Gregori Petrovich Maximoff was born on November 10, 1893, in the Russian village of Mitushino in the province of Smolensk. After completing his elementary education he was sent by his father to the theological seminary in Vladmir to study for the priesthood. Though he finished the course there, he realized that he was not fitted for that vocation, and went to St. Petersburg, where he entered the Agricultural Academy, graduating as an agronomist in 1915.
At a very early age he became acquainted with the revolutionary movement. He was tireless in his quest for new spiritual and social values, and during his college years he studied the programs and methods of all revolutionary parties in Russia, until he came across some writings of Kropotkin and Stepniak, in which he found confirmation of many of his own ideas which he had worked out by himself. And his spiritual evolution was further advanced when, later on, he discovered in a private library in the Russian interior two works of Bakunin which impressed him deeply. Of all the libertarian thinkers it was Bakunin who appealed most strongly to Maximoff, who was to remain under his spell for the rest of his life. Maximoff took part in the secret propaganda among the students in St. Petersburg and the peasants in the rural regions, and when finally the long awaited revolution broke out, he established contacts with the labor unions, serving in their shop councils and speaking at their meetings. It was a period of boundless hope for him and his comrades--which, however, was shattered not long after the Bolsheviks seized control of the Russian government. He joined the Red Army to fight against the counter-revolution, but when the new masters of Russia used the Army for police work and for the disarming of the people, Maximoff refused to obey orders of that kind and was condemned to death. He owed it to the solidarity and dynamic protests of the steel worker's union that his life was spared.