I believe the final thread was pulled on 13 March, 1881, causing the mystery of Whitechapel to begin to unravel. On this day, in St. Petersburg, Russia, anarchists, who had been trying to kill Czar Alexander II for a decade, finally succeeded. When a bomb went off under his armored carriage, the uninjured Alexander stepped down to commiserate with his wounded guards. And a suicide bomber blew them both up, Since many of the anarchists were Jews, the new Czar, Alexander III, launched waves of official pogroms across Russia. And the horror quickly spread beyond the borders.
Tens of thousands of Jewish men were beaten. Thousands of Jewish homes and shops and farms were looted and destroyed. Hundreds of synagogues burned. Dozens of Jewish men were murdered. And hundreds of thousands of Jewish women were raped. The 1880 pogroms of Russia and eastern Europe were a mass sexual assault, and this horror, once released by the Christians of Russia and Poland, would not be limited to Jewish victims. Horror never is.
Like the French Protestants, then the English cockney peasants and then the Irish before them, the new refugees washed up in Whitechapel. As an 1884 report described it, “...night after night, wagon-loads of poor Jews were brought up from the docks...still panic-stricken, from Russia” In doomsday language that would be familiar to an anti-immigrant politicians today, the report described the influx, “.Now...Hanbury Street, Fashion Street, Pelham Street, Booth Street, Old Montague Street and many others...have fallen before them...” By 1885, Brick Lane south of Hare Street, was 75% Jewish, bringing not only their nightmares, but their politics to London.
That same year, in a 2 story wooden barn at 40 Berner Street (above, right), up to 150 anarchist and socialist began meeting in the International Worker's Educational Club to argue about how to make a better world.
They not only argued, but they also raised cash to support striking match girls (above) with food and rent money, and to organize tailors and dock workers to demand a living wage..
They published a Yiddish language newspaper, “The Workers Friend”, printed in the yard behind the club (above), which they shared with Arthur Dutfield – 42 Bernier Street - who made peddlers' carts. The club hosted lectures, held dances, and, of course, debates. On any Saturday or Sunday night the club was filled with troublemakers, Jewish and otherwise, from Russia, Poland, France, German, Italy, Czechoslovakia, even English liberals – and, of course, assorted police informers.
“They ascended the narrow stairs to the hall...Plain benches without backs stretched through it crosswise...At the front...a small stage...Breathless, anxious not to lose a single word, they hung on the lips of the speaker. An electric thrill passed through these young people, hardly out of their teens; those women tired and crushed by the burden of their ceaseless toil; those men who, torn away from their native soil, had found each other here...such devotion, such burning interest, such glowing enthusiasm as shone from those faces...”
On the chilly, rainy and windy Saturday night of 29 September, 1888, the lecture was titled "Why Jews Should be Socialists". The meeting ended between 11:30 and midnight. As it did, Mr. William West slipped out the side door (above). The night was so black the near sighted West had to feel his way along the wall to the printing press on the second floor of the old cabinet factory shack at the rear of the yard. After grabbing a few articles to edit, West felt his way back to the side door of the club.
Saying his goodbyes he then left by the club's front door on Berner Street with two other men and headed south past the Lord Nelson public house - Number 46 - before turning east on Fairclough Street. It was now about 12:15 a.m., Sunday, 30 September, 1888.
Thirty minutes later, at about 12:45 a.m., club secretary Morris Eagle returned from walking his wife home. Passing the "Lord Nelson" pub at 46 Berner (above, left), on the corner with Fairclough Street, and then Mathew Packer's Fruit Shop at Number 44 Berner, and the rooming house at Number 42, He found the Working Men's Club's front door at Number 40 Berner (above, to the right of the wagon wheel) was locked.
With little thought, he turned left and walked through the 9 foot wide gateway into to Dutfiield's Yard, and used the club's side door (above, center). It was now about 10 minutes before 1:00 a.m. Within a minute, Mr. Joseph Lave entered the club by the same route. Neither man saw anything out of the ordinary in the yard.
About the same time, club steward Louis Diemschutz was driving a pony cart (above) past the clock on a tobacco shop along Commercial Road. He had spent the day peddling jewelry at the Westow Hill market, in Sydenham, 20 miles south of London. It had been a long and exhausting day, and it was not over yet. Louis intended on dropping off his unsold stock at the club, where his wife worked as a hostess, while he drove the pony and cart to stables in George's Yard – scene of the Martha Tabram murder two months earlier. Only then could he make his way home to his bed..
As he turned into the narrow Duffy's Yard, the weary pony shied and refused to continue. Louis (above) dismounted, but the yard was so dark he could see nothing more than a bundle of clothing just inside the gate, up against the basement air vent.
Louis struck a match, and in the brief flare of light before the wind blew out the flame, he saw the bundle was a woman. Louis poked at her with his whip, thinking it might even be his wife, expecting her to be drunk or asleep.
When the woman did not respond, Louis led his horse around the body into the yard, and then went in the side door of the club. He found his wife safe and sober in the kitchen, and told her “There’s a woman on the ground outside, and she is either dead or she’s drunk. I’m not sure which.” His wife grabbed a candle and the couple went back outside to examine the woman more closely. In the flickering light Mrs. Diemschutz saw clotting blood pooling around her pale face. She said later, "I screamed out of fright, and members of the club...rushed downstairs..."..
In a panic, Louis and Isaac M. Kozebrosky ran south on Berner, looking for a Bobby. Instead, outside the Lord Nelson pub, they encountered Edward Spooner. After telling him what they had discovered, all three men returned to the Worker's Educational Club. Spooner said "I could see that her throat was fearfully cut. There was a great gash in it over two inches wide." Meanwhile Secretary Morris Eagle had headed for Commercial Road. Two block's east, at the corner of Grower's Street, he found two Bobbys waking their beat. Within minutes Constables Henry Lamb and Albert Collins arrived at the club. PC Lamb took charge. He closed the Dutifield Yard gate, as well as the club's side door. He then sent PC Collins down to Commercial Street and one block east to Batty Street. There, at 100 Commercial Road, Constable Collins knocked on the door of the home and office of Doctor William P. Blackwell (above). .
This would be the killer's 4th victim. And Dr. Blackwell would be the 4th physician to examine a victim. It was seeming familiar by now. But perhaps it had become too familiar.
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