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Bliokh (Bloch), Ivan Stanislavovich

BLIOKH (Bloch), IVAN STANISLAVOVICH

BLIOKH (Bloch), IVAN STANISLAVOVICH (1836–1901), Russian financier, writer, and pacifist. Born in Radom, Poland, Bliokh studied in Warsaw and Berlin. In Warsaw, he engaged in banking, a field he developed extensively in St. Petersburg. He also played a leading role in the construction of the Russian railroads and put their operation on a sound management basis. Bliokh won international fame through his dedication to pacifism, which is the theme of his six-volume publication Budushchaya voyna v tekhnicheskom, ekonomicheskom i politicheskom otnosheniyakh (1898; last vol. translated as The Future of War… Is War Now Impossible?, 1899). He attempted to prove that wars were of no value to a nation because of the massive expenditures involved and the consequent damage to national economies, apart from the human cost. This book, as well as Bliokh's personal endeavors, were among the factors which influenced Czar Nicholas ii to convene the 1899 Hague Peace Conference in order to consider the limitation of armaments and the arbitration of international disputes.

Although Bliokh converted to Calvinism, he maintainedhis interest in the Jewish question and in improving the lot of Russian Jewry. After the pogroms of the 1890s, he fought strenuously in defense of the Jews and pressed the government to end discrimination. In a five-volume work, Sravneniye materialnago i nravstvennago blagosostayaniya guberniy zapadnykh, velikorossiyskikh i polskikh ("A Comparison of the Material and Moral Welfare of the Western, Great Russian, and Polish Provinces," 1901), the preparation of which, with the help of many outstanding experts, cost him hundreds of thousands of rubles, he analyzed the economic condition of the Jews in Russia and emphasized their great contribution to the economy. This work constituted a brilliant defense against the government's anti-Jewish arguments, but was confiscated and burned after publication. Fortunately, a number of copies were by chance saved from the censors, and eventually its contents became widely known through a summary by A.P. Subbotin entitled Yevreyskiy vopros v yego pravilnom osveshchenii ("The Jewish Question in its Right Light," 1903).

In 1897 Bliokh became involved in the work of the *Jewish Colonization Association (ica) in Russia and supported it generously. He showed an interest in Zionism and became a friend of Theodor *Herzl, whom he had met in 1899 at the Hague Peace Conference. (Herzl had come to ask the Russian delegates to help him to obtain an audience with the czar. With Bliokh's assistance Herzl met the head of the Russian delegation, de Staal, and other statesmen.) At Herzl's request, in July 1899 Bliokh tried to persuade the Russian authorities to revoke the decree prohibiting the sale of *Jewish Colonial Trust shares. Shortly before his death, Bliokh established the International Museum of War and Peace in Lucerne, Switzerland.

bibliography:

N. Sokolow, in: jc (Jan. 24, 1902), 11.

[Nathan Feinberg]

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