Letter to Alexander Berkman, by Anna Sasnovsky

[copied from the IISH Berkman papers https://socialhistory.org/en/collections/yiddish-letters/alexander-berkman ]

 

Anarchist Aid Society for Political Prisoners
New York July 15, 1925
Dear Comrade:
Your letter of June 20 received. You will please pardon the long delay in answering it. Due to some reasons it was impossible to get the comrades together any sooner.
Regarding the question of sending money through you or direct to the prisoners has been discussed several times before. Our group is still with the opinion that we make as many direct connections as we possibly can. We shall continue sending money through your channels and direct addressees. This matter will however be under consideration again when we make our final decision on the form of orgaization.
Your second proposition, the amalgamation of the four wings into one, was taken up and discussed from all angles. We considered it from a principle point of view as well as from a practical. We have a definite division of opinion on this matter. Some maintain that combining forces with other factions means diminishing our activity. It will divide more than unite us. Our group is very well known in the labor circles. It is very well known that we have struggled through great difficulties and yet maintain our work alone. The small amounts we are able to collect is of greater value in my own opinion. It makes it much more pleasant to work with our own forces than lean upon the shoulders of others. The money we collect comes from entertainments and other great efforts. It is made quite clear for what the money is collected. Some of the Comrades were with the same opinion as you.
We have taken no definitive action for the time being. Several of our active comrades are away for a short time and since the difference of opinion is wide therefore we decided to postpone our final decision for about a month. We have meanwhile appointed a committee to get in touch with the other groups if there are any or individuals to find out what they are doing and how.
I suppose you have already received the $50 sent two weeks ago. We shall send you some more very soon. We have arranged a concert and dance for next month which I hope will bring us in some funds. It will be held in Coney Island where many idlers spend valuable time. It is there where people find themselves in hot summer days.
As you already notice that our secretary is away, I shall correspond with you until she gets back.
With comradely greetings,
Acting Sec’y
Anna L. Sasnovsky

Letters to Berkman and Emmy Eckstein, by Milly Witkop-Rocker

[copied from the IISH Berkman papers https://socialhistory.org/en/collections/yiddish-letters/alexander-berkman%5D

 

Berlin 20/8/31

Dearest Sasha,

How are you? How the prospects to remain? How is your health and that of Emmie?
I have had a letter from my sister Rose just now in which she tells me that she has collected thirty signatures of mps which will be sent to the French consulate: with your permission of course. She handed them to Paris.
She also says that whenever you desire to go to England, she will gladly and happily do her very best to get you a permit as long as the present government is in power. She has the necessary connections and will use them to the best of her abilities.
Think it over and let us know.
From us there isn’t much to relate. The general situation is too bad for words, and is getting worse daily, it is a hell of a state.
My own health is better but far from good. Fermin is in the S. again, but quite fed up with it. He would come back if only he could have the faintest hope of getting work, but where get it?
Rudolf is working hard, is pulled to pieces and don’t get time to work at his book. Next week he has to go to Holland again for a few days, it is a rotten business. If only his book was finished.
This for the present, love to both of you from both of us and best wishes of success in your efforts
Milly

504 Grand St N.Y.C.
N.Y. 5/1935

Dearest Sasha,
Your letter of the 19th of Feb. just arrived, also your other two letters arrived, we di not answer them yet, for Rudolf is working hard to get the second part ready, and I don’t feel well lately. You will hear from Rudolf as soon as he gets a minute’s rest, meanwhile these short lines:
It will be very good of you Sashe dear to send one copy of the manuscript right to this address, it will save Goldman work and we will get it much sooner.
Rudolf will send you out three quarters of the second part next week, you shall not have to wait for him then.
Please get on with the preparations of the index, it is very good of you to do it, it will be a great help to Rudolf.
About the name of the translator we need not to bother yet. We shall consider the matter later on. It is very noble of you to insist that his name should not be yours.
We shall certainly wait until you can tell us how long it will take you to do the whole translation, that is understood.
We are happy to hear that you are getting on so fast with the revisions. It is very wonderful. We hope and trust that yours and Emmie’s health will keep in good condition and you will be able to work on.
But by no means you should work too hard, and thereby ruin your health. Your health is more important than any book in the world.
Well yes, you have the complete first part of the manuscript dear Sasha, Rudolf is working the second part you will have it all within two weeks says Rudolf, but he will send you the three parts which he has ready one of these days.
You are happy you write that we can stay here for a while, we don’t even know if we can dear. We have no definitive answer frm the authorities and are still hanging on. Needless to tell you how it feels.
Well dearest this in the hurry, you will hear more details from Rudolf.
You say that you have not heard from Goldman a long time, also we don’t hear from him lately, and we don’t know the reason, I hope there is nothing wrong.
The two other copies send to him as usual, for he actually handles the matter.
With much love and best wishes from us both also from Fermin to both of you, devotedly yours
Milly
Please forgive the terrible scribble, it is abominable to write as bad as that.

N.Y. 4/1935

Dearest Sasha,

Your letter and the manuscript arrived safely. R. is not at home, will return Monday the 5th and will answer you in detail, presumably.
He was in Chicago and had a talk with Goldman. They agreed that the book should be published next fall, and in one volume. They find that it will be best not to divide the book. He will write you all about it. You are right the biographical sketches it is not necessary, also R. agrees to that.
Love and best wishes to you both from Fermin and myself
Milly

N.Y. 30/1935

My dearest Sasha,
Your letter of the 15th of March and the 10 chapters of the manuscript arrived. We know and trust that you are in possession of Rudolf’s registered letters and the revised manuscript which was also sent registered by now.
All what you send in the future address to our place, it is the best and quickest way. I would also send these lines registered, since it seems to be best for you, but I cannot do it, as it is Sunday today.
Rudolf is working on the last few chapters, he hopes to get through with them by the end of the next week, it is quite certain that you will not have to wait for him.
As soon as he is finished with this work he will go out for a short trip, only as far as Chicago, as the time for lecturing will soon expire, on account of the warm weather. You probably know by now from Emma that we have got another 6 months stay. The winter season was spoiled for us any way, for while waiting for the extension Rudolf could not go out on a trip of course.
However we have to take things as they come, since we are not the masters over our own fate.
Yes dear Sasha I really think that you have done the revision quickly, considering the circumstances under which you poor dears are working lately. It breaks my heart to hear how terrible hard you have to struggle for your bare existence, it is cruel! The worst of it is that we are all so helpless. What good is it to dear friends if one feels with you and sympathise with you heart and soul? One cannot get fed on that. It is a cursed state of things. Just the best people in this rotten world have to suffer most, suffer constantly: indeed it is but time that the whole thing is smashed to pieces!
Now about the chief items of your letter dear: Rudolf agrees with your suggestion how the index sould be.
The same thing refers to Kant refers to Hegel: the “dialectical method”, his “conception of the state” etc.
The same way you will treat all the rest of the persons mentioned. Rudolf’s book is a scientific work to an extent, isn’t it?
It was suggested that short biographies should be given of the people mentioned but I am trying to convince Rudolf that it is not necessary: that is my opinion. What do you think of it?
Well my dearest ones keep well both of you and let us hope that better times will come, for us all.
With fondest love and best wishes from us three to both of you. Yours as ever
Molly

N.Y. 21/9 35
Dearest Sasha,
Your letter of July 30th and the copy of the one to Joe Goldman of August the 5th Rudolf received, we are both ever so happy that the matter is closed now, and that you have settled down to some creative work of your own: best of luck dear boy!
You will be glad to hear Sasha dear that also Rudolf has started to work, at last: he actually begun to write his memoirs, while we were in Tawanda at my sister’s place. You hardly realise what it means to me dearest. Rudolf felt so bad before we went to Tawanda, that I was quite worried.
Never before he was in such a state of spirit and how happy I am to see him in his present state. He is so absorbed by his work that I cannot get him away from the desk. A new spirit came over him, living through once more every phase of his youth. He has only done two chapters by now, but you can tell already that it is going to be a very interesting work, and I hope a valuable document.
Our old friend Nettlau will be very happy when he will get to know that Rudolf has at last taken up this work. He begged him ever so long that he should write his memoirs, assuring him the importance of it.
Another bit of ‘good news’ I have for you: we have got another extension, for six more months. The authorities were more decent this time, letting us know about it three weeks before the expiration of our extension. That way we have a better chance to make use of the time. Rudolf will undertake a tour, and meantime meet the people who are interested in the publication of his book, may be that something will turn out of it.
Why do you make special reference to the fact that you have made the proposition long before Emma to repay the money, if need be, Sasha dear? Indeed you have. It was a mistake of Rudolf not to mention it in his letter. That’s all. But would it not be wise old friend to drop the subject entirely? Since the problem is solved to everyone’s satisfaction.
I hope that you will forgive Rudolf for not writing you know old pal, he is working so intensively as I have mentioned already that he cannot tear himself away, it will not keep on in the same speed of course. He shall have to stop soon to attend to some of the correspondence which has accumulated, then you will hear from him of course. Meantime, take these lines as a substitute.
I have spoken quite a lot about ourselves, now how are you? How is your health? Why don’t we hear from dear Emma? It is quite unusual that she should not write as long as that. I hope though that she is well, and that there is no special cause for her silence. We have heard from Rose Pesotta that Emma is intending to come back to C(hicago) for the winter, that would be splendid. We would certainly go over to see her this time, under all circumstances. The comrades will be delighted with her return, they need her there very much.
Much love to you from the three of us and best wishes for successful work.
Love to dear Emma also from us three and let her write soon.
Affectionate as ever yours,
Milly
PS Emma back from Nice: we have had a very little letter from her.

N.Y. 28/9 35

Dearest Sasha,
I have written you last week and you may be in possession of my letters by now.
The purpose of these lines is to ask you to be so kind and send the revised copy of the manuscript to the enclosed address. The German copy of course. You will do us a great favour if you could send it off as soon as you will get these lines.
Comrade S. is very anxious to publish the book in Spanish, he is of the opinion that it will be a very good work of propaganda against Fascism and the national pest which is also growing fast in Spain and the other Spanish speaking countries.
How are you dear fellow in health and otherwise? How goes it with the work? Why don’t we hear from our Emma? I hope that there is nothing the matter with the dear friend.
We have had a lovely letter from Stella this morning, she wants us to come to her for a week or so, we have decided to go there next week, and spend with the dear family a couple of days. It will be a wonderful thing to see the dear folks again, in their summer house.
A pathetic letter I have had from London the other day, my sister Polly telling me about the remarkable incident which happened to Shapiro and his mother.
Sanya has arranged with his mother, Nastya Shapiro, who is 73 and has not seen him over 12 years, to meet in Boulogne and spend a day together. One day the old lady and my sister went to meet Sanya but to their greatest disappointment the mother was not permitted to Boulogne, as she only had her “Identity Card” and no regular passport. Polly could pass of course, as she is “British”. My sister describes what a pitiful situation it was, it is simply heart-breaking. The only thing they could do was that Polly stayed the day with Sonya and his girl and then went back at least with a personal message froom the son to the mother. Isn’t it a rotten world we live in?

N.Y. 9/11 35

Dearest Sasha,
Thank you very much for sending the manuscript to Spain. I should have answered you before, but I was so busy before Rudolf left that I could not manage, which I hope that you will forgive.
How do you and Emmie feel in health? Emma has told me in her letter that you look very fine Sasha dear, I hope that you also feel fine and Emmie the same.
My health is just like a barometer, it goes up and down, according to my worries. I try not to, I really do my very best not to worry, but I am not always successful.
My very worst worries are Rudolf’s tours, they are killing us both. If only we could get along without lecture-tours we would both be happy. But alas, how should we exist?
I don’t know how it was at your time here, now lecture tours are physical and mainly mental torture. Rudolf simply loaths it and he is the most miserable man in the world when he is on route. He never enjoyed speaking, but worst of all when he has to lecture in Yiddish or English.
The tour begun very miserably, his mood is simply terrible. He was happy at his work, he lived in it, got young once more, and it was a pleasue to see him at his desk. Now he had to put it aside and take up work which instead of being a pleasure is a physical and mental torture, so you can imagine how he must feel.
Yes, it must be terrible in Europe now. You speak about the League. Why, what can we expect from that quarters? As a matter of fact we never did. How can we expect anything worthwhile from a League, no matter what great phrases it may use, which is put together of people with quite different interests? It was never nothing more than a farce and it will never be otherwise: liars, thieves and rogues they are all. They all know it and therefore never trusted each other. The tragedy is that those who should know better and have a say in the matter after the lesson we could learn from the previous war, the workers, the socialists, they are ready to join their enemies as if it would be the most natural thing in the world to do.
German militarism they were going to do away with in the last war, fascism they are going to fight this time: and of course defend Soviet Russia.
And we poor souls are utterly helpless, this time more than ever before.
I read in a letter from S.F.(?) to Holms(?) that she is going to do her bit in England against war. Let us hope she will, but I am afraid not for very long. If it should actually come to a war the English authorities are making a very hard ….. They intern you “for your own safety”. That’s all. They do it very gracefully, without any fuss at all. Anyway we must do something against such pest at least as long as there is any chance at all.
Max and Milly Baginsky were at our place before Rudolf left. He doesn’t look quite as bad, but the poor soul is shrinking to nothing. You have never seen such dried up human being I am sure. Mentally, they feel very miserable, just pitiful.
Love to you both from Firmin and your devoted old friend
Molly

Tawanda 24/12 35
Dearest Sasha and Emmie,
You hardly realise how delighted I was with your letter. Indeed Sasha, you deserve a lot more than Rudolf said in his article. I can safely say it, for I know that you are not one of those who can easily get spoiled. You, Malatesta and also our dear Rudolf belong to those who are never to get spoiled, which is the finest part about you.
I liked the article, and all who have read it liked it ever so much. The best part in it is the genuineness, the heartfelt spirit with which it was written, but nothing too good for you dear pal.
From Emma I have not heard since she is in England, but my sister Polly writes me that she is in miserable spirit, and that her lectures were not much of a success, at least not at all financially.
When my sister wrote me, E. was in London, I am very much afraid that if London was so bad we cannot expect much of the province. What may be the reason for it? I suppose many of the English people are so occupied and worried about their “Empire” being in danger that they have no interest for anything else in this world. The English workers, who in normal times keep on telling to each other that their Empire consists of a flower-pot.
Yes dear friend, we have lived up to a most remarkable state of instability. I am afraid that we have put to much stress upon the wonderful part the masses play in history. When we thoroughly investigate the fact we must come to the conclusion that we have idealised them above their deserts.
The mass is a tremendous giant with a very loyal brain ad without initiative Sasha. Give that giant the possibility to stuff his stomach, no matter with what, and a roof over his head, and just leave him in peace and he will not bother at all. Yes he can also under given circumstances be lashed into doing things, but no matter what you can use him for good, you can for evil. You can have him for Czarism, for Bolsehvism, for Hitlerism and for Fascism.
That’s why war is inevitable Sasha. He will be ordered to fight his “enemy” and he will fight that fool.
Yes, he also makes revolutions, if he is driven to it, but just make and leave it to the others to rip the fruit. You may think that I am pessimistic dear friend, but I am not, I just see things as they are, and by realising the bitter reality, I assure myself how much there is to do in order to turn that lazy giant to an active individual, a thinking giant, instead of being always a means to an end, to all those who are determined to use that dynamic of force. I am convinced that we will succeed in our efforts one day, but there is a tremendous task indeed in front of us. We are the only group of people who keep on telling the lazy giant that he has to begin to think for himself using his brain or he will never achieve anything worthwhile, and therefore we have so few to follow us.
All the other parties or schools make it easy for him, by telling him: you just follow us and we the thinking part of humanity will do all there is to be done to bring you all the happiness you desire. They all try to make it easy for him but we.
Rudolf is in Los Angeles now, and will remain there about 4 weeks altogether. Then he will be about a week or ten days in San Francisco and will return to N.Y. for we shall find out what we are to do, whether they are going to grant us another extention or not.
His tour is a great moral success, but also financially better than we have expected. As a matter of fact, we have expected very little.
The most important thing for me is that he should come back in good health and spirit everything else is of minor importance. From his short tour last year he came back quite a wreck. I have sent your letters to Rudolf and if he has any time at all I am sure that you will hear from him.
Fermin and myself are here in this beautiful little place Tawanda, at my sister’s. She has a wonderful family, all real good people and most splendid personalities. There is no better place I can think of to spend Christmas. Rudolf would give anything to be with us. They all wished to be remembered to you.
Much love to you both, hearty greetings and best wishes for a healthy and happy new year from Fermin and myself. Ever yours affectionate,
Milly
N.Y. March 26

Dearest Sasha and Emmy,
How are you? We know of your operation Sasha dear. We have been told of it by our friends. Dan…(?) told us that he has seen you in the hospital and assured us that you looked very lovely, and were in good spirit. That was very good news. But soon afterwards our friends told us that the operation was not successful and that you may need another one. Is it true? I hope not. We are feeling very unhappy about this last news, and we would be very thankful if either of you would tell us the real state of your health dear fellow.
I am terrible (sic) ashamed of myself dearest mine, that I did not answer you till now and I do not dare to excuse myself at all. I assure you though dear friends that in our hearts and minds we were with you all the time, and I am sure that you know it.
Rudolf came home from his tour absolutely exhausted. He has overdone it this time, no doubt, but could not help it. However, it tolls on him badly, and to the very day he has not quite recuperated. The worst of it is that he …… take a real rest, but is banned to work an(?)
Also my health is not very excellent but I too have to do my share, we just have to.
The worst of it is this beastly business about our stay or go. We have another 6 months stay, and each time it gets more difficult to obtain one. We feel so sick of it that if only we knew where to go, we would not bother any more. But as it is we only have to try again and again and that wears one out mentally.
We have therefore decided to go to C.O. (?) for a short trip. Rudolf is invited to lecture and while we will be there we shall make an attempt to get an emigrants visa.
We doubt very much it will succeed, but we shall try anyway, as we have nothing to lose.
Angelica Balabanoff paid us a visit last week, and brought us personal greetings from Emma. The poor soul changed a lot since I have seen her in Berlin last: she looks so old! But not only physical (sic) she has changed, she seems to be so pessimistic and depressed.
Her lectures are not very successful we are told, and if not for the Italians it would be worse still. She is envying Emma that she can be active in England, just the country where she would love to be. And Emma enrages her that she is in the states: that how it is, nobody can have ones choice, even not in the most elementary and simplest things these days, it is a miserable state of things.
From Emme we have not herd quite a long time. It is true that ……. her a letter but she again owes one to Rudolf. In her last letter she bitterly complained about the coldness of the comrades, specially about the indifference of the Jewish comrades.
It hurts badly to her, what it became of people who were so active, so willing to do things, and made such sacrifices for the movement, some years ago. It must be terrible hard for the dear girl to work, under such circumstances, specially at her age. Yet I feel sure that she will succeed to gather around her a sufficient group of people, specially English-speaking, who will take the task upon them to create a movement. It will not be crowds to begin with, we have to learn to be modest, and never forget that we have more obstacles in our way to clear away than ever before.
Our worst enemy is not Fascism or even Hitlerism but the so called communism. It is not so terrible difficult to convince honest thinking people of the danger and the …. of other dictatorships but very different indeed to make people see any danger at all in the Russian despotism in Bolshevist dictatorship.
Communism became a fad also here and people are taking to it very much because it is getting more and more respectable and is going into fashion.
The petty middle class and the intellectuals are looking up to communism as their only salvation from their present plight and the workers most natural are hoping that all their troubles will be solved by communism.
I am not pessimistic in spite of all that, I am convinced that out time will and must come. Yet we must look facts in the face, and admit, whether we like it or not that, the dictatorship over, the masses will not vanish with the vanishing of Hitler and Mussolini. The so called dictatorship of the “proletariat” will keep the world in captivity for quite a long time after Hitler and Mussolini will vanish and be forgotten.
We shall therefore have to work, patiently and unceasingly, till people begin to see clear, and think and act for themselves:
This letter I started three days ago, have been constantly interrupted so I shall better close it now, else it may take many more days.
I have mentioned that we are going to make an effort to get a permanent visa, now we have found out that we shall need so many documents: which we cannot produce as you may realise that it took me two days already only to look up people and find out what there is to be done. But that is just a beginning of course. We may then have to drop the matter after all.
Fond love to you both from us all in hope that these lines will find you both in improved health and that we shall hear from you soon I am as ever devotedly yours,
Milly.

The Fall of Czarisms, Anna Mahé

[Published in l’anarchie, n°13, July 6th 1905]

In his palace, hearing the news which reach him each day, the czar shivers in fear. Every hour brings its revolt, quite often childish, sometimes terrible… And from every corner of the vast empire hatreds arise, angers flare up.

Petersburg, Lodz, Warsaw, Kronstadt, Loben, Odessa, Riga, Kiel, Nijni-Novgord, Kischineff, Hapsal, etc., etc., the former doleful resignation is shaken; a wind of terror is blowing, disturbing the emperor, the nobility and the state employees in their blissful digestion.

Fatalistic peasants, workers made obedient by the knout have at last some quivers of anger. They are to be sent to Mandchuria. Thus, since they’re going to die anyway, they might as well get killed by shaking the tyranny which crushes them in gestures of madness.

Revolts, up until now, have been rather naive. A credulous people, grown children, walked with their hands up in supplication to get massacred willingly. An unconscious people who understood revolt in the same way as the old Tolstoy, an idiotic people of martyrs, who had so often bent their backs under the blows of the nagaikas that the only desire they can have is to get killed…

And they were killed, again and again… Corpses piled up, in Petersburg, Warsaw, Odessa, everywhere… The cosaques worked hard to restore calm for the “little father gone mad” with terror.

But after Platonicist and sterile insurrections, the rebels learned no longer to be martyrs. Everywhere effective revolts are flaring up.

Something even more terrible, o emperor of all Russias, your soldiers, your officers even, are leaving you, and join the rebels. And you shiver in your apartments where fear is keeping you prisoner, fear that your courtesans themselves kill, with you and your offspring, what you symbolise.

The crew of the Kniaz-Potemkin rebelled and you do not dare to go after them with the crews of the other warships. Their example has been followed: despite the banal ending to this epic tale — are the news accurate? — the fight is not over; it is only beginning…

Of course we don’t believe that people over there will only take reasoned and reasonable action. The inferior mentality of the Russian sheep does not allowus to believe that they will get rid of the idea of Czarism when they throw down the Czar. Their brains are way too used to obedience for them to be able to act as free men. Aren’t the revolutionary committees making proclamations demanding the respect of private property under fear of death. And the clergy and the army which are taking side with the rebels are elements of atrophy in the work started amid so much blood, so many tears.

Whatever! That the result does not answer our desires, that the Russian revolution remain unfinished, it will still be a step forward.

It will surely produce, without any doubt, an elite of men who won’t be satisfied by the acquired result, who will want to venture further, who will want to see the Russian people free not only of this Czarism, but of all Czarisms.

We can deplore that this task comes at such a price; but we can be but happy that it is being done.

The Present Situation in Russia, Doris Zhook

[published in Freedom in June, 1896]

Now that Russia is in a state of extraordinary excitement owing to the attractive coronation of the Czar, it may not be without interest to the readers of Freedom to get a glimpse of the situation in that darkest of all European lands. The more so, as the advent on the throne of Nicholas II. has been accompanied by quite a number of rumours of his supposed liberality and broad-mindedness, not only abroad, but also in Russia. What wonder, then, that the people of Russia hailed him as the inaugurator of a new era; teir hearts began to beat hopefully, and in their trustfulness they approached the yound Czar, and, while assuring him of their most devoted loyalty, they ventured to utter the desires, hopes and expectations of the people. Many may still remember the Czar’s reply to the petition of the zemstvos (district assemblies) of the government of Tver, where he told the representatives of the people that it was all “foolish dreams.” This reply was a shock to all; even the most ardently devoted conservatives, who did not cease to sing hymns in praise of the new Czar, seemed rebuffed. After such a reply there can be little hope left for any noteworthy reform, and, indeed, Nicholas II. has left everything much in the same state as it was under his father, whose policy he is simply continuing or extending.

However, in spite of all this, the Russians did not give up hope entirely, and a petition, signed by 78 well-known authors of St. Petersburg, was handed by the Academician Bilbassov to the Tzar, asking for justice and fair play in dealing with the press, which is bound hand and foot. Articles and whole books are being suppressed without any trial whatever, simply by administrative order. They therefore appealed to the Tzar in very eloquent terms to take them under the protection of the law and to do away with arbitrary administration. The Tzar, acting upon the advice of the Minister of Justice, decided to “leave the petition without any attention whatever.” Meanwhile, the brief reign of Nicholas II. has been signalised by numerous suppressions of journals and other publications on the most trivial pretexts; for instance, the paper Russian Life, for publishing an article on the measures taken by the Minister of Finance; the Moscow journal Art and Life, for revealing the bribery of the Commission of Building by a new Moscow theatre; the retail sale of the Moscow daily paper Russian Gazette was prohibited on account of its having been published without a black margin on the day of the anniversary of the death of Alexander III. Various other journals and reviews received warnings and reprimands; a weekly paper, called Njedelia (The Week), for some articles on Marxism; another, Russian Thought, for describing the miserable position of the Russian workers and indicating the labour movement in Western Europa as an example for Russia. Besides these, many other arbitrary dealings took place, all of which space would not permit me to chronicle; and to crown all this, a ne list of books has been sent to all public librarians with the special order not to lend them for reading, at the same time strictly forbidding them to let the public know of this arrangement.

Those who are acquainted with the course of the world’s history will be able to jusge from the above that plutocratic Russian absolutism is struggling with all its might to keep itself alive, and there can be no doubt as to the fact of it being on the eve of its downfall. Woe unto those rulers who think that by making the laws ore stringent, or that by using brutal force and suppression, they will succeed in stopping for ever the stream of progress! They may retard it for a while, but afterwards it will break forth wth irresistible force and sweep away everything in its path.

Hypocrisy has always been a useful aide-de-camp to governments of all kinds; more than ever it is now the order of the day of the new government in Rssia. While the above-described suppressions, etc., are going on, the Czar, anxious to throw dust in the eyes of the public and to pose as the beneficient ruler, opened a fund in aid of poor journalists and their families. Of course, those who keep their eyes open will be able to see through this “benevolence” and easily detect its underlying motives. Especially when one sees how every attempt on the part of the intelligent to help in the education of the poor ignorant people is frustrated; and it is quite naturally so, since the upholders of absolutism are fully aware that as soon as the people become enlightened they will also become conscious of their rights. In accordance with the line of tactics so distinctly proclaimed by the late Minister of Public Affairs, M. Durnevo, who said that the bureaucracy recognised “in principle” the task of education is “perfectly honourable,” but to leave it in the hands of society would be dangerous, he therefore proposed to put all existing Committees of Popular Education as well as all private societies under the immediate control of the Minister of Education. His proposal has since been put into effect by an ukase of Nicholas II. (see St. Petersburg Correspondent of The Daily Chronicle of April 22). If all this is not sufficient to convince our readers to what an extent the new Czar is furthering popular education, the following anecdote which happened in Russia may help to do so. The local zemstvo was ver active in trying to organise reading-rooms in the villages. The chief obstacle lay in finding rooms for that purpose; consequently they petitioned the Minister of Education to give them permission to make use of the schoolrooms. The answer was a point blank refusal. But let nobody imagine that the Minister is against libraries, and that it is his intention to hinder the spreading of such–oh no! he is only afraid the visitors of the reading-rooms “might make the floors dirty”!

It may be regarded as a remarkable sign of the time, however, that in spite of persecutions, suppressions and so forth, the social question is being discussed everywhere. The theories of Karl Marx are subjected to severe criticism at the hands of the best known critics such as N. Mikhailovsky, in his journal Russian Wealth; Slonimsky in the Messenger of Europe; Obolénsky, Daniélson and Professor Karéjeff in the chief organ of the Russian populists, Novoyé Slovo (The New World), as well as various other professors and learned men, have taken up that subject for discussion.

In Warsaw (two letters to l’anarchie), by “Nanitcha”

[published in l’anarchie n°4, May 4th 1905]

With songs, only songs, with red flags for all guns, the people, in Russia, has yet again gone to their deaths.

And the cosaks, without risk, were able to beat them left and right, this powerless crowd.

They were having a stroll, over 5000 of them, and women and children were with them. They left the Vitzkovsky square, were they had gathered; they went through the streets, protected, they thought, by their red flag and their wisdom.

And the uhlans… and the cosaks came. In the Marchalskovskaia street, police murderers started to charge with great blows from their nagaikas.

I don’t know… they say there are over 50 dead and as many wounded… We will never know the truth, as always here…. Everyone takes home their dead and cry…

A few officers, they say, were hurt by a bomb. Is it true? These brutes have such tough skin…

60.000 soldiers, children of the people, were waiting, arms in hands, for their brothers of servitude. What to tell them, what to shout at them? What inconsequence, what madness on both sides! To walk without weapons towards guns! To use guns on an unarmed crowd!

Here, like in every country, will unfortunate men carry weapons much longer to protect the fortunate and kill their own kin?

How long will poor men who have strength in numbers  still have the ridiculous magnanimity not to use every means to kill the riche men?

Nanitcha

[published in l’anarchie n°5 Thursday May 11th 1905]

I told you all yesterday that people had gone empty handed, without weapons, towards the soldiers. that there had been many dead and wounded, more than 50 of each. I was well below the truth; there has been over 200 dead and 300 wounded.

The workers and the others who went on a stroll like with popes, were following an order by doing this silly action. And this order, how surprising, was given by the Committee of the Socialist Workers’ Party. On the day before the celebration, they had published proclamations throughout the city. They said that people should be on a completely general strike for one day. But also, they wrote: that all who attacked private property would be killed.

The committee wanted it to be a peaceful demonstration, a procession; it was that, a death procession for many people.

Since people don’t have weapons at home, they couldn’t take them, since they had to respect individual property, and consequently the places where there were guns… and then they let themselves be slaughtered.

I don’t have news from your country, but Rosalef told me that the same had happened, in a town where they make pottery in the middle of France [Limoges]… and that the socialists had said the same thing as here.

They are all the same in every country. they do not want to destroy the cause of social evil, the economic injustice. They think or pretend to think that, once they replace the picture of the tsar by the picture of the republic, all will be over.

I feel deeply within myself, as do a few others, that it is not so and that we must do better.

Nanitcha.

Letter from Russia, “Nanitcha”

[Published in l’anarchie, n°1, April 13th 1905]

Petersburg, April 5th 1905.

Quickly I set out to write this reply to you, dear comrades, because I need to burn your letter, although it is so dear to me. It has been eight days already that my primitive freedom hangs by a thread, which is getting thinner and thinner.

This whole week i was a bit worried, awaiting a not so pleasurable visit. But fortune is on my side, the blow has not yet been struck. And I start to learn to be watchful. You think that the excess of oppression will make the spirit of revolt grow. I also believed that before coming back here and it is only now that reality has proven the opposite.

Maybe this has to do with the psychology of the Russian people, which is very strange to establish. I could give you a few traits of this psychology in a little article for the newspaper, but you will correct my terrible Franco-Russian, which is becoming more and more Russian because, without practice, I am forgetting how to speak French.

As for unpublished details, I am afraid I can tell you nothing new.

Your newspapers, I suppose, have told you what is happening here, even more than that.

I totally agree with you, we need to enter each head to abolish the idea, the meaning even of authority.

To consider each person as an individual, to speak their language, to help them walk by walking alongside them–that is free creation, that is the most productive work, although unnoticed.

Don’t think that comrades here let themselves be hypnotised by the face of the republic, not at all; but, you know yourself that we can achieve nothing with ignorant people, with a herd. And if the people is a herd, as energetic as its leaders might be, what good will it achieve? But that is too sad, and we all had too many illusions.

I wish I could talk more about this, but I am in a hurry.

One last word. A few days ago, A few “anarchist rebels”, as they were called (they are only social revolutionists), were arrested. People say that in Paris 37 Russians were arrested, and that the Russian government demands that they be sent back here. What will your government do?! Is it true?!

Nanitcha

Poems published in “Freedom”, Ethel Carnie Holdsworth

Sonnet
(Dedicated to the thousands of Revolutionaries languishing in Soviet prisons.)

Still serving thee, O Freedom, thee alone,
Great formless spirit brooding earth and air,
Flashing in sunlight, in wild waves that dare
The age-old rocks, flung back with cry and moan.
Serving, though we be pillowed on a stone,
Our warders dream-eyed Hope and grim Despair,
We know thou art no mocking vision fair—
These wounds being thine, our darkest griefs thy own.
Laughing at times to muse how those who prate
Of Liberty can think to make a cell
Strong to extinguish thy immortal flame
Unflickering in the windy gusts of hate,
Still steadfast in the ramparts of Power’s hell—
Though on its wall it writes thy murdered fame.

Russia
(Dedicated to the Anarchist comrades waiting to be released from Soviet prisons.)

Most might Epic of one swift, bold leap
Which spanned two epochs terrible and vast!
The World-Besieged come staggering, safe at last—
Triumphant, dazed, immortal—burst from sleep
Whose age-long vision terrors grim defied.
A country which bred giants thunderous-named,
And women who could not with whips be tamed,
Unmastered deeply tombed ‘neath Neva’s tide.
Russia! Our great Beethovian history chord
Which through the centuries pulsed slow and strong,
Still beating out the music of her dreams—
To set them in one hour in one wild word,
One flaming breath which hurled like chaff her wrong.
Russia! That thou shouldst strive to stem Thought’s streams!

Power.

They built the house of Power on Force and Fear,
And gave authority the key to hold,
Stamping it with the hall-mark of dead gold,
And rusting it in human Blood and Tear.
“Behold!” cried Power, “The glory of my state!
Here I conserve forever all that Is,
Here, manacled and gagged, my priests shall kiss
My sceptre. Prisons, dungeons, be my Gate!
Whilst outside millions claw and scratch for Bread,
And burdened lives go swiftly to the grave.
Hold fast my key, my mistress, and all’s well!”
But Liberty came by with rose-crowned head,
And piped upon her pipe to every slave
These words of Laughter, “Fear is all their spell.”

Sonnet.

Who was the great Ozymandias, “king of kings”?
The desert answers with its fiery breath.
Democracy of Time, and Space, and Death
Its fatal arrow at Great Nothing flings.
Law, Force, and Power—dark Superstition’s blight,
And all the majesty of sword and chain
Left but his futile image to remain
Half-buried where the sand-storm whirls in flight.
Feebler and feebler grow the decadent line
Which followed on that mightiest Nothingness,
Slave of that Power wherein his weakness lay,
Whom only Human Ignorance held “divine.”
With every reasoned thought their shades grow less,
To vanish in the light of ampler day.

Sonnet.

Out of the large, calm, starry night it ran,
Reaching the wine-drugged monarch’s inward ear;
Close round his neck, snake-wise, a white arm dear,
Blue-veined, gold-circled—his warm courtesan!
“I, too, have known the couch of last year’s gold;
I, too, the splendours of a prison-house,
Wherein all chained and padded men carouse,
And sell their freedoms for the shadows cold.
Now it is Spring and beggars may go blessed
When there are crowns of May on every bough,
And to each mothering bird the cock makes cry.”
“Hist!” cried the king, upstarting and distressed,
“What minstrel of my court is singing now?”
The beggar at his gate went laughing by!

Louis Lecoin, by May Picqueray

My enthusiasm for anarchism went in all directions. I was at risk of becoming inefficient, spreading my energies too thin. Chance made me cross paths with Louis Lecoin. It was in 1921 that I first met him. From that moment on, I spent most of my time making war to war.

Louis Lecoin was just out from the prison of Albertville after an eight-year sentence for antimilitarism. What stroke me first were his blue eyes which glistened with intelligence, with a touch of mischievousness, but also his goodness, his energy, and his courage. He even courted me for a short while. But, at 20, I thought this great man was too small. This did not stop us from being good friends all our lives.

I was not disappointed, the legend about him seemed justified. I knew him well from what Sébastien Faure, Pierre Le Meillour and other people had told me, with such warmth, such love! I knew all the things for which he had been imprisoned: his refusal, as a young soldier, to march against train workers on strike, and to shoot at them, defying the military machine of which he was a part. His campaign against the war, in 1914, the thousand leaflets he had distributed, his long years in jail, punctuated with hunger strikes to demand the reestablishment of the status of political prisoners, and for it to be granted to the anarchist comrade Jeanne Morand, injustly suspected of intelligence with the enemy.

Louis Lecoin was to us, young libertarians, young syndicalists, an example to follow. He had proven us that we could be at the same time syndicalists, liertarians, and antimilitarists.

When he got out he became the administrator of Le Libertaire, the newspaper of the Union Anarchiste, which did not prevent him from being a militant in his union (the builders’ union) and to intervene energetically and efficiently at the Lille congress in 1921 and Saint Etienne in 1922.

Like most of us, he felt enthusiastic about the Russian revolution, from which we expected great things, and which only brought us disillusions, but he resisted being enrolled into the Communist Party, unlike some other comrades.

In 1921, he led a campaign to avoid the extradition of three Spanish men: Ascaso, Durruti, and Jover, sentenced in Argentina pretendingly for some robbery, but in fact for being anarchists. Their extradition was imminent: a cruiser was coming to get them. He reached out to the highest political and judiciary figures, and, finally, won their case.

He also worked to avoid the deportations of Camille Berneri and Nestor Makhno and managed to save them.

But his biggest case was the Sacco and Vanzetti affair.

Statement by Mollie Steimer

[This text is copied from the booklet Fighters for Anarchism: Mollie Steimer and Senya Fleshin, published by the Libertarian Publications Group in 1983, assembled and edited by Abe Bluestein]

Statement by Mollie Steimer
(Covers material till deportation, September, 1923)

Russia of today is a great prison where every individual who is known not to be in full agreement with the Communists is spied upon and booked by the “GPU” (Tcheka) as an enemy of the government. No one can receive books, newspapers, or even a plain letter from his relatives without control of the censor. This institution which keeps the people in absolute ignorance of all news detrimental to the interests of the Bolshevists is now better organized and more strict than was the famous Black Cabinet under Czar Nicholas II.

The prisons and concentration camps of Moscow, Petrograd, Kharkov, Odessa, Tashkent, Vologda, Archangel, Solovki, and Siberia are filled with revolutionaries who do not agree with the tyrannical regime enforced by the Bolsheviks. The inhuman treatment that those people receive at the hands of their jailers can have only one purpose: that is, to wear them out physically and mentally so that their lives may become a mere burden to them.

To mention a few instances within my personal knowledge:

Maria Korshunova, a young Anarchist, while under arrest in Petrograd, was continually dragged from one jail to another. At the end of 1922 she received a sentence of ten years’ solitary confinement and was taken from Petrograd to the Moscow jail where she was supposed to serve her sentence. But she had not been there a month when she was suddenly carried off to Cheliabinsk, Siberia. Here our young comrade thought she would be let alone for a time. But no sooner had she received the first letter from her mother when again she was shipped off to another place, this time to Viatka, which is one of the worst prisons in Russia, notorious for filth and starvation conditions, and, what is worst of all, for the outrageous conduct of the men keepers — “comrades”, they are called – towards their helpless victims, the women prisoners. Since Maria Korshunova was transferred to that place of torture, no letter has been received from her and no news about her has reached the outside world.

This comrade is well known among the Petrograd workers as a woman revolutionary of great idealism and sincerity. She has often been compared with Sofia Perovskaya.

Another example:

Two years ago, Maria Veger, an Anarchist of many years standing, and a teacher by profession, was arrested as a result of a search in her home, where literature consisting of the London Freedom and Arbeiter Freind, the Freie Arbeiter Stimme (N.Y.), and some books on Anarchism (were found. Ed.)

After being held for several months in the Moscow prison, where she became sick with the tsinga (scurvy), Maria finally received a sentence of two years’ exile in Archangel in the North. The officia document which was handed to her read: “Two years exile in the city of Archangel for counter-revolution.”

In Archangel, Maria Veger underwent extreme suffering. Malaria, a common disease in this swamp region, was added to scurvy. When an opportunity afforded itself, Maria escaped and returned to etrograd. But she did not remain long at liberty. In July 1923, when 41 Anarchists were arrested in etrograd, Maria Veger was among them. The agents of the “GPU” treated her with special brutality. Whereas all the other prisoners, of whom I was one, were kept at the headquarters of the “GPU” for four days before being transferred to another prison, Maria was held there for nearly two weeks.

The prison of the “GPU” is not the heavenly home of leisure the Bolsheviks and their agents would have the world believe. I was locked up in a cell that was a closed box. It was provided with a small hole the size of a drinking cup through which air is supposed to enter, but no air enters because the corridor into which this hole leads has no ventilation. A faint lamp burns day and night in this closed box, causing severe pain in the eyes. There is nothing but a wooden bench to lie upon; lice, bedbugs and other vermin eat your flesh and make life a burden to you. The quiet of this dim, evil-smelling cell is broken only by the ridicule and brutality of a “comrade” jail-keeper.

The “GPU” representatives knew what these conditions meant to the sick Maria Verger, and they purposely tortured her. Each day she was called to the office and asked to give them “information” for wich they promised to remove her to another jail where life was not so miserable. When finally convinced that she would rather die than give lying “information” about her comrades, the Tchekists ordered Maria Veger transferred to the “Home of Preliminary Detention,” where she was strictly isolated and kept on the regime of the “common criminal.”

The treatment in my own case was far from being endurable. Like the other politicals, I was denied the most elementary prison rights, scoffed at and ridiculed by the prison administration as well as by the higher authorities. For speaking to Maria when seeing her through the window, I was threatened with the dungeon. Being unable to endure such an existence any longer, denied a trial, and held under criminal conditions, we declared a hunger-strike, demanding better conditions and the right of visits. On the seventh day of our hunger-strike, after the prison doctor stated that we could not hold out any longer and that we must be forcibly fed, one of the “GPU” chiefs visited us and granted our demands. But before they were granted another comrade prisoner of mine was called by the prosecuting attorney and asked if he could not use his influence with me to induce me to eat. He said he could not. The prosecuting attorney then said to him angrily: “Then she will be forcibly fed. Does she think she is dealing with the American police?” He spoke as if the brutal methods of the American police were tenderness itself compared with what he and his comrades intended to do.

The physical state of Comrade Mara Veger was becoming worse every day, but the prison doctor said he could do nothing for her under the conditions. In spite of the fact that she was seriously ill, Maria was finally condemned to three years in exile in the Solovetz Monastery, the dreaded prison situated on an island in the White Sea, to which boats go but twice a year. This penalty amounted to a death sentence, considering the condition of our comrade.

On September 16th Maria was sent away to serve the term imposed upon her, but a week afterwards word came that she was being sent back to Petrograd. After a two days’ struggle with the “GPU” officials, I finally obtained permission to see her.

Burning with a high fever, and hardly able to stand on her feet, Maria related to me the story of her journey which I shall tell here in brief:

When brought to the Vologda prison, which is half way from Petrograd to Archangel, the local “GPU” declared that Maria would not be sent any further, because all prisons and concentration camps of Archangel and vicinity (including Solovetz Monastery) were so overcrowded that the local authorities had resolved to accept no more prisoners. Maria was kept in Vologda for several days, and then sent back, together with a number of other politicals. She was shuffled back and forth, various prisons refusing to accept her for lack of space. No political knows where he will really serve his terms of exile, and none of his friends know.

I had an opportunity to talk to Maria Veger. She made no complaint about her own miserable condition, but she spoke of what should be done for those prisoners who had just been returned to Petrograd. She was particularly anxious about the fate of one woman who had been refused a visit of her seven-year-old boy, and asked that everything possible be done for her, as the woman was physically too weak to endure the suffering to which she was subjected. We got no further in our conversation because a guard compelled us to terminate the “visit.”

Comrade Veger parted from me with the following words:

“Tell the comrades abroad to organize and unite all their forces. Let them not be discouraged by the situation in Russia. On the contrary, tell them they must make use of our experience and be well prepared for the coming world revolution.”

I left her with a heavy heart. While the Communists are issuing long protests against the persecution of political prisoners (they mean only Communists) in “capitalist” countries, they themselves are imposing savage sentences upon their opponents and are forcing many of our best comrades to die slowly in the jails and concentration camps, and hundreds of others to suffer the bitter pangs of hunger and the unbearable cold of northern Russia and Siberia. The real revolutionaries of Russia today are exiled and cut off from the entire world, forbidden the right of communication with any loving person except the damnable spies who are forever shadowing their footsteps.

(Signature) Mollie Steimer

The Makhnovist Movement, by May Picqueray

The Makhnovist Movement
May Picqueray

Paris, March 14th, 1967
Dear Sir,
I have received, over a month ago now, your letter, and I wished I could have answered it sooner. A stupid incident, a fall, a broken kneecap, and annoying care are the causes of this delay.
You will find attached an excerpt of Nestor Makhno’s life. Pardon me if I let myself give some details in some places, but if I hadn’t stopped myself I would have given you even more details, as passionate as I am about Makhno’s life. Please excuse me, and I remain at your disposal if you need any precision.
I am too glad to have been able to please you, I pray you to accept, Sir, my best wishes.
May Picqueray

Nestor Makhno

Nestor Makhno was born on October 27th, 1889, in Goulai-Pole, a district of Alexandrovsk, in the Ukraine, in a poor peasant family.

He was about 1m65 high; when I met him, in 1923, he weighed no more than 60 kilos. In good health, he must have weighed more, because he had large shoulders and must have been stocky. His hair was brown, his eyes light, clear, deep set in their sockets; precocious lines marked his face, as well as the scar from a bullet which had entered the back of his neck and had exited through his cheek. He had many injuries all over his body, sabre wounds, bullet wounds, one of which had shattered his ankle, which gave him a slight limp.
He was 10 months old when his father died and left him with his 4 brothers in the care of his mother. At the age of 7, he worked as a shepherd in his village. At 8 he went to school, but only during the winters. In the summer, he had to look after sheep. At 12, he left school to work as farmhand for German kulaks who owned many rich farms in the Ukraine. Already at that time he professed his hatred for exploiters. He then worked as a foundry worker in a factory in his village. He had no political creed at this time. It was the 1905 revolution which made him leave the circle of peasants and workers of his village. He met political organisations and joined the ranks of the anarchists where he became a tireless militant.

In 1906, he fell into the hands of the tsarist authorities which condemned him to hang; because of his young age, his sentence was commuted into life in prison. In the prison of Boutirki, where he did his time, in Moscow, he learnt grammar, literature, mathematics, and political economy. To tell the truth, prison was the school where Makhno gained the historical and political knowledge which helped him greatly in his revolutionary work. But it is also in prison that Makhno compromised his health. As he couldn’t stand the crushing of his personality which all forced labour convicts were subjected to, he rebelled against the penitentiary authorities and was perpetually in isolation, where, because of the cold and damp, he contracted tuberculosis. During 9 years in detention, he was always in irons because of bad behaviour. He was freed in 1917, like all the other political prisoners, by the insurrection of the Moscow proletariat on March 1st.
He went back to his village, gathered the peasants, founded a farmhands’ trade union, organised a free commune and a local peasants’ soviet. When the Austro-Germans occupied the Ukraine, he formed battalions of workers and peasants to fight against the invaders. The local bourgeoisie put a price on his head and he had to hide for a while. German and Ukrainian military authorities burnt his mother’s house and shot his older brother, a war invalid.

Then there was the fight against Petliura, in September and October 1918 (the Petliurovschina was a movement of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie), the peasants were enrolled by force, and often deserted to join Makhno. Petliura was very hostile to the organisation of free communes, federalist soviets, and, as he hadn’t been able to convince Makhno of his “error”, he engaged in armed struggle against him, but he was faced with a very strong army and his troops were soon killed.

The statists fear a free people, the mortal enemy, the “authority” soon manifested itself, and from both sides at once. From the South-West, Denikin’s army was moving up, and from the North, the communist state army was coming down. Denikin arrived first. He was not expecting such resistance and his troops were soon defeated.
Statists fear a free people, and its mortal enemy, the “authority” soon showed up, and from two sides at once. From the South-West, Denikin’s army was marching up, from the North, the communist state army was marching down. Denikin arrived first. He was not expecting such resistance and had to retreat towards the Don and the Azov sea, where his army established a 100 km front. For 6 months, the battle raged; the hatred of Denikin’s officers took awful proportions, they burned and massacred everything on their path. Denikin was offering half a million roubles for Makhno’s head. In January 1919, Makhno seized a convoy of 100 wagons of wheat belonging to the Denikin’s supporters, he decided to deliver them to the workers in Moscow and Petrograd; a delegation of Makhnovists accompanied it and were warmly welcomed by the Moscow soviet.

Bolsheviks appeared in the territories of the Makhnovtchina in March 1919, under a benevolent guise; an ideological struggle then started; Makhno saw in them a great danger for the freedom of the region, and thought it was mainly necessary to concentrate all forces to fight the common enemy; it is for that purpose that the junction of the Makhnovist and Red armies was made. But the bolsheviks wanted to install their authoritarian regime, by arresting thse who refused to submit to it. They tried to assassinate Makhno several times. A campaign of slanders was launched and led by Trotsky himself at a time when the White danger was becoming huge, as Denikin was receiving reinforcements in the Makhnovist sector thanks to the massive arrival of Caucasians. Trotsky wanted to let Denikin crush the Makhnovists and push him back afterwards; he made a cruel mistake and underestimated Denikin’s forces. Bolsheviks opened the front in front of Denikin, and Makhno saw himself be bypassed by Denikin’s armies. The situation was tragic, because even though Makhno received many volunteers, he had nothing to arm them with, since the bolsheviks had cut all supplies and sabotaged the region’s defences. The peasants defended their region with axes, piques, old hunting rifles; almost all of them were massacred. The bolsheviks abandoned the Ukraine, and Makhno had to face Denikin’s hordes on his own. A few Red regiments joined Makhno’s cause along with their equipment. Red regiments from Crimea also joined with him. An uninterrupted battle lasted for over two months, with advances, setbacks, lack of ammunition, encircling movements, lightning advances of the Makhnovists, and the annihilation of Denikin’s counter-revolution by Makhno’s forced in the Autumn of 1919. Bolsheviks then came back to the Ukraine and Makhno received Trotsky’s order to leave for the Polish front with his troops. He refused. Makhno and his fighters were declared outlaws. For 9 months there was a ruthless struggle. Over 200 000 peasants and workers were shot by Trotsky; as many were taken prisoners or deported to Siberia. A monstrous campaign of slanders against Makhno was led by the soviet authorities. On top of this, a typhoid epidemic hit the Ukraine. Wrangel showed up in the Spring of 1920, and Makhno’s troops then marched and fought for several months until the final defeat of Wrangel in November 1920.

Makhno came back to his village and started his work of education and organisation, but all this creative drive was broken by a new and sudden attack from the bolsheviks, furious at Makhno’s success in this domain, as well as at his military success.

On November 26th, 1920, Goulai-Pole was encircled, Makhno was there with 240 horsemen. Makhno was only just recovering from an illness and was suffering from his crushed ankle; they launched an attack and knocked over the red cavalry regiment, escaping the enemy’s grasp. He regrouped his troops (around 2000 men) who fought like devils, on the left, on the right, to break the encirclement by four army corps: two cavalry and two infantry, launched after him and his men (over 150 000 men). He rushed like a Titan of the legends, towards the North, where workers warned him that a military roadblock was waiting for him, then towards the West, taking fantastic paths of which he alone knew the secret. Hundreds of miles, through fields and plateaus covered with snow and ice. This unequal fight lasted several months, with unceasing battles day and night. In Kiev, in a rocky and hilly country, in full frost, the Makhnovists had to give up their artillery, food and ammunition. Two cavalry divisions of the Red Cosacks Divisions joined the mass of armies launched by the bolsheviks against Makhno. They couldn’t escape. No one hoped to get out of it alive. But no one thought of fleeing in shame. They all decided to die together. Makhno escaped this trial with honour. He advanced to the borders of Galicia, crossed the Dniepr again, went up to Koursk, found himself outside of the enemy’s circle: the attempt to capture his army had failed. But the unequal duel still did not end. The red divisions in all of the Ukraine marched to find and block Makhno. The vice tightens again, and the fight to the death resumed. Highs and lows, attacks, victories, setbacks, at the cry of “live free or die fighting”. Makhno was shot through his thigh, another through his crotch; carried in a horse cart he regained consciousness and was bandaged: he was losing a lot of blood. He continued to give orders, to sign them; small detachments went here or there. On March 16th, only a small unit was left near Makhno. Enemy cavalry forces charged them, the fighting was fierce. Makhno could not ride, lying on the horse cart, he had to witness this massacre. Five machine gunners from his village told him: “Batko, your life is useful to our cause, this cause which is dear to us, we are going to die soon, you must live, if you see our parents again, give them our farewell.” They took him in their arms and carried them in a peasants’ car which was passing through, they kissed him and went back to their machine guns which started to fire to prevent the bolsheviks from crossing. The car drove across the fording of a river, Makhno was saved. He started riding again despite everything and renewed contact with his troops in Poltava. He grouped around 2000 men; they decided to march on Kharkov: once again, battles, advances, setbacks against an important army, during the whole Summer of 1921.

In early August 1921, it was decided that because of the severity of his injuries, he would leave the country with a few companions in order to receive a serious treatment. On August 17, he was once again injured 6 times; on the 19th, a new battle with the 17th red cavalry division which camped along the Ingouletz river. Makhno was trapped like a rat; he fought like a lion and lost 17 of his companions. A new injury: bullet went into the back of his neck and came out through his cheek. Once more lying on a cart on august 22nd, on the 26th, a new battle, new loss of old comrades in-arms. On August 28th, Makhno crossed the Dniepr; he never saw his country again; the Ukraine was occupied by the Red Army who imprisoned and killed without mercy.

Makhno arrived in Romania, he was interned with his comrades. He escaped and got to Poland. Arrested, put on trial, he was acquitted. He came to Danzig where he was once more put in jail, escaped with the help of his comrades and settled definitely in Paris.

From time to time, he tried the hint of an action. He mainly used his leisure to write the history of his struggles and of the Ukraine revolution, but he could not finish it. It ends in late 1918. Three volumes were published, the first in Russian and in French; the second and third only in Russian, after his death. He worked in a factory for a while, but, very seriously ill, suffering from his many injuries, not knowing the language of this country and adapting badly to a different atmosphere than what he had known, he lived in Paris a very painful existence, materially and morally. His life abroad was but a long and pitiful agony against which he was unable to fight. His friends helped him to carry the burden of these sad years of decline.
His health was worsening quickly. Admitted in the Tenon hospital, he died there in July 1935. He was cremated at the Père-Lachaise Crematorium, where the urn containing his ashes can be seen.

As an anarcho-syndicalist militant, I had constituted a sort of mutual aid service for foreign comrades: I welcomed them, put them up at mine or with comrades who could do it, I received their mail, they found at my place shelter, meals, in the measure of my limited means, but also comfort. I received Makhno when he first arrived in Paris, along with his wife and daughter, who was then 4. I directed them to some friends in the countryside where they stayed a couple of days, then we found them a small flat in Paris. I then founded with my friend, Louis Lecoin, a Makhno committee, I appealed to comrades in Paris, in the rest of France, internationally, in the US especially, and I could ensure him a daily allowance, not very important, but enough to ensure material needs. And this, until he died. His wife and his daughter opened a small grocery store in Vincennes; during the war, they disappeared. We believe they were arrested by the Gestapo and deported. We never heard from them again.

Among Makhno’s companions, I have known Volin very well, who fought alongside Makhno in the Ukraine, was arrested by the bolsheviks and was freed by an anarcho-syndicalist delegation in 1922. He lived in Paris with his family and died in 1945. He rests next to Makhno at the Père-Lachaise. I also knew Arshinov, but I saw him less, we didn’t always agree on anarchist principles. He went back to Russia, not only because he was home sick, but because he rallied himself to bolshevik ideas, which was quite surprising for a former Makhnovist companion. Makhno had violent discussions with him on this subject. On the other hand, he got along well with Volin. Arshinov did not drink.

Makhno was not involved in Petliura’s death, but it was another Ukrainian, Schwartzbart, who killed him. We were having lunch in a Russian restaurant on the street of the School of Medecine in Paris, with Schwartzbart, Alexander Berkman, Mollie and Senya Elechine, when Petliura got in the restaurant and was recognized by Schwartzbart. Livid, he made no comment, but he came back alone the next day and killed him. He was acquitted by the Assize Court in paris.

About Trotsky, the “superman” as his accomplices now call him in France and beyond, he was excessively proud and nasty, a good polemicist and orator, he became thanks to the confusion of the revolution an “infallible” military dictator, he was not liked by Makhno and with reason: this man could not stand a people being free in his vicinity, organised along Proudhonian and Kropotkinian principles, in perfect disagreement with K. Marx’s principles. And because of this, he did not hesitate to have hundreds of thousands Ukrainians killed, men, women, and children, using the most perfidious weapons to lose Makhno in the eyes of the people and soldiers, branding him a bandit, an antisemite, etc. Lenin was in perfect agreement with Trotsky on this issue.
I knew Trotsky personally, in Paris, before the revolution, at the café La Rtonde, where revolutionary students such as myself met. I considered him as someone bright but machiavellian, ready to do anything to reach his goals. I saw him again in 1923, at the 2nd syndicalist congress in Moscow, where I was a delegate with a mandate of opposition to joining the 3rd International. I had contacted, in Berlin, A. Berkman and E. Goldman, who had come back from Russia and gave me many addresses of comrades who had gone underground. I managed to contact some of them, others were in prison. Among those, Mollie Steimer and her partner, Senya Fleshin, interend in the camp of Archangelsk, and condemned to life deportation on the Solovietsky islands. I decided to take advantage of my mandate as a delegate to ask an audience from Trotsjy and obtained it after 8 days. I went to meet him at his Kremlin office with a comrade who wouldn’t let me go alone, since the result of the last delegation: our friends Lepetit, Vergeat and R. Lefebvre had disappeared. We later learned that they had drowned while trying to reach France, in rather mysterious circumstances. Trotsky received me with much warmth, he walked towards me smiling, and holding out his hand, but I ostensibly put my hand in my pocket. He asked me why and I couldn’t help myself and told him that I could not shake hands with the person who had Makhno’s troops massacred, and who was also responsible for the events in Kronstadt. To my surprise he did not get angry, or at least he did not show it. It was not very diplomatic of me, since I came to ask the liberation of Mollie and Senya, but my impetuous character at that time made me act this way. I exposed my objectives to him, asked for the liberation of my friends, the right to visit them in Archangelsk, and told him I was firmly decided not to leave Russia until they were freed. I was granted all of my demands, I had the joy to see my friends free and welcomed them to Paris not long afterwards. He didn’t do this by kindness, because he was a hard, even a ferocious man, but the Lepetit-Vergeat affair had made a lot of noise in the syndicalist and anarchist milieus, and Trotsky did not wish for a new campaign to be led among the workers at that time.

May Picqueray