2021 08 11 velychenko1


Observations in light of Andrei Zdorov’s article on the anniversary of Simon Petliura’s murder


Bolsheviks and Jews

Ukrainian Jews at the turn of the last century were mostly observant and apolitical. The sympathies of the minority involved in politics lay with non-Bolshevik parties: the Zionists, Mensheviks, and Russian Socialist Revolutionaries. Jewish pro-Bolshevik parties with observant members and supporters, which from March 1919 included leftist Bundists, Zionists, and Jewish SRs that did claim to represent Jews, were small. Ethnic Jewish Bolshevik party members were overwhelmingly apostates. Semen Dimanshtain was an exception. An ordained rabbi, he was head of the Bolshevik party’s Jewish Section (Evsektsiia). Ethnic Jewish Bolsheviks never claimed to represent all Jews or to act in the name of Jewish interests or aspirations. Observant Jews regarded them as renegades not representatives – apostate Jews were not Jews.[1] Bolshevik propaganda explicitly denied that leading Bolsheviks were all Jews.[2]

While secular apostate Jews were disproportionately represented in the Bolshevik party, their total number was small. More significant politically and socially than secular apostate Jewish party members, were secular, usually apostate, non-party Jewish government officials. Lenin in 1919, like Maxim Gorky, identified these secular Jews, who had flooded into cities during the war, as the group that had played the decisive role in keeping his new government functioning as employees after he took power by “sabotaging the saboteurs [striking bureaucrats].” Lenin, in the words of Dimanshtain, to whom he confided, “stressed that we could take over the government apparatus … only thanks to this reserve of literate and more or less sober and competent new functionaries.”[3] Lenin did not specify which cities or regions he had in mind, but presumably he was referring to the capital and Ukraine. In 1915, concessions and wartime deportations increased the number of Jews east of the front by at least 500,000. That year the tsarist government also allowed approximately 150,000 Jews to settle in central Russia alongside the craftsmen, wealthy merchants, and academics there since the 1860s. It raised Jewish entry quotas for state schools – thus ensuring that a substantial number of Jewish graduates would be looking for work during the first years of Bolshevik power. While the total population of the two imperial capitals dropped between 1917 and 1920, more Christians than Jews fled the cities. Thus, while roughly 50,000 Jews averaged 1:50 of the population in 1917, by 1920, 30,000 Jews represented approximately 1:24.[4] In March 1917, when the provisional government repealed all anti-Jewish legislation and restrictions, secular educated Jews became prime candidates for government jobs – though few seem to have been hired. In Petrograd on the morning of 26 October, after hearing that the Bolsheviks had overthrown the provisional government, and just as, or even before, they began advertising for administrators, hundreds of secular Jews began lining up in front of Soviet and government offices hoping for jobs. In the 27 October edition of their newspaper, the anti-Bolshevik Zionists expressed their disgust at the behaviour of their co-nationals “racing” for places in the queues. Others were surprised that they “showed no shame.” A Russian archivist in 1919 Petrograd thus had grounds to generalize that, “We are governed by Jews … All the higher officials – Jews. All the lower ones – Russians. And they all steal.”[5]

Conservative Jews condemned their pro-Bolshevik countrymen as impudent, “human refuse,” opportunists, hooligans, scoundrels, and ignoramuses. “What especially struck us and what we expected the least [from such individuals], was the cruelty sadism and violence, which seemed to be alien to a people far removed from a physical and military life; those who yesterday could not handle a rifle, today turned up among cutthroat executioners.”[6] Conservatives stressed the pro-Bolshevik minority in no way represented the law-abiding majority Jewish population, and that those few Jews who benefitted from the revolution did so at the cost of the persecuted Jewish majority.

There was likely a similar rush of young apostate Jews into Bolshevik offices in Ukraine—although no one has yet studied this. Grigorii Moroz, an apostate Jewish member of the central Cheka Collegium, wrote the RCP Central Committee, after an inspection trip to Ukraine, that he was shocked beyond description at how people identified Soviet power with all Jews and hated them as a result. He recommended that Jews be removed from responsible government positions and replaced by Russians from Russia. In May 1919, the secretary of the party’s Kyiv province committee reported that the massive presence of Jews in Bolshevik organizations was “unhealthy” and “undesirable.” He noted how young Jewish workers from Uman, who had joined the Red Army, subsequently manned special punishment battalions that were sent to fight the local insurgent peasantry. The move reinforced the preconception that Bolshevism was a Jewish phenomenon and provoked more uprisings. Politburo member Lev Kamenev made a similar proposal to Lenin in August 1919.[7]

For Ukraine’s Bolsheviks, the socio-economic category “speculator,” as often as not, was synonymous with observant Jew.[8] Nationalization criminalized private trade and business, and observant Jews predominated among the disenfranchised. They had hired labour, received income from sources other than employment, and worked as private entrepreneurs. As of 1925, while Jews were no more than 6 per cent of Ukraine’s total population, they accounted for 45 per cent of those disenfranchised because of their socio-economic function. Since almost no Jews, observant or apostate, farmed, they had no access to food during the revolutionary years other than what they could trade with Ukrainian peasants. Those who did not work for the Bolsheviks and got no rations, and those without family working for the Bolsheviks, faced starvation. Urban taxes under NEP, meanwhile, were assessed at higher rates than rural taxes, which meant observant Jews, primarily urban, remained in poverty – as before 1917.[9] Bolshevik leaders’ attempts to explain that class always should trump nationality – and that the latter was divided into good working people who were allies, and bad bourgeoise and landlords who should be repressed – had little impact in reality. Local agents decided who was whom.[10] A situation report from the Proskuriv-Kamianets region in 1921 noted that the local Cheka considered all traders and factory and store owners “speculators” and subject to execution. In practice, given the link between socio-economic functions and nationality, “speculator” encompassed most all observant Jews. This included Jewish workers, in as much as closed factories forced them to trade, buy, and sell on the black market to survive. After the Bolsheviks were evicted from Kyiv in September 1919, the city’s Jewish committee recorded in a public announcement how a “small coterie” of Bolshevik Jews, with “medieval methods,” imposed terror on observant Jews, destroying their national life, property, and executing young and old indiscriminately – regardless of Bolshevik talk about class allies, decrees condemning violence against Jews, and the death penalty for pogrom perpetrators and instigators.[11] Observers could therefore write, “In general, the Jewish population suffers most from the communist terror.”[12]

In 1919, Bolshevik leaders had to deal with pogroms committed by nominally loyal troops.[13] That year, most of their forces in Ukraine were Red Ukrainian irregular units mostly under Ukrainian-left SR (Borotbist) than Bolshevik influence. These who had not joined the invading Red troops that January directly fought in irregular pro-Bolshevik Borotbist units against the hetman, or were UNR army deserters. Before March 1919, none of them would have known the CPU took orders from Moscow, or that the Bolshevik Ukrainian republic was a facade. How many would have known afterwards is moot. Aside from the criminals in these units, were men whose families, in villages occupied by Bolshevik officials, began informing them about the vicious policies implemented by those primarily Russian and Russified-agnostic young Jewish administrative personnel, their requisition squads, and secret-police detachments. Fighters for Red rule, thus, soon lost sympathy for it once they heard about, saw, or experienced Red control. In mid-February, one such unit had already registered a complaint: “Appointed political and other commissars not elected by us, follow every step of local soviets, and ruthlessly punish those comrade workers and peasants who defend the peoples’ freedom.”[14] Entering towns hungry and ill-equipped after battle, these men did not bother about distinctions between the innocent and the guilty, or all and some. Red irregulars and Red Army men had no qualms about taking revenge on all Jews in pogroms for what some Bolshevik Jews had done. Pro-Bolshevik Ukrainian partisans would shoot their unit party members and Cheka agents, regardless of nationality while fighting anti-Bolshevik Ukrainian forces.[15] Some joined pogroms instigated by the warlord Hryhoriev, who was an antisemite.


Anti-Jewish pogroms were part of the looting, pillaging, and killing that began in 1917. Jewish witness testimonial descriptions of the horrors during the revolutionary years leave no doubt that Ukrainians were among pogrom perpetrators. These were usually irregulars, but also included regular troops and sometimes civilians. Reports compiled at that time allow historians to approximate the number of Jewish civilians killed, often by name, place, and date, as between 50 to 100,000.[16] Jews in towns like Cherkassy, Korsun, and Borzna, which changed hands monthly or even weekly, faced possible pogroms at the hands of each successive occupier. These could range from looting to gratuitous brutality and murder.

            With regard to anti-Jewish pogroms, there are two associated issues. One concerns governmental culpability. The other is whether the violence was situational or ideological in nature. It was of little consequence to victims who were the instigators what the motivations were of perpetrators, and whether or not perpetrators killed all Jews because of who they were, or some Jews because of what they did. Historians, who must generalize about the past, cannot ignore such distinctions and let matters rest with trendy assertions about “multiple truths” – if only because it was unlikely those victims thought there were “multiple truths” about what was happening to them. Historians’ job is to critique, qualify, and distinguish between motivation and intent. They must dismiss facile monocausal explanations and generalizations: that all violence against Jews was inevitably motivated by modern antisemitism, that dislike was tantamount to intent to murder and must inevitably cause murder, or that all Jews were anti-Ukrainian communists. They must try to ascertain actual causes and accept they may never know how many labelled their victims a Jew, or a Bolshevik, or a kulak or a Petliurite, to justify killing or looting of someone who, in reality, was a personal enemy, or rival, or object of a grudge. They cannot assume all victims knew exactly who perpetrators and instigators were, or, that all instigators and perpetrators were necessarily always motivated by issues of identity as defined either by antisemitism, or nationalism, or Bolshevism.

Not the least of historians’ problems is a structural bias in the documentary record that can lead to the impression that only Jews suffered at the hands of pro-independence Ukrainians. This bias is a result of circumstances, not anyone’s intent. It results from committees recording and preserving accounts of how thousands of Jews died in pogroms, and no Ukrainian government or organization systematically recording and preserving accounts of how many and how millions of Ukrainians died. While we know as many as 100 000 Jews were killed during the revolutionary years alongside millions of Ukrainians, whether in per capita terms Ukrainians or Jews suffered more as victims of violence is unknown. Cheka lists of the executed did not indicate nationality. Otherwise, Bolshevik statistics on civilians counted the living not the dead. Church death registers, it must be noted, have yet to be examined for listed Ukrainian dead.

Historians who ignore these methodological matters and shortcomings in the documentary record risk making facile tendentious generalizations and accusations like “Ukrainian activists,” all Ukrainians always, or all warlords were antisemites, or, that antisemitism was part of the Ukrainian national project.[17] Those who make such generalizations rarely identify by name those who, indeed, were antisemites, while ignoring those who were not.[18] Mykola Mikhnovsky, who founded the Ukrainian National Party in 1902, for example, included Jews as a group, alongside Russians and Poles, among the enemies of Ukraine. But was this antisemitism if he qualified his accusation with the assertion they would be classified as such only for as long as “they rule over us”? The program included national and religious rights for all in the envisaged independent Ukraine. No other Ukrainian party program included such an accusation.[19] Borys Hrinchenko and Central Rada member Serhyi Iefremov, for their part, wrote in defence of Jews. The former’s daughter was imprisoned and died in prison for helping to organize a Jewish-Ukrainian self-defence unit during the 1905 pogroms.[20] The Ukrainian newspaper Nova Rada (7 March/22 February), just after the Bolsheviks fled Kyiv in March 1918, told readers it was wrong to condemn all Jews because some were Bolshevik commissars. Solomon Goldelman claimed it was the “dark masses” without national consciousness who committed the pogroms. Under the pseudonym S. Zolotarenko, he contributed regularly to a Jewish column in the official Ukrainian army newspaper Ukraina. Edited by Mykhailo Kovenko, it had Jewish assistant editors and writers. It carried articles condemning pogroms and explaining not all Jews were Bolsheviks. Such articles also appeared in the Ukrainian SD paper Robitnycha hazeta.[21]

Eyewitness testimonies that identify Ukrainians well disposed toward Jews cannot be ignored. In the towns of Lubny and Korosten in 1919, Ukrainian troops stopped a pogrom, for instance. During the struggle in the former, fourteen soldiers defending Jews were killed. In the town of Bohuslav in April 1919, the local-born Ukrainian commander of a partisan unit ensured his troops did not join a pogrom and kill Jews. He personally tried to save the life of the captured Jewish member of the town’s deposed Bolshevik council. Before the war, the Ukrainian had “a mass of friends” among the town’s Jews. He had been boyhood friends with the later Bolshevik commissar, politically active alongside him, and both had served prison time together in exile.[22] Trofim Verkhola was a Ukrainian member of Proskuriv’s town council representing the Peasant Union. He condemned the pogrom that occurred there in 1919 as a blot on Ukraine’s honour, was arrested for it, and, were he not freed by intervention of other local Ukrainians, would have been shot by the commanding warlord.[23] If all Ukrainian leaders had been antisemites, they would not have agreed to investigative committees nor have established Jewish ministries staffed by Jews.[24] They would not have hired Jews to work in Ukrainian government offices, or as artisans and printers to work for the Ukrainian army; they would not have allotted millions in relief funding, or exempted Jews from conscription on the same grounds as Christians, or printed Hebrew texts on Ukrainian banknotes.[25]

While Ukrainians and Jews interacted in daily life before the war, necessity after 1917 drove some of their leaders into associations wherein interaction was not informal and transitory, but formal, predictable, and structured. This was an important development whose presence and frequency during the revolutionary years historians have yet to determine. In face of the circumstances, the important members of each group in a given settlement formed a single organization to collaborate with each other in maintaining peace. The town of Starokonstiantyniv, for example, saw twenty-seven changes of ruling groups claiming authority. Its local notables formed a citizens’ committee comprised of four representatives from each of the town’s four nationalities who agreed they would not persecute any group for supporting one or another claimant to power, not call on citizens to support one or other claimant, and to intervene with that claimant to try and stop it from arresting or killing members of one or other nationality. Until 1920, with each new claimant the committee was renewed by re-election. The committee had a small police force, but kept order primarily by virtue of its moral authority. There were no pogroms when the town was under Ukrainian control.[26]

Recent work on local history indicates village attitudes and behaviour much depended on local leaders. Through the revolutionary years in the pro-UNR village of Diakivstsi (Podillia province), for instance, the respected priest Mykola Radkevych stopped inhabitants from joining local extremists and criminals who tried to instigate pogroms. No one has yet determined how many Diakivstsis and Radkevyches there were.[27] It is unknown how many village councils passed resolutions condemning pogroms, as did one in Berdychiv in late 1918 that condemned Black Hundreds as perpetrators, and called on the struggle of all democratic forces of all nationalities to bring to fruition Ukraine’s revolution.[28] Although in 1926, the Paris-based Committee of Jewish Delegations concluded that suppression of, and punishment for, pogroms was isolated, this issue remains to be examined in light of archives opened after 1991.[29] In a village near Zhytomir in the summer of 1919, for example, Jews complained they were robbed by a local Ukrainian partisan unit. The inspector contacted the unit and learned they were all local men who knew who was whom and what they owned. The unit had taken back from Jews only what the Bolsheviks had given them from what they had confiscated from Ukrainians when they controlled the village.[30]

The Issues of Intent and Motivation

Historians overly influenced by various recent trendy theories are led by those theories not only to imagine there exist “multiple truths,” but also to ignore empirical reality because, according to those theories, it does not exist. In this instance, that reality involved not only grudges like “old Moisha down by the post office swindled my uncle – I’ll show him,” that could have motivated relatives to take revenge in time of chaos. That reality involved socio-economic context, charges against the behaviour of some Jews, and the overrepresentation of secular Russified non-Bolshevik Jews in Bolshevik government offices. Such historians thoughtlessly classify as antisemitism Ukrainian charges that Jews as a group did not support Ukrainian independence. They arbitrarily dismiss Ukrainian criticism of the behaviour or function of some Jews as “prejudice,” or “myth.” They consequently fail to grapple with the empirical reality of such charges that, as historians, they should, while simultaneously and fashionably doubting the existence of that reality. This might be good theory, but it is bad history. Such historians incorrectly use the term antisemitism as a synonym for dislike of Jews, and do not consider that physical violence against, criticism of, or dislike of individual Jews could as well stem from issues of behaviour and function, as from issues of identity and ideology. They do not explain that between distrust stemming from Christian judeophobia and mass murder is a long distance to travel. They overlook the issue already noted in 1913 by Vladimir Zhabotinskii who, in his Felietony, deplored how Jewish activists identified with Russian instead of Jewish interests. A Jewish-Russian historian more recently reminded readers, “Ukrainian and Russian Jews involuntarily played the role of leader in Russifying centralism [in Ukrainian provinces] and was the object of Ukrainian discontent.”[31] This complicated attempts by national activists to ally with Jewish leaders because the latter, like those of all minorities in empires, normally identified culturally and sided politically with central imperial authority, rather than the local nationalities among whom they lived, hoping to thereby ease their lot.[32] Ukrainian national activists expressing hostility toward those opposed to their national movement are no different from any other national activists hostile toward their enemies.

This hostility toward Jews as perceived enemies of national liberation appeared in recorded remarks voiced by Ukrainian soldiers and activists from early 1918. It was often invoked to justify the violence that is recorded. However, these recorded accusations included nothing on religion, race, conspiracy theory, or ritual murder. Those involved accused Jews as a group not for who they were, but for what they did – oppose the national movement. Such an accusation is not tantamount to antisemitism or an intent to murder. What such soldiers and activists were guilty of is assigning collective guilt to a group because of the actions of some who belonged to the group. This all-too-common notion that individual sin must be expiated by group punishment, as noted below, although fallacious, is a constant in human history. The variable is the target group – determined more by what people think that group does than by who makes up that group. Evidence, meanwhile, shows peasants were normally more motivated by desire for plunder, or revenge for imagined personal economic-based grievances, than nationalism or anti-Jewish race-conspiracy theories.[33] The declared motives that underlay the violence against unarmed Jewish civilians, in short, as often stemmed from structurally based discontent involving political issues, socio-economic issues, or, sometimes, personal matters during a time of upheaval and war, as from ideology. Ideological-political issues can, but do not necessarily, trump personal enmities in times of crisis as motivation for violence at the local level. Those issues, in turn, are not synonymous with intent to murder. Civilians of all faiths before the war, for instance, were quick to hurl abuse at each other or engage in fisticuffs to settle disputes much more than are people today. Jews were as likely to beat up Ukrainians as Ukrainians were to beat up Jews. Death was rare as a consequence of such fighting. That kind of fighting did not constitute antisemitic pogroms.[34]

The Central Rada and various Ukrainian councils existed at local levels as of March 1917. A Ukrainian government formally claimed authority over all eight Ukrainian provinces that November. Pogroms during these months were usually led by deserters and Ukrainians did participate. Some eyewitness testimonies refer to local, nominally Ukrainian, government officials participating in, if not instigating, pogroms. No one has yet systematically reviewed all testimonies to determine frequency. Reviews of printed Ukrainian government propaganda from 1917, however, show it did not identify all Jews as enemies. Ukrainian language texts dating from 1918 that did make such assertions were not antisemitic inasmuch as they did not condemn Jews for who they were, nor advocate exterminating them. They condemned all for what some did, like the perpetrators who killed any Jew they could catch because of what some did, namely, aid and abet the enemy. Instigating and committing violence against civilians thought to have aided and abetted is common practice in war. Yet, even on those grounds, indiscriminate arbitrary killing of any and all non-combatants was not acceptable morally or legally. All instigators and perpetrators of violence against Jewish civilians, accordingly, were guilty of committing that violence – regardless of how they may have rationalized it. They were also guilty of blaming a group for the behaviour of individuals from that group. Although some perpetrators likely were motivated by antisemitism, whether or not they were is irrelevant in law, which required proving intent to determine guilt and punishment for such perpetrators.

In imperial Russian and Anglo-American law at the time, perpetrators who clearly intended to kill non-combatants were guilty regardless of how they justified it. Motive was irrelevant to liability, which required proof of intent. Historians cannot ignore such details and must base credible generalizations on extant evidence of intent. With regard to the issue of governmental culpability, historians cannot ignore that the UNR did officially condemn pogroms and threaten punishment regardless of justifications, national or otherwise, perpetrators might have made. Ukraine at the time, it must be added, did not have its own legal code. The UNR passed citizenship laws in March 1918, but how they functioned in practice, and how many registered as citizens, is unknown. It is, therefore, moot, whether the UNR could legally execute civilians for treason.

Ideology and Social Function

At the turn of the century, most Ukrainians, like other Christians, shared a latent distrust, if not dislike, of Jews. This stemmed from Christian Judeophobia. This pre-modern anti-Judaism, unlike antisemitism, did not advocate or condone killing all Jews because of their biological origins. Church teaching, Catholic and Orthodox, explicitly forbade it.[35] It took crisis and war for that popular latent distrust to make the long evolution within some to hate, and then to kill. Modern antisemitism appeared in the 1870s. As defined in the 1901 edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia, and later by Hannah Arendt, it is a “modern movement.” A modern secular ideology to be distinguished and categorically different from religious-based intolerance of Jews. Unlike pre-modern Judeophobia, antisemitism presumes racial-based behavioural traits and international conspiracy. It involves activists systematically vilifying and exploiting anti-Jewish sentiment to reduce or eliminate the pre-modern toleration of Jews within defined limits. In western Europe, in the wake of Jewish emancipation, it was among the middle class and professionals who faced competition from newly arrived Jewish rivals that such ideas found their most receptive audience. In Russia, laws still restricted Jewish mobility at the turn of the century. But lax enforcement, subterfuge, exemptions, and economic success within the limits imposed by the law also produced, by the 1880s, a rivalry between newly successful Jews and established Russian manufacturers, professionals, and bankers.[36] Against that background, from within these groups appeared the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Russian translation, 1905). There is no known pre-1922 Ukrainian translation of this book, which indicates the absence of any Ukrainian group interested in disseminating them.[37] One group that did disseminate modern antisemitism behind Ukrainian lines in 1919 were the Russian Whites. They did so covertly and overtly, in particular during the Petliura-Denikin alliance, when they could roam freely in Ukrainian-controlled territory. How many they might have influenced is unstudied.[38] The average person likely understood anti-Jewish messages. Whether or not they knew what antisemitism was is unclear. Black-Hundreds members, for their part, did not all call for violent expulsion of all Jews from the empire. Alongside this faction were others who condemned such violence and argued anti-Jewish activities had to be non-violent and legal only. For them, Jews were human political opponents, not demons or fiends.[39] Bolshevik leaders sought to discredit national movements by labeling them antisemitic in their propaganda. They publicly condemned antisemitism, but did not make public news of pogroms committed by their own subordinates.[40]

Dislike of Jews, as expressed in Christian Judeophobia or anti-Judaism, was present in daily life in pre-modern, pre-industrial society. Pre-war technological modernization in the Russian empire by 1914 had only begun to change popular attitudes and mentalities. A component part of these was status differentiation and, in societies with urban ethnic/national/religious minorities, the identification of socio-economic function with ethnic/religious/national identity. The majority would see someone from a minority performing a function not considered proper to their station as a threat to the status hierarchy, and subject them to ridicule, to humiliation, or in extreme circumstances, to violence and even death – regardless of church teaching. This association of function with identity was common in pre-industrial Europe, where it underlay the customs and laws that defined and regulated interaction between different groups. Such restrictions on occupation according to birth or religion, alongside religious injunctions, were intended to mitigate socio-economic-based conflicts between groups. In peacetime, they normally did. In times of crisis, they usually did not. One consequence was that Christians targeted and massacred Jews. In sociological terms this was public punishment, reassuring and demonstrating publicly that the proper social order had been restored. Violence was punishment meted out to a group as punishment for the behaviour of individuals from the group for breaking the order.

In modern Europe, only regions like Venice, Piedmont, Tuscany, and Lombardy, in pre-unification Italy, and then united Italy between 1870 and 1938, saw no mass violence against Jews before 1939 despite the presence of Judeophobic or antisemitic ideas. This was because, first, laws there did not exclude Jews either from landholding or any occupation. This precluded the association of identity with function that underlay the identification of Jews as agents of exploitation elsewhere, and meant any activity Jews engaged in were legal. Second, the mass participation of Jews in the Italian national movement meant Catholics could not accuse them of treason.[41]

The Russian empire in 1917 was still a place where, outside the circle of educated intellectuals, radical students, and some high officials, pre-industrial conceptions of social structure dominated. Men like Trotsky’s farmer father and Ukrainian sugar baron Mykhailo Tereshchenko were the exception. Jews were overwhelmingly merchants, tradesmen, craftsmen, and moneylenders. Ukrainians were overwhelmingly peasant producers, and in the decades before the war, made up an increasing number of lesser government officials and employees. There were almost no Jewish peasants, almost no Ukrainian capitalists, leaseholders, moneylenders, or bourgeois. There were no Jewish government employees. Ukrainian-Jewish relations, consequently, must be seen as much a socio-functional as a national-ideological issue – or perhaps even more so. Ukrainian producers, of whom few had any idea of interest, credit, capital, or investment to increase production, disliked and mistrusted but needed middlemen – agents of what Marx called the primitive accumulation of capital and Max Weber, “pariah capitalism.” If such a man was a Jew, he was disliked and mistrusted as a modernizing agent of capitalist-accumulation that could not be avoided, and not because he happened to be Jewish. The tension inherent in these relationships was aggravated because the average Ukrainian saw economics in terms of pre-industrial terms of “moral economy” and “just price,” not market economy and profit. He did not yet understand commerce in modern judicial terms. Profiteering was immoral. Peasants accepted the existence of leaseholders or middlemen, but distrusted them even if they honestly acted in accordance with capitalist practice – selling, lending, and renting for profit. If the person in question was Jewish, the distrust was greater. This was dislike based not on who Jews were, but on what they did. That pre-industrial function was imposed and maintained by the ruling imperial power.

Russian law, additionally, prohibited Jews from owning or leasing land or related resources and facilities like mills and forests. But, as detailed in a 1907 secret police investigation, in practice, Jews figured in these positions. Landowners, including monastic estates, signed documents listing themselves as owners, while in reality, they made tacit deals with local Jews and left them to control those properties in return for lump sums or percentages of profit. The result was that local peasants in day-to-day dealings faced Jews not only as de facto rivals for land ownership, but as leaseholders and millowners who controlled all production on the territory and charged the highest prices and rates they thought they could to make profit from their illegally purchased rights and properties. As noted by a perceptive and knowledgeable member of the Imperial Economic Society who investigated the riots of 1905-07, peasant hostility toward Jews was often directed only against Jews who were leaseholders.[42]

This dislike based on what Jews did, not who they were, means that historians cannot ignore the overlap between function and identity when examining violence. The potential for conflict increased after the 1861 Emancipation, after which peasants faced Jews as rivals for land ownership. Peasants who moved to towns and tried their luck in trades found they had to compete with Jews as poor as themselves already established in those areas. Peasants who thought Jews swindled them in land deals or rents, or migrants in towns who worked at, or sought the same work as Jews, provided a receptive audience for the antisemitism promulgated by the Russian banker and manufacturer backers of the Black Hundreds, in competition with Jewish rivals. Ukrainian co-op activists competing with Jewish merchants would also be sympathetic to Black Hundreds antisemitism inasmuch as it justified their attempts to increase business. The fast post-1861 socio-economic change that placed groups into new functions, both legal and illegal, was not matched by fast change in the mentality that identified groups with functions.[43] This structural-political and economic-based tension did not inevitably result in violence in peacetime, let alone murder – regardless of the presence of either pre-modern anti-Judaism or antisemitism. Priests in control of the Volyn province’s Black Hundreds organization, most of whom were ethnic Ukrainians, it should be noted, despite their propaganda, neither encouraged boycotting Jewish merchants nor incited violence against Jews.[44] As of 1917, modernization had not yet dissolved the pre-industrial order. Change had not yet displaced popular understanding of social relations in terms of caste – hierarchical, customary, and legal segregation according to group and function.

Ukrainian leaders, like the Bolsheviks, declared all citizens equal before the law and eligible to hold government jobs. In practice, as radical modernizers, the Bolsheviks implemented this principle with respect to nationalities. As noted above, secular, literate Jews flocked to take jobs previously closed to them. In the UNR, in practice, a majority of Jews definitely occupied most, if not all, administrative positions in specifically Jewish ministries. How many secular Jews occupied other government jobs is unknown and unstudied.[45] Ukrainian leaders who created separate Jewish ministries acted in accordance with the pre-modern practice of autonomous self-administration for different nationalities and/or religions, not the modern notion of legal equality and access for all without exemptions for groups. Such practice was not antisemitism.

The primary source of antisemitic ideology in Ukrainian provinces before the war was imperial Russian Black Hundreds organizations. Their publications, like Gorit Rossiia or Ruskii Zhid, ignored the pre-industrial caste-based notions of segregation that regulated interaction, condemned Jews because of who they were, not what they did, and prohibited interaction with them.[46] If Jews suffered restrictions and occasional violence as a result of Christian Judeophobic ideas, those ideas, at least, left them a place within which they were free to pursue the functions allotted them. Antisemitism deprived them even of that place. How significant a disseminator the Russian Orthodox Church was of antisemitism is unclear. On the one hand, clergy did support the Black Hundreds. On the other hand, as noted above, those who did, did not always and inevitably incite violence against Jews, and clerics were among those who made illegal deals with Jews to act as leaseholders on church lands. Moreover, the religious but anticlerical Ukrainian peasant distrusted the church as a government institution, and did not always understand sermons.[47] The more significant source of antisemitism was the tsarist army, where millions of men were exposed to it. Senior generals, like Nikolai Ianushkevich, were modern antisemites. They allowed Black Hundreds agitators and publications into barracks and antisemitic articles into army newspapers and pamphlets. Even so, antisemitism, however learned, cannot be treated as the sole reason for Ukrainian peasant violence against Jews, if only because ideas by themselves are rarely the sole cause of behaviour.

On the one hand, contemporaries before the war noted that, despite the propaganda, recruits retained traditional Christian views they had learned growing up. While these categorized Jews as inferior in the great scheme of things, they also included tolerance. It was not unknown for Ukrainians to learn trades from Jewish masters.[48] Daily interaction between Jewish trader, lender, and innkeeper, and Christian producer, borrower, and drinker generated differences, tensions, grievances, and grudges. Neither side had a flattering opinion of the other as reflected in popular Ukrainian and Jewish sayings and folklore. Sholom Aliechem characterized relations as a mutually contemptuous friendliness. Ukrainian writers, for their part, included in their work both sympathetic and disparaging descriptions of Jews.[49] Most all Christians and Jews still understood the world as a place wherein each had their place and neither excluded the other from the commandment “thou shall not kill.” Christian theology did not call for mass killing of Jews. Christians could rationalize or justify hostility that stemmed from conflicts of interest, in terms of pre-modern anti-Judaism, but that did not inevitably lead to killing. In normal times, arguments and fights between Jew and Ukrainian did not inevitably generate mob violence – particularly as tolerance of quotidian civilian violence then was much higher than today, and usually not even recorded because much of it was not criminalized in law.[50] In reference to the 1905 pogroms, the 1910 edition of the Jewish Encyclopedia noted peasants were interested “exclusively” in plunder: “there was no racial hatred or economic antisemitism. Often the same peasant who plundered Jewish goods sheltered Jewish fugitives.”[51] Underlying relations between Ukrainians and Jews was the suspicion of strangers, like that which existed between any group of natives and foreigners in any society. Suspicion was the norm – acceptance unusual. When times were good and foreigners performed a useful role, they were tolerated and agitation to the contrary had little popular impact. When times were hard and there was competition for scarce goods, latent suspicions, grudges, and fear emerged that provided grounds for instigators to provoke violence – efforts which may or may not be successful. Tensions, deep social cleavages, stereotypes, and hatreds in themselves are insufficient preconditions for mass killing. It is not underlying opinions but specific conditions that lead men to gratuitous brutality or killing – even in the absence of deep hatreds or ideological motivation. Beliefs can as often prevent or inhibit mass killing as cause it.[52] Just as not every Bolshevik necessarily agreed with the mass killing by Cheka and Red Army troops, not every Ukrainian necessarily agreed with the mass killings done by some warlords.

Before 1917, pogroms were very rare in Ukrainian provinces.[53] The violence of the revolutionary years has led some historians to exaggerate the significance of pre-war differences and make no reference to the centuries of peaceful interaction before 1914. Historians who focus only on the one specific period of violence between 1917 and 1920 can lead readers to mistakenly conclude the historical exception was the historical norm.[54] The past harmony is noteworthy, given that in 1897, on average in the Ukrainian provinces, of every twelve inhabitants, and for every nine Ukrainians, one was Jewish. In towns, Jews averaged one of every four inhabitants and one per every Ukrainian.[55]

It took five years of upheaval for preconditions of mass killing to emerge.

           Jewish chroniclers at the time differed over peasant attitudes toward Jews after 1917. Specifically, whether they distinguished between “their” Jews, with whom they had interacted for generations as traders and craftsmen to whom they bore no particular malice, and foreign or outsider Jews, whom they identified as recently arrived agents of the much-hated Bolshevik commune – “komuna.”[56] Behaviour varied. Ukrainians, who did not always see that the conservative “older and wiser Jews” disagreed with and condemned their secular, deracinated youth, victimized all Jews. Yet, alongside instances where young and old were both killed, were cases of Ukrainian troops and locals seeking revenge on Bolsheviks made distinctions. A western Ukrainian officer who traversed right-bank Ukraine in April 1919, just after the Bolsheviks had fled, observed that many made this distinction, and that mob violence could be as much situational as ideological in nature. In Zhytomir and in Volyn province, he wrote, the Bolsheviks filled administrative offices with nineteen- or twenty-year-old insolent, presumably apostate, Jewish students “who by their inexplicable behaviour,” had provoked the violent hostility of Ukrainians and Poles toward all Jews. These young, literate, atheist Jews, not all party members, fled with the Red Army, and left their observant elders to face the wrath of local Christians, who had suffered alongside Ukrainians because of the policies the fugitives had implemented. Another UNR official informed his superiors in August 1919, “It is unjust to accuse Jews of sympathy for Bolshevism. The Jewish population in all the towns I traveled (where there were no workers) – are antibolshevik and could not be otherwise because they are all involved in trade.”[57] In the town of Ushomyr (Volyn province) in July 1919, local peasants protected local Jews from a pogrom by partisans. Similarly, a partisan group near Mohyliv-Podilskyi interceded to protect a Jewish family from Ukrainian troops looking for their Bolshevik son. In Uman in May 1919, troops arrested individual Bolshevik Jews, but the commanding warlord forbade any violence against local Jewish residents.[58]

Not all accounts of the 1919 Proskuriv pogrom, to take another example, describe it as an antisemitic–inspired massacre implicitly condoned by Petliura. In February 1919, an officer who refused to participate in the indiscriminate killing of all Jews the warlord Semosenko had blamed for an attempted Bolshevik coup, later wrote he was ordered to leave the city. The local Ukrainian counter-intelligence officer years later wrote that his Jewish contacts had informed him that local activists had told their Bolshevik contacts they would flee in case of failure – leaving the observant Jews to suffer for their attempted coup. This was also in Aleksandr Gillerson’s Red Cross report compiled that July. Pro-Bolshevik Jews who had taken part in the attempted coup were caught and were among the twenty shot. The intelligence officer then claims Semosenko disregarded him, and, despite having executed the captured guilty, ordered a mass killing of all Jews. Given he had allowed his troops to kill, Semosenko’s statement issued after the pogrom claiming the deaths of innocent Jews were a regrettable undesired side effect, is untrue. During a banquet the day after he had suppressed the coup, he is on record as saying all Jews had to be killed to save Ukraine.[59] Yet, Gillerson reported that in the ten days that passed between when he had entered the town and the attempted coup, Semosenko had drafted an order forbidding pogroms and there was no anti-Jewish violence. Gillerson concluded that, while Semosenko was definitely the perpetrator, the ideological instigator was the region’s antisemitic military commander Col. Kyverchuk – who stopped publication of Semosenko’s order. After his arrest, Semosenko denied being antisemitic. He claimed he had ordered the pogrom as a conscious mass massacre; a tactical expedient in time of war, in the style of Bolshevik mass murders, with the purpose of terrorizing all Jews to stop supporting Bolsheviks – that is, aiding and abetting the enemy. This statement is credible in view of his above-noted order forbidding pogroms.[60]

The town of Khmilnyk was overwhelming Jewish. When Ukrainian troops recaptured it in August 1919, the Jews feared a pogrom at the hands of the surrounding Ukrainians. The incoming west Ukrainian commanding officer made inquiries and discovered that when the Bolsheviks had occupied the town some months earlier, some Jews exploited the situation to repay a slight they had received from a local peasant. They identified him as a bandit and the Bolsheviks shot him. The peasants decided to take their revenge on all the town’s Jews with the approach of Ukrainian forces. However, the battle raged for days, during which time the peasants stopped going to town for fear of the Bolsheviks. They killed any Jew who ventured into the village to buy food, while Ukrainian troops raiding the Bolshevik garrison inevitably killed Jewish civilians. Tensions threatened to come to a head a week later during the public burial of the Ukrainian dead. Thousands of the local peasants attended – many with axes, knives, and swords under their clothing. The situation was defused by the local priest and the commanding officer who told the assembled that it was neither the fault of the Jews nor the local Bolsheviks that innocent civilians were killed, and all now had to care for many orphans. It was the fault of the Ukrainians themselves, said the officer, who, the previous December, instead of fighting for Ukraine had joined the army for a few days only to plunder, and then went back home. The only violence that followed those speeches was experienced by the corpse of a dead Bolshevik, which the crowd spat upon and kicked as they dispersed.[61] Khmilnyk remained under UNR control until August, garrisoned by west-Ukrainian troops and a thousand-strong local Jewish defence force, which had stopped Bolshevik troops from perpetrating a pogrom against “bourgeois speculators,” and refused to fight Ukrainian partisans.

In territory under Directory control during the 1920 Polish offensive, Ukrainian and Polish troops were involved in pogroms in some towns. In others, observant Jews were not displeased by their arrival.[62] There were instances of Ukrainian peasants and soldiers protecting captured Bolshevik office workers and Jewish commissars from the wrath of local Jewish militias.[63] Volodymyr Vynnychenko, whose wife was Jewish, noted cases when peasants protected their local observant Jewish neighbours from perpetrators. This is confirmed by Jewish eyewitness testimonies that note some peasants either protected Jews or refused to join local pogrom mobs. Clearly, there were those who would have agreed with Oleksandrivk’s Jewish Committee that, in 1918, issued an appeal explaining the sins of individuals should not be blamed on groups: “Allow us Jews to have our scoundrels, and a nation that gave the world Moses, Christ, Marx and Lasalle, to have its Trotskys and Zinovievs.”[64] Such evidence indicates antisemitism was not as pervasive as some today imagine.

Polish officers in 1919 saw the difference between young pro-Bolshevik and old anti-Bolshevik Jews. “Some of the very young [Jewish] men, however, were ardent preachers of the Bolshevik doctrines, and it was their actions and speeches which caused the general idea that the Jews were communists.”[65] Evgenii Kulisher, a member of Kyiv’s Jewish Committee until the autumn of 1920, when he fled to Vienna, noted observant Jews’ hostility to Ukrainians had disappeared by that year, and that their leaders accepted the earlier violence should not be linked to the UNR government.[66] Such similar statements from different individuals, from different sides and different places at different times, reveal reality was more complex than some historians imagine.

Observant Jews, whose livelihoods had been shattered by Bolshevik policies, made a distinction between themselves and those with Jewish surnames who sat in Bolshevik offices. The Jewish doctor in the town of Talne noted that Ukrainians’ hatred was unbounded for such presumably secular, if not apostate, Jews who brought “the Jewish ghetto’s bad traits” into Bolshevik offices. People who had previously considered Jews beneath them on the social scale, but interacted with them daily as neighbours, were shocked to find so many in all levels of Bolshevik administration, the hated secret police, requisition squads, and food supply organizations.[67] Solomon Goldelman, Jewish Social Democratic member of the Ukrainian government, foresaw the problem in March 1919. The mass influx of unemployed, literate, young secular Jews into Bolshevik government offices, in his view, lacked what he described as the necessary tact for inter-ethnic relations. That “would immediately provoke hostility and antisemitism, thereby preparing hecatombs of victims and new pogroms with the change of government.”[68] A similar opinion was voiced by British spy Paul Dukes: “One reason why there appear to be so many Jews in the Bolshevist administration is that they are nearly all employed in the rear, particularly in these departments (such as food, propaganda, public economy)It is largely to … the arrogance some of them show toward the Russians whom they openly despise, that the intense hatred of the Jew and the popular belief in Russia that Bolshevism is a Jewish ‘put-up job’ are due.” Conservative Russian Jew Iosef Bikerman in Berlin recounted: “Previously Russians had never seen Jews in positions of authority … Now the Jew is on every corner and every rung of government … He [Russians] meets Jews at every step – not communists. People as hapless as himself, yet issuing orders, doing the work of Soviet power ….”[69] In a still predominantly pre-industrial society, where function was linked to identity, most Christians would have found the reality of Jewish predominance in these institutions unprecedented and insufferable. This dislike had nothing to do with myth.

A UNR agent in Kyiv in August 1919 reported, “Much can be heard even from women who say that if the kozaks [Ukrainian soldiers] don’t beat the Jews then we will. During the recent period … Jewesses in the Cheka did the shooting. Military [intelligence] agents are all Jews using foreign names …”[70] Such agents, known feared butchers like Rozalia Zemliachka (Zalkind), Ansel Izvoshchikov, or Bella Shilman in Chernihiv, and other perpetrators born of Jewish parents, were not myths. These were real people. The irony was that by the time they joined the Bolsheviks, they were culturally and politically Russified atheists. Those who considered themselves “internationalists” expressed that identity in Russian, not Hebrew, or Yiddish, or Esperanto. They followed no Jewish rituals or observances – something presumably either ignored by or unknown to the outside observer.

Historians of revolutionary Ukraine must use the terms “all” and “some” very carefully. Evidence shows not all pro-Bolshevik Jews were necessarily the deracinated hirelings targeting Ukrainians and Cheka torturers that some claim. Ukrainian-born Central Committee member Serafina Gopner complained to Lenin in 1919 that the Cheka in Katerynoslav was “rotten to the core.” That it was filled with criminals and degenerates who shot whom they pleased and took huge bribes.[71] Observant pro-Bolshevik Jew Isaak Steinberg, Lenin’s first Justice Commissar, a Russian SR, who urged Lenin in early 1918 against implementing terror as policy, famously recollected, “Then why do we bother with a Commissariat of Justice. Let’s just call it frankly the Commissariat for Social Extermination and be done with it … Well put [said Lenin] that’s exactly what it should be … but we can’t say that.” The Bolshevik Jewish Section is not known to have instigated or participated in excesses against Christians. Their task was “the destruction of all the other Jews.”[72] The only observant Jews who killed Ukrainians, as far as is known, were Jewish Red Army men who killed prisoners they thought responsible for pogroms. Some of them took part in looting their co-religionists or led their comrades to rich Jews.[73]

Apostate ethnic Jewish leaders like Zinoviev, Sverdlov, and Trotsky were ideologically committed – as were probably those subordinate to them in the Cheka and Bolshevik party. In absolute terms, this was a minority that common folk rarely saw in person. Party membership statistics before 1922 were not public, nor easily available to those interested.[74] Who the average person did see, on a regular basis in person, were Jewish clerks, managers, directors, and lesser functionaries, who seemed to be ubiquitous in the mushrooming Bolshevik government offices and committees. Some such officials may have supported Bolshevik rule and held radical ideas. Some may have been party members. Many were likely apostates. Probably most took the desk jobs for the same practical reasons as did urban Christians: not because of political conviction, but to get rations, quarters, the opportunity of exact bribes, and exemption from conscription. Literate Ukrainians and Ukrainian Russians who had not been shot, placed in concentration camps, or fled, and were prepared to work for the Bolsheviks, were few. There remained only imported Russians and local Jews to fill vacancies in Bolshevik Ukraine.

The observation by one historian, that Bolshevik seizure of power was both good for the Jews and bad for the Jews is apposite.[75] With the highest literacy rate in Ukraine, Jews constituted a disproportionate share of candidates and incumbents for white-collar jobs. That was good for the Jews in light of their exclusion from government jobs under the tsars. Bolshevik leaders, very short of literate candidates for their ever-swelling bureaucracy, eagerly hired them. The cronyism and clientelism rife within the Bolshevik system made the disproportions worse. Inside the vast expanding Bolshevik ministries, all those appointed to positions placed their client co-nationals and/or kin within their bureaus if they could. Jews were no different. But more Jews were willing to work for the Bolsheviks during the first years of their rule and they occupied more administrative positions than Ukrainians and Russians because more of them, than Ukrainians and Russians, were literate and educated. They, accordingly, could place more of their co-nationals and kin in jobs than Russians or Ukrainians, and, thus, were more visible. As noted in a complaint from a local party member, “I witnessed the formation of the Kyiv Provincial Food Procurement Committee, in whose ruling collegium was … comrade Iudelevich … as a result, 120 of the Committee’s approximately 150 workers were Jews. Such phenomenon may also be seen … in a number of other Soviet institutions … protectionism is very strongly developed, thanks to which, given characteristic Jewish attributes, the institutions are filled only by Jews …” In another report we read, agitation against the Jews comes from the passive white-collar workers [intelligentsia] and the bourgeoisie. The reason for this is the huge number [bolshoe perepolnenie] of Jews in city offices.”[76]

Scattered surveys of individual departments or ministries and written accounts, indicate a predominance of young, literate non-party Jews, little interested in the Talmud or Marx, in local government and party offices during the first years of Bolshevik rule. Ukrainians’ necessary interaction with such non-Ukrainian officials was part of daily life, not a myth motivated by prejudice or preconceptions or ideology. It was a reality experienced by people who saw few leading Bolshevik party members, but many Jewish office staff and agents they could identify by name, physiognomy, accent, or prior acquaintance. Instigators did claim all Jews were communists – but that did not inevitably or necessarily motivate the average person to kill them.[77] Antisemtism played a role in some instances, but the motive underlying violence could just as well have been the unprecedented reversal of the established ethnic hierarchy between ruler and ruled, and the prevailing image of who should do what in society that people witnessed in offices. That reversal shattered the self-esteem of Ukrainians and Russians who had considered themselves superior to Jews within that pre-1917 order.[78]

Bolshevik leaders in response, quietly purged Jews from their offices through 1920. They could, because literate Ukrainians and Russians had begun slowly joining in increasing numbers as they concluded Bolshevik rule would not be overthrown. They made their peace with the Bolsheviks faced with the collapse of the UNR, the defeat of White armies, the promise of rations and lodgings as government employees, and, in the case of some Ukrainians, hope in the prospects of the pro-Bolshevik Ukrainian left-SRs, the Borotbists. There is no statistical data on the composition of Bolshevik Ukraine’s bureaucracy before 1922. That year, however, while declared Ukrainians made up 30 per cent of personnel, Russians and Jews each made up a disproportionately high 30 per cent each of personnel. That was why Central Committee member Iakovlev, during the 12th Russian Party Congress of 1923, described that bureaucracy as rife with “Great Russian chauvinism and nationalism.” He identified “Russians and Russified Jews” as “the most consistent conductors of Great Russian national oppression.[79]

Judeophobia underlay distrust of Jews, but that same Judeophobia had not motivated people to murder Jews in peacetime. Some perpetrators who killed non-combatant Jews in wartime intended to kill and were motivated by antisemitism. But not all perpetrators were necessarily antisemites, let alone associated with the Ukrainian national movement. Some joined pogroms to loot, others to settle personal scores. Others, because they were threatened to participate. Others, yet, were motivated by insulted dignity related to pre-modern anti-Judaism, not modern antisemitism. In the wake of the Red Army, the sons and daughters of the local tailors, moneylenders, milkmen, or innkeepers had abruptly appeared as officials imposing hated policies. This overturned the still-commonly shared pre-industrial perception of the world’s ethnic status hierarchy. Hated Bolshevik policies were made worse because the previously inferior had become the superior to whom locals had to humble themselves to obtain documents, permissions, exemptions, and dispensations. Bribing, lying, and scraping before Christian tsarist or Russian Bolshevik officials was demeaning enough, a kind of inevitable necessary evil. A Rada agitator in March 1917 was struck by how peasants’ blind hate of their local officials was expressed after the fall of the tsar, noting a slight incident could result in beatings and lynchings.[80] An analogous bowing and scraping in front of nouveaux-arriviste Jewish Bolshevik officials was insufferable. Such hostility was not antisemitism – although antisemites could exploit it.

Historians who claim all violence against Jews was motivated only by “images,” or mythical “antisemitic representations of Jewishness;” a “pernicious ‘Jewish-Bolshevik construct’ so widely perpetuated by the White army … ” ignore not only socio-economic context, but also the impact on Christians and observant Jews that overrepresentation of Russified secular non-communist Jews in Bolshevik agencies had.[81] A recent authoritative study of Polish anti-Jewish violence illustrates how daily interaction with predominately apostate, non-Bolshevik Jewish agents of Bolshevik rule, who were implementing hated policies, underlay pogroms sooner than did antisemitism. It concluded that antisemitism, as formulated by intellectuals, played much less of a causal role than “folk-cultural wellsprings of grass-roots aggression.” The move from dislike to violence was provoked by the collapse of order, which then accentuated the general propensity of people to blame groups, rather than individuals, for problems. Christian Judeophobia and the rival socio-economic interests of peasant producers, who thought the only legitimate source of wealth was physical labour, and Jewish middlemen, who legally and illegally made wealth without physical exertion, exacerbated tensions. Likewise in revolutionary Ukraine, the “traditional wellsprings” based on socio-economic functions were reinforced by the disproportionate number of apostate non-Bolshevik Jews in Bolshevik administrative offices and Cheka units implementing hated policies. Under conditions of war, societal collapse, and the prevailing preconception of how society should be structured, the violence against the agents of the restructuring would have occurred without the printed antisemitism that did circulate.[82] Another historian examining major pre-war antisemitic incidents and trials concluded, similarly, that antisemitism must be understood in context and that “it did not have an independent or self-generating power of its own to stimulate large numbers of people into action.” Pre-war antisemitism, in short, was not an ideology of great inherent or independent power.[83]

Evidence indicates that outside offices, Christian Ukrainians still tolerated observant Jews pursuing their traditional roles. Trading and interaction between Jew and gentile continued after 1917 as it had before, only by 1919, in Bolshevik territory, much of it probably occurred at night because it was illegal. A December 1919 report by the RCP Jewish Section admitted that, in the three provinces west of the Dnipro, Jewish handicraft workers were often the Bolshevik’s only supporters, but that relations between Jews in their traditional roles and Ukrainians were normal until December 1918. Peasants had even followed Jewish commissars against UNR troops. The party-member compilers of the report attributed the wave of anti-Jewish hostility not to anything done by local Jews, but to an influx of outsiders into offices, who “demoralized” the government from within; the presence there also of “petty-bourgeois” Ukrainians and Russians; and the policy of War Communism. They did not mention client-patron cronyism. These factors combined to change whatever initial acquiescence to the upturned social order that existed, into shock, hate, and, ultimately, murder. Antisemitism, the report concluded, was only a rationale – not a cause.[84] As noted by a witness in a UNR investigation of pogroms in Volyn province, “The actions of one Jewish individual or group were attributed to the Jews as a whole.”[85] This observation indicates that the human propensity to blame and generalize in terms of groups played its role in Ukraine, as did an August 1919 report by a UNR agent who arrived with Ukrainian troops in Kyiv that month. He noted people turned their intense hatred of the Bolsheviks, in whose institutions Jews predominated, against all Jews.[86]

Pitrim Sorokin made a similar comment in relation to the disproportionate number of Jews among those profiting from NEP in Russian cities. “I know it is stupid to blame the entire Jewish nation for the guilt of some. I know the sacrifice of those Jews who died defending the interests of Russia. But the mass popular mind judges differently. It sees those shadows and forgets the bright glares. And if those shadows are broader and more frequent than the bright stripes, then one-sidedness is inevitable. The presence of anti-bolshevik Jews makes little difference to the people [narodu ne legshe ot togo].” The animosity generated among Russians by the “ugly predatory behaviour” of some Jews at the beginning of NEP was similar to the kind generated among Ukrainians by the perceived disproportionate number of Jews among Bolshevik party and non-party personnel. Sorokin specified the behaviour of “a large number of Jews” led to antisemitism “infecting” all strata of “the previously Judeophile Russian [Russkii] nation.” It was the situation that produced the animosity, not an ideology.[87]

Psychologists tell us that hatred of entire groups because of the actions of a few is a common and constant human predisposition. The variable is the targeted group – which depends on time and place.[88] The consequence of this predisposition in time of war is collective punishment for a group because of what an individual from it did. The deadly relentless logic is spelled out in an Austrian army order from southern Ukraine dated August 1918: “To prevent the [criminal] doings of individuals which in most cases cannot be proved, we must hold responsible the whole of Jewry … If decent Jews do not restrain the others [bad elements in its midst], they are accomplices and must suffer the consequences.”[89]

Antisemitism, in short, did not necessarily motivate all those who joined violent mobs, Edmund Burke’s “swinish multitude,” that made no distinction between anti-Bolshevik father and Bolshevik son – or between the guilty few and the majority.[90] Did such men beat and kill because they were part of a mob, or because of whom their victims were?[91] While some instigators likely were antisemites, much evidence shows that people most likely participated in the ensuing violence for situational, rather than ideological, reasons. Perpetrators were guilty in as much as they intended to kill, but they were not all necessarily motivated by antisemitism – a desire to exterminate all Jews because of who they were.[92] Historians who assume antisemitism motivated all those involved in violence against Jews overuse the term antisemitism so much that they render it meaningless. By casting the past in a binary pro/anti perspective based on racial criteria, they misinterpret the past.[93]


Evidence does not support the claim that all Ukrainians were antisemitic Jew-killers, or that antisemitism was the single cause of pogroms.[94] What it does show, is that Ukrainians and the Russian minority can be divided into five groups. Of the perpetrators and instigators who did the killing and torture, some were antisemites. There were also bystanders and opportunists, who either did nothing, or took advantage of the chaos to steal Jewish property. A fifth group were rescuers, who tried to stop pogroms or protected Jewish neighbours. What the evidence is unlikely to ever reveal is how many belonged to each group.

Local perpetrators who intended to kill are clearly guilty of murdering non-combatants. They were not all guilty of wanting to kill all Jews because of who they were. Motivations vary and are more difficult to establish than intent. They range from the personal to the political and economic. The reason that appears most often in the evidence was the claim that Jews, as a group, opposed Ukrainian independence. Such perpetrators rationalized killing as punishment for that. In socio-economic terms, others might be classified as agents restoring through violence customary pre-modern social boundaries. These were provoked by the young non-Bolshevik apostate Jewish officials in positions of authority, who had breached the bounds of the traditional order as agents of Bolshevik-style modernization. Such men were motivated to kill all Jews because of what some did, not because of an ideology that condemned all Jews for who they were. Perpetrators who intentionally killed innocent, non-combatant, observant Jews, people who had little to do with the apostate Bolsheviks who had broken with their communities and whom the observant did not consider to be Jews, ascribed collective guilt to all Jews. That killing was not always motivated by antisemitism.

Ukrainian leaders were responsible for violence committed against civilians inasmuch as all government leaders are theoretically responsible for what happens to those they claim to rule. Unlike Bolshevik leaders, however, Ukrainian ministers cannot be considered legally guilty because there is no evidence of publicly published official statements targeting specific groups of civilians for murder or repression – Jews included. There was no Ukrainian counterpart of a publicly declared “Red Terror.” There is evidence of intent on the part of local perpetrators, but they acted contrary to, not in accordance with, declared UNR policy. Such perpetrators may have claimed they were acting in the spirit of central declarations. But such claims by Ukrainian perpetrators, unlike those made by Bolshevik perpetrators, were unfounded.

*This article is based on my forthcoming book where readers will find full references and bibliographic details: Life and Death in Revolutionary Ukraine. Violence Living Conditions and Demographic Catastrophe 1917-1923 (McGill-Queens University Press).


[1] Gitelman, Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics; Abramson, A Prayer for the Government, 99; McGeever, Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution, 14147.

[2] Abramson, A Prayer for the Government, 87; McGeever, Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution, 12223, 12829.

[3] Cited in Budnitskii, Rossiiskie evrei mezhdu krasnymi i belymi, 978.

[4] Budnitskii, 101. By 1923, the number of Jews in Petrograd had increased by three times their pre-revolutionary total, and in Moscow by ten times – to over 80,000. Velychenko, State Building in Revolutionary Ukraine, 22, 15960.

[5] Cited in Gitelman, Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics, 115116. Budnitskii, 934. Kniazev, “Iz zapisnoi knizhki,” 5 (1994) 184, 186.

[6] Bikerman et al., Rossia i Ievrei, 97-121. See also articles by émigré conservative Jewish

leaders published in the Paris based Obshchee delo through 1919. Bilokin, Masoyi terror, 101.

[7] TsDAVO f. 2 op. 1 sprava 241. Pavliuchenkov, Voennyi kommunizm v Rossi, 256, 259. Tronko et al, Reabilitovani istoriieiu … Kyivska oblast knyha 3: 186. Bolsheviks classified Jews as a nationality. They made no distinction between observant and apostates.

[8] Sloin, “Speculators, Swindlers and Other Jews,” 112.

[9] Gitelman, Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics, 354.

[10] McGeever, Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution, 18586.

[11] Serhiichuk, ed., Pohromy v Ukraini, 351; McGeever, Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution, 114. McGeever does not address the issue of antisemites among Bolshevik agents and party members existing alongside the disproportionaly high number of Russified-secular Jews who staffed their administrative offices.

[12] Huba, “Periodychna presa pro pohromy,” 26; Kavunnyk, ed., Arkhiv … Zvity Departmentiv derzhavnoi varty, 149, 181, 191, 327, 357, 367. This generalization does not apply to pogroms instigated by overwhelmingly Russian/Russified Red Guard units in the spring of 1918, when there was no Bolshevik government control or secret police in Ukraine. Their motivation was apparently antisemitism. McGeever, Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution, 4151.

[13] McGeever, Antisemitism, 10010, 138, 15051. McGeever records that pogroms motivated observant Jews to join the Red Army. He dismisses as irrelevant the circumstances that motivated secular Russified Jews to join Bolshevik government agencies en masse.

[14] TsDAVO, f. 2. op 1 sprava 249 no. 3.

[15] Mykhailychenko, Polityka ‘voiennoho komunizma’ i ukrainske selianstvo, 1919, 16168.

[16] Historians of Jews in revolutionary Ukraine normally focus on poor and middle-class Jews. No one has yet studied the relationship between Ukrainian national leaders and the rich Jewish business dynasties, the Ginzburgs, Poliakovs, Vysotskiis, and Brodskiis, and powerful bankers like Jakob Schiff and Arthur Raffalovich. In emigration, Lev Brodsky financed Petliura. This subject is also unstudied.

[17] Gilley, “Beyond Petliura.” 56, and “Beat the Jews,” 121, 134. Gilley does not distinguish between critical opinion about some Jews, pre-modern anti-Judaism, modern antisemitism, or motivation from intent. He fails to consider that governments in wartime assign collective guilt and punishment to groups, and do not offer safety to the disloyal. The Allies, like the Ukrainians, classified enemies according to national criteria.

[18] Taras Shevchenko signed a statement in 1858, organized by leading reformist intellectuals of the day, condemning tsarist Jewish policies and calling for legal quality for them (p. 244 of the German edition). The statement was published in 1891. It was forbidden and 900 of the 1,000 copies burned. Bakst, ed., Russkie liudy o Ievreieakh. German translation: Juden in Russland.

[19] Shevchenko, Ukrainski politychni partii, 75, 158. His party was small and not influential. The program was published in western Ukraine. In 1917, he changed its name to the Ukrainian Party of Sovereignist Socialists. It had members in the Central Rada. Its program specified national and religious rights for all and made no mention of Jews.

[20] Levitas, Kovbasenko, Salata, “Reprezentatsiia ukrainsko-ievreiskykh vidnosyn u trvorakh Sholom-Aleikhema ta B. Hrinchenka,” 77–84.

[21] Petrova, The Jewish Question in the Ukrainian Revolution, chap. 4. There is no biography of Kovenko, who disappeared without trace in Romania in the ’20s. He should not be confused with Vasyl Kovalenko, who was head of army intelligence.

[22] Margolin, Ukraina i politika Antanty, 312–13; Miliakova, ed., Kniga pogromov, 113.

[23] As reported by Red Cross agent Aleksandr Gilleson in July 1919. Reproduced in: Serhiichuk et al, Proskurivskyi pohrom 1919 roku, 68–71.

[24] Russian Black Hundreds circulated some Ukrainian-language antisemitic texts in the decades before the revolution, primarily in Volyn province. Russian-language newspapers translated and published articles by Artur de Gobineau, Wilhelm Marr, Eduord Drumont, and Houston Stuart-Chamberlain.

[25] TsDAVO f. 2007 op 1 sprava 1 no. 75, 114. Jews were subject to the draft. Their families requested exemptions as did others. Ibid, 89. How many Jews served as UNR bureaucrats in other than its Jewish ministries is unexamined. Velychenko, State Building, 84, 91, 114, 132.

[26] Trembitsky, “Starokonstiantyniv,” 178-79.

[27] The role of Ukraine’s orthodox clergy in the White and national movements, and the pogroms, is unstudied. A number of Ukrainian former Black Hundreds members, including bishops, supported Ukrainian independence after 1917. Black Hundreds in Ukraine supported Ukrainian cultural demands and political autonomy for individual Ukrainian provinces until the publication, in 1907, of the uncensored version of Shevchenko’s poems. This included his anti-Russian works of which they had previously been unaware. Fedevych, Za Viru, tsaria i kobzaria,, 265–77.

[28] Rient, Rekrut, Narysy zhyttia Litynshchyny 19171921 rr., passim. The village recorded only isolated cases of individual Jews murdered in criminal incidents; Verstiuk, ed., Serhyi Iefremov. Publitsystyka revoliutsiinoi doby Tom 2, 293.

[29] Motzkin, ed., Les Pogroms en Ukraine sous les Gouvernements Ukrainiens, 92–98. The committee concluded the UNR-controlled the anti-Bolshevik partisan movement. Recent archive research had shown this was not so.

[30] Kavunnyk, ed., Arkhiv … Dopovidi dyrektoriv, 241.

[31] Frenkin, Tragediia krestianskikh vosstanii v Rossii, 180.

[32] Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace.

[33] Cherikover, Istoriia pogromnago dvizheniia, 121, 161, 134–36, 161. Cherikover notes some villages ordered Jews to leave, but not why they did so.

[34] Petrovsky-Shtern, The Golden Age Shtetl, 152–53.

[35] The Bible (Genesis 4:15), specifies the Lord wanted Cain, normally identified as Jew, marked but not killed, otherwise: “vengeance will be taken on him [the killer] sevenfold.” In 1568, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Metrophones III, in regard to Jews declared that, “Injustice … regardless to whomever acted upon or performed against, is still injustice. The unjust person is never relieved of the responsibility of these acts under the pretext that the injustice is done against a heterodox and not to a believer.” During the 1905 pogroms, some higher clergy condemned them and sheltered Jews. Others condoned and blessed the perpetrators. Curtiss, State and Church in Russia, 267–75. In Orthodox practice, priests could act as they saw fit (Kerygma) in matters not defined either by dogma or councils.

[36] Tens of thousands of Jews lived illegally in cities. On the economic importance of Jews: Bauer, “Jan Gottlieb Bloch,” 415429. On anti-Judaism and antisemitism: Engel, “The Concept of Antisemitism in the Historical Scholarship of Amos Funkenstein,” 113; Davies, Europe East and West, 226; Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy, 190; Hellig, The Holocaust and Antisemitism; Levy, ed., Antisemitism in the Modern World, 2–8; Marcus, The Definition of Antisemitism; Katz, The Holocaust in Historical Context, 225–27.

[37] Balatz, “Une Version Ukrainienne ‘Protocols des Sages des Sion,’ ” 17. It is unclear if Balatz is referring in the article only to antisemitic publications that appeared in White-occupied Kyiv when he was there, or to the language of the item. He noted that the items he discussed were not the Protocols. They seem to have been leaflets by some Ukrainian group that linked anti-Ukrainian politics to the international Zionist conspiracy. His claim that the Protocols were unknown in Ukraine before 1917, outside a small circle around the court and secret police, is confirmed by French nobleman Armand DuChayla, who lived for a time with White forces in southern Russia and in Kyiv in 1918. The Whites sponsored mass publication and dissemination of the Protocols. DuChayla remarked its ideas likely circulated among Ukrainians. La Tribune Juif, 14 May 1921 https://phdn.org/antisem/protocoles/duchayla.html.

[38] Rient, Rekrut, Narysy zhyttia Litynshchyny, 231–33; Kovalchuk, Nevidoma viina, 450. One such spy, a Col. Makohon, listed anti-Ukrainian government propaganda disseminated among Ukrainians in 1919 as one of his important achievements. He does not mention if this included antisemitic texts. As noted below, Goldelman and Vynnychenko also claim White Russian officers were among pogrom instigators.

[39] Lindemann, The Jew Accused. 189.

[40] Gusev-Orenburgskii, Bagrovaia kniga, 92–3 listed Bolshevik pogroms. The Bolshevik edition of this book, titled Kniga o Evreiskikh pogromakh na Ukraine v 1919 g. (Petrograd, 1923–reprinted 1972, 1983, 1989), omitted one hundred pages from the original that covered the subject, along with an introduction by Gorky about Red Army pogroms. Agurskii, ed., Maksim Gorkii, 304

[41] The Habsburg government re-imposed restrictions on Jews in its Italian lands between 1814 and 1870. The Rothschilds supported Italian unification and the new Italian kingdom. Sarfatti, The Jews in Mussolini’s Italy.

[42] Borodii, Zavalniuk, “Slidamy odnoho anonimnoho lysta,” 65–74. None of this activity was documented because it was illegal. What the secret police did uncover suggested the practice was widespread. One estimate is that 20,000 Jews illegally owned or leased 20 per cent of all noble land in Right-Bank Ukraine in the 1880s to ’90s.

[43] Almost all Russians who settled in Ukraine, other than government employees, traded and lent, rather than farmed. Prysiazhniuk, Ukrainske selianstvo, 395–476, 432. Co-ops were increasing, but were few in Ukraine. Circa 1900 Ireland, with 4.5 million population had 960 co-ops. Volyn province, with 6 million population, where Black Hundreds were particularly strong, had 5.

[44] Fedevych, Za Viru, tsaria i kobzaria, 210–14. Klier, “Christians and Jews and the ‘Dialogue of Violence’.”

[45] Velychenko, State Building, chaps. 3, 5. The hetman’s secret police uncovered a Jewish woman, Eliza Alter-Ivinskaia, who had worked in Ukrainian government offices since June 1917, as a Bolshevik agent. How many others there were like her is unknown. Kavunnyk, ed., Arkhiv Ukrainskoi Narodnoi Respubliky, 18.

[46] Between 1905 and 1916, the government sponsored dissemination of approximately 15 million copies of some 3,000 antisemitic Russian-language texts. The tsar contributed twelve million rubles toward their publication. Baron, The Russian Jew, 61. For a list of works: Kolsto, “Sources of Russian Antisemitism in the Late Nineteenth Century,” 45–47, 5357.

[47] Prysiazhniuk, Ukrainske selianstvo, 219–49.

[48] Noll, Transformatsiia hromadianskoho syspilstsva, 44, 81. Pictured at his machine in 1912 is the photo is Herasko Chuchupak, a relation of the warlord Vasyl Chuchupak.

[49] Nomis [Matvei Symonov], ed., Ukrainski prykazky, pryslivia i take inshe, 80–81; Samuel, The World of Sholom Aliechem, 185, 287. Poltava province was the setting for Aleichem’s famous stories of Tevye the milkman. Shkandrij, Jews in Ukrainian Literature.

[50] The subject of civilian violence in pre-war Ukrainian society is unstudied.

[51] Ievreiskaia entsiklopediia (St. Petersburg, 1906–13) XII: 620. Ukrainians are not mentioned specifically. The entry only notes that, “nationalities that considered themselves oppressed did not participate in the pogroms.”

[52] Valentino, Final Solutions.

[53] Naiman, Istoriia ievreiv Ukrainy, 187–320. From the 1880s radical populists and the extremist right advocated violence against Jews. Officials condoned it. The instigators were usually Black Hundreds activists. The perpetrators were mostly migrant unemployed or part-time peasant workers – among whom ethnic Ukrainians were not necessarily either a majority or supporters of the national movement. Pritsak, “The Pogroms of 1881,” 9–43.

[54] This reinforces the human psychological predispostion to remember the exceptional rather than the daily mundane, and conclude the exceptional was the norm in the past. The exceptional comes to mind quicker as the imagined norm in the past not because it was common—but because it was uncommon. Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, 216-22.

[55] Total pop. 23 million (towns – 3 million). Jewish, 2 million (towns – 830,000), Ukrainian, 16 million (towns 937,000). First noted in: I. Zhytetsky, “Ievrei na Ukraine,” Kievskaia starina no. 1 (1901) 79. In all Europe, only Russia’s Polish provinces had a similar high proportion of Jews. Also: Rowland, “Geographical Patterns of the Jewish Population in the Pale of Settlement of Late Nineteenth-Century Russia,” 207–34.

[56] Heifets, The Slaughter of the Jews in the Ukraine, 134; Cherikover, Istoriia pogromnago dvizheniia na Ukraine, 62, 133–36, notes army agitators turned peasants against their Jewish neighbours. Heifetz, who sympathized with the Bolsheviks, specifically accused regular UNR troops of pogroms “organized by the Directory,” 26–27, 53. Cherikover writes government leaders at times equivocated or failed to condemn pogroms, which some officers interpreted as consent to commit them. 77, 112, 124.

[57] Velychenko, State Building, 194; Kavunnyk, ed., Arkhiv … Dopovidi dyrektoriv, 313. The official thought Jews were sympathetic to the Whites due to rumours that they did not commit pogroms!

[58] Miliakova, ed., Kniga pogromov, 171; Mykhailivska-Tsymbal, Z viiskovoho hnizda, 112–16; Torhalo, Harbuzova, eds., Uman i Umanshchyna ochyma P.F. Kurinnoho, 194–202, 230. A few days later, locals did rob and kill Jews, but the author did not detail why that occurred. That July, another warlord took Uman and did foment a pogrom.

[59] Serhiichuk, ed., Pohromy v Ukraini, 202–08, 461; Miliakova, ed., Kniga pogromov, 54. Gillerson’s report: Serhiichuk et al, Proskurivskyi pohrom 1919 roku , doc. no. 10; also online: https://vilnacollections.yivo.org/?ca=((item.php!id__rg-80-s1-f180*col__v. Gilley misrepresents Lysiuk’s report. He ignores his comments about anti-Bolshevik Jews being the majority. “Beat the Jews, Save … Ukraine,” 122–23.

[60] Serhiichuk et al, Proskurivskyi pohrom 1919 roku, 194.

[61] In another incident that threatened to escalate into a pogrom was also defused by the commander Volodymyr Klodnytsky and the town rabbi. A Jew, who was infuriated that his daughter had converted and married a local Ukrainian, burned down the man’s house. The fire spread and the entire village went up in flames. Klodnytsky and the rabbi decided the father had to be executed – a decision that satisfied the Jews who recognized his guilt, and homeless Ukrainians who had wanted to perpetrate a pogrom on the entire Jewish community. Finkelshtein, Za dela ruk svoikh, 107–25; Trembitsky, Zavalniuk, eds., Otaman Iakiv Shepel, 141–5.

[62] Taking references to Jews welcoming incoming troops of whatever army as evidence of loyalties is problematical. Fearing pogroms at the hands of all sides, it was rational to show support for all in the hope of avoiding anticipated violence.

[63] TsDAVO, f. 1113 op. 2 sprava 213 no. 74; sprava 197 no. 184. See also: Rafes, Dva goda revoliutsii na Ukraine, 164; Makagonova, ed., Neizdannyi V.G. Korolenko, 21.

[64] Cited in: Velychenko, State Building, 191. Vynnychenko, “Ievreiske pytannia na Ukraini,” 119. The article was written in 1923.

[65] A.L. Goodhart, Poland and the Minority Races (New York, 1920) 52.

[66] Volia (Vienna) vol. 4. no. 2 (October 1920) 66–67.

[67] Bilinkis, “Hromadianska viina na Ukraini ta Evreii: Fragmenty,” 234–51. The distinction is also noted by Kurinnyi. Torhalo, Harbuzova, eds., Uman i Umanshchyna ochyma P.F. Kurinnoho, 27–30. Heifetz, The Slaughter of the Jews, 8–9. Thus, observant Jews apparently also shared what McGeever termed “antisemitic representations of Jewishness.”

[68] Goldelman, Lysty zhydivskoho sotsial-demokrata, letter #3, #5 (np). Accounts from Slovechno (Volyn province) and Lityn (Podillia) also describe how this phenomenon transformed earlier peaceful cohabitation into hostility and violence. Miliakova, ed., Kniga pogromov, 173, 314.

[69] Fluent in Russian, Dukes travelled throughout, in and out of, Bolshevik territory between 1917 and 1920. Dukes, Red Dusk and the Morrow, 218; Bikerman et al, Rossiia i Evreii, 22–3.

[70] TsDAVO f. 1078 op 5 sprava 2 no. 5.

[71] Courtois et al., Black Book, 103. Also: Tepliakov, A., “Olitsetvorenie chekizma,” in: Bazhan, Podkur, eds., Radianski orhany derzhavnoi bezbeky v Ukraini, 358–59.

[72] Steinberg, In the Workshop of the Revolution, 145; Gitelman, Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics, 165–66, 286. Politburo member Lev Kamenev allegedly made the remark about destruction in 1920. Whether he spoke literally or figuratively is unclear. Evsektsii members did beat up observant Jews.

[73] Miliakova, ed., Kniga pogromov, 126. The witness noted the volunteer Jewish Red Army unit in question had its share of criminals. The unit contained a large proportion of Jewish volunteers but was called the 8th Soviet Ukrainian Regiment.

[74] As of 1922, Ukrainians and Jews constituted 5.9 and 5.2 per cent respectively of total Bolshevik party membership. For every 1,000 persons in Bolshevik Russia, 2.9 were members. Per 1,000, the highest membership were Latvians (78). Ukrainians were 1 and Jews 7 per 1,000. Russians 3.8. In Ukraine, 53.6 per cent were Russians, 13.6 Jewish, 23.3 Ukrainians. Trainin, SSSR i natsionalnaia problema, 26; Abramson, A Prayer for the Government, 29.

[75] Budnitskii, Russian Jews, 411–12. Bemporad, Legacy of Blood, 34-35. Bolshevik leaders did not publicize this overrepresentation as an example of how their seizure of power benefited the previously excluded. Vynnychenko, “Ievreiske pytannia na Ukraini,” 122; McGeever, Antisemitism and the Russian Revolution, 206. Velychenko, State Building, 190–93; Heifets, The Slaughter of the Jews, 8–9. The subject of violence against local Russian officials has not been examined.

[76] TsDAHO f. 57 op 2 sprava 280 no. 11–12; TsDAVO f. 5 op 1 sprava 17 no. 64 v.

[77] Christians’ antipathy to non-Bolshevik party local Jewish officials had little to do with a “Judeo-Bolshevik myth.” Provisional government supporters initially promulgated the idea of a Jewish conspiracy behind the overthrow of the tsar in their Petrograd press in the summer of 1917, which they then circulated to the Allied governments. Whether and how many of these publications reached Ukraine is unstudied. Poliakov, A History of Antisemitism, IV: 180–184, 231. Germans and White émigrés formulated the final version of the myth in Berlin no earlier than 1920. Hanebrink in his A Specter Haunting Europe focuses on the post-war years, as does Gerrits, “Antisemitism and Anti-Communism,” 49–72. Historians like Gilley uncritically apply these findings to pre-1920 Ukraine.

[78] Poles also reacted violently to Jews occupying positions of authority previously held by Poles in western Ukraine during the Bolshevik occupation of 1939–40. J. Kopstein, J. Wittenberg, Intimate Violence (Ithaca, 2018).

[79] Velychenko State Building, 191–92, 201–03; Dvenadtstyi sized RKP (b), 596.

[80] Nova Rada (Kyiv), 29 March 1917.

[81] McGeever, Antisemitism, 189–90, 195, 200, seems unaware of Jewish Bolsheviks who reported that Ukrainians had followed Bolshevik Jewish leaders before they began implementing what is now called “War Communism.” Local Bolshevik officials noted: “agitation against the Jews comes from the passive white-collar workers [intelligentsia] and the bourgeoisie. The reason for this is the huge number [bolshoe perepolnenie] of Jews in city offices.” TsDAVO f. 5 op 1 sprava 17 no. 64 v.

[82] Hagen, Anti-Jewish Violence in Poland, 51317. Engel, D., “What’s in a Pogrom?” in Dekel-Chen et al., Anti-Jewish Violence, 30–3. Also: Kalyvas, The Logic of Violence in Civil War. There is no equivalent of Hagen’s study for Ukraine.

[83] Lindemann, The Jew Accused, 276, 280.

[84] TsDAHO f. 1 op 20 sprava 89 no. 66. The report appears to have been printed as a leaflet for circulation.

[85] Miliakova, ed., Kniga pogromov, 17.

[86] TsDAVO f. 1078 op 5 sprava 2 no. 5.

[87] Sorokin, Sovremennaia sostoianie Rossii, chap 9. Sorokin saw a rise in Russian nationalism at the time as a defensive reaction to Bolshevik violence inflicted in the name of internationalism. That “inevitably” took on a zoological aspect and, together with the socio-economic reality, created a ready audience for antisemitic ideology.

[88] Allison, Messick, “The Group Attribution Error,” 563579; Corneille, Yzerbyt, Rogier, Buidin, “Threat and the Group Attribution Error,” 437446.

[89] Motzkin, ed., Les Pogroms en Ukraine sous les Gouvernements Ukrainiens, annex p. 6.

[90] People in groups are inclined to act contrary to their normal moral standards. Cikara et al, “Reduced self-referential neural response during intergroup competition,” 36–43. Rude, The Face of the Crowd.

[91] It is unknown how frequently mobs attacking hated Bolshevik officials after Red troops had been evicted spared the non-Jewish ones.

[92] Chopard, “Ukrainian Neighbours,” 150–52, 166, claims that hatred of Jewish Bolshevik officials implementing forced requisitioning and collective punishments was not “the impetus for exterminating local Jews.” He notes it was often younger peasants, rather than the older ones, who called for violence and that these men had usually been in the tsarist army where they had been exposed to antisemitism. As local officials or deserters, they feared a return of Bolsheviks rule and might well have been antisemites. Yet, he then concludes, it was the recent Soviet experience, not antisemitism, that motivated others to join them.

[93] Friedman, Pogromchik, 1, 3. Friedman considered the history of Ukraine’s uniquely bloodstained and antisemitism endemic to Ukraine, a “pathological hatred of Jews … of the native Ukrainian populace.”

[94] Miliakova, ed., Kniga pogromov, 99101. Also: Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, 10607, 11314.