Andrey Nikiforovich Andreyev defends Marusya Nikiforova

Dear Comrade A. T. Tvardovsky,

I am writing to you, as the editor-in-chief of the journal “Novy Mir”, to object to the reminiscences of Stepan Rakshi “Turbayevtsi”, edited by E. Gerasimova and published in Nos. 11 and 12 for 1959.

Reading these “notes”, I was dumbfounded: how could you allow into print such offensive falsehoods about some of the people mentioned? Is it really necessary in materials intended to provide an accurate depiction of historical events to malign high-principled people?

On page 81, No. 11, is written: “Maruska Nikiforova… in the guise of Red Terror organized Jewish pogroms”; on page 84 we read: “What a dogs’ wedding! For a single bitch how many curs were running around the steppe!”

Marusya Nikiforova lies in the ground, executed by the Whites in Sevastopol in 1919 and is unable to respond to shameless detractors. In Sevastopol I saw a monument with the names of fallen fighters for freedom and among them was the name of Marusya Nikiforova!

I knew Marusya Nikiforova, and must say that her external appearance, as depicted by the co-authors, does not correspond to reality, and her internal aspect – even less!

Let me introduce some documentary data concerning the biography of Marusya Nikiforova:

1. According to the bill of indictment in connection with the escape in the night of July 1, 1909, from Novinsky Women’s Prison in Moscow, 13 political prisoners were involved, among them Marusya Nikiforova, earlier sentenced to 20 years as hard labour. (Central Archive of the RSFSR, fond 38, op. 1, d. 790, 1909 g.)

2. The authoritative testimony of commander-in-chief V. A. Antonov-Ovseyenko from his book “Notes about the Civil War”. Vol. II. (Moscow, 1924).

    “It was clarified that Muravyov himself was dispatched to the aid of Belenkovich and an echelon of anarchists under the command of Marusya Nikiforova.” (p. 58)
    “At Khirovki Station, where an attack of haidamaks [elite Ukranian nationalist soldiers] was repulsed, Marusya Nikiforova’s detachment particularly distinguished itself… she had some brave boys.” (p. 66)
    “Belenkovich, following Muravyov’s directions, proposed that she head for the front. She carried out the order.” (p. 67)
    “Marusya Nikiforova took part in the attack on Dolginino and Apostolovo in combination with other detachments…” (p. 68)
    “Marusya’s detachment has lately displayed great valour on the Southern Front and, unlike some others, went to Taganrog with the permission of the General Staff for replenishment.” (p. 231)
    Commander-in-Chief Antonov noted that “M. Nikiforova’s detachment displayed revolutionary fortitude in the brutal fighting on the German front” and characterized it as a “fighting detachment”.

I shall not dwell any further on the front activities of Marusya Nikiforova; I leave this to Antonov-Ovseyenko.

As for the co-authors of “Turbayevtsi”, they should either bare their heads before the partisan heroine known as “Marusya Nikiforova”, or their scribblings should be sent for review to the Union of Writers. Don’t tamper with the past, comrades!

May 9, 1960

Andrey Nikiforovich Andreyev

From: (recently published by Dmitry Rublyov). Translated by: Malcolm Archibald.