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Legal Restrictions Imposed Upon the Jews since 1882.

[Editor's Note: The information below was edited from the appendix of "The Legal Sufferings of the Jews in Russia" by Lucien Wolf, published in London in 1912. Wolf provided a synopsis of the laws decreed from 1882-1912 that, in his opinion, most adversely affected the Jews. This collection is a good complement to Schuyler's letter and the Foster Commission Report because it extends the summaries of laws up to the year 1912. It also includes the text of the "temporary" May Laws of May 3,1882, arguably the most important decree in the latter portion of the 19th century, in terms of its effect on Jews. The decrees of this period, particularly the May Laws, caused enormous hardship and suffering for the Jews. Wolf's comments are very passionate in this regard, and quite repetitive. Therefore, some of them were edited out to focus on the historical facts compiled in his appendix.]


The reign of the Tsar Alexander II., which in many departments of Russian life was an era of freedom and emancipation, partook necessarily of the same character as regards the Jewish question. Jews were granted the right to enjoy unrestricted tuition in all the schools throughout the Empire, and to enter the service of the State. They could take part in local self-government and acquire real estate in all places where they resided. They exploited oil-fields, and participated in industrial undertakings of every kind. The victory, however, was not complete. Jewish dwellers in the small towns and merchants of the second Guild were still, as formerly, deprived of the right to settle outside the Pale of Settlement or to acquire plots of land beyond the confines of their place of residence.
Suddenly came the bolt from the blue -- the assassination of Alexander II. on March 13th, 1881. From that moment dates the systematic campaign against the Jewish people, proclaimed in the highways by the destruction of Jewish property and often, too, of Jewish lives, and in legislation by a series of special and restrictive measures, of which this appendix gives a chronological synopsis, taken for the most part from an article by A. Linden in Part I. of "Die Judenpogrome in Russland," Cologne and Leipzig, 1910.


This twelvemonth represents a fatal culminating point in the existence of the Russian Jews. The month of May, 1882, brought about more disorder and ruin in their economic life than all the pogroms of the period together. The following are the most important restrictive enactments and Senatorial decisions of 1882 in order of date :-

  • January 30th. - An order of the Ministry of Finance to the effect that Jewish artisans must not live beyond the Pale of Settlement in cases where they own workshops in which machines worked by hand are in use, such workshops ranking as factories. Artisans are to be accorded the right of residence in the interior governments only on condition that they engage in their particular handicraft and none other. The term "handicraft" is to be understood as applying solely to those pursuits in which manual labour alone is requisite.

  • March 15th. - A Senatorial decision setting forth that no Jew must be elected to a vacancy on the board of an orphan asylum.

  • April 10th. - An Army order fixing the maximum proportion of Jewish military surgeons at 5 per cent of the total. The military districts of Vi1na, Odessa, Kieff and Kharkoff (i.e., the whole of the Pale of Settlement and a part beyond) were thus compelled to appoint no more Jewish surgeons until their ratio had fallen to 5 per cent. The admission of Jewish students to the Army Medical College was likewise restricted to a maximum of 5 per cent., and later on they were entirely prohibited from entering.

  • April 20th. - A law forbidding non-Christians to manufacture or sell ikons, crosses and other objects of Christian veneration. Subsequently the prohibition was extended even to church candles, and, in addition, considerable penalties were annexed to the contravention of these ostensibly pietistic ordinances.

  • May 3rd. - " Temporary Regulations" proposed by Count Ignatieff and issued by the Council of Ministers with the sanction of the Tsar - to be enforced only in the Pale of Jewish Settlement. These are the notorious "May Laws," and though fraught with such disastrous and far-reaching consequences for the Russian Jews the text is so brief that we give it in its entirety :-

    1. As a temporary measure and until a general revision is made of the legal status of the Jews, they are forbidden to settle anew outside of towns and townlets (boroughs), an exception being made only in the case of existing Jewish agricultural colonies.

    2. Until further orders, the execution of deeds of sale and mortgages in the names of Jews is forbidden, as well as the registration of Jews as lessees of real estate situated outside of towns and townlets, and also the issuing to Jews of powers of stewardship or attorney to manage and dispose of such real property.

    3. Jews are forbidden to transact business on Sundays and on the principal Christian festivals, the existing regulations concerning the closing on such festival days of places of business belonging to Christians to apply in future to Jews as well.*

    * The third clause of the May Laws is not to be compared in importance with the two others, which strike so radically at the right of domicile and the possession or leasing of landed property, but this wholly unjustifiable measure works in an exceedingly oppressive manner in the towns, where the Jews, even although forming the majority of the inhabitants, have to refrain from all business transactions for two days out of every seven.

    These regulations, it will be seen, were intended to be only temporary, but although a revision of the laws was duly drafted by a special Commission under presidency of Count Pahlen, no further action has been taken in the matter, and the May Laws, thirty years after their enactment, are still in force, with a mass of additional restrictive "explanations" and interpretations, and with no immediate prospect of their repeal.

  • May 22nd. - A decision of the Imperial Police Department that private teachers of the female sex, though possessed of a diploma, are to be reckoned among the non- privileged categories, i.e., must be penned up within the Pale.

  • December 22nd. - A circular of the Minister of Finance and a Senatorial decree introducing rigorous restrictions concerning Jews engaged in the liquor traffic. The following regulations were applied to Jewish tavern-keepers : 1. The sale of spirituous liquors is forbidden to Jews in the towns and townlets of the Pale except in houses owned by them, and erected on land which belongs to them. Even when a Jew possesses a leasehold for life of the ground on which his house stands, he must not retail liquor there. 2. Beyond the precincts of towns and townlets the same regulation holds good, with the additional proviso that, where the exception applies, the house in question must have been in possession of the tavern-keeper before May 3rd, 1882. 3. If a Jew inherits a house he may retail liquor there only in the event of his possessing a right of residence in that place.

    From 1882, also, dates the order of the Ministry of War forbidding the admission of Jewish recruits to the Navy, fortresses, and the frontier service, and allowing Army surgeons to employ only Jewish attendants, for the reason, as related elsewhere, that Jewish physicians "exercised a demoralising influence" upon Christian attendants. On March 8th of this year the Imperial sanction was given to the order prohibiting the admission of Jews to the Kharkoff Veterinary Institute and limiting the number of Jews admitted to the Veterinary Institutes at Kasan and Dorpat. This was the beginning of the "percentage" principle which, as will be seen, received such extensive application in the years that followed.


    In contradistinction to the preceding year, 1883 was relatively a lenient one as regards legislation concerning the Jews. Thus the only noteworthy additional restrictions of Jewish rights were the following:-

  • March 3rd. - A decision of the Police Department ruling that Jews attending free lectures at the universities possess no domiciliary privilege.
    This decision affected practically all Jewish free students, as, with the exception of Odessa and Warsaw, the university towns are situated beyond the Pale, while the students in question nearly all belong to the non-privileged classes.
  • May 3rd. -- A Senatorial decree forbidding the appointment of Jews to positions in the municipal police administration.

    Ancient and absurd laws which had long lain in oblivion were also unearthed and put into execution - for example, the law forbidding Jews to employ Christian domestics, under which, in the year 1883, no fewer than 270 Jews were prosecuted in a few districts of the government of Chernigoff alone. The cleansing of St. Petersburg from Jews assumed terrible proportions, and non-privileged families, who had lived in the capital for many years, were generally accorded a respite of only 24 to 48 hours. It was, however, in the village settlements that the authorities proceeded in the most rigorous fashion, the phrase in the May Laws "to settle anew outside of towns and townlets" giving rise to different interpretations and endless misunderstandings, and becoming a prolific source of official abuse. Thus a Jew, on returning to his village after a few days' absence, was refused admission to his home on the pretext that he was a "new-comer," while, on the other hand, if he wanted to move from one house to another in the same settlement, he was met with the reminder that he was contemplating "leasing real estate situated outside of towns and townlets" in glaring defiance of the May Laws. These arbitrary decisions, it is true, were usually cancelled on an appeal to the Senate, but this involved the expenditure of time and money, and in the meantime the parties concerned were frequently ruined beyond recall. This year, too, the St. Petersburg College of Mines decided, on its own initiative, to restrict the proportion of Jewish aspirants to 5 per cent of the total number of students admitted.


  • January 28th. - A resolution of the Committee of Ministers to close the Technical Institute and the industrial schools owned or kept by Jews in the town of Zhitomir.

  • March 14th. - A Senatorial decree - based on a report of the Governor-General of Kieff - to the effect that the domiciliary privilege enjoyed by Jewish artisans, mechanics, etc., does not apply to navvies, plasterers, bricklayers, masons, carpenters, stucco- workers, carters, gardeners, domestic servants, and unskilled labourers, all of whom possess no right of residence outside the Pale of Settlement. On May 16th, in response to a petition from non-Jewish competitors in Kieff, a similar Senatorial decision overtakes butchers, while in the following years several other occupations are one after another struck out of the privileged categories.

  • June 5th. - Jews serving on juries in the governments of Bessarabia, Kherson, Taurida, Ekaterinoslav, Poltava, and Chernigoff are subjected to the same limitations as have obtained in the other governments of the Pale of Settlement since the year 1877. The chief restrictions are that Jews are prohibited from acting as foremen, and that in each judicial circuit the Jewish jurymen must bear the same proportion to the Christian jurymen as the Jewish population does to the total number of inhabitants, while henceforth no Jews are permitted to serve on juries in cases dealing with offences against religion or with infractions of ecclesiastical ordinances.

  • July 15th. - A circular of the Minister of Education instructing the directors of higher schools beyond the Pale of Settlement not to admit Jewish children unless proof is shown that their parents possess the right of domicile. Hereby an old and long- forgotten regulation is enforced, and in a similar form is extended even to those establishments which rank immediately above the secondary schools. Thus regulations of the Police Department, dated October 18th and November 24th, make admission to the Imperial School of Music and the teachers' course in the Froebel Institute dependent on the production of a certificate of the right of domicile, so closing the doors of these two institutions to the great mass of the Jews. On November 26th a Senatorial decree applies the same regulation to the schools of dentistry outside the Pale of Settlement.

    Wherever a Jew still remained in the State service he was hounded out, however humble the capacity in which he served. As a typical instance of this cleansing process, showing how anxious were the provincial bureaucrats to fulfill their duty in this respect, it may be mentioned here that the Governor of Kovno, finding several Jews among the clerks employed in the Police Department, had them promptly turned out of the office. This year, too, several workmen's corporations - in Moscow, Smolensk, etc.- refused Jewish artisans admission to their guilds, thus causing the latter to forfeit their residential right.


    The most thoroughgoing Jewish restrictions were :-

  • June 7th. - An Imperial command limiting the admission of Jews to the Kharkoff Technological Institute to 10 per cent of the total number of students.

  • October 3rd. - A Senatorial decision that the prohibition of Jewish settlements in villages applies also to the privileged categories, although they possess the right of residence throughout the Empire, as well as to discharged soldiers (even of the old regime), and to artisans generally.

  • November 1lth. - A circular of the Minister of the Interior explaining that the right of universal residence which had been granted to discharged soldiers referred only to a former category {the "Nicholas" soldiers) and not to those who had served in the Army since the conscription regulations of 1874, a whole class of privileged persons being thus swept out of existence.

  • December 13th. - The rules of the Nikolayeff Stock Exchange have a clause added to the effect that non-Christians can at most form only one-third of the Committee.
    This became the standard ratio for most of the Stock Exchange committees, except where still further limitations were introduced.
  • December 18th. - A declaration of the Ministry of the Interior setting forth that a midwife as such has only gained the universal right of residence for her own person, and that, if her husband does not possess the domiciliary privilege, she is forbidden to have her children with her outside the Pale of Settlement.


    The following were the most noteworthy enactments of the year :-

  • April 12th. - Various restrictions proposed by the Imperial Council with regard to military matters receive the Imperial assent. Among these is the order that the family of a Jew who has evaded his military service must pay a fine of 300 roubles. The word "family" in this connection being held to include not only parents, but also grandparents, brothers and other relations, from the nearest to the most distant.
    As a pendant to this, we may mention the order issued by the Army authorities in the same year to the effect that henceforth no Jewish recruits must be enrolled in the commissariat department or as clerks.

  • December 5th. - The Imperial sanction is given to the resolution of the Committee of Ministers that the Ministry of Education shall fix the proportion of Jewish students admitted to the secondary schools, high schools and universities, as follows : within the Pale of Settlement, 10 per cent. of the total; in other places, 5 per cent.; and in St. Petersburg and Moscow, 3 per cent.
    This percentage, which is without regard to the proportion of Jews to the general population in anyone place, is not always adhered to, and a number of the institutions are entirely closed to Jews.

    Of the other troubles which befell the Jews in the course of this year, the most serious were experienced by the inhabitants of the fifty-verst boundary zone. The ambiguously worded enactments relating to this region were now interpreted by the governors of the boundary zone in such a manner that they not only expelled the Jews who had settled there subsequently to the year 1858, but also those who, while having been settled there for many generations, had temporarily left their places of residence since 1858.


    The principal measures were :-

  • January 21st. - A Senatorial resolution to the effect that Jews who have graduated in a university outside Russia do not belong to the privileged class possessing the universal right of residence by virtue of their diplomas, and therefore must not settle outside the Pale of Settlement.

  • January 30th. - A Senatorial decision ruling that Jews who have been exiled to places beyond the Pale of Settlement must not remain there on the expiration of their term of banishment, but immediately return to the Pale.

  • February 16th. - A law forbidding all Jews in Siberia to engage in the distilling or sale of alcoholic liquors.
    This law was made retrospective in its effects, and thus all distilleries owned or rented by Jews in Siberia were abolished. A similar enactment applied to Turkestan, where, in the provinces of Ferghana, Samarkand, and Syr-Daria, Jews who had emigrated from the interior governments were forbidden to work as distillers. In this case, however, an exception was made in favour of the original Jewish inhabitants.

  • March 27th. - A Senatorial decision to the effect that even discharged soldiers of the old regime (i.e., prior to 1874), though belonging to the privileged classes, have no right of residence in the Don Territory.
    The special restriction of 1880 relating to this province had actually mentioned only other privileged categories, but on this occasion the Senate did not abide by the letter of the law. The same fate overtook the privileged class of apothecaries' assistants, dentists, surgeons, and midwives.

  • May 19th. - A decree of the Imperial Council, sanctioned by the Sovereign, removing the district of Rostoff and the township of Taganrog from the government of Ekaterinoslav (in the Pale of Settlement) and annexing it to the Don Territory. All Jews already settled in this region may continue there, all others are amenable to the regulations already in force in the Don Territory, where, according to the law of 1880 and the later Senatorial interpretations, the only Jews privileged to remain in residence are those possessing a university diploma, or who are employed by the State or are owners of real estate.

  • December 29th. - An order deciding in the negative the vexed question whether a Jew inhabiting a village has the right to remove to another village. This is a further restrictive interpretation of Clause I. of the May Laws, affecting all those Jews who were already settled in villages when these laws were promulgated and hitherto were thus exempt.

    Many other judicial oppressions were added to the intolerable burden of the Jews during this year. According to a Senatorial ruling of May 19th, it was decided that the daughters of privileged merchants lose their right of residence on marriage. This point, however, is of trifling importance in comparison with the effects of the Senatorial decisions relating to the boundary zone. These restrictive resolutions had been growing in volume since 1884, and this year the Senate decided that the privileged classes of artisans, merchants of the first Guild, and others enjoying the universal right of residence, were also to be excluded from the boundary zone. The expulsions from the boundary zone attained terrible proportions during this year, which also brought further restrictions concerning the right of Jews to prosecute mining enterprises on uncultivated land belonging to the State, while the admission of Jewish students to the Institute of Civil Engineers at St. Petersburg was limited to 3 per cent. of the total.


    The labours of Pahlen's Commission appointed to settle the Jewish question came to a close in the spring of this year. The majority pronounced themselves in favour of substantial alleviations, but the Russian Government paid no attention to their finding. The most important restrictions were :-

  • March. 21st. - A circular of the General Staff directing that Jewish reservists who have qualified as apothecaries are not to be employed as army dispensers event of mobilisation.

  • June 21st. - The Imperial sanction is given to the enactment prohibiting Jews from settling in Finland.

  • August 6th. - A Senatorial decision to the effect that the purchase of real estate outside the Pale of Settlement is forbidden to Jewish artisans, although they possess the right of residence there.

  • August 21st. - An ordinance forbidding the admission of Jews to the Theatrical Schools of St. Petersburg and Moscow.

  • October 19th. - A Senatorial resolution to the effect that outside the Pale of Settlement a Jew may adopt a co-religionist as his child only when the latter already possesses the universal right of residence.

  • November 12th. - A circular of the Minister of the Interior instructing the governors of provinces that Jews must not be employed as police inspectors or in any similar capacity. A practice which had long been observed thus received the official sanction.

    As in the previous twelvemonth, the expulsions from the boundary zone were carried out with the utmost rigour during 1888. According to a decision of the Senate, ratified on February 22nd, the right of residence in that region belonged only to those Jews who had been registered in the local communes prior to the year 1858. This decision was specially directed against Jews who possessed landed property in the boundary zone.


    This year was marked by the rigorous exclusion of Jews from the legal profession:-

  • February 13th. - An ordinance forbidding the admission of Jews to the Dombroff College of Mines.

  • March 31st. - A decree limiting the number of Jewish stockbrokers in Nikolayeff to one-third of the total. In the following year this regulation is applied to many other stock exchanges (Odessa, Elisavetgrad, Lodz. etc.).

  • May 23rd. - A decision of the Imperial Council prohibiting the acquisition or leasing of landed property by Jews in Turkestan, an exception being made in favour of descendants of the original Jewish inhabitants. *

  • November 8th. - A law to the effect that for Jews to be called to the Bar a special permit from the Minister of Justice is necessary. Later on a special permit is required from the Minister of Finance in the case of solicitors.
    This new regulation, which on paper loses its full significance by the reference to possible permissions, resulted in practice in not a single Jew being admitted to the barristers' profession during fifteen years. Only of late years have occasional exceptions been made.

  • November 27th. - A Senatorial decision ruling that the wives and children of Jews possessing both the right of residence and the right to acquire real estate outside the Pale are excluded from the enjoyment of the latter right.

    This year is distinguished by many further curtailments of rights, as, for instance, the decision that artisans outside the Pale, though provided with the right of domicile, must not engage in trade. Another interpretation of the Senate deprived Jews of the right to be elected presidents of school boards, whether in district or provincial towns. The extent of these judicial persecutions may, perhaps, best be gauged from the fact that henceforth Jews were not allowed to conduct a military band, and that they could form at the most one- third of the number composing such a band. By the Law on Military Duty (January 31st, 1889) Jews were finally deprived of the right - enjoyed by all other Russian subject - to find a substitute (a brother or other relative) when cal1ed out for military service, and this year, too, a stop was put to the admission of Jewish students to the Army Medical College and the Institute of Civil Engineers.

    * It must not be forgotten that the May Laws apply only to the Pale of Settlement, and therefore the interdict on the purchase or leasing of real estate outside of towns and townlets did not affect Jews living to the north or east of the Pale. The privileged classes, in point of fact, availed themselves of this, and bought or leased landed property in the interior governments. This "concession" which only benefited a small number of Jews, underwent however, continual abridgments, until it was finally withdrawn in 1903.


    Of the oppressive measures which became law in the course of this year we give the following:-

  • May 8th. - A Senatorial decision referring to the hundred-verst boundary zone on the Chinese frontier - which, like the western fifty-verst boundary zone, is also closed to Jews - rules that the children of persons banished to Siberia as well as privileged artisans must not settle there.

  • June 12th. - The ratification of a proposal made by the Imperial Council to the effect that henceforth no Jew may take part in the Zemstvo elections or attend the deliberations of these assemblies, nor can they be elected to any office in these bodies.
    This wholly excludes Jews from any form of local self-government except municipal, and even then, as is stated below, their number is limited to one-tenth at the most, and in practice the concession avails little.

  • October 3rd. - A Senatorial "explanation" ruling that Jewish artisans, though enjoying the right of residence throughout the Empire, are deprived of this privilege in Siberia (Law of June 26th, 1891).

    Another restriction imposed upon the Jews, was the order of the Governor-General of Kieff forbidding the wives of poor artisans to sell milk, bread, and other commodities in the market-places of that town. Particularly noteworthy were the important restrictions which this year were introduced into the rules and regulations of joint-stock companies and partnerships, with the object of preventing Jews from acquiring landed property in this roundabout way. In accordance with the May Laws, Jews may neither become directors of companies possessing real property situated outside of towns or townlets in the Pale of Settlement nor own the majority of shares in such companies.


    This year was a year of lamentation and panic, the fears aroused by the wholesale expulsions from Moscow causing no fewer than 76,000 persons to seek refuge in the United States. The following were the most important restrictions introduced during this year:-

  • March 14th. - The restrictions of previous years relating to the sojourn of foreign Jews in the Russian Empire are reduced to law and receive the Imperial assent.
    According to the "alleviating regulation" of this year foreign Jewish representatives of important business firms may receive permission from the Russian Consulates abroad to sojourn in Russia for three months, and may afterwards have this period extended to six months at the most. All other foreign Jews can visit Russia only with the sanction of the Minister of the Interior.
  • March 25th. - An order forbidding "non-Christians" to acquire real estate in the provinces of Akmolinsk, Semipalatinsk, Semirietchensk, Urals and Turgai.

  • March 28th. - An order depriving the privileged category of artisans, mechanics, etc., of the right of residence in the government of Moscow (including the town of Moscow as well). The Jews of this category settled there, numbering with their families ten thousand souls, are expelled without delay.

  • April 3rd. - A Senatorial interpretation decides that Jewish soldiers who have qualified as surgeons during their period of military service do not possess the right of domicile, in contradistinction to those who have graduated in a school of surgery.

  • June 11th. - An Imperial order, following a proposal of the Imperial Council, forbidding Jews to buy, lease or administer agricultural land in the ten Polish governments.
  • - The withdrawal of the right of the Jewish merchants of the first Guild in Kieff to employ Jewish clerks according to their requirements and to obtain for them the right of residence in Kieff. The Governor-General of Kieff is instructed to fix in every case the number of employees allowed.
    Hundreds of families thus forfeited their right of domicile and were immediately expelled from Kieff, the Governor-General proceeding in a most arbitrary manner and allowing only one or two clerks to each Jewish merchant.


    The wellnigh complete exclusion of Jews from municipal self-government was the chief event of this year, but, as will be seen from the following list, many other remnants of their sadly curtailed rights were also swept away:-

  • February 17th. - In accordance with a proposal of the Imperial Council, the mining industry in Turkestan is closed to Jews.

  • April 22nd. - A Senatorial resolution decides the "struggle for the townlets" in the government of Chernigoff in a sense unfavourable to the Jews.
    As related elsewhere, the question at issue concerned a number of places which, in the official "compilation of the urban settlements" had figured as townlets and long been known only as such, but which had preserved their rural form of governments. Under this pretext they were proclaimed to be villages, and thus were included among the places prohibited to Jewish settlement by the May Laws.

  • June 3rd. - An Imperial order, following a proposal of the Imperial Council, to the effect that throughout the governments of Tiflis, Kutais, Baku and Elisavetpol, as well as in the State domains and privately owned lands in the provinces of Kuban and Terek, the acquisition or exploitation of oil-fields by Jews, as well as their administration, shall be allowed only by special permission of the Minister of Agriculture in agreement with the Ministers of the Interior and of Finance, as well as of the Caucasian Commander-in-Chief.
    This decision practically excluded the Jews from participating in the naphtha industry in these regions.

  • June 11th. - A decision of the Imperial Council that Jews shall not take part in municipal elections and that they shall be excluded from municipal administrative positions. Within the Pale, however, the Administration excepts a certain number of Jews who are eligible for election as municipal councillors, but their number must not exceed one-tenth of the whole body, and is to be fixed by the Minister of the Interior.

  • June 18th. - A law establishing a special right of residence for the provinces of Kuban and Terek. The indigenous Jews may remain in the places where they are registered, but only in these places, their liberty of movement being thus restricted. All other Jews, with a few exceptions, are forbidden to settle in these provinces. Even the four privileged categories lose their right here almost entirely, being replaced by the following small groups: possessors of university diplomas, State officials, and owners or leaseholders of landed estates until their alienation or the termination of the lease respectively. At the same time those Jews who are allowed to remain are forbidden to acquire or rent further property.

  • October 15th. - Withdrawal of the right of residence in the government of Moscow (including the town itself) from soldiers of the old regime {the so-called "Nicholas" soldiers, many of whom had served for 25 years).

    How anxious the Russian Government was to get rid of the Jews is shown by its refusal, shortly before this date, of Baron Hirsch's offer of twenty million roubles (£ 2,000,000) to be applied to the higher and technical education of Russian Jews in the Pale of Settlement, and its sanction, shortly afterwards, of the work of the Jewish Colonisation Association in Russia. The government of a country in which emigration is officially forbidden thus sanctions a society whose aim is nothing more or less than to remove the whole Jewish nation from the country, and grants this new departure considerable privileges!


    This year the right of residence again suffered further curtailments, but, as will be seen, there were limitations in other directions as well:-

  • January 14th. - A circular of the Minister of the Interior cancels the orders of the former Ministers Makoff and Tolstoi (April 3rd, 1880 and June 21st, 1882) establishing the principle that all Jews who had settled outside the Pale prior to April 3rd 1880, should be left undisturbed.
    This circular was the cause of many thousand expulsions from places where the authorities had followed the former regulations. It is true that the Jews were usually given a respite until June 1st, 1894, and in extreme cases to June 1st, 1895, but the measure none the less meant utter ruin for most of them.

  • January 27th. - A Senatorial decision in a sense unfavourable to the Jews in reference to "the struggle for the townlets" in the government of Poltava, as in the case of the government of Chernigoff the previous year.

  • May 24th. - An order excluding the health resort of Yalta (the favourite summer residence of the Imperial family in the Crimea) from the Pale of Settlement.

  • October 6th. - A circular of the Medical Department fixing the "percentage rule" for apothecaries' apprentices: at 3 per cent. of the total number in St. Petersburg and Moscow and at 5 per cent. in all other places.

    During this year many additional decisions of the Senate were given against the Jews. For example, wine and corn sorters and several other artisans' occupations were excluded from the privileged categories. The teaching of the Russian language was forbidden in the "Chedarim" or Hebrew private elementary schools.
    In many places the Jews this year suffered much annoyance through their names being changed. They were ordered to give up using the names which many had borne for years, and to adopt once more the humiliating Ghetto denominations (such as Joschko, Moschko, etc.) under which they had been registered in the official records. There were, it must be admitted, many Jews who bore their Ghetto brand with pride and almost with joy.


    Of the codified restrictions imposed upon the Jews in the course of this year the following may be noted:-

  • November 30th. - A Senatorial decision to the effect that the Jews of Kieff cannot become merchants of the first Guild until they have paid their licence in some part of the Pale of Settlement for at least a year.
    This interpretation overtook the Jews of Kieff at a moment when, persecuted owing to their want of the right of residence, many of them, though poorly off, had sought refuge in the payment of the Guild tax in order to qualify for the resIdential right, only to find that in consequence of this fresh measure they were burdened with a double tax before attaining their goal.

  • December 23rd. - A circular of the Minister of the Interior decreeing that Jews who have graduated as veterinary surgeons in a veterinary college are no longer to be admitted to the service of the State.

    Among the many other vexatious measures of this year may be mentioned the Senatorial decision forbidding midwives - who belong to the privileged categories - to keep their parents wIth them, however old and infirm they may be, outside the Pale of Settlement.


    The first year of the reign of Nicholas II was responsible for the following measures:-

  • January 18th. - A Senatorial decision that rabbis possess no right of residence beyond the Pale of Settlement.

  • January 27th. - A Senatorial decision depriving Jews of the right of residence in the fifty-verst boundary zone, even though they are possessed of diplomas procuring them the universal privilege of domicile, unless they are descendants of Jews who have been settled there from time immemorial. The same ruling had been made as far back as 1887 in the case of artisans and merchants of the first Guild.
    The Senatorial decisions in question were mitigated on June 2lst of this year by an Imperial order to the effect that all Jews who (in spite of the expulsions) still remained in the boundary zone on this date were to be exposed to no further persecutions.

  • A circular of the Minister of War instructing the Cossack authorities in the Caucasus and the Don Territory that Jews visiting the Don, Kuban and Terek provinces for the sake of the medicinal waters are to be turned back.

  • September 13th. - A Senatorial decision depriving even Jewish agriculturists of the right to rent land outside the precincts of the towns and townlets. A similar decision of a somewhat later date applies to artisans.


    A relatively temperate year for the Jews in Russia, yet we have to chronicle:-

  • March 9th. - A regulation of the Military Council ordering that Jewish soldiers, unless they belong to the privileged categories, must not spend their furlough outside the Pale of Settlement.

  • November 29th. - A Senatorial decision overtakes the golosh-menders, who are declared not to belong to the artisan class and therefore must be included among those who do not possess the right of residence.

    On the whole, conditions during this twelvemonth were very tolerable for the Jews, but one heavy economic blow was dealt them, for the introduction of the Government spirit monopoly in Western Russia deprived thousands of Jews of their means of livelihood, and unlike their Christian colleagues, they could not find work in a similar capacity under the State.


    While the Russian Jews this year were agitated by great political movements, the legal pogrom continued as before:-

  • January 31st. - A Senatorial decision to the effect that soldiers of the old regime possess no right of residence in the Caucasian provinces of Kuban and Terek.

  • January 31st. - A Senatorial decision according to which ink-makers are not to rank as artisans and consequently do not possess the universal right of domicile. A later interpretation applies the same ruling to tobacco workers.

  • March 26th. - A Senatorial decision that outside the Pale of Settlement students as such (unless they possess a special domiciliary privilege) are entitled to the right of residence only in the university town where they are studying.

  • March 26th. - A Senatorial decision that local Jews belonging to the merchants' corporation of Riga are not entitled to transact business in the district of Riga.

  • June 2nd. - A law to the effect that the admittance of Jewesses to the Women's Higher Institute of Medicine in St. Petersburg is to be limited to 3 per cent. of the total number of students.

  • November 13th. - An Imperial order depriving Jews and Jewesses studying pharmacy, or attending schools of surgery and midwifery respectively of the right to reside in the town or government of Moscow for this purpose.

    This year, as is fully related elsewhere, they went so far as to expel from Moscow merchants of the first Guild, and to arrest persons "of Semitic physiognomy" in the streets in broad daylight, handing them over subsequently to the police to be deported. Some conception of the devastation wrought among the Jewish community of Moscow may be formed from the fact that of five synagogues only one remained, and that the Jewish school, or "Talmud Tora" had been compelled to close its doors. In Siberia, too. where the domiciliary right of the privileged Jews had been questioned or curtailed, the bureaucracy fumed and fretted, and wholesale expulsions were the rule. In Tomsk alone some 800 Jewish families who possessed real estate were on this account victimised and driven out.


    In this year we may note the following restrictive measures:-

  • February 18th, April 14th, and December 8th. - A Senatorial decision to the effect that fish-curers, piano-tuners and land surveyors do not belong to the privileged artisan categories, and are therefore declared to be of non-privileged occupations, thus possessing no right of residence beyond the Pale of Settlement.

  • According to an earlier law, merchants of the first Guild, after paying the Guild tax outside the Pale of Settlement for ten years consecutively, gained the universal right of residence even when they ceased to belong to the Guild. On February 27th a Senatorial interpretation of the law limits this privilege to the town where the Guild tax has been paid.

  • March 18th. - A Senatorial decision extends the restrictions relating to the right of residence in Kuban and Terek also to all artisans who have not been assigned to this region. Two years later (January 18th, 1900) a similar decision is applied to merchants of the first Guild.

  • November 25th. - A Senatorial decision decides that Jews who are natives of Riga are not entitled to live in Livonia, but only in Riga and its suburbs.

  • December 18th. - A Senatorial decision stating that the right of residence throughout the Empire which has been granted to various categories does not extend to Siberia.


    This year saw the following restrictions added to the Code:-

  • January 22nd. - An Imperial order to the effect that in the government of Moscow Jews can be registered as merchants of the Guild only by permission of the Minister of Finance and of the Governor-General of Moscow.

  • May 19th. - A Senatorial decision to the effect that the manufacture of mineral water, not being a handicraft, ranks among the non-privileged occupations and, therefore, does not confer the right of residence outside the Pale of Settlement.

  • May 28th. - A Senatorial decision that outside the Pale of Settlement the right of residence is vested only in those Jewish domestic servants whose masters possess university diplomas. No other categories of privileged Jews can transfer their domiciliary right to their servants.

  • October 6th. - A Senatorial decision stating that certificates gained by Jewish artisans in Courland are not valid for the rest of the Empire, thus depriving of their right of residence all Jewish artisans from Courland, unless they care to undergo the long and weary process of earning fresh certificates - an impossible task for most of them.

  • October 14th. - A Senatorial decision according to which artisans living beyond the Pale of Settlement are not entitled to sell their own products in any other place than where they are domiciled.

    Amongst the other vexatious measures of this year we may chronicle the Senatorial decree of December 1st forbidding Jewish villagers to remove to a neighbouring village even in the same parish, unless the new village is distant from the old less than three versts. Another order trenching upon the domiciliary privilege was to the effect that attendance at a school of dentistry confers no right of residence upon the students. About this period the last remaining elective offices were closed to the Jews. Thus, on December 20th, the Imperial Council declared that Jews must not accept positions as representatives of a municipal bank.

    1900 - 1902.

    We have only the following important measures to place on record:-

  • May 28th, 1900. - An Imperial order forbidding the entry, in the Government register of nobles, of Jews who have acquired a hereditary title of nobility.

  • June 5th, 1900. - A Senatorial decision running counter to earlier Senatorial decisions and ruling that compositors, as not belonging to the artisan class, possess no right of residence beyond the Pale of Settlement.

  • November 28th, 1901. - A Senatorial decision to the effect that a Jew inheriting a title of nobility does not on that account possess the right to serve the State, unless he is also the possessor of a university degree.

  • December 19th, 1901. - A Senatorial decision that descendants of Jews exiled to Siberia, as well as descendants of persons transplanted there by Nicholas I., may not settle in any part of Siberia they choose, but only in that particular district where they have been registered.

  • November 29th. 1902. - A Senatorial resolution according to which dentists, surgeons and midwives possess the right of residence beyond the Pale only while they are exclusively engaged in their own callings.

    During these three years numerous "percentage" regulations (from 5 per cent. to 50 per cent.) were introduced into a number of newly founded schools, especially commercial institutions.

    1903 To the Present Day

    By an order of May 10th, 1903, Jews were forbidden to purchase, lease, or manage estates beyond the Pale. This was the final stroke in the exclusion of Jews from the possession and enjoyment of real property in any part of Russia beyond the towns and townlets of the Pale. In 1905, a commission was once more appointed to inquire into the Jewish question, and the Government held out a promise of revising the legal status of Russian Jews and minimising the terrible disabilities under which they labour, but the high hopes raised in the Ghetto by this announcement were soon dashed to the ground. Even the oft-quoted Stolypin circular of May 22nd, 1907, ordering that the expulsions of Jews settled without the Pale should cease, became in the hands of an ill-disposed bureaucracy a powerful weapon against the Jews. Both the original circular and the "supplementary" circular of 1909 - with their ambiguous wording, so characteristic of Russian legislative enactments - were interpreted in such a manner as to intensify the persecution of the Jews. A riot of expulsions ensued, and these increased with every year, culminating in the wholesale proscriptions of 1910, which overtook the Jews in every part of the Empire, and continued well into the following year. In 1909, restrictions were placed upon Jews frequenting summer and health resorts, and frequent expulsions followed, many invalids being among the victims of this senseless tyranny. All these restrictions, however, pale into insignificance in comparison with the universal extension of the iniquitous "percentage rule", which in 1910 was applied to schools of surgery, midwifery and dentistry, with their resultant decay and ruin. Recently it has overtaken the commercial schools, well-nigh the last line of defence in Jewish education. In the autumn of 1909 the proportion of Jewish admissions to these schools, many of them founded and maintained by Jewish money, was fixed at a maximum of 15 per cent.