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Antisemitism and Anti-Jewish Violence in Lithuania under the Tsars



Darius Staliūnas, Lithuanian Institute of History, Vilnius

This book explores anti-Jewish violence in Russian-ruled Lithuania. It begins by illustrating how widespread anti-Jewish feelings were among the Christian population in 19 th century, focusing on blood libel accusations as well as describing the role of modern antisemitism. Secondly, it tries to identify the structural preconditions as well as specific triggers that turned anti-Jewish feelings into collective violence and analyzes the nature of this violence. Lastly, pogroms in Lithuania are compared to anti-Jewish violence in other regions of the Russian Empire (especially Belarus), and East Galicia.

This research is inspired by the cultural turn in social sciences, an approach that assumes that violence is filled with meaning, which is “culturally constructed, discursively mediated, symbolically saturated, and ritually regulated.” The author argues that pogroms in Lithuania instead followed a communal pattern of ethnic violence and was very different from deadly pogroms in other parts of the Russian Empire.

Preface and Acknowledgments List of Abbreviations Introduction
1 | The Blood Libel in Nineteenth-Century Lithuania 2 | Antisemitism in Lithuania 3 | Lithuania during the “Storms in the South” (Early 1880s) 4 | How Insulted Religious Feelings Turned into Pogroms: Lithuania in 1900 5 | Antisemitic Tensions and Pogroms in the Late Imperial Period 6 | Comparative Perspective
Conclusion Bibliography Index

296 pages, 2015
978-963-386-072-4 cloth $60.00 / €45.00 / £38.00
978-963-386-097-7 paperback $39.99 / €30.00 / £25.00

"The author describes little-known pogroms and disturbances in rural Lithuania, using first-hand accounts, rare documents, newspapers and memoirs in five languages (Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish). With this material, Professor Staliūnas tries to reconstruct why a pogrom started, what actually occurred, and retrieve the various reactions at the time.I liked this book a great deal... It doesn’t offer a new vision of pogroms, but it does ask for more careful examination of the pogrom contexts, including the identities of agents and victims... It is a fine study that can serve as a model for historians of pogroms." - Slavonic and East European Review

"This book is the first sustained and systematic study of pogroms in Tsarist Lithuania. Geographically, the book focuses on Lithuania understood in the 'ethnic' sense, that is, as the territory roughly coextensive with the modern state of Lithuania (rather than the early modern Grand Duchy of Lithuania). Temporally, it covers the long nineteenth century, though the focus is primarily on the period between the 1880s and the First World War - the time when most pogroms in Lithuania took place.
Staliūnas has done an admirable job bringing to light a previously unexamined and important historical problem. His use of sources (Yiddish, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and Belarusian), attention to detail, and judicious analysis are most impressive. - The Russian Review

"This study is as important a contribution to Lithuanian history and to the history of antiSemitism in some church circles as it is to an understanding of Jewish life in Lithuania. This book would be significant for collections that deal with the modern Jewish experience and also eastern European religious movements in general." - Religious Studies Review

"Darius Staliūnas’s new monograph, Enemies for a Day, is certainly the most meticulously and rigorously researched historical study of anti-Jewish violence in Lithuania so far. Drawing from primary sources located in archives in Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Belarus, plus the YIVO archives in New York, allows Staliūnas to paint a complex and ambivalent picture of the more conflict-ridden aspects of Christian-Jewish relations." - H-Net Reviews

"The book Enemies for a Day is probably the first collection of its kind to gather all such cases of violence in one place (the body of material from Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, Latvian and Belarusian memoirs and archives is truly impressive), the contents are catalogued and feature comprehensive commentaries. Accomplishing this task is a unique achievement in Lithuanian historiography (and, in my opinion, far beyond national boundaries).
The wide source base allows us to see how anti-semitic and anti-Jewish moods and arguments changed, not just in the Lithuanian public discourse, but also among Poles and Belarusians who lived in Lithuania at the time." - Lithuanian Historical Studies

"This book makes a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the roots of Lithuanian antisemitism. Enemies for a Day is recommended for anyone interested in the history of Jews in Eastern Europe and the study of ethnic relations and violence." - Hungarian Historical Review

"Bei diesem Band handelt es sich um eine empirisch dicht gearbeitete Studie, die akribisch die einzelnen Vorfälle untersucht, bewertet und in ein größeres Deutungsschema einordnet. Als Ergebnis bleibt festzuhalten, dass es in Litauen während des gesamten 19. Jh. zehn Pogrome mit kollektiver Gewalt gegeben hat. In keinem der untersuchten Fälle konnte der Autor Hinweise darauf finden, dass die judeophobe Stimmung durch die zarische Verwaltung ausgelöst oder zumindest angefacht wurde, im Gegenteil: In vielen Fällen versuchte die Administration, Ausschreitungen zu verhindern." - Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung, Journal of East Central European Studies