a very strange bolshevik - relatively honest, even treated Anarchists well? Antonov-Ovseenko

16 posts / 0 new
Last post
Feighnt
Offline
Joined: 20-07-06
Jan 2 2007 15:09
a very strange bolshevik - relatively honest, even treated Anarchists well? Antonov-Ovseenko

so, recently, i've been reading the new edition of Antony Beevor's history of the Spanish Civil War (he changed the original title, "The Spanish Civil War," into "The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939"). i'm about one-third through... he still seems to be pretty positive about the Anarchists, so far. but, that's not what this post is about.

reading along, i came across the mention of a certain russian bolshevik who was sent over to Spain, named "Antonov-Ovseyenko." he was appointed as the russian consul-general in Barcelona. Beevor noted the rather odd little thing about him: in stark contrast to all other bolshevists who were involved in the civil war, Antonov-Ovseyenko got along alright with the Anarchists, was sympathetic to them (though certainly didnt go so far as to wave the black and red flag or anything, of course), and actually seemed to defend some of their ideas in opposition to what the bolshies wanted.

reading a little bit of this, it occurred to me that i thought i'd heard his name before...

so i whipped open Skirda's history of Makhno, "Anarchy's Cossack," and... lo and behold! there's Antonov-Ovseenko (slightly different spelling, but definitely must be the same person - i presume there are different romanizations of the original russian), pretty much the *only* bolshevik in the whole book that Skirda depicts in a postive light. Antonov-Ovseenko, back during the *russian* civil war, got in contact with Makhno when the Makhnovists and the Bolsheviks were thinking of allying (rather: instituting the Makhnovists into the red army), and, since he was in charge of the Ukrainian front at the time, the Makhnovists were part of his forces (for a little while). this oddly honest Bolshevik had seemingly nothing but positive words to say about Makhno or his forces, sympathized greatly with the problems they were going through (including those made by the bolsheviks themselves), defended Makhno and the insurgents from slander in the bolshevik press, and actually took steps to protect the Makhnovists from losing some of their independence - and, even, their lives, when the bolshies openly revealed to him they wanted the Makhnovists eliminated.

for his sympathies to the Makhnovists during the Russian Civil War, he lost his command of the Ukrainian front (Trotsky removed him).

for his sympathies to Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, he lost his life.

frankly, i'm amazed the party didnt kill him sooner! eek

and, here are relevant quotations about him, first from Skirda's book, then Beevor's.

Skirda, pages 96-100:

Quote:
With Antonov-Ovseenko we have a completely different kettle of fish. He was an old Bolshevik militant, one of those "professional revolutionaries" who had kept the party afloat for years. In October 1917, he had led the Petrograd military soviet which organized the storming of the Winter Palace. At this time he was in command of the Ukrainian front. He was very well aware that the Makhnovist insurgents were "... supporters of local soviets, regarded as free soviets answerable to no central authority." He wanted to get a more exact notion of the whole commotion denounced by his party colleagues, and so he paid a visit to Gulyai-Polye on April 28 and has left us with a superb, objective account of the situation.

For a start, he addressed a message to Makhno announcing that he would be passing through the region. By return, he received a telegram from Makhno:

Quote:
"I know you to be an upright and independent revolutionary. On behalf of the revolutionary insurgent units of the 3rd Dniepr brigade and all of the revolutionary organizations of the Gulyai-Polye region which proudly bear the banner of the insurrection, I am charged to invite you to call upon us to visit our own little 'Petrograd' - free, revolutionary Gulyai-Polye."

En route, Antonov-Ovseenko reviewed all recent developments on the Front, the fine conduct of the Makhnovists and the advice of one Bolshevik leader, Sokolov, and of Hittis, commander of the southern front, to the effect that Makhno be removed from command of his brigade, which struck him as uncalled for since, as the saying goes, "one does not change horses in mid-stream."

From the railway station, a troika brought him briskly to Gulyai-Polye. He was welcomed to the strains of the "Internationale," played by an orchestra. So let us now turn to his account:

Quote:
"A group of bronzed partisans stepped forward to greet the Front commander; one man broke ranks, a man of small stature and quite youthful, with somber eyes and a high papakha perched on his head. He stopped two paces away and saluted: 'Brigade commander Batko Makhno. We are successful in holding the front. At present we are waging the battle for Mariupol. On behalf of the revolutionary insurgents of the Ekaterinoslav province, I salute the leader of the Ukraine's soviet troops.' Handshake. Makhno introduces the members of the Gulyai-Polye soviet's executive committee and of his staff. Also there is the (Bolshevik - A.S.) political commissar of the bridge, my old acquaintance Marussia Nikiforova.

We review the troops. The brigade's main units are on the front. Here there are only a reserve regiment undergoing training and two cavalry platoons. Dressed in a motley assortment of uniforms and clothing and brandishing all sorts of arms, the impression they give is nonetheless one full of verve and pugnaciousness. They 'devour me' with their eyes.

In silence they all listened to the front commander's speech about the import of our struggle, on the position of the different fronts, on the heavy responsibility entrusted to the Makhno Brigade, on the necessity for iron discipline, and they greeted his concluded words with 'hurrahs.'

Makhno replied to the front commander by wishing him welcome, alluded somewhat touchily to the 'unfair' charges laid against the insurgents, mentioned their successes and promised further successes '... if support in arms and equipment is forthcoming' (his voice is not very loud, there is a slight hiss to it, and his pronunciation is soft; all in all, he does not the give the impression of being a great orator, but how attentively they all hear him out!). We step into the building housing the brigade's staff and quickly inspect its branches; the inspection is gratifying. One can discern the hand of a specialist (staff commander Ozerov) at work."

An exchange upon the situation of the Front ensued. The deployment of the brigade's units was reviewed; the results of the April 23rd offensive examined; while the conversation was in progress news arrived of the capture of Mariupol and of the capture of every last man of the enemy's first mixed regiment of infantry and cavalry. Makhno, though, stated that he did not have the wherewithal to follow up the offensive and that it "... would be feasible to form two whole divisions, but the arms and equipment just were not available." He added that the Red Army's 9th reserve division, deployed to the north of his brigade, was prone to panic and that its command's sympathies lay with the Whites. He cited the instance of the offensive against Taganrog when this "... 9th Division fell back abruptly, leading to the encirclement and extermination of a Makhnovist regiment which fought to the bitter end without surrendering." Then he bemoaned the shortage of armaments (in his report, Antonov-Ovseenko comments: "His complaint is well founded!"; there was "neither money nor weapons nor munitions nor equipment. Some time back Dybenko did supply 3,000 Italian rifles with a few cartridges each and now that the ammunition has run out, these rifles are useless.") The remainder of the arms and equipment was booty taken from the enemy. Half of the partisans went barefoot.

And what of the charges of banditry? Why here comes the "big bandit": Batko Pravda, the legless cripple commander of a detachment shows up and salutes Antonov-Ovseenko. He is a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian communist and a first rate fighting man; in spite of this, all sorts of rumors are peddled about him, allegedly he cuts Bolshevik throats and fights against soviet power. He has personally slain bandits. "Persecution of political commissars? Not a bit of it. But we have need of fighters, not gossips. Nobody drove them out. They buggered off themselves. Of course, we have lots who are opposed to your way of thinking and, if you wish, we can discuss." Everything that Makhno says is confirmed by the brigade's Bolshevik commissar.

As their conversations proceed, the insurgents and their guests share a meal washed down by some reddish liqueur: Makhno tells Antonov-Ovseenko that he is not a drinker and that he has banned alcohol. The members of the Gulyai-Polye soviet congratulate themselves on their work: the town boasts three magnificiently appointed secondary schools and some children's communes. Ten military hospitals house a thousand wounded but unfortunately there is not experienced doctor. Antonov-Ovseenko pays a visit to some of them, finding them to be very clean and spacious, having been set up in seigneurial homes. There is also a repair shop for artillery pieces.

Antonov-Ovseenko has a tete-a-tete discussion with Makhno about what help to afford to soviet Hungary, about "... the breakthrough in Europe, the danger of an offensive by Denikin and the need to erect a united, steely front of social revolution against that."

In the end, the pair "shake hands firmly, looking each other in the eye. Makhno declares that 'as long as he leads the insurgents, there will be no anti-soviet acts and that battle without quarter will be waged against the bourgeois generals.' Without demur, he agrees to the conversation of his sector of the front into a division, under the command of one Chikvanaya, with Makhno remaining brigade commander. A great get-together brings the day to a close: everyone rallies around the watchword of... 'all out against the common foe, the bourgeois generals.'"

In 1927, in an appendix to this account, (quite startling for a Bolshevik at that time) Antonov-Ovseenko noted that, in the light of subsequent developments, his testimony might appear to "unduly idealize" the insurgents, but, he added "he had striven only to be objective"!

_______________________

Summarizing his impressions, Antonov-Ovseenko telegraphed the following message to Rakovsky on April 29:

Quote:
"I spent the entire day with Makhno. He, his brigade and the whole region represent a great fighting force. There is no conspiracy. Makhno himself would not allow it. It is possible to organize the region well, there is excellent material there, and we must keep it on our side and not create yet another new front to fight on. If consistent work is followed through, this region will become an impregnable stronghold. The punitive measures contemplated are senseless. There must be an immediate end of the attacks against the Makhnovists that are beginning to appear in our newspapers."

Without waiting for any reply, he also telegraphed to Bubnov and to the editiors of the Kharkov Izvestia, the official mouthpiece of the Ukrainian soviet government:

Quote:
"In your edition of April 5, you carried an article entitled 'Down With The Makhnovschina'. That article is awash with mistruths and is blatantly provocative in tone. Such attacks damage our struggle against the counter-revolution. In that struggle, Makhno and his brigade have demonstrated and do demonstrate an extraordinary revolutionary valor, and are deserving, not of abuse from officials, but rather of the fraternal gratitude of all workers and peasant revolutionaries."

On May 2, he confirmed his impressions in a more considered report to Lev Kamenev. At the same time, he ordered Skatchko, the commander of the 2nd Army, to waste no time in supplying artillery, four million rubles, equipment, field kitchens, a portable telephone, cartridges for those 3,000 Italian rifles, two surgeons, two physicians, medical supplies, pharmaceutical equipment and an armoured train. All as a matter of urgency. The new front line, fixed by Trotsky along the Donetz basin and under the care of the Russian command which thus stripped Makhno of the supervision of the front which was helt by him, Antonov-Ovseenko also objected to. Trotsky's reply was typical of him:

Quote:
"Your comments, according to which the Ukrainian troops are capable of fighting only under a Ukrainian command, derive from a refusal to look truth in the face (...) The Makhnovists from the Mariupol front, not because they are under the authority of Hittis and not yours, but because they faced an enemy more daunting than the Petliurists (...). The main enemy is on the Donetz basin and it is to there that we must switch our main forces (...). Any delay in this operation would be the most awful crime against the Republic."

Antonov-Ovseenko reacted with indignation and anger to this chastisement:

Quote:
"It would not be hard to discover that (1) I had undertaken, and continue to do so, every step to convert the insurgent units into regular army; (2) neither Moscow nor the commissar for war in the Ukraine was of the slightest assistance to me in this organizational endeavor; (3) nonetheless, some excellent cadres have been formed in the Ukraine for the army of the future; the allegation regarding easy victories obtained here is a fantastic concoction by people far removed from the military work in the Ukraine. Without bothering to examine all of these arguments properly, you have condemned my whole work in extreme terms. My outrage is great."

a little bit further in Skirda, page 108-109, after the Makhnovists are dealt a defeat due to being all but abandoned by the Red Army:

Quote:
What was afoot in the Bolshevik upper echelons at the time? The break-through by Shkuro was underestimated and minds were focused instead on the best way of eliminating Makhno. There was a breakdown in coordination: Skatchko, commander of the 2nd army and Makhno's direct superior, took the decision to deploy the Makhnovist brigade as a division. When Antonov-Ovseenko vigorously objected, he (Skatchko -Feighnt) gave him (Antonov-Ovseenko -Feighnt) this account of his rationale:

Quote:
"The military revolutionary soviet (of the 2nd army - A.S.) is very well aware that Makhno's brigade represents a peasant mass awash with petit-bourgeois anarchist and Left SR tendencies, utterly opposed to state communism. Conflict between the Makhnovschina and communism is inevitable, sooner or later. Even at the time of the formation of Makhno's brigade, the commander of the 2nd army issued him with Italian rifles on the reckoning that if need be it would be possible to withhold cartridges from them. But the 2nd army's military revolutionary soviet is persuaded that, until such a time as the common enemy of communism and of the revolutionary (albeit petit-bourgeois) peasantry, to wit, the reactionary monarchy, will be definitively beaten and until such time as the White Volunteer troops will be pushed back towards the Kuban, the Makhnovschina's leaders will not march under arms (and will not have that opportunity) against soviet power: it is for that reason that we have thus far been able to use Makhno's troops in the struggle against the Whites, while converting them internally and gradually into more regular troops better nourished with the spirit of communism. The deployment of Makhno's brigade as a division may be tremendously helpful to work within its ranks, for it affords us a pretext for dispatching a large number of our political militants and officers to it. The whole of Gulyai-Polye followed Makhno. That population supplies him with 20,000 armed partisans who made up his brigade and are now to form a division. Trotsky has interpreted the brigade's conversion into a division as an authentic deployment, but that is a mistake. It is only an organizational reshuffle that paves the way for our political militants and military specialists to penetrate the mass of Makhno's troops. An abrupt change in our policy through cancellation of this conversion into a division (endorsed by war commissar Mezhlauk for all that) will put Makhno on his guard and may well induce him to cease his activities on the front against the Whites. Obviously, such a cessation will entail an increase in White pressures upon other parts of the southern front and there will be a worsening of the situation overall. Our command will insist upon more strenuous activities from Makhno. The latter will begin to allow combat orders to go unheeded and an open breach between him and us will be opened in short order. That would be negative, for the whole 2nd Ukrainian Army at present comprises solely of Makhno's brigade. Ukrainian units from other armies, all of them drawn from insurgent detachments, will not fight Makhno. So, if he is to be liquidated, it would be essential that we are able to call upon at least two complete and well-armed divisions."

The shameful secret stands exposed: the under-arming of the Makhnovists had been premeditated and had had no purpose other than to bring them to heel! Moreover, all of this whole squabble about "deployment" or "conversion" of the Makhnovist brigade into a division - which would be laughable were it not for the dramatic civil war setting - had as its common denominator the aim of reducing Makhno's influence and then of divesting him utterly of his responsibilities. (...)

Ultimately Antonov-Ovseenko carried the day and the redeployment of Makhno's brigade as a division was revoked.

shortly after this, Skirda writes of the Makhnovists tiring of the political intrigue, resulting in them formally parting with the Red Army - resulting in, of course, their being openly branded by the party as traitors. on page 115, Skirda writes that Trotsky recalled Antonov-Ovseenko, and had him replaced with a fellow named "Vatsetis, a Latvian tsarist ex-colonel".

now, going over to Beevor, pages 155-156:

Quote:
Both Negrin and Stashevsky were furious with the Generalitat and the anarchists in Catalonia for taking financial affairs into their own hands. 'Catalonians are seizing without any control hundreds of millions of pesetas from the branch of the Banco de Espana,' Stashevsky reported to Moscow. In their view the fact that the central government had done nothing to help Catalan industry was irrelevant. They also hated the Soviet consul-general in Barcelona, Antonov-Ovseyenko, who clearly sympathized with Companys and got on well with the anarchist leader Garcia Oliver. 'Garcia Oliver does not object to the unified leadership or to discipline in battle,' Antonov-Ovseyenko recorded, 'but he is against the restoration of the permanent status of officers, this foundation of militarism. It is with obvious pleasure that he listens to me when I express agreement with his military plan.'

Antonov-Ovseyenko also noted the comments of the Esquerra minister, Jaume Miravitlles: 'Anarcho-syndicalists are becoming more and more cautious in their management of industry. They have given up their idea of introducing egalitarianism in large enterprises.' Antonov-Ovseyenko, the Bolshevik leader who stormed the Winter Palace, had become an associate of Trotsky and a member of the left opposition, but his abject statement that August, confessing his faults and condemning his former comrades, did not save him from Stalinist suspicion. He may well have been one of those functionaries sent to Spain as a way of preparing their downfall later. The old bolshevik completely failed to see the danger he was in. He asked Soviet advisers and the central government to support an offensive in Catalonia. On 6 October 1936 the consul-general sent a detailed report to Rosenberg, the Soviet ambassador in Spain: 'Our view of anarchism in Catalonia is an erroneous one ... The government is really willing to organize defence and it is doing a lot in that direction, for example they are setting up a general staff headed by a clever specialist instead of the former committee of anti-fascist militias.' His words were ignored. Comintern propaganda regarded Catalonia and Aragon as 'the kingdom of the Spanish Makhnovist faction.' (huh! - Feighnt) And since it had been the Red Army which had destroyed the Makhnovist anarchists in the Ukraine, Antonov-Ovseyenko should have seen the warning signs. (especially considering the quotes from Skirda above! wonder if Beevor knew about that? - Feighnt)

He then moved into the realm of international relations, supporting the Generalitat's contacts with Moroccans, and promising them independence for the colony in the hope of creating an uprising in Franco's recruiting ground. 'Two weeks ago,' he reported to Moscow, 'a delegation of the national committee of Morocco, which can be trusted because it has a lot of influence among the tribes of Spanish Morocco, started negotiations with the Committee of the Anti-Fascist Militias. The Moroccans would immediately start an uprising if the republican government guaranteeed that Morocco would become an independent state if it succeeded and also on the condition that Moroccans would immediately receive financial support. The Catalan committee is inclined to sign such an agreement and sent a special delegation to Madrid ten days ago. Caballero didn't express an opinion and suggested that the Moroccan delegation negotiates directly with (the central government).' Although such a move was considered by the central government and the Spanish Communist Party, this demarche was angrily rejected by Moscow. The last thing Stalin wanted was to provoke France, whose own colony in Morocco might be encouraged to revolt, and to give the British the impression that communists were stirring up worldwide revolution.

Antonov-Ovseyenko appears to have been doomed by the criticisms of Stashevsky and Negrin. This came to a head the following February when Antonov-Ovseyenko 'showed himself to be a very ardent defender of Catalonia.' Negrin remarked that he was 'more Catalonian than the Catalans themselves'. Antonov-Ovseyenko retorted that he was 'a revolutionary, not a bureaucrat'. Negrin declared in reply that he was going to resign because he regarded the statement by the consul as political mistrust and while he was ready 'to fight the Basques and Catalans, he did not want to fight the USSR'. Stashevsky reported all this to Moscow (one even wonders whether he and Negrin provoked Antonov-Ovseyenko on purpose) and the consul-general's days were numbered.

As a result of the reports from Spain expressing total frustration with Largo Caballero's determination to thwart communist power in the army, the Kremlin was looking for a 'strong and loyal' politician who would be able to control events internally, impress the bourgeois democracies, especially Britain and France, and put an end to the 'outrages committed by some of the provinces'. Stashevsky had already seen Negrin as the ideal candidate. In late 1936 he reported to Moscow: 'The finance minister has a great deal of common sense and is quite close to us.' But although Stashevsky's advice was followed, he was to suffer the same fate as Antonov-Ovseyenko. In June 1937 he, Berzin and Antonov-Ovseyenko were all recalled to Moscow where they were executed. Stashevsky's great mistake was to have complained in April 1937 about the vicious activities of the NKVD in Spain, a curious blunder from one so politically aware.

hrm... heh, if Makhno had lived to participate in the Spanish Civil War, wonder how the two would've reacted to one another?

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
Jan 2 2007 16:50

As Antonov-Ovseenko directed GPU operations in Spain, and in particular the repression of the POUM, I for one will not be shedding any tears for him

nastyned
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Jan 2 2007 23:19

I was warming to the guy before that.

Feighnt
Offline
Joined: 20-07-06
Jan 3 2007 01:01
Battlescarred wrote:
As Antonov-Ovseenko directed GPU operations in Spain, and in particular the repression of the POUM, I for one will not be shedding any tears for him

i admit that i'm a bit surprised by this - but not that surprised. the man seemed to be very... contradictory. i get the impression that he was, nonetheless, fairly honest about his motives and how he went about these things, but could've been pretty easy to sucker over. he probably would've done all he could to have crushed the Makhnovists or CNT, had he not met them and dealt with them and saw they were alright. attacking the POUM, one way or another, though, seems to be sensible for him to do, at least from a career (and life-saving) perspective, since he had apparently gone Trot for a short time before Trotsky was expelled.

but, still, bizarre - that he would've figured out the dangers of being in the "left" opposition along with Trotsky and the like... but would've, twice in his life, been sympathetic to and supportive of Anarchists??

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
Jan 3 2007 10:53

Ever heard of soft cops? How do you think he lasted as long as he did in the Bolshevik bureaucracy if he wasn't prepared to do all the appalling things he was ordered to do?

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
Jan 3 2007 11:22

Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko, General Consul of the Soviet Union in Barcelona , top secret document sent to NKVD (November, 1936)

The dispatch of aid to Madrid is proceeding with difficulty. The question about it was put before the military adviser on 5 November. The adviser thought it possible to remove the entire Durruti detachment from the front. This unit, along with the Karl Marx Division, is considered to have the greatest fighting value. To put Durruti out of action, a statement was issued by the commander of the Karl Marx Division, inspired by us, about sending this division to Madrid (it was difficult to take the division out of battle, and, besides, the PSUC did not want to remove it from the Catalan front for political reasons). However, Durruti refused point-blank to carry out the order for the entire detachment, or part of it, to set out for Madrid. Immediately, it was agreed with President Companys and the military adviser to secure the dispatch of the mixed Catalan column (from detachments of various parties).

A meeting of the commanders with the detachments on the Aragon front was called for 6 November, with our participation. After a short report about the situation near Madrid, the commander of the Karl Marx Division declared that his division was ready to be sent to Madrid. Durruti was up in arms against sending reinforcements to Madrid, sharply attacked the Madrid government, "which was preparing for defeat," called Madrid's situation hopeless, and concluded that Madrid had a purely political significance - and not a strategic one. This kind of attitude on the part of Durruti, who enjoys exceptional influence over all of anarcho syndicalist Catalonia that is at the front, must be smashed at all costs. It was necessary to interfere in a firm way. And Durruti gave in, declaring that he could give Madrid a thousand select fighters. After a passionate speech by the anarchist Santillan, he agreed to give two thousand and immediately issued an order that his neighbour on the front Ortiz give another two thousand, Ascaso another thousand, and the Karl Marx division a thousand. Durruti was silent about the Left Republicans, although the chief of their detachment declared that he could give a battalion. In all, sixty-eight hundred bayonets are shaping up for dispatch no later than 8 November. Durruti then and there put his deputy at the head of the mixed detachment (Durruti agreed to form it as a "Catalan division"). He declared that he would personally be with the detachment until the appointment (of the new head). But Durruti unexpectedly pulled a stunt, holding up the dispatch. Learning about the "discovery" of a kind of supplementary weapon (Winchester), instead of sending the units from the front on a direct route to Madrid, he sent these units unarmed into Barcelona, leaving their weapons (Mauser system) at their own place on the front and instead calling up reserves (without weapons) from Barcelona. His anarchist neighbours did the same thing. Thus Durruti got his own way - the Aragon front was not weakened.

About five thousand disarmed frontline soldiers were gathered in Barcelona, and Durruti raised the question about immediately arming them at the expense of the units of the Barcelona gendarmerie and police. Through this, Durruti would achieve a continual striving by the CNT and the FAI to undermine the armed support of the present government in Barcelona. Since the weapons seized from the Garde d'Assaut and Garde Nationale (about twenty-five hundred rifles) were still not enough, it was proposed to get them from the "rear soldiers," and instead of weapons of a different sort, the Garde d'Assaut and Garde Nationale would also, according to Durruti, receive Winchesters in place of Mausers. Here the government's decree on the handing over of weapons by the soldiers at the rear has already been frustrated.

P.S. When i said GPU I meant NKVD ( sometimes difficult to keep up with the various name changes of the organisation that started life as the Cheka)

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
Jan 3 2007 12:43

Antonov-Ovseenko wrote in Pravda in 1936 that he was prepared to kill Trotskyists with his bare hands. He threatened the Companys government with withdrawal of Russian aid if they did not remove Nin and the other POUMists from their posts, which was done. He wrote an article for the Barcelona press describing the POUM as fascists. He was instrumental in the banning of the POUM and the torturing to death of the POUM leader Nin, and the turning of the POUM HQ in Barcelona into a prison. He abjectly capitulated to Stalin to save his own skin.

Feighnt
Offline
Joined: 20-07-06
Jan 3 2007 13:05

ok, ok! you've resoundingly proven your point (and, in a sense, i couldnt be happier - you just gave some very interesting information i'd not known about before). smile)

where did you find that report by Antonov-Ovseenko, about the conditions under which Durruti went to Madrid? while reading over it, i was thinking to myself "wait, he sent the militians down there unarmed? so how did they end up fighting?" only to follow it up by seeing him cleverly get rifles sent away from the authorities in Barcelona! hearing about this makes me *especially* wish he'd lived longer than he had...

he obviously, by the time he was sent to Madrid, still harboured hopes to turn back and push forward the revolution in Catalonia - and this stunt would've helped to achieve that goal.

i find this all the more interesting, as i just read Beevor's chapter on the battle of Madrid (or, rather, the initial attempts at invasion), including Durruti's arrival and subsequent death. hearing the account you quoted from Antonov-Ovseenko certainly colours things in a more interesting manner!

anyway... to state it baldly: I certainly misjudged Antonov-Ovseenko, thanks for proving me wrong! *but*, if you wish to show any more interesting bits of information along the lines of that, or, for that matter, what you posted immediately above about his treatment of the POUM, it certainly wont be unwelcome smile

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
Jan 8 2007 17:34

The Antonov-Ovseenko message is at -horror of horrors -the Spartacist site!
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSantonov.htm

For his role in attacking POUM look at any reputable book that deals with the repression against the POUM

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jan 9 2007 11:43
Battlescarred wrote:
The Antonov-Ovseenko message is at -horror of horrors -the Spartacist site!

That's site's not anything to do with the political group the Spartacists though is it? I thought that site was a general history resource for schools, that loads of schools used?

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
Jan 9 2007 12:12

Ermmm, you're right!!

Karetelnik's picture
Karetelnik
Offline
Joined: 19-12-07
Dec 19 2007 04:18

Antonov-Ovseenko was also a friend of the Ukrainian anarchist Maria (Marusya) Nikiforova, who served under him as a military commander, and may have saved her life on a couple of occasions. He was the first to note (in his memoirs of the Revolution and Civil War) the paradox that Nikiforova, who was much more widely known than Nestor Makhno in 1917-18, was later hardly mentioned in accounts of anarchist activities in southeastern Ukraine. Antonov-Ovseenko continued to speak well of Nikiforova even in the 1930's when this was surely dangerous.

Global Dissident's picture
Global Dissident
Offline
Joined: 5-01-08
Jan 6 2008 00:26

Interesting. I recently saw that in a bookstore, but I didn't quite have enough money on me for it. Maybe I'll pick it up the next time I'm in a bookstore.

Feighnt
Offline
Joined: 20-07-06
Jan 6 2008 00:56

karetelnik, i hadnt known about that even in the slightest!

there really seems to be little ever said about nikiforova, i've only barely heard her talked about. i knew she fought in the revolution, though i didnt know she was a subordinate of any bolsheviks.

she died not too long into the revolution, didnt she?

jambo1's picture
jambo1
Offline
Joined: 2-06-07
Jan 6 2008 10:28

this is a really interesting thread, and thank you guys for it. i will certainly be checking out the sources used as it is an interesting topic. once again thanks.

EdmontonWobbly's picture
EdmontonWobbly
Offline
Joined: 25-03-06
Jan 6 2008 12:06

I'm trying to talk Malcom into putting the Nikiforova pamphlet online by donating it to libcom, but if you want to mail order it PM me and we can work something out. Antonov-Ovseenko does play a pretty big role and definitely comes off as one of the more anarchist sympathetic boilsheviks. Her tensions with Makhno are also really interesting.