Interesting Characters of History
#1
In a similar vein to the old amarna thread, post about characters of History that you find interesting.

While reading Kotkin's Stalin biography, I came across this quote about Pyotr Stolypin, the prime minister of the Empire of Russia right after the failed Russian Revolution of 1905:

"His [Stolypin's] influential top domestic adviser, a former rabbi converted to Orthodoxy, was an anti-Semite, but the prime minister also tried to ease residence, occupational, and educational restrictions on Jews, for both principled and instrumentalist reasons, to diminish the perceived cause of Jewish radicalism and improve Russia’s image abroad."

This former rabbi converted to Orthodoxy is actually Ilia Iaklovlevich Gurliand (1868-19??), verily an apostate Jew, although not a former rabbi, being only part of a rabbinical family as his father and uncle were both prominent religious leaders in the Pale of Settlement, with his uncle even authoring a seven-volume history of the Jews in Russia between the 17th and 18th centuries. So, a man with such strong Jewish heritage became a high-ranking advisor of the prime minister of Russia in the critical lapse of time before the First World War, being so close to Stolypin that they "finished each other's sentences" (as reported by Gurliand's wife), in a time when Jews were explicitly prohibited of occupying state positions and even converts were viewed with suspicion, just to serve as the State's Official anti-Semite, out-maneuvering the proto-Fascist wing of Imperial Russia in favor of the Liberal reformer prime minister (it is unclear if Gurliand was a sincere force for antisemitism or simply a stooge with anti-anti-Semitic goals). 

Obviously, he converted to Orthodoxy, but we can only imagine the strength of his parricidal drive as he renounced his religious duty and continued to further christianize himself. He was the first of the family to get a secular education when he became a summa cum laude graduate of Law with a dissertation on the Roman jurist Gaius in 1891. In the meantime he continued to excel in his Law career, writing several law tracts and even some fiction, and working as a minor civil servant. He most probably converted right before being made Professor of Law in Kiev University, as it only accepted Christians. From then on a rapid ascension to a post in the Council of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1907 with the full sponsoring of B. V. Stürmer, a prominent conservative statesman who took a liking for him when he did government work in Yaroslav, when Stürmer was the state's governor. 

By this time, Gurliand had a strong influence on Stolypin. According to Abraham Ascher in his book P. A. Stolypin: The Search for Stability in Late Imperial Russia, he served as his main advisor for all the important subjects of electoral reform, provincial reform, administrative procedures, the agrarian question, the labor movement, and the nationalities question. He regularly drafted Stolypin's speeches and legislative proposals or bills for submission to the Duma, and, in a most colorful way, acted as a pseudonymous writer for the press to serve as a surreptitious voice of the Government. Gurliand was specially positioned to this task as he had a great talent for polemics and kept great attention to the political scene, receiving direct reports of political agents from the police and other government institutions, and promoted connections inside the different political groups of the Empire.

The most notable of his contributions to the polemical press of the day was in promoting virulent antisemitism in a way that was untraceable to Stolypin. As the Russian statesman was simply too much of a philo-Semite, he applied Gurliand (through the pseudonym of N.P. Vasilev) to voice fiery anti-Semitic views as a way of placating the Russian Right (whose most sophisticated parts would know that the real writer was Gurliand, Stolypin's right hand man) and to still have a ambiguous distance from it, in such a way that Stolypin would be protected from right wing criticisms of Jewish favoring by the government and left wing criticisms of Jew bashing. In a popular brochure, Gurliand accused the main opposition parties of being anti-Russia and controlled by Jews. Gurliand attacked the left wing parties with great effect. He said of the Kadet party's left wing, one of the biggest opposition parties at the time, that "The overwhelming majority of this group is, of course, Jewish. To be exact, as we have said above - the militant sector of the Jewish intelligentsia." and that this Jewish intelligentsia "... was irreconcilably hostile to the Russian people, whom it considered to be dull, stupid, talentless... [the Jewish intelligentsia] hates Russia, the Russian double-headed eagle, the glory and power of Russia, [and] its importance among European States." (the reader may imagine Gurliand winking to you as he says this).

This maverick intrigue had its limits, of course, it was directed to influence prominent citizens and politicians and may have be a method too convoluted for the new democratic masses: The biggest rightist party, the Union of The Russian People, refused any kind of liaison with him as he was still a Jew, no matter how Christian, no matter how anti-Semitic. Again, isn't there something Jewish about being the State's official anti-Semite? And then still being snubbed by the Goy?

I didn't find much of him apart from this. The guy doesn't even have a Wikipedia page and is relegated as a passing anecdote of Stolypin's ministry even in face of his supposed great influence on him. It illustrates how Interesting Characters of History® can have a relevant impact on the making of the world and still be forgotten to the sands of time.

As of Stolypin, he was murdered in 1911 by Jewish revolutionary Dmitry Bogrov.
#2
i knew a guy with webbed toes in highschool.. thats about it though


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