Jewish Participation and Their Role in the Cultural Life of Russia
The Jews began to take part in the cultural life of Russia only in the second half of the Nineteenth Century. There was no opposition to their participation from the government, or from the Russian intelligentsia, or from the Russian society as a whole. They were admitted into the Russian environment: in literature, the legal profession, political groupings and various other popular organizations as "Russiana of Judaic faith".
Their civil self-consciousness, in becoming accustomed to the Russian culture, and their peculiar realistic estimation of future possibilities, told them that the future of Russian Jewry was inseparably linked with the future of Russia. This consciousness pushed them in the direction of most active participation in the political life of the country. At that time the Russian Jews, or at least their most educated part, did not think in a serious manner about the "Promised Land", because they were directing their efforts into the betterment of the life of their fellow tribesmen in Russia, not only in the direction of their legal rights, but also in the sphere of the economic and other modes of living.
On the other hand, there were, however, still strong isolationist feelings. The consciousness of being "God's Chosen People", the unwillingness and even fear of fusing with other people by means of mixed marriages and becoming Russian, kept the Jews at a certain distance from the rest of Russia's masses.
Inwardly unexpressed, Jews, just the same, continued to consider themselves as the state within a state or, as Solomon Lourie defined it, "the nation without its language and territory, but with its own law".
Taking part in the All-Russian cultural, social and political life, the Jews brought in a lot of their own specific peculiarities, without even noticing and realizing it. Many of these peculiarities, of course, were of positive, not necessarily negative quality. Each nation, race and tribe has positive and negative qualities, if these qualities are regarded in a broader sense from the viewpoint of a state, nation or race.
Naturally and understandably so, the Jews, at the time of their choice, joined in with those social and political groupings, who had programs which were most advantageous to them.
And just at the time, when the Jews began to take part in All-Russian political organizations, as it is known, an outline of the conflict became apparent. The conflict was due to the divergence of opinions and judgments, appraisals of the known appearances expressed by the members of the same organization, Jewish as well as non-Jewish.
A striking example of this conflict is the attitude toward the Jewish pogroms, which resulted from the repercussions created at the beginning of the 1880’s by the most active revolutionary groupings. These groups known as "People's Freedom" and the "Black Repartition" resorted to terror in their political struggle and organized the murder of Alexander II.
This conflict is so characteristic and so typical of how differently one and the same event may be appraised by members of a same organization or party, holding even the same views, education and social disposition, differing from one another only by their Jewish or non-Jewish origin, that it is worthwhile to pause and elaborate on them. Moreover, similar or analogous conflicts can very frequently be detected in our time as well.
After the murder of the Czar on March 1, 1881, it is known that in some cities of the Ukraine Jewish pogroms occurred with their accompanying violence, destruction of possessions and loss of life.
A sudden change ensued as a result of this among the radically oriented Jewish youth who were taking the most active part in the revolutionary-terrorist activities of the "People's Freedom" and the "Black Repartition". Now the victims of the same terrorist activities which they themselves preached and practiced became their own fellow tribesmen, the Jews... At this time, a sudden turn of events within the conflict occurred. As long as the extermination of the representatives of authority was going on, including the Czar himself, as long as the call of the "Black Repartitionists" was directed at the destruction of properties belonging to the native bourgeoisie, disregarding the violence and murder, and as long as the Jews with their properties were not touched, the hearts of the whole of Russian Jewry were not disturbed.
Thus the Jews and the non-Jews worked harmoniously on the realization of the terrorist program. And no one questioned to which tribe, religion or race a selected victim of the terror belonged; or whether the victim was a "bourgeois" or a representative of power.
Members of the "People's Freedom", whose call was violence and terror, naturally could not remain silent about the Jewish pogroms. In autumn 1881, the executive committee of the "People's Freedom" released a leaflet in connection with the pogroms, and after a while, in the sixth edition of the "People's Freedom" the following was published: "all the attention of the defending people is concentrated now on the merchants, tavern operators and usurers, in a word, on the Jews, of this local bourgeoisie who hastily and passionately, as never before, are fleecing the working people".
As mentioned before, the above leaflet along with the article in the sixth edition of the "People's Freedom" considered the pogroms to be the manifestation and expression of people's anger, directed against the exploiters and oppressors' regardless of whether they were Jews or non-Jews.
Two years later, in the "Supplement" to the "Leaflet of the People's Freedom" an article was published "regarding the Jewish disorders", in which these disorders were interpreted as the beginning of the all-national movement, "not against Jews as Jews, but against the "Zhidy"-Jews, the ones who were the exploiters of the people". The people well understood that the authorities supported them not because they were Jews, not because they were an oppressed people, but only because they were those from whom they took bribes and with whom they made dishonest deals and shared the profits, associating thus in suppressing the working people. The working faction of the "People's Freedom", issuing the leaflet in connection with the Ecatherinoslavsk pogrom of 1883, spoke not against Jews in general, but only against the wealthy Jews, the exploiters of the workers. The "People's Freedom" has nothing against the first, the Jewish workers, and treated them as they did all the rest of Russian workers, but was against the second, the wealthy Jews, and "from its labor point of view has a lot of reckoning to do..."
At the end of the article, the author reminded us that the Great French Revolution also began with an assault against the Jews an referred to Karl Marx" who once explained that the Jews create, like in mirror, (not in an ordinary, but in a prolonged way) all the vices of the surrounding environment and all the evils of the social order, so that when an anti-Jewish movement begins, one can be sure that in it there is a hidden protest against the whole order, and thus the deeper movement starts".
The above excerpt was taken from an article by D. Shub: "Jews in the Russian Revolution" published in the Collection “Jewish World”, New York, 1944.
The author of the leaflet of the "People's Freedom" was a Jew, Saveli Zlotopolsky, a member of the executive committee of the "People's Freedom". Zlotopolsky somehow managed to remain free, after twenty members of the twenty eight member committee were arrested.
The author of the article, published in the sixth issue of the "People's Freedom", was a member of the executive committee named G. Romanenko, who was admitted to the committee after March 1, 1881.
The author of the article "Supplement" to the "Leaflet of the "People's Freedom", which was mentioned above, is unknown.
The authorship of S. Zlotopolsky, for over half a century, was not disputed by anyone, but after the year 1917, the authorship question again came up in connection with the recollections of Anna Korb, who was in 1881 a member of the executive committee of the "People's Freedom". Anna Korb reaffirms that the author of this leaflet was not Zlotopolsky, but Romanenko. An investigator of this question, David Shub, himself a Jew, accepts on faith in his sketch "Jews in Russian Revolution" the belated disclosure by Anna Korb, without explaining the causes why this revolutionary kept silent about it so long.)
But it was not the authorship – be it Jewish, Ukrainian or Russian – that agitated revolutionary circles of Russia so radically.
What was more important was not who wrote the article, but what was written. Furthermore, it was not individually written by anyone person, but in the name of the executive committee of the "People's Freedom" that counts. Because the participation in this revolutionary-terrorist organization was not based on race, religion, nationality and social disposition. The son of the Ukrainian magnate — Dmitri Lizogub, and the Generals daughter Sophia Perovska, and the son of the priest Jacob Stephanovich, the offspring of the wealthy Jewish family Saveli and Gregory Zlotopolsky, and the Jewess-proletarian Gesia Gelfman were active members of the organization.
It was psychologically unthinkable, ethically inadmissible and personally deeply insulting for any of this people, that they should not risk their own lives for the sake of the attainment of that, which according to their thinking, ought to have brought a better future. These people probably did not question what results their actions would bring upon their close or distant relatives.
Why was it possible for them to call for pogroms against landlords and their country estates, as well as against other "bourgeois", but impossible to justify the "people's anger" if its victim happens to be a Jew?
The controversy which took place within the radical-revolutionary circles, at the beginning of the 1880's, in connection with statements made by the members of the "People's Freedom" and the subsequent "Jewish disorder" attracted the most noted radicals-revolutionaries and founder s of the movement: Lev Tikhomirov, Jacob Stephanovich, P. Lavrov, Lev Deich and others.
Summarizing the controversy, David Shub, a Jew who studied it thoroughly many years later after all the passions had settled, wrote: "It cannot be denied, however, that the majority of the Russian revolutionaries at the beginning of Eighties openly evaded and disassociated themselves from the point of view of the Jewish question, expressed in the sixth issue of the "People's Freedom".
"The Jewish disorders", according to Jacob Stephanovich, who became a member of the executive committee of the "People's Freedom" after the first of March, 1881 "is a purely national movement and therefore, we have no right to behave in a negative or even indifferent manner... ". Lev Tikhomirov had also the same viewpoint. This is reaffirmed by Plekhanov who entered into a dispute with Tikhomirov in regard to this question in 1882, already in immigration.
The well known revolutionary P. P. Lavrov, whom D. Shub qualifies as the "doubtless friend of the Jewish people", in a letter he wrote on April 14, 1882 to P. B. Axelrod, who was a Jewish Russian revolutionary, states the following: "I must confess to you that the Jewish question is extremely complicated and practically impossible. For the party, having drawn nearer in our viewpoint with the people and making them rise against the government, it is extremely difficult to solve. To solve it theoretically on paper is very easy, but owing to the presence of people's passions and owing to the necessity of having the people ON ONE'S OWN SIDE wherever possible, it is quite another matter to solve it in practice".
Lavrov's thoughts and understandings were shared as well by many other Jewish revolutionaries who gave up their religious-racial-tribal approach and their demands to various questions, an exception to the general rules and conditions for their fellow tribesmen ( for which, even now, many Jews, occupying key political and cultural positions in the lives of different states and nations, are sory.)
Here is what a Jew L. Deich wrote to the Jew P. Axelrod on this question: "The Jewish question, in practice, actually now is almost insoluble for the revolutionaries. Well, for example, what must they do now in the Baltic region, where the Jews are beaten up? If they should defend them, which means, as Reclu says, "to provoke hate against the revolutionaries who not only killed the Czar but also support the Jews", and thus they find themselves between two contradictions, this' is a simply impossible situation, in practice and in action, for the Jews as well as for the revolutionaries. Of course, the latter must try to obtain for the Jews their rights and permission for them to settle anywhere. But this is, so to speak, activity in the highest sphere. And for the party to conduct reconcilable agitation is very, very difficult at this point in time. Don't you think that this did not grieve or confuse me? Nevertheless, I remain always a member of the RUSSIAN revolutionary party and I will not start to depart from it for a single day, because these contradictions, as well as some other ones, were not created by the party…"
But Axelrod does not agree with Deich's reasoning. In his unpublished article "About the Task of the Jewish Socialist Intelligentsia", which he wrote in 1882, is stated the following: "The programs and, still to an even greater degree, the manifested "public opinion" of the Russian educated classes appeared for the Jews-socialists in Russia something like a revelation, the meaning of which they decided frankly to formulate in front of themselves and others only after a difficult internal struggle. Being accustomed to the thought that the Jews, as a special nation, actually do not exist, that being the part of nowadays Russian subjects, and afterwards becoming Russian citizens, Jews are considered, depending on their class and cultural subdivisions, an inseparable part of corresponding elements of the "native" population. But the Jewish socialist intelligentsia, all of a sudden, saw that the great majority of Russian society and people consider Jews as a special nation, all the elements of which — whether it is a long-skerted Jew, the proletariat, a petty-bourgeois, a usurer, a Russified lawyer or whether he is a socialist getting ready for exile or penal servitude — it does not matter, are harmful; all are, without distinction, “Zhidy”-Jews. The Jews, who are undoubtedly harmful to Russia, must be gotten rid of by whatever means..."
The statements given above and the opinions of the two Jews, active participators in the socialist-revolutionary groupings of the Russian radical intelligentsia, deserve special attention. For, on the one hand, the stakes and created prerequisites for the mass emigration of the Jews from the boundaries of the Russian Empire were outlined; and on the other, prerequisites for the future Zionist movement, which had rapidly grown in less than twenty years, were created; finally, a great number of radically-oriented Jewish youth rushed into the revolutionary circles, endeavoring to restore the crushed and exhausted ideal of the “People's Freedom”.
Some of them, L. Shternberg and Bogoraz, distinguished themselves so much that they were entrusted to edit the last issues of the “People's Freedom” number 11-12, in October of 1885.
Others, for example, M. Gotz, M. Fundaminsky, O. Minor, S. Ginzburg, L. Zalkind and Bogoraz, after receiving experience in these circles, in the second half of the Eighties, later played major rôles in the revolutionary events at the beginning of this century, particularly in the creation of the
Socialist-revolutionary party which played an enormous rôle, in the years of the first revolution (1905), as well as in 1917.
The question raised at the beginning of the Eighties in the controversy between Deich and Axelrod was never raised again. Feelings at that time were such that anyone who dared to raise such a question would be unreservedly identified as one of the “Black Hundreders” and deleted once and for all from the membership of the “cultured and foremost people”, who at that time were synonymous with the "intelligentsia". However, this circumstance in no way hampered the rapidly developed Zionist movement. It was precisely among Russian Jewry that Zionism found its most fertile grounds from 1890 to 1910. Moreover, Zionism enjoyed sympathy and support from the progressive and foremost society.
The very existence and success of the Zionist movement that as evidence and confirmation of the self isolationist tendencies in the Russian Jewry, was never spoken or written about.
But, meanwhile, far from the whole spectrum of its reflections, Zionism ultimately was aimed at creating, in Palestine, a separate and independent state by means of resettlement of all the Jews of the Diaspora, consequently solving the age-long Jewish question once and for all; solving the question, not only in Russia, but also in many other countries, where it existed and demanded its solution.
In 1901, the "Zionists-socialists-internationalists", issued their "Appeal to Jewish Youth" (in the Russian language, published in London), stating accurately and clearly their final goal: "Creation of the Jewish state on a socialist basis.", "in the territory of Palestine and its neighboring countries:
Cyprus, Sinai...", "without the rabbis-obscurantists and the bigoted cult of the Jewish religion..." Among the Russian Jewry there were still many other shades of Zionism, depending on class affiliation, and the degree of education of the Russian Zionists. There were Zionists, who were big capitalists, Zionists who were middle and petty bourgeoisie, Zionists-liberals, Zionists-Marxists and Zionists-orthodox, to whom the Talmud was the highest law and the rabbi was the undisputable authority. Some of them openly enrolled in the membership of Zionist and pro-Zionist organizations, others only promoted them, in various ways, and supported them morally and materially.
But among those who could openly oppose the idea of collecting all the sons of Israel into the "Promised Land", the call of the Zionists was nowhere to be found, and their voices were not heard.
There were no Jewish voices that could call for the liquidation of these self-isolationist Jewish feelings which led to the creation of a "state within the state" and to the complete and unconditional fusion with the people among whom they lived and in whose language they got their education.
We are not interested in the separate nuances of Zionist and pro-Zionist feelings, while examining the Jewish question as a whole, from the point of view of the people of Russia, where the majority of the world's Jewry lived and supported Zionism to various degrees. It is interesting and important to establish something else: did the Jews really and sincerely want to abandon Russia and resettle in Palestine, or to remain in Russia under the condition of a state within a state, living "by their laws", in their isolated circle, without allowing anybody to interfere in solely Jewish matters. At the same time, however, they would take most active part in all the matters of the Russian people, on the same basis as did the native population.
Many public and political personalities of pre-revolutionary Russia began to realize this question with utmost precision and clarity. This question acquired special acuteness after when the Zionist movement took organizational shape at the end of the last century. In 1897, in Basel, Switzerland, on the initiative of Theodor Herzl, the First Zionist Congress was held. The participants were from all the countries in which Jews lived, including many from Russia. In that language which is called "Hebrew", only one delegate, M. Kahan from Gomel, Russia, could pronounce his speech. All the rest of the delegates spoke either in Russian or German, depending upon whether they came from Russia, or Austria and Germany.
Since the Zionist idea was in full conformity with the religious-mystical world outlook and the disposition of the whole of Jewry, it provoked the liveliest response among the Russian Jewry, who were the most numerous in the Diaspora.
The Zionist propaganda began to resound in all the places where even the smallest Jewish community existed. Collections were made for the "Jewish Colonial Fund", by means of selling corresponding shares. Furthermore, constant and regular communications began among the Russian Zionist organizations and those in the other countries.
This did not remain unnoticed by the Russian Government, and in 1903 the Ministry of Internal Affairs gave instructions to the provincial, city and police authorities to combat the Zionist movement within the Russian Jewry.
According to Gershon Svet, who is the present Israeli consul in New York, those measures taken were as follows: to forbid Zionist meetings and congresses; to prevent the conduct of Zionist propaganda in synagogues; to close all the Zionist organizations in Russia; to withdraw the privileges of Zionist activists travel to foreign countries for the purpose of participating in Zionist congresses and meetings; to forbid the sale and distribution of "Jewish Colonial Fund" shares under the penalty of confiscation if discovered in one's possession.
This prescription sounded an alarm to T. Herzl and he decided to obtain an audience with the all-mighty Pleve, then the Minister of Internal Affairs. Herzl succeeded in seeing Pleve at the end of 1903.
In his memoirs Herzl speaks about his journey to Petersburg, his conversation with Pleve and the results of their conversation.
Pleve did not answer Herzl immediately, but rather a while later by letter, giving Herzl to understand that the thoughts and considerations stated in the letter were reported by him to the Emperor Nicholas II.
In the letter to Herzl, Pleve states: "as Zionism has as its aim the creation of an independent state in Palestine, which, in this case, will lead to the emigration of a certain number Jewish Russian· subjects, the Russian Government could regard it favorably.
But, since that time, the Zionists have begun to deviate from their direct aim, and have started to spread propaganda of Jewish national unity in Russia itself. The Government cannot tolerate this course of action because it will lead to the appearance of a group of people in the country, alien and hostile to the patriotic feelings on which each state is founded.
If Zionism returns to its previous program, it can count' on the moral and material support of the Russian Government, especially from that day on, when some kind of practical undertaking will reduce the numbers of the Jewish population in Russia.
In such a case the Government is ready to support the Zionist aspirations, before those of Turkey, easing their activities and even granting subsidies to the emigrating societies".
During his stay in Petersburg Herzl obtained an audience with Vitte, who was known not only as an important dignitary, but also as a man with wide connections in the financial world of Europe, in which the Jews played a dominant rôle.
Vitte disappointed Herzl. In discussing the Jewish question in Russia, Vitte, as Herzl recalls, was rude and told Herzl directly that the government and all Russian patriots cannot be indifferent to the fact that the Jews constitute only five per cent of the population of the Empire, and make up fifty per cent of all the revolutionaries.
Herzl, himself the most ardent advocate of Jewish resettlement in Palestine, departed from Russia quite disappointed. Nevertheless, he obtained some promises from Pleve, even though they contained the condition that the Zionists not interfere in the internal problems of Russia. It is difficult to disagree with the fact that Pleve was, to a considerable extent, right, although from tactical considerations Herzl never said anything about whether he considered Pleve was right or wrong, but limited himself to the reading of Pleve's letter, which is stated above, at the Sixth Zionist Congress.
The projected possibilities of channeling the Zionist movement' or at least part of it in the direction of resettlement and subsequent creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, were acceptable to the Russian Government, but everything was interrupted by the revolutionary events that took place in the years 1904 to 1907.
The Russian Government had no time to deal with the Zionists. The Zionists, seeing the dazzling possibilities of success in their revolutionary endeavor, forgot about Palestine. Among their own masses, they concentrated upon the business of supporting that struggle which was conducted in order to attain realization of all the Jewish longings.
These longings boiled down to the longing for complete and unconditional equality for Jews in Russia, and, above all, towards the possible creation on a legal basis of "a state within the state", and the resultant acknowledgement of Jewish rights to their "personal-national autonomy", despite their dispersion throughout Russia.
The essence of the "personal-national autonomy" was the requirement for the maintenance of pure Jewish social and cultural establishments and organizations, such as newspapers' theatres and learning institutions at the expense of the state, in any settlement of Soviet Union where a certain number of Jews might settle. Non-Jews would have no right whatsoever to influence or to interfere in the internal life of Jewish communities of the would-be "personal-national autonomy", even though the non-Jewish population of a given settlement might be the overwhelming majority.
Jewish enrolment in Russian political life began right after the appearance of the qualified Jewish personnel, who had received their middle and higher education in the Russian schools.
This occurred at the beginning of the Sixties, of the past century, when the first revolutionary-radical circles began to appear, out of which later developed the "People's Freedom", the "Black Hundreders", and at the turn of this century, the "Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries".
A notable rôle in these circles, during the Sixties, was played by a Jew named Utin, who was sentenced to death, but was able to escape to a foreign country in the West. There he became secretary of the Russian section of the Firs International. Utin was in close relation with Karl Marx and actively upheld him in his struggle with Bakunin. Utin ended his career in Russia as a rich merchant. He made an appeal for pardon, was forgiven, and after his return to Russia, reached notable success in the field of trade and finance.
In the next decade, by the end of Seventies, we began to encounter Jews in the radical-revolutionary movement more often, where many of them occupied leading positions in these circles and parties, such as we have already mentioned above, Deich, Natanson, Axelrod, Zundelevich, and many others.
Furthermore, at the end of the past century and at the beginning of this one, the number of the Jewish revolutionaries had grown so big that Vitte having in his hands the statistical figures, could say to Herzl that 50% of the revolutionaries came from the Jewish population which made up 5% of the population of Russia. With this, Vitte had in mind only the revolutionaries, without adding to their number the "oppositionist", and the enemies of the régime. These "enemies of the régime" were made up, almost exclusively, of the Jewish intelligentsia of Russia.
All of what was said above refers to the radical-revolutionary trend of the "Narodism"-Russian populist orientations, which were unique in the Sixties and the Seventies of the last century.
In addition to them, beginning in Eighties, the Marxists started to spring up and develop in parallel form. The Marxists were fore-runners of the social-democratic party, which was the unified body which split, in 1903, into the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks.
The first Marxist or Social-Democratic current in Russia was organized in 1883, when the "Liberation of Labor" group was founded. The founders of this group were G. Plekhanov, a Russian, P. Axelrod, a Jew, and L. Deich, also a Jew.
The group grew quickly, and at the beginning of the Nineties, presented itself as numerous current of large membership, consisting of Russians and many Jews as well. Somewhat later, many Georgians also became members.
Among the pioneers of this new movement in Russia were many Jews, who later played important rôles in the All-Russian Marxist revolutionary movement. Some of these were Riazanov (D. Goldendakh), Steklov (U. Nakhamkes, Kozlov (D. Ginzburg), Martov (U. Zederbaum, Dan (F. Gurvich), Martinov (A. Picker), Greenevich (M. Kohan) and many others. The majority of them used pseudonyms, as seen in the list given above.
The growth of the revolutionary feelings at the beginning of the current century extremely strengthened the influx of the new revolutionary power, among whom a great number of Jews were quite apparent.
But, besides that, in a parallel bastion, the Jewish Marxists had created their own party, the Jewish Marxist (social-democratic) party or "Bund". A study of the aims and program of the "Bund" shows that it was in no way different: the same All-Russian social-democratic party, which grew from the group known as the "Liberation of Labor", but it was a separate organization, the members of which could be only Jews.
The true Marxist-internationalists noticed this, and strongly protested against the limitations which were practiced, in fact, within one party. Moreover, the "Bund" had encased within its structure the Jewish symptoms of race and religion, which was the main difference between the “Bund” Marxist and the Marxist-internationalists. These were precisely the differences that Marxist-internationalists aimed to wipe out and destroy within the ranks of the proletarian movement.
At that time the creation and formation of the social-democratic organizations was accomplished on the basis of territorial subdivision, uniting all those who accepted the Marxist ideology and the party's program, regardless of race, religion and nationality.
Upon the creation of the "Bund", fierce controversy flared up about the inadmissibility of division on the basis of race, religion and nationality within the united proletarian movement.
In the process of this controversy the members of the "Bund" even issued a leaflet, in Russian, in which they justified their position by giving the following reasons:
"Generally speaking, it would be a delusion to think that any socialist party can conduct the liberation struggle of the proletariat of an alien nationality to which the party itself does not belong. The proletariat of each nation has worked out its own history, psychology, its own traditions, habits, and finally, its own national tasks. All these conditions reflect themselves in the class struggle of the proletariat, determine its program, form of organization, and so forth. These conditions and peculiarities must be taken into consideration, and must be skillfully exploited. But this is possible only for a party that has grown from the given proletariat which is tied in with it by thousands of fibers, which penetrate by its ideals and understand its psychology. For the party of an alien people, this is impossible".
This leaflet was printed in London, in March of 1903, before the split of the social-democrats into the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.
The controversy ended with the complete and unconditional victory of the "Bund", which not only continued to exist and develop, but also quite actively interfered in the life and activity of the other social-democratic organizations, the non-Jewish ones, specifically, in the activities of the "Russian Social-Democratic Party" both in the Menshevik and Bolshevik factions.
Not only the rank and file members of the "Bund", but also its leaders considered it possible and admissible for themselves most actively to participate in the All-Russian social-democratic organizations, not only as ordinary members, but also as the members of central committee, while at the same time, jealously guarding the "purity" of the Jewish "Bund". Even Jews, who changed their Judaism for Christianity, were not admitted to the membership of the "Bund". This phenomenon was not left unnoticed. But no one dared to raise this question. The psychological atmosphere in the revolutionary circles of that time was such that raising the question itself, would have been qualified as resorting to the methods of the "Black Hundreders" or "obscurantism", which were inadmissible among the foremost and intelligent people. Everyone tolerated this phenomenon, which, during one of the meetings held in Kiev, was called "double social-democratic citizenship". Furthermore, it was said that it would be impossible even for Karl Marx himself, who changed from Judaism to Christianity, to become even an ordinary member of the "Bund".
The Jews from the "Bund" played distinguished roles in "Russian social-democratic movement", before the revolution, during the revolution and even continue to play these roles today in emigration. To be convinced of this, one should only look at several issues of the magazine "Socialist Vestnik", which has been published for many decades in emigration, or to be present at some meeting or lecture of the "Russian Social-Democratic Party".
The non-Jews in this party and in the composition of the so-called "Foreign Delegation" can be counted on the fingers. Furthermore, at the congress of the Second International', representing the "Russian Social-Democrats", it would be futile and hopeless to look for the non-Jewish delegates.
The "Bund" and the RSDP have been so closely interwoven, that it is impossible to establish where the "Bund" ends and the RSDP begins.
Besides the two main currents of the Russian pre-revolutionary social and political life, having the radical-revolutionary character that originated in the circles and groups from the second half of the last century, there also existed in Russia currents of an oppositionist nature, but not of the revolutionary one.
These were the "liberals" and the "democrats" of various shades. The thing that all of them had in common was an oppositionist stand against the internal politics of the government and an opposition to the revolutionary methods to change those politics. Those who actively collaborated with Alexander II were also called "liberals", when he carried out the reforms in the first twenty years of his reign. The emancipation of peasants, judicial reforms, and the introduction of zemstvo and conscription were the major reforms he made. Those who took the oppositionist stand against the measures of limitation introduced by the government during the reign of Alexander II's successor were also called "liberals". Noblemen, city and rural dignitaries, and to a considerable degree, writers, publishers and professors filled the ranks of liberals at that time, before the Twentieth Century.
In the ranks of these "liberals" there were virtually no Jews, although sometimes there were exceptions.
Very soon, however, when these "liberals" took an organizational shape, by calling themselves the "Constitutional Democratic Party", in 1905, many Jews rushed in and in no time occupied leading positions, especially in the organs of the press belonging to or sympathizing with the party.
The founders of the "Constitutional Democratic Party", who were in abbreviated form called "Ca-De" or "Cadets", were liberal rural activists and included I. Petrunkevich, F. Rodichev, Duke Shakhovskoy, Duke Lvov, Duke Trubetskoy and all the big land-holders, as well as a number of distinguished professors, S. Muromzev, P. Milukov, Novgorodzev and others. The "Cadets" by full right were called the most cultured party of Russia.
The political ideal of the "Cadet" party was a constitutional monarchy of the English type, where the “king reigns, but does not rule”, full equality of all subjects of the state, freedom of the press, and broad local administration. In a word, they wanted parlamentarism as was founded in England or France, with ministers responsible to the parliament, and with a strict division of legislative, judicial and executive power.
These political demands by the "Cadets", in essence, were encroachments on prerogatives of the monarch and urged the limitation of his power, and therefore, in ruling circles, the attitude to the "Cadets" was distinctly negative, in spite of the fact that in the ranks of the party, there were many people with titles, rich land-holders and professors with well-known names.
There was a negative, or at best, a watchfully distrustful attitude engendered and strengthened by the circumstance that the ranks of the "Cadets" were being quickly filled by Jews, especially in the editorial office of their party organ "Rech" and in the ideologically nearest daily newspaper the "Russkie Vedomosti", that was published in Moscow and had been considered a serious, "professor's newspaper".
From the inception of the "Constitutional Democratic Party" its most influential leaders were M. Vinaver, I. Gessen, G. Sliozberg, G. Iollos, M. Mandelshtam and M. Sheftel. The opinion of Vinaver and his fellow tribesmen, who were members of the party, not only was taken into consideration, but frequently obeyed.
Among the members of the editorial staff and permanent contributors to the party organ "Rech", Jewish names were the most predominant. The editor was I. Gessen, and one member of the editorial staff was M. Ganfman. Permanent contributors were A. Landa, N. Efros, L. Kliachko, V. Ashkenazi, A, Kulisher, and S. Poliakov-Litovzev.
In the "Russkie Vedomosti" the leading position in the editorial office was occupied by G. Iollas, and among the permanent contributors we see I. Levin, N. Efros, L. Slonimsky, G. Shreider, M. Lourie-Larin, U. Engel, P. Zvezdich, and also the well-known Zionist V. Jabotinsky, who was the foreign correspondent of this newspaper.
The analogous correlation of the Jews to non-Jews was in the provincial and regional newspapers, staffed with an overwhelming Jewish majority, serving the population of various provinces and other parts of Russia. Odessa, Kharkov, Rostov-on-Don, Kiev, Saratov and even remote Irkutsk and Tashkent had smart newspapers with a circulation of many thousands, which actually belonged to Jewish hands. The publishers or editors, as well as a considerable percentage of permanent contributors, were Jews. For example, in Tashkent the largest newspaper was run by a Jew, Smorguner, and in Saratov the newspaper was run by Averbach, a brother-in-law of the well known communist Sverdlov. The "Kievskaia Mysl" was in the hands of a Jew, Kugel, and collaborating with this newspaper were famous Bronstein, known as "Trotsky", D. Zaslavsky-"Gomunkulus", A. Ginzburg-"Naumov", M. Litvakov-"Livrov".
The secretary-editor of the most widely read pre–revolutionary newspaper in Russia "Russkoe Slovo", which the well-known Sytin used to publish, was A. Poliakov, who previously worked for the "Odesskie Novosti" and for the "Birzhevye Vedomosti", the most popular newspaper in Petersburg.
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The facts mentioned above are sufficient to support the point that the degree of Jewish participation in the Russian periodical press, regardless of these Jews' various political affiliations, bound within its influence the public opinion and could bend this opinion in any direction it chose. It thus goes without saying how strong this periodical press was.
I scarcely need to say that the Jewish journalists and publishers approached and elucidated any occurrence and event in the first place from their own point of view: is it useful and necessary for Jews or, on the contrary, is it bad, harmful or dangerous? They reacted according to the worn out common phrase: "what is good for us", meaning by "us" their own fellow tribesmen.
As a result, a great deal about the life of the country and people elucidated in the press was one-sided and tendentious: one thing was over-emphasized, thrusted out and underlined; the other questioned or completely suppressed.
The incident already been mentioned above is, in this respect, an illustration in point. The bloody suppression of the disorders that took place on the Lena gold-fields stirred the whole of Russia and awakened a loud response in the world press. In the press the killed, wounded and arrested workers were listed. Only casual mention was made of the fact that there were victims on the other side also, and that there were casualties among the police and soldiers as well. But generally, nothing was said about these casualties. It was futile to search In the newspapers of that time for a truthful explanation of the real causes that provoked these events. The workers were provoked to act the way they acted by the greediness and inhuman attitude to the just demands of workers who were shamefully exploited by the millionaire Ginzburg, the owner of the gold-fields. Standing on guard for law and order and defending private property the Russian Government had to resort to the extreme measures it took, and, in defending the interests of the Ginzburg, spilled a lot of Russian blood.
The newspapers of that time, which were not in the stream of the oppositionist-revolutionary feelings and were called "right", did not, for understandable reasons, go deeply into the examination of the question, in reporting these events, and did not show of what nationality was that Russian subject, whose property was defended at the expense of Russian blood. In this respect, all were equal before the law both the capitalist-Jew and capitalist non-Jew. Property rights were acknowledged by the law and therefore were guaranteed and defended unconditionally, and those who disturbed these rights were punished.
As a result of this one-sided elucidation of the events, oppositionist or revolutionary feelings were created among those who did not read the "right" press. This stirred up and strengthened anti-governmental currents among those who were already sufficiently agitated and who distrustfully treated and criticized everything that proceeded not from the "left", but from the government or was printed in the "right" press.
It would be appropriate to mention here that, beginning in 1905, in Russia, there was no preliminary censorship of the newspapers and journals.
Newspapers and journals used to come to a censor after they were issued, and if they contained anything that was inadmissible from the government's point of view, then appropriate measures would be taken against the editor and these could include a fine, an arrest of the "editor-in-chief", a ban on publishing the newspaper or journal for a certain period of time, or even closing it completely.
Under such conditions it was possible to issue newspapers and journals that were not only sharply-oppositionist, but even of "socialist-revolutionary", "social-democratic" or of Menshevik and Bolshevik orientation. True, editors frequently were subjected to various punishments, fines or arrests or both. But in spite of these measures, the newspapers and journals were published. It was possible to bypass the arrest or the serving of a sentence by various methods. There was always someone to bail out the editor or to take his place as "editor-in-chief". Money was always found with ease to pay these fines.
In the pre-revolutionary years wide circles of Russian society took a lively interest in the debates of the State Duma, in which there were frequently uttered sharp speeches criticizing the activities of the organs of power. Stenographic accounts were too long to print them fully in newspapers, and therefore, usually excerpts were printed from speeches and statements, which were given in the presence of the journalists, correspondents and representatives of newspapers. The method of formulating and "presenting" the contents of such speeches to readers depended on the correspondents. Frequent conflicts arose because of this. Once, in 1908, one member of the State Duma, in response to a statement from the opposition which demanded more freedom for the press, asserting that all the information, Russian and foreign went through censor ship, stated: "Yes, but, regrettably, not through government censorship, but through the censorship of the "Jewish Pale". He then pointed with his hand to the journalist box where newspaper representatives, who had gained access to the box, sat with the cards which were issued by editorial offices and in which neither the given names nor the surnames of the representatives were stated.
As a result of this statement, not only the cards of the editors were checked right on the spot, but also the passports, in which at that time, the "nationality" of the holder was not shown, as it is now, but rather the given name, surname and religion of the holder.
It turned out during the check that the overwhelming majority of the people who sat in the journalist box as correspondents" of various Russian newspapers were Jews. Only a few men turned out to be non-Jewish. In this journalist box it turned out that twenty-five men were of the "Hebrew faith", and these men were the representatives of various Russian newspapers. Furthermore, even the director of the "press Bureau at the State Duma was a Jew, one by the name Zait-sev-Bershtain. (The full list of these Russian Journalists is attached in the supplement.) Such was the picture, in a most general outline, of Jewish participation in the Russian periodical press which played an enormous role in the propaganda business.