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To Get to the Other Side

A journey through Europe and its anarchist movements

Olga Taratuta and Alex Grossman

Abram Solomonovich Grossman, also known as Aleksandr, was a Jewish Ukrainian anarchist who joined with Italian Errico Malatesta in opposing the syndicalist currents in the movement.  “The essence of revolution is not a strike, but mass expropriation,” he wrote.  One of the chernoznamets, a group of anarchist-communists who favored violent direct action, he spent two years in prison before the 1905 revolution, went to Paris and wrote for the anarchist journal Burevestnik for a while, then returned in 1907 to lead the Ekaterinoslav battle detachment.  In February 1908, he was cornered in the Kyiv train station and shot to death while resisting arrest.

Olga Taratuta was imprisoned as a young woman after participating in the 1905 bombing of the Libman café in Odessa, one of many actions targeting the bourgeoisie as a whole carried out by parts of the anarchist movement during the 1905 revolution.  Olga broke out of the Odessa prison, but after a short exile in the West returned to Ukraina and joined the Ekaterinoslav battle detachment.  She was recaptured in 1908, and released from Lukyianivski prison in Kyiv in 1917.  Ninety years later Kyiv’s anarchist infoshop was located nearby this same prison.  After release Olga worked for the Red Cross for a while, and in 1920 in Kharkov she joined the Anarchist Federation and the Anarchist Black Cross, a prisoner support group, in response to the Bolshevik repression.  That same year she was rounded up by the Cheka, taken to Butyrki prison where she was brutally beaten, and then sent to a polit-isolator in Ural, in Siberian exile, where she suffered scurvy.  In the mid-1920s she was paroled and returned to Kyiv, but I could not find out whether she was swept up again in the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, as were nearly all the other surviving anarchists and ex-anarchists.

Kyiv from River