Letter about the Fate of Vladimir Barmash

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Vladimir Barmash was one of the most prominent Russian anarchists, but his fate has remained murky – until this month. According to most published accounts, Barmash was sentenced in 1938 to five years in the Gulag, and that was the last heard of him.

Sergei Ovsiannikov made a formal request for information about Barmash’s fate in his NKVD file and received the attached response. So we now know that Barmash was shot on September 29, 1937.

Commenting on the charge of “extolling the former tsarist regime among prisoners and slandering the Soviet government and collective farmers,” Ovsiannikov notes that such an accusation was brought in cases where a person said something like “even under the tsar, this was not the case,” or “now in such and such a case it is worse than under the tsar,” etc.

Anatoly Dubovik adds that slandering collective farms could take the form of a remark like “in 1861 the peasants were liberated, serfdom was abolished, and now it has been restored in the form of collective farms.”

Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.