Anarchists in the Gulag (and prison and exile)

Bolshevik repression of anarchists after 1917

Archive for the ‘Texts’ Category

Anarcho-syndicalist Rubinchik commemorated in Moscow

leave a comment »

The Last Address (Posledny Adres) is the name of a project started by the Russian “Memorial” Society in 2014 to commemorate victims of state repressions in the Soviet Union. The project, which has now spread to other countries, installs small commemorative plaques on the buildings known as the last residential address
of those arrested. One victim recently honoured in this way was the anarcho-syndicalist Efrem Rubinchik (1892–1938). At a small ceremony on March 25, 2018, a plaque was installed at 20 Smolensky Boulevard, Moscow. In attendance was Andrey Dolginov, a great-grandson of Efrem Rubinchik, who applied for the plaque. The following is a translation of the press release issued by “Memorial” in connection with this event as well as some other materials relating to his case. Notes have been added by the translator [Malcolm Archibald].

 

Read on https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/z34wgk

Advertisements

Written by gulaganarchists

28, May 2018 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Sources / Links, Texts

Tagged with

Anarchist Solidarity : An exchange between Lilly Sarnoff and Alexander Berkman

leave a comment »

Lilly Sarnoff (1899-1981) was a Russian-born American anarchist. She is probably best known for her correspondence with imprisoned Mexican anarchist Ricardo Flores Magón between October 1920 and November 1922 (see ‘Prison Letters of Ricardo Flores Magón to Lilly Sarnoff’ at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020859000005617).
‘While he was imprisoned at Leavenworth, Flores Magón began a long correspondence with “Ellen White,” the pseudonym of Lilly Sarnoff, a young New York anarchist and member of the defence committee working for his release. Sarnoff, born in Russia in 1899, came to the United States in 1905 with fresh memories of the anti-Jewish pogroms she had witnessed. Joining the anarchist movement as a young girl, she was active in behalf of political prisoners and wrote poems and sketches for a number of American anarchist periodicals, including The Road to Freedom and Man! After Flores Magón’s death, she threw herself into the campaign to save Sacco and Vanzetti, corresponding with them and visiting them in prison, as she had done with Flores Magón. For many years she was a member of the Ferrer colony at Stelton, New Jersey, where she continued to reside, with her companion Louis G. Raymond, until her death in 1981. In 1971 she published a booklet of poems, the first of which tells of Flores Magón and his calvary in America, where “rebels are not wanted,” but “only those of small minds, crafty men, and ignorant.”’
[‘Ricardo Flores Magón in Prison’ in Anarchist Portraits by Paul Avrich p 211]

[Headed paper] The Anarchist Red Cross
Re-organized 1922 / Y. Fearer Sec’y-Treas / c.o. Freie Arbeiter Stimme / 48 Canal Street, N.Y.C./ FOR THE RELIEF OF ANARCHISTS IN PRISONS THE WORLD OVER [end of letter heading]
37 Lee Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
June 28, 1924.

Dear Comrade B.

I received your two letters with the Statement. I will try to send that 2nd Bulletin this week. I cannot now write of other various news, but there are a few vital things to be written so I’ll write them now without more ado.

First, most of the news you write here, are already know[n] to us. We not merely know – but are already actually in touch with them – such as “Annie”.[1] We had already sent her money when your letter came. To that comrade who is to visit Solevetsky[2] we also had already sent some money – only a smaller amount than to you. So it seems we are in touch with the same people you are…

Of course you know our stand – (this is in re: the withdrawing of the Russian comrades from the Joint Committee). It has always been and is still against working jointly. That is the reason, as you well know, that we always stipulate when we send money, that it is to go solely for the Anarchists, so that the money should not go through the Joint Committee. Anarchists and Social Rev. [3] cannot work together. That meeting for June 6th was never held. The Social Rev. were to have called it and didn’t – as they do but little work – and this thing fell through as many other things. The F. A. S.[4] wanted to go in to work with them on that meeting and they refused – and that shows too – their spirit of co-operation.

Now there is another important matter that it seems must be thrashed out well, before any other work can go on between you and us (A. R. C.) You know our work. You know that we are trying to raise money in all ways that we can and use it for the sole purpose of helping Anarchist prisoners. You know too that we are not one – or a few – but a group – a group, which could – with proper help and co-operation expand and grow so that other groups in different parts of the country could be formed and co-operate together with us. However, whether you realize it or not, and I don’t suppose you really do – (that in why we are explaining this) – you are really, instead of aiding us – hindering our work. This is how that happens. You send out letters to different people all over the country with YOUR NAME only – quite ignoring our (A. R. C.) existence – and ask for help. You being well known, people, send money to you (through the F. A. S.). Now if in those letters you spoke of us – that we were doing this work – with you – if you referred them to us, saying that we would send the money to you, since we are an organized body, working expressly for the purpose of helping the prisoners, a much different and better result would be. Now people send in money direct to you – and if they think of the Red Cross at all, it may be perhaps to wonder what we do – since you are collecting money for that purpose. I’ve tried to make this as clear as I could, and I believe you understand. If the R. C and you are to continue to co-operate we must do this on a co-operating basis from BOTH sides – that you must recognize us – publicly – in your letters, appeals, etc. as well as merely to receive money from us to send to people, many of whom we are already in touch with.

I am trying not to make the matter seem worse than it is. This is how I have been authorised to write by the group, and as I see it. It is not quite right that while we are trying in all ways to collect money, that you send in appeals and letters in your own name, as if we had no existence at all. If I could read Jewish [ie Yiddish] – I would cut out the clippings of the F.A.S. for you – to see how bad that is – A. R. C. announcing their regular meetings etc. – and money being sent direct to you printed in the same other another page. Perhaps some comrades will send these clippings to you – or I believe you must have that paper yourself – and can look it over.

Now please consider this thoroughly, Comrade B. – What you think and how you wish to act. We shall wait for your reply to consider what next steps to take. Of course if, comradely, you wished to cooperate with us we believe that both the Red Cross and the ‘treasury’ holding the money to go for our imprisoned comrades would improve greatly. But we can work it out more fully later. Now, we will wait to hear your reply to this.

Fraternally,
Lillie Sarnoff

From Alexander Berkman Papers, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, Folder 8 (pages 65-66) http://hdl.handle.net/10622/ARCH00040.8?locatt=view:pdf

Notes

1, Annie: possibly Anya Levin. ‘Anya,’ like ‘Annie,’ is a diminutive of Anna or Anne. Anya Levin was arrested in Warsaw in February 1924 as she got off the train with a suitcase full of anarchist literature. She was sentenced to a substantial jail term in Poland.
2, Russian prison islands in the White Sea
3, Socialist Revolutionaries
4, Fraye Arbeter Shtime [or Freie Arbeiter Stimme], New York Yiddish-language anarchist paper

[Berkman’s reply]

Berlin, July 22, 1924

Dear Comrade Sarnoff:

Your letter of June 28 (written by you in the name of your Group) and copies of the Bulletin #2 received. This reply is to you as well as to the comrades of the Red Cross.

You know my position in regard to aid of the revolutionists imprisoned in Russia. As I said in the Statement recently issued by myself and Mratchny,[4] I do NOT consider aid to imprisoned revolutionists in the light of political work. It is not necessary here to repeat all that I said in the Statement, a copy of which I sent you.

To me, in this connection, supplying bread to a Maria Spiridonova (who is a Left S.R.)[5] is just as imperative as to aid A.Baron, (who is an Anarchist).[6] It is not a question of the political views of the prisoners. It is enough for me that they are sincere revolutionists.

Concerning your remark that we cannot work with Left S.R.s, I may tell you that we – at least I – could also not work together with many of the ANARCHISTS who are in the prisons of the Bolsheviki. Yet I am willing to help them, as prisoners. Among the Anarchists in prison are many Individualists, Stirnerians, Universalists, Gordinists (who are worse than crazy) etc., etc.[7] Some among them pure cranks who did us more harm than good in the Revolution. Yet even YOU send help to ALL Anarchists, not asking what their particular views and opinions are. Some of these “Anarchists” cannot even be considered as Anarchists in OUR sense, yet we are willing to help ALL of them. I can assure you that as a revolutionist I felt nearer to Spirdionova, Kamkov, or Trutovsky[8] (I know them all personally and spent many days with them in Moscow) than to some of these Individualists and Stirnerians whom you are willing – and justly – to regard as Anarchists. In short, I would help Sophia Perovskaya and Zheliabov in prison, the same as I would help Baron or Maier-Rubinchik.[9] (If you really wanted to carry your view out logically, you should aid ONLY Anarchists-Communists in prison, for the Universalists, for instance, are as far from us as the Left S.R.s and perhaps even further in point of ideas).

As a matter of fact, the Anarchists in the prisons of Russia SHARE the things they receive with the Left SRs, and the latter do the same. Among revolutionists in prison political distinctions are abolished so far as food etc. is concerned. You will therefore realise how stupid it is of that fellow in the N.Y. Izvestia who asked me whether I would also “work with Denikin and Wrangel to aid their prisoners”. We are speaking of revolutionists in prison, not of counter-revolutionists. To me the Left SRs ARE revolutionists, even if I disagree with their political views.

Well, you are at liberty to have your own opinion on the matter. That is why I call myself an Anarchist, leaving others free to act and think as they believe best. But at the same time I claim the right for myself to act as I think proper under given circumstances.

Now, you surprise me when you speak of cooperation. I have not noticed any on your part. Two years ago, when I started to publish my pamphlets on Russia, which I considered important to spread the truth about the Bolsheviki, I appealed to you and you – the Group – promised to cooperate. I have never heard another word from you or the Group about it. It was the lack of cooperation in that work that forced me to suspend the series which was to consist of ten or twelve different pamphlets.

As to the money you sent, I merely served for you as a medium through which you forwarded funds to Russia. The cooperation was on MY side.

You speak of letters that I send out in MY OWN NAME to get help for Russia. I claim the right to do so, of course. But as a matter of fact, all such work is done by the Joint Committee and in its name. It is only occasionally, to some personal friend (whom I can reach better than the Committee) that I send a personal letter. Such cases are very rare, because all that I did long ago, when I stood alone in this work, immediately after I left Russia. Already in Riga I sent out the first appeal, almost 5 years ago. And that also was NOT in my own name, but was signed by Shapiro and E.G.[10] as well as by myself.

I know that some people and groups and money directly here instead of to you. For instance, Volin[11] and his Group often receive funds for Russia. Some are also received by the Joint Committee, also by Kater and often also by R.Rocker.[12] Sometimes also funds are sent directly to me. For instance an Italian Group of Chicago sent some recently. Also I recently received funds from the Freie Arb. Stimme, (for Russia) which the Stimme received from some St. Louis comrades, whom I even don’t know. Nor do I know the Italian Group in Chicago, etc. In other words, people send funds AS THEY PLEASE. Most of those people and groups probably don’t even know of your existence, or some of them may prefer to send funds to others, not to you. Surely that is not my fault.

I personally am indifferent as to where and how people send help to Russia. I am only interested in seeing that our prisoners should receive aid. HOW and BY WHOM is just the same, just so that they get it.

This is about all there it to be said on the subject. I have explained my position to you, and I hope that you clearly understand it.

Fraternally,
A.B.

Alexander Berkman Papers, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, Folder 8 (pages 67) http://hdl.handle.net/10622/ARCH00040.8?locatt=view:pdf

Notes

4, Mark Mratchny (1892-1975), exiled Russian anarchist involved in the prisoner solidarity efforts. See the interview with him in Paul Avrich’s Anarchist Voices.
5, Maria Spiridonova (1884-1941), one of the most important figures in the Left Socialist Revolutionary Party. She is discussed in Emma Goldman’s ‘Heroic women of the Russian Revolution’ https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/3xsk7w
6, Aron Baron (1891-1937), anarchist, returned to Russia from exile in the United States in mid-1917. Imprisoned and exiled from 1920 until his execution in 1937. A biography of him by Nick Heath is at https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/2fr01d
7, Individualists, Stirnerians, Universalists, Gordinists. For more on the various stands see Paul Avrich’s The Russian Anarchists
8, Boris Kamkov (1885-1938) was a leader of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party, and took part in the first Soviet government. After 1918 he was frequently imprisoned and was shot in 1938.
Vladimir Trutovsky (1889-1937) was an organizer of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party in 1917, belonged to its central committee, and held a cabinet post in the first Soviet government in 1917-1918. He spent most of the 1920s-1930s in exile before being shot in 1937.
9, Sophia Perovskaya (1853-1881) and Andrei Ivanovich Zheliabov (1851-1881) were both members of the Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will). Maier-Rubinchik: Yefim Borisovich Rubinchik-Meier (1892–1938), was a Russian anarcho-syndicalist.
10, Berkman Refers to Russian anarchists Alexander Schapiro (1882-1946) and Emma Goldman (1869-1940).
11, Volin (Vsevolod Mikhailovich Eikhenbaum, 1882-1945), Russian anarchist.
12, Fritz Kater (1861-1945) and Rudolf Rocker (1873-1958) were both German-born anarchists involved (from Berlin) in solidarity efforts with anarchists in Russia. A short biography of Kater by Nick Heath is at https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/xwddjc

From KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 93-94, March 2018 [Double issue]  https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/18944r

Written by gulaganarchists

28, March 2018 at 10:05 am

Posted in Texts

Tagged with

Looking at Anarchist solidarity with prisoners and exiles in the Soviet Union

leave a comment »

In 2010 the Alexander Berkman Social Club and Kate Sharpley Library published The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid. It tells the story of the anarchist solidarity effort with their comrades in the Soviet Union (first in the Joint Committee of anarchists and Socialist Revolutionaries, and then under the wing of the anarcho-syndicalist International Working Men’s Association). These bulletins, published between 1923 and 1931, illuminate the development of Bolshevik repression over many years. But they also show how and why the solidarity was vital to imprisoned and exiled revolutionaries, how it drew on Russian revolutionary traditions, and how information was crucial to the work they did.

Bread (and books)

It was clear from the beginning that anarchist solidarity aimed to offer ‘both moral and material aid’[1]. Not only did they stop people from starving: there was the psychological support of being remembered. ‘Twice we received from Chicago the papers “Noviy Mir” and “Russky Golos”. Wonder who sent them. May be you. But I can tell you, whoever did, the very fact is pleasant and encouraging. People are thinking of us … N. (Central Russia)’.[2]

Money was required by the prisoners and exiles: ‘your aid helps a great deal. Else some would die of hunger and cold.’[3] Exiles were supposed to receive an allowance: ‘we are allowed by the Government 6 roubles 25 kopeks per month (less than $3.25 Transl.) There is no chance of earning anything: first, because there are only two or three local institutions in our village, while several hundred persons are looking for work; secondly we are not accepted on principle … The lowest minimum one needs here to exist is 10-12 roubles a month per person, not counting any expenses for the necessary clothing. Therefore, but for your help, – well, you know where we should be … S.– K.– (North of Siberia).[4]

In other, more remote, places even money was useless. ‘G. is about to go now with my last pair of trousers to exchange them for potatoes. The peasants have very little left from their crop, because of the high percentage they have to turn over to the State. They refuse to sell for money and so we must give them our very last possessions.’[5]

The aid that was sent reached more than one individual at a time. Each recipient ‘represented an anarchist colony, ranging from “4 or 5 or even 20 comrades whom we reach through the one correspondent in a given district”’[6] This was thanks to the starosta system: ‘Klichevsky was a starosta, literally an “elder,” for the community of anarchist exiles in the city of Tashkent. This was an elected position which entitled Klichevsky to negotiate with the Soviet authorities on behalf of his fellow-exiles, and also gave him access to information about anarchist exiles and prisoners at other locations.’[7]

Besides this, the aid fund sent books and magazines, both political and educational. The German Communist paper Rote Fahne is mentioned several times. It must have been more informative than the Russian press!

Not sectarian

Alexander Berkman was happy to work with Left Socialist Revolutionaries like I.N. Steinberg – unlike New York’s Anarchist Red Cross. This led to his exchange of letters with Lily Sarnoff where he wrote ‘Supplying bread to Maria Spiridonova (who is a Left Socialist Revolutionist) is just as imperative as to aid [Aron] Baron (who is an anarchist).’ [8] It’s also noticeable that even after 1926 when the Aid Fund is an explicitly anarchist affair, news from other socialist currents is still included.

The revolutionary tradition

Vera Alexandrovna Martsinkevitch, Left Socialist Revolutionary, died in Kem camp in April 1925. The report shows how the collective of political prisoners kept up revolutionary traditions of mourning in the face of official opposition: ‘Her comrades were not permitted to bury her. Secretly they had to steal over to the hospital to bid her good-by for the last time. Only in their barracks could the “collectiv” intone the funeral march, for their murdered comrade, “You have fallen a victim”’.[9]

The Russian revolutionary tradition shaped the attitudes of the Russian anarchists too. When Emma Goldman talked about the ‘Heroic women of the Russian Revolution’ [10] she started with the wives of the Decembrist rebels of 1825.

Many of the prisoners and exiles could compare Tsarist to Bolshevik prisons from personal experience. ‘Politicals who had served in Schlusselberg and Petropavlovskska (the worst places of imprisonment under Tsarism) say that Solovetski is the most terrible experience they have suffered.’ [11]

Similarities with the Tsarist regime are invoked to reminder readers that the state is not ‘withering away’. ‘The present regime in the Butyrki prison – Lazarevitch relates – is one of utmost severity. The politicals are kept in isolation. It is not permitted to leave one’s cell, nor to stand at the window or to communicate with fellow prisoners. Exercise, for each political separately, is allowed for one hour daily. Loud talking, singing, or tapping [of messages] is punished by the dungeon, as in the days of the Tsar.’[12] Pointing out these similarities could be dangerous to the prisoners and exiles. Nikolai Viktorov ‘was sent to prison in Tobolsk, Siberia, for allegedly “insulting a policeman,” who he had called gendarme.’ [ie a member of the tsarist political police 13]

The organisation of solidarity

There were tensions over how solidarity efforts were to be organised, or who should be supported. But such support work was easier to organise than other political activities: ‘Anarchists agreed that they had a duty to aid their comrades who had been imprisoned or exiled by Soviet rule and this acknowledgement gave them a sense of purpose and a unifying cause during a period of factionalism.’[14] ‘The debate between Unified Anarchism and the Organizational Platform centred around difficult and complex concepts, such as the nature of revolution and politics. Relief aid was more tangible; by sending anarchist prisoners food, books, or clothes, exiles could give support and demonstrate their sociability.’[15]

Clearly the solidarity work was not a-political. Anarchists abroad were reassured that the Bolshevik myth was not all-conquering: ‘Encouragement is to be found – strange as it may sound – in the fact that the prisons and exile places are filled with politicals. It is the best indication that the conscience of the country is not dead.’[16]

The relief effort was part of an international network. The accounts record not just money sent to anarchists or particular militants but money directed to aid exiled Bulgarians, Italian prisoner committees and others. We also get glimpses of a younger generation inside Russia: ‘young persons, politicals of the new generation, whom we, “the old guard”, do not know.’[17] – possibly a sighting of the ‘Wildcat’ anarchists recorded by Viktor Savchenko.[18]

Testimony

Reading through the Bulletins reprinted in The Tragic Procession, besides seeing the importance of the money they raised (and how scrupulous they were in recording and distributing it), you get a sense of the importance of information. Letters are reprinted to give a snapshot of current conditions (even where safety means the name and location of the author can’t be given). We’re given a view of news as it comes in – even, in some cases, of ominous silence. This attention to detail reflects a concern to prove what’s going on. It’s also part of an attempt by the aid fund to make their imprisoned and exiled comrades something more than just a set of statistics. Their revolutionary career (be it short or long), their personality, their health difficulties are all used to maintain the connection with the comrades abroad who – whether they knew them or not – held out a lifeline.

Notes

1 Tragic procession p.4: Bulletin of the Joint Committee for the Defense of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia, no. 1 October 1923
2 ‘From our correspondence’ Tragic procession p.16: Bulletin of the Joint Committee, Nov.-Dec. 1925, p.3. This anonymously published extract is from a letter of Anton Shliakhovoy to Mark Mratchny, from Tula, 02/07/1925 Flechine papers folder 48. Translation (by Malcolm Archibald) online at https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/5qfvz7
3 ‘From our correspondence’ Tragic procession p.26: Bulletin of the Relief Fund of the International Working Men’s Association for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia no.1 December 1926, p.5
4 ‘From our correspondence’ Tragic procession p.17: Bulletin of the Joint Committee, Nov.-Dec. 1925, p.4
5 ‘From other letters’ Tragic procession p.69: Bulletin of the Relief Fund, April 1931 p.6
6 Outcasts, outlaws, and outsiders: Exiled Russian anarchists in the interwar years Elizabeth Jane Dennison, PhD thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 1993. p.107 quoting A. Berkman to Yelensky, 1 February 1930, G file, Boris Yelensky Archive,  International Institute of Social History
7 See Malcolm Archibald’s introduction to ‘A Letter from Tashkent (1925)’ by Boris Klichevsky https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/w6mbrb
8 the exchange is in folder 8 of the Berkman papers in Amsterdam, page 65 onwards. [See next article: https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/18944r]
9 ‘The death of Vera Martsinkevitch’ Tragic procession p.26: Bulletin of the Relief Fund no.1 December 1926, p.5
10 Emma Goldman Papers at the International Institute of Social History, folder 221 see text at https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/3xsk7w. Goldman gave a lecture on “Heroic Women of the Russian Revolution” at the Folk House in Bristol on May 4th 1925.
11 ‘Transfer of all politicals to Solovetski’ Tragic procession p.3: Bulletin of the Joint Committee, no. 1 October 1923
12 ‘The case of Lazarevitch’ Tragic procession p.25: Bulletin of the Relief Fund, no.1 December 1926, p.4
13 ‘The mill of the Bolsheviks’ Tragic procession p.44: Bulletin of the Relief Fund, no.5 March 1928 p.3 https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/9p8f3t
14 Dennison p.88
15 Dennison p.104
16 ‘After thirteen years’ Tragic procession p.58: Bulletin of the Relief Fund, November-December 1930 p.1
17 ‘Conditions in Russia’ Tragic procession p.62: Bulletin of the Relief Fund, November-December 1930 p.5
18 See Viktor Savchenko, ‘The Anarchist Movement in Ukraine at the Height of the New Economic Policy (1924-25)’, in particular p.182. http://dx.doi.org/10.21226/T2CK78

from KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 93-94, March 2018 [Double issue] https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/xgxftm

Written by gulaganarchists

28, March 2018 at 10:04 am

Posted in Texts

Tagged with

Boris Klichevsky: A Letter from Tashkent (1925)

leave a comment »

In 1925 the anarchist Boris Klichevsky, exiled in Soviet Turkestan, wrote a letter to his old comrade Mark Mrachny in Berlin, reporting on the condition of repressed anarchists in the USSR. Klichevsky was a starosta, literally an “elder,” for the community of anarchist exiles in the city of Tashkent. This was an elected position which entitled Klichevsky to negotiate with the Soviet authorities on behalf of his fellow-exiles, and also gave him access to information about anarchist exiles and prisoners at other locations. Mrachny prepared a typescript of the letter which is now preserved in the International Institute for Social History (Senya Fléchine Papers: Folder 47, pp. 130-132). A heavily edited version was published in English translation in the Bulletin of the Joint Committee for the Defense of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia (November-December 1925) as an anonymous letter.

One remarkable feature of Russian anarchism has always been its ability to regenerate itself under the most adverse conditions. As Klichevsky’s letters shows, there was a new wave of young people coming into the movement, people who were too young to take part in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. Despite being indoctrinated in the Komsomol (Communist Youth) or even the Party itself, these people, from all walks of life, gravitated to anarchism.

The letter has been translated and annotated by Malcolm Archibald. Read it at: https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/w6mbrb

Written by gulaganarchists

12, December 2017 at 9:47 am

Posted in Sources / Links, Texts

Tagged with

Emma Goldman on Heroic women of the Russian Revolution

leave a comment »

Pre-revolutionary Russia stood unique in the world’s history for the host of remarkable and heroic women she contributed to the movement for liberation. Beginning with the “Decembrists”, the first political rebels against autocratic Tsardom, almost a century ago, whose wives voluntarily followed them into Siberian exile, down to the last day of the Romanov regime, Russian women have participated in every form of revolutionary activity and went to their death or to prison with a smile upon their lips.

In his vivid and powerful poem, “Russian Women”, the poet Nekrassov [1] paid a high tribute to the fortitude and valour of the women who had sacrificed wealth, social station, and culture to wend their weary way across the frozen Northern plains in order to share the cruel fate of their  imprisoned and exiled husbands. Later it was Ivan Turgenev who with fine feeling and sympathetic appreciation painted the picture of the Russian women revolutionists of his time. In his superb prose poem “On the Threshold” he immortalised the exalted idealists of the Sophie Perovskaia [2] type of Russian women whose passionate faith and selfless devotion to liberty beacon-like illuminated the dark horizon of Russia in the early eighties.

The February Revolution of 1917 opened the prison doors to the survivors of the torture, the  dungeon, and Siberian exile meted out by Tsarism to its political opponents. In triumph they were brought back to Moscow and Petrograd, scores of the revolutionists of the younger generation, among them such revered names as Maria Spiridonova, her intimate friend Alexandra Izmailovitch, Irena Kakhovskaya, Evgenia Ratner, Olga Taratuta [3] – representing various political tendencies, but all inspired by a common love of the people and devotion to its cause.

Olga Taratuta, the daughter of intellectual parents, though of slight physique, possessed a powerful mentality and was in a certain sense a pioneer. When barely twenty she organised, together with several friends, the first Anarchist group in Southern Russia. It was a dangerous undertaking, and her activities soon attracted the attention of the political police. Arrested at the beginning of the revolution of 1905, Olga was doomed to 30 years’ katorga (hard labour prison) in Odessa. Ingenious and daring, she succeeded in escaping, again taking up her former work, this time under an assumed name. For a considerable time all the efforts of the gendarmerie to find her were fruitless, but in 1906 her disguise was discovered, she was re-arrested, and sentenced once more to 30 years’ prison. On her return to freedom, in 1917, Olga devoted herself to the political Red Cross work, aiding the victims of the Hetman Skoropadsky regime in the Ukraine, and subsequently giving relief and cheer to the new groups of political prisoners created by the Communist State.

In the latter part of 1920 an All-Russian Conference of Anarchists was to take place at Kharkov. Though the gathering was to be held with the knowledge and consent of the Soviet Government, all the delegates were placed under arrest on the very eve of the Conference, without warning or explanation. Among the several hundred prisoners was also Olga Taratuta. She was sent to the Butyrki Prison, in Moscow, the very place where so many of her comrades had suffered and died in the days of the Romanov regime. There Olga underwent the most harrowing experience of her eventful life. On the night of April 25th the political wing of the prison was raided by the Tcheka, the  prisoners were attacked in their sleep and badly maltreated, and then rushed to the railroad station – some of them with nothing on save their night clothes – and transferred to other prisons.

Olga found herself in the dreaded Orlov prison, which served as a central point of “distribution” under Nikolas II. The character of the administration and of the regimen of that prison were such as to drive the politicals quickly to a hunger strike in protest against their treatment. Olga was again removed to another prison, thence being sent out to exile in the dismal region of the Veliky Ustiug, and finally ordered to Kiev, where she had formerly ministered so devotedly to the Communist prisoners of the Hetman reaction. A recent letter of Olga to a friend abroad contains the significant remark that persecution by the Soviet Government has robbed her of more vitality than all the years of incarceration she had suffered at the hands of the Romanov autocracy.

Unlike Olga Taratuta, most of the other heroines of the Russian Revolution are of proletarian origin. Among them LEAH GOTMAN and FANYA BARON [4] are two anarchist women of outstanding personality. In their teens they left Russia for America, where they were employed in factories and took active part in the labor movement. I knew the girls well, splendid specimens of independent womanhood, of attractive appearance, fine feeling, and strong mentality. At the first call of the February Revolution these two girls, together with scores of other Russian refugees, hurried to their native land. It was just such as they that had helped to make the October Revolution. Leah and Fanya felt their place to be in the midst of the proletariat, preferring particularly to work with the Southern muzhik, among the agricultural elements of the Ukraine, to whom they gave all the love and devotion of their rich natures. Subsequently both girls carried on cultural activities among the rebel peasantry led by their famous Bat’ka (“Little Father”) Nestor Makhno.

The hand of Kremlin, lifted against Makhno, fell heavily also upon Leah Gotman and Fanya Baron. Both were arrested on the eve of the Kharkov Conference, referred to above, and were sent to Butyrki Prison, where they fell victims to the Tcheka raid, on the night of April 25th, 1920. Torn out of her bed in the dead of night, Leah was dragged by her hair down a flight of stairs, and forced to remain for hours, half-dressed as she was, in the prison yard together with the other politicals, waiting to be transferred to some unknown destination. She has remained in prison ever since, being now one of the hapless inmates of the terrible Solovetsky Monastery, situated in the Arctic zone.

FANYA BARON, who always impressed me with her unbounded courage and exceptionally generous spirit, belongs to the rare type of woman who can perform the most difficult tasks of revolutionary ardor with calm grace and utter selflessness. Following the Butyrki raid she was transferred to Riazan Prison, whence she soon escaped, making her unaided way back to Moscow on foot. Arriving penniless and almost without clothes, her desperate condition compelled her to seek refuge with her husband’s brother, at whose home she was discovered by the Tcheka. This big-hearted woman who had served the cause of the Revolution all her life was done to death by the Party that pretends to be the advance guard of the Revolution. Not content with murdering Fanya Baron (in September, 1921) the Communists put the stigma of “banditism” on the memory of their dead victim.

Not Anarchists only, but members of every other political group have had to pay heavy toll to the juggernaut of the Communist autocracy, including the Social-Revolutionists of the Right and of the Left, the Mensheviki, the Maximalists, and even the Communist[s] of the Left wing. I shall name but some of the most outstanding personalities.

EVGENIA RATNER, a young woman of keen mind and forceful character, joined the Social-Revolutionist Party soon after completing her medical studies in Switzerland. Her activities, after she returned to Russia, repeatedly involved her in difficulties with the authorities, who finally condemned her to a long prison term. Freed by the February Revolution of 1917, her exceptional ability and energy caused her to be elected as a member of the Central Committee of her Party, while she at the same time was chosen by the peasantry as one of their representatives in the Moscow Soviet. Her Party having been outlawed by the Bolsheviki, Evgenia was arrested in 1919, and placed on trial in 1922 together with eleven of he comrades, all of whom were condemned to death.

The intercession of the Western world, which aroused an emphatic international protest against the execution of the sentence – signed by such men as Anatole France, Romain Rolland and others – saved the lives of the twelve Social-Revolutionists, Evgenia Ratner among them. She is now dragging out a miserable existence in the Butyrki Prison.

Of the Left Social-Revolutionists, Irena Kakhovskaia, Alexandra Izmailovitch, and Maria Spiridonova have suffered the greatest martyrdom. Kahkovskaya, grand-daughter of General Kakhovsky, the famous “Decembrist” rebel against Nikolas I. is a woman of recognised literary ability and revolutionary idealism. She began her work in the liberation movement of Russia when a very young girl, in 1904. Subsequently she was arrested and sentenced to 20 years’ katorga, from where she was later transferred to Akatuy, one of the most feared places of Tsarist exile. In 1914 she was permitted to settle in the Trans-Baikal territory, whence she was freed by the February, 1917, Revolution.

Upon her return from exile, Irena Kakhovskaia became on of the most valuable workers in the Left Social-Revolutionary Party, much esteemed for her understanding of the peasant psychology and the needs of the proletariat. After the Brest Litovsk peace and the German occupation of the Ukraine, the German authorities arrested Irena as a participant in the conspiracy against the life of General Eichorn, the Prussian Field Marshal in the Ukraine, who was killed by the Left Social-Revolutionist, A. Donskoy. [5] Kakhovskaia was subjected to torture and sentenced to death. Fortunately for her, the outbreak of the revolution in Germany prevented her execution, and she was saved.

Irena continued in the work of her political convictions and in 1921 she was arrested again, this time by the Bolsheviki, by whom she was exiled to Kaluga, in Siberia.

While in prison, Irena Kakhovskaia wrote her most interesting memoirs, an unusual story of a very unique personality. Romain Rolland, after perusing the work said: “I am opposed to the ideas of Kakhovskaia, but her narrative has a captivating human, or rather superhuman, quality. It is a psychological document of the highest value. The absolute simplicity of the narrator, her truly Russian ability of objective vision, her incredible energy devoted entirely to the cause she has at heart – all this aroused admiration in the reader, no matter what his attitude may be towards the value of the action accomplished or contemplated. What heroism, patience, utter self-abnegation, what treasures of the soul does not humanity waste on terrible and shameless purposes”.

Alexandra Izmailovitch, the daughter of a Russian Army General, is another instance of Russia’s young womanhood whom the Romanov autocracy has driven to individual acts of violence as the sole form of protest possible under the despotic regime. In 1906 she attempted the life of Governor Kurlov, of Minsk Province, who was responsible for most fiendish pogroms against Jews. Sentenced to Siberia for life, she was liberated with the other politicals in 1917. As a member of the Left Social-Revolutionary Party, she became a leading figure in the All-Russian Soviet of Peasant Deputies. When the Bolsheviki decided to “liquidate” her Party “for good”, in 1919, she was arrested together with a number of her comrades, remaining almost continuously in prison ever since.

The most characteristic feature of this exceedingly able and energetic woman is her life-long devotion to her friend and comrade Maria Spiridonova. They spent together eleven years in Siberia, together they returned to Russia to join their efforts in behalf of the people, and together they were arrested by the Bolshevik Government and are sharing their imprisonment these many years. It is no exaggeration to say that the tender care and devotion which Alexandra Izmailovitch has given to her friend are the main cause that Maria Spiridonova is still among the living.

MARIA SPIRIDONOVA is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable and heroic figures in the Russian revolutionary movement during the last twenty years. Of aristocratic family, beautiful and cultured, young Maria left luxury and social position to devote herself to the cause of the oppressed. Fine-feeling and sympathetic, she could not bear without protest the injustice and tyranny she witnessed on every hand. At the age of 18 she committed an attentat [on] General Lukhanovsky, the Governor of Tambov Province, who was universally execrated for his truly Asiatic savagery toward the peasantry.

The Russian Tsars were never partial in their treatment of women politicals: they were equally relentless to all their opponents, be they men or women. But in the case of Maria Spiridonova the henchmen of Nikolas II. surpassed even the methods of Ivan the Terrible. Upon her arrest, Maria was beaten into insensibility, her clothes literally torn from her body, and the young girl then turned over to the drunken guard who amused themselves with burning her naked flesh with lighted cigarettes. After weeks on the verge of death, Maria was finally condemned to death.

The torture of Spiridonova aroused the entire Western world, whose protests saved her from the scaffold. She was “pardoned” to Siberia for life. The effects of her ghastly experience left her with [6] injured lungs, a crippled hand, and the loss of the sight of one eye. But though physically marred and broken, her spirit remained aflame.

Few of the returned politicals received such popular ovation all the way from Siberia to Petrograd and Moscow as Maria Spiridonova upon her release from prison in 1917. But she would waste no time in the mere enjoyment of her newly won liberty. She threw herself into work with the whole ardour of her intense personality, organising the peasants, inspiring and directing the awakened energies of the Russian people. She became the adored leader of the great agrarian millions of Russia, the soul of all their age-long aspirations, and the spokesman of their needs and hopes. As the most outstanding figure of the Left Social-Revolutionist Party, Maria wielded tremendous influence in the All-Russian Soviet of the peasantry, where she elaborated a comprehensive plan for the socialisation of the land, then the most vital problem of Russian life.

Already in 1918 Maria Spiridonova became aware that the Revolution was in greater danger from some of its alleged friends than from its enemies. She saw the growing autocracy of the Communist State and set herself sternly against it. The final break between her Party and the Bolsheviki came over the Brest Litovsk peace, which Spiridonova condemned for reasons of principle as well as practical grounds. Shortly after that she was arrested together with 500 delegates to the Peasant Congress.

When I came to Russia I was told by the Bolsheviki that Maria Spiridonova has suffered a nervous breakdown and that she was therefore placed in a sanatorium where she as receiving the best of care. But soon I discovered that Maria had escaped from “the best of care” and was living in Moscow disguised as a peasant, as she used to do in the days of the Tsar. Fortune presently favored me with the opportunity of spending several days with this extraordinary woman. I found not a trace of hysteria in her – in fact, her poise and mental balance and the objectivity of her recital of events since her return to Russia were most admirable.

A few months later, in the autumn of 1920, the Tcheka again became busy discovering conspiracies. During the numerous raids thoughout Moscow they came upon Maria Spiridonova who lay ill with typhus. She was arrested and removed to the Ossoby Otdel – the Secret Section of the Tcheka. In 1921, when Maria was almost on the verge of death, the efforts of her friends succeeded in in procuring her temporary release on condition of her returning to prison as soon as her health should improve. The only alternative was to let Maria die in prison of neglect, or give her back – improved in health – to the “best of care”. In fact, no sooner did she begin to recuperate when the Tcheka took charge of her again. Guards with blood-hounds were placed at the house where Spiridonova was being ministered to by her devoted friend Alexandra Izmailovitch. Their every step was watched and existence made so unbearable that the tortured Maria demanded to be taken back to prison. Together with the inseparable Izmailovitch she was then ordered to a furthermost corner of the Moscow Province, whence now the sad news comes that Spiridonova has been driven to the desperate method of hunger-striking in protest against her ceaseless persecution. From reliable sources has just arrived the information that both Izmailovitch and Spiridonova have been exiled to the wilds of Turkestan.

The martyrdom of the heroic women of Russia has become more poignant and intense under the tyranny of Bolshevik dictatorship than in the days of Tsarism. Then their suffering was merely physical, for nothing could affect their spirit. They knew that while they were hated by the autocracy, they enjoyed the respect and love of the vast masses of the Russian people. Indeed, the “simple folk” looked upon them as “holy ones” suffering in their cause, and the moral influence exerted by the politicals in prison, katorga, and exile was very great.
All that is changed now. The new autocrats of Russia have discredited the ideals of socialism and have besmirched the fair name of its exponents. There is no public voice in Russia save that of the ruling Party, and the martyrs – men and women – of revolutionary Russia have become pariahs in the fullest sense. They have no redress and no appeal to the conscience of their country, for the latter has been paralyzed. Alas, not only the conscience of Russia, but even that of the rest of the world seems to be silenced.

What has become of the sense of justice and generosity formerly extended by the Western world to the political victims of the Tsarist regime? Then liberty-loving English men and women were courageously outspoken in their protests against Russian iniquities and helpful in behalf of the persecuted for opinion’s sake. Now in the face of overwhelming evidence of cruellest oppression and persecution in Russia, the world remains silent and callous. The heroic martyrs are left to the tender mercies of the Tcheka, to suffer the Golgotha of the body as well as of the spirit, in the name of an ideal that has long since been betrayed by the Communist State and its Party dictatorship.

Notes
1, Nikolai Alekseevich Nekrasov (1821-1878)
2, Sofiia L’vovna Perovskaia (1853-1881) Russian revolutionary, member of Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will).
3, Maria Spiridonova (1884-1941), Alexandra Izmailovich (1878-1941), Irina Kakhovskaya (1887-1960) and Evgenia Ratner (1886-1931) were all members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. Spiridonova and Izmailovich were killed by the NKVD in a mass execution of political prisoners. Ratner died of cancer in prison in Moscow. Olga Taratuta (1876-1938), anarchist. See http://libcom.org/history/taratuta-olga-ilyinichna-1876-1938-real-name-elka-golda-elievna-ruvinskaia-aka-babushka-
4, Leah Gotman was born in 1896 in Kovel. Her date of death is unknown. Fanya Baron (1887-1921) was executed by the Cheka (or Tcheka), the first Soviet secret police.
5, Boris Mikhailovich Donskoy (1894-1918)
6, handwritten correction to typescript

Source
Emma Goldman Papers at the International Institute of Social History (IISH), folder 221 See
http://hdl.handle.net/10622/ARCH00520%2E221?locatt=view:pdf. Goldman gave a lecture on “Heroic Women of the Russian Revolution” at the Folk House in Bristol on May 4th 1925. A report is in Reel 50 of the Emma Goldman Papers microform edition https://ia601301.us.archive.org/22/items/goldmanwritings9101emma_2/goldmanwritings9101emma_2.pdf

 

Update: this was published in Welfare (Calcutta) in 1925. More details on Emma Goldman’s Indian connections at https://olebirklaursen.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/i-believe-my-name-is-not-unknown-in-india-emma-goldman-and-the-indian-revolutionary-movement-1909-1925/ (Ole Birk Laursen).

reposted from https://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/3xsk7w

Written by gulaganarchists

8, November 2017 at 11:23 am

A Letter of Yelena Mikhailovna Chekmasova to Vera Grigorevna Man

leave a comment »

The letter below was originally published by the Russian “Memorial” society, which specializes in publicizing the Soviet Union’s totalitarian past. It was found in the archival fond labelled “E. P. Peshkova. Help to political prisoners (1922-1938)” in the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF). Yekaterina Peshkova was the director of “Aid to Political Prisoners,” an unofficial, but tolerated, humanitarian organization based in Moscow; Vera Grigorevna Man was one of her assistants. The introduction, postscript, and most of the annotations were supplied by “Memorial.” Annotations with the initials MA were written by the translator.

The anarchist Yelena Mikhailovna Chekmasova was born in 1895 in the village of Polozovo, Tulskaya governate. She received a secondary education. She lived in Moscow and worked as a schoolteacher. On August 17 1921 she was arrested and sentenced for “membership in the anarchist underground” to one year of exile and sent to Arkhangelsk. In early January 1922 she was arrested there, and on January 14 sentenced to the VMN [highest measure of punishment, i.e. death], which was commuted to five years in a concentration camp. She was sent to the Solovki Special Purpose Camp. On May 25 1925, she was released from the camp with a residential restriction of “minus 6” [not allowed to live in six major cities]. She settled first in the village of Mikhailovka in Stalingradskaya oblast, but by August 1925 was living in the city of Irbit, Uralskaya oblast.ii

 

October 31 1925

Irbit.

Dear Vera Grigorevna!

I’m sending you a receipt for the money you sent, and also taking the opportunity to say something about myself.

It’s true that previously I’ve written to Fanya Grigorevna [Elshtein] and Chembareva, but I haven’t received any letters from Moscow for a whole month. From Leningrad I have received a postcard from Dina Yerukhimovich,iv where she writes that she sent a parcel for my baby to Moscow, but since I wasn’t there, she asked that it be forwarded to the Red Cross. Did you get it?

Our journey, which lasted eight days, went fairly smoothly (except for when we were stuck in Sverdlovsk for two and a half days). En route the baby came down with bronchitis as well as an upset stomach. The doctor prescribed a mixture which she drank willingly from a spoon. Now she’s much better and her cough is almost gone. She laughs, loves singing, and won’t tolerate being wrapped up in swaddling clothes. So now Natalya Grigorevna no longer has the right to call her “my little package.” She turns from her back to her side and back again, and bends her legs.

It’s just the two of us living together, but occasionally we have visits from the other comrades living here: Vlasenko and his wife, Skachkovvi (also with his wife), A. S. Miagkovavii and Gerasimov.viii Vlasenko is an anarchist, Skachkov is a sympathizer, and the rest in fact are also anarchists.

A room with firewood, lighting, and water costs about 10-12 rubles a month. The water supply here is awful: there’s one basin for two blocks, so there’s always a long lineup; or else there’s the river, which is ½ verst [about ½ km] distant. Delivery is 3 rubles a month.

I went to some institutions to look for a job, but it seems there won’t be any openings before next summer.

There’s a library in the city which I still haven’t had a chance to visit. The library is prohibited by the GPU from circulating Byloye, since it’s harmful, illegal literature. Well, fine. It’s true, isn’t it?

Beynarovich requests that you send, either to me or to Baykalskoye, the collective works of Lavrovxi (complete, if possible) and Krayevich’s course in physics.xii Let Fanya Grigorevna know about this.

My darling Vera Grigorevna. Once more let me remind you: find out the addresses of the Solovki prisoners M. K. Leontyevaya and the anarchist Vasiliy Dmitriyevich Makhov,xiv and send them to me.

Heartfelt greetings to everyone.

Thanks for your concern about my little one.

E. Chekmasova

 

In 1928 Yelena Mikhailovna Chekmasova was arrested, sentenced to three years of exile, and sent to Siberia; her term of exile was extended by three years on two more occasions (in 1931 and 1934).xvii

i Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiyskoy Federatsii (GARF) f. P-8409. op. 1, d. 17, l. 11.

ii GARF f. P-8409, op. 1, d. 76, ll. 255-235; d. 80, ll. 13, 31.

iii The anarchist Rosa Chembareva lived in Moscow. On August 29 1929 she was arrested and charged with “engaging in counterrevolutionary anarchist activity.” In 1930 she was sentenced to three years of exile and sent to the Urals.

iv Dina Zalmanovna Yerukhimovich was born in 1890 in Dvinsk. She received a secondary education and joined the Left SR Party. In 1923 she was arrested and sentenced to two years in an ITL [political isolator] and sent to the Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp. In the spring of 1925 she was released and returned to Leningrad. In the early 1930s, she was living in exile in Sverdlovsk, working as the manager of a warehouse. On May 5 1935, she was arrested, and sentenced on the following July 28 to three years in exile, to be served in the village of Novoselovo, Krasnoyarsky krai. On March 15 1938, she was arrested and on the following April 15 sentenced to the VMN (highest measure of punishment). She was shot on April 27 1938.

v The anarcho-communist Boris Mikhaylovich Vlasenko was born in 1896 and received a higher education. He lived in Moscow and lectured at the Land Management Institute. He was arrested in April 3 1925, sentenced on the following June 23 to a three-year term of exile, and sent to Irbit, later moving to Komi-Permyatsky okrug. After his release, he lived in the Moscow region, working as a manager in the planning department of the Ramensky Instrument Engineering Plant. On December 14 1934, he was arrested, sentenced on the following February 27 to five years of ITL, and sent to a camp.

vi The social democrat Vladimir Skachkov was arrested in June 1924 as part of a case involving anarchists. He was sentenced to three years of exile and sent to Irbit. He was released in the spring of 1928 with limitations on his place of residence (minus 6) for a further three years.

vii The anarchist Anna Sergeyevna Myagkova was a student. In October 1925 she was serving a term of exile in Irbit. In the spring of 1928 she was released with limitations on place of residence, and settled in Vologda.

viii The anarchist Yefim Ivanovich Gerasimov was born in 1901 in Vladimirsky gubernia, and served as a marine in the Baltic fleet. In 1925 he was arrested in Kronstadt, sentenced to three years of exile, and sent to Irbit. On April 27 1927 he was arrested, sentenced on October 21 to three years of prison, and sent to the Verkhne-Uralsk ITL in December. In 1930 he was released and exiled for three years to Narym, Siberia.

ix Byloye [The Past] was an independent (non-government) monthly magazine specializing in the history of Russia’s revolutionary movements (mainly from the 19th century), and subjected to censorship or outright suppression under both the tsarist and Soviet regimes. In 1925 it had a circulation of about 6,000. In the following year, it disappeared after its last two numbers were completely suppressed. These issues were finally published in 1991. – MA

x The Left SR Aleksandr Yakovlevich Beynarovich was arrested in 1923 along with other members of a Left SR group. On March 30 1923 he was sentenced to two years in an ITL and sent to the Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp. On May 10 1925 he was sentenced to three years of exile and sent to Irbit, but soon escaped from exile.

xi The Narodnik Peter Lavrov (1823–1900) competed with Mikhail Bakunin for the hearts and minds of Russia’s revolutionary youth. An edition of his collected works was published in Petrograd in 1917–1920, but was far from complete: only 11 of the projected 54 volumes were published – Lavrov was a prolific writer. – MA

xii The physicist Konstantin Dmitriyevich Konstantin (1833–1892) was the author of a famous course in physics which was considered the best in Russia until 1930. – MA

xiii The SR Maria Klementyevna Leontyevaya was born in 1889. On October 10 1922, she was arrested in Odessa, and on March 30 1923 sentenced to two years in an ITL and sent to the Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp. On May 10 1925, she was sentenced to three years of exile in Central Asia and sent to Tashkent; in November 1926 she moved to Frunze [now known as Bishkek].

xiv The anarchist Vasiliy Dmitriyevich Makhov was born in 1889. On August 17 1921, he was arrested in Moscow, and on January 14 1922, he was sentenced to the VMN, later commuted to two years of exile in Arkhangelsky governate. In 1923 he was arrested and sentenced to five years in an ITL and sent to the Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp. In 1925 he was released, but sentenced to three years of exile in Siberia and sent to Parabel [a village 400 km northwest of Tomsk in central Siberia]. He was still there in 1928.

xv GARF f. P-8409, op. 1, d. 76, ll. 153-154. Signed.

xvi GARF f. P-8409, op. 1, d. 76, l. 28.

xvii GARF f. P-8409, op. 1, d. 76, l. 84.

Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.

Posted at: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/2fr068

Written by gulaganarchists

6, September 2016 at 9:06 am

The Last Testament of the Left Communist Gavriil Miasnikov

leave a comment »

New on the KSL site: the translated and annotated text of the Left communist Gavriil Miasnikov’s interrogation by the People’s Commissariat for State Security after his return to Russia in 1945, giving an outline of his life and ideas.

“Among the activists agitating within the Bolshevik Party for proletarian democracy in the early Soviet Union was the left communist Gavriil Miasnikov (1889-1945). When Miasnikov was expelled from the Party in 1922, he refused to capitulate like other oppositionists. Instead he set about organizing the Workers’ Group, an illegal organization which aimed initially at reforming the Bolshevik Party, a project which Miasnikov eventually decided was hopeless. While serving a term of exile, Miasnikov escaped abroad and lived in France for almost 15 years.

“Miasnikov’s life was rescued from obscurity by Paul Avrich in a 1982 article which remains the standard biography in English. But Avrich did not have access to the sources necessary to establish the final phase of Miasnikov’s life, and had to rely on rumour and conjecture. Miasnikov made an impulsive decision to return to the USSR towards the end of World War II, and his friends in France only gradually became aware of his disappearance. Relying on a note in Lenin’s collected works, Avrich stated that Miasnikov died in 1946, but in fact he was executed on November 16 1945. […]”

From the introduction by Malcolm Archibald. read the whole file at: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/gqnmpt

Written by gulaganarchists

21, August 2016 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Texts

Tagged with ,