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An Appeal to Public Opinion

Published in 1916 in response to the proposal to deport Russian immigrants to Britain if they refused to serve in the British army.


By the Committee of Delegates of the Russian Socialist Groups in London

National Labour Press Ltd., 74 Swinton Street, London, W.C.

Price sixpence

The proposal that is being made to put before friendly aliens of military age in Britain the alternative of being deported to their native country or of entering the British Army creates a terrible menace impending on the Russian political, Jewish and other refugees now in this country. In order to enlighten British public opinion about the real purport of this menace, it has been decided to issue the following brief statement of facts.


WHO and what are the political emigrants? Why have they left their native country and come over here to the shores of a land foreign to them, where more often than not they have to struggle hard for a mere existence? Political refugees or exiles are drawn from the class of “political offenders,” who are very numerous in Russia. This class comprises Socialists of all kinds, Radicals, advanced Liberals, and in general the most progressive representatives of the people. Modern Russia is, practically speaking, an autocracy. The Russian Constitution is still in the making, and the Russian Parliament – the Duma – has but very little influence on the affairs of the State; the Russian Government is responsible to the Czar only, and not to the Duma; the personal liberties of the people in Russia, the freedom of speech, of print, of combination hardly exist even in the law, and are in practice left to the whim of the local authorities. What is freely allowed in this country is severely punished in Russia. Papers like the Nation or Manchester Guardian would certainly be suppressed in Russia, and men like Lloyd George, Charles Trevelyan, A. Ponsonby, H. M. Hyndman, H. G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, &c., would undoubtedly walk before long to prison or Siberia. The very moderate Liberal Party – the


so-called “constitutional democrats” – led by the well-known Prof. P. Milyukoff, is not permitted to exist openly in Russia, and is a semi-secret society; the Socialist parties are forbidden altogether, and exist as secret societies only, being strongly persecuted by the authorities.


To give an idea of the actual situation, it will be sufficient to cite a few articles of the Russian Penal Laws under which so-called “political offences” are usually tried :-

Article 100 runs as follows:- “Anyone guilty of an attempt to change the form of Government established by the fundamental laws of Russia . . . shall suffer the penalty of death.

“If, however, the attempt was discovered at its inception and no special measures were required for its suppression, the guilty shall be liable to hard labour for a fixed term (not exceeding 10 years).”

Article 102:- “Anyone convicted of being a member of an association formed with the object of perpetrating the heavy crime foreseen by Article 100 shall be liable to a term of hard labour not exceeding 8 years.”

The Russian Government as a rule prosecutes Socialists for the only crime of belonging to a Socialist party under Article 102, and, as a minimum punishment, usually inflicts lifelong exile to Siberia and loss of civil rights; in many cases hard labour for three, four and more years.

Another Article dealing with politicals is 128, which runs as follows:- “Anyone guilty of insolent disrespect to the Sovereign Power, or of criticising the form of Government established by the fundamental laws, or of the order of succession to the throne, whether by speech or writing, by giving publicity, exhibiting in public, or distributing some work or illustration, shall be punished by deportation.”

Then Article 129 says:- “Anyone guilty of reading or delivering in public any work or speech, of distributing or exhibiting any writing or picture tending to provoke (1) an act of mutiny or


treason; (2) the overthrow of the established order of government . . . shall be punished by deportation.”

Nearly all literary offences of a political nature are tried under Articles 128 and 129.

Article 130 is also very significant. It provides that “any person guilty of carrying on secret propaganda of doctrines or opinions” tending to provoke crimes indicated in Article 129 “among the agricultural population, the army, workmen, and generally among persons who are unable to resist such doctrines, and who, by being brought into a state of excitement, might endanger public order,” shall be punished by deportation.

These quotations show very clearly how wide are the powers of the Russian Government in prosecuting any opposition, and how easy it is in Russia even for a moderate man to become a “political offender.”

Still the Russian Government is not satisfied with the power which the Penal Laws give them to remove any opponent they may find inconvenient. The Government, in the suppression of their adversaries, make constant use of another weapon – the so-called administrative deportation – i.e., deportation, without any trial, by an order from the Home Secretary or from the local Governor, to the remotest parts of European Russia or Siberia for a certain number of years (2, 3, 5, &c.) without civil rights. This measure is as a rule taken against such persons who, from the Government point of view, are politically “suspect,” but against whom the authorities have no material evidence, not even such meagre data as, under the Russian Penal Laws, would be sufficient to bring them to Court. It is enough for anyone’s name to be discovered in the address-book of an arrested Socialist or Trade Unionist that he should he sent to Siberia by administrative order.


It is abundantly clear that under such circumstances the number of “political offenders” is very great. In his book, “Modern Russia,” the ex-Member of the Duma, Gr. Alexinsky, states that “the number of those detained in prison has incredibly increased: in 1897 it was 77,000; in 1909 it was 181,000. Between these two dates comes the Russian Revolution of 1905, and nearly the


whole increase in the prison population is accounted for by the “political offenders.” According to the recent publications of the Russian Ministry of Justice, the total number of the “political offenders” tried by the Russian Courts during 1910-14 (during a period of comparative political calm) amounted to 35,353 To these we must add some thousands of administrative exiles sent uninterruptedly every year to the Northern Provinces and to the Siberian deserts. It is perhaps worth mentioning that those deported to the remotest parts of the Russian Empire include sometimes youths under age and even children. A few years ago a batch of boys from Vitmer’s School in Petrograd, between the ages of 14 and 17, were arrested, charged with some sort of “political offence,” and part of them were sent to Siberia. This incident created a sensation even in Russia, but in spite of all the protests, the fate of the boys was sealed, and “justice,” as administered by the Russian Government, had triumphed.


It is hardly necessary to repeat the terrible details of the unspeakable sufferings of Russian political prisoners and exiles. They were described as far back as the eighties of the last century by the brilliant English-American journalist, George Kennan, and his book, at the time it appeared, had roused the indignation of the whole civilised world. Since then many Russians, as well as foreign, writers touched upon this painful subject, and each time the effect produced was the same; and no wonder: the situation of the political prisoners and exiles in Russia grew from bad to worse, and reached its climax during the recent years after the suppression of the Revolution of 1905. Brutal treatment, food not fit for human consumption, floggings, suicides – that was the fate of “political offenders” in prisons. The cold and snow of the vast northern deserts, unemployment, misery, a wretched diet, lack of money and of intellectual life, constant persecutions by petty local authorities – that was the fate of “political offenders” in exile. Since the war began nothing had changed in the terrible sufferings to which the flower of the people had been subjected, and generally nothing had changed in the internal policy of the Russian Government.


After all said above it is not surprising that thousands upon thousands of Russian political prisoners and exiles have a burning desire to escape from their gaols and cold deserts. To leave the borders of Russian autocracy, and to reach the hospitable regions of Western Europe, is an ardent wish of every political prisoner and exile. Many of them take the first opportunity to realise this dream, and after a chain of thrilling and sometimes very dangerous adventures, succeed in getting to Switzerland, Italy, France, Great Britain, &c. They hope to find there a free land and free people, an absolute security against the long hands of Russian autocracy, a badly-needed rest after the experiences of their past. Among the countries where, in the past, the Russian “political offenders” looked for shelter, Great Britain took first place. Her advanced Liberal institutions, which strongly appealed to the mind of Russian Radicals and Socialists, her great historical tradition of offering a generous asylum to all the victims of reactionary oppression and to all the fighters for right and freedom, exercised an immense influence on the Russian revolutionaries. They knew that at the most critical times revolutionaries of all ages and countries, like Louis Blanc and Victor Hugo, K. Marx and Kossuth, Mazzini and Herzen, Louise Michel and P. Kropotkin, and thousands of others not so prominent, had found a safe refuge in Great Britain. They firmly believed in Great Britain, and trusted her without any hesitation.


Now a few points of practical importance. The number of strictly political exiles from Russia residing in this country is comparatively small – it hardly exceeds one thousand persons of both sexes and all ages. They may be sub-divided into the following groups:-

(1) Political refugees who were tried in Russia, and escaped to England after trial. Some of these have been sentenced to death, and in case of their being deported to Russia they would suffer the extreme penalty. Those who have escaped from exile in Siberia will, upon their return, be sentenced to long terms of penal servitude.

Those whose sentences include loss of civil rights, and, as a rule, political offences carry such loss of civil rights, are


debarred from serving in the army. How the Russian Government treats its opponents, even those among them who are eager to join the army, may be seen from the fact that many political refugees, who at the beginning of the war returned to Russia in order to fight for Russia, were upon their return arrested, tried and sentenced either to prison or exile. So, for instance, Mr. E. Kolosoff, a well-known Socialist writer, returned to Russia in order to fight in the army. He was, however, arrested on the frontier, and subsequently sent to Siberia. A remarkable case was that of Mr. Velikatny (not a prominent revolutionary), who fought in the ranks of the French Army at the beginning of the war; afterwards be returned to Russia, where he joined the army as a volunteer, and was undergoing training for an officer. Here, however, the authorities suddenly discovered that Mr. Velikatny was a “political” in the past. He was arrested and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment (for keeping prohibited literature many years ago).

We could quote many more similar cases.

(2) Political refugees who escaped before their trial. If these are deported, they will be tried, and sentences will be passed upon them accordingly.

So, for instance, Mr. Kosloff, who was in the revolutionary period a member of the Petrograd committee of the Labour delegates, was for years hiding from the authorities, but during the war he came to Petrograd and offered to the authorities his services for the army. He was immediately arrested, tried, and sentenced to exile in Siberia. Mr. Pereverseff, one of the railwaymen‘s leaders in the revolution of 1905, was, upon his return to Russia, arrested, tried, and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.

(3) Political refugees who, during their sojourn abroad, had participated in the organisations of the various Russian Socialist groups existing outside of Russia. Upon their return to Russia they may be tried for their activity abroad.

So, for instance, when Bourtzeff returned to Russia, he was arrested and tried for his publications in Paris, and sentenced to exile in Siberia. (He has, however, had the exceptionally good fortune, thanks to agitation on his behalf in many countries, to be liberated and to be placed merely under police supervision.)


Membership of a Socialist body, as mentioned above, is a criminal offence in Russia (Arts. 102 and 126 of the Penal Code) involving penal servitude or lifelong banishment to Siberia.

(4) Besides these categories there are a number of men who were more or less involved in the events of the revolutionary period in Russia. If they are returned to Russia, the authorities there will do all in their power to establish their antecedents and their connections with the revolutionary movement in the past, and will inflict punishment upon them.


The explanation of this policy of the Russian Government is very simple. First it forgets, and forgives it adversaries, nothing, and, second, it strives to prevent by all means the entering of the revolutionary elements into the army, for it fears their influence on the soldiers drawn from amongst workers and peasants. The old tradition of the Russian Government is to keep the revolutionary “pest” out of the army, therefore it does not want the return of Russian political exiles home to perform their military duties. All the emigrants who during this war asked the Russian Government for permission to proceed to their respective military districts – and a number of such cases was ascertained in France – received an identical answer: “Political emigrants are not wanted in the army.”

In other words, it means that practically all the Russian political exiles in foreign countries are not liable to military service in Russia and cannot be regarded as deserters. The Russian Government itself does not consider them desirable in the ranks of the army.


The presence of large Jewish communities in the United States and in this country is due almost entirely to the elaborate system of exceptional, temporary, and other laws, regulations, orders, and decrees, directed against the Jews, which the reactionary forces in Russia have forged into a powerful instrument for the subjection, not only of the Jews, but of the Russian people as a whole.

This system has literally outlawed the Jewish population of Russia, which number roughly about six millions of people.



The Jews are denied the elementary right of movement, They are confined to the so-called “Pale of Settlement,” which comprises the fifteen South-Western Provinces and the ten provinces of Poland, representing altogether in area less than a twentieth part of the Russian Empire.

Certain categories of the Jews are, with many reservations, permitted to reside outside the Pale, as, for instance, well-to-do merchants, who pay a high trade licence, Jewish graduates of the universities, &c. The number of these is, however, very small, not more than 5 per cent. of the total Jewish population, and the remaining 95 per cent. reside in the Pale. Even within the narrow limits of the Pale the freedom of movement for the Jews is restricted to the towns, and they may not live in the villages, where they are forbidden to hold or lease any property.

After the restrictions of movement come the restrictions of trade and employment.

Agriculture and farming is closed to them by the simple fact that they may not live in the villages. They are not admitted to the Civil Service, and may not be employed by the Town Corporations or Zemstvos in any capacity whatever, whether it be that of a doctor, teacher, or window cleaner. In Russia the State is the owner of numerous factories, works, mines, forest estates, railways, shops, banks, &c., from all of which the Jews are excluded. They are also excluded from a number of trades and industries which are managed and controlled by private persons or companies, but which, in one way or another, are dependent on the Government or on Government contracts. They are excluded from private railways, the bonds of which are usually guaranteed by the Government, from the Mercantile Marine, &c., &c. In short, the trades and industries in which the Jews may engage without let or hindrance are very few in number.


The Jewish disabilities are not confined to things material only. The avenues of education are heavily barred against them. A large number of secondary schools, colleges, and universities are closed to them altogether. ln the remainder, the number of


Jewish students may not exceed a certain percentage of the total number of students; in Petrograd and Moscow it is 3 per cent.; in other educational institutions outside the Pale it is 5 per cent. In the Pale itself, where the Jews form a large minority of the total town population and a majority in a number of towns, the contingent of Jewish students may not exceed 10 per cent.

The need for education among the Jews as an exclusively urban population is particularly acute, and for every vacancy open to them in the secondary schools and universities there are hundreds of applicants, and, needless to say, only a few can gain admittance into the temple of learning, and the door is slammed in the face of the others. The mental suffering and torture of the Jewish youths who year after year attempt in vain to get into the educational establishments is indescribable. They see themselves pushed down by some inexorable power into black abyss. Their future is hopeless, broken, and crippled. Despair is gnawing their existence, and cases of suicide are not infrequent. Those who can afford it, go abroad, and flock to the universities of Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Germany, there to acquire the education which their native country is denying them. At the outbreak of the war there were about ten thousand of such Jewish students abroad.

Even the fortunate few who have been admitted to the universities in Russia find it, in most cases, impossible to make the particular knowledge they had gained their vocation in life. Mining engineers, for instance, cannot hope to obtain any engagement, since Asiatic Russia, where most of the mines are situated, is closed to them. An engagement in European Russia is equally hopeless. No company will engage a Jew, since it may prove an insuperable obstacle in the way of putting the mining concession on a proper legal footing. The same is the case with many other professions.

Jewish students who take up law cannot hope to become barristers and plead at Courts. Since 1889, no Jews, with the exception of a very few, have been admitted to the Bar.

The humiliating restrictions extend to the Jewish religious beliefs. Synagogues may not be built within a certain radius from a church. The law regulates the number of synagogues and praying houses which the Jews may have. ln certain instances


permits from the Minister of the Interior are required for the building of new and rebuilding of synagogues. Permission to rebuild old synagogues is very often refused.


If on the one hand the Jews are robbed of their elementary rights, on the other hand far greater burdens are imposed on them than on the rest of the population. Apart from the ordinary taxes, which the Jews pay in common with the rest of the population, they have to pay a special tax on meat and candles.

The number of recruits which the Jews have to contribute to the Army, which in Russia is raised by conscription, is from 20 to 35 per cent. more than the number they should supply in proportion to the population. Only sons, which in Russia are not liable to military service, were, however, not exempted in the case of the Jews.* Jewish doctors and surgeons who, in time of peace, are rigorously excluded from medical service in the Army, are, however, pressed into service at the outbreak of War and dismissed immediately the war is over. In the Army, Jews may only serve in the ranks, and cannot hold any commission, however high their education or military training. This restriction extends even to Jews who have embraced Christianity. In the Army, as elsewhere, the Jews are treated like pariahs; anti-Semitic propaganda is carried on openly in the barracks, and the soldiers are “set on” against their Jewish comrades.


The laws are framed so as to breed litigation, and are capable of most whimsical and arbitrary interpretation by the authorities. As an illustration we may quote a typical case at random from the Russian Press:-

The shop of a Mr. Mishulovitz, a Jewish watchmaker, at Petrograd, was raided by the police, his entire stock was confiscated, and the owner was ordered to be sent out to the Pale. When the watchmaker‘s appeal came before the Court the Public Prosecutor maintained that, as a Jew, Mishulovitz had the right to live in Petrograd so long as he was pursuing

* Towards the end of 1915 the exemption enjoyed by only sons was abolished for all Russian subjects.


his profession within the strict limits permitted him. He was entitled to manufacture watches and to sell the product of his own work. As, however, certain parts of the watch are imported from abroad, he had therefore forfeited his right of domicile outside the Pale, and his entire stock was to be confiscated in accordance with Art. 1172 of the Civil Code.- (Retch, 11/24th Oct., 1914.)

The Jews, as an outlawed people, are literally at the mercy of a host of corrupt extortionist satraps and officials, who fleece the unfortunate population. lt is a well-known fact that the miserably paid officials in the Pale live in lordly fashion on the bribes and tributes extracted from the Jews. The Jewish disabilities are, however, a source of enrichment, not only to the officials in the Pale, but to the Bureaucracy all over Russia, because the sojourn of the privileged Jews outside the Pale depends on the favour of the local authorities and on their interpretation of the law.

In Russia it is impossible for civilians to bring actions in Court against illegal acts of officials, because the latter are not subject to the ordinary law, and cannot be brought to trial unless the consent of their superior authorities had been previously obtained. Complaints against officials may, however, be lodged with their seniors, but it is as much use to proceed in this way as for the sheep to bring its complaint against the wolf before another of the breed. Corruption in Russia is general amongst the Bureaucracy, and it is the higher ranks that set the example to the lower. Russian history teems with evidence of corruption, bribery, and treachery among the highest officials in the State. It is sufficient to mention the ease of Sukhomlinoff, until recently Minister of War, who is now accused of treasonable corruption in connection with Government contracts. However, it was not before the outcry against his criminal misdeeds became general in the Duma and the country, and his retention at the head of the State became too dangerous and provocative a challenge to the country, that he was dismissed, and finally put in prison.

Hitherto, complaints on the part of a Jew against an official had an opposite effect: it tended to make the position of the obnoxious official stronger than ever. For an official a Jewish complaint against him was the best recommendation he could get and a sure means of getting promotion.


An insignificant portion of the Jewish population has, in the teeth of all the anti-Jewish laws, attained to great wealth and to a powerful position in the commercial and industrial life of Russia. It is largely owing to Jewish capital that the textile industry has been built up in Lodz (the Manchester of Poland), Bialystock, and other towns of the Pale. A good many industries and trades in Russia are controlled by Jews. However, the millions of the Jewish people cooped within the towns of the Pale form a mass of humanity struggling for bare existence: the competition is terribly keen, poverty appalling, and disease rampant.


The anti-Jewish policy was conceived in the reign of Alexander III., as an antidote against the spread of the revolutionary movement which was beginning to threaten the established order of things in Russia. The powerful machinery of Government was set in motion for the purpose of administering the antidote to the people in gargantuan doses. Through the subsidised press, from the pulpit, through the schools, and through the agency of hundreds of thousands of Government officials, it was dinned into the ears of the people that the Jews were the cause of all their miseries and troubles. The mind of the people was for decades systematically poisoned by the propaganda of a rapacious blood-thirsty anti-Semitism, and from time to time anti-Jewish riots were organised, demoralising both the oppressors and their victims. These riots of the eighties and nineties of the last century were, however, child’s play in comparison with the pogroms organised against the Jews in the present reign. The Kishineff pogrom of 1903 was the first of the new series. The programme was brand new. The mob no longer confined itself to the looting and plundering of Jewish property, and to occasional buffeting of a Jew here and there as in the old anti-Jewish riots. The mob, urged by the authorities, was out for blood. For four days the hapless Jewish population of Kishineff was handed over to the infuriated drunken mob, led by the police and armed with knives, saws, axes, &c. The houses of the Jews were broken into, their property pillaged, and their inmates subjected to torture and death. Jews were torn limb from limb, noses, tongues, and


ears were cut off, eyes put out with burning coal or red-hot metal, nails driven into heads, legs and arms sawn off, women outraged, their abdomens ripped open and stuffed with feathers, babies dashed against brick walls, and so on. The crimes committed at Kishineff sent a thrill of horror throughout the civilised world. It was subsequently established by documentary evidence that the pogrom was organised from the offices of the Ministry of the Interior. The atrocities were perpetrated under the very eyes of the military and police, who aided and abetted the rioters, and ruthlessly suppressed every attempt on the part of the Jews at armed defence. After the pogrom had spent itself, a mock trial was held over a few of the blind tools of the highly placed instigators of the pogroms, and the counsel on behalf of the Jews was not allowed by the Court to call evidence proving the guilt of the real culprits. The Petrograd correspondent of The Times was expelled from Russia for publishing the notorious letter of the Minister of the Interior encouraging the massacres of the Jews.


The Jew, as a political lightning conductor and scapegoat, was the greatest discovery which the Russian Bureaucracy had made at the beginning of this century. The experience of the pogroms had proved to the Government that the discontent of the masses may easily be disarmed, confused, stultified, and diverted by letting loose the mob against the Jews. The Russian Bureaucracy, which sticks at nothing, has been quick to grasp this lesson, and each time the revolutionary tide was rising in the country a diversion was created by Jewish pogroms and massacres. During the Revolution of 1905, in spite of the greatest indignation of Russian public opinion, pogroms and massacres were organised on an enormous scale, and Jewish blood was flowing in rivers all over Russia. The number of the victims may be counted in thousands. Jews, however, were not the only victims. The Armenians and the intellectuals shared their fate.

By this policy of pogroms and massacres the Russian Government was killing two birds with one stone. lt paralysed and confused the revolutionary forces of both the Russian and the Jewish peoples, and at the same time it could blackmail abroad the Russian


people, suggesting that they were a people of barbarians not fit for constitutional Government. Plehve, the organiser of the Kishineff pogrom, in a chat with a foreign correspondent, remarked with a delightful bonhomie: “Now give this Kishineff mob a Constitution!”


Pogroms and massacres as a method of Government necessitated the creation of permanent organisations which should be at the beck and call of the authorities immediately the interests of the Bureaucracy, which, for them, are identical with the interests of the State, demanded the carnage and slaughter of innocent people. Monarchist organisations, Unions of Russian Men, better known as the Black Hundreds, sprang up all over Russia. They were openly patronised by the Government, and their papers preaching a fierce mediaeval race-hatred and inciting to pogroms, were subsidised out of the funds of the Treasury. Markoff, Purishkevitch, and others of the Black-Hundred fraternity openly boasted of this fact in the Duma. The task of all these organisations was to keep the fires of race-hatred burning, and not to let them die down. In order to impress upon the simple minds of the people that the Black Hundreds enjoy high patronage, the Czar demonstratively sported the colours of the Black Hundreds. And in order to give the country an object lesson that the Jews are outside the law, and that any crime may be committed against them with impunity, all those convicted for participating in Jewish pogroms and massacres were given a free pardon by the Czar.

One of the consequences of these inhuman persecutions was that the Jewish emigration from Russia, which up to the seventies of the last century was quite insignificant, rapidly increased from 1880, and assumed enormous proportions. During the 25 years from 1881 to 1905 close on one million Jewish emigrants had left Russia, and during the five years from 1906 to 1910 the number was about half a million.


The declaration of war was marked by a patriotic outburst of enthusiasm all over Russia, caused by the illusory conceptions connected with the war. The Jews were just as enthusiastic as


the rest of the population. Huge spontaneous demonstrations were held in numerous towns in the Pale. The Jewish crowds in national garb, with the Holy Scroll in front, carried Russian national banners, and sang patriotic songs. The more advanced section of the Jewish working classes, in unison with the advanced section of the Russian workers, were, however, opposed to the war.

Apart from the recruits who were called to the colours, a large number of Jewish youths, eager to fight for Russia, enrolled voluntarily in the army. Hundreds of Jewish young men who had quitted Russia long ago, and had settled abroad, now returned to fight for the country of their birth. The number of Jews fighting in the ranks of the Russian Army is estimated at about 600,000, but cannot in any case be less than 500,000. The Jews have built many hospitals and ambulance stations where wounded soldiers, without distinction of creed or race, were received and treated. They have contributed liberally to the various all-Russian funds and institutions created to assist the army and navy, and in every other way have helped Russia in the prosecution of the war. A large number of Jewish soldiers have distinguished themselves in this war, and have been decorated with the Order of St. George (V.C.). All this is not to be marvelled at. In spite of the regime of tyrannical oppression under which the Jews in Russia are smarting, there are, apart from the deep-rooted love for the country of one’s birth, a thousand economic ties which bind the Russian Jews to Russia. Russia is the market for the considerably large industries built up by the Jews in the Pale. ln the event of the Pale being annexed by Germany, these industries would receive a death blow: the Russian market would be lost, and it would be hopeless for the Jewish industries to attempt competing with the highly developed German industries on the German market. This gravitation to Russia on the part of the Jews in Poland was one of the reasons by the Polish bourgeois parties considered the Jews as agents of the Russian Government in the policy of Russifying Poland.

Notwithstanding the loyalty shown by the Jews, and the great danger in front of the powerful enemy, the Government has not relaxed its stranglehold on the Jew. The old restrictions – doubly humiliating now when the Jews were called upon to bring a


supreme sacrifice on the altar of the State which literally treated them like dogs – were carried out with the same harshness and brutality as heretofore. At the time when the requirements of the war in the allied countries of France and England were claiming and taxing to the utmost every ounce of energy and strength of everybody in the service of the State, the Russian Government, who neglected the defence of the country before the war, and was short of everything requisite for the organisation of victory, found, however, that the time of the local authorities in Kieff and other towns was now usefully, and to better purpose, employed in organising night hunts or battues on Jews “illegally” residing outside the Pale, and in various other little expeditions of a similar nature against the peaceful but “evasive” Jew.


However, the fact that Russia was fighting in this war on the side of France and England had encouraged the hope that this war might prove a turning point in the internal policy of Russia, and that “a new era might dawn” for the people of Russia in general, and the oppressed nationalities in particular. These hopes were heightened by the manifesto of the Grand Duke to the Poles, and by the declaration which France and Great Britain had made that this was a war “for the liberation of the small nationalities.”

Abroad it was the “cause of the Western democracies” that was uppermost in the minds of those Jewish students and workmen from Russia who flocked in large numbers to the colours of France and Belgium in order to fight “for the cause they held sacred,” and many of them have laid down their lives on the battlefields of France and Belgium. A similar movement was on foot in this country, but at that time England was averse to the idea of admitting foreigners to fight in the ranks of the British Army.

Nevertheless, a certain number of Jewish volunteers, Russian subjects, have joined the army here.

Such was in brief the position at the beginning of the war.


The course of the war had laid bare the rotten foundation of the political regime which was holding back the development of Russia. There were no roads, no railways, no ammunition, no


industrial organisation in a condition to cope with the gigantic tasks imposed by the war on the country. Owing to the policy hitherto pursued by the Government of stamping out every attempt at a social endeavour or public effort, and of ruthlessly suppressing all political organisations and unions, except those of the Black Hundreds, the nation was utterly disorganised and helpless against the evils resulting from the war, such, for instance, as the scarcity and famine which has set in in most articles of prime necessity in the large centres of Russia, in consequence of the dislocation of traffic, and the utter chaos reigning in the Railway Department. The Zemstvos and the municipalities, serving as the point d’appui for some of the social forces of Russia, saw themselves obliged to undertake duties which meant an encroachment upon the powers of the Government, because the latter showed itself incapable and incompetent to organise anything. The machinery of the State was hopelessly out of gear. The Government departments were hotbeds of bribery and corruption, on the showing of even reactionary members of the Duma. Treachery has built its nest in the highest quarters. Bitterness against, and discontent with the Government were spreading rapidly. The whole outlook was reminiscent of the period which preceded the Revolution of 1905. The Government was deeply alarmed. From the point of view of the authorities, the situation demanded Jewish hecatombs on an unprecedented scale, commensurate with the tremendous stake involved. The signal was given to the agents of the Government to commence their nefarious work. The military situation and the congregation of millions of soldiers amidst the dense Jewish population of the Pale offered the best opportunities for the drowning of the discontent of the people in a sea of Jewish blood. The ignorant and credulous soldiery, from childhood biassed against the Jews, readily believed the wild and fantastic stories which the unscrupulous agents were spreading about the Jews. It was, for instance, reported in the anti-Semitic sheets, and passed from mouth to mouth that Jews had organised a sham funeral, hiding in the coffin a million-and-a-half roubles in gold, and carried it across the lines to the Germans. No name of the locality where the incident was supposed to have occurred, nor any other details were given. Nobody ever stopped to consider what such an amount of gold would weigh, how many Jews it


would require to carry a coffin laden with such an amount of gold (Jews in Poland carry the coffin shoulder-high), and how it would be possible for such a procession to pass the pickets unnoticed. Other stories told of Jews carrying telephones hidden in their beards! And there was not a story stupid enough against the Jews which was not given ready credence by the soldiery.

A good many of the agents spreading these stories were probably employed by the gang of traitors in high quarters, who were anxious to cover their own tracks. One of this gang, Colonel Miasoedoff, subsequently executed, was attached to the General Staff, and was a great friend of Sukhomlinoff, the Minister of War.


The soldiery and the mob were let loose on the Jews. The familiar scenes of pogroms were enacted once more in hundreds of towns. The Jews were mercilessly beaten, and their property looted. Innocent people, among them some venerable Rabbis and other religious heads of the Jewish community, were summarily hanged on the roadside. Jewish women and girls were outraged in the presence of their families. Others were dragged to the barracks and handed over to the gluttonous lust of the soldiers. Many of these hapless girls and women breathed out their last under the hands of their tormentors.

The cup of bitterness, however, was not quite full. An order was given by the Military Authorities to expel all the Jews, without exception, from a large number of provinces in the rear of the war zone. Over half a million of people were expelled in this way. The expulsion orders were issued by the Military Authorities, and there was no appeal from them. No more than 24 hours’ time-limit was given the unfortunate Jewish population within which to quit. Very often the time-limit was not more than three hours. Jews found in town after the expiration of the time-limit were to be court-martialled. A few extracts from the Russian Press will give an idea of what these expulsions were like.

The following is from the Rassvet, No. 45, November 7th, 1914:-

ln the evening of the 16/29 October, under the beating of drums, the decree ordering the Jews to leave Skernevitz and its suburbs was cried in the streets of the town. Representa-


tives of the Jews were not admitted to the Commandant before next morning. He told them that he was powerless to do anything for them, and that he himself had asked that the women and children might be permitted to stay, but his request had been refused. There was no time to go and see other authorities, as the order was that all who stayed in town after four o’clock would be handed over to the field courts-martial. The exodus commenced. Men and women, old and young, children, including babies in arms, had to leave the town. No means of conveyance was to be had. All the property was left behind, and immediately the Jews were out of the town it was looted. The wanderers trudged in a long file. When they reached the town of Bolimov and wanted to take shelter there overnight, it was refused them. They tramped all through the night. The hysterical cries of the terrified women, the cries of the children, the weeping of the men rent the air.

Here is a description of the “exodus” of the Jews from Grodzisk, described in the Petrograd magazine, Novy Voskhod, of November, 1914, by an eye-witness, himself one of the exiles:-

About 2 o’clock in the afternoon the road leading to Warsaw was for a considerable distance literally crammed with the Jewish population of Grodzisk. There were 1,500 families of us, including 300 families of Jewish soldiers serving with the colours. There were old and young, women and children, cripples and sick people, women heavy with child and women in child-bed. We had reached the small town of Blone, within 12 versts from Grodzisk, about 5 to 6 in the evening. We were not allowed, however, to enter Blone; we were not even allowed to continue our tramp on the road which passes through the town. We were obliged to get off the road and circle round Blone across the inundated field. We have plucked some sunflower plants in a neighbouring field, have taken off our jackets and spread them over the inundated places, and then have taken the children and the women across! When we were on the road again the military patrols demanded from us passes. …. Night was coming, a damp, cold night; the slush impeded our march, but we trudged along, hurried on by casual soldiers who came


our way; very often the soldiers would search and beat us. . . . . . One woman gave birth to a child, another had a miscarriage, and a third died on the road. ….

In the same magazine there is another description of the expulsion of the Jews from Myshinetz:-

All the Jews of the town, about 300 families, with their wives and children, having taken with them the Holy Scrolls, proceeded in the direction of the village Zinrit. Here they sat down on the damp ground, and as it was night already they sent delegates to the Commandant in the village Koiozidlo. The Commandant, however, categorically refused to grant them permission to return. All the Jews of Myshinetz will remember this night; shivering with cold they sang psalms and, holding the babies in their arms, were awaiting with impatience the break of day in order to start afresh on the weary tramp.

In the Duma Session of the 3/16th August, 1915, M. Dzubinsky, member of the Peasant Group of Toil, delivered a speech, from which we make the following extract:-

As a representative of the 5th Siberian Division I have been at the front, and can bear personal witness to the immeasurable brutality with which the Jews were expelled from the province of Radom. The whole population was driven out at night time within the space of a few hours. At eleven o’clock the Jews were informed that they must leave immediately, and those found behind by daybreak will be hanged. And in the night the Jewish population started for the nearest town, Ilzha, lying at a distance of thirty versts (about twenty miles). The old, the sick, the paralysed, and the invalids had to be carried in arms, as no means of conveyance were obtainable. The number of these expelled is enormous. For instance, the expelled from the province of Kovno number about 150,000, from the province of Grodno about 50,000, from Poland about 200,000; altogether, about half a million of people are condemned to suffering and are placed on a footing with criminals, because the police and gendarmery are treating the expelled Jews exactly as if they were criminals. At one of the stations, for instance, the Jewish Committee of Homel was


not permitted to hand food or water or give any assistance to the fugitives who were in the carriages of the train. In one case the carriages of a train conveying the expelled were not even opened once during the whole journey, and at the stations en route nobody was permitted to approach the carriages. Most ot the expelled in this train were found afterwards half dead, sixteen had the scarlet fever, one was ill with typhoid lever, and one woman died of exhaustion on the third day. Some Governors at the place of destination added yet more to the sufferings ot these unfortunate innocent people. They have converted the expulsion of the Jews into a sort of exile under police supervision. The passports were unlawfully taken away from the Jews, and passes issued to them instead. These passes bore in every case a mark showing the time-limit within which their bearers had to arrive at a certain point in one of five provinces. In these five provinces allocated to them, the expelled were driven from pillar to post, from one place to another. The Governors of these provinces treated the expelled like criminals.

The cruelty of the local authorities showed itself even when the Ukase was promulgated, stopping all further expulsions en masse. The local authorities made use of this Ukase in order to continue their inhuman policy, and turned it into a new means of oppressing the Jews. They have issued an order to the effect that all Jews arriving in their localities should be returned to the places where they came from. When the Governor of Poltava issued such an order, the Jews who arrived from Kovno returned back, but found that they were not allowed to return to Kovno and had to go once more to Poltava. The same cruel methods were used by the local authorities even after the Minister of the Interior had found it possible at last to widen somewhat the area whither Jews could he sent out, and had ordered that the provinces of Veronezh and Penza should be opened for them. In short, every decree which promised to lighten the lot of the Jews was used by the local authorities, as a further means of oppressing them and of making sport of them. But the most arbitrary and cruel measure is the notorious order prescribing the taking of hostages from our own subjects. Note, such host-


ages were taken from among the more wealthy and from among those who are held in great respect even by the authorities. I ask you, by what law of the Russian Empire are people cast into prison solely because they command respect? By what law is it permitted to try and punish absolutely innocent people for offences committed by others? Even now there are about 400 such hostages in the prisons of Poltava, Ekaterinoslav, and Mohileff, who are in constant danger of being hanged at any moment. Gentlemen, this is not merely a threat! Just listen to this extract from an army order: “The Commander-in-Chief permits expulsion en masse. only in exceptional cases, but considers it necessary to take hostages from among the Rabbis and wealthy Jews; when hostages are taken a warning should be issued that in case of treachery on the part of the Jewish population the hostages will be hanged.” At Sochachoff three such hostages were hanged for a crime not committed by them, but by persons quite unknown to them.

The order for expulsion applied to the Jews only. The rest of the population was not molested till three or four months later, after ample warning was given them, and also all available facilities, amounting, it is true, to very little, were placed at their disposal.
It should be borne in mind that all these unspeakable atrocities were committed on the helpless Jewish population, on the old men, women, and children, all the able-bodied men having been taken for the army; and whilst at one end over half a million of Jewish soldiers were pouring out their life-blood on the various fronts for Russia, at the other end their families at home were being outraged and butchered at the instigation of the authorities.


The expulsions on the one hand, and the German invasion on the other, have obliterated the Pale of Jewish Settlement. Very little of the Pale was now left, and as the Russian Government could not very well revert to the policy of Ivan the Terrible (in the sixteenth century) and drown all the Jews, it was perforce obliged to extend the Pale and open to the Jews, with numerous reserva-


tions, the towns of the rest of Russia. The unfortunate Jewish fugitives were, on the whole, received with great kindness by the Russian people in their new places of abode, In the heart of Russia the people had a very vague notion of what was going on in the Pale. The kindness shown to the Jews by the Russian people ran counter to the views of the Government, who discerned in it the greatest danger to its policy of “divide and rule.”

The Government was determined on creating around the Jews in their new places of abode the same atmosphere of fiendish race-hatred, pogroms, and massacres which reigned in the places whence they had just been driven. With this aim in view it has caused a communiqué to be published in the official organ of the Government, The Pravitelstvenny Vestnik, in May, 1915, narrating a story of how a Russian unit had perished at a little place called Kuzhi, in consequence of treachery on the part of the local Jewish population. This communique was posted on the walls, special reprints were made and widely distributed. All the papers in the capital and in the provinces were requested, under pain of penalties, to give wide publicity to this communiqué. Now, in the session of the Duma of August and September of 1915, it was established that the communiqué was a pure fabrication from beginning to end: no unit had perished at Kuzhi, and on the date of the alleged treachery there were no Jews at the place, the six Jewish families of Kuzhi having left previous to the alleged incident with the permission of the Russian military authorities.

With its usual brazenness, the Government ignored the revelations and indictments made in the Duma, and continued to pursue its old policy. On the 9th January, 1916, it had sent out a circular to all the Governors, prefects, and other local authorities, in which it gave the signal for a propaganda against the Jews, and indicated the lines on which this propaganda should run. In this circular, all the evils resulting from the war and from the criminal maladministration and misgovernment of Russia were laid at the door of the Jews. The rise in prices, the disappearance of coins, &c., &c. – all was due to the Jews. When Tcheidze give publicity to this document in the Duma it caused consternation, and impassioned speeches were made by Milyukoff, Maklakoff, and other leaders in the Duma. Needless to say, the Government ignored the voice of the Duma and con-


tinues to make elaborate preparations for fresh massacres and pogroms. An extract from Tchenkeli’s speech, delivered in the Duma on the 3/16th June, 1916, will show how very grave is the position of the Jews at the present moment. Here is the extract which is taken from the Retch, of the 4/17th June, 1916:-

Tchenkeli, in the course of his speech, said:

We have heard many times that the agents of the Government are continuing their criminal agitation in the country against the Jews; they calumniate, invent stories about them, and create an atmosphere of pogroms. In several towns pogroms have already taken place. It is physically impossible to quote all the facts which we have in our possession, but in order to give you a characteristic iilustration allow me to read you a few lines from an official circular:

From information received at the Headquarters of the imperial Chief of Staff it has been established that recently cases of venereal diseases, and particularly of syphilis, have become more frequent among the troops. There are indications that a Jewish organisation in Germany is spending considerable amounts of money on the maintenance of syphilitic women, who are employed with the purpose of ensnaring Russian officers and infecting them with syphilis. …

I shall not mention the other calumnies upon the Jews. You know them well. You also know how the Government has kept the promise given here by M. Kafafov, the head of the Police Department, not to distribute the circular of the 9th January, 1916.* You know that this circular issued by the Police Department is still being distributed in the provinces, as, for example, in Kherson, over the signature of the local Governor.


The picture of fierce mediaevalism unfolded in the news coming from Russia made an overpowering impression upon the Jewish population in this country, It filled them with horror and dismay.

*This is the circular referred to on page 25.


The bulk of the Jewish emigrants here come from Russia, and almost everyone has some relation in the “old” home. To the emigrants here, the tragedy of the Jews in the Empire of the Czar was their own tragedy. It was as if they themselves had undergone all the horrors and terrors suffered by their brethren in the old country. The picture of these horrors was continually before their eyes: they could not rest. This revival of barbarism, this nightmare of the dark ages had to be stopped, and the eyes of the Jewish intelligentsia were naturally turned to England, the “old country of democratic institutions and freedom.” Did not England profess to stand up for little Belgium, prostrate at the feet of the foreign invader? Did not England express its execration of Germany for the acquiescence of the latter in the massacres of the Armenians organised by Turkey, its ally? Surely England will use all its induence to stop these horrors in Russia, and its voice will resound in the defence of the martyred Jewish people. England will do it, not only for reasons of humanity, but also for reasons of expediency, for do not these horrors undermine and damage the cause of the Allies in the neutral countries, and particularly in the United States? The supposed “Liberal influence” of France and England upon Russia seemed as a ray of light amidst the dark clouds overhanging the Jewish situation, which had given courage to thousands of Jewish youths to forget the bitterness of their situation, and fight with valour and distinction for the cause of the Allies. Was that light really there?


To their horror and consternation the Jewish masses discovered that England was deaf to the agonised cry of the Jews in Russia, and had built up an impenetrable wall of silence to keep out the haunting, heaven-rending cry of a tortured people. Reasons of State as an excuse for this self-imposed or perhaps enforced silence of England was a poor consolation to a mind in distress. One could not understand why England should remain silent at a time when everything that was best and noble in Russia cried out against this criminal blotch on civilisation. Might not England at least give publicity to the resolutions passed by the Zemstvos,


Municipalities, Commercial and Industrial Associations, demanding the abolition of the anti-Jewish restrictions, to the noble utterances upon the Jewish question of the most brilliant names in Russian literature, art and science, which were freely published in the heavily censored Russian Press? Instead of that the Board of Trade here had sent out a memorandum to British merchants and manufacturers, in which it is recommended that Jewish agents should not be appointed in Russia. This recommendation was hailed with delight by the Jew-baiting Press in Russia. lt was evident from this that, far from exercising a “Liberal influence” on Russia, England is adapting itself to the methods of the Russian Government, the sworn enemy of democracy.

Now, at this psychological moment, when the foreign Jewish emigrants, left to themselves, were brooding over their deep moral wound, comes the agitation that the Jews should be compelled to join the British Army or be deported to Russia.

The Home Secretary, Mr. Herbert Samuel, had stated in the House of Commons on June 29th, 1916, that he differentiated in his treatment of enemy aliens between German-Austrians, and members of the subject nationalities of Austria-Hungary like the Czechs, Italians, Jugo-Slavs, and others who were, technically speaking, Austrian subjects. Speaking of the Armenians, Mr. Herbert Samuel said that “it would be a monstrous thing to add to the sorrows of the Armenians who have fled here from Turkish oppression by interning them on the ground that they are Turks.” Is it less monstrous for the Home Secretary to deport Jews, members of other nationalities, and political emigrants, who had fled to this country from the terrible Russian oppression?


The cry that the Jews are “snatching up the jobs” of the English who had gone to the war is an unscrupulous one, and is only intended to stir up race-hatred in the East End of London. The great bulk of the Jews are engaged chiefly in trades and industries which they themselves had developed and built up. The wholesale bespoke tailoring trade was developed by the Jews. The wholesale mantle trade was quite unknown in this country before


it was introduced by the Jews, some 25 years ago. Previous to that the wholesale firms were importing the article from Germany. The Jews have introduced the wholesale manufacturing fur industry, some branches of the tobacco trade, and so on. There was no Jewish immigration since the war broke out, and the Jews are pursuing the same occupations and employments as before the war. It is, therefore, ludicrous to say that they are taking away English jobs.

It is argued that since the foreign Jews are earning their living in this country, they must also fight for this country. If this is the case, why not conscript Americans, Dutch, Scandinavians, and other neutrals who are making a living in this country? The Russian Jews and the other Russian subjects are not British citizens, they arc not protected outside of these islands by the British flag, they have no voice in the shaping of the destinies of this country, and have no influence, actual or potential, on its foreign policy. If they make a living in this country, they are giving ample return by contributing to the upkeep of the State directly in the shape of rates and taxes, and indirectly by helping to create and develop the wealth of the country.

In point of fact, a considerable number of Russian Jews, not naturalised here, who by long residence in this country assimilated themselves to English conditions, joined the British Army under the voluntary and the Derby schemes. The remainder, however, are foreigners in every sense of the word.


In conclusion, it is necessary to say a few words about the leaders of English Jewry and their Press (the Jewish World and Jewish Chronicle) who have joined in the clamour for conscription for the Russian Jews. Those leaders represent nobody except the well-to-do British-born Jews, mostly of the financial world, who have nothing in common, either in ideas, feeling, or language, with the foreign Jewish population, who belong almost entirely to the working classes and earn their bread in the sweat of their brow. To the rich English Jew the suffering of his brethren in Russia is at best an abstract problem, otherwise valuable in so much as it affords him the opportunity of displaying his charity.


Apart from the Jews, there are in this country small colonies of Poles, Letts, Lithuanians, and other nationalities who have escaped from national and religious persecution in Russia. There is also a sprinkling of Tolstoyans and suppressed religious sects from Russia.


From the legal point of view, Russian subjects in this country are foreigners, Even those who have been here for a considerable time and have assimilated themselves to English conditions have no vote, and receive no protection from the British Government outside of these islands. There is, however, a considerable number whose stay in this country has not been long, and who know very little English, if any at all.

As foreigners, Russian subjects cannot he compelled to join the British Army. This was plainly recognised by the Home Secretary when he made his statement in the House of Commons on June 29th, 1916: “We cannot impose compulsion upon those who are not British subjects,” he said, but he proposed that Russian subjects should be offered the alternative of either “voluntarily” enlisting in the British Army or of being deported to Russia. Compulsion for foreigners from Russia, which is illegal, is thus thinly veiled and introduced under the threat of deportation to Russia.

This is a flagrant violation of the traditional right of asylum for which Great Britain was famed in the past. It is a breach of trust. The political refugees, the Jewish emigrants, and emigrants of other oppressed nationalities have come to this country because of the implicit faith and fullest trust they reposed in the sacredness and unassailableness of the right of asylum in Great Britain. Had they been given official warning upon their arrival here that under certain contingencies like the present, they – although not endowed with the rights and privileges of British citizens – yet would be compelled to join the British Army under threat of deportation to Russia, whence they had fled, there is not the slightest doubt that their feet would not have trodden on English soil, and they would have looked for safety elsewhere.

For the Russian Jews, after the horrors suffered by their brethren in Russia, and after the tacit acquiescence of France and


England in these atrocities, the cry that this is a war for the “liberation of the small nationalities” sounds like mockery. To appeal to them to join in this fight is like adding insult to injury.


According to the Manchester Guardian, the number of Russian subjects of military age is not more than 10,000 or 12,000, from which, of course, a certain not inconsiderable number will have to be deducted, who on physical or other grounds are exempted from military service.

The question naturally arises, why all this cry for conscripting foreigners, when there is so very little “wool” in the whole thing? The reason advanced by some apologists of the compulsory measure is that the foreigners, especially the Jews, “take away the jobs” of the English who went to the war. In the preceding chapter it has been shown that this is quite untrue.

One cannot help thinking that the Russian Government must have had a hand in it.


The same agitation against the Russian Jews and political emigrants had been instigated some time ago in France, probably with the help of the same invisible agency which is manipulating the agitation in this country. There, however, the agitation ended in a complete fiasco. The French Government took the right view of the situation and did not allow themselves to be imposed upon by the clique of unscrupulous anti-Semites and Jingoes. The Jews and political refugees in France were left in peace, and no compulsion was introduced against them. Those who wish to go to the United States are allowed to do so.

Will England follow the example of France and maintain inviolate the old traditional right of asylum, or will it choose to be bracketed with Russia and become a byword for all those with whom freedom and civilisation are not dead letters?

The Committee of Delegates of the Russian Socialist Groups in London.

London, July, 1916.


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