||Rare pamphlet on the question of Russian Jewry. Was soll aus.den Russischen Juden werden? (What will become of Russian Jewry). A search of major European and American libraries found one copy only, in the HUC library in Cincinnati.
The pamphlet, which lacks the name of the author, addresses the question of Russian Jewry, the largest such community in the world at that time, with a population of more than 5,000,000 at the close of the 19th century, or about one-half of world Jewry. The year 1881 was a turning point in the history of the Jews of Russia. In March 1881 revolutionaries assassinated Alexander II. Confusion reigned throughout the country. The revolutionaries called on the people to rebel. The regime was compelled to protect itself, and the Russian government found a scapegoat: the notion was encouraged that the Jews were responsible for the misfortunes of the nation. Anti-Jewish riots (pogroms) broke out in a number of towns and townlets of southern Russia including Yelizavetgrad (Kirovograd) and Kiev. These disorders consisted of looting, while there were few acts of murder or rape. Similar pogroms were repeated in 1882 (Balta, etc.); in 1883 (Yekaterinoslav, now Dnepropetrovsk, Krivoi Rog, Novo-Moskovsk, etc.); and in 1884 (Nizhni-Novgorod, now Gorki). The indifference to, and at times even sympathy for, the rioters on the part of the Russian intellectuals shocked many Jews, especially the maskilim among them. Revolutionary circles which hoped to transform these disorders into a revolt against the landowners and government also supported the rioters. The new czar, Alexander III (1881–94), and his cabinet underlined these trends in their policy toward the Jews. Provincial commissions were appointed in the wake of the pogroms to investigate their causes. In the main these commissions stated that "Jewish exploitation" had caused the pogroms. Based on this finding, the "Temporary Laws" were published in May 1882 (see May Laws). These prohibited the Jews from living in villages and restricted the limits of their residence to the towns and townlets. In an attempt to halt the flood of Jews now seeking entry to secondary schools and universities, and their competition with the non-Jewish element, the number of Jewish students in the secondary and higher schools was limited by law in 1886 to 10% in the Pale of Settlement and to 3–5% outside it. This numerus clausus did much to accomplish the radicalization of Jewish youth in Russia. Many went to study abroad; others were able to enter Russian schools only if showing outstanding ability. All became embittered and disillusioned with the existing Russian society. In 1891 the systematic expulsion of most of the Jews from Moscow began. The pogroms were indeed halted in 1884 but instead administrative harassment of Jews became worse. The police strictly applied the discriminatory laws, and the expulsion of Jews from towns and villages where they had lived peacefully during the reign of Alexander II was effected, either under the law or with the help of bribery, to become a daily occurrence. The press (which was subjected to severe censorship) conducted a campaign of unbridled anti-Semitic propaganda. K. Pobedonostsev, the head of the "Holy Synod" (the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church), formulated the objectives of the government when he expressed the hope that "one-third of the Jews will convert, one-third will die, and one-third will flee the country." It was these circles which produced the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" which served, and still serve, as fuel for anti-Semitism throughout the world. In this atmosphere a proposal for a debate in the Duma on the abolition of the Pale of Settlement was shelved, while a suggestion to exclude the Jews from military service was not accepted for the sole reason that the government could not dispense with the service of about 40,000 Jewish soldiers. Characteristic of this period was the law issued in 1912 which prohibited the appointment as officers not only of apostates from Judaism, but also of their children and grandchildren. In 1913 the government held a blood libel trial in Kiev involving Mendel Beilis: the anti-Semitic propaganda was intensified and the government mobilized its police and judicial cadres to obtain his conviction. A strong defense was mustered, including the Jews O. Grusenberg and Rabbi J. Mazeh, which succeeded in disproving the libel: the jury, consisting of 12 Russian peasants, acquitted the accused. The pogroms, restrictive decrees, and administrative pressure caused a mass emigration of Jews from Russia, especially to the United States. During 1881 to 1914 about 2,000,000 Jews left Russia. This emigration did not result in a decrease in the Jewish population of the country as the high birthrate recompensed the losses through emigration. The economic situation improved however because the pressure on the sources of livelihood did not grow at its former pace and also because the emigrants rapidly began to send financial assistance to their relatives in Russia. Several attempts were made to organize and regulate this continual emigration, the most important by the Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch who reached an agreement in 1891 with the Russian government on the transfer of 3,000,000 Jews within 25 years to Argentina. For this purpose, the Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) was established. Even though the project was not realized, ICA was very active in promoting Jewish agricultural settlement both in the lands of emigration and in Russia itself.