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Toldot – An Historical Review (cont.)

Authored and edited (in Hebrew) by Tzvi Livneh-Lieberman

Translated by Moshe Kutten

Edited by Rafael Manory


C. The Period of Nikolai the First

New Proposals

In the meantime, the Czar Nikolai the First ascended to the throne (1825). As the Czar's views were not known yet, Lansky did not dare proposing an overall compulsory service of the entire Jewish population, and was content with a general comment. In his comment he stated that “it is recommended to enact in all provinces a compulsory enlistment of the Jews in military labor battalions, to fight against their tendency of wandering and their laziness, and in order to educate them towards the love of good order, honesty and good citizenship”.

The formulation was still cautious and flexible and the lack of self-confidence was apparent. Lansky reiterated and emphasized that if the Council of Ministers would approve the plan, the battalion commanders should be instructed not to interfere with the Jews keeping their laws and customs. He added that it would be desirable to allocate incentives for outstanding performers.

The Council of Ministers also found it difficult to make a clear decision, because they were unsure about the will of the new Czar. At the end, they passed a vague resolution that stated: “The problems of the compulsory service of the Jews are part of the 'Jewish Issue,' and it is recommended to enact new regulations on the matter” (28 July 1825). However, when the proposed assessment was brought to the attention of the new Czar, he immediately ordered the Council of Ministers to “produce a proposal of regulations about a military-through-labor service for Jews and to submit it to me as fast as possible” (1 December 1826).

The cautious approach has evaporated. Compared to the new proposals, Lansky's old proposal can be considered as merciful, liberal and humane. Nikolai did not rely on his ministers to formulate the new decrees and added his own harsh clauses as it was his will to author a law about compulsory army recruitment of the Jews that would be unique in the history of nations.

The rumor about the special set of laws concerning the compulsory service leaked out, which caused a substantial embarrassment in Jewish centers. Special fast and pray sessions were declared and lobbyists were sent to Petersburg.

In the meantime, the world behaved as usual, and in the interim, the future victims worried about their day-to-day sustenance. Lives in the colonies, which were distanced from the Jewish centers, were conducted according to the regular routine. The head of the management team—Yinzov, continued to deal with the settlement of the second wave's refugees. The construction of the houses

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was completed and the equipment was procured. Yinzov, indeed approved Padyiev's plan concerning the enforcing a semi military regime in the colonies, however, he did not refrain from proceeding with any constructive step to advance the settlement project.

Lansky was influenced by Padyiev's review and, once and a while, bothered Yinzov with complaints about not collecting the taxes. He demanded to be provided with accurate details about the farmers who work diligently in their farms and those who neglected theirs. Yinzov tried his best to soften and explain that following the drought of 1824, and the locust plague during the years 1825–6, the Jews were under a severe situation, and that it would be difficult to collect taxes from them. Lansky persisted in his demands for detailed numbers, meaning—how many of the second wave refugees settled through the assistance of the government budget (amounting to about 100 thousand rubles) that was provided by Petersburg? However, Yinzov's report left many of the details obscured. The new settlers became impoverished because of the drought, locust, and the economic crisis and they hardly had anything left to invest in their farms. Some of the 300 houses built through the government allocation [for the second wave's settlers], were handed over to the first settlers who were homeless. Also, some consolidations of families in a single farm took place as a result of marriage. Yinzov predicted that the turn of any second wave's settlers who have not settled yet would come in a year or two, with the help of additional allocation or other consolidations and did not provide an accurate statistic. Padyiev on the other hand hinted to the fact that about half of the 443 settlers of the second wave, have not settled yet.

On 27 March 1826, a Jewish seller of alcoholic beverages, by the name of Yitzkhak Yafeh, was killed in Sevastopol. It was discovered in the police investigation that he was one of the farmers of the Kherson colonies. That story reached the Czar who wanted to know how a farmer from a colony became an alcoholic beverages seller in a distant city. Intra-office communication began about this topic. An investigation taken by the Guardian Bureau found that 900 people from both the first and second waves disappeared without any trace and without any knowledge by the authorities. Yinzov was embarrassed. Out of fear for being made responsible, he hung his fate on Padyiev's conclusions and claimed that as long as the authorities do not enforce harsher means and punishments, which would deter the settlers from wandering around looking to make a living in the cities, it would be difficult to keep the order. He advised Lansky to approve Padyiev's plan. Thus, on 26 August 1827, Nikolai the First signed off on the cruel compulsory army service, which was later to be followed by additional decrees.

Nikolai's Army Recruitment Decrees

Within the “the Law of Army Compulsory Service” of September 1794, there was a clause about the recruitment of the Jews, according to which, the Russian Jews, similar to Christian merchants, could free themselves from the army obligation, by paying 500 rubles.

This law enabled Jews to free themselves from military duty for

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thirty–four years. Nikolai's law, from 26 August 1827, stated that every Jew from the age of 12 to age 25 is required to serve in the army for 25 years, and the younger boys are required to serve for six additional years of preparation and training. Only merchants and craftsmen registered in the merchants' or craftsmen guilds, supervisors operating machinery in factories, farmers, Rabbis and graduates of Russian schools, respectively, can exempt themselves for a 1000–ruble ransom.

Jewish farmers were exempt from compulsory service for 50 years, if they resided in large settlements, or 25 years for individual settlers, from the day of the regulation, or from the day of their settlement on the land. Those who abandoned farming were subject to compulsory service,

Based on the new regulation, Lansky requested that General Yinzov prepares a detailed list of the permanent and semi–permanent farmers and those who abandoned their farms. Lansky demanded about the latter, to receive the details about their debts and requested a proposal as how could their debt be paid if these people would lose their rights towards the compulsory service.

In his response, Yinzov indicated that out of 1030 families (6484 people) in total, 800 families (5582 people), were entitled for the exemption, and 150 families (902 people) who were not. The total debt of those who abandoned the properties reached 36 thousand rubles. He stated that the authorities must discover where they reside, and collect the debts.

Lansky was also of the opinion that compulsory service should be enforced on the 902 deserters; however, due to the importance of principle of that decision, he submitted the matter for a discussion for the Council of Ministers. As the final version of the clauses concerning the Jewish farmers and their rights were about to be formulated, information was obtained from Kherson about the return to the colonies of 1152 people (about 250 people more than in the official report).

With this new information, the proposal took a completely new direction and the Council of Ministers passed a resolution formulated according to the following clauses:

  1. During the years 1827–8–9, the Jewish farmers would be exempt from the compulsory service and from the cash ransom requirement.
  2. During the years 1828–9, all the farmers in the colonies would have to develop their farms dedicatedly and continually. Those who resided outside of their farms must return to them within 6 months.
  3. If the farmers could prove their dedication to farming through 1828–9, they would be exempt from compulsory service for 50 years.
    Three additional details and conditions were set regarding the third clause above:
    1. The farmers must be occupied in agriculture, continually.
    2. Farmers would be allowed to leave their colonies, without licenses and passports, only for the neighboring villages
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    1. To travel to farther locations and for periods longer than a month, they must obtain a license–passport from the authority's representative and return on or before the date specified in the license.
    2. The Bureau's representatives would be allowed to issue travel licenses for a certain duration only on the condition that there is a valid reason to support it based on the testimony of the heads of the colonies.
    3. Those who do not obey the authority and its representatives, and those who disturb the public peace would be recruited to the army.
    4. Untalented people, those negligent in working the land, those who left without a license, or those who returned after the date stated in the license without a valid reason would be recruited to the army.[1]
    5. The highest Supervisory Committee would be allowed to hand over farmers to the army even against the view of the heads of the colonies, if, in its opinion, there are valid reasons to do so.
    6. If, after six months from the date of this regulation, the deserters would not return to their farms, they would be considered as wanderers.
The Council of Ministers asked the Supervisory Committee in Novorussiya, for their view concerning the farmers' debts in cases of widowed or forsaken women who cannot pay off their debts to the government, and whether it would be justified to burden the public with these dubious debts.

The Council also recommended, as a punishment, handing over the farms of those who would be recruited to the army, to sons of married farmers or to homeless farmers, without burdening them with the debts of their predecessors.

All these proposals were brought up for discussion and were approved by the “Committee for the Remedy of the State of the Jews”. However, even before the clarification correspondence among the offices had completed, a new review by Yinzov (probably responding to a request by Lansky) arrived, with numbers contradicting the previous reviews.

Yinzov divided the total number of the settlers–1030 families (6484 people) according to four types:

Correspondence between Novorussiya and Petersburg commenced again. At the end, the Council of Ministers passed the final legislation, which was named: “The Legislation Concerning the Compulsory Service of Jewish Farmers” and its clauses were as follows:

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  1. Those settlers who worked continuously [in their farms] until 1827, and their sons, are exempt for compulsory service for 50 years from the issuance of the legislation (1827). Those who were absent from the colonies, by their own action, or those who have prolonged their stay beyond the date stated in their licenses are invited to return to the colonies within a year. If they would persist in working the land for two years, they would be included among the exempt people.
  2. Those who were absent from their farms, or those who are unable to work the land, would be able to become townspeople, if within a year, they could bring an approval from the communities, they had belonged to in the past, that they agree to pay for them their debts to the government.
    Settlers of this type, who want to become members of the middle class as townspeople, and were not recipients of government loans – must participate in paying off the debts of families in which all the members have died.
  3. Settlers who were absent from their colonies without a license and who do not return to their colony within a year, or settlers who would return to the colony but would not persist in agricultural work for two years, would be handed to the army if their health is good. Those who would not be able to serve in the army would be sent to Siberia.
(This clause was also meant to address settlers who were undisciplined, rambunctious, untalented workers, as well as heads of colonies and Rabbis who would not cooperate with the authority in exposing offences by the farmers).

The colony will pay 500 rubles to the government as a payoff on the debt of every person punished by army recruitment or by a send–off to Siberia.

  1. Settlers who were licensed to work outside of the location of their residence, for a certain time, are prohibited from trading, pimping, or selling alcoholic beverages.
  2. The following kinds of settlers would receive a silver medal, if their house and farm structures were sound. If they would continue their practices for an additional 10–year period they would be entitled to receive a gold medal: settlers who sowed their fields with crops, or grew vegetables on an area not less than 10 disiyatins [about 27 acres] for a duration of five years; settlers who purchased oxen and plows to cultivate their fields in an ordinary manner; those who grew flax and canvas plants; those who planted at least 50 trees around their houses; those who grew more than 20 heads of cattle and 100 sheep.
    Medal recipients are exempt from corporal punishment (flogging) and when they reach the age of 50, they would be exempt from public works.
  3. Jewish townspeople would be allowed to become farmers following approval of the general assembly of the colony's farmers, to whom they submit their candidacy, as well as certification by the head of their community that they have sufficient financial means to sustain
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    a farm without government assistance, and the fact that they are able to work the land. These settlers would be exempt from paying taxes for several years according to the 1804 Regulations. They and their families would be exempt from compulsory army service for 50 years from the date of their settlement.
Based on the regulations from 20 July 1829, 30 families converted from the farmers class to the townspeople class and left the colonies. At the beginning of 1831, 996 families (6574 people) remained in the nine Kherson colonies.

General Yiznov, the head of the Supervisory Committee (of the Guardian Bureau) was not satisfied with the reports and accounts of the local inspectors, and would visit the colonies from time to time, taking care of correcting anything that had to be corrected.

During the following five years, 1829–1834, the government was hardly bothered by problems in the colonies. The farmers adapted to working the land, the years were harvest years and the relationships with the authorities were, more–or–less, orderly. Reports sent by the Guardian Bureau were routine, void of special significance. The reports' topics included matters such as the joining of a few families, cattle epidemics, a flooded barn, conflagration of the hay in one of the colonies and similar matters.

During those years, Petersburg was busy dealing with more important matters. The war with Turkey, which broke in 1828, and the Polish revolt that broke and was suppressed in 1831. Only after quiet descended on the land, the Interior Ministry remembered the colonies, and the head of the Guardian Bureau was asked to provide a detailed review about the state of the settlers. Padyiev was nominated to fulfil this role again and he visited the colonies, wrote down some numbers and authored a detailed report, along the lines of his conclusions of 1825.

Padyiev's visits took place after two years of drought in 1833–34. Because of the drought, the number of cattle heads decreased and the farmers were entangled in debts and were left without the means to sow the land for the following season. Following the economic crisis, a mood of despair and indifference prevailed again.

Similar to his previous review, Padyiev was not oblivious to the objective factors (years of drought, disease, poverty and deprivation) when he reviewed the reasons for the pitiful state of the colonies. However, he did not forget to also list the factors associated with the “negative attributes” of the settlers. He repeated his claim that they hate work, deceive the government to extract allocations, demand discounts and exemption from taxes without themselves making an effort to improve their situation. He also indicated that their wives were not helping them, as if Jewish women always treat physical effort with disrespect and contempt.

The colonies spread over an area of 800 miles. Because of the distances between one colony to another (sometimes up to 100 miles), the inspectors could not supervise them efficiently enough. On the other hand, the proximity of the colonies to the cities–Kherson, Nikolaiev and Odessa, was a contributing factor to the wandering and the flow of people looking after easy occupations… Padyiev

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proposed stopping any additional government assistance, establishing a stricter supervision of the Jewish farmers' work, and punishment of the “perverted” with all the severity of the law, according to the clauses of the regulation about the army compulsory service.

The High Supervision Committee of the Guardian Bureau, headed by General Yinzov, signed off on all of Padyiev's proposals. However, the committee found it necessary to add that despite the settlement movement's difficulties, “there is a benefit in continuing the enterprise and in the handling of it, and if the pioneers would not be able to establish themselves, at least the next generations would be successful”.

Padyiev's report was indeed sent to the correct address in the office of the [Interior] Ministry in Petersburg. However, this time, it was archived without being discussed, because, by that time, the view that that the Jewish settlement should be expanded prevailed in the government. This view included the desire to allocate additional areas and to expand the rights of the Jewish farmers. A new proposal for a new settlement enterprise in the Siberian expanses, where the chances for natural disasters such as drought and locust, as well as cattle diseases, were less frequent than in Kherson.

Regulations for the Encouragement of Jewish Settlement

The government of Nikolai treated the Jews with certain liberalism in its early stages. It planned expansion of education, started the granting of rights to people who develop industries and trade, and discussed proposals to grant additional privileges to people who settle on the land. They did it for very clear reasons.

The objective of the decrees of the government of Nikolai the First was to “reduce the harmful influence of the Jews and to guide a people, that is so wild in its wear, customs and religious laws, towards assimilation and conversion through means of oppression”. Following several years of compulsory army service, mass deportations and steps to narrow religious freedom, that were accompanied by the expansion of poverty, degeneration and hunger–it was realized the despite the oppression the tormented Jews are still defiant, and except for the “Cantonists” (the children who were kidnapped and forced to convert to Christianity), conversion to Christianity among the Jews was still very rare.

High–ranking officials, who followed the practices of the governments in Prussia and Austria towards their Jewish subjects, discovered that the road towards assimilation should not be through hostility and oppression, but through education. Even some of the Jews' haters adopted this liberal view. The view was that education would free the Jews from the darkness of zealotry, their ridiculous wear and distasteful customs, and they would draw near the citizens of the land and would adapt their way of life. They would assimilate and from there–there is only a short step towards complete assimilation and conversion. Therefore, in 1840 a resolution was passed to enable the Jews to acquire education and grant the educated and the people who develop industries and trade additional privileges. As far as the beginning of the century, during the days of Alexander the First, the government tried to attract the Jews towards the development of industry. During the second quarter of the century, some Jews reached substantial accomplishments. In 1828, the industrialist Yosef Bernstein owned 17 textile factories, and four years later,

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(in 1832), their number reached 20. According to the statistics, in 1832, 32% of the factories in the province of Podolia were in Jewish hands.

Even in foreign trade, the Jews began to play a major role. A substantial portion of the export and import was in Jewish hands. In the port city of Odessa, the commerce houses and the banks were concentrated in the hand of the Jews. During the year 1842, seven merchants of level A, nine of level B and 187 of level C were registered as Jews with special privileges. The total capital of the [Jewish] merchants of all three levels reached 2 million Rubles. The liberal attitude towards Jews, who developed trade and industry, originated therefore from the economic interest of the state.

The awarding of special privileges to the Jewish settlers had two main reasons. The first was based on the need to settle vast areas in Kherson prairies, which were conquered from the Turks, and in Siberia, which was sparsely populated. The second reason was the wish to free the cities from their poor Jewish residents, who competed with the Christian population in trade and craftsmanship through their fight for their very sustenance. Yet, we would allow ourselves to assume that in this wish to attract Jews towards more a stable economic channel, there was some humane thinking, or something like a compensatory conscience. Many would view this assumption strange and refuted, however, the truth is that there were some provincial ministers whose reports and reviews contained a humane concern about the horrible state of the Jewish population. Some assumed that even in this rulers' pity, there was a hidden intention to guide the Jewish masses–through working the land and rural way of life–toward the way of life of the Christian farmers and assimilation. May the factors and the reasons be where they may–the regulations for the Jewish settlement were formulated, during that period, in the most positive spirit.

On 13 April 1835, the emperor signed off on a new “Jewish Legislation” that included all the old Jewish laws, with the addition of new limitations. The map of the “Pale of Settlement” was reduced even further, and the residence of Jews within large cities in the Pale of Settlement was prohibited. However, within the system of prohibiting and limiting clauses, several positive clauses were found, particularly clause no. 23, which discussed Jewish farmers.

That clause stated that “the Jews are allowed to settle on government lands, or on lands they acquired permanently, as well as on leased lands throughout all provinces of the Pale of Settlement”.

Government lands would be provided, for unlimited time, to any group of Jewish settlers, if it includes at least 25 men, the land is separated from Christian villages or estates, and the group would settle it within two years from the day of the approval. Jews would be even able to settle on lands outside of the “Pale of Settlement”, with a preapproval of the high authorities.

Land bought by Jews could be sold to either other Jews or Christians. Land leased from estate–owners, with the approval of the authorities, must be leased for a minimum of twelve years. The transition to settlement would be free, every person on his or her own will without compulsion.

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The settlers were exempt from paying personal taxes for 25 years. They would also be exempt from compulsory army service, as well as from Zmestvo taxes [taxes paid to the agricultural provincial institution] for ten years.[2]

Settlers' debts to the government accrued prior to their settlement would be wiped out.

The settlers would be allowed to work as traders and craftsmen only within the colony. They would be prohibited from all commerce in the alcoholic beverages industry or from providing services to estate owners.

Every farmer would be allowed to distill beer or liquor for household consumption and for sale to the people in his village, if the village contains at least ten houses.

A Jew who employs at least 50 other Jews on his land would be granted the honorary title of “Honorary State Citizen”. If he would employ at least 100 people on his estate–he would be granted a hereditary honorary title.

The Jewish colonies would be managed similar to Christian villages by imposing local taxes. Through the income on the “meat tax”, the colonies must support their sick, elderly and handicapped and employ the poorest.

The last and final clause–children of the settlers would be allowed to study in the public schools, high schools and universities. Another sign of charity was decided, on April/24/1836, that the state agricultural school would accept several Jewish apprentices for advanced studies.

The regulations were publicized; however, no reaction was received from the Jews. The news about the [sorry] state of the settlers in Kherson did not attract many. The poorest that did not have anything to lose, except their debts and the compulsory service, patiently waited to see how things would progress. The rich–who were attracted by the honorary titles from the government–were also not rushing to invest money and burden themselves with acquiring or leasing land.

Perhaps the reluctance resulted simply from the fact that the Jews did not believe that the “evil royalty” could act to benefit the Jews, and saw in these considerate declarations–simply a deception and a gimmick. Among government circles, people wandered about the lack of response from the part of the Jews. Because they thought that the main reason for the rejection was the fear of settling in Kherson, a new proposal was raised by the Finance Minister, Graf Kankrin, to allocate land areas in Siberia for Jewish settlement.

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The “Siberian Plan”

The proposal by Minister Kankrin, was accepted by the Council of Ministers under the assumption that there were insufficient numbers of available lands in the western provinces (“Pale of Settlement”), and because of the of the refusal of the Jews to settle in the prairies of Kherson.

The proposal was approved with the signature by Czar Nikolai the First, on 12 November 1835, and five areas of land were allocated for Jewish settlement in the provinces of Omsk and Tobolsk, totaling 15, 157 disiyatins [about 41,000 acres]. Groups of Jews organized and offered themselves for settlement in these areas. The applications came from all corners of Russia:

From Ekaterinoslav province 70 families
From Mitwa [Jelgeva, Courland] province 80 families
From Vilna, Grodno and Minsk provinces 286 families
From Liboh [?] 37 families
From Vitebsk province 40 families
From Mstislav province 50 families
From Mohilev province 247 families
The total number of families was 810

All of the applications and requests were transferred through the provincial ministers to the Interior Minister Bludov. It is noted here the sympathetic attitude of some of the provincial ministers, whose good will and heartfelt humanistic sentiment was apparent by their wish to encourage the miserable people and ease their life with this proposal.

The Provincial Minister from Minsk, offered to assist the poor settlers–candidates, by allocating the expenses associated with the journey to Siberia and the establishment of their farm. In order to attain efficiency in transportation, he proposed to transfer them in groups. He also suggested to order the authorities on their way to provide guides for them, and the authorities in the area of settlement, to stand by them with advice, and guide them on farming.

The Provincial Minister of Mogilev, General Diyakov, described, in his review, the horrible poverty of the Jews, which resulted from their expulsion [from the villages] and from the congestion in the cities. As an example, he indicated that there are 600 Jewish tailors in the city of Homel, while the city's population could support just one percent of this number. In Diyakov's opinion, there was room for colonies within the “Pale of Settlement”, where the Russian villages were separated from each other by tens of miles. He stated that Jewish colonies could be established in the gaps between one village to another.

The General commanding the Gendarmes Corps, Darbush, also emphasized the impoverished state of the Jews, and supported their settlement in Siberia and the material assistance to the settlers. He raised a painful problem: The leaders of the Jewish communities were usually from the wealthy class who did not encourage the poor community members to settle. They actually hinder [the idea of settlement], as much as they can. The leaders hid the royal declaration about the settlement from the public.

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Their adverse attitude came from the fact that the sons of the poor people served as an alternative for their own sons with respect to the compulsory army service. General Darbush stated that the communities' councils are actually acting against the new legislation, as there was an explicit statement in it, which stated that the debts and taxes would be written off for those who settle. Therefore, the communities' councils refuse to issue approvals, before the debts to the communities were paid off, just to make it more difficult for the candidates. To eliminate intra–office red–tape and dependency on the communities' councils, General Darbush proposed to nominate, in every province, a special official, who would be independent of the provincial and district authorities and the communities' councils, who would be responsible for issuing the passports. This proposal had substantial significance in light of the bureaucracy and the corruption that prevailed in the government offices and in the communities' councils.

The Interior Minister passed all of the abovementioned proposals to the Finance Minister Kankrin, because the implementation of the settlement project was associated with the allocation of substantial sums from the state treasury. Kankrin agreed to all the efficient proposals for the organization and allocation of the required budgets except Diyakov's proposal to settle Jews within areas of the “Pale of Settlement”.

Based on the agreement of the Finance Minister, the Interior Minister Bludov, formulated a proposal for discussion in the Council of Ministers:

  1. To nominate special officials who would handle all of the arrangement for transporting the settlers.
  2. These officials would be equipped with all the governmental forms, so that the candidates for settlement would not need to run around from one office to another office.
  3. The details of the [government] assistance would be mentioned on the passports along with the arrangements for security and lodging, which would be imposed on the local authorities along all the stops on the way to Siberia.
  4. The official responsible for the organization and implementation of the arrangements would need to provide the provincial authorities with the list of passports issued by him.
  5. The transport of the candidates to Siberia would be implemented in organized groups, and during the appropriate season of the year.
  6. Throughout the entire journey sufficient amounts of food would be allocated, except for alcoholic beverages.
  7. The provincial ministers would need to provide the list of the candidates who left their provinces to the Provincial Ministers of Omsk, sometime before the start of the journey. The Omsk and Tobolsk authorities would have to issue a directive to construct houses for the settlers and complete them before they arrive (the wood for the construction should be taken from government's forests). The authorities should allocate 15 disiyatin [about 40.5 acres] for each male in the family and to equip him through governmental funds with tools, oxen and mules and needed houseware. They also must feed the candidates until the first harvest.
  8. To annul the debts of the candidates for unpaid taxes and also not to collect these taxes from the communities' councils.
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The Council of Ministers accepted the entire proposal and Tsar Nikolai the First approved them.

Operating under the assumption that the Jews would prefer to settle in Siberia, which was superior in its soil quality, amount of precipitations and its healthy climate, compared to Kherson, and because they wished to achieve an immediate solution to the poor economic state of masses of Jews, by settling them in the vast areas of Siberia, the authorities publicized the new royal declaration about the Siberian settlements throughout all the large cities and the small towns. There was no city or town that applications were not received from. The communities' councils issued certificates, and the provincial government offices, as well as the provincial offices and the special officials in them, sorted them up and added detail, although the authorities were not necessarily rigorous in approving the most suitable candidates.

The approved lists of candidates were passed to Petersburg. Even prior to 1836, 1134 families were registered and approved according to the regulations. According to the instructions, the authorities of the provinces of Omsk and Tobolosk, had to prepare and construct the houses before the arrival of the settlers, however, due to the technical methods of constructions during those days, houses were not built quickly. Even organizing the journeys to Siberia was not an easy thing to do, and the candidates waited for a long time before they set out. Many started to liquidate their business and even to pack their belongings and there were some people, who lost their patience, and set out on the road on their own.

At the end of the fall, 17 families (71 people) arrived at Tambov, and showed up at the office of the provincial minister and told him that they are travelling to the location allocated for settlement. The state of the travelers was miserable. They announced that they have spent their last savings on their way from Mogilev. They suffered from cold and hunger and were forced to panhandle. They stated that they did not have the energy to continue.

Because he pitied them, the provincial minister, with the help of philanthropists, placed the wanderers in houses for lodging and supplied them with clothing, shoes, food and medical assistance. He contacted the Interior Minister Bludov and asked what to do with them. With the approval of the Finance Minister, an allocation to cover their expenses was approved, and a directive was issued to allow them to travel forward towards the region of the settlement.

Considering the increased number of the candidates for the settlement in Siberia, the Minister of Finance, Kankrin, submitted a proposal to the Council of Ministers to add to the settlement authority an additional area of 13,363 disiyatins [about 36,080 acres] and the Council approved his proposal. However, when the resolution reached the Tsar for his approval, he wrote on the protocol “Stop transferring Jews to Siberia” (5th January 1837).

The ministers wandered about the change in the Tsar's attitude, however, the reason for it was only discovered a long time after that – a confidential document that was submitted by the Interior Minister Bludov and the Police Minister, Backendorf, in which they argued about the need to stop the [Jewish] settlement in Siberia.

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The “Retraction” from the Siberian Plan

Following the decree [to stop the settlement in Siberia] that surprised the public and even the state ministers, the provincial ministers and the officials, a royal declaration appeared containing the reasons for the Tsar's position. The official declaration was formulated by the Interior Minister, in the spirit of the confidential document submitted to the Tsar by himself and Backendorf. In this declaration, it was stated that the transfer of Jews to Siberia would involve many hassles. Siberia is a region populated mostly by people who were expelled there, as a punishment for delinquencies and crimes and it would continue to be populated mostly by criminals. Because the Jews “are certainly not known for their moral and honest way of life, the Siberian atmosphere would ease their way for a life of wandering around and deception and allow for their destructive influence and thus, the attributes of the Christian population would be destroyed”. It would also be difficult to supervise them throughout Siberia, with the current conditions of the sparse population, and lack of sufficient police force. In addition, the Jews would lose their meager property along their long journey, and will become a burden on the state treasury, which would need to provide them with assistance for a long time. There is also the danger that many Jews would drop out during the Journey, remain in the cities along the way and spread in them their “aberrant and damaging ways”. Based on these reasons, it must be determined that it is forbidden to hand over any land areas in Siberia for Jewish settlement. The areas that may have been already allocated for that purpose, would be returned to the government. Against that, available government areas in the “Pale of Settlement” must be allocated for the purpose of Jewish settlement, according to the proposal of the Provincial Minister Diakov.

Jews would prefer to settle in areas close to their places of residence, will acclimatize there faster, and it would be easier for the government to supervise them there.

Following the listing of the positive aspects about settlement in the provinces of the “Pale of Settlement”, a recommendation for directing all the Jews who have submitted applications and have been approved for the settlement in Siberia, to settlement in available lands in Kherson was mentioned.

That is how the plan for the settlement in Siberia was annulled. However, the whole thing did not just end without consequences. As a result of the reasoning and explanation about the moral damage that the Jewish settlers may cause to the sparse population of Siberia, the Tsar reached the conclusion that it would be logical to reduce “the bad influence” of the Jews who already reside in the cities of Siberia by reducing their numbers. He also decided to impose compulsory service, on the children of the Jews who were sent there as criminals or as children of criminals who now enjoyed rights by being merchants. Thus, the Tsar asked two of his loyal ministers, Bludov and Backendorf to investigate the number of Jews in Siberia, their social class and occupations, and to draft legislation that would reduce their numbers.

The result of the investigation was quite pitiful. Within the three provinces of Tobolsk, Tomsk and Yenisei–18 families, or 959 people altogether, were found to belong to the classes of merchants and townspeople (craftsmen etc.). In the province of Omsk–13 Jewish families were found.

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There were no responses from other provinces, but it is reasonable to assume that the number of Jews there was not large there either. However, these numbers did not deter the ministers. They determined that Jews who belong to the class of merchants or craftsmen, were indeed exempt from compulsory service, but that the children and grandchildren of Jews who were sent to Siberia as criminals had to be recruited, even if their fathers became merchants or craftsmen.

The problem of the few families, who already made their way somewhere in Siberia, concerned the people who authored the new regulation. After all, it was not possible to treat them as an exception to the rule–lest they would multiply over decades and “infect” the population with negative attributes.

The following is the formulation of Bludov–Backendorf regulations:

  1. Means against the settlement of Jews in Siberia:
    1. The Jewish settlement in Siberia must be stopped.
    2. The areas allocated for the settlement in the provinces of Tobolsk and Omsk would be reassigned for other purposes.
    3. According to the legislation of 13th April 1835, the settlement would take place in the provinces of Novorussiya, and–if possible and provided that available areas can be found, in locations where the Jews currently reside in the Pale of Settlement.
    4. The Jews, who are already on their way to Omsk, will be transported to the colonies in Kherson at government expense. They would enjoy all of the rights awarded in the Jewish Legislation of 1835, and according to the regulations from November 1836
    5. (The content of clauses E and F was not clear).
  2. Means for reducing the number of Jews residing in Siberia:
    1. The Jews who reside in Siberia as people who were expelled by the government, they and their children who were born there, would stay where they are. The rest of the Jews who penetrated to Siberia's cities on their own, or who joined families from the type mentioned above, should leave Siberia and return to their previous locations, or to any other location within the “Pale of Settlement”.
    2. Children of expelled people, who are below the age of 18, including those who would be born from this day forward, are obliged to serve compulsory service according to the general recruitment laws.
This order was signed by the Tsar Nikolai on 15 May 1837. It is noted here that after receiving the order about the termination of the [Jewish] settlement in Siberia, the provincial minister of Southern Siberia, turned to Petersburg with the question of whether he would be allowed to settle the Jews who came from Mogilev “since they arrived here based on the previous legislation”. The Interior Minister Bludov passed the question to the Tsar and his response was negative.

The new order placed many of the ministers and senior official in an embarrassing position.

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The reason for the change in policy would have also been remained a hidden secret for future generation, was it not for Graf Kisliyov (who was in charge of the Ministry of State's Assets, and had to get involved in the settlement matters). He turned to Bludov with the question about the reason for the sudden change in the preparation process for the Siberian settlement. Bludov gave him, confidentially, a copy of the review that he and Backendorf have handed over to the Tsar, where they argued about stopping the settlement in Siberia. Indeed, Kisiliyov kept the confidentiality of the document; however, he filed the copy of the review, absent–mindedly, in one of the files, which was transferred routinely to the departmental archives and was discovered years later.

This certificate demonstrates the hypocrisy of Minister Bludov, who officially handled, as Interior Minister, the legislation of the Siberian settlement law, and whom everybody viewed as the principal supporter of that law.

The Return to the Settlement in Kherson

The new decree was fateful for those Jews who liquidated their business, sold their property at half its price and now their road to Siberia was blocked. Now they were willing to go to Kherson, despite of its drawbacks, just to avoid idleness and inactivity. However, despite the clear declaration that they would be able to settle in Kherson instead, they still faced obstacles. Bludov was not in a hurry to implement that decision, and preferred to first formulate a new legislation for the settlement in Kherson.

According to Bludov's view, the success of the settlement depended on establishing a semi-military harsh regime. Based on that view he formulated a new 19-clause plan, in the spirit of Padiyev's proposals.

The plan determined, among other things, that the Jewish settlement enterprise must be taken from the supervision of the Guardian Bureau of Novorossiya's settlement (General Yinzov was viewed to be too soft by Bludov). He decided that a special manager should be nominated from among the ranks of retired military officers, who would be under the supervision of the provincial minister and for whom deputies and assistants would be nominated. He determined that the location of the management office would be the colony of Nahar-Tov [“Good River”], located in the center of the colonies region. The following clauses deal with the roles of the management and its officials; in addition, the document defined the clauses that concern the settlers, according to which, a Jewish farmer would only be able to retire from his farm after 20 years of agricultural work, and only if he can provide proof that he excelled in it.

Bludov's plan stated as follows.

From this day onward, it would be forbidden for non-farmers to reside in the colonies.

It would be prohibited to allow and to provide passports for leaving the colony for an extended period. Within the province of Kherson, it was allowed to issue passports for a limited duration, not longer than one month, and not more than twice a year.

The head manager of the colonies would be authorized to punish negligent workers. Punishments include an imprisonment of up

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to 3 days, and a penalty of up to 7 days of public labor. The head manager would be allowed to punish the undisciplined and the corrupted, with physical punishment of up to 25 lashes.
That legislation was submitted to the Council of Ministers, was approved, and received the formal seal of approval on 4 November 1837. The Council of Ministers inserted a correction in one of the clauses, namely that the annual management expenses amounting to 8800 Rubles will be carried by the government during the first two years of operation and would be covered, starting from the third year and on, via an additional tax imposed on the settlers.

Bludov instructed the provincial ministers in Siberia, to transfer to Kherson, escorted by a police guard, any Jew who settled in Siberia on his own. That decree led to a tragicomic episode. The provincial minister of Kostroma province, who naively did not understand what kind of Jews did his superior mean in his instructions, notified Bludov that he arrested a group of 110 Jewish children, according to the instructions. This was a transport of Jewish children “recruited” to the “Cantonists” Battalion in Perm province. Bludov became furious because of that incident and sent a special courier to instruct the Kostrom provincial minister to immediately release the children and, as a punishment for this blunder, he imposed all expenses of the imprisonment on the minister.

Some consequences of Bludov's instructions are known: The provincial minister of Somburg notified Petersburg that “a group of 17 families (70 people), who stopped to celebrate the Passover holiday at the province was captured”. The provincial minister of Chernigov announced - “due to the diligence shown by the police, 12 families were captured in three cities”. One family of 7 people was captured in the Penza province. In Perm province, 3 families were arrested. In Vladimir province, 2 families and in Moscow 5 people were arrested.

The bureaucratic machine was active and managed to discover, capture and arrest the “criminals,” many of whom were equipped with government passport, or with approved certificates by the communities' councils.

People who did not commit any infraction in their journey to Siberia, were sent to Kherson at the government expense, and people who held authorized and approved certificates from the communities' councils – were considered illegal wanderers. They were sent to Kherson accompanied by police guards like criminals.

As a sign of charity, in order to avoid an unfavorable burden on the supervising authority in Kherson, Finance Minister Kankrin, allocated 25 thousand rubles, with the Tsar's approval, to settle 42 families who were captured throughout Siberia and were sent to Kherson.

Meanwhile, the Siberian candidates, abandoned in their localities, showered the government and provincial ministers with letters. One letter reached the Tsar himself. The letter's author described his situation after liquidating his business and the sale of his property: “We are rolling in attics, cellars and even beneath the open sky.”

The provincial ministered bothered Bludov with complaints and questions as well. He sent instructions to the provincial ministers to investigate the truth of the Jewish claims. He instructed them to select the people who are suffering the most and send them to Kherson accompanied by governmental representatives, in groups of 50 families (the intent was, as a first step, to send one group from each region. Tz. L). However, according to the law,

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transport of Jews to Kherson was not allowed without a mutual agreement between the sending authorities and Kherson's authorities and even then, the number of people being sent should have been within the annual limited absorption capacity. According to that, the settlement process would have lasted for many years, even if the transport of the first groups of 50 people would have been perfectly organized. In the meantime, the state of the “Siberians” worsened. Hunger and disease broke out among them. The provincial ministers started to bother Bludov again and demanded assistance for the sick and needy. A certain budget was allocated for that purpose, however, the number of people who turned to the authority for assistance grew and many complaints were heard about the judgment of the officials about who is entitled for help.

People who saw themselves deprived, slandered on their friends who managed to outsmart the authorities more than they did. The police intervened and its investigations caused havoc among the needy, but did not bring any positive results.

In the meantime, the office of the ministry, responsible for the government assets (that included the government lands), reviewed the land reserves allocated for the settlers in Kherson and found that land suitable for agriculture would only suffice for 190 families, according to 40 disiyatin [about 108 acres] per family. That meant that only approximately 8,000 diyastins [about 21,600 acres] out of the registered 14,000 [about 38,000 acres] were actually available for settlement.

One of the senior officials, Komarov, was sent to Kherson to clarify exactly what is the size of the area that could be settled. Komarov toured the colonies and the lands of Kherson and provoked anger among the officials of the local offices, even during his investigation.

Here is the summary of his survey about the available land:

Within the Jewish colonies   22,000 disiyatins [about 59,400 acres]
Within 11 specific government areas   27,000 disiyatins [about 72,900 acres]
Within 6 additional areas   24,000 disiyatins [about 64,800 acres]
Total - 73,000 disiyatins [ about 197 thousand acres]

Bludov submitted the results of Komarov's survey and noted his opinion that if they distribute the land areas according to 30 disiyatins per family, it would be possible to settle 2434 families.

Under the Mercies of Officials and Patrons

At one point, Bludov grew impatient with the whole Jewish settlement issue, which caused him only bothers and discontent. The ministers of the western provinces notified him one by one about the distress of the “Siberians”, about disease, hunger, discontent, and demanded that the settlers be transferred to Kherson as soon as possible. From Kherson, the authorities notified him that it was impossible to build housing on a grand-scale because of the lack of forest trees and other construction materials, and also because of the drought and the plagues it was not possible to collect taxes from the established settlers as well. Moreover,

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every imprisonment of a Jew, who set out to settle in one of the Siberian cities, resulted in an annoying correspondence.

On 26 December 1837, a special ministry responsible for the state assets was founded and Graf Kisliyov was nominated to head it. Bludov proved to the Tsar that it would make sense to have the Ministry of the State's Assets, which handled the government lands, manage the existing Jewish colonies and the continuation of the settlement with all of its problems. The Tsar was convinced and transferred the nuisance of the Jews from Bludov to Kisliyov. However, even Kisliyov was not too happy to accept this role. That was the period, close to the time of the peasants' emancipation and the Ministry of the State's Assets already handled 7,649,442 male farmers (besides the Jews).

The new ministry was headed by liberal people who looked for ways to emancipate the vassals without causing shockwaves in the stability of the state economy. The government owned land areas conquered from the Turks in Novorussiya, and many estates were confiscated due to bankruptcies of the estate owners, or due to cruel treatment of their vassals. When the government took over the estates, the vassals were freed anyway. The ministry was loaded with work and tasks, including land measurements, divisions of large areas into farm units and conducting censuses in the villages. Compared to the complicated problems faced by the Ministry of the State's Assets, what was the significance of the problem of several impoverished Jewish families, waiting for their transport to Kherson? However, from the day that the task was transferred to that ministry, its management was bothered by an abundance of requests for transport, pleadings for help, complaints about journey provisions that were not supplied and land that was not handed over, justifiably or due to lack of housing. The Guardian Bureau in Kherson also flooded them with questions, requests, clarification instructions, financial issues and more.

The management of the ministry realized that handling the Jewish settlement consumed too much time. Kisliyov notified the Tsar in writing that he had allocated eight land areas for the purpose of the settlement in Kherson, totaling 49,758 disiyatins [about 135,000 acres], enabling the settlement of 1244 new families; he indicated that according to the legislation of 4 November 1837, the Jewish colonies were under a special management supervised by the provincial minister. He proposed that for the benefit of the important operation, the provincial minister should manage the settlement matters by himself, because the dependency on Petersburg and the tiring letter-exchanges impaired the efficiency of the operation. As per the decision of 4 November 1937, he proposed that the task be transferred to the sole supervision of the provincial minister who would be allocated a special supervisory manager. Nikolai agreed with Kisiliyov's proposal and signed it on 28 October 1938.

The provincial minister of Novorussiya, Vorontzov , was not very enthusiastic to receive the total responsibility for the Jewish settlement. He interpreted the instructions according to his own will and placed the whole responsibility on the shoulders of the head manager who resided in Nahar-Tov. For himself, he assigned the role of a superior consultant, or an intermediary between the government and the head manager he would appoint. Based on that, Vorontzov nominated the deputy polkovnik [(administrative or) military rank, equivalent to a colonel] Demidov to be the head manager responsible for the existing colonies,

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as well as for the execution of the new settlement project. General Yinzov, the head of the Supervising Committee of the Guidance Bureau who acquired substantial experience with the problems of the settlement and was dedicated to it, was now replaced by Demidov, an inexperienced and corrupt person.

The officialdom began the execution of the separation [between the authorities] according to the new instructions, and the process took a whole year. In the meantime, the flow of the candidates for the Kherson settlement grew in size, particularly with the urge of the provincial ministers who, for various reasons, were sending Jews to settle. They exerted pressure on Petersburg and on Vorontzov, to allocate government-covered travel expenses and expenses to establish the farms, for their own candidates. Meanwhile, 65 families from Minsk and 70 families from Podolia arrived in Kherson and settled on their own. This served as a precedent, and it was decided to cover expenses for travel provisions and budgets only for the “Siberians”. The rest of the candidates received permissions to settle on government lands, only if they covered their own expenses.

Torturous Journeys

Baron Peln[?], the provincial minister of the Courland province, began to organize transports of (Siberian) Jews from the regions of Lapland, Eastland and Courland. He made sure that the transports would leave on time, divided them into groups of 50 families, and allocated wagons for them. An official escort accompanied every transport, whose role was to distribute the daily food allowance, determine locations for night stops and keep the order. In addition, three soldiers accompanied every group to guard the safety of the people and the food money held by the escort-official.

Baron Peln [?] organized seven groups totaling 345 families (2552) people who set out, one after the other, starting at the end of August and during the month of September. The progress was slow. The autumn days were rainy and the roads muddy. The cold intensified during the nights. Walking in the sloppy mud made the people tired. The wagons mainly served for transporting the baggage and the children. The autumn rains soaked the travelers. Four groups from Minsk and three groups from Bobruisk were sent to sail on the Dnieper to Krementchug, through open and flat prairies, to shorten the way. The river voyage on the crowded barges, in horrible sanitary conditions and meager and dry food, weakened the people and caused diseases.

In Krementchug, the wanderers paused for a month. The officialdom in Kherson were nominated to handle of the food allocation in Krementchug and from there to the settlement, and they were not in a hurry to release the money. In the meantime, the people were worn-out, with feet injuries, and lacking proper clothing. Thus, moving on was very difficult for them physically.

The military physician Schindler, notified the provincial minister of Kharkov, Prince Dolgorukov (who was previously the provincial minister of Vilnius and was among the settlement supporters), that out of the 610 people who first arrived

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in Krementchug, 173 people fell sick with dysentery, cold and high fever. He added that these diseases were the result of poor nutrition during the long voyage and the crowdedness on the flat barges. Dolgorukov also notified the provincial minister of Poltava, Geseh, who was staying in Krementchug at the time, and asked him to raise resources to ease, as much as possible, the life of the wandering Jews. Geseh found that 215 sick people were housed in a public building “under conditions of congestion, mold and stifling air were ill with infectious diseases, without medical treatment”. Geseh immediately organized a few high-ranking people (such as the chairman of the regional nobility, the police commander, the mayor and four physicians) and formed a public committee to mobilize the resources and the rapid assistance needed to improve the situation of these Jews. The committee, which Geseh chaired, mobilized the committee members who were physicians, to examine the sick, sort out the healthy and house them separately, move the sick to the “Hekdesh” (disabled and senior citizens house), sort the sick according to their diseases and heal them with the help of the institution's physician. They also took care of organizing a kitchen out of the government daily allowance of 25 kopeks, where meals ordered by the physicians would be prepared; they also took care of adding mattresses, due to lack of beds, changing the bedding as needed, provide the sick with appropriate medicines, and sending the sick, after they have recovered, to the settlement region in Kherson equipped with clothing and goods from contributions collected from Christians and Jews. They arranged to lodge the babies, who were separated from their sick parents, at a special care center for children, and managed to find, among the Jews, governesses and nursing women for the babies. The residents, Jews and Christians alike, responded to the call of the committee and contributed food, goods and cash. About a thousand Rubles were collected. Many sick people were rescued thanks to the speedy action by the committee.

As the committee was taking care of the first convoys, a new convoy, comprising of 250 people arrived in Krementchug. Its people also made their way on the Dnieper, on flat barges, and diseases caused havoc among them as well.

The provincial minister notified Kisliyov about the tortures experienced by the travelling Jews who stayed in Krementchug. With the approval of the Finance Minister, Kisliyov instructed the provincial authorities to purchase warm clothing and shoes for the travelers at the government's expense, allocate budgets for provisions and send the travelers to Kherson. In parallel, he instructed all provincial ministers to organize or send convoys of settlers to Kherson, only during the spring months.

We learn about the extent of the suffering of Courland's Jews from Backendorf's letter to Kisliyov, who received news from his agents as the Police Minister. The letter was written after the Jews arrived at the settlement location in Kherson and its content was as follows:

“Courland's Jews suffered from the cruel treatment of their escorts and their officers. When they arrived in Kherson, they did not receive the bread they were promised, nor did they receive oxen and mules, sponsorship or care by the local authority (meaning the colonies' management – Tz. L). Many lost their lives because of exhaustion from the long journey. They died from hunger and were busy every day burying their dead. This gloomy news casted fear, and spread resent among Courland's Jews
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who stayed behind; it was doubtful whether many would be found in the future who would want to settle”. To support his claims, Backendorf attached copies of letters sent by his agents and representatives.

Similar information obviously has also reached Vorontzov, the minister of Novvorussiya's provinces. He received an order from Tsar Nikolai to “investigate this matter rigorously”. Following his investigation, he found it necessary to bring some proposals aimed at improving the efficiency of the transporting convoys. He suggested that one official should accompany the transport without any replacement throughout the entire journey. He proposed to instruct prior to the convoy's departure the municipal authorities in cities where the convoy were planned to pass through that they would need to help them with provisions, lodging and medical treatment. He further suggested to plan the journey by choosing the shortest route. New instructions were issued based on these proposals, however, in the meantime, the state of the people arriving in Kherson after a long torturous journey was horrible.

Backendorf's letter had an effect. Kisliyov instructed Vorontzov to provide medical assistance and any other assistance to the newcomers who suffered from malnutrition, lack of clothing and disease. Vorontzov established a new special committee, headed by Demidov, the manager responsible for the settlement of the Jews, and instructed him to take care of the new settlers. Through the intensive handling of the committee and the dedication of the physicians, the disease rampage weakened. The sick continued to recover and the regime's conscience calmed down.

Criticism and the Review of the Complaints

Ozshigov, the Police Chief in the Kherson province, dispatched a review of the state of the Jews in the province to the Police Minister, Backendorf. In his letter, after mentioning the sloppiness of the Jews in agricultural work, he moved to describing the state of the new settlers. “More than 500 families live in horrible crowdedness, in the small houses of the established farmers, about 20 people to a house, exhausted from the long journey, from insufficient nutrition and lack of warm clothing. Being unaccustomed to the climate and to the local drinking water, they were infected with diseases. Because of the negligence of responsible officials, the diseases gained epidemic proportions, threatening to spread among the neighboring population if not for the assertive action by the Committee established by Vorontzov. Due to the actions by that committee, the epidemic stopped spreading, the state of the sick improved and they are recovering.”

That description in itself was not a shocking discovery. However, in the remainder of his letter, Ozshigov describes the behavior of the management responsible for the settlement of the Jews and their mistakes. He mentions the delays in construction of the houses and procurement of the equipment, despite the fact that the management was in possession of the allocated funds. In his opinion, the responsibility for the transportation of the construction materials should not have been laid on the established Jewish farmers, who were busy with field work from the beginning of spring through the end of fall, and a more rigorous supervision of the behavior of the colonies' inspectors should have been imposed. He notes, as an example, that inspector Krivesky is unfit for his role, and is not trustworthy. The negligence of the officialdom has a negative effect

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on the settlers. For example, it was very well known that some of the wealthy colonists, returned to their previous localities because of the bad attitude, disorder and delays in the establishment of the colonies. “Wouldn't it be better to prepare everything needed, before the arrival of the settlers?” asked Ozshigov.

This harsh criticism from the police authority was not sympathetically received by the authorities. After Backendorf's review was submitted to the Tsar, the latter turned to Kisliyov with a demand to investigate the nature of the accusations. Kisliyov sent Vorontzov questions and instructions, immediately.

All of these problems wore Kisliyov up so much that he decided to withdraw himself, if only temporarily, from the police criticism and from all the worries associated with the Jews. This time, he submitted a request to the Council of Ministers as well as to the Tsar himself, to transfer all the settlement issues back to the Interior Minister, and his request was approved on 25 March, 1841.

Vorontzov, as the person ultimately responsible for the actions of the special management overseeing the Jewish settlement, felt insulted himself, by the harsh criticism, and decided to withdraw, even only temporarily, from the responsibility that this role entailed. He demanded from the authorities in Petersburg to transfer this role to another institution, whichever it may be, and based his request on the claim that he himself, and his staff, are overloaded with work.

Kisliyov responded to this demand and wrote to him that he appreciated Vorontzov's feelings and understood him. However, with that, he asked him to continue temporarily in this role until things settle down. According to the Tsar's demands and Kisliyov's instructions, Vorontzov initiated an extensive investigation about the torturous journeys. The Jews, who were investigated, stated that they were not equipped with wagons in sufficient numbers, so that even the weak people were forced to walk. They claimed that they did not receive the daily allocation of food for the days that were added to the journey over the planned number of days allotted originally for the journey. During the four-day voyage on the Dnieper, they were beaten by the barges' workers, with sticks and poles, and the escorts did not protect them. The officials that accompanied them treated them harshly as well and forced them to walk at night. This extra effort affected badly the health of the pregnant women and babies. The escorting officials also raised their hand and hit people, causing severe injuries in some cases.

To investigate the officials who accompanied the convoy about the truth in these claims, Vorontzov turned to the provincial ministers where these escorts worked and resided with the request to conduct an investigation. The provincial ministers who handled the dispatching of the Jews' convoys to Kherson, looked at this request as an insult, as if they themselves were blamed for not doing enough to ensure the success the journeys of the convoys and responded in writing in length. Some provided proofs that their arrangements were according to the instructions and that their actions were impeccable, others blamed the Jews for all the mishaps that happened to them. According to the ministers, the Jews sinned by disrespect towards the officials, and by not obeying them. The Jews were to blame for prolonging the journey above the plan, because they stopped in some places on their own, and for that reason they were not entitled to the daily allocation of food for these extra days. The wagons that were provided to the Jews would have been sufficient if not for the unnecessary belongings the travelers carried with them,

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such as big copper pots, pales and unnecessary wooden boxes. According to the responding ministers, there were strong and healthy people among the Jews, who sat in the wagons because they were lazy, whereas, according to the regulations, every wagon was intended to carry 12 babies or 25 sick people. Regarding the voyage on the Dnieper, which caused much suffering for the travelers, the ministers explained that this voyage was unavoidable because the Jews themselves agreed to it and it eliminated the need for forcing the farmers in each area to make their wagons available for use by the travelers, as was the custom (It was the farmers' duty in each region, to provide the needed wagons for any official convoy such as transports of military, prisoners etc.). In addition, the officials at each stop were freed from handling the Jews during the voyage. Rest stops and other unnecessary stops caused by rains and mud on land were also prevented, and while on the river, Jews could not desert the convoy. It also prevented the possibility of unwelcomed wanderers, rovers and criminals from among their faith joining them along the way. The local regimes were freed from the worry about lodging during night stops. Minsk Provincial Minister added the need to punish and bring to trial any person who was unruly during the journey, or who insulted the escort, complained or lied.

Vorontzov decided to terminate the affair of complaints and blames by the Jews and explanations by the provincial ministers, and with that, the investigation ended.

The Continuance of the Settlement

According to a compilation of lists (not very accurate ones), close to 2200 families were supposed to arrive in Kherson during the years 1840–41, of which the expenses of 730 were covered by the government (353 from Courland, 33 from Mogilev, 79 from Vitebsk, 102 from Minsk and 163 from Polden [Ulyanovsk]). The rest of the families stated that they would finance the settlement on their own. As mentioned above, 43 families were sent to Kherson from Siberia, as early as 1838. 160 families sneaked into Kherson from various provinces.

The flaws in the organization of the settlement were never corrected. This time, too, the responsible management, headed by Demidov, continued with its “tradition”, and did not make the necessary preparations ahead of the arrival of the new settlers.

Even after the torturous journeys, the sufferings of the travelers continued in Kherson itself. Despite of the specific instructions to construct the residential houses before the arrival of the settlers, this was not done. The new settlers were lodged in the houses of the established settlers, resulting in horrible crowding within the small farmers' houses. In addition to the house residents, who numbered 15 people on average, new people came in, some of them were sick with typhus and dysentery, skin diseases and wounds that also infected the established healthy residents. There was a danger that the diseases would spread outside of

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the Jewish colonies. Five physicians had to be called from the larger cities along with paramedics and medications. Only thanks to their effort, the epidemics subsided toward the summer. From 1 November 1840 until 1 May 1841, 256 people died from the new settlers and 292 from the established settlers. Altogether, 548 people died.

It was noted in the official bulletin–“this number was beyond the number of people who died on the way to Kherson”.

Even after the new settlers recovered from their diseases, they did not receive sufficient nourishment, proper sanitary conditions, and comfortable housing to ensure complete recovery. In addition, despair and depression spread among them. Even the state of the established settlers was not very encouraging. They hardly made a living from agriculture. The ability to supplement their earning in the nearby cities was limited (according to the new regulations, the permits for going to the cities were limited to one or two months a year). The savings of people who settled on their own were exhausted, and there was no money left to establish and sustain a farm. Those who had any money left in their pockets, ran away. Some of the new settlers returned to their native localities and some wandered to the cities of Kherson province. It is difficult to determine how many remained, out of the approximately 2000 families of the convoys. Even the authorities did not have accurate numbers, because many Jews wandered back and forth between the cities and the colonies.

This tragic state, woke the authorities in Petersburg and Kherson to hurry up and build the houses, allocate the areas, procure the equipment and settle the remaining candidates. It is worthwhile to note that some farms in the colonies were abandoned and they remained ownerless. The abandoned houses that were constructed from clay, crumbled and were ruined without their owners' care. The management constructed 138 new houses in the abandoned farms located in the established colonies. Four new colonies were established in which 493 houses were built: in Lvov,419 houses, in Berislav, 92, in Romanovka, 132 and in Poltavska, 150. Altogether, 631 houses were constructed. 684 families were placed in these houses and in some additional houses that remained undamaged on abandoned farms, towards 1842.

Novorussiya's Minister—Vorontzov, who must have felt remorse about what happened as a result of the lack of preparations, and disorder, demanded from the authorities in Petersburg to provide him with a higher budget—amounting to 600 Rubles per family. He also demanded a budget for those families who signed an explicit commitment to settle on their own. The government showed mercy and responded positively to his requests.

Toward 1842 it seemed that the authorities arrived at the state of tranquility. However, this was make-believe tranquility. The Police Minister Backendorf became angry with them again. His agents provided him with detailed information about the corrupt accounts of Demidov, the manager responsible for the Jewish settlement:

  1. When Demidov purchased wheat seeds for sowing and supply, he debited the settlers for 15 Rubles per a certain measure of the seeds instead of the 9 Rubles he paid for them.
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  1. A budget of 15 Rubles per wagon was allocated for procuring wagons while the actual price that was paid for the wagons that were purchased was 6-7 Rubles.
  2. In addition, Demidov imposed on the colonies a tax of 1000 Rubles per year for special expenses.
The difference between the sums that Demidov received for the needs of the settlement (205,000 Rubles) and the sums he actually spent (172,500 Rubles) amounted to about 32,500 Rubles, which he took for himself.

Backendorf ended his notice with a vigorous request for a thorough investigation by an honest and fair person, otherwise, all the good will on the part of the government would not achieve its purpose.

For the purpose of the review and investigation, a senior official, by the name of Chirkovitz, was nominated. The investigation, most probably, confirmed all the suspicions of embezzlement, as Demidov was fired from his job after the results of the investigation were submitted. He submitted an appeal in which he tried to prove that the complaints by the Jews were false accusations, and that the Jews hated him because of the severe legal methods he used. He stated that he succeeded to settle about 700 families in Kherson and that the houses were built well. In this appeal he asked to clear his name from any accusation and return to him his good name of an honorable officer.

Instead of fulfilling his request via an administrative routine procedure, his file was submitted to the court, which transferred it to the Penal Bureau and from there to the Senate. The case lasted for a few years, but we do not know whether he was punished or not.

The Jewish Public and the Settlement

The return to working the land, the occupation of our ancestors in the old days, did not arouse excessive enthusiasm among the nation's masses and not even among the rising class of the “Jewish aristocracy” that started to capture important positions in the state as industrialists, military contractors, and people with free professions. Neither the learned rabbinical establishment, nor the Hassidic movement with its admors [“admor”-acronym of “Adoneinu Morenu v'Rabenu (our Master, our Teacher and our Rabbi)” a Hassidic honorific title for a rabbinical leader], and preachers identified with the Jews who went to settle in the Kherson prairies. Diaspora life and the urban occupation as business intermediaries, have uprooted from the Jewish heart the love for nature and agriculture. The pioneers, who marched along the new road, were only a few and were isolated. In fact, the first settlers, in the beginning of the century, were forced into this because of the expulsions from the villages, after the destruction of their livelihood, and later on, during the days of Nikolai the First, because of the fear of assimilation of their sons who were in danger of being recruited to the army for 25 years.

There is no doubt that there were also a few people who were repulsed, sincerely and through a clear intent, by the occupation of peddling, or tavern ownership. However, without the assistance and charity by the nation's leaders and its spiritual principals,

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and prior to the days of the Enlightenment Movement and without a strong public and spiritual leadership in Russia, there was little attraction and debate, either verbal or in writing, on the benefits of working the land. One of the exceptions was Neta Notkin, who was both active himself and was driving others to the issue at the beginning of the century, when his influence was felt among government notables and head of communities. However, he was not fortunate to see the start of the settlement in Kherson. Even the preaching of the founder of Chabad Movement, Rabbi Shneur Zalman [Schneersohn], about working the land and making Aliya [immigration] to Eretz Israel—was an exceptional phenomenon in the Hasidic Movement. [His son] the Admor Rabbi Dov-Ber [Schneersohn], the “Middle Rebbe” of Chabad, also involved himself in encouraging settling among his followers, who were among the settlers who arrived in Kherson in the second wave. The same is true for [his son-in-law, the third “Chabad Rebbe”], Rabbi Menakhem-Medel [Schneersohn], also nicknamed “Tzemach Tzedeck” [“a Plant of Justice”], some of whose followers established an agricultural colony in Shchedrin in 1842. However, these were few and scarce. Those who held the power in the communities and the “respectable” people within the Jewish public, looked at the Jewish farmer disdainfully. Most of the Jewish public leaders scorned those who turned to agriculture, who were mostly from among the poor, and who were exempt by law from paying taxes and serving in the army. The “beautiful souls” and the “gvirim” [Jewish landowners and rich business people] considered them as dodgers who escaped from sharing the burden imposed on the public…

Only upon the rise of the Enlightenment in Russia, the voice of the pioneers could be heard, praising the value of manual work and particularly the value of working the land.

The first among the maskilim [enlightened] who favored the return of the Jews to agriculture was Rabbi [Yitzkhak]-Ber Levinson (the RIBAL). As one of the first enlightened in the beginning of the 19th century, he did not win much sympathy among religious circles, and among the class of home-owners who considered him as someone who defies tradition, an agitator and an instigator. His book “Teuda be'Israel” [“Jewish Testimony”] was written in Hebrew and was published with a small number of prints, thus most of the Jewish masses did not know about it or read it. However, within the narrow circles of the enlightened, the views of the RIBAL had a tremendous effect. In the city of his residence, Kremenetz, where he was confined to his sickbed for many years, 34 families organized themselves and expressed their wishes to abandon their commerce businesses and transfer to become workers of the land. It is logical to assume that this awakening movement was a result of his influence.

As an author of fame, RIBAL represented this organization in negotiating with the government. He turned, in a long letter, to the Interior Minister, in which he emphasized the importance of the return of the Jews to working the land and asked the minister to allocate a land area for these families. Following this exchange of letters, questions and clarifications about the duty for compulsory service, the Interior Minister suggested that the organization establish a colony, however he stated that no budget allocation would be given for that purpose.

The plan probably, did not materialize. It may be that some individuals from among that group turned to working the land in a later period, when the permission to settle on lands within the “Pale of Settlement” was awarded.

Benyamin Mendelstam, who was an author and a journalist, was also enthusiastic about Jewish settlement on land, and considered it a turning point on the way to economic and cultural recuperation of the nation.

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He was furious for the fact that the settlement did not make inroads and did not find encouragement among the Jewish public. Against it, he believed in the good will of the Russian government goal of converting the Jews to become workers of the land.

In his book “Khazon la'Moed” [“Vison for the Future”], he expressed his anger and wrote: ”It is only our fault for not encouraging the growth in the number of craftsmen, artisans and principally farmers…Didn't the charitable Czar announce in a fatherly manner: 'come and live among us?' , and here we are not following other nations in advancing towards the enlightenment, art and agriculture”.

B. Mendelstam's book, like RIBAL's book, was not widely spread and his preaching views hardly reached the nations' masses. However, among the enlightened, his views made a strong impression. Under his influence, several youths, sons of rich merchants turned to Vorontzov, the Minister for Novorussiya, in 1840, with a proposal to establish an exemplary agricultural colony. They did not ask for a government land nor a did they ask for financial assistance. They only asked for permission to purchase a land area in the province of Bessarabia with an area of 5000 disiyatins [about 13,500 acres]. Vorontzov replied that despite of his approval of the idea, he was not able to find such a concentrated area available for sale, and the whole plan was subsequently cancelled.

The news about the miserable state of the settlers in Kherson saddened Mendelstam, but he did not blame the government for that failure, but the lower-rank local officials, who were given the responsibility for the implementation of the settlement. He pore his heart out in this spirit, in a long letter to Minister Montefiori.

During the same years, a maskil [enlightened person], by the name Ya'akov Peres[?] authored a book by the name “Nachla Bli Meitzarim” [“Boundless Land”], in which he proved the advantages in working the land according to the Bible (“I am trying to prove, based on the holy writings and the national consciousness, that Jews must busy themselves in working the land…”).

In 1842, 40 years after Notkin, H. Rosenthal, one of the maskilim among Vilna merchants wrote a memorandum to the authorities, in which he proposed the establishment of agricultural colonies, and industrial development as solutions for the harsh economic state of the Jews. Minister Ovrov wrote on the margins of that memorandum a typical comment: “Rosenthal's view is a result of the Jewish deceit. Rosenthal does not understand the source of the problem. The Jewish issue would not be solved by establishment of factories and agricultural colonies”.

A different kind of awareness, with a unique character concerning the Jewish settlers, was found among the group of maskilim in Odessa. These enlightened people were native of Galitzia and graduates of the Austro-German culture. This culture, its language and literature, notables and manners were, in their eyes, the pinnacle of human achievements. Against that, the problem of the Jewish economy was not on the top of their worries. We could not find even a single document that could testify about their interest in the Jewish settlement process in Kherson, which was near Odessa, during its first three decades. However, when they heard that among the third wave of settlers arriving in Kherson, there were 450 families from Courland–they were awakened to help them. The province of Courland, which lies at the shores of the Baltic Sea,

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was, at one time, a long time ago, part of Germany. It was transferred to the hands of Poland in 1561. Even after the area became under the Russian control, the German culture and language prevailed there.

Odessa's maskilim, who were natives of Galitzia, considered Courland Jews as “superior and more cultured human subjects. Even the letters the Courlan's Jews wrote to the Russian authorities were written in the German language. In their lifestyle they were far-removed from the zealot Jews of Lithuania and Podolia”. According to the enlightened people of Odessa, it was not appropriate to settle the Courland Jews together with Jews from Lithuania, Podolia and Vohlyn. One of the maskilim, a rich merchant, contributed 1000 Rubles for the establishment of Courland Jews in Kherson. Another maskil from the same group, Betzalel (Bezilius) Stern, who was a principal of a Jewish school in Odessa, and had connections with the authorities, turned to the government with a request to favor the Courland Jews. In his letter to the Novorussiya Minister, Vorontzov, he wrote: ”Courland Jews arriving in Kherson, differ from their brothers in the colonies, in their education, and by the fact that unlike their fellow Jews, they do no hold ancient superstitions. They wish to become dedicated and diligent farmers, and therefore, justifiably, deserve a special treatment by the government. They want to stay separate from the rest of the settlers, to avoid potential unpleasant events that could erupt as a result of differences of opinion between them and the zealots. It is recommended, therefore, to settle them on lands that are more fertile and to aid them as much as possible. As they know to read and write, they need to have schools, which they asked to build in addition to a synagogue in every colony.

In the rest of his letter, Stern asked for an increased allocation for Courland Jews as compared to other settlers. He asked for 800 Rubles instead of the customary 600 Rubles.

Vorontzov agreed with the views expressed by “his Jewish maskil” and gave instructions to settle Courland Jews in separate colonies. However, since most of the more fertile lands were already occupied at that time, the fate of Courland Jews was to settle on worse areas, which lacked water, and they were forced to haul their water from far away in barrels, or drill exceptionally deep wells. Towards the year 1841, the preparations completed, and Courland Jews settled in four new colonies: Lvovo, Romanovka, Novo-Poltavka and Novo-Beryslav.

The New “Jewish Affairs Legislation”

In the beginning of the 1840s it became clear to the authorities, that the earlier “Jewish Legislations”, although they were formulated carefully, needed review and updating. It seemed to the Tsar and his advisors that those legislations, which aimed to speed up the assimilation of the Jews, have been unsuccessful because they were too generous and too “lenient”. Therefore, the Tsar nominated another special “Jewish Committee” that was assigned to coordinate and update the existing laws and add to them harshness and limitations.

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The new legislation was submitted for approval and was stamped with the royal seal of approval on 19 December 1844. That was when the last remnants of the Jewish community autonomous powers were formally eliminated. The new order to “place the Jews in the cities and provinces under the authority of the general regime”, eliminated the elected committees of the communities. However, the authorities were not interested in relieving any burdens such as those of the general and property taxes from the communities, as well as relieving them from the responsibility for the special army recruitment. Along with the order about the elimination of the communities' committees, a new law about a “meat tax” and a “candles' tax”, as well as other taxes was published.

The “meat tax” had been collected by the communities' committees until the new law was issued, and was used internally for the needs of the Jewish community, but from that point forward, it was handed over to a leasing contractor who was called “Ba'al Taxa” [or loosely “the tax collector”]. The money from that tax was made available to the government via a special account. From these moneys the government first covered anything that was owed from the quota of the taxes on the Jewish communities. The rest was used as a resource for maintaining state schools for the Jews and for local charities. The “meat tax” also served as a resource for procuring equipment for the Jewish settlers, construction of their houses, purchasing of oxen and mules, and agricultural tools. The people who leased the right to collect the “meat-tax” (the “taxa's”) were from among the local wealthy people and through their power, they ruled over the community in tyranny and exploited the poor.

Except the meat tax that every Jew would pay when buying meat, the “candles-tax” was also introduced (on Shabbat candles). That tax was handed over to the education ministry for the financing of general education among the Jews.

In addition to the harsh regulations of the renewed legislation, the proposal about dividing all of the Russian Jews according to two types, or classes—“useful, and useless” was being considered. All the small shopkeepers and the poor belonged to the second type. The authors of the new legislation, found it necessary to consult with, and hear the opinion of the provincial ministers over this clause.

We do not know the answers provided by all of the provincial ministers, however, we do know about the response of Graf Vorontzov, the governor of Novorussiya, who came harshly against the proposal and called it “inhumane, impractical and illogical form a national point-of-view”. However, the proposal was not removed from the agenda. “The Jewish Committee” turned to it time and time again. However, because it was not desirable to implement all of the decrees at the same time, it was decided to forward it again, at a later time, to the provincial ministers, after a “rewrite”.

Included in the new legislation, there was also a detailed framework of clauses dealing with the expansion of the Jewish settlement. Was it a human gesture, as it were, towards the Jews and towards the neighboring countries where liberal winds started to blow? Was it a consideration or a wish to thin out the Jewish populations in the cities, where a cruel competition with the Christian merchants and craftsmen transpired? Or perhaps we can assume that there were a few, among the members of the “Jewish Committee”, who genuinely wished to reach a rational solution for the problem, out of a humane feeling. Undoubtedly,

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there were several factors, this time too, who for different reasons and views have led to one positive solution—the expansion of the agricultural settlement of the Jews.

We do not know who the personalities were in that particular “Jewish Committee” and the extent of their hatred for the Jews. However, we can at least characterize one of them—General Kisliyov, who, as a person who was close to the Tsar, was very influential in this committee, both as the Chairman and as the Minister of the State Assets that the Jewish settlement was within its responsibilities.

It is logical to assume that Kisliyov was not free of anti-Semitism; otherwise, he would not have been elected as Chair of that committee, as he was not one of the principal legislators of the Tsar. Perhaps his negative attitude was not a result of racial hatred, but because he “only” hated the “unfavorable” attributes of the Jews who were “devious, and haters of physical labor and because of their occupations and ways of making a living that were harmful to the Christian population”. He believed that it was possible to purify their nature and ways of life, and culture them by having them work the land. During his service in the army, in the provinces of the “Pale of Settlement”, he knew Jews very closely, and learned about their positive attributes: their diligence (“although mainly for their own business”), quick comprehension, sense of adaptation, and other positive traits. In his opinion, these attributes could make the “devious peddlers” into very diligent farmers, if not in the first generation, then at least in the second or third generation. This was probably where his positive attitude towards the expansion of the Jewish settlement found its expression in the clauses of the “New Legislation” that were formulated with greater tolerance and generosity.

The “New Legislation” provided every Jew, regardless of his previous occupation, the possibility to become agriculturalist within all of the provinces where the Jews were allowed to reside. The government promised to allocate lands from its reserves in these provinces for the Jewish settlement.

As for the colonies in Kherson and the expansion of the [Jewish] settlement in Novorussiya, Kisliyov suggested to Nikolai the First, to send there a high-ranking official from his office, whose role would be to study the state of the Jewish farmers, and review the possibilities for additional settlement. That official would be required submit a detailed review.

The Tsar approved this proposal on January 25 1845, and the Court Advisor Kartzev, who was a senior official for special roles, was nominated for that mission. We are not going to detail the written instructions that Kisliyov put in the authorization document for Kartzov's nomination. We are also not going to copy here the entire twenty- or thirty-page long report. We will settle with only the details in which we have a specific interest.

Kartzev indicated that, towards the year 1845, about 1661 families (12,779 people) resided in 15 colonies; among them, 1495 owners of farms, and 180 families who were waiting to settle and worked, in the meantime, in various jobs in the colonies or outside of them. Kartzev reviewed the religious and educational situation and stated that there were 19 synagogues and praying houses built of stone. In the colony of Nahar-Tov there was a school for teaching Russian. In all

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the colonies he found private schools (“Kheders” [ Jewish elementary religious school for boys]), in which 533 students studied with 76 “Melameds” [Teachers of basic Jewish studies], mostly from among the local elderly. Almost all of the Jews knew how to read and write in their own language, however, only 54 people knew how to read and write in Russian. He found 12 Rabbis in the colonies who exerted a substantial influence over the public.

Kartzev repeated the routine language about the fact that the Jews were greedy, and that they would do anything for a profit, cheating, fraud, and intrigues. Although he did not consider the Jews lazy, he stated that their activity “is not in the way of honesty”, therefore, it is not a surprise that they do not adapt to the life of working the land. In addition, he stated that they have a “special tendency towards expressing grievances and complaining about everything”.

Against all of that, Kartzev praised the Jews about their way of life within the patriarchal family's structure, where Jewish children treat their parents respectfully and politely. He also stated that drunkenness is a rare occurrence among the Jews. He found one tavern in every colony (on average about one tavern for every 913 people). He stated that the sales volumes in these taverns were much lower than in the Christian villages. During the year of 1841, there were 44 criminals in all of the colonies.

We have special interest in the list brought by Kartzev in his review, from which we can learn about the occupation of all of the Jewish farmers before they settled. The list is as follows: sheet metal workers—9, weavers—2, tailors—359, shoemakers—144, hat makers—35, painters —24, blacksmiths—11, stone masons—75, coper artisans—40, silver artisans—11, scroll artisans—2, bookbinders—12, glaziers—51, carpenters—22, barrel craftsmen—6 and other occupations—37, altogether—840 people. That means the most of the settlers were not shopkeepers, peddlers or bartenders, but artisans, who were laborers and people of toil.

Kartzev also tried to summarize the reasons for the failures in the agricultural settlement: The settlers were extremely poor in their native localities, and suffered from lack of energy and diligence. Their nutrition was meager, and their health poor. They left their places of residence on their journey to Kherson in the fall. The winter descended on them during the journey, while they lacked warm clothing and shoes and did not have proper food. When they arrived at the place of settlement, they found a bare and arid prairie, where they were either housed, temporarily, far from the final location of their settlement, or were forced to settle on their allotted land without a proper housing for a long duration. The exhausted and despaired settlers were infected with infectious diseases that caused substantial mortality. It was only natural that they were attracted to commerce, which was the only feasible mean for their survival. It was an occupation they were knowledgeable about and familiar with. There were some settlers who sold the cattle they had received from the government, and invested the money in their businesses.

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The houses built for the third wave of settlers during the years 1839–1841, were also built about a year after the arrival of the people. The houses were built haphazardly, with insufficient amounts of construction materials. The overall manager, Demidov, also served as the housing construction contractor. Therefore, many houses looked like ruins. These factors have led, according to Kartzev, to the unavoidable result, and all the good intentions of the government did not materialize.

Khartzev found, that if the existing colonies would be satisfied with 9 disiyatins per male, there was a possibility of settling some several hundred families near them; he also indicated that there were government lands in the province of Tavriya of about 33,000 disiaytins, and an area of 28,000 disiyatins of black soil good for sowing in the province of Ekaterinoslav.

Contrary to the view that was customary until then, Kartzev proposed to establish the colonies near Christian villages, so that the Jews would be able to learn from them how to work the land. His opinion was that the Ukrainian farmers would not allow the Jews to cheat them, as they were witty themselves, not less than the Jews were and they treated the Jews with distrust.

Among the rest of his proposals there was a proposal which supported the expansion of the right to be absent from the colony for longer durations. The limitations on the exit licenses for a month or two did not allow the farmers to earn supplementary incomes, which were needed to sustain and improve their farms. However, he stated that it would be necessary to be strict about the farmers not being absent during the busy seasons.

The settlement in Ekaterinoslav Province

Kisliyov considered Kartzev's review as an accurate analysis of the flaws of the settlement and the causes for the failures. He also liked Kartzev's improvement proposals. The budget proposed by Kartzev (175 rubles per family) was not too large, and the implementation of a new settlement effort could succeed if the construction, equipment and organization would be appropriately planned ahead of time. The government land in the province of Ekaterinoslav, mentioned by Kartzev in his review, consisted of black soil, which was good for wheat growing. That was how Kisliyov developed an interest in the establishment of some exemplary settlements during one year—the year of 1846.

To guarantee the needed budget, Kisliyov turned to the Interior Ministry, which handled the “meat tax”, which was collected from the Jews to support charity projects and for financing the settlement. It was clearly emphasized in the “New Legislation”, that the settlement needs would be financed by that Jewish tax. He investigated the financial possibilities for using the tax for the settlement during 1846. However, since the “meat tax” was just taken away from the communities and was reorganized (its collection was leased to “Ba'alei Taxa”), it was not clear whether the financial abilities were sufficiently secured. After some pressure, negotiations, and a positive hint by the Czar, a budget of 50 thousand rubles was allocated for the settlement in 1846. Through the negotiations, Kisliyov turned to the provincial

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ministers, with a request to find out whether there were candidates for settlement, and how many were there. Here are the responses he received: From the Mohilev province—83 families, from Vitebsk—175, from Courland—11, from Kovno—41, from Kiev—14, altogether—324 families. If the allocated budget of 50 thousand rubles was distributed according to 175 rubles per family, it would be possible to settle 285 families.

Kisliyov, did not rely on issuing general instructions to a certain authority to implement the project and preferred to keep, all the strings in his hands. He paid attention to every detail, consulted with experts, demanded rigor from the implementers, and instructed the head of Ekaterinoslav's department of state assets—Gladkii, to visit the colonies in Kherson and select the most beautiful design of the streets, parks and public areas, as well as the best plan for houses. He also gave instructions to make sure that there was water supply on each parcel of land, or to dig wells in areas that were not close to a stream or a lake.

He demanded from Gladkii immediately following his visit to Kherson to begin the construction of 285 houses that would be ready by the 1st of September 1846. He issued instructions to the provincial ministers to select the most suitable out of the registered candidates and gather them in the city of Mohilev no later than the 15th of May. That date was selected in such a way that the journey to Ekaterinoslav would take place during the summer months, and according to the plan, when the travelers arrive at their destination in September, they would be able to get into their new houses immediately upon arrival.

From his experience, he did not rely on the provincial officials, and selected one of his senior officials, Kulishov, a talented and experienced man, to manage this undertaking. He instructed Kulishov to divide the families into convoys (each convoy—50 families), and select from among the Jews, the most talented people to head the convoys. He instructed to review the lists again, to select mainly families with at least 6 people, and to plan the journey route that bypassed the drought areas. He turned again to Gladkii to warn him that the houses must be ready on or ahead of the due date.

In the contract that was sent to Gladkii, Kisliyov emphasized the importance of the first experiment and asked him to send an agronomist to determine the seeds cycle, find local reliable and diligent inspectors and guides from among the agriculturalists. It also hinted to Gladkii, that his success would merit him the favor of the Czar. Kisliyov ended with this wording: “I am sure that you understand the importance of the activity you have been appointed for. I would be delighted with your success, and would mention your good services to the Czar”.

As mentioned above, the whole Jewish settlement sector was taken away from the Guardian Bureau of the settlers, headed by a Supervisory Committee. However, in order to ensure the success of the project, Kisliyov turned to Gaan, the head of the Supervisory Committee for all the German, Bulgarian, Greek and Ukrainian settlers in Kherson and Ekaterinoslav and asked him to find from among the agriculturalists—preferably from among

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the Mennonites[3] —reliable and dedicated people who would agree to become inspectors over the Jewish settlers. Kisliyov promised that every local inspector would be allocated a parcel of land within the Jewish colony.

About a month later, Gaan submitted a memorandum to Kisliyov, in which he expressed his views and proposals concerning the Jewish settlers. In his opinion, the Jews, who were detached from the land, did not receive a proper treatment in the Kherson colonies. The Jewish farmer, unlike a Christian farmer, required a patient handling that would gradually endear working the land to him.

Gaan thought it useful to add to every Jewish colony, a few German farmers who would serve as personal examples for the Jews and would teach the Jews rational cultivation methods. He believed that the Germans' influence would encourage the Jews' attraction to farming.

In his memorandum, Gaan highly praised the Mennonites, particularly their countryman, Cornies, a talented and able man. He doubted that the Mennonites would agree to move to Jewish colonies as inspectors but promised to look into it. In his opinion, it would be good if Cornies could be appointed as a head inspector of the Jewish colonies.

The construction of the houses did not progress at a suitable pace. Gladkii defended the delay by claiming that the wood that he bought, was located 170 parsas [The author uses a Talmudic unit for a distance - about 487 miles. MK, RM] away, and that the transport was difficult because of the streams' flooding in the spring. He also claimed that due to a plague among the mules and oxen, it was difficult to find wagons for the transport. He also stated that he could not find a surveyor who could divide the plots where he had to construct the houses.

Kisliyov quickly provided Gladkii with a surveyor and agronomist, who could determine how to divide the fields according to the seeds cycle. He demanded form Gladkii to ask the civil engineer to cooperate in the construction of the houses. The instructions and demands by Kisliyov poured on Gladkii like rain, one after the other.

In the meantime, Kulishov began to organize the journey. According to the instructions, he was told to allocate 3.5 kopeks per person per day, and an additional allocation for the poor. However, when he met the penniless crowd for the first time, he realized that it would be necessary to provide everybody with the additional allocation. Based on his calculation, a sum of 11,670 rubles was needed to cover the additional allocation during the entire journey.

Except for the food, 20 wagons were needed for each convoy to haul the belongings, and transport the babies, the sick, the elderly and the exhausted. Kulishov leased 120 wagons

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for the duration of the journey at a cost of 3000 rubles. Altogether, he needed 14,653 rubles, while the budget was only 5000. He turned to Kisliyov and demanded an increase in the budget. He received an additional sum of 5000 rubles and was asked to get by with the money that had been provided.

The forests inspector, Tagaichinov, during one of the trips associated with his job, encountered a convoy of 11 families. He was surprised at the sight of the poor wanderers, and wished to help them. In his note to Kisliyov he wrote: being unaccustomed to walking for long distances, many suffer from weakness in their legs. For the purpose of transporting 29 little children, two women with their babies and 6 pregnant women, they had only nine wagons, which were also loaded with belongings. Tagaichinov notified Kisliyov that he leased an additional three wagons in order to ease somewhat the suffering of the Jews in their hard journey.

Financial problems were also encountered during the construction of the houses. After an architect and engineer designed the houses, it turned out that it was impossible to build a house made of clay bricks for less than 125 rubles, while the allocation for the construction of a house was about 52.6 Rubles. Therefore, Kisliyov decided to provide Gladkii with 20 thousand rubles, in addition to the 15 thousand that he previously received.

Gladkii notified that together with the agronomist Gebel, he selected 16,500 disiyatins [about 45,550 acres] from areas in Aleksandrov region, for the purpose of Jewish settlement, that would be divided among 8 settlements. He instructed a topographer to determine the suitable places for the colonies, and the architect to choose the suitable places for the houses and the parks. In his notification, Gladkii was doubtful whether agricultural-guides could be found from among the Mennonites, who would have to agree to leave their estates and move to the Jewish colonies.

Changes in Management – Yet Again

The convoys arrived at the settlement region in Ekaterinoslav one after the other. The construction of the houses has not been completed yet, therefore, the new arrivals were housed, in the meantime, in neighboring villages in various structures. Diseases that infected many of them during the journey, have intensified and started to spread, and Gladkii expedited a physician and medicines for them. He went out to the settlement area himself, rented additional houses in the villages and ordered to heat them up. However, the diseases spread and became an epidemic. The physicians determined that the diseases were the result of the grueling journey's hardships, the meager nutrition, shabby clothing, longing for their native lands, change of climate and were principally caused by the cold that arrived early that year. As early as October, the number of sick reached 488 people, about a quarter of the new arrivals.

Despite of the efforts by the authorities, 163 people out of the settlement' third wave, became sick and died. Kisliyov was embarrassed, and started to wander whether Gladkii was the man who could implement that project and oversee it. He debated as to whether it wouldn't be

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logical to return the supervision over the Jewish settlement, back to the Guardian Bureau headed by a Supervisory Committee with a substantial experience in settlement, led by a talented man such as Gaan, whose advice and guidance he decided to seek.

Gaan responded positively, and submitted a list of suggestions. Among them, he emphasized that it would be desirable to add several German farmers to each of the Jewish colony, such that they would serve as an example and model for the Jewish settlers, both in work as well as in establishing the farm and its organization.

As a manager for the Jewish colonies, he proposed Baron von Stempel, and until the settlers settle in their houses and fields, he proposed to spread them in the German colonies, where they would receive agricultural training, and where craftsmen could be occupied doing their crafts.

Kisliyov presented a detailed lecture for the Czar, in which he explained the need to place the Ekaterinoslav and Kherson colonies under the supervision of the Guardian Bureau as before. He hinted about the shortcomings in the current management of the colonies and repeated Gaan's proposals for improving the situation.

On the margin of Kisliyov lecture, the Czar wrote one word: “implement” (5 November 1846). Based on that royal approval, Kisliyov turned to the Supervisory Committee with the announcement:

  1. The Supervisory Committee must assume responsibility and supervision of the Kherson's Jewish colonies. The transfer from one authority to the other must be completed on January 1847.
  2. A report about the state of these colonies must be submitted, on the date mentioned above, to Kisliyov and to the Provincial Minister Piodorov.
  3. Starting 1st of January 1847, the colonies will be managed by the Supervisory Committee, whereas their annual balance would be prepared by the previous authority, namely the management headed by the provincial minister.
  4. The Supervisory Committee must locate experienced and reliable German farmers who would agree to serve as agricultural supervisors and guides in the Jewish colonies.
  5. The Supervisory Committee must talk to Gladkii, the head of the Ekaterinoslav's bureau of the state assets, and coordinate with him the date for the transfer of the affairs of the 285 settlers to the Supervisory Committee.
In the notification, he sent to Piodorov, Kherson's Provincial Minister about the new arrangement, Kisliyov asked him to submit a detailed report about the shortcomings in the colonies, and about matters that require a correction. Piodorov, actually wished to get rid of the troubles of handling the colonies but considered the notification an insult. Who else would be responsible for the shortcomings in the colonies, besides the person who led the province? To clear himself, he responded at length, and provided reasons on top of reasons explaining the current situation.

Gladkii also felt insulted by Kisliyov's notification, and tried to hand over all the affairs to the Supervisory Committee, as soon as possible. However, he was not in a hurry to hand over completed houses to the new authority. All the elements were interested in handing over the affairs

[Page 91]

of the Jewish settlement to the new authority. However, Gaan, the head of the Supervisory Committee, was not in a hurry to assume the responsibility over the new burden, without thoroughly determining, upfront, and in details, the methods of operations, and before he could nominate inspectors and guides according to his own guidelines.

The change in authorities and the new arrangement resulted in tension in relationships between people of the various offices.

Planning and Tight Supervision

Gaan, the head of the Supervisory Committee, burdened himself, for the time being, only with tasks that have not been started yet by others: cultivation of the land areas and sowing and other preparations concerning the equipment for the farms. He was wary of accepting the responsibility for continuing the construction of the houses that began under Gladkii's management.

In an investigation made by one of Gaan's people, it became clear that some of the houses were made of frozen timber, which was transported during a harsh freeze. Such timber, when it thawed within the walls' material, split and crumbled the walls. Gaan also did not like the design of the houses. They were so low that tall people had to walk around the house bent over. They were also too narrow to provide sufficient air for the big Jewish families.

As mentioned above, the construction of the houses was not complete in the fall of 1846, as planned by Kisliyov. The houses were not completed even toward the winter of 1847. Only in 1848, the construction of 192 houses was completed by the previous authority, while the new authority completed the construction of 93 houses.

When 192 Gladkii's houses were completed, Gaan assembled an inspection committee out of the Mennonites he considered as the most reliable, to check the quality of the houses. The committee found that the houses were not stable, were built too low and provided insufficient breathing air. Gladkii apologized and proved that he only received 100 rubles per house, and therefore adjusted the plan accordingly. He also stated that the delay was also not his fault but a result of harsh conditions. There was no forest in the the Ekaterinoslav area, and the trees for construction had to be brought over from a distance of 170 parsas and more. It was impossible to lease transport wagons during the summer months, because the farmers were busy with the harvest, gathering and threshing, and in the fall, when wagons became available, the cold came early and some of the imported woods were frozen. However, with all that, Gladkii stated that the houses were stable and would last.

Hearing about the dispute, Kisliyov sent one of the senior officials to investigate the quality of the houses. The official submitted a lukewarm review, stating that the houses are not so bad, and that their stability would depend on the treatment they would receive from the future owners.

Baron Stempel, who was nominated as the manager of the Jewish colonies in Kherson and Ekaterinoslav conducted a thorough investigation on the state of the colonies,

[Page 92]

He found that some tens of houses, built by Demidov, were crumbling and were not fit for residence. As it turned out, the manager Kondrentzov who followed Demidov, was also not an honest man. He also found that the current division of the fields makes cultivation more difficult. Some colonies were not built at the center of their fields but on the margins. The fields stretched along a narrow and long strip, as long as 45 kilometers. There was no hospital, and even not a single clinic in all of the colonies. Gaan demanded that Kisliyov allocate a certain amount to fix the rickety houses, and rebuild those that were completely destroyed. Following a long negotiation, a sum of 5000 rubles was approved for that purpose.

In consultation with the Mennonites, Gaan divided the land areas of the colonies in Kherson as sowed fields, pasture fields and vegetable gardens. He set aside a quarter of the lands as reserve. The colonies' farmers cultivated these fields, however, they were meant to serve, in the future, for special purposes. The advisors found that horses would be a better fit for the Jews, rather than oxen, despite the fact that the price of a horse was higher.

Gaan, who handled settlers from different nationalities and knew their attributes and nature, was great in learning about the character of the Jews. He understood well why their acclimation to this new occupation was more difficult, and why even when they were willing to take on working in the fields, they were always attracted to easier occupations, like butterflies to fire. He knew and understood that the main factors that drove them to settle, were the prior life of poverty, and the compulsory service decree. Therefore, he thought that it was possible, using two methods, to educate the Jews to work the land and to make them like agriculture. First, it was necessary to provide them with good and comfortable conditions (a comfortable and spacious house, use of horses rather than oxen, sufficient equipment, division of fields according to the cycle of seeds, sufficient amounts of water, medical assistance and minimal productivity to ensure elementary sustenance). However, with all of that, it was necessary, at least during the first few years, to implement a regime of harsh oversight, which meant prohibition on free movement in the neighboring cities and the duty to obey the guides and inspectors, using harsh punishment in cases of refusal and disobedience.

Gaan nominated as supervisors over the colonies, farmers who excelled in agriculture from the German and Mennonite colonies. To bring in these guides, he asked the help of Baron Stempel, who managed the colonies of all other nationalities, and promised to award the guides, in addition to their salaries, with land plots, houses etc..

In his instructions to the supervisors, he explained that the duty of every one of them is to train the [Jewish] farmers in all of the farm's categories, to conduct special lessons about agriculture, each in the colony assigned to him, to inspect every month the state of the inventories, and to submit a report about the work of each farmer. The punishments over farm offences were listed in details. For not executing the inspector's instruction, frivolous behavior towards property or leaving the colony without a license — the offender would be punished with 30–40 floggings for the first offense.

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For the second offense—the punishment would be double the number of floggings. For the third offense—the punishment would be 3–6 months of jail. For a more severe offense, the offender would be handed over to the army, and if he was not physically able to serve in the army he would be sent to serve in a prisoner platoon for a period of 10–12 years.

To avoid arbitrary punishing, it was determined that the physical floggings for the first or second offenses would be imposed by the local official. However, only the highest authority would be able to impose jail time. Army recruitment or prisoner platoon punishments must be approved by the minister office.

The harsh instructions instilled fear among the settlers. In official documents it is mentioned that the Jews made exceptional efforts not to be punished. In one of the colonies, 15 out of the 20 “negligent” farmers “were reformed” after publication of the instructions, and developed their flocks diligently.

At the end of 1848 and during 1849, the Jewish settlers settled on their land and entered their houses. In the province of Ekaterinoslav, 6 new colonies were founded: Novo-Zlatopol, Vesselaya, Krassnoselka, Mezhirich, Trudoliubovka, and Nechayevka.

Author's Notes

  1. The implementation of this clause, would take place if the authority would find it necessary to do so, and after the final approval by the highest Supervisory Committee–The Guardian Bureau. return
  2. Similar privileges were provided for people who lease lands; but the tax exemption was for five years rather than 25 return
  3. The Mennonites were a Baptist [actually AnaBaptist or Re-Baptist] Christian sect that was founded in Zurich in 1523. Its members avoid taking an oath, and therefore refuse to serve in any public service. They avoid using a weapon and therefore refuse to serve in the army. A similar sect was established in [Friesland which is today in] Holland, by the religion-reformer Mano Simons (1492–1559) after whom the sect is named. After his death, the sect expanded to several other countries, and its members were persecuted for their beliefs. Some immigrated to Russia, and several Mennonite colonies were established in Novorussiya. return


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