Who were the most dedicated, active, and long-suffering revolutionaries in Czarist Russia? In his epic history, The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says that it was the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Anarchists who were imprisoned the most, had the most people serving hard labor, and the most people imprisoned by the Czarist regime—many multiple the times of the Social Democrats, from which both the Bolshevik and Menshevik emerged. It was mostly Socialists Revolutionaries (SR) and the Anarchists who received the worst sentences in Czarist Russia. The Anarchists and the Socialist Revolutionaries were very similar, although not identical,  ideologically.  What was the reward the Anarchists and Socialist Revolutionaries received for this labor, fighting, dedication, and death?

Image courtesy of A Project of the National Park Service and the National Resource Centre for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, “Gulag: Soviet Prison Camps and Their Legacy”, David Hosford, Pamela Kachurin, and Thomas Lamont, compilers, (Harvard University). p.1.

 Solzhenitsyn said, “In the summer of 1918 and in April and October of 1919, they jailed Anarchists right and left. In 1919 they arrested all the members of the SR Central Committee they could catch—and kept them imprisoned in the Butyrki up to the time of their trial in 1922.” What was the crime of these dedicated and sacrificing revolutionaries?  Anarchists, SRs, and other non-Bolshevik revolutionaries were always blamed when anything went wrong.

At the beginning of the showdown between the Bolsheviks and the Kronstadt sailors the American Anarchists, Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman advocated for mediation, so that there could be a revolutionary solution and not a war or a massacre. But the Bolsheviks started a military attack against the most dedicated fighters in the revolution. The military slaughter was followed by executions and deportations to the Peter and Paul Fortress and to islands of the new gulag archipelago,  at that time made up of Czarists jails. 

 Berkman and Goldman left Russia in December 1922. Their efforts at a mediated revolutionary solution for Kronstadt having eluded them and with them the truly revolutionary outcome of which they dreamed when they came to Russia. The Anarchists played a big part in the Russian Revolution, in Russian revolutionary history, and were among the biggest victims of the Czarist government, early Bolshevik betrayal, and Stalin’s repression. Today they are being persecuted by Putin’s government. 

Alexander Berkman at an IWW rally in Union Square, April 11th 1914. Image courtesy Library of Congress

 As long as a great and world-famous Russian writer can include true revolutionary matters in his books, the memory of those Russian Anarchists will not be forgotten.

Loubianka Square Memorial Memorials in honour of the victims of the Gulag system that operated during the Soviet Union have been erected in Russia. Monuments made out of old stones from the Solovki camp rest in both Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Other books readers may be interested include:

The Bolshevik Myth: Diary 1920-1922the kron and The Kronstadt Rebellion by Alexander Berkman

Living My Life and My Disillusionment in Russia by Emma Goldman

Russian Nightmares–American Dreams by Edith Saposnik Kaplan

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

10 Days that Shook the World by John Read

The Unknown Revolution by Voline

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