Anarchists in the West of the Russian Empire: how in Warsaw and Riga they wanted to destroy the state

At the beginning of the twentieth century, anarchist anti-state ideas were most widely spread in the western regions of the Russian Empire. This was due, firstly, to the territorial proximity to Europe, from which fashionable ideological trends penetrated, and secondly, to the presence of unresolved national problems in the western regions of the country - Polish, Baltic, and Jewish. Of great importance, in particular, was the location of the "Pale of Settlement" of the Jewish population in Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Little Russian cities.

Although in other cities of Poland and the Baltic States the anarchist movement did not receive such scope as in Bialystok, but nevertheless actively declared itself, taking advantage of the sympathies of the working and craft people of Warsaw, Czestochowa, Vilna, Riga. The situation here was not much different from Belostok. Not surprisingly, both Warsaw and Riga became, along with Belostok and Minsk, the outposts of the most radical directions in Russian anarcho-communism — black banner and beznachaltsev.

City of Weavers Lodz

Poland was a particularly volatile region. Like the Jews, by the way, which made up a significant part of the population of Warsaw and other Polish cities, the Poles experienced national oppression and were rather negatively disposed towards the royal power. N.Granatshteyn, who was a contemporary of those events, recalled that “In two centers such as Lodz and Warsaw, workers worked on 16-18 hours a day and received the most meager wages; they did not even have the opportunity to read books. The workers were enslaved by the bandits, who held the whole city in their hands and had the police at their disposal. In all industrial cities there were gangs of thieves ”(N. Granatshteyn. The first mass movement in the West of Russia in the 1900 years. - Katorga and the reference, 1925, No. 5. Page 191.).

From the end of the 19th century, the Polish labor movement was distinguished by its radical methods of activity. The proletariat of the textile industry of Warsaw and Lodz, the coal miners in Dombrovo and Sosnowitz waged a continuous struggle against over-exploitation of the working population, using radical methods - from strikes to acts of economic terror. But they were trying to crush the various nationalist and social democratic parties.

Zionists and social democrats of “Bund” were active among the Jewish population of cities and towns, among the Poles - PPS (Party of Polish Socialists). Ultra-left groups arose not only on their own, but also in the ranks of the Social Democrats and the Polish Socialists. Many of them tended to anarchism.

However, the anarchist movement developed in Poland only in 1905, much later than in Bialystok, Nezhin and Odessa, where anarchists by this time already had two years of experience in the revolutionary struggle. The advent of anarchists in Poland was precipitated by the revolutionary events of 1905. In a short time, the following anarchist program texts were published in Polish: P.A. Kropotkin “Bread and Will”, E.Malatesta “Anarchy”, E.Anri “Speech in Court”, Kulchitsky “Modern Anarchism”, J.Tonard “What do Anarchists Want?”, Zelinsky “Lying Socialism”, “General Strike” and "Workers Trade Unions". Anarchist groups appeared in Warsaw, Lodz, Czestochowa and other cities. From the very beginning of their activities, the Polish anarchists to radical methods of struggle and in terms of ideology, as already mentioned, were guided by noznachaltsev and black banner.

In Lodz, this recognized center of the textile industry, N.Granatshteyn began anarchic communist propaganda. Like most of the "pioneers" of anarchism in the western provinces, Granatstein came from a poor Jewish family that lived in the small town of Belkhotov in the Petrokov province. The entire Belkhotov consisted of weavers-handicraftsmen who lived in poverty and worked in extremely difficult conditions. In the weaving workshop began to work and Granatshteyn. He was only twelve years old. Soon, the teenager could not stand the working conditions and fled from the house, going to Lodz, a larger industrial city. Here, settling in a factory, he met the Bundists.

A thirteen-year-old boy completely imbued with revolutionary ideas and tuned in to the struggle. He became an activist of the “Bund”, joining the most radical part of the circle, consisting of workers in the sewing industry. During a trip to Warsaw, Granatshtein was arrested and, despite the fact that he was only fourteen years old, he was thrown alone for nine months. This happened because a police officer, relying on the boy's youth and inexperience, offered him to surrender his comrades. In response, Granatstein spat in the face of the investigator. After his release, he participated in the famous Lodz Uprising, and then, hiding from persecution, went to Paris, where he joined the anarchists.

Returning to ódат, Granatštejn and several like-minded people began to propagandize anarchism, and soon a Lodz group of anarchist communists appeared in the city. A prominent role in it, besides N. Granatshteyn, was played by a twenty-year-old painter Iosel Skoma, who previously worked in the Bund organization, and then transferred to the positions of anarchism and, in a short time, turned into the best agitator of the Лód group.

12 February 1906, the police went on the trail of anarchists hiding in a safe house. Grenetstein and five of his comrades were arrested and thrown into the одód Investigatory Prison. Nevertheless, the anarchists managed to mark at least two major terrorist acts in Lodz - the murder in 1905 of the rich manufacturer Kunitser and in 1907 the director of the Poznan factory David Rosenthal, who shortly before that had declared a lockout to the workers.

Warsaw Internationale

But Warsaw became the main center of anarchism in Poland. Here, at the beginning of 1905, the Warsaw agitator group of the anarchists, the Internationale, was set up by an agitator nicknamed “Karl” from abroad. Like the Belostok group "Struggle", the Warsaw Internationale was, for the most part, a Jewish association. His backbone was made up of workers - Jews, former members of the Social-Democratic "Bund", who switched to anarchist positions. They conducted active propaganda in the Jewish quarters of Warsaw, inhabited by workers and artisans. Campaign rallies were held simultaneously in the two main languages ​​of Warsaw - in Yiddish and Polish.

The active agitational activities of anarchists led to the fact that soon the number of the Internationale group grew to 40 people. In addition, 10 propaganda circles were created, in which more than 125 participants were involved in the aggregate. As in Bialystok, in Warsaw, most of the participants in the anarchist movement were very young people — no older than 18 – 20 years.

From agitation and propaganda in the Jewish quarters, the anarchists very quickly switched to active participation in the economic struggle of the Warsaw workers. Most often they used radical methods. During the bakers' strike, the anarchists of the "Internationale" blew up several ovens and poured dough over the kerosene. Subsequently, upon learning that anarchists were taking part in the strike, the owners usually immediately went to fulfill the demands of the striking workers. The Warsaw anarchists and the terrorist struggle did not bypass, being the most ardent supporters of “non-motivated” terrorist acts. The loudest war incursions in Warsaw were bombings thrown by Israel Motif Blumefeld without a motivator to the bank office of Shereshevsky and to the hotel-restaurant Bristol.

Strengthening the position of anarchists met a sharply negative reaction from the socialist parties, which published articles criticizing the theory and tactics of anarchism. Even cases of armed clashes between anarchists and socialist statesmen, primarily members of the PPS, were noted. There were also the killing of anarchists by socialist militants during strikes and other mass protests. Thus, in Czestochowa, the anarchist Vitmansky was killed for participating in the expropriation.

In the days of the October 1905 strike, Warsaw anarchists took an active part in it, speaking to thousands of working-class meetings. Mass arrests of all who, at least somehow, could be suspected of involvement in anarchism, began. The first during the distribution of proclamations among the soldiers stationed in the city army units was arrested Victor Rivkind. He, given the age of seventeen, was sentenced to four years in prison. Following Rivkind, the police arrested several more active members of the “Internationale”, defeated an illegal printing house and seized an underground warehouse with weapons and dynamite.

The arrested anarchists were thrown into the cells of the Warsaw prison, where they were tortured and tortured by gendarmes led by detective Green. It turned out that the Internationale group was planning to dig under the barracks of the Volynsky regiment, and also planned to build a false barricade on Marshalkovskaya Street, filled with two mines and a multitude of fragments. It was assumed that when the soldiers and the police began to dismantle the barricade, it would automatically break and cause significant damage to the authorities. After receiving this information, the Warsaw Governor-General Skalon became enraged and ordered all 16 arrested suspects to be hanged without trial.

In January, the 1906 of the year, the 16 of the anarchists who were in the Warsaw Citadel, were executed. Here are their names: Solomon Rosenzweig, Jacob Goldstein, Viktor Rivkind, Leib Furtseyg Jacob Crystal Jacob Pfeffer, Cuba Igolson Israel Blumenfeld, Solomon Shaer, Abraham Rothkopf, Isaac Shapiro, Ignat Kornbaum Carl Scourge, F.Grauman, M.Pugach and S. Menndzhelevsky. These were very young people - students and artisans, most of whom were eighteen or twenty years old, the oldest, Jacob Goldstein, was twenty-three years old, and the youngest, Isaac Shapiro and Karl Skurzha, respectively, were seventeen and fifteen years old. After the massacre, the bodies of those killed were dumped in the Vistula, which was pre-filled with resin, so that the deceased could not be identified. In the spring, fishermen fished several disfigured bodies in the Vistula with bullet wounds and faces covered with tar.

During the searches and arrests, one activist of the "Internationale" still managed to escape. A young turner Holtzman, nicknamed Varjat, was engaged in the manufacture of a bomb in his apartment and, fearing arrest, he fled, taking with him dynamite and several shells. On one of the streets of Warsaw, he met a patrol who led the prisoner. Holtzman opened fire on the convoy, injured a soldier and gave the arrested a chance to escape, but he was captured. He was taken to Alekseevsky fort. Holtzman was threatened with the death penalty, but he managed to escape, despite the leg broken during his escape, and disappeared outside the Russian Empire.

The repressions virtually destroyed the Internationale group. The surviving anarchists were escorted to penal servitude and to the eternal settlement in Siberia. Those who were lucky enough to remain free, emigrated from Poland abroad. Thus the first period of anarchist activity in Warsaw ended tragically. Until August 1906, there was practically no anarchist activity in the city.

However, by the autumn of 1906, when the wave of police repression had subsided somewhat, the activity of anarchists was revived in Warsaw. In addition to the revived group "Internationale", new associations appear - the Svoboda group and the Warsaw group of anarchists - the Black Flag communists. Chernoznamentsy managed to release two issues of the newspaper “Revolutionary Voice” (“Glos revoluzyiny”) in 1906 and 1907. in Polish and Yiddish.

As in 1905, in the winter of 1906, anarchists took an active part in the class struggle of the Warsaw proletariat. At the lock-out, announced by the owners of the sewing workshops, the workers responded with acts of sabotage, pouring sulfuric acid over the goods. In the workshop of Korob, anarchists killed several masters during the strike. The frightened owners decided to fulfill the demands of the strikers. During one expropriation, an entrepreneur was also killed, for which the anarchist Zilberstein was brought to court-martial. In December, 1906 of the Warsaw Citadel was hanged by anarchists, jailed from Belostok, by militants Joseph Myslinsky, Tselek, and Savely Sudobiger (Tsalku Taylor). The act of revenge on the authorities was the killing of the assistant head of the Warsaw Prison, known for his cruelty to those arrested. He was shot and killed by 14 in May 1907, the fighter of the “International” Beynish Rosenblum. An 7 trial in November sentenced him to death. To ask for mercy from Tsar Nicholas II Rosenblum refused. 11 November 1907, he was hanged in Warsaw prison.

The Warsaw Citadel became a place of execution for many other revolutionaries who were brought to Warsaw from all the western provinces of the empire. Stabbed from Bialystok, Abel Kossovsky and Isaac Heylikman were accused of armed resistance to the police during the general 1906 strike of the year in the town of Suprasl and were also sentenced to death. Kossovsky penalty was replaced with life penal servitude, and Geylikman was hanged.

However, the activities of Polish anarchists were not limited to acts of economic terror and the killing of police officers. Many Warsaw revolutionaries pursued more global goals. Thus, in the first half of 1907, a secret society arose in Warsaw, with the goal of assassinating the German emperor Wilhelm.

Anarchists in the West of the Russian Empire: how in Warsaw and Riga they wanted to destroy the state

It was believed that Wilhelm influenced his cousin Nicholas II, recommending that he not weaken the oppression of the Polish population. The murder of Wilhelm would not only take revenge for the mockery of the Polish people, but would also help raise the popularity of the anarchist movement both in Russia and Germany, and throughout Europe as a whole.

To organize the assassination in Charlottenburg, four militants settled, with whom the anarchist Augustus Waterlos (Saint-Goy), operating in the German part of Poland, contacted. In Charlottenburg also intended to arrive Belostok anarchists Leibela Crazy and Meitke Belostok, but on the way Meitke was killed. Refusing to attempt, the anarchists left Charlottenburg.

In July 1907, a conference of Polish and Lithuanian anarchist groups was held in Kovno, the participants of which came to the following decisions:
1). In view of the disunity and isolation of anarchist groups, it is necessary to unite in federations.

2). Reject minor expropriations and robberies and recognize the need to commit major expropriations in state and private institutions. Recognize that only a federation is capable of organizing such expropriations and it is advisable and economical to spend the funds raised.

3). Fight, through propaganda, with the trade unions, as with the dangerous and cunning means of the bourgeoisie to seduce the worker from the revolutionary path onto the path of compromises and deals that obscure his class revolutionary consciousness.

4). Recognize the need for mass looting of food warehouses and shops with a general strike, lockouts and unemployment.

However, under the denunciation of the police provocateur Abram Gafenda (“Abrash”), 24, a participant in the conference of anarcho-communist groups, were arrested. Among them, Waterloo was also detained. The trial of the participants of the coven conference took place on 11 - 19 on September 1908 of the year in Warsaw. Only three defendants were acquitted, and 21 people were sentenced to various terms of hard labor - from 4 to 15 years. The Warsaw group of communist anarchists, the Internationale, existed even before the spring of 1909, ceasing its activities as a result of the general decline in revolutionary activity.

Day of the Last Judgment in Riga

The Baltic region was another troubled region of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century. Like the Poles, the inhabitants of the Baltic states fought a brutal and bloody struggle against the tsarist government. In rural areas, the Latvian peasants resorted to the methods of agrarian terror, to the seizure of vacant land and the cutting down of landlord forests. Landless laborers, who had nothing to lose, were particularly radical.

After the suppressed peasant uprisings, many of their participants, fleeing from the punitive detachments formed by local landowners with the support of the authorities, went into the woods. There they formed detachments of "forest brothers" - partisans who, under the cover of night, attacked landlord estates and even punitive groups. Even in winter, in spite of twenty degrees of frost, the partisans hiding in the forests of Kurland gubernia did not cease their activities. They lived in huts, hidden in thicket and covered with sheepskins brought by the peasants, and fed on meat obtained from hunting or from attacks on landlords' livestock farms.

The “Forest Brothers” movement, which unfolded in the Province of Courland, although it did not proclaim itself officially anarchist, was anarchic in nature. There were no heads in the “forest brothers” detachments, yet the questions were lost only by general consensus and no one obeyed anyone. Someone Strams, who left memories of the activities of “forest brothers” in the first years of the twentieth century, emphasized that participation in these formations was completely voluntary, on the other hand - most of the militants never refused to perform even the most dangerous and difficult tasks (Strams. From stories the movement of "forest brothers" in Dondangen (Kurland province) - in the book: Almanac. Collection of the history of the anarchist movement in Russia. Tom 1. Paris, 1909, p. 68).

In the cities, the first anarchist groups appeared in the 1905 year, initially among the poorest Jewish proletariat and artisans of Riga. Among the Latvian workers and peasants, anarchist groups appeared only in the spring of 1906. Quickly enough, the anarchists extended their activities not only to the Jewish quarters of Riga, but also to Libava, Mitava, Tukkum and Yuryev. Propaganda was conducted in Yiddish and in Latvian, less often used German. As in Bialystok, some of the most radical socialists and social democrats left the ranks of their parties and joined anarchists.

In Riga, a group appeared, called by analogy with Warsaw - the Riga group of anarchist communists “Internationale”. It was predominantly Jewish in its ethnic composition, extremely young in its composition of participants, and carried on propaganda among the Jewish poor. For propaganda purposes, the Riga Internationale issued in Yiddish the proclamations “To All Workers”, “Political or Social Revolution”, “To All True Friends of the People”, “To All Bailiffs”, as well as E.Nahta’s brochure “General Strike and Social Revolution "," Do I need anarchism in Russia? "," Order and commune. "

Somewhat later, the Latvian Latvian Communist anarchist groups Slovo i delo, Equality, and the Flying Doomsday appeared in Riga. Bread and Freedom by PA Kapotkin, 3 of the satirical collection Black Laughter, Flame and Critical Essays were published in Latvian. The anarchists of Riga were the most active propagandists in the car-building factories of Felzer and Phoenix, and then in the factories behind the Dvina. In October, the Federation of Riga Communist Communist Anarchist Groups was established on 1906, which united the groups operating in the city.

One of the most notorious armed actions of the Riga anarchists in Riga was the clash with the police in August 1906 of the year. When the police surrounded the anarchist laboratory, the brother and sister Keide Krievs who were in it kept the defense at home from six o'clock in the morning, shooting all day long. They blew up the stairs and threw a bomb at the police, but she didn’t cause them much harm. Not wanting to fall into the hands of the police, brother and sister Keide-Krievs committed suicide. On the same day, anarchists in the Mariinsky Street put up armed resistance to the police, for which the militant Benzion Shots was sentenced to 14 years of hard labor.

The selbstschutzer, the German nationalists, also became a favorite target of the anarchists. Such formations were recruited from the offspring of German families in order to resist anarchists, socialists and radical opposition in general. In Yuryev, selbstschutz numbered about 300 people. Of course, from time to time, anarchists and socialists had to enter into opposition with the far right. So, during their meeting in the Mittav suburb, anarchists blew up a bomb, another bomb exploded during a similar gathering on Vendenskaya Street. In both cases there were casualties.

During the strike of tram workers in Riga, anarchists threw several bombs to paralyze the movement of those trams that continued to work. But the loudest act of anti-bourgeois terror was the explosion of two bombs thrown by anarchists into the restaurant Schwartz - a favorite place for gatherings of Riga capitalists. Although the explosions did not make any sacrifices, the resonance in society and the panic among the bourgeoisie were enormous.

In January, 1907, on Artillery Street, police officers who had decided to raid Riga anarchists met with fierce resistance. The anarchists managed to shoot two soldiers and police overseer Berkovich and injure detectives Dukman and Davus and the head of the Riga secret police, Gregus. In the summer of 1907, the police, who were pursuing the expropriators, were attacked by randomly passing anarchists who fired at police and then hid in a nearby grove.

Naturally, the royal authorities tried to suppress the anarchist movement in Riga. In 1906-1907 many Riga revolutionaries were arrested. Anarchists Stuer, Podzin, Kreuzberg and Tirumnek received 8 hard labor for years, 12 years of imprisonment were received by soldiers of the Korolev and Ragulin demining unit, 14 hard labor - Benzion Shots. During the beating in Riga jail ten bayonet blows killed the anarchist prisoner Vladimir Schmoghe.

October 23 1906, a martial court, issued a death sentence to the militants of the Riga International group. Silin Shafron, Osip Levin, Petrov, Osipov and Ioffe were sentenced to death, despite their young age. Before the death of the three convicted Jews, the rabbi suggested repenting. The anarchists, one and all, replied to this proposal that they had nothing to repent of.

Osip Levin, 16, a descendant of a poor family, said: “Of all the money we took from the capitalists for our holy Anarchy, I didn’t even allow myself to make a pair of trousers ... I am dying in old pants given to me by my brother, a student, because I went ragged ... My money was holy and I used it for holy purposes. I find that I am not dying a sinner, but a fighter for all mankind, for being oppressed by the present system ”(Minsk Group leaflets. - in the book: Almanac. Collection on the history of the anarchist movement in Russia. Volume 1. Paris, 1909, p. 182) .

All executed died with an exclamation "Long live the earth and the will!". Even the liberal newspapers of Riga, which did not differ in sympathy for the revolutionary movement and, especially, for anarchists, were outraged by the brutal execution of a young revolutionary in a prison in Riga. They noted that even among the soldiers of the firing squad there were no people willing to kill the teenagers. The soldiers fired aside, deliberately tried to miss, but the command was adamant. It took several volleys to kill the young men.


Repressions against communist anarchists affected the change in tactics of anti-authoritarian groups. Many Latvian revolutionaries turned to anarcho-syndicalist activities. At the end of 1907, a group emerged in Riga, about which, due to its low profile in the national historical literature, it should be said. A free workers' organization was created on the initiative of a private teacher, Ya. Ya. Yankau received, after the name of its leader, the second name - the yankovist-syndicalists. In Riga, the activities of the Yankovists were led by J.Grivin and J.A.Lassis.

The ideology of the Free Workers Organization had much in common with the so-called. “Makhayevism”, which was distinguished by a sharply negative attitude towards the intelligentsia and a desire to self-organize the working class without the participation of political parties. Taking only workers into their ranks, the Yankovists opposed the proletariat to all other classes and social strata, especially having a negative attitude towards intellectuals. Speaking for illegal and radical methods of resistance to capital, the Yankovists divided them into “passive” - strikes, and “active” - expropriations and acts of economic terror, which included the destruction of factories and plants, the destruction of equipment, sabotage.

The highest form of resistance for the Yankovists was the economic revolution, destroying "slavery in all its forms" and organizing "the life of working-class producers on the basis of economic equality." The SRO ranks were replenished mainly due to the radical-minded members of the Social Democracy of the Latvian Territory (militants, party members expelled for violation of discipline, etc.), as well as former members of the Latvian Social Democratic Union and trade union representatives.

Yankovists tried to spread their propaganda and to cover with their influence the largest possible number of both legal and illegal trade unions of workers. SRO members did not pay contributions, money to the organization’s cash office came from expropriations of state, public and private institutions, as well as through performances and parties held in the building of the Latvian society in Riga.

In January 1908, the Yankovists came into contact with the anarchists-syndicalists operating in Riga, who planned to publish a general party journal. In the spring and summer of 1908, there is a further rapprochement of the Yankovists and anarchist syndicalists. Both those and others jointly agitated in the working environment for a wider use of the possibilities of creating legal trade unions, using them for legal propaganda. In July, 1908, the majority of yankovists joined the legal trade unions, adhering to the program of anarcho-syndicalists. In September 1908, the Free Workers Organization ceased to exist, its remnants partly joined the anarchist syndicalists, and partly the Social Democracy of the Latvian Territory. Yankau himself emigrated to Germany.

As in other regions of the Russian Empire, the 1908-1909 years. The anarchist movement in Poland and the Baltic States has essentially lost its popularity and lost the positions that were acquired during the revolution of 1905-1907. Many anarchists were executed by military field courts or died in gunfights with the police, some were destined to go to Siberian penal servitude for many years - all in the name of the idea of ​​a stateless society, which was painted as an ideal of social justice. Its practical implementation entailed terrorist acts, including those that had no real motives and were carried out against people who did not bear any personal responsibility for the policies of the tsarist regime. On the other hand, the tsarist government did not in all cases dealt with anarchists humanely, since many of them were very young people, due to age-related maximalism and peculiarities of social origin, who were not always aware of their actions.
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1 comment
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  1. 225chay
    29 July 2014 12: 09
    Anarchists, terrorists, Bundists ...
    The devils from which times they staged coups and participated in terrorist attacks.
    Their descendants and brothers being in power, using administrative resources, pour blood on Ukraine, setting some against others.
    It seems that they want to leave scorched earth without the indigenous population.
    Who are they preparing the territory for?
  2. inspection
    29 July 2014 21: 37
    And why don't they cry for anarchist youth in France or in England?
    Apparently there they were given reinforced rations.

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