaw Jewish orphanage. The Jews depended on food supplies controlled by the German ghetto administration. Inside the ghetto, the Jewish councils, or "Judenrte," that had been created by the occupants were trying to insure a fair distribution of the meager supplies.


A child dying in the Warsaw ghetto. With too little food and many diseases endemic in the crowded ghettos, the living conditions became unbearable. It is estimated that of 2 million Polish Jews in the territories under German occupation, 500,000 to 600,000 died in the ghettos and labor camps alone.

Chaim Rumkowski (left), the head of the Jewish council in Lodz, is greeting Heinrich Himmler, the German commander-in-chief of all SS and Police forces and the man responsible for carrying out the "final solution." During Himmler's visit in June 1941, mobile SS killing units assembled in the area ready for the attack on the Soviet Union a few weeks later.

Western and Southern Europe and the Balkans

IN THE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES occupied in the spring of 1940, German policies toward the Jews are more cautious than those in Poland.


Half a million Jews in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France are forced to register in the fall of 1940, after the racial definitions of the Nuremberg Laws have been introduced in the occupied territories. Jews are expelled from the civil service and stripped of their property. The process is similar to the one affecting German Jews between 1933 and 1939: the gradual separation and isolation from the general population; indoctrination of the non-Jewish population with anti-Semitic propaganda; concentration in cities, "ghettos" and transit camps; expulsions and deportations. When the war spreads to the Balkans in 1941, Germany allies itself with the fascist regimes of Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia in persecuting the 1.6 million Jews of southern and southeastern Europe. As most of the territories occupied in Yugoslavia, Greece, southern Russia and the Ukraine are held by German allies, the fate of the Jews there comes to depend on the willingness of these regimes to carry out the killing program of the Nazis. With the exception of Italy, the German and allied forces carry out a ruthless campaign of mass killings and deportations in the occupied territories themselves. In their own countries, the fascist governments are more protective of their own Jewish populations and resist German demands for deportations to death camps to varying degree. The situation changes only when German armies in 1343 and 1944 begin to occupy countries of former allies as well.

Elderly Jews in Frankfurt waiting for transport to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in August 1942. This camp was meant as a "showcase" for the alleged harmlessness of the "resettlement." Deportations in Germany had begun in September 1941.


France: Stateless Jews or Jews with foreign nationalities are rounded up for internment in May 1941. First,"foreign" groups were targeted, later all Jews - a typical Nazi strategy. In unoccupied France, the Vichy government did the same.

A railway station in Amsterdam - Dutch Jews being led to the trains that will take them to a transit camp. Between July 1942 and September 1944, 115,000 people were deported, mainly to Auschwitz and Sobibor. Almost all were killed.


"Negozio Ariano" - an "Aryan" shop in Italy. In November 1938, the first anti-Jewish measures are introduced by the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. During the early part of the war, Jews remain relatively safe in Italy itself and in territories under Italian occupation in France and Yugoslavia. Only after the German invasion in September 1943 are internment camps set up in Rome and northern cities, and some deportations to Auschwitz take place.

Memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Salonika, Greece. Northern Greece came under German occupation in April 1941. Of the 60,000 Jews under German rule, 80 percent were deported to Auschwitz in 1943 and killed.


Jews marked with the Star of David in Serbia. Between August 1941 and May 1942, 12,000 Serbian Jews were interned and most of them shot by the German army, together with Gypsies, Communists and Serbian nationalists. In Croatia, the puppet Ustashi regime rounded up Jews in camps where they were systematically killed or deported to death camps in Poland.

Jewish victims of the pogrom at Jassy (Moldavia) perpetrated by Romanian and German soldiers in June 1941. The fascist Romanian regime followed policies similar to its allies: to kill or assist German units in killing Jews and Gypsies in the territories of Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and Transnistria, occupied jointly by Romanian and German armies. In Romania itself, the regime resisted German pressures to deport Jews.


A Bulgarian deportation ship on the Danube carrying Jews from Greece and Yugoslavia to the Treblinka death camp in March 1943. The Bulgarian government interned 11,500 Jews in occupied Thrace and Macedonia and handed them over to the SS. The Bulgarian regime introduced anti-Jewish measures in its own country under pressure from Germany, but public opinion opposed the deportation of Jews from Bulgaria itself.

Jews moving into one of the 2,000 buildings in Budapest marked with a yellow star. In March 1944, German forces occupied Hungary. Jews were hurriedly concentrated in ghettos or, as in Budapest, in houses as a first step to their deportation. The Hungarian pro-Nazi regime had earlier introduced restrictions on its own Jewish population, but only deported or killed Jews in the territories occupied from Yugoslavia, Slovakia and Ukraine. Under German directions, Hungarian Jews were rapidly deported during the spring and summer of 1944. More than half a million were killed.


The Fate of Soviet Jewry

WITH THE GERMAN ATTACK on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the heartland of the Jewish population in Europe - the former "Pale of Settlement" - falls under German occupation. In the territories annexed by the Soviet Union after September 1939 - the Baltic, eastern Poland, Bessarabia and the Bukovina - live 1,910,000 Jews; in the Ukraine, Belorussia, the Crimea and other areas of the RSFSR overrun by the German forces are 2,160,000 Jews. Of these, 1.5 million manage to flee before the German troops arrive. More than 2.5 million are trapped, 90 percent of which live concentrated in less than 50 towns. In the months before the attack, the Nazi leadership has designed a method for these particular circumstances: the mobile killing units. These units, the "Einsatzgruppen," are made up of SS men, German police and local helpers. Four of these units, 3,000 men in all, are dispatched with the advancing army groups. Their orders are to take the Jewish population by surprise after the occupation of a town, to lead them out of town, to shoot them and bury them in mass graves. Moving behind the advancing front from west to east, the killing units are active from the outskirts of Leningrad and the Baltic in the north to Odessa, Simferopol and Rostov on the Don in the south. Outside cities with large Jewish populations, mass killings of unprecedented scope and speed take place - in Babi Yar outside Kiev, in Ponar outside Vilna, in the VII.Fort outside Kaunas. In the first five months of operation, the "Einsatzgruppen" shoot 100,000 Jews per month - half a million people in all. In order to catch the population unprepared, the units move on with great speed. As a result, about 2 million Jews are still alive after the first sweep in November 1941. A second sweep is organized with far greater forces. 250,000 men - the majority now local helpers - move from north to south. Jews are forced into "ghettos" and the population "selected" for immediate killing, deportation or for forced labor. From 1942 onward, these ghettos are "liquidated" and the remaining population shot. By the end of 1943, another 900,000 Jews have been killed in this manner. But for the Nazi leadership, this is not enough. While the mobile killing units are still at work, an even more monstrous plan is being put into effect: the deportation of the remaining Jews to the death camps.


A mobile killing commando leading women into the forest to be killed. Men and women were usually shot separately. German soldiers - although under strict orders not to - often took snapshots of the killings.
Eastern Poland, 1941; exact place and date unknown

Before being shot, the victims had to dig their own grave.
Exact place and date unknown


The killing of the last Jew in Vinnitsa, Ukraine. On September 1941,the Jewish New Year, the 28,000 Jews of Vinnitsa and its surroundings were shot by the "Einsatzkommando." The Jewish population dates back to the 16th century and had made up 40 percent of the town's inhabitants.

A sewing workshop. In the "ghettos" established after the first sweep of the killing units, Jews were forced into slave labor - either in the ghetto itself or in the hundreds of work camps that were set up in the occupied territories.


A mass grave at Zolochev, Ukraine. On July 3, 1941, two days after the German occupation of this former Polish town, Ukrainians carry out a massacre among the 14,000 Jews. 3,500 people are killed. A "ghetto" is set up for the survivors. Over the next months, large groups are sent to work camps, and in 1942 two transports go to the Belzec extermination camp with 5,000 Jews. The ghetto is "liquidated" in April 1943 and the inmates shot.

Bodies of Jewish victims piled up for burning at Klooga, Estonia. Klooga was one of the work camps for Jews sent from Kaunas and Vilna in May 1943 to work in slate mining and on fortifications. When the war turned against Germany, special SS units were sent out to obliterate traces of German crimes. In September 1944, the arrival of Soviet forces interrupted the preparations for the burning of victims.
Red Army photo


Babi Yar, a ravine at the outskirts of Kiev. On September 29 - 30, 1941, more than 30,000 Jews were killed by machine gun at the hands of an SS mobile killing unit and Ukrainian volunteers. The ravine continued to be used for the execution of civilians and of Russian prisoners of war. At the end of the German occupation, Babi Yar had become a mass grave for over 100,000 people.

The Death Camps

IN THE SUMMER OF 1941 the Nazi leadership conceives of a new plan: to construct killing centers in occupied Poland, to transport all remaining Jews under German control in Europe to these death camps and kill them with gas. By that time, about one million Jews are already dead. But the methods employed so far - mass shooting, starvation and slave labor - are considered ineffective. Also, the Nazis want to bring the planned genocide to a conclusion while the war is still going in their favor. Six extermination camps are quickly built or modified: Auschwitz, Belzec, Chelmno, Lublin-Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka. After experimenting with mobile gassing units, permanent gas chambers are installed together with crematoria. The gas chambers in five camps work with carbon monoxide. In Auschwitz, the gas used is hydrogen cyanide or prussic acid, known under its commercial name: Zyklon B. Deportations begin in September 1941 with Jews from Germany and Austria. As the killing centers are not ready yet, the victims are dumped into overcrowded "ghettos" close to the death camps. By the summer of 1942, the gas chambers are working. In Western European cities, Jews are rounded up or ordered to report to collection points. They are taken by train to transit camps and from there transported in cattle trains across


Europe to the extermination camps. From the Netherlands in the north to Greece in the south, one country after another is affected. In occupied Poland the "ghettos" are emptied one by one, from the end of 1942 onward. Mass deportations continue until January 1945, when the Jews of Hungary are transported to Auschwitz. More than 3 million people die in the camps. Auschwitz, the biggest camp, is also used for slave labor. On arrival, prisoners are selected by SS doctors either for immediate gassing or for work. The elderly and women with children usually die within hours of their arrival. Able-bodied men and women are put to work in the camp workshops or in factories especially set up in Auschwitz by German industry. Small groups of prisoners are forced to help in the extermination process. The camp also houses Poles and Russian prisoners-of-war, political prisoners from all over Europe, and Sinti and Roma.

The target: European countries and their Jewish populations - a page from the protocol of the Wannsee Conference held in January 1942. The meeting took place in a Berlin suburb to coordinate the "Final Solution" - the killing of all Jews in Europe - between the SS and all German ministries involved.


Plan of Sobibor extermination camp. This camp was built in March 1942 for only one purpose: to kill as many people as quickly as possible. Transports arrived by rail (55), and people were taken immediately toward the gas chambers. On the way, they had to undress in a barrack (31) or in the yard (33). All clothes, food and valuables brought by the prisoners were sorted and stored (barracks 32, 34, 36, 42-44). Further down the narrow, fenced-in passage toward the gas chambers, the hair of the women was cut and stored (45). People were then forced into the five gas chambers (51) with a total capacity of 500 prisoners. The bodies were disposed of in mass graves or open crematoria (54). The camp staff consisted of about 30 SS men, 100 Ukrainian helpers and about 1,000 Jewish laborers. Most victims were Jews from eastern Poland, the Soviet Union, from Austria, Holland, Belgium and France.


Aerial photo of the Auschwitz complex, made by American planes on June 26, 1944. The photo shows the first camp (Auschwitz I) in the lower half of the picture. Auschwitz-Birkenau (Auschwitz II), which was added as an extermination camp in 1942, is in the upper half. A third camp, Auschwitz-Monowitz (Auschwitz III) was built by the end of that year to provide cheap labor for the German war industry.


Aerial photo of the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, taken by American planes on August 25, 1944. The English text was added by American intelligence. Identified are a transport train standing on the tracks, groups of prisoners, the gas chambers and crematoria. The existence and purpose of the death camps were known to the British and American governments since 1943. Request by Jewish organizations to bomb the extermination facilities were repeatedly refused.


Concentration camp prisoners had to wear colored triangles on their clothes. Political prisoners were marked with red triangles and Jews with yellow triangles. "Criminals" wore green triangles, "asocials" black, Sinti and Roma brown and homosexuals pink triangles. These marks were also used in combination.


Victims of medical experiments in Auschwitz. Brutal - and mostly fatal - experiments on prisoners were carried out in Auschwitz and other camps both for conventional medical purposes and to find effective methods for mass sterilization of "racially inferior" groups. The preferred subjects were women and children. The German armed forces also conducted war-related experiments on prisoners.

Prisoners liberated by U.S. troops on May 2, 1945, at Wbbelin, Germany. Prisoners from northern German concentration camps were evacuated to this small work camp, a satellite camp of KZ Neuengamme close to Hamburg, in the last phase of the war. As more and more prisoners were needed in the German armament industry, hundreds of small work camps were set up all over Germany close to the factories. Prisoners were sent there from the main concentration and extermination camps.


Victims at Dachau concentration camp. When the camp was liberated in April 1945, it had 30,000 survivors, of which 2,000 died in the first month. The camp was set up in March 1933. During the war, the camp was mainly used for political prisoners from all occupied countries and for the mentally handicapped on their way to execution elsewhere. Between 1941 and 1945, Russian prisoners of war were shot outside the crematorium.

The gate to hell - the main gate of Auschwitz-Birkenau.


COLLABORATION IN THE DEPORTATION and killing of Jews takes place in most countries occupied by German forces or under control of their allies. Participation in the "Final Solution" by regimes or civil administrations is either motivated by ideological agreement with the racist policies of the Nazis, by political considerations or by material advantages. There is also massive collaboration by individuals: About 125,000 men in Western Europe and 200,000 men in Eastern Europe volunteer to the Waffen-SS between 1941 and 1944. Many people in occupied countries lend their active cooperation or passive support. All forms of collaboration in the persecution of Jews have at least one factor in common: the deeply rooted anti-Jewish traditions in Christian Europe that make it possible to exclude members of this group from human solidarity. In Western European countries, the civil services continue to function under German occupation. The local administration, the police forces and the railways render important assistance in the process of concentration and deportation, mostly in ignorance of the "Final Solution." In Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, members of Nazi parties play a major role in the "Aryanization" of Jewish property. The Vichy regime in unoccupied France introduces anti-Jewish policies on its own accord and later complies to a large degree with German demands for the persecution and deportation of Jews. The fascist regimes in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Italy follow their own anti-Jewish policies. Under pressure from their powerful ally, they also cooperate in the "Final Solution." In countries formerly occupied by the Soviet Union, German forces are initially welcomed as liberators by part of the population and the churches. In its turn, the German government encourages local participation in anti-Jewish operations. As a consequence, about 300,000 men in auxiliary forces, militias or in the SS from occupied Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine participate directly in the mobile killing units and in the operation of the extermination camps.


Killing of Jews in Kovno by Lithuanian nationalists under the eyes of the SS in June 1941. When the SS mobile killing units reached Kovno in the first few days of the war against the Soviet Union, they persuaded the anti-communist partisan leader Klimatis to turn his forces against the Jews, to demonstrate that "the liberated population had resorted to the most severe measures against the ... Jewish enemy." The pogrom - in which 5,000 Jews were killed - was filmed and photographed by the SS.
SS propaganda photo

Local Ukrainians in Lvov welcoming the German army in July 1941. Lvov had been a center of nationalist conflicts between Germans, Poles and Ukrainians. When units of the Ukrainian nationalist leader Stefan Bandera joined the German forces in the war against the Soviet Union, they also joined in the killing of Jews. In July alone, more than 2,000 Jews in Lvov fell victim to "action Petlyura" - named in honor of the Ukrainian anti-Bolshevist leader whose forces had perpetrated the pogroms during the Civil War in 1919-1920.


A welcome to German troops in Riga on July 1, 1941. Immediately afterward, Latvian fascists joined the mobile killing units of the SS in a pogrom. 400 Jews were killed.

A Nazi propaganda poster in the Ukraine. In the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union, the German forces tried to exploit Ukrainian nationalist and religious opposition to Stalin for their own purposes.


Estonian volunteers to the Waffen SS receiving instructions in Morse code. A Fascist party in Estonia had existed since the early 1930s.

SS Commander in Chief Heinrich Himmler inspecting the Galician SS Volunteer Infantry Division in June 1944. The unit was made up of Ukrainians.
German army press photo


Ukrainian SS volunteers in the Warsaw uprising in April 1943. A battalion of "Askari" - Ukrainian and Latvian volunteers, 337 men strong - had been brought in by the Germans to help storm the ghetto.

Anne Frank, the Jewish girl hidden in Amsterdam to evade deportation, became a victim of collaboration when the hiding place of the Frank family was betrayed in August 1944. Of the estimated 24,000 Dutch Jews who went into hiding with non-Jews, about 8,000 were caught, often because of betrayal.


Rescue Attempts and Resistance

THE METHODICAL KILLING of millions of people in the Holocaust takes place within the short period of two and a half years. The process is designed to make escape and resistance almost impossible. Deportations to the death camps are carried out under an elaborate system of concealment and deception. Jews called up to report to assembly points in their countries of residence are told about "resettlement" in the East and "work camps." In the extermination camps themselves, new arrivals are kept in ignorance of their fate until the last possible moment. Outside the camps, the mobile killing units use another method: to take their victims by surprise and kill them on the spot. Nevertheless, acts of resistance and rescue efforts take place everywhere. Where a more gradual approach and bureaucratic means are used to register and deport Jews, the common modes of resistance and rescue are hiding, the use of false identity papers and the disruption of the administrative process. For these activities, close cooperation between Jews and non-Jews is necessary. An estimated 100,000 lives are saved by hiding Jewish families and children alone. When general resistance movements begin operating in Nazi-occupied Europe in 1943, many activities are aimed at hiding Jews and disrupting deportations. In Eastern Europe the conditions for rescue and resistance are very different. The Nazis act much faster and with brutal force, seizing Jewish communities and separating them from the non-Jewish population almost immediately. As a consequence, a purely Jewish resistance in the ghettos and camps springs up with little or no help from the outside. It consists of armed attack and revolts against the SS, the organization of mass escapes from camps and partisan warfare. About 20,000 Jews join Soviet partisan groups.

Jewish children hidden among the children of the Vermeer family in the Dutch village of Brunsum in 1943. Many parents decided to leave their children behind with non-Jewish families rather than take them on transport to Poland. The children mostly survived, their parents not.


Jews from Denmark being rowed across the Sound to Sweden in October 1943. In this unique rescue operation, the Danish resistance movement secretly evacuated almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, more than 7,000 people, across the sea to neutral Sweden.

April 1943: A Jewish resistance group in Belgium preparing to blow up a train taking Jews to Auschwitz. A number of Jewish resistance groups operated in Belgium alongside the general and communist resistance movements to sabotage the "Final Solution." Through an underground network, Jews from the Lowlands were also brought to safety in Switzerland.


Jewish partisans who had escaped from the Vilna ghetto taking part in the liberation of the Vilna district in July 1944. In early 1942, a "United Partisan Organization" (FPO) was founded in the ghetto. It smuggled arms and committed acts of sabotage. For fear of reprisals, the Nazi-appointed Jewish leadership opposed armed action inside the ghetto. After a confrontation with the SS in July 1943, the partisans began to evacuate to the forests to save the population from reprisals. The ghetto was "liquidated" a few months later.

German soldiers setting fire to the Warsaw ghetto. The biggest uprising against the Nazis took place in the Warsaw ghetto in April - May 1943, when the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB) resisted an attempt by SS forces to "liquidate" the ghetto. More than a thousand armed members of the underground fought a German force of 3,000 men, tanks and artillery for almost three weeks.
Photo from the report by the SS General von Stroop to Hitler about the revo


Jan Lipke, a dock worker from Riga, witnessed the mobile killing units at work in the Riga ghetto. He then decided to help as many Jews as possible to escape and took a job at a firm where Jews from the ghetto worked as forced laborers. Of the 40,000 Jews from Riga not even a hundred were alive at the liberation. Of these, 42 had been saved by Jan Lipke.

The hanging of 17-year-old Masha Bruskina and of another partisan in Minsk in October 1941. Jewish partisan groups formed in the summer of 1941, but decided not to fight inside the Minsk ghetto in order not to endanger the population further. Jewish partisan groups from Minsk helped form the partisan movement in Belorussia and made up the nucleus of the Stalin and the Narodny Mstitel Brigades.
SS propaganda photo


Jewish partisans in Belorussia in 1943. Partisans were usually recruited among young men. As this left the rest of the community exposed to German reprisals, so-called "family camps" were established by the partisans in the forests. One of them, the "106 Family Detachment," provided protection for 600 women and children in the forests north of Minsk.

Ruins of the gas chamber and crematorium III in Auschwitz-Birkenau. On October 7, 1944, the Jewish "Sonderkommando" at Auschwitz - the special detail of Jewish prisoners forced to pull the dead out of the gas chambers - killed several SS guards with self-made weapons and set fire to the gas chamber. The uprising was brutally suppressed and all participants killed - but the gas chamber was destroyed and not put back into operation. In 1943, revolts also took place in the extermination camps of Treblinka and Sobibor.



Arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The "selection" takes place.


Walking to the gas chamber.

The Destruction of European Jews

Major concentration camps and death camps.


Estimated number of Jewish victims during the Holocaust.


JEWS IN THE SOVIET UNION: 1941 to present

Behind the Front
WITH THE ANNEXATION of the Baltic states and large areas of Poland and Romania, the Jewish population of the Soviet Union is increased by more than two million. In these territories with their distinctive Jewish communities, the Soviet authorities immediately start to close down all institutions of Jewish religious, cultural and political life. In spring 1941, tens of thousands of Jews from the annexed territories are arrested and deported to labor camps in the interior. In spite of the hardships there, they are unintentionally saved from deportation to the Nazi death camps. The Soviet authorities are well informed about the persecution of Jews by the Nazis, but they do not pass this information on. Soviet Jews are kept ignorant about the specific anti-Jewish nature of National Socialism, and the German occupation finds them mostly unprepared. In all his war speeches, Stalin himself mentions anti-Semitism only once, in November 1941. This policy of silence is continued during and after the war. The writer Valery Grossman sends a report in 1943 from the newly liberated Ukraine that hundreds of thousands of Jews have "vanished from the earth," but his newspaper, the Krasnaya Zvezda of the Defense Ministry, does not print it. In spite of all this, the Jews of the Soviet Union take an active part in the fight against Nazi Germany. About half a million serve in the Red Army, and many volunteer for service at the front. Jewish soldiers run an extra risk: when taken prisoner, they are bound to be shot immediately. An estimated 200,000 Soviet Jews die on the battlefield. During the war, the old anti-Semitic stereotype of Jews as cowardly soldiers is resurrected. Rumors circulate that Jews are "draft dodgers" and to "not be seen anywhere near the front." However, when the war is over, the number of Jews awarded war decorations is proportionally higher than that of any other national group.


After the liberation in 1944, the surviving members of the Jewish community of Rovno, Ukraine, carry the desecrated Torah scrolls outside the synagogue to be buried.

Polina Gelman was one of the first renowned women pilots and one of many Jews to be awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. She flew 860 combat missions by night as a navigator.


Soviet Jews contributed to the war effort in many forms. Major General Semen Lavotchkin designed the most popular aircraft used during the war and was awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor.

Major C. Kunikov (1919-1943), Hero of the Soviet Union, commander of the amphibious force that landed near Novorossisk. He is listed in the unit's personnel roll in perpetuity.


Title page and part of page 187 of S. Golikov's book "Outstanding Victories of the Soviet Army in the Great War of Liberation," which lists the number of war heroes of all Soviet ethnic groups with the exception of the Jews.


A memorial plaque at the site of the Ponary mass murders describing the victims as "Soviet citizens"; their Jewish identity is not mentioned.

"To the Victims of Fascism," written in Latvian, Russian and Yiddish on the small monument in Rumbuli, Latvia. An estimated 38,000 Jews were killed at this site in the autumn of 1941.


Page 14 of a draft report by the Commission for Crimes Committed by the Nazis in Kiev from February 1944. The page shows changes made by G.F. Aleksandrov, head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Party's Central Committee. Where the report named the Jewish population as victims of brutal extermination, the new version speaks of "peaceful Soviet citizens." These corrections show that the official concealment of the anti-Jewish nature of the Holocaust had already begun during the war.

The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee

IN THE CAMPAIGN TO MOBILIZE all resources for the war, the Soviet authorities in April 1942 allow the establishment of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Its aim is to organize political and material support for the Soviet struggle against Nazi Germany from the Jewish communities in the West. Solomon Mikhoels, the popular actor and director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater, is appointed chairman, and many well-known Soviet Jews participate in the Committee's activities. Since the dissolution of the Yevsektsii in 1930, the J.A.C. is the first specifically Jewish body in the Soviet Union. It has its own


newspaper in Yiddish, Eynikeyt (Unity), in which contributions from the most popular Yiddish writers appear. In 1943 Solomon Mikhoels and the writer Itzik Feffer embark on a seven-month official tour to the USA, Mexico, Canada and Great Britain. They are received everywhere with great enthusiasm: for a long time, no official contact with one of the largest Jewish communities of the world had been possible. Especially in the United States, where many Jews have not forgotten their ties with Russia, the tour is a great success, and many millions of dollars are raised for the Russian war effort. The J.A.C. becomes the focal point of a national awakening for Soviet Jewry at a time when its very survival is in danger. Many Jews turn to the J.A.C. with requests for help, among them survivors from the Nazi camps who find their houses occupied upon their return. The contacts with American-Jewish organizations result in the plan to publish a Black Book simultaneously in the USA and the Soviet Union, documenting the anti-Jewish crimes of the Nazis and the Jewish part in the fighting and resistance. In 1944, the writer Ilya Ehrenburg sends a collection of letters, diaries, photos and witness accounts to the USA to be used in the book. The Black Book is published in New York in 1946. But no Russian edition appears. The typefaces are finally broken up in the printing press in 1948, a year in which the situation of Soviet Jews has once more deteriorated sharply.

Itzik Feffer and Solomon Mikhoels at a meeting with Albert Einstein during their trip to the United States in 1943. Albert Einstein, himself a refugee from Nazi Germany, wrote a preface to the Black Book.


Solomon Mikhoels, chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, at the grave of Sholem Aleichem in New York in 1943.

Members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Left to right: Itzik Feffer (writer), Samuel Halkin (writer), Solomon Mikhoels (actor; director of the Moscow Jewish State Theater), Ben-Zion Goldberg (visiting from the USA), Lina Shtern (scientist), Aaron Katz (Major General) and Peretz Markish (writer).


The novelist and poet Peretz Markish, a leading figure in Yiddish literature and during the war a prominent member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. He was executed in 1952 during Stalin's campaign against "Cosmopolitans."


Upon the request of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the Ministry of the Armed Forces compiled this list specifying the number of war decorations conferred on Jews and other nationalities.


The writer Ilya Ehrenburg, speaking in New York in 1946. He was famous for his outspoken articles against Nazi Germany. Probably because of his close relationship with many leading artists and writers in the West, he was the only prominent member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to survive the purges of Stalin.

The Campaign against "Cosmopolitans" and the "Doctor's Plot"

THE YEARS FOLLOWING THE VICTORY over Nazi Germany are marked by a wave of Russian nationalism and the anti-Western campaigns of the emerging Cold War. Soviet policy makers, and Stalin in particular, harbor a growing suspicion about the loyalty of Soviet Jews, many of whom have relatives in the United States, now the enemy. The mysterious murder of Solomon Mikhoels in Minsk on January 13, 1948, is an ominous sign. The same year, an increasing number of articles in the press accuse socalled "rootless cosmopolitans" of "demolishing national pride," "harboring anti-patriotic views" and "fawning on the West." More and more the attacks take on an anti-Jewish character, as most of the attacked bear distinctly Jewish names, often given in brackets next to their Russified names. From November 1948 onward, the Soviet authorities start a deliberate campaign to liquidate what is left of Jewish culture. The Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee is dissolved, its members arrested. Jewish literature is removed from bookshops and libraries, and the last two Jewish schools are closed. Jewish theaters, choirs and drama groups, amateur as well as professional, are dissolved. Hundreds of Jewish authors, artists, actors and journalists are arrested. During the same period, Jews are systematically dismissed from


leading positions in many sectors of society, from the administration, the army, the press, the universities and the legal system. Twenty-five of the leading Jewish writers arrested in 1948 are secretly executed in Lubianka prison in August 1952. The anti-Jewish campaign culminates in the arrest, announced on January 13, 1953, of a group of "Saboteurs-Doctors" accused of being paid agents of Jewish-Zionists organizations" and of planning to poison Soviet leaders. Fears spread in the Jewish community that these arrests and the show trial that is bound to follow will serve as a pretext for the deportation of Jews to Siberia. But on March 5, 1953, Stalin unexpectedly dies. The "Doctor's Plot " is exposed as a fraud, the accused are released, and deportation plans, already discussed in the Politburo, are dropped.

No one was safe from Stalin's anti-Jewish paranoia. Polina Zhemchuzhina, the Jewish wife of Foreign Minister Molotov, was sent to the Gulag as a "Zionist spy" after she had spoken some words in Hebrew at a reception for the Israeli ambassador to the Soviet Union, Golda Meir. She was released after Stalin's death.


The final scene of "Tevye the Milkman" at the Lvov Jewish State Theater in 1947, just before the theater was closed down as part of the campaign against Jewish culture.

The gravestone of Solomon Mikhoels, with his name in Russian and Yiddish. The violent death of the well-loved actor is now known to have been an assassination ordered by Stalin.

The Czech Jewish party leader Rudolf Slansky (seen here with his family) was found guilty of "Trotskyite-Titoist-Zionist activities in the service of American imperialism" at a trial in Prague in November 1952. Appeals to nationalist and anti-Semitic sentiments were frequently used in the 1950s to discredit the opposition to the newly established communist governments in Eastern Europe. Slansky and ten others (seven of which were Jews) were executed in December 1952.



Part of the announcement and editorial from Pravda, January 13, 1953, about the arrest of a group of "Saboteurs-Doctors."

January 1953

"Evidence of a crime"; cartoon from Krokodil about the "Doctor's Plot." In the same issue, Krokodil attacked Western bankers, armament kings, Nazi generals, the Vatican and "the Zionist conspiracy."


Decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet of January 20, 1953, awarding the Lenin Order to Dr. Olga Timashuk "for assistance rendered to the government in exposing the "Physicians-murderers." On April 3, 1953, the award was canceled "in view of the true circumstances coming to light."


Assimilatory Pressures
WITH THE DEATH OF STALIN, the "Black Years" of Soviet Jewry have come to an end, but his successor Khrushchev allows only piecemeal reforms. In 1957, for the first time since the revolution, a Jewish theological seminary (yeshiva) opens again in Moscow. A number of amateur drama and music groups are re-established, and in 1959 Yiddish book publishing resumes after 11 years. During the years of Stalin's suppression of Yiddish culture, a few synagogues had been allowed to go on functioning. In the last years of Khrushchev's leadership, however, a campaign of militant atheism is launched against all religions, particularly affecting Jewish institutions. Jewish cemeteries are expropriated and destroyed, and more than fifty synagogues are closed. In dozens of books, authors with Jewish-sounding names denounce the Jewish religion. Only an estimated sixty synagogues remain open in 1965. During the same period, hundreds of trials against "economic crimes" like embezzlement and speculation are reported in the Soviet media. Mostly, the accused bear distinctly Jewish names, reviving the familiar stereotype of the Jew as a swindler and speculator. For Soviet Jews, all these experiences seem to point in one direction only: to assimilate completely and disappear as a distinct community. They are cut off from their language, and their culture and religion are under constant attack. Furthermore, after the wave of dismissals during the Stalin era, many fields of employment and advanced studies have become effectively closed for Jews.
Number and percentage of Jewish students at Moscow institutes of higher learning, 1970 1980. Many Jews experienced the invisible barrier of discrimination in the form of an unofficial numerus clausus.

University year 1970-71 1974-75 1976-77 1978-79 1980-81

Total no. of students 617,141 627,285 641,311 632,037 631,088

Jewish students 19,508 14,985 12,049 11,531 9,911

Jewish students in % 3.16 2.39 1.88 1.82 1.57


An elderly Jew welcomes Israeli participants to the 1957 International Youth Festival in Moscow. As the first visitors from Israel since many years, they were received with great enthusiasm.

The 16th-century synagogue of Shargorod (left) is turned into a fruit juice factory (right).

The great synagogue of Leningrad is barricaded by the authorities to prevent the celebration of Simcha Tora (Rejoicing of the Law) in 1964.


Jews of Leningrad celebrating Simcha Tora in 1964 in spite of the wooden barricade closing off the synagogue.

Dozens of Jewish graveyards were expropriated and destroyed. Here, the Jewish cemetery of Minsk is being bulldozed.


Cover of one of the most notorious anti-Semitic publications of the 1960s, ludaizm Bet Prikras (Judaism without Embellishment), by Trofim Kichko. Its publication by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences lent it scientific respectability. Its style and illustrations were so crudely anti-Semitic that even Western communist parties protested. The Soviet authorities admitted that "a small number of inaccuracies might perhaps give an anti-Semitic impression." The fact that the author had been a Nazi collaborator during the war and was expelled from the Party had obviously not been an objection to his book being printed.

The synagogue of Kuba (Azerbaidzhan) was turned into a textile factory in 1959.

All pressures on Soviet Jews to forgo their identity do not have the effect the authorities aim for. As Jewish cultural and religious life in the Soviet Union has become practically impossible, and even complete assimilation is no guarantee against discrimination, some Jews start to demand openly the right to emigrate to Israel.


From the end of the 1960s onward, the samizdat journal Khronika reports about an increasing number of Jews taking part in demonstrations and hunger strikes. Other activities as well testify to the growing awareness of Soviet Jews of their identity and their history. In spite of the official silence about the extermination of Jews during the Second World War, Soviet Jews start to hold commemorations at sites of massacres during the Nazi occupation. Young Jews with hardly any knowledge of Judaism meet informally at synagogues, closely watched by the KGB, and take part in underground Hebrew lessons.

The Right to Emigrate

It is not long before the authorities crack down with the arrests and harassment of activists. By the end of 1970, 44 Jewish prisoners have been sent to labor camps for dissident activities. News about the trials and the activities of dissidents appear in the Western media. In many countries solidarity committees are formed. In the United States, the Jackson-Vanek Amendment of 1973 links trade relations directly to the question of Jewish emigration. As the issue of human rights is put on the international agenda, the Soviet government is faced with growing political pressure. Applications for exit visas usually result in dismissal, followed by months of financial hardship that carries the extra risk of arrest on charges of "parasitism." Nevertheless, from 1971 onward, a growing number of Jews is allowed to leave: 113,800 between 1971 and 1975. These are the years of detente, marked by the signing, in August 1975, of the Helsinki Agreement. The text is published in full in both Pravda and Izvestia. In May 1976, the Moscow Helsinki Group is founded by Yuri Orlov. In the group, Jews and nonJews cooperate in investigating and publicizing human rights violations.

Young Jews at the Rumbuli massacre site in 1969, preparing the site for a monument to victims of the Holocaust.


Jewish "refuseniks" (who were refused an exit visa) demonstrate in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the right to emigrate to Israel on January 10, 1973.

Minutes later, the demonstration (see previous picture) is stopped by policemen.

This woman received an exit visa in 1973 but was only allowed to take two children with her. The name of her oldest son and his face on the photograph are crossed out.


Manuscript page of the poem "Babi Yar" by Yevtushenko published in 1961.This poem, and the controversy it aroused, contributed to the discussion of Jewish issues in the Soviet Union.


Group of Jews from Minsk at a Holocaust commemoration in 1975. In front stands a retired colonel with 15 war decorations. After having complained in 1972 about the official silence about Jewish resistance, he was demoted, constantly harassed by the KGB and stripped of his pension. He died of a heart attack in April 1976 after repeatedly being denied the right to emigrate.

Underground Jewish theater in a private home; Leningrad, 1982. In the center Yosif Begun, an engineer who was fired in 1971 after applying for an exit visa. He was refused permission to earn a living by teaching Hebrew and was sentenced to exile for "parasitism." Shortly after this picture was taken, he received the maximum penalty of seven years' prison and five years' exile.

The composer Victor Suslin is expelled from the Composers Union after applying for emigration in 1980.


Anatoly Shcharansky, a"refusenik," was arrested in 1978 when the KGB moved against the Moscow Helsinki Group. Yuri Orlov, the chairman, was also arrested. Shcharansky was sentenced to three years in prison and ten years' labor camp.

The Sakharovs with Vladimir Slepak, Jewish "refusenik" and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, just before Slepak was sentenced to five years exile in 1978. For his human rights activities, Andrei Sakharov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.


Demonstration on behalf of Anatoly Shcharansky in Amsterdam, Holland. This was one of many demonstrations in the West during the 1970s on behalf of "refuseniks" and human rights' activists.

The Reforms: 1985 - 1991

THE REFORMS INITIATED BY MIKHAIL GORBACHOV also affect Jewish life in the Soviet Union. In February 1986, Anatoly Shcharansky is permitted to emigrate, soon followed by other refuseniks. Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner are released from their exile in Gorki in December. The revival of Jewish life begins with the formation of cultural societies for music, theater and dance. Language courses in Yiddish and Hebrew, the latter no longer a banned language, are set up. In St.Petersburg the first Jewish gymnasium is opened, and dozens of Jewish magazines and newspapers begin to be published. The growth in the number of cultural associations leads to the founding, in December 1989, of the VAAD, a national Jewish umbrella organization. Its aims are to promote Jewish life, to combat anti-Semitism and to assist in emigration to Israel. Now that they have the right to choose where to live, a great number of Soviet Jews decide to emigrate. Between 1987 and 1991 more than half a million Jews leave the country, of which 350,000 go to Israel and 150,000 to the United States. For decades, the number of mixed marriages has been very high, approaching 50 percent. Only 10 percent of children of mixed marriages opt for Jewish nationality. This weakening of Jewish identity, combined with large-scale emigration, has brought down


the number of Jews in Russia, once the largest Jewish community with 5 million people at the turn of the century, to less than half a million.

Ida Nudel is greeted upon her arrival in Israel in October 1987 by the American actress Jane Fonda. In 1987, practically all the remaining "Prisoners of Zion" were released and received permission to emigrate.

Natan Sharansky (formerly Anatoly Shcharansky, second from left) meets with Russian participants of the Maccabi Games, the Jewish sport meeting, in Tel Aviv in July 1989. It was the first time since 50 years that Russian Jews were allowed to participate.


The first Jewish school to be re-established in Kiev in 1990 had to conduct its classes in an old ship rented by the community as no other accommodations were as yet available.

A Hebrew language class in the Jewish Cultural Center in Odessa in September 1991.


The 1990s saw the emergence of a free and independent Jewish press like "Menorah," a newspaper published in Moscow.

A Jewish war veteran welcomes the erection of a Menorah at the site of Babi Yar, Kiev. In 1991, the 50th anniversary of the massacre was officially commemorated in the presence of Leonid Kravchuk and representatives of Israel and Germany.


After being closed for 70 years, a yeshiva (school for religious Jewish studies) reopened in Kiev in 1991.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres attending a synagogue service in Moscow. After full diplomatic ties had been restored, a cooperation agreement between Russia and Israel was signed in 1994.

Anti-Semitism since 1985: Old Ideas Resurface

FOR THE FIRST TIME in Russian history, there is freedom of expression: no more censorship by the state, and open discussions in the media. A great number of new newspapers and magazines reflecting divergent political opinions are appearing in the streets. But this freedom of expression also has a shadow side: anti-Semitic and racist publications appear, often published by extreme nationalistic organizations. After a few years of economic reforms, part of the population has a substantially better standard of living. Many, however, are worse off and face the future with anxiety. This situation traditionally forms an ideal breeding ground for organizations that offer simple


solutions for difficult problems: blaming one specific group for everything that has gone wrong.

"German National Socialism" from the series Ethnic History no. 5, published by W. Prussakov, Moscow, 1994. This publication, a glorification of the Hitler state, is "specially meant for wouldbe politicians and history students."

"Alphabet for the Russian Nationalist," by the extreme nationalist and anti-Semite A.P. Barkashov. His party,"Russian National Unity," advocates the "genetic cleansing of the Russian People" and the prohibition of "mixed marriages," i.e. between Russians and "non-Russians." Moscow, 1994


A.P. Barkashov, leader of the "Russian National Unity."

Propaganda leaflet from "Russian National Unity," showing the swastika-like symbol and blackshirt uniform of the movement.


Cartoon from "Al-Kuds" showing the familiar image of the "Jewish" snake strangling the free press. "Al-Kuds" is published in Moscow by the Palestinian Shaban Hafez Shaban. 1994

Cartoon from "Narodnoje Delo" ("National Goal"): The Jew as porno dealer. 1991


"Russkoje Woskresenje" ("Russian Reincarnation") with swastika, a quotation from Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and anti-Semitic cartoon. April 1992

Cartoon from "Russkoje Woskresenje," 1991.


"Russkije Wedomostii" no. 5, 1992

"Russkoje Woskresenje Zhirinovskogo" no. 9, 1994


"Moscovskii Tractir" no. 1, 1992.

Part of the front page of "Russkaja Pravda" no. 2, 1994, showing an anti-Semitic cartoon and quotes from the so-called "Protocols of Zion." Page 2 of the same paper carries a variation of the Jewish conspiracy theory under the title "Catechism of the 'Russian' Jew."


Cartoon and article linking Jews to the death of Stalin, from "Russkaja Pravda" no. 3, 1994. An article on the last page of this paper denies that Jesus Christ was a Jew.

Cartoon and part of front page of "Za Russkoje Djelo" ("For the Russian Cause") no. 1 (24), 1995. An article, "The Unknown Stalin," describes how Stalin's plans were obstructed by Jews who were omnipresent in the state apparatus. Stalin, however, wanted to help the Jews by giving them their own province, Birobidzhan, but it did not work out, "as Jews need Russians to profit from." The article also states that 95 percent of the Gulag camp commanders were Jews.


Cover of a 1994 edition of the classic anti-Semitic publication by Henry Ford, "Mezhdunarodnoje Evreistwo" ("International Jewry"). Henry Ford was a staunch believer in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," although it was already known in the 1920s that the "Protocols" were a forgery.