Tag Archives: Russian Revolution

Human Rights Week: Carl Stettauer’s papers on the anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire

To mark Human Rights Week, we take a look at the MS 128 Papers of Carl Stettauer, who visited Russia in 1905 to organise relief work after the pogroms against the Jewish population.

Carl Stettauer [MS128 AJ22/A1]

Carl Stettauer [MS128 AJ22/A/1]

Born in 1859 in Furth, Bavaria, Carl Stettauer was the son of Orthodox Jewish parents. His education took place in Nuremburg and he later became a leather salesman. The job led to him travelling to Italy, the United States, and Great Britain, the latter where he chose to reside long-term. Here he created the Stettaure & Wold firm, who were leather merchants of Bermondsey, London.

Stettauer became a member of the Hampstead Synagogue, and an auditor of the Board of Deputies, as well as joining the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Jewish Board of Guardians as a member. He also went on to marry and to have a son named Boris.

Carl Stettauer’s wife and son Boris [MS128 AJ22/A6]

Carl Stettauer’s wife and son Boris [MS128 AJ22/A/6]

In the 1880s and early 1900s, pogroms (“to wreak havoc” in Russian) occurred against the Jewish community in Russia. This was due to the Russian Empire acquiring territories with large Jewish populations from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The territories were labelled “the Pale of Settlement” by the Imperial Russian government, where Jews were permitted to live, and where the pogroms mainly took place. The majority of Jews were forbidden to move to the other parts of the Empire, unless they converted to the Russian Orthodox state religion.

The first wave of pogroms occurred in southern Russia after the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881, for which some blamed the Jews, due to one of the conspirators being of Jewish origin. Local economic conditions and competing with the business of local Jews is also believed to have caused rioting, as well as Russians spreading their anti-Semitic ideas when moving in and out of major cities following Russia’s industrialisation.

In response, a public meeting was called at the requisition of 83 people to be held at the Guildhall in London on 10 December 1890. At the meeting the following resolution was proposed by the Earl of Meath:

“That a suitable memorial be addressed to Imperial Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, respectfully praying his Majesty to repeal all the exceptional and restrictive laws and disabilities which afflict his Jewish subjects; and begging his Majesty to confer upon them equal rights with those enjoyed by the rest of his Majesty’s subjects; and that the said memorial be signed by the right Hon. The Lord Mayor, in the name of the citizens of London, and be transmitted by his lordship to his Majesty.” [Treatment of the Jews in Russia Full Report of the Public Meeting Held at the Guildhall London on Wednesday, December 10th, 1890 p.47, MS128 AJ22/A/3]

Treatment of the Jews in Russia Full Report of the Public Meeting Held at the Guildhall London on Wednesday, December 10th, 1890 [MS 128 AJ22/A/3]

Treatment of the Jews in Russia Full Report of the Public Meeting Held at the Guildhall London on Wednesday, December 10th, 1890 [MS128 AJ22/A/3]

The second wave of pogroms was caused by the revolutionary tension in Russia and the first Russian revolution of 1905. In its struggle against this pressure, the Russian government permitted the reactionary press to engage in anti-Semitism in an attempt to divert the rage of the majority against it toward the Jews. The Black Hundreds, which was the general name given to Monarchist societies such as the Double-Headed Eagle Society and the Union of Russian People, were instrumental in the organisation of the pogroms.

Haggling Market after fire, Kiev, 1905 [MS 128 AJ22/A7/10]

Haggling Market after fire, Kiev, 1905 [MS128 AJ22/A/7/10]

Pogroms broke out from 1903 to 1906, leaving around 2,000 Jews dead and many more wounded, as the Jews attempted to defend their families and property from attackers. The most serious pogrom against Jews took place in Odessa in 1905, where up to 2,500 Jews were killed.

In 1905, Stettauer travelled to Russia as one of three Commissioners of the Russo-Jewish Committee with Dr Paul Nathan of Berlin and Mr David Feinberg of St Petersburg. The Russo-Jewish Committee was established in 1882 to manage matters relating to Jewish immigrants. The tasks of these gentlemen was to organise relief to the needs of the sufferers of the pogroms, which involved speaking to philanthropist, Baron Horace de Gunzburg in St Petersburg, gaining approval from the Czar’s ministers, and travelling to the places that had suffered the most from the pogroms: Kiev and Odessa. Below is a quote from Dr Paul Nathan’s report on the state of Russia.

“We regret to say that nearly every Committee is of the opinion that we are not yet at the end of the pogroms. You will see by the list of places under the Odessa Central Committee which numbers over 70 & to which additions will still have to be made that when Mr Stettauer left England we had no idea how widespread in the small places the disorders were. The no. of places affected known to us is already over 200.” [Dr Paul Nathan’s report on the state of Russia, p.2, MS128 AJ22/A/4]

Page 1 of list of places affected by the Outrages, 1905-7 [MS128 AJ22/E/3]

Page 1 of list of places affected by the Outrages, 1905-7 [MS128 AJ22/E/3]

The Kiev pogrom occurred as a result of the collapse of a city hall meeting of 18 October 1905 in the Russian Empire. Consequently, a gang was drawn into the streets, which included reactionaries, monarchists, anti-Semites, and common criminals. The pogrom led to the genocide of around 100 Jews and nearly 300 seriously injured, as well as the destruction of wreckages of property. Looting, raping and murder took place, primarily against factories, shops, and homes, and persons of the Jews.

Belongings of residence after looting, Kiev, 1906 [MS 128 AJ 22/A7/19]

Belongings of residence after looting, Kiev, 1906 [MS128 AJ22/A/7/19]

A useful resource for gaining an insight into the pogroms in Russia is the volume of newspaper cuttings relating to Stettauer’s visit to Russia. Featured is an interview with Stettauer. When asked what he witnessed in Kiev, Stettauer said the following:

“I could not describe. It is sufficient if I say that no harrowing or heart-breaking story of fiendish cruelty or of wicked destruction of property which your paper has published in the last few weeks is exaggerated. If I must fall back on a hackneyed phrase I would say it all ‘beggars description”. Without being looked upon it seems incredible – so much bloodshed, so much ruin, so much misery and pain, physical and mental, of the survivors.” [Volume of newspaper cuttings relating to Stettauer’s visit to Russia, MS128 AJ22/A/1]

The Entrance Hall of a Jewish millionaire’s palace following the pogroms at Kiev, 1906 [MS128 AJ22 A/7/5]

The Entrance Hall of a Jewish millionaire’s palace following the pogroms at Kiev, 1906 [MS128 AJ22/A/7/5]

Another public meeting of protest in response to the treatment of Jews in Russia took place on 8 January 1906 at the Queen’s Hall in London. It was organised by a sub-committee appointed by the Conjoint Committee of the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association.

Advertisement for Queen’s Hall protest meeting against the outrages on Jews in Russia, 1906 [MS128 AJ22 F/6/129]

Advertisement for Queen’s Hall protest meeting against the outrages on Jews in Russia, 1906 [MS128 AJ22/F/6/129]

Resolutions proposed and seconded included expressing sympathy to the pogrom survivors and the families of victims, and that Russian Jews be granted equal rights to “their Christian fellow citizens”. It was further hoped that the resolutions be forwarded to the Right Honourable Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Prime Minister, and the Right Honourable Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs “in the hope that His Majesty’s Government may be able, when an opportunity arises, to exercise a friendly influence upon the Russian Government in accordance with the spirit of the preceding Resolutions.” [Outrages on Jews in Russia Queen’s Hall Meeting, January 8th 1906 Resolutions, MS128 AJ22/A/4]

At the meeting, Stettauer, as English Commissioner of the Russo-Jewish Committee, made a statement on what he had seen during his recent visit to Russia:

“You all know of the many Jews, men, women, and children who were killed in Odessa, but you may not be aware of that fact that nearly 1000 children have been deprived of one or both parents, and 26 children are now blind or deaf in consequence of blows on the head.” [Massacre of Jews in Russia Report of the Protest Meeting at Queen’s Hall, January 8th, 1906, p.24 [MS128 AJ 22/A/4]

Massacre of the Jews in Russia Protest Meeting Queen’s Hall booklet, 8 January 1906 [MS 128 AJ22 D3]

Massacre of the Jews in Russia Protest Meeting Queen’s Hall booklet, 8 January 1906 [MS128 AJ22/D/3]

As well as printed papers relating to the Queen’s Hall meeting being included in the MS128 Papers of Carl Stettauer, there are also letters offering money for the Poor Orphans in Russia, accounts of the Russo-Jewish Committee, and reports of the Jewish central committee for the relief of suffers in the pogroms. These provide valuable primary sources for those studying the Russian pogroms against Jewish people and Britain’s response.

Letter offering money for the Poor Orphans in Russia [MS128 AJ22/A/6/2]

Letter offering money for the Poor Orphans in Russia [MS128 AJ22/A6/2]

We have recently completed a transcript available in PDF of typescript copies of a journey to Russia of Jack M. Myers, secretary to the commission administering the fund raised to relieve the families massacred and outraged Jews there Nov-Dec 1905 (MS 128/AJ22/F/1), which will be available on our website.

Join us for next week’s blog post, where we will reveal the stories of a group of  Jewish children who arrived in the UK from Russia during the 1905 anti-Jewish pogroms.

Between The West and Russia exhibition

Between The West and Russia

Drawing on the Special Collections at Southampton, this exhibition will consider the interconnection between the West and Russia.

It will look at ideas from earlier revolutions that supported the development of ideologies that ultimately could be seen to set the basis for the rise of communism, as well as the influence of the communist government in Russia on the left in the West.

The exhibition also looks at perceptions of Russia from the West from before the Revolution. From charts of the seventeenth century to photographs of the early twentieth century, we gain a snapshot of general impressions of westerners of the Russian empire.

Image of Palais Nicholas, Moscow, 1907 [MS62 Broadlands Archive MB2/C6]

Image of Palais Nicholas, Moscow, 1907 [MS62 Broadlands Archive MB2/C6]

The response of the western Jewish community to reports of the anti-Semitic attacks against the Jewish population in Russia in 1905 forms a particular case study. And the dynastic and familial connections between the Russian Imperial family and western dynasties are evident in photographs in the Broadlands Archive on display that provide a more informal glimpse of the Imperial family.

Photograph of the Tsarevich aged about one year [MS62 Broadlands Archive MB2/C5/240]

Photograph of the Tsarevich aged about one year [MS62 Broadlands Archive MB2/C5/240]

The exhibition will open on 23 October and run until 15 December 2017 in the Special Collections Gallery.  During exhibitions the Gallery is open weekdays 1000-1600 (with a closure for lunch 1200-1230).

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 40 (1 – 7 December 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home. The quotes tie in with the exhibition ‘When “the days of conquest are passed”: reflections on war and warfare’, currently on display at the Special Collections Gallery.

2 December 1851 The cavalry arrive in South Africa
The regiment that was to become the 12th Lancers was originally raised in 1715. It served with distinguish in various conflicts. Yet while the appearance of cavalry made an impression in South Africa in the 1850s, the Lancers weaponry did not prove the most suitable for the warfare being undertaken.

“The 12th Lancers who have lately arrived create a great impression amongst the natives who never saw a Lance before in their lives, it is however a weapon perfectly useless against the Kafirs in this warfare…”

MS 63 A904/3/10 Captain Edward Wellesley to his brother Richard, 2 December 1851


2 December 1939 Blackout blinds and Russian aggression

“Willie came to do the kitchen blackout, the W.C. ditto, & the bedroom ditto – all very neat and expert. Lal & he to lunch, & we left Willie at it when I went off to service. S.I.H. read, I preached on, “Oh, that I knew” – there were 31 there, including the Levers – Jack & Ray, back from a weekend from Guildford where they are evacuated. Erna at the service. Lal came back with us for a cosy evening. Our supper in the kitchen, the first fully illuminated since the war began. The whole world aghast at the Russian aggression on the Finns,–: even the Germans (when there’s a different aggressor) are uncomfortable about it.”

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 2 December 1939


3 December 1940 Evacuating students from the University College of Southampton

A special meeting of the Senate held on 3 December 1940:

“Senate considered the situation which had been created by the intensive raids on Southampton over the weekend, particularly in relation to the halls of residence. Although none of the halls had been damaged, apart from the loss of windows at South Stoneham House, Senate were of the opinion that they were not justified in keeping the students in residence at this time in view of the following considerations:

1. The inadequacy of the air raid shelters

2. Possible difficulties in obtaining food

3. The interference with the public service, e.g. electric light, gas and water

4. The impossibility of doing useful study in these conditions

It was agreed that it was impossible to obtain alternative accommodation at short notice and that the Chairman of Council stressed the point that the College would be rendering signal services to the community by placing the facilities of the Halls at the disposal of the local authorities in the vacation for housing evacuees or for some other useful purpose […]

Senate discussed the question as to what action should be taken in the event of the intensive raids on Southampton continuing and conditions becoming worse. The general opinion was that the previous decision of the Emergency Committee to evacuate to Nottingham was not so desirable in the light of recent events and it was agreed that a recommendation be sent to the Emergency Committee to consider the possibility of securing several large houses in the country within easy distance of Southampton, and that these houses be used in the first instance as temporary halls of residence. If the College was damaged and it became impossible to carry on instruction in the existing buildings it would then be feasible to adapt the houses acquired for residential purposes as places of instruction also.”

MS 1 MBK2/1/6 Senate minutes 1937-45, pp. 90-1


4 December 1917 Cease fire agreements made in the run up to Soviet Russia and Central Powers armistice
As a result of the Russian economy being on the brink of collapsing and Tsar Nicholas II’s abdication, Russia was forced to withdraw itself from the war. Following the Bolsheviks accession to power in Russia in November 1917, Vladimir Lenin approached the Central Powers to arrange an armistice. The first cease fire agreement in the run up to the armistice was made on 4 December 1917 between the Russians and the Germans on the Eastern Front. The second cease fire agreement included all Central Powers and was signed on 5 December 1917. The final armistice was signed on 15 December 1917, which signified Russia’s intention to leave the war permanently and begin peace negotiations.

“I so wonder if you have been in all this fearful fighting when the Germans are trying to regain the ground they have lost. One feels if it weren’t for Russia having given in, that they could never have done this vast counter attacking.”

MS 132 AJ 322 2/3 Letter from Sybil Henriques to Basil Henriques, 4 December 1917