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Jews in the Russian Empire

Political Activity and Emigration


Meeting of Russian-Jewish socialists...



The "League for Struggle for..."



Chaim Weizmann...



Police photo of Leon Trotsky...



Ber Borochov...


AT THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, the Jewish population increases to over 5 million. Russian Jews become more assimilated, and a secular Jewish culture develops, leading to greater political participation.

The early Jewish revolutionaries among the Narodniki see themselves as Russians fighting for the right of the Russian people, and believe that the Jewish problem would be solved through assimilation after the liberation of the masses. But the generally indifferent reaction, even from the liberal Russian intelligentsia, to the wave of anti-Jewish violence in 1882 is a bitter disillusion to them.

The conviction grows among Jews that the distinct economic and social discrimination targeted at them calls for the formation of a separate Jewish workers movement. In 1897, the Jewish labor movement Algemeyner Yiddisher Arbeter Bund is founded in Vilna.

The Bund advocates national and cultural autonomy for the Jews, but not in the territorial sense; it argues for a middle course between assimilation and a territorial solution. The Bund also develops trade union activities and forms self-defense organizations against pogrom violence. In 1905, it has about 33,000 members. (CONT)


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