The Radicalization of Students and Apprentices

Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements book series (PSHSM)


There were two kinds of Jewish elementary and high school students in Russia – regular students and externs. The regular students studied in established educational institutions; externs, as already mentioned, wished to do so but were rejected due to the quota allotted to Jews. Since they still wanted to get a certificate and the employment that could help them continue with their studies, they studied by themselves, hoping eventually to enter a higher grade or pass the exams and get a certificate directly. The aspiring regular students had to find a school in which the Jewish quota had not yet been met and the externs needed a place where discrimination against the Jews during exams would be less harsh, so the students often lived away from home. Both types of students had families who could barely support them, if at all. Although it was easier for regular students to find employment giving private lessons, both types led a precarious existence.


Jewish Community Jewish Identity Ethnic Discrimination Youth Community Jewish Student 
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  1. 2.
    The task was indeed extremely difficult for the poor. For example, the historian Simon M. Dubnov, during an earlier period, never achieved this goal even though he tried repeatedly for four years. Simon M. Dubnov, Kniga zhizni (Moscow, 2004). Of course the refusal by Dubnov’s family to pay the necessary bribes had an important part in this. The people discussed here could not afford to pay bribes.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    This approach to membership in different political organizations was prevalent among contemporary militants at large, not only the Jewish ones. See Ascher, The Revolution of 1905, Vol. 1, pp. 184–5; and especially on Social Democrats workers’ affiliation to Mensheviks or Bolsheviks, see S. V. Tiutiukin, Menshevism: stranitsy istorii (Moscow, 2002), p. 69.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    The students studied by themselves using official textbooks and attempted each year to pass the final examinations. A student with a certificate noting four years of gymnasium could reasonably hope to support himself or herself by giving private lessons. More ambitious students kept taking the entrance examinations hoping to gain a place at the gymnasium, although perhaps not in the first, but the second or the third grade. Attaining a good grade, as with Gillerson, did not mean that they were accepted. They could study in private schools, if the family had the funds (most families did not), and they could then hope to continue their studies at an institute of higher education, whether in Russia where they again had to deal with the quota issue or abroad. Things were easier for girls, since they had to deal only with family reluctance to invest money in their education and with local anti-Semitism rather than the considerably less harsh official discrimination. Such discrimination did exist, as pointed out by Eliyana R. Adler, In her Hands: The Education of Jewish Girls in Tsarist Russia (Detroit, IL, 2011).Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Vladimir Levitskii, Za chetvert’ veka (Moscow, 1926–27), pp. 128–9.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    This difference in opinion between the intellectual elite and the other activists was present in other parties as well. When the Socialist Revolutionary Party asked a group of its young activists studying in Germany to give up their studies to work for the party in Russia, they refused, claiming that they needed a good educational background for their political work. The group included such future leaders of the party as Nikolai Avksentiev, Vladimir Zenzinov and Ilia Fondaminskii. Viktor Chernov, Pered burei (Minsk, 2004), pp. 191–2 and 208. In his memoirs, Chernov approved of their decision.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Inna Shtakser 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael

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