From the last decades of the nineteenth century through the first decade of the twentieth century, Jewish communities in the Russian and Habsburg Empires experienced different cycles of pogroms, with waves of anti-Jewish violence in 1881-1884, in 1898, and in 1903-1906. World War I and the Russian Civil War marked a new phase in pogrom violence. Unlike previous pogroms, which were largely spontaneous attacks, the violence during this period emerged under the auspices of organized military activity and turned into full-blown military actions. During the interwar period, instances of collective violence targeting Jews persisted in independent Poland, in particular after 1935, and occasionally took place in Romania. The rise of aggressive anti-Jewish policies by growing right-wing organizations and publications, and the worldwide economic crisis of the 1930s, served as fertile ground for the violence. Anti-Jewish violence is complicated, as the perpetrators motivations vary based on time and place, as do the victims and onlookers responses. The violence is often an intimate affair that revolves around the experiences and emotions of the exploited and the marginal the men, women, and children caught up in the maelstrom of physical violence and suffering. Above all, pogroms broke out in borderland regions, in the midst of political and economic disarray, in places where ethnicity played a formative role in ordering and dividing diverse communities. Pogrom violence often served as a convenient instrument to punish and terrorize Jewish communities, fulfilling a function similar to what lynching did to Black Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPogroms
Subtitle of host publicationA Documentary History
EditorsEugene M Avrutin, Elissa Bemporad
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780197629291
ISBN (Print)9780190060084
StatePublished - Oct 8 2021


  • Judeo-Bolshevism
  • Kishinev
  • Odessa
  • Proskurov
  • Russian Empire
  • anti-Jewish riot
  • anti-Jewish violence
  • humanitarian response
  • pogrom
  • self-defense unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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