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Argentina’s “Tragic Week”

Lawrence Bush
January 7, 2018

The first pogrom in the Americas took place during the Semana Trágica (“Tragic Week”) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which began on this date in 1919 when the army violently attacked metalworkers who had been on strike for decent working conditions. A general strike began two days later. Rightwing paramilitary groups began to hunt down union leaders, anarchists, socialists and European immigrants, taking 700 lives, injuring thousands, and arresting tens of thousands. Several of the more radical unions included Yiddish-speaking contingents, so the Jewish neighborhood of Once was specially targeted for a pogrom by the antisemitic Argentine Patriotic League, which considered the labor unrest to be an “imported” Bolshevik revolution. Within a few years, the League had more than 300,000 members.

“The same economic and social problems that can cause a revolution can also cause a counter-revolution.”
—Sandra McGee Deutsch, Counter-Revolution in Argentina, 1900-1932

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.