In April 2018, the 115th anniversary of the Kishinev Pogrom is marked. This year, the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and the Jewish Cultural Center KEDEM launch an awareness campaign, which includes a series of articles and materials disseminated in both local and international mass-media. A thematic exhibition has been inaugurated in the central park in Chisinau (Kishinev), the capital of Moldova, and then displayed in the local schools.
‘On reading the first newspapers reports I perceived the monstrosity of the event and experienced a mixed feeling of compassion for the innocent victims and amazement at the extent of human brutality…’ (Leo Tolstoy about the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903).
Jews have lived on the territory of present-day Moldova (known as Bessarabia) for over 600 years, contributing to the development of the country. During this period, the local community experienced various times, including difficult ones. The 1903 Kishinev Pogrom made the town sadly known all over the world.
According to the data of the 1897 official census carried out in the Russian Empire, there were 230,000 Jews living in the Province of Bessarabia amounting to over 12% of the total population. In Kishinev the percentage was even higher and reached 46% of the population.
The pretext for the Pogrom was centuries old blood libel; Jews were blamed for killing a boy in Dubossary, a town not far from Kishinev. The antisemitic propaganda used it and called for revenge. The Pogrom broke out on Easter and lasted three days. 49 people were killed, about 600 wounded, almost one third of buildings that belonged to Jews – destroyed or damaged.
The Kishinev Pogrom foreshadowed further persecutions of Jews, a series of pogroms in Bessarabia and neighbouring Ukraine in 1905, a prefiguration of the Holocaust. Bloody pogroms of 1903-1905 led to mass emigration of Jews from the Russian Empire to Eretz Israel, USA, South Africa, Latin America and Canada. As Theodor Herzl wrote after the Kishinev Pogrom, ‘The feeling of unity among the Jewish people has not found a manifestation so powerful or so tragic for many centuries.’
– ‘What can we do now, 115 years after?! The message is very clear: we have to counteract inter-ethnic and inter-religious intolerance, combat antisemitism using all the possible means, work with the authorities, reach out and engage the youth, the media, speaking out loud about such tragedies that changed our history to avoid repetition’ – stated Alexander Bilinkis, the President of the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova.
– ‘There are certain lessons to be learnt from the Kishinev pogroms in 1903 and 1905, especially today when we observe a rise of antisemitism and xenophobia in Europe. Historically multicultural societies such as Moldova are not immune from that. We as the NEVER AGAIN Association feel a duty to join the campaign and spread the word internationally’ – said Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association.
The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent organization established in Warsaw in 1996. The mission of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is to promote multicultural understanding and to contribute to the development of a democratic civil society in Poland and in the broader region of Central and Eastern Europe.