Russia And The Khazars
Having traced the Knighthood of the Teutonic Order from its origin to its dissolution as a military-religious brotherhood, and having noted the development of successor sovereignties down to the obliteration of Prussia in 1945, we must turn back more than a thousand years, to examine another thread a scarlet one in the tangled skein of European history.
In the later years of the dimly recorded first millennium of the Christian era, Slavic people of several kindred tribes occupied the land which became known later as the north-central portion of European Russia. South of them between the Don and Volga rivers and north of the lofty Caucasus Mountains lived a people known to history as Khazars (Ancient Russia, by George Vernadsky, Yale University Press, 1943, p. 214).
These people had been driven westward from Central Asia and entered Europe by the corridor between the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea. They found a land occupied by primitive pastoral people of a score or more of tribes, a land which lay beyond the boundaries of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent under Trajan (ruled, 98-117 A.D.), and also beyond the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire (395-1453).
By slow stages, the Khazars extended their territory eventually to the Sea of Azov and the adjacent littoral of the Black Sea. The Khazars were apparently a people of mixed stock with Mongol and Turkic affinities. ― Around the year 600, a Belligerent tribe of half-Mongolian people, similar to the modern Turks, conquered the territory of what is now Southern Russia. Before long the kingdom [khanate] of the Khazars, as this tribe was known, stretched from the Caspian to the Black Sea. Its capital, Ityl, was at the mouth of the Volga River (A History of the Jews, by Solomon Grayzel, Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1947).
In the eighth or ninth century of our era, a khakan (or chagan, roughly equivalent to the tribal chief or primitive king) of the Khazars wanted a religion for his pagan people. Partly, perhaps, because of incipient tension between Christians and the adherents of the new Mohammedan faith (Mohammed died in 632,) and partly because of fear of becoming subject to the power of the Byzantine emperor or the Islamic caliph (Ancient Russia, p.291), he adopted a form of the Jewish religion at a date generally placed at c. 741 A.D., but believed by Fernadsky to be as late as 865.
According to the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (Vol. VI, pp. 375-377), this chieftain brought Christianity and Mohammedanism to expound their doctrines before him. This discussion convinced him that the Jewish faith was the most preferable, and he decided to embrace it. Thereupon he and about 4,000 Khazars were circumcised; it was only by degrees that the Jewish teachings gained a foothold among the population.
This History of the Jews (The Jewish Publication Society of America, Vol. III, 1894, pp.140-141), Professor H. Graetz gives further details:
A successor of Bulan, who bore the Hebrew name of Obadiah, was the first to make serious efforts to further the Jewish religion. He invited Jewish sages to settle in his dominions, rewarded them royally, founded synagogues and schools . . .caused instruction to be given to himself and his people in the Bible and the Talmud, and introduced a divine service modeled on the ancient communities.
After Obadiah came a long series of Jewish chagans, for according to a fundamental law of the state only Jewish rulers were permitted to ascend the throne.
The significance of the term ancient communities cannot be here explained. For a suggestion of the incorrect exposition and the tasteless misrepresentations with which the Bible, i.e., the Old Testament, was presented through the Talmud, see below in this chapter, the extensive quotation from Professor Graetz.
Also in the Middle Ages, Viking warriors, according to Russian tradition by invitation, pushed from the Baltic area into the low hills west of Moscow. Archaeological discoveries show that at one time or another these Northmen penetrated almost all areas south of Lake Ladoga and West of the Kama and Lower Volga rivers. Their earliest, and permanent, settlements were north and east of the West Dwina River, in the Lake Ilmen area, and between the Upper Volga and Oka rivers, at whose junction they soon held the famous trading post of Nizhni-Novgorod (Ancient Russia, p. 267).
These immigrants from the North and West were principal ―the Russ‘—a Varangian tribe in ancient annals considered as related to the Swedes, Angles, and Nothmen (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. XIX, p. 712). From the local Slavic tribes, they organized (c. 862) a state, known subsequently from their name as Russia, which embraced the territory of the upper Volga and Dnieper rivers and reached down the latter river to the Black Sea (An Introduction to Old Norse, by E. V. Gordon, Oxford University Press, 1927, map between pp. xxiv-xxv) and to the Crimea.
Russ and Slav were of related stock and their languages, though quite different, had common Indo-Germanic origin. They accepted Christianity as their religion. Greek Orthodox missionaries, sent to Rus [i.e. Russia] in the 860s baptized so many people that shortly after this a special bishop was sent to care for their needs (A History of Ukraine, by Michael Hrushevsky, Yale University Press, 1941, p. 65).
The Rus (or ―Russ) were absorbed into the Slav population which they organized into statehood. The people of the new state devoted themselves energetically to consolidating their territory and extending its boundaries. From the Khazars, who had extended their power up the Dnieper Valley, they took Kiev, which was an important trading center even before becoming, in the 10th century, the capital of a large recently Christianized state (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. VI, p. 381). Many Varangians (Rus) had settled among the Slavs in this area (Ukraine), and Christian Kiev became the seat of an enlightened Westward-looking dynasty, whose members married into several European royal houses, including that of France.
The Slavs, especially those in the area now known as Ukraine, were engaged in almost constant warfare with the Khazars and finally, by 1016 A.D., destroyed the Khazar government and took a large portion Khazar territory. For the gradual shrinking of the Khazar territory and the development of Poland, Lithuania, the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and other Slavic states, see the pertinent maps in Historical Atlas, by William R. Shepherd (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1911).
Some of the subjugated Khazars remained in the Slav-held lands their khakans had long ruled, and others migrated to Kiev and other parts of Russia (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. VI, p. 377), probably to a considerable extent because of the dislocations wrought by the Mongols under Genghis Khan (1162-1227), who founded in and beyond the old Khazar khanate the short-lived khanate of the Golden Horde. The Judaized Khazars underwent further dispersion both northwestward into Lithuanian and Polish areas and also within Russia proper and Ukraine.
In 1240 in Kiev the Jewish community was uprooted, its surviving members finding refuge in towns further west (Univ. Jew. Encyc., Vol. VI,p. 382) along with the fleeing Russians, when the capital fell to the Mongol soldiers of Batu, the nephew of Genghis Khan. A short time later, many of these expelled Jews returned to Kiev.
Migrating thus, as some local power impelled them, the Khazar Jews became widely distributed in Western Russia. Into the Khazar khanate there had been a few Jewish immigrants rabbis, traders, refugees, but the people of the Kievan Russian state did not facilitate the entry of additional Jews into their territory.
The rulers of the Grand Duchy of Moscow also sought to exclude Jews from areas under its control. From its earliest times, the policy of the Russian government was that of complete exclusion of the Jews from its territories (Univ. Jew. Encyc. Vol. I, p. 384). For instance, Ivan IV [reign,1533-1584] refused to allow Jewish merchants to travel in Russia (op. cit., Vol. I, p.384).
Relations between Slavs and the Judaized Khazars in their midst were never happy. The reasons were not racial, for the Slavs had absorbed many minorities but were ideological. The rabbis sent for by Khakan Obadiah were educated in and were zealots for the Babylonian Talmud, which after long labors by many hands had been completed on December 2, 499. In the thousands of synagogues that were built in the Khazar khanate, the imported rabbis and their successors were in complete control of the political, social, and religious thoughts of their people.
So significant was the Babylonian Talmud as the principal cause of Khazar resistance to Russian efforts to end their political and religious separatism, and so significant also are the modern sequels, including those in the United States, that an extensive quotation on the subject from the great History of the Jews, by Professor H. Graetz (Vol. II, 1893, pp. 631 ff.) is here presented: The Talmud must not be regarded as an ordinary work, composed of twelve volumes; it possesses absolutely no similarity to any other literary production, but forms, without any figure of speech, a work of its own, which must be judged by its peculiar laws.
The Talmud contains much that is frivolous which it treats with great gravity and seriousness; it further reflects the various superstitious practices and views of its Persian birthplace which presume the efficacy of demoniacal medicines, of magic, incantations, miraculous cures, and interpretations of dreams. It also contains isolated instances of uncharitable judgments and decrees against the members of other nations and religions, and finally, it favors an incorrect exposition of the scriptures, accepting, as it does, tasteless misrepresentations.
More than six centuries lie petrified in the Talmud. Small wonder then, that the sublime and the common, the great and the small, the grave and the ridiculous, the altar and the ashes, the Jewish and the heathenish, be discovered side by side.
The Babylonian Talmud is especially distinguished from the Jerusalem or Palestine Talmud by the flights of thought, the penetration of mind, the flashes of genius, which rise and vanish again. It was for this reason that the Babylonian rather than the Jerusalem Talmud became the fundamental possession of the Jewish race, its life breath, its very soul, nature and mankind, powers and events, were for the Jewish nation insignificant, non-essential, a mere phantom; the only true reality was the Talmud.
Not merely educated by the Talmud but actually living the life of its Babylonian background, which they may have regarded with increased devotion because most of the Jews of Mesopotamia had embraced Islam, the rabbi-governed Khazars had no intention whatever of losing their identity by becoming Russianized or Christian.
The intransigent attitude of the rabbis was increased by their realization that their power would be lost if their people accepted controls other than Talmudic. These controls by rabbis were responsible not only for basic mores but for such externals as the peculiarities of dress and hair. It has been frequently stated by writers on the subject that the ghetto was the work not of Russians or other Slavs but of rabbis.
As time passed, it came about that these Khazar people of mixed non-Russian stock, who hated the Russians and lived under Babylonian Talmudic law, became known in the western world, from their place of residence and their legal-religious code, as Russian Jews.
In Russian lands after the fall of Kiev in 1240, there was a period of dissension and disunity. The struggle with the Mongols and other Asiatic khanates continued and from them, the Russians learned much about effective military organization. Also, as the Mongols had not overrun Northern and Western Russia (Shepherd, op.cit., Map 77), there was a background for the resistance and counter-offensive which gradually eliminated the invaders. The capital of reorganized Russia was no longer Kiev But Moscow (hence the terms Moscovy and Muscovite).
In 1613 the Russian nobles (boyars), desired a more stable government than they had had, and elected as their czar a boy named Michael Romanov, whose veins carried the blood of the grand dukes of Kiev and the grand dukes of Moscow.
Under the Romanovs of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was no change in attitude toward the Judaized Khazars, who scorned Russian civilization and stubbornly refused to enter the fold of Christianity. Peter the Great [reign, 1682-1725] spoke of the Jews as rogues and cheats‘ (Popular History of the Jews, by H. Graetz, New York, The Jordan Publishing Co., 1919, 1935, Vol. VI by Max Raisin, p. 89). Elizabeth [reign, 1741-1762] expressed her attitude in the sentence: From the enemies of Christ, I desire neither gain nor profit‘ (Univ. Jew. Encyc., Vol. I, p. 384).
Under the Romanov dynasty (1613-1917) many members of the Russian upper classes were educated in Germany, and the Russian nobility, already partly Scandinavian by blood, frequently married Germans or other Western Europeans. Likewise many of the Romanovs, themselves – in fact, all of them who ruled in the later years of the dynasty – married into Western families. Prior to the nineteenth century, the two occupants of the Russian throne best known in world history were Peter I, the Great, and Catherine II, the Great.
The former – who in 1703 gave Russia its West window, St. Petersburg, later known as Petrograd and recently as Leningrad – chose as his consort and successor on the throne as Catherine I, [reign, 1725-1727], a captured Marienburg (Germany) servant girl whose mother and father were respectively a Lithuanian peasant woman and a Swedish dragoon.
Catherine II, the Great, was a German princess who was proclaimed reigning Empress of Russia after her husband, the ineffective Czar Peter III, subnormal in mind and physique (Encyc. Brit., Vol. V, p. 37), left St. Petersburg.
During her thirty-four years as Empress, Catherine, by studying such works as Blackstone‘s Commentaries, and by correspondence with such illustrious persons as Voltaire, F. M. Grimm Frederick the Great, Dederot, and Maria-Theresa of Austria, kept herself in contact with the West (Encyc. Brit., Vol. XIX, p. 718 and passim). She chose for her son, weak like his father and later the madman Czar Paul I [reign, 1796-1801], a German wife.
The nineteenth-century czars were Catherine the Great‘s grandson, Alexander I [reign, 1801-1825 German wife ]; his brother, Nicholas I [reign, 1825-1855 German wife]; his son, Nicholas II [reign, 1894-1917—German wife], who was murdered with his family (1918) after the Communists seized power (1917)
Though many of the Romanovs, including Peter I and Catherine II, had far from admirable characters a fact well advertised in American books on the subject, and though some of them, including Nicholas II, were not able rulers, a general purpose of the dynasty was to give their land certain of the advantages of Western Europe. In the West, they characteristically sought alliances with one country or another, rather than ideological penetration.
Like, their Slavic overlords, the Judaized Khazars of Russia had various relationships with Germany. Their numbers from time to time, as during the Crusades, received accretions from the Jewish communities in Germany, principally into Poland and other areas not yet Russian; many of the ancestors of these people, however, had previously entered Germany from Slavic lands. More interesting than these migrations was the importation from Germany of an idea conceived by a prominent Jew of solving century-old tensions between the native majority population and the Jews in their midst.
In Germany, while Catherine the Great was Empress of Russia, a Jewish scholar and philosopher named Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) attracted wide and favorable attention among non-Jews and a certain following among Jews. His conception of the barrier between Jew and non-Jew, as analyzed by Grayzel (op. cit., p. 543), was that the Jews had erected about themselves a mental ghetto to balance the physical ghetto around them.
Mendelssohn‘s objective was to lead the Jews out of this mental ghetto into the wide world of general culture without, however, doing harm to their specifically Jewish culture. The movement received the name Haskalah, which may be rendered as enlightenment. Among other things, Mendelssohn wished Jews in Germany to learn the German language.
The Jews of Eastern Europe had from early days used corrupted versions of local vernaculars, written in the Hebrew alphabet (see How Yiddish Came to be, Grayzel, op. cit., p. 456), just as the various vernaculars of Western Europe were written in the Latin alphabet, and to further his purpose Mindelssohn translated the Pentateuch Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy into standard German, using, however, the accepted Hebrew alphabet (Grayzel, op. cit., p. 543).
Thus in one stroke, he led his readers a step toward Westernization by the use of the German Language and by offering them, instead of the Babylonian Talmud, a portion of scripture recognized by both Jew and Christian.
The Mendelssohn views were developed in Russia in the nineteenth century, notably by Isaac Baer Levinsohn (1788-1860), the Russian Mendelssohn. Levinsohn was a scholar who, with Abraham Harkavy, delved into a field of Jewish history little known in the West, namely the settlement of Jewish history little known in the West, namely the settlement of Jews in Russia and their vicissitudes furring the dark ages. . .
Levinsohn was the first to express the opinion that the Russian Jews hailed not from Germany, as is commonly supposed, but from the banks of the Volga. This hypothesis, corroborated by tradition, Harkavy established as a fact (The Haskalah Movement on Russia, by Jacob S. Raisin, Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1913, 1914, p. 17).
The reigns of the nineteenth-century Czars showed a fluctuation of attitudes toward the Jewish ―state within a state (The Haskalah Movement, p. 43). In general, Nicholas I had been less lenient than Alexander I toward his intractable non-Christian minority, but he took an immediate interest in the movement endorsed by the opportunity for possibly breaking down the separatism of the Judaized Khazars. He put in charge of the project of opening hundreds of Jewish schools a brilliant young Jew, Dr. Max Lilienthal.
From its beginning, however, the Haskalah movement had had bitter opposition among Jews in Germany many of whom, including the famous Moses Hess (Graetz-Raisin, op.cit., Vol. VI, PP. 371 ff.), became ardent Jewish nationalists—and in Russia the opposition was fanatical. The great mass of Russian Jewry was devoid of all secular learning, steeped in fanaticism, and given to superstitious practices ( Graetz-Raisin, op. cit., Vol. VI, P. 112), and their leaders, for the most part, had no notion of tolerating a project which would lessen or destroy their control.
These leaders believed correctly that the new education was designed to lessen the authority of the Talmud, which was the cause, as the Russians saw it, of the fanaticism and corrupt morals of the Jews. The leaders of the Jews also saw that the new schools were a way to bring the Jews closer to the Russian people and the Creek church (Graetz-Raisen, op. cit., Vol. VI, p. II6). According to Raisin, the millions of Russian Jews were averse to having the government interfere with their inner and spiritual life by foisting upon them its educational measures.
The soul of Russian Jewry sensed the danger lurking in the imperial scheme (op. cit., p. 117). Lilienthal was in their eyes a traitor and informer, and in 1845, to recover a modicum of prestige with his people, he shook the dust of bloody Russia from his feet (Graetz-Raisin, op.cit., Vol. VI, p. 117). Thus the Haskalah movement failed in Russia to break down the separatism of the Judaized Khazars.
When Nicholas I died, his son Alexander II [reign, 1855-1881] decided to try a new way of winning the Khazar minority to willing citizenship in Russia. He granted his people, including the Khazars, so many liberties that he was called the ― Czar Liberator.
By irony or nemesis, however, his liberal regime contributed substantially to the downfall of Christian Russia. Despite the ill-success of his Uncle Alexander‘s measures to effect the betterment ‘of the obnoxious‘ Jewish element (univ. Jew. Encyc., Vol. I, p. 384), he ordered a wholesale relaxation of oppressive and restraining regulations (Graetz-Raisin, op. cit., p. 124) and Jews were free to attend all schools and universities and to travel without restrictions. The new freedom led, however, to results the Liberator had not anticipated.
Educated, and free at last to organize nationally, the Judaized Khazars in Russia became not merely an indigestible mass in the body politic, the characteristic state within a state, but a formidable anti-government force. With non-Jews of nihilistic or other radical tendencies, the so-called Russian intelligentsia, they sought in the first instance to further their aims by assassinations (Modern European History, by Charles Downer Hazen, Holt, New York, p. 565).
Alexander tried to abate the hostility of the terrorists by granting more and more concessions, but on the day the last concessions were announced, a bomb was thrown at his carriage. The carriage was wrecked, and many of his escorts were injured. Alexander escaped as by a miracle, but a second bomb exploded near him as he was going to aid the injured. He was horribly mangled and died within an hour. Thus perished the Czar Liberator (Modern European History, p. 567).
Some of those involved in earlier attempts to assassinate Alexander II were of Jewish Khazar background (see The Anarchists by Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, John Lane, London, and New York, 1911, p. 66). According to the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, the assassination of Alexander II in which a Jewess had played a part revived a latent anti-Semitism.
Resentful of precautions taken by the murdered Czar‘s son and successor, Alexander III, and also possessing a new world plan, hordes of Jews, some of them highly educated in Russian universities, migrated to other European countries and to America. The emigration continued (see below) under Nicholas II. Many Jews remained in Russia, however, for in 1913 the Jewish population of Russia amounted to 6,946,000 (Univ. Jew. Encyc., Vol. IX, p. 285).
Various elements of this restless aggressive minority nurtured the amazing quadruple aims of international Communism, the seizure of power in Russia, Zionism, and continued migration to America, with a fixed purpose to retain their nationalistic separatism. In many instances, the same individuals were participants in two or more phases of the four-fold objective.
Among the Jews who remained in Russia, which then included Lithuania, the Ukraine (A History of Ukraine, Michael Hrushevsky, Yale University Press, 1941, passim), and much of Poland, were the founders of the Russian Bolshevik party:
In 1897 was founded the Bond, the union of Jewish workers in Poland and Lithuania. . . They engaged in revolutionary activity on a large scale, and their energy made them the spearhead of the Party (Article on ― Communism by Harold J. Laski, Encyc. Brit., Vol. III, pp 824-827).
The name Bolsheviki means majority (from Russian Bolshe, the larger) and commemorates the fact that at the Brussels-London conference of the party in late 1902 and early 1903, the violent Marxist program of Lenin was adopted by a 25 to 23 vote, the less violent minority or Mensheviki Marxists fading finally from the picture after Stalin‘s triumph in October 1917. It has been also stated that the term Bolshevik refers to the ― larger or more violent program of the majority faction. After (1918) the Bolsheviki called their organization the Communist Party.
The Zionist Jews were another group that laid its plan in Russia as a part of the new re-orientation of Russian Jewry after the collapse of Haskalah and the assassination (1881) of Alexander II. On November 6, 1884, for the first time in history, a Jewish international assembly was held at Kattowitz, near the Russian frontier, where representatives from all classes and different countries met and decided to colonize Palestine. . .(The Haskalah Movement in Russia, p. 285).
For a suggestion of the solidarity of purpose between the Jewish Bund, which was the core of the Communist Party, and early Zionism, see Grayzel (op. cit., p. 662). Henceforth a heightened sense of race-consciousness takes the place formerly held by religion and is soon to develop into a concrete nationalism with Zion as its goal (Graetz-Raisin, Vol. p. 168).
In Russia and abroad in the late nineteenth century, not only Bundists but other Khazar Jews had been attracted to the writings of Karl Marx (1818-1883), partly, it seems, because he was Jewish in origin. On both paternal and maternal sides, Karl Marx was descended from rabbinical families (Univ. Jew. Encyc., Vol. VII, p. 289).
The Marxian program of drastic controls, so repugnant to the free western mind, was no obstacle to the acceptance of Marxism by many Khazar Jews, for the Babylonian Talmud under which they lived had taught then to accept authoritarian dictation on everything from their immorality to their trade practices. Since the Talmud contained more than 12,000 controls, the regimentation of Marxism was acceptable, provided the Khazar politician, like the Talmudic rabbi, exercised the power of the dictatorship.
Under Nicholas II, there was no abatement of the regulations designed, after the murder of Alexander II, To curb the anti-government activities of Jews; consequently, the reaction to those excesses was Jewish support of the Bolsheviks. . . (Univ. Jew. Encyc., Vol. I, p. 286.) The way to such support was easy since the predecessor organization of Russian Communism was the Jewish Bund. Thus Marxian Communism, modified for expediency, became an instrument for the violent seizure of power.
The Communist Jews, together with revolutionaries of Russian stock, were sufficiently numerous to give the venture a promise of success if attempted at the right time. After the rout of the less violent faction in 1917, when Russia was staggering under defeat by Germany a year before Germany, in turn, staggered to defeat under the triple blows of Britain, France, and the United States.
The great hour of freedom struck on the 15th of March, 1917, when Czar Nicholas’ train was stopped and he was told that his rule was at an end. . . Israel, in Russia, suddenly found itself lifted out of its oppression and degradation (Graetz-Raisin, op. cit., Vol. VI, p. 209).
At this moment Lenin appeared on the scene, after an absence of nine years (Encyc. Brit., Vol. XIII, p. 912). The Germans, not realizing that he would be anything more than a trouble maker for their World War I enemy, Russia, passed him and his party (exact number disputed—about 200?) In a sealed train from Switzerland to the Russian border.
In Lenin‘s sealed train, Out of a list of 165 names published, 23 are Russian, 3 Georgian, 4 Armenian, 1 German, and 128 Jewish (The Surrender of an Empire, Nesta H. Webster, Boswell Printing and Publishing Company, Ltd., 10 Essex St., London, W.C.2, 1931, p. 77). At about the same time, Trotsky arrived from the United States, followed by over 300 Jews from the East End of New York, and joined up with the Bolshevik Party (op. cit., p. 73).
Thus under Lenin, whose birth-name was Ulianov and whose racial antecedents are uncertain, and under Leon Trotsky, a Jew, whose birth name was Bronstein, a small number of highly trained Jews from abroad, along with Russian Judaized Khazan and non-Jewish captives to the Marxian ideology, were able to make themselves masters of Russia.
Individual revolutionary leaders and Sverdlov played a conspicuous part in the revolution of November 1917, which enabled the Bolshevists to take possession of the state apparatus (Univ. Jew. Encyd., Vol. IX, p.668). Here and there in the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, other Jews are named as co-founders of Russian Communism, but not Lenin and Stalin. Both of these, however, is said by some writers to be half-Jewish.