Mendel Beilis Cleared in Ukraine Anti-Semitic Blood Libel Trial

Nazi Pogroms Erupt in Germany and Austria

Fast Food: A scene from everyday life in 1920’s Russia. Maruska at her booth where she served tea and light lunches.
International Newsreel/Forward Association
Fast Food: A scene from everyday life in 1920’s Russia. Maruska at her booth where she served tea and light lunches.

By Eddy Portnoy

Published November 08, 2013, issue of November 15, 2013.
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1913 •100 years ago

Mendel Beilis Not Guilty

After two hours of deliberation, the jury in Mendel Beilis’s blood-libel trial has declared him not guilty of all crimes. Beilis stood quietly, and his demeanor was calm — just as it was for most of the five-week-long trial — as the verdict was read. The courtroom was packed full, and a near-complete silence reigned, especially when the judge entered the room. The jury, which was made up entirely of peasants, was charged with answering two questions. The first was, “Did the murder of the boy take place in Zaitsev’s factory? They answered yes. The second question was, quite simply, “Is Beilis guilty due to religious fanaticism?” To this they answered no. But even though Beilis was found not guilty, he was not immediately freed. He was actually remanded back to prison, where he was forced to spend another night. The reasoning for this is that the government was attempting to stop a massive anti-Semitic demonstration as a result of the verdict; however, he was set free the next day, and is expected to immigrate to America very soon.

1938 •75 years ago

Massive Pogroms in Germany and Austria

A massive wave of pogroms has broken out across all of Germany and Austria, allegedly as revenge against a young Jew who shot and killed a German diplomat in Paris. Thousands of Nazi hooligans took to the streets to attack defenseless Jews. Store windows were smashed, and goods were stolen. Synagogues in nearly every German city were burned to the ground. The murdered German, Ernst vom Rath was the third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris. The assassin, a young Jewish man, claimed he was taking revenge for the Nazis’ mass arrests and deportations of Polish Jews in Germany. As soon as news of vom Rath’s death was broadcast in Berlin, higher-ups in Nazi circles let it be known that the Jews were going to pay. They held to their word, and recently pogroms began in Berlin and quickly spread throughout the entire country, including Austria.

1963 •50 years ago

No Jews Allowed at Bolshevik Celebrations

Representatives of all the main religious confessions in the Soviet Union were invited to the Kremlin to participate in the official celebrations of the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution — with the exception of the Jews. A report from someone who attended the festivities indicated that among those standing alongside Premier Khrushchev during the celebration, which included representatives of the Orthodox, Catholic, Muslim and Buddhist religions, not only were there no rabbis, but not even one single Russian Jew was invited as a guest to the event.


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