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Fettmilch uprising : the Judengasse was looted on August 22, 1614, Frankfurt am Main
Contemporary etching with the so-called Hep-Hep riots against Jews in Frankfurt am Main. This was one of the many anti-Semitic riots that took place in Germany in 1819 in a climate of anti-Semitism that was fueled by various anti-Jewish publications. Those involved in these riots took part in the cry "Hepp Hepp", possibly an acronym for "Hierosolyma est perdita", which means "Jerusalem is lost".
Lviv , today's Ukraine, 1941

The pogrom stands for violent rioting against people who either belong to a definable social group or are assigned to a real or supposed social group by the perpetrators. As a rule, these are ethnic, political or religious minorities , e.g. B. Members of a particular party or religious community .

In the past, the term was only used to denote excesses against Jews triggered by anti-Semitism ( Jewish pogroms ); however, the use of language has expanded since then.


The term pogrom comes from the Russian погром [pɐˈgrom] and means “devastation”, “destruction”, “riot”. The corresponding verb is громить [grɐˈmʲitʲ] for "demolieren", "destroy", derived from the noun гром ( grom "thunder"). It arose in connection with attacks on Jews in Russia in the 1880s.

It is unclear exactly when it was first used in this meaning in Germany. The conversation encyclopedias have used the term since the beginning of the 20th century (Meyers 1908, Brockhaus 1911).

Function of the term

The political and historical use of the term pogrom has broken away from its etymology. It is used in everyday political language and in historical classifications that have gone beyond the meaning of origin into the historical scientific language (i.e. the technical language of historians). The term is also used historically retrospectively, e.g. B. for medieval events and processes. The term pogrom is often understood to include assault, uprising, massacre, partisan attack, war of extermination and others. However, the reverse is not true.

In-depth explanation of the definition

From the empirically observed using the term pogrom , a can of definitional content distill.

  1. The term must be delimited from the devastation, destruction and unrest that go along with every war ; otherwise every act of war would conceptually be a pogrom. The following applies to war situations: Armed forces can also commit a pogrom if they are specifically mobilized against the victim group for propaganda purposes.
  2. The introductory definition does not limit the side of the victims of a pogrom to Jews or to ethnic groups. This also includes the usage of the witch pogrom for corresponding medieval and early modern riots. The example shows that the excess called a pogrom does not have to be directed against a clearly definable group, but can also be directed against people who are assigned to certain real or fictional groups (social, religious, origin-related, culturally limited ...). This was the case with the persecution of Jews in the Nazi state and also applied to the inhumane labels that people suffered under the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. In an analogous way, attacks on homosexuals can also be connoted with the term pogrom.
  3. The definition avoids the term minority . In terms of terminology, this means that the encroachment of an occupying power against large parts of the population or the entire population of a country may also be referred to as a pogrom. This then includes the development of an enemy image , such as B. in the attacks by the SS , Wehrmacht and police in World War II .
  4. The definition includes state-ordered terror ( state terror ): cf. a statement such as “The propaganda machine tried to spark a real pogrom mood against 'the Italians' in the German people, especially among the soldiers.” The example also makes it clear: For the term pogrom it is not to be assumed that a mood is already broadly developed it only takes a spark to turn it into violence.
  5. The term pogrom is not tied to the fact that riots are organized. Whether and how this was organized is subject to controversial discussion. Examples: In the case of pogroms that arose as a socio-psychological reaction to recently issued Jewish privileges or that were sparked by medieval plague epidemics because well-poisoning was deliberately assumed, the feature of organization does not appear to be mandatory for fulfilling the term pogrom. Here you can get by with the explanatory figure of the scapegoat . - One can speak of a fluid boundary to the organized pogrom if the responsible institutions do not intervene, e.g. B. during the November pogroms 1938 .
  6. A pogrom is often accompanied by looting, rape, murder, or genocide. Such descriptive elements do not, however, make it mandatory to tie the term pogrom to the condition of a mass excess. However, numerous historical pogroms took on such proportions. In other contexts, “pogrom” also includes individual attacks that occur at different points in a temporal context.
  7. When examining pogroms more closely, one regularly encounters social and economic dimensions. It is not advisable to include this explicitly in the definition, because in the respective description of how a victim group is defined by perpetrators, these dimensions must anyway be precisely illuminated and are not lost. - In a pogrom it is possible that only memories or pseudo-memories of social differences between perpetrators and victims are brought to life.

The following historical examples are only sketched. More detailed explanations of the events can be found at the points to which reference is made.

Historical examples

Anti-Semitism in Hartmann Schedel's World Chronicle (1493)
Color lithograph from 1904 on the situation of the Jews in the Russian Empire
Victims of the pogrom in Yekaterinoslav in 1905, today Dnipro / Ukraine, mostly Jewish children
Victims of the pogrom in Bucharest in 1941

A systematic investigation as to whether and to what extent tangible events in antiquity can be associated with the term pogrom is not tangible due to a variety of historiographical questions.

For the European Middle Ages, the pogroms of 1096 ( First Crusade ), 1146 ( Second Crusade ) and around 1189 ( Third Crusade ) should be mentioned, in which the crusade propaganda made use of medieval anti-Judaism . In the Muslim Al-Andalus the massacre of Granada had already occurred in 1066 .

In 1285, 180 Jews were burned in Munich because they were suspected of murdering a Christian child.

With the onset of the plague , the anti-Jewish attitudes that already existed escalated; in the years 1348 to 1351 they increased to the so-called plague pogroms . Ideological points of reference were, among other things, certain passages in the writings of Paul , who accused Jews of having “killed the Lord Jesus”, as they had done before with the prophets; they now persecuted the Christians "and do not please God and are enemies of all men" ( 1 Thes 2,15  LUT ). Church councils took up these statements to the extent that "the Jews" were guilty of Jesus' death and were therefore " murderers of God ".

In 1421 200 Jews were burned in Vienna's Gesera and the ghetto was razed. In 1450, Duke Ludwig the Rich chased Jews out of the partial duchy of Bavaria-Landshut after accusing them of usury (the last of the persecutions in Munich dates from 1715). In 1492 27 Jews died in Sternberg ; after that all Jews were expelled from Mecklenburg . Bohdan Khmelnyzkyj , founder of the Cossack state in 1654 , was also notorious for anti-Jewish attacks. During these battles, pogroms are said to have killed over 100,000 Poles and Russian Jews.

Jewish pogroms occurred in tsarist Russia at regular intervals (today the areas belong to Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus or - like Bessarabia - Moldova).

After the Hep-Hep riots of 1819 (primarily in Germany), the Odessa Jewish pogrom in 1821 is considered the first pogrom of modern times.

The murder of Tsar Alexander II of Russia by the underground organization Narodnaya Volja in March 1881 was blamed on the Jews. The subsequent years of persecution of the Jews were first referred to with the term pogrom .

Between 1903 and 1906, an estimated two thousand Russian Jews were killed in pogroms in Russia. The pogroms of Kishinew in today's Moldovan capital Chișinău became particularly well known . They were probably at least partially fueled by the Russian government. As a result of these events , numerous Jews emigrated to Palestine .

Under the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II, Kurdish and Turkish special forces massacred between 100,000 and 200,000 Christian Armenians between 1894 and 1896 . Others were forced to convert to Islam or were driven into exile.

A conservative Islamic revolt against the Young Turk government culminated in the Christian pogrom of Adana , Cilicia, Turkey. In April 1909, 20,000 to 30,000 Armenians were killed.

When the Armenian genocide million people were killed in Turkey from 1915 to 1921 according to sources from 300,000 to 1.5.

In National Socialist Germany, systematic attacks on opponents of the regime in March 1933, also supported by denouncing sections of the population, met the term pogrom. The actions took on an organized pogrom character, in which SA gangs attacked Jewish businesses in many cities on April 1, 1933, threatened those willing to buy (more here ) and began to separate the Jewish people from the rest of the population. According to the Nuremberg Race Laws of September 1935, the November pogroms of 1938 , which were initially known under the Nazi terminology as “Reichskristallnacht”, marked a further increase in the physical persecution of Jews. The systematic and organized persecution of the Jews turned into the Holocaust , the genocide of a Christian-Western cultural nation of 5.6 to 6.3 million Jews under the "eyes of the world". It was based on racial anti-Semitism and aimed at the complete annihilation of the Jews in Europe and the occupied territories. The persecution and extermination of the Jews became increasingly bureaucratic and systematic from 1941 onwards. Industrial methods were added in 1942.

The term pogrom was fulfilled, but overshadowed by the factory-like mass murders of mainly Jewish people from all over Europe. In addition, there was the devastating persecution of other population groups and political opponents during the National Socialist era.

Historians such as Gerd R. Ueberschär came to the conclusion of the military events after the start of the war : "The Wehrmacht was already involved in the Nazi crimes in Poland." This also included violent resettlements in all areas occupied by the Wehrmacht (see also Crimes of Wehrmacht ). The deportations during the Second World War were not accompanied by demonstrations of support from the population. Nevertheless, the term pogrom is used for the deportations, connected with the image that people are being rounded up by uniformed men. Task force groups murdered around 60,000 Polish intellectuals, including 7,000 Jews, during and after the attack on Poland by the end of 1939. The Wehrmacht leadership remained involved in these lethal activities. More than 3000 Polish soldiers were murdered by German soldiers away from the fighting. Over 16,000 civilians were executed between September 1 and October 25, 1939. It can be assumed that at least during the German invasion, more than half of the victims were due to the Wehrmacht.

Serbian Orthodox nuns in the
Devič monastery, which burned down during the pogrom-like riots in Kosovo in 2004

After the Second World War, the population of German descent in the eastern areas of the former German Reich and in former occupation areas was exposed to pogroms (see Expulsion of Germans after the Second World War ). B. in the area of ​​the former Sudetenland, u. a. on July 31, 1945 in Ústí nad Labem: Aussig massacre .

In the 1946 pogrom of Kielce , 39 Jews were killed in the Polish city.

The pogrom of Istanbul in 1955 was directed against a Christian minority, predominantly of Greek origin, in the Turkish metropolis; some historians see an influence of the then government and a connection with the Cyprus conflict . Pogroms in Turkey were also directed against the Alevi population , such as the Kahramanmaraş pogrom from December 19 to 26, 1978 or the Çorum pogrom on July 4, 1980.

Between October 31 and November 2, 1984, angry mobs killed around 2,800 Sikhs after the assassination attempt on Indira Gandhi .

Recent examples: the riots in Rostock-Lichtenhagen (1992), the Sivas arson attack in Turkey in 1993, riots in Kosovo in 2004 primarily against the Kosovar Serb minority, but also other non- Kosovar Albanians , riots in South Africa against African ones Foreigners (2008), in Kyrgyzstan against Uzbeks (2010) and in Eastern Europe against Roma, including at least five pogroms by right-wing extremist groups against Roma in different regions of Ukraine.


  • Katharina Eisch-Angus: Memory and Experience. On dealing with memory in the East German-Czech border area. In: Kurt Dröge : Everyday cultures in border areas. Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2002, pp. 293–329, ISBN 3-631-38957-4 (= Central Europe - Eastern Europe. Oldenburg Contributions to the Culture and History of East Central Europe . Volume 4).
  • Uta Gerhardt, Thomas Karlauf (ed.): Never go back to this country: Eyewitnesses report on the November pogroms in 1938 , List, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-548-61012-2 .
  • Gunnar Heinsohn : Lexicon of Genocides . Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-499-22338-4 (= rororo 22338).
  • Alan E. Steinweis : Kristallnacht 1938: a German pogrom (original title: Kristallnacht 1938 translated from English by Karin Schuler), Reclam, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-15-010774-4 .
  • Stefan Wiese: Pogroms in the Tsarist Empire. Dynamics of Collective Violence . Hamburger Edition, Hamburg 2016, ISBN 978-3-86854-304-9 .
  • Werner Bergmann : Pogroms. In: Wilhelm Heitmeyer, John Hagan (Hrsg.): International manual of violence research. Westdeutscher Verlag, Wiesbaden 2002, pp. 441-460.
  • Ders .: pogrom. In: Wolfgang Benz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Antisemitismus . Enmity against Jews in the past and present. Volume 3. Terms, theories, ideologies , De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2010, pp. 269–270.

Web links

Commons : Pogroms  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Pogrom  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. In the Polish language, the word pogrom means a decisive and devastating victory in both a battle and a sporting game.
  2. ^ Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, Volume 16. Leipzig 1908, p. 65.
  3. Brockhaus' Kleines Konversations-Lexikon, fifth edition, volume 2. Leipzig 1911., p. 426.
  4. ↑ There is no question that those affected can experience an act of war like a pogrom, but it must not irritate the definition.
  5. In his play Andorra, Max Frisch shed light on the social mechanism of Jewish labeling by others and self.
  6. Martin Reicher: Gays in Iraq - a pogrom on installments. In: taz. August 13, 2010; accessed on January 28, 2012.
  7. http://www.2i.westhost.com/bg/2_fundstuecke.html accessed on January 28, 2012.
  8. On the portrayal of Jews as "well poisoners": Jews were sometimes spared epidemics in their ghettos . Due to purity regulations, they had a certain form of hygiene , such as. B. the habit of digging wells very deep and avoiding contact between well water and possibly contaminated surface water .
  9. The pogrom of Bucharest 21-23 January 1941. In: Oxford Journals. July 21, 2008. (English)
  10. Darío Fernández-Morera: The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise (PDF; 193 kB), In: The Intercollegiate Review . 2006, pp. 23-31 (25).
  11. ^ A b Ernst Förster: Munich. A handbook for foreigners and locals with a special focus on the art treasures of this residential city. Literary artist. Establishment, Munich 1843.
  12. a b Gunnar Heinsohn: Lexicon of Genocides. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1998.
  13. ^ Ordinance of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State .
  14. Gerd R. Ueberschär: Wehrmacht. In: Encyclopedia of National Socialism. 1998, p. 102.
  15. Hans-Erich Volkmann: On the responsibility of the Wehrmacht. In: Rolf-Dieter Müller, Hans-Erich Volkmann (Hrsg.): The Wehrmacht. Myth and Reality. Munich 1999, ISBN 3-486-56383-1 , p. 1202 f.
  16. ^ Jochen Böhler: Prelude to the War of Extermination - The Wehrmacht in Poland 1939. Frankfurt am Main 2006, p. 241.
  17. Timm C. Richter (ed.): War and crime - situation and intention - case studies. Martin Meidenbauer, 2006, p. 168.
  18. ^ Jerzy Topolski: Historia Polski. Dom Wydawniczy Rebis, Poznań 2008, p. 274. ISBN 978-83-7510-142-3 .
  19. Justice Nanavati Commission of Inquiry (1984 Anti-Sikh Riots) Report ( Memento of the original from November 27, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , see also the English Wikipedia article 1984 anti-Sikh riots . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.mha.nic.in
  20. The concept of pogroms in relation to Rostock-Lichtenhagen is problematized by Thomas Prenzel: Rostock-Lichtenhagen in the context of the debate about the restriction of the basic right to asylum. In: Thomas Prenzel (Ed.): 20 years Rostock-Lichtenhagen. Rostock 2012, p. 10, note 2.
  21. When 15,000 Islamists hunted Alevis , Helga Hirsch, Die Welt
  22. Kosovo: Criminal Justice System Abuses Victims ( Memento February 13, 2013 on WebCite ) , Human Rights Watch, May 30, 2006.
  23. Cf. GRA Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism, 2010; The website contains the statement “In today's parlance, pogrom has an expanded meaning: It describes any type of collective attack on an ethnic or religious minority.” According to the use of “witch pogrom”, this is still a narrowing.
  24. One dead, several injured: Attack on Roma camps in Ukraine. Retrieved June 28, 2018 .
  25. Re pogrom against Roma in Ukraine , Hagalil.com , 26 June 2018