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At the time Yanov was writing Parvus was, I think, the only case of Solzhenitsyn writing at length a negative portrayal of a Jew - if that is what it is ... if the reader does not share my impression that Solzhenitsyn's obvious ideological hatred of Parvus is combined with a quite lively and even sympathetic - that is the nature of Solzhenitsyn's genius as a writer - admiration. The most notable other major portrayal of a Jew was the very likeable Lev Rubin, based on Solzhenitsyn's one time friend Lev Kopelev, in In the first circle. The Gulag Archipelago, vol 2, had a page of photographs of camp commanders, all of whom happen to be Jewish. We will come back to that, perhaps, in a later article. But in 1985, with the publication of the expanded August 1914, Parvus was joined by Bogrov, the assassin of Stolypin. As we have seen, Pipes accuses Solzhenitsyn of exaggerating the importance of Bogrov's Jewishness. In a footnote in his book The Russian Revolution he had already made the points he made in his review of Two Hundred Years:

'Bogrov, who came from a thoroughly assimilated family (his grandfather had converted to Orthodox Christianity and his father belonged to the Kievan Nobles' Club) was a Jew only in the biological ("racial") sense. Even his given name, which Solzhenitsyn chooses to be the Yiddish "Mordko", was the very Russian Dmitrii' (p.189)

Solzhenitsyn on the other hand has it that Bogrov's paternal grandfather

'turned out to be a writer of some talent: Bogrov's Memoirs of a Jew, published by Nekrasov (9), was favourably received, though it provoked attacks from Jewish readers by exhibiting the less pleasant sides of Jewish life. Quite late in life this grandfather was baptised so that he could marry an Orthodox Christian girl. He abandoned his first family and died in the depths of the Russian countryside before his grandson was born. The son of his first marriage, Gersh Bogrov, remained loyal to the Jewish faith, inherited money from his mother's family, and became an influential lawyer and a millionaire [...] He was a prominent member of the Kiev Nobles Club, chairman of the Senior Members of the Concordia Club, and well known as an extremely lucky gambler [...] The family frequently went abroad and lived like Russian aristocrats." (August 1914, p.453)

(9) Nikolay Alexeyevich Nekrasov (1821-1878). Publisher and poet. He also published Chernyshevsky and early Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.

As a result of the disruptions in 1905 the Tsar issued his 'October Manifesto' allowing the establishment of a Russian Parliament, the 'Duma'. Bogrov at the time was attending University in Munich. To take up Solzhenitsyn's account:

'Immediately after the manifesto of 30th October came the Kiev pogrom, news of which made Bogrov desperately anxious to return. "I cannot remain idle abroad while people are being killed in Russia!" But his parents would not let him have a separate passport, though he was nineteen years old.' In Munich 'he was tortured all the time by the knowledge that he had turned his back on the stark struggle in that hard year and at the end of 1906 he went home to Kiev.' (p.454)

One of Solzhenitsyn's main sources (a source that goes unmentioned by Pipes) is a biography of Bogrov by his brother, Vladimir, who, Solzhenitsyn tells us, was in Munich with him, so one might assume that this is the source he is using here.

Bogrov joins the anarchists - 'Naum Tysh, the Gorodetsky brothers, Saul Ashkenazy, Yankel Shteiner, Rosa No 1 (Mikhelson) and Rosa No 2'. In these circles, Solzhenitsyn tells us that 'In response to discrimination against the Jews and to a number of events affecting them in Kiev after the Second Duma had been dissolved in its turn, Bogrov declared repeatedly, and to various people, that it was time to go over to terrorist action against the state, and recommended the elimination of the head of the Kiev security police, the senior gendarme officer and the commander of the Kiev Military District, Sukhomlinov.' (pp.455-456)

Later, in 1909, as we approach the time of the assassination: 'still he had not taken a single step towards his great objective. It was four years now and still he had not exacted revenge for the Kiev pogrom of 1905 ...' (p.461).

In a passage partially quoted by Pipes, Bogrov is beginning to fix his attention on Stolypin:

'Stolypin, and no one else, was the strong man of unbridled reaction. Stolypin was the most dangerous and the most pernicious man in Russia (he was often mentioned with hostility in Bogrov's father's circle). Who, if not Stolypin, had broken the back of the revolution? Against all the odds, the regime had been lucky enough to find a man of talent. He was changing Russia irreversibly, but not in a European direction. That was an illusion. He was strengthening the backbone of the mediaeval autocratic system so that it could last and no genuine liberation movement would be able to spread.

'Some might say that Stolypin had introduced no anti-Jewish measures. No, but he had created the general atmosphere of depression. It was under Stolypin, and with the election of his Third Duma, that the Jews had begun to give in to despondency, to despair of ever obtaining the right to exist as normal human beings in Russia. Stolypin had done nothing directly against the Jews, he had even made their lives easier in some ways, but it did not come from the heart. To decide whether or not a man is the enemy of the Jews you must look beneath the surface. Stolypin boosted Russian national interests too blatantly and too insistently - the Russianness of the Duma as a representative body, the Russianness of the state. He was trying to build not a country in which all were free, but a nationalist monarchy. So that the future of the Jews in Russia was not affected by his goodwill towards them. The development of the country along Stolypin's lines promised no golden age for the Jews.

'Bogrov might or might not take part in revolutionary activity, might associate with the Maximalists, with the Anarcho-Communists, or with no-one, might change his party allegiance and change his character many times over - but one thing was beyond doubt: his exceptionally talented people must gain the fullest opportunity to develop unimpeded in Russia.' (pp.461-2)

In January 1910 he graduates, becoming a professional lawyer, but 'As a Jew he could not immediately become a practising attorney ... With his university diploma he could now live where he pleased [ie he could leave the Zone of Residence where Jews were allowed to live. Jews could not live, or their right to live was restricted, in historic Russia - PB]. This right had previously been denied him because, like his father he refused to change his religion for the sake of privilege. His first name was always given as Mordko in official documents.' (pp.462-3).

He goes to Petersburg and reveals his intention to kill Stolypin to Yegor Lazarev, a leading figure in the Social Revolutionary movement. In the course of a long discussion, Lazarev (who has some difficulty taking him seriously) says:

'"But you are a Jew. Have you considered seriously what the consequences could be?"

'He had considered everything. His automatic response was even prompter than before.

'"Precisely because I am a Jew I can't bear the knowledge that we are still living - if I may remind you - under the heavy hand of the Black Hundred leaders. The Jews will never forget the Krushevans, Dubrovins and Puryshkeviches. (10) Remember what happened to Herzenstein. And Iollos. (11) What of the thousands of Jews savagely done to death? The chief culprits always go unpunished. Well, I shall punish them."

(10) Pavel Aleksandrovich Krushevan (1860-1909), first publisher of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, thought to have inspired the Kishinev pogrom in 1903; Alexander Ivanovich Dubrovin (1855-unknown, caught up in the confusion of the post-Revolution period), leader of the more militant wing of the anti-semitic Union of the Russian People; Vladimir Mitrofanovich Purishkevich (1870-1920), one of the founders of the Union of the Russian People and in 1908, after quarreling with Dubrovin, of the Union of Archangel Michael

(11) Mikjail Herzenstein and Grigori Borisovich Iollos, both deputies for the Constitutional Democratic Party ('Cadets') in the First Duma were murdered, Herzenstein in 1906 and Iollos in 1907.

'"Then why not go straight for the Tsar?" Lazarev asked with a smile.

'"I've thought it over carefully. If Nikolai is killed there will be a pogrom. But there will be no pogrom for Stolypin. Anyway, Nikolai is only Stolypin's puppet. Moreover, killing the Tsar would do no good. Stolypin would continue his present policies with still greater assurance under Nikolai's successor." (p.467)

Lazarev wrote memoirs which are another of Solzhenitsyn's sources. I can't say if this dialogue or anything like it appears in them.

Bogrov is not asking for help from the Social Revolutionaries but he wants them to give their sanction after the deed has been done: 'he had to go to his death with the assurance that he would be supported and explained.'

But 'he did not carry any conviction. Lazarev refused outright even to submit Bogrov's proposal to the SR Central Committee. He gave him one piece of advice: that if his present state of mind was not just temporary he should confide in no one else. Bogrov could see that he was doomed to remain isolated ... It was quite hopeless trying the Social Democrats. Secretly they would be glad of the murder, but publicly they would dissociate themselves from it and feign indignation.' (p.468)

At one point, in 1911, very shortly before the actual assassination, he has an opportunity to kill the Tsar. But: 

'This Tsar was a title, and no more. Not a worthwhile target. An object of public ridicule, the utter nonentity this wretched country deserved. Why shoot him? No successor would ever weaken his country more than this Tsar had. For ten years past people had been killing ministers and generals but no one had touched the Tsar. They knew better.

'On the other hand, the vengeance exacted if he were killed or wounded would defeat Bogrov's ends. If the Tsar were done away with anywhere else, it might not be too bad. But if it was done in Kiev, and by him, it would mean a terrible pogrom. The mindless mob would rise up in rage. The Jews of Kiev were his own flesh and blood. The thing of all things Bogrov would most want to prevent on this earth ... Kiev must never become the scene of mass outrages against the Jews, this or any other September.

'He heard the still, sure voice from three thousand years back.' (p.482)

As he obtains the ticket that gives him entry to the Opera House where he finally kills Stolypin:

'Now he had the ticket in his hand!

'Keep calm. Fold it again. Pocket it.

'On that ticket depends the fate of the government. The fate of the country.

'And the fate of my people.'

Bogrov's motives for killing Stolypin are problematical even without considering the extent to which he did or didn't feel himself to be a Jew acting on behalf of his people. He was - and had been for some time - on the payroll of the Okhrana, the Tsarist secret police, thus posing the question: was he a sincere revolutionary, using the Okhrana for his own purposes? was he, wittingly or unwittingly, acting on behalf of elements in the Okhrana hostile to Stolypin? or had he been rumbled as an Okhrana agent by revolutionaries who threatened to kill him if he did not commit a terrorist deed?

The question is further complicated by the fact that, according to the record of his first interrogation, Bogrov expressed pride in his deed as a revolutionary act. But in the course of his trial, he declared that he had in fact been working quite sincerely for the Okhrana and had been threatened by the revolutionaries. As a result he had intended on their orders to kill his Okhrana handler, but when he had the opportunity he had felt sorry for him and had been unable to go through with the act. Having the opportunity soon afterwards to kill Stolypin was an accident.

This is the version of the story Pipes favours, making of him a frivolous man who sells his soul to the Okhrana to pay off gambling debts (though his father was a very rich man, himself a gambler and therefore presumably not unsympathetic to the problems of a gambler, and what Bogrov was receiving from the Okhrana seems to have been peanuts). Solzhenitsyn's account, on the other hand, is an effort to reconcile all the apparent contradictions in the story on the assumption that he was a principled revolutionary acting as a loner, independently of any of the existing revolutionary movements. 

On the question of a specifically Jewish motivation, Pipes says that 'the most likely source of the claim that Bogrov acted as a Jew and on behalf of Jewish interests is a false report on the right-wing daily Novoe Vremia of September 13, 1911, that prior to his execution Bogrov told a rabbi that he had "struggled for the welfare and happiness of the Jewish people. In reality he had refused to see a rabbi before his execution.' (Russian Revolution, p.189).

According to Solzhenitsyn on the other hand:

'Next day, Sunday, a rabbi was allowed in to see the condemned man. "Tell the Jews," Bogrov said, "that I didn't want to harm them. On the contrary, I was fighting for the benefit of the Jewish people."

'That was the one and only part of his testimony to remain unchanged.

'The rabbi said reproachfully that Bogrov might have caused a pogrom. Bogrov replied, "A great people must not bow down to its oppressors".

'This statement also was widely reported in the press. [which may not be a very reliable source - PB]


'Many Jewish students in Kiev went into mourning for Bogrov.'