Thursday, December 8, 2016

Simon Dubnow (died December 8, 1941)

Simon Dubnow -- from
In Ha'aretz today: a brief biography of Simon Dubnow.

Dubnow was the author of A World History of the Jewish People, a pioneering book, which was published between 1925 and 1929. Born in 1860 in what is now Belarus, Dubnow acquired a secular/Russian education. He resided at various times in St. Petersburg, Odessa, Berlin, and Riga, depending on where he could have the freedom to live and write.

From the article -- "This Day in Jewish History 1941: Nazis Murder a Great Historian in the Street" -- a few paragraphs:
"After the post-1881 crackdown on Jews in the empire, ... Dubnow began to educate himself, reading widely in philosophy and economics. While still young, he realized he did not believe in God, though later as a historian, he would recognize religion's role in preserving Jewish identity. Only in 1887, however, did he decide to focus on Jewish history. ... 
"The Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 initially gave him optimism that Jews could be accepted into society, but ongoing anti-Semitism made him consider a solution other than integration. Though sympathetic to Zionism – a “beautiful messianic dream,” he called it – Dubnow was sure that large numbers of Jews would never agree to move to Palestine. Neither did he believe that salvation would come via either socialism or assimilation. .... 
Dubnow... was murdered ... either by a Latvian guard or a Gestapo officer who, according to one version, was a former student of his. The legend says that the great historian, just before his death, turned to other Jews surrounding him and implored them: 'If you survive, never forget what is happening here, give evidence, write and rewrite, keep alive each word and each gesture, each cry and each tear!'"

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