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The Murder of Yonah the Miller
Home Page of EM Ganin

Town: Antopol, Belarus (translated 1994)

Translation from Antopol Yizkor book, 1972

Murder of Yonah the Miller (p 217)
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by A. Slonimsky

This occurred in 1908. On the Sabbath after Sukkot there was an
anti-government demonstration in the priest's yard. Two groups of
youths wandered the streets towards evening on this Sabbath and sang
revolutionary songs: Fradel's [Stavsky] group sang international,
proletarian songs, the opposing group sang Jewish, nationalist songs.
In the latter group was Moshe Stavsky and the pharmacy clerk.

Policemen came in response to the singing and arrested 3 of the youths
who were demonstrating: the tailor from Odessa, Stavsky, and the
pharmacy clerk. The girls accompanied the boys to the constable. When
they were in his office, the "Gentleman" extended his hand to the girls
and ordered them to go; the boys he detained.

That evening Yonah the Miller was murdered. The screams coming from the
mill house brought people running, even the constable left his office,
ran heavily and yelled towards the house to capture the murderer. The
boys who were detained took the opportunity to leave the office during
the confusion, but they too went to the mill house. When people arrived
there they saw the miller stretched out on the floor and his head was
split.

The murderer, a Russian gentile, had fled from Siberia and hidden in a
forest near Antopol. Towards evening he entered Yonah's house. When
the latter returned from evening prayers he attacked him, took a few
rubles from his pocket and fearing that he would be turned in to the
constable -- killed him. Yonah's wife, who tried to protect her
husband, was seriously wounded and died within a few days; the murderer
escaped.

This murder caused great furor in the town. From that day it was decided
to post top notch guards each night from 10 PM to dawn.

The gentiles were upset by this action taken by the Jews. They stayed
indoors and refused to go outside during those hours.

The Jewish inhabitants didn't rest and didn't remain silent. They
diligently searched for the murderer of Yonah the miller. After several
days he was found in the neighboring village Horodetz, sleeping by the
river bank. He was handcuffed and brought to Antopol. The murderer was
imprisoned in one of the empty stores, but refused to confess to the
murder.

At the same time a stranger entered town, entered the hotel of Isaac
Rubinstein to eat a meal. When he finished the meal he refused to pay.
Isaac called the police and the guest was arrested and imprisoned in the
same store in which the murderer was imprisoned. At first the two
inmates had little to do with one another, after some time the new
prisoner took out a bottle of vodka and offered it to his cell mate;
while drinking he reviled and cursed the Jews that had caused him to be
locked up. Then the first prisoner opened his mouth and together they
began to besmirch the Jews and little by little the murderer felt that
his cell mate was of a like mind and a good friend and as the Talmud
says, "wine enters, secrets come out" and the murderer started to reveal
his innermost secrets, how he got to Antopol and how he murdered Yonah
the miller and his wife.

The next day the "prisoner" who refused to pay was let out. It was
revealed that he was a detective and was sent by the police to extract a
confession from the murderer and details about its execution. The story
about refusing to pay for a meal at Isaac Rubinstein's hotel was simply
a pretext to have him locked up with the murderer.

The Jews thanked the detective who succeeded so well at his mission, the
Jews of Antopol had a celebration when the murderer was transported
through the town streets to the constable, with two people holding him
on each side. Crowds gathered to see the captured murderer. One Jew even
tried to reach out and strike him. The murderer was tried and sentenced
again to exile in Siberia of 20 years at hard labor.

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