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A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group, particularly one aimed at Jews. The term originally entered the English language to describe 19th- and 20th-century attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire (mostly within the Pale of Settlement in present-day Ukraine); similar attacks against Jews at other times and places also became retrospectively known as pogroms. The word is now also sometimes used to describe publicly sanctioned purgative attacks against non-Jewish ethnic or religious groups.
Significant pogroms in the Russian Empire included the Odessa pogroms, Warsaw pogrom (1881), Kishinev pogrom (1903), Kiev Pogrom (1905), and Białystok pogrom (1906), and, after the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Lwów pogrom (1918) and Kiev Pogroms (1919). The most significant pogrom in Nazi Germany was the Kristallnacht of 1938 in which 91 Jews were killed, a further 30,000 arrested and subsequently incarcerated in concentration camps, 1,000 synagogues burned, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.
Notorious pogroms of World War II included the 1941 Farhud in Iraq, the July 1941 Iaşi pogrom in Romania – in which over 13,200 Jews were killed – as well as the Jedwabne pogrom in Poland. Post-World War II pogroms included the 1945 Tripoli pogrom, the 1946 Kielce pogrom and the 1947 Aleppo pogrom.
Pogroms against non-Jews include the 1914 anti-Serb pogrom in Sarajevo, 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom against Igbos in southern Nigeria; the 1988 Sumgait and Kirovabad pogroms, and the 1990 Baku pogrom in which ethnic Armenians were targeted.
The Russian word pogrom (погром), with stress on the second syllable, is a noun derived from the verb gromit (громи́ть) meaning "to destroy, to wreak havoc, to demolish violently". It is used in English and many other languages as a loanword, possibly borrowed via Yiddish (where the word takes the form פאָגראָם pogrom). Its widespread international currency began with the anti-Semitic excesses in the Russian Empire in 1881–1883, partly through the writings of Irish journalist Michael Davitt in his coverage of the Kishinev pogrom.
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Part of Jewish history
The 1821 Odessa pogroms marked the start of the nineteenth century wave of pogroms in the Russian empire, with further pogroms in Odessa (now in Ukraine) in 1859. However, the period 1881–1884 was a peak period, with over 200 anti-Jewish events occurred in the Russian Empire, notably Kiev, Warsaw and Odessa.
Many pogroms accompanied the post-1917 period of the Russian Civil War: an estimated 70,000 to 250,000 civilian Jews were killed throughout the former Russian Empire; the number of Jewish orphans exceeded 300,000. In his book 200 Years Together, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn[unreliable source?] provides these numbers from Nahum Gergel's 1951 study of the pogroms in Ukraine: out of an estimated 1,236 incidents of anti-Jewish violence, 887 mass pogroms occurred, the remainder being classified as "excesses" not assuming mass proportions. Of the pogroms, about 40% were perpetrated by the Ukrainian People's Republic forces led by Symon Petliura, 25% by the Ukrainian Green Army and various Ukrainian nationalist gangs, 17% by the White Army, especially the forces of Anton Denikin. A further 8.5% of Gergel's total figure is attributed to pogroms carried out by men of the Red Army – although these pogroms were not sanctioned by the Red Army leadership, and where Red Army troops had perpetrated pogroms, the Bolshevik high command subsequently disarmed entire regiments and executed individual pogromists to deter further outbreaks. The Ukrainian People's Republic of Symon Petliura did also issue orders condemning pogroms and attempted to investigate them. But it lacked authority to stop violence. In the last months of its existence it lacked any power of creating social stability.
There were exceptions, however, as related by author and future Nobel laureate Ivan Bunin. On May 15, 1919, Bunin wrote in his diary,
Members of the Red Army in Odessa led a pogrom against the Jews in the town of Big Fountain. Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky and the writer Kipen happened to be there and told me the details. Fourteen comissars and thirty Jews from among the common people were killed. Many stores were destroyed. The soldiers tore through the night, dragged the victims from their beds, and killed whomever they met. People ran into the steppe or rushed into the sea. They were chased after and fired upon – a genuine hunt, as it were. Kipen saved himself by accident – fortunately he had spent the night not in his home, but at the White Flower sanitorium. At dawn, a detachment of Red Army soldiers appeared 'Are there any Jews here?' they asked the watchman. 'No, no Jews here.' 'Swear what you're saying is true!' The watchman swore, and they went on farther. Moisei Gutman, a cabby, was killed. He was a dear man who moved us from our dacha last fall.
Gergel's overall figures, which are generally considered conservative, are based on the testimony of witnesses and newspaper reports collected by the Mizrakh-yidish historiche arkhiv, which was first based in Kiev, then Berlin and later New York. The English version of Gergel's article was published in English in 1951 in the YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science titled "The Pogroms in the Ukraine in 1918–1921"
Pogroms spread throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Seventy-two Jews were killed and 443 injured by Polish troops, militia, and civilians in Poland in the 1918 Lwów pogrom. The following year, pogroms were reported in several cities in Poland.
Anti-Jewish riots also broke out elsewhere in the world. In the United Kingdom, in 1904, the Limerick Pogrom caused many Jews to leave the city. During the 1911 Tredegar riot in Wales, Jewish homes and businesses were looted and burned over the period of a week, before the British army was called in by then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill, who described the riot as a "pogrom". In the Americas, there was a pogrom in Argentina in 1919, during the Tragic Week. In 1929, Jews were massacred in Hebron and Safed in Palestine.
The first pogrom in Nazi Germany was Kristallnacht, often called Pogromnacht, in which at least 91 Jews were killed, a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps, over 1,000 synagogues burned, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.
During World War II, the Nazis also encouraged pogroms by local populations, especially early in the war before the larger mass killings began, for two reasons: first, every Jew killed by locals meant one fewer that would have to be killed by the Germans, and second, the pogroms helped make the local populations share responsibility for the killings. One pogrom took place on 8 October 1939, carried out by the local Germans on the occasion of Joseph Goebbels's visit to Lodz.
A number of pogroms occurred during the Holocaust at the hands of non-Germans. Perhaps the deadliest of these Holocaust-era pogroms was the Iaşi pogrom in Romania, in which as many as 13,266 Jews were killed by Romanian citizens, police, and military officials.
On 1–2 June 1941, the two-day Farhud pogrom in Iraq, in which "rioters murdered between 150 and 180 Jews, injured 600 others, and raped an undetermined number of women. They also looted some 1,500 stores and homes".
In the city of Lwow, some Ukrainian police along with occupying Nazis organized two large pogroms in June–July, 1941, in which around 6,000 Jews were murdered, in alleged retribution for the collaboration of some Jews with the Soviet regime and the large number of communists who happened to be of Jewish descent (see The Lviv pogroms controversy (1941)).
In Lithuania, some Lithuanian police led by Algirdas Klimaitis and the Lithuanian partisans — consisting of LAF units reinforced by 3,600 deserters from 29th Lithuanian Territorial Corps of the Red Army engaged in anti-Jewish pogroms in Kaunas along with occupying Nazis. On 25–26 June 1941 about 3,800 Jews were killed and synagogues and Jewish settlements burned.
During the Jedwabne pogrom of July 1941, some non-Jewish Poles burned at least 340 Jews in a barn-house (final findings of the Institute of National Remembrance) in the presence of Nazi German Ordnungspolizei. The role of the German Einsatzgruppe B remains the subject of debate.
After the end of World War II, a series of violent anti-Semitic incidents occurred throughout Europe, particularly in the Soviet-liberated East, where most of the returning Jews came back after liberation by the Allied Powers, and where the Nazi propagandists had extensively promoted the notion of a Jewish-Communist conspiracy (see Anti-Jewish violence in Poland, 1944–1946 and Anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Europe, 1944–1946). Anti-Jewish riots also took place in Britain in 1947.
In the Arab world, Anti-Jewish rioters killed over 140 Jews in the 1945 Tripoli pogrom. Following the start of the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine, a number of anti-Jewish events occurred throughout the Arab world, some of which have been described as pogroms. In 1947, half of Aleppo's 10,000 Jews left the city in the wake of the Aleppo pogrom, while the Aden pogrom brought to an end the existence of Aden's almost two-thousand-year-old Jewish community. The 1948 Oujda and Jerada pogrom took place in Morocco.
Massive violent attacks against Jews date back at least to the 11th century such as the 1066 Granada massacre in al-Andalus committed by Muslims, and the Pogroms of 1096 in France and Germany, which were the first Christian pogroms to be officially recorded.
In 1506, after an episode of famine and bad harvests, a pogrom happened in Lisbon, Portugal, in which more than 500 "New Christian" (forcibly converted Jews) people were slaughtered and/or burnt by an angry Christian mob, in the first night of what became known as the "Lisbon Massacre". The killing occurred from 19 to 21 April, almost eliminating the entire Jewish or Jewish-descendant community residing in that city. Even the Portuguese military and the king himself had difficulty stopping it. The event is today remembered with a monument in S. Domingos' church.
Many events involving non-Jewish victims have attracted the title of pogrom by analogy. In 1914, there was an anti-Serb pogrom in Sarajevo following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Writer Ivo Andrić referred to the violence as the "Sarajevo frenzy of hate."
The Istanbul riots of September 6–7, 1955 (sometimes known as the "Istanbul pogrom") killed over a dozen people, and greatly accelerated the emigration of ethnic Greeks from Turkey (Jews were also targeted in this event). In the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom Igbos in Nigeria were targeted, and the 1988 Sumgait and Kirovabad pogroms ethnic Armenians were the victims.
Werner Bergmann (Professor of Sociology at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University of Berlin) suggests a particular unifying character for all these incidents: "[b]y the collective attribution of a threat, the pogrom differs from other forms of violence, such as lynchings, which are directed at individual members of a minority group, while the imbalance of power in favor of the rioters distinguishes pogroms from other forms of riot (food riots, race riots, or 'communal riots' between evenly matched groups), and again, the low level of organization separates them from vigilantism, terrorism, massacre and genocide".
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, "the term is usually applied to attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, [and] the first extensive pogroms followed the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881", and the Wiley-Blackwell Dictionary of Modern European History Since 1789 states that pogroms "were antisemitic disturbances that periodically occurred within the tsarist empire." However, the term is widely used to refer to many events which occurred prior to the Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire. Historian of Russian Jewry John Klier writes in Russians, Jews, and the Pogroms of 1881–1882 that "By the twentieth century, the word 'pogrom' had become a generic term in English for all forms of collective violence directed against Jews." Abramson wrote that "in mainstream usage the word has come to imply an act of antisemitism", since whilst "Jews have not been the only group to suffer under this phenomenon ... historically Jews have been frequent victims of such violence".
The term is also used in reference to attacks on non-Jewish ethnic minorities, and accordingly some scholars do not include antisemitism as a defining characteristic of pogrom. Reviewing its uses in scholarly literature, historian Werner Bergmann proposes that pogroms be "defined as a unilateral, nongovernmental form of collective violence initiated by the majority population against a largely defenseless ethnic group, and occurring when the majority expect the state to provide them with no assistance in overcoming a (perceived) threat from the minority," but adds that in western usage, the word's "anti-Semitic overtones" have been retained. Historian David Engel supports this, writing that "there can be no logically or empirically compelling grounds for declaring that some particular episode does or does not merit the label [pogrom]," but he offers that the majority of the incidents "habitually" described as pogroms took place in societies significantly divided by ethnicity and/or religion where the violence was committed by the higher-ranking group against a stereotyped lower-ranking group against whom they expressed some complaint, and with the belief that the law of the land would not be used to stop them.
There is no universally accepted set of characteristics which define the term pogrom. Klier writes that "when applied indiscriminately to events in Eastern Europe, the term can be misleading, the more so when it implies that "pogroms" were regular events in the region and that they always shared common features." Use of the term to refer to events in 1918–19 in Polish cities including Kielce, Pinsk and Lwów was specifically avoided in the 1919 Morgenthau Report (preferring "excesses"), whose authors argued that the term pogrom was inapplicable to the conditions existing in a war zone and required the situation to be antisemitic in nature rather than political, and media use of the term pogrom to refer to the 1991 Crown Heights riot caused public controversy.
This is a list of events for which one of the commonly accepted names includes the word "pogrom".
|Date||Pogrom Name||Alternative Name(s)||Deaths||Description|
|38||Alexandrian pogrom (name disputed)[a]||Alexandrian riots||Aulus Avilius Flaccus, the Egyptian prefect of Alexandria appointed by Tiberius in 32 CE, may have encouraged the outbreak of violence; Philo wrote that Flaccus was later arrested and eventually executed for his part in this event. Scholarly research around the subject has been divided on certain points, including whether the Alexandrian Jews fought to keep their citizenship or to acquire it, whether they evaded the payment of the poll-tax or prevented any attempts to impose it on them, and whether they were safeguarding their identity against the Greeks or against the Egyptians.|
|1096||1096 pogroms||Rhineland massacres||2,000 Jews||Peasant crusaders from France and Germany attacked Jewish communities in the three towns of Speyer, Worms and Mainz|
|1113||Kiev pogrom (name disputed)[b]||Kiev revolt||Rebellion sparked by the death of the Grand Prince of Kiev, in which Jews connected to the prince's economic affairs were among the victims|
|1563||Polotsk pogrom (name disputed)[c]||Polotsk drownings||Following the fall of Polotsk to the army of Ivan IV, all those who refused to convert to Orthodox Christianity were ordered drowned in the river Dvina|
|1821-1871||First Odessa pogroms||The Greeks of Odessa attacked the local Jewish community, in what began as economic disputes|
|1881-1884||First Russian Tsarist pogroms||2 Jews||A large-scale wave of anti-Jewish riots swept through south-western Imperial Russia (present-day Ukraine and Poland) from 1881 to 1884 (in that period over 200 anti-Jewish events occurred in the Russian Empire, notably the Kiev, Warsaw and Odessa pogroms)|
|1881||Warsaw pogrom||2 Jews (Included above)||Three days of rioting against Jews, Jewish stores, businesses, and residences in the streets adjoining the Holy Cross Church.|
|1902||Częstochowa pogrom||14 Jews||A mob attacked the Jewish shops, killing fourteen Jews and one gendarme. The Russian military brought to restore order were stoned by mob.|
|1903-1906||Second Russian Tsarist pogroms||2,000+ Jews||A much bloodier wave of pogroms broke out from 1903 to 1906, leaving an estimated 2,000 Jews dead and many more wounded, as the Jews took to arms to defend their families and property from the attackers. The 1905 pogrom against Jews in Odessa was the most serious pogrom of the period, with reports of up to 2,500 Jews killed.|
|1903||First Kishinev pogrom||47 Jews (Included above)||Three days of anti-Jewish rioting sparked by anti-semitic articles in local newspapers|
|1904||Limerick pogrom (name disputed)[d]||Limerick Boycott||None||An economic boycott waged against the small Jewish community in Limerick, Ireland, for over two years|
|1905||Second Kishinev pogrom||19 Jews (Included above)||Two days of anti-Jewish rioting beginning as political protests against the Tsar|
|1905||Kiev Pogrom (1905)||100 Jews (Included above)||Following a city hall meeting, a mob was drawn into the streets, proclaiming that "all Russia's troubles stemmed from the machinations of the Jews and socialists."|
|1906||Siedlce pogrom||26 Jews (Included above)||An attack organized by the Russian secret police (Okhrana). Anti-semitic pamphlets had been distributed for over a week and before any unrest begun, a curfew was declared.|
|1909||Adana pogrom||Adana massacre||30,000 Armenians||A massacre of Armenian Christians in the city of Adana amidst the Countercoup (1909) resulted in a series of anti-Armenian pogroms throughout the district.|
|1911||Tredegar pogrom (name disputed)[e]||Tredegar riots||None||Jewish shops were ransacked and the army had to be brought in|
|1914||Anti-Serb pogrom in Sarajevo||Sarajevo frenzy of hate||2 Serbs||Occurred shortly after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.|
|1918||Lwów pogrom (name disputed)[f]||Lemberg massacre||52-150 Jews, 270 Ukrainians||During the Polish-Ukrainian War over three days of unrest in the city, an estimated 52–150 Jewish residents were killed and hundreds injured, with widespread looting carried out by Polish soldiers, as well as lawless civilians, and local criminals. Two hundred and seventy more Ukrainians were killed during this time as well. The Poles did not stop the pogrom until two days after it began. The independent investigations by the British and American missions in Poland stated that there were no clear conclusions and that foreign press reports were exaggerated.|
|1919||Kiev Pogroms (1919)||60+||A series of Jewish pogroms in various places around Kiev carried out by White Volunteer Army troops|
|1919||Pinsk pogrom (name disputed)[g]||Pinsk massacre||36 Jews||Mass execution of thirty-five Jewish residents of Pinsk in April 1919 by the Polish Army, during the opening stages of the Polish-Soviet War|
|1919-20||Vilna pogrom (name disputed)[h]||Vilna offensive||65+ Jews and non-Jews||As Polish troops entered the city, dozens of people connected with the Lit-Bel were arrested, and some were executed|
|1929||Hebron pogrom (name disputed)[i]||Hebron massacre||During the 1929 Palestine riots, sixty-seven Jews were killed as the violence spread to Hebron, then part of Mandatory Palestine, by Arabs incited to violence by rumors that Jews were massacring Arabs in Jerusalem and seizing control of Muslim holy places.|
|1936||Przytyk pogrom (name disputed)[j]||Przytyk riot||2 Jews and 1 Polish||Some of the Jewish residents gathered in the town square in anticipation of the attack by the peasants, but nothing happened on that day. Two days later, however, on a market day, as Jewish historians Martin Gilbert and David Vital claim, the peasants attacked the Jews.|
|1938||November pogrom||Kristallnacht||91 Jews||Coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and non-Jewish civilians. Accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world.|
|1940||Dorohoi pogrom||53 Jews||Romanian military units carried out a pogrom against the local Jews, during which, according to an official Romanian report, 53 Jews were murdered, and dozens injured|
|1941||Iași pogrom||13,266 Jews||One of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history, launched by governmental forces in the Romanian city of Iaşi (Jassy) against its Jewish population|
|1941||Antwerp Pogrom||0||One of the few pogroms of Belgian history. Flemish collaborators attacked and burned synagogues and attacked a rabbi in the city of Antwerp|
|1941||Bucharest pogrom||Legionnaires' rebellion||125 Jews and 30 soldiers||As the privileges of the paramilitary organisation Iron Guard were being cut off by Conducător Ion Antonescu, members of the Iron Guard, also known as the Legionnaires, revolted. During the rebellion and pogrom, the Iron Guard killed 125 Jews and 30 soldiers died in the confrontation with the rebels.|
|1941||Tykocin pogrom||1,400–1,700 Jews||Mass murder of Jewish residents of Tykocin in occupied Poland during World War II, soon after Nazi German attack on the Soviet Union.|
|1941||Jedwabne pogrom||340 Jews||The local rabbi was forced to lead a procession of about 40 people to a pre-emptied barn, killed and buried along with fragments of a destroyed monument of Lenin. A further 250-300 Jews were led to the same barn later that day, locked inside and burned alive using kerosene|
|1941||Pogrom in Krnjeuša||240 Croats||An organized attack in the territory of the Catholic parish of Krnjeuša in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, carried out by Serb Chetniks against the local Catholic Croat population|
|1941||Lviv pogroms||4,000–8,000 civilian prisoners and 5,000 Jews||Massacres of civilian prisoners by Soviet forces prior to evacuation, followed by massacre of Jews by German and other forces. Subject of a protracted controversy|
|1946||Kunmadaras pogrom||2 Jews||A frenzy instigated by the crowd's belief that the Jews had made sausage out of Christian children|
|1946||Miskolc pogrom||2 Jews||Riots started as demonstrations against economic hardships and later became anti-Semitic|
|1946||Kielce pogrom||38-42 Jews||Violence against the Jewish community centre, initiated by Polish Communist armed forces (LWP, KBW, GZI WP) and continued by a mob of local townsfolk.|
|1955||Istanbul pogrom||Istanbul riots||13-30 Greeks||Organized mob attacks directed primarily at Istanbul's Greek minority|
|1966||1966 anti-Igbo pogrom||A series of massacres directed at Igbo and other southern Nigerian residents throughout Nigeria before and after the overthrow (and assassination) of the Aguiyi-Ironsi junta by Murtala Mohammed.|
|1983||Black July||1983 anti-Tamil pogrom||400-3,000 Tamils||Over seven days mobs of mainly Sinhalese attacked Tamil targets, burning, looting and killing|
|1984||1984 anti-Sikh riots||1984 anti-Sikh pogrom||8,000 Sikhs||In October 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi, and other parts of India, Sikhs in India were targeted|
|1988||Sumgait pogrom||26+ Armenians and 6+ Azeris||Mobs made up largely of ethnic Azeris formed into groups that went on to attack and kill Armenians both on the streets and in their apartments; widespread looting and a general lack of concern from police officers allowed the situation to worsen|
|1988||Kirovabad pogrom||3+ Soviet soldiers, 3+ Azeri and 1+ Armenian||Ethnic Azeris attacked Armenians throughout the city|
|1989||1989 Bangladesh pogroms||Attacks against Bengali Hindus, apparently as a reaction to the laying of the foundation of Ram temple adjacent to the disputed structure in Ayodhya|
|1990||Baku pogrom||90 Armenians, 20 Russian soldiers||Seven-day attack during which Armenians were beaten, tortured, murdered and expelled from the city. There were also many raids on apartments, robberies and arsons|
|1991||Crown Heights pogrom (name disputed)[k]||Crown Heights riot||1 Jew and 1 non-Jew||A three-day riot that occurred in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. The riot unleashed simmering tensions of the Crown Heights' black community against the Orthodox Jewish community. In its wake, several Jews were seriously injured; one Orthodox Jewish man, Yankel Rosenbaum, was killed; and a non-Jewish man, allegedly mistaken by rioters for a Jew, was killed by a group of African-American men.|
|1991||Mława pogrom||Five days of rioting in which a mob attacked Roma residents of the Polish town of Mława causing hundreds to flee in terror|
|2002||Gujarat pogrom||2002 Gujarat violence||790-2,000 Muslims and 254 Hindus||Inter-communal violence in the Indian state of Gujarat which lasted for approximately three days, thought to have been sparked by the burning of a train of Hindu pilgrims|
|2004||March pogrom||2004 unrest in Kosovo||8 ethnic Serbs and 11 ethnic Albanians||Over 4,000 Serbs were forced to leave their homes, 935 Serb houses, 10 public facilities and 35 Serbian Orthodox church-buildings were desecrated, damaged or destroyed, and six towns and nine villages where ethnically cleansed according to Serbian media|
|2013||2013 Burma anti-Muslim riots||anti-Rohingya pogrom||Rohingya Muslims||Muslims called the Rohingyas were targeted in the Buddhist-majority Myanmar.|