Introduction to this Translation
Two Hundred Years Together is a two-volume historical essay by Nobel Price
winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn dealing with the Russian-Jewish
relations from 1795, leading up to the Communist revolution (Vol. 1) and then
through to 1995 (Vol. 2). The original Russian volumes were first published in
2001 and 2002 respectively. French (Fayard, 2002) and German (HERBIG,
2003) translations were published soon after, but until now only a partial
English translation of this remarkable work was available in The Solzhenitsyn
Reader: New and Essential Writings (Lanham, 2006).
The importance of a complete English translation has been discussed online
ever since the books were first published, and in October 2010 the first chapters
were posted online on a wordpress site called Adam’s Blog, however the owner
of that site received a warning by the copyright-holders in August 2011 and the
translation process stopped in its tracks.
It wasn’t until January 2017 that voices showing the public interest in a full
English translation became loud enough that pseudonymous people took it upon
themselves to finish what had been started nearly a decade earlier.
This translation has been a combined effort by several people.
Chapters 4 and 5 from Volume 1, as well as Chapters 13, 14 and 16-27 were
translated pseudonymously by multiple people and posted online in 2010 at
. Some of these chapters did not have
Chapters 2,3 and 6 through 12, as well as Chapter 15 have been translated
between February and March of the year 2017. They were made available
pseudonymously by David and Davina Davison at
. These chapters were translated
Chapter 1 is of unknown origin, it was posted on 8chan in pdf format.
Some footnotes from the French edition have been edited in. The translation for
this chapter is not complete and a better version will likely be made and
included in future editions of this work.
Other translations of some of these chapters can be found online. There
exists an alternative partial translation of chapters 2,3 and 6 from the original
Russian. I decided to use the one made by the Davisons because the writing was
of superior quality and no difference in the content was found.
If you find any errors in this publication, look for my contact details at The
Shadilay, March 2017
Introduction to the Material
Having worked with the history of the Russian revolution for fifty years, I have
encountered many times the problems between the Russians and the Jews.
Again and again they worked themselves into the happenings, drove a wedge
into the human psyche and whipped up passions.
I did not lose hope that an author would beat me to the punch and bring
forth, with the necessary amplitude and equilibrium, this bright spear. But we
are dealing more often with one-sided reproaches: either the Russians are guilty
against the Jews, worse, guilty of perpetual depravity, and rightly so; or, on the
other hand, the Russians who have treated this problem rationally have done so
for the most part excessively harsh, without giving the other party even the
It cannot be said that there is a lack of publishers; notably among the
Russian Jewry, there they are far more numerous than amongst the Russians.
Nevertheless, despite the abudance of brilliant minds and decorated pens, we
still have not had a up-to-date analysis of our mutual history that can satisfy
We must learn not to tighten the rope when it is already so tense.
I would have liked to apply my efforts to a subject less thorny. But I believe
this history – or at least the effort to penetrate it – should not remain
The history of the ‘Jewish Problem’ in Russia (and Russia only?) is above
all else exceptionally rich. Talking about it means listening to new voices and
passing them on to the reader. (In this book, the Jewish voices will be heard
more often than those of the Russians.)
But the whirlwinds of the social climate force us towards the razor’s edge.
You can feel the weight of both sides, all the grievances and accusations,
plausible as well as improbably, which grow as they go.
The purpose that guides me throughout this work on the life common the
Russians and the Jews consists of looking for all the points necessary for a
mutual understanding, all the possible voices which, once we get rid of the
bitterness of the past, can lead us towards the future.
Like all other people, like all of us, the Jewish people is at the same time an
active and passive element of History; more than once they have accomplished,
be it unconsciously, important works that History has offered them. The ‘Jewish
Problem’ has been observed from diverse angles, but always with passion and
often in self-delusion. Yet the events which have affected this or that people in
the course of History have not always, far from, been determined by this one
people, but by all those who surrounded it.
An attitude that is too passionately for one party or the other is humiliating
to them. Nevertheless, there cannot be problems that man can’t approach with
reason. Speaking openly, amply, is more honest, and, in our case precise,
speaking about it is essential. Alas, mutual wounds have piled up in popular
memory. But if we look at the past, when will the memory heal? As long as
popular opinion does not find a pen to shed light thereupon, it will stay a vague
rumour, worse: menacing.
We cannot cut ourselves off from the past centuries permanently. Our world
has shrunk, and, whatever are the dividing lines, we find ourselves neighbours
For many years I have delayed writing this book; I would’ve been glad not
to take this burden upon me, but the delays of my life have neared exhaustion,
and here I am.
I have never been able to acknowledge anyone’s right to conceal any of
what has been. Neither can I accept any agreement founded on bringing false
light on the past. I call both parties – Russian and Jewish – to look for mutual
understanding, to recognize each others’ share of the sin, because it is easy to
look away: surely this is not us… I sincerely strive to comprehend the two
parties in the presence of this long historical conflict. I plunge myself into the
events, not the polemics. I want to show. I won’t enter into the discussions
except for those extreme cases where fairness is covered by layers upon layers
of lies. I dare hope that this book will not be received by the extremists and the
fanatics, that, on the contrary, it will favour mutual understanding. I hope to find
caring people amongst the Jews as well as the Russians.
Here is how the author envisaged his task and ultimate goal: to try and
foresee, in the future of Russo-Jewish relations, accessible ways that could lead
to the good of all.
I wrote this book by bending myself only on what the historical materials told
and looking for charitable issues for the future. But let’s face it: in recent years
the situation in Russia has evolved in such a drastic fashion that the problems
studied herein have found themselves relegated to the background and don’t
have the acuteness today of Russias other problem’s.
On the perimeter of this study
What could be the limits of this book?
I am fully aware of the complexity and breadth of the subject matter. I
understand that it also has a metphysical aspect. It is even said that the Jewish
Problem can be rigorously understood only from a mystical and religious point
of view. Of course I recognize the reality from this point of view, but, although
many books have already touched the subject, I think it remains inaccessible to
men, that it is by nature out of scope, even for the experts.
Yet all the important purposes of human history contain mystical
influences, this does not prevent us from examining them on a concrete
historical plane. I doubt whether we should necessarily call upon superiour
considerations to analyze phenomena which our within our immediate reach.
Within the limits of our earthly existence, we can make judgments on the
Russians, as well as on the Jews, starting from lowly criteria. As for those
above, let’s leave them to God!
I want to clarify this problem only in the categories of History, politics and
everyday life and culture, and almost exclusively within the limits of the two
centuries of Russians and Jews living together in one state. Never would I have
dared to approach the depths of the Jewish History, tri- or quadri-millenniar,
sufficiently represented in numerous works and in meticulous encyclopedias.
Neither do I intend to examine the History of the Jews in the countries nearest
to us: Poland, Germany, Astria-Hungary. I concentrate myself on Russian-
Jewish relations, insisting on the twentieth century, so crucial and so
catastrophic in the destiny of our two peoples. Based on the hard experience of
our coexistence, I try to dispel the misunderstandings, false accusations, while
recalling the legitimate grievances. The works published in the first decades of
the twentieth century have had little time to embrace this experience in its
Of course, a contemporary author cannot overlook their existence, despite
half a century and the state of Israel as well as it’s enormous influence on the
lives of the Jews and other peoples over the globe. He cannot, if only if he
wants a extensive comprehension on the internal life of Israel and it’s spiritual
orientations – also through incidental reflections, this must shine through in this
book. But it would be an outrageous claim on the part of the author not to
introduce here an analysis of the problems inherent to Zionism and the life of
Israel. I nevertheless give special attention to the writings published in our day
by the learned Russian Jews who lived for decades in the Soviet Union before
emigrating to Israel, and who have therefore had the opportunity to reflect, from
their own experience, on a number Jewish Problems.
Abridged Mentions of the Main Sources Cited in Notes by
• “22”: Social, political and literary review of the Jewish intelligentsia from the
USSR in Israel, Tel Aviv. The bibliographic notes called by a number are
from the author. Of these, those marked with an asterisk refer to a second-
hand reference. The explanatory notes marked with an asterisk are translators.
• ARR: Archives of the Russian Revolution, edited by J. Guessen, Berlin, ed.
• BJWR-1: Kriga o rousskom cvreïstve: ot 1860 godov do Revolioutsii 1917
g. [Book on the Jewish World of Russia: from the 1860s to the Revolution of
1917], New York, ed. Of the Union of Russian Jews, 1960.
• BJWR-2: Kriza o rousskom evreïstve, 1917-1967 [The Book on the Jewish
World of Russia, 1917-1967], New York, ed. Of the Union of Russian Jews,
• JE: Jewish Encyclopædia in 16 volumes, St. Petersburg, Society for the
Promotion of Jewish Scientific Publishing and Ed. Brokhaus and Efron,
• JW: Evreïskii mir [The Jewish World], Paris, Union of Russo-Jewish
• RaJ: Rossia i evrei [Russia and the Jews], Paris, YMCA Press, 1978 (original
ed., Berlin, 1924).
• RHC: Istoriko-revolutsionnyi sbornik [Revolutionary Historical Collection],
edited by V. I. Nevski, 3 vols., M. L., GIZ, 1924-1926.
• RJE: Rossiskaia Evreiskaya Entsiklopedia [Russian Jewish Encyclopedia],
M. 1994, 2nd edition currently being published, corrected and expanded.
Izvestia: News from the Soviet of Workers ‘and Soldiers’ Deputies of
• SJE: Small Jewish Encyclopedia, Jerusalem, 1976, ed. Of the Society for the
Study of Jewish Communities.
• TW: Vremia i my [The Time and We], international review of literature and
social problems, Tel Aviv.
The Jews before the Revolution
Chapter 1. Before the 19th century
From the Beginnings in Khazaria
In this book the presence of the Jews prior to 1772 will not be discussed in
detail. However, for a few pages, we will go over the older epochs.
One could say that the paths of Russians and Jews first crossed in the wars
between the Kiev Rus and the Khazars [Ancient people of the Turkish race
established in the region of the Low Volga since long. In the 6th century they
founded a vast empire stretching from the Oural to Dniepr, which fell in the
10th century after their defait by the prince of Kiev, Sviatoslav (966)], but that
isn’t completely right, since only the upper class of the Khazars were of Hebraic
descent, the tribe itself consisted of Turcs who converted to Judaism.
If one follows the presentation of J.D. Bruzkus, respected Jewish author of
the mid-20th century, a certain part of the Jews from Persia moved across the
Derbent Pass to lower Volga where Atil on the west coast of Caspian on the
Volga delta, the capital city of the Khazarian Khanate
, rose up starting 724 AD.
The tribal princes of the Turkish Khazars (at the time still idol-worshippers), did
not want to accept the Muslim faith, lest they should be subordinated to the
caliph of Baghdad, nor Christianity, lest they come under vassalage to the
Byzantine emperor; and so the clan went over to the Jewish faith in 732.
But there was also a Jewish colony in the Bosporan Kingdom
Taman Peninsula at east end of the Crimea, separating the Black Sea from the
Sea of Azov, to which Hadrian had Jewish captives brought in 137, after the
victory over Bar-Kokhba [Founded in 480BC by the greek, conquered by
Mithridate in 107BC, remained under Roman protectorate until the 4th century].
J. D. Brutskus, Istoki rousskogo evreïstva (Les origines des Juifs russes), in Annuaire du
monde juif, 1939. Paris, éd. de l'Union des intellectuels russo-juifs, pp. 17-23.
EJ, t. 15, p. 648.