Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Reflections on the Black Hundreds

The period encompassing what turned out to be the final years of the Russian Empire has been the subject of intense focus by historians around the world and a preponderance have done everything possible to slander and defame the Romanov monarchy and all those who supported it. As a result, it has become all too common for people to take for granted that the Russian Empire was an evil regime and that all who supported it were villains and all who opposed it were heroes. Of course, seldom mentioned is the fact that most Russians retained their loyalty to the Czar and that none of the revolutionary regimes which succeeded the monarchy came about by the democratically expressed will of the people which the revolutionaries always claimed to champion. However, that is the situation and one group which had been particularly vilified, due to the fact that few to none were so zealous in their support of the Russian imperial monarchy, was the group of people who came to be known as the Black Hundreds. As usual, while the Black Hundreds have been vociferously demonized, at the same time most doing so have little to no understanding of who the Black Hundreds actually were, why they came into being and why they did the things they did.

In the first place, it is important to keep in mind that there was never a single organization known as “the Black Hundreds”. The name was applied to a number of separate organizations of various sorts that all held the same basic point of view. There was no official starting point for them, no single program and no centrally directed campaigns governing their actions. The Black Hundreds were reactionary in that they emerged in response to the increasing revolutionary activity in late Imperial Russia and they were conservative in that they sought to preserve the Russian Empire as it was which is exactly why so many others then, and particularly now, opposed it; because the Russian Empire did not fall in line with prevailing liberal world opinion being a staunchly Orthodox Christian absolute monarchy. The Black Hundreds looked at the turmoil, treason and violence that was becoming ever more commonplace in Russia, the national setbacks the country had suffered and, not surprisingly, yearned to go back to the example of Russia at its zenith of power under Czar Nicholas I. They endeavored to be the defenders of the three pillars that made up the motto of Czar Nicholas I, “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality”. Those are the things they defended and would fight for.

Contrary to what most believe, most of what the Black Hundreds did to further their cause was peaceful. They held special prayer meetings and Church services, organized lectures to educate the public on the sacred nature of the monarchy, the central role of the Church and the dangers posed by the revolutionaries. They held marches and demonstrations to show their loyalty to their Czar and to counter opposition rallies held by the revolutionary crowd. This is something that, while not being the whole story, is invariably ignored altogether but the fact is that the major of the activity of the Black Hundreds was completely non-violent and consisted of praying for their Czar and motherland and educating the populace on the importance of faith, loyalty and the Orthodox monarchy. However, there is also no denying the fact that there were those among the Black Hundreds who went further and not a few. This is the part that most historians talk about and are only too happy to relate. Anyone who has read anything about this period of Russian history will certainly have heard of the assortment of assassinations, violent demonstrations and pogroms in which the Black Hundreds were implicated. They are also usually quick to point out the support for the Black Hundreds that came from the Imperial Family when mentioning these.

There is no denying that such events took place, however, the context of these violent acts are invariably ignored completely. The Church services, patriotic demonstrations, newspaper publishing and educational campaigns are ignored entirely and all the focus is on killings, violent demonstrations and particularly the pogroms. However, these were, again, actions taken in response to the violence, acts of treason and murder taken by the revolutionaries. If one understands the desperate situation Russia found itself in, it should be no surprise that there would be those who determined to take a stand and to fight back against it. In terms of law enforcement, the government could do only so much. There was revolutionary infiltration of the police after all and even had their been no traitors or corruption in the police force, for an empire as vast as Russia with so huge a population there was only so much they could do. The authorities could not be everywhere at all times and the revolutionaries were very adept at covering for each other and manipulating the legal system to their own advantage. The Black Hundreds were motivated to action by the dangers afflicting their country and were not prepared to sit back and do nothing while their motherland, their Czar and their faith was under attack.

Several politicians, for example, who had shown themselves to be enemies of the monarchy, were assassinated by elements of the Black Hundreds. Regardless of what one thinks of such actions, the fact is that they paled in comparison to the number of assassinations carried out by the revolutionaries and their motivations were completely different. Acts of violence committed by the revolutionaries were done in an effort to derail the legitimate Russian government, to thwart actions to improve the country and to cause chaos and turmoil. The acts of violence committed by the Black Hundreds were done in an effort to destroy treasonous elements (who made no secret of their treason by the way but in fact gloried in their status as traitors) and to protect the Russian Empire as it existed and had always existed. When they found revolutionaries or people supporting what was essentially treason or anyone who threatened the Russian monarchy, Orthodoxy or the unity of the Russian Empire, they took action. The revolutionaries were not playing by the rules, as it were, so the Black Hundreds saw no reason why they should not respond in kind. If the revolutionaries were prepared to kill to destroy the Russian Empire, the Black Hundreds were willing to kill to protect it.

Another point that is often overlooked is that, while some Black Hundreds groups lasted until the Russian Revolution of 1917, most formed around 1905 and had ceased to be very relevant by 1907. During that time there were many acts of revolutionary violence and political assassinations by those trying to bring down the Russian Empire. During the Russo-Japanese War, increased stress on the national infrastructure caused strikes, riots and protests, the most infamous being “Bloody Sunday”. Enemies within Russia were very active and foreign elements were also on the offensive from outside with Japan providing funding for dissidents working to undermine and bring down the monarchy. The actions of the Black Hundreds, in short, did not spring up for no reason but were a reaction to very real and present threats against the Russian Empire and the Orthodox monarchy that was its foundation. Among the revolutionaries that the Black Hundreds took action against, a prominent element was the Jews and since the Black Hundreds have come to be so associated with anti-Semitism (which is still going on today), this has to be looked at.

There was, without question, plenty of anti-Semitism in the ranks of the Black Hundreds. The Jews were seized upon as a primary enemy, if not the primary enemy of everything that the Black Hundreds stood for. There is no denying that and it is clearly wrong to persecute anyone who was innocent of any crime. That is something pretty widely accepted. Just as important though, is to understand where this animosity came from and why it was not terribly surprising. There were certainly many Jews who were unjustly persecuted but there is also no denying the fact that the Jewish population was greatly overrepresented in the ranks of the revolutionary agitators. A disproportionate number of the revolutionaries plotting acts of terrorism to bring down the monarchy were, in fact, Jews. Given that, it is at least understandable why the defenders of the Russian monarchy would often take on an anti-Semitic mindset. Their fear and suspicion toward the Jews was not completely unwarranted. Plenty of Jews, in and outside of Russia, were enemies of the Russian Empire and made no secret of the fact. During the Russo-Japanese War for example, the Japanese war effort was bankrolled by a prominent German-American Jew named Jacob Schiff who loaned Japan huge amounts of money because he detested the way Jews were treated in Russia and hoped that a Japanese victory would destroy the Russian Empire.

Of course, when faced with enemies within from a minority group that was of a different race and different religion, some of whom had ties to foreign powers and supported anti-Russian elements at home and enemies of Russia abroad, it is no wonder that many in the Black Hundreds would become anti-Semitic and take it to extreme lengths. Unfortunately, this is far from uncommon. It often seems that the world is incapable of dealing with the Jews the same as any other people but only ever deals with them in an extreme way, blaming them for all the problems in the world one day and then not allowing any criticism of them at all the next. Even when groups such as the Black Hundreds had understandable reasons for being suspicious of the Jews, all too often this builds to absurd proportions so that we have the creation of a bogeyman which can still be seen among many today, something I have come to call “the magical Jew”. This is when anti-Semitism is taken to such lengths that people attribute super-human qualities to the Jews, as if they have magical powers to successfully deceive, dominate and exploit whole nations, which is all the more odd considering that those making such accusations often claim that the Jews are an inferior people to their own while at the same time claiming that these Jews are, by some “magic” able to completely dupe, outsmart and control entire countries full of people supposedly superior to themselves.

Such attitudes are, of course, completely absurd. In the case of the Black Hundreds, however, the villainy they attributed to the Jews was exaggerated but not totally unfounded. Their fears and suspicions were based on real threats and, as stated above, among those who were threatening the very existence of the Russian Empire, who were building bombs, assassinating royals and colluding with enemy nations, the Jews were disproportionately represented. How most of the Black Hundreds felt about the Jews is well known but what is less well known is why they felt that way. This was not blind hatred that came out of nowhere. Any enemy of the Russian monarchy was an enemy of the Black Hundreds and, unfortunately, many of the enemies of the Russian monarchy were Jews. It is unfortunate that some went too far with that but, given the context of when the Black Hundreds were at their peak, they were not something to be condemned. I certainly would not. It was a violent time and many tragic things happened but when their country and their Czar were being threatened, the Black Hundreds decided to do something about it, to take action and do whatever they could to defend that which was most precious to them and that is something I find laudable.

It was, however, a rather short-lived movement. Still, some groups of what had been the Black Hundreds remained to the end of the Russian Empire. It might surprise some to know that they were often the harshest critics of the White Russian faction. They were critical precisely because they were so loyal to the monarchy and while the Whites were certainly the “good guys” of the Russian Civil War, they were not all monarchists and for the Black Hundreds, absolute loyalty to the Czar and the Russian Orthodox faith were non-negotiable positions. Have these attitudes survived? It is hard for me to say. Recently, groups laying claim to the Black Hundreds legacy have reemerged over the turmoil in Ukraine, backing the position of Ukrainian re-union with Russia and blaming the current crisis on Jews in the Ukrainian government. How similar they are to the actual Black Hundreds of the past I cannot be certain. Were they so active in pushing for the full restoration of the monarchy in Russia rather than extension of the rule of the current Russian regime over Ukraine I would be more positive but I have yet to see that and remained concerned that, as has happened in other countries, the government may be winning monarchists over with gestures and promises while having no intention of ever actually doing anything to restore the monarchy. For that, the ultimate goal of the Black Hundreds of old, only time will tell.


  1. How many lectures among The Black Hundreds claimed the Jews were generally speaking "inferior"?

    I would say in certain ways inferior morally, but absolutely not when it comes to talents.

    And by "inferior morally" I would attribute that to consciously pursued desensitivation on certain issues - whether taking interest or attacking Christianity.

    It is one thing not to believe it, and another to attack it like one attacks nothing else. Some Jews would claim that adoring Jupiter or Odin is more proper to a gentile than being Christian. Some would support any leftist régime which is not totally bloody (and not all are squeamish about that either) as long as it allowed Judaism and Noahidism and at least discouraged Christianity. Never mind details about abortion or contraception, never mind details about school compulsion in mixed schools prolonged into puberty, never mind hideously ugly modern art - partly it is "what would you expect from goyim" and partly they even relish to identify themselves with it.

    1. Certainly not. Jews or at least religious jews will NEVER support paganism over any monotheism (Chanukah is about the defeat of the greek polytheism against the zealous belief in one God, ours, Hashem). In the Roman Empire, once, it is true that there was a great hostility between the early christians and jews, beacuse of the fear other jews will become Christians but once Christianity spread its influence beyond Judea and later when it became the major faith in the Roman Empire, most Jews stayed loyal to the empire and were hired mercenaires that continued to serve in the legions untill it dismantled. In the fourth crusade, Jews were treated the same as the Eastern orthodox Byzantines that were slaughtered. In perspective of a Jew who believes Judaism, Christianity is probably the closest religion to Judaism. So yes, we do not believe in Christ, but Christianity shares our faith in the old testament that none of other Abrahamic religions share (the koran believes it to become falsehood). The whole perspective of Christianity about monarchism and the Christian disciples' religious inspiration is of the books of our prophets and kings. Although Islam adherents some of the practical laws of the torah- like not eating pork and maybe iconoclasm, the other important laws it does not observe. The only reason Islamic kingdoms treated Jews for better, is beacuse they treated like this any other minority, and it wasn't always true. Many do not know this, but Jews were treated much better in the kingdom of Jerusalem than under Saladin that forced them to be expelled.
      About the Russian Empire, I posted a document in this blog that describes their feelings under the reign of Alexander III (that is treated worst for jews by modern 'historians') that shows how the Jews of a yeshiva in Ukraine of 1882 blessed the tsar and dispise the Jewish revolutionaries, they are NOT treated as jews by them, but as a amaleqite, devilish force. I don't treat them either. For centuries under centuries, Jews were religious believers and as so, were treated for good in France, Germany, in Catholic Poland and so on. In that period of the rise of liberalism, some Jews tended to leaved Judaism and be part of the European society. Mostly that converted, didn't even believe Christianity but used it as a tool to create a new, international scum society they actually believed in - Socialism and Communism. BTW Schiff that is mentioned in the article, was a reformed jew. It is NOT like reformation in Christianity. Rabbi of the reformed sect can be an atheist (!) so it is not the Orthodox Judaism. The right definition of these bankers are non-jews. At least Jews of Ottoman Empire were saved from this horror, at least until 1908.

    2. Please indent the paragraphs in your comment to make it more understandable. It is apparent that you know a lot about Judaism, but I must correct you on a few facts about Christianity and Islam. First of all, these two religions are the closest religions to Judaism. Since I don't know as much about Islam as I do Christianity, I'll start with Islam. Islam, first of all, has multiple divisions/denominations/sects. So some Muslims believe things that others don't. Second, Islam follows both the Bible and the Torah. Muslims believe that Mohammad(sorry for my spelling) continued the ministry that Jesus and the Torah began. The difference is, is that Islam interprets certain parts differently. For instance, Muslims acknowledge that Jesus was born of a virgin, but do not believe him to be the Messiah. I do not know how much of the Mosaic Law Muslims observe though.
      As for Christians, we believe that the old testament is true although most Christians ignore most of the Mosaic Law. If other Christians read the Bible, they would understand that although the Mosaic Law is true, it was only meant to be followed until Christ came to Earth. This is indicated by the fact that many of the things that were required in ancient Judiasm was not done/required in early Christianity. Examples: circumcision, animal sacrifices, cleansing processes, etc. Some thing do apply though.

    3. Jews or at least religious jews will NEVER support paganism over any monotheism

      I have met exceptions. They also are not classifying Christianity as a Monotheism.

      In the fourth crusade, Jews were treated the same as the Eastern orthodox Byzantines that were slaughtered.


      As for Christians, we believe that the old testament is true although most Christians ignore most of the Mosaic Law.

      A Christian has opposite view to a Conservative Jew.

      To a Christian haggada remains obliging, because what is once true is always true, but halacha was changed because of the transfer of priesthood with the New Covenant.

      A Conservative Jew however denies the transfer of priesthood and think halacha needs to be preserved (as integrally as possible after the Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple), but he thinks haggada can be tampered with like "idealised history" (I heard that description about Genesis by a self identified Noachide some week ago).

    4. Back to Autocratic Enlightenment:

      BTW Schiff that is mentioned in the article, was a reformed jew. It is NOT like reformation in Christianity. Rabbi of the reformed sect can be an atheist (!) so it is not the Orthodox Judaism. The right definition of these bankers are non-jews.

      This is an attitude I respect!

  2. Oh, Ukraine.

    It is not certain that Ukraine should not stay separate. And if reunified to anything, why not Poland-Lithuania? Would at least suit the Uniates better.

  3. I must protest your use of the vile term "race" when speaking of any single group of people who is different than Indo-European. According to modern biology there is NO SUCH THING as race. To have race, humanity must then have separate species, which we do not have. The biological difference between any two living humans is less than 3%. The only real difference is one of language in that Hebrew (as well as Arabic) is Semitic and Russian is Indo-European based (other European languages are not Indo-European, FYI). However, this has nothing to do with biological "race", much less religion. OK, rant over.

    1. "According to modern biology there is NO SUCH THING as race."

      This is completely wrong. According to modern biology, there is even more racial diversity than previously thought, especially in Africa. There's maybe over two-dozen races. It doesn't imply anything about speciation, nobody is claiming this.

      " Russian is Indo-European based (other European languages are not Indo-European, FYI)"

      This is completely wrong. All European languages are Indo-European, hence Indo-EUROPEAN. The only exceptions are the Uralic languages Finnish and Hungarian.

    2. What criteria are you positing to make such a claim? All humans possess melanin, the major substance which produces skin colour. Melanin came first. In fact, all the so-called outer differences which we see were first developed as protections. Some of us are still quite hairy, though those people are homo sapiens. The various shades of brown which our skins have become is also but a cosmetic feature. There are a few horrendous diseases which arose due to where certain human populations lived; but, this is NOT racial. BTW, the Basque language is also a unique language in Europe as well, unrelated to I-E and F-H. Yes, the diversity of humanity is wondrous; but, it is also their inherent unity that is even more wondrous to behold. (By the way, I am very well educated and I do not speak out of Political Correctness, which I despise. I have been taught to think logically and scientifically. The term Race is a political creation and is wholly evil.)

    3. To have race, humanity must then have separate species, which we do not have.

      Not true.

      For race it suffices to have certain alleles restricted to one of the races or excluded from one of the races, either totally or in near totality.

      There may be Japanese with blue eyes, but if so I think they have either Ainu (not sure if Ainu have the Caucasian colour spectrum, but they are racially Caucasian) or European ancestors. The Japanese race type or race types (I think it is one, and extant outside Japan as well, like Koreans being same race type), is not the same as the Ainu just because Ainu are Japanese citizens now.

      What is political and totally evil is assigning differences in rights to liberty or procreation or (perhaps less totally so) in carrying of guns or drinking of alcohol according to race.

      If a white man can be free, a black man can be free. If a black man can be free and there are yet black slaves, their slavery needs to be excused (it can hardly be extolled as a virtue in itself) on other grounds than the slaves being black. If a white man can have children, a black man can have children. There is NO excuse for gelding blacks, even criminality is no excuse. The only licit way to ensure someone has no further children is executing him, and that can only be there for criminal offenses, never for race.

    4. There's maybe over two-dozen races.

      I thought there were 36?

      Hitler had a book which studied them. It was not a political or racialist book, and if it was worse than useless to him as a politician, it was certainly very useful previously to the painter. How would Hergé have drawn Syldavians if he had had no concept of Dinaric race type?

      However, the three or four "major races" are convenient groupings of the 36 race types - which in their turn are more complex, each of them, than skin colour.

    5. There is such thing as race. Simply that it is not the white black Asian as Americans popularised. Terms like Aryan, Semitic, Turkic, Uralic, Slavic, are FAR more accurate.


    Looks like the gov't is doing more than just promising....why nothing about this on the MM website? This is excellent news!

    1. Calm down. More than promising? They're not even promising. That story has been wildly exaggerated. One MP has voiced support for the Romanovs returning to Russia as private citizens of historical significance. A step in the right direction to be sure but nothing close to a restoration or even official status. Talk like this has been going around for years and I did mention this story on Facebook but until something *actually* happens I will keep the champagne on the shelf.

  5. Hey MM, you ever going to do Case for Monarchy: Austria, or Turkey in the future if you have time?

  6. Thanks. Didn't know about this group until know. Can I guest write?

  7. Thanks so much for doing an analysis of this group! I knew that some members of the Black Hundreds ended up in the White Faction, but the critical element is very interesting and understandable as not all of the White Army were monarchists.

    I am currently reading Corneliu Codreanu's autobiography and he details the Jewish issue in great detail since it was a huge topic during Romania's Interwar Period, and one that he sought to address. What I find astonishing is that he is very thorough in presenting the reasons for his anti-semitism, and they are similar to those of the Black Hundreds. Codreanu names the Jewish newspapers and quotes their hypocrisy vis-a-vis Communist violence to Nationalist violence. He gives detailed accounts of Jews in the logging industry destroying the livelihoods of the Moti peoples who lived in the mountains. He also notes their undeniable links to Russian Communists whom they idolized at universities and such.

    It is unfortunate that the anti-semitism of this time is dismissed entirely because of the horrific excesses of the Nazi regime. People forget that there was no shortage of legitimate grievance. The Black Hundreds had their reasons. I honor them for the fight they fought, and hope to see them rise once more to fulfill their holy mission.

  8. As an English convert to the Russian Orthodox Church, and now just starting to learn Russian, I found this very interesting. Do you have any links to current-day Black One Hundred groups?


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