Friday, February 15, 2019

A Wales of a Pogrom

I was sent this:

The Times, 15 February 2019:

Sir, Winston Churchill’s detractors need to recall that in August 1911 the Jewish communities of the “Western Valleys” (West Monmouthshire and East Glamorgan) were subjected to a week of brutal, premeditated assaults, robbery and looting by coal miners and their wives, whipped up by socialist propaganda. Only the troops deployed by Churchill, who was then home secretary, protected them. Churchill quite correctly referred to these incidents as a “pogrom”. Professor Geoffrey AldermanUniversity of Buckingham

Professor Alderman authored "The Jew as Scapegoat? The Settlement and Reception of Jews in South Wales before 1914", Transactions & Miscellanies (Jewish Historical Society of England), Vol. 26 (1974-1978), pp. 62-70.

I admit I was unaware of this event.  I am going to guess most of you are as well. So, a bit of history -

Information is here:

anti-Jewish riots...swept the valley communities of Monmouthshire and Glamorgan in August 1911, leading to the temporary imposition of military rule – Churchill ordered detachments of the Worcester Regiment to patrol the affected areas - and to the wholesale evacuation of Jewish families by special trains that conveyed them to the relative safety of Cardiff, Newport, Aberdare and Merthyr. These riots - a week-long orgy of attacks on Jewish property - began in Tredegar during the evening of Saturday, August 19, and spread rapidly to Ebbw Vale, Rhymney and other industrial centres of the Western Valleys. Wherever Jews could be found, the rioters struck. 


At Tredegar only Jewish shops were attacked, while at Ebbw Vale, the Daily News reported, "the cry of the mob was … one long denunciation of Jews." The view of the presiding magistrate at Tredegar was that "the first disturbances were no doubt anti-Jewish," and the chief constable of Monmouth, in a report to the Home Office (August 21), gave it as his opinion that there was "a determination expressed by the inhabitants [of Tredegar] to get rid of them," meaning the Jews.

There is compelling evidence that the attacks were planned. According to the Rev Harris Jerevitch, minister at the Cardiff synagogue, "There is no doubt that the attacks were planned. Some of the Jewish inhabitants were informed a day or two before the outrages that people intended to wreck and loot their shops."

And here.

Churchill in Parliament

There were in several places gross instances of incendiarism, and in two cases in South Wales, at any rate, of wholesale loot by persons previously of good record. That is an amazing feature in the recent disturbances. I was told that at Tredegar there had been a case of anti-Semitism; and, quite peculiar and quite unknown in this country before, persons hitherto respectable were seen going home with bundles of clothes which they had taken from shops and which they were taking away as if they were not in the least ashamed of what they had done.

And Liberal MP Sir Arthur Markham

...The letter which I received states that serious rioting took place at Tredegar. [An HON. MEMBER: "Read it all."] You shall have it all if you wish it. The letter, dated August 21st, says:— Serious rioting took place at Tredegar on Saturday and Sunday night. It would appear that on Saturday night, between 11 and 12 o'clock, an attack was made upon shops owned by Jews in the main street of the town. There can be no doubt that this had been pre-arranged, although the police had no knowledge that such an attack was likely to take place. There were only eight constables available, and they were quite inadequate to deal with the disturbance, and could do little more than look on at the wrecking and looting or eighteen shops owned by Jews or persons of Jewish extraction. At an emergency meeting of the magistrates held on Sunday afternoon, it was decided to ask the Home Office for military protection, as there were strong rumours of a recurrence of the riots that evening. About 200 military arrived in the town about 10.30 that night from Cardiff, but previous to their arrival a few scuffles had taken place with the police, and the wrecking and looting of two other somewhat large business premises owned by Jews was commenced. Fortunately the arrival of the military prevented further grave disturbances, but the two premises I have previously referred to were looted of everything they contained; respectable people to all appearances carrying off bundles of clothing quite openly, and apparently without shame. 
At one time a serious conflict seemed imminent, but by appealing to the crowd a large number were prevailed upon to go home, with the result that by the aid of the military patrolling the town and by police rushes, the streets were eventually cleared without serious mishaps other than broken heads and cuts from the baton charges. Had I not seen it myself, I would not have believed that such an occurrence could have taken place in Tredegar, and I am sorry to say that although undoubtedly started in the first stage by hooligans, there were a large number of respectable working men taking part in the disturbance…. As previously stated the feeling in the first case was against the Jews, but now it appears to be an outburst of lawlessness in all directions, and threats have been used against respectable tradesmen who have been in the town for many years." 


1 comment:

Bill said...

I had never heard of this either. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.