Great Variance: Jewish use of atrocity stories attributed to Russian pogroms

By the beginning of the 20th century, a narrative in which these recently-immigrated Jews were refugees from Russian persecution and anti-Jewish violence had become commonplace. As David Cesarani has described, this was always largely mythical:

The anti-Jewish riots in Russia and the anti-Jewish legislation that followed triggered a wave of mass migration from the Tsarist Empire to Western Europe, America and South Africa. Between 1880 and 1914, about 2.5 million Jews migrated westward. Only a part of this migration was a direct result of the pogroms: most of it was economic migration. Jews had been leaving Russia and Poland steadily since the 1870s owing to the pressure of population on jobs and resources in the Pale [of Settlement]. The riots, which were anyway confined to two periods in 1881–2 and 1903–06, were localised. In the first period, the north-west of Russia was unaffected, yet it was from here that the bulk of emigrants departed. Similarly, Galicia in Austria-Hungary exported tens of thousands of Jews, but they left a region untouched by riots and in which Jews were full citizens.1

The success of the atrocity-and-refugee narrative in Britain owed primarily to the sustained efforts of a network of interests increasingly committed to assisting the westward migration of Jews. This network centred on well-connected, intermarried and enormously wealthy members of the so-called Anglo-Jewish Cousinhood, including the Goldsmid, Mocatta, Rothschild, Montefiore, Sassoon, Cohen, Nathan, Samuel, Montagu and Henriques families. Collectively, they operated through organisations including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, founded in 1760, the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, founded in 1841, the charitable Jewish Board of Guardians, founded in 1859, and the Anglo-Jewish Association, founded in 1871. Anglo-Jewry increasingly acted simply as Jewry, a separate community enjoying propinquity with the powerful but concerned with the global Jewish nation and working to influence British foreign policy to promote Jewish interests worldwide.2 As Sharman Kadish describes,

The ‘Conjoint’ Committee of the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association had been set up in 1878. It acted as the ‘Foreign Office’ of the Anglo-Jewish community. A clearing house for information which reached the community about the situation of Jews abroad, it compiled reports and memoranda and cultivated channels of communication with the real Foreign Office, in the hope that the latter could be prevailed upon to intercede on behalf of Jews overseas should the need arise (the policy of shtadlanut).3

Reports of Russian persecution of Jews by Joseph Jacobs in The Times were credited as sparking the pogrom controversy in January 1882. They prompted meetings at Mansion House and the Guildhall, at which at least £200,000 was donated; these donations were collected into the Mansion House Fund, which the Board of Guardians and other organisations drew upon to help Jews settle in London or travel on to the USA. A Mansion House Committee was formed and was soon renamed the Russo-Jewish Committee (RJC), with Julian Goldsmid as chairman and Jacobs as secretary. Fellow journalist and Jewish activist Lucien Wolf amplified Jacobs’ efforts in the press and worked to co-ordinate the efforts of the AJA and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Bishops, cardinals, authors and celebrities of the day were won to the cause by the atrocity reports.4

Benjamin Disraeli as Prime Minister had narrowly been prevented from starting a war against Russia in 1877-8, and anti-Russian propaganda was already commonplace in parts of the British press.5 According to John Klier the Times “habitually described it as ‘a backward country, which has not yet worked its way to the level of European life’. The paper had begun a low-level campaign against Russian mistreatment of the Jews even before the outbreak of the pogroms.”6 The Times was at pains to condemn the Russian government at least as early as 1880. The Telegraph, owned by Harry Levy-Lawson, began to promote the same line with even greater fervour. The Jewish World then, between July and October 1881, published reports from an unnamed Special Correspondent which “portrayed the pogroms dramatically, as great in scale and inhuman in their brutality”, including rape and murder of Jews on a large scale across many locations. According to Klier, “[M]any of his claims, such as the enormous number of rapes, are unconfirmed or flatly contradicted by the archival record. … His account most resembles a compilation of hearsay evidence, very little of it collected from first-hand observers. His atrocity reports, in particular, must be viewed with extreme caution.”7

The atrocity claims that began in the Jewish World had no basis in any Russian source and appear to have been the creation of an international activist network already assembled when the violence began; the perception of Jews living and dying in miserable oppression dovetailed with an organised effort to instigate and fund Jewish migration to Western countries, primarily the USA. As Klier writes, “The emigration movement represented the coming of age of the modern Jewish press. […] The period witnessed pioneering efforts to use the Jewish press for propagandistic purposes. […] [T]he proponents of emigration proved particularly skillful in this regard. Very influential too were the widely reprinted exhortations of the Memel rabbi Dr. Yitzhak Rülf, who emphasized Russian atrocities in order to mobilize an international relief and protest movement.”8 Rülf had been ‘interceding’ (shtadlanut) on behalf of beleaguered Jews through the 1870s, publicising claims of Jewish starvation in Poland and supporting the efforts of the Alliance Israélite Universelle (AIU) to encourage Jewish emigration to the USA.9 The Jewish World correspondent’s salacious account of violence in Borispol “was widely disseminated by Rabbi Rülf both in Russia and abroad. As he put it, ‘the history of the world may well be declared to contain no parallels of the Russian anti-Jewish outrages.’ Through 1882, he also spread “sensationalized accounts of mass rape”. The Jewish World joined the Times and Telegraph in blaming the Russian government, characterising the Russian peasantry as dirty and ignorant dupes easily incited against Jewry as convenient scapegoats.

As emigration became more viable, many Jews opted for it, whether they had experienced rioting or not.

Relief funds that were set up to assist pogrom victims became the target of appeals from what would be called, in contemporary parlance, “economic migrants.” […] The desire of some emigrants to assert their status as pogrom victims may also account for the exaggerated tales of atrocities that they told. Certainly the American authorities charged with dealing with refugees expressed their skepticism about the authenticity of some self-proclaimed victims.10

Organisations involved in assisting migrants were concerned that “many of the refugees had been lured by extravagant promises of assistance and ‘glowing accounts of America given them by persons interested in inducing them to emigrate’”.11

In January 1882, the RJC persuaded the Times to publish articles which were “substantially a compendium of atrocity stories taken from the columns of the Special Correspondent of the Jewish World. Garnished with the prestige of The Times and devoid of any further attribution, subsequently published as a separate pamphlet, and translated into a variety of European languages, the account became the definitive Western version of the pogroms.” Of the Times’ editorials alongside the RJC articles, Klier says that “Russia was urged to ‘put an end to these enormities… If they are unwilling, the Russian government must be held responsible for all the crimes – some of them as atrocious as any recorded in history – which have been accomplished by letting loose the hatred of Orthodox mobs’.” Other papers then began to parrot the Jewish World reports.12

Jewish parliamentarians led by George de Worms agitated for the Russian government to be held responsible. The Foreign Office tasked its consuls in Russia to assemble their own reports on the violence, which they did without the involvement of intercessors. The consuls’ reports were at “great variance” to those in the Times, especially on the claims of rape. Other correspondents also contradicted the Times’ reports. In response, the Times stooped as low as to aver that “the indignation of this country is justified to the fullest degree, even if, as seems to be the case, there is ground for thinking that the most villainous misdeeds are in part the creations of popular fancy”.13 The paper then collaborated with the RJC on further editorials discrediting the consuls, flattering the public and informing their readers that Jews in Russia were “hated by the populace for their success” before publishing further atrocity reports from anonymous sources.14

The Foreign Office consuls responded to their disparagement in the Times with another set of reports justifying and explaining their earlier findings. As Andrew Joyce describes,

The Consuls were outraged. [Consul-General] Stanley reiterated the fact that his intensive investigations, which he carried out at great personal cost with a serious leg injury, illustrated that The Times’ accounts of what took place at each of those places contains the greatest exaggerations, and that the account of what took place at some of those places is absolutely untrue.15

Fortunately for the RJC, though, more severe violence in Balta in April 1882 could be used to support their narrative. As Klier describes, the British vice-consul visited the town in the aftermath and reported large-scale destruction of property. British consuls also informed the Foreign Office that at least one official Russian publication had understated the scale of violence in some areas. The Times declared the matter settled. The rest of the press, having already copied the Jewish World reports, welcomed the putative confirmation of their narrative. “In the public mind,” says Klier, “the Balta pogrom served to confirm all previous claims.”16 Thus did the RJC’s narrative prevail, and was built upon in the subsequent decades. The New York Times played the same role in the USA.

The eager and combative participation of both Britain and the USA’s ‘newspapers of record’ in publicising false atrocity stories is remarkable, as is the credence given to the Jewish World’s reports by them and the broader press. As Klier says, “the archival records relating to the pogrom in Balta do contain claims of rape. It is virtually the only pogrom, though, where this is actually the case.”17 In almost all the other riots, Christians targeted Jewish property for looting or destruction; bodily harm usually occurred in drunken fights. “And yet” continues Klier, “the high incidence of rape was widely reported in Western accounts of the pogroms, especially those provided by Jewish groups.”18 The editors of the Times and New York Times appear to have chosen which accounts to credit based on considerations far removed from those of journalism.

In the decades since, the media and politicians have become ever more supportive than they were in 1882 of the interests who formed the RJC and enabled Jewish migration. The refugee narrative has endured as a largely undisputed canard and is employed today as a pretext for open borders policies. Jewish groups in Western countries frequently cite their own purported refugee background as a laudable motive for assisting other refugees (defined to include all illegal immigrants) to settle in those countries (not Israel). The Board of Deputies of British Jews is one of many examples, while the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are two based in the US. HIAS proudly calls itself “the world’s oldest refugee organisation” and urges Western populations to “Welcome the stranger. Protect the refugee.” Subsequent articles in this series will examine the impact on the West of the 19th century Jewish immigrants and their descendants.

Reposted with permission from HORUS. Horus is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support his work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

1 The Left and the Jews, David Cesarani, p41
2 See The Rise of Modern Jewish Politics, C.S. Monaco
3 Bolsheviks and British Jews, Sharman Kadish, p60
4 Russians, Jews and the Pogroms of 1881-2, John Doyle Klier, p374

5 Disraeli as Prime Minister (1874-1880) had committed Britain to supporting the Ottoman Empire as an obstacle against a potential Russian challenge to British control of India and the Suez Canal (he had also arranged the British state’s purchase of a controlling stake in the canal in 1875 with a loan from Lionel de Rothschild). The trigger for the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8 was a Turkish slaughter of Bulgarians. Disraeli publicly mocked and dismissed the reports and his cabinet narrowly prevented him from waging war against Russia. The Times, evidently having no principled objection to crimes against civilians, sided with Disraeli and the Ottomans.

Russia had fought the war for implicitly ‘pan-Slav’ reasons. Pan-Slavism among veterans of the war was cited as a motive for anti-Jewish rioting by the Jewish World correspondent mentioned below [Klier, p403]. Veterans were “a notable element in almost every pogrom.” [Klier, p51]. Klier also mentions that the Russian journal Kievlianin editorialised after the riots that “Jews should be barred from holding state contracts to provision the armed forces, a concern which harked back to military procurement scandals during the recent Russo-Turkish War.” The Levin Memorandum, produced by upper-class Jewry in Russia, blamed pan-Slavism and broader Russian nationalism for the riots and implied that the state should act against the nationalist movement. Pan-Slavism and distrust of Jewry appear to have been strongly coincident.

6 Russians, Jews and the Pogroms of 1881-2, John Doyle Klier, p398-9
7 ibid., p401
8 ibid., p296
9 ibid., p365
10 ibid., p371
11 ibid., p373
12 ibid., p404
13 ibid., p405
14 ibid., p407
16 ibid., p409
17 ibid., p47

18 ibid., p66-7


11 replies
  1. Chris Moore
    Chris Moore says:

    “The success of the atrocity-and-refugee narrative in Britain owed primarily to the sustained efforts of a network of interests increasingly committed to assisting the westward migration of Jews. This network centred on well-connected, intermarried and enormously wealthy members of the so-called Anglo-Jewish Cousinhood, including the Goldsmid, Mocatta, Rothschild, Montefiore, Sassoon, Cohen, Nathan, Samuel, Montagu and Henriques families. Collectively, they operated through organisations including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, founded in 1760, the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, founded in 1841, the charitable Jewish Board of Guardians, founded in 1859, and the Anglo-Jewish Association, founded in 1871. Anglo-Jewry increasingly acted simply as Jewry, a separate community enjoying propinquity with the powerful but concerned with the global Jewish nation and working to influence British foreign policy to promote Jewish interests worldwide”

    So the Cousinhood infiltrated the Brits, brought in their jewish brethren, and began agitating for Marxist-Zionism (ZOG).

    Heeb-Khazar-Yid-Cousinhood theory. And let’s add a fifth apparatus: Neocons. And all of them organized criminals, parasites, and destroyers of their host nations and civilizations — including the nation (ancient Israel) that Moses and the prophets built (whose curses on Hebrew scum are at the root of antisemitism).

    What do all of these scum have in common? Worshipers of the golden calf pyramid scheme (alchemy, and the central banker money printing franchise, and the criminal racket to control all money worldwide in order to serve the Zionist interest).

  2. James Clayton
    James Clayton says:

    we are coming to america neil diamond – Search (

    A live performance at The Greek Theater (2012) and this post first-up includes the lyrics. He states his mother’s name was Rose.

    Searching for Benjamin Franklin + Jews yielded first-up a WIKIPEDIA essay advertised:
    “The Franklin Prophecy, sometimes called the Franklin Forgery, is an antisemitic speech falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, warning of the supposed dangers of…”
    AI algorithms would be a more interesting study were one-trick ponies corralled by being no more than fear of being deplatformed for other than simply writing code as ordered. Would that Tucker Carlson interviewed Edward Snowden while in Russia recently as I’ll bet it would have been more interesting.

    • James Clayton
      James Clayton says:

      For an introduction to holoprop– holo preface means “total” according MERRIAM-WEBSTER, its hard to beat made-for-television in 1987 Escape from Solibor with Rutger Hauer playing a Russian Jew who led the escape and Joanna Pacula (Doc Holiday’s Kate in Tombstone) as Hauer’s tragic love interest and both a cast of typically fine if murderous Jews and detestable sadistic ugly-in-every-way wicked Nazis. We found the VHS tape at a thrift store for a Dollar. If for nothing else it illustrates the estimation of the powers of discrimination in its target market and what Hollywood will spend on conditioning. Like tobacco, it should contain a cancer warning.

  3. Herbert
    Herbert says:

    French prime minister, (((Gabriel Attal))),
    said: “When women’s rights are attacked
    in the world, France stands up and places
    itself at the avant garde of progress.”

    The Communist senator (((Ian Brossat))) said:
    “It will be a victory for women across the world.”

    As always, this is with absolute certainty just
    a pure coincidence. Anything to the contrary
    is a malicious anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

  4. Tim Folke
    Tim Folke says:

    When people bring up the subject of the holocaust, I ask them ‘Which one? The one where they accused Tsarist Russia of exterminating 6 million, or the one 40 years later when they accused Germany of exterminating 6 million?’

  5. GirlinTexas
    GirlinTexas says:

    And the Holocaust is just another fabulous exaggeration of atrocities against the Jews. It never stops. They will not stop.

    I just read an article about Mayorakas opening Safe Mobility Offices in South America to “meet humanitarian and security imperatives,” which is utter crap; they want to make the trek to America easier, and anytime anyone pushes our Goblin Head of Homeland Security, he whinges on about his Holocaust survivor relatives….no one in any position of real authority will say, or ask, maybe all these Jews who push for excessive immigration have an agenda other than sympathy for The Refugee?

    I was just thinking about how I used to believe Adolf Hitler was a monster, after reading a report on Afghani crimes in Vienna. Gang-rapes, acid attacks, blacks/muslims running amok in Europe, setting monuments and people alight, bastardizing European institutions and culture, and now I ask – what would Hitler do? I wish Germany had won that war.

  6. Herbert
    Herbert says:


    Ina Deter is a Berlin singer who, like many other of these countless “feminists”, made a name for herself in the 1980s with song lyrics such as ” The country needs new men”, “I should actually become a boy” or “Women come slowly but mightily” (apparently an allusion to the “female orgasm”, which, apart from cheering on men, has no recognizable biological use). Their infatile baby-crying “demands” became a life-denying reality not only in the country but throughout the so-called West. An old saying that every true man knows is: “If you try to please women, you will end up in the nearest garbage can out of sheer gratitude”.

    Here we now have the product and model of the “new man”, oh so much longed for by women, then much maligned and much despised, but also much used as a doormat for high heels and a lightning rod for hysteria, in the embodiment of an ideal, ultra-sensitive, effeminate, uncritical “woman understander”, for whom women are elevated quasi-saints and therefore always right. The slightest contradiction would be the worst kind of chauvinism. The masculinity-less “Mr.” Scholtalbers only feels complete in the communicative addition of pretentious pseudo-feminine furies like “Ms.” Carleen Scheele, and learns, as expected, that the madness is far from over, and that there is still a lot of work to be done for the final and total “liberation” of women.

    “At the end of September 2013, there were calls for a boycott of Barilla because its boss Guido Barilla said in a radio interview with the Italian station Radio24: ‘We will not advertise with homosexuals because we support the traditional family. If homosexuals don’t like it, they can eat pasta from another manufacturer.’ He emphasized that his company only supports the ‘holy family’.”

    In October 2013, Barilla apologized after meeting several times with homosexual organizations and activists. Company spokesperson Luca Virginio announced more open and holistic advertising campaigns. Since 2015, the company has even regularly received top marks in the Equality Index.”

  7. Cotard
    Cotard says:

    TOO) contributor and scholar Andrew Joyce on the “jewish problem/question“, has a fascinating discussion with Horus on the so-called “pogroms” against jews in Russia and how they were greatly exaggerated, and often outright fabrications. This propaganda served jewish interests through generating sympathy for the flooding of the West with jewish-Russian immigrants, with disastrous results.

    We conclude, therefore, that we have heard since the eighteen-eighties that “six million Jews” have been threatened more or less continuously with extermination in a holocaust.
    So what? You may ask. What is that supposed to prove, if anything? Well, here are some tough questions:

    – In 1882, was there a “struggle for the annihilation of the Jews”?
    – In 1903, did the Russian government decide that Jews “must be annihilated,” so that they underwent a “process of extermination” in “this barbaric holocaust”?
    – In 1905, was there a “holocaust” in which “Jews must be … exterminated?”
    – In 1906, was “the Russian Government’s policy” to solve “the Jewish question” by way of “murderous extermination”?
    – In 1911, had “Russia … adopted” a “plan to … exterminate six million” Jews?
    – In 1915, was there a “Russian campaign of extermination” against the Jews?
    – In 1919, were “six million” Jews “dying… in this threatened holocaust?” Were “6,000,000 [Jewish] souls… going to be completely exterminated”?
    – In 1920, was it necessary “to save six million [Jews] from extermination”?
    – In 1921, were “Russia’s 6,000,000 Jews… facing extermination by massacre”?
    – In 1926, was the “whole [Jewish] people… dying”?
    To ask these questions in such a condensed form means to answer them, because what we are dealing with here was exaggeration and hyperbole.

    from the book The First Holocaust: The Surprising Origin of the Six-Million Figure by Don Heddesheimer

Comments are closed.