Long before the socialist movement, and then parallel with it, there were movements in Russia whose objective was a democratic free state. But not until the 20th century did the absolutism of the czars yield to the pressure of all strata of Russian society, and then only to a very limited degree, when (in 1905) Russia established a popular, although weak representation in government. Until the March Revolution of 1917 four Dumas tried, in the face of tremendous difficulties and handicaps, to undertake legislation.
The Mennonites had, of course, no representatives in the Duma elected specifically by them; nevertheless there were two Mennonite representatives who had their interests at heart and defended them. They were the landowners Hermann A. Bergmann of the province of Ekaterinoslav and Peter P. Schröder of the Crimea. The former was a member of both the third and fourth Dumas, the latter only of the last. Bergmann belonged to the Octobrist Party, whose aim it was to bring into actuality the October Manifesto (1905) granting a constitution, but which again and again turned to a reactionary course. Schröder was a member of the Cadets Party. Both representatives worked only in committees and used their influence especially in working out a liberal solution to religious freedom preparatory to passing a law on the question. Bergmann became a tragic victim of the Revolution of 1917.
In the elections for the new national assembly of 1917, the Mennonites tried hard to elect a representative, combining with the other German elements for this purpose, but failed in spite of their hard campaigning in the summer of 1917.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 485 f.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 108. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Unruh, Benjamin H. "Duma." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 18 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/duma.
APA style: Unruh, Benjamin H. (1956). Duma. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/duma.