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Fanya Kaplan was born on 10th February, 1890, into a poor peasant family and her four brothers and two sisters were all educated at home. Her parents both emigrated to the United States.
Kaplan became involved in radical politics and joined the Socialist Revolutionary Party. In 1906 she took part in a plot to kill a Tsarist official in Kiev. Kaplan was caught and sentenced to a life of hard labour in Siberia. She later recalled: "I was exiled to Akatoi for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent eleven years at hard labour." (1)
After eleven years in Siberia she was released after the February Revolution. Like many Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, Kaplan was furious when the Bolsheviks closed down the Constituent Assembly and decided that she would assassinate Lenin as a means of protesting against this measure. (2)
On 30th August, 1918, Lenin spoke at a meeting in Moscow. Victor Serge later explained what happened: "Lenin arrived alone; no one escorted him and no one formed a reception party. When he came out, workers surrounded him for a moment a few paces from his car." As he left the building Kaplan tried to ask Lenin some questions about the way he was running the country. Just before he got into his car Lenin turned to answer the woman. Serge then explained what happened next: "It was at this moment Kaplan fired at him, three times, wounding him seriously in the neck and shoulder. Lenin was driven back to the Kremlin by his chauffeur, and just had the strength to walk upstairs in silence to the second floor: then he fell in pain. There was great anxiety for him: the wound in the neck could have proved extremely serious; for a while it was thought that he was dying." (3)
Kaplan was soon captured and in a statement she made to Cheka that night, she explained that she had attempted to kill him because he had closed down the Constituent Assembly. In a statement to the police she confessed to trying to kill Lenin. "My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot at Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent 11 years at hard labour. After the Revolution, I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it." (4)
Fanya Kaplan was shot by Pavel Malkov, a Baltic Fleet sailor, on 3rd September, 1918. Yakov Sverdlov, who organized the execution, gave instructions that she was not to be buried. He told Malkov: "her remains are to be destroyed so that not a trace remains." Malkov later recalled: "The execution of a human being, especially a woman, was no easy thing. It was a heavy, very heavy responsibility. But I had never been ordered to carry out a more just sentence than this." (5)
The attempt on Lenin's life and the assassination of Moisei Uritsky, chief of the Petrograd Secret Police, concerned the leadership of the Bolsheviks. Joseph Stalin, who was in Tsaritsyn at the time, sent a telegram to Yakov Sverdlov suggesting: "having learned about the wicked attempt of capitalist hirelings on the life of the greatest revolutionary, the tested leader and teacher of the proletariat, Comrade Lenin, answer this base attack from ambush with the organization of open and systematic mass terror against the bourgeoisie and its agents." (6)
Leon Trotsky agreed and argued in My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography (1930): "The Socialist-Revolutionaries had killed Volodarsky and Uritzky, had wounded Lenin seriously, and had made two attempts to blow up my train. We could not treat this lightly. Although we did not regard it from the idealistic point of view of our enemies, we appreciated the role of the individual in history. We could not close our eyes to the danger that threatened the revolution if we were to allow our enemies to shoot down, one by one, the whole leading group of our party." (7)
The Bolsheviks newspaper, Krasnaya Gazeta, reported on 1st September, 1918: "We will turn our hearts into steel, which we will temper in the fire of suffering and the blood of fighters for freedom. We will make our hearts cruel, hard, and immovable, so that no mercy will enter them, and so that they will not quiver at the sight of a sea of enemy blood. We will let loose the floodgates of that sea. Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of hundreds. Let them be thousands; let them drown themselves in their own blood. For the blood of Lenin and Uritsky, Zinovief and Volodarski, let there be floods of the blood of the bourgeois - more blood, as much as possible." (8)
The advice of Stalin, who had used these tactics successfully in Tsaritsyn, was accepted and in September, 1918, Felix Dzerzhinsky, head of the Cheka, instigated the Red Terror. It is estimated that in the few months after the attempt on the life of Lenin, over 800 socialists were arrested and shot without trial. A Foreign Office report in February, 1919, claimed: "The political parties which have been most oppressed by the Bolsheviks are the Socialists, Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries. Owing to bribery and corruption - those notorious evils of the old regime which are now multiplied under Bolshevism - capitalists were able to get their money from the banks and their securities from safe deposits, and managed to get away. On the other hand, many members of the Liberal and Socialist parties who have worked all the time for the revolution, have been arrested or shot by the Bolsheviks." (9)
Lenin arrived alone; no one escorted him and no one formed a reception party. When he came out, workers surrounded him for a moment a few paces from his car. It was at this moment Kaplan fired at him, three times, wounding him seriously in the neck and shoulder. There was great anxiety for him: the wound in the neck could have proved extremely serious; for a while it was thought that he was dying. The wounded man's own strength carried him through. Lenin was back on his feet in around ten days.
My name is Fanya Kaplan. I was exiled to Akatoi for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent eleven years at hard labour. After the Revolution I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it.
The War Council of the Northern Caucasian Military Region, having learned about the wicked attempt of capitalist hirelings on the life of the greatest revolutionary, the tested leader and teacher of the proletariat, Comrade Lenin, answer this base attack from ambush with the organization of open and systematic mass terror against the bourgeoisie and its agents.
Bloody Sunday (Answer Commentary)
1905 Russian Revolution (Answer Commentary)
Russia and the First World War (Answer Commentary)
The Life and Death of Rasputin (Answer Commentary)
The Abdication of Tsar Nicholas II (Answer Commentary)
The Provisional Government (Answer Commentary)
The Kornilov Revolt (Answer Commentary)
The Bolsheviks (Answer Commentary)
The Bolshevik Revolution (Answer Commentary)
Classroom Activities by Subject
(1) Fanya Kaplan, statement made to Cheka (30th August, 1918)
(2) Adam B. Ulam, Lenin and the Bolsheviks (1965) page 563
(3) Victor Serge, Year One of the Russian Revolution (1930) page 327
(4) Fanya Kaplan, statement made to Cheka (30th August, 1918)
(5) Tony Brenton, Was Revolution Inevitable?: Turning Points of the Russian Revolution (2016) page 190
(6) Joseph Stalin, telegram to Yakov Sverdlov (September, 1918)
(7) Leon Trotsky, My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography (1971) page 492
(8) Krasnaya Gazeta (1st September, 1918)
(9) Morgan Philips Price, My Three Revolutions (1969) page 136
The Red Terror
The Red Terror was a Bolshevik-ordered campaign of intimidation, arrests, violence and executions. It began in mid-1918 following an assassination attempt on Vladimir Lenin and was carried out chiefly by the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police. The Red Terror was a determined campaign that sought to eliminate opposition, political dissent and threats to Bolshevik power.
Dzerzhinsky and the Cheka
At the helm of this wave of state-sanctioned political violence was the Cheka and its fanatical leader, Felix Dzerzhinsky. Cheka agents targeted any individual or group considered a threat to Bolshevik rule or policies. Among the victims of the Red Terror were tsarists, liberals, non-Bolshevik socialists, members of the clergy, kulaks (affluent peasants), foreigners and political dissidents of all stripes.
Under the auspices of the Red Terror, the size of the Cheka and the extent of their activities increased exponentially.
The true impact of the Red Terror is difficult to quantify. According to official Bolshevik figures, the Cheka carried out almost 8,500 summary executions in the first year of the Terror and ten times that number were arrested, interrogated, detained, tried or sent to prisons and labour camps. The true numbers of extra-legal killings were undoubtedly much higher, possibly approaching six figures.
The origins of terror
Historians have long speculated about the origins and indeed the starting point of the Bolshevik Red Terror. Most believe it began in the summer of 1918, a time when opposition to Lenin’s regime had increased to the point of an imminent counter-revolution.
This growing anti-Bolshevik sentiment had many parents. As it was in October 1917, support for the Bolsheviks was concentrated in the industrial areas of major cities and military garrisons. Beyond those places, Bolshevik support was limited.
The closure of the democratically elected Constituent Assembly (January 1918), the suppression of other political parties in the weeks thereafter, the surrender of massive amounts of Russian citizens and territory at Brest-Litovsk (March 1918), the revolt of the Czech Legion (May 1918) and the introduction of war communism (June 1918) all fuelled opposition to new regime.
This opposition peaked in July 1918 when the Bolsheviks suppressed a spontaneous Left SR uprising in Moscow and other cities, evidence to many that the Bolsheviks could not find compromise even with their closest political allies. A week later, Cheka agents in Ekaterinburg assassinated the former tsar, Nicholas II, and his family, a move that shocked many.
Lenin’s ‘hanging order’
August 1918 was a critical month in the formalisation and expansion of the Terror. Infuriated by the formation of White brigades and resistance and burgeoning uprisings among the peasants, Lenin called for a “ruthless mass terror” and a “merciless smashing” of counter-revolutionary activity.
On August 9th, the Bolshevik leader issued his famous ‘hanging order‘, instructing communists in Penza to execute 100 dissident peasants as a public deterrent.
On August 17th, Petrograd Cheka leader Moisei Uritsky was assassinated by a young cadet officer called Kanegeiser. Uritsky’s murder was a retaliation for the Cheka’s execution of one of Kanegeiser’s own friends.
Attempt on Lenin’s life
A fortnight later, while Lenin was visiting a factory in Moscow, a young woman named Fanya Kaplan stepped forward from the crowd and shot the Bolshevik leader in the chest and shoulder. Lenin received immediate medical care and survived this assassination attempt, though his life hung in the balance for a time.
Kaplan was arrested, interrogated and tortured by the Cheka before being shot. Her motives were revealed in a letter written after the event: “I do not think I succeeded in killing him. If I regret anything, it is only that. He is a traitor to the Revolution. I lay the responsibility for the treacherous peace with Germany and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly at his feet.”
Though it became clear that Kaplan had acted alone, her actions triggered an immediate response against the Left SRs and other groups and individuals suspected of anti-Bolshevik violence or activity.
Terror is widened
In the first days of September, several Bolshevik leaders and Cheka commanders made public statements about the threat of counter-revolution and the necessity of using terror as a necessary tactic.
On September 5th, the Central Committee issued a decree calling on the Cheka “to secure the Soviet Republic from the class enemies by isolating them in concentration camps”. It also ordered that suspected counter-revolutionaries “must be executed by shooting [and] that the names of the executed and the reasons of the execution must be made public.”
Soviet commissar Grigori Petrovski called for an expansion of the Terror and an “immediate end of looseness and tenderness”. In October 1918, CHEKA commander Martin Latsis likened the Red Terror to a class war, explaining that “we are destroying the bourgeoisie as a class”. “For the blood of Lenin and Uritsky”, said a pro-Bolshevik newspaper, “let there be a flood of bourgeois blood, as much as possible”.
Fellow socialists targeted
The first victims of the Red Terror were the Socialist-Revolutionaries, of which Kaplan herself had been associated. Over the next few months, more than 800 SR members were executed, while thousands more were driven into exile or detained in labour camps.
The Terror was soon expanded to include anyone who might pose a threat to the Bolshevik party or its policies: former tsarists, liberals, Mensheviks, members of the Russian Orthodox church, foreigners, anyone who dared to sell food or goods for profit.
Peasants who refused to meet state requisition orders were condemned kulaks – greedy parasitical speculators who hoarded grain and food for profit, while other Russians starved – and were subject to arrest, detention and execution. Later, industrial workers who failed to meet production quotas or dared to strike were also targeted.
The Cheka grows
As the Bolsheviks expanded their definition of who was an enemy of the revolution, they also expanded the Cheka. A small force of just a few hundred men in early 1918, within two years the Cheka was one of the largest Soviet agencies, employing around 200,000 people.
The wanton violence of the Terror soon surpassed the worst excesses of the tsarist Okhrana, the Nardonaya Volya and the terrorism of radical SRs in 1905. As its name suggests, the Red Terror was conducted to intimidate and force ordinary Russians to obedience, as much as it was to eliminate opponents.
The function and methodology of the Terror were left up to the Cheka: anyone could be singled out for persecution, arrest or worse. Often it was individuals who had distant associations with the old regime or those who dared speak publicly against Lenin, the Bolsheviks or their policies. Even bourgeois dress, intemperate jokes or scornful gestures might attract the attention of the CHEKA.
Prison and labour camps
To contain suspected counter-revolutionaries and dissidents, the Bolsheviks revived the katorgas – remote prison and labour camps that were operated by security agencies of the tsarist government – and shipped thousands there.
In time, this network of labour camps would become the notorious gulags used extensively by Stalin in 1930s.
Though official figures were much lower, most historians believe more than 100,000 people were executed during the Red Terror, a figure that does not include casualties caused by the Civil War.
Historians on the Red Terror
Historians have also debated both the nature and the inevitability of the Red Terror. Revisionists and libertarian historians see it as a creature of its time, a frantic and panicked response to the anti-Bolshevik terrorism and opposition that erupted around Russia in the first months of 1918.
Many Western liberal and conservative historians, in contrast, claim that violence and terror were inherent in Bolshevik ideology and methodology. The Bolshevik movement, itself forged in the heat of revolution, could only retain power through violence and intimidation the Bolshevik regime could only impose policy or reform through coercion and class warfare.
Historians of this view believe the seeds of the Red Terror were sown weeks before the anti-Bolshevik violence of mid-1918. When Lenin was shot in August 1918, it only led to the formalisation, expansion and intensification of methods that the Bolsheviks had already used.
A historian’s view:
“Bolshevik terror crept out of European Russia like a biblical pestilence, months before Dzerzhinsky publicly declare ‘We stand for organised terror’ and an official government terror campaign was formalised by the order ‘On Red Terror’ in September 1918. Arbitrary arrests, mass shootings, torture and imprisonment were an integral element of Bolshevik policy long before anti-Bolshevik armies gathered.”
1. The Red Terror was a two-year period of coercion, violence and extra-legal killing by the Bolshevik regime. It was developed and implemented during mid-1918.
2. There were many causes for the Red Terror, including growing opposition to the Bolsheviks leading to the Civil War and the August 1918 assassination attempt on Lenin.
3. Much of the Red Terror was carried out by the notorious Cheka under the leadership of Feliz Dzerzhinsky. The Cheka grew exponentially during this period.
4. The Terror targeted a range of groups including suspected counter-revolutionaries, Whites, tsarists, liberals, clergy and peasants who resisted Bolshevik policies.
5. Historians debate whether the Terror was a Bolshevik response to the increasing opposition of mid-1918 or whether it was inevitable, given the history, ideology and methodology of the Bolshevik movement before it seized power.
History - the Russian Revolution
The Cheka: `The All Russian Extraordinary Commission for Fighting Counter Revolution, Sabotage & Speculation`: A secret police force created in December 1917 & headed by Felix Dzerzhinsky, a Polish intellectual of aristocratic birth who sought to atone for his privileged origins by absolute dedication to the Bolshevik cause: “Our Revolution is in danger. Do not concern yourselves with the forms of revolutionary justice. We have no need for justice now”. Lenin found him the ideal choice to lead the fight against the enemies of the Revolution because Dzerzhinsky never allowed finer feelings or a sense of compassion to deter him from the task of destroying the real or potential opponents of the Bolshevik regime. Essentially a more efficient form of the Okhrana, the Tsar’s secret police, it had Lenin’s full backing & during 1918 spread a network of terror throughout Russia. By the end of the year there were Cheka detachments in all areas under Bolshevik control. It was charged with ensuring the security of the Bolshevik state & removing threats to that state. Its headquarters were in Lubyanka Street in Moscow.
Letter to Dzerzhinsky, December 19, 1917 – Lenin on the Organisation of an Extraordinary Commission to fight Counter-Revolution
In connection with your report today dealing with the struggle against sabotage and counter-revolution, is it not possible to issue the following decree:
STRUGGLE AGAINST COUNTER-REVOLUTION AND SABOTAGE
The bourgeoisie, landholders, and all wealthy classes are making desperate efforts to undermine the revolution which is aiming to safeguard the interests of the toiling and exploited masses. The bourgeoisie is having recourse to the vilest crimes, bribing society's lowest elements and supplying liquor to these outcasts with the purpose of bringing on pogroms. The partisans of the bourgeoisie, especially the higher officials, bank clerks, etc., are sabotaging and organising strikes in order to block the government's efforts to reconstruct the state on a socialistic basis. Sabotage has spread even to the food-supply organisations and millions of people are threatened with famine. Special measures must be taken to fight counter-revolution and sabotage. Taking these factors into consideration the Soviet of People's Commissars decrees: . . . .
Decree of the Sovnarkom, December 20, 1917 – Establishment of the Extraordinary Commission to fight Counter-Revolution
The Commission is to be named the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission and is to be attached to the Soviet of People's Commissars. [This commission] is to make war on counter-revolution and sabotage . The duties of the Commission will be:
To persecute and break up all acts of counter-revolution and sabotage all over Russia, no matter what their origin.
To bring before the Revolutionary Tribunal all counter-revolutionaries and saboteurs and to work out a plan for fighting them.
To make preliminary investigation only - enough to break up [the counter-revolutionary act]. The Commission is to be divided into sections:
(a) the information [section],
(b) the organisational section (in charge of organising the fight against counter-revolution all over Russia) with branches, and
(c) the fighting section.
The Commission will be formed tomorrow. The Commission is to watch the press, saboteurs, strikers, and the Right Social-Revolutionaries. Measures [to be taken against these counter-revolutionaries are] confiscation, confinement, deprivation of [food] cards, publication of the names of the enemies of the people, etc.
D. Ferriby & J. McCabe, Modern World History for AQA, 2001
Lenin announced an immediate end to the war, and peace talks with the Germans began in December 1917. He also issued a land decree, which handed the land to the peasants. These measures made the Bolsheviks popular throughout Russia in the days following the revolution. However, he also set up the Cheka, a secret police force.
Domestic `clampdown` on civil rights
During the Civil War, the communist regime took increasingly repressive measures against its domestic opponents. The constitution of 1918 deprived members of the former "exploiting classes" (nobles, priests, & capitalists) of civil rights.
Death of the Tsar
In July 1918 a local Cheka detachment were involved in the execution of the ex-tsar Nicholas and his family at Ekaterinburg. The summary shooting of the Romanovs without benefit of trial was typical of the manner in which the Cheka went about its business throughout Russia.
Assassination attempt on Lenin
In August 1918 a disgruntled Socialist Revolutionary named Fanya Kaplan shot Lenin three times at point blank range while he was getting into a car in Moscow. Although the bullets entered his neck, Lenin survived & recovered within weeks. All that Fanya Kaplan achieved by shooting Lenin was to convince the Bolsheviks that ruthless methods were needed to deal with their `White` enemies. A week after the shooting, Sovnarkom ordered the Cheka to begin the `Red Terror` - i.e. weeding out enemies of the communist cause.
The `Red Terror`
In 1918 there were a number of outrages by Social Revolutionary activists. In July 1918 they assassinated the German Ambassador, there were risings in many towns & terrorists even captured the telephone exchange in Moscow. A month later there had been the attempt on Lenin’s life. Using these events as an excuse the Cheka killed not only SRs & their sympathisers but former army officers, prosperous farmers, priests, lawyers, doctors & members of pre-Revolutionary governments. There was an official belief that there were counter-revolutionary organisations all over Russia & the Cheka was defending the revolution.
The Cheka operated outside any notions of justice. It arrested & sometimes shot arbitrarily anyone who was considered dangerous. It was enough to look like a ‘bourgeois element’ operatives were told to search out the enemy class, by finding out their education, profession, & origins. The Cheka killed people not for what they had done, but for what they were (or what their parents’ were). Both `Reds` & `Whites` murdered & executed without trial large numbers of suspected enemies. The Party also took measures to ensure greater discipline among its members by tightening its organisation & creating specialised administrative organs.
Lenin in an address to the Cheka, 1918
When I study the activities of the Cheka, and…hear the numerous criticisms that are made against it, I say that all that is the talk of the petit bourgeois…It is very likely that undesirable outside elements have penetrated the Cheka. We shall drive them out through self-criticism. The important thing to us, however, is the fact that the Cheka is putting into effect the dictatorship of the Proletariat…Outside of force and violence there is no way to suppress the exploiters of the masses. This is the business of the Cheka and in this lies its service to the proletariat.
Marc Mikhailovich Wolff, Jewish lawyer, interviewed in exile in the 1980s
The Special Extraordinary Commission against counter-Revolution also made its entry into Yalta…People came to the Commissariat to find out why one of their relations had been arrested…If the arrested person was not discovered either in the militia or the Commandant’s office, then the only place he could be was the Special Extraordinary Commission, and it was no good sending the applicant there in person. I was therefore given the task of getting in contact with the Commission personally…and seeing whether something could be done. I must confess that this contact with the Commission was an unpleasant task but if it resulted in proving to them, by some decree or regulation, that the arrested person came under the jurisdiction of the militia and must be transferred to militia headquarters, then it was well worth it.
In the first six months of its existence, from December 1917 to June 1918, it had shot only 22 people identified as enemies of the state. By the end of 1918, 6,000 `counter-revolutionaries` had been shot. In the cellars of the Lubyanka, Cheka agents tortured prisoners to extract confessions before executing them. Cheka units in the countryside hanged, beat, shot & burned anyone who helped the Whites or fought for them. Before long the name of the Cheka aroused fear even among loyal Bolsheviks. The Whites, launched an even more vicious terror campaign of their own in reprisal, & public hangings carried out by both sides were a common sight during the Civil War.
The Cheka, in these early days, was not as ruthlessly efficient as it became later. In January 1919, Lenin was held up by bandits on his way to work & robbed of his car & possessions!
Article in Bolshevik `Red Sword`, 18 August 1919
Ours is a new morality. Our humanism is absolute, for it has as its basis the desire for the abolition of all oppression and tyranny. To us everything is permitted, for we are the first in the world to raise the sword, not for the purpose of enslavement and oppression but in the name of liberty and emancipation from slavery. We do not wage war against individuals. We seek to destroy the bourgeoisie as a class.
Declaration of Kronstadt Mutineers, March 1921
The power of the police passed into the hands of the Communist usurpers, who, instead of giving the people freedom, instilled into them the constant fear of falling into the torture chambers of the Cheka, which in their horrors far exceed the gendarme administration of the Tsarist regime…
The glorious emblem of the workers’ state – the hammer and sickle – has in fact been replaced by the communist authorities with the bayonet and the barred window, for the sake of maintaining the calm and carefree life of the new bureaucracy…In this sea of blood the communists are drowning all the great and glowing pledges and watchwords of the workers’ revolution…The interests of the people are alien to it (i.e. the Party).
The Times, 1924, shortly after Lenin’s death
This extraordinary figure was first and foremost a professional revolutionary. He had no other occupation. A man of iron will and inflexible ambition, he was absolutely ruthless and used human beings for his purpose.
It would be wrong to assume that all Bolsheviks approved of the Cheka’s savage methods, but the circumstances of war prevented those who were concerned from attempting to limit the power of the organisation. In 1922 the Cheka became the GPU - the Terror of the revolutionary period was almost over by this time.
Q: For what reasons was the Cheka set up in December 1917?
Q: What does the setting up of the Cheka suggest about the Bolshevik Party’s support at this time?
Q: What was the result of the assassination attempt on Lenin by Fanya Kaplan in August 1918?
Q: What was the impact of the Red Terror on the Bolshevik Party?
It is quite clear that the Bolshevik period 1917-1924 was not democratic once the Bolsheviks had taken power they had no intention of sharing it. This attitude was maintained despite the demands for a socialist coalition from the other socialist parties they assumed that, since all socialist parties had the same ultimate aim, it was desirable to present a united front & proposed a coalition government.
Lenin had made it clear before 1917 that he believed a Marxist revolution would not survive unless it crushed its enemies. “Coercion is necessary for the transition from capitalism to socialism.” He believed that the enemies of Marxism would resist the revolution & went on to say “there is no contradiction between Soviet democracy and the exercise of dictatorial powers.” Some historians believe that terror as a method of control is inherent in Marxism-Leninism, which insists that it the only ‘correct’ ideology.
It is argued that, given the scale of the problems the Bolsheviks had to deal with made the Terror necessary (& possibly justifiable). The war made Terror necessary no regime in the situation the Bolsheviks found themselves in 1917 to 1921 could have survived without repression. It could be said that the Provisional Government failed to survive because it was reluctant to take firm steps against its enemies.
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Fanya Yefimovna Kaplan (1883&ndashSeptember 3, 1918), a.k.a. Fanny Kaplan (born Dora Kaplan), was a political revolutionary and an attempted assassin of Vladimir Lenin.
Kaplan was born into a Jewish peasant family, one of seven children. She became a political revolutionary at an early age and joined a socialist group, the Socialist Revolutionaries. In 1906, Kaplan participated in an attempted assassination of a government official. The plot failed and Kaplan was arrested and sentenced to life of katorga works in Akatui, Siberia. She was released when the February Revolution overthrew the imperial government. As a result of her imprisonment, Kaplan suffered from continuous headaches and periods of blindness.
Kaplan became disillusioned with Lenin as a result of the conflict between the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Bolshevik party. The Bolsheviks had strong support in the soviets, which Lenin had argued in his 1917 tract "The State and Revolution" were the only legitimate avenue of post-revolutionary government however, in elections to a competing body, the Constituent Assembly, the Bolsheviks failed to win a majority in the November 1917 elections and a Socialist Revolutionary was elected President in January 1918. The Bolsheviks, favoring soviets, ordered the Constituent Assembly to be dissolved. Over the next few months conflicts between the Bolsheviks and their political opponents led to the banning of all parties except the Bolsheviks. Kaplan decided to assassinate Lenin.
On August 30, 1918, Lenin was speaking at a Moscow factory. As Lenin left the building and before he entered his car, Kaplan called out to him. When Lenin turned towards her, she fired three shots. One passed through Lenin's coat, the other two hit him in the left shoulder and left lung.
Lenin was taken back to his living quarters at the Kremlin. He feared there might be other plotters planning to kill him and refused to leave the security of the Kremlin to seek medical attention. Doctors were brought in to treat him but were unable to remove the bullets outside of a hospital. But despite the severity of his injuries, Lenin survived. However, Lenin's health never fully recovered from the attack and it is believed the shooting contributed to the strokes that incapacitated and later killed him.
Kaplan was taken into custody and interrogated by the Cheka. She made the following statement: My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot at Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent eleven years at hard labour. After the Revolution I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it. When it became clear that Kaplan would not implicate other political opponents of Lenin, she was shot on September 3.
99 years ago: Fanny Kaplan tried to assassinate Vladimir Lenin
M.G.Sokolov. "Attempt on Vladimir Lenin's life, Aug. 30, 1918", Vladimir Lenin's Central Museum.
On Aug.30, 1918 the leader of the 1917 Revolution Vladimir Lenin spoke at the Hammer and Sickle, a factory in Moscow. Afterwards, when he was going to his car three shots were fired at him. Lenin was seriously wounded. One bullet passed through his coat, the other two struck him. One woman was spotted who was behaving rather oddly in the crowd. When she was captured, someone shouted that she was the shooter. It was a 28-year-old Fanny Kaplan, a member of the Socialist Revolutionaries (SR).
She was taken into custody and made the following statement:
&ldquoMy name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say from whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent 11 years in hard labor. After the Revolution, I was freed. I favored the Constituent Assembly and am still for it.&rdquo
Despite his injuries, Lenin survived. On Sept. 3, Kaplan was executed.
Read more: Was British spy Somerset Maugham sent to kill Lenin?
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Fanya Kaplan - History
Fanya Kaplan was a poor peasant girl born in Tsarist Russia on February 10,1890. She never went to school what education she received she got at home. Her four brothers and two sisters lived the same peasant life.
And she soon learned to hate her life and the Tsarist officials who treated them like the Russian dirt beneath their feet.
In her teens she became involved in radical politics, joining the Socialist Revolutionary Party and in 1906 she took part in a plot to kill a Tsarist official in Kiev.
She was arrested by the secret police and sentenced to life at hard labor in Siberia.
She spent the next eleven years in Akatoi Prison in Siberia until the abdication of Nicholas II in March 1917. Beatings at the prison left her with seriously impaired vision.
After the abdication the new Provisional Government announced it would introduce a Constituent Assembly. Elections were due to take place on 17th September but problems caused by the need to prepare electoral lists resulted in them being postponed until November. The hopes of self-government unleashed by the fall of Tsarism were centered on the Constituent Assembly, a democratic parliament to draw up a democratic constitution.
Lenin and his followers, of course, jumped on that bandwagon, posing not merely as advocates of the parliament but as its only true friends. What if the voting went against them? They piously pledged themselves to abide by the popular mandate. Pravda claimed: “As a democratic government we cannot disregard the decision of the people, even if we do not agree with it. If the peasants follow the Social Revolutionaries farther, even if they give that party a majority in the Constituent Assembly, we shall say: so be it.”
Despite the prevailing disorders and confusion, thirty-six million cast their secret ballots in parts of the country normal enough to hold elections. In most of the large centers of population, the voting was conducted under Bolshevik auspices. Yet twenty-seven of the thirty-six million votes went to other parties. A total of 703 candidates were elected to the Constituent Assembly in November, 1917. This included Socialist Revolutionaries (299), Bolsheviks (168), Mensheviks (18) and Constitutional Democratic Party (17).
The Russian people, in the freest election in modern history, voted in the majority for moderate socialism and against the Bolsheviks and the bourgeoisie.
Fanya was thrilled. Her years of suffering had not been for naught.
And then Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power at the barrel of a gun and closed down the duly elected Constituent Assembly. “All power to the Soviets” made the elected parliament meaningless.
Fanya Kaplan was enraged. She had been a revolutionary all her life fighting for an elected parliament and constitution and spent eleven years in prison. Her party had been victorious in the elections and now was closed out of power.
She decided to kill Lenin.
On August30,1918 after giving a speech in Moscow Fanya Kaplan fired three shots at Lenin as he was entering his car. Two struck him in the neck and shoulder.
Lenin was driven back to the Kremlin by his chauffeur, and just had the strength to walk upstairs in silence to the second floor: then he fell in pain. There was great anxiety for him: the wound in the neck could have proved extremely serious for a while it was thought that he was dying.
Fanya was shortly captured by the Cheka. In a statement she confessed to trying to kill Lenin.
“My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot at Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent 11 years at hard labour. After the Revolution, I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it.”
Fanya Kaplan was executed by Pavel Malkov, a Baltic Fleet sailor, on 3rd September, 1918. He was given instructions that she was not to be buried: “her remains are to be destroyed so that not a trace remains.”
In addition to the attempted assassination of Lenin, the chief of the Petrograd secret police, Moisei Uritzky had been killed.
Trotsky bluntly noted later “The Socialist-Revolutionaries had killed Uritzky, had wounded Lenin seriously, and had made two attempts to blow up my train. We could not treat this lightly. Although we did not regard it from the idealistic point of view of our enemies, we appreciated the role of the individual in history. We could not close our eyes to the danger that threatened the revolution if we were to allow our enemies to shoot down, one by one, the whole leading group of our party.”
in September, 1918, Felix Dzerzhinsky, head of the Cheka, instigated the Red Terror. It is estimated that in the next few months 800 socialists were arrested and shot without trial. In the first year the official figure, almost certainly an underestimate, suggested 6,300 people were executed without trial.
The revolution was effectively over. The Tsarist dictatorship had been replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Within four years those same Baltic Fleet sailors who supported Lenin and executed Fanya Kaplan would be in open rebellion against the Bolsheviks and would be crushed by Trotsky’s Red Army at Kronstadt.
As for Lenin, the bullets could not be safely removed and he would carry them for the rest of his life. His health was never the same and within 6 years he was dead.
September 3rd, 2009 Headsman
On this date in 1918, a 28-year-old Jewish revolutionary was shot in Moscow for attempting to murder Vladimir Lenin.
Fanya (“Fanny”) Kaplan had actually drawn a life sentence for trying the same trick on a tsarist official 12 years before, so you couldn’t say she was a reactionary element.
No, she was a member of the peasant-based Socialist Revolutionary Party, the SRs — the Bolsheviks’ onetime coalition partners who had splintered into left and right factions, the latter being shut out of power when the Constituent Assembly was closed.
A peasant herself, Kaplan was incensed at the Bolshevik power grab and shot Lenin twice at close range as he left a factory on August 30.
Taken immediately, Kaplan clammed up in interrogation.
My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot at Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatoi for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent eleven years at hard labour. After the Revolution I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it.
Realizing there was no information to be had from her, the Cheka had her executed four days after her crime — an affair organized by Yakov Sverdlov, the same guy who had recently disposed of the tsar.
On the same day Kaplan took her shots at Lenin, Bolshevik Moisei Uritsky was (successfully) assassinated. The two murders helped justify the Red Terror officially initiated on September 2 — which saw thousands of politically-motivated arrests and executions as the Bolsheviks consolidated their hold on power.
YouTube hosts a great many dreadful student dramatizations of historical events, but this one of Fanya Kaplan by Georgia Tech students is remarkably watchable.
Kaplan, Fanya (1883–1918)
Russian revolutionary. Name variations: Fanny Kaplan. Born 1883 into a Jewish peasant family shot and killed, Sept 3, 1918.
Joined the Socialist Revolutionaries having participated in attempted assassination of a tsarist official in Kiev (1906), was arrested and sentenced to life at hard labor in Siberia during February Revolution, was released (1917) furious when Lenin closed down the Constituent Assembly, shot and wounded him (left shoulder and left lung) at close range (Aug 30, 1918) was shot by Pavel Malkov on orders of Yakov Sverdlov her act contributed to the launching of the Red Terror.
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Kaplanın adı ilə bağlı ziddiyyətli fikirlər mövcuddur. Qadın katorqasında adlı xatirələrində Vera Fiqner onu Feyqa Haimovna Roytblat-Kaplan deyə adlandırır. Digər mənbələrdə soyadının Roytman olduğu qeyd olunur. Ona bəzən "Dora" da deyirdilər. 
Kaplan yeddi uşaqlı yəhudi ailəsində böyüyüb boya-başa çatmışdır. O, hələ erkən yaşlarından siyasi inqilabçı olmuş, sosialist qrup olan Sosialist İnqilabçılar Partiyasına qoşulmuşdu. 1906-cı ildə 16 yaşında ikən Kaplan terror hadisəsində iştirakına görə Kiyevdə tutuldu və ömürlük katorqaya (ağır zəhmətli həbsxana düşərgəsi) məhkum edildi. O, Sibirdə Nerçinsk katorqasının Maltsev və Akatuy həbsxanalarında olmuş və burada görmə qabiliyyətini itirmişdi (daha sonra qismən bərpa olundu). Maltsevs həbsxanasında saxlanılarkən burada intizam tənbehi cəzası olaraq çılpaq bədənini qamçılamışdılar.  O dövrdə siyasi məhbuslara tamamilə çılpaq bədənə cəza tətbiq edilməsi adi bir hal deyildi. Fevral inqilabı imperiya hökumətini devirdikdən sonra Fanya 3 mart 1917-ci ildə sərbəst buraxıldı. Həbs olunması nəticəsində Kaplan sonralar da davamlı baş ağrılarından və periodik olaraq korluqdan əziyyət çəkirdi.
Sosialist İnqilabçılar və Bolşeviklər arasındakı qarşıdurma nəticəsində Kaplanın Leninə olan ümidləri puç olur.  Bolşeviklər sovetdə güclü dəstək əldə edirlər lakin 1917-ci ilin noyabrında Müəssislər Məclisinə keçirilən seçkilərdə Bolşeviklər üstünlük əldə edə bilmirlər. Sovetlərə üstünlük verən Bolşeviklər Müəssislər Məclisinin ləğv edilməsini əmr edirlər. 1918-ci ilin avqust ayına qədər Bolşeviklər və onların siyasi rəqibləri arasındakı qarşıdurmalar digər nüfuzlu partiyaların da qadağan edilməsinə səbəb oldu. Onlardan biri də bir müddət Bolşeviklərin əsas koalisiya tərəfdaşı olmuş, lakin Brest-Litovsk sülh müqaviləsinə qarşı olduqları üçün iyulda Sol SR qiyamı təşkil etmiş Sol Sosialist İnqilabçılar idi. Kaplan Leninin inqilaba xəyanət etdiyini düşündüyündən ona qarşı sui-qəsd təşkil etmək qərarına gəlmişdi. 
30 avqust 1918-ci ildə Lenin Moskvanın cənubundakı Mixelson silah fabrikində çıxış edirdi.  Lenin binadan çıxıb maşına minməzdən əvvəl Kaplan ona səslənir. Lenin ona tərəf dönəndə Kaplan Browning tapançası ilə üç dəfə atəş açır.  Güllənin biri Leninin paltosuna tuş gəlir, digər ikisi isə yaralayır: biri boynundan keçərək ağciyərinin sol hissəsini dağıdır və sağ körpücük sümüyünün yanında dayanır. Digər güllə isə sol çiynini yaralayır.  
Lenini Kremldəki yaşayış evinə aparırlar. Onu öldürməyi planlaşdıran digər sui-qəsdçilərin ola biləcəyindən qorxan Lenin təhlükəsiz olan Kremli tərk etmək istəmir və ona məhz burada tibbi yardım göstərirlər. Həkimlər Kremlə gəlsələr də, gülləni yalnız xəstəxanada çıxara biləcəklərini bildirirlər. Ağır yaralanmış olsa da, Lenin qurtulur. Bununla belə, Leninin səhhəti artıq əvvəlki kimi deyildi və bir daha tam bərpa olunmur. Deyilənlərə görə,  1924-cü ildə Leninin ölümündə bu sui-qəsdin nəticələri böyük rol oynamışdır.
Sui-qəsd cəhdinin rəsmi açıqlamasında Kaplan sağ eser (Sağ SR) elan edilmişdi. Şimal regionunda daxili işlər üzrə xalq komissarı və Petroqradda Çekanın rəhbəri Moisey Uritski Leninə hücumdan təxminən iki həftə əvvəl sui-qəsdə məruz qalmışdı. Çeka iki hadisəni əlaqələndirən heç bir dəlil tapmasa da, onların birləşməsi şiddətlənən vətəndaş müharibəsinin ümumi kontekstində əhəmiyyətli görünürdü. Bolşeviklər öz rəqiblərini kəskin şəkildə təqib etməyə başlamışdılar.
Qırmızı terror haqqında rəsmi qərar Kaplanın güllələnməsindən cəmi bir neçə saat sonra verilmişdi. Qərar hər kəsi inqilabın düşmənlərinə qarşı mübarizəyə çağırırdı. Bir neçə ay ərzində təxminən 800 sağ eser və bolşeviklərin digər siyasi rəqibləri edam olunmuşdu. Birinci il ərzində Qırmızı terrorun əhatə dairəsi əhəmiyyətli dərəcədə genişlənmişdi.
Təqsirkarlıq məsələsi Redaktə
Arkadi Vaksberq və Donald Reyfild kimi bəzi tarixçilər sui-qəsd cəhdində Kaplanın rolunu şübhə altına alırlar.  Vaksberq qeyd edir ki, təqsirkar digər bir SR — Lidiya Konoplevadır. O inanırdı ki, Leninin, şəxsiyyəti milli qəhrəman stereotipindən olduqca uzaq bir qadın tərəfindən təşkil edilən sui-qəsddən ucu-ucuna xilas olması çox təsəlliverici hal olardı.  Xüsusilə də bildirilirdi ki, o, başqaları adından hərəkət etmiş və tutulduqdan sonra da bütün məsuliyyəti öz üzərinə götürmüşdü. Bu və digər versiyalarda irəli sürülən əsas arqument onun görmə qabiliyyətinin olduqca zəif olması idi. Digər bir arqument rəsmi Sovet hesabatı (həmin hesabata görə hadisəyə şahidlik etmiş qəzəbli işçilər dərhal Kaplanı ələ keçirirlər) və rəsmi sənədlər (xüsusən də, bir neçə şübhəlinin tutulduğunu iddia edən Yakov Petersin radioqramı) arasındakı ziddiyyətə işarə edir.
Kaplan sui-qəsdin ardınca tutulur və Çeka tərəfindən dindirilir. O, aşağıdakı kimi ifadə verir:
Kaplanın heç bir sui-qəsd iştirakçısının adını çəkməyəcəyi məlum olduqda 3 sentyabr 1918-ci ildə Aleksandr bağında başının arxasına vurulan güllə ilə öldürülür. Cəsədi çəlləyə qoyularaq yandırılır. Sərəncam, cəmi altı həftə əvvəl çarın və ailəsinin edam edilməsini əmr edən Yakov Sverdlov tərəfindən verilir.
Hadisə 1983-cü ildə Reilly, Ace of Spies adlı Britaniya televiziya verilişində əks etdirilmişdir. Venedikt Yerofeyevin Fanni Kaplan və Yelena İsayevanın Öldür məni, sevgilim dram əsərlərində, həmçinin Vilyam T. Volmanın Mərkəzi Avropa kitabında Kaplanın obrazı yaradılmışdır.
Fanya Kaplan - History
The Constituent Assembly is dissolved by the Bolsheviks in favor of the Soviets and a bitter Fanya Kaplan shoots Lenin on August 30, 1918 as he leaves a factory and succeeds. The Cheka question her, but all she says is:
My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot at Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent eleven years at hard labour. After the Revolution I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it.
Lenin struggles for breath in the Kremlin and eventually dies the same day.
Poland is looking for independence, the Russian Revolution is about to become the Russian Civil War.
Alis Volat Propriis Tiocfaidh ár lá Proletarier Aller Länder, Vereinigt Euch!
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First off, the obvious excecution of Fanya Kaplan by Cheka after several days of intense questioning and torture.
Chaos ensues among the Soviets. A faction war between high ranking officials of the Revolution, Tsarist loyals, peasant populations, and German pressure destroys the Russian economy. The Soviets, fighting amongst themselves, are overtaken by the Tsarists in Kiev and several key Baltic cities. Moscow becomes an early example of 1992 Sarajavo as the civilian population flees.
In the long run, two official states are established. Baltic Russia is present day Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia with fortress cities from St. Petersburg to Murmansk. Although controlled by the Tsar loyalists, the nation is considerably weak and communist insurgents control the countryside within 200km kilometers of the border with the Soviet Union. Red Scare advocats in Western Europe and the United States provide supplies to the people. Capital is established at Minsk.
The Soviet Union is impoverished but soverign. Stalin has control from the border of Baltic Russia to the Volga. Most resources are used in the army, creating a situation similar to that of present day North Korea. There are no efforts whatsoever to move into Asia as every single person's efforts are toward the destruction of the Tsarists. Capital is established at Moscow.
Poland becomes independent and democratic. White Russia cannot keep control because the entire military is at the front, and Germany is still in economic shambles after WW1.
Within 15 years, the Soviet Union takes Minsk. Unfortunately Hitler is now in power. The Soviet Union is slow to revive the problems of the civil war, and it is destroyed by the Germans in WW2.