1. Name in full: Abram Moiseevitch Feldman.
2. Place and date of birth: Bessarabia. March 10, 1884.
3. Age: 41 years of age.
4. Political affiliation: Anarchist.
5. Since when: Since 1905.
6. If political affiliation has changed, state when, how often, and how: Till 1905 was a Socialist-Revolutionist. Joined Anarchist movement in Kiev, in 1905.
7. Persecution before 1917: a) What kind b) How often arrested c) What punishment incurred (prison or exile, state where and how long): Arrested three times in 1906, and in 1907 sentenced to death for participation in the mutiny of the Forty-first Selidinski regiment, in 1905, in Kiev. Death sentence commuted to katorga (hard labor) for 15 years. After 4 years in Irkutsk, I escaped, finally reaching America. Returned to Russia in June, 1917, and went to Bessarabia.
8. Persecution since 1917: a) How often arrested b) When and where c) How was arrest carried out (hour of the day, by whose order, was order shown): Since October 1917, I was arrested repeatedly (imprisonment being of short duration) for Anarchist propaganda. Particularly in Odessa I was arrested many times, together with other Anarchists. At no time were any charges made against me, my protests receiving the reply from Tchekists, “You’re an Anarchist—that is enough.”
In October, 1920. I was arrested in Moscow at an Anarchist lecture. There was no charge made, and after a while I was released.
After that I was arrested repeatedly by the Tcheka in Moscow—taken at home, on the street, in the Anarchist club, sometimes by day, often at night. At no time was there any order for these arrests, except that now and then there was a general order of the Tcheka to arrest all Anarchists. I was generally kept several weeks in prison, but sometimes even months.
The last time I was arrested in Moscow in the spring of 1921, in the Anarchist club, at night, on a general order of the All-Russian Tcheka for arrest of Anarchists. No charge was made against me. In the Vetcheka (All-Russian Tcheka) they threatened me with shooting. Then the Vetcheka sentenced me—without any hearing—to be kept in prison till “the close of the civil war.” Later the Vetcheka again sentenced me — also without a hearing—to 3 years prison. That sentence was not carried out because of the hunger-strike declared (together with other Anarchists) in the Taganka Prison (Moscow) in July, 1921, which finally resulted in our deportation from Russia.
9. How long in prison till first examination or hearing, and where imprisoned: Only once—of all these arrests—I was called for something like a “hearing” by the Tcheka Magistrate in the Butirky prison (Moscow). But I refused to hold any conversation with the Tchekist executioner. This took place several weeks after my arrest and after a 9-day hunger-strike for the purpose of having a charge brought against me.
10. Was any charge brought (when and what kind; verbal or in writing): At no time was there any charge made against me, either orally or in writing. The only answer I generally received was: “Feldman, you are an Anarchist. That’s why you were arrested.”
11. How long in prison between arrest and sentence, or release: As mentioned in my reply to question 8, I was sentenced after my last arrest (1921) to 3 years’ prison as an Anarchist, after several months of imprisonment.
12. In what prison: I was kept in various prisons in Moscow—in the special (“inner”) Tcheka prison, in Butirky and Taganka. The last time, I was in Taganka prison.
13. Conditions of prison life (feeding, accommodation, treatment, any protests individual or collective — obstruction, etc. Give details): Conditions in the prisons were bad : dampness, in the winter, cold. The prisons were either not heated at all or insufficiently, with the exception of the “Special Tcheka Prison”.
The feeding was bad.
The treatment of the politicals, myself included, on the part of the Tchekists was coarse and brutal. The prison guards and soldiers behaved toward us as they used to under the old regime.
I myself resorted to repeated protests, thus:
a) In the special Tcheka prison, in October, 1920. In reply to my protest, the Tchekist Dukis entered my cell with a revolver and threatened to shoot me. My cries attracted the attention of other politicals, and the protest became a collective one, finally culminating in a 9-day hunger strike. As a result of the latter we were transferred to the Butirky Prison.
b) In the spring of 1922—after the arrest at night in the club (see reply No. 8) I declared a hunger-strike as a protest, on the 6th day of which I resorted to “obstruction” demolishing the furniture, windows, etc.
I was bound hand and foot and transferred to the Taganka Prison, where I continued the hunger-strike for an additional 7 days, demanding my liberation.
On the 13th day of hunger-strike, almost unconscious (a doctor was stationed in my cell), I was taken to the prison hospital where I was forcibly fed by means of milk injections.
c) Later, from July 4-14, 1921, I participated in the Anarchist hunger-strike in Tanganka Prison (the 10-day collective hunger-strike of the 13 Anarchists). That hunger-strike terminated in the scandal at the Congress of Red Trade Unions (Moscow) 1921, and the deportation of 10 Anarchists abroad. (See Part IV Ed. [also see A Grand Cause : The Hunger Strike and the Deportation of Anarchists From Soviet Russia, KSL])
After that hunger-strike, we were still kept 2 months in prison (till Sept. 17), constantly aggravated by the administration, in the hope of provoking us into some action that would offer an excuse to break their promise of deportation.
14. Did you have a trial a) When, where, by what court. b) By judges or by jury: Never had any hearing or trial (See 8, 9, 10 and 11).
15. a) Were you permitted counsel b) Was defense counsel chosen by you or given by the authorities: See 8, 9, 10, 11, and 14.
16. Is there any record of the proceedings: See above. If the Vetcheka had made any “protocols”, the latter were without my signature.
17. What was your sentence: See 8 and 11.
18. a) If no trial, by whom were you sentenced b) Verbally or in writing c) On what grounds: See 8 and 11. The sentence of the Vetcheka was brought to me in written form in the Taganka. It read : “For 3 years prison as an Anarchist”.
I declined to recognize or sign that sentence because it was pronounced without my presence and without trial.
19. Conditions of imprisonment (or exile) after sentence a) Where and how long in each place b) Give details of protests, individual or collective, hunger-strikes, obstructions, etc: See No. 13.
20. If deported abroad, state under what conditions, time, place: In addition to No. 13. Upon my release from Taganka (Sept. 17, 1921) the Bolshevik authorities in every way sought to postpone and nullify the promised deportation abroad of myself and the other 9 comrades.
In the Petrograd Hotel where we were lodged awaiting deportation, I was arrested on some pretext, but soon freed and finally deported (Jan. 5, 1922). On that occasion I was deprived of the receipt given me by a watchmaker (where my silver watch with gold chain was in repairs)—the gift of a comrade. In spite of the promise of the Tcheka, they never returned to me either the receipt or the watch.
21. If escaped, state (if possible), how and when
22. Further remarks: Remark to No. 13. During my hunger-strike and “obstruction” in the special (“inner”) Tcheka prison, I was held together with Tikhon Kashirin, Borodin Seliakow, Ivan Yelisev, and Lydia Surkova. On that occasion Kashirin was cruelly beaten—on the sixth day of the hunger-strike — and transferred to Butirky Prison.
Date, City: Berlin, Jan. 7th 1925
(Signature): ABRAHAM FELDMAN
From: Letters from Russian prisons (1925) p.288-290.