Christianized and “Lord’s Anointed” Russian Tsars firmly believed that the whole tsarist system - Russian autocracy -, orthodoxy and Russian ethnicity were all one. In tsarist Russia, therefore, ethnicity and profession of orthodox faith coincide. Hatred for the stranger, for someone different and for the one who doesn’t embrace orthodox faith accompanied that concept and revealed itself once again in Russian Empire during the reign of Nicholas II. This time it coincided with Russian atavic hatred for the Jews, which derived from the autocratic and orthodox vision that Nicholas inherits and shares. In Soviet Russia, religion was banned in the name of a secular State. Thus, the persecution of “enemies of the people” - which fell like a cleaver on the entire population - was directed equally violent also towards everything related to faith. Particularly violent are pogroms against Jews practiced with ferocity - during the years of civil war - both by the reds and the whites, even if not only for religious reasons. These pogroms, in the wake of the persecutions to which the Jews had been periodically subjected in imperial Russia, confirm the intolerance of the new Soviet State towards an ethnic group who had placed so much hope in the advent of the proletarian revolution, of the sun of future that would finally guarantee equal rights to all. With the advent of the revolution, Jews thought, they would eventually become citizens like everyone else. Hence the adherence to the revolutionary movement of a large number of liberal Jews. The events of the next few years would have shown that those hopes were all in vain: anti-Semitism of tsarist era would find new life. Anti-Semitism in Russia is then also hatred for a race which embodies the symbol of a “different” that should be elminated, because uncomfortable from different point of views. To outline relations between Jews and Soviet-Russian power in this context of racial hatred - that is together ethnic, social and religious – particularly interesting is the phenomenon of “Jewish funny stories” that fits into the tradition of Russian anekdot and finds fertile ground even in dramatic Soviet times. In the case of the Jews who live in Soviet Russia, in fact, it serves to reveal, unmask, expose the brutality, the contradictions, the vices, the authoritarian drift of an egalitarian ideal towards a totalitarian regime that eliminates everything that is considered opposition or hindrance. Many Jews of Russia have responded very subtly to ethnic persecution, revealing, through a very special way - the Jewish joke - , even amongst the sufferings and horrors to which they were once again subject, the utopia of the Soviet myth.

Jews in Russia between the End of the Empire and Soviet Era: Jewish Humour in Response to Discrimination

Manuela Pellegrino
2018

Abstract

Christianized and “Lord’s Anointed” Russian Tsars firmly believed that the whole tsarist system - Russian autocracy -, orthodoxy and Russian ethnicity were all one. In tsarist Russia, therefore, ethnicity and profession of orthodox faith coincide. Hatred for the stranger, for someone different and for the one who doesn’t embrace orthodox faith accompanied that concept and revealed itself once again in Russian Empire during the reign of Nicholas II. This time it coincided with Russian atavic hatred for the Jews, which derived from the autocratic and orthodox vision that Nicholas inherits and shares. In Soviet Russia, religion was banned in the name of a secular State. Thus, the persecution of “enemies of the people” - which fell like a cleaver on the entire population - was directed equally violent also towards everything related to faith. Particularly violent are pogroms against Jews practiced with ferocity - during the years of civil war - both by the reds and the whites, even if not only for religious reasons. These pogroms, in the wake of the persecutions to which the Jews had been periodically subjected in imperial Russia, confirm the intolerance of the new Soviet State towards an ethnic group who had placed so much hope in the advent of the proletarian revolution, of the sun of future that would finally guarantee equal rights to all. With the advent of the revolution, Jews thought, they would eventually become citizens like everyone else. Hence the adherence to the revolutionary movement of a large number of liberal Jews. The events of the next few years would have shown that those hopes were all in vain: anti-Semitism of tsarist era would find new life. Anti-Semitism in Russia is then also hatred for a race which embodies the symbol of a “different” that should be elminated, because uncomfortable from different point of views. To outline relations between Jews and Soviet-Russian power in this context of racial hatred - that is together ethnic, social and religious – particularly interesting is the phenomenon of “Jewish funny stories” that fits into the tradition of Russian anekdot and finds fertile ground even in dramatic Soviet times. In the case of the Jews who live in Soviet Russia, in fact, it serves to reveal, unmask, expose the brutality, the contradictions, the vices, the authoritarian drift of an egalitarian ideal towards a totalitarian regime that eliminates everything that is considered opposition or hindrance. Many Jews of Russia have responded very subtly to ethnic persecution, revealing, through a very special way - the Jewish joke - , even amongst the sufferings and horrors to which they were once again subject, the utopia of the Soviet myth.
1-5275-0862-5
978-1-5275-0862-0
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11587/426336
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact