Anarchists in the Gulag (and prison and exile)

Bolshevik repression of anarchists after 1917

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Polya Kurganskaya

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We have just learned that on August 26 there died in Krasnaya Polyana our dear comrade Polya Kurganskaya, leaving two small children behind.

The deceased was a very active and staunch Anarchist who throughout her life had given her best energies to the services of our cause. In proletarian circles she was widely known and beloved for her extreme devotion and tireless efforts.

She did splendid work in the labor movement during the Revolution. In 1920 she was arrested by the Bolsheviks, as were also a large number of other comrades at the time. For the past nine years, her life was a continuous Golgotha; she was driven from prison to exile and back to prison again. She passed through the Solovki, served in the Upper Uralsk polit-isolator, was imprisoned in the most desolate parts of Siberia, and finally exiled in the Tula Province, where she died of heart failure.

The most remarkable trait of Polya Kurganskaya was her entire selfishlessness and unchanging loyalty to her cause and her comrades. Though for years dragging on a miserable existence amid the worst surroundings, compelled to witness the suffering of her two small children, never sufficiently clad or fed, she yet retained her idealism and revolutionary integrity. All the wiles and threats of her Bolshevik jailers could not break down her wonderful spirit. She continually busied herself to make the lot of her fellow-sufferers more bearable, even at the cost of her personal safety. Her courage and humanity were the inspiration of all who came in contact with her. Of her it may be truly said that she was a veritable incarnation of the spirit of the early Russian revolutionists who had consecrated their all in the service of human liberation.

S. F.

We publish below the last letter of our dead comrade, and we take this occasion to call the attention of our readers to the two small children left by Polya Kurganskaya in her Tula exile. Immediately upon learning of our comrade’s death, the Relief Fund forwarded aid to her children, but more assistance is urgently needed. We hope that our friends will not delay in responding.

(“Bulletin, of the Relief Fund,” November-December 1929).

THE LAST LETTER OF POLYA KURGANSKAYA

(Dated August 18, 1929)

Dear S.

It is already six weeks since I’ve heard from you and I am growing anxious about your silence. I hope nothing untoward has happened. Are you all well? Write soon, I beg you. I have received the 20 roubles you sent, but I must tell you that it is very hard for me to accept this aid, knowing how many others need it. By autumn I hope to be able to earn something with my sewing, if they will only let me work.

The children are feeling better, though my youngest, Natasha, is still coughing badly. My own health is not the best. I had to pawn my coat and shoes, but luckily the weather is warm now, so I can get along without those things. It is a hard life, but the worst of it is to see the little kiddies suffer. The rent eats everything up: 14 roubles a month for a dingy little room, but even at that it is considered cheap according to local conditions.

I had a letter from K—-. He does not feel very well and has no work. If at all possible, send him some help: there are several others with him in the place.

My faith is strong that sooner or later these persecutions, will come to an end and then we shall take our place in the family of our European comrades. With our activity we shall then repay for the fraternal assistance which we have been receiving all these years of the “Socialist” heaven, By this faith and hope I live.

I embrace you all, my dear ones.

Your POLYA

(Ibid).

See also French text in [IISG archive] Flechine 89 [544-9] which has more text than that printed in the English Bulletin. In particlar, ‘K.’ is ‘Nicolas’ ie Nikolai.

From: The guillotine at work, p589-91.

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

Written by gulaganarchists

7, June 2014 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Texts

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