In Warsaw the Jewish involvement in prostitution so outraged the respectable portion of the community that in the revolutionary year of 1905, with all of the empire in political upheaval, Jewish workers there launched a murderous assault against their coreligionists' brothels, underworld dens, and cafes. This remarkable "Alphonsenpogrom" so named because local pimps were known as alphonses ... is an incident of the greatest value for the light it sheds on Jewish prostitution and its place in the life of the community.|
There are many accounts of the Warsaw brothel riot. It was widely covered in the European press and it became part of Jewish folklore. ...
The exact origins are not important. In Warsaw and other cities throughout the Pale the Jewish working class had come to hate the underworld and any spark might have set off a conflagration. The underworld was powerful, well-organized, and supported by employers and the police. ...
... [E]vents soon got out of hand as the workers spontaneously seized the initiative. For three days they rampaged through brothels, looting and destroying furniture, knifing, beating, and defenestrating pimps and prostitutes. After visiting Krochmalna street, where Isaac Bashevis Singer spent part of his youth and saw the poor prostitutes whom he later depicted in his short stories, the rioters turned south to the fancier avenues off the city's major artery, the Marszalkowska. There was no single red-light district in the city and the rioters' destruction was visited upon ten widely scattered streets.
... Reuter, the British news agency, reported forty houses of ill fame demolished, eight persons killed and one hundred injured. Among the casualties was one dead prostitute.
The burden of blackmail, blacklegging, and criminal brutality explains the mob's fury. So too does the violence which the underworld did the Jewish name. For there is no doubt that in Warsaw the wildest stories about Jewish vice were in circulation. One set of slanderous letters in the press, for example, stated that "most brothel owners are Jews with university education. All customers are Jewish. The girls are mostly servants — Christian." Reuter observed that "Jews became tired of hearing themselves called keepers of disorderly houses, thieves, usurers and other opprobrious epithets, and resolved, as the police were receiving bribes from these classes and protecting them, to take the matter into their own hands and resort to drastic measures."
There is an interesting footnote to the riot. Some of the dispossessed alphonses fled Warsaw for the quieter confines of Lemberg [Lviv] across the border.
Edward J. Bristow, Prostitution and Prejudice: The Jewish Fight Against White Slavery 1870-1939, Shocken Books, New York, 1982, ISBN 0-8052-3866-2, pp. 58-61