Derzhavin, Gabriel Romanovich°

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DERZHAVIN, GABRIEL ROMANOVICH ° (1743–1816), Russian administrator and poet; his investigation of the Jewish problem in his role as administrator influenced the status of the Jews in Russia and Russian policy toward the Jews from the beginning of the 19th century to the end of the czarist regime. Derzhavin was sent by the authorities in 1799/1800 to Belorussia, incorporated into Russia after the last partition of Poland, to investigate the conditions of Jewish life there in connection with a famine that had hit the peasants in the region. His conclusions were influenced both by the local Polish nobility, who blamed the Jews for the sufferings of the peasants, and by the Jew Nathan Note *Notkin, who advised Derzhavin to urge the government to direct the Jews from their traditional occupations and way of life to employment in crafts and colonization of "New Russia." The report Derzhavin submitted shows that he believed the allegations made against the Jews and the Jewish character. He suggested that the Jews should be divided into four estates according to income and place of residence, and that the steppes of Astrakhan and "New Russia" should be made available for Jewish agricultural colonization. Jews should be prohibited from keeping taverns and expelled from the villages in the old *Pale of Settlement.


J.I. Hessen (Gessen), Istoriya yevreyskogonaroda v Rossii, 1 (1926), 132–6.

[Abba Ahimeir]