Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

From Haven to Home: The Kishinev Massacre

The Kishinev Massacre of 1903, in which 49 Jews dead and more than 500 injured, 700 houses looted and destroyed, 600 businesses looted, and 2,000 families left homeless aroused universal condemnation and protest. For the first time, Jews in the United States took the lead in organizing nationwide protests.

In addition to hundreds of demonstrations and meetings held throughout the nation, a massive petition drive protesting the slaughter was organized. Since the Russian authorities refused to accept the petition, it was deposited instead in the State Department’s vault in a special box constructed to house it. In his letter accepting the petition, Secretary of State John Hay wrote: “It is a valuable addition to the public literature and it will be sacredly cherished among the treasures of the Department.”

“Kishineff” Petition, 1903 Wood case with bound m.anuscript petition
Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

In the print below, which appeared after a 1905 pogrom in Kishinev, a “Russian Jew” carries on his back a large bundle labeled “Oppression;” hanging from the bundle are weights labeled “Autocracy,” “Robbery,” “Cruelty,” “Assassination,” “Deception,” and “Murder.” In the background, on the right, a Jewish community burns, while in the upper left corner, President Theodore Roosevelt asks the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II, “Now that you have peace without, why not remove his burden and have peace within your borders?”

Emil Flohri (1869-1938). Stop Your Cruel Oppression of the Jews, 1904.
Chromolithograph. Ben and Beatrice Goldstein Foundation Collection.
Prints and Photographs Division

In the drawing below by Homer Davenport, Lady Columbia, resplendent in patriotic attire, rebukes Czar.Nicholas II, who averts his eyes and appears embarrassed. Behind them is a poster with several skulls and bones, reading “Kishenev Massacre of 400 Jews — 700 Jewish Homes Looted —Dead Left Bleeding in the Streets. Tirospol — General Slaughter of Jews — Young and Old Killed and Wounded.”


Homer Davenport (1867-1912). The Crime of the New Century, 1903.
Pen and ink drawing. Prints and Photographs Division

The illustration in the center of the elegy below depicts the April 1903 Kishinev massacre. The elegy is in seven parts, including “First signs of storm,” “The luckless in despair,” “The bugle call of the rioters to one another,” “The victims in their agony,” “The wailings of women and children,” “The devilish work in full force,” and “The survivors beg for bread.”

Herman S. Shapiro. “Kishinev shekhita, elegie” [Kishinev Massacre Elegy].
New York: Asna Goldberg, 1904. Irene Heskes Collection. Music Division

Sources: Library of Congress.
American Jewish Historical Society, American Jewish Desk Reference, (The Philip Leff Group, Inc., 1999), p. 15.

Top photo: Public Domain via Wikicommons.