Trouble in Moscow [1918] correction

February 2024

Trouble in Moscow: From the life of the “Liesma” [“Flame”] Group‘ In KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 55-56, October 2008 [Double issue] written by ‘R’ was attributed to Janis Birze. Sergei Ovsiannikov has pointed out that Birze did not live in Moscow in 1917-1918. The actual author is unknown. 

Ovsiannikov said ‘The Liesma group included Oskar Rugin and Alvina Runs, who were arrested on April 12, 1918 in Moscow. It is possible that one of them wrote this note in the journal.’ He also provided these details of the life of Birze:

Most likely, J. Birze, aka Remus, was not the organizer and member of the Moscow Latvian group of a.-k. “Liesma” in 1917. According to his questionnaire submitted to VOPIS on August 22, 1926, since 1916 he lived in the village of Bunbuy, Shitkinsky district, Kansky district.

Birze Yan Andreevich (party pseudonym: Remus) (1884, Ledemansky volost, Riga district, Livonia province - 10/20/1938, Novosibirsk)

From peasant farm laborers. Secondary education, graduated from a 5-grade city school. He worked as a shepherd. Since 1905, a member of the Riga group of the LSDLP, since 1906 - an activist of the Latvian group of anarchist-communists “Pats - vards un darbs!”. Organizer of anarchist combat groups in Riga, in charge of a weapons warehouse. Arrested in October 1907. In 1908, the Riga Provisional Military Court sentenced him to 6 years of hard labor for possession of weapons. He served in the Riga (1908-1910) and Pskov centrals. From 1913 he was in exile in Balturin, Vydrinsk volost, Kansk district, Yenisei province. Since 1916 he has been working in consumer cooperation in the Nevan volost. Released in March 1917. Works as a clerk in the Consumer Society of the village. Bunbuy Kansky district. Since 1918 – member of the board and accountant of the Credit Society. During the Civil War he maintained contacts with the partisans. At the end of the 1920s he moved to Novosibirsk, a trade unionist. Candidate member of the CPSU(b). Member of VOPIS in 1927-1935. Head hairdressing salon No. 1. Arrested on 06/04/1938 on charges of involvement in a counter-revolutionary sabotage and rebel terrorist organization. By a resolution of the NKVD troika for the Novosibirsk region dated October 17, 1938, he was sentenced to capital punishment. Shot on October 20, 1938.