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Borovoy, Saul


BOROVOY, SAUL (1903–1989), Soviet historian dealing mainly with the history of Ukrainian and Russian Jewry, as well as the financial history of Russia. He was born into a well-to-do Odessa family (his father was a lawyer) that was on a friendly footing with the city's leading Jewish cultural figures. Borovoy graduated from a business college and the university's law faculty, studied at the Archaeological Institute, and worked from 1922 at the Jewish academic library. In 1927–30 he worked in the central academic library in Odessa, and earned his Ph.D. in pedagogy, publishing his thesis on academic libraries in Kiev in 1930. In 1938 he received a Ph.D. in history and economics. From 1934 to 1977, apart from the war and the 1952–54 period, when he was accused of cosmopolitism and dismissed, he was lecturer at the Institute of Economics in Odessa. Between the world wars, when the Soviet authorities encouraged the Marxist approach to Jewish history, Borovoy produced several works on Jewish themes in Ukrainian, Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew. Among his important works is "Jewish Farm Colonies in Old Russia" (1928). In his 1940 work "Descriptions of the History of the Jews in the Ukraine in the 16–18th Centuries," he argued that during the *Chmielnicki uprising the Jews were not only victims but also a party to the war, the rich siding with the Poles and the poor with the Cossacks, a "class approach" thesis rejected by most historians. After he returned to Odessa in 1944 he wrote about the Holocaust of the Jews of Odessa (published only in 1990 in the Yiddish magazine Sovietish Heimland). After the liquidation of Jewish culture in 1947–48 Borovoy had to stop his research in Jewish history and started dealing with economic-historical problems. He wrote about Russian banks in the 17–18th centuries, private commercial banks in the Ukraine at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, and the economic views of the Decembrists and of various writers and poets as expressed in their works (such as Pushkin). In the 1960s and 1970s he returned to Jewish historical problems. He wrote several entries, like Gretz, Dubnov, Pale of Settlement, in the Encyclopedia of History. His "History of Jewish Public Thought in the First Half of the 19th Century" remained unpublished. Near the end of his life he wrote a letter to Communist Party Secretary Yakovlev criticizing Romanenko's "Essence of Zionism," which was based on Borovoy's own descriptions of the Ukraine in the 17th century. His memoirs were published in Moscow in 1993 by the Jewish University there.

[Shmuel Spector (2nd ed.)]

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