The Shield
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Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation and unusual spelling in the original document have been preserved. A number of obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a complete list, please see the end of this document.


THE NEWEST BORZOI BOOKS ASPHALT By Orrick Johns BACKWATER By Dorothy Richardson CENTRAL EUROPE By Friedrich Naumann CRIMES OF CHARITY By Konrad Bercovici RUSSIA'S MESSAGE By William English Walling THE BOOK OF SELF By James Oppenheim THE BOOK OF CAMPING By A. Hyatt Verrill MODERN RUSSIAN HISTORY By Alexander Kornilov THE RUSSIAN SCHOOL OF PAINTING By Alexandre Benois THE JOURNAL OF LEO TOLSTOI (1895-1899) THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A SUPERTRAMP By William H. Davies With a Preface by Bernard Shaw


Edited by


With a Foreword by William English Walling

Translated from the Russian by A. Yarmolinsky

New York Alfred A. Knopf Mcmxvii Copyright, 1917, by Alfred A. Knopf Printed in the United States of America


This is not merely a book about the Russian Jews. It is a marvellous revelation of the Russian soul. It shows not only that the overwhelming majority of the Russian intellectuals, including nearly all of her brilliant literary geniuses, are opposed to the persecution of the Jews or any other race, but that they have a capacity for sympathy and understanding of humanity unequalled in any other land. I do not know of any book where the genius and heart of Russia is better displayed. Not only her leading litterateurs but also her leading statesmen and economists are represented—and all of them speak as with a single voice.

I am writing on the 16th of March. Yesterday the news reached the world that Russia had probably at last succeeded in emancipating itself from the German-sustained and German-supported autocracy which so long has been renounced by practically all classes of the Russian people. I have pointed out elsewhere that this Second Act of the great drama of social transformation in Russia was to be expected in connection with the present war. It is not surprising that this Act, like the first—the Revolution of 1905—is accompanied by an irresistible demand for the cessation of the persecution of the Jews and other minority races. The first Duma, that of 1906, demanded unanimously that all these races be given absolutely the same rights as other Russians. The rise of Liberalism during the war, in connection with military necessities, had already abolished a number of Jewish disabilities. There is no longer any question that the Jews will be given equality. Without exception the anti-Semitic organisations were supported by the pro-German party, the money which was alone responsible for the pogroms was furnished by these same organisations, and now this Party and these organisations are forever overthrown. It was Dr. Dubrovin, for example, who year by year carried out the murders of the leading representatives of the Jews in the Duma and who almost succeeded in having Milukov assassinated a few weeks ago. Dubrovin was one of the most important of the sinister forces supported by the money of the German Czarina's court party—which was organised by Baron Fredericks and other notorious Germans masquerading as Russians.

The re-birth of Russia which is now taking place cannot be understood apart from the Jewish problem. As Russia's leading Liberal statesman, Prof. Paul Milukov—who is well and favorably known in America because of extended visits here—points out in the article he contributes to the present volume, the anti-Semitic parties coincide with the anti-constitutional parties. At first this seems a strange and unaccountable fact, but a brief glance at the history of other countries will show that the party standing for the persecution of weak foreign neighbours and the oppression of minority races within and without a country has always and everywhere been the party of reaction. As Milukov says, there was no need for an anti-constitutional movement until there was a constitutional movement. As soon as Liberalism appeared, however, and gained support among the masses, it was necessary to fabricate some counter movement, and the governmental bureaucracy fixed upon anti-Semitism as a primitive means of appealing to the masses, and so of bridling them. It may be further pointed out that this systematic propaganda against democracy was almost non-existent in Russia until it had become thoroughly organised and successful in Germany. Both Kovalevsky and Milukov demonstrate in the present volume that anti-Semitism became an important factor in Russian life only after the middle of the Nineteenth Century—that is to say, after the final victory of Prussian Reactionism over German Liberalism in 1849 (a victory which has lasted to the present time)—and still more, after the great military victories of Prussia from 1864 to 1870 had put Prussian militarism in the saddle and had made it the dominating force in the Russian court and Russian bureaucracy.

However, the intelligence, energy, and courage of the Russian Liberals has entirely thwarted this scheme to divide the Russian people. The bureaucracy has gained almost no support among any section of the Russian nation, except its own narrow circles, either for its persecution of the Jews or its oppression of the Poles, Finns, Tartars, Armenians and other races. On the contrary, the anti-Semitic propaganda has reacted against its promoters. A considerable number, though by no means a majority, of the Russian Liberals are Jews, and Russian Liberals do not at all endeavour to hide this fact. The consequence is that the union of the Russian Liberals with all the persecuted races has been all the more firmly cemented. And just as all Russian Liberals are ardent supporters of the war against Germany, so practically all the leaders of the Russian Jews are equally patriotic—in spite of the fact that many forms of persecution have remained, and, furthermore, new forms of persecution have been invented since the war. Though the German agitation in America has won over a large part of the Russian Jews in this country to the German cause, this agitation has had no such success in Russia, unless among a relatively small proportion of the Jewish population.

It is known that the anti-Semitic agitation in Russia has taken hold of only a small proportion of the Russian people among the semi-criminal population of the cities and towns. It is notorious that the pogroms were often organised and carried out by the secret police and the cossacks, and that in other instances they were executed by bands of a few hundred bribed toughs, called by educated Russians "the black hundreds." This social element is what we would ordinarily call in America the "mob," and it certainly does not constitute one per cent. of the population in Russia or in any other country. Gorky refers to it as "the populace": "In addition to the people, there is also the 'populace,' something standing outside of social classes and outside of civilisation, and united by the dark sense of hatred against all that surpasses its understanding and is defenceless against brute force. I speak of the populace which thus defines itself in the words of Pushkin:

"'We are insidious and shameless, Ungrateful, faint-hearted and wicked; At heart we are cold, sterile eunuchs, Traducers, born to slavery.'"

The refusal of the Russian people to be either bribed or deceived into hostility to the Jews is clearly enough demonstrated by the feeling of affection on the part of most intelligent Jews towards the Russian people. The only exceptions are those Jews which come from the Polish cities far within the Jewish Pale and do not know the Russian people except by hearsay. Unfortunately, this is a considerable portion of the total of the Jews in Russia, and it is from these cities and towns in the heart of the Pale that most of our immigrants come. But all the more educated Jews—and a very large part are educated—all those who know Russia either by a travel or through Russian literature and newspapers, feel a deep affection for their country, for in spite of all, Russia belongs to them just as much as it does to other Russians. One of the editors of the present volume, Fyodor Sologub, says:

"Whenever I met Russian Jews abroad, I always marvelled at the strangely tenacious love for Russia which they preserve. They speak of Russia with the same longing and the same tenderness as the Russian emigrants; they are equally eager to return and equally saddened, if the return is impossible. Wherefore should they love Russia, who is so harsh and inhospitable toward them?"

It is useless for Americans to deceive themselves into thinking that the Russian Jewish question is either unimportant or incomprehensible from the point of view of our progress and democracy. Do we not have our negro and Asiatic problems? Do not the English have their Irish and Indian questions? I do not suggest that the parallel is complete, but it is clear that the Russian writers in the present volume are perfectly correct in referring both to our negro question and our question of yellow labour as closely similar to their Jewish problem. Both the brilliant and fascinating discussions by Andreyev and Merezhkovsky will apply almost as well to any other so-called "race question" as to that of the Russian Jews. Says Merezhkovsky:

"We would like very much to say that there is no such thing as the Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Armenian, Georgian, question; that there is only one question—the Russian. Yes, we would like to, but we cannot; the Russian people have yet to earn the right to say that, and therein lies their tragedy...."

"'Judophilism' and 'Judophobia' are closely related. A blind denial of a nationality engenders an equally blind affirmation of it. An absolute 'Nay' naturally brings forth an absolute 'Yea.'"

"That is why we say to the 'Nationalists': 'Cease oppressing the non-Russian element of our empire, so that we may have the right to be Russians, and that we may with dignity show our national face, as that of a human being, not that of a beast. Cease to be 'Judophobes' so that we may cease to be 'Judophiles.''"

Is it not clear from the recent discussion in the British Parliament that the Irish problem weighs like an almost intolerable burden just as much upon the British Empire as it does upon Ireland? Is it not equally clear from England's concession of a cotton tariff to India that she will be obliged for her own sake to make further concessions to justice in that country? And can America ever hope to have any standing in the court of nations as long as our infamous persecution of the negroes and our atrocious attitude towards Asiatics continues? Nations can indulge themselves for a certain period in such gross and stupid crimes, but the longer the settlement is postponed the greater the blood-price that must be paid in the end—and in the meanwhile all our civilisation is poisoned, if not actually rotted, by the network of lies by which the persecutors are forced to defend their infamies—lies which are necessarily more far-reaching and impudently false in a democracy than they are in an autocracy where the existing system maintains itself rather by force than by public opinion.

But few of us educated Americans have the intellectual and moral courage of the educated classes of Russia. We feel that we can avoid our moral and intellectual responsibilities by turning our back on existing crimes. It has frequently been pointed out that in spite of a government even more anti-democratic than that of Germany, the Russian people have been infinitely more democratic than the Germans. In the same way, while the institutions of America are much further developed in the direction of general democracy than those of Russia, the very reverse is the case with public opinion. The educated classes of Russia have the courage and intelligence to call a spade a spade. They realise that they are partly responsible for the sins committed by the Russian nation, even though they have been powerless heretofore to remedy these conditions in the face of an armed and organised autocracy, backed by the moral, intellectual and military force of Germany and by the money of France and England. Andreyev, for example, regards the Jewish problem as primarily a Russian problem. It is one of the chief burdens, if not the chief burden, which has been crushing the Russian nation. In this book he says:

"When did the 'Jewish question' leap on my back?—I do not know. I was born with it and under it. From the very moment I assumed a conscious attitude towards life until this very day I have lived in its noisome atmosphere, breathed in the poisoned air which surrounds all these 'problems,' all these dark, harrowing alogisms, unbearable to the intellect.

"And yet I, a Russian intellectual, a happy representative of the sovereign race, although fully conscious and convinced that the 'Jewish question' is no question at all,—I felt powerless and doomed to the most sterile tribulation of spirit. For, all the clear-cut arguments of my intellect, the most fervent tirades and speeches, the sincerest tears of compassion and outcries of indignation unfailingly broke against a dull, unresponsive wall. But all powerlessness, if it is unable to prevent a crime, becomes complicity; and this was the result: personally guiltless of any offence against my brother, I have become in the eyes of all those unconcerned and those of my brother himself, a Cain."

The new Russia is being born while I write these lines, and intelligent Americans are discussing nothing else except this great world event—comparable in importance even to the colossal war itself. If we wish to understand educated Russia—which has brought about the change—many-sided, large-hearted and intellectually more brilliant perhaps than the educated class of any other nation, we cannot do better than to read and think over what that galaxy of Russian genius that has composed the present volume has written. We must not forget that the educated class in Russia is almost as numerous as in the other great nations, and perhaps plays an even more important role in Russia than it does in other countries. What Russia has lacked has been neither an educated class nor masses capable and ready to be trained to any kind of modern employment, but a great technically trained, free and organised "intellectual middle class"—an expression I am forced to coin for my present purpose. It is hardly necessary to prove this assertion. The world is well acquainted with Russian genius in literature, art, music, philosophy, sociology, economics, history, and the higher realms of science. Moreover Russia is not without technological schools, but the proportion of her population employed in the scientific organisation of industry and business is insignificant in comparison with that of other countries—owing, of course, to the backward state of Russian industry and Russian government. But this fact, important as it is, must not obscure the equally important fact that the educated and cultivated class in Russia, speaking several languages, and personally familiar with the civilisation of one or more foreign countries, exercises an influence over Russian society and Russian public opinion undoubtedly stronger than that of any other educated class whatever—with the possible exception of that of Germany. We cannot hope to understand the new Russia unless we understand the character and point of view of the Russian "intellegentsia," and this is nowhere so clearly, succinctly and interestingly set forth as in "The Shield."


Greenwich, Connecticut.


Published by the Russian Society for the Study of Jewish Life under the joint editorship of three eminent men-of-letters, Gorky, Andreyev, and Sologub, the original Shield saw the light of day last year in Petrograd. The book consists of numerous studies, essays, stories and poems, all these contributions to the symposium on the Jewish question coming exclusively from the pen of Russian authors of non-Jewish birth. In making a selection for the present volume, I have thought it advisable to give decided preference to the publicistic articles of the original collection. Thus, the present version contains practically all the various important studies and essays of the Russian Shield, while most of the stories have been omitted, without great detriment to the book. I have also had to sacrifice, for obvious reasons, all the poetic contributions to the original, signed by such great masters of modern Russian poetry as Balmont, Bunin, Z. Hippins, Sologub, and Shchepkina-Kupernik.

My thanks are due to Dr. Louis S. Friedland and Professor Earle F. Palmer for going over a considerable portion of the present volume.



MAXIM GORKY, Russia and the Jews 3

LEONID ANDREYEV, The First Step 19

VLADIMIR KOROLENKO, Mr. Jackson's Opinion on the Jewish Question 37

PAUL MILYUKOV, The Jewish Question in Russia 55

M. BERNATZKY, The Jews and Russian Economic Life 77

PRINCE PAUL DOLGORUKOV, The War and the Status of the Jew 95

MAXIM KOVALEVSKY, Jewish Rights and Their Enemies 103

DMITRY MEREZHKOVSKY, The Jewish Question as a Russian Question 115

VYACHESLAV IVANOV, Concerning the Ideology of the Jewish Question 125

MAXIM GORKY, The Little Boy, a Story 133

FYODOR SOLOGUB, The Fatherland for All 143

VLADIMIR SOLOVYOV, On Nationalism 155

COUNT IVAN TOLSTOY, Concerning the Legal Status of the Jews 159

LEONID ANDREYEV, The Wounded Soldier, a Story 165


S. YELPATYEVSKY, The Homeless Ones 181



Alexey Maksinovich Pyeshkov, better known under the assumed name of Maxim Gorky, was born in 1869. In 1905 he was arrested and imprisoned because of his political convictions. After the revolutionary days of 1906 he left Russia and settled on the island of Capri. At the beginning of the present war he returned to Russia and took an active part in the public life of the country. He is at present residing in Petrograd, where he edits a monthly of distinctly radical tendencies.




From time to time—more often as time goes on!—circumstances force the Russian author to remind his compatriots of certain indisputable, elementary truths.

It is a very hard duty:—it is painfully awkward to speak to grown-up and literate people in this manner:

"Ladies and gentlemen! We must be humane; humaneness is not only beautiful, but also advantageous to us. We must be just; justice is the foundation of culture. We must make our own the ideas of law and civil liberty: the usefulness of such an assimilation is clearly demonstrated by the high degree of civilisation reached by the Western countries, for instance, by England.

"We must develop in ourselves a moral tidiness, and an aversion to all the manifestations of the brute principle in man, such as the wolfish, degrading hatred for people of other races. The hatred of the Jew is a beastlike, brute phenomenon; we must combat it in the interests of the quicker growth of social sentiments and social culture.

"The Jews are human beings, just like others, and, like all human beings, the Jews must be free.

"A man who meets all the duties of a citizen, thereby deserves to be given all the rights of citizenship.

"Every human being has an inalienable right to apply his energy in all the branches of industry and all the departments of culture, and the broader the scope of his personal and social activities, the more does his country gain in power and beauty."

There are a number of other equally elementary truths which should have long since sunk into the flesh and blood of Russian society, but which have not as yet done so.

I repeat—it is a hard thing to assume the role of a preacher of social proprieties and to keep reiterating to people: "It is not good, it is unworthy of you to live such a dirty, careless, savage life—wash yourselves!"

And in spite of all your love for men, in spite of your pity for them, you are sometimes congealed in cold despair and you think with animosity: "Where then is that celebrated, broad, beautiful Russian soul? So much was and is being said about it, but wherein does its breadth, might and beauty actively manifest itself? And is not our soul broad because it is amorphous? And it is probably owing to its amorphousness that we yield so readily to external pressure, which disfigures us so rapidly and radically."

We are good-natured, as we ourselves express it. But when you look closer at our good-naturedness, you find that it shows a strange resemblance to Oriental indifference.

One of man's most grievous crimes is indifference, inattention to his neighbour's fate; this indifference is pre-eminently ours.

The situation of the Jews in Russia, which is a disgrace to Russian culture, is one of the results of our carelessness, of our indifference to the straight and just decrees of life.

In the interests of reason, justice, civilisation, we must not tolerate that people without rights should live among us; we would never have tolerated it, if we had a strong sense of self-respect.

We have every reason to reckon the Jews among our friends; there are many things for which we must be grateful to them: they have done and are doing much good in those lines of endeavour in which the best Russian minds have been engaged. Nevertheless, without aversion or indignation, we bear a disgraceful stain on our consciousness, the stain of Jewish disabilities. There is in that stain the dirty poison of slanders and the tears and blood of numberless pogroms.

I am not able to speak of anti-Semitism in the manner it deserves. And this not because I have not the power or the right words. It is rather because I am hindered by something that I cannot overcome. I would find words biting, heavy, and pointed enough to fling them in the face of the man-haters, but for that purpose I must descend into a kind of filthy pit. I must put myself on a level with people whom I do not respect and for whom I have an organic aversion.

I am inclined to think that anti-Semitism is indisputable, just as leprosy and syphilis are, and that the world will be cured of this shameful disease only by culture, which sets us free, slowly but surely, from ailments and vices.

Of course, this does not relieve me of the duty to combat in every way the development of anti-Semitism and, according to my powers, to preserve people from getting infected by it. The Jew of to-day is dear to me, and I feel myself guilty before him, for I am one of those who tolerate the oppression of the Jewish nation, the great nation, whom some of the most prominent Western thinkers consider, as a psychical type, higher and more beautiful than the Russian.

I think that the judgment of these thinkers is correct. To my mind, Jews are more European than the Russians are, because of their strongly developed feeling of respect for work and man, if not for any other reason. I admire the spiritual steadfastness of the Jewish nation, its manly idealisms, its unconquerable faith in the victory of good over evil, in the possibility of happiness on earth.

The Jews—mankind's old, strong leaven,—have always exalted its spirit, bringing into the world restless, noble ideas, goading men to embark on a search for finer values.

All men are equal; the soil—is no one's, it is God's; man has the right and the power to resist his fate, and we may stand up even against God,—all this is written in the Jewish Bible, one of the world's best books. And the commandment of love for one's neighbour is also an ancient Jewish commandment, just as are all the rest, "thou shalt not kill" among them.

In 1885 the German-Jewish Union in Germany published "The Principles of the Jewish Moral Doctrine." Here is one of these principles: "Judaism teaches: 'Love thy neighbour as thyself' and announces this commandment of love for all mankind to be the fundamental principle of Jewish religion. It, therefore, forbids all kinds of hostility, envy, ill-will, and unkindly treatment of any one, without distinction of race, nationality and religion."

These principles were ratified by 350 rabbis, and published just at the time of the anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia.

"Judaism teaches respect for the life, the health, the forces and the property of one's neighbour."

I am a Russian. When, alone with myself, I calmly scrutinise my merits and demerits,—it seems to me that I am intensely Russian. And I am deeply convinced that there is much that we Russians can and ought to learn from the Jews.

For instance, the seventh paragraph of the "Principles of the Jewish Moral Doctrine" says: "Judaism commands us to respect work, to take part by either physical or mental labour in the communal work, to seek for life's goods in constant productive and creative work. Judaism, therefore, teaches us to take care of our powers and abilities, to perfect them and apply them actively. It, therefore, forbids all idle pleasure not based on labour, all idleness which hopes for the help of others."

This is beautiful and wise, and this is just what we Russians lack. Oh, if we could educate our unusual powers and abilities, if we had the will to apply them actively in our chaotic, untidy existence, which is terribly blocked up with all kinds of idle clack and home-spun philosophy, and which gets more and more saturated with silly arrogance and puerile bragging. Somewhere deep in the Russian soul—no matter whether it is the "master's" or the muzhik's—there lives a petty and squalid demon of passive anarchism, who infects us with a careless and indifferent attitude toward work, society, people, and ourselves.

I believe that the morality of Judaism would assist us greatly in overcoming this demon,—if only we have the will to combat him.

In my early youth I read—I have forgotten where—the words of the ancient Jewish sage—Hillel, if I remember rightly:

"If thou art not for thyself, who will be for thee? But if thou art for thyself alone—wherefore art thou?"[1]

The inner meaning of these words impressed me with its profound wisdom, and I interpreted them for myself in this manner: I must actively take care of myself, that my life should be better, and I must not impose the care of myself on other people's shoulders; but if I am going to take care of myself alone, of nothing but my own personal life,—it will be useless, ugly and meaningless.

This thought ate its way deep into my soul, and I say now with conviction: Hillel's wisdom served me as a strong staff on my road, which was neither even nor easy. It is hard to say with precision to what one owes the fact that one kept on his feet on the entangled paths of life, when tossed by the tempests of mental despair, but I repeat—Hillel's serene wisdom assisted me many a time.

I believe that Jewish wisdom is more all-human and universal than any other, and this not only because of its immemorial age, not only because it is the first-born, but also because of the powerful humaneness that saturates it, because of its high estimate of man.

"The true Shekinah—is man," says a Jewish text. This thought I dearly love, this I consider the highest wisdom, for I am convinced of this: that until we learn to admire man as the most beautiful and marvellous phenomenon on our planet, until then we shall not be set free from the abomination and lies that saturate our lives.

It is with this conviction that I have entered the world, and with this conviction I shall leave it, and in leaving it I will believe firmly that the time will come when the world will acknowledge that

"The holy of holies is man!"

* * * * *

It is unbearably painful to see that human beings who have produced so much that is beautiful, wise and necessary for the world, live among us oppressed by unfair laws, which in all ways restrain their right to life, work and freedom. It is necessary,—for it is just and useful—to give the Jew equal rights with the Russians; it is imperative that we should do so not only out of respect to the people which has rendered and is constantly rendering yeoman service to humanity and our own nation, but also out of self-respect.

We must make haste with this plain, human reform, for the animosity against Jews is on the increase in our country, and if we do not make an attempt to arrest the growth of this blind hatred, it will prove pernicious to our cultural development. We must bear in mind that the Russian people have hitherto seen very little good, and therefore, believe all the evil things that man-haters whisper in their ears. The Russian peasant does not manifest any organic hatred for the Jew,—on the contrary, he shows an exceptional attraction for Israel's religious thought, fascinating for its democratic spirit. As far as I can remember, the religious sects of "judaizers" exist only in Russia and Hungary. In late years, the sects of "Sabbathists" and "The New Israel" have been developing rather rapidly in our country. In spite of this, when the Russian peasant hears of persecutions of Jews, he says with the indifference of an Oriental:

"No one sues or beats an innocent man."

Who ought to know better than the Russian peasant that in "Holy Russia" the innocent are too often tried and beaten? But his conception of right and wrong has been confused from time immemorial, the sense of injustice is undeveloped in his dark mind, dimmed by centuries of Tartardom, boyardom, and the horrors of serfdom.

The village has a dislike for restless people, even when that restlessness is expressed in an aspiration for a better life. We Russians are intensely Oriental by nature, we love quiet and immobility, and a rebel, even if he be a Job, delights us in but an abstract way. Lost in the depth of a winter six months long, and wrapt in misty dreams, we love beautiful fairy-tales, but the desire for a beautiful life is undeveloped in us. And when on the plane of our lazy thought something new and disquieting makes its appearance,—instead of accepting and sympathetically scanning it, we hasten to drive it into a dark corner of our mind and bury it there, lest it disturb us in our customary vegetative existence, amidst impotent hopes and grey dreams.

In addition to the people, there is also the "populace," something standing outside of social classes and outside of culture, and united by the dark sense of hatred against everything surpassing its understanding and defenceless against brute force. I speak of the populace which thus defines itself in the words of Pushkin, our great poet, who himself suffered so cruelly from the aristocratic populace:

"We are insidious and shameless, Ungrateful, faint-hearted and wicked; At heart we are cold, sterile eunuchs, Traducers, born to slavery."

It is mainly this populace that is the bearer of the brute principles, such as anti-Semitism.

The Jews are defenceless, and this is especially dangerous for them in the conditions of Russian life. Dostoyevsky, who knew the Russian soul so well, pointed out repeatedly that defencelessness arouses in it a sensuous inclination to cruelty and crime. In late years there have appeared in Russia quite a few people who have been taught to think that they are the finest of the wheat, and that their enemy is the stranger, above all—the Jew. For a long time these people were being persuaded that all the Jews are restless people, strikers and rioters. They were next informed that the Jews like to drink the blood of thievish boys. In our days they are being taught that the Polish Jews are spies and traitors.

If this preaching of hatred will not bring bloody and shameful fruits, it will be only because it will clash with our Russian indifference to life and will disappear in it; it will split against the Chinese wall, behind which our still inexplicable nation is hidden.

But if this indifference be stirred up by the efforts of the hatred preachers,—the Jews will loom up before the Russian nation as a race accused of all crimes.

And it is not for the first time that all the troubles of Russian life will be blamed on the Jew; time and again was he the scapegoat for our sins. Only recently he paid with his life and goods for the help he rendered us in our feverish struggle for freedom. I think no one has forgotten the fact that our "emancipatory movements" strangely wound up with anti-Jewish riots.

* * * * *

When the many-raced populace of Jerusalem demanded the death of the defenceless Jew, Christ, Pilate, believing Christ innocent, washed his hands, but allowed him to be put to death.

How then will honest Russian men and women act in Pilate's place? Their judgment is awaited.


[1] "If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am I?" "Pirqe Aboth," I, 14.—Translator's Note.

* * * * *


Leonid Nikolayevich Andreyev, the author of impressive tales and remarkable dramas, is well known both in America and in England. Since the beginning of the Great War he has devoted himself to the artistic portrayal of the war's effect on his country, and also to purely publicistic tasks. He was born in 1871.



"O heavens, if within your blue, Old God is still alive and mighty, Unseen by me alone, ye pray For me and for my doom e'er bleeding! My lips no more are fraught with hymns, No brawn in arm, no hope in heart.... How long, how long, how long?"


It is with deep emotion that I have read in the Polish New Gazette an interview about the Jewish question with a personage of high station who seems to be really well informed. According to this personage, a number of measures are being proposed and planned, which are intended to lighten the grievous lot of the Jews in Russia: the abolition of the "Pale of Settlement" in relation to towns large and small, the abrogation of the percentage "norm" in the secondary and higher educational institutions, the establishment of special Jewish schools, the reorganisation of Jewish emigration on a broad and rational basis. I confess that I was not prompt in giving credence to these good tidings. And those with whom I shared the news, although excited no less than I, accepted them also with some degree of diffidence, which is only natural in Russians: life indulges us so rarely and so reluctantly. But private rumours corroborate this news, and to persist in one's disbelief would mean to doubt the very meaning of the present great "emancipatory" war, which is building a glorious temple of renovated life on the blood of Russians, Poles, Jews and Lithuanians. And finally, I simply cannot help believing, for my soul is weary with waiting and repeating together with the great Jewish poet: "How long, how long, how long?"

An aged journalist, who, it seems, has lost all fervour and faith, has recently laughed in his sleeve at the word "miracle," which nowadays comes so often to our lips: according to him, miracles, generally speaking, do not exist. It is my opinion also that there are no miracles, if we understand by a miracle an arbitrary violation of the natural, logical, inevitable order of things. But to him who contemplates life proper, not the table of multiplication,—logic itself appears as the greatest of all miracles. Oh, if logic would really reign supreme in life; oh, if in our cursed human existence, where there are so many aimless and unnecessary sorrows and tears and wild outrages, the simplest "two and two is four" would not be the rarest of miracles, equal to the transubstantiation of water into precious wine. Would millions of individually innocent human beings perish in this most terrible of wars, if instead of a dark and terrible alogism a clear and lucid syllogism lay at the basis of our intricate and enigmatical existence? It is logic that is the true miracle, and "two and two is four" is that extraordinary happiness, which falls so seldom to our lot!

And just as I rejoiced as at miracles, at Russia's achievement of temperance, and Poland's rebirth in the same way, I now marvel at the coming solution of the "Jewish question," the immemorial and darkest of alogisms. There is something festive in it; it stirs up in me a feeling of serene and immense joy, bordering on religious exaltation.... And the fact that for me, as well as for many other Russian writers, all this was never even a problem, does not by any means diminish the extraordinary character of what is going to happen; for a plain brotherly kiss is almost a miracle and can move one to tears at the time when the rule of life and its highest wisdom is a fierce war of brother against brother.

And how can I help feeling this extraordinary import, I, a Russian intellectual, if, together with the solution of the "question" my soul, too, is suddenly set free. It is delivered from all the habitual and harrowing experiences that, constant companions of my days and nights as they have been, have acquired all the peculiarities of those chronic and incurable ailments, to which the grave alone can bring release. For, if to the Jews themselves the "Pale," the "norm," etc., were a fatal and impregnable fact, which deformed their entire life, they were also for me, a Russian, something in the nature of a hump on my back, a stationary and ugly growth, arising no one knows when or under what circumstances. Wherever I went and whatever I did, the hump was with me; at night it disturbed my sleep, and in my waking hours, when I was among people, it filled me with feelings of confusion and shame.

It is not my intention to demonstrate the soundness and justice of the proposed measures and to force the door which to me was always open, but I am going to take the liberty of adding a few more words about my hump. When did the "Jewish question" leap on my back?—I do not know. I was born with it and under it. From the very moment I assumed a conscious attitude towards life until this very day I have lived in its noisome atmosphere, breathed in the poisoned air which surrounds all these "problems," all these dark, harrowing alogisms, unbearable to the intellect.

Who needs it? Whom does it benefit? If all this exists and is supported, if there are people who assert it fiercely and firmly, there must be some definite sense in it; evidently, the Pale, the educational norm, and the rest increase mankind's sum of joy, exalt life, broaden the limits of human possibilities. Taking a logical point of departure, that is what I thought, but this same logic dictated to me an absolutely negative answer to all these questions: no one needs it, it brings good to no one: all these discriminations not only do not increase the sum of joy on this earth, but engender a multitude of wholly unnecessary, aimless sufferings; some they oppress, and others they badly corrupt. And yet I, a Russian intellectual, a happy representative of the sovereign race, although fully conscious and convinced that the "Jewish question" is no question at all,—I felt powerless and doomed to the most sterile tribulation of spirit. For, all the clear-cut arguments of my intellect, the most fervent tirades and speeches, the sincerest tears of compassion and outcries of indignation unfailingly broke against a dull, unresponsive wall. But all powerlessness, if it is unable to prevent a crime, becomes complicity; and this was the result: personally guiltless of any offence against my brother, I have become in the eyes of all those unconcerned and those of my brother himself, a Cain.

The first consequence of my fatal powerlessness was that the Jew did not trust me, which meant that I lost my self-confidence. Living together with the Jews as my co-citizens, being in constant personal and business relations with them, in the field of consorted social work, I came face to face with the Jewish "problem" every single day,—and every single day of my life I felt with intolerable keenness all the falsehood and wretched ambiguity of my situation, that of an oppressor against one's will. In the doctor's office, at my desk, in the editorial room, in the street, finally in jail, where together with the Jew I fulfilled the all-Russian prison duty—everywhere I remained the privileged "Russian," the representative of the sovereign race, the baron,—without the baronial blazon. And with horror I noticed that even the eyes of a Jew-friend were dimmed with strange shadows ... that terrible images surged behind my friendly Russian shoulders and mingled wholly unsuitable noises and voices with my sincere plea for "world citizenship." ... And yet he knew me well, he knew my attitude toward the Jews,—how about those who know only that I am a "Russian"?

I remember having spent one night in talking with a very gifted writer, a Jew, who was my casual and most welcome guest. I was trying to convince him that he, a great master of the word, ought to write, but he repeated obstinately that although he loves the Russian language with all his artist's heart, he cannot write in it, in the language which has the word zhid.[1] Of course, logic was on my side, but on his side there was some dark truth—truth is not always lucid—and I felt, that my ardent arguments began, little by little, to sound like false and cheap babbling. So that I have not succeeded in convincing him, and when we parted I had not the courage to kiss him: how many unexpected meanings could be disclosed in this plain, everyday token of friendship and affection?

Things are altogether bad when even a kiss becomes suspicious and can be susceptible of "interpretation," as a complicated act of intricate and enigmatic relations! That is exactly what happened. And how many odd and nightmare-like misunderstandings were engendered by the poisonous mist in which we all wandered, both friends and foes, and in which the outlines of the plainest objects and feelings assumed the dismal grotesqueness of phantoms. I cannot help recalling here the case of E.A. Chirikov, which at the time excited much comment: the noble and fervent champion of the persecuted race, the author of the drama "Jews," which has more than any other Russian drama contributed to the dispersion of the evil prejudice,—this man was suddenly, in a most absurd manner, without a shadow of foundation, insulted by the accusation of anti-Semitism; and—to think of it!—it was necessary to furnish proofs that the accusation was false. What a painful, what a wholly disgraceful absurdity!

"Who needs all this? Who does not know it?" wearily thought every one of us, again and again realising the harrowing necessity of convincing some unbeliever, that two and two is four ... nothing but four!

And abroad? "What an injustice!"—thought I, when the cultured West, having separated me from Tolstoy, as if I had stolen him, handed me on the spot, a bill for the "excesses" known the world over, at the same time frowning unambiguously upon my eternal hump. The West refused to consider that I, too, am against this. I was considered a Russian, and the question was put this way: "Tell me, why in your country, in Russia?..."

It is ridiculous and utterly odd to think that our far-famed "barbarism" of which our enemies accuse us and which puts our friends out of countenance, is based wholly and exclusively on our Jewish question and its bloody excesses. Take away from Russia these excesses, leave, if you wish, the anti-Semitism, but in that externally decorous form in which it still exists in the backward portions of Europe,—and we shall become at once decent Europeans, and not Asiatics and barbarians, whose proper place is beyond the Ural. This is a fact the obviousness of which every new day of the present war makes more strikingly evident.

Of course culturally we are far behind the world, our economic life is undeveloped, our civic life is at a low level, and all the aspects of our life show clearly that we have not as yet broken the shell of the egg. But we are young, we are only beginning, and for a people who abolished serfdom only half a century ago, we have done quite a good deal,—so that, at the worst, lack of culture is the only reproach which a European with a sense of justice will fling at us. But it is enough to put side by side the words "Russian" and "Jew,"—and I become at once a barbarian, a dark and terrible being, who chills and darkens resplendent Europe. At once in America people begin to hate me, in England and France to despise me; with the swiftness of theatrical transformations Tolstoy's compatriot turns into the brother of those who drive nails into their neighbours' heads,—I become a barbarian. And even the German anti-Semite, a stupid and dull creature, looks down at me and warns England: "See with whom you are friends? Are they not the same people who...?"

"To whose interest is it that Europe should despise me, hate and fear me?" I mused, perplexed, feeling that in the light of the European sun my cursed hump assumes immense proportions and like a screen shuts off the light which comes from the East, and in which the aged and weary West is quite inclined to believe. To whom is it necessary for me to ramble among the cultured nations like a leper, to conceal my race and obtain the ironical bow so essential to my unacknowledged dignity, by means of exorbitant "tips" flung right and left? A barbarian, a barbarian!...

The war has opened our eyes to many things, and therein lies for us Russians the sad advantages of it. And now when Germany brands France and England for the union with "the Russian barbarians who...," when the allies, while relying on our elemental force, tremble with doubts and fear behind the screen of their noisy sympathies,—I begin to understand in whose interests it was, who needed it, that in the legion of European states we should remain all alone with our barbarism. Whatever is a misfortune for us is favourable for Germany, with her "well-tried" friendship for us, to which Wilhelm referred so loudly from the balcony of his palace. As barbarians we are only an excellent and indispensable market for the Germans' merchandise, a two-hundred-million flock of sheep ready for the shears. As a cultured nation we are a power dangerous to the Teuton's dream of world dominion. And the Jewish question, with its excesses and nails driven into heads, is that trump which our honest German neighbour has always kept hidden in his cuff and which he throws out on the green table at the necessary moment. And he was right from his standpoint. But why had we to drink off the bitter cup? Losing our self-respect, having no faith in our power, growing corrupted by an unnatural existence, cutting down by means of the celebrated "norm" the number of our educated and cultured men—a devilish joke!—our entire nation was diligently performing the "Fools' Dance," which, under the name of a drama from Russian life, has recently met with such a success in the Berlin playhouses. It must not be forgotten that the ardent Polish anti-Semitism, which frightens us so much and which seriously hinders the upbuilding of a new life, as well as the cold Finnish anti-Semitism, the power of which is still unknown to us,—that these two phenomena are nothing but the logical development of the fundamental absurdity, its natural and poisonous fruits. But the time has not come yet to speak about that.

May I be pardoned that in an hour so momentous for the Jews I persist in speaking not of them and their sufferings, but of ourselves. I repeat, the Jewish question was never a question for me, and in order to justify the proposed measures I need not allege the heroism shown by the Jews in defending Russia, their love for Russia, tragic in its faithfulness. As for demonstrating again and again that a Jew, too, is a human being, to do so would mean not only to bow too low to absurdity, but also to insult those whom I respect and love. And if I persist in speaking of ourselves and our suffering, it is not for personal egoism, nor even class egoism, but the pardonable egoism of a nation, which has been too long playing a miserable part on Europe's stage and in its own conscience, and which now repudiates the suffering of yesterday and, at the dawn of new life, seeks the possibility—oh, only the possibility!—of respecting itself.

Yes, we are still barbarians, the Poles still mistrust us, we are a dark terror for Europe, a baffling menace to her civilisation, but we do not want to be that any more, we long for purity and reason, our wretched rags burden us beyond all measure. The Jews' tragic love for Russia finds a counterpart in our love for Europe, as tragical in its faithfulness and completeness. Are we not ourselves the Jews of Europe, and is not our frontier—the same "Pale of Settlement"—something in the nature of a Russian Ghetto? And try as our Pushkin and Dostoyevsky and your Byalik may to prove that we, too, are human beings, people do not believe us, as they do not believe you: here is that equality whence we all can derive a bitter consolation; here is the punishment by means of which impartial life takes revenge on the Russians for the Jews' sufferings.

The thirst for self-respect—that is the fundamental feeling which now, in the days of the most terrible war, has seized all Russian society, which has exalted the people to the heights of heroism, and which makes us fear all that reminds us of our sad past. That is why persecution of Germans in our own country is so unbearable to us; we want no persecution; that is why we hate all that, like the belching of yesterday's drinking, distorts our disinterested aims and intentions: better yield than take too much of what belongs to other people—that is nowadays the motto of the majority. Could the country become sober if not for this feeling which one has when about to receive holy communion? Although proud at the victories of our arms, we scrupulously hide this pride, we treasure it in our hearts as our most precious possession, and we hate all swaggering and self-adulation. Not with the haughtiness of a righteous pharisee do we approach the altar, but with a prayer of penitence: "like a murderer I profess Thee."

We must all understand that the end of Jewish sufferings is the beginning of our self-respect, without which Russia cannot exist. The black days of war will pass, and the "German barbarians" of to-day will again become cultured Germans, to whose voice the world will once more hearken with deference. And we must never again allow this or any other voice to utter aloud: "The Russian barbarians."


[1] This is an insulting synonym for "Jew."—Translator's Note.

* * * * *


Vladimir Galaktionovich Korolenko is to-day universally recognized in Russia as the most worthy guardian of the best traditions of Russian letters. He has done yeoman service to his country both as an author of humanitarian tales and as the mouth-piece of Russia's public conscience. After the government some time ago suppressed the magazine "Russian Wealth" which Korolenko had edited, he retired to the city of Poltava, in the South, and in late years his appearance in print has been a rare event. He was born in 1853.



One of the most intelligent though not one of the most profound opinions about the Jewish question I happened to hear from a chance fellow-traveller on the Atlantic Ocean. And although it was quite some time ago, and the man who expressed it was in no way remarkable, nevertheless this opinion is recalled to me on various occasions—very frequently in these days.

It was in 1904. Together with a fellow countryman, also a man of letters, I was travelling aboard a steamer of the Anglo-American Company, "Cunard." Our cabin was small and narrow. It was lighted by the dull light of an electric bull's-eye in the ceiling which served as a deck. There were three berths and a wash basin. My friend and I occupied two of the berths. On the third there camped the gentleman about whom we read in the passenger list: "Mr. Henry Jackson of Illinois." This was all we knew about him for the first few days. He rose very early, went to bed late and spent all day outside of the cabin. As a rule, we woke early, because to the muffled and steady splash of the ocean over the sides of the ship there was added a splash issuing from the basin, nearby. By the dim light of the bull's-eye I could see from my top berth a tall figure in a nightshirt as long as a shroud, with a small bald spot on the pate. Out of delicacy he did not turn on the electric lights and in the semi-darkness made his toilet very quietly, but was not able to forego the pleasure of emitting some snorts while splashing himself with cold water from the basin. Then he dived again into his berth and for some time quietly and cautiously busied himself there; then—a light squeak of the door, and a long figure glided out from the cabin. We were interested in the personality of our neighbour. He was the first American whom fate had brought so near to us. We were unable even to distinguish his face and during the day tried to single him out in the international crowd of gentlemen scurrying about the deck of our Urania, lounging on the deck-chairs, having luncheon, or dinner or supper, or lost in the smoke of cigars in the smoking room. This elusiveness made the personality of the traveller puzzling and interesting, and we bestowed the title of "Our American" now on one, now on another of the middle-aged American gentlemen. Of course, we marked as candidates the more interesting and typical figures. The Urania had been on the ocean for quite some time when my friend at last said to me: "I have found out which American is ours. Here he comes now. Look!"

Along the railing, a lanky gentleman and a short stout lady were coming toward us. I felt a sense of involuntary disappointment: both he and she were the least interesting of all the first-class passengers on the Urania.

A kind of half-European, half-exotic troupe were on the boat. They were going to America for a tour. The central figures in the group were two beautiful Creoles who had already succeeded in gaining a reputation in Europe. Around them were grouped a few stars of smaller magnitude, and the whole constellation attracted considerable attention from the men of the various nationalities represented on board. Soon a few couples circling the decks together came into notice. Amongst them were the lanky gentleman and the short, very vulgar lady, who looked like a maid or a duenna. As they passed in front of the other couples, one could sometimes notice slightly ironical glances and meaning smiles. But "our" American had a most self-satisfied, even somewhat victorious look. My companion, well-versed in English soon made a few acquaintances. Most often I saw him converse with "our" American in the hours when the latter was free from his knightly duties. Pretty soon we gained an insight into the main facts of his life-history. We learned that in his youth he had followed in turn a number of various callings, until one of them brought him success. He had retired and was now living on his large income, had provided very well for his two sons, had lost his wife, and decided to devote to pleasure the rest of his life which had begun amidst drudgery and many vicissitudes. He spent his time in travelling from one son to the other and retiring now and then to his own well-furnished home in Chicago. "When travelling you very often have very interesting adventures, don't you?" And he shot a triumphant and sly glance in the direction of his artistic lady.

Having learned that we were Russian writers, he decided at once that we were going to the Exhibition in the capacity of correspondents.

"Oh, yes, in my hard days I ate bread baked in this oven, too," he said, with an air of satisfaction. "There are many occupations which are more respectable and profitable.... But one tries everything. I can give you a good piece of advice. On the first train which will take you into the interior of the country, you will encounter a young man who offers illustrated guide-books for sale. Do not grudge your half-dollar, and buy these guide-books as frequently as possible. You will find in them excellent descriptions of noteworthy places, written by real masters. You can draw from them quite liberally. Even we, Americans, cannot know all our guide-books, as for Russia.... Heh-heh! Before reaching Chicago you will have several thousand lines.... Your readers will be satisfied, and so will your editor and you will earn your pay easily.... What?... Isn't that so?"

"Much obliged, sir!" answered my companion with ironical civility, and added in Russian: "The swine! He is cock-sure that he has benefited us highly by his advice."

My companion had a strong sense of humour, and every day he had some new episode, some characteristic opinion held by the American or some story of his past to tell me. Sometimes he would take out his note-book and make believe he was respectfully taking notes on some especially happy passages from these enlightening conversations. And at the same time he would say to me in Russian:

"He is deeply convinced that America is the best country in the world, Illinois is the best State in America, the street he lives on is the best street in his city, and his house the best house on the street. Now he is trying to persuade me that Chicago outgrew New York long ago and is now the first city in the world. Wait a minute ... there comes another one. That one is a New Yorker." He stopped the gentleman who was passing by and proceeded to introduce them to each other:

"Mr. Jackson of Illinois, Mr. Carson of New York."

Then in the naive tone of a person, somewhat perplexed, he asked:

"You told me that New York is the first city in the world. And here is Mr. Jackson who asserts that for the last ten years Chicago has outstripped New York in population. According to him Chicago has so many million inhabitants."

My companion leaned back slightly in his arm-chair and looked with obvious curiosity at the two Americans.

"Presently we shall have a cock-fight," he said to me in Russian, and a mocking twitch appeared beneath his moustache.

Mr. Carson straightened up. His eyebrows lifted impatiently but immediately his face took on an expression of polite calm, and slightly tipping his hat, he said: "It is very possible ... the gentleman evidently includes the population of the cemeteries of Chicago."

He bowed and resumed his walking, leaving Mr. Jackson aghast with mouth wide-open, speechless, for he had not time to protest. Then he got up quickly and walked along the deck.... My companion followed him with his smiling eyes....

"Perfect parrots," he said. "Petty patriotism, in its most naive form.... Dickens long ago noticed that trait of American character and so it goes on." My sly countryman skilfully interviewed his victim, disclosing step by step the ludicrous traits of a Yankee. There were many weak sides. Mr. Jackson, in whom we were mainly interested, proved to be a mediocre person in all respects, with a naively middle-class outlook on life, and we, the two Russian observers, revelled in that delightful malice which is so characteristic of Russians abroad. So that is what they are, the far-famed children of the transatlantic republic!

Sometime later, I again found my companion engaged in conversation with Mr. Jackson. The ocean was somewhat rough. The ladies did not come out on deck; Mr. Jackson was, therefore, free and evidently in high spirits. He spoke with great animation. My companion had his note-book in his hands and there was a slyly respectful smile on his face.

"We are discussing the Jewish question," he said in Russian. "Mr. Carson, a quarter of an hour ago, praised the Jews, and ever since 'our man' cannot calm down. He enlightens me with arguments which sound as if they were just taken from our yellow newspapers. Please, go on, sir," he respectfully addressed Mr. Jackson. "Everything you say is so new and interesting...."

Mr. Jackson, who was flattered by the respectful attention of the naive Russian, continued his sermon. It was before the days of the Beyliss trial. Nevertheless, except for the "ritual" murder, all the rest of the jargon of our anti-Semitic papers was there, and the Jewish character was painted the most frightful black.

On the other end of the deck resounded the shrill sound of the gong, a signal for lunch.

"Thank you, sir," said my companion. "It is with great pleasure that I have listened to your views on the subject, and I am certain that all this will be found extremely novel in our country.... I have a few more minutes to ask you one last question...."

"What else do you wish to know?" said Mr. Jackson.

"I wonder," answered my friend, "what conclusions are to be drawn from this enlightening conversation. You are undoubtedly against equal rights for the Jews. You would shut the doors of the country for the Jews, wouldn't you? And you would limit the rights of those who already live there, by establishing, let us say, something in the nature of a special zone outside of which they would not be allowed to settle?"

Even as my friend was saying this the American's eyebrows went up, forming a sharp angle, and he looked at the speaker with such an air of pity that the latter was somewhat put out of countenance.

"How in the world have you reached such a conclusion?" asked Jackson coldly, and somewhat severely.

"But ... you dislike the Jews heartily...."

The clanging of the gong was reaching our corner. Mr. Jackson rose and buttoning his coat, he said:

"It does not follow. You have made a bad syllogism: the conclusion does not follow from the premises."

"But, sir...."

"It is true that I dislike those people, but it doesn't follow that I want their rights restricted...."

And after a moment of deliberation, as though seeking for the clearest form of explanation, he went on.

"Here we are being called for dinner ... I must tell you, sir, that I cannot tolerate green peas. That is my personal taste. But it does not follow by any means, gentlemen, that I have the right to demand that green peas should not be served.... Probably, others like the dish...."

And rising to his full height, he added:

"As for the rest of your words ... as an American, I would feel insulted, if there were in my country citizens deprived of equal rights.... That a Kentuckian, for instance, should not have the right to breathe freely the air of Illinois.... My goodness.... The idea!"

And he started out, moving along the railing, straight and gaunt, and, there was something peculiar in his entire figure. He seemed to feel himself deeply insulted. At the door of the smoking-room, he met Mr. Carson of New York, his recent antagonist, and amiably taking his arm, he started to tell him something in great excitement. Judging by the way Mr. Carson turned to look at us, it was evident that they were discussing us Russians, the gentlemen who draw false conclusions from premises.

We exchanged glances. Half a minute passed in perplexed silence. Then we both laughed at once....

"Rira bien qui rira le dernier. We must confess that this time it is 'our' rather bad American who laughs last," said my sarcastic friend. "And did you notice the expression on his face at that moment?"

"Yes, it looked positively intelligent.... Probably, because the experience and wisdom of a great nation, which has already firmly established axioms, were speaking at that moment through the mouth of our American...."

"And the negroes?" said my friend hesitatingly and thoughtfully.

"Well, the negroes are 'the black peas' which Americans detest. But that is a matter of social custom; the law, however, does not distinguish them from other citizens.... To love, not to love ... that is elusive and capricious, but justice is obligatory, like an axiom...."

Entering the dining-room, I felt somewhat uneasy.... It seemed to me that all the Americans would turn and eye us, the representatives of a nation which has not as yet learned the axioms of law, and which draws childishly false conclusions from premises....

But I was mistaken. There was in the dining-room the usual rustling, clatter of plates, forks and knives, tinkling of glasses, and whispered conversation. "Our" American was sitting at the side of his odd Dulcinea, and he again looked like a self-satisfied cox-comb. But, it seemed to me that into the everyday mood of the vessel's table-d'hote, there entered something elusive and significant, which could change the appearance of this motley crowd just as our American's face had changed at the end of our conversation.

And, in fact, a few weeks later, I happened to be present at one of those tempestuous manifestations of public opinion which at times break out like storms on the surface of the ocean. There is much that is ridiculous in the every-day tone of American newspapers, in their thirst for sensations and reclame, in their petty interviews. But here everything was suddenly swept aside, and the dominant tone of the American press became deep and significant. Now and then the voices of past generations,—the men who had been the builders of freedom and law in their country, the voices of Lincolns, Harrisons, and Davises pierced the bustle of every-day life and were heard in editorials, articles, in the speeches delivered at meetings.

The occasion for all this was again the Jewish question, and the ignorance of axioms shown by a nation of the old continent. And it occurred to me that probably somewhere in Chicago, Mr. Jackson, "who dislikes green peas," was delivering, or at least listening to, a speech about the axioms of human law, and was voting in favor of a corresponding resolution.

For he firmly believes that love is capricious. Like mercy, it bloweth, whither it listeth.... But justice, justice is obligatory....

* * * * *


Professor Paul Nikolayevich Milyukov, the central figure in the present Russian revolution, was born in 1859. Before the upheaval in 1905 he was known as a distinguished historian. In 1903 and 1904 he lectured on Russia at Harvard and at the University of Chicago, and in 1908 he spoke on the situation in Russia before the Civic Forum in Carnegie Hall. Ever since the revolutionary days of 1905-6, Professor Milyukov has been playing a most conspicuous part in the Russian emancipatory movement, as the leader of the Constitutional party, as a Duma deputy and the editor of the influential radical newspaper Ryech.



The Jewish question in Russia presents altogether peculiar aspects. This is not only because there are in the Empire six million Jews, i.e., more than in any other State in the world, and because in the provinces annexed at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, they form as much as 11 per cent. of the population—but also for the reason that the legal status of the Russian Jews completely differs from that of other non-Russian nationalities which go to make the Empire. These nationalities endeavour to obtain the many rights of which they are deprived. The most important of these rights is national autonomy, i.e., the right of a collective unit to preserve and develop its national individuality. In this manner they desire to protect themselves from the danger of assimilation, from the possibility of their fusion with the dominant nationality. Of course the Jews, too, have been striving, especially in late years, to realise national autonomy and thus safeguard the rights and aspirations of their collective unit. But they lack still other rights. They have still to be granted those rights which to a considerable degree other Russian subjects, not of Russian birth, enjoy. The law does not protect the elementary civil rights of the Jews as members of our common Russian commonwealth. Consequently, that which the Jews strive for is far more elementary, far more primitive and simple, than the objective of other non-Russian nationalities which inhabit Russia.

Anti-Semitism is not peculiar to Russia; it is to be found in other countries as well. But there it exists as an emotion and a state of mind, not as a system of legislative definitions. The time has long since passed when the legislatures of the world failed to guarantee the elementary civil rights of the Jews. Roumania alone constitutes a peculiar exception. But, as a rule, in all civilised States the law guarantees Jewish rights, and religious and racial differences do not create legal disabilities. Nevertheless, if anti-Semitism is still in existence in the Western countries, the aims it pursues there are political. It continues to be the weapon of political reaction. And its objective, at its extreme, is by no means like the grandiose programme of utter destruction of the Jews which is pursued by the "truly-Russian" theoreticians of our reaction.

Consequently, the Jewish question in Russia means, above all, the legal disabilities of the individual Jews that result from the discriminations made against them as a religious and national entity. It is only one aspect of our general inequality and of our lack of civil freedom. The problem of Jewish equal rights in Russia is the problem of the equal rights of all our citizens in general. That is why the anti-Semitical parties in Russia have a larger political significance and importance than the anti-Semitical parties of the West. In our country they almost coincide with anti-constitutional parties, in general, and anti-Semitism is the banner of the old regime, of which we still struggle in vain to rid ourselves. This accounts for the fact that the Jewish question occupies such a prominent place in Russian social and political life. Here the struggle for general rights coincides with the struggle for national rights. That is why the Jewish problem has come to occupy the centre of our political stage.

I must add that Russian anti-Semitism, as defined above, is a comparatively new phenomenon, in fact, it may be asserted that it is a phenomenon of most recent origin. However ancient may be the instincts on which our anti-Semites try to play, anti-Semitism itself as a political motto, as a movement with a party platform and definite aims, is a new means of political struggle, invented and applied only in late years. Of course, in the past there can be found manifestations—very crude and coarse—of what might be termed "zoological" anti-Semitism. In 1563, Ivan the Terrible conquered Polotzk, and for the first time the Russian Government was confronted by the fact of the existence of the Jewish nationality. The Czar's advisers were somewhat perplexed and asked him what to do with these newly acquired subjects. Ivan the Terrible answered unhesitatingly: "Baptise them or drown them in the river."

They were drowned. And the old Russian "zoological" nationalism was satisfied by this primitive solution of the problem. But the political wisdom of Czar Ivan's times has long since become obsolete.

A century later Russian statehood for the second time ran across the Jewish problem when Smolensk was taken by Czar Alexyey Mikhaylovich the Debonnaire, also an old Russian nationalist who was not conscious of his nationalism. He could not make up his mind to settle it by simply destroying the object which perplexed Russia's political mind. After due deliberation, he decided to have the Jews deported. This was a somewhat milder measure. Another century passed, and Russia conquered the vast and rich territory which is included in the so-called "Pale of Settlement." This portion of Russia was peopled with many millions of Jews. It was not possible any longer to do away with this large population by either drowning it in a river, or even—as many are still planning in all earnestness—by deportation. Thus, the Russian state, in the person of Empress Catherine II, for the first time found itself forced to face the Jewish question in a form which did not allow of simply waving it aside. How then did the enlightened Empress settle it? Well, she simply did not put the question. Her decision was nearly this: The Jews have lived there—let them stay there; they had certain rights relating to their faith and property—let them enjoy these rights in the future. The Interpretation of the Senate even more strongly emphasised this thought. Here is the gist of this Interpretation: "Since the Imperial Ukase has placed the Jews in a legal status of equality with the rest of the population, the rule established by her Majesty should, therefore, be followed in application to each particular case. Every one should enjoy his rights and acquisitions according to his condition and calling without distinction of faith and nationality."

Such was the decision of the Senate of the time of Catherine the Great. There can be no question here of a negative solution of the Jewish problem, for the very possibility of such a problem was not considered. Least of all did Catherine think that in the lapse of years her ukase of December 23, 1791, in which neither faith nor nationality was mentioned, would give birth to ... the "Pale of Settlement." At that time the Jews were confined within the limits of the "Pale" neither more nor less than the Ukrainian population of that section, or the people of the old Russian provinces were. It will be remembered that in those times the law forbade a townsman to take up his residence in another town or in a village. It was not a special limitation intended for the Jews, it affected all the Russian subjects throughout the Empire. How then did it result in a special Jewish disability?

It did not result either from the increase in the rights of other citizens, or from the limitation of the rights of the Jews as a nationality. The afore-mentioned limitations were removed from the townspeople of non-Jewish birth both in the newly annexed provinces and elsewhere. But they remained in full force in relation to the Jews, living in towns. But since all the Jews were registered as townspeople, this restriction coincided with the limits of their nationality. Hence arose the "Pale" which assumed the character of a national disability. Thus, the problem of Jewish disabilities was practically solved before the legislator ever formulated the Jewish question.

For this reason, in the times of Catherine II, when the main features of the future Jewish disabilities were becoming a fact, the Government did not solve the general Jewish question in principle. Likewise, during the entire century which followed Catherine's reign, that is, all through the nineteenth century, our legislation was in a state of constant indecision.

A brief historical survey will show plainly the accuracy of this statement. In 1795 the Jews who lived in the villages of the Province of Minsk were ordered to move to the towns. In the following year they were permitted to stay in the villages, because the landed proprietors employed them as agents for the sale of whiskey. In the year 1801 a new edict again expels the Jews from the villages. In 1802 the Senate rules that they must stay in their former places of residence. In 1804—the year that saw the first Regulation concerning the Jews—they are ordered to be expelled within three years from the villages throughout the country. But in 1808 before the term expires the law is found impracticable. The Jews again remained where they had been established, their status being subject to further regulation. Then the Committee of the year 1812 came to the conclusion that the law of 1804 must be completely abrogated, in view of its being unjust and dangerous. Between 1812 and 1827 the mood of the legislation is again altered and prohibitive measures follow one another. In 1835, these measures are once more found to be useless and inefficient. In 1852, expulsions are renewed, but a few years later, with the beginning of the liberal reign of Alexander II, this policy is again abandoned and an interval of rest and quiet, covering a quarter of a century, is inaugurated. Then the temporary Regulations of 1882 undertake to prohibit new Jewish settlements outside of towns. Former settlements, although illegal, were legalised and exempted from persecution. But in 1893 all the Jews who had illegally settled in the villages were again ordered to be expelled therefrom. Nevertheless, the committee of the year 1899 not only refused to ratify this measure, but, on the contrary, it recognised the necessity of relaxing even the old Temporary Regulation of 1882. And, in fact, in 1903 we find the Jewish settlements in 158 villages. At the same time, the Jewish rural population within the limits of the "Pale of Settlement" grew considerably. In 1881 there lived in the villages 580,000 Jews; in the year 1897 they reached the number of 711,000.

Thus did our legislation concerning the Jews fluctuate and vacillate. And amidst these hesitations the thought of a complete removal of all the Jewish disabilities never died. Here is another historical excursion covering a century. The Committee of Jewish Affairs of the year 1803 plainly established this regulation: "the maximum of freedom and the minimum of limitations." The second Committee, whose activities fall in the period from 1807 to 1812, proved even more thoroughgoing, for it was more familiar with the conditions of Russian life. It asserted that the Jews are useful and necessary for the Russian village. It added, furthermore, that the negative, dark phenomena which are attributed by some to the presence of Jews in the villages, in reality are characteristic of Russian life in general, and cannot be said to be due to the Jewish influence. This was also the opinion of the minority of the Imperial Council in 1835. In 1858, the Minister of the Interior himself demanded equal rights for the Jews, and the reactionary Committee on Jewish affairs agreed to the demand on the sole condition that the disabilities should be removed gradually, from various Jewish groups. The new Committee of 1872 acted even more vigorously. It believed that the abolition of Jewish disabilities is, in general, nothing but an act of justice, and that this abolition must be carried out not gradually, but immediately i.e. it must include all the groups of the Jewish population. Again, the Committee of 1883 comes to the same conclusion that it is necessary to give the Jews equal rights. That was the opinion even of Von Pleve, who is known to the world for his persecution of the Jews. In the period from 1905 to 1907 the revision of the legislation concerning the Jews for the purpose of abolishing the prohibitive measures was considered but a question of time and was left to the consideration of the people's representatives in the Imperial Duma which had just come into being. The opinion of the first two sessions of the Duma is well known. The People's representatives in the first two Dumas announced directly and unambiguously that the realisation of full civic freedom, for Jews as well as for the rest of the citizens, was one of their first tasks. Then a new reactionary election law was introduced. It made a radical change in the composition of the Imperial Duma and also in the attitude of the latter toward the Jewish question. The outright usefulness of the part played by the Jews in the economic life of both town and village,—this fact, which even reactionary governments, ministers and committees ceased doubting, was again questioned by the newly elected representatives of the Russian people. It is only from that moment on that it became possible to plan such measures as the abolition of those meagre rights which the Jews are still enjoying. Thus, together with the victory of political reaction the new anti-Semitism, which we cannot any longer overlook, has become triumphant.

Our historical excursion enables us also to explain the reason why in the present phrase of Russian social life the Jewish problem has again arisen in an unprecedented form. It was simply a new political weapon, in a sense, the result of the new form of political life. As long as the nation was voiceless, as long as all matters were decided by the bureaucracy in the quiet of offices, committees, and ministries, it was possible for the Government to ignore the people as a factor in legislation, and to take into account nothing but the needs and the welfare of the state as it understood them. But when the nation was called to participate in state affairs, there arose the need of influencing it in a certain sense. It became necessary to work up the masses, to act on their intellect and will. Official anti-Semitism is the most primitive means of satisfying this need, a simplified attempt to bridle the masses, to suggest to them the feelings, motives, views and methods which are in the interest of those who play the game. In other words, demagogy came into being. For the purposes of demagogy a special political weapon, corresponding to the political conditions under the new regime, was created,—namely artificial political parties.

Thus, anti-Semitism of the new type, however strange this conclusion may appear, is the product of the constitutional epoch. It is a response to the need for new means of influencing the masses. And in this sense anti-Semitism plays in Russia the same role as it played in Western Europe.

Bismarck, it will be remembered, called anti-Semitism the socialism of fools. In order to combat the socialism of intelligent people, it is necessary to take hold of the ignorant masses and to mislead them by showing them the imaginary enemy of their welfare instead of the real one. Anti-Semitism says to the ignorant masses: "There is your enemy, fight the Jews, and you will improve your life conditions...." It is well known that such attempts to apply anti-Semitism for the purpose of creating social parties of the new type were more than once made in the West. As an example, I shall cite the Christian Social Party in Austria, with its late leader, Lueger.

There is one small difference between us and the West. In Russia the masses are not so well prepared to appreciate a social argument, even when served in a simplified form. In Russia anti-Semitism is forced to present this argument in an even more popular form, making an appeal to the most elementary passions and instincts. F.I. Rodichev once remarked in the Duma, parodying Bismarck's aphorism to fit it to our conditions, that anti-Semitism is "the patriotism of perplexed people." In fact, anti-Semitism in Russia is a means of creating a nationalism of a definite type in the masses, it is with this aim in view that our anti-Semites play on the racial and religious animosities of the masses.

In spite of this difference, the very means, ways, and methods our anti-Semites use in their striving to mould the popular mind are of distinctly foreign origin. It is enough to collate the arguments expounded in the Duma or printed in the Russian Standard and Zemshchina with the anti-Semitic literature of the West, such as Drumont's books, or similar German works,—and it becomes apparent that in the latter the entire anti-Semitic arsenal of our nationalists is to be found ready-made. It is from thence that mediaeval legends of ritual murders and law projects concerning the slaughter of cattle, and such-like inventions, are imported to us.

Anti-Semitism serves in Russia one more purpose. It is not sufficient to influence the masses. It is also necessary to act on the powers that be. If it is imperative to get hold of the masses, it is also necessary to frighten the authorities. Thus a new version of the anti-Semitic legend comes into being: the legend of the Jew as the creator of the Russian revolution. It is the Jew,—so our anti-Semites assure us—who created the Russian emancipatory movements, it is he who formed the revolutionary organisation, it is he who marched under the red banners.... The Russian who would give credence to this tale would show his disrespect for the Russian nation. To assert that it is only owing to the help of the Jew that the Russian people freed themselves is tantamount to saying that without the Jew, the Russian nation can not reach the road of its own emancipation. No, however great my respect for the exceptional gifts of the Jewish people may be, I will not refuse the Russian nation the ability of taking the initiative in the cause of its own freedom.

But there is another side to this matter. If there can be no question of the dependence of the emancipation movement on the Jews, the dependence of the Jews on the emancipatory movement is very real. What must be the Jew's attitude toward this movement? There can be only one answer to the question. The Jewish masses have realised the importance for them of the emancipatory movement not only because they are more enlightened, because they are more educated, because they are not addicted to alcoholism, and, hence, are superior to their neighbours in their understanding of their own needs; the Jewish masses were also led to side with the movement for freedom because in their case it was a struggle for elementary rights the importance of which is plain to every one and vitally concerns every one. That is why the entire Jewish mass may actually be reckoned in the ranks of those who are with the Russian emancipatory movement.

One more remark in conclusion. In late years the "inorodtzy" (Russian subjects of non-Russian birth), having lost their hope that the Russian emancipatory movement would bring them any immediate practical results, have sought to influence the Government by means of more direct methods. There are national movements which believe that they would more rapidly get national rights by means of negotiating with the bureaucracy. They are inclined to think that this way is more direct than the participation in the Russian emancipatory movement. Other national groups, in the struggle for their national rights, choose a different kind of tactics: they seek a more direct way in another direction,—not through the bureaucracy, not from above, but from below. They, too, believe that the "inorodtzy" must organise for their specific national aims and keep apart from the common cause of Russia's political emancipation.

From what has been said about the peculiar nature of the Jewish question which results in the sufferings of the Jews not only as a national group, but also as individual citizens, it follows that it is difficult for the Jews more than for any other group of "inorodtzy" to accept either one of the aforenamed tactical methods. The Jews must bear in mind with especial clearness that their fate is closely and inseparably interwoven with the fate of the general emancipatory movement in Russia. They must also keep in mind that the separate national movements which disrupt the bonds of political parties in order to make place for their national programmes, may prove injurious to our common cause. They may lead us away from the common highroad to by-paths where we all run the risk of going apart and losing our way. And here is the practical conclusion to which these considerations lead. The separate national movements should be postponed until the solution of the general problem of all-Russian emancipation. Let us hope that the Jewish nation understands the close connection existing between its fate and that of Russia's freedom, now, as well as it did in those years when it fought in the ranks of the Russian progressive movements. Let us hope that in the future, as in the past, the emancipation of the different nationalities which people the Russian Empire will be fought for in the common ranks of the all-Russian movement for freedom.

* * * * *


Mikhail Vladimirovich Bernatzky, born in 1878, is a noted writer on economical topics. He taught economics at the Kiev University and at the Polytechnical Institute, Petrograd.



Much has been written about the insufferable situation of the Russian Jews, these serfs of the twentieth century, chained to "the Pale of Settlement," somewhat like the Roman colons, "glebae adscripti." The tragic history of late years and the epoch through which we are living can disturb the inner composure of the most indifferent spectator of current events. It is painful to touch upon many aching and essentially clear questions, but life constantly and severely demands that they should be brought before our minds, and life awaits an answer to them from the thought and conscience of Russian society.

It is not our intention to discuss the necessity for the removal of Jewish disabilities from the humanitarian standpoint. However majestic may be those "elementary principles of law and morality," which have been achieved by mankind on its long historic road and which are now the very basis of civilisation, in the eyes of many they are still little more than "fine words," stylistic embellishments of highbrow talk. Of course, the atmosphere of discriminations is equally pernicious for those who suffer and those who are privileged: did not serfdom corrupt the master as well as the slave? All this is eminently true. But there are arguments, which we regret to say, are more appealing and convincing. It is these arguments that we shall treat in the present paper.

The reader is well aware of the fact that in these days nothing has been discussed more vividly than the necessity of developing Russia's productive powers. The intimate connection between the general prosperity of our country and its economic progress has penetrated into the consciousness of people at large. It is the war, evidently, that has driven this truth home to us: namely that the ultimate success of the conflict depends not only on the activity of the armies, but also on the economic stability of the belligerent nations. The economic difficulties which are being experienced by Germany, strengthen our faith in our final victory. More than a quarter of a century ago the Russian Minister of Finance, who took great pains to develop our industry, wrote in the explanatory memoir which accompanied the project of the state budget:

"I believe it to be the duty I owe Your Imperial Majesty to express my firm, clear, and profound conviction that economic prosperity of the people even when coupled with a somewhat imperfect military organisation will be more useful in case of war than the most complete military preparedness combined with economic weakness. In the latter case, the people, however eager they may be to sacrifice both their life and property, can bring to the altar of the fatherland their life only, but they will be unable to furnish the necessary financial means for the State."

It is from this standpoint of economic interests that we shall approach the painful Jewish question. The time is long since past when it was possible to say with the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna: "From Christ's enemies I desire no profit." It is precisely in this profit that both the Exchequer and the higher classes, and—what is most important—the people at large, are greatly interested. The basic productive force of a country is the living work of its population. The body politic of Russia contains about six millions of gifted and undoubtedly industrious Jews. The manner in which the forces of this people are applied will be treated further on. For the moment let us state this: it is to the interest of the Russian State to utilise economically this living Jewish energy as completely and rationally as possible. From this standpoint all the obstacles which are created for the Jews in the field of education are absolutely incomprehensible: it is as if our country, sorely lacking as it is not only in representatives of superior qualified labour, but actually in literate people, were striving to increase its ignorance and intellectual backwardness. Of course, formal justification can be found for every act, and every evil-doer endeavours to convince himself of the justice of his evil deeds. So it is in this case, too: the intentional shutting-off of the Jewish masses from education is motivated by the desire to keep them from becoming superior to the Russian population, which, it is said, is intellectually inferior to the Jews. This argument is an outright insult flung in the face of the Russian people. It shows that the official guardians of the nation do not know its rich natural powers. But this argument cannot obscure the essential nature of Jewish disabilities as an intentional neglect of that productive power which is represented by a portion of the Russian subjects. Our economic organism does not get all the benefits to which it may rightfully lay claim.

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