The Bolshevik Myth

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1925

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(1870 - 1936) ~ Globe-Trotting Anarchist, Journalist, and Exposer of Bolshevik Tyranny : He was a well-known anarchist leader in the United States and life-long friend of Emma Goldman, a young Russian immigrant whom he met on her first day in New York City. The two became lovers and moved in together, remaining close friends for the rest of Berkman's life. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "Or will the workers at last learn the great lesson Of the Russian Revolution that every government, whatever its fine name and nice promises is by its inherent nature, as a government, destructive of the very purposes of the social revolution? It is the mission of government to govern, to subject, to strenghten and perpetuate itself. It is high time the workers learn that only their own organized, creative efforts, free from Political and State interference, can make their age-long struggle for emancipation a lasting success." (From : "The Russian Tragedy," by Alexander Berkman, The R....)
• "The present situation in Russia [in 1921] is most anomalous. Economically it is a combination of State and private capitalism. Politically it remains the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' or, more correctly, the dictatorship of the inner circle of the Communist Party." (From : "The Russian Tragedy," by Alexander Berkman, The R....)
• "It must always be remembered - and remembered well - that revolution does not mean destruction only. It means destruction plus construction, with the greatest emphasis on the plus." (From : "The Russian Tragedy," by Alexander Berkman, The R....)

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Revolution breaks the social forms grown too narrow for man. It bursts the molds which constrict him the more solidified they become, and the more Life ever striving forward leaves them. In this dynamic process the Russian Revolution has gone further than any previous revolution. The abolition of the established --- politically and economically, socially and ethically --- the attempt to replace it with something different, is the reflex of man's changed needs, of the awakened consciousness of the people. Back of revolution are the millions of living humans who embody its inner spirit, who feel, think, and have their being in it. To them revolution is not a mere change of externals: it implies the complete dislocation of life, the shattering of dominant traditions, the annulment of accepted standards. The habitual, measured step of existence is interrupted, accustomed criteria become inoperative, former precedents are void. Existence is forced into uncharted channels; eve... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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December 23, 1919.- We are somewhere near the Azores, already three days at sea. No one seems to know whither we are bound. The captain claims he is sailing under sealed orders. The men are nearly crazy with the uncertainty and worry over the women and children left behind. What if we are to be landed on Denikin territory. . . . . . . We were kidnapped, literally kidnapped out of bed in the dead of night. It was late in the evening, December 20, when the prison keepers entered our cell at Ellis Island and ordered us to "get ready at once." I was just undressing; the others were in their bunks, asleep. We were taken completely by surprise. Some of us expected to be deported, but we had been promised several days' notice; while a number were to be releas... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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January 20, 1920.---Late in the afternoon yesterday we touched the soil of Soviet Russia. Driven out from the United States like criminals, we were received at Belo-Ostrov with open arms. The revolutionary hymn, played by the military Red Band, greeted us as we crossed the frontier. The hurrahs of the red-capped soldiers, mixed with the cheers of the deportees, echoed through the woods, rolling into the distance like a challenge of joy and defiance. With bared head I stood in the presence of the visible symbols of the Revolution Triumphant. A feeling of solemnity, of awe overwhelmed me. Thus my pious old forefathers must have felt on first entering the Holy of Holies. A strong desire was upon me to kneel down and kiss the ground --- the ground consecrated by the life-blood of generations of suffering and martyrdom, consecrated anew by the revolutionists of my own day. Never before, not even at the first caress of freedom on that glorious May day, 1906 -... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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January 21, 1920. ---The bright winter sun shines upon the broad white bosom of the Neva. Stately buildings on either side of the river, with the Admiralty rearing its slender peak on high, foppishly graceful. Majestic edifices as far as the eye can reach, the Winter Palace towering in their midst in cold tranquility. The brass rider on the trembling steed is poised on the rough Finnish rock, about to leap over the tall spire of the Petropavlovskaya guarding the city of his dream. Familiar sight of my youth passed in the Czar's capital. But gone are the gilded glory of the past, the royal splendor, the gay banquets of nobles, and the iron columns of the slavish military marching to the thunder of drums. The hand of Revolution has turned the city of luxurious idleness into the home of labor. The spirit of revolt has changed even the names of the streets. The Nevsky, immortalized by Gogol, Pushkin, and Dostoyevsky, has become the Prospect of October 25th; th... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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February 10, 1920.---The opportunity to visit the capital came unexpectedly: Lansbury and Barry, of the London Daily Herald, were in Petrograd, and I was asked to accompany them to Moscow as interpreter. Though not entirely recovered from my recent illness, I accepted the rare chance, travel between Petrograd and Moscow being limited to absolute necessity. The railroad conditions between the two capitals (both cities are so considered) are deplorable. The engines are old and weak, the road in need of repair. Several times we ran short of fuel, and our engineer left the train to go off into the woods for a fresh supply of wood. Some of the passengers accompanied the crew to help with the loading. The cars were crowded with soldiers and Soviet officials. During the night many travelers boarded our train. There was much shouting and cursing, and the plaintive cries of children. Then sudden silence, and an imperious command, "Get off, you devils. You... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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February 2.5.---Life in the Kharitonensky is interesting. It is an ossobniak (private house), large and roomy, and contains a number of delegates and guests. At meal time we gather in the common dining room, furnished in the bourgeois taste of the typical German merchant. The house has weathered the Revolution without any change. Nothing has been touched in it; even the oil painting of the former owner, life-size, flanked by those of his wife and children, still hangs in its accustomed place. One feels the atmosphere of respectability and correctness. But at meals a different spirit prevails. The head of the table is occupied by V---, a Red Army officer in military uniform of English cut. He is the chief of the Ukrainian delegation come for an important conference to "the center." A tall, strapping fellow, not over thirty, of military bearing and commanding manner. He has been in many fights against Kaledin and Denikin, and was repeatedly wounded. Wh... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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February 24.---It was 3 A. M. In the Foreign Office correspondents were about and visitors come by appointment with Tchicherin. The People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs has turned night into day. I found Tchicherin at a desk in a large, cold office, an old shawl wrapped around his neck. Almost his first question was "how soon the revolution could be expected in the States." When I replied that the American workers were still too much under the influence of the reactionary leaders, he called me pessimistic. In a revolutionary time like the present, he thought, even the Federation of Labor must quickly change to a more radical attitude. He was very hopeful of revolutionary developments in England and America in the near future. We discussed the Industrial Workers of the World, Tchicherin saying that he believed I exaggerated their importance as the only revolutionary proletarian movement in America. He considered the Communist Party in that country of f... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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I like the feel of the hard snow singing under my feet. The streets are alive with people --- a striking contrast to Petrograd, which gave me the impression of a graveyard. The narrow sidewalks are crooked and slippery, and everybody walks in the middle of the street. Rarely does a street-car pass, though an auto creaks by occasionally. The people are better dressed than in Petrograd and do not look so pale and exhausted. More soldiers are about and persons clad in leather. Tcheka men, I am told. Almost everybody carries a bundle on his back or pulls a little sleigh loaded with a bag of potatoes dripping a blackish fluid. They walk with a preoccupied air and roughly push their way ahead. Turning the corner into the Miasnitskaya Street, I noticed a large yellow poster on the wall. My eye caught the word Prikaz in big red letters. Prikaz --- order --- instinctively the expression associated itself in my mind with the old régime. The poster was couched... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Commissar of our ossobniak, having to lay in provisions, invited me to accompany him to the Moskkommune. It is the great food supply center, a tremendous organization that feeds Moscow and its environs. Its trains have the right of way on all lines and carry food from parts as distant as Siberia and Turkestan. Not a pound of flour can be issued by any of the "stores" --- the distributing points scattered throughout the city --- without a written order signed and counter-signed by the various bureaus of the Commune. From this center each "distributor" receives the amount necessary to supply the demands of the given district, according to the norm allowed on the bread and other cards. The Moskkommune is the most popular and active institution; it is a beehive swarming with thousands of employees, busy determining the different categories of pyock and issuing "authorizations." Besides the bread rations, sugar, tea, etc., given to the citizen... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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In the "Universalist" Club on Tverskaya Street I was surprised to meet a number of the Buford deportees. They had grown tired waiting to be assigned to work in Petrograd, they said, and had decided to come to Moscow. They are quartered in the Third Soviet House, where they receive less than a pound of bread and a plate of soup as their daily ration. Their American money is spent: the Petrograd authorities had paid them 18 rubles for the dollar, but in Moscow they learned that the rate is 500. "Robbed by the great revolutionary Government," Alyosha, the ship zapevalo, commented bitterly. "We are selling our last American things," Vladimir remarked. "It's lucky some markets are open yet." "Trading is forbidden," I warned him. "Forbidden!" he laughed scornfully. "Only to the peasant women and the kids peddling cigarettes. But look at the stores --- if they pay enough graft they can keep open all they want. You've never seen such corruptio... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Kropotkin lives in Dmitrov, a small town sixty versts from Moscow. Owing to the deplorable railroad conditions, traveling from Petrograd to Dmitrov was not to be thought of. But recently I learned that the Government had made special arrangements to enable Lansbury to visit Kropotkin, and with two other friends I took advantage of the opportunity. Since my arrival in Russia I have been hearing the most conflicting rumors about Old Peter. Some claim that he is favorable to the Bolsheviki; others, that he is opposed to them; it is reported that he is living in satisfactory material circumstances, and again that he is practically starving. I have been anxious to learn the truth of the matter and to meet my old teacher personally. In the years past I had had a sporadic correspondence with him, but we never met. I have admired Kropotkin since my early youth, when I had first heard his name and become acquainted with his writings. One incident, in particular, had left a deep i... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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March 1, 1920.---The first All-Russian Conference of Cossacks is in session at the Labor Temple. Some interesting faces and picturesque uniforms are there, Caucasian dress is much in evidence; camel-hair capes reaching to the ground, cartridges across the chest, heavy sheepskin caps, red-topped. Several women are among the delegates. A mixture of uncertain origin, half wild and warlike, these Cossacks of the Don, Ural, and Kuban were used by the Czars as a military police force, and were kept loyal by special privileges. More Asiatic than Russian, almost untouched by civilization, they had nothing in common with the people and their interests. Stanch supporters of the autocracy, they were the scourge of labor strikes and revolutionary demonstrations, with fiendish brutality suppressing every popular uprising. Unspeakably cruel they were in the days of the Revolution of 1905. Now these traditional enemies of the workers and peasants side with the Bolshev... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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I walked to the Hotel Savoy to meet a friend whom I expected from Petrograd. Nearing the Okhotny Ryad I was, surprised to find the raided market in full operation again. All day long women and children are huckstering their wares there, and great crowds are about, trading and bargaining. One cannot tell buyer from seller. Everyone seems to have something for sale, and everyone is pricing things. An old Jew is offering to exchange secondhand trousers for bread; a soldier is trading a new pair of high boots for a watch. Colored kerchiefs and laces, an antique brass candlestick, kitchen utensils, chairs --- every imaginable object is collected there, awaiting a buyer. In the store windows meat, butter, fish, and flour, even wheat, are, exposed for sale. I know that soldiers and sailors sell their surplus, but the quantities to be seen on the Okhotny, the Sukharevka, and other markets are very large. Could the rumors be true that trainloads of provisions often disa... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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March 9.---Yesterday Lenin sent his auto for me, and I drove to the Kremlin. Times have changed, indeed: the old stronghold of the Romanovs is now the home of "Ilyitch," of Trotsky, Lunatcharsky, and other prominent Communists. The place is guarded as in the days of the Czar; armed soldiers at the gates, at every building and entrance, scrutinize those entering and carefully examine their "documents." Externally everything seems as before, yet I felt something different in the atmosphere, something symbolic of the great change that has taken place. I sensed a new spirit in the bearing and looks of the people, a new will and huge energy tumultuously seeking an outlet, yet ineffectively exhausting themselves in a chaotic struggle against multiplying barriers. Like the living sentinels about me, thoughts crowded my mind as the machine sped toward the quarters of the great man of Russia. In bold relief stood out my experiences in the country of the Revolution:... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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I Petrograd, March 15.---I received a message from Tchicherin, informing me that a thousand American deportees had arrived in Libau and were to reach Russia on March 22. A committee was to be formed, and arrangements made for their reception. I had long ago suggested the necessity of a permanent organization for this purpose, because exiles were expected from different countries. So far nothing had been done, but now instructions from Moscow hastened matters. Mme. Ravitch, Commissar of Public Safety in the, Petrograd District, called a conference at which a Deportees' Commission was decided upon. I was appointed Chairman of the Reception Committee, and on March 19 we left Petrograd for the Lettish frontier. Sanitary Train No. 81, splendidly equipped, was placed at my disposal; two more trains were to follow in case the deportees' group proved larger than expected. In the dining-room, on the first day of our journey, a stranger introduced him... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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April 2, 1920.---I found Zinoviev very ill; his condition --- it is rumored --- is due to mistreatment at the hands of workers. The story goes that several factories had passed resolutions criticizing the administration for corruption and inefficiency, and that subsequently some of the men were arrested. When Zinoviev later visited the mill, he was assaulted. Nothing of such matters is to be found in the Pravda or Krasnaya Gazetta, the official dailies. They contain little news of any kind, being almost exclusively devoted to agitation and to appeals to the people to stand by the Government and the Communist Party in saving the country from counter-revolution and economic ruin. Bill Shatov is expected back from Siberia. His wife Nunya is in the hospital, at the point of death, it is feared, and Bill has been wired for. With surprise I have learned that Shatov failed to reply to our radios or to meet the Buford group at the border be... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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For months Zorin had been thinking of a project to afford the toilers of Petrograd an opportunity to recuperate during the summer. The workers are systematically undernourished and exhausted -- a few weeks' rest and an improved pyock would give them new strength, and would at the same time be a demonstration of the interest the Communist Party is taking in their welfare. After protracted discussion Zorin's idea was approved by the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, and he received authority to put his cherished dream in operation. The former villas of the Russian nobility in the environs of the city were to be turned into proletarian "rest homes" and rebuilt to hold 50,000 workers, who will spend two weeks there in groups of 5,000. Zorin enlisted my coöperation, and I have enthusiastically accepted. We have paid several visits to Kameny Island, where the most beautiful villas and palaces are situated, and I have worked out a detailed plan... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Awakened early in the morning by strains of music and song, I went out into the street. The city was in gala attire: flags and banners fluttered in the air; red carpets and curtains hung from windows and doors, the variety of shade and design producing a warm, Oriental effect. On the Nevsky a large automobile passed me, stopping a few paces ahead. A curly, black head rose from the depths of the machine, and someone hailed me: "Hello, Berkman, come and join us." I recognized Zinoviev. Detachments of military filed by, singing revolutionary songs, and groups of boys and girls marched to the strains of the International. "Subotniki," Zinoviev remarked, "going to Marsove Pole to plant trees on the graves of our heroic dead." Our car moved slowly between phalanxes of revolutionary youths and Red Army men, and my mind reverted to a previous May Day demonstration. It was my first experience of the kind, in New York, in the latter part of the 80'... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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May, 1920.---New life has come to Petrograd with the arrival of the British Mission; many meetings, banquets, and festivities are taking place in its honor. I believe the Communists are inclined to exaggerate the importance of the visit and its probable results. Some even think the coming of the Englishmen augurs the political recognition of Russia in the near future. Soviet newspapers and Communist speeches have created the impression that the Mission represents the sentiment of the whole British proletariat, and that the latter is about to come to the aid of Russia. I heard the subject discussed by a group of workers and soldiers at the meeting in the Labor Temple. I had been asked to render into English the resolutions to be presented, and a small table was assigned to me. People crowded about me to get a better look at the delegates on the platform. The full glare of the electric lights shone upon Ben Turner, the Chairman of the Mission, short, stocky, and wel... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Universalist Club on the Tverskaya was in great commotion. Anarchists, Left Social Revolutionists, and Maximalists, with a considerable sprinkling of factory workers and soldiers, filled the lecture room and were excitedly discussing something. As I entered, a tall, well-built young man in a naval blouse separated himself from the crowd and approached me. It was my friend G., the Anarchist sailor. "What do you say now, Berkman?" he demanded, his strong face expressive of deep indignation. "Do you still think the Bolsheviki revolutionary?" I learned that forty-five Anarchists in the Butirki prison (Moscow) had been subjected to such unbearable conditions of existence that they at last resorted to the desperate protest of a hunger strike. All of them have been in prison for many months, ever since the Leontievsky affair, without charges being preferred against them. They are kept under a most rigid régime, deprived of exercise and visit... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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June.---Winter has released its icy grip, and the sun shines brightly. In the parks the benches are filling with people. Our Buford mascot, the "Baby," passed me and I hailed him. The color has faded from his face, and he looks yellow and weary. "No, most of our boys are not working yet," he said, "and we're sick of the red tape. They always tell you they need workers, but nobody really wants us. Of course, the Communists of our group have all gotten good berths. Have you heard about Bianki? You remember how he roasted them at that meeting in Belo-Ostrov? How he joined the Party and got a responsible job? The Boston sailor, remember him? Well, I met him walking on the street the other day, all dressed up in a leather suit, with a gun as big as your arm. In the Tcheka. His old business. Did you know he was a detective in Boston?" "I thought he was a sailor." "Years back. Later he served in a private sleuth agency. (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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July, 1920.---Turbulent mobs besiege our train at every station. Soldiers and workers, peasants, women, and children, loaded with heavy bags, frantically fight for admission. Yelling and cursing, they force their way toward the cars. They climb through the broken windows, board the bumpers, and crowd upon the steps, recklessly clinging to door handles and clutching at each other for support. Like maddened ants they cover every inch of space, in momentary danger of limb and life. It is a dense, surging human sea moved by the one passion of securing a foothold on the already moving train. Even the roofs are crowded, the women and children lying flat, the men kneeling or standing up. Frequently at night, the train passing under a bridge or trestle, scores of them are swept to their death. At the stations the railroad militia await us. They surround a car, drive the passengers off roof and steps, and proceed to another coach. But the next instant there is a rush and s... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The work of collecting material is divided among the members of our Expedition according to fitness and inclination. By general consent, and to his own great satisfaction, the only Communist among us, a very intelligent and idealistic youth, is assigned to visit Party headquarters. Besides my general duties as Chairman, my domain includes labor unions, revolutionary organizations, and semi-legal or "underground" bodies. In the Soviet institutions, as among the people at large, an intensely nationalistic, even chauvinistic spirit is felt. To the natives the Ukraina is the only true and real Russia; its culture, language, and customs superior to those of the North. They dislike the "Russian" and resent the domination of Moscow. Antagonism to the Bolsheviki is general, the hatred of the Tcheka universal. Even the Communists are incensed over the arbitrary methods of the Center, and demand greater independence and self-determination. But the policy of the Kremlin is to put i... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Petrovsky, Chairman of the All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee, the supreme government body of the South, sat at his desk busy over a pile of documents. A middle-aged man of medium stature, his typical Ukrainian face is framed in a black beard, lit up by intelligent eyes and a winning smile. A peasant-Communist appointed by Moscow to high office, he has remained democratic and simple in manner. Learning the mission of our Expedition, Petrovsky evinced the greatest interest. "I am heartily in sympathy with it," he said; "it's splendid, this idea of collecting the material of our great Revolution for the information of the present and future generations. I'll help you all I can. Here, in the Ukraina, you will find a wealth of documents, covering all the political changes we have had since 1917. Of course," he continued, "we have not reached the well-organized and ordered condition of Russia. The development of our country has been quite different, and since 1918 we h... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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A short, slender man of thirty, with lustrous dark eyes set wide apart, and a face of peculiar sadness. The expression of his eyes still haunts me: now mournful, now irate, they reflect all the tragedy of his Jewish descent. His smile speaks the kindliness of a heart that has suffered and learned to understand. The thought kept running through my mind, as he was relating his experiences in the Revolution, that it was his patient, winsome smile which had conquered the brutality of his persecutors. I had known him in America, him and his friend Lea, a sweet-faced girl of unusual self-control and determination. Both had for years been active in the radical movement in the United States, but the call of the Revolution brought them back to their native land in the hope of helping in the great task of liberation. They worked with the Bolsheviki against Kerensky and the Provisional Government, and coöperated with them in the stormy October days, which "gave so much promise... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Greatly interested in the personality and activities of Makhno, I induced Yossif to sketch his story in its essential features. Born of very poor parents in the village of Gulyai-Pole (county of Alexandrovsk, province of Yekaterinoslav, Ukraina), Nestor spent a sunless childhood. His father died early, leaving five small boys to the care of the mother. Already at the tender age of eight young Makhno had to help eke out an existence for the family. In the winter months he attended school, while in the summer he was "hired out" to take care of the rich peasants' cattle. When not yet twelve years old, he went to work in the neighboring estates, where brutal treatment and thankless labor taught him to hate his hard taskmasters and the Czarist officials who always sided against the poor. The Revolution of 1905 brought Makhno, then only sixteen, in touch with socialist ideas. The movement for human emancipation and well-being quickly appealed to the intense and imaginative boy... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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A nauseating stench assails us as we enter the compulsory labor camp at Kharkov. The courtyard is filled with men and boys, incredibly emaciated, mere shadows of humans. Their faces yellow and eyes distended, bodies ragged, and barefoot, they forcibly remind me of starving pariahs in famine-stricken India. "The sewer is being repaired," the official accompanying us explains. Only a few prisoners are at work; the others stand about apathetically, or sprawl on the ground as if too weak for exertion. "Our worst scourge is disease," the guide remarks. "The men are undernourished and lack resistance. We have no medicine and we are short of physicians." Some of the prisoners surround our party, apparently taking us for officials. "Tovarishtchi," a young man appeals to us, "when will the Commission decide upon my case?" "Visitors," the guide informs him laconically. "We can't live on the pyock. The bread ration has been... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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August 7, 1920.---Slowly our train creeps through the country, evidence of devastation on every hand reminding us of the long years of war, revolution, and civil strife. The towns and cities on our route look poverty-stricken, the stores are closed, the streets deserted. By degrees Soviet conditions are being established, the process progressing more rapidly in some places than in others. In Poltava we find neither Soviet nor Ispolkom, the usual form of Bolshevik government. Instead, the city is ruled by the more primitive Revkom, the self-appointed revolutionary committee, active underground during White régimes, and taking charge whenever the Red Army occupies a district. Krementchug and Znamenka present the familiar picture of the small southern town, with the little market place, still suffered by the Bolsheviki, the center of its commercial and social life. In uneven rows the peasant women sprawl on sacks of potatoes, or squat on thei... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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August 12, 1920.---Our little company slowly trudges along the unpaved, dusty road that runs almost in a straight line to the market place in the center of the city. The place seems deserted. The houses stand vacant, most of them windowless, their doors broken in and ajar --- an oppressive sight of destruction and desolation. All is silent about us; we feel as in a graveyard. Approaching the market place our group separates, each of us going his own way to learn for himself. A woman passes by, hesitates, and stops. She pushes the kerchief back from her forehead, and looks at me with wonderment in her sad old eyes. "Good morning," I address her in Jewish. "You are a stranger here," she says kindly. "You don't look like our folks." "Yes," I reply, "I am not long from America." "Ah, from Amerikeh," she sighs wistfully. "I have a son there. And do you know what is happening to us?" "Not very much, but I'd like to... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The Krestchatik, Kiev's main thoroughfare, pulsates with intense life. Straight as an arrow it lies before me, a magnificent broad avenue stretching far into the distance and finally disappearing in the superb Kupetchesky Park, formerly the pride of the city. Ancient, the storms of time and human strife defying, Kiev stands picturesquely beautiful, a radiant mosaic of iridescent foliage, golden cathedrals and monasteries of exotic architecture, and green-clad mountains towering on the banks of the Dnieper flowing majestically below. Recent days revived the bloody scenes the old city had witnessed in the centuries past, when Mongol and Tartar, Cossack, Pole, and fierce native tribes had fought for its possession. But more sanguinary and ferocious have been the struggles of yesterday. Foreign armies of occupation, German, Magyar, and Austrian, native gaidamaki, Poles, Russians --- each turned the ancient city into a shamble. Skoropadsky, Petlura, Denikin, like the... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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By the aid of R---, the secretary of an important labor union, I have gathered much valuable material for the Expedition. R--- is a Menshevik who has in some unexplained manner escaped the recent "cleaning process." His known popularity among the workers, he believes, has saved him. "The Bolsheviki are keeping an eye on me, but they have left me alone so far," he said significantly. Familiar with the city, its museums, libraries, and archives, R--- has been a great help in my quest for data and documents. Much that is valuable has been lost, and still more has been destroyed by the workers themselves, in the interests of their safety, at the time of German occupation and White Terror. But a considerable part of the labor archives has been preserved, sufficient to reconstruct the history of the heroic struggle of the unions since their inception and throughout the stormy days of revolution and civil war. All through the Mensheviki played the rôle of the intellectual... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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A pall hangs over the home of my friend Kolya, the tailor. His wife is ill, the children neglected, dirty, and hungry. The plumbing is out of order, and water must be carried from the next street, four flights up. Kolya always performed the heavy work; his absence falls heavily upon the little family. From time to time the neighbors look in on the sick woman. "Your husband will soon return," they assure her cheerfully, but I know that all their efforts to find him have proved fruitless. Kolya is in the Tcheka. The workers of the clothing factory where my friend is employed have of late been very discontented. Their main complaint concerns the arbitrary methods of the yatcheika, the little group of Communists within every Soviet institution. Friction between them and the shop committee resulted in the arrest of the latter. In protest the workers declared a strike. Three delegates were sent to the Tcheka with the request to release the prisoners, but the... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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September 2, 1920.---Late yesterday afternoon we reached Odessa, our little commune greatly disturbed over the fate of Alsberg. Our traveling companion, whose cheerful spirit and ready helpfulness contributed so much toward making our journey more pleasant, was arrested on August 30, while we were stopping in Zhmerinka. The local Tcheka agents had received orders from Moscow to "return the American correspondent," because he had gone to the Ukraina "without the knowledge" of the authorities. In vain we argued and produced Zinoviev's letter giving Alsberg permission to join the Expedition. He was removed from the train, to be taken under convoy to Moscow. The wires we sent to Lenin, Zinoviev, and Balabanova, protesting against the arrest and urging the release of our friend, have so far remained unanswered. The great city, formerly the most important shipping center of the country, was shrouded in darkness, its electric supply station having been almost completely... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Railroad communication between Odessa and Nikolayev is suspended, but we have been informed that a motor truck belonging to the Maritime Ossobiy Otdel (Tcheka) is to leave for that city at midnight on September 6. Accompanied by the Secretary, I proceeded early in the evening to the place of departure. For hours, we tramped unfamiliar streets and tortuous alleys without finding the appointed place. Fearfully my companion clung to me, Odessa's reputation for lawlessness and the brutality of its bandit element filling us with alarm. In the darkness we lost our bearings and kept circling within the crooked alleys near the docks, when suddenly there came the command, "Who goes there?" and we faced guards pointing guns at us. Fortunately we had secured the military password. "Tula-Tar---" "Tarantass," the soldier completed, permitting us to pass and directing us on our way. It was after 2 A.M. when we reached the Maritime Otdel. (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Having learned that old police records are in possession of the Extraordinary Commission, I visited Burov, the predsedatel of the Tcheka. Very tall and broad, of coarse features and curt demeanor, he gave me the impression of a gendarme of the Romanov régime. He spoke in an abrupt, commanding tone, avoided my look, and seemed more interested in the large Siberian dog at his side than in my mission. He declined to permit me to examine the archives of the Third Department, but promised to select some material the Museum might be interested in, and asked me to call the next day. His manner was not convincing, and I felt little faith in his assurances to aid my efforts. The following morning his secretary informed me that Burov had been too busy to attend to my request, but he could be seen at the Revolutionary Tribunal, where a trial was in progress. On the dais of the Tribunal three men sat at a desk covered with a red cloth, the wall back of them... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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After a stay of several days we left Nikolayev, returning to Odessa by the same maritime auto truck. We followed the former route and witnessed the previous scenes again. Our reception was even more unfriendly than before. Occasionally some good-natured soldier offered to pay with Sovietsky money, but the villagers pleaded that they could do nothing with the "colored papers," and begged for articles of "manufacture." The chauffeur produced a can of watered gasoline, which he had persuaded an old peasant to exchange for a smoked ham by assuring him that it was the "best kerosene in Russia." The neighbors protested, but the old man, too frightened to refuse, gave up the treasured meat, muttering: "May the Lord have mercy on us and see you depart soon." In Odessa we learn that the Red Army is in full retreat from Warsaw, and Wrangel steadily advancing from the southeast. The alarming situation makes the further progress of the Expedition impossible. Our anxiety i... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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December, 1920.---Yaroslavl, an ancient city, is picturesque on the banks of the Volga. Very impressive are its cathedrals and monasteries, fine specimens of the architectural art of northeastern Russia of feudal times. But desolate is the sight of the many demolished buildings and churches. On the opposite side of the river the whole district is wrecked by artillery and fire. Dismal reminders of the harrowing days of June, 1918, when the counter-revolutionary insurrection led by Savinkov, once famous terrorist, was crushed. More than a third of the city was destroyed, its population reduced by half. The shadow of that tragedy broods darkly over Yaroslavl. The hand laid upon the rebels was so heavy, its imprint is still felt. The people are cowed, terrified at the very mention of the ghastly days of June. Through Vologda we reach Archangel, at the mouth of the Northern Dvina, almost within the Arctic Circle. The city is situated on the right bank, separ... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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The military fronts have been liquidated; civil war is at an end. The country breathes a sigh of relief. The Entente has ceased to finance counter-revolution, but the blockade still continues. It is, now generally realized that the hope of near revolution in Europe is visionary. The proletariat of the West, involved in a severe struggle with growing reaction at home, can give no aid to Russia. The Soviet Republic is thrown upon its own resources. All thoughts are turned to economic reconstruction. Communist circles and the official press are agitated by the discussion of the rôle of the workers in the present situation. It is admitted that militarization of labor has failed. Far from proving productive, as had been claimed, its effects have been disorganizing and demoralizing. The new part to be assigned to the proletariat is the burning problem, but there is no unity of opinion among the leading Bolsheviki. Lenin contends that the unions are not prepared to manage... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Petrograd, February, 1921.---The cold is extreme and there is intense suffering in the city. Snowstorms have isolated us from the provinces; the supply of provisions has almost ceased. Only half a pound of bread is being issued now. Most of the houses are unheated. At dusk old women prowl about the big woodpile near the Hotel Astoria, but the sentry is vigilant. Several factories have been closed for lack of fuel, and the employees put on half rations. They called a meeting to consult about the situation, but the authorities did not permit it to take place. The Trubotchny millworkers have gone on strike. In the distribution of winter clothing, they complain, the Communists received undue advantage over the nonpartizans. The Government refuses to consider the grievances till the men return to work. Crowds of strikers gathered in the street near the mills, and soldiers were sent to disperse them. They were kursanti, Communist youths of the military... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

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Pensively Pushkin stands on his stone pedestal, viewing life flowing by on the square bearing his name. On the boulevard the trees are smiling with budding green, and promenaders bask in the April sun. Familiar sight of Moscow streets, yet with a strange new atmosphere about the people. The vision of Kronstadt had flashed across the city; its dead embers lie ashen gray on the faces. I sense the disconsolate spirit in the procession of diverse type and attire --- workmen in torn footgear, rags wrapped about their legs; students in black shirts belted at the waist, the tails fluttering in the breeze; peasants in lapti of woven straw, soldiers in long gray coats, and dark-skinned sons of the Caucasus in brighter colors. Young women mingle with them, in short skirts and bare legs, some wearing men's boots. Most of them are painted, even the little girls. Boldly they gaze at the men, inviting them with their eyes. Gay music sounds from the garden nearby. At the little... (From : Anarchy Archives.)

Chronology

1925 :
The Bolshevik Myth -- Publication.

February 02, 2017 ; 5:09:21 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

March 30, 2019 ; 4:08:59 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
Last Updated on https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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