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The First Step

From The Shield, by Various.


Edited by Maksim Gorky, Leonid Nikolayevich Andreyev, and Fyodor Sologub.

Translated from the Russian by author and translator Avraham Yarmolinsky (1890-1975), husband of American poet and critic Babette Deutsch.

With a Foreword By William English Walling.


This is not merely a book about the Russian Jews. It is a marvellous revelation of the Russian soul. It shows not only that the overwhelming majority of the Russian intellectuals, including nearly all of her brilliant literary geniuses, are opposed to the persecution of the Jews or any other race, but that they have a capacity for sympathy and understanding of humanity unequalled in any other land. I do not know of any book where the genius and heart of Russia is better displayed. Not only her leading litterateurs but also her leading statesmen and economists are represented—and all of them speak as with a single voice.

I am writing on the 16th of March. Yesterday the news reached the world that Russia had probably at last succeeded in emancipating itself from the German-sustained and German-supported autocracy which so long has been renounced by practically all classes of the Russian people. I have pointed out elsewhere that this Second Act of the great drama of social transformation in Russia was to be expected in connection with the present war. It is not surprising that this Act, like the first—the Revolution of 1905—is accompanied by an irresistible demand for the cessation of the persecution of the Jews and other minority races. The first Duma, that of 1906, demanded unanimously that all these races be given absolutely the same rights as other Russians. The rise of Liberalism during the war, in connection with military necessities, had already abolished a number of Jewish disabilities. There is no longer any question that the Jews will be given equality. Without exception the anti-Semitic organisations were supported by the pro-German party, the money which was alone responsible for the pogroms was furnished by these same organisations, and now this Party and these organisations are forever overthrown. It was Dr. Dubrovin, for example, who year by year carried out the murders of the leading representatives of the Jews in the Duma and who almost succeeded in having Milukov assassinated a few weeks ago. Dubrovin was one of the most important of the sinister forces supported by the money of the German Czarina's court party—which was organised by Baron Fredericks and other notorious Germans masquerading as Russians.

The re-birth of Russia which is now taking place cannot be understood apart from the Jewish problem. As Russia's leading Liberal statesman, Prof. Paul Milukov—who is well and favorably known in America because of extended visits here—points out in the article he contributes to the present volume, the anti-Semitic parties coincide with the anti-constitutional parties. At first this seems a strange and unaccountable fact, but a brief glance at the history of other countries will show that the party standing for the persecution of weak foreign neighbours and the oppression of minority races within and without a country has always and everywhere been the party of reaction. As Milukov says, there was no need for an anti-constitutional movement until there was a constitutional movement. As soon as Liberalism appeared, however, and gained support among the masses, it was necessary to fabricate some counter movement, and the governmental bureaucracy fixed upon anti-Semitism as a primitive means of appealing to the masses, and so of bridling them. It may be further pointed out that this systematic propaganda against democracy was almost non-existent in Russia until it had become thoroughly organised and successful in Germany. Both Kovalevsky and Milukov demonstrate in the present volume that anti-Semitism became an important factor in Russian life only after the middle of the Nineteenth Century—that is to say, after the final victory of Prussian Reactionism over German Liberalism in 1849 (a victory which has lasted to the present time)—and still more, after the great military victories of Prussia from 1864 to 1870 had put Prussian militarism in the saddle and had made it the dominating force in the Russian court and Russian bureaucracy.

However, the intelligence, energy, and courage of the Russian Liberals has entirely thwarted this scheme to divide the Russian people. The bureaucracy has gained almost no support among any section of the Russian nation, except its own narrow circles, either for its persecution of the Jews or its oppression of the Poles, Finns, Tartars, Armenians and other races. On the contrary, the anti-Semitic propaganda has reacted against its promoters. A considerable number, though by no means a majority, of the Russian Liberals are Jews, and Russian Liberals do not at all endeavour to hide this fact. The consequence is that the union of the Russian Liberals with all the persecuted races has been all the more firmly cemented. And just as all Russian Liberals are ardent supporters of the war against Germany, so practically all the leaders of the Russian Jews are equally patriotic—in spite of the fact that many forms of persecution have remained, and, furthermore, new forms of persecution have been invented since the war. Though the German agitation in America has won over a large part of the Russian Jews in this country to the German cause, this agitation has had no such success in Russia, unless among a relatively small proportion of the Jewish population.

It is known that the anti-Semitic agitation in Russia has taken hold of only a small proportion of the Russian people among the semi-criminal population of the cities and towns. It is notorious that the pogroms were often organised and carried out by the secret police and the cossacks, and that in other instances they were executed by bands of a few hundred bribed toughs, called by educated Russians "the black hundreds." This social element is what we would ordinarily call in America the "mob," and it certainly does not constitute one per cent. of the population in Russia or in any other country. Gorky refers to it as "the populace": "In addition to the people, there is also the 'populace,' something standing outside of social classes and outside of civilisation, and united by the dark sense of hatred against all that surpasses its understanding and is defenceless against brute force. I speak of the populace which thus defines itself in the words of Pushkin:

"'We are insidious and shameless,
Ungrateful, faint-hearted and wicked;
At heart we are cold, sterile eunuchs,
Traducers, born to slavery.'"

The refusal of the Russian people to be either bribed or deceived into hostility to the Jews is clearly enough demonstrated by the feeling of affection on the part of most intelligent Jews towards the Russian people. The only exceptions are those Jews which come from the Polish cities far within the Jewish Pale and do not know the Russian people except by hearsay. Unfortunately, this is a considerable portion of the total of the Jews in Russia, and it is from these cities and towns in the heart of the Pale that most of our immigrants come. But all the more educated Jews—and a very large part are educated—all those who know Russia either by a travel or through Russian literature and newspapers, feel a deep affection for their country, for in spite of all, Russia belongs to them just as much as it does to other Russians. One of the editors of the present volume, Fyodor Sologub, says:

"Whenever I met Russian Jews abroad, I always marvelled at the strangely tenacious love for Russia which they preserve. They speak of Russia with the same longing and the same tenderness as the Russian emigrants; they are equally eager to return and equally saddened, if the return is impossible. Wherefore should they love Russia, who is so harsh and inhospitable toward them?"

It is useless for Americans to deceive themselves into thinking that the Russian Jewish question is either unimportant or incomprehensible from the point of view of our progress and democracy. Do we not have our negro and Asiatic problems? Do not the English have their Irish and Indian questions? I do not suggest that the parallel is complete, but it is clear that the Russian writers in the present volume are perfectly correct in referring both to our negro question and our question of yellow labour as closely similar to their Jewish problem. Both the brilliant and fascinating discussions by Andreyev and Merezhkovsky will apply almost as well to any other so-called "race question" as to that of the Russian Jews. Says Merezhkovsky:

"We would like very much to say that there is no such thing as the Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Armenian, Georgian, question; that there is only one question—the Russian. Yes, we would like to, but we cannot; the Russian people have yet to earn the right to say that, and therein lies their tragedy...."

"'Judophilism' and 'Judophobia' are closely related. A blind denial of a nationality engenders an equally blind affirmation of it. An absolute 'Nay' naturally brings forth an absolute 'Yea.'"

"That is why we say to the 'Nationalists': 'Cease oppressing the non-Russian element of our empire, so that we may have the right to be Russians, and that we may with dignity show our national face, as that of a human being, not that of a beast. Cease to be 'Judophobes' so that we may cease to be 'Judophiles.''"

Is it not clear from the recent discussion in the British Parliament that the Irish problem weighs like an almost intolerable burden just as much upon the British Empire as it does upon Ireland? Is it not equally clear from England's concession of a cotton tariff to India that she will be obliged for her own sake to make further concessions to justice in that country? And can America ever hope to have any standing in the court of nations as long as our infamous persecution of the negroes and our atrocious attitude towards Asiatics continues? Nations can indulge themselves for a certain period in such gross and stupid crimes, but the longer the settlement is postponed the greater the blood-price that must be paid in the end—and in the meanwhile all our civilisation is poisoned, if not actually rotted, by the network of lies by which the persecutors are forced to defend their infamies—lies which are necessarily more far-reaching and impudently false in a democracy than they are in an autocracy where the existing system maintains itself rather by force than by public opinion.

But few of us educated Americans have the intellectual and moral courage of the educated classes of Russia. We feel that we can avoid our moral and intellectual responsibilities by turning our back on existing crimes. It has frequently been pointed out that in spite of a government even more anti-democratic than that of Germany, the Russian people have been infinitely more democratic than the Germans. In the same way, while the institutions of America are much further developed in the direction of general democracy than those of Russia, the very reverse is the case with public opinion. The educated classes of Russia have the courage and intelligence to call a spade a spade. They realise that they are partly responsible for the sins committed by the Russian nation, even though they have been powerless heretofore to remedy these conditions in the face of an armed and organised autocracy, backed by the moral, intellectual and military force of Germany and by the money of France and England. Andreyev, for example, regards the Jewish problem as primarily a Russian problem. It is one of the chief burdens, if not the chief burden, which has been crushing the Russian nation. In this book he says:

"When did the 'Jewish question' leap on my back?—I do not know. I was born with it and under it. From the very moment I assumed a conscious attitude towards life until this very day I have lived in its noisome atmosphere, breathed in the poisoned air which surrounds all these 'problems,' all these dark, harrowing alogisms, unbearable to the intellect.

"And yet I, a Russian intellectual, a happy representative of the sovereign race, although fully conscious and convinced that the 'Jewish question' is no question at all,—I felt powerless and doomed to the most sterile tribulation of spirit. For, all the clear-cut arguments of my intellect, the most fervent tirades and speeches, the sincerest tears of compassion and outcries of indignation unfailingly broke against a dull, unresponsive wall. But all powerlessness, if it is unable to prevent a crime, becomes complicity; and this was the result: personally guiltless of any offence against my brother, I have become in the eyes of all those unconcerned and those of my brother himself, a Cain."

The new Russia is being born while I write these lines, and intelligent Americans are discussing nothing else except this great world event—comparable in importance even to the colossal war itself. If we wish to understand educated Russia—which has brought about the change—many-sided, large-hearted and intellectually more brilliant perhaps than the educated class of any other nation, we cannot do better than to read and think over what that galaxy of Russian genius that has composed the present volume has written. We must not forget that the educated class in Russia is almost as numerous as in the other great nations, and perhaps plays an even more important rôle in Russia than it does in other countries. What Russia has lacked has been neither an educated class nor masses capable and ready to be trained to any kind of modern employment, but a great technically trained, free and organised "intellectual middle class"—an expression I am forced to coin for my present purpose. It is hardly necessary to prove this assertion. The world is well acquainted with Russian genius in literature, art, music, philosophy, sociology, economics, history, and the higher realms of science. Moreover Russia is not without technological schools, but the proportion of her population employed in the scientific organisation of industry and business is insignificant in comparison with that of other countries—owing, of course, to the backward state of Russian industry and Russian government. But this fact, important as it is, must not obscure the equally important fact that the educated and cultivated class in Russia, speaking several languages, and personally familiar with the civilisation of one or more foreign countries, exercises an influence over Russian society and Russian public opinion undoubtedly stronger than that of any other educated class whatever—with the possible exception of that of Germany. We cannot hope to understand the new Russia unless we understand the character and point of view of the Russian "intellegentsia," and this is nowhere so clearly, succinctly and interestingly set forth as in "The Shield."

William English Walling.

Greenwich, Connecticut.


Published by the Russian Society for the Study of Jewish Life under the joint editorship of three eminent men-of-letters, Gorky, Andreyev, and Sologub, the original Shield saw the light of day last year in Petrograd. The book consists of numerous studies, essays, stories and poems, all these contributions to the symposium on the Jewish question coming exclusively from the pen of Russian authors of non-Jewish birth. In making a selection for the present volume, I have thought it advisable to give decided preference to the publicistic articles of the original collection. Thus, the present version contains practically all the various important studies and essays of the Russian Shield, while most of the stories have been omitted, without great detriment to the book. I have also had to sacrifice, for obvious reasons, all the poetic contributions to the original, signed by such great masters of modern Russian poetry as Balmont, Bunin, Z. Hippins, Sologub, and Shchepkina-Kupernik.

My thanks are due to Dr. Louis S. Friedland and Professor Earle F. Palmer for going over a considerable portion of the present volume.

A. Yarmolinsky.


Leonid Nikolayevich Andreyev, the author of impressive tales and remarkable dramas, is well known both in America and in England. Since the beginning of the Great War he has devoted himself to the artistic portrayal of the war's effect on his country, and also to purely publicistic tasks. He was born in 1871.


"O heavens, if within your blue,
Old God is still alive and mighty,
Unseen by me alone, ye pray
For me and for my doom e'er bleeding!
My lips no more are fraught with hymns,
No brawn in arm, no hope in heart....
How long, how long, how long?"

—H. Byalik.

It is with deep emotion that I have read in the Polish New Gazette an interview about the Jewish question with a personage of high station who seems to be really well informed. According to this personage, a number of measures are being proposed and planned, which are intended to lighten the grievous lot of the Jews in Russia: the abolition of the "Pale of Settlement" in relation to towns large and small, the abrogation of the percentage "norm" in the secondary and higher educational institutions, the establishment of special Jewish schools, the reorganisation of Jewish emigration on a broad and rational basis. I confess that I was not prompt in giving credence to these good tidings. And those with whom I shared the news, although excited no less than I, accepted them also with some degree of diffidence, which is only natural in Russians: life indulges us so rarely and so reluctantly. But private rumours corroborate this news, and to persist in one's disbelief would mean to doubt the very meaning of the present great "emancipatory" war, which is building a glorious temple of renovated life on the blood of Russians, Poles, Jews and Lithuanians. And finally, I simply cannot help believing, for my soul is weary with waiting and repeating together with the great Jewish poet: "How long, how long, how long?"

An aged journalist, who, it seems, has lost all fervour and faith, has recently laughed in his sleeve at the word "miracle," which nowadays comes so often to our lips: according to him, miracles, generally speaking, do not exist. It is my opinion also that there are no miracles, if we understand by a miracle an arbitrary violation of the natural, logical, inevitable order of things. But to him who contemplates life proper, not the table of multiplication,—logic itself appears as the greatest of all miracles. Oh, if logic would really reign supreme in life; oh, if in our cursed human existence, where there are so many aimless and unnecessary sorrows and tears and wild outrages, the simplest "two and two is four" would not be the rarest of miracles, equal to the transubstantiation of water into precious wine. Would millions of individually innocent human beings perish in this most terrible of wars, if instead of a dark and terrible alogism a clear and lucid syllogism lay at the basis of our intricate and enigmatical existence? It is logic that is the true miracle, and "two and two is four" is that extraordinary happiness, which falls so seldom to our lot!

And just as I rejoiced as at miracles, at Russia's achievement of temperance, and Poland's rebirth in the same way, I now marvel at the coming solution of the "Jewish question," the immemorial and darkest of alogisms. There is something festive in it; it stirs up in me a feeling of serene and immense joy, bordering on religious exaltation.... And the fact that for me, as well as for many other Russian writers, all this was never even a problem, does not by any means diminish the extraordinary character of what is going to happen; for a plain brotherly kiss is almost a miracle and can move one to tears at the time when the rule of life and its highest wisdom is a fierce war of brother against brother.

And how can I help feeling this extraordinary import, I, a Russian intellectual, if, together with the solution of the "question" my soul, too, is suddenly set free. It is delivered from all the habitual and harrowing experiences that, constant companions of my days and nights as they have been, have acquired all the peculiarities of those chronic and incurable ailments, to which the grave alone can bring release. For, if to the Jews themselves the "Pale," the "norm," etc., were a fatal and impregnable fact, which deformed their entire life, they were also for me, a Russian, something in the nature of a hump on my back, a stationary and ugly growth, arising no one knows when or under what circumstances. Wherever I went and whatever I did, the hump was with me; at night it disturbed my sleep, and in my waking hours, when I was among people, it filled me with feelings of confusion and shame.

It is not my intention to demonstrate the soundness and justice of the proposed measures and to force the door which to me was always open, but I am going to take the liberty of adding a few more words about my hump. When did the "Jewish question" leap on my back?—I do not know. I was born with it and under it. From the very moment I assumed a conscious attitude towards life until this very day I have lived in its noisome atmosphere, breathed in the poisoned air which surrounds all these "problems," all these dark, harrowing alogisms, unbearable to the intellect.

Who needs it? Whom does it benefit? If all this exists and is supported, if there are people who assert it fiercely and firmly, there must be some definite sense in it; evidently, the Pale, the educational norm, and the rest increase mankind's sum of joy, exalt life, broaden the limits of human possibilities. Taking a logical point of departure, that is what I thought, but this same logic dictated to me an absolutely negative answer to all these questions: no one needs it, it brings good to no one: all these discriminations not only do not increase the sum of joy on this earth, but engender a multitude of wholly unnecessary, aimless sufferings; some they oppress, and others they badly corrupt. And yet I, a Russian intellectual, a happy representative of the sovereign race, although fully conscious and convinced that the "Jewish question" is no question at all,—I felt powerless and doomed to the most sterile tribulation of spirit. For, all the clear-cut arguments of my intellect, the most fervent tirades and speeches, the sincerest tears of compassion and outcries of indignation unfailingly broke against a dull, unresponsive wall. But all powerlessness, if it is unable to prevent a crime, becomes complicity; and this was the result: personally guiltless of any offence against my brother, I have become in the eyes of all those unconcerned and those of my brother himself, a Cain.

The first consequence of my fatal powerlessness was that the Jew did not trust me, which meant that I lost my self-confidence. Living together with the Jews as my co-citizens, being in constant personal and business relations with them, in the field of consorted social work, I came face to face with the Jewish "problem" every single day,—and every single day of my life I felt with intolerable keenness all the falsehood and wretched ambiguity of my situation, that of an oppressor against one's will. In the doctor's office, at my desk, in the editorial room, in the street, finally in jail, where together with the Jew I fulfilled the all-Russian prison duty—everywhere I remained the privileged "Russian," the representative of the sovereign race, the baron,—without the baronial blazon. And with horror I noticed that even the eyes of a Jew-friend were dimmed with strange shadows ... that terrible images surged behind my friendly Russian shoulders and mingled wholly unsuitable noises and voices with my sincere plea for "world citizenship." ... And yet he knew me well, he knew my attitude toward the Jews,—how about those who know only that I am a "Russian"?

I remember having spent one night in talking with a very gifted writer, a Jew, who was my casual and most welcome guest. I was trying to convince him that he, a great master of the word, ought to write, but he repeated obstinately that although he loves the Russian language with all his artist's heart, he cannot write in it, in the language which has the word zhid.[1] Of course, logic was on my side, but on his side there was some dark truth—truth is not always lucid—and I felt, that my ardent arguments began, little by little, to sound like false and cheap babbling. So that I have not succeeded in convincing him, and when we parted I had not the courage to kiss him: how many unexpected meanings could be disclosed in this plain, everyday token of friendship and affection?

Things are altogether bad when even a kiss becomes suspicious and can be susceptible of "interpretation," as a complicated act of intricate and enigmatic relations! That is exactly what happened. And how many odd and nightmare-like misunderstandings were engendered by the poisonous mist in which we all wandered, both friends and foes, and in which the outlines of the plainest objects and feelings assumed the dismal grotesqueness of phantoms. I cannot help recalling here the case of E.A. Chirikov, which at the time excited much comment: the noble and fervent champion of the persecuted race, the author of the drama "Jews," which has more than any other Russian drama contributed to the dispersion of the evil prejudice,—this man was suddenly, in a most absurd manner, without a shadow of foundation, insulted by the accusation of anti-Semitism; and—to think of it!—it was necessary to furnish proofs that the accusation was false. What a painful, what a wholly disgraceful absurdity!

"Who needs all this? Who does not know it?" wearily thought every one of us, again and again realising the harrowing necessity of convincing some unbeliever, that two and two is four ... nothing but four!

And abroad? "What an injustice!"—thought I, when the cultured West, having separated me from Tolstoy, as if I had stolen him, handed me on the spot, a bill for the "excesses" known the world over, at the same time frowning unambiguously upon my eternal hump. The West refused to consider that I, too, am against this. I was considered a Russian, and the question was put this way: "Tell me, why in your country, in Russia?..."

It is ridiculous and utterly odd to think that our far-famed "barbarism" of which our enemies accuse us and which puts our friends out of countenance, is based wholly and exclusively on our Jewish question and its bloody excesses. Take away from Russia these excesses, leave, if you wish, the anti-Semitism, but in that externally decorous form in which it still exists in the backward portions of Europe,—and we shall become at once decent Europeans, and not Asiatics and barbarians, whose proper place is beyond the Ural. This is a fact the obviousness of which every new day of the present war makes more strikingly evident.

Of course culturally we are far behind the world, our economic life is undeveloped, our civic life is at a low level, and all the aspects of our life show clearly that we have not as yet broken the shell of the egg. But we are young, we are only beginning, and for a people who abolished serfdom only half a century ago, we have done quite a good deal,—so that, at the worst, lack of culture is the only reproach which a European with a sense of justice will fling at us. But it is enough to put side by side the words "Russian" and "Jew,"—and I become at once a barbarian, a dark and terrible being, who chills and darkens resplendent Europe. At once in America people begin to hate me, in England and France to despise me; with the swiftness of theatrical transformations Tolstoy's compatriot turns into the brother of those who drive nails into their neighbours' heads,—I become a barbarian. And even the German anti-Semite, a stupid and dull creature, looks down at me and warns England: "See with whom you are friends? Are they not the same people who...?"

"To whose interest is it that Europe should despise me, hate and fear me?" I mused, perplexed, feeling that in the light of the European sun my cursed hump assumes immense proportions and like a screen shuts off the light which comes from the East, and in which the aged and weary West is quite inclined to believe. To whom is it necessary for me to ramble among the cultured nations like a leper, to conceal my race and obtain the ironical bow so essential to my unacknowledged dignity, by means of exorbitant "tips" flung right and left? A barbarian, a barbarian!...

The war has opened our eyes to many things, and therein lies for us Russians the sad advantages of it. And now when Germany brands France and England for the union with "the Russian barbarians who...," when the allies, while relying on our elemental force, tremble with doubts and fear behind the screen of their noisy sympathies,—I begin to understand in whose interests it was, who needed it, that in the legion of European states we should remain all alone with our barbarism. Whatever is a misfortune for us is favourable for Germany, with her "well-tried" friendship for us, to which Wilhelm referred so loudly from the balcony of his palace. As barbarians we are only an excellent and indispensable market for the Germans' merchandise, a two-hundred-million flock of sheep ready for the shears. As a cultured nation we are a power dangerous to the Teuton's dream of world dominion. And the Jewish question, with its excesses and nails driven into heads, is that trump which our honest German neighbour has always kept hidden in his cuff and which he throws out on the green table at the necessary moment. And he was right from his standpoint. But why had we to drink off the bitter cup? Losing our self-respect, having no faith in our power, growing corrupted by an unnatural existence, cutting down by means of the celebrated "norm" the number of our educated and cultured men—a devilish joke!—our entire nation was diligently performing the "Fools' Dance," which, under the name of a drama from Russian life, has recently met with such a success in the Berlin playhouses. It must not be forgotten that the ardent Polish anti-Semitism, which frightens us so much and which seriously hinders the upbuilding of a new life, as well as the cold Finnish anti-Semitism, the power of which is still unknown to us,—that these two phenomena are nothing but the logical development of the fundamental absurdity, its natural and poisonous fruits. But the time has not come yet to speak about that.

May I be pardoned that in an hour so momentous for the Jews I persist in speaking not of them and their sufferings, but of ourselves. I repeat, the Jewish question was never a question for me, and in order to justify the proposed measures I need not allege the heroism shown by the Jews in defending Russia, their love for Russia, tragic in its faithfulness. As for demonstrating again and again that a Jew, too, is a human being, to do so would mean not only to bow too low to absurdity, but also to insult those whom I respect and love. And if I persist in speaking of ourselves and our suffering, it is not for personal egoism, nor even class egoism, but the pardonable egoism of a nation, which has been too long playing a miserable part on Europe's stage and in its own conscience, and which now repudiates the suffering of yesterday and, at the dawn of new life, seeks the possibility—oh, only the possibility!—of respecting itself.

Yes, we are still barbarians, the Poles still mistrust us, we are a dark terror for Europe, a baffling menace to her civilisation, but we do not want to be that any more, we long for purity and reason, our wretched rags burden us beyond all measure. The Jews' tragic love for Russia finds a counterpart in our love for Europe, as tragical in its faithfulness and completeness. Are we not ourselves the Jews of Europe, and is not our frontier—the same "Pale of Settlement"—something in the nature of a Russian Ghetto? And try as our Pushkin and Dostoyevsky and your Byalik may to prove that we, too, are human beings, people do not believe us, as they do not believe you: here is that equality whence we all can derive a bitter consolation; here is the punishment by means of which impartial life takes revenge on the Russians for the Jews' sufferings.

The thirst for self-respect—that is the fundamental feeling which now, in the days of the most terrible war, has seized all Russian society, which has exalted the people to the heights of heroism, and which makes us fear all that reminds us of our sad past. That is why persecution of Germans in our own country is so unbearable to us; we want no persecution; that is why we hate all that, like the belching of yesterday's drinking, distorts our disinterested aims and intentions: better yield than take too much of what belongs to other people—that is nowadays the motto of the majority. Could the country become sober if not for this feeling which one has when about to receive holy communion? Although proud at the victories of our arms, we scrupulously hide this pride, we treasure it in our hearts as our most precious possession, and we hate all swaggering and self-adulation. Not with the haughtiness of a righteous pharisee do we approach the altar, but with a prayer of penitence: "like a murderer I profess Thee."

We must all understand that the end of Jewish sufferings is the beginning of our self-respect, without which Russia cannot exist. The black days of war will pass, and the "German barbarians" of to-day will again become cultured Germans, to whose voice the world will once more hearken with deference. And we must never again allow this or any other voice to utter aloud: "The Russian barbarians."


[1] This is an insulting synonym for "Jew."—Translator's Note.

Leonid N. Andreyev