From: Born a Jew, by Boris Bogen (in collaboration with
Alfred Segal), Macmillan Company, New York, 1930, p. 326-327
"In this new Russia, at that time , Jews predominated in the high
places of the government, but not consciously as Jews, for they had set
themselves apart from Judaism as they had from capitalism, and there was
none among them to say, 'I am a Jew'; they knew only the proletarian unity.
Nor was there any in Russia, at that time, to point scorn publicly at
these new rulers and say, 'They are Jews.' And I who had been born in
the old Russia and had lived in it until my young manhood, felt myself
in a topsy-turvy world in which the despised had come to sit on the throne,
and they who had been the least were the mightiest, and I was like one
waking up from a dream, uncertain between fantasy and reality.
There was that May Day in Moscow, a grand parade. The Red Army marches.
The workers march with banners and floats, singing. The procession, miles
long, snakes through the winding streets and comes, at length, to the
Kremlin where the puissance of Communism is assembled. Where homage was
once for Tsars, the heavens are rent with hoarse, exultant tributes for
the Jew, Trotsky, the idol of the people then. Where the soldiery
did obeisance to emperors, the battalions now stand before the Jew, Kamenev,
Acting President of the Republic, to recite after him the oath of allegiance.
He is flanked by generals who were of the old regime and now are of the
new. At his right Budiani, the dashing cavalryman, whom the Tsar loved.
[end page 326]
[begin page 327] One sees these things and says, 'But, after all, this
is not Trotsky the Jew or Kamenev the Jew. They have repudiated Judaism
and feel no unity with Israel. Are they of us, then?' Then one argues:
'But they are Jews. Is the Jewish quality something that can be renounced
with a word? Can our spiritual inheritance be cast off by a man as some
garment? These are Jews.'
Trotsky the Jew receives the salute of the army. Budiani, the favorite
of the Tsar, stands at attention as the Jew Kamenev speaks. This is not
to say that there was no anti-Semitism in Russia then. Oh, there was enough
of it and, perhaps, the more dangerous because it was suppressed. The
government sat on the lid, and when Jews met to discuss the comparative
happiness of their new state, there was always the terrifying question,
'But what would happen if the government fell?' And men feared to venture
the answer, being seized with unspeakable dread; for every Jew knew that
the fall of the government would release such an explosion of hate as
would fade St. Bartholomew's eve to a brawl. And the prayer was that there
might be no change even though Jewish Communists were most obnoxious and
persecuted Judaism, even while the Jew himself was safe."
[page 327] "A few hundred miles from Alushta is Evaptorea, famous in Tsarist
days as a summer resort for privileged people among whom were not Jews.
There was no need here, as in some of our American resorts, to set up
admonitions against Jews; Jews knew definitely they were not wanted at
Evaptorea and their fathers had known it before them. But now Evaptorea
was overflowing with Jews come to take the curative mud baths. [page 348]
Here, too, came Nepmen, insolent with wealth, knowing what they wanted
and getting it, for they were willing to pay the most exorbitant prices.
After we had been to the colonies and had seen the saintly Dimitri and
ragged chalutzim giving their souls to their holy work, our pride was
abashed at the sight of many Jews among the Nepmen. And so, too, at Yalta,
another resort, the Nepmen were in numbers and their lavish spending seemed
incongruous in a proletarian republic in which all were theoretically
reduced to a common level of humility. One of the Tsar's palaces was near
Yalta, but now it was a museum for all the people; in one of the wings
of this palace were lodged twenty-six guests. Of whom twenty-two were
Jews, and if the shade of Nicholas walked here, it must have been distressed,
for in his imperial time this was territory forbidden to Jews. Now there
came to call on us some guests from Moscow, fellows entirely Russianized
who played on small part on this new Russian stage; but now, approaching
us, they addressed us in Yiddish. "Yiddish!" I exclaimed in astonishment.
"Oh, we are just celebrating," one answered. "These grounds were prohibited
to us and our fathers, and our fathers before them. Now that we are here,
we are taking a whimsical revenge by talking Yiddish in the palace of
the Tsar." And another, a musician, said: "Just before the war I was to
participate in a performance here for the imperial family and all the
way to the Crimea I was in terrible fear of being exposed as a Jew." And
on the polished floor once sacred to imperial feet they danced traditional
Jewish dances and they lifted their voices in Yiddish songs and in these
they were joined by a chorus of the Jewish guests, and the Tsar's palace
rang with the folk songs of the Ghettos." [page 349]
The following quotations are from: SOPHIA KOSSAK, The Blaze: Reminiscences
of Volhynia 1917-1919. Translated from the Orginal Polish. NY: Polish
Book Importing Co., 1927.
May 22 .- Yesterday a peasant assembly
from all the villages was held in the town, and before the peasants entered
the town the Bolsheviks carefully searched the carts for fire-arms. At
the meeting the peasants shouted: "We won't have the Communes, we won't
have the Jews!" and they passed a resolution to expel the whole Revcom
in the course of ten days." (p. 283)