Anarchists in the Gulag (and prison and exile)

Bolshevik repression of anarchists after 1917

Posts Tagged ‘Anarchism

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!

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Written by gulaganarchists

6, April 2014 at 10:24 am

Book Review – The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid, 1923-1931 (KSL/ABSC, 2010) by Philip Ruff

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Every recruit to the SWP (if they still get recruits) should read this book before they pay their membership fees. It demolishes the illusion that the “Bolshevist Leninism” advocated in exile by Trotsky was somehow different from the murderous totalitarianism practised by Stalin.

Aptly titled, The Tragic Procession is a fascinating and heartbreaking chronicle of the repression meted out to revolutionaries in Russia by the Bolshevik government, refracted through the pages of the Bulletin edited in exile by Alexander Berkman – issued first by his own Joint Committee for the Defense of Revolutionists Imprisoned in Russia, and from 1926 by the IWMA’s Relief Fund for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia.

Between February 1917 and the spring of 1918, Russian Anarchism enjoyed a legal existence for the first, and only, time in its history (prior to the collapse of the USSR). Though split on the question of support for the Bolsheviks, anarchists of all tendencies had taken part in the overthrow of Kerensky. They worked enthusiastically in the Soviets, and were represented in the All Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK). Many of them were captivated by Lenin’s writings after April, 1917, particularly his famous work “The State and Revolution”, which had re-examined Marx’s theory of the state and concluded that the existing bourgeois state must be abolished (along with the standing army, police and courts) and replaced with a society modelled on the Paris Commune. Believing the Bolsheviks to be sincerely dedicated to this task, Soviet Anarchists were even prepared to temporarily bend their anti-statist principles, in the cause of seeing the revolution triumph, by supporting the dictatorship of the proletariat.

As the Soviet state grew stronger, the contradictions between Bolshevik and anarchist aims became more irreconcilable. On the night of 12 April, 1918, Lenin’s Cheka supported by Latvian riflemen, launched an offensive against the Moscow anarchists, with raids against twenty-six anarchist centres in the city, and closed down the printing presses of the Moscow Anarchist Federation and its paper “Anarkhiya”. Caught by surprise, some of the anarchists were captured without a shot being fired, or put up only a token resistance. Elsewhere, the well armed Black Guard detachments were only overcome by full-scale military assault. Those who still dreamed of seeing Anarchy in their lifetime pinned their hopes on a “third revolution” against Communist dictatorship, based on the Makhnovist insurgency in Ukraine and the Kronstadt revolt of 1921, but by the end of the 1920s the anarchist movement in Russia was completely outlawed.

Alexander Berkman arrived in Russia with Emma Goldman in 1919, after being deported from the USA. At first they were inclined to give Lenin the benefit of the doubt. But the massacre at Kronstadt finally convinced them of the true nature of Lenin’s new autocracy. They were expelled to Germany in 1922, among the last of the Russian anarchists allowed to leave. From then on anarchists in Russia were subject to a continual cycle of repression, imprisonment and exile to remote provinces, where they were forced to survive as best they could. Berkman dedicated the remainder of his life to bringing practical aid and solidarity to the comrades he left behind. This book stands as testimony to his efforts.

It would be difficult to do justice to the wealth of detailed information which the Bulletin published about persecuted Russian revolutionists (not only anarchists) – please, read the book yourself – while fellow-travelling intellectuals outside Russia were so besotted with the fatal attraction of Leninism. But a few gems beg to be mentioned in passing, if only because they are news to me. I didn’t know for instance (despite having written a book about Latvian anarchists) that the Latvian anarchist group in New York remained active, sending contributions to Berkman, as late as the end of 1930. Or that the London branch of the Anarchist Red Cross (Secretary E. Michaels) was still supporting Berkman’s work until at least 1931. An honourable mention (page 77) as another contributor, also in 1931, goes to Leah Feldman – a veteran of the anarchist underground in Russia and the Makhno movement in Ukraine, who in 1936 passed on the flame to our own Albert Meltzer (co-founder of the Anarchist Black Cross), and was still supporting anarchist action groups (First of May Group, Murray Defence Campaign) well into the 1960s and 70s. And it’s interesting to note that Nestor Makhno himself is listed (page 27) as receiving financial support ($76) from Berkman’s fund in 1926.

In November and December 1930 the Bulletin printed reports of a new generation of “politicals” appearing in the prisons: ‘mostly young persons… who we, the “old guard”, do not know. Many of them call themselves Anarchists, and one wonders in what manner they have learned of our ideas. For you must consider that there is no Anarchist literature in Russia, none that the average person can get hold of. And there are but few organizations or groups of our comrades, and all underground, at that. Often this new element is merely a rebellious contingent, whom the GPU simply designates as Anarchists. In prison, fortunately, some of them actually become enlightened Anarchists, with a clear and intelligent conception of our ideals. Thus at a certain transfer point I came upon a young man who belonged to a student organization of Anarchists-Syndicalists. He seemed a man of an entirely new type that is growing in Russia. Not an Anarchist by temperament, but one whom actual conditions and an independent and critical mind have led to new conceptions of life and society. […] their militant spirit was not the determining factor in their Anarchist viewpoint. On the contrary… social conditions of dictatorship have developed in them a clear and logical tendency to seek for other, more practical and rational ways of making and living the Revolution.’ (p. 62)

Thus it was, inside and outside of the Gulag system, that against all odds anarchists survived in Russia until emerging in 1989 – not just despite, but in part precisely because of the repression of all who questioned the moral authority of a dictatorial state. The Tragic Procession of Russian Anarchism after 1918 was ultimately vindicated (thanks in no small part to people like Alexander Berkman) by outliving the dictatorship which sought to consign it, as Trotsky claimed, to the “dustbin of history”.

Philip Ruff

[Philip Ruff is the author of Pa stavu liesmu debesis : Nenotverama latviešu anarhista Petera Maldera laiks un dzive [A towering flame : the life & times of ‘Peter the painter’] which was reviewed in our last issue.

The Tragic Procession: Alexander Berkman and Russian Prisoner Aid. Published by The Alexander Berkman Social Club and Kate Sharpley Library: 2010. 9781873605905 $12/£8

In KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 73, February 2013

From: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/v9s65j

Written by gulaganarchists

23, February 2013 at 2:34 pm

The Role of the Anarchists in the Russian Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1921: A Case Study in Conspiratorial Party Behavior during Revolution. John W. Copp. Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1992.

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Copp’s work on the activities (and ultimate defeat) of anarchists during the Russian revolution throws up some interesting ideas. Examining who the anarchists were, he concludes that they weren’t very different from rank-and-file Bolsheviks: ‘the anarchists themselves, like the Bolsheviks, were largely products of the urban working class. […] There is strong evidence that anarchism was popular among the working class and some evidence that it appealed to the peasantry. […] [T]he largely urban background of the anarchists’ activists would suggest that they most probably were concerned with urban issues and urban problems and therefore would concentrate their efforts in the large cities until forced to turn more towards the peasants by high levels of government suppression.’ (p87-8)

Ultimately, he blames division among the anarchists for their failure to organise successfully: ‘While their individual responses were nearly always principled and often even heroic, the failure of their attempt to develop a national umbrella organisation and the contradictory responses of the anarcho-communists and the anarcho-syndicalists to the establishment of class institutions demonstrate the futility of the anarchists’ efforts to band together to produce their dream of revolution. Instead of seizing the revolutionary initiative or even responding to Bolshevik designs as a whole they were forced to battle piecemeal against whichever Bolshevik policies struck the members of a particular faction as wrong.’ (p212) This criticism was certainly repeated by some anarchists – Makhno for example.

One of Copp’s most interesting points is about how anarchists came to cooperate with the Bolsheviks: ‘The key philosophical element which made it possible for many anarchists to alter their perception of the Bolsheviks seems to have been the centrality of the concept of revolution in the anarchist belief system. […] [T]he need for cooperation between the two if the anarchists’ fundamental goal of a social revolution was to be accomplished, allowed the anarchists to focus on the Bolsheviks’ “good” side and work together with their “revolutionary brethren” and ignore the rivalry of the past.’ (p136)

As we know (with hindsight) this cooperation led to both revolution and the Bolshevik seizure of power. Anarchists thereafter were divided on how to respond. Despite (because of?) their popularity the anarchist movement was eventually absorbed or repressed and sidelined. Copp’s account of the conflict anarchists had to face (loyalty to anarchism or to the revolution) is not just of historical interest. How do we stop revolution turning into its opposite? If there isn’t a single key to success, what combination of popularity, organisation, principle, ferocity and luck do we need?

 

In KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 73, February 2013

from: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/2281bw

Written by gulaganarchists

23, February 2013 at 2:32 pm

Freedom Bookshop attacked

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Our bookselling team gets creative

London’s Freedom Bookshop has suffered a firebomb attack. It looks as though lots of books have been damaged.

Their website gives an idea of what’s been going on:
Freedom firebombed
The clean-up continues
Open as usual
Bookshop re-opens

“Our stock is somewhat reduced, but now features some interesting fire-damaged memorabilia.

“As so much of our stock was damaged, we would appreciate any book donations you can make.

“Please drop off books at the bookshop during our normal opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12 noon to 6pm, Sunday 12 noon to 4pm.”

The Freedom collective have made the following suggestion for how comrades who can’t get to the actual bookshop can give financial support:

“We are setting up a donation page. In the meanwhile, anyone who wants to donate can do so by ordering a book/s through the www.freedompress.org.uk website, and emailing us at shop@freedompress.org.uk to let us know that your purchase was a donation.

“Alternatively, [UK] cheques or postal orders made payable to Freedom Press can be sent to Freedom Press, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX.”

Further info at http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/
See also http://libcom.org/news/freedom-bookshop-firebombed-01022013

Written by gulaganarchists

3, February 2013 at 5:31 pm

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Vicente Monclús Guallar, Spanish Libertarian victimised in the USSR

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Abiego, in the foothills of Barbastro, a CNT stronghold, was represented at the CNT’s congress in Zaragoza in May 1936 by the 80-member Abiego CNT Union, part of the powerful Barbastro comarcal (county) organisation. Also represented there were nearby villages such as Castillazuelo (70 members), Pozán del Vero (47), Costeán (320 and Naval (13) which also sent delegates to the congress, whilst attendance proved impossible for the comrades from Salas Altas. The Abiego CNT also contributed volunteer militians to man the frontlines and was the driving force behind the collectivisation in the town, the collective being headed by Ramón Sanz Almudévar who as arrested on the Guadalajara front at the end of the civil war and jailed for 4 years before leaving for exile in France in 1948; his brother Manuel, a former volunter with the Barbastro militias who had seen action on the Huesca and Teruel fronts before being forced to flee by the communists and enlisting in Alcubierre with the 26th ‘Durruti’ Division was already living there. Manuel served as company commissar and was wounded in Tremp before fleeing to France where he was interned in the Bourg-Madame and Le Vernet concentration camps from which he escaped to join the resistance (in the Pointe Grave maquis). Another promoter of the collective was Santiago Guallar, a refugee since February 1939, who died in 1990 in exile in France at the age of 86. The fascists came down hard on Abiego: 9 residents were investigated by the Aragon Political Accountability Court, among them the CNT’s Manuel Salas Durán (delegate of the collective’s cafe and cooperative) and Mariano Jordan Ballabriga, both of whom became fugitives, and Julián Bierge Claver. Upwards of 60 Abiego residents passed through the jail in Huesca, including 6 women and at least 8 Abiego residents were jailed, then shot: Joaquín Monclús Guallar (Vicente’s brother) on 30-8-1936 in Huesca, five people (Santiago Barón Tornil 10-11-1939, Martín Bull Arilla and José Naya Allué on 27-3-1940, Melchor Oliveros Barón on 31-10-1940 and Agustín Nasarre Gros on 13-7-1943) in Barbastro, and Vicente Arín Panzano on 23-6-1944 and Justo Panzano Encuentro on 14-3-1945, in Zaragoza. They were all young men, farmers, shepherds and shearers and most likely members of the CNT and the collective.

Vicente Monclús Guallar: his only crime? Thinking for himself.

Vicente was born in Abiego (Huesca province) and spent 18 years living in the USSR, 16 years and 51 one days of that in prisons and labour camps. His was not an isolated case for he suffered the foulest slavery alongside 50 million people from a range of nationalities under soviet butchers who displated a placard over the camp entrance: “With a mailed fist we shall lead humanity to happiness.”

Vicente, a libertarian, volunteered for front line service with some other Abiego residents and fought in the Huesca, Zaragoza and Levante sectors. In 1938 he entered the air force training school in La Ribera (Murcia), one of 250 trainees: after political questioning by Russian agents, some 60 of the students were awarded bursaries by the republican government under Negrín and Álvarez del Vayo (puppets of the Kremlin) and travelled up to Rouen (France) to board the ‘Coperacia’. That was the beginning of his via dolorosa, for they were banned from going ashore. When they reached Leningrad the police searched their luggage, seizing banned books and their passports and they were shipped as prisoners all the way to Kizobabad [presumably Kirovabad] (Azerbaijan) by train – a journey of 4500 kilometers. At the air force school, they were inducted as Red Army soldiers and after six months locked up, they were informed that the war in Spain was over. In June 1939, they were tricked into believing that their wish to leave for France or Mexico was about to be granted and five of the group agreed to act as spies for the Russians. The others had a visit from Cartón from the Spanish Communist Party politburo (a Popular Font deputy) who urged them enter the service of the USSR, telling him that he regarded everbody not in the Party as a traitor. They were moved to the Comintern’s political school in Moscow where they were harangued by Enrique Líster. A further 15 of the group then entered the service of the USSR. The remaining 40 were then informed of the signing of the Hitler-Stalin Pact and the subsequent invasion of Poland and with the outbreak of World War Two, their desire to leave evaporated. They were expelled from the school and taken to Monimo where they were greeted, beneath a placard reading “All power to José Diaz and Santiago Carrillo”, by Arturo Petrel, the former communist deputy for Granada, by Cabo Giorla, former governor of Murcia (both politburo members) and by Balaguer (leader of the Spanish communists in Russia during the 1950s). When the group refused to be talked into the service of the USSR rather than the Spanish Republic, threats and bullying were used and following a visit from Santiago Castro (another politburo member) acting for José Díaz and Dolores Ibarruri ‘La Pasionaria’, they were given the ultimatum of entering the service of the USSR or being deemed traitors to the Spanish people. Two of the group of 40 pilots, Rafael Estrella and Lloret (both Valencians) were ‘sleepers’ and so on 25-1-1940, the group was denounced by a secret tribunal made up of their ‘visitors’ and 8 of the pilots, including Vicente Monclús, were removed to the prison in Butiskaya [Butyrskaya] where they were virtually buried alive in that among Spanish communists in Russia there was a wall of silence. For years relatives lobbied from France through the Red Cross, sending hundreds of letters and telegrammes to the Russian authorities and the Spanish CP, but none was answered. The rest then vanished into the slave labour camps (they were inmates in Kasafia in 1943). After eight months of torture, they were sentenced to 8 years’ penal servitude, accused of being Trotskyists and fifth columnists, and in September 1940 they were sent to work on the construction of the Vorkuta railway in the Arctic. They were dying off. Together with Juan Salas from Barcelona and José Jirones from Reus, Vicente escaped and for three months subsisted in the forests until, recaptured, he was the only one left. During the world war the numbers of slave labourers were swollen by the influx of inhabitants from Besarabia, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland. In September 1941, Vicente was sent to a death camp where a female doctor took him under her wing and rescued him on account of his being a Spaniard. In 1942 he worked felling trees and in the coalmines and, his weight now down to 37 kilos, he collapsed and was sent to another death camp where he survived thanks to the help of doctor inmates sympathetic to the Spanish republican cause. From 1944 he was working in a vulcanisation plant until, on 29-1-1948, after 8 awful years in the Arctic and as the sole survivor of the 38-strong team of Spanish pilots, he was pardoned and banished to Samarkand (Uzbekistan). During his latter years as a prisoner he bumped into 18 year old Ramón Hernández, a ‘war baby’ from Gijón who had been setenced to penal servitude; he discovered that Valentín González ‘El Campesino’, was being held in Butiskaya [Butyrskaya] and he was able to chat with deported Russian pilots and sailors, survivors from the ship ‘Juventudes’ which had called to Spain, and with lots of International Brigaders – Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Germans and Italians – who had been dispatched to Russia by Red Aid right after crossing into France, only to face trial with thousands of Red Army troops captured by the Nazis who, when freed by the Allies in 1945, found themselves being deported and exterminated in the forests and mines in Siberia. Vicente spent two hungry, wretched years in the Caucasian republic, was thwarted in his bid to escape to Iran in January 1950 and was brought back to Moscow … and pardoned. He was watched day and night. Andrés Guanter, another soviet spy originally from Valencia, tailed him and on 20-4-1950 Vicente was held by the Justice Ministry in the notorious Lubyanka where he was stripped and beaten and denied sleep for six days before being jailed in Sukhanovska where, after 34 days of torture, he signed a phony confession to being a spy, with 246 pages of charges listed against him. Sent back to Butiskaya [Butyrskaya] again on 2-1-1951, he was sentenced to 10 years’ penal servitude in a ‘secret location’ where he served a further five years locked up with 300 other inmates, including academics and teachers from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Austria and Hungary. It was there that he ran into the Spaniards Francisco Ramón Molina and Juan Blasco Cobo who had been given 10 years for spying, simply for having applied for permission to leave to go to Mexico and having written a letter to the republican government-in-exile. In April 1955, he was taken to Lefortovo prison where he met a batch of German POWS awaiting repatriation. Which was how his friend Heinz Kregts came to make the requisite overtures to get in touch with Vicente’s family through the Red Cross, whereupon the family, discovering that he was still alive, lobbied on his behalf. On 6-1-1956 Vicente was moved to the Lubyanka; his sentence was overturned and he was pronounced innocent after 16 years and 51 days as a prisoner of the USSR. Reunited with his family in France, he has left us a book – 10 Años en la URSS (Editorial Claridad, Buenos Aires 1959) – an impressive indictment of Stalinist rule in the USSR and of the complicity of the Spanish CP and its (these days feted) leadership in such genocide, comparable only to Nazism.

From: Taken from: O Crabero. Huesca-Info. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.

posted at http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/vx0mqt

Written by gulaganarchists

20, October 2012 at 2:32 pm

David Grigor’evich Polyakov

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Polyakov (Polyakoff) David Grigor’evich (Poliakoff, David) (25.12.1892, Smolensk – 12.9.1942, Oświęcim [Auschwitz], Poland). Anarchist. In 1918 he was a member of the Smolensk Federation of Anarchists. From the beginning of 1919 he worked in various groups of the Confederation of Anarchist Organization of Ukraine “Nabat” and collaborated in putting out the anarchist newspaper La Libre féderation (Lausanne, 1915–1919).

In the early 1920’s he lived in Poland, then emigrated to France. [He lived in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. He worked as a tailor and later as a mechanic.] He was a member of the French “Anarchist Union” as well as Russian and Jewish anarchist groups in Paris. In April 1925 he went illegally to Berlin and took part in organizing the escape of N. I. Makhno from Moabit Prison. He helped Makhno cross the border into Belgium and took him to Paris.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s he was a member of the “Relief Fund of the International Working Men’s Association (IWMA) for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia”. As a representative of the Fund he took part in the 4th Congress of the IWA (Madrid, 16-21.6.1931). On the eve of the capture of Paris by German forces in May, 1940, he fled to the west of France, but then had to return to occupied Paris. He refused to wear the yellow Star of David, was arrested in the street, and as a Jew he was deported on 22.6.1942 on Convoy (Transport) No. 3 from the Drancy transit camp to Oświęcim (Auschwitz). Convoy arrived at Auschwitz 24.6.1942. Polyakov had a camp serial number 41050. He was executed by the Nazis in Oświęcim on 12.8.1942.

Archives:

International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam. Alexander Berkman Papers. Inv. no. 53.

Death books from Auschwitz Concentration camp / Państwowe Muzeum Oświęcim-Brzezinka, p. 19856/1942.

Literature:

[Maximov, G. P.] “David Polyakov” / Delo truda – Probuzhdeniye. New York. 1946. October-November, No. 19, p. 25.

Yelensky, B. In the Struggle for Equality: The Story of the Anarchist Red Cross. Chicago: Alexander Berkman Aid Fund, 1958.

Le mémorial de la déportation des juifs de France / Beate et Serge Klarsfeld.— Paris, 1978.

Memorial to the Jews deported from France, 1942-1944: documentation of the deportation of the victims of the Final Solution in France / S. Klarsfeld. Paris: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1983.

Bianco, R., Répertoire des périodiques anarchistes de langue française: un siècle de presse anarchiste d’expression française, 1880-1983. Aix-Marseille, 1987.

Sterbebücher von Auschwitz: Fragmente = Death books from Auschwitz = Ksiegi zgonów z Auschwitz. Deutsche Ausgabe: Berichte. Namensverzeichnis. Annex. Band 1-3 / hrsg.vom Staatlichen Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. [Red.: JerzyDȩbski]. München: K.G. Saur, 1995.

Skirda, A. Nestor Makhno: Cossack of Freedom (1888-1934). The Civil War and the Struggle for Free Soviets in Ukraine 1917-1921. — Paris: Hromada: 2001.

From: with thanks to Paul Sharkey, David Berry, militants-anarchistes.info, Anatolii Dubovik and Black Cat Press. Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.

[updated 9/2/12]

Taken from http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/h44k6k

 

Updated version:

David Grigor’evich Polyakov

Polyakov (Polyakoff) David Grigor’evich (Poliakoff, David) (25.12.1892, Smolensk – 12.9.1942, Oświęcim [Auschwitz], Poland). Anarchist. In 1918 he was a member of the Smolensk Federation of Anarchists. From the beginning of 1919 he worked in various groups of the Confederation of Anarchist Organization of Ukraine “Nabat” and collaborated in putting out the anarchist newspaper La Libre féderation (Lausanne, 1915–1919). In 1923 Polyakov was arrested in Moscow and sentenced to exile in Turkestan, from there returned to Smolensk, but on the way escaped.

By 1924 he was in Poland, then emigrated to France. [He lived in the 20th and 11th arrondissements of Paris. He worked as a tailor and later as a mechanic.] He was a member of the French “Anarchist Union” as well as Russian and Jewish anarchist groups in Paris. A short time he was in the Unitary General Confederation of Labour (CGTU). In April 1925 he went illegally to Berlin and took part in organizing the escape of N. I. Makhno from Moabit Prison. He helped Makhno cross the border into Belgium and took him to Paris.

After the split the Abroad Organisation of the Russian Anarchist-Communists “Delo Truda” in 1928, he joined Nicolas Lazarévitch and Ida Mett to form the Collective of the Russian Workers Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists (Kollektiv russkikh rabochikh anarkhistov i anarkho-sindikalistov), which published the magazine “Osvobozhdenie Profsoiuzov” (Paris, November 1928).

From November 1930 Polyakov was a member of the “Relief Fund of the International Working Men’s Association (IWMA) for Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists Imprisoned or Exiled in Russia”; among other, he corresponded with the exiled anarchists A.A. Kolemasov, S.A. Ruvinsky. As a representative of the Fund he took part in the 4th Congress of the IWA (Madrid, 16-21.6.1931).

On the eve of the capture of Paris by German forces in May, 1940, he fled to the west of France, but then had to return to occupied Paris. He refused to wear the yellow Star of David, was arrested in the street, and as a Jew he was deported on 22.6.1942 on Convoy (Transport) No. 3 from the Drancy transit camp to Oświęcim (Auschwitz). Convoy arrived at Auschwitz 24.6.1942. Polyakov had a camp serial number 41050. He was executed by the Nazis in Oświęcim on 12.8.1942.

Archives:

International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam. Alexander Berkman Papers. Inv. no. 53.

International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, Senya Fléchine Papers, Folder 81.

Jacques Doubinsky to Mollie Steimer and Senya Fléchine, Paris, December 17, 1929, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, Senya Fléchine Papers, Folder 87; November 20, 1930, IISG, Senya Fléchine Papers, Folder 87; December 26, 1930, IISG, Senya Fléchine Papers, Folder 87.

Death books from Auschwitz Concentration camp / Państwowe Muzeum Oświęcim-Brzezinka, p. 19856/1942.

Literature:

[Maximov, G. P.] “David Polyakov” / Delo truda – Probuzhdeniye. New York. 1946. October-November, No. 19, p. 25.

Yelensky, B. In the Struggle for Equality: The Story of the Anarchist Red Cross. Chicago: Alexander Berkman Aid Fund, 1958. p.77.

Le mémorial de la déportation des juifs de France / Beate et Serge Klarsfeld.— Paris, 1978.

Memorial to the Jews deported from France, 1942-1944: documentation of the deportation of the victims of the Final Solution in France / S. Klarsfeld. Paris: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1983.

Bianco, R., Répertoire des périodiques anarchistes de langue française: un siècle de presse anarchiste d’expression française, 1880-1983. Aix-Marseille, 1987.

Sterbebücher von Auschwitz: Fragmente = Death books from Auschwitz = Ksiegi zgonów z Auschwitz. Deutsche Ausgabe: Berichte. Namensverzeichnis. Annex. Band 1-3 / hrsg.vom Staatlichen Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. [Red.: JerzyDȩbski]. München: K.G. Saur, 1995.

Skirda, A. Nestor Makhno: Cossack of Freedom (1888-1934). The Civil War and the Struggle for Free Soviets in Ukraine 1917-1921. — Paris: Hromada: 2001.

[Updated March 2012]

From: with thanks to Paul Sharkey, David Berry, Rolf Dupuy, militants-anarchistes.info, Anatolii Dubovik and Black Cat Press. Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.

Written by gulaganarchists

8, February 2012 at 10:29 am

The Political Soviet Grinding Machine by Emma Goldman (1936)

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Fifteen years have passed since comrade A Chapiro [Schapiro], my old pal Alexander Berkman, now gone from me, and myself came out of Soviet Russia to give to the thinking world the disclosures of the political grinding machine we found there. It was only after a long conflict that we decided to do so. For well we knew the price we will have to pay for speaking openly about the terrible political persecutions that was a daily affair in the so called Socialist Republic. The price we paid for our determination was high enough, but was nothing compared to the avalanche of abuse and vilification hurled against me, when my first ten articles about Soviet Russia appeared in the public press. Since I foresaw as much, I was not very shocked over the fact that my own comrades misunderstood what I had to say and the motive which induced me to appear in the NEW YORK WORLD. Much less did I care for the poison that oozed out against me from the Communists in Russia, America, and other countries.

Even while yet in Russia we protested against the grinding mill as we saw it in its sinister force. For myself I can say, and I can say the same for my comrade Alexander Berkman, we lost no opportunity to go from Bolshevist leader to leader; to plead for the unfortunate victims of the Cheka. Invariably we were told “wait till all our fronts are liquidated and you will see that the greatest political freedom will be established in Soviet Russia.” This assurance was repeated time on end so convincingly that we began to wonder whether we had understood the effect of Revolution on the rights of the individual as far as political opinion was concerned. We decided to wait. But weeks and months passed and there was no letup in the relentless extermination of all people who dared disagree even in the least with the methods of the Communist State. It was only after the massacre of Kronstadt, that we, our comrades Alexander Berkman and Alexander Chapiro [Schapiro] felt that we had no right to wait any longer, that it became imperative for us old revolutionists to cry the truth from the very housetops. Nevertheless we waited until the fronts were liquidated, though it was bitter hard to keep silent after 400 politicals were forcibly removed from the Boutirka prison and sent to remote places. When Fanny Baron and Tcherny [Lev Cherny] were murdered. At last the holy day arrived, the fronts were liquidated But the political grinding mill ground on, thousands being crushed by its wheels.

It was then that we came to the conclusion that the Soviet promise reiterated to us again and again, was like all promises coming from the Kremlin – an empty shell. We therefore came to the conclusion that we owed it to our suffering comrades, to all revolutionary political victims as well as to the workers and peasants of Russia, to go abroad and place our findings before the world. From that time on and until 1930, comrade Berkman worked incessantly for the political prisoners and on raising funds to keep them alive in their dreadful living tomb. After that, comrade [Rudolf] Rocker, [Senya] Fleschin, Mollie Alperine [Steimer], Dobinski [Jacques Doubinsky] and many other faithful comrades kept up the work which our beloved Alexander was forced to discontinue. I can say that until this day the devoted efforts to bring our hapless comrades in Soviet Russia some cheer and a few comforts have never ceased, which merely goes to prove what devotion, love and solidarity can do.

In justice to the heads of the Soviet Government be it said that there was still a semblance of fair play while Lenin was alive. True, it was he who issued the slogan that Anarcho-syndicalists and Anarchists are but like the petit bourgeoisie, and that they should be exterminated. Nevertheless it is true that his political victims were sentenced for a definite period and were left with the hope that they would be set free when their sentence expired. Since the advent of Stalin, that bit of hope, hope so essential to people in prison for an idea, and so necessary for the continuation of their morale has been abolished.

Stalin, true to the meaning of his name, could not bear to think, that people given 5 or ten years, should be left with the expectation that they would one day see freedom again. Under his iron rule, people whose sentence expires are re-sentenced and shipped to another concentration camp. Thus we have today numerous comrades who have been shoved from exile to exile since 15 years. And there is no end in sight. But why should we be surprised at the relentless grinding mill Stalin has inaugurated for such opponents as Anarchists and Social Revolutionists? Stalin has proven that he is as cruel with his former comrades as with the rest who dare doubt his wisdom. The latest purge, quite equal to the purge of Hitler ([handwritten addition in margin] and the latest victim arrested and perhaps exiled, Zensl Muehsam) should prove to all who are still capable of thinking, that Stalin is determined to exterminate everybody who has looked into his cards. We need not hope, therefore, that our Anarchist comrades or any of the Left wing Revolutionaries will be spared.

I am writing this from Barcelona, the seat of the Spanish Revolution. If ever I believed, even for a moment in the explanation of Soviet leaders that political freedom is impossible during a revolutionary period, my stay in Spain has completely cured me of it! Spain too is in the clutches of a blood stained civil war, she is surrounded by enemies within and without. No, not merely by fascist enemies. But by all sorts of social exponants, who are more bitterly opposed to Anarcho-syndicalism and Anarchism under the name of CNT and FAI, than they are to fascism. Yet in spite of the danger lurking in every corner of every city, to the Spanish Revolution, inspite of the imperative necessity to concentrate all the forces on winning the antifascist war, it is yet amazing to find more political freedom than ever was dreamt of by Lenin and his comrades.

If anything, the CNT-FAI, the most powerful party in Catalonia, is going to the opposite extreme. Republicans, socialists, Communists, Trotzkists, in fact everybody daily marches through the streets heavily armed and their banners flying. They have taken possession of the most elaborate houses of the former bourgeoisie. They merrily publish their papers and hold huge meetings, Yet the CNT-FAI has never once even suggested that their allies are taking too much advantage of the tolerance of the Anarchists in Catalonia. In other words our comrades are demonstrating that they would rather prefer to give their associates the same right to liberty as they take for themselves than to establish a dictatorship and a political grinding machine that would crush all their opponents.

Yes, 15 years have passed. According to the glad tidings from Russia one hears over the Radio, in the Communist press and on every occasion: “Life is joyful and splendid” in the Socialist Republic. Did not Stalin issue this slogan and has it not been reechoed over and over again. “Life is joyful and splendid”. Not for the tens of thousands of political victims in prison and in concentration camps. Anarchists, Socialists, Communists, Intellectuals, masses of the workers and tens of thousands of the peasantry know nothing of the new joy and splendour proclaimed by the Torquemada on the Communist throne. Their lives, if they are still alive, continues hopeless, drab, a daily purgatory without end.

The more reason for us, comrades, and for all who are sincere Libertarians, to continue the work for the political prisoners in the Soviet Union. I do not appeal to the Libertarians who shout themselves hoarse against fascism or against the political abuses in their own countries and yet remain silent in the face of the continued persecution and extermination of true Revolutionaries in Russia. Their senses have become blunted. They therefore do not hear the voice that rises to the very heavens from the hearts and the stifled throats of the victims of the political grinding machine. They do not realise that their silence is a sign of consent, and that they are therefore responsable for Stalins acts. They are a hopeless lot. But the Libertarians, who oppose every dictatorship and fascism, no matter under what flag, they must continue to rouse human interest and sympathy in the tragic fate of the political prisoners in Russia.

[Handwritten]

Barcelona Dec 9/36 Emma Goldman

[Typed article with handwritten corrections from Folder 18, G.P. Maksimov (Maximoff) papers, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam. This is an unused appendix for The Guillotine at Work and previously unpublished.]

 

In KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 68, October 2011

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Written by gulaganarchists

5, November 2011 at 11:33 am