HISTORY OF THE JEWS ***
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HISTORY OF THE JEWS IN RUSSIA AND POLAND
FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES UNTIL THE PRESENT DAY
BY S.M. DUBNOW
TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN BY I. FRIEDLAENDER
FROM THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER I. UNTIL THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER III. (1825-1894)
PHILADELPHIA THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY OF AMERICA 5706--1946
Copyright 1918 by THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY OF AMERICA
It was originally proposed to give the history of Russian Jewry after 1825--the year with which the first volume concludes--in a single volume. This, however, would have resulted in producing a volume of unwieldy dimensions, entirely out of proportion to the one preceding it. It has, therefore, become imperative to divide Dubnow's work into three, instead of into two, volumes. The second volume, which is herewith offered to the public, treats of the history of Russian Jewry from the death of Alexander I. (1825) until the death of Alexander III. (1894). The third and concluding volume will deal with the reign of Nicholas II., the last of the Romanovs, and will also contain the bibliographical apparatus, the maps, the index, and other supplementary material. This division will undoubtedly recommend itself to the reader. The next volume is partly in type, and will follow as soon as circumstances permit.
Of the three reigns described in the present volume, that of Alexander III., though by far the briefest, is treated at considerably greater length than the others. The reason for it is not far to seek. The events which occurred during the fourteen years of his reign laid their indelible impress upon Russian Jewry, and they have had a determining influence upon the growth and development of American Israel. The account of Alexander III.'s reign is introduced in the Russian original by a general characterization of the anti-Jewish policies of Russian Tzardom. Owing to the rearrangement of the material, to which reference was made in the preface to the first volume, this introduction, which would have interrupted the flow of the narrative, had to be omitted. But a few passages from it, written in the characteristic style of Mr. Dubnow, may find a place here:
Russian Tzardom began its consistent role as a persecutor of the Eternal People when it received, by way of bequest, the vast Jewish population of disintegrated Poland. At the end of the eighteenth century, when Western Europe had just begun the emancipation of the Jews, the latter were subjected in the East of Europe to every possible medieval experiment.... The reign of Alexander II., who slightly relieved the civil disfranchisement of the Jews by permitting certain categories among them to live outside the Pale and by a few other measures, forms a brief interlude in the Russian policy of oppression. His tragic death in 1881 marks the beginning of a new terrible reaction which has superimposed the system of wholesale street pogroms upon the policy of disfranchisement, and has again thrown millions of Jews into the dismal abyss of medievalism.
Russia created a lurid antithesis to Jewish emancipation at a time when the latter was consummated not only in Western Europe, but also in the semi-civilized Balkan States.... True, the rise of Russian Judaeophobia--the Russian technical term for Jew-hatred--was paralleled by the appearance of German anti-Semitism in which it found a congenial companion. Yet, the anti-Semitism of the West was after all only a weak aftermath of the infantile disease of Europe--the medieval Jew-hatred--whereas culturally retrograde Russia was still suffering from the same infection in its acute, "childish" form. The social and cultural anti-Semitism of the West did not undermine the modern foundations of Jewish civil equality. But Russian Judaeophobia, more governmental than social, being fully in accord with the entire régime of absolutism, produced a system aiming not only at the disfranchisement, but also at the direct physical annihilation of the Jewish people. The policy of the extermination of Judaism was stamped upon the forehead of Russian reaction, receiving various colors at various periods, assuming the hue now of economic, now of national and religious, now of bureaucratic oppression. The year 1881 marks the starting-point of this systematic war against the Jews, which has continued until our own days, and is bound to reach a crisis upon the termination of the great world struggle.