A leather-bound photo album in the archives of Israel's National Library depicts in graphic detail the devastation and death wrought by the the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903.
In that pogrom, which took place 108 years ago this month, mobs brutally murdered nearly 50 Jews. They wounded and maimed hundreds more and looted and destroyed hundreds of buildings and businesses.
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“The fact that our photographs, documents and posters were sent to us by the Jewish community of Kishinev makes this collection unique,” said archivist Gil Weissblei, who also serves as curator of the Archives' photograph collection.
The collection includes anti-Semitic posters from the streets of
Kishinev, depicting Kishinev locals holding broomsticks in a symbolic
call to sweep Jews and other undesirables from their midst.
A German-Jewish newspaper illustration contrasts the relative calm of a
Passover seder in Budapest with the illustrations of Kishinev's dead and
Postcards of the pogrom – whether through illustrations by E.M. Lilien
or through the use of graphic images of the victims – were distributed
by Kishinev's Jews in the aftermath of the atrocity in an effort to
draft international support for the besieged community.
Also in the collection are scores of press clippings in numerous
languages, illustrating the attention and outrage the killings
Also among the hundreds of photos are images from the mass gatherings of
Kishinev's Jews at the funerals for Torah scrolls that were torn to
shreds by the marauding mobs.
“Inside Israel” recently discovered a Torah scroll that survived the pogrom. Its Israeli owner, who insisted on anonymity, described what he
heard from his late father:
“One of our family members was reading from the Torah during the Sabbath
service on Passover, when one of them burst into the synagogue, removed his sword and beheaded the reader in front of the entire
congregation,” the owner recalled. “The Torah was covered with blood,
and traces of that stain remain today on the scroll's sacred
The owner of the Torah plans to read from it during the forthcoming Passover holiday.
Though the Kishinev Torah remains in private hands and is not available
to the public, the National Library's collection may be viewed, by
appointment, during the Archive's regular hours.