Geytsman, Ilya, 1874/1879-1938

A short biography of former anarchist Ilya Geytsman who defected to the Bolsheviks, and then was later executed in Stalin's purges.

Submitted by Battlescarred on August 21, 2009

2. Chaim The Londoner – from anarchist to Lenin sycophant

GEYTSMAN Ilya M. (Itsko-Isaac Moyshev Fayvishev) aka P. Geytsman, Haim London or Chaim the Londoner 1874/1879-1938

Ilya Geytsman was born in either 1874 or 1879 according to different resources, in Ponevezh ( Panevys)a district capital and fifth largest city in Lithuania, which was then a Jewish shtetl. He was the son of a teacher. During 1905-1907 he was an anarchist-communist of the Kropotkinian current and was opposed to the tactic of “motiveless terror” used by some anarchist communists. He was the prime mover of an anarchist conference organised in 1905 in north west Russia which agitated for the dropping of the tactic.

In Spring 1917 anarchists organised a conference in Irkutsk with Geytsman and Nestor Kalandarishvili representing the majority anarchist communists and Buyskih and others representing an anarchosyndicalist minority to create an anarchist federation in Siberia, although there were always tensions within the new organisation between the two currents.

He became The People’s Commissioner for Foreign Affairs of the first board of the workers and soldiers deputies of Siberia created on 5th March 1917. At his own expense he published The Manifesto of the Anarchist Communists in Irkutsk in 1917 as well as a following pamphlet Anarchy: its aims and tasks in connection with the Revolution and War.

He was at the head of a group of anarchists which included among others Buyskih and Baykovsky aka Valentinov and which issued a statement that they had decided to join the Communist Party on 9th September 1923. He was to go on record to sycophantically sing the praises of Lenin, saying that immortality was given to some after death, but with Lenin it was within his own lifetime. This statement was much used by the regime in its campaign to win over anarchists to the regime. He withdrew, or was forced to withdraw, from the Party in 1929.

In 1933-1936 he was the Director of the Central Military Archives (TSAU) in Moscow. He was arrested during the Stalin purges and executed by the NKVD on the 16th August 1938 in the killing fields of Butovo, 27 kilometres south of Moscow, where his body was buried, alongside 25,000 other victims. In 1957 he was rehabilitated under the Kruschev regime.

(His sister in law , Judith Goodman,(1881-1943) also an active anarchist, had to flee to London in 1905 and then moved on to the USA. She kept up a correspondence with Geytsman in exile, which has been preserved in archives of the Labadie Collection in the USA)