|In 1880 Dubnow used
forged documents to move to St. Petersburg, officially off-limits to
Jews. Jews were generally restricted to small towns in the Pale of
Settlement, unless they had been discharged from the military, were
employed as doctors or dentists, or could prove they were 'cantonists',
university graduates or merchants belonging to the two upper guilds.
Soon after moving to St. Petersburg Dubnow's publications appeared
in the press, including the leading Russian–Jewish magazine
Voskhod. In 1890, the Jewish population was expelled from the
capital city, and Dubnow too was forced to leave. He settled in
Odessa and continued to publish studies of Jewish life and
history, coming to be regarded as an authority in these areas.
Throughout his active participation in the contemporary social
and political life of the Russian Empire, Dubnow called for
modernizing Jewish education, organizing Jewish self-defense
against pogroms, and demanding equal rights for Russian Jews,
including the right to vote.
In 1906 he was allowed back into St
Petersburg, where he founded and directed the Jewish
Literature and Historical-Ethnographic Society and edited the
Jewish Encyclopedia. In the same year, he founded the
Folkspartei (Jewish People's Party), which successfully worked
for the election of MPs and municipal councillors in interwar
Lithuania and Poland. After 1917 Dubnow became a Professor of
Jewish history at Petrograd University.
1922 he emigrated to Kaunas (Kovno) and later to Berlin. His
magnum opus was the ten volume History of the Jewish people,
first published in German in 1925-1929.
In August 1933, after
Adolf Hitler came to power, Dubnow moved to Riga, Latvia. Nazi
troops occupied Riga in July 1941, and Dubnow, with thousands of
other Jews, was transferred to the Riga ghetto. According to Riga's
few remaining survivors, Dubnow repeated to ghetto inhabitants: "Yidn,
shreibt un fershreibt" (Yiddish: "Jews, write and record"). On
December 8, 1941,Simon Dubnow was among thousands of Riga ghetto
Jews rounded up for the Rumbula massacre. Too sick to travel to the
forest, he was executed in the ghetto and buried in a mass grave.
ambivalent toward Zionism, and completely rejected assimilation.
He believed that the future survival of the Jews as a nation
depended on their spiritual and cultural strength, and self-rule in
the Diaspora. This ideology, known as Jewish Autonomism, was widely
popular during Dubnow's time, and adopted in various versions in the
platforms of Jewish parties such as the Bund. However, after the
Holocaust Autonomism practically disappeared from Jewish philosophy.
Next: "Professor Simon Dubnow and His Final Journey" from the
Max Kaufmann book "Churbn Lettland: The Destruction of the Jews of