Anarchists in the Gulag (and prison and exile)

Bolshevik repression of anarchists after 1917

A Letter From Francesco Ghezzi

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Dear Friends,
The June 2008 Bulletin mentions a “Russian (and other) anarchists in the Gulag” research project. Among the “others” was : Francesco Ghezzi. Whoever has read Victor Serge’s Memories of a Revolutionary already knows how Ghezzi, who was one of his closest friends in USSR, had courage enough to go with him to the train station, in 1936, when eventually Serge was allowed to leave the country. Ghezzi, who was again arrested in 1937, died at Vorkuta in 1942.
What makes me to write you, is more precise.
It is already known that after he had been arrested in 1937 and when he faced the GPU, saying he was still an anarchist, and proud to be an anarchist, he recalled having sent a letter to protest to the GPU when the Bolsheviki had arrested Nicolas Lazarevitch, in Moscow, on Oct. 8th, 1924. Now working on the Lazarevitch papers, thanks to the fine inventory of Alexander Goriounov, I came across the rough copy of this letter, written at the risk of his life (or at least, of his freedom) : written in Italian, it is sent to Agranov – one of the GPU’s most terrible elements.
Though I don’t know if it might be of any use I send you its text, anyway, since it gives an idea of the courage of such men.
Luc Nemeth, Paris

Yalta, 31-12-1924
Il compagno Nicola Lazarevic si trova detenuto da tre mesi presso la G.P.U. di Mosca per ragioni politiche.
Noi abbiamo conosciuto Lazarevic in Italia nel 1920 durante i movimenti rivoluzionari e abbiamo imparato ad amarlo per la sua fede rivoluzionaria, per averlo sempre visto in prima fila nelle lotte, devoto alla cause operaia. Come noi egli dovette fuggire e rifugiarsi in Russia perchè perseguitato e noi siamo molto addolorati nel saperlo perseguitato anche da questo governo. Noi ci domandiamo costernati, come se lo domandano varii altri rifugiati politici in Russia e operai rivoluzionari all’estero che conobbero in Lazarevic un campione della classe operaia, come mai si possa arrestare un operaio consimile anche ammettendo che avesse fatto della propaganda rivoluzionaria e comunista con concetti che contrastano colle direttive ufficiali del governo russo, mentre si lasciano in libertà tanti borghesi sabotatori i quali non attendono che il momento per impiccare tutti gli operai.
Ciononostante pero noi vogliamo credere che presto mettiate Lazarevic in libertà e che possa venire qui in Yalta a lavorare con noi la terra nelle nostra colonia agricola.
Saluti rivoluzionari
Francesco Ghezzi

Ghezzi’s letter to Agranov (courtesy of Luc Nemeth):

Yalta, 31-12-1924
Comrade Nicola Lazarevic [Nicholas Lazarevitch] has been three months in the custody of the Moscow GPU for political reasons. We made Lazarevitch’s acquaintance in Italy in 1920 during the revolutionary disturbances there – and learnt to love him for his revolutionary faith and because we had always seen him in the front ranks of struggles, committed to the workers’ cause. Like us, he was forced to flee and sought refuge in Russia because he was persecuted and we are greatly saddened to discover that he has been persecuted by this government as well. Dismayed, we wonder, as a number of other political refugees in Russia and revolutionary workers abroad do, how on earth a worker of his calibre could have been arrested, even assuming that in his revolutionary communist propaganda he has employed ideas at odds with the official directions of the Russian government, whilst so many bourgeois saboteurs just itching for the chance to string up all the workers are left at liberty.
Notwithstanding which we would like to believe that you will shortly set Lazarevitch free and that he may come here to Yalta to join us in working the soil of our agricultural settlement.
Revolutionary greetings,
Francisco Ghezzi.”

Source: Lazarevitch papers: BDIC (Bibliothèque de documentation internationale contemporaine)
6, Allée de l’Université F-92001 Nanterre Cedex

From KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library #55. PDF at

Written by gulaganarchists

8, November 2008 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Texts

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