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Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev

(1827 – 1907)

Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev was a Russian statesman and jurist. From 1860 until 1865 he was professor of civil law at the University of Moscow. During the years 1880 to 1905, Pobedonostsev acted as Supreme Prosecutor of the Holy Synod, a function which resembled that of minister of religious affairs, except that his behind-the-scenes influence on the czar and the government greatly surpassed his official responsibilities. Pobedonostsev fostered the idea of maintaining a regime of absolute power, with the support of the police and the Church, and strove for the Russification of all the peoples of Russia. Under his influence the Synod intensified its persecutions of the sects that had broken away from the official Church as well as other religions. In 1905, with the partial victories of the revolutionary movement and the limitations on the czar's absolute power, Pobedonostsev resigned from his duties. His hatred of the Jews stemmed from the belief that, because the Jews were a more talented people than the Russians, it was likely that in time they would dominate the latter both materially and intellectually.

Pobedonostsev supported the anti-Jewish legislation ("*May Laws") of 1882, and the law of 1887 limiting the percentage of Jews in schools, and he rejected decisions of the Pahlen Commission of 1887 which might be considered favorable to Jews. In 1891 he supported the program of Baron *Hirsch for the emigration of 3 million Jews from Russia within 25 years. He objected to the idea that the *Jewish Colonization Association (ICA) be granted authorization to settle Jews on land within the Russian Empire. The famous remark concerning the fate of the Jews of Russia – "One-third will die, one third will leave the country, and the last third will be completely assimilated within the Russian people" – has been attributed to Pobedonostsev. Collections of his letters and other writings which reveal much of his thought have been published (e.g., K.P. Pobedonostsev i yego korrespondenty, 1923), along with a memoir, Reflections of a Russian Statesman (1898).


A.V. Amfiteatrov, Pobedonostsev (Rus., 1907).

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.