The Russian Civil War, which lasted from November 1917 to June 1923, marked the beginning and end of a great many stories. On the one hand, the war led to the eventual creation of the Soviet Union; on the other, it caused great pain and suffering for many people involved. Such was the case of Jews who had fled the chaos of the Russian Civil War before 1920 and had taken refuge in Mongolia, which was, at that time, under the leadership of the Bogd Khan.
Bogd Khan sympathized with the people displaced and exploited because of the western revolutions and decided to bestow non-ethnic foreign advisors and personalities with titles with foreign denominations, most commonly Baron, to ensure the much-needed knowledge and defense against the exploitative goals of invaders.
Bogd Khan fostered great admiration for the first Bogd Gegen Zanabazar (1723), as Zanabazer was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan via his grandfather. Bogd Khan was sentimental about the symbolism of uniting Buddhism and the spirit of the father of the Mongolian nation, Genghis Khan, especially because this was a period of turbulence in Mongolian history. Those closest to Bogd Khan received the honor of changing their names to abbreviations of the names of the former 7 Bogd Gegens by using the first three and last three letters of the name.
The most emblematic hereditary aristocratic title of Ashan-i Hafan (男爵; the baron equivalent) was awarded to Alexander Zanzer, who took the name ‘Zanzer’ from Zanabazar, the name of the first Bogd Khan. The title has since been passed on to his grandson, Alexander Zanzer, who has continued his grandfather’s legacy as a diplomat, journalist, and social entrepreneur.
Baron Alexander Zanzer was born on February 11, 1965, in Moldova. He, however, relocated to Belgium when he was five years old and attended the University of Antwerp, receiving a degree of license in economics and diplomatic relations. He completed his master’s in business administration in 1991 and holds a Ph.D. in developing economies. In 2001, Alexander Zanzer was nominated by President Enkhbayar as Honorary Consul of Mongolia to Belgium. From 2004 to 2011, he served in this position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mongolia. He also served as the general director of the Royal Society of Jewish Welfare as a moral prolongation of its founder, Nico Gunzburg, an emigrated Jewish economist and diplomat. Alexander Zanzer’s heraldic coat of arms bears the words “Kennen is kunnen” (to know is to be able to). In French, however, “Savoir est Pouvoir” has double meanings: “knowledge is power, and knowledge makes capable.”
Zanzer is also the co-founder and producer of the Jewish News One channel and co-founder of the European Jewish Parliament. He was awarded the distinction of Knight in the Order of Leopold II by King Albert II of Belgium in 2005, the Honored Medal by President Nambaryn Enkhbayar of Mongolia in 2006, and the distinction of Officer in the Order of Leopold II by King Philip of Belgium in the same year.
The single act of recognizing and honoring people who sought refuge in your country, with time, developed into an alliance between the Jews and Mongols, continued to this day by people such as Baron Alexander Zanzer, who have made sure to uphold the values of his ancestors; that is probably why, to this day, Israel and Mongolia have a mutual agreement for visa exemptions.