Kontakt / contact      Hauptseite / page principale / pagina principal /
                  home      zurück
                  / retour / indietro / atrás / back
backprevious   nextnext

Encyclopaedia Judaica

Persecution of the Jews: Pale of settlement 02: The shtetl in the 19th century

Shtetl structures in the discrimination situation of the Pale of Settlement - few Jews reach "upper class" - first proletariat

from: History; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 8

presented by Michael Palomino (2007)

Teilen / share:



In Eastern Europe, Jewish occupations remained at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century within their former framework. The shtetl not only developed an economic structure of its own during the first half of the 19th century under the impact of the expulsion from the villages, and through the development of a new chain of economic and social relations with the villages from the shtetl centers, but also created an ecological pattern of its own.

The shtetl economy of small shopkeepers, craftsmen, peddlers, and peddling craftsmen established itself to become the typical economic set-up for the majority of Jews in the Pale of Settlement. In its midst, and at the heart of shtetl life, was the central market place, around which there stood the main shops and taverns for tea and alcoholic beverages. Market day was the time of earning and activity, when the villagers arrived to buy and sell. For many shtetl Jews their township was actually their home from Friday through Sunday only, since the rest of the week they spent peddling or working as itinerant craftsmen - cobblers, tailors, smiths - in the villages.

[Few rich Jews in the Russian "upper class" - beginning Jewish proletariat and extremism]

Social differentiation was much slower in developing, and up to the 1840s only a sprinkling of Jews had entered the newly opened free professions. A few Jews enriched themselves in Russia as large-scale traders and bankers, or somewhat later, as railroad-building contractors, such as Samuel *Poliakoff or the *Guenzburg family.

[[After 1917 railroads were constructed by gulag slavery which was much cheaper, under communist Jewish governments...]]
By the 1880s, master craftsmen and journeymen in the Pale together numbered approximately half a million.

In the incipient industries, as of cloth manufacture in *Lodz, a Jewish proletariat was beginning to emerge.> (col. 720)

<In the East, while the typical shtetl economy and society was developing, the social distance was widening between the increasingly impoverished strata of shopkeepers, peddlers, and craftsmen, and toward the end of this period, some industrial proletariat, and the relatively narrow group of wealthy bankers, constructors, and large scale merchants.> (col. 721)

Teilen / share:


Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): History,
                          vol. 8, col. 719-720
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): History, vol. 8, col. 719-720
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): History,
                          vol. 8, col. 721-722
Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971): History, vol. 8, col. 721-722

backprevious   nextnext