Russia in Flux at the Time of the Russian Revolution. Surprising Insights on Polish-Jewish Relations,jan peczkis|Tuesday, November 22, 2016
This work was written during the pivotal time when Russia’s future was uncertain--after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II but before the Communists had fully consolidated their power. For a “sequel” to this work, which includes the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his entire family, please click on, and read my detailed review, of The Last Days of the Romanovs.
The author, a British journalist, is eminently qualified to write what he does. He had been living in Russia for the last fourteen years, and had been an eyewitness to many of the events of WWI. (p. vii). He personally knew the Russian royal family, including the teenaged Alexis. (p. 147, 327). He was associated with many specifically-named prominent Britons who are active in British-Russian relations. (p. 329).
Wilton mentions Russians and Jews during WWI. For instance, Russian soldiers, in Russian-ruled Poland, had contempt for Jews, and conducted pogroms against them, in part because the Jews had “systematically evaded” military service. (p. 61).
THE NON-AWFULIZATION OF TSARIST RUSSIA
Nowadays, leftists commonly excuse Communism as something that was—after all--necessary to end the horrors and backwardness of tsarist Russia and to propel Russia to modernization and eventual superpower status. Wilton implicitly challenges this apologetic scenario.
He points out that the large landed estates had already been disintegrating in the last fifty years, and that peasant land ownership was steadily increasing. (pp. 321-322). Moreover, the productivity of Russian agriculture had more than doubled between 1900 and 1910. (p. 322). The peasant commune, an unfortunate holdover of the serfdom that had been abolished fifty years earlier, was fast disappearing, especially in light of what Wilton calls “enormous increase of small-holdings”. (p. 317). [No wonder the murderous Communist hostility to so-called kulaks!] In addition, Russian mills and industries were making significant strides in production. (p. 322).
JEWS AS REVOLUTIONARIES
The author attributes Jewish revolutionary activity to the injustices that Jews had experienced under tsarist Russia, but realizes that this explanation, by itself, is inadequate. In fact, Wilton goes beyond the “Jews had it bad” explanation [or exculpation] by calling attention to the many and growing successes of Jews in the last decades of tsarist Russia. For instance, Jews entered the universities in large numbers (pp. 59-60), and many Jews became doctors and lawyers. (p. 60). In addition, while rapidly advancing in Russian society, many Jews had turned away from religion and other traditional Jewish ways and became, in Wilton’s words, “pseudo-Jews”. (pp. 59-60). [The informed reader probably realizes that self-atheization is a major factor in political radicalization.]
The author touches on Jews and the 1905 revolution. Jews played a major role in the murders of hundreds of policemen, and the “expropriation” of banks. (p. 84).
JEWS AND THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION (1917)
Robert Wilton writes, (Quote) Afterwards their [Jews’] numbers increased largely, and although they studiously concealed their identity under assumed Russian or Polish names, it became known that the principal ones were: Nahamkez-Steklov, Apfelbaum-Zinoviev, Rosenfeldt-Kamenev, Goldmann-Gorev, Goldberg-Mekowski, Zederbaum-Martov, Himmer-Sukhanov, Krachman-Zagorski, Hollander-Mieshkowski, Lourier-Larin, Seffer-Bogdanov. Among the leaders of this gang—under Lenin—were: Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein, and Feldmann, alias Chernov. (unquote)(pp. 137-138).
The foregoing list is incomplete and unremarkable. In fact, it can be corroborated, and expanded, by more recent Jewish studies. For instance, please click on, and read my detailed review, of The Jews of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority (Cambridge Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies) .
[Let us keep all this in perspective. Nowadays, Jews commonly say that Poles were “complicit in the Holocaust”. How so? Does the fact that perhaps 0.01% or 0.1%, of the killers of Jews on German-occupied Polish soil, were ethnic Poles, now make Poles “complicit in the Holocaust”? If so, then Jews, who were much, much more than 0.1% of all Communist killers, are all the more complicit in the heinous crimes of Communism.]
JEWS AND THE MEDIA
According to Wilton, perhaps the greatest service of the Jews, to the Russian Revolution, came from Jewish influence in the Press. He comments, (quote) However, we knew that the Bolsheviki had issued PRIKAZ No. 1, and that nothing had been done by the Menshevist majority to counteract their fell designs. Moreover, the Press, almost entirely in Jewish hands, had gone over to the Soviet, and Moderate organs that would not publish the Soviet proclamations glorifying spoilation and promoting Anarchy had been summarily ‘expropriated’ on behalf of newly founded Socialist publications. The revolutionary pseudo-Jews were thus destroying Russia’s hopes of a national revival and dragging the country into disaster. (unquote). (pp. 173-174). [In Wilton’s lingo, as noted earlier, “pseudo-Jews” refers to Jews who did not practice traditional Jewish ways. (p. 60). However, this does not diminish the fact that they were Jews by one iota. See the first Comment under this review.]
Robert Wilton continues, (quote) On March 29th, I reported from Riga on the pernicious influence of Jewish Extremists. But this appeal to moderation was willfully distorted by the Jewish Press. Facts cited by me on the best authority were “proved” to be non-existent, and a campaign of slander and intimidation followed. Now, I was threatened with nothing less than murder…The Soviet regime was far worse than the OKHRANA. I know that on occasion, at least, the OKHRANA had contemplated my expulsion for writing too freely about the Old Regime. Now I was threatened with nothing less than murder. Under the dispensation of “freedom” applied by the Soviet, the truth had become unpalatable and dangerous in Petrograd and inacceptable in London. (unquote). (pp. 174-175).
(Quote) Moreover, the Press, almost entirely in Jewish hands, had gone over to the Soviet, and Moderate organs that would not publish the Soviet proclamations glorifying spoilation and promoting Anarchy had been summarily ‘expropriated’ on behalf of newly founded Socialist publications. The revolutionary pseudo-Jews were thus destroying Russia’s hopes of a national revival and dragging the country into disaster. Young and old, these zealots intensified revolutionary passions. (unquote). (p. 174).
The author spent many years living in Russian-ruled Poland (p. 57) and so is eminently qualified to speak on the subject. Instead of repeating the standard Judeocentric narrative that blames the failure of Assimilation, and the need for Zionism, on Polish anti-Semitism, Wilton has a much more sophisticated understanding of Jewish-Polish relations. He writes, (quote) In Poland they [Jews] enjoyed a large measure of freedom. All business was in their hands. They acted as agents of the great landlords. The urban population was—and remains—mostly Jewish. But Poles and Jews lived peacefully enough together…Thirty years ago [Reviewer’s Note: About the Time of Jan Jelenski’s ROLA] the Poles began to go into business themselves. Competition arose. The landlords started agricultural associations to shake off the Jewish monopoly. A rift betokened itself, and has been growing ever since—effectually discrediting Assimilationist theories, largely based upon the earlier and one-sided adjustment of Polish and Jewish interests. (unquote). (p. 57).
POLES AND UKRAINIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS
Nowadays, in Jewish-Ukrainian dialogue, Ukrainian anti-Semitism is commonly blamed on the Poles. In other words, Ukrainian anger mistakenly directed at Jews was actually caused by the policies of Poles. Wilton implicitly challenges this narrative as he discusses the illusory nature of the freedoms of Galicia’s Ruthenians (Ukrainians) compared with those of the Ukrainians under Russian rule. In doing so, he places the primary blame on the Jews and secondary blame on the Poles. He writes, (quote) And, although a closer inspection would have revealed the hollowness of the Ruthene liberties, dominated as the people were in their daily lives by Jewish officials and land-agents and even by the Poles… (unquote). (p. 246).
A POLISH CALL FOR THE RESTORATION OF THEIR NATION
Author Robert Wilton (pp. 334-346) includes a moving entreaty, signed by prominent Poles, praising American President Woodrow Wilson, and calling for continued American support for Polish independence after over 120 years of Partition. The entreaty reminds Americans of their devotion to liberty, and the memories of Kosciuszko and Pulaski.
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