(alternatively spelled Dubnov
: Семен Маркович Дубнов; September 10 1860
–December 8 1941
) was a Jewish
historian, writer and activist.
Simon Dibnow was born Shimon Meyerovich Dubnow (Шимон Меерович Дубнов) to a large poor family in the Belarusian
town of Mstislavl
region). After receiving a traditional Jewish education in a heder
and a yeshiva,
Dubnow entered into a kazyonnoe yevreyskoe uchilishche
(state Jewish school) where he learned the Russian language
. In the midst of his education, the May Laws
eliminated these Jewish institutions, and Dubnow was unable to graduate; Dubnow persevered, independently pursuing his interests in history
, and linguistics
. He was particularly fascinated by Heinrich Graetz
and the Wissenschaft des Judentums
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 atPetrograd University.
In 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.
Dubnow was 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
- Dubnow's biography
- Simon Dubnow Institute
- Works by Simon Dubnow at Project Gutenberg
- The Doctrine of Jewish Nationalism, By Simon Dubnow
- The Jews As A Spiritual Nationality in the Midst of Political Nations, By Simon Dubnow
- The Ethics of Nationalism, By Simon Dubnow
- Autonomism, The Basis of The National Program, By Simon Dubnow
- On National Education, By Simon Dubnow
- Reality and Fantasy In Zionism, By Simon Dubnow
- The Jewish Nationality Now and in The Future, By Simon Dubnow
- The Affirmation of The Diaspora, By Simon Dubnow
- A Historic Moment, By Simon Dubnow
- The Moral of Stormy Days, By Simon Dubnow
- THe Moral of Stormy Days continued
- On The Supremacy of National Politics In The Life of An Oppressed Nationality, By Simon Dubnow
- On The Tasks of The Folspartay, By Simon Dubnow
- The Emancipation Movement and The Emigration Movement, By Simon Dubnow
- Negation and Affirmation of The Diaspora in Ahad Haam's Thought, By Simon Dubnow
- History of the Jewish people (original in German: Weltgeschichte des Jüdischen Volkes, "История еврейского народа") in 10 volumes, 1929
- The newest history of the Jewish people, 1789–1914 (Die neueste Geschichte des Jüdischen Volkes, "Новейшая история еврейского народа"), in three volumes, updated in 1938.
- A History of Hassidism (Geschichte des Chassidismus), 1888.
- Jewish history textbook (Учебник еврейской истории) in 3 volumes, 1901
- My life ("Моя жизнь"), Berlin, 1937