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Chapter 2

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Abyss of Despair

Rabbi Nathan Hanover

Bloch Publishing Company
New York, 5710‑1950

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please
let me know!


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Chapter 4

 p31  III

This is a record of the massacres of Pawliuk, (may his name be blotted out)

In the seventh year of Wladislaw's reign, the year (5)339,1 there arose a Cossack by the name of Pawliuk (may his name be blotted out), to avenge the wrong of his people and to rebel against the kingdom of Poland. And many rabble and riffraff gathered themselves unto him. They crossed the passages of the Black Sea called Behind the Threshold2 and in Russian, Porogi. There the vast wilderness provided a convenient and an appropriate place to assemble this people. Each time the Ukrainians rebelled they fled to this place, for no man came there save the Cossacks. No sooner did the adventurer arrive there than Cossacks and Ukrainians in the hundreds and the thousands joined him. They then took counsel together to blot out the name of Israel (God forbid), in the manner characteristic of the ancient Greek Kings: "Proclaim publicly that you have no share in the God of Israel, or be killed."3 They also partitioned the Kingdom of Poland among themselves, the above mentioned oppressor Pawliuk was to be their king in the capital city of Warsaw. But the Holy One, Blessed be He,  p32 Who knows everyone's innermost thoughts, brought to naught their counsel and frustrated their designs, and brought retribution upon their heads. Nevertheless, upon their return from "behind the threshold" they destroyed (because of our many sins), many synagogues and killed approximately two hundred Jews. They also destroyed many churches, and killed many priests in the towns of Lachowce and Lubin​a and in their environs. The remainder fled to the Kingdom of Poland.

When King Wladislaw heard of this evil thing he delegated two generals, one Koniecpolski, and the other Potocki, along with a large army, headed by the great warrior Laszcz, to wage war against them. The aforementioned two generals were to attack from one side, while the warrior Laszcz who had with him six hundred troops, was to encircle them on the road. He was to attack by way of the forests. Thus Laszcz and his troops were on one side and the two generals on the other, while the Cossacks were in the center. The Polish people struck an effective blow, and the oppressor Pawliuk, who had aspired to be King in the capital city of Warsaw, was captured alive, together with his officers and counsellors. They were brought in iron chains before the King in Warsaw. There Pawliuk was "crowned." He was placed upon an iron chair. A special iron crown was placed on his head, and an iron wand in his hand. These, however, had been heated to a glow, beneath him was burning coal which he was forced to fan with his hand. Thus he burned  p33 until he died. The other officers and advisers also received their due punishment.

When the king realized that the Cossacks were still rebellious, he meted out further punishment to them. Of the twenty thousand which prior to this rebellion had enjoyed special privileges, only six thousand were to receive them now, while the remainder was to be subject to taxes, like the rest of the wretched Ukrainians. To prevent another outbreak he placed over them captains of the Polish army.

All this, however, did not avail, "for there is no counsel and no understanding against the Lord."4 "And the 'calf' came forth."5

The Editor's Notes:

1 1639. Actually the rebellion started in 1637.

Thayer's Note: A brief summary of the insurrection and the battle at Kumeyki where Koniecpolski, Potocki, and Łaszcz finally defeated Pavluk is given by Doroshenko in History of the Ukraine (English translation), pp218‑219; the Cossack rebellion continued for some months after that, only to end somewhat more definitively in a negotiated settlement at Kiev in 1638. The Cossacks would flare up again ten years later under Bohdan Khmelnytsky, whose depredations against Jews (and Catholics) will be the subject of the bulk of our author's book.

2 The Dnieper Falls.

Thayer's Note: There are a number of falls stretching out over a good hundred miles. The area is usually known by its Cossack and Ukrainian name, the Zaporizhzhia.

3 Literally: "Inscribe on the horns of the ox that you have no share in the God of Israel or be killed." According to the Midrash (Lev. Rabba, 13) this ultimatum was offered to the Jews in the day of the Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes.

4 Proverbs 21:30.

5 Ex. 32:24. The "calf" refers to Chmielnicki, "and the misfortune came forth."

Thayer's Note:

a Now Bilohiria and Velykyi Liubin, in Galicia and Volynia respectively; both in modern Ukraine.

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