Georges Levezan, a Rumanian Student in the International Anarchist Movement

Born in Bacau in 1867 (other sources say in 1869) into a well-to-do family, Georges Levezan (aka Gheorge Livezean) arrived in Paris in 1887 to study mathematics. There he founded the International Anarchist Students’ Group and wrote a Manifesto to Students the World Over. 10,000 copies of this were printed and were distributed alongside La Révolte, the Paris-based anarchist publication run by Jean Grave. 

Besides being a contributor to La Révolte, Levezan was also close to the group back in Focşani in Rumania that was publishing the anarcho-communist paper Răzvrătirea (Rebellion). At the beginning of 1889, en route to Rumania to visit his family, he was arrested on the Swiss-Austrian border. In his luggage the police discovered various issues of Le Revolté, the paper that Peter Kropotkin published in Switzerland and of La Révolte. He was however released since the Austrian authorities learnt that Levezan was the son of a Rumanian parliamentary deputy.  

He was arrested again, in France on the eve of a demonstration to mark May Day 1890. Levezan was accused of “incitement to revolt” and “socialist propaganda” for having published that student manifesto and on 28 May 1890 he was issued with an order for his expulsion from France. In a letter published in La Révolte (14 June 1890), Levezan recounted his expulsion:

On the Monday we left the jail by carriage handcuffed in twos. I was with comrade Consorti. When we reached the Gare du Nord we were brought down from the carriage to be taken to the prison carriage. No sooner had the doors closed behind us than the cuffs were taken off us and we were escorted to our cells. We could scarcely move. We were left like that from the Monday evening to the Wednesday morning! On the Wednesday morning we disembarked from the train and, cuffed together in pairs once again, we crossed the city to the Tourcoing gendarmerie post, where we spent three and a half hours. Cuffed again and escorted by a gendarme and a brigadier, we were brought to the Belgian border. There, we were handed over to some Belgian gendarmes who then questioned us [in a wineshop]. The Belgians among us were allowed to stay in Belgium but the “foreigners” were sent back to France. Since neither country wanted us, we were to have remained in the neutral zone, assuming that the gendarmes would allow us to remain there. The solution to the problem was devised by the Belgian gendarmes themselves: try to re-enter Belgium by a different route, the obvious risk being capture by different gendarmes. And so, that afternoon, the gendarmes picked up their rifles and escorted us part of the way to the border before telling us solemnly: “France is over yonder and that is where you should head back to”; and then they headed back to the wine-shop. We, on the other hand, took a different route in order to reach Moucron and from there we caught the train to Brussels, arriving there that evening.” 

In the end Levezan made it to Geneva in Switzerland. His name appeared in a list of anarchists drawn up by the railway police in charge of “border surveillance”. In Geneva he took part in various anarchist rallies and demonstrations and worked for a time as a mathematics teacher.

In the summer of 1891, with some other anarchists, he tried to take part in the Brussels Socialist Congress. But the anarchist delegates were prevented from participating in the congress which was dominated by social democrats and in the end they were expelled from Belgium by the police. The incident was reported in the last edition of Răzvrătirea. In January 1893 his name featured in a list of correspondents with anarchist newspapers that was compiled by the French police. In 1897, Levezan, by then back in Rumania, forwarded to Max Nettlau a number of corrections to be made to the Bibliography of Anarchy that that libertarian historian had published in Brussels. In fact, the book contained a chapter on anarchist publications in contemporary Rumania. After that, Levezan dropped out of sight for a long time before popping up in Paris again in 1935. In the interim, he had managed to acquire French nationality and seems to have been making a living by working for a range of French publications. Nevertheless, the final years of his life were spent in poverty; having lost his home, he lived in increasingly difficult circumstances with Carmen Mathieu, a Parisian artist who was to take her own life in 1935 by jumping into the Seine. Levezan was to be questioned by the authorities in connection with her death and would afterwards be arrested for vagrancy. How and where Georges Levezan died we do not know; there is every likelihood that he stayed on in France until the end of his days.

Adrian Tătăran

Bollettino Archivio G. Pinelli, No 61, 2023

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.