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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

God Save The Tsar And Open His Eyes To Our Wants

It essentially started in January 1905 with Bloody Sunday.  After more strikes, military uprisings and general unrest, the Tsar finally caved in, signing the October Manifesto which was a precursor to the Constitution of 1906.

Naturally that was not the end of revolution in the Russian Empire, particularly for my people:

The wave of anti-Jewish pogroms that swept the Pale of Settlement after Tsar Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto in 1905 reflected the ethnic and political tensions and hostilities that characterized popular unrest and marred the social landscape of late Imperial Russia in that revolutionary year. In the weeks following the granting of fundamental civil rights and political liberties, pogroms directed mainly at Jews but also affecting students, intellectuals, and other national minorities broke out in hundreds of cities, towns, and villages, resulting in deaths and injuries to thousands of people.

Isaac Babel recorded a fictionalized version of his experience as a child during the violence in The Story of My Dovecot:

Toward twelve o’clock, or perhaps a bit later, a man in felt boots passed across the square.  He was stepping lightly on swollen feet, and in his worn-out face lively eyes glittered.

“Ivan Nikodimych,” he said, as he walked past the bird-fancier, “pack up your gear.  In town the Jerusalem aristocrats are being granted a constitution.  On Fish Street Grandfather Babel has been constitutioned to death.”

That last powerful line has always stuck with me, and I've often thought of how it might apply in the American historical context (e.g., MLK was Civil Righted to death).  Progress is fraught with danger, but it's better than the alternative.

ntodd

January 22, 2014 | Permalink

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Comments

I wish I had gotten my grandfathet's story down on paper or tape, he was from the Ukraine/Galicia area, but he was not much of a talker.

Posted by: Karin | Jan 22, 2014 8:22:12 AM

We don't have enough accurate info from our fam, either. Hell, my grandfather's fam converted to Dutch Reform right off the boat and kept their background a secret. His brother completely renounced the family, changed his name, and never told his kids about it--they only learned a few years ago, after he'd died. Guess some folks just wanted to forget the past and pass as Gentiles.

Posted by: NTodd | Jan 22, 2014 10:34:37 PM

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