120 years have passed since the Jewish Pogrom – a bloody page in the history of Chisinau and a painful page for Jews from Bessarabia and beyond. To pay tribute to the victims of the tragic event and shed light on what happened in 1903, the Municipality of Chisinau, with the support of the Jewish community in Moldova, produced the film “The Tragedy of Chisinau. The Jewish Pogrom – 1903”.
The documentary’s authors, Elena Lewicka-Pahomova and Natalia Anisimova, portrayed the events of April 1903 through the eyes of historians from Moldova and the United States, referring to the interrogation protocols of witnesses, participants, and victims of the Pogrom.
The basis of the Pogrom was a bloody calumny published in “Besarabeț” – a newspaper owned by journalist Pavel Crușeveanu. At that time, Jews were accused of killing a 14-year-old resident of Dubăsari during a Jewish ritual. Although the investigation found that the killer was actually the victim’s relative, the rumor had already spread throughout society.
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On the streets of Chisinau, gangs appeared shouting in Russian, “Death to the Jews,” and spreading manifestos stating that, in honor of the Easter holiday, Tsar Nicholas II himself had given free rein to attack the Jews.
From April 6-8 (old style calendar), the riots spread throughout the capital and its suburbs. The police and army did not stop the rioters, waiting for orders from Saint Petersburg. Order was restored for two hours…
During the Pogrom, 49 Jews were killed, about 500 were injured, and one-third of the city’s buildings were damaged or destroyed.
The Pogrom was condemned worldwide. The Tragedy of Chisinau symbolized, in fact, the beginning of the bloody 20th century, marked by the Holocaust and the two world wars.