A story of the representatives of the Jewish people who fought and died for Old Russia

"A human heart does not need happiness, it needs shining. If only my dear ones knew what shining is filling my soul now, they would rejoice, not shed tears…”
- Leonid Kannegiser

The White Jews

The purpose of this article is to prove that the representatives of the Jewish people were not all on the side of the Bolsheviks in the revolution of 1917 and in the Civil War of Russia that followed. Of course, there were many Jews among notable leaders of the Bolsheviks, but numerous Jews were on the side of the powers fighting for Old Russia.

Alon Reichlin, a Jewish historian and monarchist, writes:

“Indeed, many Jews followed the Bolsheviks and took part in the nefarious deeds of these animals, but there were many other Jews who did not taint themselves with treason. There were Jews for whom the greatness and the restoration of Russia were not empty words. And there are thousands of Jews who served in the White Army.

In early 20th century, before World War I, there were six Jewish generals in the Russian army. Almost all of them took part in the Civil War on the side of the White Army. One of them was Yakov Davidovich Yuzefovich (1872-1929). He was a hero of the Russo-Japanese war. In WWI, he commanded the Caucasus Indigenous Division. In 1915, he was promoted to the rank of major-general. Since 1919, he was Head of Staff of the Caucasus Army.

Other Jewish Generals also served in the White Army, such as General Shteifon Boris Alexandrovich and General Ivanov Nikolay Judovich.”

When the 1917 revolution began, there were many Jewish young men among the Yunkers (cadets) who were the first to fight the Bolsheviks and who defended the Winter Palace. Among the names of the defenders of the Winter Palace are the following Jewish names: I. Goldman, Y. Schwarzmann, Shapiro, the Epstein brothers, Kan, Lifschitz, Mirochnik, Berman, Levin, Soloveychik, and others.

On the night the Bolsheviks stroke, on October 25, 1917, among the defenders of the Winter Palace was a Jewish young man Leonid Kannegiser, who would later, in August 1918, shoot the director of the Cheka, Moses Uritsky.

It is Leonid Kannegiser who said the words redeeming the whole Russian Jewish people:

“I am a Jew. I killed a vampire Jew [Uritsky] who was drinking drop by drop the blood of the Russian people. I strived to show the Russian people that to us Uritsky was not a Jew. He was an outcast. I killed him with the hope to redeem the good name of the Russian Jews.”

Kannegiser who said the words redeeming the whole Russian Jewish people:

“I am a Jew. I killed a vampire Jew [Uritsky] who was drinking drop by drop the blood of the Russian people. I strived to show the Russian people that to us Uritsky was not a Jew. He was an outcast. I killed him with the hope to redeem the good name of the Russian Jews.”

October 25, 1917. The soldiers in this photo are Yunkers from various cadet schools who organized troops to protect the Winter Palace when the Bolsheviks attempted a coup.

Other notable Jewish officers in the White Army were Alexander Geiman, Colonel Kogan, baron Ginsburg. 

Many young Jews were on the front lines of the fight against Bolshevism. They were stalwart warriors of the White Army, and it is worthwhile remembering their names today. For instance, Sergey Yakovlevich Ephron, who was a medic. He fought the Bolsheviks in Moscow in October 1917, and only miraculously staying alive, went to Don and joined the Volunteers’ White Army, the St. George regiment. His career in the White Army was brilliant – he participated in the creation of the Officers Battalion in Moscow, was a member of the White Government on Don, became commander of the machine-gun battalion in the 3rd Markov’s Regiment. He stayed with the White Army until the fall of Crimea. In late 1920, he was in Gallipoli, then moved to Czechoslovakia. His life ended tragically – he was forcefully recruited by the NKVD and moved to the USSR where he was arrested and shot in 1941.

Ephron left behind a memoir – The Diary of a Volunteer.

Many Jewish soldiers belonged to an organization titled “The Jewish Union of St. George Order Companions”. Almost 2,500 Jews were part of this organization by early 1918. An interesting fact is that the rabbis allowed these Jews to wear the St. George order, which is a cross with the words “For the Faith, For the Tzar, For the Homeland” etched on the back, even though it was a Christian symbol.

An interesting historical figure is Fanny Kaplan (Feyga Roydman), a member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, who tried to assassinate Lenin himself.

Daniel Samuelovich Pasmanik, a noted Jewish doctor, publicist and statesman, wrote:

“During the Tzarist regime, the Jews lived much better lives, and before the Great War the material and the spiritual condition of the Russian Jewry was brilliant. We did not have political rights, but we were able to develop intense activity in the building of national and spiritual values of the Jews, and the poverty almost disappeared among the Jews. The poverty in the Jewish masses decreased day by day, replaced by wealth. The statistics of the credit companies was the best proof of the economic progress of the Russian Jewry in the last ten years before the revolution. Despite the police-based regime, the cultural life of the Russian Jewry flourished as well, unlike in the current conditions of the bolshevist Cheka. The Jewish cultural organizations developed and bloomed, and the prospects were brilliant”.

The heroism of the Jewish officers was noted as they fought bravely against the destroyers of Russia. All the parts of the White Army knew of the bravery of the Jewish White soldiers and officers. In the Far East, Ataman Semyonov had a special Jewish corps that fought against the Reds. It was even called “The Judaic Hundred”. After their defeat, they moved to China where they continued their anti-Bolshevik activity up until the 1940s.

An interesting fact about Ataman Semyonov: he often praised the Jewish people and compared the suffering of Russians under the Communists with the suffering of the Israelites in Egypt: “In these events, history is repeating itself: the Biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, however, the things that are happening now are much more tragic than the history of the Israelites in Egypt. Back then, the cruel Pharaohs exploited their subjects. Today, the Communist International is a vampire who does not care for any boundaries for their ambition nor for any rights of their victims.”

Many White Jews tried to hide their origins, because they were ashamed to be compared with Trotsky, who was head of the movement against Old Russia.

“We need to note the heroic actions of Jewish officers who sacrificed themselves in the fight with those who defiled Russia. The actions of the Jewish White soldiers and officers were noted in all the White regiments, including the Cossack and Czechoslovakian units. The latter had issued, on June 9th, in the city of Samara, the Order No. 6, which prohibited ‘instigation of interethnic hate and calls to pogroms’ and threatened those who participated in pogroms with imminent execution”, writes A. I. Denikin in “A Journey of a Russian Officer”.

The position of the anti-Bolshevik Jews was best expressed by Abram Samuelovich Alperin, a businessman and politician, who declared as early as in November 1917 that 

“it is better to save Russia with the Cossacks than to ruin it with the Bolsheviks”.

Abram Alperin, a legal counsel, a shareholder of many Rostov-on-Don banks, and owner of a steelworks plant, had influence in the circles of the city’s rich Jews. He believed that strict rule is better than anarchy. He organized fundraisings for the Don Army ataman among the Jewish bourgeoisie, and on December 13, 1917, he handed 800 thousand rubles to General Kaledin for purposes of organizing Cossack guerilla squads.

Moreover, Alperin participated personally in Cossack military organisations and was for a while head of propaganda section in the unit of General Semiletov, which was formed mostly by volunteer Jewish young men. Also, Alperin became deputy chairman of the Don Society for Assistance to Cossacks, which opened two infirmaries and organized several medical squads.

After the war, Abram Alperin immigrated to France where he actively participated in the social and political life of the Russian Jews in Paris. Unlike most immigrants, he was well-to-do and was famous for his charity.

The barracks of the Compiegne concentration camp where Abram Alperin was detained up until June 1942. The Germans transferred him to Drancy, then released him, even though he was a prominent Jewish banker who helped the White movement in Russia. This fact makes one question the entire anti-Semitic German agenda.

In June 1941, the Nazis arrested Alperin and put him in a concentration camp in Compiegne, then he was transferred to the camp in Drancy, but was freed in November 1942. After the World War II, he was elected chairman of the Russian Emigration Union, the goal of which was to establish connections with the Soviet Union. Subsequently he admitted that it was useless to hope that the Soviets would evolve into a civilized nation.

When the financial situation of the White Volunteers’ Army became critical in December 1917, General Alexeev declared that without financial aid he would issue an order to disband the army. On the same day, the Rostov businessmen donated half a million rubles for the anti-Bolshevik war effort. Out of that amount, 200 thousand rubles were donated by Boris Abramovich Gordon, a prominent engineer and businessman. Later on, Gordon continued helping the Volunteers’ Army by donating cigarettes and tobacco. Information about the Jewish bourgeois from Rostov being the first to help the Volunteers’ Army was well known.

Later on, the Jews continued donating to the anti-Bolshevik military units. In May 1919, the Jewish community of Ufa city and the Jewish Council of Tomsk donated 100,000 rubles each to Kolchak’s army. In July, the Jewish population of Tomsk donated 25,000 more. In total, the Jewish community donated several million rubles to the White Cause. The Jews of Omsk and Yekaterinburg have also donated money for the needs of the White Army.

At the beginning of the war, a major part of the Russian Jews did not expect anything good from the Bolsheviks and yearned for the restoration of powers that would respect private property, civil liberties and equality given by the February revolution. However, since there were many Jews among the Bolsheviks, and despite the policy of the White Army commanders, many Jews became victims of pogroms that took place between 1918 and 1920. This fact hurt the White Movement in the first place, because its leaders were discredited on a global level, and the enemy received efficient trump cards in terms of propaganda. This is ironic, because the Red Army was responsible for pogroms as well.

In conclusion, we would like to express hope that the information set forth in this article will help shed light on the moral portrait of the Jewish people. Every nation has its virtues and vices, and it would not be fair to demonize all the Jews for the actions of the Bolsheviks.



1. Oleg Budnitsky, “The Russian Jews between the Reds and the Whites, 1917 – 1920”
2. Alon Reichlin, “The Jews in the Army of General Anton Ivanovich Denikin”
3. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “Two Hundred Years Together”
4. Jews in the White Army:
5. Jews and the White Cause,

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