With the collapse of the Soviet Union and opening of Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish archives, the genocide of the Jewish people committed by the Russian Imperial Army during World War I is increasingly becoming a topic of books and scholarly research.
The appreciation that this purposeful destruction was the prelude to the Holocaust is slowly but surely entering today's scholarship as well.
This book, the first in a projected series of books on the Khurbm by the Center for Jewish Life Studies, makes available to English readers a collection of the most important eyewitness testimonies which have reached us, as well as reports and documents depicting anti-Jewish atrocities committed by the Russian Imperial Army during what many still call the Great War, specifically during 1914–1915.
the Author -- Khurbm: 1914–1922. Prelude to the Holocaust. The Beginning.
Alexander Gendler ---
Alexander Gendler, a former NPR “Morning Edition” commentator, syndicated columnist, and a contributing writer to the New York Times Op-Ed page, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Forgotten Genocide project https://www.forgottengenocide.org which is sponsored by The Center for Jewish Life Studies.
At the start of World War I, Tsar Nicholas II issued his “Temporary
Rules Regarding the Field Command,” which dramatically expanded
the rights and privileges of the Russian Army over the civilian population
in the areas where the army was positioned. The Tsar appointed
Grand Prince Nikolai Nikolayevich Romanov, his uncle, whom he
didn't particularly get along with, as the army's Supreme Commander-
While most of the Russian Imperial Army's officers and generals suffered
from malignant forms of antisemitic disease, it was General Nikolai
Yanushkevich, the Chief of the General Staff (Stavka) of the Russian Imperial
Army, whose obsession with the Jews reached the point of sickening
sadism, who propelled the virulent hostility of the Tsar's army toward the
almost six million Jews of Russia. It was Yanushkevich's intimate relationship
with the Tsar that was the true source of his power within the army.
Unable to criticize the Tsar himself, the members of the Russian
civilian government, which at this point had lost much of its power as
a result of changes, vented their anger—which Tsar Nicholas II fully
deserved—against Yanushkevich. “Russia seems to be inevitably headed toward tragedy,” declared A. V. Krivoshein, the Minister of Agriculture
and one of the most influential people in the Russian government.
“Sometimes it feels like you are inside of a madhouse.”
Agreeing with him, the other ministers described Yanushkevich as
not only naive but also as “unforgivably stupid,” one who imagines
himself as an unrecognized genius. “In him,” his critics said, “unlimited
autocracy has now been combined with unlimited irresponsibility.
According to him, it is always someone else's fault. He is alien to the
Russian people, and his initiatives are the result of shameless moral
However, it was the Stavka's orders of civilian deportations from
the areas along the front line that produced the most intense anger. According
to that same A. V. Krivoshein, “Curses, diseases, horrors, and
poverty are being spread throughout all of Russia; the hungry and dirty
deportees saw panic and fear everywhere extinguishing the last flame of
the popular enthusiasm for war that existed at the beginning.”
In horror, many civilian officials of the Russian government had
observed the systematic, diabolical persecution of the Jews. More than
once in writing and during meetings in person, some of its ministers implored
the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and General Yanushkevich
to stop this disastrous policy.
“Even vile antisemites visited the members of Government with
protestations and complaints regarding the army's disgusting attitude toward
Jews at the front,” show the notes11 from the Council of Ministers
meetings. Nothing, however, had any effect.
A sweeping collection of eye-witness testimonies and official documents in English translation that chronicle the now largely forgotten anti-Jewish war crimes committed by the Russian Imperial Army during the First World War.
--- Prof. Eugene M. Avrutin, University of Illinois Author of The Velizh Affair: Blood Libel in a Russian Town. (Oxford University Press: 2017)
An extremely important collection of sources available for the first time in English translation that document the persecution of Jews in First World War Russia.
--- Polly Zavadivker, Director, Jewish Studies Program, University of Delaware Author of 1915. Diary of S. An-sky. (Indiana University Press, 2016)
The work of serious scholarship which raises difficult questions about special conditions in Eastern Europe that fermented there the genocidal anti-Semitism. By placing the Holocaust in a wider historical framework, it enhances our understanding of its roots.
--- Kiril Feferman, Director of Holocaust History Center at the Ariel University, Israel Author of The Holocaust in the Crimea and the North Caucasus. (Jerusalem, Yad Vashem: 2016)
“A timely reminder that the thrust of 20th century anti-Jewish exterminatory violence did not begin with Hitler. Contemporaneous with an emergent Armenian genocide, in 1914-15, Russia's military chiefs sought to ethnically cleanse the historic Ashkenazi heartlands. Khurbm presents vivid chapter and verse on this largely forgotten prelude to European Jewry's destruction a world war later.”
--- Mark Levene, Emeritus Fellow in History at the University of Southampton Author of The Crisis of Genocide, vols. 1 & 2 (New York, Oxford University Press, 2016)
"This book is essential reading for all those interested in the history of the pogroms and anti-Jewish violence, between 1914 and 1922."
--- Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe Freie Universität Berlin
“One does not have to agree with the conclusions of Alexander Gendler's explosive book, Khurbm: 1914-1922 — on the meaning of genocide or causative ramifications of World War I events re the Holocaust — to appreciate the book's huge contribution to the debate. We have long had in our consciousness the mass murders of Jews by Petliura's hordes and other Ukrainian nationalists, by nationalist Polish Legionnaires and others. But for all our folkloric knowledge of the abuses, prejudice and antisemitic crimes of the czarist regime, very few have any real idea of the degree of cruelty, injury and mass murder against Jewish civilians perpetrated directly or indirectly by the czarist forces in the dying throes of the Russian Empire during World War I. This does change the debate. The first-hand accounts the author presents, in elegant English translation, serve as a decisive and often shocking corrective to the narrative.”
--- Dovid Katz, Lecturer in Yiddish language and Jewish Civilization, Founding Editor of “Defending History.”
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