anarchy archives

An Online Research Center on the History and Theory of Anarchism



About Us

Contact Us

Other Links

Critics Corner


The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
  Emma Goldman
  Peter Kropotkin
  Errico Malatesta
  Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
  Max Stirner
  Murray Bookchin
  Noam Chomsky
  Bright but Lesser Lights
  Cold Off The Presses
  Anarchist History
  Worldwide Movements
  First International
  Paris Commune
  Haymarket Massacre
  Spanish Civil War
This manuscript is part of the International Institute for Social History's Alexander Berkman archive and appears in Anarchy Archives with IISH's permission.

Berkman to Fitzie, Oct 2nd, 1921

                                Moscow, Oct. 2nd, 1921

  Dear, dear Fitzie:

      Yesterday was just two years since I stepped out of that cold Stone House in Atlanta, the house of misery and struggle, perhaps more intense than my Pennsylvania days. Still is with me the memory of that nightmare the effects of which, both physical and mental, will likely disappear only with life itself. .....But not of that did I want to speak today. This is the second anniversary of my first day at liberty, and how well I remember that bright Georgia morning when I awoke with tthe early sunrise and felt my heart filled with its light and joy!. I was palpitating with yearning for my friends at home, and literally counting the minutes till I should be with you, dear. Then, at last, all the difficulties of transferring my bail, and so on, were overcome, and I came --- but I came a sick man.....

      No, it is not of that, either, I mean to write. I got up this morning with an almost painful desire to talk to you, and with so much to say to you. But there were callers, things to attend to, etc., and now it is past noon -- the sky has turned grey, a heavy rain is falling, and it is chilly in the room. The clouds lie heavy on my spirit.

      So, let us talk of other things. I know you and Stella will be glad to learn that we have at last received the four packages sent to us last December. It took rather a considerable time to get them, but all is well that ends well. One of those boxes, my food package, I had received some time ago, and wrote you about it then. Several days ago we got the other three packages. Of course, there was rejoicing, not only among ourselves, but also among all our friends, all of whom had as anxiously hoped for the ultimate receipt of the things. Thank you much, you dear girls, for the joy you brought to all of your friends, known and unknown to you. And by the way, you may inform Senya Fleshin's sister Riva (in Cleveland) that about three weeks ago he received his food box; the other one, containing clothing, has also arrived. I am to get it for Senya tomorrow, I shall either forward it to his Petrograd, or he may come here soon for a visit, and get it himself. He also received the package sent long ago through the Riga friend, and one that came via Sweden, I believe. And, indeed, it was a fine thing for Senya to get those thigns, especially the foodstuffs. He had been critically ill for a long time, had undergone a number of operations, and he was sorely in need of strenghtening food. Now he is quite well again.

      Of our other friends that you, Polya, St., etc know, there are only a few left in Petrograd or Moscow. Most of them are gone to different parts of the country. Postal communication is slow and uncertain, so that one loses track of his friends. Here in Moscow there are still Ether, Dora and Perkus, Vassily and Manya Semenoff. All are physically more or less well, and working. Of Ethel I especially want to tell you that she has developed wonderfully. Her young man will surely be happy to know that E. has grown into a very fine and beautiful young woman. She is a very rare character.

      Vassily, Bessie's friend, is working in the circus in Petrograd. A very fine boy, and clever at his work. He has also taken up the study of X-ray treatment and, I understand, is very proficient in it. Novikoff is lately in Petrograd. Also Bianki, Ordovasky, and some others.

      There is a bunch of Americans here, correspondents and others. Think of it, the other day who should blow in upon us but Eads How! Same old well-meaning nonentity. I must say that I have but little use for all this crowd of "observers", who make a flying trip to this country, see little and understand less, and then rush into print with their superficial impressions and half-baked opinions. And I don't care whether they write

--- 2 ---  

so-called "favorably" or "unfavorably". It has no real worth in either case. Indeed, it is mostly detrimental from the only correct viewpoint, that of historic verify and ultimate enlightment. The Russian Revolution, in all its varied aspects since 1917, is an event of such tremendous world-wide importance, that only the most thorough study and impartial exposition can do it even approximate justic. For good or for evil, it will most intensely influence the whole future progress of mankind. Which way, will in great measure depend upon the correct statement of the facts involved, and the understanding and objectively truthful interpretation of them. None of those that have so far written about this country have had the necessary understanding, historic preparation, the opportunity of studying the various phases of the Revolution, and -above all- the rarest of gifts: that peculiar psychologic balance, so to speak, which enables one to be highly sensitive to the pulse of the moment and at the same time preserves his objective judgement unclouded, uninfluenced by personal feelings, interest, prejudice, favoritism, or partisanship.

      Well, I guess this poor world will have to be patient a while yet, till the person of those indicated qualities will be in a position to write the real history of this great human struggle. Confidentially I am free to tell you, of course, ("too free", you may laugh) that I fear me much that the thing won't be done right till ---I do it myself. Well there, as you see I haven't lost any of my old virtues.

      I have before me your letter of the 11th of April, which reached me only a few weeks ago. Bessie did not arrive so far, and I am really glad of it. It is to be hoped she gave up the idea. I wonder how matters stand in regard to the boys and Mollie. Are they to come? Of course, Ethel is anxiously waiting for one of them, but for their sake it would be better to remain where they are. The two pair of glasses you sent me were recieved in good order, and were much needed by me. Thanks, dear. -- I did not know that both the Jewish and the Engl. were under the ban, as you inform me in the letter of April 11th. That is tough luck, and you must have involved yourself in much debt on account of it. I am not at all happy with the knowledge that you must pay out of your own very likely none too princely earnings. I wonder if there is a market for them in England or in some other places. But I suppose you have already considered that side of the matter. May be after a while I shall be able to do something in this regard.

      Of the famine conditions I wrote to you before; even if you did not recieve that letter, you must have read enough about this in the press. The whole Volga district, comprising a population of over 30 million, is literally facing death by starvation. Only immediate aid on the largest scale possible can be of real service. The work has already been initiated; American etc. representitives are here, and have started the first trains for the afflicted districts.

      Tell Polya, Stella, Teddy, that I am often thinking of them, though I can't write to them. And kiss little Ian for me. He looks a brave little man on the pictures St. sent lately. Remember me to H.W., Hilda and Sam, and all other friends. As to you, dear girl, need I repeat that all that I said in my last note from Ellis stands good? It seems too me such a natural and inevitable truth, that words are too pale to express it.

           Affectionately, [Signature]

P.S. Do not write any more to the former address (Foreign Office), as it delays delivery. Rather address mail as follows:
[Unreadable Russian]
Address is to be written exactly as above, in Russian. Ordinary letters, sent by post, are most likely to reach.

This page has been accessed by visitors outside of Pitzer College times since September 21, 2001.


[Home]               [Search]               [About Us]               [Contact Us]               [Other Links]               [Critics Corner]