Separating historical fact from fantasy, an acclaimed historian retells the story of Kishinev, a riot that transformed the course of twentieth-century Jewish history.
So shattering were the aftereffects of Kishinev, the rampage that broke out in late-Tsarist Russia in April 1903, that one historian remarked that it was “nothing less than a prototype for the Holocaust itself.” In three days of violence, 49 Jews were killed and 600 raped or wounded, while more than 1,000 Jewish-owned houses and stores were ransacked and destroyed. Recounted in lurid detail by newspapers throughout the Western world, and covered sensationally by America’s Hearst press, the pre-Easter attacks seized the imagination of an international public, quickly becoming the prototype for what would become known as a “pogrom,” and providing the impetus for efforts as varied as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the NAACP. Using new evidence culled from Russia, Israel, and Europe, distinguished historian Steven J. Zipperstein’s wide-ranging book brings historical insight and clarity to a much-misunderstood event that would do so much to transform twentieth-century Jewish life and beyond.
Steven J. Zipperstein is the Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History at Stanford University. A contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Jewish Review of Books and coeditor of the “Jewish Lives” series for Yale University Press, he lives in Berkeley, California.