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Union of the Russian People

UNION OF THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE

UNION OF THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE ("Soyuz russkogo naroda "), a right wing political movement, fanatically antisemitic, in czarist Russia; founded in November 1905. It demanded the exclusion of Jews from military service and their payment of a special tax instead; annulment of all the privileges enjoyed by the more prosperous Jewish merchants, artisans, and academic intelligentsia; negation of the Jews' right to vote, either actively or passively, for the Duma (the Russian parliament); a prohibition against Jews trading in books, maintaining printing presses, or editing newspapers. In December 1905, Czar Nicholas ii consented to take the Union under his auspices. Among its leaders were A. Dubrovin and V.M. Purishkevich, who was a member of all the national Dumas except the First. The official paper was Russkoye znamya ("The Russian Flag"). The union was active among the city and rural roughs and the lower middle class, whence it recruited the "Black Hundreds" (chernosotentsy), armed gangs who initiated *pogroms against Jews and members of the radical intelligentsia. In 1907 Purishkevich and a group of his followers broke away from the union to create the "Chamber of the Archangel Michael." There was little difference between the two groups in their attitude toward the Jews.

A few members of the union were elected to the Second Duma, and many more entered the Third. The union conducted a virulent propaganda campaign, and published a large number of pamphlets and papers. In many towns, the union's "tea houses" were the headquarters of anti-Jewish propaganda and assaults on Jews. The union organized the murder of two progressive members of the Duma, Professor M.Y. *Herzenstein (of Jewish origin) and G.B. Yollos (a Jew). The union was especially successful in its election propaganda within the *Pale of Settlement, and its members were influential behind the scenes in the highest government circles. They also had an important role in the *Beilis trial. After the Revolution of February 1917, the Provisional Government established a committee to investigate the activities of the union. In many aspects the Union of the Russian People was the precursor of*Nazism. It bequeathed to Nazism the use of the Protocols of the *Elders of Zion, and probably directly influenced the Nazis via the Baltic Germans, among whom were Scheubner-Richter and Alfred *Rosenberg.

bibliography:

N.D. Spector, The Doctrine and Program of the Union of the Russian People in 1906 (dissertation, Columbia University, 1952); W. Laqueur, in: Survey: a Journal of Soviet and East European Studies (Oct. 1962); H. Rogger, in: Journal of Modern History, 36 (1964), 398–415; L. Greenberg, The Jews in Russia, 2 (1946), index; A. Chernovski, Soyuz russkogo naroda (1929); V. Levitski, in: Yu. O. Martov et al. (eds.), Obshchestvennoye dvizheniye v Rossii v nachale xxgo veka, 3 (1914).

[Encyclopaedia Hebraica]

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