Authored and edited (in Hebrew) by Tzvi Livneh-Lieberman
Translated by Moshe Kutten
Edited by Rafael Manory
The expulsion from the villages was to be implemented in certain provinces in the beginning of 1807 and in the rest of the provinces in 1808. In 1805, there was still no enthusiasm among the Jews to flock to the proposed settlement. In addition, many still wished for a miracle, and hoped that the Czar's heart would be softened and the decree would be cancelled. There was another reason for the Jews' reluctance: if the authorities would have fulfilled the promises of the clause according to which the Jews were allowed to settle in the provinces of their current residence, there would have been, certainly, many who would have been ready to settle in their native region, close to the graves of their ancestors. However, attempts by Jews to do so ceased after some organized groups tried to negotiate with the government and were met with total refusal. For example, 125 families from the province of Minsk turned to the government with the request to settle in the province of their residence. The answer was negative, and the excuse was that there were no vacant lands.
In 1806, the fateful date was approaching. The Jewish lobbying effort to cancel the decree encountered a blank wall. Agile local police authorities started to implement the expulsion of a few Jews and when the fear of the expulsion became clear and nearthe first pioneers for settlement in Novorussiya [modern Southern Ukraine], which was the only region where the government allowed the settlement, emerged. Two JewsIsrael Lenport and Nakhum Finkelstein from the Churikov [Cherikov] district of the Mohilev [or Mogilev] province, representing 36 families, contacted the government with the proposal to settle them in the Kherson prairies.
From this first case, we can learn how much this regulation about the settlement of Jews was like a tabula rasa with respect to the authorities. No real preparations were made in the areas of the settlement project. No lands were allocated, no economic plan was developed and no budget needed for each settler was decided upon. Instructions were not even sent to the provincial and district authorities on how to act in reference to the transport of the Jews to Kherson.
The two representatives, Finkelstein and Lenport turned, according to customary protocol, to the district authorities and they directed them to the provincial minister Bakunin.
Bakunin did not have any idea where to direct the people who contacted him, and he turned to the Interior Minister, Kochubey and asked him for instructions and some allocation to transport the Jews. Kochubey, as the chair of the Jewish Committee was one of the supporters of the settlement plan in its general form, however, when he faced the need for a first act, his bureaucratic routine prevailed, and instead of providing instructions and the needed allocation, he asked Bakunin to provide more details about the nature of these Jews. What were their occupations? Have they paid their taxes to the government? What is their reason for their initiative? Were they knowledgeable about working the land? Was it reasonable to assume that they would be diligent in doing physical work? Was there any guarantee that they would pay off the loan provided by the government? Kochubey demanded that Jews who want to be farmers, send representatives to Kherson, to examine the area allocated to them, so that they would not complain later on. Without these conditions, they will not get permission to be transferred.
Fearing that the official letter exchange between the minister and the provincial minister would last long time, and that without a verbal explanation they would not be granted a positive answer, Nakhum Finkelstein went to Petersburg and was received by the minister. Finkelstein provided details about the people in his organization who were sellers of alcohol beverages and peddlers of notions and personal items among the peasants. He stated that after the estate owners expelled them, they had to move to towns and cities, and have not gained employment outside of their villages and suffered deprivation and poverty. Finkelstein asked to know what would be the government's assistance to the settlers.
In the minister office, he was again advised to travel to Novorussiya and contact the Guardian Bureau for the Settlersthe institution that handled the new settlers in the area.
A year and half after 1804, and about half a year before the implementation of the expulsions, the InteriorMinister Kochubey, all of a sudden, remembered to discuss the matter with the authorities in Novorussiya. He turned to the provincial minister de Richelieu with the request to please allocate some land plots, close to each other, for Jewish settlement, so that the Jews could settle in a concentrated area, for their benefit, religiously speaking ofcourse, and also so that. the authorities could easily supervise them.
De Richeleu allocated for the Jewish settlement 24 thousand disyatins [about 65,000 acres] (a [Russian] measure of area, a bit larger than a hectare109.25 acres [or about 10,000 square meters]) near the Ingulets [Inhulets] River. This was virgin land and was not considered to be very fertile. There was no drinking water there and the closest cities (Beryslav, Kherson and Nikolaiev) were 200400 kilometers away.
Two months later, the Guardian Bureau for the Settlers notified Kochubey that the two emissaries, Finkelstein and Lieberman, have selected an area of 6,600 disyatins [about 17,300 acres] on the left [Eastern] bank of the Ingulets River.
The rumor about Finkelstein's success spread quickly among the Jews. Spranchik[?], the representative of 52 families from the Mstislav district contacted minister Kochubey with a spirited request
to accelerate the transport of the families of his organization to Kherson, without prior investigations, and without emissaries to search and check the areas, since his people were already expelled from the villages, their financial situation was very difficult and they were wandering around from one place to another without food, and roof above their head.
Kochubey did not heed to Spranchik's pleas. Instead, he wrote to the provincial minister, that he suggested that even the Mstislav's organization should send emissaries to examine the area first, and that, in the meantime, the candidates should look for work as field workers in the villages. His reasons were that it would not be possible to prepare housing for the potential settlers before the winter, and that the allocation of land for the Jews, without their preapproval, would open the door for future complains in case of failures. In the meantime, another application was obtained, from a group of 76 families from the province of Chernigov. They asked to settle them, according to clause 34 in the Regulations to Remedy the State of the Jews in Kavkaz. However, Kochubey told them that it would be better for them and it would satisfy the government's wish to settle the Jews in one concentrated area [in Novorussiya].
The First Colonies
With the date that was set for the expulsion getting closer, the enthusiasm for settlement among the Jews was getting stronger. A more positive attitude toward settlement was created upon the return of Finkelstein and Lieberman from their mission. The Jews now believed that the government would not only allocate them land for their settlement, but would also build them houses, equip them with mules and oxen, as well as plows, seeds and milk cows, and would also transport them to Kherson, at its expense, and provide provisions for the road. They also believed that they would receive an allocation to feed their families until the first harvest. These were attractive conditions. In 1806, 911 families consisting of 4395 people have registered for settlement according to de Richelieu. According to other government sources, 1436 families have registered for settlement that year.
(de) Richelieu, the provincial minister of Novorussiya, was experienced in new settlement of German, Bulgarian, Greek and Russian settlers. When he heard that the Jewish settlers are inexperienced in agriculture, he wanted to be cautious and suggested to Kochubey to limit the settlement to 200300 Jewish families per year during the initial period. In addition, he demanded to receive, similar to the customary allotment for other settlers, a budget of 300 rubles per family (including 125 rubles for building a house, food for 8 months until the first harvest and for acquiring oxen, tools and seeds).
The first to settle in Kherson were the people of the Finkelstein organization, which consisted of 43 families, along with some additional groups from Ukraine and Western Russia. For the travel period from their locations to Kherson, the government allocated five kopeks per day per person for provisions and food. Bakunin, the provincial minister of Mohilev understood that it was impossible to live on five kopeks per day on the roads and turned to Jewish leaders with a spirited request that they would participate in the expenses of the journey.
The communities' representatives allocated 6000 rubles for the settlers, from monies that have accumulated during fifteen years from the sale of etrogim [citrons, a fruit needed during the festival of SukkotRM].
The year 1807 was the first year of the Jewish settlement in Kherson. Four colonies were established: BobrovyKut, Izraelovka (also called by Its Hebrew name Ya'azor [He will helpMK]), Sdeh Menukha [Field of Tranquility. MK] and Dobroye. 294 families (1951 people) settled in these colonies. 248 settled with government assistance and 46 settled by private means.
In 1806, the relationship between Napoleon, the Emperor of France, and Russia worsened, and a war was almost imminent. As the Russian authorities feared that the disgruntled Jews would help the French during a possible war, they did not enforce the first expulsion slated for the beginning of 1807. The overall attitude towards the Jews softened and some optimistic people saw that as signs for the abolition of the expulsion decree. However, in July 1807, a peace treaty was signed with Napoleon and the authorities had a new wakeup call towards implementing the expulsions.
Despair and fear spread among the Jews who resided in the villages. The expulsions were executed rudely and cruelly with the help of the peasants and the military. The expelled were sent to towns and cities and were abandoned in the streets without a roof over their head. The cruelty was particularly apparent in the villages of the Vitebsk province.
During these years (18081809), substantial pressure was exerted on the authorities of the provinces to transfer the Jews for settlement in the Kherson prairies. However, the government was not ready for the settlement of masses. In Kherson itself, the settlement affairs were managed haphazardly and with no coordination. No new areas were allocated for that purpose. The government considered the budgets requested for mass settlement as exaggerated. Inaction, incompetence, and confusion brought passivity. As usual in cases of confusion and helplessness, the authorities were not strict on the formality details, and many Jews left on their journeys without passports and permits.
Kherson welcomed them with frowning faces. The provincial authorities received no instructions from the capital to ease the plight of the refugees and they wandered from one place to the other impoverished, hungry for a piece of bread, in tattered clothing, infested with lice, exhausted and infected with diseases.
We do not have exact figures about the wanderers who burst towards Kherson. By some estimates, there were as many as 1900 families (10,000 people). Their final fate is unknown. Some expired and out of the rest, some returned home and some scattered around in the cities of Kherson. It is logical to assume that a few people, who had some money and showed initiative, managed to join the colonies. In 1809 four more colonies were established: Inguletz, Kaminka, Nahar Tov [Good River] and Yefeh Nahar [Beautiful River].
At the beginning of 1810, there were already eight Jewish colonies consisting of 800 families. This was a tiny achievement against the grandiose plan of transforming tens of thousands of Jews into people who work the land, and thus modifying their economic basis.
The Decline of the First Wave
When we come now, after 150 years, to investigate the first royal attempt to settle the Jews in agriculture, there are moments when we wonder about the decline and failures at the beginning of its road. After all, the regulations about the Jewish settlement were set by the state's higher echelons, seriously minded people, who issued the decree after lengthy inquiries and deliberations that lasted two years. Even the land issue was not an obstacle. The government owned vast uninhabited areas throughout Russia, especially in Novorussiya, which has been conquered form the Turks a short while earlier. It was also easy to buy estates and whole villages from owners of large estates who became tangled with large debts, as a result of debauchery and irresponsible spending. Even the allocations for settlement of 300-350 rubles per family did not constitute an overly hard burden on the state treasury. In addition, as far as the settlers themselveswe are talking about village Jews who were not pampered by luxuries, and who were used to a life of poverty and hard labor; many of them were already close to working the land. They cultivated vegetable gardens, or milked a cow. Their hands were used to working with a hoe, fork or ax. The positive liberal atmosphere that prevailed among the high-ranking ministers and influential public figures at the beginning of the 19th century, accompanied the whole enterprise. The results of this enterprise could have been completely different, and at least a fifth of the 60,000 people who were banned and expelled, could have been converted into becoming people who worked the land. It was not impossible to establish a region consisting of a population of ten thousand families, concentrated in a hundred Jewish colonies. However, the results of the first three years 1807 - 1809 were quite pitiful. Altogether 7-8 colonies were established, consisting of eight hundred families who were in a catastrophic material situation; rickety houses, crowdedness and diseases, shortage of work-tools and arduous hard labor conditions. It seemed that the settlement wagon sank into deep sand and it was difficult to move it. In order to get rid of this misfortune, the government in Petersburg decided to end the settlement enterprise.
When we examine the affair in detail, and add up one event to another, the reasons for the failure become clearer and clearer. In fact, since the regulation that directed the government to prepare a detailed plan passed, the government did not lift a finger to plan the enterprise, and when faced with the pressure of the first pioneers, the bureaucratic machine was exposed with all of its faults.
The experience teaches us that the success of high-value ideas and enterprises often depends on finding somebody who is obsessed about implementing them. Many people think that if Neteh Notkin would have lived a longer life, and would have represented the enterprise to the government, select the candidates for the settlement more diligently, and perhaps conducts a special fundraising among the rich Jews to better the settlement conditions, things would have looked completely different. In our case however, there was nobody around who was obsessed with this enterprise, and the obstacles kept piling up.
One critical factor that significantly impeded this enterprise, was the cancelation of the explicit clause included in the regulations of 1804, which enabled Jews to settle in their own general area.
Interior Minister Kochubey was the person who annulled that clause verbally, after signing his name on it as the chair of the Jewish Committee. On the other hand, the Jewish people, despite being accustomed to wandering, balked, because of the distance to somewhere on the prairies around the Black Sea, a destination to which wandering by foot was a matter of 90 to 100 days.
The settlement in Kherson could have been more successful if it were guided and directed by experts, and if the lands allocated for it would have been somewhat fertile. However, most of the areas allocated for the Jewish farmers consisted of poor soil, with meager drinking water, or lands with very hard soil, that required four oxen to plough it.
Another critical factor for the failure was the inexperience of the Jewish settlers in working the land, despite the fact that they originated from villages. If they had received guidance and direction, similar to the guidance provided to the immigrants to Eretz Israel in our generation, even a primitive guidance typical to those days, their acclimatization would have been easier, and the new settler would have become a natural expert, in holding the plow, within a year or two.
Moreover, the economical aspect should not be overlooked. The allocation by the government for construction and farm equipment was tiny to begin with, and has dwindled even further because of the corruption by government officials and its inspectors. This is supported by the following factone of many: The internal-ministry office in Petersburg demanded, quite a few times, to receive a detailed report about how the budgets that were allocated for the Jewish settlement had been spent. They received evasive answers. Only when the settlement was discontinued in 1810 and the ministry nominated the head Judge in Novorussiya - Kontenius, to investigate and review the activities of the Guardian Bureau, which implemented and managed the settlement, many appalling cases caused by the officials' corruption, were discovered.
In an un-named colony, the registration in the books stated that moneys have been invested in building 127 houses. In actuality, only 96 houses were built. The head of another colony complained that he was forced, under the threat of imprisonment by the inspector, to sign a receipt for 1800 rubles, when he really did not receive even a penny. Four Jews were arrested for three weeks, for disobedience. Incomplete houses were found in several colonies. They were incomplete for lack of money and some of the settlers had to live in pits (Zmelianki [in Russian]). The Christian inspector of the Kaminki [Kaminka] colony, a person without any property who lived on his salary, built a luxurious house and a bathhouse in the city of Kherson. The role of the bureau and its inspectors was to purchase oxen, carts, plows, rakes and other farm tools. However, the investigating judge discovered that, less than half of the equipment registered on the inspectors' documentation was actually purchased. It was also found that the seeds for sowing were handed over to the farmers late, in the middle of the season or at the end of it. The settlers also complained about cases of theft of oxen from their pasture that occurred during the night.
Judge Kontenius was shocked by the poverty, distress and morbidity and submitted an objective report, in which he detailed what he had seen with his own eyes. To counteract this report, comments and explanations
were sent by the Guardian Bureau. The Bureau claimed that the Jews were to blame for everything. They were not experienced in working the land, they are lazy by nature, and that their diseases were caused by neglect and lack of cleanliness.
Two years following the visit by Judge Kontenius, another inspector submitted a review containing the following comment: The crowdedness in the settlers' homes is awful. 1520 people live in a single house. Because of the lack of fresh air, uncleanness, the scurvy (Tzinga in Russian] disease takes hold. The sick dwelled together with the healthy, infecting them, and many died.
Either out of a true concern or as a routine habit aimed at assisting the peasants who used to suffer from drought and other agricultural calamities, the government allocated an additional budget to improve the state of the Jewish settlers. Around the same time, Inspector Lipnov was sent to review the state of the settlers. Like his predecessors, he talked about the grave economic situation of the settlers and about corruption cases.
Here is a typical story:
The minister of Novorussiya, de Rishelieu, who received an allocation from Petersburg to remedy the situation of the Jewish settlement, assigned a minister of the province in the Governorate of Yekaterinoslav - Kalgaoria, to purchase mules and oxen, as well as tools for the settlers. The minister boasted that he managed to purchase everything for a very low price. However, Inspector Lipnov found that the oxen were old, gaunt and unfit for fieldwork, the wagons and the plows required repairs and everything he purchased was not worth even half of what was paid for it.When discussing the factors that led to the failure, one cannot ignore the long, tortuous and exhausting journey to Kherson. Along that route, the Jews wasted all of their savings, their bodies weakened and they suffered from diseases. In this state of exhaustion, they could not find the energy to engage in strenuous work under harsh conditions.
In one of the documents sent by a group of Jewish farmers about their way to settlement, it was said: after a long journey that lasted four months, we finally arrived at Kremenchuk. From there, we travelled on wagons rented on behalf of the government, and with a meager allocation of food, we arrived at the place of settlement. In front of us stretched a desolated prairie.
[They continue to describe their initial period:] Tired and exhausted from the long journey, from the cold, the poor nutrition and other mishaps, we had to begin building the houses. We were besieged by diseases. Our situation was desperate. We were not used to working the land, and were located at a great distance from other settlements where we could have learned from. We were forced to hire workers and pay them 15 rubles for the cultivation of one diesiatina [about 2.7 acres]. Instead of receiving the promised daily allocation of ten kopeks per day until the first harvest, we received only five. When we had to exchange our money with hard currency [to pay the foreign workers. MK], we lost again. We had difficulties in acquiring seeds and flour on the prairie. There were many cases when we had to purchase grain but had nowhere to grind it. We were forced to mash the seeds by hand or bake them unprocessed. This was our situation during the initial period.
And the farmers of Sdeh Menukha reported: as a result of the [contaminated] water, [difficulties in acclimating to] a new climate, lack of food and diseases, 200 of our people died during the first three years. Among them, there were not just the elderly and babies, but whole families. We are [only] 166 families today. There are orphans among us who lack clothing and food, and widows without any support. We are all poor and miserable .
In one of the documents, the farmers of the colony Nahar Tov wrote: As a result of the change of climate, and the [contaminated] water, half of our people are not able to cultivate the land.
From these stories, a bleak picture can be painted about the state of the settlers. Those thousands of people who burst towards the prairies of Kherson on their own, to receive salvation through settlement and were abandoned, they were not fortunate enough to receive even a memorial for their suffering and sorrow. There is no better evidence to describe their miserable fate than the state of the settlers. Dead from hunger, exhaustion and diseases, their bones were scattered throughout their wanderings on the prairies of Kherson without a marker or a gravestone.
The failure did not please the people responsible, such as Interior Minister Kurakin and Novorussiya's Provincial Minister de Richelieu. They did not find the courage to admit their mistakes and to correct them to vindicate themselves. They chose to select a more convenient excuse. They blamed the settlers themselves and suggested that the Czar discontinued the settlement.
The Provincial Minister de Richelieu submitted a memorandum in which he wrote:
As a result of the inexperience of the Jews in working the land and the lack of cleanliness in their colonies, the mortality rate grew substantially. It is therefore recommended to discontinue the settlement. Perhaps within two to three years, when they could prove that they can develop a better tendency for this way of life, we would be able to renew it.Whereas Interior Minister Kurakin stated:
As the finance committee for the reduction in government expenditure has not decided upon next year's budget for the settlement of Jews, we must instruct the authorities of the provinces to discontinue the transport of Jews to settlement at the expense of the government. We also must instruct the Guardian Bureau for the Settlers to take out the settlers who are unable or unwilling to persist in working the land, from their colonies, equip them with passports and return them to their localities according to the law. We also must notify the remaining settlers that, if within a year it would become clear that they are unsuitable to work the land, and that there is no hope for them to become farmers, the government would send them to work in textile factories until they pay off their debts to the government.The Czar tended to accept de Richelieu's formulation, better than the harsh recommendation offered by the interior minister, and he issued, on 6 April 1810, the following order:
It is being ordered to discontinue the handling of new settlers and leave those who already settled at their current state in the colonies without changes.The interior ministry's historian, responsible for the government records wrote in 1810:
The lack of cleanliness among the Jewish settlers resulted in diseases and high mortality. They did not succeed in agriculture, with which they were not experienced. These undesirable results led to the discontinuation of the [Jewish] settlement in Novorussiya.
That is how the first story of Jewish farming settlement in Czarist Russia has ended.
The Abolition of the Expulsion Decrees from the Villages
Even before the government's decision in 1810 to discontinue the settlement, the number of Jews who registered for it decreased. We can assume that the people who flocked to Kherson without licenses returned individually to their original localities and described the fearsome and horrible experiences of the refugees in their wandering. They obviously also described the gloomy state of the new settlers. Undoubtedly, this horrible news has damped the enthusiasm of even the neediest and the poorest.
In the meantime, the expulsion process continued. The expelled became a burden on their relatives in the cities, and when their savings were depletedthey starved. They wandered from one place to another, and their state worsened by the day. Many of them contacted the authorities and asked to be transferred to Kherson, despite the bleak news from there. However, even before the decision was made about the discontinuation, the Novorussiya authorities warned the provinces' ministers against continuing the transports, as the ability to absorb new settlers was limited to 200 families per year, and in Kherson itself there were already candidates much above this number.
Some of the provinces' ministers applied to Petersburg with messages saying that it was impossible to sustain expulsion of the masses without totally destroying tens of thousands of families. With the execution of the expulsions, many estate owners discovered that they have suffered substantial losses, because beside the exaggerated leasing fees that they squeezed out of the Jewish lessees, the estate owners were also using the Jews as servants and as purchasing and selling agents. Without the help of their Jews, the paritzim [nobles in Yiddish.MK] were helpless.
The desperate state of the expelled, has certainly touched the hearts of some high-ranking notables. They applied pressure on the provinces' ministers. The new attitude of many of the estate owners towards their [Jewish} lessees and on the other hand, the failure of the Jewish settlement sector, have embarrassed the government in Petersburg. This embarrassment has led to the fact that in January 1809, a new committee was nominated on behalf of the Czar, with the task of finding ways to move the Jews from selling alcoholic beverages in the villages to other productive occupations. The following people were nominated to serve on the committee: The secret Advisor Popov (Chairman), Senator Alexeyev, Vice-Interior Minister Kozodavlev, and others. In the nomination documents, the difficulties in executing the expulsions were explained: Because of their poverty, the Jews cannot acclimatize and find sustenance in their new locations after the expulsions. Because the government could not get them established in their locations, new ways must be found by which the Jews can make a living after being removed from selling alcoholic beverages in the inns and the villages.
The committee was also ordered to review the opinion paper of the Jewish representatives, which has been previously submitted to government.
The committee took almost three years to investigate the problem and submitted its conclusions to Czar Alexander the 1st in March 1812. This is what these conclusions said:
The common view is that the Jews must be removed from serving alcohol because of the damage to the peasants. However, the source of the drunkenness is not with the people who sell the beverages, but with the alcohol distilleries of the nobles, which are their principal source of income. Upon the expulsion of 60,000 Jewish families, 60,000 peasant lessees will replace them. These lessees would be people who were previously diligent farmers. However, the expelled Jews who are inexperienced and could not be converted into people who work the land instantaneously, particularly because at this time the state treasure does not have the capability to resettle the Jews and turn them into farmers.As far as for the settlement is concerned:
The Jew is not getting rich form the wine trade. He is poor and hardly making a living. By the fact that the Jew buys the grain from the farmer, he releases the farmer from the need to waste time in travelling to the city. The mediation by the Jew in buying and selling, is required for both the estate owner and the farmer. It is not practical to convert the expelled Jews into industry workers, merchants or craftsmen as most city Jews are also poor, and creating an artificial industrial plant is doomed to fail, particularly because the state treasury lacks the enormous amounts of money needed to establish a new industry.
The expulsions lead to increased impoverishment of the Jews, as they are being dispossessed of the occupations they have been involved in for hundreds of years.
To put an end to the embarrassment, and leave the Jews in their places of residence, so that they would be able to make a living in occupations that were prohibited in clause 34. This recommendation comes in light of the fact that the committee recognizes the difficult situation of the people, and the fear that if the persecution continues in the current political situation, it would anger the oppressed people.The government gave up and approved the committee's recommendations. It is logical to assume that the bail-out did not come because of the humanitarian reasons stated by the committee, but for what has been hinted by the words: In the current political situation. The hint referred to Napoleon's army, which has crossed the border, in the meantime, and has invaded
Russia proper. There was a danger that the Jewish population, which was oppressed to the bone, would help the invaders.
The Jews, thus, continued to hold their despicable occupations, selling of alcohol beverages to the peasants, possessing inns located on the main roads, intermediation, and peddling.
The storm that swept the Jews as a result of the regulations of 1804 has left hundreds, or perhaps thousands of graves scattered throughout the prairies of Kherson. Because of these regulations, eight colonies were established, in which 800 families have settled, in distress and despicable poverty. However, from these wretched families grew the seed that developed, over the years, into a tribe of Jews who work the land.
The Troubles of the Settlers during the Second Decade
Following the conclusions of the Popov's Committee (1812), when the expulsions from the villages stopped, and many Jews were allowed to return home and old occupation, Kherson's settlers considered themselves deprived, because it was impossible for them to return to their previous occupations. They would have willingly return to their previous locations, or look for some of the common occupations in cities of the Kherson province. However, the regulations of 1804 did not encourage the transfer from the status of farmers to that craftsmen. The debts of the farmers to the government aggravated the situation, as they could not receive passports and departure permits, as long as they did not pay off the debts.
Because the colonies' inspectors, who served on behalf of the authorities, were absent most of the time, and did not perform their roles towards the settlers or the government diligently, many farmers abandoned their land temporarily and wandered around to the near cities to find food for their families. There were many farmers who found employment in the occupations they held prior to the settlement, or in occupations they had acquired after settling, such as glass installing, shoemaking, tailoring, cobbling and wagon driving. Those who did not acquire a profession became peddlers, or went into other occupations that promised profits and sustenance.
In 1815, the Kherson settlers sent emissaries to Lithuania and Belarus to collect handouts for the widows, orphans and the poorest farmers. Another delegation travelled to the cities of Grodno and Slonim, to consult with knowledgeable and wise Jews on how the farmers of Kherson could free themselves from working the land, and return to their previous status. They placed their fortune and hope with rich lobbyersEliezer Delon and Zundil Zonenberg who had good connections with the government.
Indeed, the situation of the settlers in Kherson colonies was precarious. Some farmers managed to stabilize their farms and found sustenance in agriculture. However, these were just a few. The vast majority of the settlers from the first decade were casualties of natural disasters. Because of the corruption of the officials many houses were roofless and their walls were cracked.
Two or three families had to crowd together in one house. Many of them came from areas where forests were plentiful, and where even the poorest people would have accumulated some firewood for the winter. However, the Kherson prairies were barren of trees. It was freezing cold in winter. Their winter clothing has worn out long time ago, and new clothes were not purchased.
The crowdedness (15 people to a room), hard labor, meager nutrition, uncleanliness, and the freezing cold in winter all of these causes played havoc on people's health. The mortality rate was very high. According to the statistics, half of the population perished during the first ten years, and they left behind them, widows and orphans without means for survival.
In one of the reviews that Lipnov sent to Petersburg in 1813 he wrote: …The situation of the Jews is terrible. Weeping with tears, they are begging to be saved from extinction…They are weakened and degenerated in the prairie from the cold and the hunger.
The authorities in the capital city knew about the horrible situation of the Jewish farmers. It seemed that there was a real concern among the rulers about the state of the colonies. It is impossible to know whether this concern was caused by human sensibility toward an attempt that failed, or by feeling of responsibility about the unsuccessful project, or perhaps, by chance, the people who headed the institutions that handled the colonies, were people who regarded the state of the farmer with concern. The head of the interior ministry was Kozodavlev, the minister for religions and education was Graf Galitzin, who was a personal friend of Emperor Alexander, and the head of the office of the religions and education ministry was Zonkovskii.
When Kozodavlev found out about the misery and the complains of the Jews, he started to contact the Guardian Bureau of the Settlers requesting details about the situation. The reports confirmed the grave situation of the Jewish settlers, but placed most of the blame on the settlers who do not know, and do not want to work. It was emphasized again that the high degree of illness among the settlers was caused by their lack of cleanliness. The Guardian Bureau and Richelieu did not place any blame on the local inspectors who were appointed by them and whose greed was not a small factor in the settlers' predicament.
Minister Kozodavlev, was not satisfied with the reports that he received. As mentioned above, he nominated the primary judge in Novorussiya, Kontenius, to investigate the state of the settlers, and later on sent Lenov for the second time. Each of them visited the colonies, and both submitted detailed reports and proposals. They also named the reasons for the failure, one by one: government budgets that were issued without coordination and order, meager personal allocation (the allocation every person received before the first harvest), consecutive years of drought, thefts, insufficiency of mules, oxen and tools, which prevented a timely cultivation of the land, epidemics in the various livestock, life in poverty and a high mortality rate. On the other hand, the two inspectors mentioned the lack of passion of the settlers towards working the land and their wish to get rid of it. They noted that, even in their situation, if they would have grown lambs and flax, they could have supplied themselves with clothing for the winter and the summer.
Despite all of that, the reports by Kontenius and Lenov did not contain any pessimism towards the future. They emphasized that despite some sick and goodfornothing people, the farmers showed signs of acclimatization to their new life, and [had a chance of succeeding] if sufficient means were provided to fix their dilapidated houses, and to purchase the needed mules, oxen and tools. Lenov, whose review was more optimistic, found it necessary to emphasize that the Jewish farmers required more attention and a more sympathetic attitude from the government than the Germans, Bulgarian or Russian settlers. The reason for that was that the latter, except of being farmers from birth, received from the government twice as many loans and equipment than the Jews. Their sound establishment may take longer, but if the government would allocate the required budgets for the Jews, at the end they would be very good farmers.
Even the Czar understood that it would not be possible to make changes through the local officials who bore the blame for the failure and that there was a very good reason to nominate one or two officials from among the most talented and honest officials in Petersburg. Therefore, an inspector in the farm department of the interior ministry, Y. P. Lipnov, was nominated, and along with him another official by the name of Leshkrov. In reality, however, only Lipnov was active for several years. He was given the permission to dismiss officials and replace them, as well as establish new procedures as he saw fit, without relying on the Guardian Bureau.
Lipnov was a talented person, smart, objective and dedicated to his role. He dismissed some local inspectors, who were absent from the colonies for long periods, purchased the required seeds himself, increased the flour allocation for bread, treated the farmers either severely or kindly [as needed], and inspired the farmers to [timely] start the plowing and sowing tasks.
His daring attitude towards the local authorities and the officialdom raised the people of the local authorities against him. Richelieu, the provincial minister of Novorussiya, was offended by the fact that an official from the capital acted independently of him. However, after the interior minister found a satisfactory formula for joint action, that obstacle was removed. However, the rest of the officials in the Guardian Bureau and the provincial finance department tried to disrupt Lipnov's actions and put obstacles in his way. The hostile attitude by the local officials, the frequent travelling and the separation from his family who remained in Petersburg, have prompted Lipnov to submit a request to be released from his appointment. However, the authorities recognized his effectiveness and talent, asked him to continue, and allocated a thousand rubles to transfer his wife and four children to his place of work.
After years of tribulations and suffering, a positive turn transpired the colonies. The material situation improved. The disease and rate of mortality decreased. Obviously, the concern of the authorities and their dedicated emissary, Lipnov, were part of the reasons for this positive turn. Another reason was the end of the drought. Cultivation of the fields became more rational. While the farmers continued to work in profitable occupations in the cities during the dead seasons, the main reason for the turn, according to most opinions, was the process of the acclimatization to fieldwork, particularly as the children grew up and started to incorporate themselves in the development of the farm sectors.
When the state of the farmers improved, a new worry popped uptax and debt payments.
One of the conditions of the settlement was the freeing of the farmers from various taxes and payments on their debts for ten years…and here, the tenthyear anniversary of the settlement was approaching. If the authorities insisted on the fulfillment of this cause, it would have been necessary to pay 100 rubles a year per farm towards taxes and debts starting the eleventh year. The farmers started to negotiate and asked to receive an extension of several years to the payment of taxes and debts.
Lipnov supported this demand and the managers of the Guardian Bureau recognized its validity seeing the positive turn that occurred in the colonies. With the support of Minister Kozodavlev and the Religions and Education MinisterGalitzin, a decision was obtained on 17 November 1817, by the Royal Council, and approved by Czar Alexander the 1st, which said: It is decided to free the colonies from paying taxes for another five years and postpone payments on the debts for thirty years. The decision invigorated the farmers markedly.
The following statistics summarized the situation towards the year 1818:
The government had invested 300,000 rubles in establishing 8 colonies. The population in the colonies included 2003 males, 1654 females, a total of 3657 people. The land allocated for the Jewish settlement totaled 194 thousand disyatins. Obviously, only a part of these areas has been cultivated and the rest have been leased out.
According to the size of these areas, there was a workforce shortage, and that left room for new settlers. At the beginning of the 20th year, only 400 families remained in the colonies of Kherson, because of desertion and mortality. It was felt that there was an urgent need to solve the problem of the diminishing population by additional settlement.
A New Awakening and its Decline
The news about the improvement in the material status of the farmers reached the provinces of White Russia [Belarus], and many aroused to the idea of abandoning their places of residence and getting a foothold into working the land. This time it seemed that better conditions have been created. Those who settle now would find established colonies and prepared institutions. The experience and knowledge that were acquired about the quality of the land areas, and the mules and oxen would be available to them, and there would be people from whom they can learn about the work. It seemed that even within the management of the Guardian Bureau, a positive change took place. General Inzov and his assistant Padyiev were nominated to head the Guardian Bureau. Both men were people of action.
At the end of 1819, 40 families from Shklow submitted an application through the Provincial Minister of Mogilev, to settle in Kherson.
Religions and Education Minister, Galitzin, whose ministry was responsible of handling the Jewish issue, treated their application favorably. However, when the issue of the budget allocation was raised, Yinzov, the head of the Guardian Bureau was asked what is the allocation required for a family of settlers, he quoted
an amount of 700800 rubles per family. The Finance Minister announced that he did not see any possibility to allocate any budgets for that purpose. The negotiations lasted two years. The Shklow group had not moved from their localities. In the meantime, a severe drought hit White Russia in the years 1821-22, followed by hunger. The encouraging news from Kherson induced in many Jews the will to leave their localities, abandon their occupations and move to settlement. Many applications flowed to the provincial minister of Mogilev, who contacted Petersburg. Despite the explicit order from 1810 to discontinue the settlement of Jews, the authorities did not find any wrong with adding settlers who settle at their own expense within the allocated areas. An instruction was sent to the provincial minister of Mogilev to oblige all candidates for settlement to sign, ahead of time, a statement by which they renounce any financial assistance from the government, either for the journey or for equipping the farm. The provincial minister of Mogilev notified Petersburg that based on the candidates' signatures, he issued transfer permits to 1490 families. At the same time, the Guardian Bureau announced that 197 families arrived in Kherson. In his announcement, Yinzov emphasized that these families are penniless. According to him, the people could not explain why they signed, and did not pay attention to the content of the statement before they signed it.
It seemed that the heads of the [Jewish] communities, who wished to get rid of families who were dependent on them, encouraged the poor ones to sign the statement, hinting that the government would, most likely, settle them at its expense. In the meantime, many Jews continued to sign the waiver statement and receive permits to transfer to Kherson. Some of these people, left immediately upon receiving the permit, some remained to liquidate their businesses. According the official announcements of the White Russia provincial bureaus, about 1780 families (8706 people) lest on the journey as of 7 December 1822.
In the meantime, a negative change in the government's attitude towards the Jews took place. Alexander the 1st, who was liberal and tolerant during the first part of his rein, started to show an increased tendency for reactionary attitudes and anti-Semitism. One particular event intensified his grudge. On March 25th 1817, an order was issued on behalf of the Czar aimed at establishing a Christian-Jewish Society, which was basically a missionary institution, to be managed by Graf Gallitzin, the minister for religions and education. According to its regulations, convert Jews, members of the Christian-Jewish Society, were entitled to receive government owned lands for free, in the southern and northern provinces, as well as establish villages, towns and cities who would enjoy a self-governing autonomy and discounts on taxes. A special area was allocated for that purpose in the Ekaterinoslav province and a special inspector was nominated. A substantial propaganda and advertising campaign accompanied the establishment of the society; however, no real results were achieved. In 1824, Graf Gallitzin suggested abolishing the society and dispersing its supervisory board. The Czar with his religious fanaticism, refused to abort his idea, and the society, which had no members, continued to be included in the list of the government institutions during the entire life of Alexander the 1st. It was closed only during the reign of his heir, Nikolai the 1st.
Upon the death of Interior Minister Kozodavlev, he was replaced by Kochubey, who served as
chair of the Royal Committee that issued the Jewish Regulations in 1804, and later on served as the interior minister who helped establish the Jewish settlement in Kherson at the end of the [19th ] century's first decade.
When he was re-appointed to head the interior ministry, he remembered the headaches of the first wave of settlement, combined with the [new Czar's] attitude towards the Jews, he was not in a hurry to burden himself with a new load.
Since forever, when a calamity was approaching, the arrows of the people's rage were directed towards the Jews. This time, again, the drought and the hunger in the provinces of White Russia created a similar situation. In order to clear themselves from any blame, the estate owners pointed the finger towards at the Jewish barmen and innkeepers. When the heads of the nobility discussed a remedy for the state of the peasants, they decided to propose the expulsion of all the Jews from White Russia, or at least the expulsion of the liquor-sellers, who destroy the life of the farmers.
The slow bureaucratic machine, showed a miraculous agility this time, and sent a high-ranking emissary to the provincial ministers of White Russia to ask for their opinions. The opinion provided was supportive [of that proposal]. The issue was discussed in Petersburg's Committee for Remedying the State of the Suffering Peasants in White Russia. It is not clear who established this committee, however, the expulsion proposal was approved very easily by it. From there the proposal was moved to the Council of Ministers and was approved again. After all the approvals, the Czar agreed to approve it as well. On 11 April 1823, an order was sent on behalf of two provincial ministers of White Russia, which ordered to prohibit the Jews from leasing and maintaining inns, taverns, hostels, and post offices in all the villages of Mogilev and Vitebsk and even to reside in the villages.
Immediately upon receiving the order, the authorities were quick to cruelly expel the Jews. The order went out in April. Based on the transportation conditions of those days, it arrived at the provinces of White Russia in the beginning of May. Until the end of the year (January 1824), 20,000 men and women were expelled from the villages during the period of six months. The expulsion continued during 1824 and the number of the expelled reached 40,000 people. They arrived at the towns and cities, wandered on the street like stray dogs without a roof on their heads, with no clothing and no means of making a living. They slept in synagogue, became sick with deceases and many died.
Despite the explicit instructions in clause 34 of the Jewish Regulation of 1804, which allowed the expelled people from the villages to become farmers, the fact that the Kherson experiment proved that Jews were capable of being agriculturalists, the fact that there were vacant government lands for that purpose and the existence of settlement applications by the expelled, the authorities, headed by the Czar himself, were not willing to allow, even some of these miserable people, to transfer to agriculture.
Interior Minister Kochubey still found it necessary to issue a four-clauses proposal to the ministers' council:
As the communities could not help the settlers with the amounts imposed on them, the flow of people to settlement in Kherson has stopped by itself. Many managed to leave their place of residence before the decree and wandered towards the colonies in Kherson. Only part of them arrived at their destination. Many died and some returned.
The Second Wave of Settlers
During the year of 1822, 1780 families (8706 people) traveled from White Russia to Kherson. From them, only 1016 families (4431 people) reached Kherson. The rest of the 764 families disappeared without a trace. It can be assumed that some were scattered in the cities, some returned, and according to the testimonies of returnees, many died on the way.
Group after group wandered from the north southward to Kherson. Some had certain means, and some were penniless people who did not have anything to lose. Both groups relied on the kindness of the authorities and hoped that they would help them at the end.
The new refugees flooded the colonies, particularly Kaminka and Inguletz. Like their predecessors of 15 years ago, the second wave of settlers also experienced their share of suffering, deprivation and disease. Cold, dysentery and fever wreaked havoc and caused deaths among them. According to the physicians' diagnosis, the exhaustion was caused by the hardship of the long and tiring trip and the crowdedness and filth at their places of accommodation. During a very short time, 167 people died in Kaminka and Inguletz.
General Yinzov, the head of the Guardian Bureau of the Settlers (German, Bulgarian, Greek, Russian and Jews) instructed Padyiev to sort out the refugees and to determine who are interested in settlement and who are suited for it.
The sorting process lasted for three months, and at its' end the following numbers became clear:
443 families expressed their wishes to settle;
11 families wished to move to the city of Ekaterinoslav (the small number was a result of the fact that the city authorities refused to receive refugees);
511 families intended to return to the provinces of their previous residence;
51 families disappeared without passports and their whereabouts were unknown;
Altogether 1106 families
Yinzov's attitude toward the settlement enterprise was thoughtful and objective and his attitude towards the new refugeeshumane. Padyiev, as the acting person, also showed a positive attitude towards the people. The head inspector over the Jewish coloniesYiedamov, showed exemplary dedication. He ran around from one colony to the other, even during snow storms and freezing cold. During one of these trips he fell sick and died (on 27 April 1825) leaving behind a poor family and many pleasant memories in the hearts of the Jewish settlers.
It can be assumed that following the personnel changes among the colonies' inspectors, made by Lipnov, a change in attitude was apparent. This positive attitude, on the part of the people who headed the Guardian Bureau and Yiedamov explains the strange fact that, despite the explicit order to allow the settlement of poor Jews only if the Jewish communities would provide the required investmentYinzov and Padyiev made preparations to settle 443 families.
Yinzov distributed the lands available for the Jewish colonies based on 40 disyatins [about 108 acres] per family, both the old and the new settlers. After the distribution, an area of slightly more than 14 thousand disyatins [about 38,000 acres] was identified as a reserve for new settlers if they arrive.
Because of the lack of technical, organizational and financial abilities, Yinzov decided to limit the settlement to 200 families per year, assuming that those who were postponed for the next year would train themselves by working for the established farmers.
Knowing the negative attitude in Petersburg, Yinzov was modest with his budget requirements. He asked for 250 rubles per family or 50,000 rubles for the 200 settlers in the first year. Apparently, he relied on self-participation of the settlers in establishing their farms, because he knew that the settlers brought with them 2738 rubles in cash, 167 horses and 159 wagons, in which they traveled on their long trip.
Petersburg accepted his proposal, as they did not have any other choice, and allocated him 50,000 rubles. With this budget, 162 families settled on the land in 1824. Every family received two oxen, a plow, a harrow, seeds and a house. The total investment for each family amounted
to 307 rubles and 69 kopeks. Until 1828, 130 additional families have settled. Out of the total flow of refugees in the early 1820's, 292 families have settled. The total investment in establishing them amounted to 110,000 rubles; 62 families established a new colony called Yizluchistoye.
These were the results of the second wave. During the five years of that wave, close to 300 families have settled, out of the 2000 families that traveled to Kherson.
Once Againa Drought and its Consequences
It would be reasonable to assume that after the hardships of the first years, the settlement enterprise in Kherson would march towards stabilization. The remaining farmers learned the work, the diseases stopped, and the children grew up and started to help. In the colonies, there were a few years of bountiful harvests. The attitude by the officialdom improved. New settlers joined the colonies, and even a new colony was established. 300 new houses were built. During the winter, when there was no work in the fields, the farmers would go to the city and work as craftsmen, artisans and lessees of Jewish stores. This additional income was a valuable material support.
However, in 182425 a drought befell on the region again. The meager harvest did not cover even half of the needed seeds. The days of distress, impoverishment and hopelessness returned. The year 1824 was the first year of tax payments that has been previously postponed for five years. The first settlers had to pay 12,000 rubles that year, and 25,000 rubles a year starting 1825 and onwards. Hardly 600 rubles were collected from all the settlers. Yinzov explained to the government in Petersburg the situation of the settlers and noted that it was a result of wandering habits, diseases, mortality, lack of knowledge about agricultural work, as well as drought, which hit every province in Kherson, during which even farmers who were born as such were destroyed by it. From the 500 farmers in the Jewish colonies, only 120 farmers sowed their fields, by their own independent means. Even the income from side employment lessened as the professionals could hardly find work, and those who lacked a profession could not find work at all. In order to save many from hunger it was necessary to help them by giving them seeds.
During this distressed situation the number of the people who wander away to the cities, in times to far-away cities, in order to earn something doing work or by peddling. Even after the drought passed, its signs endured in the colonies. Many farmers preferred the pennies available from the pay for the work in at the city to the physical effort and the financial investment in their fields where the harvest was not guaranteed. There were those who neglected the fields altogether, and some leased them to Christians without the knowledge of the officialdom. As a result, many farms were neglected and the colony lost its agricultural character.
The lack of persistence with farm work and the drift towards the city strengthened the opinion by the guardian officials that the Jews are lazy, wandering people, and dodgers from physical work.
Similar to the Christian colonies, the Jewish colonies had a head of the colony who was elected by the farmers or the authorities. The head of the colony (named Schultza [or Schultz adapted from the German colonists. MK]) was like the Mukhtar [chosenin Arabic, head of a village], the intermediary between the farmers and the inspector. Only a farmer whose farm was sustainable and successful could have been elected to be a Schultza and the Christian inspector had a say in this election. Despite the fact that it was forbidden for the Jewish farmers to leave the colony, they were allowed to leave temporarily and earn income in the city or other area villages, during the winter months when there was no field work. This was allowed, in consideration for their tough time at the early stages of their settlement. The Jewish Schultza provided written licenses and permits for that. The Schultzas, who were forced, once and a while, to fulfill unpleasant orders towards their fellow farmers, were not always liked by the public. At elections, there were always people who supported a particular Shultza and those who opposed. The elected Schultza was not objective and would often favor his supporters and the people who elected him.
It would be fair to say that the Jewish colony had not yet acquired a rural character, and had not yielded, as of yet, a true farmer figure. As mentioned, most of its residents worked in the cities during winter time. Some cheated the system, worked during most of the year, and neglected their farm. In contrast to them, there were some farmers, who cultivated their fields dedicatedly and also developed a livestock sectioncattle and sheep. They were far from being wealthy; however, they did not suffer from scarcity of food and clothing. The farmers with the solid farms were liked by the officialdom, not only because they paid their taxes and their debts, but also because they served as proof that Jews were capable of working the land, if they were given the proper conditions and their ability to acclimatize nurtured.
It is difficult to point at the reason for change of attitude and the harsh accusations of Padyiev, General Yinzov's right-hand. In earlier years, he was dedicated to his role and to the affairs of the settlers. Was it the influence of the hostile attitude towards the Jews that prevailed in the capital during the later days of Alexander the 1st, and during the rise to the throne of Nikolai the 1st? The government officials were sensitive to the fluctuations of the barometer in Petersburg, to the side of either conservatism or liberalism. They were particularly sensitive about anything that was associated with the Jewish affairs. Perhaps Padyiev, the diligent and the practical administrator became disillusioned
after seven years of activity, about the state of the colonies and the routine ways by which things were handled, and blamed the settlers for the failing.
In order to support his analysis and conclusions he quoted some numbers. He prepared some detailed statistics about the sowed fields, inventories, population, etc., year-by-year for the duration of ten yearsfrom 1814 to 1825. His statistics emphasize in certain terms the lack of progress and the instability of the colonies. He emphasized that out of a total of 714 families residing at that time in the colonies, only 411 were occupied with real farming. A decline in the milk section was also noted. Out of all of the vast areas, only a small percentage was cultivated.
The numbers brought up by Padyiev were correct and made a harsh impression in the offices and among the officials. If he would have summarized his numbers at the beginning of 1824 instead of towards 1825, a more optimistic impression could have certainly been obtained. That is because 1824 was a harsh drought year, and, as mentioned before, one drought year can wipe out the fruits of prior bountiful years, like the story about the gaunt cows swallowing the fat cows as if nothing happened [Pharaoh's dream, Genesis 41. MK]. It was also a very well-known fact that in a drought year, farmers, even those who were born as such, wander away from their farm to find work and earn an additional income in other places. The state of the colonies' Jews, who were not farmers from birth, was so harsh that they had to leave their families in winter time and wander to far-away cities. Their lives in the cities were not easy either. The work was hard, the living conditions horrible, and they often saved from their own food in order to send a few rubles to sustain their families.
Padyiev's statistic and his conclusions were accompanied by commentaries about the wandering and lazy nature of the Jews and about their tendency to avoid paying taxes. At the conclusion of his review, Padyiev proposed to worsen the work regime, which would serve to tame and educate the Jews and force them to be diligent and persistent farmers.
Padyiev's proposal started with a list of clauses prohibiting leasing the land to others. Following these clauses, he listed some penalty clauses aimed at punishing the lazy and wandering people. He fixed the penalty level as a typical jurist, from light to heavy, for negligence and for wandering to the city. A penalty of several days of public work for the first infraction; after the second or third infraction the criminal would be tied to a pole, and a black wooden sign would be hanged above his head with his infraction written on it; if the criminal would offend againhe would get twenty-five floggings; and if all that would not correct him he would be sent to Siberia.
One clause stated that it was forbidden to send the children to the city to study an urban profession. The villages' heads would be prohibited from releasing the farmers from work except for holidays, when work is prohibited by religion. It would be prohibited to be idle during the days of Khol Ha'Moed [secular days on weeklong Jewish holidays. MK] (he called these days half-holidays). If an undesirable person was elected as the head of a village, the local inspector should notify his superiors and propose a more acceptable candidate. He also proposed to confiscate the silk clothing, adorned hats, furs, jewels and pearls as well as the use of gold and silver dinnerware owned by the farmers.
He proposed that all these items be handed over to the Head Office, to be sold at public auction, and the money collected from the sale be used to pay off the owed taxes of the owners or to invest them in their farms.
Padyiev suggested to prohibit the Rabbis from arranging for a divorce requested by a woman or her parents, for not fulfilling an obligation by the husband or his parents to bestow her with fine clothing and jewels (from this clause one can get the impression that this was common occurrence among the farmers. It was certainly not soM.L.). He proposed to punish any Rabbi who would not observe this rule by imposing various penalties, starting with a fine and ending with expulsion to Siberia.
Another prohibition suggested by Padyiev was based on his intention to prevent or at least to make it difficult for farmers' daughters to marry grooms from the city.
Following a list of strict clauses dealing with the conditions under which it would be allowed to leave the village for the city for a short period, he required the heads of the villages to notify the officialdom, without any delay, about any unauthorized leaving, including the location of the criminal. All the punishments, mentioned above, are repeated and proposed for anybody who leaves the colony without a permit. These punishments were also in effect for those who do not return home on the date noted in the permit. The head of the village, who would not notify about a farmer leaving for the city would also be liable. After the first offense, he would be fined. The authority would determine his punishment after the third offense according to its own view.
Padyiev also suggested that the authorities in certain cities (Kherson and Ekaterinoslav) would search for the people who come from the colonies without a permit and return them to their colony escorted by a police officer (Etafommeaning guards who would change at every night stop).
As some of the farmers who were craftsmen were employed in their profession by estate owners, Padyiev suggested punishing these estate owners according to the clauses in the law that refer to people who hide army deserters.
In order to enact this strict regime, Padyiev proposed not to rely on local inspectors who might handle the settlers with a soft hand because of their weak heart or their relations with the farmers. He proposed to do it by adding administrative personnel, including a small platoon of policemen who would become available for the officialdom.
Padyiev submitted his analysis and conclusions to his superior, General Yinzov. It is impossible to comprehend what was the reason that drove Yinzov to approve that plan. It may have been due to the general atmosphere, or his fear from his vice and assistant who has acquired certain appreciation by the high authorities. In any case, the fact was that Yinzov approved Padyiev's plan and added some remarks himself and passed it to the Interior Ministry in Petersburg.
In the Interior Ministry, they were not in a hurry to make a decision concerning Padyiev's plan. Two problems that required solutions, complicated the issuethe collection of taxes from the farmers, and the standing of people, who neglected their farms, with respect to the army recruitment duty. According to a 1794 law, the Jewish townspeople and merchants were obligated to pay double the taxes imposed on Christians of the same classes. The same law contained a clause
that allowed Jews to free themselves from the recruitment duty in exchange for a cash- restitution of 500 rubles. The Jewish Regulations from 1804, contained no clauses regarding the recruitment of Jews to the army. That meant that the 1794 law was still valid.
In 1808, at the beginning of the Jewish settlement in Kherson, the provincial minister of Kiev asked about the rule concerning the Jewish farmers in regards with the army recruitment. His questions were passed over to the Jewish Committee (probably the one that was re-nominated in 1809, headed by Popov). Even the opinion of Alexander the 1st on this issue was not very consistent. The issue reached the Ministry of Religions, and there, along with the Ministry of Finance, a new proposal was developed, which stated that only those who default on their taxes would be recruited to the army. The proposal was submitted for discussion in the Council of Ministers, however, in the meantime, the office manager of the Interior Ministry, Lansky, submitted his own proposal. Instead of all the fines and penalties in Padyiev's version, Lansky proposed to punish those who neglected their farm, with recruitment to the army.
Lansky expanded his plan to include a proposal for a law concerning the recruitment of Jewish farmers and townspeople in the three provinces of Novorussiya. He suggested that, because it was difficult for the Jews to serve in the regular army, in view of their laws and customs, labor battalions would be established, each consisting of 500 soldiers, who would be employed in public works, road maintenance, etc. Jews who volunteer to serve of their own good will would be allowed to join these battalions, where the soldiers would not be discriminated against because of their religion. Furthermore, Lansky emphasized that for those farmers who neglected their farms, the recruitment would serve as a highly effective means of education.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Jewish Farmers in Russian Fields Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2021 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 30 Jul 2018 by LA