Part IV: Repression

Submitted by Steven. on October 29, 2010

CHAPTER 1: The Preparations

One notable task had been successfully performed by the "Soviet power": in the spring of 1918 it already had pushed the organization of its governmental and statist cadres -- cadres of police, the Army, and those of the "Soviet" bureaucracy -- fairly far. Thus the base of the dictatorship was created, sufficiently solid, and completely subordinated to those who had established it and who were maintaining it. It was possible to count on it.

It was with these forces of coercion, disciplined and blindly obedient, that the Bolshevik government crushed several attempts at independent action which were made here and there.

Also it was with the help of those forces, rapidly enlarging, that it ended by submitting the Russian masses to its fierce dictatorship.

And it was with those same forces, once it was sure of the unreserved obedience and passivity of the major part of the population, that it turned against the Anarchists.

During the revolutionary days of October, 1917, the tactics of the Bolsheviki with regard to the Anarchists boiled down to this: to utilize the latter to the maximum as elements of combat and "destruction", helping them, to the necessary degree (with arms, et cetera) but supervising them closely.

However, when the victory was achieved and power won, the Bolshevik regime changed its method.

Let us cite a striking example:

During the hard fighting in Moscow in October, 1917, the staff of the Dvintsi (the Dvinsk regiment, previously referred to) was installed in the quarters of the Moscow Soviet. In the course of events a Bolshevik "revolutionary committee' also was set up in Moscow and proclaimed itself "the supreme power". And directly the staff of the Dvintsi, known as [being composed of Anarchists], became the object of supervision, mistrust, and suspicion by that committee. A net of spies was spread around it. A sort of blockade impeded its movements.

Gratchov (an Anarchist who commanded the regiment) saw clearly that the Bolsheviks were concerned, not with the true Revolution, nor with the immediate problems of the new Russion nation, but only with rivalry and the taking of power. He felt that they were going to emasculate the Revolution and lead it to its ruin. A deep anguish seized him. In vain he asked himself how to seize and stop in time the criminal hand of the new power, ready to garrote the Revolution. And he conferred with several comrades who, alas, were powerless like himself.

For want of something better he had the idea of arming the workers as well as possible. He sent rifles, machine guns, and ammunition to several factories. Thus he hoped to be able to [help] prepare the masses for an eventual revolt against the new importers.

But Gratchov soon perished, and suddenly. Summoned by the Bolshevik authorities to Nishni-Novgorod "on military business", he was shot, under exceedingly mysterious circumstances, by a soldier who didn't yet know how to handle a rifle. Certain indications impel us to suppose that he was assassinated by a mercenary in the pay of the "Soviet" power.1

Later all the revolutionary regiments of Petrograd and Moscow which had participated in the fighting in October were disarmed by the Government. In Moscow the first regiment to be disarmed (by force) was that from Dvinsk. And soon afterward, throughout the country, all citizens, without exception, and including the workers and their organizations, were ordered, under penalty of death, to turn in their arms to the Bolshevik military authorities.

CHAPTER 2: The Discharge

In the spring of 1918 persecutions of the Anarchists by the Russian "Communist" government began in a general, systematic, and decisive way. The peace of Brest-Litovsk concluded, the Lenin regime felt itself sufficiently solid to undertake a fundamental struggle against its adversaries "on the left" -- the left Social Revolutionaries and the Anarchists.

It had to act methodically and prudently.

At first the Communist press, on orders from the Government, started a campaign of slander and false accusations against the Anarchists, growing more violent from day to day. At the same time, they actively prepared the ground in the factories, in the Army, and among the public, through meetings and lectures. Everywhere they sounded the spirit of the public. Soon the regime was certain that it could rely on its troops, and that the masses would remain more or less indifferent or powerless [in the face of drastic action against the leftist opposition].

Then, on the night of April 12, under a false and absurd pretext, [the quarters of] all the Anarchist organizations in Moscow -- and principally those of the Federation of Anarchist Groups in that city -- were attacked and sacked by troops and the police force. For several hours the capital took on the appearance of a city in a state of siege. Even artillery took part in the "action".

This operation served as a signal for the sacking of the libertarian organizations in nearly all the important cities of Russia. And as always the provincial authorities exceeded in zeal those in the capital.

Leon Trotsky, who for two weeks had prepared the blow, and who had carried out in person, among the regiments, an unbridled agitation against the "anarcho-bandits", had the satisfaction of being able to make his famous declaration: "At last the Soviet government, with an iron broom, has rid Russia of Anarchism."

Eternal and cruel irony of human history: Fifteen years afterward Josef Stalin used the same formula and applied the same "iron broom" against Trotskyism, to the great indignation of Trotsky.

I confess that I have felt some sentiment of satisfaction about this act of poetic justice.2

That first aggression, however, was only a timid beginning, a "sketch", a try-out.

The idea of Anarchism was not yet declared outside of the law. And it is true that a certain freedom of speech, and of the press, or rather, of the profession of faith, though very restricted, still remained possible. In a relative measure the libertarian organizations -- pale shadows of the past -- survived the "catastrophe" and resumed their activity.

Meanwhile the Bolshevik Party crushed the Social Revolutionary Party (as well as other leftist factions, the "Maximalists", et al). We will not concern ourselves much with this -- these struggles having had neither the same scope nor the same interest as that directed against the Anarchists. One might consider the duel between the left Social Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviki as a conflict between two political parties over the taking of power, which has only moderate interest for us.

We must mention, however, that, after having got rid, from the Government itself, of several members of the S.R. Party, the Communist Party made war on it without mercy. And by the end of the summer of 1918 the left Social Revolutionaries found themselves in the position of outlaws. Soon they disappeared as a party. Then, individually, their militants were tracked down all over the country and suppressed to the last man.

The tragic fate of the unfortunate Maria Spiridonova spells one of the most terrifying pages of this inhuman repression. Arrested, dragged from prison to prison, tortured mentally and perhaps physically, her days were ended in some filthy cell, if not in a cellar, by the bullets of the Cheka. (I lack precise knowledge about her death). And how many other militants of that party, whose only crime was to conceive differently the tasks and the course of the Revolution, had to undergo a like fate!

CHAPTER 3: Unrestrained Fury

In 1919-1920 the protests and movements of the Russian workers and peasants against the monopolistic and terroristic procedures of the "Soviet" power toward them were notably intensified. The Government, more and more cynical and implacable in its despotism, replied with increasingly accentuated reprisals.

Naturally the Anarchists again were body and soul with the deceived and oppressed masses in the open conflict. Supporting the workers, they demanded for them and their organizations the right to control production [of commodities] themselves, without the intervention of politicians. Supporting the peasants, they demanded for them independence, self-rule, and the right to deal directly and freely with the workers. In the names of both, they demanded the restitution of what the workers had achieved through the Revolution, and which had been "frustrated" by the "Communist" power, particularly the restoration of "a real free Soviet regime", re-establishment of "political liberties" for all revolutionary tendencies, et cetera. In short, they demanded that the gains of October, 1917, be returned to the people themselves -- to the free workers' and peasants' organizations.

Naturally, too, the Anarchists unmasked and combatted, in the names of these principles, both in writing and by word of mouth, the policy of the Government.

As they had foreseen, the Bolshevik regime ended by making war on them also. After the first major operation in that direction in the spring of 1918, the persecutions continued in an almost uninterrupted manner, taking on a more and more brutal and decisive character. And by the end of that year, several libertarian organizations in the provinces were sacked once more. Those which by chance escaped this were not permitted by the authorities to do anything.

In 1919, about the same time as the repression in Great Russia, persecutions also began in the Ukraine. (For several reasons, the Bolshevik dictatorship was installed there much later than elsewhere). In every area where the Bolsheviki set foot, the libertarian groups were liquidated, their militants arrested, their publications suspended, their bookstores destroyed, lectures forbidden.

It is unnecessary to say that all these measures were carried out by police, military, or administrative order, and were wholly arbitrary, without accusation, explanation, or any judicial procedure. The model for such action had been established, once and for all, by the, "precedent" instituted by Trotsky himself in the spring of 1918.

[Another fateful action] by Trotsky was his issuance, in the summer of 1919, of his now famous order No. 1824, declaring the so-called Makhnovist movement outside the law. Following that, Anarchists were arrested almost everywhere in Russia, at the same time as Nestor Makhno's partisans were. And very often they were immediately shot, simply on the order of a Red officer.

In the majority of cases, the suppression of the libertarian organizations was accompanied by acts of savage violence, and of senseless vandalism by the Chekists (Communist secret police) and the deceived, unnerved, or over-excited Red soldiers. The militants, men and women alike, were brutally treated, as "criminals". Their quarters were demolished, their books burned. It was a furious repression.

At the close of that summer, a general sacking of Anarchist organizations took place in the Ukraine. And by the end of the same year, there remained only remnants of an Anarchist movement in Russia.

[Here is an odd turn in Bolshevik history].

Early in October, 1920, the "Soviet" power, having need of the assistance of the revolutionary Makhnovist partisans in fighting Baron Peter Wrangel's "White" troops, effected an alliance with Makhno. According to the agreement on which that alliance was based, all imprisoned and exiled Anarchists were to have their freedom restored and be given the right to work openly in the Ukraine and anywhere in Russia.

Though naturally holding back on the fulfilment of that provision, the Bolsheviks had, however, to interrupt the prosecutions and release several militants. But as soon as Wrangel was defeated, the "Soviet" government treacherously attacked Makhno and again struck out violently at the libertarian movement in the Ukraine.

At the end of November, with Wrangel just vanquished, the authorities arrested in Kharkov many Anarchists gathered from many parts of Russia for a legal congress. At the same time, they tracked down libertarians all over the Ukraine, organizing a regular hunt, with beaters and ambushes, and taking as "hostages" parents, wives, and children -- as if they wanted to have revenge for the recent forced concession and to make up for lost time, seeking now to exterminate "the wicked race of Anarchists" down to the children.

To justify this disgraceful action, the Bolshevik regime explained its break with Makhno on the ground of so-called treason by the latter, and invented a fantastic "great Anarchist plot against the Soviet power".

The real story of this purported plot is fantastic and deserves to be told. Thus:

Several days before the decisive victory over Wrangel, when the defeat of the latter was no longer in doubt, the central telegraph station in Moscow ordered all the stations in the provinces to shut off their receiving apparatus, and accordingly not to take an urgent and absolutely secret message from Lenin, which was supposed to be received only by two other main stations -- the one in Kharkov and the other in Crimea.

This order was not obeyed by a libertarian sympathizer in charge of one of the stations in the provinces. And he took down the following telegram:

Determine the Anarchist strength in the Ukraine, particularly in the Makhnovist region.


Several days later another telegram was sent under the same conditions:

Exercise active supervision over all Anarchists. Prepare documents as much as possible of a criminal nature of which they can be accused. Keep orders and documents secret. Send the necessary instructions everywhere.


And after a few more days, the third and last laconic message:

Arrest all the Anarchists and incriminate them.


All these telegrams were addressed to Christian Rakovsky, then president of the Council of People's Commissars of the Ukraine, and to other military and civil authorities.

On receipt of the third telegram, the sympathetic telegraphist warned an Anarchist comrade, who hastened to Kharkov to apprise the libertarians there of the repression in preparation. But he arrived too late: the action already had been taken. Nearly all of the Kharkov Anarchists, and also those who had come for the congress, were in prison. Their quarters were closed.

Such was the "plot" of the Ukrainian Anarchists against the Soviet power.

At the time of the agreement between the government "of the Soviets" and Nestor Makhno, the Makhnovist delegation [which negotiated it] had officially established the number of persons imprisoned or exiled and requiring liberation at more than 200,000. For the most part, these were peasants arrested en masse for sympathizing with the Makhnovist movement. We do not know how many conscious Anarchists there were among them. And we will never know how many persons, in this period, were shot or disappeared without leaving any trace, in the various local prisons, many of which were secret and unknown to the public.

During the Kronstadt uprising in March, 1921, the Bolshevik government made new mass arrests of Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists. Again they organized a sweeping man-hunt across the country, seeking to capture every remaining militant who dared raise his voice. For, contrary to the lies spread by the "Soviet" power, inside Russia and elsewhere, the Kronstadt revolt and the movements which accompanied it were strongly imbued with libertarian spirit.

Any mass movement -- a workers' strike, peasants' protests, or discontent among the soldiers or sailors, invariably had repercussions affecting the Anarchists. And after the Bolsheviki threw into prison individuals having no other connection with the libertarians except a community of ideas, or were relatives, or casual acquaintances. To admit openly having the same viewpoint as the Anarchists sufficed to send one to prison, from which one got out with difficulty, or generally not at all.

The circles of Anarchist youth were brutally suppressed in 1919 and again in 1921. These groups were engaged in teaching and studying communally, among other things, the Anarchist doctrine, with which it had most sympathy. The Bolshevik action was impelled simply by the desire to cut short the interest of the youth in libertarian ideas. Only the Marxian dogma remained acceptable [to the Government].

In the summer of 1921 the Soviet press announced that in the vicinity of Zhmerinka (a small city in the province of Podolia, in the Ukraine) 30 or 40 Anarchists living in that area and having connections in other cities in the Southern region, had been "discovered and liquidated" -- that is to say, shot. This bit of candor by the Bolsheviks was an extremely rare phenomenon, explainable only by assuming an intention of cautioning such youth and discouraging them from continuing their activity. The names of all those who perished thus never could be determined. But it was established that they included some of the best militants among the libertarian youth.

Around the same time, and again according to the Soviet press itself, the Lenin government imprisoned (and shot some of them) in Odessa, the members of a fairly large and important Anarchist group which, among other action, was spreading propaganda in Soviet institutions and circles (even in the Odessa Soviet and in the Bolshevik Party's local committee). That constituted, the party press said, the crime of "high treason".

Official dispatches stated that 92 Tolstoyan (absolute pacifist) Anarchists were shot up to the end of 1922, chiefly for refusal to serve in the Army. And many Tolstoyans languished in prison.

One of these good pacifists found himself one day face to face with J. Peters, the infamous executioner of the Cheka (secret Communist police) in one of the Offices of that force. Miraculously he was about to be set free. Waiting his turn, he was peacefully picking lice out of his heavy beard and throwing them on the floor. (In that period, lice were the most intimate friends of man in Russia. They were commonly referred to affectionately as semashki, from the name of Nikolai Semashko, People's Commissar of Public Health -- stinging but suggestive irony).

"Why do you throw them down like that instead of killing them?" the astonished Peters asked.

"I never kill living creatures."

"Oh," said Peters, highly amused. "That's funny, really. You let yourself be bitten by lice, bed-bugs, and fleas? I must say you are crazy, my friend. I myself have suppressed several hundred men -- bandits, that is -- and it didn't bother me at all."

He could not get over his amazement and kept looking curiously at the peaceful Tolstoyan, taking him surely for a harmless idiot.

I could continue this list of martyrs to great length.

I could cite hundreds of instances where the victims were drawn into snares to be shot, either after "interrogation" and torture, or even on the spot, sometimes in a field, or at the edge of a forest, or in a railway car at an abandoned station.

I could cite hundreds of cases of brutal and disgraceful searches and arrests, accompanied by violence and all sorts of torments.3

I could give a long list of libertarians, many of them very young, who were thrown into prison or exiled into unhealthy regions, where they died after extended and terrible sufferings.

I could tell of revolting cases of individual repression resulting from shameless informing, cynical treachery, or repugnant provocation.

The Bolsheviki suppressed men for upholding an idea if it was not exactly that of the Government and its privileged clique. They sought to suppress the idea itself, and to wipe out all independent thought. Also they frequently suppressed men who knew and who could reveal certain facts.

I shall confine myself to a few individual examples, particularly odious.

CHAPTER 4: The Case of Leon Tchorny and Fanny Baron

Thirteen Anarchists, held for no plausible reason in the Taganka prison in Moscow, inaugurated a hunger strike in July, 1921, demanding either to be arraigned or set free. This action happened to coincide with the gathering of the International Congress of Red Trade Unions (the Profinterri) in the capital city. A group of foreign Syndicalist delegates (mainly French) questioned the "Soviet" government about the strike, having learned of it, with full details, from the prisoners' relatives. The questioning also bore on other analogous cases, and even on the Bolshevik policy of repressing Anarchists and Syndicalists.

In the name of the Government, Leon Trotsky cynically answered: "We do not imprison the real Anarchists. Those whom we hold in prison are not Anarchists, but criminals and bandits who cover themselves by claiming to be Anarchists."

Well informed, the delegates did not give up. They carried their interrogations to the tribune of the Congress, demanding at least the setting free of the Anarchists confined in the Taganka bastile. That questioning caused a great scandal at the Congress, and forced the Government to give ground -- for it feared more serious revelations. It promised to free the thirteeen Taganka prisoners. The strike ended on the eleventh day.

After the departure of the delegates, and after letting the affair drag out for two months, during which it sought an adequate pretext for accusing the prisoners, still behind the bars of Taganka, of serious crime, and thereby get out of keeping its promise, the Government finally felt compelled to release the thirteen in September. And immediately it expelled all but three from the U.S.S.R.

In revenge (vengeance was a constant element in the Bolshevik repression), and especially to justify, before the foreign workers and their delegates, its terrorist procedures against "the so-called libertarians", the Lenin regime staged, a little later, a brazen frame-up against [some of the same group].

For purported "criminal" acts, and particularly for the alleged counterfeiting of Soviet bank notes, its agents shot, (naturally in secret, in the night, in one of the cellars of the Cheka, without the shadow of any judicial procedure) several of the most honest, sincere, and devoted Anarchists: the young Fanny Baron (whose husband was in prison), the well-known militant Leon Tchorny (whose real name was Tourtchaninoff), and others.

It was proven afterward that the libertarians who were shot had nothing to do with the specified "crimes". And it was proven also that the counterfeiting was done by the Cheka itself. Two of its agents, one named Steiner (but called Kamenny) and a Chekist chauffeur were introduced into libertarian circles, and at the same time into certain criminal hang-outs, in order to be able to show "'connections" between the two and build up a case against the chosen victims. The indispensable appearances established, the "case" was formulated, and made public.

Thus, to justify its other crimes, with the aid of a new one, the Bolshevik government sacrificed several more Anarchists and tried to sully their memory.

CHAPTER 5: The Case of Lefevre, Vergeat and Lepetit

Three French militants vanished without trace in another outstanding case. They were: Raymond Lefevre, Vergeat, and Lepetit, delegates to the Congress of the Communist International which took place in Moscow in the summer of 1920.

Raymond Lefevre, though a member of the Communist Party, repeatedly voiced gloomy sentiments at that time, and was fully aware of the false route his ideological comrades had taken. And Vergeat and Lepetit, both Anarcho-Syndicalists, openly displayed their anger, and did not conceal their criticism of the state of things in Russia. More than once, Lepetit, his head in his hands, said, while weighing the report he would have to make to his French Syndicalist comrades: "But what do I want to say to them?"

The Congress over, the three worked for several days and nights getting their notes and documents together. Then, repressive measures against them began when, on the eve of their return to France, they refused to hand over their dossiers to the functionaries of the Soviet power, who claimed to be in charge of carrying the documents to their destination. Lefevre even refused to trust his notes and papers to the Russian members of his party.

So the Moscovite politicians decided to sabotage the departure of the trio. Under false pretexts, they were not permitted to take the route which Cachin and the other Communist delegates followed, but for mysterious reasons the Soviet government arranged to "have them leave by way of the North".

Anxious to protect their mission, and believing themselves sufficiently protected by the presence of the Communist Lefevre, who was going to make the trip with them, Vergeat and Lepetit planned to go back to France in time to take part in a confederal Congress, at which they were supposed to present their reports.

Their Calvary began with a long and difficult trip from Moscow to Murmansk (Russia's extreme Northern port, on the Arctic Ocean), which was made under cruel conditions. "They are sabotaging us," Lepetit said with reason. On the train, troubled by the intense cold, and without warm clothing or food, they approached the Chekists who accompanied the convoy, asking them for what they absolutely needed. In vain they referred to their capacity as delegates, receiving this reply: "We are completely unaware that there are delegates on the train. We have received no orders on the subject."

It was only at the repeated insistence of Lefevre that they were given some food. Thus, suffering from many privations and expecting worse difficulties, they arrived in Murmansk. There they took refuge among friendly fishermen and awaited the fulfilment of the promise made in Moscow, the coming of a boat which would take them to Sweden.

Three weeks thus passed for them in restlessness and astonishment at not seeing the promised boat arrive. And they began to doubt the possibility of their reaching France in time to complete their mission.

Then Lefevre wrote a letter to a friend in Moscow. Not receiving a reply, he sent a second, and a third, all without result. Later it was learned that the three letters were intercepted and sent to Trotsky, who confiscated them. In the third one Lefevre gave a poignant description of their plight and announced their desperate determination to cross the Arctic Ocean in a fishing boat to get out of the land of the Soviets. "We are going to our death," he wrote.

They got together enough money to buy a boat. And despite the pleading of several companions and of fishermen on the coast, they embarked and went -- [beyond doubt] to their death, as Raymond Lefevre had said. For they were never seen again.

Definite proof of this assassination coldly arranged by Moscow does not exist -- or the persons who possess it keep it secret, for reasons easy to understand. Naturally the Bolsheviks deny it. But can one doubt it when one knows the firm and intransigent attitude of Vergeat and Lepetit while in Russia, the usual procedure of the Bolshevik government, the handicaps placed on their departure? And it must be remembered that Cachin and the other Communist delegates from France were able to make the return journey without difficulty and arrived in time to repeat to the Congress in Tours the lessons they had learned in Moscow.

In any event, we have related faithfully the authentic facts of that episode which eventually became known in Russia. We believe that they speak eloquently enough for themselves. The reader can judge.

CHAPTER 6: A Personal Experience

Let me tell here of an experience of my own, of a less tragic nature, but one which throws light on certain Bolshevik procedures worthy of being written up among the high exploits of State Communism. At the time of which I speak, this happening was far from unique in Russia. But since then it could not be repeated in a country wholly subjugated by its new masters.

In November, 1918, I arrived in the city of Kursk, in the Ukraine, to attend a congress of Ukrainian libertarians. In those days, such an assemblage was still possible in Ukrainia, in view of the special conditions in that region, then struggling against both the reaction and the German invasion. The Bolsheviki tolerated the Anarchists there, while utilizing and supervising them.

From the beginning of the Revolution, the laboring population in Kursk never had heard a lecture on Anarchism, the small local group not having the necessary strength, so that the few libertarian speakers went elsewhere. Taking advantage of my presence, the group proposed that I give a lecture on that subject, in a large hall. Naturally I accepted with joy.

It was necessary to ask for permission from the president of the local Soviet. He, an honest ex-worker, gave it to us readily. The precious document in hand, the hall was engaged two weeks in advance, and impressive posters were ordered a few days later and placed on walls. Everything was ready.

The lecture promised to be a great success for our ideas. Certain indications -- talk around the city, crowds reading the posters, requests for information to the local group -- left no doubt about the matter. Evidently the hall would be packed. Unaccustomed to such a response (for in Great Russia, by that time, no public lectures on Anarchism were possible) we felt a legitimate satisfaction.

Then, two days before the appointed date, the secretary of the sponsoring group came to see me, worried and indignant. He had just received a note from the president of the Bolshevik Com-mittee of Kursk (the real power there), informing him that "because of the holiday" the Anarchist lecture could not take place, and that he had so notified the custodian of the hall, which was now reserved by the Communist committee for a popular dancing party.

I hurried to the office of that committee, and had a stormy session with its president -- whose name, if I recall correctly, was Rynditch (or it may have been Ryndin).

"What is this?" I demanded. "You, a Communist, do not recognize the rules of priority? We obtained the authorization of the Kursk Soviet and engaged the hall two weeks in advance, precisely to be certain of having it. The committee must await its turn."

"I'm sorry, Comrade," he answered, "but the decision of the Committee, which is, don't forget, the supreme power in Kursk, and as such may have reasons of which you are ignorant and which supersede everything else, is irrevocable. Neither the president of the Soviet nor the custodian of the hall could have known in advance that the Committee was going to need the hall on that date. It is absolutely useless to discuss the matter, or to insist. I repeat, it is irrevocable. The lecture will not take place. Either hold it in another hall or on another date."

"You know very well," I said, "that it is not possible to arrange all that in two days. And then, there are no other halls large enough. Moreover, all the halls must already be taken for holiday parties. The lecture is out, that is all."

"I'm sorry. Postpone it to another date. You will lose nothing. It can be arranged."

"That would not be the same thing at all," I contended. "Alterations like this always injure the cause greatly. Then, too, the posters were expensive. Furthermore, I have to leave Kursk quickly. But tell me -- how are you going to manage on the evening scheduled for the lecture? It is my opinion that you are going to expose yourself to the resistance of the public, who certainly will come in large numbers to hear the lecture. The posters have been up for two weeks. The workers of Kursk and the surrounding country are awaiting it impatiently. It is too late to have notices of the change printed and posted. You will have difficulty imposing a dancing party on that crowd instead of the lecture which they will have come to hear."

"That's our affair. Don't do anything. We will take full charge of it."

"Therefore, fundamentally," I pointed out, "the lecture is forbidden by your committee despite the authorization by the Soviet."

"Oh, no, Comrade. We don't forbid it at all. Set it for a date after the holidays. We will inform the people who come to hear the lecture. That's all."

On this note we parted. I conferred with the local group and we decided to postpone the lecture until January 5, 1919. Accordingly we notified the Bolshevik Committee and the hall custodian. This change compelled me to delay my intended departure for Kharkov several days.

New posters were ordered. Beyond that, we decided, first, to let the Bolshevik authorities placate the public; and second, that I should remain in my hotel room that evening. For we surmised that a large crowd would demand, in spite of everything, that the lecture be given, and that finally, the Bolsheviki would feel obliged to yield. It was therefore necessary that the secretary of the group could summon me in case of need. Personally, I expected a great scandal, perhaps even a serious fracas.

The lecture had been scheduled for eight in the evening. Toward 8.30 I was called on the telephone. I heard the excited voice of the secretary say: "Comrade, the hall is literally besieged by a crowd which will listen to no explanations, and is demanding the lecture. The Bolsheviks are powerless to reason with them. Probably they will have to yield and the lecture will take place. Take a cab and come quickly."

A cab was at hand, and the trip was made speedily. From a distance I heard an extraordinary clamor in the street. Arriving at the scene, I saw a throng standing around the hall and cursing: "To the Devil with the dancing party! Enough of dancing parties! We are fed up with them. We want the lecture. We came for the lecture . . . Lecture! .. . Lecture .. . Lecture!"

The secretary, watching, hurried to meet me. With difficulty we pushed through the mass. The hall was being mobbed. At the top of the stairs I found "Comrade" Rynditch haranguing the crowd, which continually shouted: "Lecture! Lecture!"

"You did well to come," the Bolshevik committee head threw at me, angrily. "You see what is happening. This is your work."

Indignantly I said: "I warned you. You are responsible for all this. You took charge of arranging things. Well, go ahead! Fix things the way you want them. The best and simplest move would be to permit the lecture."

"No, no, no!" he shouted furiously. "Your lecture shall not take place, I guarantee."

I shrugged my shoulders.

Suddenly Rynditch said to me: "Look, Comrade: They won't listen to me. And I don't want to have to use force. You can arrange things. They'll listen to you. Explain the situation to them and persuade them to go away peacefully. Make them listen to reason. Tell them that your lecture has been postponed. It is your duty to do what I ask."

I felt that if the lecture did not take place then, it would never take place. Also I was sure that it was definitely forbidden, and that quite likely I would be arrested.

Unequivocally I refused to speak to the people who jammed the stairway. With a shake of my head, I told the committee head: "No, I will not speak. You wanted this. Get out of it yourself."

The crowd, aware of our dispute, cursed more loudly. Rynditch tried to yell something. Wasted effort. His voice was drowned in a tempest of shouting. The crowd felt itself strong. It was having a good time, closing ranks, packing the staircases even more tightly if that were possible, and the landing, and the foyer in front of the hall's closed doors.

Now Rynditch made desperate guestures and again appealed to me. "Speak to them, speak to them, or it will end badly."

An idea came to me. I signaled for silence to the people who surrounded us. Instantly they quieted down. Then, sedately, spacing my words, I said:

"Comrades, the responsibility for this highly regrettable confusion belongs to the Bolshevik Committee of Kursk. We engaged the hall first for the lecture, two weeks in advance. Two days ago the committee, without even consulting us, took possession of the hall to hold a dance tonight. (Here the crowd demanded at the top of their lungs: "Down with the dance! Let's have the lecture!") That compelled us to postpone our lecture to a later date.

"However, I am the speaker and I am prepared to give the lecture right away. The Bolsheviks have formally forbidden it this evening. But you are the citizens of Kursk; you are the public. It is up to you to decide. I am entirely at your disposal. Choose, Comrades -- either we postpone the lecture and go away peacefully and come back on January fifth, or if you want the lecture right now, if you are really determined, act, take possession of the hall."

Hardly had I spoken these last words when the crowd applauded joyfully and yelled: "Lecture, right away! Lecture! Lecture!"

And with irresistible force it pushed toward the hall. Rynditch was overwhelmed. The doors were opened. If not, they would have been forced. And the lights went on inside.

In a few moments the hall was filled. The audience, partly sitting, partly standing, calmed down. I had only to begin. But Rynditch climbed onto the platform. He addressed the audience: "Citizens, Comrades! Be patient for a few more minutes. The Bolshevik Committee is going to confer and make a final decision. They will communicate this to you directly. Probably the dance will not take place.'

"Hurrah!" the crowd shouted, carried away with joy over its apparent victory. "Lecture! Long live the lecture!"

They applauded again, happily.

Now the Bolshevik Committee retired to a nearby room to confer. Meanwhile the doors of the hall were closed, the audience patiently awaiting the decision. We supposed that this little comedy was being played by the Bolsheviki to save face.

A quarter of an hour passed.

Then, abruptly, the hall doors were opened, and a strong detachment of Chekist soldiers (special troops, a sort of State police, blindly devoted to the Lenin regime), rifles in hand, entered. Everyone in the audience, stunned, remained frozen in their places. Quickly, in an impressive silence, the soldiers poured into the hall, sliding along the walls, and behind the seats. One group remained near the entrance, with its rifles pointed at the audience.

(Afterwards it was learned that the Bolshevik Committee had first called upon the city barracks, asking that a regular regiment intervene. But the soldiers wanted explanations -- at that stage this was still possible -- declared that they, too, would like to hear the lecture, and refused to come. It was then that the committee summoned the Chekist detachment, which had been ready for all eventualities).

Directly the committee members reappeared in the hall. Rynditch announced their ruling from the platform in a triumphant voice.

"The decision of the committee has been made. The dance will not take place. Nor will the lecture. In any case, it is too late for either. I call upon this audience to leave the hall and the building with absolute calm and in perfect order. If not, the Chekists will intervene."

Indignant, but powerless, the people began to get up and leave the hall. "Even so," some muttered, "their party was spoiled . . . That wasn't bad."

Outside, a new surprise awaited them. At the exit, two armed Chekists searched each person and inspected his identity card. Several were arrested. Some were released next day. But others remained in jail.

I returned to the hotel.

Next morning the telephone rang. Rynditch's voice: "Comrade Voline, come to see me at the committee's office. I want to speak to you about your lecture."

"The date is set for January fifth," I said. "The notices have been ordered. Have you any objection?"

"No, but come anyhow. I must talk with you."

When I got there [Rynditch was not in sight. Instead] I was received by a Bolshevik, amiable and smiling, who said: "Look, Comrade: The committee has decided that your lecture shall not take place. You yourself are responsible for this decision, because your attitude yesterday was arrogant and hostile. Also, the committee has decided that you cannot remain in Kursk. For the moment, you will remain here, in our quarters."

"Ah, am I arrested then?"

"Oh no, Comrade. You are not arrested. You will only be kept here for a few hours, until the train leaves for Moscow."

"For Moscow?" I shouted. "But I have absolutely nothing to do in Moscow. And I already have a ticket for Kharkov,4 where I am supposed to go after the Congress here. I have friends and work to do there."

After a short discussion on this point, the Bolshevik said: "That's all right. You can go to Kharkov. But the train doesn't leave until 1 a.m. You'll have to stay here all day."

"Can I go to the hotel and settle my bill and get my valise?"

"No, Comrade. We cannot permit that."

" I promise to go directly to the hotel . . . And moreover, someone can accompany me." "It is impossible, Comrade, we regret. You can see that, he matter might get noised around. We don't want that. The order is formal. Give instructions to one of our comrades. He will go to the hotel and fetch your valise."

An armed Chekist guard already was stationed in front of my room door. I could do nothing.

A "comrade" brought the valise. Toward midnight another took me in a cab to the railway station and waited until I actually departed.

This unexpected journey was made under such painful circumstances that I fell sick en route. I was able to avoid pneumonia only because of the kindness of a fellow-passenger who put me up with friends in Soumy, a small Ukrainian city. There a competent doctor took good care of me. And a few days later I was in Kharkov.

On arrival, I wrote for our local weekly, Nabat -- forbidden a little later by the Bolshevik authorities because of its growing success -- an article entitled Story of a Lecture Under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. In it I related in detail that whole unsavory adventure.

CHAPTER 7: The Final Settlement

After all that we have said about the nature of State Socialism and its inevitable evolution, the reader will easily understand the reasons which led this "Socialism" into a relentless conflict with the libertarian idea.

For an informed person there is of course nothing surprising or unexpected in the fact that the Socialist power in Russia persecuted Anarchism and Anarchists. This was foreseen by the Anarchists themselves (and as early as Mikhail Bakunin) long before the Russian Revolution, in the event that the latter should become statist and authoritarian.

Repression of the libertarian concept, persecution of its followers, and suppression of the independent movements of the masses: such are the inevitable consequences of the opposition between the true Revolution advancing and the statist principle, which, momentarily triumphant, does not accept this advance, does not understand the true Revolution, and opposes it.

The new government (if a given revolution has the misfortune to have one), whether it calls itself "revolutionary", "democratic" "Socialist", "proletarian", "Workers' and Peasants'", "Leninist", "Trotskyist", or whatever, is bound to resist the living forces of the true Revolution. This antagonism leads the power, with the same inevitability, to a more and more ruthless struggle, which it must justify with increasing hypocrisy, against the revolutionary forces, and, by this very fact, against the Anarchists, the staunchest spokesmen, supporters, and defenders of the true Revolution and its aspirations.

The triumph of Power in this struggle means, inevitably, the defeat of the Social Revolution, and therefore "automatically" the suppression of the Anarchists. So long as the Revolution and the Anarchist resist, the Socialist authority oppresses them, with mounting effrontery and violence. Monstrous deception and unlimited terror: such are its final arguments, such is the apotheosis of its desperate defense. Then all that is really revolutionary ends by being pitilessly swept away by the so-called "revolutionary" imposture, as being contrary to "the supreme interests of the Revolution" (O cruel irony!), as "criminal", and as "traitorous".

That was what could have been foreseen [in Russia], -- in the event that the statist idea triumphed -- and what was foreseen by some.

And that is what millions of people will eventually have to understand if they are to avert [a recurrence of] the failure, the bankruptcy, and the disaster of the Russian Revolution in the next revolution.

At present, as in the time of the Tsars, no libertarian movement, press, or propaganda exists in Russia, and for a long time none has existed. Anarchism is outside the law. The Anarchists there have been exterminated, [isolated, or run out] to the last man by all possible and imaginable methods. There are still some, scattered in the prisons and places of exile. But death has wreaked such ravages among them that very few remain alive.

A small number of Russian Anarchists who escaped the killings, banished from their native land or having fled, are in different countries in Western Europe and in the Americas. And if there still are conscious partisans of the libertarian idea in Russia, they are obliged to keep their thoughts to themselves.

The Committee to Aid Imprisoned and Exiled Anarchists in Russia, which functioned for long years in Germany, France, and the United States, collecting funds to send to the victims and publishing information bulletins on the repression, has been compelled to cease all activity, because relations with the few victims still alive have become impossible.

The epic of the extermination of the libertarian movement in Russia, which took place the day after [sic] the "Communist" revolution, is finished. Now it is history, [to which these pages are a contribution].

Most terrible among the aspects of this unique repression is that during it, along with the real Anarchists [who suffered extinction], hundreds of thousands of simple toilers -- industrial workers, peasants, and intellectuals -- who rose up against the Bolshevik imposture, were likewise annihilated, and the revolutionary idea itself, and indeed all free thought and action also became "history" in the land of nascent "Socialism".

CHAPTER 8: The Extinguisher

How is it that this frightful "history" is not known abroad? The reader will learn.

From the beginning, and through the years, the Bolshevik "government did its utmost to conceal its hideous deeds from the workers and revolutionaries of other countries, by systematically and brazenly deceiving them, employing the classical methods of silence, lying, and slander.

Its fundamental procedure has been that of all impostors in ail times: after extinguishing an idea and a movement, to extinguish their history as well. The "Soviet" press never has spoken of the struggles that Bolshevism had to wage against the liberty of the Russian people nor the means to which it had to have recourse to win. Nowhere in "Soviet" literature will the reader find the story of these facts. And when the authors of such literature cannot avoid speaking of them, they confine themselves to mentioning, in a few lines, that it was a matter of suppressing counter-revolutionary movements or the exploits of bandits. Therefore, who is going to verify the facts?

Another element that has been of great aid to the "Communist" regime in Moscow in the distortion of history is the effective closing of the frontiers. The events of the Russian Revolution unfolded, and are still unfolding, in an enclosed vessel. It has been difficult all along, if not impossible [for anyone not on the actual scene] to know what was happening. The press of the country, wholly governmental, was quiet about everything that had to do with the repression.

When, in the advanced circles of Europe, the question of the persecution of the Anarchists in Russia was raised, a few details of the truth having leaked out despite all restrictive measures, the Bolshevik government declared each time, through the mouths of its representatives and with exceptional aplomb, "What do you mean? The real Anarchists have full freedom in the U.S.S.R. to affirm and propagate their ideas. They even have their clubs and their press." And since no one was very much interested in the Anarchists and their conceptions, that reply sufficed. It would have required inquiry after inquiry to prove the contrary. And who thought of doing that?

Some renegades from Anarchism, patronized by the Bolshevik government, lent it valuable assistance. By way of proof, the regime cited the false statements of these ex-libertarians. Having repudiated their past and seeking to regain their virginity, they confirmed and testified to everything that was wanted of them.

The Bolsheviki liked also to quote the "tame" [renegades] called "Soviet Anarchists". These believed it wise and useful to adapt themselves to the situation and to Bolshevism -- "in order to be able to do something" prudently, secretly, behind the facade of "loyalty". This "tactic of protective colorations", however, could not succeed with the Bolsheviks, themselves familiar with all the techniques of anti-governmental struggle. Closely supervising these "camouflaged" Anarchists, shadowing them constantly, threatening them, and "taming" them adroitly, the authorities ended by using them to justify and even to approve -- "momentarily" -- all the proceedings of Bolshevism. The recalcitrants were imprisoned or deported. And as for those who truly submitted, they were put on show as "real" Anarchists, who "understand Bolshevism", in contrast to all the others, who were pictured as "false" Anarchists.

Or the Bolsheviks spoke [with seeming friendliness] of certain Anarchists who remained nearly inactive and who never touched on "sensitive" points. To create an illusion, they were permitted to retain some insignificant organizations, closely supervised. Some of them were authorized to reprint old inoffensive Anarchist works, historical or theoretical. And these "Anarchist publishing houses" were cited to demonstrate that the "real Anarchists" were not touched. Later all such "organizations" likewise were "liquidated".

Finally, a few extravagant "Anarchist" clowns who distorted Anarchism to the point of caricature were tolerated. The Bolshevik writers did not fail to cite them in order to ridicule the libertarian idea.

Thus the Lenin regime created a facade enabling it to conceal the truth from the Russian masses and from poorly informed people abroad. Subsequently, having made sure of the indifference, the naivete, and the slackness of "advanced" circles in other countries, the Bolsheviki didn't even bother to hide the truth. For the "advanced people" and the Russian masses would swallow anything!

This deceptive facade also permitted the Bolsheviks to make use of a weapon which, alas, is always effective: slander. On the one hand, they deliberately confused the Anarchists with "counterrevolutionaries", "criminals", and "bandits" On the other hand, and they maintained that in the midst of the Revolution the Anarchists could only babble, criticize, "fart around", put spokes in the wheels of the Revolution, destroy, provoke disorder, and pursue their own selfish interests. [These detractors] pretended that even when the Anarchists wanted to serve the Revolution, they were incapable of achieving anything correctly; that they had "no positive program"; that they never proposed anything concrete; that they were irresponsible dreamers, who didn't know themselves what they wanted; and that, for all these reasons, the "Soviet" regime was obliged to suppress them; such elements, it held, presented a grave danger in the course of a difficult revolution.

Because no one except those involved knew the truth, and no one else was in a position to examine the facts, this tactic succeeded. It served the Bolshevik government marvelously through the years, and was part of a whole system of deception in which the Bolsheviki were past masters.

All the revelations about their ruthlessness, more and more numerous and precise, in the libertarian press or elsewhere abroad, were methodically and cynically refuted with the same stereotyped arguments. The mass of the workers, the advance-guard intellectuals of all countries, dazzled by the false renown of "the first Socialist republic", accepted all the nonsense of its "genial leaders", and, letting themselves thus be royally "rolled", cared very little about the revelations of the Anarchists. Vanity, fashion, snobbery, and other secondary factors played their parts in this general indifference.

Finally, the most prosaic personal interests also contributed [to the sweeping imposture]. Among others, how many famous writers, in all countries, deliberately closed their eyes to the truth that they know perfectly well. The "Soviet" government had need of their names for publicity purposes. In return, it assured an advantageous market for their works, perhaps the only one. And those poor men carried out this tacit bargain, salving their consciences with the excuses and justifications inspired by their new patrons.

CHAPTER 9: The Deception of Visiting Delegations

Here we must devote some paragraphs to a special procedure of "skull-stuffing" utilized by the "Soviets" on a vast scale -- the systematic deception of foreign workers' delegations.

The facts are clearly known. One of the "clinching arguments" of the Bolsheviks to disprove unfavorable revelations about their administration of the affairs of Russia and its satellites, consists in calling upon the testimony of delegations sent to the U.S.S.R. by organizations, factories, or institutions of various other countries. After a stay of a few weeks in "the land of Socialism" such delegates, almost without exception, have called everything that was said abroad to the discredit of the "Soviet" regime "lies and slanders".

In the beginning the "trick of the delegations" was infallible. Later it lost its efficacy. For some time now it has been almost abandoned. On the one hand, events rushed on and this little game was by-passed. On the other hand, it was finally widely realized in the outside world that under the conditions surrounding their visits, the delegations visiting the "Soviet" Union could not discover the truth at all [about what was happening in that domain], even if they were sincere and impartial.

A strict and fast-moving program, formulated in advance and well regulated, was imposed on them from the moment of their arrival. Knowing neither the language, nor the customs, nor the real life of the population, they were "assisted", which actually meant manipulated, by the governmental guides and interpreters. They were shown what the "Communist" government wanted them to see, and were told what it wanted them to believe. And the visitors had no means of approaching the population to study its way of living objectively and exhaustively.

All that is now more or less accepted [by workers' organizations and interested individuals in the democratic countries].

But it is pertinent to record here another fact apropos of that situation which still remains unknown to the public and which says a great deal about the state of things in the U.S.S.R.

The Committee to Aid Imprisoned and Exiled Anarchists in Russia, some Syndicalist organizations, and some well-known militant individuals, among them the late lamented Erich Muhsarn of Germany and Sebastien Faure of France, repeatedly proposed to the Bolshevik government that it allow a real delegation to enter Russia -- a delegation constituted in complete independence and composed of militants of differing tendencies, including "Communists".

With that proposal its sponsors submitted the following conditions to the "Soviet" government: 1. Free and unlimited stay, until the delegation itself considers its mission completed; 2. Freedom [and facilities], to go anywhere that the delegation may deem indispensable to the interests of its mission, including prisons, places of exile, et cetera; 3. The right to publish the facts, impressions, and conclusions of the delegation in the advance-guard press abroad; 4. An interpreter chosen by the delegation itself.

Obviously it would have been entirely to the interest of the Bolshevik regime to accept such a proposal -- if it was sincere, if it had nothing to hide, if it was not concealing unadmissible truths. A favourable report on the "Soviet" Russian scene by such a delegation would have put an end to all equivocation. Any [real] Socialist government, any "Workers' and Peasants' government" (supposing for the moment that such could exist) would have received that kind of delegation with open arms. It even would have wished for it, suggested, requested it. The testimony and approval of a delegation making its observations under the indicated circumstances would have been decisive, irresistible, irrefutable.

But that offer was never accepted. The "Soviet" government turned a deaf ear to it every time.

The reader should reflect well upon this fact. For the disapproval of such a delegation also would have been irresistible and definitive. The results of the proposed inquiry would have been catastrophic for the good name of the "Soviet" regime, for its whole system, for its whole cause.

But no one abroad budged. The grave-diggers of the Revolution could sleep quite soundly and ignore the attempts to make them admit the terrible truth: the failure of the Revolution as an outcome of their methods. The blind and the bought of all countries marched with them.

Revealing the truth [about these things] -- unknown, we are sure, to almost all of our non-Anarchist readers -- we are fulfilling an imperative duty. Not only because the truth must some day appear in all its effulgence, but also -- and especially -- because this truth will render an inestimable service to everyone who wants to be informed, who is sick of being eternally the dupe of criminal impostors, and who, finally, strengthened by the truth, can act in the future with full knowledge of the situation.

The story of the repression in the U.S.S.R. is not only suggestive and revealing in itself; it is still an excellent means of making known the fundamentals, the concealed "underside", the true nature of authoritarian Communism.

In this respect, we have only one regret -- that of being able to tell this story only in an incomplete way.

Let us cite one more recent example, which illustrates effectively the manner in which the Bolsheviki and their servitors deceive everyone.

This pertains to a work by a certain Emilian Yaroslavsky, a notorious Bolshevik: a book entitled History of Anarchism in Russia, which appeared in 1937, in Spanish and in French, for the purpose of counteracting the eventual success of the libertarian idea in Spain and elsewhere

We brush aside the fantastic "information" on the origins of Anarchism, on Bakunin, on Anarchism in Russia before 1917, and on the attitude of the Anarchists toward the war that began in Europe in 1914. A reply to these myths perhaps will appear one day in the specifically Anarchist press. What interests us particularly here are the descriptions, in that volume, of the libertarian movement in the course of the Revolution of 1917.

Yaroslavsky takes care not to speak of the real Anarchist movement. He tarries long over fringe movements which had nothing to do with Anarchism. He is much concerned with Anarchist groups, publications, and activities of secondary importance. Carefully he notes the weak points and malignantly shows the deficiencies in order to feed his bad faith. And he lingers especially with the "remnants" of the movement: with those unfortunate "remains" which, after the liquidation of the bona fide libertarian organizations, desperately and vainly knocked themselves out in their efforts to maintain some appearance of action.

Those remnants were the lamentable and impotent waste of the former Anarchist movement that had been extinguished. Henceforth they could not do anything serious or positive. Their semi-clandestine "activity", supervised and impeded, was not at all characteristic of the libertarian movement in Russia. And in all countries, and in all periods, these left-over pieces of organizations which had been destroyed by the force of the State, subsequently dragged out a sterile and pointless existence until they were completely exhausted. Deviations, inconsequentialities, splits, inevitably occupied their whole semblances of life, for which of course they can hardly be reproached, since all possibility of healthy activity had been taken away from them.

It is about this debris that Yaroslavsky tells us, while pretending to speak of the real Anarchist movement. He mentions the Anarcho-Syndicalist Union of Petrograd and its journal, Golos Truda, only once, in passing, and then only because he finds something about it to falsify. He speaks neither of the Moscow Federation nor of the periodical Anarchy. And when he devotes a few lines to the Ukrainian Nabat, it is also to distort the facts.

If this author had been honest, he would have dwelt primarily on those three organizations and quoted their press. But he knows very well that such impartiality would ruin his assertions, and thus be contrary to the whole purpose of this work. And he omits everything which incontestably would prove the serious basis, positive meaning, and influence of the Anarchist and Anarcho-Syndicalist movement in Russia during the 1917 Revolution.

Yaroslavsky does not breathe a word about the persecutions, the repression, the violent suppression of that movement. For if he told the truth about those onslaughts it would wreck his lying thesis. According to him, the Anarchists, in 1917, were "against the Socialist and proletarian Revolution". His contention is that the libertarian movement extinguished itself, by reason of its unpopularity and its impotence.

The reader knows that this version is exactly the opposite of the truth. It was precisely because that movement evolved and grew quickly in Russia, winning support and widening its influence, that the Bolsheviks hastened to stamp it out in the seed, by means of the most commonplace violence, by the brutal intervention of their soldiers and police.

But if Yaroslavsky admitted the truth, he would upset the whole structure of his book. So he lies, confident of the ignorance of his readers, and of the absence of any contradiction.

If I have permitted myself to linger over this example, it is because that manner of presenting things is typical of "Soviet" propaganda. All the Bolsheviks' workers on Anarchism in Russia proceed exactly in the same way and are as alike as drops of water. The order comes from above. The Bolshevik "historians" and "writers" have only to follow it. It is necessary to destroy the libertarian idea at all costs. It is a work done to order and well paid. It has nothing to do with the historical truth which we are now in the process of revealing.

CHAPTER 10: Bolshevik "Justice"

It remains for us to cast a quick glance at the administrative and judiciary procedures of the Bolshevik regime during that period.

Moreover, these procedures, essentially, have hardly changed at all. If, in our days, they are less frequently employed, it is because all those who were subjected to them in the past have been exterminated. But still, fairly recently, the same principles and measures have been applied to the "Trotskyists", to the anti-Stalinist old Bolsheviks, to functionaries fallen into disgrace: officers, policemen, and others.

As we have stated, there exists in Russia a political police system which works in secret, which has the right to arrest people secretly, without any formal arraignment, to try them secretly without witnesses or lawyers, to condemn them secretly to various penalties, including death, or to renew their detention or exile for as long as it may see fit.

This is a cardinal point. The hateful regimen applied to prisoners and exiles -- we will insist upon this statement despite all the denials by foreign "delegates" deceived or bought -- is only an aggravated circumstance. Even if the life in the Russian prisons had the humanitarian character ascribed to it by the officials and their acolytes, it would not be any less true that honest workers could be arbitrarily removed [from their homes or jobs], thrown into prison, and deprived of the right to struggle for their cause, simply on the simple decision of some functionaries.

During the period with which we are especially concerned, that omnipotent police force was called the Cheka, an abbreviation of its complete Russian name: Chrezvytchainaya Kommissia, Extraordinary Commission. The Cheka was established at the end of 1917, on Lenin's initiative, by a nucleus of Communist militants who had proven themselves in the struggle against Tsarism and enjoyed the unlimited confidence of the central committee of the Russian Communist Party.

At that time the Communists justified the existence of this institution and the special features of its functioning by [pointing to] the necessity of acting swiftly against the numerous plots [so they alleged] threatening the Revolution. Later this argument lost its value. The Cheka could no longer use it. For a new problem had to be dealt with -- that of defending the Power against the Revolution.

In 1923 the change of the secret police force's title to that of G.P.U., also an abbreviation, altered only a few aspects of its practices. And subsequently nothing was changed, except the individuals at the top. The names of three are fairly well known abroad -- Djerzinsky, creator and animator of the Cheka, who died suddenly, or who, according to some, was executed while on duty by order of Stalin; Yagoda, executed as a result of a famous "trial"; and Yejov, his successor, who mysteriously disappeared.

The Cheka never issued reports on its activities, neither to the workers at large, nor to their "representatives". Those activities were always pursued with the greatest mystery. Information was supplied to the Cheka by a vast network of secret agents, of which a sizeable part was recruited from the former Tsarist police. And the Cheka also took advantage of the duty imposed on all Communists to help the "revolutionary" police by giving information, denunciations, et cetera.

The despotism, the abuses, the crimes perpetrated in the dungeons of the surpasses all imagination. We cannot take time to enumerate them here; this particular subject deserves a volume by itself. The future historian will be horrified when the archives are opened and give forth their terrible human documentation. Readers will find edifying examples in certain available books.

In that period, tribunals and public trials for political cases did not exist. Even today such trials are exceptional. Then the Cheka conducted them exclusively.

As a rule, arrests were without appeal. And [at first] the sentences were not published. Later, occasionally, in a few lines, limited mention of oral trials before the police was made in the press. These references showed only that a case had been put on the calendar and that a given sentence was imposed. Reasons for the sentence were never stated.

Sentences were carried out by the Cheka itself. If the verdict was death, the prisoner was taken from his cell, and usually executed by a revolver bullet in the back of the neck at the moment when, followed by a Chekist executioner, he was descending the last step of a staircase leading to the cellar. Then the body was buried secretly. It was never returned to the prisoner's relatives. Frequently the latter heard of the execution of their kin only indirectly -- by the refusal of the prison administration to receive food that they brought for him. The classic phrase was of gem-like simplicity : "So-and-so no longer appears on the prison records." This could mean transfer to another prison or exile. If it was death, the formula was the same. No other explanation was permitted. It was up to the relatives to make enquiries elsewhere to learn exactly what had happened.

Exile always administrative, meant deportation to the most distant and barren parts of the vast country: either to the warm and marshy regions, extremely unhealthy, in Turkestan, or to the extreme North, in the terrible regions of Narym or Turukhansk. Often enough the Government "amused itself" by sending exiles first to Turkestan and then suddenly transferring them to the far North, or vice versa. It was an indirect but certain way of sending them into the other world.

The correspondence between the Aid Committee and the libertarians exiled to the North revealed the physical and moral horror of the "life" of these victims. Arriving at their destination, they were henceforth isolated from the world. Such destinations, in several instances, were forgotten towns and villages whose inhabitants lived by hunting or fishing. Mail came only once or twice a year. Hundreds of these settlements comprised only four or five huts lost in a desert of ice and snow.

Those exiles suffered all the illnesses of malnutrition, cold, and inactivity -- scurvy, tuberculosis, heart and stomach diseases. Life was a slow torture and death came as a deliverance.

The prisons where the libertarians, the Syndicalists, the "oppositionists", the simple workers, peasants, or other citizens who had rebelled or were merely suspects, were confined, were never visited by the foreign delegations. Such visiting groups usually were conducted through Sokolniki, Lefortovo, and certain sections of Butyrki -- that is, they were taken to the Moscow prisons where the counter-revolutionaries, speculators, and common-law prisoners were kept. Sometimes these were persuaded to call themselves "political prisoners" and to praise the prison administration by promises of a reduction of their sentences.

Some delegations were allowed to visit the prison for Social Democrats in Tiflis, in the Caucasus. But certain other prisons were never visited by foreign delegations or individual travelers -- notably, the camp at Solovki, often mentioned in the foreign press, but remaining mysterious; the Suzdal prison (a former monastery, transformed), the "political isolator" of Verkhne-Urals, that of Tobolsk, or that of Yaroslav. One could add numerous prisons and many concentration camps scattered throughout the country. All have remained totally unknown to the naive, or the interested, who [were led] to give, on their return from a "study" trip in "the first Socialist nation", favorable reports on "the new prison regime created by the U.S.S.R.".

And Romain Rolland says that he was able to discover the existence of administrative justice in "Soviet" Russia.

The unleashed repression, the violence against the people, the terror -- these made up the crown of the Bolsheviks' work, of their "soviet" regime.

To justify all this horror, they invoked the interests of the Revolution. But nothing could have been more false, more hypocritical, than this attempted justification.

The Anarchists have been exterminated in Russia, they can exist there no longer, simply because they defended the very principles of the Social Revolution, because they struggle for the real economic, political, and social freedom of the people.

The revolutionaries in general, and hundreds of thousands of workers, have been annihilated in Russia by a new authority and by a new privileged caste, which, like all authorities and all privileged castes in the world, have nothing of the revolutionary spirit, and maintain themselves in power only by the thirst to dominate and exploit in their turn. Their system is supported by ruse and violence, like any authoritarian and statist system -- necessarily dominator, exploiter, and oppressor.

The "Communist" statist regime is only a variety of the Fascist regime. It is high time that the workers of all countries understood this, that they reflect upon it, and that they learn profitable lessons from this terrible negative experience.

Moreover, current events are contributing powerfully to this result, and coming events will contribute further to them. As I write these lines, in December, 1939, Bolshevism finally is in the process of going outside of its frontiers, out of its Russian "cage". One will see it at work in due time. I have not the slightest doubt of the nature of the final judgement.

These events will contribute equally, I hope, to a better understanding of the present work and its revelations. And I also hope that this book will enable the reading public to understand certain facts better.

Among other things, it is in the light of these revelations that one can understand the rise of Josef Stalin. As a matter of fact, Stalin did not "fall from the moon". Stalin and "Stalinism" are simply the logical consequences of a preliminary and preparatory evolution, itself the result of a terrible mistake, of an evil deviation of the Revolution.

It was Lenin and Trotsky -- that is to say, their system -- which prepared the ground for and gave rise to Stalin.

To all those who, having supported Lenin, Trotsky, and their colleagues, today fulminate against Stalin, it must be said: They reap what they sowed!

It is true that logic is not the province of everyone. But let them correct their aim at least, before it is too late.

Fifteen years ago an Anarchist in touch with the facts, wrote certain words -- fine, vigorous, and just. These:

Here are the facts which demonstrate the eternal authoritarian monstrosity. May they make recoil in horror those who venture blindly into the way of dictatorship, whether it be in the name of the vast sublime ideal, or the most logical formula of sociology. May they especially, on the eve of events which might lead to a revolutionary situation, be impelled to take all precautions, not only to avoid the traps in which the Russian Anarchists were caught and slaughtered, but also be capable, in the revolutionary hours, of opposing practical conceptions of production and distribution of goods to those of the Communist dictators.

Later, a little before his death, the Anarchist convictions of the man who wrote those words gave way. In a moment of madness, he approved of Bolshevism.

Happily, if men, generally weak and inconsequential beings bend, deform themselves, and pass away, the truths, which they formerly proclaimed, remain.

  • 1 The circumstances connected with the death of the Anarchist Durruti to Spain in 1936 pointedly recall the Gratchov case.
  • 2 These lines were written before the assassination of Trotsky.
  • 3 The author of this work was one of those subjected to violence by the Bolsheviki.
  • 4 Kharkov is about 150 miles South of Kursk, while Moscow is some 300 miles North of the latter city.



10 years 11 months ago

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Submitted by jonthom on July 1, 2013

Leon Trotsky, who for two weeks had prepared the blow, and who had carried out in person, among the regiments, an unbridled agitation against the "anarcho-bandits", had the satisfaction of being able to make his famous declaration: "At last the Soviet government, with an iron broom, has rid Russia of Anarchism."

question: what is the source for this Trotsky quote? The closest I could find at was this:

We have to judge political groups and individuals on their recent past. After the October Revolution the Anarchists fanned dens of thieves in Moscow, Petrograd and other cities and held whole districts of the revolutionary capitals under siege. After the Soviet power had passed its iron broom over them, hardly any traces were left of this criminal masquerade.

he seems to have been fairly fond of the "iron broom" metaphor, and not particularly fond of anarchists (to put it mildly :P) but I've not found a source for this specific wording except people quoting Voline.