June 21, 2024
Book Reviews Polish/Jewish Relations

Poland Blamed. How Pogroms Can Be Faked: An Object Lesson

“They are Slitting the Throats of Jewish Children”: The 1906 New York School Riots and Contending Images of Gentiles. AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORY 94: 175-196

 by Gil Ribak. 2008

Bogus Pogroms: A Grotesque Made-Up Pogrom Illuminates Other Dubious Claims of Jewish Suffering

The New York Public Schools had a program wherein they removed the adenoids of a few children (with parental permission, of course) as a health measure. (p. 177). This became grossly misconstrued as a killing of Jewish children. It is a lesson in mass hysteria and in antigoyism.

Author Ribak summarizes the turn of events in the “pogrom”, which were huge in scale, “In 1906 thousands of wailing Jewish parents stormed more than a dozen public schools across the city of New York, believing their children were being massacred.” (p. 175). None of this had any basis in fact, but it is an object lesson on how groups of Jews did and still do make up persecution stories, and sheds light on the genesis of other bogus pogroms, as well as the later Holocaust-related atrocity stories.

The misconstruing of a health measure (removal of adenoids), in New York schools, is reminiscent of another misconstruing of a health measure (the prophylactic shaving of hair in General Haller’s Polish Army). The latter was twisted into acts of beard-cutting humiliations of Jewish men, and Haller has gone down in history as a pogromchik. See:



Ribak unveils how pogrom accounts are made up, and how Jewish community storytelling does the rest. With reference to the bogus 1906 pogrom in New York, he writes:

“Likewise, sixteen-year-old Esther Blaustein of Rivington Street was fined for stirring up the crowd with a Yiddish speech from the back of a wagon, telling listeners she had seen schoolchildren murdered by the teachers.” (p. 178).

“Undoubtedly, Esther Blaustein, Cipora Flohr, Otto Gottlieb, Leon King, Stern, and many others did not see children massacred in New York’s schools (although Blaustein and Stern claimed they actually saw the murders), but they were more than willing to believe it.” (p. 187).

“The Sun also reported that more than one man went from door to door telling many parents that their children were in danger in the hands of Christian physicians.” (p. 180).

All of the foregoing statements are instructive. They remind us that pogroms are not necessarily valid just because a significant number of Jews, acting in concert, allege that they happened!


The stories of the made-up 1906 NY pogrom featured grotesque fantasies. Ribak notes:

“…slitting the throats of Jewish children…” (p. 179).  On and on it goes.

But wait, it gets even better. Ribak quips, “Otto Gottlieb, a jeweler on Grand Street, was also fined for inciting the crowd with shouts such as, ‘They’re cutting their heads off!’” (p. 178).

Beheading-Jews is a common meme of pogrom horror propaganda, as used, for example, by Jan T. Gross in his Neighbors against the Poles. In fact, Gross uses this lurid Polish-headhunter tale obsessively. See:


The beheading-Jews meme also comes up in other anti-Polish tall tales. See:



While there was no single Jewish view of gentiles, Ribak admits that “…certain general stereotypes of non-Jews, especially peasants, were still common among eastern European Jews by the late nineteenth century. ‘Goyim’ were frequently portrayed as inherently coarse, drunk, prone to violence, illiterate, and sexually promiscuous.” (p. 185).

The author half-justifies the Jewish attitudes by citing the recent Russian pogroms. (p. 185, 191). Evidently, group generalizations against Jews are wrong, but group generalizations about goys are just fine. If Jews can effectively treat all goyim as violent just because some goyim are violent, then why cannot goys treat all Jews as crooked just because some Jews are crooked?

The generalities continued. Ribak adds that, “As the Yiddish papers and the New York Times aptly noted, the recently arrived Russian Jews were prepared to believe any tale of violence against Jews.” (p. 185). Not quite. Many Jews are still prepared to believe accusations of violence against Jews despite the passage of so much time. There are, for example, continued accusations against Poland of one kind or another, including that of Poland a perpetually dangerous place for Jews.


The imaginary NY pogrom of 1906 helps us visualize the origin and deployment of other bogus pogroms. One can think of the media-touted fantastic pogroms in Poland of 1918-1920.


The events described in this article occurred 35 years before the German-made Holocaust, but they offer priceless insights into how the Jews later embellished and distorted their victimhood. Consider the following:

The “all gentiles are basically the same” kind of mentality, used by the NY pogrom mongerers to connect imagined American conduct to actual Russian conduct (e. g, p. 191, 195), had staying power. It was later used by Holocaust survivors to say that “the Poles are as bad as the Germans” and frequently to blame Poles for German crimes. It is a mainstay of Jewish Polonophobia.

The imagined creative sadism of the gentiles in the fictitious 1906 NY pogrom also had legs. It resurfaced many decades later in the widely-publicized lurid anti-Polish stories of Jerzy Kosinski vel Lewinkopf, Jan T. Gross, Jan Grabowski, and many others.


Clearly, Jews can make up things that never happened, and moreover do so in concert, especially when it comes to alleged Jewish-victim events. Jewish community storytelling must also be factored. Now, more than ever, Holocaust survivor accounts should not be believed unless there is hard evidence to back them up.

How Pogrom Horror Stories Originate: An Object Lesson. Lurid Antigoyism.  Holocaust Survivor Testimony Unreliable. Ribak

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