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Dnepropetrovsk Yizkor Book (Memory Book for Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine)

Table of Contents Index

Page 56

The Defense during October 1905 in Yeketerinslav

by V. Dalman; from an article that was printed in the Kovetz (Sem), in Moscow in 1907 owned by Vladimir Favrekant who was involved in the Jewish Social Labor Party. Translated from Russian by Y.G.

The Pogrom

In Yeketerinslav, the pogrom started with a delay of one or two days in relationship to the other cities. Because of the strike at the post office, we had no idea what was happening in other cities, because steady communication still was not established and letters and newspapers did not arrive. On Thursday, the 19th of October in the evening, the first sign was given that a pogrom was coming. That same evening, at approximately 9:00 pm, we were informed that at the entrance to the community hall where there was meeting at the time, a group of thugs was gathering that earlier participated in a march on the Prospekt. These thugs shot a few bullets at the people that were leaving the hall and afterward, they dispersed. Most of the gatherers also left the place.

After I found out about it, I joined my friend Pinya, and together we arrived at the community hall. There the business was already finished and at the lower level, in a few rooms, they were members of various organizations were signing up for the self defense.
Both of us received a certain assignment from our friends and we made our way to the main gathering point of the defense of our organization.
In the empty yard of one of the synagogues, about 150 members gathered before the assembly. The member, Michael, in a loud voice called off the names of the members and he divided the arms and he assigned the units to their various places.
Pinya and myself were given the job to join the other members in the main hall of our organization, which was located on the street called Kazachiya, and there we went together.

Until very late in the evening, the running continued to find apartments for our organizations, for telephones, for arms, etc. The people were divided into units. The arms were distributed, the bombs were prepared. At the end, we fell asleep and we woke up on Friday in the morning when it appeared that there was no need to worry about the pogrom. The life in the city was going along as usual. But it was only an illusion.

At 11:00 am I remember I went to the apartment of my friend Pilka. There some of our friends would gather from time to time. The conversation centered around the pogrom. At approximately 1:00 pm some friends came and informed us of some very disturbing news. In Chechlevka and in Prospekt near the City Hall, groups of thugs were gathering and were headed by non-uniformed policemen and a lot of confusion is everywhere. I returned to the main clubhouse. There was a lot of activity that was taking place. From various points came the news and orders were given. The lookouts were coming and going. In the meantime, one of our friends came running and from his mouth came the bad news that a few minutes ago some of our people on Vazarniya Street killed one of the thugs. We were frightened and our hearts fell and in our hearts came something very cold and frightening.

Things got progressively worse. At the outskirts of the city a patriotic march was taking place and it was becoming evident that the pogrom was going to start. We tried to organize our defense groups. At 1:00 pm one of our units, commanded by Motele, was on Seldovia Street. On the way some other members also joined from our defense organization. As the group ascended to the main city square, suddenly closeby a few rows of soldiers showed up, and without any warning they opened fire -- first in the air and then straight at the group. The group retreated. The gates of the houses were locked according to the orders of the police. A death sentence was expected at that moment for all the members. But as it turned out, the only casualty that we suffered was Hershel Soversky.

Motele's group dispersed and again as it gathered, the gates opened. The group then regrouped on a quiet street. There, another Jew opened the gate and, with joy, let the group in! After a rest, the group went out to the street and they chased after a bunch of thugs that came from all sides.

The pogrom became more intense. I was near the telephone together with my friend Pinya. The information that we received was going from bad to worse. There was need to give instructions to direct the people and to pass out the ammunition. We had no time to look at what was happening in the streets because there was great disorder and panic. From a distance, unclear loud noises were heard. From two sides of the street, the people were looting and destroying the houses, but we couldn't pay any attention to it because in our hands were all the cables which connected our 18 defense units. Under the bed was ammunition (the bombs)...

Suddenly shots were heard directly next to us. Voices and noise from people -- about 100 -- underneath our fighters. In the back of the house across the street from us that was bordering on another street, a group of thugs came running. On their way, they roared like lions. They dropped all the items that they had looted and stolen. From the back of the group, shots were heard and on the street corner stood about 8 of our defense group -- without hesitation they shot. That was the fighting unit that was first baptized by fire. After a few moments, the crowd was dispersed and the Jewish fighting unit organized in the middle of the street.
I will never forget that picture! A few tens of young men stood around the commander of the fighting group who explained the plan of attack that was coming, and after a few minutes they disappeared. Then some steps were heard and on both sides of the street came marching soldiers and in their hands were guns that were pointed at the windows across the street. They were afraid of bombs that could have been thrown from the windows and they were prepared to shoot at anyone who appeared at the windows.

I will not continue with the description of all the things that happened and also not the deeds of heroism and of people being saved ...

In the Fog of the Night

I am going to discuss one of the incidents that stand out in our entire struggle, that all of our friends reminisce about with pride. It was on Friday evening (Sabbath evening) at about 10 pm. We were informed, in the main hall, from all places that the pogrom was starting to diminish. On this day, the first day of the pogrom, the defense forces performed very well and we succeeded in stopping the incidences in many places in the city. In general, we had the upper hand, and even though there were many casualties, we could be very satisfied. The groups planned to rest and only the guard-duty unit was on watch. They passed in the streets and they stopped those that were walking back and forth. We prepared to rest with Pinya, and all of the sudden from one of the points near the harbor, we got some information that was not very pleasant. At 7 pm a ship arrived in the harbor and on the ship were many Jews who fled from many places up the Dneiper River because of the horrors of the pogrom.

Children killed in 1905 pogrom


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