Yarchuk, Efim, 1882 or 1886-1937

Kronstadt sailors in 1917

A short biography of Efim Yarchuk, who played an important role in the rebellious town of Kronstadt.

Yarchuk, Efim Zakharovich aka Khaim Zakharev - Also rendered as Yarchook, Yartchuk, Iarchuk etc.

“a man who enjoyed exceptional influence among the sailors and workers and whose idealism and devotion are matters of historic record” - My Disillusionment in Russia. Emma Goldman

Efim Yarchuk was born into a Jewish community at Berezna in the Ukraine in either 1882 or 1886. He was a tailor by trade.

He was one of founders of the Chernoe Znamia (Black Banner) group in Bialystok before 1905.

This anarchist formation paired mass agitation among workers with armed attacks on officials of the autocracy. It distributed 2,000 leaflets addressed to all workers in factories in 1905. It had meetings in cemeteries where its members pretended to mourn the dead, or in the woods.

With the crushing of the 1905 revolution he was deported to Siberia for 5 years and then emigrated to USA in 1913. He was involved in the Union of Russian Workers and its paper Golos Truda and was a member of the Anarchist Red Cross in New York

He returned to Russia in spring 1917 after the February Revolution. He went to Kronstadt and was elected to the Soviet of the naval base. He became an important activist in the influential anarchist movement there.

Alongside Bleikhman he had an important role in the July Days, herald of the October Revolution. He was an editor of Volyni Golos Truda (successor of the suppressed Golos Truda) in August 1918 at the time of first conference of anarcho-syndicalists.

He became Treasurer of the executive bureau of the Anarcho-syndicalist Confederation at its 2nd conference in Moscow in November 1918. This organization had a nominal existence. He was arrested by the Bolsheviks six times, in Kharkhov in November 1920 and then again by the Moscow Cheka. He was still in prison during the Kronstadt insurrection and thus unable to play a role in it.

He was one of 10 anarchists imprisoned in the Taganka prison who went on hunger strike during the Conference of the Red Trade Union International (Profintern). He was freed and deported in January 1922. He suffered from scurvy whilst in prison.

He moved to Berlin where with Gregori Maximov and Schapiro he brought out Rabochii Put (Worker’s Way) in 1923.

He then moved to Paris where he wrote Kronstadt in the Russian Revolution, published in New York in 1923 by the Union of Russian Workers. It was based on testimony from comrades inside Russia and abroad.

In 1925 with the “law of return” he returned to Russia on the recommendation of Bukharin, an old acquaintance. He joined the Communist Party. He was executed in 1937 during Stalin’s show trials and purges.