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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ukraine's Massacre of Jews-Worse Than Nazis

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                 

The Chmielnicki Massacre in Ukraine from 1648 to 1649 beats anything I've ever read about massacres.  The behavior of the Cossacks, led by Bohdan or Bogdan Chmielicki/ Khmelnitsky was to begin a series of campaigns by instigating the uprising of the Cossacks against the Jews.

 Chmielicki told people that the Polish had sold them as slaves "into the hands of the accursed Jews."  The Cossacks, a military class of Ukranian-southern Russians were so angry when they heard this that they massacred tens of thousands of Jews during 1648-49 in a war that would later be known as among the worst of that time period.  To me, it's the worst of any time on earth.  Barring the recent reports out of Syria of a Syrian eating the heart of another Syrian enemy, this description of what happened in Ukraine is the most  barbaric that I have ever heard.    This leader, Bogdan, was against Polish landowners, the Catholic clergy and the Jews.  Hundreds of Jewish communities were annihilated and hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed brutally.
                                                                         
                                                       Where Chmielnicki Massacres Took Place

One result was that the horror of this massacre sent a shock wave throughout Jewry and the consequent messianic impulse served to gather support for Shabbetai Tzevi, considered a false messiah.  One was certainly needed after this experience.  The gentile Ukrainians regarded Chmielnicki as a national hero.

At the close of the 16th century there were about 45,000 Jews out of the 100,000 Jews were lived in Poland living in the eastern region where Ukrainian Catholics lived.  Before the massacre, they had increased to about 150,000.  In the census of 1764, 258,000 Jews were listed, but it is known that their number was over 300,000.

From the Jewish Virtual Library are excerpts describing eyewitness accounts of the atrocities that took place in regions of Mogila, Zaslav and Nemirov from 1648 to 1651; 3 years of hell.
                                                                         
The Cossacks wanted to free Ukraine from Polish domination and to be the rulers themselves.  In Mogila 700 Jews with their wives and children were slaughtered.  Some were cut into pieces.  Others were ordered to dig graves where Jewish women and children were thrown in and buried alive.  Jews were given rifles and ordered to kill each other.  Cossacks surrounded young women and cut their clothes off their bodies and then performed abominations on them until they died screaming.  It was probably gang rape.  Cossacks came dressed as Poles to get in through the gates of the fortress and massacred about 6,000 townspeople.  They drowned several hundreds in water.  In the synagogue before the Holy Ark they slaughtered people with butcher knives.  Afterwards they destroyed the synagogue and took out all the Torahs and books and tore them up then laid them out for men and animals to trample.  They also made sandals out of them and several other garments.

Some were skinned alive and the flesh was thrown to the dogs to eat.  Some had their hands and limbs chopped off and their bodies thrown on the highway to be trampled on by wagons and crushed by the horsses.  some had wounds inflicted and were then thrown on the street to die a slow death.  They tore open women and whipped them, forcing them to crawl to their deaths while others were buried alive.  The cossacks slaughtered infants in their mothers' laps.  They were sliced into pieces like fish.  The infants were hung on the breasts of their mothers.  some children were pierced with spears.

Jews had moved to Ukraine from Poland's western provinces.  This was due to the economic opportunities because Poland was expanding with the consolidation of Poland-Lithuania.  By the end of the 15th century, between 20,000 and 30,000 Jews were living in 60 communities throughout Poland-Lithuania, mostly in cities.  Ukraine became the center of Jewish life in the area of Poland-Lithuania.  Ukraine was part of it.

Life in Poland-Lithuania wasn't easy for Jews.  The Catholic  church continued  to pressure nobles to punish and limit Jewish influence.  The nobles were on the spot as they saw the economic contribution made by Jews in society.  Jews became prominent in the trade business of Ukraine.  They sold dye, cloth, horses, cattle and estates.  They were ones who had connections with other Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire and served as liasons between the east and the west in economic trade.  What Jews were known for was the job they had with the Polish government:  collectors of customs, duties and taxes for the Polish landlords, bankers and physicians.  There were so many things they were not allowed to do, and this was one bestowed up them because the Christians didn't want the job.

The Jews prospered as they didn't throw their money away on drinking or gambling, and thus anti-Semitism grew.  The lower classes of Ukrainian Cossacks saw Jews as workmen for the nation's wealthy landowners and accused Jews of robbing the wealth of poor people to better enrich themselves.  By the end of the 16th century, Poland tried to get more control over the Ukrainian Cossacks by rising up against them along with the Jews in the Chmielnicki Massacre.

Such hated!  Such violence for a people.  Where did it come from?

In 965 CE, the Khazar Empire, which had experienced a shift of the royal family to convert to Judaism, had become a haven for Jews escaping persecution.  The Russians ransacked its capital.  By 1241 the Khazars were defeated by the Mongol invasion which also devastated all of Poland.  Poland recruited immigrants from Germany and promised to help them settle in villages and towns.  German Jews who had ancestors who suffered from the Crusaders in 1200 and then the Black Death in 1300, immigrated to Poland.  There were Jews already living in Poland, and they shared a heritage with the new immigrants.  This is when Yiddish was developed which was a mixture of Middle German, Hebrew, Polish and German-Hebrew and beame the Ashkenazi national Jewish language.

Resource: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/ukraine.html
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0020_0_20168.html
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9IRn5b0aik&feature=youtu.be Syrian atrocity
Update 3/7/14:  http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/100-ukrainian-jews-want-to-make-aliyah-settle-in-judea-and-samaria/2014/03/07/

2 comments:

Nadene Goldfoot said...

2/22/14: Arsonists attacked a synagogue in war-torn Ukraine Saturday night. A synagogue in eastern Ukraine sustained minor damage from firebombs hurled at it by unidentified individuals Saturday night. The firebombs hit the Giymat Rosa Synagogue in Zaporizhia, located 250 miles southeast of Kiev, according to a report on the news site timenews.in.ua. The website published photos that showed the traces of a fire on the facade of the balcony of the synagogue, which opened its doors in 2012. A spokesperson for the Zhovtneviy District where the synagogue is located said no one was hurt in the attack and that police were searching for suspects. Officers found the neck of a glass bottle which was used as a Molotov cocktail, according to the Central Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Several Ukrainian media reported erroneously that the attack happened in Kiev. Ukraine has a Jewish population of 360,000–400,000 people, with roughly a quarter of all the country’s Jews residing in Kiev, according to the European Jewish Congress. The Jewish Agency put the figure at 200,000.

Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/east-ukraine-synagogue-hit-by-firebombs/2014/02/24/

Amber West said...

This was a fascinating article, the only problem is that your grammar and syntax are SO horrible that it makes your writing completely unreadable. This would not get a passing grade in a high school English class. I had to read several sentences multiple times to understand what you were trying to say.

If English us not your first language then this is understandable (I certainly can't write articles in another language). If not, well then...

Either way, I would recommend you get a beta reader, maybe a family member or friend whose first language IS English, to read articles and help you edit them before you post. And maybe consider taking a few introductory English classes at a nearby community college.