Vinawer, Maxim

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VINAWER, MAXIM (1862–1926), lawyer and communal worker in Russia. Born in Warsaw, Vinawer completed his studies at the university of Warsaw (1886), and then settled in St. Petersburg, where he became a prominent lawyer in the field of civil law. In court Vinawer was outstanding for his clear and profound analyses, which influenced the shaping of judicial law. His influence was also felt through his literary activity, his presence among judicial colleagues at the university of St. Petersburg, and at conferences on civil law reforms. The fact that he was a Jew interfered with his professional standing and until 1904 he was registered only as an advocate's assistant. After the February Revolution (1917) he was allowed to sit as supreme judge for the short period preceding the liquidation of the old courts as a result of the October Revolution.

Through his literary publications he encouraged social astuteness and interest on the part of advocates in regard to public affairs. As a result of the 1905 Revolution and the introduction of a restricted parliamentary regime, he became one of the founders and leaders of the "Constitutional Democratic Party" (Cadets), or "Freedom of the Nation Party," which called for a genuine parliamentary system, based on the example of Great Britain. He was a delegate to the first parliament (*Duma) in 1906. As the vice chairman of his faction (the largest), he was the principal drafter of its policies and acted as mediator both within the group and between the group and other factions. When the Duma dispersed he joined its former members in a protest convention at Vyborg and signed the manifesto calling for civil disobedience. As a result he and all the other participants in the convention were sentenced to three months in prison and deprived of the right to vote. In 1917, after the February Revolution, he was a member of the commission that prepared the elections to the constituent assembly as well as a participant in the temporary parliament ("Council of the Republic"). The October Revolution and the banning of his party caused him to emigrate to the Crimean Peninsula, where he acted as foreign minister in the regional government formed by his party (described in his memoirs). In 1919 he emigrated to France, where he continued his activities among the Russian and Jewish emigrants.

Vinawer's Jewish communal activities began with the *Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia. Heading also the historio-ethnographic commission which gathered and published historical material on the Jews of Russia, he developed it into a special society. He also acted as advocate in the trials following the pogroms of *Kishinev and *Gomel. Although he was, too, among the founders and leaders of the *Society for the Attainment of Full Civil Rights for the Jewish People in Russia (1905–07), he opposed the formation of a separate Jewish faction in the Duma. Vinawer founded the newspaper Yevreyskaya Tribuna, one of whose objectives was to disprove the allegation of the "Jewishness" of the Russian Revolution. Vinawer's personality assumed an important place in the memoirs of his contemporaries, both Russian (i.e., *Witte, P.N. Milyukov) and Jewish (S. *Dubnow, M. *Vishniak). Vinawer himself published a collection of memoirs, Nedavnoye (1917; second, enlarged edition 1926).


P.N. Milyukov et al. (eds.), M.M. Vinawer (collection; Rus., 1937); Russian Jewry, 18601917 (1966), index.

[Abraham N. Poliak]