More than 250 anti-Jewish riots erupted in the Russian Empire between 1881 and 1884. Some of the disturbances lasted only a couple of hours, and others took two or more days to subside. In most instances the pogroms originated in large urban centers, rippling outward to neighboring market towns along railroads, rivers, roads, and other paths of transportation. The pogroms, which devastated Jewish communities and contributed to a national emergency in the imperial borderlands lasting approximately two years, had many causes, including political shock caused by the assassination of Tsar Alexander II; social dislocations due to the uneven economic modernization of the empire; the circulation of rumors; and the role of the religious calendar in providing the occasion for anti-Jewish violence. In the aftermath of the pogroms, Tsar Alexander III used the events of 1881 and 1882 to strengthen the state by pursuing ruthless authoritarian policies. Significantly, the pogroms did not reverse the entrance of Jews into Russia’s civil society, but the events marked an important turning point by creating a blueprint for future waves of pogrom violence that rocked the empire in the last decades of the old regime and beyond.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPogroms: A Documentary History
Subtitle of host publicationA Documentary History
EditorsEugene M Avrutin, Elissa Bemporad
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780190060114
ISBN (Print)9780190060084
StatePublished - Oct 8 2021


  • Elisavetgrad
  • May Laws
  • pogrom
  • Poland
  • Russian Empire
  • Tsar Alexander II
  • Tsar Alexander III

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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