Why They Left
Why They Left: Why did the Jews flee Eastern Europe for America?
The photographs in the main gallery come from the book, Evreiskie Pogromy 1918-1921 (Jewish Pogroms 1918-1921), edited by Zalman Solomonovich Ostrovskii and published by the Jewish Relief Society in Moscow in 1926. Sergei Kan provided the English translations of the captions. The book was a catalogue of a large exhibit, including a photography installation, illustrating the pogroms during the Russian Civil War. With the discovery and installation of these photographs we are taking the project full circle, making this history accessible to the modern public.
S. Ansky, The Enemy At His Pleasure: a journey through the Jewish Pale of Settlement During WWI, Metropolitan Books, 2002.
Jonathan Dekel-Chen, David Gaunt, Natan M. Meir, and Israel Bartal, Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence: rethinking the pogrom in East European history, Indiana University Press, 2011
John D. Klier and Schlomo Lambroza, Pogroms: Anti-Jewish violence in modern Russian history, Cambridge University Press 1992.
For those who prefer to learn about the pogroms through literature, the great journalist, playwright and short story writer, Isaac Babel wrote his Red Cavalry stories about the pogroms, based on his experiences as an embedded reporter. The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel, edited by Nathalie Babel and translated by Peter Constantine with an introduction by Cynthia Ozick. W. W. Norton & Company
Red Cavalry and Other Stories, Isaac Babel, Penguin Books
As a young college student, Aaron Lansky realized that in order to preserve the Yiddish language and culture, he needed to personally find, collect and preserve millions of volumes of Yiddish books scattered across North America. His books is uninspiring read and very, very humorous. The writer and his peers eventually built the Yiddish Book Center at Hampshire College.
Lansky, Aaron, Outwitting History: the amazing adventures of a man who rescued a million Yiddish books. Algonquin Books 2005
There are resources on the internet. A good starting point is The Jewish Virtual Library, which has a section on pogroms
"...If we assume that 120,000 deaths were due directly to the pogroms, we shall not be guilty of exaggeration. To these must be added the injured and wounded, those suffering from nervous and mental
shock and the violated women. The pogroms swept the Ukraine like a hurricane.... So also the number of victims who suffered material loss. It may be said that in all of the places which were visited by the pogroms, the possessions of the Jews were completely destroyed. ... "The plunderers rushed at the Jewish houses... Here they were helped by the whole Russian population. Everything was loaded on wagons and carried away. After they had completely emptied the houses and squeezed out in every possible way the last savings of the Jews they proceeded to destroy the houses and the shops. Shutters, window panes, doors were taken out, roofs were torn off, and so on. The greatest zeal was shown in searching for money. The floors were torn up, the soil was turned up again and again in the barns, cellars and yards, ovens were taken apart..."The pogrom stopped of itself, since everything was looted and all the inhabitants had fled to Mirgorod."
Elias Heifetz, J.U.D., The Slaughter of Jews in the Ukraine in 1919, pages 180-181*
BOOK: SLAUGHTER OF JEWS IN THE UKRAINE
Town of Trostianetz (government of Podolia)
I. Testimony of Bogdansky, July 25, 1919
Trostianetz is a town in the government of Podolia, on the railroad, about 50 versus to the southwest of Gaisin. The Jewish population is about 500 families. There are almost no Christians; they live in the country outside. The pogrom movement began on May 1 and lasted until the 17th. The principal butchery was on May 10. The pogrom was perpetrated by local peasants with the watchword, "Kill the Jews, away with the commune." The organizers of the pogrom were persons known as sympathizers with the Ukrainian nationalist movement: the student Gonzenko and the former Petlurist officer Drevinsky. They rang the signal bell, the peasants collected and the pillaging began. In the commissariat's quarters about four hundred Jews were herded together - all of the male sex beginning with boys of ten and ending with decrepit old men. Drevinsky energetically spread the rumor that Jews from surrounding towns were approaching in armored automobiles, and that in one village they had already massacred all the Christians. "If we simply keep still, they will massacre all of us, too." Then the peasants rushed to the quarters of the commissariat and began to throw bombs through the windows and to fire from rifles. Since the Jews who were there threw themselves flat on the floor, the peasants then rushed in and massacred them all. This butchery was perpetrated on Saturday, May 10, at 6 PM., but the night before an enormous grave had already been dug outside the city. All the bodies were carried there in carts and dumped into the pit. About eighty corpses were carried out from the dwellings. The total number of dead was as many as 400, among them 13 women. The murders continued until ten o'clock in the morning; but on the next day only pillaging and general devastation took place.
© Diane Covert 2018