Iaroslavskaïa, the insurgent: Recuperating lost memories of revolution

The Russian Revolution often reduces itself, in superficial and/or interested narratives, to the seizure of political power in October of 1917 by Lenin’s Bolsheviks.  It was of course far more than that, both before and after.  And if the simple story was able to gain currency, it was because so many who played out other tales were killed or exiled; in sum, silenced.  We share below, in translation, one such tale, that of the extraordinary Evguénia Isaakovna Iaroslavskaïa-Markon, written by Adeline Baldacchino and originally published with Ballast.  Her life reminds us that revolution is first and foremost passion (or can we say love?), the desire for ways of life freed of abuse, oppression, exploitation.

The Russian revolution devoured its fill of idealists who believed in it, and even more, of those who believed in absolute freedom.  Marked by the crushing of the Kronstadt revolt, in 1921, journalist close to the anarchist dissidence, wife of a poet, torn between her Leninist fidelity and her lucidity, disobedient to all dogma, seriously injured in an accident at the age of 20 (she loses both her feet) but considering this “something without importance” in relation to what is essential – life, love, the street -; Evguénia Isaakovna Iaroslavskaïa-Markon invents for herself a destiny comprised of voluntary perdition and ferocious commitment.  Becoming a thief and proponent of good adventure, she is arrested organising the escape of her husband, then executed on the Solovetsky Islands in 1931.  Desperately unruly but incurably romantic, she reappears in the pages of a deeply moving autobiography written some weeks before her execution.  Portrait of a stranger.

By Adeline Baldacchino

There are destinies that take you by the hand without you having foreseen or prepared for them.  Perhaps it was necessary to be seated at a cafe terrace in Grenada, below the Alhambra, on a beautiful spring day.  To receive in one’s telephone a simple black and white photograph: the profile of a young woman, very dark and very proud, posing for one those anthropometric photographs that precede admission to prison.  A few words serve as legend: “Evguénia Iaroslavskaïa-Manron, born in 1906, poet, journalist, executed in the Solovetsky Islands camp in 1931.”  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  It is everything that remains of a woman who knew how to say no.  To let oneself be carried along.  To pursue research between the house of Lorca and the gypsy caves.  To be carried by thoughts of Andalusia to Siberia.   To realise that Evguenia is unknown among the battalion of disappeared poets on the internet, that she merits only a few rare references on an anarchist archives site and a page in Russian, of which the automatic translation by Google leaves a great deal to be desired.  To note that she was married to a disciple of the “biocosmist poetic”, a futurist avant-garde and furiously technophile movement .  She would nevertheless leave an “autobiography” of some forty pages in the form of a confession for the GPU, the police of the Soviet State.  Pages which do not exist in French.  Nowhere.  To desire at all costs to remember what no one remembers.

Approximate destinies intrigue us even more than others.  To dig, then.  To play in moving sand, dust that is displaced by wind and time.  To discover that it is “Markon” (and not “Manron”), born in 1902 (and not 1906).  To contact Veronica Shapovalov, associate professor of Russian at the University of San Diego in the United States, because of a footnote on a website.  To receive an improbable message from the other side of the world that confirms it: she had translated from Russian, into English, the famous autobiography.  To urgently find the work that she had dedicated to Russian women who passed through the gulags.  To remember at least, that one died there en masse, of cold, of hunger, of sickness, or shot by an execution squad, even at the age of 28, even for not having believed in the Great Revolution, even for having written biocosmist poetry, even for having loved too much.  The system of soviet concentration camps, through which would pass 18 million people, at any one time would hold 2.8 million prisoners, at the height of the Stalinist system.  Each year, ten of thousands would die at its hands – hundreds of thousands in the good years … .  Women, as usual, were of less interest to historians:  Remembering the Darkness, Women in Soviet prisons, is the first to render them justice, with an emphasis on first person testimonials and police records dug up from archives.  To leave for a long time the book on a pile of others, between the memoirs of  Victor Serge and the reminisces of Boris Souvarine; one day, to pick it up again almost by chance; to read the first chapter, dedicated to Evguenia; to decipher the translation of her “autobiography” – war cry and testament, mixed together.

The text of a writer, of an assassinated writer.  “In my childhood, I always said that it would be wonderful if human beings were transparent, as if we were made of glass.  Through the glass, one could see all of our thoughts, wishes, true motives.  Each would see the other as one sees her/himself“.  The text of a poet, of an assassinated poet.  “I have nothing to lose in telling the whole truth, without ornamentation“.  She had in effect nothing to lose, because she knew that it was too late.  At the end of the chapter, to find the words of the prison guard, converted former White Russian, who was witness to her killing.  Poets have an odd way to outlive themselves, one might say.  And that it is necessary to tell this story, if for nothing else than to give back to Evguenia her lost voice, her stolen voice, her voice of anger and love, of passionate rebel and mad lover, of lucid journalist and impenitent thief.  For she who died trying to organise the escape of the man that she loved was firstly a strange anarchist.

To read is not sufficient

Let us begin at the beginning.  Evguenia was born on the 14th of May on Bolshaya Polyanka street in Saint-Petersburg.  She was the only daughter of a philologist, expert in medieval travel chronicles, pillar of the Russian Jewish community – who will survive her, having fled to Germany, then to England, during WWII.  She says that she takes from him the taste for science and human psychology, as well as a certain propensity for irony and scepticism.  Her mother’s family, rather well-to-do, was part of the revolutionary intelligentsia of 1905 – activists “stupidly loyal to their principles, blindly dedicated to their ideals“.  Under their influence, the little girl feels divided between the egalitarian ideals inculcated in her and the comfortable reality of an overprotective daily life.  She is ashamed of not lacking anything.  Her German governess boasts of the landscapes of the Rhine and the romanticism of Heine.  Evguenia never goes out alone before the age of 14, but dreams already of escaping from her family and her social milieu to join the world of workers and realise her vocation – to become a true revolutionary.  Her vision of the world is wildly romantic and literary, even before being social and built.  It is through novels that she imagines poverty, violence and injustice.

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In the absence of being able to live immediately on the barricades, the child very early asserts her disgust for bourgeois elegance and good manners.  She devours the books of her father’s library, forging convictions for life.  At the age of 28, she remembers having discovered between the ages of 6 and 12 the principles to which as an adult she would remain faithful: vegetarianism (she does not elaborate on what for her seems obvious), individualism (she is convinced, and the reading of Stirner will comfort her later in this idea, that sacrifice and altruism are nothing but ways of pursuing her own well-being) and the non-existence of sin (her version of social determinism: human beings are innocent, society is corrupt).  For her, rogues and criminals became so due to their unfortunate childhood, which they cannot be reproached for: “The page that comes from the printer’s with errors cannot be blamed for its faults.”  A moral lesson from which she infers an almost unlimited kindness for humankind – with the exception of  “chekists”, the police of the Cheka (prelude to the GPU).

The privileged young girl falls in love with the revolutionary ideal at 13, just as one falls in love with someone else: obsessively and instinctively, blushing when someone speaks to her of revolution, sweating when one doesn’t speak of it with her, trembling to the sounds of revolutionary songs, reading gluttonously Marxist theoreticians.  In secondary school, she reveals herself to be particularly gifted in geography, the natural sciences, languages and history.  However, she is also an unruly student, who makes it a point of honour to behave in an impertinent manner.  In a rather quick summary, which she will condemn further on, she explains that she behaved always as if the teachers represented oppressors to be struggled against, while the students incarnated the people in revolt – except that, in the private secondary school that she frequented, it was more often the reverse, the teachers being modest intellectuals and the pupils the children of the grand bourgeoisie … .  She is mistaken in the struggle, but because she needs so much to struggle.  At the age of 15, she finds herself expelled from her school.  It is November 1917: in February, a popular insurrection erupted, in March, the Czar abdicated, in April, Lenin returned to Russia, finally in October, the Bolsheviks took power, removing definitively the provisional social-democratic government.  The young girl escapes for the first time from home, benefiting from the reigning confusion and realises her first exploit: at the foot of the Litovskii castle, a half-abandoned prison, the common criminals still locked up, plead with her to find a way of opening the doors for them; she rushes off to look for soldiers and enters with them the dark and stinking cells.

A prisoner holds her against his heart crying with joy.  She has just discovered the people, the true people, about which she has so often fantasised.  An enormous feeling of liberty invades her.  A pasionaria is born.  She passes her exams as an external candidate and temporarily joins in Moscow the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, ancestor of the Communist Party, at the heart of which the two principal factions already confront each other violently: Lenin’s Bolsheviks (the “majority”) and the Mensheviks (the “minority”), less autocratic, partisans of a socialism by stages, and decentralised, federalist, self-managed, which will be crushed at Kronstadt, along with the anarchists, in 1921.  Evguenia’s heart will always beat on the side of the defeated …

To write is also not sufficient

Aged 20, she literally allows herself to go hungry for a few months so as to understand in the flesh the meaning of hunger, studies philosophy at the university, and develops a love for logic, cooking and poetry, but burns to fight at Kronstadt and participate with enthusiasm in the meetings of dissidents.  She believes that the Bolsheviks, having reached power,  represent henceforth authority, immobility, in sum, conservatism and counter-revolution.  She oscillates between furor and disillusionment.  What was true yesterday can no longer be true tomorrow because the oppressed strive to become oppressors.  “Communism today is revolutionary everywhere else in world, except in the USSR.  […]Each revolution is just because it aims to do justice to the oppressed.  But justice will never be done; the pendulum will simply swing back.  The world is dialectical: the negative and the positive are but the two parts of  one and the same system.  In the same way, the revolution and the State are but two halves of one and the same system.  Both are right, are inevitable, necessary.”  There will always be public civil servants, police, prosecutors, who will always overthrow the men and women of the people, and at their head, those who have truly nothing to lose: petty criminals and artists, bohemians and real anarchists.  For who is this “people” who makes the revolution?  She defines them very simply as those who can never hope to accede to the power that is exercised over them.  What happens however when it replaces one regime to establish another?  All of those whose interests can be so served, recreate a ruling caste, a bureaucratic and military caste, who will in turn one day be undermined by those forgotten and left behind …  The eternal return of the dialectic of master and slave.  It is not known whether she read Hegel, but she has little faith in syntheses.

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She therefore gives ear to her guts and her intuition.  The only way to not exploit one’s fellows, is to be on the side of those who are always on the other side of power: on the side of the powerless, even and above all under a self-proclaimed revolutionary regime.  They are those in the streets, without a roof, without family, without friends, without attachments, without a future.  She wants to know them.  She already knows that one day she will join them.  But she wants everything, Evguenia.  At the age of 20, one wants everything, even love.  The overly lucid young bourgeoise knows that politics and cynicism are too often inseparable.  She forever aspires to passion, but would very much want to find it in someone who incarnates it without compromise.  And thus she meets, by chance, at a poetry reading of the small “biocosmists” circle, Alexander Iaroslavski.  The avant-garde movement that he animates is full of the lyrically illuminated, convinced that science will abolish death.  Their manifesto promises the eminent realisation of three missions: space travel, personal immortality and physical resurrection.  Ferociously atheistic, impassioned by the progress of medicine and physics, strongly materialist yet perfectly utopian, almost mystical-rational precursors of today’s transhumanists, the exalted biocosmists, who believe in eternal justice and in natural forces, venturing on the success of the soviets and the colonisation of space, aim for a universal communism and intergalactic fraternity.

Evguenia admires Alexander, his brilliant curiosity, his total absence of hypocrisy, his contempt for common opinion, his tendency to only love the badly dressed poor, his wild imagination – he is the author of science fiction texts (The Argonauts of the Universe), as well as of poems.  They love each other, she says, like two children, like to friends who have nothing in secret between them, before loving each other as lovers.  They move in together in 1923 and become so involved with each other that they cannot imagine life without the other; they give lecture tours across Russia, then Europe, are violently anti-religious, more idealistic than ever, but far too free to accommodate themselves to Bolshevik dogma; they write together at night, criticise more and more openly the censorship that weighs upon literature and ideas; they are torn between their fidelity to the communist dream and the reality which they cannot conceal and that they would like to change.

It was at this time that Panaït Istrati, invited in 1927 to celebrate the ten years of the revolution, undertook a tour of the USSR from which he will return with a searing book, the journal of a deception and a plea for a lost dream: Towards the Other Flame denounces the Bolshevik betrayal of the red utopia.  No one will forgive him this act of courage, in the Europe that a few years earlier lauded him as the “Gorky of the Balkans”.  Not even Gorky, who now keeps silent, not even Romain Rolland, his master and friend, the man who claims his freedom, he also converted to Stalinism, recommends that Panaït be silent, so as to save the ideal, failing which it is the real that is not equal to it that will be saved.  Boris Souvarine, also excluded for dissidence from any leading role [within the French Communist Party], will tell of Rolland’s astonishing letter to Istrati, who will seek him out:  “These pages [of criticism of the Soviet regime] are sacred!  They should be preserved in the archives of the eternal Revolution.  In its golden book.  We love you even more for having written them.  But do not publish them!”  Reality is too disappointing to be spoken of, confesses therefore the great man of letters to the genius teller of stories, who crumbles before human duplicity.

It was the time when Victor Serge, in turn also threatened, and whom the same Istrati had tried in vain to defend, confronts the worst calumnies and chose exile so as not to die.  It is the time when Stalin takes the reigns of the Party, removes one by one his opponents, who will soon be massacred.  In this world, Evguenia and her poet husband are more and more uneasy.  They give conferences in German cafes run by Mensheviks, publish (like Istrati) naive open letters addressed to the GPU and to the commissars of the people, manage to cross clandestinely the French border, carting about with them their one friend – the typewriter -, in Alexander’s rucksack, they are received with open arms by Russian émigrés in the French capital, but take great care not to be recuperated by the enemies of the Revolution.  For they search desperately for the voice of honest idealists, the partisans of the “true flame“, the means to prove to themselves that the contest is not lost.  They cross then paths with Voline, the Ukrainian libertarian who had fought the Bolsheviks with Nestor Makhno.  For Evguenia, this could be the moment of truth.  It was almost the turning point.  She who had always dreamed of joining the anarchists had found her peers.

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Alexander will not admit it.  The little world of biocosmists remains sentimentally attached to the bitter fatherland and the memory of Lenin.  He is, like so many others, afraid to feed the enemies of socialism.  Everything that is going wrong, “one shouldn’t say it except to our own people.  The Bolsheviks are still my people.  They are thugs, but they are our thugs“.  Voluntary blindness, in the name of clan solidarity, leads him to prefer the silence of complicity to lucid denunciation.  Alexander chose the path that takes him to his loss.  Evguenia has her doubts, but Evguenia had chosen to accompany Alexander down all paths.  She notes negligently, in a single line of her autobiography, that she lost her two feet in an accident in 1923 – she will fall under a train!  What must have profoundly upset her very existence becomes almost anecdotal under her pen.  Exaltation, with her, always overtakes material constraints.  The spirit no longer even struggles against the body: it has already won the match.  “It is an event of so little importance that I almost forgot to mention it.  But what is the loss of one’s feet compared to that of a love like ours, to the blind happiness that was ours?”  To read, write, they were never anything but other ways of loving, of devouring.  But the books were no longer sufficient.  They had neither spared her, nor Alexander, from anything.  She will henceforth travel towards the most naked state of human existence.  She enters into the heart of the matter, the heart of life, without libraries as barricades, without book bindings as masks.  She becomes the protagonist of a novel.

It is life that is necessary

After only two months in Paris, Alexander misses Russia far too much.  He knows well that he risks the firing squad, but he is not troubled.  He should be however.  Hardly had he returned, he was effectively arrested.  Evguenia follows the descent of her destiny.  She who had dreamed of it since childhood, it was necessary that she no longer have anything to lose, to take the first step.  She who dreams of throwing herself into an uprising of the forgotten people of the streets, of the taverns and the rogues, wants to begin to live her life as close to reality as possible.  It is in fact a seriously handicapped woman, who can only move with prostheses, who chooses to live in the streets, to eat roasted apples off skewers of old scrap metal, to sleep in tram shelters or precarious hideaways.  She renounces everything.  Flees from the comfortable apartment of her aunt.  Distributes newspapers for small change, steals to love, but above all steals on principle: there is no question for her of working in an office, because stealing – from the well-to-do, as she prohibits herself from stealing from the poor – is another way of joining the truly humiliated, those without station, those she calls “the salt of the earth“.

She wants to become a part of the nocturnal world, escapes being raped in the parks where she sleeps, sells flowers, only refusing to sell her own body.  She insists:  there is no philanthropic or pedagogical goal in what she chooses, especially not.  What she wants is to understand, to live.  A fidelity to the happy childhood which promised itself to know injustice to better combat it.  “I joined them to understand their life, to study their ethic.  My intention was never to provide them some teaching, but on the contrary to discover and reinforce the old laws of thieves: the irreconcilable hatred of cops and double-crossers, camaraderie and mutual aid.”  She carries with her a kind of wild desire, vaguely masochistic, to compensate for the overly privileged hours.  How to become the heroine of the most wretched without first becoming one of them?  One suspects also an unbreakable romanticism, a detrimental fascination with risk, putting oneself into danger, the leap into the unknown, the dark margins, the poorly illuminated abysses.  For it is less the working and labouring poor that interest her, than the truly disinherited, the petty criminals, the mad.  She no longer desires to live except on the razor’s edge.  To walk at night if it is necessary to sleep during the day.  To invent for oneself a new art, a new talent, that will be better than writing; that can be learned and which is not invented: she wants to steal.

She steals from dentists’ waiting rooms.  She steals linen and sheets put out to dry in court yards and from balconies.  She steals utensils in kitchens.  A poor pickpocket, she steals instead in train stations, when a passenger turns their back on their luggage.  She also steals for pleasure: when she gets hold of a suitcase, “Ah, what joy each stolen piece of baggage brings me!  I felt like a child to whom someone had offered a chocolate ball with a surprise in the middle.”  One no longer knows whether her reason began to waver: is she still plunged in a sociological inquiry or in manic kleptomania?  She doesn’t ever in fact really theorise the revolutionary utility of theft, does not pose herself as a champion of re-distribution or as a virtuoso of  burglary of the ruling classes, in the manner of Marius Jacob, anarchist of the Belle Époque.  One would have liked something of the kind, but no, she was always frank, brutally honest, she did not hide herself: she loves stealing.  Does she want to take from this experience a testimonial book, as George Orwell will do later (Down and Out in Paris and London, in 1933)?

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One might imagine so, but there is no trace of such a work.  In her autobiography, she does not elaborate on the meaning of her acts: she devotes herself to daily survival, in the brutal intensity of a poverty that she respects and seeks out.  Like a challenge to the established order, even if Soviet and supposedly popular.  As if thumbing her nose at the covert investigators of the GPU.  Like the first and last confirmation that she had finally joined the true people, those who never hold any power other than that of saying no, those who take what is not given to them, those who laugh when they should die.  Here she is, a thief, and proud of being so, they scream at her in each line.  But a thief by honour and principle, not by chance and villainy.  When once she luckily falls upon the briefcase of a ministry of finance inspector with apparent artistic talents, she keeps the camera and camera sheet for herself, gives the razor and clothes to children and returns the rest to the owner with a brief personal note: “Knowing how much each artist cherishes their work like a treasure, I return to you your drawing book with beautiful and very tasteful sketches, as well as your personal correspondence, which has no value for us pirates – The Thief.”  She is respected among rogues: she knows how to share her spoils, to defend herself when she is arrested (and including knocking out a prison guard).  She begins to seriously envisage moreover managing a band of common law criminals and political rebels whose aim would be to organise prison escapes, first of those condemned to death, then all prisoners.  It’s that Alexander remains in prison …

She no longer recognises any legitimacy in the Soviet government which organises at this time legal proceedings against her husband, on hunger strike, and who is finally condemned to five years in prison on the basis of article 58.4 of the criminal code (“Aiding the international bourgeoisie and  conducting activities hostile to the USSR“).  He will pay dearly for the conferences that he nevertheless regretted in having given …  Finally, Alexander is transferred to the Solovetsky Islands:  the archipelago of the north-west of Russia, in the heart of the White Sea in front of the port of Archangel, become after 1920 an enormous open air labour camp.  Evguenia finds herself in turn deported, condemned to three years of exile in Siberia for multiple petty thefts!  Far from stopping her, this episode only reinforces her in her determination.   Under house arrest in an old building for the condemned, she becomes the head of a well organised band of thieves, while making the most of her skills as a story teller: she becomes the narrator of grand adventures.  The respectable families of the village invite her to their table to appease her and to assure themselves that one steals instead from the neighbours!  For a time, she hopes to find in the collective farms a renewal of her initial ideal: to no avail, as she realises that the deported function as slaves condemned to forced labour.  Protected by her clan of thieves, she does reasonably well, planning the future against an egg or a bit of bread.  She even manages to set aside a little money.  Enough to rent a sleigh, escape and reach a port, buy false papers, regain Moscow and then the Solovetsky Islands for a final adventure: to organise Alexander’s escape.

The affair however fails.  The details are unknown.  She is arrested on the 17th of July of 1930, incarcerated in turn on the Islands, condemned to three years in prison.  In the camp, she hits comrade Nikolskii who comes to her to read the order of execution of her husband (whose prison sentence is altered to a death sentence after an attempted escape).  On another day, she throws stones at the head of comrade Uspenskii, responsible for the firing squad.  She calls on her comrades to strike and rebel.  On her chest, she has tattooed in capital letters: “Death to the Chekaists“.  She tries to commit suicide on various occasions: she opens her veins with a shard of glass, tries to hang herself with a towel.  She is saved against her will.  The rage to live no longer suffices.  Rage alone devours her.  The administrative files record her ever more violent declarations.  The “file of inquiry 507”, transmitted to the military tribunal that will condemn her to death in turn, notes: “She states that Soviet power is rotten to the core and that it will soon collapse.  She sought to use the common law criminals to organise an uprising in the camps and a mass escape of prisoners.

Not only does she not deny this, but she she adds to it.  She explains, she elaborates.  She claims and declaims.  Placed in solitary confinement, she writes her autobiography.  On the 10th of December 1930, Alexander is executed.  Learning of it, she allows her furor to explode – she swears to avenge the man that she loves, the assassinated poets or those who killed themselves like Esenin: “I will avenge myself against all of the executioners hypnotised by your hypocritical and pseudo-revolutionary words, mercenaries or assassins by carelessness, all of those who do not know what they are doing.  I swear that I will seek vengeance by words and blood.  And I will keep my word, if this autobiography is not to become my necrology …”  Is she lying to herself again?  Does delirium catch up with her in her grief?  Does she really believe that she can escape the claws of the GPU and foment an  attack from within?  Has the wistful child lost her sense of reality?  The novel catches up with her, in any case.  She writes her last pages.  And it is again literature – her literature – that pulls her briefly out of oblivion.  Without it, without the words that would in effect condemn her, her obituary and her vengeance altogether, we would know nothing of her.  And while the atrocious Uspenskii sinks into the darkness, I pull her a little towards the light, at the end of a pole that she has extended to us.

Then, the gun shots

On the 16th of June 1931, Akadii Ivanovich Myslitsin is at his post at the entrance of the Church of Saint-Michael and the Ascension of Archangel, at the top of Sekirnaia mountain, at the centre of the Solovetsky Islands.  Those condemned to death are placed in isolation before execution.  On this day, orthodox peasants of a sect which refuses definitively to labour for the Soviet “Antichrist” awaits their last hour, hands tied behind their back, silent, bearded, in concentration.  They pray, they cry, they mumble.  Akadii does not feel very well.  Suddenly, a woman is thrown among them.  She faints, she awakens when comrade Uspenskii arrives at the head of his squadron of killers and taunts her: “Thus, you will follow your husband!  It is with this same pistol that I put a bullet in the stupid head of your Iaroslavskii !”  Akadii shakes.  He is accustomed to cruelty, but he trembles nevertheless, this time.  The young woman screams, struggles, tries to hit comrade Uspenskii.  Her hands are tied.  She won’t be able to knock him out.  She knows that she has lost.  There are no more words.  She stops an instant, calms herself, breaths, realises her final exploit.  Coherence with the first, when she freed prisoners at the age of 15.  She aims and spits on his face – spits her rage and contempt, her hatred and fear.

Faithful to her rebellious childhood, until the end.  Evguenia, the little rich and erudite girl, the woman who belonged to only one other, the vagabond without feet, the rebel who became a thief, the writer who wrote no more, stands up one last time against injustice: “Thus was my life, the life of a revolutionary – pupil, of a student – dreamer, of a friend of a great man and poet Alexander Iaroslavskii, of an eternal vagabond, of an itinerant anti-religious lecturer, of  a story teller, of a street vendor of newspapers, of a thief with a long criminal record, of a bohemian teller of good adventures.”  The terrible executioner hits her across the face with the stock of the pistol that killed the man that she loved.  They rip off her prostheses: the killers boast of the fact before the other prisoners, saying that “it is amusing.”  She is dragged into the courtyard with the others.  Nearby, before the gate, the wagon already awaits to recuperate the warm bodies that will join the common grave.  Akadii feels ill.  He but hears one of the peasants scream: “Be damned, Antichrist!”  Then, the gun shots.

____________________

All of the photographs are part of the series Solovki et Kolyma, in Tomasz Kizny, Goulag,
Éditions Acropole – Balland – Géo, 2003 (independent Polish photographer, he collected thousands of archive images and contemporary photographs tracing the concentration camp system)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Remembering the Darkness, Women in Soviet prisons, edited and translated by Veronica Shapovalov, Rowman and Littlefields Publishers 2001. This collection includes “My autobiography”, text dated the 3rd of February 1931, from the prison of Zaiachi Ostrova, one of the most strictly isolated of the archipelago of the Solovetsky Islands, as well as the judicial files and testimony of Arkadii Ivanovich Lyslitsyn, former White Russian converted to the Cheka and guard at Solovetsky.  Neither in French or English can any trace be found of a translation of the many collections of poetry of Alexander Iaroslavski (published between 1918 and 1926; cf Ch1.note 2 de Remembering the darkness), nor of the poems or of the twenty-four papers of Evguenia Iaroslavskaia Markon published in 1926 and 1927 in the magazine Rul (“The Rudder”) in Berlin, in the form of a series “around cities and villages”, under a pseudonym (G. Svetlova), among which “Interview with the Pickpockets of Astrakhan”, “Tashkent or the Russian Baghdad” – she demonstrates there already an enthusiastic interest in the world of the street and of petty criminals.

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