BERTENSOHN, VASILI ALEKSEYEVICH:
By: Herman Rosenthal
Russian agriculturist; born in Odessa Sept. 12, 1860. He belongs to the hereditary nobility, his father, Dr. Aleksei Vasilievich Bertensohn, having been a state councilor and knight of the Order of St. Vladimir. Vasili graduated from the technical high school of Odessa in 1879, studied for a year at the Imperial New-Russian University at Odessa, and then at the Petrovsko-Razumovskoye Agricultural Academy in Moscow, whence he graduated in 1884. From 1885 to 1894 Bertensohn was attached to the Department of State Domains, and was stationed at Odessa as adviser to the superintendent of the governments of Kherson and Bessarabia. He was at the same time secretary to the Odessa committees on phylloxera and sericulture, and undertook several agricultural commissions for the department.
In 1889 Bertensohn was commissioned to western Europe for the purpose of studying the conditionsof sericulture and viticulture. In 1893 he was appointed agricultural expert to the southern governments, and commissioned to investigate the needs of sericulture and other agricultural problems in those districts. The following year, Bertensohn was made an extra official in the Department of Agriculture and State Domains, in addition to his other appointments. In 1900 he became chief expert on agriculture to the governments of Podolia and Volhynia, and chief expert on sericulture in South Russia. He is the representative of the Department of Agriculture and State Domains in connection with the various agricultural institutions of Odessa; and was commissioned by his department to inspect the agricultural section of the Paris Exposition of 1900.
Bertensohn is an aulic councilor and knight of the orders of St. Stanislav and St. Anne. He was also decorated by Emperor Alexander III. with his "commemoration" medal; and Bertensohn's department has awarded him a special medal for his services to agriculture. In connection with Jewish charitable institutions Bertensohn has been very active. The farm of the Odessa Hebrew Orphan Asylum was organized on lines proposed by him, and he superintended it for a considerable time. In 1893, at the invitation of Baron de Hirsch, he visited Paris and London for the purpose of joining in the deliberations on the proposal to establish Jewish colonies in the Argentine Republic. He was offered the position of superintendent of the agricultural sections of these colonies, but did not accept it.
Bertensohn has been a prolific contributor to the agricultural journals "Zemledyelcheskaya Gazeta," "Zemledyelie," and the "Odesski Vyestnik," as well as to several periodicals. On agricultural education, in connection with the Jewish question, he has published essays in the "Voskhod" and "Odesski Vyestnik." Many of these have been issued in pamphlet form; among them "Vinogradarstvo na Peshchannoi Pochvye," "Shelkovodstvo v Khersonskoi, Bessarabskoi i Tavricheskoi Guberniakh," and "Polskaya Pshenitza."
- Vengerov, Kritiko-Biograficheski Slovar, iii., St. Petersburg, 1892; and private sources.