Anarchists in the Gulag (and prison and exile)

Bolshevik repression of anarchists after 1917

Posts Tagged ‘Russian anarchists

Non Varshavskiy: Postcards from a ship-wrecked anarchist in East Siberian exile

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Anarchist Non (Noi) Ilyich Varshavskiy was imprisoned in 1927 for producing a leaflet protesting against then-imminent execution of Italian-American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, which also called on proletarians to protest against persecution of anarchists in the USSR. (http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/v15gb3) After serving a three-year sentence at the Suzdal political isolator, Varshavskiy was internally exiled to a remote village in sub-Arctic East Siberia, Komsa, from which he reported on his ordeals to the Relief Fund of the International Working Men’s Association (IWMA) for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia in a series of postcards in 1932-1933. He was sentenced to three more years in Siberian exile in July 1933 (http://lists.memo.ru/d6/f207.htm), arrested again in 1949, and sentenced to 10 more years of exile in East Siberia as a “socially dangerous element”. Non Varshavskiy was only cleared of charges in 1955.

Komsa village, March 11, 1932

Dear David! Only now did I receive your postcard from the postman, and I am immensely glad. As the postman would be leaving soon (you should be familiar with the postal conditions in Turukhansky Krai), I hurry to fill this little postcard, seeing that I would write in more detail later. For now I only inform you that I received the parcel, and it made me extremely glad as a greeting from friends so distant and at the same time so near. My address: Podkamennaya Tunguska post office, Turukhansky Krai, stanok Komsa. Warm greetings to all. Well, so more details with next post. I strongly shake all hands.

Non.

[postal stamp: Yeniseysk]

From: N.I. Varshavskiy, Turukhansky Krai, Podkamennaya Tunguska post office, stanok Komsa

To: France, Paris 4, 11 rue Geoffroy L’Angevin, J. Doubinsky *

notes: replied (in pen)

Komsa, March 11, 1932

Only a few hours have passed since I sent a little postcard, and although I do not know when I would be able to send this one (the postman promised to return not earlier than March 20), I still could not resist spoiling another one. I will start from myself. I am feeling really great, no health problems either; I’m not doing anything. For now, I am collecting joiner’s and carpenter’s tools little by little and I think of retraining. As you know, my regular profession is stereotypography. Obviously, I had to say goodbye to it “seriously and for a long time”; I got tired of working menial jobs – it is both hard, and very badly paid.

The encampment where I live is located 600 km downriver from Yeniseysk – there are 23 houses here, no books, no newspapers. Unfortunately, I have to survive on what gets sent to me.

From late [19]30, I lived in Kansk – worked as a chimney-sweeper, and started training as a stove-setter. From sping [19]31 I ended up in Yeniseysk, where a small co-operative of unskilled workers was formed by comrades, then it fell apart and everyone went their own separate ways. It fell apart because it was hard to procure work as a co-operative. I have briefly got a job as a cart-man at the communal services department, but even this idyll was broken by the transfer to Turukhansk.

Perspectives: in the spring perhaps it would be possible to take up fishing (the village stands on the Yenisei River).

Btw., I have heard of the latest events in Spain – in spirit I am there. In the moments of weakness, I also wish to transfer this lump of clay there [i.e., to go to Spain] but [indicipherable] neither in weak nor in resolute.

I study Italian, I walk in the forest which surrounds the village. Like many, in the times of forced idleness I feel that I could have worked with some use, that a lot has accumulated, but nothing would work out without books. [Presumably ‘that many thoughts and feelings have accumulated in my mind, but without books for reference, I cannot really work as a writer.’] Generally, that is all. And now, allow me to strongly hug and kiss you, according to our custom (I’ve become quite sentimental here). Hello to friends.

Non.

[Paris postal stamp, 1932]

To: France, Paris 4, 11 rue Geoffroy L’Angevin, Doubinsky

notes: Varshavskiy (in pencil), replied (in pen)

postal stamp: Tunguska, 15.03.1932

Komsa, August 8

Dear David! Yesterday I received your postcard dated June 17. I am immensely content that my little postcards also get to you. I am now in the position of Robinson Crusoe who saw sails on the horizon: I am just as feral, and just as unaware of whether the ship would notice my call for help. On August 22 it would be six years since the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, and August 22 is also six years since I got ship-wrecked. According to our law, I should be moving southwards. Some signs indicate that it would be so, but it is likely that my ship would be forced to take a course to the Nord. Due to these considerations, I am deprived of an opportunity to write anything definite. Linchevskiy David** and Barmash*** have informed me from Yeniseysk that 7 roubles for me were received, and promised to send a parcel for these money as soon as I write to them what I need. I wrote to them about a month ago, or a little more than that, but there was no response from them yet. As I wait for the future, I am fishing, picking berries, and cheekily ask for a newspaper from all those passing through. The latter, however, usually without luck. I want to believe that I will write the next one from a place more southern, for now I strongly shake all of your hands.

Non.

[St Gervais postal stamp, 5.09.1933]

To: France, av. Jean Jaures 25, Pre St Gervais (Seine), J. Doubinsky

notes: N. Varshavskiy, replied (in pencil)

postal stamp: 27.08.1933

* Doubinsky, Jacques, see http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/j3tz9n

** Linchevskiy, David Moiseyevich, see Guillotine at Work by GP Maximoff, p. 600. http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/bzkj68

*** Barmash, Vladimir, see http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/sbcdc5

[Folder 76, Fléchine (Senya Fleshin) papers, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam]

Translated by Szarapow

On related note: Memoirs by mountain climber Irina Korzun (1914-2007) say that in the second half of 1950s Non Varshavskiy’s daughter Liya Varshavskaya worked as a physics teacher at Moscow school No 613. During World War II, she was taken by the Germans to Poland, and saved by the Red Army. No mention of her father. http://www.the-ratner-family.com/Korzun_memoirs_5-4.htm [in Russian]

Source: Folder 76, Fléchine (Senya Fleshin) papers, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam. Translated by: - Szarapow.

From http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/tx97g0

Written by gulaganarchists

18, April 2014 at 9:18 am

A Letter of Aron Baron from the Solovetsky Islands

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Translator’s Introduction

In January 1923 Aron Baron was sentenced to two years in prison, to be served in camps of northern Russia. After passing through two camps on the mainland, he eventually arrived in Solovetsky, an archipelago of six islands in an arm of the White Sea, where hermitages built for monks had been converted into concentration camps. The Soviet regime had first used Solovetsky for common criminals and counterrevolutionaries, but in 1923 two hermitages, Muksol’ma and Savvat’yev, on different islands, were reserved for political prisoners. The exact date of Baron’s arrival at the Muksol’ma hermitage is unknown, but he was evidently there when a horrific event took place at the Savvat’yev camp in December 1923. Several prisoners were gunned down while making a peaceful protest. News of this event soon spread abroad, but it was only a harbinger of worse things to come during Stalin’s regime.

Baron’s letter was written ostensibly to a former sweetheart in Berlin named Julia. But annotations on the letter indicate that Julia was actually Mark Mrachniy, an old comrade who was helping Alexander Berkman in Berlin with support work for anarchists in Soviet prisons. Baron and Mrachniy had been leading members of the Confederation of Anarchists of Ukraine (Nabat) and both had taken part in the Makhnovist movement (although at different times). The other personages mentioned in the letter are identified in endnotes.

Aron Baron was released from Solovetsky in January 1925, but not to freedom. He was sent to serve a further term as an exile in Siberia.

A Letter of Aron Baron from the Solovetsky Islands

Muksol’ma August 8 1924

My dear beloved. Immediately upon receiving your letter of the 11th of July, I sent a reply to you by return post about the state of my health, affirming that I am still your same Aron as you knew me earlier and that the years of sorrowful separation could alter nothing in my relationship to you. By my reckoning, I should have already received an answering letter from you by now, but there is none and that is beginning to worry me. It’s true you mentioned that you lost your job, and I know from the newspapers what kind of unemployment and terrible starvation you have now in Germany. So now I’m worried, and I’m writing a second time, by registered mail, in case my earlier letter, for whatever reason, did not reach you. They say the postal service is functioning normally in Russia now, but I don’t know anything about the reliability of the German post office.

It would be nice to talk with you about lots of things, and I know that epistolary conversations are satisfying neither to me, nor to you. Hopefully we’ll meet again sooner or later in freedom, and then we’ll make up for lost time. There are some quarrels and squabbles happening here, which it’s embarrassing to write about (and resulted in 15 people being transferred here from Savvat’yev). But, in spite of everything, I remain in good spirits and healthy, and am looking after myself. [1]

I am receiving from America the central communist organ – the newspaper Daily Worker – and am able to follow the course of American life on a day-to-day basis. I must confess that I would be very, very grateful if one of my acquaintances, or one of your acquaintances – someone sufficiently kind-hearted and well-off – bought me a subscription to the French communist newspaper Humanité for two or three months. This newspaper is most likely permitted; it’s necessary only to pay for a subscription in my name, and I will then derive great satisfaction in gleaning information from a primary source about life abroad. I’m not suggesting, my dear, that you pay for this yourself, but I implore you to arrange this with some “rich uncle” who’s willing to relieve himself of a couple of francs on my behalf.

As for Germany, its newspaper is of less interest to me; however, if you happen to get back to work and accumulate some money, then send me, when you can, any kind of interesting book, journal or brochure in the German language – something fit for Soviet Russia.

Write, my dear, more about yourself and about Ksima [2]. How is she getting along, poor woman. I heard that your old man [starik] [3] doesn’t want to know us and has even left you completely. Admittedly, I would want to know more about all this. Well, that’s it for this time. I can’t pass along any pleasant news about our life. Alesha [4] arrived not long ago, but I haven’t caught up with him yet. Everyone here who knows you sends greetings and asks that you don’t forget to write often and more about yourself. Good-bye, beloved, don’t be sad. Thousands of greetings to you and Ksima.

Forever yours, Aron

Translated by Malcolm Archibald

Notes

1 In the first half of the 1920s Aron Baron was imprisoned most of the time, took part in several hunger strikes, and even attempted self-immolation in protest of prison conditions.

2 Grigori Maksimov, well-known anarcho-syndicalist, was living in Berlin in 1924, after having been expelled from the USSR in 1922.

3 Vsevolod Volin, who had been living in Berlin after being expelled from the USSR, moved to Paris in 1924.

4 Aleksey Olonetskiy was one of the seven anarchists released from prison to attend Kropotkin’s funeral in Moscow in 1921. Aron Baron was also one of the seven, as was Mark Mrachniy, to whom this letter was written.

From: IISH, Amsterdam, Flechine archive, Folder 46.. Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.

from http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/9320h9

Written by gulaganarchists

10, April 2014 at 10:11 am

Letter of Aron Baron to Senya Fleshin (Voronezh, 1931)

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Aron Baron, Fanya Avrutskaya and their daughter Voltairina

Voronezh July 29, 1931

Greetings, friends! Senya, I received your note and have started getting Rote Fahne; the little Spanish books you sent also arrived. Well, concerning the Spanish books, I guess you have no notion of the hectic pace of our lives here. I asked for a Spanish newspaper. You sent books of a couple of hundred pages each and you say: “This is for exercises”. Do you really imagine we have time for exercises? No, my friend, normally there’s only time for exercises in school, in prison and sometimes in exile. In freedom there’s never any time for language exercises. You know, of course, about the introduction here of so-called continuous operations: the workers of enterprises and institutions get a day off every fifth day, while the work itself goes on continuously without a break. But now, Senya, instead of making things better, this innovation makes them worse. Previously there was one day of the week when generally everything was closed and everyone – free or unfree – could take it easy and you at least had the possibility of spending your time doing whatever you wanted. The introduction of continuous operations, although it gives you in principle the right to rest every 5th day, nevertheless doesn’t allow you to spend most of the day resting because there are 1001 matters you must take care of, stuff which has piled up on this day, and so the whole day is spent running around or standing in line – this is what rest means. Of course it isn’t like this for everyone. For young people living with their parents or for students and similar types living in dormitories, it’s actually possible to have a real rest every four days. I don’t belong to these categories, and the rest I’m legally entitled to seldom provides any benefit for my mental health. I should mention that to make a half-decent living – around 200 rubles – you need to do fairly responsible work in a relatively high-level job. Specifically, both here and in Tashkent I was employed and am employed (with the appropriate benefits) as an economist for public transit, electric power and water supply (they are combined into a single trust). There’s so much work, so many meetings – both in the daytime and in the evenings – that it very often happens that it’s simply not practical to use one’s days off, and they are lost. The government has actually several times come out in defense of rest days for responsible workers; but so far the real conditions of work are more compelling than any government orders and days are lost and one hardly gets any rest. And on top of it all, I’m bringing up a tiny daughter – Voltairina (named in memory of V. de Cleyre). We don’t have anyone at home who can help Fanya [Avrutskaya] with the child, so that when I get home from work, I have to do my share. Trust me, neither of us has had a good night’s sleep for several months already; Fanya has been getting run-down, and they say I’m not looking so good either. Incidentally, about the child. Did you say that the crisis of your mark and the latest pressure from France have not had an effect on the availability of food products? Specifically, do you have rice, semolina and other such baby food in abundance – or not? In Tashkent you could pay speculators 3 of 4 rubles per pound, but here you normally can’t buy this stuff. What do you say, Senya, would it not be too difficult for you to send me a few pounds of semolina and rice by post? I hope that the duty which would have to be paid would not make these baby products more expensive than the Tashkent prices. In any case, I’d like to try this. If it’s possible, then do it as soon as possible, because we must feed the child, and also Fanya needs to keep up her strength in order to nourish such a demanding creature as a nursing child.

However, I’m digressing. I wanted to explain to you that for me there is never sufficient time for exercises in Spanish. Here’s what I was looking for. In Turukhansk I theoretically studied Spanish. Since then I have, apparently, forgotten what I learned … Imagine to yourself that you’re glancing through a newspaper, and you notice that an acquaintance of yours is being roundly criticized there. Clearly it’s this part of the paper which is so interesting to you that you must try to understand what it’s all about, no matter what language it’s in. That’s the way it is with me. In a newspaper you quickly pick out the interesting part (if there is one), and find time to spend on this interesting part (even though it reduces your sleeping time which is already reduced by your little daughter) and, equipping yourself with a dictionary and whatever you remember from a teach-yourself book, you figure out and you understand. And there’s so much we need to understand. The events taking place in Spain are very exciting, but news from there is scanty. Around 60 years ago the defeat of Spanish revolutionaries provided fodder for Engels to write his well-known malicious satirical pamphlet which is now studied by Soviet youth. [1] I’d like to know whether anything has been learned in the last 60 years, whether they have learned how to consolidate their achievements. I’d like to know what sorts of debates are going on, what sorts of battles with the landlords and the bourgeoisie on the outside of the working class, and with bunglers and disorganizers on the inside. I read that Mundo Obrero, the organ of the Communist Party, is often confiscated. Nevertheless it is possible to receive the issues that are published, or brochures on this topic, or other kinds of imported materials such as publications in other languages about Spanish affairs. Please write what happened at the international congress which took place not long ago, why it was permitted by the Zamora government, and what decisions were arrived at. [2] Meanwhile, in Germany only the voices of fascists and communists are heard. Concerning our Soviet achievements your probably know from Pravda. That’s enough to write this time. Greetings from Fanya to you and Molly [Steimer].

Aron

Notes

1 The reference is to Frederick Engels, Die Bakunisten an der Arbeit. Denkschrift über den letzten Aufstand in Spanien [The Bakuninists at Work. An Account of the Recent Revolt in Spain] (Leipzig, 1873). An English translation was not published until 1939.

2 The 4th Congress of the International Workers Association (IWA-AIT) was held in Madrid on 1–2 June 1931.

[The photograph was not enclosed with this letter, but shows Aron, Fanya and Voltairina around the time it was written.]

From: IISH, Amsterdam, Flechine Archive, Folder 50. Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.

From http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/qbzn0x

Written by gulaganarchists

9, April 2014 at 10:31 am

The guillotine at work: twenty years of terror in Russia (data and documents), part two (G.P. Maximoff) now online

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Maximoff’s The Guillotine at Work is an essential source for looking at the history of the Russian anarchist movement after 1917. It was originally published by the The Chicago section of the Alexander Berkman Fund in 1940. The first half, which comprises the argument against Leninism, was reprinted by Cienfuegos Press (1979). Now a PDF of the second part of the book (documents about the repression of the anarchist movement) is freely available at libcom.org. You can get this essential primary source on Russian anarchism at: http://libcom.org/library/guillotine-work-part-2-data-documents

Read it and remember!

Written by gulaganarchists

6, April 2014 at 10:24 am

Aron and Fanya Baron, Luba Fagin photo in USA [larger size]

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Thanks to Black Cat Press who passed this on and relatives of Aron Baron who have the original, we can show you a larger image of the Photo of Aron and Fanya Baron, Luba Fagin and anarchist friends in the USA.

Aron Baron is sitting front centre. Sitting to the right of Aron is Fanya, and directly behind Fanya is her anarchist sister Luba Fagin. Anyone else identifiable?

Aron and Fanya Baron, Luba Fagin and anarchist friends in the USA.

Aron and Fanya Baron, Luba Fagin and anarchist friends in the USA. Aron Baron is sitting front centre. Sitting to the right of Aron is Fanya, and directly behind Fanya is her anarchist sister Luba Fagin.

Original post on this: http://gulaganarchists.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/aron-and-fanya-baron-luba-fagin-photo-in-usa/

Written by gulaganarchists

12, February 2014 at 10:36 am

Pano Vassilev’s ‘The Soviets idea’ – call for help

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Pano Vassilev’s ‘The Soviets idea’ was published in Sofia in 1933. It’s an anarchist analysis of the origins of Soviets, and how anarchists related to them in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917.
It is in three chapters:
1, The Soviets idea not a Bolshevik notion
2, Precise origin and historical development of the Soviets idea
3, Appearance and evolution of the councils idea in Russia and the anarchists’ relationship with it.

The Kate Sharpley Library has a neatly-handwritten translation of ‘The Soviets idea’ which we have scanned and put online. We are now asking for help in typing it up. You can see the PDF files and add to the text at http://katesharpleylibrary.pbworks.com/w/page/71816963/Pano%20Vassilev%27s%20%27The%20Soviets%20idea%27%20-%20call%20for%20help

A brief biography of Vassilev is available at http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/02v7sn

from http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/g4f60x

Written by gulaganarchists

19, December 2013 at 10:03 am

Not forgotten, then or now. Review: book of [Russian anarchist] prisoner support bulletins keeps their memory alive

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The Tragic Procession – Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid, 1923-1931
£8
ISBN: 978-1-873605-90-5
Pub: Kate Sharpley Library & Alexander Berkman Social Club 96pp

The Kate Sharpley Library and Alexander Berkman Social Club collectives have recently produced a beautiful book containing complete facsimile reprints of the Bulletin of the Joint Committee for the Defense of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia, and the Bulletin of the Relief Fund of the International Working Men’s Association for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia, which were originally published from 1923-1931.

These bulletins were produced and edited over the years by Alexander Berkman, Mark Mratchny, Milly Witcop, Rudolf Rocker, and others. They were part of the campaign to record and highlight the plight of a whole generation of anarchists and revolutionists imprisoned, exiled, or executed by the Bolshevik regime in Russia.

The bulletins themselves have also come to illustrate the tireless efforts of those outside Russia who, often living in very difficult circumstances of their own, struggled to maintain contact and provide material aid with their imprisoned and exiled comrades within Russia, and to publicise their fate.

As well as acting as an inspiring memorial to those many countless comrades who struggled and became martyrs under Bolshevism, these reprints help serve as a warning today of the potential dangers if, for example, contemporary “anti-capitalist” struggle and revolt were to fall victim to un-libertarian tendencies.

As the Alexander Berkman Social Club put it in their introduction: “When we talk to any Marxists, these dead should never be forgotten, never mind that the Bolshevik beast ate its own children as well”

Writing together in January 1922 in the English-language anarchist paper Freedom, Alexander Berkman and Emma Golden, probably with Alexander Schapiro, accused the Bolsheviks of putting “the best revolutionary elements of the country” in their prisons. Anarchists, Left Socialist revolutionaries, Maximalists, members of the workers’ opposition, were all rotting in the prisons formerly used by the old Tsarist regime.

In 1917 Berkman had been enthusiastic not just about the Russian Revolution but even about the rise of the Bolsheviks. His deportation to Russia from the United States in 1919 gave him a chance to see and experience the realities of the revolution at first hand. By January 1922 he was in a state of disillusion and anguish at the repressive way the revolution had gone, and he left Russia with Goldman and Schapiro. His pamphlets The Russian Tragedy and The Kronstadt Rebellion were published later that year when he had moved to Berlin.

Soon the focus of his work shifted to publicising the cases of those comrades in Russian prisons or in Russian internal exile, as well as fundraising and material support for those facing hardship as external exiles and refugees. Many international anarchist groups sprang up at this time to support the Russian prisoners, and the Anarchist Black Cross still operated as well as it could inside Russia up to 1925 before being suppressed. The first Bulletin was produced by a joint committee of Anarchists, Anarcho-Syndicalists, and Social Revolutionaries, and came out in Berlin in October 1923. Recording the names of anarchists and revolutionists arrested and exiled in Russia, and their whereabouts, proved to be a huge task.

The Bulletin was primarily the work of Berkman and Mratchny, with I.N. Steinberg contributed material on imprisoned left Socialist Revolutionaries. Other contributors included Rudolf Rocker, Augustin Souchy, and Fritz Kater. Kater published the Bulletin, as well as Berkman’s pamphlets on Russia, through Der Syndicalist printing group. Berkman replied to concerns expressed by some anarchists about the Bulletin’s support for non-anarchists by stating: “Supplying bread to Maria Spiridonova (who is a Left Socialist Revolutionist) is just as imperative as to aid Baron (who is an anarchist).”

The Bulletin was issued in English, French, German, Spanish, and Russian, and also, sometimes in Dutch and Esperanto. It carried constant appeals for money, and printed scrupulous detailed accounts. By the end of 1926 the Bulletin was taken under the wing of the anarcho-syndicalist International Working Men’s Association and became the Bulletin of the Relief Fund for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia. Prominent figures Mollie Steimer, Senya Fleshin, and Volin took on more prominent roles in the Relief Fund.

As well as being exhausting, obsessive, and time-consuming, Russian Prisoner aid left its activists isolated from the mainstream political movements, and reliant on a dwindling anarchist support base. In a letter to her nephew in December 1924, Emma Goldman complained that the leading English anarchist newspaper Freedom only had eighty-three subscribers. By that time the situation in many countries was just as dire.

In the early 1920s maintaining contact with prisoners in Russia and sending them aid was difficult but still possible. But problems grew with the increasing numbers of those being arrested, and obtaining information became more difficult. Contact with prisoners began to seriously deteriorate around 1935, and by 1939 had ceased altogether.

Political activists today who are concerned by police “kettling” tactics, FIT team harassment, and so on, should consider that nothing is new. The first Bulletin in October 1923 reports that: “On July 9, 1923, 41 anarchists were arrested in Petrograd, and 16 “Zassadas” took place in the city. A “Zassada” means that police surround a house, permit no-one to leave it, for hours or for days, as the case might be, and arrest everyone who visits the place.

Fascinating detailed lists of names of many comrades arrested are accompanied by illuminating brief descriptions of their work or trade, and their political histories, together with reports on their sentences or exiles.

Prison overcrowding is nothing new either. Correspondence reports: “All the prisons and concentration camps in the North are so overfilled that new arrivals are refused admission. In August 1923, the left S.R. Lida Surkova was sent by the Petrograd GPU to the Petcherski Krai for three years. Owing to the overcrowding she failed to be accepted.”

Later, in March 1928, the commentary in Bulletin no.5 reports on the growing irony of Bolshevik repression, as the juggernaut of the dictatorship ends up rolling over its own creators, including the purging of Trotsky and Zinoviev; crushed by their own paranoid Marxist theory.

The November 1927 Bulletin summarises the “achievements” of the first ten years of Bolshevism in comparison to the desires of the Russian Revolution: “The workers wanted the opportunity to use the tools and machinery they had themselves made; they wanted to use them to create more wealth and to enjoy that wealth. The peasant wanted free access to the land and a chance to cultivate it without being robbed of the products of his hard toil.

But “under the cover of the motto, ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’, it [the party] began to build a centralised, bureaucratic state.” And “freedom of thought, of the press, of public assembly, self-determination of the worker and of his unions, the initiative and freedom of labour, all this was declared old rubbish, ‘bourgeois prejudices’. The ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ became the absolutism of a handful of Bolsheviki in the Kremlin.”

This same Bulletin gives a long list, with brief details about them, of just a small part of the known imprisoned and exiled anarchists amongst the thousands of political prisoners. This selected list in small type, almost requiring a magnifying glass to read, already contains nearly a hundred entries. You begin to realise that what you are seeing here is not just the convulsion and wrenching and fragmenting and dispersing of individuals, but of partners, relationships, extended families, friendship networks, and whole communities. The process begins to approach a cultural genocide.

By the way, for today’s romantic ultra-communists, it should be pointed out that the disappearance of the value of all money is not in all circumstances something to be welcomed.

And here we see evidence of a deliberate imposed starvation policy, as a correspondent exiled in Russia’s far north describes (p40): “In the Spring I was transferred to a little hamlet that contains only 60 huts. The hamlet is about 200 versts from the nearest village and more than 1,000 miles from any railroad station. The poverty here is incredible. You can’t buy anything.

“With my woman companion I go every day to the woods to search for any berries left from last year, such as vakcinio and oksikoko (red whortleberry and mossberry). This is our food. Unfortunately, there will soon be none even of that.”

And they continue: “In the novels of Jack London I have read of the gold-seekers in the Canadian primitive forests who some time lose their way and have to subsist on berries, mushrooms and similar things. But I can tell you that it sounds much better in the novel than it is in real life.” Exiles such as these were also often stripped of their Party-controlled union card, depriving them of access to work and income.

For anyone interested in radical history and social history, this book is a mine of many gems, helping tell the story of unfolding political events, struggle, and tragedy, in the 1920s and early 1930s, both in relation to Russia, and to the wider international scene.

But this book isn’t just for the historians. It proclaims loudly for today that we should not forget our martyrs, and we must always stand by our imprisoned comrades around the world, however difficult the circumstances. And it proclaims that the lesson of past revolutions and their sacrifices is that the masses should never again trust their fate to any hands but their own. Only the self-organisation of the workers and their communities, and their organised libertarian solidarity can carry struggle and social revolt to a liberating outcome.

By Paul Petard

From: Black Flag issue 235, mid 2012 p32-33.

Written by gulaganarchists

31, October 2013 at 10:57 am

Petrograd Anarchist Federation [written in 1924]

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This overview aims to provide a general overview of anarchist movement in Petrograd [called St Petersburg until August 1914 and from 1991 on, and Leningrad between January 1924 and 1991] to comrades. It is very brief, and in no way full, due to not having sufficient access to historical materials.

The entire movement can be divided into several periods: 1) the epoch of the 1905-1907 revolution; 2) reaction epoch; 3) world war epoch; 4) epoch of the great [1917] revolution – a) before October and b) after October; and 5) post-revolutionary epoch.

The beginning of anarchist movement in Petrograd should be dated 1904-1905, largely to the first months after the 1905 revolution, when Russian anarchists returning from abroad founded the first circles (in Southern and South-Western Russia this movement started earlier). In Autumn 1905 in Petrograd two groups were founded. One included anarchists who returned from abroad. Another included students and workers. We will note here that workers’ circles started to form from November and even October 1905 in the central district, beyond Nevskaya Zastava [industrial suburb in South-East of the city], and later in other districts. The agent provocateur Vladimir Degayev [there was Russian revolutionary named Vladimir Degayev, unmasked in 1913 as an agent of Okhrana (Department for Protecting the Public Security and Order, secret police), however, he belonged to a different generation, like his brother Sergey Degayev.], a university student, joined almost immediately. Some of the members trusted him and some did not; this brought discord in the group and hindered work. This group existed for about a year; some of its members still participate in the anarchist movement. There was an attempt to organise a printshop, but its flourishing was also hindered by Degayev.

The second circle was also organized by a group of exiles who returned from abroad (Petr nicknamed “Tolstoy” [real name Nikolay Divnogorsky, 1882 - 1909 - http://spb-anarchists.anho.org/divnogorskij.jpg], his wife Marusya, and Nikolay Romanov [alias Bidbey, 1876 - after 1934, first name also given as Stepan Romanov - http://spb-anarchists.anho.org/romanov.jpg]), as well as several intellectuals who joined them in Russia. This circle mostly promoted propaganda by the deed, that is, terror and expropriations; they issued leaflets in this spirit. It only existed for a short time, as an agent provocateur became involved, Dmitry Dobrolyubov (Yefimov). After provoking them into committing an expropriation, he arranged for them all to be arrested as they were preparing to undertake it. Some members of the arrested group went through a trial and were sentenced to hard labour and imprisonment at the Shlisselburg Fortress [now a museum, located about 35 km east of central St Petersburg], from which they were released by the 1917 revolution – Mergaling, N. Romanov, student [Boris Fedorovich] Speransky [1885 - 1956; later a renowned geologist, in Soviet prison camps 1949 - 1954]. The wife of Petr “Tolstoy”, Marusya, went insane in pre-trial detention at the Peter and Paul Fortress [in central St Petersburg; Trubetskoy Bastion prison now a museum], was transferred to the St Nicholas Hospital [psychiatric asylum in Moyka Embankment, opened in 1872 and still in operation, colloquially known as Pryazhka] and was then released on bail. Tolstoy himself simulated madness, as he was imprisoned at the Peter and Paul Fortress, and was transferred to the St Nicholas Hospital. Comrades assisted his escape, and he fled abroad. In Geneva, Switzerland, he organised a bank heist, was arrested, went on trial and was given a life sentence. In prison he poured paraffin over himself and burned himself alive [Russian online sources say that Divnogorsky organised the heist in Montreux and died in Lausanne].

Group members who were not arrested continued to work. Both circles started to communicate long before the arrest but did not merge, partly due to mistrust of Degayev by members of Tolstoy’s circle. Little by little new members start to appear – workers and intellectuals. A number of workers’ circles appear, and by Summer 1906 such circles exist in nearly all of the workers’ districts. Demand for literature grows. At the university and at [Bestuzhev] Courses tables to sell anarchist literature are set up. These tables become a centre where members and sympathizers flock, and out-of-town anarchists go there to make acquaintances. Leaflets are published by hectograph; efforts to set up a printshop are continuous; the number of members continues to grow.

A particularly large interest in anarchism in workers’ and students’ circles was excited by the lectures of lecturer and orator Venin (real [name] Olenchikov), who arrived from abroad in 1906. Kropotkinite in his views, he was a great lecturer and a very well-educated man. Unfortunately, his activity did not last for a long time. The government was conducting a double game at the time: not yet daring to finally strangle the revolution, it would use any excuse to arrest and sentence activists. Provocateur Degayev, who had imprisoned several people by then, was still surrounded by students and workers who trusted him. With those youths, he organised a successful expropriation (as far as I can remember, 24,000 roubles), and he passed a very small part of this money to Venin. The organisation needed money, and Venin accepted it, despite warnings from some comrades who strongly mistrusted Degayev. Soon the participants in the expropriation were arrested, and then so was Venin. He was “pinned on” this case, on the basis of money that he accepted; naturally, it was only an excuse, the main reason was his propagandist activity. Venin escaped from the courthouse, and fled abroad. He is now in Russia, but he does not take part in the movement.

Already by the end of the first year of its existence, the organisation took on the name of Petrograd Federation of Anarchists [Russian: Petrogradskaya Federatsiya Anarkhistov; an obvious anachronism, as St Petersburg was not renamed Petrograd until 1914, thus initially the group was likely to have been called the St Petersburg Federation of Anarchists, or Peterburgskaya Federatsiya Anarkhistov], and its own stamp appeared. It is, of course, impossible to count the number of members, as it was not possible to register new members due to conspiratorial considerations; but it can be safely said that there were circles operating in all the main workers’ districts. The demand for literature was very high; there were always a lot of people at Venin’s lectures, and they were met with much enthusiasm. In 1907, a hand-operated print shop was set up, and used to print some leaflets.

From April 1907, the reaction starts to quickly march forward, and consequently revolutionary parties are going deeper underground. In 1908 any traces of open work disappear. Many members of the federation were by then arrested, and some moved away, but those who remained continue to support the movement as much as they can and even make new contacts amongst workers. From time to time, leaflets are published on hectograph (the type was partially preserved but there was nowhere to set up the printshop), and they are met with success. [Johann] Most’s “The God Pestilence” was hectographed in quite a large number of copies, and it was very popular amongst workers. With assistance from a lithographer worker, we managed to publish a cartoon of [Emperor] Nicholas [II] depicted as a clown manipulated by a priest, a general and a bureaucrat, with the text of a humourous poem. Three issues of a small magazine were also published, two were hectographed and one was lithographed.

The movement, albeit very slowly, nevertheless expands and finds new members. Old connections, broken by reaction’s persecution, are rediscovered and maintained again. Workers of the old, original circles unite again. The connection with the new circles was never lost. There are few intellectuals, only several people in the initiative group; workers form the core of the federation. All this time, an active part in the movement is played by Roman Bergold, who was recently executed by firing squad at the orders of the Soviet authorities for his activities as an agent provocateur [the memoirs of the head of St Petersburg Okhrana, Alexander Gerasimov, mention a gendarme officer by the name of Bergold, who headed the State Duma guards service in 1906]. Whether he was a provocateur then, or whether he became one later, during the war with Germany, is not clear now; but at the time he was absolutely trusted. From time to time, some people or even small groups were getting arrested but there were no positive ways to credit these arrests to Bergold. He was arrested several times himself.

Such was the situation when the World War broke out [in 1914]. As is known, soon after it started, the revolutionary movement amongst proletarian masses started to grow. The anarchist movement was also rejuvenated: there were more circles, leaflets were being published more frequently. Little by little, a strictly clandestine hand-operated print shop was set up. It was used to print several proclamations, leaflets, “Hunger – ignorance – death”, a small brochure on anarchism reprinted from “Conquest of Bread” [by Peter Kropotkin] and updated by one of the comrades. The workers’ circle expanded significantly by 1916, active propaganda work was taking place, but by then Bergold switched over to the Okhrana, and in March 1916 he betrayed the entire affair. A large number of comrades were arrested, both in the initiative group and in workers’ cells. The type was preserved, as it was hidden very well. The Okhrana only captured the frame of the hand-operated printing machine, which was taken during the arrest of a worker comrade. After this crushing defeat the work almost ground to a halt. The remaining comrades try to re-establish broken contacts and to start propaganda, but since Bergold is at the root of the affair, naturally, nothing works out. When one comrade from the initiative group attempted to work on his own in Autumn 1916, he was arrested along with a female worker with whom he intended to start a workers’ circle. Comrades who were arrested in Spring 1916, were still kept in detention in Shpalernaya Street [still a pre-trial and deportation detention centre], waiting for the trial, which, as it was evident by then, was to sentence them to exile in Eastern Siberia at least, and some to hard labour. But revolution broke out in February 1917. The released comrades immediately took up building the Federation on new worldly foundations.

The period of great revolution. The magazine Commune [Russian: Kommuna] was founded [publication of the Federation of Petrograd Anarchists, published by the Petrograd Federation of Anarchist-Communists, edited by I. Bleykhman. Issue No 1 published on March 17, 1917. After the July uprising the paper was banned by the Provisional Government, and the Petrograd Federation of Anarchist-Communists’ printshop was smashed up by the troops. In September 1917, the last issue, No 6, was published, and then Free Commune (Russian: Svobodnaya Kommuna) newspaper replaced it. - note by A. Dubovik, from http://socialist.memo.ru/books/biblio/periodika_posle_1917.htm], a real printshop was set up, a library was organized, arms were procured. Soon the Durnovo Mansion [former aristocratic mansion which for a while in the 18th century was owned by members of the Bakunin family, now a ruined building in Sverdlovskaya Embankment] was taken over, and it housed the headquarters of the Federation. A mass of emigres arriving from Western Europe and America are joining the ranks. All members of the anarcho-syndicalist group Voice of Labour [Russian: Golos Truda] arrived from America, and started publishing the newspaper of the same name, which was previously published in New York [Voice of Labour, published by the Union of Anarcho-Syndicalist Propaganda in 1917-1918. Successor to the publication of the same name, published in the USA in 1911-1917. Issue No 1 was published on August 11, 1917, edited by V. Rayevsky. From issue No 2 and until March 1918 it was edited by V. Voline. Initially published as a weekly, from November 11, 1917 on a daily basis, with the print run between 10,000 and 15,000 copies. 24 issues were published before the end of 1917. In early April 1918, the publication was transferred to Moscow, where it was shut down by the Cheka on April 12, 1918. In late April 1918, publication resumed. Finally shut down by the Cheka on July 9, 1918. - note by A. Dubovik, from http://socialist.memo.ru/books/biblio/periodika_posle_1917.htm]. Unfortunately, they stayed somewhat aside from the common anarcho-communist work, disapproving of the sharply revolutionary manifestations, and by that they brought some discord in the tightly joined ranks of the anarchists. The influence of anarchists on the working masses was at the time very significant; rallies addressed by Voline [real name Vsevolod Eykhenbaum, 1882 - 1945] were diligently attended; the literature was distributed well; stacks of books were being taken to the front and to the provinces. In between these successes, in April a heavy moral blow was dealt the Federation. From Okhrana papers, it was established that Bergold, editor of Commune, was an agent provocateur. Comrades wanted to kill him, but he escaped and was discovered in the provinces, arrested, went on trial and was sentenced to deprivation of civil rights. It was a heavy moral blow for the Federation. Bourgeois newspapers, which always vilified our movement, used this case for libellous attacks with malicious glee. But the Federation quickly recovered, and Commune was published under new editorship. Connections with the provinces were established, and a whole number of organisations and printed outlets were established there. There were solid connections with the army and particularly with the Baltic Fleet. A special anarchist newspaper was even published in Kronstadt [Navy base on the island of Kotlin, about 30 km from the city centre. Vol’nyi Kronshtadt (Free Kronstadt) according to Avrich, The Russian anarchists p126].

As is known, the government of [Alexander] Kerensky was moving quicker and quicker to the right, into the arms of the bourgeoisie and reaction. The workers responded with a protest demonstration, aimed against both the war which keeps dragging on, and against the generally treacherous policy of the right SRs. Anarchists take an active part in all of these protests; their black flags fly in the foreground. Armed, with their ranks closed, singing the anarchist anthem, they march in the streets of Petrograd. Naturally, the government of [Viktor] Chernov and Kerensky could not help but be concerned by the growth and development of the anarchist movement, which united ever-wider masses of workers, close by, and decided to counter it by all means. For that, Cossacks and military school cadets were sent in June 1917 to storm the Durnovo Mansion. The mansion was overrun and smashed up. During the siege of the mansion, comrade [Sh. A.] Asin [last name also rendered Asnin or Askin], who was holed up in a barricaded room there for a long time alongside sailor Anatoli Zhelezniakov, was killed. The bourgeois and Menshevik press was slinging mud at Asin for a long time, as he was formerly a common criminal who was converted by anarchist propaganda whilst serving a hard labour sentence. After his death, this vile baiting increased – two comrades were forced to go to the office of the high-socialist newspaper New Life [Russian: Novaya Zhizn], which was not ashamed of printing all sorts of vile stuff about our late comrade, called out its co-editor Maxim Gorky and pointed out the dirty tricks that the paper was making. Only then did the insinuations stop, at least from this newspaper.

Soon after the smashing of the Durnovo Mansion, military school cadets smashed up the anarchist printshop in Obvodny Canal embankment. The movement was once again semi-clandestine but the rallies continued, gathering masses of workers, soldiers and sailors.

Then came the famous July Days. Of course, Bolsheviks now omit to mention that anarchists were at the time fighting, taking soldiers out [into protests] and made speeches against Kerensky’s gangs alongside them, and then paid for that with prison terms. And only anarchists, of all the revolutionary organisations. The July defeat drove anarchists and Bolsheviks underground. Commune is published clandestinely. But Voline still delivers his lectures in the Vyborg Side [largely working-class district north-east of the city centre] with huge attendance by workers; it is still possible to hold rallies.

But then comes October. Again, anarchists are alongside the Communists, everywhere, in the Palace Square, at the storming of the Pavel Military School. Anarchist Anatoli Zhelezniakov is one of the chief dispersers of Chernov’s talk shop [Constituent Assembly], anarchists are at Tsarskoye Selo [suburb south of the city, now called Pushkin], where Kerensky is finally repulsed [the Kerensky-Krasnov uprising]. Anarchist [Iustin] Zhuk – a political convict who served his hard labour sentence in Shlisselburg – leads a Shlisselburg workers’ detachment to guard the Smolny [Soviet headquarters] and then to Tsarskoye Selo to meet Kerensky. And the Communists are amiable and attentive: anarchists get a well-equipped prinshop of the New Word [Russian: Novoye Slovo; the anarchists were actually given the printshop of the right-wing Zhivoye Slovo (Living Word) newspaper, which was shut down in October 1917] newspaper. A new daily newspaper, Stormy Petrel [Russian: Burevestnik], is published [Published by Federation of Anarchist Groups in Petrograd, 1917-1918. Founded as a weekly, with the first issue published in 15,000 copies on November 11, 1917. Editors: I. Bleykhman, G. Bogatsky, V. Gordin. In late November 1917 the editorial board fell apart due to internal conflicts. For a while the newspaper was published by Gordin, who used it for pananarchist propaganda, which led to a fall in popularity amongst readers and to a drop in print run to 8,000 copies. On December 5, 1917, a meeting of the Petrograd Federation of Anarchist-Communists elected a new editorial board of the Stormy Petrel, which consisted of Bleykhman, B. Verkhoustinsky, A. Ge, A. Karelin. From this time, the paper was published on a daily basis, received a distinctly anarcho-communist direction, and the printrun was restored to 15,000 copies. Until the end of 1917, 39 issues were published. On the issue No 76 (115), the newpaper was discontinued by the Petrograd Cheka, by order dated April 25, 1918. In May 1918, the publication was allowed again, and several issues jointly prepared by anarchist-communists and anarchist-syndicalists were published. On May 21, 1918, the newspaper was finally shut down by the Cheka. - note by A. Dubovik, from http://socialist.memo.ru/books/biblio/periodika_posle_1917.htm]. Commune ceased publication in [early?] September.

Several clubs are opened. In the 1st Line of Vasilyevsky Island [street in the historical city centre, close to the university] the private house of Baron [David] Ginzburg [http://www.citywalls.ru/house160.html] was squatted to house the anarchist headquarters and club. The [Soviet] executive committee is asking us to provide our people armed with rifles to hold searches at White Guard members’ homes, or to stand guard in the districts on disquiet nights. Now such memories are hardly pleasant for the Communists.

Meanwhile, the Civil War is flaring up, military fronts encircle the revolution in Russia. Anarchists form their own detachments and join in the ranks of Communists, and it has to be mentioned that we have nothing to be ashamed of about our comrades. Ieronim Zhuk lays his head down in the Southern Front so heroically that Communists themselves, in the pen of [Grigory] Zinoviev, are forced to write an honourable obituary [perhaps the reference is to Iustin Zhuk, who was killed in 1919 on the Karelian Front]. Anatoly Zhelezniakov, on an armoured train, fights near the Romanian border, and is killed there. Marusya Nikiforova leads a detachment in the south, and soldiers who served alongside her speak of her bravery with admiration. She is later sent to our Petrograd detachment which mostly [consisted] of Vasileostrovsky District workers.

At the same time, the literary and publishing activities of the Petrograd Federation are continuing to develop. Stormy Petrel is published daily. Leaflets and pamphlets were also published. The editorial board of Stormy Petrel changed several times, which naturally had a negative influence on its operation. Monetary troubles were frequent but none of that could hinder Stormy Petrel’s great popularity and dispersion amongst workers, Navy sailors and Army soldiers. The following fact can demonstrate how big the paper’s popularity was. The typesetters had to be paid 8,000 roubles, but there was hardly any money left in the cash box. Typesetters – who were mostly unconscientious types inherited from the Living Word printshop – did not want to work a single minute. Then one of the comrades started roaming around Petrograd, from one district to another, calling some emergency meetings – and by the next day the money was collected.

The first editor of Stormy Petrel was comrade [Vladimir] Gordin but the workers were soon dissatisfied by the somewhat strange and incomprehensible articles of this doubtlessly talented comrade. The editorial board was re-elected, and was headed by comrade Ge [Alexander Ge, real name Alexander Golberg (1879 - 1919), joined anarchist-communists in 1905, was a member of the St Petersburg Soviet of the Workers’ Deputies, imprisoned at the Kresty prison in December 1905, released for medical treatment and escaped to Switzerland. Returned to Russia in 1917, elected a member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. In May 1918, headed the Cheka in Kislovodsk, later served at a similar post in the North Caucasus Soviet Republic. Wounded, captured and shot by White Army troops near Pyatigorsk on January 7 (or 21), 1919 - abridged from http://www.hrono.ru/biograf/bio_g/ge_alju.php], author and formerly an emigre. Soon thereafter, Ge alienated many by his despotic attitude to comrades and, most importantly, by attracting to the editorial board and to the organisation some absolutely unsuitable elements, such as the actor Mamont Dalsky [1865-1918] and several journalists from tabloid newspapers, who naturally had nothing to do with either workers or anarchists, and only brought the movement into disrepute. At a meeting held in 1918, Ge was removed from the editorship, and a new editorial board was elected, once again led by Gordin with several other comrades.

But the days of Stormy Petrel were already numbered. In mid-May [1918, the events actually started in April], the strengthened Bolsheviks decided to stop handling their yesterday’s comrades in arms with kid gloves. The shift towards extreme state centralism and intolerance of any criticism had started to develop then, and now it had brought the Bolsheviks, little by little, to the state of petrification, bureaucratization and Soviet capitalism that we observe at the moment, and threw them into embracing the New Economic Policy. Anarchist bodies and press were looked at askance.

In May [actually in April] 1918 in many cities (Smolensk, Vologda, Moscow), clubs, hostels and editorial offices of anarchists were attacked. Often these attacks could compete with Kerensky-era attacks by military school cadets in their beastliness and violence. In Petrograd, no large violent incidents occurred, but nevertheless, a Latvian detachment expelled [anarchists] from the Ginzburg House in early May, and soon thereafter the Stormy Petrel was shut down. Rallies and the organisation were banned, and thus [the anarchists] were driven further underground. The Petrograd organisation had by then lost a great number of its members, which played a huge role. Many people were taken by the front, some travelled to the provinces to carry out propaganda, and, finally, a certain number of comrades took the side of Communists, held important posts ([Vladimir] Shatov [alias Bill Shatov, 1887-1943] served as chief commissar of the Nikolayevskaya [Moscow to St Petersburg] Railway), and completely turned away from their comrades.

The main evil was, of course, the lack of organised self-discipline, which did not permit the Federation to unite into a single entity capable of resisting yesterday’s comrades who turned into today’s violators. One way or another, by late 1918 and early 1919 Petrograd anarchists have neither a newspaper nor open political activities. In 1919 speeches by anarchist speakers at factory meetings, which were already rare by then, ceased completely. The anarchist club in Zhukovskogo Street [in the city centre] dragged on a wretched existence for some time yet but later it was also shut down.

From 1919 until the present moment, that is, for the last five years, the history of the Petrograd Anarchist Federation is a history of non-stop persecutions which continuously tear the most energetic comrades away. Soon after the Kronstadt Uprising [in 1921], a trial against comrade [Pavel] Kolobushkin [Victor Serge rendered his name as Kalabushkin, and mentioned that he was a convict at Shlisselburg before becoming a member of the Black Guard - http://socialist.memo.ru/lists/shtrihi/l129.htm] and several more comrades was started, in an attempt to connect them to the uprising but the Bolsheviks failed at that. After a lengthy imprisonment, comrade Kolobushkin was exiled to Orenburg Province, and the others were gradually released.

Another trial against SRs and anarchists took place in the Spring of 1923. In it, several people were sentenced to capital punishment which was replaced with banishment to the Solovetsky Islands [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solovki_prison_camp]. Each time there is some disquiet in Petrograd, anarchists are showered with arrests and banishment. A whole number of comrades have done heavy damage by taking the Bolsheviks’ side and announcing their “Epiphany” via newspapers. While a person who fails to withstand persecution and lays down their arms can perhaps be forgiven, the gentlemen who cover their self-interest with loud phrases and spit at their comrades of yesterday who languish in prisons and exile, deserve nothing but contempt.

Thus the Communist authorities have managed, by way of unjustified terror against old anarchist fighters, to destroy the Federation as a legal organisation, they managed to throw the best, most energetic anachist comrades overboard from social life, but these madmen should not think that they have strangled anarchism. The seed, thrown by the skilled and experienced hands of old anarchists, has found favourable ground for itself in the representatives of the growing generation, and some of them went into exile and concentration camps as bravely, as fearlessly and as free from worry as their spiritual fathers did. The others, giving thanks to the old fighters for their old deeds, are forging their new swords for new battles and new struggles in the times of Communist reaction.

Archivists’ note [in English]: “Illegal anarchist publication in Soviet Russia. Leningrad, Nov. 1924.”

From folder 84 of the Flechine (Senya Fleshin and Mollie Steimer) Archive at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.

http://search.iisg.nl/search/search?action=transform&col=archives&xsl=archives-detail.xsl&lang=en&docid=10748542_EAD

Viewed as part of the Kate Sharpley Library ‘Anarchists in the Gulag, Prison and Exile Project’.

Translated by: - Szarapow.

http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/gxd3d2

Written by gulaganarchists

28, August 2013 at 7:11 pm

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Letter from Dora Stepnaya, May 17, 1927

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Typed copy of a letter. Hand-written: To Senya.

Arkhangelsk, May 17, 1927

Dear friend! I received 60 roubles from you yesterday, and it was at a good hour. We await for changes any day now. We do not know who would end up where. And here Mariya Veger [1] ended up again without teeth (she had [false] teeth made last year at Verkhne-Uralsk, but they turned out to be of bad quality). And now it is time to insert or rather make an entire denture. They immediately asked for 60 roubles, so your parcel arrived quite in good time. It is quite impossible to establish how much money may be needed, all the money you sent I am splitting and mailing or hand out here immediately. Pyotr Yurchenko [2] with his family suffer much want, I personally make ends meet from my earnings (my husband gets 70 rubles per month). I will certainly write to you where everyone is exiled. Rakhil Shapiro [3] and Kolya Belyayev’s [4] situation was very bad, they did not work throughout the winter (they are in Kyzylorda). Besides, Rakhil’s little son [5] is always ill. The doctors say that he should definitely be taken to Crimea. But of course this is quite impossible. Rakhil suggested that I take the children to Crimea. But I cannot take on such a task because I am always ill myself. The spring came but my temperature jumped up to 38 degrees. I do not know yet how I will spend the summer, it does not depend on us, a week or two and it will all be clear. So that’s it for our news. Hello from all the comrades.

Dora Stepnaya [6]

Notes

[1] See http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/k98tr4

[2] Pyotr Sergeyevich Yurchenko (1899-1937), anarchist. Born in Belarus, ethnic Ukrainian. Arrested in October 1924, sentenced in April 1926 to three years’ internal exile in Arkhangelsk. Worked as lithographer at disabled men’s co-operative. In May 1932, sentenced to three years’ internal exile in Siberia [Yeniseysk] for “anti-Soviet activities”. Rehabilitated in August 1989. From various pages on Memo.ru website.

[3] Rakhil Davydovna (or Davidovna) Shapiro, born in 1897 in Brest-Litovsk, ethnic Jew, housewife, anarchist-communist. Lived in Moscow or in Surazh (Gomel Guberniya). Arrested on August 17 (or 21), 1921. Sentenced by Moscow Cheka on January 14, 1922 to two years’ imprisonment (or exile to Arkhangelsk Guberniya) for participation in an anarchist organization and counter-revolutionary activities. Later exiled to Berezov (1924) and to Siberia (1927). Rehabilited in 1997. – from http://lists.memo.ru/d36/f250.htm

According to ru.wikipedia.org Rakhil later lived in Simferopol and Ulyanovsk [There are letters from her from these cities in the Fleshin archive].

[4] Nikolay (Nikita) Mikhaylovich Belyayev (1899-13.08.1937), anarchist. Was married to Gita Osherovna Kots. – from http://socialist.memo.ru/lists/slovnik/l3.htm

[5] Apparently, David (Dodek), son of Alexander Shapiro http://libcom.org/history/sacha-piotr-sascha-pjotr-aka-alexander-shapiro-aka-sergei-18891890-1942

[6] Dora Moiseyevna Stepnaya, born in 1897, ethnic Jew, worker, anarchist, lived in Smolensk. Arrested November 15, 1922, sentenced February 23, 1923 to three years in prison camp. In October 1925 sentenced to three years’ internal exile to Uralsk. – from http://lists.memo.ru/d31/f263.htm [According to The guillotine at work, she died in Moscow in 1932. She had a son.]

Folder 71, Flechine archive, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam.

From: Folder 71, Flechine archive, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam. . Translated by: - Szarapow.

http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/0vt55r

Written by gulaganarchists

23, August 2013 at 8:52 am

Posted in Texts

Tagged with

Letter from Dora Stepnaya, May 17, 1927

leave a comment »

Typed copy of a letter. Hand-written: To Senya.

Arkhangelsk, May 17, 1927

Dear friend! I received 60 roubles from you yesterday, and it was at a good hour. We await for changes any day now. We do not know who would end up where. And here Mariya Veger [1] ended up again without teeth (she had [false] teeth made last year at Verkhne-Uralsk, but they turned out to be of bad quality). And now it is time to insert or rather make an entire denture. They immediately asked for 60 roubles, so your parcel arrived quite in good time. It is quite impossible to establish how much money may be needed, all the money you sent I am splitting and mailing or hand out here immediately. Pyotr Yurchenko [2] with his family suffer much want, I personally make ends meet from my earnings (my husband gets 70 rubles per month). I will certainly write to you where everyone is exiled. Rakhil Shapiro [3] and Kolya Belyayev’s [4] situation was very bad, they did not work throughout the winter (they are in Kyzylorda). Besides, Rakhil’s little son [5] is always ill. The doctors say that he should definitely be taken to Crimea. But of course this is quite impossible. Rakhil suggested that I take the children to Crimea. But I cannot take on such a task because I am always ill myself. The spring came but my temperature jumped up to 38 degrees. I do not know yet how I will spend the summer, it does not depend on us, a week or two and it will all be clear. So that’s it for our news. Hello from all the comrades.

Dora Stepnaya [6]

Notes

[1] See http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/k98tr4

[2] Pyotr Sergeyevich Yurchenko (1899-1937), anarchist. Born in Belarus, ethnic Ukrainian. Arrested in October 1924, sentenced in April 1926 to three years’ internal exile in Arkhangelsk. Worked as lithographer at disabled men’s co-operative. In May 1932, sentenced to three years’ internal exile in Siberia [Yeniseysk] for “anti-Soviet activities”. Rehabilitated in August 1989. From various pages on Memo.ru website.

[3] Rakhil Davydovna (or Davidovna) Shapiro, born in 1897 in Brest-Litovsk, ethnic Jew, housewife, anarchist-communist. Lived in Moscow or in Surazh (Gomel Guberniya). Arrested on August 17 (or 21), 1921. Sentenced by Moscow Cheka on January 14, 1922 to two years’ imprisonment (or exile to Arkhangelsk Guberniya) for participation in an anarchist organization and counter-revolutionary activities. Later exiled to Berezov (1924) and to Siberia (1927). Rehabilited in 1997. – from http://lists.memo.ru/d36/f250.htm

According to ru.wikipedia.org Rakhil later lived in Simferopol and Ulyanovsk [There are letters from her from these cities in the Fleshin archive].

[4] Nikolay (Nikita) Mikhaylovich Belyayev (1899-13.08.1937), anarchist. Was married to Gita Osherovna Kots. – from http://socialist.memo.ru/lists/slovnik/l3.htm

[5] Apparently, David (Dodek), son of Alexander Shapiro http://libcom.org/history/sacha-piotr-sascha-pjotr-aka-alexander-shapiro-aka-sergei-18891890-1942

[6] Dora Moiseyevna Stepnaya, born in 1897, ethnic Jew, worker, anarchist, lived in Smolensk. Arrested November 15, 1922, sentenced February 23, 1923 to three years in prison camp. In October 1925 sentenced to three years’ internal exile to Uralsk. – from http://lists.memo.ru/d31/f263.htm [According to The guillotine at work, she died in Moscow in 1932. She had a son.]

Folder 71, Flechine archive, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam.

From: Folder 71, Flechine archive, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam. . Translated by: - Szarapow.

from http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/0vt55r

Written by gulaganarchists

23, August 2013 at 8:50 am

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