April 6-7 1903 Kishineff Pogram

“The Kishinev progrom was an anti-Jewish riot that took place in Kishinev, which was back then part of the Bessarabia province of Imperial Russia (currently Chisinau is the capital of independent Moldova). It started on April 6 and lasted until April 7, 1903. The riot started after a Christian Russian boy, Michael Ribalenko, had been found murdered in the town of Dubossary about 25 miles nor of Kishinev. The government chose to call it a ritual murder plot by the Jews. The mobs were incited by Pavolachi Krushevan, the editor of the Anti-Semitic Newspaper “Bessarabetz”, and the vice- governor Ustrugov. They used the ages-old blood libel against the Jews (that the boy had been killed to use his blood in preparation of matzo). Viacheslav Plehve, the Minister of interior, supposedly gave orders not to sop the rioters During three days of rioting, the Kishinev Pogrom against the Jews took place. Forty-seven (some put the figure as high as 49) Jews were killed, 92 severely wounded, 5000 slightly wounded and over 7000 houses looted and destroyed. This pogrom is considered the first state-inspired action against Jews of the 20th Century. Despite a world outcry, only two men were sentenced to seven and five years and twenty-two were sentenced for one or two years. This pogrom was instrumental in convincing tens of thousands of Russian Jews to leave to the West and to Israel”

Source: 1903 (9th of Nisan, 5663)

September 1903 Kishineff Pogram

Houdini visited Kishinev after the massacre,  ‘horrified.’  Nothing like it, he declared, could happen in any country but Russia.  In a column for the Dramatic Mirror two years later, he offered fellow entertainers bitter advice on managing to perform in Moscow despite the ban on Jews: ‘This is easily overcome by simply denying your religion … or you can go into Russia with a license, like a dog.’

April 6-7 1903 Kishineff Pogram

“Houdini’s appearance in Moscow coincided with a notorious pogrom.  After many violent outburst of anti-Semitism in Russia since the late nineteenth century,  April 1903 brought a massacre of the Jewish community in Kishinev, a city of about 150,000.  Jews there were accused of murdering a Christian boy and using his blood to prepare matzoh.  Peasants from the countryside and toughs from nearby towns joined in.  Over two days of murder, gang rape, looting, and torture,  crying “kill the Jew” they and citizens of Kishinev destroyed seven hundred houses, killed forty-seven Jews, and wounded about six hundred.