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leg of the boot over a wooden block ; I rub the sole
with sand-paper. Chaja looks on and laughs at me
learning the trade. But In spite of her mockery, a
day arrives when I put a new pair of soles on my
boots. This was a triumph which I have never
endeavoured to repeat. I found that It took almost
as much leather off my hands as I put on to the
soles of the boots. I send my boots to the cobbler
now for repairs.

When RublnskI came back from the market I
would ask him :

" Have you had a good day ? "

No ; the market was flat. No gentry were there ;
only a few farmers with their milk-carts, and some
strugovtchiks from the Volga. But, God be praised !
I made nine roubles on the seven pairs of boots I
sold last market-day."

Nine roubles for fourteen days work of sixteen
hours a day seems pitiable enough ; but RubinskI
is quite happy, and he Is saving up a little money.

Chaja bakes the bread, and cooks the meals, and
does all the housework ; but she manages to find
time to call on her neighbours and the Babbl's wife
now and then and Indulge In a little gossip. Some-
times I overhear her telling her neighbours what



FA]\TILY LIFE OF THE TEWS 119

a useful person her lodger is — how he splits the logs
for the fire and puts them in the sun to dry, and
does various other odd jobs. Then she sinks her
voice, and says what a pity it is that he is not a Jew.

But one day Chaja was not out of bed in the
morning, and Rubinski came to my room, a very sad
man, with tears in his eyes. He told me that Chaja
was ill, and would I go and see her.

I went to her room, and when I asked her what
was the matter —

" Oi," she cried, *' ouf alle goim gesogt ! " (" My
pains should all the Christians have ! ")

I laughed aloud ; and she hastened to correct her-
self

" Nain ! Nain ! I did not mean you, nor the
Christians of your country. But I wish it to all
the Russian Christians."

"Well, you can go on wishing that," I said.
" But you must take care of yourself."

Chaja had the influenza badly, and it was some
weeks before she recovered.

Rubinski and Chaja had no children, and In this
respect they differed from the majority of the
married Jews in Russia, who, for the most part,
have large families.

The Jewess Is a very gentle and loving mother,
and she lavishes upon her children all the tender
affection which has perhaps found no outlet before
she became a mother.

In his habits and modes of life the Russian Jew
Is regular and frugal. A drunken Jew Is a thing
practically unknown. During the whole nine years



120 THE JEW IN RUSSIA

that I was in Russia I do not think that I saw
three cases of drunkenness amongst them. And yet
they will drink of all kinds of wines, spirits, and
beer in moderation. At the feasts and holiday
celebrations the fare is liberal and the wine or
spirits well supplied ; but there is never any excess
of eating or drinking.

The Jew is regular and punctual in his hours. He
eats at the proper time and rests at the proper time.
He will return from his work and go to his Beth
Hamedrosh for the evening prayers, and then home
to supper with the regularity of clockwork. This
strict regimen keeps his brain clear and active,
and endows him with physical endurance.

It is for these very qualities that he is hated and
despised by the Russian aristocracy, to whom the
Jew is the superior in powers of intellect, bodily
strength, and deportment.

Amongst the Jews in Russia there are no tramps.
The Jews take care of their own poor, and find work
of some sort for the man who is down on his luck.
The Russian Jews who find their way to this country
and America are the young men who have fled from
Russia to avoid military service. Their immigration
to England does not mean that they were unable to
make a living in Russia among their own people, but
simply that they prefer to escape from persecution
and oppression and conscription.

Here I am led into a digression from the subject
of the Jew in particular to the deplorable state
of uncleanliness, both bodily and locally, general
throughout Russia. It was the mention of tramps



FAMILY LIFE OF THE JEWS 1^1

that recalled the subject to my mind, and conjured up
a vision which I will describe.

A dreary road stretching away for miles and miles
over a flat landscape; patches of snow are still visible
here and there, in the ditches and sheltered spots ;
but the sun is shining fitfully through the clouds, and
the promise of spring is in the air. A party of travel-
ling popes are coming down the road with their long-
cloaks and brimless hats. They are making for a
desolate-looking farmhouse by the road side, where
they will beg their dinner and shelter for the night.
They have already been for some weeks on the road,
as is their custom before Easter, begging for the poor
from village to village — though I should be sorry to
assert that the poor receive any benefit from their
mission. They are mud-stained and unkempt, and
as they tramp along the dirty road they leave behind
them a malodorous stench of unwashed, sweating
flesh.

At the farmhouse one goes forward to the door to
interview the owner and beg for food and shelter.
The rest dispose themselves by the roadside in the
sun, and leisurely begin to divest themselves of their
garments and to search for lice in the seams and
corners. They are all filthily verminous, and they
have no difficulty in finding what they seek.

Presently the pope who went to the farm comes
out and beckons his brothers in. They huddle on
their clothes and troop into the house, where we
will leave them to bow before the icon and enjoy
the hospitality of the poor farmer to their hearts'
content.



122 THE JEW IN RUSSIA

The plague of lice, like the plague of darkness,
seems to have travelled to Russia and taken up its
abode there. Ninety per cent, of the population are
verminous, and they can make no secret of it ; for
the particular parasite from which they suffer gives
them no rest.

In the baths special arrangements are made to
cope with it. A long pole is suspended near the
black ceiling of the bath-room, on which are hung
the clothes of all the bathers, turned inside out. The
heat at the top of the room is terrific, and whatever
may be in those clothes is baked to cinders in an
hour.

The sanitary arrangements throughout Russia are
pestilential and revolting. In very few cities is
there any system of drainage whatever ; and even
in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Odessa the drains
are very inefficient. In other towns the arrange-
ments for the disposal of the sewage are perfectly
sickening. If it were not for the six months of cold
weather these insanitary conditions would provoke
a plague throughout the whole country.

In addition to this, the habits of the people them-
selves are disgusting and indecent. But this is a
subject which it is impossible to discuss. Indeed, I
think it is better to let the whole unsavoury sub-
ject drop, and return once more to the Jew in
Russia.



CHAPTER VI

THE JEWISH SOLDIER

The young Jew must of course go to the Voinskaia
Povinost like every other humble subject of the
Tsar; and in the Russian Army there is no more
useful soldier. His usefulness is not due to excessive
martial ardour, nor to the love which he bears for
Holy Russia and the Tsar ; but to the simple fact
that he is an educated man.

The Tsar has plenty of men to do his fighting for
him, he wants no young Joshuas ; but he badly
needs clerks to keep the accounts, and tradesmen to
make clothes and boots for the fighting line. And
though he does his best to suppress the education
of the Jew, he is very glad to make use of the
accomplishments which he has acquired in spite of
his ukase. O logical " God on Earth ! "

Therefore you will find the Jewish soldiers
employed as military clerks, and even serving as
private secretaries to ojBficers of high rank. You
will find them in the topogi-aphical department
making maps and drawing plans. In barracks they
are employed at every kind of trade — tailoring,
boot-making, carpentering, or at the smith's forge
shoeing horses and welding iron.

The officers of their regiments employ them on



124 THE JEW IN RUSSIA

private jobs, quite unconnected with their duties to
the State, and if they offer them any payment for
their work, it takes the form of an order for a piece
of pork from the cook-house, which they know the
Jew will not accept.

*' Here, Jew ! " says an officer, " my wife wants
you to make her a copper coffee-pot."

The Jew salutes and answers : " Very good, your
Excellency."

He has scarcely gone to work on the coffee-pot
when another officer comes up.

" You must make me a stand for a lamp of
wrought iron."

*' Yes, your High-born. But I have an order
already from his Excellency to make a coffee-pot."

" Then you will make the lamp-stand after-
wards."

That was the state of affairs in the barrack iron-
monger's shop when a young officer, with whom I
was acquainted, went in to give a commission to the
unfortunate Jewish tradesman.

" You will come to my house and mend a samovar,
which is leaking," he said.

The Jew saluted, and explained that he had
already two orders to execute which would keep
him occupied for nine days.

" You cursed Jew ! Can you not work at
night ? " He used other endearing epithets which
need not be repeated.

"Yes, your High-born, I will commence your work
after nine o'clock to-night, and try to finish it before
breakfast to-morrow morning."



THE JEWISH SOLDIER 125

The young officer left the shop, and I walked with
him towards his mother's house, where the leaky
samovar awaited repairs.

" Why do you talk to your men like that ? " I
asked.

" We have to assert our authority as officers," he
answered curtly.

" If you tried it on in some countries that I know
of you would find that you were making a very big
mistake."

" I know what you mean," he answered callously ;
*' but your soldiers are educated."

" No better educated than that Jew," I said.

He did not continue the discussion. Presently I
persuaded him to return with me to the iron-
monger's shop and tell the Jew that he need not
execute his order until he had finished the work
which he had on hand. But it cost me a new
samovar to persuade him to do it.

In the regimental tailors' shop the Jew is very
heavily worked. He is often kept at it night and
day, and he has orders for six months ahead. He
makes uniforms for the officers, and everything they
wear. And his reward is to be called " a dirty
diseased Jew," " A dog's son," and various other
things.

The carpenter and bootmaker have also a busy
time in barracks. Their services are in constant
request by all officers from the polkovnik to the
younker.

Then, Jews are generally employed as dentchiks.
The dentcliik is the officer's servant — and I cannot



126 THE JEW IN RUSSIA

imagine a more unenviable occupation. His duties
are undefinable, and are only limited by the orders
of his master. He cleans and scrubs the house, is in
charge of the horses and carriage or sleigh, acts as
nursery governess to the children, runs messages
like a dog, looks after the clothes and accoutrements
of his master, and does all the dirty work there is to
be done.

In one respect the Jewish soldier is more fortunate
than his Christian comrade in arms. He has some-
body to look after him outside the barracks. It
comes about in this way. The Jew will not eat the
rations provided for him in barracks as it is against
his religion to do so. In this respect his officers
treat him kindly. They do not force him to eat. In
fact, they are quite indifferent as to whether he eats
or not.

But his own people have a care for him. In
whatever place he is serving the Kabbi arranges
with the congregation for his meals. I know of a
certain rich Jew who has never less than two Jewish
soldiers coming to his table three times a day. And
I was told that he has done this for more than
eighteen years. There are families which cannot
afford to give a whole week's board to the soldier ;
and when this is the case the soldier is sent from
house to house for his meals, so that the burden is
equitably distributed throughout the community.

In a garrison town where the Jewish community
was very small it once happened that about fifty
Jewish soldiers were quartered. The Kabbi saw
that it would be an impossibility to arrange for



THE JEWISH SOLDIER 127

the feeding of so many mouths in his small con-
gregation, and therefore he summoned the soldiers
and gave them a dispensation. They were allowed
to eat the barrack fare ; but the Rabbi ordered that
they should throw away the first spoonful.

There are many who scoff at the strict observance
by the Jews of the minutiae of the Law, who regard
the "jots and tittles " as ridiculous and trifling, and
despise a religion which adheres to its old traditions
and does not advance with the times.

To those people I would say — " Consider the Jews
of to-day." What other nation or race in the world
would have preserved its individuality and nation-
ality in the face of the disasters which have befallen
the Jews for the last nineteen hundred years ?
They have no country and are scattered. They are
persecuted and oppressed and despised. Yet
through it all they remain distinctly and unques-
tionably a nation.

What has held them together ? What is the
bond that binds the Jew in England to the Jew in
Russia or America ? Why have they not become
absorbed into the nations of their adoption ? Why
are they to this day a world power ? The answer to
all these questions is the one word — " Religion."

Would the Christian religion, as administered by
the Churches of the Protestant religion, or by the
Church of Rome, have proved a strong enough bond
to hold together a nation through the stress of cen-
turies of dispersion and persecution ? Lay aside pre-
judice, and answer truthfully, " No." And then seek
for the reasons. You will find them in dissensions,



128 THE JEW IN RUSSIA

in lax discipline, in superstition, in want of learning
on the part of the priests, in carelessness, in uncharit-
ableness.

It is by unity, by the strict observance of every
iota of the Law, by the erudition of the Rabbis, by
attention, by charity, that the Jewish religion keeps
its grasp upon the race, and has guided it through
the storms of nearly two thousand years.

Then, whether we be Christians or whether we
be Buddhists, we cannot afford to laugh at the
religion of the Jews, or criticise the manners and
forms of its administration.

It is a religion that is inculcated in every member
of the community. Every child born of Jewish
parents is Instructed in It, however humble his
parentage may be. There Is no Ignorance of religion
among the Children of Israel.

Contrast this with the state of things in London.
A British officer of my acquaintance told me the
following story, and vouched for the truth of it. He
was acting as recruiting officer at a certain depot in
the East End of London. One of the questions
which is put to every recruit on attestation is —
" What Is your religion ? " My friend assured me
that he frequently received the reply : " I don't know
what you mean."

On one occasion the recruit paused to consider the
question, and answered at last : " I'm not rightly
sure."

" Oh," said my friend, " you must have some
religion If you are coming Into the army,"

The recruit scratched his head thoughtfully, and



THE JEWISH SOLDIER 129

then the recollection of his religious denomination
suddenly flashed into his mind.

" Please, sir, I'm a Prostitute ! " he exclaimed.

And yet we send missionaries abroad. Even the
poor Jewish soldier in Russia knows better than
that.



CHAPTER VII

THE TREATMENT OF THE JEWS

In the short account of the Jews in Russia which I
have given, I have endeavoured in a few words to
describe their characteristics and modes of hfe. It
is a subject on which many volumes could be written,
but to give more than the merest sketch of the Jews
in Russia is outside the scope of this book. Before
leaving them, however, it would be instructive to
take note of the relations which exist between them
and the Government and their fellow subjects in
Russia.

How dearly the Tsar loves this peaceable race
within his borders we have seen from the great
solicitude which he exhibits for their education.
For their health he is equally careful. Jews are not
allowed to bathe in rivers and lakes, nor are they
permitted to go to seaside watering-places, sana-
toriums, or mineral wells. They must reside in the
Jewish quarters of the towns, and are not allowed
to go to the more salubrious suburbs to live, even if
it is necessary for their health. If a Jew wishes to
consult a medical practitioner who lives in some
other town he cannot do so unless he obtains
permission from the police.

Then the popes of the Holy Russian Church stir



THE TREATMENT OF THE JEWS 131

up the ignorant and superstitious moujiks against
the Jews, and massacres are the result. Kemember,
the pope is the property of the Synod, and the
Synod belongs to the Tsar. The chain of respon-
sibility is complete, and it is easy to lay the blame
on the riofht man.

There are police and soldiers looking on at the
slaughter, even if they do not join in with the
moujiks. The army and the police belong to the
Tsar. The chain of responsibility is complete, and
it is easy to lay the blame on the right man.

After it is all over, and some hundreds of Jews
have been killed and their women dishonoured
before death, there is possibly a mock inquiry into
the circumstances, and the lawyers who speak in-
advisedly are sent to Vladikavkas. Justice also
belongs to the Tsar. The chain of responsibility is
complete, and it is easy to lay the blame on the
right man.

Has the world forgotten the massacres in Kieff in
1880, 1 88 1, and 1882, or in Kharkoff in 1882, or
in Warsaw in 1 881, or in Novgorod in 1884, or in
Kischinieif and Gomel in 1903? In Kieff the
houses of the Jews were fired and pillaged. The
children were torn from their mothers' breasts and
dashed to pieces before their eyes. Four hundred
souls were destroyed in two days. And whilst the
smoke of Kieff rose to heaven and her streets ran
red with blood, in a Jewish town, seventy ve7\st^
away, a fanatic priest was inflaming the passions of
the moujiks against the Jews. He told a story that
the Jews had stolen a Christian child, and would



L'}2 THE JEW IN RUSSIA

use his blood for their Passover. Not a Jewish
family was left alive in the place.

Then at the massacre at Kischinieif last year the
scenes of horror surpassed even those at Kieif. The
young Jewish girls were outraged before the eyes
of their parents. One frantic woman tore herself
from her captors and rushed to her daughter's
rescue, but a blow from the butt of a soldier's rifle
scattered her brains. The Pristav and the Politz-
maister, with police and soldiery, looked on at the
slaughter. It is significant that the woman should
have been killed with a soldier's rifle. Doubtless
the Government oflicials who were present were
able to supply a full report of the proceedings to
St. Petersburg.

The Kischiniefl" aflair struck horror to the Christian
world. There were protests from England and
America. And then ? Nothing.

A tardy investigation was held, and a mock trial
of a few of the murderers is apparently still in
progress. In a newspaper of the 26th of February,
1904, it is stated that sixty-eight persons are now
on trial in connection with the aflair. But as one
of the prisoners, who was found guilty of murder, was
sentenced to one year's imprisonment, and another to
undergo two and a half years service in a disciplinary
company, it is obvious that the whole trial is nothing
but a sham. Apparently all the civil actions for
damages have been dismissed.

The charitable Christian reader comfortably en-
sconced by his own fireside wearies of this tale of
horrors, and mutters : "Oh, nonsense ! The man is



THE TREATMENT OF THE JEWS 133

a fanatic, or a E-ussian Nihilist. The whole thing
is exaggerated and overdone."

O comfortable and charitable Christian reader !
go to Kussia and see for yourself. Or, if that is too
much trouble, turn up the files of the newspapers
and read. If you have used all your old newspapers
to light the fire by which you sit in judgment on
the world at large, and if you are too lazy to go to
the nearest public library to consult the files, then
take the word of one of your own race, whose only
connection with Russia is, that he has lived in that
country for nine years for the purpose of finding
out the truth.*

The question which I wish to put to every fair-
minded man and woman is this : Suppose that the
Jews had a kingdom of their own, and that they
treated the Christians within their gates with a
mere fraction of the barbarity which Kussia metes
out to the Jews, how long would it be before the
Christian world interfered ?

But Russia is known as a Christian country — and
the Jew is a Jew — and does not count. That is
the view of the Christian world. And in proof of
it, what do we see at this moment ? The Christian
Russia authorised by the Powers to coerce the Turk
to decent behaviour towards the Armenians.

Now Turkey does not pretend to Christianity,
and the rule of the Sultan may not be all that is
admirable. But his treatment of the Armenians is
not one whit worse than the treatment of the Jews
by Russia. There is this difference, the Jew is a
* See Appendix.



134 THE JEW IN RUSSIA

peaceful and law-abiding subject; but the Armenian,
though he wears the badge of Christianity, is a
murderer and cut-throat at heart, and has brought
the trouble on himself.

But because the Turk is a Mahommedan and the
Armenian a Christian, therefore Christian Kussia,
who murders the Jews by thousands, is deputed by
the rest of Christianity to suppress the Turk.

Can any modern historian find a parallel in
Turkish history to the savagery of Russia ? Or
can he name any man who has been girded with
the sword of Osman in the Mosque of Ejub in Con-
stantinople who can compare with the " Gods on
Earth " of the past sixty years in blood-guiltiness
and oppression ?

What Sultan of Turkey has ever commanded the
suppression of the language and history of a vassal
State ? What Sultan has prohibited the education
of a section of his subjects ? What Sultan has re-
stricted the benefits of medical science, and closed
his sanatoriums and watering-places to a section of
his subjects ? What Sultan has ordered the massacre
of his own subjects without provocation ? What
Sultan has tortured children to convert them to his
faith, making them kneel upon sacks half- filled with
shot for eighteen hours a day, until they embraced
Mahommedanism, and caused those who would not
be converted to be knouted to death between the
ranks of his soldiers ?

Eighteen thousand children were destroyed in
two years in the name of Christ in the time of
Nicholas I.



THE TREATMENT OF THE JEWS 135

What Sultan has released murderers from jail
to swell the ranks of his religion ? What Sultan
has condoned the wholesale slaughter of the un-
offending and peaceful inhabitants of a frontier
town, as Nicholas II. condoned the bloody massacre
of Blagovestshensk in 1 900 ?

The massacre of Blagovestshensk surpasses for
savage ferocity anything in the history of the Middle
Ages. So great was the slaughter of men and
women and children that the Amur river was choked
with corpses for many miles. By order of General
Gribsky the wretched Chinese inhabitants of the
town were driven by thousands into the river ; and
those who would not enter the water were mur-
dered in cold blood on the bank by the Cossacks.
The deputy Pristav Shabanov looked on at this
orgie of massacre until his gorge rose against it, and,
sickened by a surfeit of bloody horrors, he was
forced to turn away. In Blagovestshensk and the
surrounding country more than 15,000 inoffensive
Chinese were slaughtered.

On hearing of the massacre I went to Blagovest-
shensk, being at the time five days journey from
that place. I arrived on July 21, 1900, and re-
mained there for three weeks. During the whole
time I was there corpses of the murdered Chinese
were floating down the river.

It is superfluous to multiply the deeds of savagery
and barbarism which have been committed in Russia
during the reigns of Nicholas I., Alexander II.,
Alexander III., and Nicholas 11. in the last sixty
years. The amiable British statesman who professes


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Online LibraryCarl JoubertRussia as it really is → online text (page 8 of 18)