The Black Hundred In Russia Essay, Research Paper
The Black Hundred was an extreme right wing party which emerged at the turn of the twentieth century in Russia. Favoring tsarism and autocracy instead of a parliamentary government, the Black Hundred were the perpetrators of many Jewish pogroms in Russian cities such as Odessa, Kiev, Yekaterinoslav and Bialystok (Horowitz 703). This group of radicals increased in popularity before the beginning of the Russian Revolution when tsarism was in decline. The Black hundred believed that all Jews were revolutionaries and all revolutionaries were Jews, all Jews were capitalists and all capitalists were either Jews or tools in the hands of Jews. (Laqueur 17). This view of Jews was a distortion of the truth. In fact, the Jews in most parts of Russia were desperately poor, making barely enough money to support themselves. Only a small fraction of Jews were capitalists. Jews were a minority in most Russian cities. However, their absence did not alter the mindset of the Black Hundred. According to them, the Jew was the Anarchist, absent and yet omnipresent, a powerful myth helping to mobilize ignorant masses. (Obraztsov 10)
The first organization of the Black Hundred was the Russkoye Sobraniye (Russian Association), which was established in 1900. Existing for several years without much action toward the Jews, the Russkoye Sobraniye made its first major anti-Semitic step in 1905. At this time, the Sobraniye issued a manifesto which demanded anti-Jewish laws in view of the Jewish hostility to Christianity and the Non-Jewish nations as well as their aspirations to world power. (Obraztsov 7).
In October of the following year, a major right wing organization called Soyuz Russkovo Naroda (SRN) was established. Dr. Dubrovin was named head of the SRN and took political action by preaching Russian patriotism. At this time, Tsar Nicholas II was a perpetual supporter of the SRN, giving approximately 150,000 rubles in total to its affairs (Laqueur 26). In fact, the Tsar himself proclaimed that Jews were the cause of the downfall of Russia, and openly stated that international Jewry, through its two wings, Jewish capitalism and Jewish socialism, is fomenting revolution aiming to overthrow the Russian regime (Wistrich 46). On the topic of the Black Hundred, Tsay Nicholas II showed his enthusiasm by calling them a shining example of justice and order to all men (Laqueur 19). An overall fear of revolution that had seized Russia during the early 1900 s was a primary cause of the popularity of the Black Hundred. They found support mainly among the aristocrats and members other lower-middle class. Although they were nowhere near a major party in Russia, they did make a major impact on the Jews of Russia, who were constantly being oppressed by their campaigns.
The Black Hundred first utilized pogroms as a means of eradication of the Jews in October 1905. At that time, when the Tsar Nicholas II issued his October manifesto, furnishing the people with a democratic constitution, the Jews were chosen by the Black Hundred as scapegoats for the issuance of the new constitution. The establishment of the Duma was the worst fear of these rightists (Obraztsov passim).
According to the Black Hundred philosophy, the Jews were a race that secretly strove to take over the world. They were viewed as dangerous capitalists who strove to undermine the tsarist regime and to establish the rule of Jewish capitalism. The justification for pogroms is quoted from a speech by a member or the SRN which states that the Black Hundred never, under any circumstance, appealed for the murder of anyone. The pogroms were, according to the rightists, always triggered by brutalized, predatory, and insatiable Judea, who were tacking the unarmed Russian population (Lavrinovich 236).
Another significant leader of the Black Hundred was Markov II. He was an orator of the Duma and an absolute anti-Semite. In one of his speeches before 1917, Markov II stated that all Jews, down to the last, would be killed (Laqueur 21). The anti-Semitism toward Jews was a unique characteristic of the Black Hundred. No right wing party liked the Jews, but the downright hatred of the Black Hundred did not exist with moderate rightists. This philosophy of the Black Hundred can be compared somewhat with the Nazi philosophy. However, the motives of these two parties were different. Hitler used the idea of the Jewish Problem as propaganda and his regime gained more land for Germany. The Black Hundred gained nothing more than the satisfaction of murder from their pogroms (Lavrinovich passim). Indeed, the Black Hundred never emerged as a truly independent party. They were always under the wing of the Tsar, never declaring any independence from him. The SRN always remained part of a system that assisted it financially and furnished it with political support.
During a typical pogrom, men would storm up and down a village, tearing down everything possible. The cruelties ranged from mockery and theft to severe beating and murder (Wistrich passim). Of course, the Black Hundred did not begin the idea of pogroms. They were used by other groups in the late nineteenth century and were used again after the disappearance of the Black Hundred. The total damage rendered by the Black Hundred amounted to the death of approximately three hundred Jews in Odessa and over one hundred and twenty in Kiev. These figures exclude the number of Jews who were injured. In total, the Black Hundred carried out approximately seven hundred pogroms, mainly in Western and Southern Russia (Horowitz 712).
Eventually, as tsarism completely collapsed, the Black Hundred faded away. There was no longer any financial or political support for them, as there had always been with the existence of the Tsar. The texts of the Black Hundred became forbidden in Russia; no person was to speak of their regime. This principle was upheld until the recent collapse of the United Soviet Socialist Republic and the Russia people could only find out their history through underground whispers. However, although the Black Hundred were destroyed, Jewish pogroms continued for many years after their disappearance, coming from both the right and left parties.
Horowitz, Brian. Jewish Identity and Russian Culture: The Case of M. O. Gershenzon. Nationalities Papers 1997: 699-713.
Laqueur, Walter. Black Hundred: The Rise of the Extreme Right in Russia. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 1993.
Lavrinovich, U. Who Began the Pogroms in Russia? Berlin: J. Ladyschnikow, 1908.
Obraztsov, V. Report of the Black Hundred About the Third Duma. Moscow: Sytin Publishing House, 1908.
Wistrich, R. S. Once again, Anti-Semitism Without Jews. Commentary Aug. 1992: 45-49.