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From RAGAS Newsletter

Patricia Eames Editor


All Rights Reserved. First printed in the RAGAS Newsletter of Summer 1996

Volume II, Number 2

Reprinted with the permission.

May not be reproduced without permission.

For centuries the lands lying along the northern shores of the Black Sea were settled by alternating layers of Greeks, Persians, Romans, Goths, Huns, Mongols, Turks, and Tatars. Finally, under the treaties of Kuchuk_Kainarji (1774) and Jassy (1792) Empress Catharine II expelled the Ottoman Turks and annexed the Crimea, bringing an end to the Tatar Khanate. This new Russian territory along the Black Sea from the Dneister River in the west to beyond the Crimea in the east became the new imperial province named Novorossia (New Russia). This vast new colonial territory presented opportunities which some Europeans likened to the American frontier. In the late 18th century Catharine II had issued a manifesto inviting prosperous German farmers to settle along the Volga River, not only to develop and improve agriculture in the area but also to provide a buffer zone against invading Asiatic tribes. The success of this venture encouraged the adoption of similar policies in Novorossia where agricultural colonization was encouraged at the beginning of the 19th century. Immigrant settlers from Germany, Greece, Switzerland and France, were invited to join Armenians, Tatars, Polish exiles, Cossacks and Russian peasants in colonizing the province. The city of Odessa was founded in 1794 and became the seat of government for the Due de Richelieu, the Governor General of Novorossia. And as the German colonies were gathering strength in Bessarabia and southern Russia, Czar Alexander I enacted a plan which would answer another problem: by the resettlement of the Jewish population from the Pale of Settlement, the economic and political conditions of Jews would be improved. Jews had lived in the Black Sea areas for centuries; the most famous sect, the Karaim, arrived in the Crimea in the 12th century. The Enactment of December 9, 1804, defined five classes of Jews: petit bourgeoisie, artisans, tradesmen, manufacturers, and agriculturalists. To encourage agricultural colonization in Novorossia, they were allowed to buy or rent lands for cultivation in Kherson and Yelizavetgrad. The Jewish colonists were to be exempt from taxes for 10 years, after which they would be taxed the same as other groups. eliminating the standard double_tax for Jews in other parts of the Empire The government would aid those who could not afford lo bu\ orrent land by allotting them government land. In 1806 the first colonists from Vitebsk and Mogilev established the first agricultural colonies in Kherson. A more detailed account of the Jewish agricultural colonies can be found in The Jewish Encyclopedia, edited by Isidore Singer. Volume I, pp. 252_256.There were three periods during which Jewish agricultural colonization was officially encouraged, then discontinued, with the final era being the one which promoted the settlement of Siberia. The following list, compiled by Vlad Soshnikov in the regional archive of Dnepropetrovsk, is a partial sampling of the records available concerning this program.


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