Obituary: Marie-Christine Mikhaïlo (1916-2004)

One of the leading lights of contemporary anarchism, Marie-Christine Mikhaïlo Soederhjelm died in Lausanne on 8 November 2004 in her home in Beaumont. She was 88 years of age.

Marie-Christine was born in 1916 in what was then a Russian Grand Duchy (later, Finland) at the time of the Russian revolution. She grew up there and then spent her adolescent years in Lausanne, Switzerland, in that house in Beaumont. On her return to Finland she married a young diplomat with whom she was to have five children during the war years.

In 1948, by which time she had divorced, she returned to Lausanne and to that Beaumont house where she was to run a student guest-house up until the 1970s. In 1954 she discovered anarchism thanks to an Italian conscientious objector who had fled to Switzerland - Pietro Ferrua. She never looked back again. For almost half a century she was to be the driving force behind the CIRA which she set up and maintained along with her daughter Marianne Enckell, after Ferrua had been expelled from Switzerland.

For anybody who met her there the CIRA meant Marie-Christine. Thanks to her presence, her culture and her human warmth, her smile and her kindness, Marie-Christine made the CIRA always a lively and a welcoming place. By making part of her home available to it, in a way she offered us the library that has become a sort of family room for the anarchists who have dropped in in their hundreds and who come and go to this day.

Marie-Christine has left us with memories of an ideal lived to the full and of a day to day existence consonant with her beliefs. In addition to the CIRA, Marie-Christine was a longtime member of Amnesty International which she regarded as a useful avenue for the denunciation of injustices at the hands of the powerful everywhere.

Marie-Christine may have left us now but her personality has left a deep impression upon us all and will forever remain a source of inspiration in our lives.

Ismaël and Cédric.