Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Ignatyev and Ignatieff

I'm not one who believes the sins, or triumphs, of our ancestors should reflect on later generations. It's one reason I'm not very keen on the likes of lineage societies, or "Australian royalty."

Reading East End 1888, by William J Fishman, I was brought up short by a sentence in the middle of page 142:
"On 10 August (1888) the Jewish Chronicle, quoting from correspondence from St. Petersburg, confirmed that mass expulsions from Southern Russia ('the outcome of Count Ignatieff's aim to make life in Russia impossible for the Jews'), affected 100,000 - 200,000 of the miserable victims."   
It stuck in my mind, and came back to me when Andrew Hunter, blog reader, sent a reference to a Wikipedia article on Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev which notes that his great-grandson Michael Ignatieff is the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Quoting from that item:
"Shortly after the accession of Alexander III in 1881, he was appointed Minister of the Interior on the understanding that he would carry out a nationalist, reactionary policy. After a period of intense, violent, destructive antisemitic rioting, known as pogroms, which some accused Ignatyev of fomenting, he issued the infamous "May Laws" in May 1882. Other sources suggest he in fact followed a government policy (not always enforced by local authorities) of strict suppression of rioters and protection of the Jewish population:
Nikolai Ignatiev, installed as Minister of the Interior in May 1881, decided on a policy of firm repression, although it was made difficult by the unforeseeable character of the outbreaks and his limited forces. Nevertheless, he ordered his men to fire upon rioters. In the towns of Borisov and Nezhin this resulted in fatalities. In Kiev, 1400 arrests were made. Many in the government felt this was still inadequate. The police chief of Kiev wrote apologetically to the Tsar that the local military tribunals had been too lenient with the rioters; Alexander III wrote in the margin: “This is inexcusable!”[1]
He retired from office in June 1882 .... after that time he exercised no important influence in public affairs."
There's a gap between 1882, when Nikolai Ignatiev was in office and the 1888 Jewish Chronicle items. Can anyone enlighten me?

I've previously blogged about Michael Ignatieff's ancestry.


Anonymous said...

Why are you bringing this up in the middle of an election campaign? Are you suggesting that the sins of the father are relevant to the son?

JDR said...

No. I deliberately said that's not the case! However, I did get an email on the topic and it fit in with something I'd read elsewhere.