You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

August 16: The Pogromist’s Death

August 15, 2015

bohdan-khmelnitsky_3-tBogdan Khmelnitzky, leader (or Hetman) of the Zaporozhian Cossacks who organized a six-year war against the Ukraine’s Polish rulers that entailed the slaughter of some 100,000 Jews (the number is in dispute), died at 63 on this date in 1657. Widely seen as a national hero in the Ukraine, Khmelnitzky nevertheless sought union between Ukraine and Russia and turned on the Jews of his land — some of whom were allied with and protected by the ruling Polish nobility — in genocidal massacres marked by cruel atrocities. The Cossacks were Slavic tribespeople, militaristic, who served as the Russian Tsars’ shock troops and often led anti-Jewish pogroms right up until the Russian revolution. Jewish suffering during the Khmelnitzky uprising led to huge displacements and the desperate embrace of mystical ideas by Jews, which is thought by many historians to have helped speed the embrace of Shabtai Zvi as the messiah by hundreds of thousands of Jews worldwide a decade later.

“In the two decades following the uprising the Commonwealth suffered two more major wars... during that period total Jewish casualties are estimated as at least 100,000.” —Wikipedia