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!