A pogrom is a violent riot aimed at the massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group, particularly one aimed at Jews. The Russian term originally entered the English language in order to describe 19th and 20th century attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire (mostly within the Pale of Settlement). Similar attacks against Jews at other times and places also became retrospectively known as pogroms. The word is now also sometimes used to describe publicly sanctioned purgative attacks against non-Jewish ethnic or religious groups. The characteristics of a pogrom vary widely, depending on the specific incidents, at times leading to, or culminating in, massacres.
Significant pogroms in the Russian Empire included the Odessa pogroms, Warsaw pogrom (1881), Kishinev pogrom (1903), Kiev Pogrom (1905), and Białystok pogrom (1906), and, after the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Lwów pogrom (1918) and Kiev Pogroms (1919). The most significant pogrom in Nazi Germany was the Kristallnacht of 1938 in which 91 Jews were killed, a further 30,000 arrested and subsequently incarcerated in concentration camps, 1,000 synagogues burned, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged.
Notorious pogroms of World War II included the 1941 Farhud in Iraq, the July 1941 Iaşi pogrom in Romania – in which over 13,200 Jews were killed – as well as the Jedwabne pogrom in German-occupied Poland. Post-World War II pogroms included the 1945 Tripoli pogrom, the 1946 Kielce pogrom and the 1947 Aleppo pogrom.
First recorded in 1882, the Russian word pogrom (погро́м, pronounced [pɐˈgrom]) is derived from the common prefix po- and the verb gromit' (громи́ть, pronounced [grɐˈmʲitʲ]) meaning "to destroy, to wreak havoc, to demolish violently". Its literal translation is "to harm". The noun "pogrom", which has a relatively short history, is used in English and many other languages as a loanword, possibly borrowed from Yiddish (where the word takes the form פאָגראָם). Its widespread circulation in today's world began with the antisemitic excesses in the Russian Empire in 1881–1883.
The Hep-Hep riots
in Frankfurt, 1819. On the left, two peasant women are assaulting a Jewish man with pitchfork and broom. On the right, a man wearing spectacles, tails and a six-button waistcoat, "perhaps a pharmacist or a schoolteacher,"
holds a Jewish man by the throat and is about to club him with a truncheon. The houses are being looted. A contemporary engraving by Johann Michael Voltz