Non­fic­tion

Lega­cy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Rit­u­al Mur­der in the Lands of the Soviets

  • From the Publisher
January 1, 2013

This book traces the lega­cies of the two most extreme man­i­fes­ta­tions of tsarist anti­semitism-pogroms and blood libels-in the Sovi­et Union, from 1917 to the ear­ly 1960s. Close­ly inter­twined in his­to­ry and mem­o­ry, pogroms and blood libels were and are con­sid­ered cen­tral to the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence in late Tsarist Rus­sia, the only coun­try on earth with large scale anti-Jew­ish vio­lence in the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. But their per­sis­tence and mem­o­ry under the Bolsheviks‑a chap­ter that is large­ly over­looked by the exist­ing schol­ar­ship-sig­nif­i­cant­ly shaped the Sovi­et Jew­ish experience.

By explor­ing the phe­nom­e­non and the mem­o­ry of pogroms and blood libels in the Sovi­et ter­ri­to­ries of the inter­war peri­od as well as, after World War II, in the new­ly annexed ter­ri­to­ries, Bem­po­rad stud­ies the social real­i­ties of every­day anti­semitism through the emer­gence of com­mu­ni­ties of vio­lence and mem­o­ries of vio­lence. The fifty-year-span from the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion to the ear­ly years of Krushchev includ­ed a liv­ing gen­er­a­tion of Jews, and non-Jews alike, who remem­bered the Beilis Affair, the pogroms of the civ­il war and in some cas­es even the vio­lence of the pre­rev­o­lu­tion­ary years. Bem­po­rad also exam­ines the ways in which Jews react­ed to and remem­bered the unprece­dent­ed vio­lence of the pogroms of the Russ­ian Civ­il War, and how they respond­ed to and which strate­gies they adopt­ed to con­front accu­sa­tions of rit­u­al mur­der. By trac­ing the after­life” of pogroms and blood libels in the USSRLega­cy of Blood sheds light on the broad­er ques­tion of the chang­ing posi­tion of Jews in Sovi­et soci­ety. And by doing so it tells the sto­ry of the sol­id yet ever chang­ing and at times ambiva­lent rela­tion­ship between the Sovi­et state and the Jew­ish minor­i­ty group.

Discussion Questions