Biography of Mordehaj Zeev (Vladimir) Havkin
Born Vladimir Aaronovich Havkin (Russian: Владимир Ааронович Хавкин), the fourth of five children in a family of a Jewish schoolmaster in Odessa, Russian Empire (now Ukraine), he received his education in Odessa, Berdyansk and St. Petersburg.
For a short time, young Haffkine was a member of Narodnaya Volya, but after the group turned to terrorism against public officials, he broke up with the revolutionary movement. He was also a member of the Jewish League for Self-Defense. Haffkine was injured while defending a Jewish home during a pogrom. As a result of this action he was arrested but later released due to the intervention of Ilya Mechnikov.
Haffkine continued his studies with famous biologist Ilya Mechnikov, but after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, the government increasingly cracked down on people it considered suspicious, including intelligentsia. Mechnikov left the country for Pasteur Institute in Paris.
In 1888, Haffkine was allowed to emigrate to Switzerland and began his work at the University of Geneva. In 1889 he joined Mechnikov and Louis Pasteur in Paris.