Archive for the ‘Anti-Jewish’ Category

Donald Trump Campaign Cancels Mississippi Rally Due to Hurricane Florence

“Regrettably, we must cancel the planned Make America Great Again rally in Jackson, Mississippi this Friday,” Chief Operating Officer of Trump’s campaign Michael Glassner said in a release on Monday.

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Donald Trump Campaign Cancels Mississippi Rally Due to Hurricane Florence

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Photos: East Coast Hit by Heavy Rain, Flash Floods as Hurricane Florence Nears

Florence rapidly strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and South Carolina, carrying winds and water that caused heavy rain and flash floods on the East Coast over the weekend.

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Photos: East Coast Hit by Heavy Rain, Flash Floods as Hurricane Florence Nears

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Report: North Korea Still Developing Nuclear Assets

A report published by NBC News on Monday found several American officials confirming that evidence exists that North Korea has not begun dismantling its nuclear program, instead continuing to illegally subsidize the development of nuclear weapons.

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Report: North Korea Still Developing Nuclear Assets

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Polish "Neighbors" and German Invaders

[byAlexander B. Rossino]

Over the past decade research about the genocide of the Jews in Eastern Europe focused increasingly on developments in the so-called “regional periphery” of Nazi-dominated Europe, rather than on the decision-making process at the “center” in Berlin. This shift prompted an increase in the number of scholarly studies that examine the role Eastern Europeans played in the destruction of Jewish communities during the German occupation.[1]One book in particular,Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, by Jan T. Gross, sparked a firestorm of debate in Poland about the complicity of Polish gentiles in the murder of Polish Jews. By writing that Poles in Jedwabne and other small towns west of Biaystok had taken part in the murder of local Jews, Gross challenged the long-cherished notion in Poland that all Poles – Christians and Jews – had suffered equally under the Nazis. Gross’ portrayal also deeply offended Poles who clung to the myth that their countrymen had never collaborated with the Germans. But whileNeighborscontributed to an ongoing re-examination of the history of the Holocaust in Poland, Gross’ failure to examine German documentary sources fundamentally flawed his depiction of the events. The result was a skewed history that did not investigate SS operations in the region or German interaction with the Polish population. The following essay therefore attempts to redress this oversight by describing the historical context within which the pogroms in Jedwabne and elsewhere in the Biaystok district occurred. For in fact a detailed exploration of SS activities in the region reveals that the outbreak of popular violence against Jews was directly related to policies that the SS implemented during the brief “transitional phase” from the targeted killing of Jewish men in June-July 1941 to the comprehensive annihilation of Soviet Jewry in August 1941.[2]

The Nazi regime defined the war against the USSR as a conflict of mutually antagonistic ideologies, the ultimate aim of which was to destroy what Adolf Hitler commonly referred to as the “Judeo-Bolshevik” system. However, because National Socialism conflated notions of ideological identity and racial-biological origin, the attack on the Soviet Union (code named Operation Barbarossa) was not a normal military offensive in which the sole objective was the destruction of the Red Army. Rather, officers in the Wehrmacht, SS, and police were also determined to carry out a war against elements of the civilian population, and to eliminate the alleged biological carriers of communism, meaning Jews in the Soviet military, political, and police apparatus. On 3 March 1941, for example, Hitler approved orders drawn up by the Armed Forces High Command (OKW) stipulating that one of the offensive’s primary objectives was the elimination of the “Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia.”[3]SS and police units received similar instructions that described in still greater detail the segments of Soviet society that were to be liquidated, including members of the Comintern; functionaries in the upper, middle, and lower levels of the Communist Party; political commissars attached to the Red Army; Jews in Party and state positions; saboteurs; propagandists; partisans; agitators; and the like.[4]Additionally, SS and police units carried into Soviet territory specially prepared ledgers (Fahndungslisten) containing the names of specific individuals whose arrest was considered particularly important.[5]The decapitation of Soviet society through the liquidation of officials in the state and Communist Party apparatus, especially those of Jewish background, was therefore a firmly established Nazi goal before the German attack.

Once the invasion commenced, however, what might be termed ideologically conditioned pragmatic concerns caused a further radicalization of German policy from the selective killing of Jews to full-scale genocide. As Jrgen Frster has noted, to Hitler and others in the Third Reich the “Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia” was not only the biological pillar upon which communism rested, it also formed the nucleus (Keimzelle) of potential opposition to German administration of the eastern territories.[6]This view of Jews as insurgents who would instinctively resort to partisan warfare was integral to the National Socialist “concept of the enemy,” orFeindbild, and it directly influenced the way in which the SS, police, and Wehrmacht treated the Jewish civilian population.[7]As a result, the SS and army responded to even the slightest civilian resistance by shooting Jews, beginning with men during the initial weeks of Operation Barbarossa and then including women and children in August 1941. In addition to the use of violence against Jews in reaction to civilian attacks, SS and Wehrmacht units also employed violence “preventively” against Jews. Klaus-Michael Mallmann concludes that because many Germans on the eastern front automatically assumed Jews were hostile, the SS and army resorted to mass shootings as a prophylactic measure to deter Jewish resistance.[8]German security concerns in the early stages of the invasion thus conflated the twin objectives of destroying the Soviet bureaucratic and police apparatus and pacifying the occupied territories, with violence employed against Jews on an increasingly radical scale to achieve these goals.

What then was the context within which this process of radicalization took place? Beginning in spring 1941, negotiations between SS Security Police chief Reinhard Heydrich and the army general quartermaster, Lieutenant General Eduard Wagner, led to the conclusion of several agreements delineating the security responsibilities of the SS and Wehrmacht in areas behind the battlefront. The anti-Semitic and anti-communist ideological affinity of the SS and Wehrmacht informed their institutional cooperation above all, but Geoffrey Megargee has also recently demonstrated that the Army High Command expected the Red Army to collapse within the first few weeks of the invasion.[9]The end of Soviet resistance would clear the path for a rapid German advance to the Ural Mountains, resulting in the occupation of vast stretches of territory inhabited by a large number of Jews. In the event that this scenario actually came to pass, and many German officers were convinced it would, insufficient forces would remain behind to secure the newly occupied territory. The military therefore agreed to share responsibility with the SS for security measures behind the front until these areas were transferred entirely to civilian control.

According to the agreement reached by Heydrich and Wagner on 26 March 1941, units composed of SS Security Police and men from the Security Service (SD) of the Nazi Party would be responsible for so-called “special tasks” in German army rear areas, including the use of “executive measures” (i.e., shootings) to combat “activities hostile to the state and Reich.”[10]Heydrich’s Security Police and SD were combined intoEinsatzgruppen(Operational Groups) and instructed to coordinate their activity with army security forces. Four of these Operational Groups were deployed altogether, with oneEinsatzgruppeassigned to each Army Group area (North, Center, and South) and one to the Romanian sphere of operations. EachEinsatzgruppewas in turn comprised of several smallerEinsatzkommandosandSonderkommandos, which could operate in the field autonomously. Lastly,Waffen-SS units, Order Police Battalions, and formations ofSchutzpolizeifrom the General Government were called up to support rear area security operations. Security in the Biaystok district and Belorussia was the responsibility ofEinsatzgruppeB, which was commanded by SS-GruppenfhrerArthur Nebe. Nebe’s Operational Group was constituted in Poznan (Posen) during the third week of June 1941 and included 655 officers and men from the Security Police, Gestapo, Criminal Police, SD,Waffen-SS, and the 2nd Company of Reserve Police Battalion 9. These SS and police personnel were organized into Nebe’sEinsatzgruppeStaff;Sonderkommandos7a and 7b, under the command of Walter Blume and Gnther Rausch respectively;Einsatzkommando8, led by Otto Bradfisch; andEinsatzkommando9, under Alfred Filbert.[11]

The destruction of Soviet forces in the Biaystok district involved a simultaneous eastward advance by the German Ninth Army in the north and the Fourth Army in the south. Two German divisions, the 87th Infantry Division and 221st Security Division, entered the area between these two armies and advanced on Biaystok from the northwest and southwest respectively. In the northwest, two regiments of the 87th Infantry Division, the 173rd and 187th Infantry Regiments, began the attack from East Prussia between Szczuczyn and Kolno on 22 June 1941. After passing through Stawiski on 23 June, Radziw and Jedwabne on 24 June, and Osowiec on 25 June, these units moved to the north and east of Biaystok.[12]To the south, meanwhile, the 221st Security Division occupied oma on 24 June and was in Biaystok by 27 June. Red Army resistance east of Biaystok then finally collapsed at the beginning of July, bringing an end to fighting in the region.

Nebe’s group moved into the Biaystok district shortly after the opening of Operation Barbarossa. Blume’sSonderkommando7a and Filbert’sEinsatzkommando9 moved east behind the Ninth Army, arriving independently in Vilna on 27 June and 1 July. SK 7a remained in Vilna until 3 July, when it relocated to Krewo, which lay 75 miles to the northwest of Minsk.[13]Filbert’s command continued to operate in Vilna, Grodno, and Lida throughout July and in the middle of the month also deployed an advance command in Vilejka, 15 miles southeast of Minsk. For it’s part, Rausch’sSonderkommando7b advanced to Brest-Litovsk on 26 June, moved into the vicinity of Pruzana two days later, where it carried out “Security Police tasks” until 2 July, and then advanced to Slonim and Baranovice on 3 July 1941.[14]Finally, on 1 July, Bradfisch’sEinsatzkommando8 arrived in Biaystok, where it stayed only briefly until 5 July, before moving to Slonim, Baranovice, and other points east.[15]

In comparison to the large-scale killings that would later occur, Nebe’s men shot relatively few Jews during this early stage of the campaign.[16]For example, the Security Police shot nearly 200 Jews in Vilejka, while in Minsk between 50-70 Jews were murdered, ostensibly as punishment for an incident of arson.[17]In contrast, the Order Police in Brest-Litovsk and in Biaystok carried out significantly larger shooting actions throughout July.[18]Biaystok was occupied on 27 June, but even after the Red Army retreated shooting could still be heard in the streets as units with the 221st Security Division destroyed isolated pockets of resistance that remained behind. It was during this fighting in Biaystok on the first day of the German occupation that the synagogue was burned to the ground, supposedly after German troops had come under fire from the building.[19]One day later, Order Police Battalion 309 entered Biaystok and searched the Jewish quarter for weapons. Thousands of Jewish men were arrested during this action and interned in a hastily erected camp until 8 July when perhaps as many as 3,000 of them were shot on direct orders from Heinrich Himmler, who visited the city on that day.[20]Several elements of the terrorization and murder of Jews in Biaystok illustrate the close connections between the campaign against the Jews and the war against Communism. On 30 June 1941, General Johann Pflugbeil, the commander of the 221st Security Division, ordered the formation of a Jewish labor battalion to demolish all of the Lenin and Stalin monuments in Biaystok.[21]Einsatzkommando8 then reported two weeks later that “215 Jewish and Bolshevik functionaries” had been liquidated, along with “15 agents of the NKVD.”[22]These “enemies” were identified with the help of the local Polish populace, who pointed out “Jewish, Russian, and even Polish Bolsheviks.”

The killings in Biaystok and several other larger towns in the region were relatively isolated events in this early phase of the German invasion. Even by mid-July 1941 Nebe’s men had not entered a majority of the villages that dotted the surrounding countryside. This was generally due to the rapidity of the German advance and the small number of men in eachSonder-andEinsatzkommando. In fact, the records show thatEinsatzgruppeBmoved so quickly through the southern, central, and eastern regions of the Biaystok district that on 1 July Heydrich reprimanded Nebe for not stationing a detachment of Security Police in Grodno, which he and Heinrich Himmler had visited on 30 June.[23]Given the shortage of personnel available for security it became increasingly apparent that additional forces were needed in the regions adjacent to Germany’s eastern border and the General Government. Precisely this concern had prompted the deployment of Police Battalion 309 in the Biaystok district and the establishment of military command posts in oma, Sniadowo, Wygoda, and Sokoly.[24]In addition, for part of the first week of the campaign, severalWaffen-SS combat regiments patrolled the area west of the Biebrza River, from Augustow southwards to Wizna, before Himmler ordered them back into East Prussia on 27 June.[25]

Concerns among SS commanders about partisan warfare developing along the eastern frontier of the Reich heightened significantly on 25 June after Dr. Eberhard Schngarth, the commander of the Security Police and SD in the General Government, filed a report noting that Red Army troops dispersed by the Wehrmacht’s sudden attack had turned to guerrilla warfare and were inflicting German casualties.[26]Christopher Browning has also noted that on 5 July, Major Stahr, the commander of Police Battalion 307, and Major General Stubenrauch, the local military commander in Brest-Litovsk, “sent alarming reports concerning the very insecure situation in and around Brest. There were many Soviet soldiers still roaming the area … [and] extra manpower was desperately needed.”[27]Jews were of course immediately suspected of helping cut-off Soviet soldiers sustain their resistance behind German lines. As the Intelligence Officer of the 299th Infantry Division recorded his daily report on 24 June, “guerrilla activity is especially intense in areas that are thickly settled by Jews.”[28]

Consequently, within days of the war’s outbreak the combination of legitimate threats to rear area security, the danger that Jews allegedly presented to German personnel, the fundamentally anti-Jewish animus of SS activities, and the paucity of German security forces proved decisive in radicalizing SS anti-Jewish policy. The result of this radicalization was the introduction of measures against the Jews living in areas adjacent to the eastern frontier of East Prussia and General Government. The earliest of these measures to be implemented was the mobilization of Gestapo and Security Police frontier posts for “cleansing” border areas of Jews. This process began in Lithuania where on 24 June Dr. Walther Stahlecker, the chief ofEinsatzgruppeA, agreed with the suggestion of Hans-Joachim Bhme, the head of the Security Police office in Tilsit, that all Jews and communists along the East Prussian frontier should be killed.[29]Within days Bhme’s men had shot hundreds of Jews in the towns of Garg?dai, Kretinga, and Palanga. Incidentally, Christoph Dieckmann has shown that the impetus for these murders arose from rumors that Jewish civilians had participated in the Red Army’s defense of Garg?dai.[30]The other measures introduced included the formation of additionalSonder-andEinsatzkommandosfor service in the occupied territories, and a systematic effort by the SS to enlist the help of Lithuanians, Latvians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Poles against the Jews.

Turning first to the mobilization of native Poles against the Jews, no small number of Wehrmacht and SS documents note that upon entering former Soviet occupied eastern Poland the non-Jewish population greeted German troops as liberators. According to a report filed by the Ninth Army on 22 June 1941, “the Polish and Lithuanian population expressed great joy at being liberated [by the German Army].”[31]An entry in the war diary of the 221st Security Division similarly noted that upon entering the village of Kleczkowo, southwest of oma, “the civilian population hailed our troops with flowers, salt, and bread as liberators from the Soviet yoke.”[32]And the XXXXII Army Corps reported that civilians in oma, Stanki, and Kolno were all “friendly to Germans (Deutschfreundlich).”[33]The pro-German reaction of the Poles did not escape the attention of the Security Police either, who reported to Berlin “The Polish population in the occupied Soviet-Russian area has in places joyfully greeted German troops.”[34]

Several scholarly analyses of the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland from late September 1939 until the middle of June 1941 offer insight into the reasons why Poles welcomed the Wehrmacht so warmly. By some indications, the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland was nearly as brutal as the German occupation of western Poland. According to Bernhard Chiari’s history of Belorussia at this time, including the Biaystok district, which was formally incorporated into the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) in 1940, the Red Army’s arrival in the area was chaotic and violent. Some locations, such as the city of Grodno, were reduced to rubble after Polish army units attempted to defend themselves against the Soviet invaders.[35]Chiari also notes that from the very beginning agents with the Soviet Secret Police, the NKVD, embarked upon a campaign of terror against the civilian population in search of reputed “anti-Soviet” enemies.[36]The targets of NKVD operations were political and so-called “class” enemies, such as large landholders, business owners, Polish soldiers and military officers, the members of Polish political parties, any Pole reputed to have nationalist tendencies, and officials in the Polish administrative elite.[37]On this subject, Bogdan Musia has provided telling figures on the extent of the arrests carried out in the Biaystok region over the nearly two-year period of Soviet rule. Looking at just the NKVD prisons in Biaystok, Grodno, and oma, Musia found that a total of 8,389 people had been incarcerated by 20 March 1941.[38]These arrests were followed by final wave of detentions in the vicinity of oma and Biaystok on 19-20 June 1941, which led to the incarceration of another 2,059 people.[39]Furthermore, of the 21 prisons in Belorussia examined by Musia, only the prison in Brest-Litovsk held a higher number of internees (3,239) than the three jails listed above.

Yet arrest by the NKVD was not the only means of repression employed by Soviet occupation forces, deportation was another. Limited deportations of civilians were initially carried out in areas adjacent the German-Soviet demarcation line. A document cited by Martin Dean in his study of eastern Poland, Belorussia and Ukraine shows that the inhabitants of all villages located within 800 meters (875 yards) of the demarcation line were forcibly resettled eastwards during the establishment of the Soviet security zone.[40]Bogdan Musia concludes based upon the most recent research of this subject that in the BSSR this number totaled 35,300 people.[41]Of still greater social consequence, however, was the permanent deportation of large parts of the civilian population to Siberia. According to the latest scholarly estimate, by the time of the German invasion the Soviets had deported as many as 381,000 people (permanent inhabitants and refugees) from occupied eastern Poland to Siberia.[42]Poles made up about 60% of these deportees, which was by far the largest segment of any ethnic group. In what was a disastrous coincidence, the Soviets carried out extensive deportations in the Biaystok district during the week prior to the German invasion on 22 June 1941. Soviet documents cited by the Polish scholar, Michal Gnatowski, reveal that as a result of these deportations on 19-20 June a total of 22,353 Poles, including entire families, were deported to Siberia from the regions of oma and Biaystok.[43]Among these deportees were also families from Jedwabne and Wizna.[44]Bernhard Chiari’s conclusion that deportation was a “daily threat” hanging over the heads of all civilians in the BSSR is thus a valid appraisal of the situation.[45]And although we cannot be certain, the fear elicited by this final wave of deportations was surely fresh enough in the minds of local Poles to suggest the murder of Jews in retaliation.

Lastly, the economic impact of the Soviet occupation was ruinous to the already poor and backward agricultural regions of eastern Poland. Red Army troops summarily requisitioned everything in sight, from foodstuffs to other goods, often leaving behind useless receipts for the seized items and not currency.46The collectivization of small farms into large agricultural enterprises was also universally resented by the rural population and led to severe shortages of grain as production dropped. In the words of Jan Gross, this “radical redistribution of property ? undercut nearly everyone’s material basis of existence.”47Bernhard Chiari substantiates this statement, noting that the black market price of grain after the Soviet occupation rose to 15 times the state-mandated price.48Collectivization initially exacerbated class tensions as well given that “the heaviest burden of Soviet economic policy fell on the well-to-do strata of Polish society [which] ? had the things that could be taken away.”49But Jan Gross points out that the peasants who had been encouraged to take land and goods from the middle and upper-classes were soon heavily taxed by the authorities, resulting in the continued build-up of anti-Soviet resentment across all segments of Polish society.

Given the considerable economic and social impact of the brutal Soviet occupation, the delight expressed by Poles at the arrival of German forces is quite comprehensible. But the communist occupation left deep psychological scars as well. These manifested themselves in the resentment that Poles quickly turned against their Jewish neighbors, whom they blamed for Soviet depredations. This reaction was fostered in part by the fact that many Jews had welcomed the Red Army as it rolled into eastern Poland. Stories abound in the scholarly literature of Jews dancing in the streets at the arrival of Soviet tanks in their towns. For example, Shalom Cholawsky recounts the comments of a Jew from the town of Dereczyn who stated “It is hard to describe our joy. It seemed to us that this was the happiest day in our lives. All of the Jewish population, and also many non-Jews, came out to welcome the Soviet saviors.”50The Polish scholar Andrzej Zbikowski cites similar evidence from the underground archive of the Warsaw Ghetto that reinforces the conclusion Jews initially welcomed Soviet forces. Jews in Vilna, for instance, were seen showing great enthusiasm for the arriving Red Army.51And in the town of Luzk “The majority of [Jewish] youth expressed great enthusiasm. They kissed the soldiers, climbed the tanks, [and] they gave an ovation.”52Finally, Jan Gross cites the story of one Polish witness from Jedwabne who recalled that a local Jewish family and several Polish communists set out bread and salt for Soviet troops as well as a banner that read, “We Welcome You.”53

Scholars generally agree that the sight of Jews greeting the Red Army was abhorrent to Poles, but until recently there was little evidence to suggest that Jews had participated in the crimes of the Soviet occupiers. Detailed research carried out by Bogdan Musia over the past few years has resulted in a more nuanced understanding of Jewish involvement with Soviet occupation forces. Musia has been criticized for suggesting that Jews in eastern Poland were over represented in the Soviet administrative and police apparatus, but after examining numerous eyewitness reports taken from the inhabitants of eastern Poland, including Jews who survived the German occupation, Musia found that in many cases Jewish militia members directly participated in mass arrests and deportation actions. Take for example the statement of Aleksander Kotowski, a Polish inhabitant of Jedwabne. Kotowski recalled after the war that the in October 1939 the NKVD released “Jews and [Polish] Communists” who had been held in Polish prisons and then utilized these people as informants to denounce “Polish patriots.”54Another witness from Jedwabne testified that during the deportation of local Poles to Siberia in the third week of June 1941, “an armed Jew sat on every wagon” onto which the deportees were loaded.55Correspondingly, Michel Mielnicki from the village of Wasilkw, which lay near Biaystok, remembered that his father, Chaim Mielnicki, hosted a gathering of NKVD commissars from Moscow in the family’s home. According to Michel his father “served as advisor to the NKVD about who among the local Poles was to be sent to Siberia, or otherwise dealt with.”56As Michel explained, his father had at the time claimed that Polish “fascists” were “not good for the Jewish people” and deserved to be sent to Siberia.57

Other leading scholars of the “final solution” in the occupied Soviet Union have corroborated Musia’s conclusions. Yitzhak Arad, for one, writes of extensive arrests by the NKVD in his hometown of Swieciany: “although there were also thousands of Jews among the exiles [who were arrested], Jews played a relatively large role in the Communist Party apparatus that was behind the action.”58Dov Levin has similarly concluded “the labeling of the Soviet administration as a ‘Jewish regime’ became widespread when Jewish militiamen helped NKVD agents send local Poles into exile.”59Furthermore, Jan Gross himself wrote in 1983 that “Jewish collaboration” with the Soviet authorities was behind the sudden upsurge of anti-Semitism among the non-Jewish population in eastern Poland.60It is worth noting here as well the findings of Ewgienij Rosenblat, who concluded in a recent essay that the percentage of Jews in the Soviet administrative apparatus rose during the two-years from 1939-1941 in the Pinsk Oblast, which is located to the southeast of the Biaystok district. In his examination of various sectors of local society, Rosenblat found that despite the fact that Jews comprised only 10% of the regional population they held 49.5% of the leading administrative positions in the Pinsk Oblast, including 41.2% of those in the judicial and police administration.61

Polish Jews had good reason to greet the Soviets, as life under communist rule was preferable to that under Nazism. Moreover, Poles had by and large never accepted Jews as equal citizens in interwar Poland and the threat of pogroms lurked constantly beneath the seemingly placid surface of Polish-Jewish relations. As Jan Gross notes, the destruction of Poland allowed some Jews to openly show their resentment of Polish anti-Semitism by stating ironically “You wanted Poland without Jews, so now you have Jews without Poland.”62The uniform characterization by Poles of Jews benefiting from the Soviet occupation was nevertheless patently unfair because Jews too suffered under Soviet rule. By the time of the German invasion, between 60,000 and 70,000 Jews had been deported from eastern Poland to Siberia, although it should be noted that the vast majority of these Jews were refugees who had fled the German invasion in September-October 1939.63In his analysis of the “Sovietization” of Jewish communities, Ben-Cion Pinchuk remarks that because Jews generally “occupied themselves with commerce, crafts, and services for the surrounding peasant population,” the elimination of private commerce by the communists may have in reality hit Polish Jews much harder than Polish gentiles.64Similarly, the religious practice of both Polish Catholic and Jewish communities was frowned upon by the Soviets, who viewed it “as an act of defiance.”

It seems then that the outburst of Polish anti-Semitism in reaction to the arrival of German forces was largely based on a stereotype of the “Jewish-Communist” that was shared by anti-Semites across Europe. In eastern Poland, the vision of Jews greeting the Red Army, and in isolated cases of Jews in militia uniform assisting the NKVD, appeared to bear out the deepest suspicions of a nefarious Jewish-Bolshevik alliance. And despite the reality that Jews also endured the horrors of Soviet occupation, “the sight of a few Jews in the police and administration” raised the ire of Poles whose communities had been terrorized and whose nation had been destroyed within the space of one generation.65Indeed, concerning events in Jedwabne and the surrounding area, this Jewish policeman may have been the head of the Soviet Secret Police office in nearby oma, who was a Jewish man named Urwiez.66The evidence clearly demonstrates that like Poles and other native Eastern European peoples with communist sympathies, a certain small number of Jews collaborated with Soviet occupation forces. But when speaking of an unholy union between all Jews and Communists, the fear of which fueled the surge of native anti-Jewish feeling in the first weeks of the German occupation, one can only conclude that scholars are dealing with a fantasy imagined by resentful Poles, a perceived reality that proved to be more influential than reality itself.

The open expression of anti-Soviet sentiment by Poles and other Eastern European peoples presented Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich with the opportunity to enlist collaborators against Jews in the Soviet Union. For his part, Heydrich seems to have anticipated this development, informingEinsatzgruppencommanders in Berlin on 17 June that in an effort to achieve German objectives (i.e., the destruction of Judeo-Bolshevism) they should exploit long-standing ethnic tensions between eastern peoples.67UnderstandablyEinsatzgruppeB’s rapid movement through the Biaystok district had not allowed Nebe’s men to take full advantage of these tensions. This subject arose during a meeting between Himmler, Erich von dem Bach-Zalewski, and several other SS and police leaders, which took place on 28 June in East Prussia.68At this meeting Himmler asked Bach-Zalewski, the commander of Police Regiment Center, and the SS officer responsible for anti-partisan operations behind Army Group Center, why pogroms against the Jews had not yet broken out in the Biaystok district as they had in the Baltic States just to the north. The next day (29 June), Heydrich elaborated on his earlier instructions about exploiting ethnic tensions by issuing orders for the Security Police to “intensify” and “move in the correct direction” all “efforts at self-cleansing by anti-communist and anti-Jewish activists.”69Heydrich cautioned, however, that there should be “no trace” of SS involvement in the pogroms that erupted. He also made it clear that any operations of this kind had to take into account the opinion of local military authorities. Finally, Heydrich’s order stated that the outbreak of so-called “popular pogroms” (Volkspogrome) was preferable at this stage of the campaign to the formation of Polish auxiliary police units like those that had been created in Lithuania.70

Returning now to the connection between these orders and the formation of supplementalSonder- andEinsatzkommandos. It is surely no coincidence that on 30 June Eberhard Schngarth in krakow initiated the creation of four small operational groups for deployment in the Biaystok district shortly after Himmler and Heydrich had expressed a desire to stimulate pogroms.71Schngarth probably received orders from the Reich Security Main Office to form these groups and he immediately transmitted the instructions to Security Police and SD commanders in Warsaw, Radom, and Lublin.72Within three days four auxiliary Security Police and SD groups had been created and placed under the command of Adolf Bonifer, Erich Engels, Johannes Bhm, and Wolfgang Birkner. Events were now quickly moving in the direction Himmler and Heydrich desired. On 1 July Nebe reported to Berlin that he had visited the headquarters of Army Group Center and as a result the “self-cleansing efforts of anti-communist and anti-Jewish circles were to be intensified” in his area of command.73With the military’s cooperation now secure, Heydrich explicitly authorized the Security Police to organize pogroms. These pogroms were to be initiated using small groups of local agitators, particularly members of the Polish intelligentsia who were reputed to be fervently anti-Jewish.74Similar consultations held between the army andEinsatzgruppechiefs elsewhere on the eastern front revealed that other Wehrmacht commanders also agreed with the organization of indigenous anti-Semitic elements against the Jews.75

One day later (2 July) Arthur Nebe traveled to Warsaw from Biaystok to meet with the commanders of the newSonder- andEinsatzkommandosand to orient them on their upcoming duty. It was probably at this point that Nebe informed them about their responsibility for instigating pogroms.76Nebe then departed for Biaystok early the next day along with Bonifer’s and Bhm’s groups.77Arriving in Biaystok in the afternoon on 3 July, Nebe immediately dispatched Bhm’sEinsatzkommandoto Grodno and Adolf Bonifer’sEinsatzkommandoto Bielsk.78A pogrom then broke out in Grodno two days later.79TheSonderkommandosof Engels and Birkner also arrived in Biaystok late in the day on 3 July. Engels’ group was sent on to Nowogrodek one day later (4 July), while Birkner’s command remained in Biaystok. Little information exists about Wolfgang Birkner and the men of hisSonderkommando, but the unit was made up of 29 Security Police and Gestapo officers altogether. Birkner and his men coordinated their work with a small group of Security Police fromEinsatzgruppeBthat Nebe had left behind in Biaystok. By way of background, it is interesting to note that Birkner and seven of the other members of hisSonderkommandowere veterans ofEinsatzgruppeIV, which had occupied Biaystok briefly at the end of the Polish Campaign in 1939, before the city was turned over to the Soviets. According to reports filed by Nebe with the RSHA in Berlin, Birkner’s men participated in several shooting actions in and around Biaystok, which by 28 August had claimed the lives of 1,800 Jews.80

As for evidence concerning the participation of Birkner’sSonderkommandoin inciting pogroms, this is very slim. West German prosecutors investigating Birkner in 1960 initially suspected that his men were involved in the murder of Jews in Jedwabne, Radziw, and Wasosz.81These suspicions were based on the research of Polish historian Szymon Datner, but the investigators turned up little hard evidence directly implicating either Birkner or his men in these events.82It is interesting to note in this context however the statement ofPolizeimeisterN., who was a witness in the West German investigation.PolizeimeisterN. recalled that the head of the small gendarmerie post in Jedwabne was a police officer named Henning and not the gendarme named “Adamy” whose name appears in Jan Gross’ bookNeighbors.83In his retelling of events leading up to the Jedwabne pogrom, Gross quotes the postwar testimony of Wadysaw Miciura, who stated that on the day of the killings one of the German gendarmes ordered him “to go to the square and to watch the Jews.”84Miciura’s testimony suggests that the gendarmes were at least involved in guarding the Jews assembled on the marketplace, if not for actually collecting the Jews. But Gross dismisses this evidence, concluding that the Germans in Jedwabne on the day of the pogrom limited their activity to “taking pictures.”85One of the members of Birkner’sSonderkommandowas SS-OberscharfhrerGerhard Henning, but there is no proof as yet that this man was the Henning referred to during the West German investigation.86

More evidence exists to indicate that Security Police and Gestapo detachments other than Birkner’s were responsible for instigating pogroms and shooting Jews in the western half of the Biaystok district. In addition to ordering the formation of supplementalEinsatzkommandosat the very beginning of July, the Reich Security Main Office also authorized the Gestapo offices in Tilsit and Allenstein to pull personnel from subordinate posts along the East Prussian border and deploy these detachments in the “newly occupied territories” that lay just to the east of the frontier.87These detachments of Gestapo and Security Police were instructed to establish contact with theEinsatzgruppenin the areas where they were deployed and to commence “cleansing” operations (i.e., destroying Jewish communities).88The murders carried out along the Lithuanian-German border by Gestapo personnel from Tilsit have already been mentioned, but in their postwar investigation of theSonderkommandoBirkner, West German authorities discovered that the Gestapo office in Ciechanow (Zichenau) had also deployed personnel in the area. Specifically, a German witness, who had been theKreiskommissarin oma, recalled that when he arrived in the city at the beginning of August he found a detachment of Gestapo personnel from the office in Pock (Schrttersburg) stationed there.89This unit from the Schrttersburg sub-station of the Ciechanow Gestapo headquarters was under the command of SS-ObersturmfhrerHermann Schaper.Upon investigating further, the West Germans located a Jewish witness from the village of Tykocin who positively identified Schaper as the man who had directed a shooting action in his town in August 1941.90Even more important was the discovery of a female Jewish witness from the village of Radziw who recognized photographs of Schaper as the man who had overseen the murder of Jews in her village in early July 1941. InNeighborsJan Gross quotes at length the testimony of Menachem Finkelsztajn, who claimed to have witnessed the pogrom in Radziw, which occurred on 7 July 1941, three days before the pogrom in Jedwabne.91According to Finkelsztajn, for several days before the massacre in Radziw, German soldiers stationed in the village joined local Poles in torturing, beating, and otherwise tormenting the village’s Jews. Events in Radziw then concluded with a pogrom, during which several hundred Jews were killed.92The part of Finkelsztajn’s testimony that described the pogrom itself was missing, leaving Gross unable to provide details about the killings. Finkelsztajn stated categorically, however, “the Poles were in charge, since not even a single German was present.”93

Gross accepted Finkelsztajn’s account of the Radziw pogrom at face value, including its portrayal of local and regional Poles as the sole perpetrators of the crime. By contrast, West German and Israeli investigators looking into this incident discovered another version of the story that is entirely at odds with Finkelsztajn’s portrayal. According to the Jewish woman survivor from Radziw who witnessed the violence from the window of her home: “On 7 July 1941, three automobiles bearing Gestapo functionaries entered Radziw and in cooperation with the [local] Polish police, rousted all of the Jews from their homes and collected them on the marketplace. After all the Jews were assembled, they were forced to march to a barn that lay around two kilometers from the town. The barn was set alight and the nearly 2,000 Jews were burned alive.”94The West Germans suspected that one element of this testimony was incorrect. Specifically, they did not believe that there was a barn large enough in the area to have held 2,000 people. On the other hand, they thought the witnesses’ recollection of Hermann Schaper was very credible, given that she had met him face to face. As she recounted:

This version of events in Radziw clearly contradicts that of Finkelsztajn’s repeated by Gross. According to the testimony above, the murder of Jews in Radziw was a massacre orchestrated by Hermann Schaper’s Gestapo unit from Schrttersburg and was not a pogrom as portrayed by Gross inNeighbors. The Polish police of course played a part in the killing, but the witness did not mention the participation of the local population. For reasons that remain unclear she also was not killed, but then again in the version of events cited by Jan Gross the Germans saved 18 of Radziw’s Jews.96

The evidence collected by the West Germans, including the positive identification of Schaper by witnesses from oma, Tykocin, and Radziw, suggested that it was indeed Schaper’s men who carried out the killings in those locations. Investigators also suspected based on the similarity of the methods used to destroy the Jewish communities of Radziw, Tykocin, Rutki, Zambrow, Jedwabne, Piatnica, and Wizna between July and September 1941 that Schaper’s men were the perpetrators. But lacking absolutely watertight evidence placing Schaper’s men in Jedwabne on the date of the pogrom, the West Germans could only tentatively conclude “it is highly probable that theEinsatzkommandofrom Schrttersburg” was responsible for the murder of Jedwabne’s Jews on 10 July 1941.97

Despite Gross’ depiction of Jedwabne’s Poles as independently motivated perpetrators of the massacre in their town, some of the evidence he cites actually supports the West German investigation’s conclusion that Schaper’s men were probably deeply involved in the murder of Jedwabne’s Jews. For one thing Gross writes “we can also infer from various sources that a group of Gestapo men arrived in town by taxi either on that day or the previous one.” To the inhabitants of a rural village like Jedwabne, the automobiles driven by the Gestapo may have appeared to be taxis and the exact dates of incidental events like the arrival of a car often slip the minds of eyewitnesses. What is certain though is that witnesses in Radziw, Tykocin, and other locations not far removed from Jedwabne all remembered Gestapo men driving into their villages in two or three automobiles.98Second, Gross cites the testimony of Czeslaw Lipinski, Wadysaw Miciura and Feliks Tarnacki, all of which mention that German police brought them to the town square to guard the Jews.99Third, the witness Danowski stated to Polish investigators in 1953 that “several dozen men assembled in front of the city hall in Jedwabne and were equipped by the German gendarmerie and Karolak (the mayor) and Sobuta (Karolak’s accomplice) with whips and clubs.”100Fourth, just as the Germans had forced the Jews of Biaystok to demolish the monuments of Lenin and Stalin, the Jews of Jedwabne were compelled to rip up the village’s monument of Lenin and parade it around before being led to their deaths.101Finally, the method used to kill most of the Jews of Jedwabne was exactly the same that had been employed by the Gestapo to kill the Jews of Radziw only three days earlier. The Jews of Jedwabne were collected on the town square, driven by physical violence to the place of their murder, and then burned to death. In short, while Gross marshals considerable evidence to prove the involvement of Jedwabne’s Poles in the murder of their Jewish neighbors he downplays evidence that suggests the Gestapo too might have played a significant role in the killings.

What conclusions then should be drawn from this examination of the killings in Jedwabne and elsewhere in the region? To begin with whether events in Jedwabne can honestly be classified a “pogrom” or if they should be considered an SS killing action in which local Poles were complicit remains an open question. At this point there simply is not enough proof one way or another to arrive at a definitive conclusion. To his credit Jan Gross acknowledges that the SS may have been involved, but on the whole he blames Jedwabne’s Polish inhabitants for the murders. The graphic descriptions offered by Gross of the violence used against the defenseless Jews of Jedwabne are certainly proof enough that many Poles were involved in the heinous crime. This simply cannot be denied. Then again the historical context within which the killings occurred also strongly suggests that the murder of the Jews in Jedwabne was not spontaneous, nor did the Poles carry it out alone without the knowledge, consent, or perhaps even the direct participation of the SS. Moreover, that SS units may have been more deeply involved than Gross acknowledges certainly does not exonerate those Poles who acted as the Germans’ accomplices.This said it is important to remember that the SS deliberately collected information to determine where pogroms could be incited and where they could not. Reinhard Heydrich noted specifically in his 1 July order that “in the newly occupied areas, particularly those that formerly belonged to Poland, Poles have shown themselves to be anti-communist and anti-Jewish as a result of their recent experiences [during the Soviet occupation].”102Where individuals could not be found to foment anti-Jewish violence, Order Police and Wehrmacht propaganda units attempted to inflame anti-Semitism using loudspeaker announcements, photographs, public lectures, and films like “The Eternal Jew” to raise the ire of local gentiles.103In effect, SS authorities were well aware of the historically strong anti-Jewish feeling in the territories that formerly comprised the Pale of Settlement and they found local populations generally willing to assist in the liquidation of the Jewish communities in their midst. The Germans were further aided in their destructive mission by nearly two years of brutal Soviet occupation of the region that dramatically inflamed native anti-Semitic sentiment.

Indeed, German documents offer several telling clues about the extent to which the anti-Jewish policies of the SS met with success in the western region of the Biaystok district. Among these documents is a 9 July report from the Intelligence Officer of the V Army Corps, which ominously refers to the “threatening attitude” that the Polish population in his sector had recently adopted towards the Jews.104Three days later, officers with the 221st Security Division noted in the unit war diary that pogroms had broken out in Kolno and Szczuczyn, both located to the north of oma.105The pogrom in Kolno resulted in the deaths of 30 Jews while in Szczuczyn as many as 400 were killed. Similarly, the commander of the rear army area for Army Group Center reported on 20 July that pogroms had broken out “in several localities near the border with the General Government.”106Further evidence provided by Dieter Pohl, Shmuel Spector, Martin Dean, Bogdan Musia, and Shalom Cholawsky also clearly demonstrates the ease with which Heydrich’s Security Police were able to mobilize pogroms among the Lithuanian, Polish, and Ukrainian civilian populations in the regions adjacent to East Prussia and the General Government.107

These pogroms were stimulated in many places by small groups of individuals who the Security Police had identified as dependable collaborators. By employing agitators to whip up anti-Jewish sentiment to the point of explosion, German propagandists were then able to depict pogroms as spontaneous outbursts of popular violence. This portrayal supported the Nazi propaganda message that the Jews were criminals and oppressors. Citing outbursts of “spontaneous” violence as evidence that Jews were exploiting and terrorizing the non-Jewish population, the SS was then able to justify its own murderous attacks against Jews. This dynamic of German agitation, Polish pogrom, and SS killing action was integral to the anti-Jewish policy implemented by the SS in the Biaystok district and elsewhere in eastern Poland during the first eight weeks of Operation Barbarossa. The elimination of Jews in regions of Lithuania and eastern Poland along the frontier of East Prussia and General Government was also central to the progressive radicalization of SS anti-Jewish policy in the summer of 1941 that ultimately resulted in genocide. Given German fears about the development of partisan warfare and the widely held belief (theFeindbild) that Jews presented a dire threat to security in the newly occupied territories, the use of the local gentile population to counter this threat was a logical step to the SS. It is safe to say, however, that the dynamic of agitation, pogrom, and reprisal would not have developed were not a considerable number of Lithuanians, Latvians, Poles, Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Romanians prepared to join in the destruction of Jewish communities. By mid-summer 1941 intense anti-Jewish feeling in Eastern Europe was set to explode in the wake of the Soviet occupation, but in the final analysis it was the SS that struck the match and lit the fuse.

Sources:1.Christian Gerlach,Kalkulierte Morde: Die deutsche Wirtschafts- und Vernichtungspolitik in Weissrussland 1941 bis 1944(Hamburg: HIS Verlagsges, 1999); Shmuel Spector,The Holocaust of Volhynian Jews 1941-1944(Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1990); Martin Dean,Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941-44(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Bogdan Musia,”Konterrevolutionre Elemente sind zu erschiessen”: Die Brutalisierung des deutsch-sowjetischen Krieges im Sommer 1941(Berlin: Propylen, 2000); Shalom Cholawsky,The Jews of Bielorussia during World War II(Amsterdam: Harwood, 1998); and Dieter Pohl,Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in Ostgalizien 1941-1944: Organisation und Durchfhrung eines staatlichen Massenverbrechens(Mnchen: Oldenbourg, 1997).2.Christopher R. Browning,Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers(New York: Cambridge, 2000), pp. 29ff discusses in detail the notion of a “transitional phase” in the process of murdering Soviet Jewry, which transpired in June-July 1941.3.Richtlinien auf Sondergebieten zur Weisung Nr. 21, 3 March 1941, quoted in Jrgen Frster, “Das Unternehmen ‘Barbarossa’ als Eroberungs- und Vernichtungskrieg,” inDas Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, Band 4 “Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion,”Horst Boog et al. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1983), p. 414.4.Andrej Angrick, “Die Einsatzgruppe D. Struktur und Ttigkeit einer mobilen Einheit der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD in der deutsch besetzten Sowjetunion” (D.Phil. diss., Technische Universitt, Berlin, 1999), p. 68.5.See Fahndungslisten fr die UdSSR in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archive (USHMMA), RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 2, p. 189, which contains 4508 names.6.Frster, “Das Unternehmen ‘Barbarossa’,” p. 414.7.Klaus-Michael Mallmann, “Die Trffner der ‘Endlsung’: Zur Genesis des Genozids,” inDie Gestapo im Zweiten Weltkrieg: ‘Heimatfront’ und besetztes Europa, eds. G. Paul and K-M. Mallmann (Darmstadt: Primus, 2000), p. 445.8.Ibid., p. 508.9.Geoffrey P. Megargee,Inside Hitler’s High Command(Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000), p. 124.10.Frster, “Das Unternehmen ‘Barbarossa’,” p. 422.11.Ttigkeitsbericht des Chefs der Einsatzgruppe B fr die Zeit vom 23.6.1941 bis zum 13.7.1941,14 July 1941. Reproduced inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42: Die Ttigkeits- und Lageberichte des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, ed. P. Klein (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1997), pp. 377f.12.Zwischenmeldung an Heeresgruppe B, AOK 9, Abt. Ia, 23 June 1941. National Archive and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, MD, RG 242, T-312, r. 274, fr. 7833353. See also Morgenmeldung an Heeresgruppe B, AOK 9, Abt. Ia, 24 June 1941. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 274, fr. 7833346.13.Ttigkeitsbericht des Chefs der Einsatzgruppe B fr die Zeit vom 23.6.1941 bis zum 13.7.1941 inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42, p. 377.14.Ibid.15.Ibid.16.Such is the conclusion expressed in Christian Gerlach, “Die Einsatzgruppe B 1941/42,” inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42: Die Ttigkeits- und Lageberichte des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, ed. P. Klein (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1997), p. 54.17.Ralf Ogorreck,Die Einsatzgruppen und die “Genesis der Endlsung”(Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 1996), p. 114.18.Details on the shootings in Brest-Litovsk can be found in Browning,Nazi Policy, pp. 119ff.19.Entry for 27 June in Kriegstagebuch 2 der Sicherheitsdivision 221, 6.5.1941-13.12.1941. NARA, RG 242, T-315, r. 1666, fr. 135.20.Ogorreck,Die Einsatzgruppen, p. 123.21.Entry for 30 June in KTB 2 der Sicherheitsdivision 221. NARA, RG 242, T-315, r. 1666, fr. 143.22.Ereignismeldung UdSSR, Nr. 21, 13 July 1941. USHMMA, 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 150.23.Gerlach, “Die Einsatzgruppe B 1941/42,” p. 53.24.Entry for 3 July in KTB 2 der Sicherheitsdivision 221. NARA, RG 242, T-315, r. 1666, fr. 145. Although the 221st Security Division established these Orts- and Feldkommandanturen, the 580th Rear Army Area commander, General Max von Schenckendorff, exercised overall military authority in the area.25.These units included the 10th SS Infantry Regiment, 8th SS Infantry Regiment, 8th Motorized SS Infantry Regiment, 1st SS Infantry Brigade, 2nd SS Infantry Brigade, and 1st SS Cavalry Regiment. SeeUnsere Ehre Heisst Treue: Kriegstagebuch des Kommandostabes RFSS, Ttigkeitsberichte der 1. und 2. SS-Inf.-Brigade, der 1. SS-Kav.-Brigade und Sonderkommandos der SS, ed. Fritz Baade et al. (Wien: Europa Verlag, 1965). See also Tagesmeldung, AOK 9, Abt. Ia, 22 June 1941. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 274, fr. 7833357 and Operationsbefehl Nr. 3 zur Einleitung der Vernichtung des Feindes im Raum Biaystok-Wolkowysk, AOK 9, Abt. Ia, Nr. 3340/41 geh., 26 June 1941. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 274, fr. 7834705.26.Ereignismeldung UdSSR, Nr. 4, 25 June 1941. USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 21.27.Browning,Nazi Policy, p. 119.28.Mallmann, “Die Trffner der ‘Endlsung’,” p. 445.29.Wolfgang Scheffler, “Die Einsatzgruppe A 1941/42,” inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42: Die Ttigkeits- und Lageberichte des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, ed. P. Klein (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1997), p. 31. See also Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm,Die Einsatzgruppe A der Sicheheitspolizei und des SD 1941/42(Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 1996), p. 57,30.Christoph Dieckmann, “The War and the Killing of the Lithuanian Jews,” inNational Socialist Extermination Policies: Contemporary German Perspectives and Controversies, ed. Ulrich Herbert (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000), pp. 242f.31.Anlage zu AOK 9, Ia, Nr. 3320/41 geh. Op-Befehl Nr. 1, 22 June 1941. Feindnachrichtenblatt in NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 275, fr. 7834728. See also Ic-Morgenmeldung VIII A.K. 27 June 1941 in Beilage zum Kriegstagebuch AOK 9, Anlage III zum Ttigkeitsbericht der Abt. Ic/AO, 21.6.41-31.7.41. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 277, fr. 7837401: “Vor 8 I.D. die bis zu Wolpujanka-abschnitt vordrang und Wolpa 20.10 Uhr besetzte, nur vereinzelte feindliche Sphtrupps. Truppe wurde beim Einrcken in dem stark zerschossenen Wolpa von der Bevlkerung freudig empfangen.”32.Entry for 23 June in KTB 2 der Sicherheitsdivision 221. NARA, RG 242, T-315, r. 1666, fr. 112.33.Ic-Morgenmeldung XXXXII A.K., 25 June 1941 in Beilage zum Kriegstagebuch AOK 9, Anlage III zum Ttigkeitsbericht der Abt. Ic/AO, 21.6.14-31.7.41. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 277, fr. 7837475.34.Ereignismeldung UdSSR, Nr. 4, 25 June 1941. USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, pp. 23f.35.Bernhard Chiari,Alltag hinter der Front: Besatzung, Kollaboration und Widerstand in Weiruland 1941-1944(Dsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1998), p. 36.36.Ibid., p. 37.37.Cholawsky,The Jews of Bielorussia, pp. 10f.38.Musia,”Konterrevolutionre Elemente sind zu erschiessen,”p. 95. Jan Tomasz Gross, “The Sovietisation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia,” inJews in Eastern Poland and the USSR, 1939-46, eds. N. Davies and A. Polonsky (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), p. 72, offers the even more staggering estimate of ca. 500,000 people arrested in western Ukraine and western Byelorussia during the 21 months of Soviet rule.39.Michal Gnatowski,W radzieckich okowach: studium o agresji 17 wrzesnia 1939 r. radzieckiej polityce w regionie Lomzynskim w latach 1939-1941(oma: Lomzynskie Tow.Nauk.im. Wagw, 1997), p. 115. I am grateful to Bogdan Musia for this citation, as well as the information in notes 45, 55, 56, and 60.40.Dean,Collaboration in the Holocaust, p. 4.41.Musia,”Konterrevolutionre Elemente sind zu erschiessen,”p. 33.42.Ibid.43.Gnatowski,W radzieckich okowach, p. 115.44.Katolicka Agencja Informacyjna, ISSN 1426-1413, 23 February 2001 and Interview with Jadwiga Szymanowska, 23 February 21, Wizna.45.Chiari,Alltag hinter der Front, p. 48.46.Ibid., p. 41.47.Gross, “The Sovietisation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia,” p. 67.48.Chiari,Alltag hinter der Front, p. 40.49.Gross, “The Sovietisation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia,” p. 67.50.Cholawsky,The Jews of Bielorussia, p. 4.51.Andrzej Zbikowski, “Jewish Reaction to the Soviet Arrival in the Kresy in September 1939,” inPOLIN: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. XIII, ed. A. Polonsky (London: Littman Library, 2000), pp. 66.52.Ibid., p. 67.53.Jan Tomasz Gross,Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland(Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001), p. 45.54.Report of Polish Deportees, No. 2675, in the Archive of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University55.Quotation cited by Danuta and Aleksander Wroniszewski in “Kontakty – Lomzynski Tygodnik Spoleczny,” no. 10 July 1988.56.Michel Mielnicki,Biaystok to Birkenau: the Holocaust journey of Michel Mielnicki as told to John Munro(Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2000), pp. 82ff.57.Ibid.58.Yitzhak Arad,The Partisan: From the Valley of Death to Mount Zion(New York: Holocaust Library, 1979), pp. 26f.59.Dov Levin,The Lesser of Two Evils: Eastern European Jewry under Soviet Rule, 1939-1941, trans. Naftali Greenwood (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1995), p. 63.60.”W czterdziestym nas Matko Na Sybir zeslali “: Polska a Rosja 1939-42, ed. Jan Tomasz Gross and Irena Grudzinska-Gross London: Aneks, 1983), pp. 28ff.61.Ewgienij Rosenblat, “Jews in the Tangle of Cross-Ethnic Relations in the Western Oblasts of White Russia,” (in Russian) inBialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne, no. 12 (2000), pp. 96f.62.Gross, “The Sovietisation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia,” p. 66.63.Musia,”Konterrevolutionre Elemente sind zu erschiessen,”pp. 32, 62.64.Ben-Cion Pinchuk, “Sovietization of the Shtetl of Eastern Poland, 1939-1941,” inEssays on Revolutionary Culture and Stalinism, ed. J.W. Strong (Columbus, OH: Slavica Publishers, Inc., 1990), pp. 72-73.65.Dean,Collaboration in the Holocaust, p. 13.66.Fahndungslisten fr die UdSSR. USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 2, p. 189.67.Angrick, “Die Einsatzgruppe D,” p. 68.68.This meeting with Himmler was recounted by Bach-Zalewski in his testimony at the trial of Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg. See the copy of this testimony in Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen, Ludwigsburg (ZStL), 5 AR-Z 56/1960, Verfahren gegen Wolfgang Birkner u.a., p. 4.69.Fernschreiben Heydrichs and die Einsatzgruppenchefs vom 29.6.1941 reproduced inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42, p. 319.70.Ibid.71.Dieter Pohl,Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung, p. 53 notes that Schngarth claimed to have raised these auxiliary police units on his own initiative, but Pohl argues this was unlikely.72.Blitz-Fernschreiben, BdS krakow Nr. 6285, 30 June 1941 in USHMMA, RG 11.001M.15 (Records of the Osobyi Archive, Moscow, 1932-1945), reel 80, fond 1323, opis 1, folder 59, fr. 237.73.Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 9, 1 July 1941. USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 48.74.Ibid, p. 53.75.Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 10, 2 July 1941 in USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 52.76.According to Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 11, 3 July 1941 in USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 63 the RSHA required that contact be established between Einsatzgruppen chiefs and the new supplemental units in order to ensure that these new commanders were properly aware of their new tasks.77.Bericht der Einsatzkommando z.b.V., Warschau, 2 July 1941. USHMMA, RG 11.001M.15 (Records of the Osobyi Archive, Moscow, 1932-1945), reel 80, fond 1323, opis 1, folder 59, fr. 243.78.Ttigkeitsbericht des Chefs der Einsatzgruppe B fr die Zeit vom 23.6.1941 bis zum 13.7.1941, 14 July 1941 inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42, pp. 378f.79.Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 13, 5 July 1941 in USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 74.80.Auswertung der Ereignismeldungen zu den Judenerschiessungen in Biaystok im Juli 1941 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 56/1960, pp. 4ff.81.I am grateful to President Leon Kieres, the director of the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw, Poland, and Dr. Pawel Machcewicz, the director of the INR’s Public Education Office, for providing me with archival documentation relevant to events in Jedwabne and other locations in the Biaystok district.82.Vorlufiges Ermittlungsergebnis, 13 April 1960 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 56/1960, p. 2.83.Vernehmung von Paul N., 6 September 1960 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 56/1960, p. 129. N. also stated that three Germans and two Poles staffed the gendarmerie post in Jedwabne, not the eleven men claimed in Gross,Neighbors, pp. 76, 112. The discrepancy between N.’s and Gross’ accounts of the Jedwabne gendarmerie post may be the result of timing, as N. did not take up his post until September 1942.84.Gross,Neighbors, pp. 77.85.Ibid., p. 78.86.Strkemeldung des Einsatztrupps Biaystok, 28 July 1941. USHMMA, RG 11.001M.15 (Records of the Osobyi Archive Moscow, 1932-1945), reel 80, fond 1323, opis 1, folder 59, fr. 252.87.Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 11, 3 July 1941 in USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 63.88.Ibid.89.Vernehmung von Oberregierungsrat Graf von dem G., 2 September 1960. ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, p. 11.90.Zwischenbericht No. 5 der Untersuchungsstelle fr N.S. Gewaltverbrechen beim Landestab der Polizei Israel, 23 January 1963 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, p. 70.91.Gross,Neighbors, pp. 54ff.92.In Gross,Neighbors, p. 57 the number of Jews killed in Radziw is estimated at between 800 and 1,500.93.Ibid., p. 65.94.Vermerk, 2 September 1965 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, pp. 2f.95.Zwischenbericht No. 5 der Untersuchungsstelle fr N.S. Gewaltverbrechen beim Landestab der Polizei Israel, 23 January 1963 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, p. 70.96.Gross,Neighbors, p. 69.97.Abschlussbericht, 17 March 1964 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, p. 164.98.Ibid., pp. 158, 160, 161.99.Gross,Neighbors, p. 77.100.Ibid., p. 91. See also p. 112 where Gross quotes Irena Janowska, the wife of one of the men accused of having murdered Jedwabne’s Jews: “on the critical day German gendarmerie walked around together with the mayor and the secretary [of the town council] Wasilewski, and chased out males to go and guard Jews who were assembled in the square.”101.Ibid., p. 88.102.Heydrichs Einsatzbefehl Nr. 2 vom 1.7.1941 reproduced inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42, p. 320.103.Gerlach,Kalkulierte Morde, pp. 536f notes that films and lectures on “Die Juden, das Unglck Russlands” were shown in Belorussia from July 1941 to 1943. These efforts did not meet with success in the eastern sections of Belorussia, where Nebe complained that it had been impossible to initiate anti-Jewish violence among Belorussians.104.Ic-Morgenmeldung, V A.K, 9 July 1941 in Beilage zum Kriegstagebuch AOK 9, Anlage III zum Ttigkeitsbericht der Abt. Ic/AO, 21.6.41-31.7.41. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 277, fr. 7837267.105.Anlage 50, Sicherungsdivision 221, 12 July 1941 in Anlagen zum Kriegstagebuch, 1.5.41-16.12.41. Bundesarchiv-Militrarchiv Freiburg, RH 26-221/84.106.Der Befehlshaber des rckwrtigen Heeres-Gebiets Mitte, Ia. Br.B.Nr. 393/41 geh. An OKH, Gen.Qu. 20 July 1941 in Anlagen Sonderband zum KTB 1 der Befehlshaber d. rckwrtigen H.Geb. Mitte, Ia. NARA, RG 242, T-501, r. 1, fr. 503.107.See note two for a listing of these scholars’ publications.

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Byzantine Empire – Jewish Virtual Library

Jewish communities existed in the Byzantine Empire throughout its history, from the foundation of Constantinople in 330 to the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453. The centers of Jewish population and the status of the Jews there underwent drastic changes throughout this long period and shifted under the impact of events within and outside the empire. The history of the Jews in the Byzantine Empire can therefore be divided into three major sections.

From Constantine to the Iconoclastic Period (c. 720)From the Iconoclastic Period to the Fourth Crusade (1204)From the Fourth Crusade to the Capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453Social and Cultural Life

LEGAL AND SOCIAL STATUS

Numerous Jewish communities were located in the eastern Mediterranean region, including the Balkans, present-day Greece, Asia Minor, Constantinople, Syria, Ere Israel (which alone had 43 communities), and Egypt. The legal status accorded to the Jewish faith within the Roman Empire as a religio licita (a religion permitted by law) was not changed explicitly. However, the attitude of the Byzantine rulers and society in practice, the methods employed by the Church, the language of official documents and legislation on details combined to humiliate the Jews and narrow the confines of Jewish society and religion and the opportunities open to Jews. Almost at the beginning of his legislative activity Constantine described the Jewish religion as “baleful,” and warned Jews, under threat of capital punishment, not to molest converts to Christianity. The second part of the law containing this injunction made it a crime to become a Jew: a Jew who circumcised his slave forfeited ownership of the slave (Cod. Theod. 16:8 (4, 1, 5)). Constantine and his mother Helena inspired a movement to Christianize Ere Israel. His son Constantius added to his father’s legislation a prohibition on marriage between Jews and Christians. An abortive revolt by the Jews in Ere Israel against the provincial commander Gallus during his reign was suppressed in 351. The benign interlude of the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate only resulted in increased enmity on the Christian side and disappointment to the Jews.

The failure of Julian’s plans to revive the pagan empire and its tolerance of the Jewish religion contributed to the breakdown of the old concepts and existent attitudes among religions and people. The consistent fanaticism prevailing in Byzantine Christendom covers the long span from Julian’s death until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Emperor Theodosius I revived missionary activity and prohibited Jewish parents from disinheriting children who had apostatized to Christianity. However, the burning of the synagogue in Callinicum (Mesopotamia) in 388 led to a clash between the imperial traditions and the aims of the Church. The emperor still tried to uphold the imperial tradition of law and order for all, including the Jews. He therefore ordered that the perpetrators of the outrage in Callinicum should be punished and the synagogue reconstructed at their expense. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, viewed the emperor’s order as sacrilegious and succeeded in compelling him to annul it. Thus toward the end of the fourth century the humiliation of the Jews and ascendancy of ecclesiastical ideas in regulating their affairs became established in the Byzantine Empire in both theory and practice. The temporary expulsion of the Jews from Alexandria by the patriarch Cyril in 415 also marked a victory for the hatred stirred up by the Church among the populace with assistance from the authorities. The code of Theodosius II (438) summed up the former anti-Jewish legislation, and included a prohibition on building new synagogues, permitting structural repairs only if absolutely necessary. Certain Purim celebrations were forbidden. In spirit and language this fifth-century codification crystallizes the atmosphere prevailing in the Byzantine Empire in the fourth century. A Church rent by internal struggles, bent on heresy hunting with the help of the imperial authority, and using increasingly violent and uncouth language toward its Christian adversaries, developed over the fourth century a vitriolic anti-Jewish polemic literature. Both writers and preachers seemingly vied with one another in their acrimony toward, and vilification of, the Jews and Judaism. In the eight sermons delivered by John Chrysostom from his pulpit in Antioch in 387, every imaginable evil is ascribed to the Jews. The venom embodied in these writings and sermons to a large degree lies at the root of medieval Jew-hatred, spreading beyond the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire and its culture.

In the sixth century the reign of Justinian I inaugurated a hardening of attitudes toward the Jews and a departure for the worse in their treatment. The Jewish-Arab kingdom of imyar in southern Arabia was destroyed on Byzantine instigation. Justinian attempted to regulate internal Jewish life and modes of worship in accordance with what he considered necessary and right from a Christian point of view through a number of laws and practical actions. In his famous novella 146, of the year 553, he even attempted to dictate to the Jews concerning their divine worship and forbade the use of the deuterosis (Mishnah) for understanding the Torah; he also took it upon himself to lay down which biblical translation (Targum) they might use. This gross interference in Jewish religious practice is justified in the novella by hints that there was a division within Jewish society on these matters. However, while it is known that Greek was then beginning to be used in the Byzantine communities, which developed the “Romaniot” rite of prayer, it is also certain that no professing Jews would have asked for an imperial order to use translations which were mainly Christological. Justinian’s tendency to resort to coercion found its severest expression in his novella 37, of 535, prohibiting the practice of Judaism in the reconquered territories in North Africa. All these measures were included in his Corpus juris civilis, with other anti-Jewish legislation. The first half of the sixth century saw a severely enforced but short-lived attempt by the emperor to abolish formally the last shreds left to Judaism of its status as a religio licita. Under assault from enemies from both within and without, the emperors of the weak empire of the second half of the sixth and first half of the seventh centuries permitted anti-Jewish riots and forced conversions of the Jews, such as ordered by Emperor Phocas in 608. The Jews reacted by revolts in self-defense. In the uprising near Antioch in 608 the patriarch was killed. The clashes of opposing forces and violence came to a head under Emperor Heraclius, when the Jews, notable among them Benjamin of Tiberias, allied themselves with the invading Persians during their capture of Jerusalem. On its recapture in 629, Heraclius avenged himself on the Jewish population by a series of massacres.

The appearance of Islam and the Muslim conquests deprived the Byzantine Empire of Ere Israel and Egypt among other territories and awakened messianic expectations among the Jews (see Messianic movements). In the remnant left to the Byzantine Empire the prevailing attitude toward the Jews was not relaxed. A council presided over by Emperor Justinian II in 692 prohibited Jews and Christians from bathing together in public places, and Christians from consulting Jewish physicians.

SOCIAL AND CULTURAL LIFE

At the beginning of this period, the Jews formed part and parcel of civic life in the towns. Like others, they refused to serve in the decurionate; Constantine’s enforcement of their obligation to do so reflected the general reluctance of the citizenry to undertake this onerous municipal function and a specifically anti-Jewish bias on the part of the emperor. The Jews gradually withdrew from, or were forced out of, civic life, although they still continued to be active in the circus parties for a long time. The abolition of the Jewish patriarchate (see Nasi) in Ere Israel in 425 threw back Jewish communal life onto the local leadership, already well established before this troubled time. The community’s elders (presbyteroi), archipherecites, and leaders with other titles led Jewish society in the various localities in all aspects of life. Apparently birth and wealth, in addition to scholarship, were major factors in attaining these leading positions. In the economic sphere, the Jews were only gradually ousted from their professions and positions of wealth, and from their places of residence in the cities (see Constantinople). Many of them engaged in overland and maritime commerce. In a number of areas, such as Ere Israel and Egypt, there was still a solid Jewish peasant population. In the sixth century dyeing is mentioned as a major Jewish industry, remaining so down to the end of the Byzantine Empire.

In the cultural sphere, the center in Ere Israel and its institutions led creative endeavor within the Byzantine communities in every field, even after the Arab incursions. Ere Israel was the main source of Hebrew liturgical poetry, its leading poets including Yose b. Yose, Yannai, and Eleazar Kallir. The monk Romanos, an apostate from Judaism, had a formative influence on Byzantine hymnology, transposing the mode of religious expression and worship used by the paytanim to the Byzantine liturgy and cultural expression. The violent changes at the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth centuries aroused visions of an apocalyptic nature among Byzantine Jewry.

LEGAL AND SOCIAL STATUS

Throughout this period Jews were living in the major cities in the territories still remaining under Byzantine rule. The situation of the Jews in the Byzantine domains of southern Italy is well documented through the contacts they had with Ere Israel as well as with countries under Christian rule, and by information given in the chronicle of Ahimaaz. Main centers were Bari, Oria, and Otranto. Benjamin of Tudela in the mid-12th century describes many communities in the Balkans and Asia Minor, and in Constantinople, with their varied economy. The very nature of the Iconoclastic movement made its adherents suspicious of possible Jewish influences. The actual degree of such influence, if any, on the emperors and priests who rejected icon worship is still very much in dispute. Their opponents, the icon worshipers, regarded this influence as a certainty, and the iconoclasts were branded in sermons and tales circulating at the time as “Jews.” The final restoration of icon worship in 843 was accompanied by renewed violent anti-Jewish manifestations. Basil I issued a decree ordering the forcible conversion of his Jewish subjects in 87374, and in the Ahimaaz chronicle he is depicted as the archenemy of Judaism and the Jews. The decree was rescinded by Leo VI. In 943 Romanus I Lecapenus made another attempt at forcible conversion. There are reports of Jews who fled to Khazaria from these persecutions. Byzantine Jewry in the 11th and 12th centuries apparently lived under a regime of absolute humiliation although assured of relative safety for their lives and property.

SOCIAL AND CULTURAL LIFE

The economic structure of the Jews in the Byzantine Empire remained substantially the same in this period. Benjamin of Tudela found Jews in the Balkans engaged in agriculture, besides being occupied in the silk weaving and cloth dyeing industries which were widespread Jewish occupations throughout the Byzantine communities. According to his descriptions of the communal leadership, the smaller communities were headed by two elders and the larger by five. He seems to indicate that the Karaites had a separate communal organization and leadership. The most flourishing area of Byzantine Jewish cultural life at the time was to be found in southern Italy. The stories in the Ahimaaz chronicle describe the strong ties of the Jews there with the center of learning in Ere Israel and denote that a good knowledge of Hebrew was widespread, as well as showing the imprint of mystical and even magical elements on Jewish society in this area. Members of the upper circles of Jewish society are pictured as living a warm and diversified family life. The Josippon chronicle, which was compiled in southern Italy in this period, reflects in many places the influence of Byzantine views and chronographical techniques. Southern Italy in the 9th to 11th centuries produced a considerable number of paytanim. Through its contacts with the north, it became the fountainhead of the Jewish culture of Ashkenaz and the matrix of the Ashkenazi prayer rite. The Karaite communities also had a rich and variegated cultural life from the second half of the 11th century, centering around Constantinople. Prominent Karaite scholars of Byzantium were Jacob b. Reuben, Judah Hadassi, and Tobias b. Moses. In some of the writings of this period apocalyptic ideas continue to find expression, as in the Vision of Daniel. The First Crusade of 1096 gave rise to a messianic movement in Salonika.

LEGAL AND SOCIAL STATUS

The Fourth Crusade (1204) disrupted the Byzantine Empire and placed its Jewish communities under the various administrations set up by the Latin (i.e., Western European) countries which had taken part in the crusade. The Jewish quarter in Constantinople, Pera, was burned down and pillaged during the sack of the city by the Latins. After the Latin rule ended in 1261 Jews lived both in Pera and outside the area, including parts of the city where the Venetians had been given special rights and commercial privileges. The existence of a Jewish quarter outside Pera elicited a complaint from the patriarch Athanasius to Emperor Andronicus II (12821328), who before 1319 assigned the Jews a quarter near that of the Venetians, although they were not restricted to that area. Many engaged in tanning, and the majority apparently were wealthy. Neither the native dynasty nor the Latin rulers made basic changes in the status of the Jews. In the parts of Greece and the Balkans, however, which fell to various Greek rulers and minor royalty (often referred to as “despots”), proscriptions of Judaism were issued at times, as in Epirus and Salonika under Theodore I Angelus (12141230), and in Nicaea under John III Vatatzes (12221254). Other former imperial lands, such as Chalcis, Rhodes, Patras, and Cyprus, were ruled by the Genoese, the Venetians, the Knights of Malta, the Veronese, and the Turks. The Jews continued to pursue their previous occupations, particularly the silk trade and commerce.

Jews in all these areas continued to follow the Romaniot rite which developed specific features. Among the Karaites there was extensive cultural activity, represented by such scholars as Aaron b. Joseph ha-Rofe, the Bashyazi family, and Caleb b. Elijah Afendopolo. The year 1453 marked the end of the Byzantine Empire. For the Jews its downfall, after a short period of disruption, brought a renewed lease on life in the Ottoman Empire in much improved conditions. Less than half a century later, the Jews exiled from Spain and Portugal found communities in the former Byzantine Empire ready and able to shoulder the burden of absorbing the refugees economically, and capable of integrating their social and cultural life. Although little information is available about conditions in the communities in this period, scholars and leaders of the stature of Elijah b. Abraham Mizrai and Moses b. Elijah Capsali, with their diversified scholarship, creative abilities, and well-developed methods of leadership, could not have arisen out of a void. That the conditions existed in which they were able to flourish shows that in the period before the Ottoman conquest, Byzantine Romaniot Jewry had large reserves of intellectual ability and social cohesion, continuing a situation which still prevailed after the troubles of 1204.

J. Starr, The Jews in the Byzantine Empire 6411204 (1939, repr. 1969); idem, Romania: The Jewries of the Levant after the Fourth Crusade (1949); idem, in: Speculum 8 (1933), 5003; idem, in: JPOS, 15 (1935), 28093; idem, in: HTR, 29 (1936), 93107; idem, in: REJ, 102 (1937), 8192; idem, in: Byzantinisch-neugriechische Jahrbuecher, 16 (1940), 1926; A. Scharf, Jews in Byzantium (1970); H. Lewy, Olamot Nifgashim (1962), 221f.; Baron, Social2, index; Hirschberg, Afrikah, 1 (1965), 3039; K. Hilkowitz, in: Zion, 4 (1939), 30716; Y. Even-Shemuel (Kaufmann), Midreshei Ge’ullah (1957), 16252; Juster, Juifs, index; Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium (1959); S. Assaf, in: Sefer ha-Yovel S. Krauss (1937), 16977; A. Galant, Les Juifs de Constantinople sous Byzance (1940); R.S. Lopez, in: Speculum, 20 (1945), 22ff.; M.N. Adler (ed.), Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (1907); B. Klar (ed.), Megillat Aima’a (1944); M. Salzman (ed. and tr.), Chronicle of Ahimaaz (1924); D. Flusser, in: Zion, 18 (1953), 10926; Alon, Toledot2, 1 (1958), 1924; S. Simonsohn, in: Dat ve-evrah, ed. by Ha-evrah ha-Historit ha-Yisre’elit (1964), 8192. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Bowman, The Jews of Byzantium: 12041453 (1985), 277.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

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Romania probes anti-Jewish graffiti on Elie Wiesel’s house

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) Romanian police began an investigation Saturday after anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the house of late Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel in northwest Romania.

The probe was launched after comments in bright pink paint were scrawled overnight on Wiesel’s small house a protected historical monument in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei. One of the comments said Wiesel was “in hell with Hitler.”

The Romanian group for Monitoring and Fighting Anti-Semitism called it an act of vandalism against the “memory of Elie Wiesel, the memory of the Holocaust victims and the souls of the Holocaust survivors.”

The Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania called for a thorough inquiry. It said Romania’s president and government have pledged to fight anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in Romania, where some have denied or downplayed the country’s role in the Holocaust.

Along with 14,000 Jews, Wiesel and his family were deported in May 1944 to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz from the town, formerly called Sighet. His mother and younger sister died there while he and his two older sisters survived.

Wiesel died in 2016. His classic book “Night” drew on his experiences in the death camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, becoming a testament to Nazi crimes. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

Romania deported 150,000 Jews and 25,000 Roma to Nazi concentration camps in a part of the Soviet Union that was controlled by the Axis powers from 1942 to 1944, when the country was run by pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu.

Romania has about 19.5 million people now, including about 6,000 Jews.

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Anti-Jewish graffiti found on Elie Wiesel’s house – KCTV5 News

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP/Meredith) Romanian police have begun an investigation after anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the house of late Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel in northwest Romania.

The probe was launched Saturday after comments were scrawled overnight on Wiesel’s small house a protected historical monument in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei. One of the comments said Wiesel was “in hell with Hitler.”

The Romanian group for Monitoring and Fighting Anti-Semitism called it an act of vandalism against the “memory of Elie Wiesel, the memory of the Holocaust victims and the souls of the Holocaust survivors.”

Along with 14,000 Jews, Wiesel and his family were deported in May 1944 to Auschwitz from the town.

His mother and younger sister died there while he and his two older sisters survived. Wiesel died in 2016.

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The last anti-Jewish pogrom in Britain occurred under a …

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The echoes of the ‘forgotten pogrom,’ the worst anti-Jewish riots in modern British history, lurk behind todays Labour party anti-Semitism crisis

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UK Jewish leader urges apology over Labour anti-Semitism …

LONDON The president of one of the U.K.’s main Jewish groups called Thursday on the leader of the Labour Party to make an “abject apology” to British Jews for allowing anti-Semitism to fester in the left-of-center opposition party.

Allegations of anti-Jewish prejudice within Labour have grown since veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015. Some in the party allege that Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, has allowed anti-Semitic abuse to go unchecked.

Corbyn apologized this week for the “concerns and anxiety” caused before he became Labour’s leader when, as a pro-Palestinian activist, he shared platforms with people “whose views I completely reject.”

But Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl tweeted that Corbyn was “hiding behind a half-hearted ‘apology’ no doubt crafted by his spin-doctors.”

“Jeremy Corbyn needs to stop hiding & make an abject apology to UK Jews in his own voice,” she wrote.

The long-simmering dispute inside Labour recently boiled over after the party proposed adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that differed from the one approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The alliance says it is anti-Semitic to accuse Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than to their home countries, an example omitted from Labour’s definition. The alliance also says it is anti-Semitic to compare contemporary Israeli policies to the policies of the Nazis, a view Labour did not endorse.

Corbyn also has received personal criticism for his past appearances alongside alleged anti-Semites and for some of his statements, including a 2010 speech in which he compared Israel’s blockade of Gaza to Nazi Germany’s sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad during World War II.

Labour’s leadership is facing pressure to expel Peter Willsman, a party official who accused Jewish “Trump fanatics” of stirring up controversy around anti-Semitism.

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Donald Trump Campaign Cancels Mississippi Rally Due to Hurricane Florence

“Regrettably, we must cancel the planned Make America Great Again rally in Jackson, Mississippi this Friday,” Chief Operating Officer of Trump’s campaign Michael Glassner said in a release on Monday.

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Photos: East Coast Hit by Heavy Rain, Flash Floods as Hurricane Florence Nears

Florence rapidly strengthened into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and South Carolina, carrying winds and water that caused heavy rain and flash floods on the East Coast over the weekend.

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Report: North Korea Still Developing Nuclear Assets

A report published by NBC News on Monday found several American officials confirming that evidence exists that North Korea has not begun dismantling its nuclear program, instead continuing to illegally subsidize the development of nuclear weapons.

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Polish "Neighbors" and German Invaders

[byAlexander B. Rossino] Over the past decade research about the genocide of the Jews in Eastern Europe focused increasingly on developments in the so-called “regional periphery” of Nazi-dominated Europe, rather than on the decision-making process at the “center” in Berlin. This shift prompted an increase in the number of scholarly studies that examine the role Eastern Europeans played in the destruction of Jewish communities during the German occupation.[1]One book in particular,Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, by Jan T. Gross, sparked a firestorm of debate in Poland about the complicity of Polish gentiles in the murder of Polish Jews. By writing that Poles in Jedwabne and other small towns west of Biaystok had taken part in the murder of local Jews, Gross challenged the long-cherished notion in Poland that all Poles – Christians and Jews – had suffered equally under the Nazis. Gross’ portrayal also deeply offended Poles who clung to the myth that their countrymen had never collaborated with the Germans. But whileNeighborscontributed to an ongoing re-examination of the history of the Holocaust in Poland, Gross’ failure to examine German documentary sources fundamentally flawed his depiction of the events. The result was a skewed history that did not investigate SS operations in the region or German interaction with the Polish population. The following essay therefore attempts to redress this oversight by describing the historical context within which the pogroms in Jedwabne and elsewhere in the Biaystok district occurred. For in fact a detailed exploration of SS activities in the region reveals that the outbreak of popular violence against Jews was directly related to policies that the SS implemented during the brief “transitional phase” from the targeted killing of Jewish men in June-July 1941 to the comprehensive annihilation of Soviet Jewry in August 1941.[2] The Nazi regime defined the war against the USSR as a conflict of mutually antagonistic ideologies, the ultimate aim of which was to destroy what Adolf Hitler commonly referred to as the “Judeo-Bolshevik” system. However, because National Socialism conflated notions of ideological identity and racial-biological origin, the attack on the Soviet Union (code named Operation Barbarossa) was not a normal military offensive in which the sole objective was the destruction of the Red Army. Rather, officers in the Wehrmacht, SS, and police were also determined to carry out a war against elements of the civilian population, and to eliminate the alleged biological carriers of communism, meaning Jews in the Soviet military, political, and police apparatus. On 3 March 1941, for example, Hitler approved orders drawn up by the Armed Forces High Command (OKW) stipulating that one of the offensive’s primary objectives was the elimination of the “Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia.”[3]SS and police units received similar instructions that described in still greater detail the segments of Soviet society that were to be liquidated, including members of the Comintern; functionaries in the upper, middle, and lower levels of the Communist Party; political commissars attached to the Red Army; Jews in Party and state positions; saboteurs; propagandists; partisans; agitators; and the like.[4]Additionally, SS and police units carried into Soviet territory specially prepared ledgers (Fahndungslisten) containing the names of specific individuals whose arrest was considered particularly important.[5]The decapitation of Soviet society through the liquidation of officials in the state and Communist Party apparatus, especially those of Jewish background, was therefore a firmly established Nazi goal before the German attack. Once the invasion commenced, however, what might be termed ideologically conditioned pragmatic concerns caused a further radicalization of German policy from the selective killing of Jews to full-scale genocide. As Jrgen Frster has noted, to Hitler and others in the Third Reich the “Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia” was not only the biological pillar upon which communism rested, it also formed the nucleus (Keimzelle) of potential opposition to German administration of the eastern territories.[6]This view of Jews as insurgents who would instinctively resort to partisan warfare was integral to the National Socialist “concept of the enemy,” orFeindbild, and it directly influenced the way in which the SS, police, and Wehrmacht treated the Jewish civilian population.[7]As a result, the SS and army responded to even the slightest civilian resistance by shooting Jews, beginning with men during the initial weeks of Operation Barbarossa and then including women and children in August 1941. In addition to the use of violence against Jews in reaction to civilian attacks, SS and Wehrmacht units also employed violence “preventively” against Jews. Klaus-Michael Mallmann concludes that because many Germans on the eastern front automatically assumed Jews were hostile, the SS and army resorted to mass shootings as a prophylactic measure to deter Jewish resistance.[8]German security concerns in the early stages of the invasion thus conflated the twin objectives of destroying the Soviet bureaucratic and police apparatus and pacifying the occupied territories, with violence employed against Jews on an increasingly radical scale to achieve these goals. What then was the context within which this process of radicalization took place? Beginning in spring 1941, negotiations between SS Security Police chief Reinhard Heydrich and the army general quartermaster, Lieutenant General Eduard Wagner, led to the conclusion of several agreements delineating the security responsibilities of the SS and Wehrmacht in areas behind the battlefront. The anti-Semitic and anti-communist ideological affinity of the SS and Wehrmacht informed their institutional cooperation above all, but Geoffrey Megargee has also recently demonstrated that the Army High Command expected the Red Army to collapse within the first few weeks of the invasion.[9]The end of Soviet resistance would clear the path for a rapid German advance to the Ural Mountains, resulting in the occupation of vast stretches of territory inhabited by a large number of Jews. In the event that this scenario actually came to pass, and many German officers were convinced it would, insufficient forces would remain behind to secure the newly occupied territory. The military therefore agreed to share responsibility with the SS for security measures behind the front until these areas were transferred entirely to civilian control. According to the agreement reached by Heydrich and Wagner on 26 March 1941, units composed of SS Security Police and men from the Security Service (SD) of the Nazi Party would be responsible for so-called “special tasks” in German army rear areas, including the use of “executive measures” (i.e., shootings) to combat “activities hostile to the state and Reich.”[10]Heydrich’s Security Police and SD were combined intoEinsatzgruppen(Operational Groups) and instructed to coordinate their activity with army security forces. Four of these Operational Groups were deployed altogether, with oneEinsatzgruppeassigned to each Army Group area (North, Center, and South) and one to the Romanian sphere of operations. EachEinsatzgruppewas in turn comprised of several smallerEinsatzkommandosandSonderkommandos, which could operate in the field autonomously. Lastly,Waffen-SS units, Order Police Battalions, and formations ofSchutzpolizeifrom the General Government were called up to support rear area security operations. Security in the Biaystok district and Belorussia was the responsibility ofEinsatzgruppeB, which was commanded by SS-GruppenfhrerArthur Nebe. Nebe’s Operational Group was constituted in Poznan (Posen) during the third week of June 1941 and included 655 officers and men from the Security Police, Gestapo, Criminal Police, SD,Waffen-SS, and the 2nd Company of Reserve Police Battalion 9. These SS and police personnel were organized into Nebe’sEinsatzgruppeStaff;Sonderkommandos7a and 7b, under the command of Walter Blume and Gnther Rausch respectively;Einsatzkommando8, led by Otto Bradfisch; andEinsatzkommando9, under Alfred Filbert.[11] The destruction of Soviet forces in the Biaystok district involved a simultaneous eastward advance by the German Ninth Army in the north and the Fourth Army in the south. Two German divisions, the 87th Infantry Division and 221st Security Division, entered the area between these two armies and advanced on Biaystok from the northwest and southwest respectively. In the northwest, two regiments of the 87th Infantry Division, the 173rd and 187th Infantry Regiments, began the attack from East Prussia between Szczuczyn and Kolno on 22 June 1941. After passing through Stawiski on 23 June, Radziw and Jedwabne on 24 June, and Osowiec on 25 June, these units moved to the north and east of Biaystok.[12]To the south, meanwhile, the 221st Security Division occupied oma on 24 June and was in Biaystok by 27 June. Red Army resistance east of Biaystok then finally collapsed at the beginning of July, bringing an end to fighting in the region. Nebe’s group moved into the Biaystok district shortly after the opening of Operation Barbarossa. Blume’sSonderkommando7a and Filbert’sEinsatzkommando9 moved east behind the Ninth Army, arriving independently in Vilna on 27 June and 1 July. SK 7a remained in Vilna until 3 July, when it relocated to Krewo, which lay 75 miles to the northwest of Minsk.[13]Filbert’s command continued to operate in Vilna, Grodno, and Lida throughout July and in the middle of the month also deployed an advance command in Vilejka, 15 miles southeast of Minsk. For it’s part, Rausch’sSonderkommando7b advanced to Brest-Litovsk on 26 June, moved into the vicinity of Pruzana two days later, where it carried out “Security Police tasks” until 2 July, and then advanced to Slonim and Baranovice on 3 July 1941.[14]Finally, on 1 July, Bradfisch’sEinsatzkommando8 arrived in Biaystok, where it stayed only briefly until 5 July, before moving to Slonim, Baranovice, and other points east.[15] In comparison to the large-scale killings that would later occur, Nebe’s men shot relatively few Jews during this early stage of the campaign.[16]For example, the Security Police shot nearly 200 Jews in Vilejka, while in Minsk between 50-70 Jews were murdered, ostensibly as punishment for an incident of arson.[17]In contrast, the Order Police in Brest-Litovsk and in Biaystok carried out significantly larger shooting actions throughout July.[18]Biaystok was occupied on 27 June, but even after the Red Army retreated shooting could still be heard in the streets as units with the 221st Security Division destroyed isolated pockets of resistance that remained behind. It was during this fighting in Biaystok on the first day of the German occupation that the synagogue was burned to the ground, supposedly after German troops had come under fire from the building.[19]One day later, Order Police Battalion 309 entered Biaystok and searched the Jewish quarter for weapons. Thousands of Jewish men were arrested during this action and interned in a hastily erected camp until 8 July when perhaps as many as 3,000 of them were shot on direct orders from Heinrich Himmler, who visited the city on that day.[20]Several elements of the terrorization and murder of Jews in Biaystok illustrate the close connections between the campaign against the Jews and the war against Communism. On 30 June 1941, General Johann Pflugbeil, the commander of the 221st Security Division, ordered the formation of a Jewish labor battalion to demolish all of the Lenin and Stalin monuments in Biaystok.[21]Einsatzkommando8 then reported two weeks later that “215 Jewish and Bolshevik functionaries” had been liquidated, along with “15 agents of the NKVD.”[22]These “enemies” were identified with the help of the local Polish populace, who pointed out “Jewish, Russian, and even Polish Bolsheviks.” The killings in Biaystok and several other larger towns in the region were relatively isolated events in this early phase of the German invasion. Even by mid-July 1941 Nebe’s men had not entered a majority of the villages that dotted the surrounding countryside. This was generally due to the rapidity of the German advance and the small number of men in eachSonder-andEinsatzkommando. In fact, the records show thatEinsatzgruppeBmoved so quickly through the southern, central, and eastern regions of the Biaystok district that on 1 July Heydrich reprimanded Nebe for not stationing a detachment of Security Police in Grodno, which he and Heinrich Himmler had visited on 30 June.[23]Given the shortage of personnel available for security it became increasingly apparent that additional forces were needed in the regions adjacent to Germany’s eastern border and the General Government. Precisely this concern had prompted the deployment of Police Battalion 309 in the Biaystok district and the establishment of military command posts in oma, Sniadowo, Wygoda, and Sokoly.[24]In addition, for part of the first week of the campaign, severalWaffen-SS combat regiments patrolled the area west of the Biebrza River, from Augustow southwards to Wizna, before Himmler ordered them back into East Prussia on 27 June.[25] Concerns among SS commanders about partisan warfare developing along the eastern frontier of the Reich heightened significantly on 25 June after Dr. Eberhard Schngarth, the commander of the Security Police and SD in the General Government, filed a report noting that Red Army troops dispersed by the Wehrmacht’s sudden attack had turned to guerrilla warfare and were inflicting German casualties.[26]Christopher Browning has also noted that on 5 July, Major Stahr, the commander of Police Battalion 307, and Major General Stubenrauch, the local military commander in Brest-Litovsk, “sent alarming reports concerning the very insecure situation in and around Brest. There were many Soviet soldiers still roaming the area … [and] extra manpower was desperately needed.”[27]Jews were of course immediately suspected of helping cut-off Soviet soldiers sustain their resistance behind German lines. As the Intelligence Officer of the 299th Infantry Division recorded his daily report on 24 June, “guerrilla activity is especially intense in areas that are thickly settled by Jews.”[28] Consequently, within days of the war’s outbreak the combination of legitimate threats to rear area security, the danger that Jews allegedly presented to German personnel, the fundamentally anti-Jewish animus of SS activities, and the paucity of German security forces proved decisive in radicalizing SS anti-Jewish policy. The result of this radicalization was the introduction of measures against the Jews living in areas adjacent to the eastern frontier of East Prussia and General Government. The earliest of these measures to be implemented was the mobilization of Gestapo and Security Police frontier posts for “cleansing” border areas of Jews. This process began in Lithuania where on 24 June Dr. Walther Stahlecker, the chief ofEinsatzgruppeA, agreed with the suggestion of Hans-Joachim Bhme, the head of the Security Police office in Tilsit, that all Jews and communists along the East Prussian frontier should be killed.[29]Within days Bhme’s men had shot hundreds of Jews in the towns of Garg?dai, Kretinga, and Palanga. Incidentally, Christoph Dieckmann has shown that the impetus for these murders arose from rumors that Jewish civilians had participated in the Red Army’s defense of Garg?dai.[30]The other measures introduced included the formation of additionalSonder-andEinsatzkommandosfor service in the occupied territories, and a systematic effort by the SS to enlist the help of Lithuanians, Latvians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Poles against the Jews. Turning first to the mobilization of native Poles against the Jews, no small number of Wehrmacht and SS documents note that upon entering former Soviet occupied eastern Poland the non-Jewish population greeted German troops as liberators. According to a report filed by the Ninth Army on 22 June 1941, “the Polish and Lithuanian population expressed great joy at being liberated [by the German Army].”[31]An entry in the war diary of the 221st Security Division similarly noted that upon entering the village of Kleczkowo, southwest of oma, “the civilian population hailed our troops with flowers, salt, and bread as liberators from the Soviet yoke.”[32]And the XXXXII Army Corps reported that civilians in oma, Stanki, and Kolno were all “friendly to Germans (Deutschfreundlich).”[33]The pro-German reaction of the Poles did not escape the attention of the Security Police either, who reported to Berlin “The Polish population in the occupied Soviet-Russian area has in places joyfully greeted German troops.”[34] Several scholarly analyses of the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland from late September 1939 until the middle of June 1941 offer insight into the reasons why Poles welcomed the Wehrmacht so warmly. By some indications, the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland was nearly as brutal as the German occupation of western Poland. According to Bernhard Chiari’s history of Belorussia at this time, including the Biaystok district, which was formally incorporated into the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) in 1940, the Red Army’s arrival in the area was chaotic and violent. Some locations, such as the city of Grodno, were reduced to rubble after Polish army units attempted to defend themselves against the Soviet invaders.[35]Chiari also notes that from the very beginning agents with the Soviet Secret Police, the NKVD, embarked upon a campaign of terror against the civilian population in search of reputed “anti-Soviet” enemies.[36]The targets of NKVD operations were political and so-called “class” enemies, such as large landholders, business owners, Polish soldiers and military officers, the members of Polish political parties, any Pole reputed to have nationalist tendencies, and officials in the Polish administrative elite.[37]On this subject, Bogdan Musia has provided telling figures on the extent of the arrests carried out in the Biaystok region over the nearly two-year period of Soviet rule. Looking at just the NKVD prisons in Biaystok, Grodno, and oma, Musia found that a total of 8,389 people had been incarcerated by 20 March 1941.[38]These arrests were followed by final wave of detentions in the vicinity of oma and Biaystok on 19-20 June 1941, which led to the incarceration of another 2,059 people.[39]Furthermore, of the 21 prisons in Belorussia examined by Musia, only the prison in Brest-Litovsk held a higher number of internees (3,239) than the three jails listed above. Yet arrest by the NKVD was not the only means of repression employed by Soviet occupation forces, deportation was another. Limited deportations of civilians were initially carried out in areas adjacent the German-Soviet demarcation line. A document cited by Martin Dean in his study of eastern Poland, Belorussia and Ukraine shows that the inhabitants of all villages located within 800 meters (875 yards) of the demarcation line were forcibly resettled eastwards during the establishment of the Soviet security zone.[40]Bogdan Musia concludes based upon the most recent research of this subject that in the BSSR this number totaled 35,300 people.[41]Of still greater social consequence, however, was the permanent deportation of large parts of the civilian population to Siberia. According to the latest scholarly estimate, by the time of the German invasion the Soviets had deported as many as 381,000 people (permanent inhabitants and refugees) from occupied eastern Poland to Siberia.[42]Poles made up about 60% of these deportees, which was by far the largest segment of any ethnic group. In what was a disastrous coincidence, the Soviets carried out extensive deportations in the Biaystok district during the week prior to the German invasion on 22 June 1941. Soviet documents cited by the Polish scholar, Michal Gnatowski, reveal that as a result of these deportations on 19-20 June a total of 22,353 Poles, including entire families, were deported to Siberia from the regions of oma and Biaystok.[43]Among these deportees were also families from Jedwabne and Wizna.[44]Bernhard Chiari’s conclusion that deportation was a “daily threat” hanging over the heads of all civilians in the BSSR is thus a valid appraisal of the situation.[45]And although we cannot be certain, the fear elicited by this final wave of deportations was surely fresh enough in the minds of local Poles to suggest the murder of Jews in retaliation. Lastly, the economic impact of the Soviet occupation was ruinous to the already poor and backward agricultural regions of eastern Poland. Red Army troops summarily requisitioned everything in sight, from foodstuffs to other goods, often leaving behind useless receipts for the seized items and not currency.46The collectivization of small farms into large agricultural enterprises was also universally resented by the rural population and led to severe shortages of grain as production dropped. In the words of Jan Gross, this “radical redistribution of property ? undercut nearly everyone’s material basis of existence.”47Bernhard Chiari substantiates this statement, noting that the black market price of grain after the Soviet occupation rose to 15 times the state-mandated price.48Collectivization initially exacerbated class tensions as well given that “the heaviest burden of Soviet economic policy fell on the well-to-do strata of Polish society [which] ? had the things that could be taken away.”49But Jan Gross points out that the peasants who had been encouraged to take land and goods from the middle and upper-classes were soon heavily taxed by the authorities, resulting in the continued build-up of anti-Soviet resentment across all segments of Polish society. Given the considerable economic and social impact of the brutal Soviet occupation, the delight expressed by Poles at the arrival of German forces is quite comprehensible. But the communist occupation left deep psychological scars as well. These manifested themselves in the resentment that Poles quickly turned against their Jewish neighbors, whom they blamed for Soviet depredations. This reaction was fostered in part by the fact that many Jews had welcomed the Red Army as it rolled into eastern Poland. Stories abound in the scholarly literature of Jews dancing in the streets at the arrival of Soviet tanks in their towns. For example, Shalom Cholawsky recounts the comments of a Jew from the town of Dereczyn who stated “It is hard to describe our joy. It seemed to us that this was the happiest day in our lives. All of the Jewish population, and also many non-Jews, came out to welcome the Soviet saviors.”50The Polish scholar Andrzej Zbikowski cites similar evidence from the underground archive of the Warsaw Ghetto that reinforces the conclusion Jews initially welcomed Soviet forces. Jews in Vilna, for instance, were seen showing great enthusiasm for the arriving Red Army.51And in the town of Luzk “The majority of [Jewish] youth expressed great enthusiasm. They kissed the soldiers, climbed the tanks, [and] they gave an ovation.”52Finally, Jan Gross cites the story of one Polish witness from Jedwabne who recalled that a local Jewish family and several Polish communists set out bread and salt for Soviet troops as well as a banner that read, “We Welcome You.”53 Scholars generally agree that the sight of Jews greeting the Red Army was abhorrent to Poles, but until recently there was little evidence to suggest that Jews had participated in the crimes of the Soviet occupiers. Detailed research carried out by Bogdan Musia over the past few years has resulted in a more nuanced understanding of Jewish involvement with Soviet occupation forces. Musia has been criticized for suggesting that Jews in eastern Poland were over represented in the Soviet administrative and police apparatus, but after examining numerous eyewitness reports taken from the inhabitants of eastern Poland, including Jews who survived the German occupation, Musia found that in many cases Jewish militia members directly participated in mass arrests and deportation actions. Take for example the statement of Aleksander Kotowski, a Polish inhabitant of Jedwabne. Kotowski recalled after the war that the in October 1939 the NKVD released “Jews and [Polish] Communists” who had been held in Polish prisons and then utilized these people as informants to denounce “Polish patriots.”54Another witness from Jedwabne testified that during the deportation of local Poles to Siberia in the third week of June 1941, “an armed Jew sat on every wagon” onto which the deportees were loaded.55Correspondingly, Michel Mielnicki from the village of Wasilkw, which lay near Biaystok, remembered that his father, Chaim Mielnicki, hosted a gathering of NKVD commissars from Moscow in the family’s home. According to Michel his father “served as advisor to the NKVD about who among the local Poles was to be sent to Siberia, or otherwise dealt with.”56As Michel explained, his father had at the time claimed that Polish “fascists” were “not good for the Jewish people” and deserved to be sent to Siberia.57 Other leading scholars of the “final solution” in the occupied Soviet Union have corroborated Musia’s conclusions. Yitzhak Arad, for one, writes of extensive arrests by the NKVD in his hometown of Swieciany: “although there were also thousands of Jews among the exiles [who were arrested], Jews played a relatively large role in the Communist Party apparatus that was behind the action.”58Dov Levin has similarly concluded “the labeling of the Soviet administration as a ‘Jewish regime’ became widespread when Jewish militiamen helped NKVD agents send local Poles into exile.”59Furthermore, Jan Gross himself wrote in 1983 that “Jewish collaboration” with the Soviet authorities was behind the sudden upsurge of anti-Semitism among the non-Jewish population in eastern Poland.60It is worth noting here as well the findings of Ewgienij Rosenblat, who concluded in a recent essay that the percentage of Jews in the Soviet administrative apparatus rose during the two-years from 1939-1941 in the Pinsk Oblast, which is located to the southeast of the Biaystok district. In his examination of various sectors of local society, Rosenblat found that despite the fact that Jews comprised only 10% of the regional population they held 49.5% of the leading administrative positions in the Pinsk Oblast, including 41.2% of those in the judicial and police administration.61 Polish Jews had good reason to greet the Soviets, as life under communist rule was preferable to that under Nazism. Moreover, Poles had by and large never accepted Jews as equal citizens in interwar Poland and the threat of pogroms lurked constantly beneath the seemingly placid surface of Polish-Jewish relations. As Jan Gross notes, the destruction of Poland allowed some Jews to openly show their resentment of Polish anti-Semitism by stating ironically “You wanted Poland without Jews, so now you have Jews without Poland.”62The uniform characterization by Poles of Jews benefiting from the Soviet occupation was nevertheless patently unfair because Jews too suffered under Soviet rule. By the time of the German invasion, between 60,000 and 70,000 Jews had been deported from eastern Poland to Siberia, although it should be noted that the vast majority of these Jews were refugees who had fled the German invasion in September-October 1939.63In his analysis of the “Sovietization” of Jewish communities, Ben-Cion Pinchuk remarks that because Jews generally “occupied themselves with commerce, crafts, and services for the surrounding peasant population,” the elimination of private commerce by the communists may have in reality hit Polish Jews much harder than Polish gentiles.64Similarly, the religious practice of both Polish Catholic and Jewish communities was frowned upon by the Soviets, who viewed it “as an act of defiance.” It seems then that the outburst of Polish anti-Semitism in reaction to the arrival of German forces was largely based on a stereotype of the “Jewish-Communist” that was shared by anti-Semites across Europe. In eastern Poland, the vision of Jews greeting the Red Army, and in isolated cases of Jews in militia uniform assisting the NKVD, appeared to bear out the deepest suspicions of a nefarious Jewish-Bolshevik alliance. And despite the reality that Jews also endured the horrors of Soviet occupation, “the sight of a few Jews in the police and administration” raised the ire of Poles whose communities had been terrorized and whose nation had been destroyed within the space of one generation.65Indeed, concerning events in Jedwabne and the surrounding area, this Jewish policeman may have been the head of the Soviet Secret Police office in nearby oma, who was a Jewish man named Urwiez.66The evidence clearly demonstrates that like Poles and other native Eastern European peoples with communist sympathies, a certain small number of Jews collaborated with Soviet occupation forces. But when speaking of an unholy union between all Jews and Communists, the fear of which fueled the surge of native anti-Jewish feeling in the first weeks of the German occupation, one can only conclude that scholars are dealing with a fantasy imagined by resentful Poles, a perceived reality that proved to be more influential than reality itself. The open expression of anti-Soviet sentiment by Poles and other Eastern European peoples presented Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich with the opportunity to enlist collaborators against Jews in the Soviet Union. For his part, Heydrich seems to have anticipated this development, informingEinsatzgruppencommanders in Berlin on 17 June that in an effort to achieve German objectives (i.e., the destruction of Judeo-Bolshevism) they should exploit long-standing ethnic tensions between eastern peoples.67UnderstandablyEinsatzgruppeB’s rapid movement through the Biaystok district had not allowed Nebe’s men to take full advantage of these tensions. This subject arose during a meeting between Himmler, Erich von dem Bach-Zalewski, and several other SS and police leaders, which took place on 28 June in East Prussia.68At this meeting Himmler asked Bach-Zalewski, the commander of Police Regiment Center, and the SS officer responsible for anti-partisan operations behind Army Group Center, why pogroms against the Jews had not yet broken out in the Biaystok district as they had in the Baltic States just to the north. The next day (29 June), Heydrich elaborated on his earlier instructions about exploiting ethnic tensions by issuing orders for the Security Police to “intensify” and “move in the correct direction” all “efforts at self-cleansing by anti-communist and anti-Jewish activists.”69Heydrich cautioned, however, that there should be “no trace” of SS involvement in the pogroms that erupted. He also made it clear that any operations of this kind had to take into account the opinion of local military authorities. Finally, Heydrich’s order stated that the outbreak of so-called “popular pogroms” (Volkspogrome) was preferable at this stage of the campaign to the formation of Polish auxiliary police units like those that had been created in Lithuania.70 Returning now to the connection between these orders and the formation of supplementalSonder- andEinsatzkommandos. It is surely no coincidence that on 30 June Eberhard Schngarth in krakow initiated the creation of four small operational groups for deployment in the Biaystok district shortly after Himmler and Heydrich had expressed a desire to stimulate pogroms.71Schngarth probably received orders from the Reich Security Main Office to form these groups and he immediately transmitted the instructions to Security Police and SD commanders in Warsaw, Radom, and Lublin.72Within three days four auxiliary Security Police and SD groups had been created and placed under the command of Adolf Bonifer, Erich Engels, Johannes Bhm, and Wolfgang Birkner. Events were now quickly moving in the direction Himmler and Heydrich desired. On 1 July Nebe reported to Berlin that he had visited the headquarters of Army Group Center and as a result the “self-cleansing efforts of anti-communist and anti-Jewish circles were to be intensified” in his area of command.73With the military’s cooperation now secure, Heydrich explicitly authorized the Security Police to organize pogroms. These pogroms were to be initiated using small groups of local agitators, particularly members of the Polish intelligentsia who were reputed to be fervently anti-Jewish.74Similar consultations held between the army andEinsatzgruppechiefs elsewhere on the eastern front revealed that other Wehrmacht commanders also agreed with the organization of indigenous anti-Semitic elements against the Jews.75 One day later (2 July) Arthur Nebe traveled to Warsaw from Biaystok to meet with the commanders of the newSonder- andEinsatzkommandosand to orient them on their upcoming duty. It was probably at this point that Nebe informed them about their responsibility for instigating pogroms.76Nebe then departed for Biaystok early the next day along with Bonifer’s and Bhm’s groups.77Arriving in Biaystok in the afternoon on 3 July, Nebe immediately dispatched Bhm’sEinsatzkommandoto Grodno and Adolf Bonifer’sEinsatzkommandoto Bielsk.78A pogrom then broke out in Grodno two days later.79TheSonderkommandosof Engels and Birkner also arrived in Biaystok late in the day on 3 July. Engels’ group was sent on to Nowogrodek one day later (4 July), while Birkner’s command remained in Biaystok. Little information exists about Wolfgang Birkner and the men of hisSonderkommando, but the unit was made up of 29 Security Police and Gestapo officers altogether. Birkner and his men coordinated their work with a small group of Security Police fromEinsatzgruppeBthat Nebe had left behind in Biaystok. By way of background, it is interesting to note that Birkner and seven of the other members of hisSonderkommandowere veterans ofEinsatzgruppeIV, which had occupied Biaystok briefly at the end of the Polish Campaign in 1939, before the city was turned over to the Soviets. According to reports filed by Nebe with the RSHA in Berlin, Birkner’s men participated in several shooting actions in and around Biaystok, which by 28 August had claimed the lives of 1,800 Jews.80 As for evidence concerning the participation of Birkner’sSonderkommandoin inciting pogroms, this is very slim. West German prosecutors investigating Birkner in 1960 initially suspected that his men were involved in the murder of Jews in Jedwabne, Radziw, and Wasosz.81These suspicions were based on the research of Polish historian Szymon Datner, but the investigators turned up little hard evidence directly implicating either Birkner or his men in these events.82It is interesting to note in this context however the statement ofPolizeimeisterN., who was a witness in the West German investigation.PolizeimeisterN. recalled that the head of the small gendarmerie post in Jedwabne was a police officer named Henning and not the gendarme named “Adamy” whose name appears in Jan Gross’ bookNeighbors.83In his retelling of events leading up to the Jedwabne pogrom, Gross quotes the postwar testimony of Wadysaw Miciura, who stated that on the day of the killings one of the German gendarmes ordered him “to go to the square and to watch the Jews.”84Miciura’s testimony suggests that the gendarmes were at least involved in guarding the Jews assembled on the marketplace, if not for actually collecting the Jews. But Gross dismisses this evidence, concluding that the Germans in Jedwabne on the day of the pogrom limited their activity to “taking pictures.”85One of the members of Birkner’sSonderkommandowas SS-OberscharfhrerGerhard Henning, but there is no proof as yet that this man was the Henning referred to during the West German investigation.86 More evidence exists to indicate that Security Police and Gestapo detachments other than Birkner’s were responsible for instigating pogroms and shooting Jews in the western half of the Biaystok district. In addition to ordering the formation of supplementalEinsatzkommandosat the very beginning of July, the Reich Security Main Office also authorized the Gestapo offices in Tilsit and Allenstein to pull personnel from subordinate posts along the East Prussian border and deploy these detachments in the “newly occupied territories” that lay just to the east of the frontier.87These detachments of Gestapo and Security Police were instructed to establish contact with theEinsatzgruppenin the areas where they were deployed and to commence “cleansing” operations (i.e., destroying Jewish communities).88The murders carried out along the Lithuanian-German border by Gestapo personnel from Tilsit have already been mentioned, but in their postwar investigation of theSonderkommandoBirkner, West German authorities discovered that the Gestapo office in Ciechanow (Zichenau) had also deployed personnel in the area. Specifically, a German witness, who had been theKreiskommissarin oma, recalled that when he arrived in the city at the beginning of August he found a detachment of Gestapo personnel from the office in Pock (Schrttersburg) stationed there.89This unit from the Schrttersburg sub-station of the Ciechanow Gestapo headquarters was under the command of SS-ObersturmfhrerHermann Schaper.Upon investigating further, the West Germans located a Jewish witness from the village of Tykocin who positively identified Schaper as the man who had directed a shooting action in his town in August 1941.90Even more important was the discovery of a female Jewish witness from the village of Radziw who recognized photographs of Schaper as the man who had overseen the murder of Jews in her village in early July 1941. InNeighborsJan Gross quotes at length the testimony of Menachem Finkelsztajn, who claimed to have witnessed the pogrom in Radziw, which occurred on 7 July 1941, three days before the pogrom in Jedwabne.91According to Finkelsztajn, for several days before the massacre in Radziw, German soldiers stationed in the village joined local Poles in torturing, beating, and otherwise tormenting the village’s Jews. Events in Radziw then concluded with a pogrom, during which several hundred Jews were killed.92The part of Finkelsztajn’s testimony that described the pogrom itself was missing, leaving Gross unable to provide details about the killings. Finkelsztajn stated categorically, however, “the Poles were in charge, since not even a single German was present.”93 Gross accepted Finkelsztajn’s account of the Radziw pogrom at face value, including its portrayal of local and regional Poles as the sole perpetrators of the crime. By contrast, West German and Israeli investigators looking into this incident discovered another version of the story that is entirely at odds with Finkelsztajn’s portrayal. According to the Jewish woman survivor from Radziw who witnessed the violence from the window of her home: “On 7 July 1941, three automobiles bearing Gestapo functionaries entered Radziw and in cooperation with the [local] Polish police, rousted all of the Jews from their homes and collected them on the marketplace. After all the Jews were assembled, they were forced to march to a barn that lay around two kilometers from the town. The barn was set alight and the nearly 2,000 Jews were burned alive.”94The West Germans suspected that one element of this testimony was incorrect. Specifically, they did not believe that there was a barn large enough in the area to have held 2,000 people. On the other hand, they thought the witnesses’ recollection of Hermann Schaper was very credible, given that she had met him face to face. As she recounted: This version of events in Radziw clearly contradicts that of Finkelsztajn’s repeated by Gross. According to the testimony above, the murder of Jews in Radziw was a massacre orchestrated by Hermann Schaper’s Gestapo unit from Schrttersburg and was not a pogrom as portrayed by Gross inNeighbors. The Polish police of course played a part in the killing, but the witness did not mention the participation of the local population. For reasons that remain unclear she also was not killed, but then again in the version of events cited by Jan Gross the Germans saved 18 of Radziw’s Jews.96 The evidence collected by the West Germans, including the positive identification of Schaper by witnesses from oma, Tykocin, and Radziw, suggested that it was indeed Schaper’s men who carried out the killings in those locations. Investigators also suspected based on the similarity of the methods used to destroy the Jewish communities of Radziw, Tykocin, Rutki, Zambrow, Jedwabne, Piatnica, and Wizna between July and September 1941 that Schaper’s men were the perpetrators. But lacking absolutely watertight evidence placing Schaper’s men in Jedwabne on the date of the pogrom, the West Germans could only tentatively conclude “it is highly probable that theEinsatzkommandofrom Schrttersburg” was responsible for the murder of Jedwabne’s Jews on 10 July 1941.97 Despite Gross’ depiction of Jedwabne’s Poles as independently motivated perpetrators of the massacre in their town, some of the evidence he cites actually supports the West German investigation’s conclusion that Schaper’s men were probably deeply involved in the murder of Jedwabne’s Jews. For one thing Gross writes “we can also infer from various sources that a group of Gestapo men arrived in town by taxi either on that day or the previous one.” To the inhabitants of a rural village like Jedwabne, the automobiles driven by the Gestapo may have appeared to be taxis and the exact dates of incidental events like the arrival of a car often slip the minds of eyewitnesses. What is certain though is that witnesses in Radziw, Tykocin, and other locations not far removed from Jedwabne all remembered Gestapo men driving into their villages in two or three automobiles.98Second, Gross cites the testimony of Czeslaw Lipinski, Wadysaw Miciura and Feliks Tarnacki, all of which mention that German police brought them to the town square to guard the Jews.99Third, the witness Danowski stated to Polish investigators in 1953 that “several dozen men assembled in front of the city hall in Jedwabne and were equipped by the German gendarmerie and Karolak (the mayor) and Sobuta (Karolak’s accomplice) with whips and clubs.”100Fourth, just as the Germans had forced the Jews of Biaystok to demolish the monuments of Lenin and Stalin, the Jews of Jedwabne were compelled to rip up the village’s monument of Lenin and parade it around before being led to their deaths.101Finally, the method used to kill most of the Jews of Jedwabne was exactly the same that had been employed by the Gestapo to kill the Jews of Radziw only three days earlier. The Jews of Jedwabne were collected on the town square, driven by physical violence to the place of their murder, and then burned to death. In short, while Gross marshals considerable evidence to prove the involvement of Jedwabne’s Poles in the murder of their Jewish neighbors he downplays evidence that suggests the Gestapo too might have played a significant role in the killings. What conclusions then should be drawn from this examination of the killings in Jedwabne and elsewhere in the region? To begin with whether events in Jedwabne can honestly be classified a “pogrom” or if they should be considered an SS killing action in which local Poles were complicit remains an open question. At this point there simply is not enough proof one way or another to arrive at a definitive conclusion. To his credit Jan Gross acknowledges that the SS may have been involved, but on the whole he blames Jedwabne’s Polish inhabitants for the murders. The graphic descriptions offered by Gross of the violence used against the defenseless Jews of Jedwabne are certainly proof enough that many Poles were involved in the heinous crime. This simply cannot be denied. Then again the historical context within which the killings occurred also strongly suggests that the murder of the Jews in Jedwabne was not spontaneous, nor did the Poles carry it out alone without the knowledge, consent, or perhaps even the direct participation of the SS. Moreover, that SS units may have been more deeply involved than Gross acknowledges certainly does not exonerate those Poles who acted as the Germans’ accomplices.This said it is important to remember that the SS deliberately collected information to determine where pogroms could be incited and where they could not. Reinhard Heydrich noted specifically in his 1 July order that “in the newly occupied areas, particularly those that formerly belonged to Poland, Poles have shown themselves to be anti-communist and anti-Jewish as a result of their recent experiences [during the Soviet occupation].”102Where individuals could not be found to foment anti-Jewish violence, Order Police and Wehrmacht propaganda units attempted to inflame anti-Semitism using loudspeaker announcements, photographs, public lectures, and films like “The Eternal Jew” to raise the ire of local gentiles.103In effect, SS authorities were well aware of the historically strong anti-Jewish feeling in the territories that formerly comprised the Pale of Settlement and they found local populations generally willing to assist in the liquidation of the Jewish communities in their midst. The Germans were further aided in their destructive mission by nearly two years of brutal Soviet occupation of the region that dramatically inflamed native anti-Semitic sentiment. Indeed, German documents offer several telling clues about the extent to which the anti-Jewish policies of the SS met with success in the western region of the Biaystok district. Among these documents is a 9 July report from the Intelligence Officer of the V Army Corps, which ominously refers to the “threatening attitude” that the Polish population in his sector had recently adopted towards the Jews.104Three days later, officers with the 221st Security Division noted in the unit war diary that pogroms had broken out in Kolno and Szczuczyn, both located to the north of oma.105The pogrom in Kolno resulted in the deaths of 30 Jews while in Szczuczyn as many as 400 were killed. Similarly, the commander of the rear army area for Army Group Center reported on 20 July that pogroms had broken out “in several localities near the border with the General Government.”106Further evidence provided by Dieter Pohl, Shmuel Spector, Martin Dean, Bogdan Musia, and Shalom Cholawsky also clearly demonstrates the ease with which Heydrich’s Security Police were able to mobilize pogroms among the Lithuanian, Polish, and Ukrainian civilian populations in the regions adjacent to East Prussia and the General Government.107 These pogroms were stimulated in many places by small groups of individuals who the Security Police had identified as dependable collaborators. By employing agitators to whip up anti-Jewish sentiment to the point of explosion, German propagandists were then able to depict pogroms as spontaneous outbursts of popular violence. This portrayal supported the Nazi propaganda message that the Jews were criminals and oppressors. Citing outbursts of “spontaneous” violence as evidence that Jews were exploiting and terrorizing the non-Jewish population, the SS was then able to justify its own murderous attacks against Jews. This dynamic of German agitation, Polish pogrom, and SS killing action was integral to the anti-Jewish policy implemented by the SS in the Biaystok district and elsewhere in eastern Poland during the first eight weeks of Operation Barbarossa. The elimination of Jews in regions of Lithuania and eastern Poland along the frontier of East Prussia and General Government was also central to the progressive radicalization of SS anti-Jewish policy in the summer of 1941 that ultimately resulted in genocide. Given German fears about the development of partisan warfare and the widely held belief (theFeindbild) that Jews presented a dire threat to security in the newly occupied territories, the use of the local gentile population to counter this threat was a logical step to the SS. It is safe to say, however, that the dynamic of agitation, pogrom, and reprisal would not have developed were not a considerable number of Lithuanians, Latvians, Poles, Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Romanians prepared to join in the destruction of Jewish communities. By mid-summer 1941 intense anti-Jewish feeling in Eastern Europe was set to explode in the wake of the Soviet occupation, but in the final analysis it was the SS that struck the match and lit the fuse. Sources:1.Christian Gerlach,Kalkulierte Morde: Die deutsche Wirtschafts- und Vernichtungspolitik in Weissrussland 1941 bis 1944(Hamburg: HIS Verlagsges, 1999); Shmuel Spector,The Holocaust of Volhynian Jews 1941-1944(Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1990); Martin Dean,Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941-44(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Bogdan Musia,”Konterrevolutionre Elemente sind zu erschiessen”: Die Brutalisierung des deutsch-sowjetischen Krieges im Sommer 1941(Berlin: Propylen, 2000); Shalom Cholawsky,The Jews of Bielorussia during World War II(Amsterdam: Harwood, 1998); and Dieter Pohl,Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung in Ostgalizien 1941-1944: Organisation und Durchfhrung eines staatlichen Massenverbrechens(Mnchen: Oldenbourg, 1997).2.Christopher R. Browning,Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers(New York: Cambridge, 2000), pp. 29ff discusses in detail the notion of a “transitional phase” in the process of murdering Soviet Jewry, which transpired in June-July 1941.3.Richtlinien auf Sondergebieten zur Weisung Nr. 21, 3 March 1941, quoted in Jrgen Frster, “Das Unternehmen ‘Barbarossa’ als Eroberungs- und Vernichtungskrieg,” inDas Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, Band 4 “Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion,”Horst Boog et al. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1983), p. 414.4.Andrej Angrick, “Die Einsatzgruppe D. Struktur und Ttigkeit einer mobilen Einheit der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD in der deutsch besetzten Sowjetunion” (D.Phil. diss., Technische Universitt, Berlin, 1999), p. 68.5.See Fahndungslisten fr die UdSSR in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archive (USHMMA), RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 2, p. 189, which contains 4508 names.6.Frster, “Das Unternehmen ‘Barbarossa’,” p. 414.7.Klaus-Michael Mallmann, “Die Trffner der ‘Endlsung’: Zur Genesis des Genozids,” inDie Gestapo im Zweiten Weltkrieg: ‘Heimatfront’ und besetztes Europa, eds. G. Paul and K-M. Mallmann (Darmstadt: Primus, 2000), p. 445.8.Ibid., p. 508.9.Geoffrey P. Megargee,Inside Hitler’s High Command(Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000), p. 124.10.Frster, “Das Unternehmen ‘Barbarossa’,” p. 422.11.Ttigkeitsbericht des Chefs der Einsatzgruppe B fr die Zeit vom 23.6.1941 bis zum 13.7.1941,14 July 1941. Reproduced inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42: Die Ttigkeits- und Lageberichte des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, ed. P. Klein (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1997), pp. 377f.12.Zwischenmeldung an Heeresgruppe B, AOK 9, Abt. Ia, 23 June 1941. National Archive and Records Administration (NARA), College Park, MD, RG 242, T-312, r. 274, fr. 7833353. See also Morgenmeldung an Heeresgruppe B, AOK 9, Abt. Ia, 24 June 1941. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 274, fr. 7833346.13.Ttigkeitsbericht des Chefs der Einsatzgruppe B fr die Zeit vom 23.6.1941 bis zum 13.7.1941 inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42, p. 377.14.Ibid.15.Ibid.16.Such is the conclusion expressed in Christian Gerlach, “Die Einsatzgruppe B 1941/42,” inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42: Die Ttigkeits- und Lageberichte des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, ed. P. Klein (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1997), p. 54.17.Ralf Ogorreck,Die Einsatzgruppen und die “Genesis der Endlsung”(Berlin: Metropol Verlag, 1996), p. 114.18.Details on the shootings in Brest-Litovsk can be found in Browning,Nazi Policy, pp. 119ff.19.Entry for 27 June in Kriegstagebuch 2 der Sicherheitsdivision 221, 6.5.1941-13.12.1941. NARA, RG 242, T-315, r. 1666, fr. 135.20.Ogorreck,Die Einsatzgruppen, p. 123.21.Entry for 30 June in KTB 2 der Sicherheitsdivision 221. NARA, RG 242, T-315, r. 1666, fr. 143.22.Ereignismeldung UdSSR, Nr. 21, 13 July 1941. USHMMA, 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 150.23.Gerlach, “Die Einsatzgruppe B 1941/42,” p. 53.24.Entry for 3 July in KTB 2 der Sicherheitsdivision 221. NARA, RG 242, T-315, r. 1666, fr. 145. Although the 221st Security Division established these Orts- and Feldkommandanturen, the 580th Rear Army Area commander, General Max von Schenckendorff, exercised overall military authority in the area.25.These units included the 10th SS Infantry Regiment, 8th SS Infantry Regiment, 8th Motorized SS Infantry Regiment, 1st SS Infantry Brigade, 2nd SS Infantry Brigade, and 1st SS Cavalry Regiment. SeeUnsere Ehre Heisst Treue: Kriegstagebuch des Kommandostabes RFSS, Ttigkeitsberichte der 1. und 2. SS-Inf.-Brigade, der 1. SS-Kav.-Brigade und Sonderkommandos der SS, ed. Fritz Baade et al. (Wien: Europa Verlag, 1965). See also Tagesmeldung, AOK 9, Abt. Ia, 22 June 1941. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 274, fr. 7833357 and Operationsbefehl Nr. 3 zur Einleitung der Vernichtung des Feindes im Raum Biaystok-Wolkowysk, AOK 9, Abt. Ia, Nr. 3340/41 geh., 26 June 1941. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 274, fr. 7834705.26.Ereignismeldung UdSSR, Nr. 4, 25 June 1941. USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 21.27.Browning,Nazi Policy, p. 119.28.Mallmann, “Die Trffner der ‘Endlsung’,” p. 445.29.Wolfgang Scheffler, “Die Einsatzgruppe A 1941/42,” inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42: Die Ttigkeits- und Lageberichte des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, ed. P. Klein (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1997), p. 31. See also Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm,Die Einsatzgruppe A der Sicheheitspolizei und des SD 1941/42(Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 1996), p. 57,30.Christoph Dieckmann, “The War and the Killing of the Lithuanian Jews,” inNational Socialist Extermination Policies: Contemporary German Perspectives and Controversies, ed. Ulrich Herbert (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000), pp. 242f.31.Anlage zu AOK 9, Ia, Nr. 3320/41 geh. Op-Befehl Nr. 1, 22 June 1941. Feindnachrichtenblatt in NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 275, fr. 7834728. See also Ic-Morgenmeldung VIII A.K. 27 June 1941 in Beilage zum Kriegstagebuch AOK 9, Anlage III zum Ttigkeitsbericht der Abt. Ic/AO, 21.6.41-31.7.41. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 277, fr. 7837401: “Vor 8 I.D. die bis zu Wolpujanka-abschnitt vordrang und Wolpa 20.10 Uhr besetzte, nur vereinzelte feindliche Sphtrupps. Truppe wurde beim Einrcken in dem stark zerschossenen Wolpa von der Bevlkerung freudig empfangen.”32.Entry for 23 June in KTB 2 der Sicherheitsdivision 221. NARA, RG 242, T-315, r. 1666, fr. 112.33.Ic-Morgenmeldung XXXXII A.K., 25 June 1941 in Beilage zum Kriegstagebuch AOK 9, Anlage III zum Ttigkeitsbericht der Abt. Ic/AO, 21.6.14-31.7.41. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 277, fr. 7837475.34.Ereignismeldung UdSSR, Nr. 4, 25 June 1941. USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, pp. 23f.35.Bernhard Chiari,Alltag hinter der Front: Besatzung, Kollaboration und Widerstand in Weiruland 1941-1944(Dsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1998), p. 36.36.Ibid., p. 37.37.Cholawsky,The Jews of Bielorussia, pp. 10f.38.Musia,”Konterrevolutionre Elemente sind zu erschiessen,”p. 95. Jan Tomasz Gross, “The Sovietisation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia,” inJews in Eastern Poland and the USSR, 1939-46, eds. N. Davies and A. Polonsky (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), p. 72, offers the even more staggering estimate of ca. 500,000 people arrested in western Ukraine and western Byelorussia during the 21 months of Soviet rule.39.Michal Gnatowski,W radzieckich okowach: studium o agresji 17 wrzesnia 1939 r. radzieckiej polityce w regionie Lomzynskim w latach 1939-1941(oma: Lomzynskie Tow.Nauk.im. Wagw, 1997), p. 115. I am grateful to Bogdan Musia for this citation, as well as the information in notes 45, 55, 56, and 60.40.Dean,Collaboration in the Holocaust, p. 4.41.Musia,”Konterrevolutionre Elemente sind zu erschiessen,”p. 33.42.Ibid.43.Gnatowski,W radzieckich okowach, p. 115.44.Katolicka Agencja Informacyjna, ISSN 1426-1413, 23 February 2001 and Interview with Jadwiga Szymanowska, 23 February 21, Wizna.45.Chiari,Alltag hinter der Front, p. 48.46.Ibid., p. 41.47.Gross, “The Sovietisation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia,” p. 67.48.Chiari,Alltag hinter der Front, p. 40.49.Gross, “The Sovietisation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia,” p. 67.50.Cholawsky,The Jews of Bielorussia, p. 4.51.Andrzej Zbikowski, “Jewish Reaction to the Soviet Arrival in the Kresy in September 1939,” inPOLIN: Studies in Polish Jewry, vol. XIII, ed. A. Polonsky (London: Littman Library, 2000), pp. 66.52.Ibid., p. 67.53.Jan Tomasz Gross,Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland(Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001), p. 45.54.Report of Polish Deportees, No. 2675, in the Archive of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University55.Quotation cited by Danuta and Aleksander Wroniszewski in “Kontakty – Lomzynski Tygodnik Spoleczny,” no. 10 July 1988.56.Michel Mielnicki,Biaystok to Birkenau: the Holocaust journey of Michel Mielnicki as told to John Munro(Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2000), pp. 82ff.57.Ibid.58.Yitzhak Arad,The Partisan: From the Valley of Death to Mount Zion(New York: Holocaust Library, 1979), pp. 26f.59.Dov Levin,The Lesser of Two Evils: Eastern European Jewry under Soviet Rule, 1939-1941, trans. Naftali Greenwood (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1995), p. 63.60.”W czterdziestym nas Matko Na Sybir zeslali “: Polska a Rosja 1939-42, ed. Jan Tomasz Gross and Irena Grudzinska-Gross London: Aneks, 1983), pp. 28ff.61.Ewgienij Rosenblat, “Jews in the Tangle of Cross-Ethnic Relations in the Western Oblasts of White Russia,” (in Russian) inBialoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne, no. 12 (2000), pp. 96f.62.Gross, “The Sovietisation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia,” p. 66.63.Musia,”Konterrevolutionre Elemente sind zu erschiessen,”pp. 32, 62.64.Ben-Cion Pinchuk, “Sovietization of the Shtetl of Eastern Poland, 1939-1941,” inEssays on Revolutionary Culture and Stalinism, ed. J.W. Strong (Columbus, OH: Slavica Publishers, Inc., 1990), pp. 72-73.65.Dean,Collaboration in the Holocaust, p. 13.66.Fahndungslisten fr die UdSSR. USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 2, p. 189.67.Angrick, “Die Einsatzgruppe D,” p. 68.68.This meeting with Himmler was recounted by Bach-Zalewski in his testimony at the trial of Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg. See the copy of this testimony in Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen, Ludwigsburg (ZStL), 5 AR-Z 56/1960, Verfahren gegen Wolfgang Birkner u.a., p. 4.69.Fernschreiben Heydrichs and die Einsatzgruppenchefs vom 29.6.1941 reproduced inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42, p. 319.70.Ibid.71.Dieter Pohl,Nationalsozialistische Judenverfolgung, p. 53 notes that Schngarth claimed to have raised these auxiliary police units on his own initiative, but Pohl argues this was unlikely.72.Blitz-Fernschreiben, BdS krakow Nr. 6285, 30 June 1941 in USHMMA, RG 11.001M.15 (Records of the Osobyi Archive, Moscow, 1932-1945), reel 80, fond 1323, opis 1, folder 59, fr. 237.73.Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 9, 1 July 1941. USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 48.74.Ibid, p. 53.75.Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 10, 2 July 1941 in USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 52.76.According to Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 11, 3 July 1941 in USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 63 the RSHA required that contact be established between Einsatzgruppen chiefs and the new supplemental units in order to ensure that these new commanders were properly aware of their new tasks.77.Bericht der Einsatzkommando z.b.V., Warschau, 2 July 1941. USHMMA, RG 11.001M.15 (Records of the Osobyi Archive, Moscow, 1932-1945), reel 80, fond 1323, opis 1, folder 59, fr. 243.78.Ttigkeitsbericht des Chefs der Einsatzgruppe B fr die Zeit vom 23.6.1941 bis zum 13.7.1941, 14 July 1941 inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42, pp. 378f.79.Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 13, 5 July 1941 in USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 74.80.Auswertung der Ereignismeldungen zu den Judenerschiessungen in Biaystok im Juli 1941 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 56/1960, pp. 4ff.81.I am grateful to President Leon Kieres, the director of the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw, Poland, and Dr. Pawel Machcewicz, the director of the INR’s Public Education Office, for providing me with archival documentation relevant to events in Jedwabne and other locations in the Biaystok district.82.Vorlufiges Ermittlungsergebnis, 13 April 1960 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 56/1960, p. 2.83.Vernehmung von Paul N., 6 September 1960 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 56/1960, p. 129. N. also stated that three Germans and two Poles staffed the gendarmerie post in Jedwabne, not the eleven men claimed in Gross,Neighbors, pp. 76, 112. The discrepancy between N.’s and Gross’ accounts of the Jedwabne gendarmerie post may be the result of timing, as N. did not take up his post until September 1942.84.Gross,Neighbors, pp. 77.85.Ibid., p. 78.86.Strkemeldung des Einsatztrupps Biaystok, 28 July 1941. USHMMA, RG 11.001M.15 (Records of the Osobyi Archive Moscow, 1932-1945), reel 80, fond 1323, opis 1, folder 59, fr. 252.87.Ereignismeldung UdSSR Nr. 11, 3 July 1941 in USHMMA, RG 14.016M (Bundesarchiv, Records of the RSHA, R58/574), fiche 1, p. 63.88.Ibid.89.Vernehmung von Oberregierungsrat Graf von dem G., 2 September 1960. ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, p. 11.90.Zwischenbericht No. 5 der Untersuchungsstelle fr N.S. Gewaltverbrechen beim Landestab der Polizei Israel, 23 January 1963 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, p. 70.91.Gross,Neighbors, pp. 54ff.92.In Gross,Neighbors, p. 57 the number of Jews killed in Radziw is estimated at between 800 and 1,500.93.Ibid., p. 65.94.Vermerk, 2 September 1965 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, pp. 2f.95.Zwischenbericht No. 5 der Untersuchungsstelle fr N.S. Gewaltverbrechen beim Landestab der Polizei Israel, 23 January 1963 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, p. 70.96.Gross,Neighbors, p. 69.97.Abschlussbericht, 17 March 1964 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 13/62, p. 164.98.Ibid., pp. 158, 160, 161.99.Gross,Neighbors, p. 77.100.Ibid., p. 91. See also p. 112 where Gross quotes Irena Janowska, the wife of one of the men accused of having murdered Jedwabne’s Jews: “on the critical day German gendarmerie walked around together with the mayor and the secretary [of the town council] Wasilewski, and chased out males to go and guard Jews who were assembled in the square.”101.Ibid., p. 88.102.Heydrichs Einsatzbefehl Nr. 2 vom 1.7.1941 reproduced inDie Einsatzgruppen in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42, p. 320.103.Gerlach,Kalkulierte Morde, pp. 536f notes that films and lectures on “Die Juden, das Unglck Russlands” were shown in Belorussia from July 1941 to 1943. These efforts did not meet with success in the eastern sections of Belorussia, where Nebe complained that it had been impossible to initiate anti-Jewish violence among Belorussians.104.Ic-Morgenmeldung, V A.K, 9 July 1941 in Beilage zum Kriegstagebuch AOK 9, Anlage III zum Ttigkeitsbericht der Abt. Ic/AO, 21.6.41-31.7.41. NARA, RG 242, T-312, r. 277, fr. 7837267.105.Anlage 50, Sicherungsdivision 221, 12 July 1941 in Anlagen zum Kriegstagebuch, 1.5.41-16.12.41. Bundesarchiv-Militrarchiv Freiburg, RH 26-221/84.106.Der Befehlshaber des rckwrtigen Heeres-Gebiets Mitte, Ia. Br.B.Nr. 393/41 geh. An OKH, Gen.Qu. 20 July 1941 in Anlagen Sonderband zum KTB 1 der Befehlshaber d. rckwrtigen H.Geb. Mitte, Ia. NARA, RG 242, T-501, r. 1, fr. 503.107.See note two for a listing of these scholars’ publications.

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Byzantine Empire – Jewish Virtual Library

Jewish communities existed in the Byzantine Empire throughout its history, from the foundation of Constantinople in 330 to the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453. The centers of Jewish population and the status of the Jews there underwent drastic changes throughout this long period and shifted under the impact of events within and outside the empire. The history of the Jews in the Byzantine Empire can therefore be divided into three major sections. From Constantine to the Iconoclastic Period (c. 720)From the Iconoclastic Period to the Fourth Crusade (1204)From the Fourth Crusade to the Capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453Social and Cultural Life LEGAL AND SOCIAL STATUS Numerous Jewish communities were located in the eastern Mediterranean region, including the Balkans, present-day Greece, Asia Minor, Constantinople, Syria, Ere Israel (which alone had 43 communities), and Egypt. The legal status accorded to the Jewish faith within the Roman Empire as a religio licita (a religion permitted by law) was not changed explicitly. However, the attitude of the Byzantine rulers and society in practice, the methods employed by the Church, the language of official documents and legislation on details combined to humiliate the Jews and narrow the confines of Jewish society and religion and the opportunities open to Jews. Almost at the beginning of his legislative activity Constantine described the Jewish religion as “baleful,” and warned Jews, under threat of capital punishment, not to molest converts to Christianity. The second part of the law containing this injunction made it a crime to become a Jew: a Jew who circumcised his slave forfeited ownership of the slave (Cod. Theod. 16:8 (4, 1, 5)). Constantine and his mother Helena inspired a movement to Christianize Ere Israel. His son Constantius added to his father’s legislation a prohibition on marriage between Jews and Christians. An abortive revolt by the Jews in Ere Israel against the provincial commander Gallus during his reign was suppressed in 351. The benign interlude of the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate only resulted in increased enmity on the Christian side and disappointment to the Jews. The failure of Julian’s plans to revive the pagan empire and its tolerance of the Jewish religion contributed to the breakdown of the old concepts and existent attitudes among religions and people. The consistent fanaticism prevailing in Byzantine Christendom covers the long span from Julian’s death until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Emperor Theodosius I revived missionary activity and prohibited Jewish parents from disinheriting children who had apostatized to Christianity. However, the burning of the synagogue in Callinicum (Mesopotamia) in 388 led to a clash between the imperial traditions and the aims of the Church. The emperor still tried to uphold the imperial tradition of law and order for all, including the Jews. He therefore ordered that the perpetrators of the outrage in Callinicum should be punished and the synagogue reconstructed at their expense. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, viewed the emperor’s order as sacrilegious and succeeded in compelling him to annul it. Thus toward the end of the fourth century the humiliation of the Jews and ascendancy of ecclesiastical ideas in regulating their affairs became established in the Byzantine Empire in both theory and practice. The temporary expulsion of the Jews from Alexandria by the patriarch Cyril in 415 also marked a victory for the hatred stirred up by the Church among the populace with assistance from the authorities. The code of Theodosius II (438) summed up the former anti-Jewish legislation, and included a prohibition on building new synagogues, permitting structural repairs only if absolutely necessary. Certain Purim celebrations were forbidden. In spirit and language this fifth-century codification crystallizes the atmosphere prevailing in the Byzantine Empire in the fourth century. A Church rent by internal struggles, bent on heresy hunting with the help of the imperial authority, and using increasingly violent and uncouth language toward its Christian adversaries, developed over the fourth century a vitriolic anti-Jewish polemic literature. Both writers and preachers seemingly vied with one another in their acrimony toward, and vilification of, the Jews and Judaism. In the eight sermons delivered by John Chrysostom from his pulpit in Antioch in 387, every imaginable evil is ascribed to the Jews. The venom embodied in these writings and sermons to a large degree lies at the root of medieval Jew-hatred, spreading beyond the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire and its culture. In the sixth century the reign of Justinian I inaugurated a hardening of attitudes toward the Jews and a departure for the worse in their treatment. The Jewish-Arab kingdom of imyar in southern Arabia was destroyed on Byzantine instigation. Justinian attempted to regulate internal Jewish life and modes of worship in accordance with what he considered necessary and right from a Christian point of view through a number of laws and practical actions. In his famous novella 146, of the year 553, he even attempted to dictate to the Jews concerning their divine worship and forbade the use of the deuterosis (Mishnah) for understanding the Torah; he also took it upon himself to lay down which biblical translation (Targum) they might use. This gross interference in Jewish religious practice is justified in the novella by hints that there was a division within Jewish society on these matters. However, while it is known that Greek was then beginning to be used in the Byzantine communities, which developed the “Romaniot” rite of prayer, it is also certain that no professing Jews would have asked for an imperial order to use translations which were mainly Christological. Justinian’s tendency to resort to coercion found its severest expression in his novella 37, of 535, prohibiting the practice of Judaism in the reconquered territories in North Africa. All these measures were included in his Corpus juris civilis, with other anti-Jewish legislation. The first half of the sixth century saw a severely enforced but short-lived attempt by the emperor to abolish formally the last shreds left to Judaism of its status as a religio licita. Under assault from enemies from both within and without, the emperors of the weak empire of the second half of the sixth and first half of the seventh centuries permitted anti-Jewish riots and forced conversions of the Jews, such as ordered by Emperor Phocas in 608. The Jews reacted by revolts in self-defense. In the uprising near Antioch in 608 the patriarch was killed. The clashes of opposing forces and violence came to a head under Emperor Heraclius, when the Jews, notable among them Benjamin of Tiberias, allied themselves with the invading Persians during their capture of Jerusalem. On its recapture in 629, Heraclius avenged himself on the Jewish population by a series of massacres. The appearance of Islam and the Muslim conquests deprived the Byzantine Empire of Ere Israel and Egypt among other territories and awakened messianic expectations among the Jews (see Messianic movements). In the remnant left to the Byzantine Empire the prevailing attitude toward the Jews was not relaxed. A council presided over by Emperor Justinian II in 692 prohibited Jews and Christians from bathing together in public places, and Christians from consulting Jewish physicians. SOCIAL AND CULTURAL LIFE At the beginning of this period, the Jews formed part and parcel of civic life in the towns. Like others, they refused to serve in the decurionate; Constantine’s enforcement of their obligation to do so reflected the general reluctance of the citizenry to undertake this onerous municipal function and a specifically anti-Jewish bias on the part of the emperor. The Jews gradually withdrew from, or were forced out of, civic life, although they still continued to be active in the circus parties for a long time. The abolition of the Jewish patriarchate (see Nasi) in Ere Israel in 425 threw back Jewish communal life onto the local leadership, already well established before this troubled time. The community’s elders (presbyteroi), archipherecites, and leaders with other titles led Jewish society in the various localities in all aspects of life. Apparently birth and wealth, in addition to scholarship, were major factors in attaining these leading positions. In the economic sphere, the Jews were only gradually ousted from their professions and positions of wealth, and from their places of residence in the cities (see Constantinople). Many of them engaged in overland and maritime commerce. In a number of areas, such as Ere Israel and Egypt, there was still a solid Jewish peasant population. In the sixth century dyeing is mentioned as a major Jewish industry, remaining so down to the end of the Byzantine Empire. In the cultural sphere, the center in Ere Israel and its institutions led creative endeavor within the Byzantine communities in every field, even after the Arab incursions. Ere Israel was the main source of Hebrew liturgical poetry, its leading poets including Yose b. Yose, Yannai, and Eleazar Kallir. The monk Romanos, an apostate from Judaism, had a formative influence on Byzantine hymnology, transposing the mode of religious expression and worship used by the paytanim to the Byzantine liturgy and cultural expression. The violent changes at the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth centuries aroused visions of an apocalyptic nature among Byzantine Jewry. LEGAL AND SOCIAL STATUS Throughout this period Jews were living in the major cities in the territories still remaining under Byzantine rule. The situation of the Jews in the Byzantine domains of southern Italy is well documented through the contacts they had with Ere Israel as well as with countries under Christian rule, and by information given in the chronicle of Ahimaaz. Main centers were Bari, Oria, and Otranto. Benjamin of Tudela in the mid-12th century describes many communities in the Balkans and Asia Minor, and in Constantinople, with their varied economy. The very nature of the Iconoclastic movement made its adherents suspicious of possible Jewish influences. The actual degree of such influence, if any, on the emperors and priests who rejected icon worship is still very much in dispute. Their opponents, the icon worshipers, regarded this influence as a certainty, and the iconoclasts were branded in sermons and tales circulating at the time as “Jews.” The final restoration of icon worship in 843 was accompanied by renewed violent anti-Jewish manifestations. Basil I issued a decree ordering the forcible conversion of his Jewish subjects in 87374, and in the Ahimaaz chronicle he is depicted as the archenemy of Judaism and the Jews. The decree was rescinded by Leo VI. In 943 Romanus I Lecapenus made another attempt at forcible conversion. There are reports of Jews who fled to Khazaria from these persecutions. Byzantine Jewry in the 11th and 12th centuries apparently lived under a regime of absolute humiliation although assured of relative safety for their lives and property. SOCIAL AND CULTURAL LIFE The economic structure of the Jews in the Byzantine Empire remained substantially the same in this period. Benjamin of Tudela found Jews in the Balkans engaged in agriculture, besides being occupied in the silk weaving and cloth dyeing industries which were widespread Jewish occupations throughout the Byzantine communities. According to his descriptions of the communal leadership, the smaller communities were headed by two elders and the larger by five. He seems to indicate that the Karaites had a separate communal organization and leadership. The most flourishing area of Byzantine Jewish cultural life at the time was to be found in southern Italy. The stories in the Ahimaaz chronicle describe the strong ties of the Jews there with the center of learning in Ere Israel and denote that a good knowledge of Hebrew was widespread, as well as showing the imprint of mystical and even magical elements on Jewish society in this area. Members of the upper circles of Jewish society are pictured as living a warm and diversified family life. The Josippon chronicle, which was compiled in southern Italy in this period, reflects in many places the influence of Byzantine views and chronographical techniques. Southern Italy in the 9th to 11th centuries produced a considerable number of paytanim. Through its contacts with the north, it became the fountainhead of the Jewish culture of Ashkenaz and the matrix of the Ashkenazi prayer rite. The Karaite communities also had a rich and variegated cultural life from the second half of the 11th century, centering around Constantinople. Prominent Karaite scholars of Byzantium were Jacob b. Reuben, Judah Hadassi, and Tobias b. Moses. In some of the writings of this period apocalyptic ideas continue to find expression, as in the Vision of Daniel. The First Crusade of 1096 gave rise to a messianic movement in Salonika. LEGAL AND SOCIAL STATUS The Fourth Crusade (1204) disrupted the Byzantine Empire and placed its Jewish communities under the various administrations set up by the Latin (i.e., Western European) countries which had taken part in the crusade. The Jewish quarter in Constantinople, Pera, was burned down and pillaged during the sack of the city by the Latins. After the Latin rule ended in 1261 Jews lived both in Pera and outside the area, including parts of the city where the Venetians had been given special rights and commercial privileges. The existence of a Jewish quarter outside Pera elicited a complaint from the patriarch Athanasius to Emperor Andronicus II (12821328), who before 1319 assigned the Jews a quarter near that of the Venetians, although they were not restricted to that area. Many engaged in tanning, and the majority apparently were wealthy. Neither the native dynasty nor the Latin rulers made basic changes in the status of the Jews. In the parts of Greece and the Balkans, however, which fell to various Greek rulers and minor royalty (often referred to as “despots”), proscriptions of Judaism were issued at times, as in Epirus and Salonika under Theodore I Angelus (12141230), and in Nicaea under John III Vatatzes (12221254). Other former imperial lands, such as Chalcis, Rhodes, Patras, and Cyprus, were ruled by the Genoese, the Venetians, the Knights of Malta, the Veronese, and the Turks. The Jews continued to pursue their previous occupations, particularly the silk trade and commerce. Jews in all these areas continued to follow the Romaniot rite which developed specific features. Among the Karaites there was extensive cultural activity, represented by such scholars as Aaron b. Joseph ha-Rofe, the Bashyazi family, and Caleb b. Elijah Afendopolo. The year 1453 marked the end of the Byzantine Empire. For the Jews its downfall, after a short period of disruption, brought a renewed lease on life in the Ottoman Empire in much improved conditions. Less than half a century later, the Jews exiled from Spain and Portugal found communities in the former Byzantine Empire ready and able to shoulder the burden of absorbing the refugees economically, and capable of integrating their social and cultural life. Although little information is available about conditions in the communities in this period, scholars and leaders of the stature of Elijah b. Abraham Mizrai and Moses b. Elijah Capsali, with their diversified scholarship, creative abilities, and well-developed methods of leadership, could not have arisen out of a void. That the conditions existed in which they were able to flourish shows that in the period before the Ottoman conquest, Byzantine Romaniot Jewry had large reserves of intellectual ability and social cohesion, continuing a situation which still prevailed after the troubles of 1204. J. Starr, The Jews in the Byzantine Empire 6411204 (1939, repr. 1969); idem, Romania: The Jewries of the Levant after the Fourth Crusade (1949); idem, in: Speculum 8 (1933), 5003; idem, in: JPOS, 15 (1935), 28093; idem, in: HTR, 29 (1936), 93107; idem, in: REJ, 102 (1937), 8192; idem, in: Byzantinisch-neugriechische Jahrbuecher, 16 (1940), 1926; A. Scharf, Jews in Byzantium (1970); H. Lewy, Olamot Nifgashim (1962), 221f.; Baron, Social2, index; Hirschberg, Afrikah, 1 (1965), 3039; K. Hilkowitz, in: Zion, 4 (1939), 30716; Y. Even-Shemuel (Kaufmann), Midreshei Ge’ullah (1957), 16252; Juster, Juifs, index; Z. Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium (1959); S. Assaf, in: Sefer ha-Yovel S. Krauss (1937), 16977; A. Galant, Les Juifs de Constantinople sous Byzance (1940); R.S. Lopez, in: Speculum, 20 (1945), 22ff.; M.N. Adler (ed.), Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (1907); B. Klar (ed.), Megillat Aima’a (1944); M. Salzman (ed. and tr.), Chronicle of Ahimaaz (1924); D. Flusser, in: Zion, 18 (1953), 10926; Alon, Toledot2, 1 (1958), 1924; S. Simonsohn, in: Dat ve-evrah, ed. by Ha-evrah ha-Historit ha-Yisre’elit (1964), 8192. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Bowman, The Jews of Byzantium: 12041453 (1985), 277. Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

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August 12, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Anti-Jewish  Comments Closed

Romania probes anti-Jewish graffiti on Elie Wiesel’s house

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) Romanian police began an investigation Saturday after anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the house of late Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel in northwest Romania. The probe was launched after comments in bright pink paint were scrawled overnight on Wiesel’s small house a protected historical monument in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei. One of the comments said Wiesel was “in hell with Hitler.” The Romanian group for Monitoring and Fighting Anti-Semitism called it an act of vandalism against the “memory of Elie Wiesel, the memory of the Holocaust victims and the souls of the Holocaust survivors.” The Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania called for a thorough inquiry. It said Romania’s president and government have pledged to fight anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in Romania, where some have denied or downplayed the country’s role in the Holocaust. Along with 14,000 Jews, Wiesel and his family were deported in May 1944 to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz from the town, formerly called Sighet. His mother and younger sister died there while he and his two older sisters survived. Wiesel died in 2016. His classic book “Night” drew on his experiences in the death camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, becoming a testament to Nazi crimes. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Romania deported 150,000 Jews and 25,000 Roma to Nazi concentration camps in a part of the Soviet Union that was controlled by the Axis powers from 1942 to 1944, when the country was run by pro-Nazi dictator Ion Antonescu. Romania has about 19.5 million people now, including about 6,000 Jews.

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August 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Anti-Jewish  Comments Closed

Anti-Jewish graffiti found on Elie Wiesel’s house – KCTV5 News

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP/Meredith) Romanian police have begun an investigation after anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the house of late Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel in northwest Romania. The probe was launched Saturday after comments were scrawled overnight on Wiesel’s small house a protected historical monument in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei. One of the comments said Wiesel was “in hell with Hitler.” The Romanian group for Monitoring and Fighting Anti-Semitism called it an act of vandalism against the “memory of Elie Wiesel, the memory of the Holocaust victims and the souls of the Holocaust survivors.” Along with 14,000 Jews, Wiesel and his family were deported in May 1944 to Auschwitz from the town. His mother and younger sister died there while he and his two older sisters survived. Wiesel died in 2016.

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August 5, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Anti-Jewish  Comments Closed

The last anti-Jewish pogrom in Britain occurred under a …

Home > Opinion The echoes of the ‘forgotten pogrom,’ the worst anti-Jewish riots in modern British history, lurk behind todays Labour party anti-Semitism crisis ‘ + ‘ Thank you for subscribing’ + ‘ ‘ + ‘ Error on Subscription, try later’ + ‘

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August 4, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Anti-Jewish  Comments Closed

UK Jewish leader urges apology over Labour anti-Semitism …

LONDON The president of one of the U.K.’s main Jewish groups called Thursday on the leader of the Labour Party to make an “abject apology” to British Jews for allowing anti-Semitism to fester in the left-of-center opposition party. Allegations of anti-Jewish prejudice within Labour have grown since veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015. Some in the party allege that Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, has allowed anti-Semitic abuse to go unchecked. Corbyn apologized this week for the “concerns and anxiety” caused before he became Labour’s leader when, as a pro-Palestinian activist, he shared platforms with people “whose views I completely reject.” But Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl tweeted that Corbyn was “hiding behind a half-hearted ‘apology’ no doubt crafted by his spin-doctors.” “Jeremy Corbyn needs to stop hiding & make an abject apology to UK Jews in his own voice,” she wrote. The long-simmering dispute inside Labour recently boiled over after the party proposed adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that differed from the one approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The alliance says it is anti-Semitic to accuse Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than to their home countries, an example omitted from Labour’s definition. The alliance also says it is anti-Semitic to compare contemporary Israeli policies to the policies of the Nazis, a view Labour did not endorse. Corbyn also has received personal criticism for his past appearances alongside alleged anti-Semites and for some of his statements, including a 2010 speech in which he compared Israel’s blockade of Gaza to Nazi Germany’s sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad during World War II. Labour’s leadership is facing pressure to expel Peter Willsman, a party official who accused Jewish “Trump fanatics” of stirring up controversy around anti-Semitism.

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August 4, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Anti-Jewish  Comments Closed


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