Memoirs of a Revolutionist

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Narodnaya Volya finally succeeded on March 13, The tsar was in St. Petersburg when a bomb was thrown at the carriage in which he was riding near the Winter Palace. Alexander got out of the carriage to check on the condition of an injured bystander.

When he approached the man who had thrown the bomb, a second terrorist threw a bomb that severely injured the tsar, who died a few hours later. Peter Kropotkin describes the scene in the excerpt from Memoirs of a Revolutionist that follows. The person of the Liberator of the serfs was surrounded by an aureole, which protected him infinitely better than the swarms of police officials.

If Alexander II had shown at this juncture the least desire to improve the state of affairs in Russia; if he had only called in one or two of those men with whom he had collaborated during the reform period, and had ordered them to make an inquiry into the conditions of the country, or merely of the peasantry; if he had shown any intention of limiting the powers of the secret police , his steps would have been hailed with enthusiasm.

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Then and then only, a handful of revolutionists—the Executive Committee—supported, I must say, by the growing discontent in the educated classes, and even in the Tsar's immediate surroundings, declared that war against absolutism which, after several attempts, ended in in the death of Alexander II. It is known how it happened. A bomb was thrown under his iron-clad carriage, to stop it. Several Circassians of the escort were wounded. Then, although the coachman of the Tsar earnestly advised him not to get out, saying that he could drive him still in the slightly damaged carriage, he insisted upon alighting.

They both lived but a few hours. There Alexander II lay upon the snow, profusely bleeding, abandoned by every one of his followers! All had disappeared. It was cadets, returning from the parade, who lifted the suffering Tsar from the snow and put him in a sledge, covering his shivering body with a cadet mantle and his bare head with a cadet cap.

Human nature is full of contrasts. Narodnaya Volya was formed in , and the members of its executive committee included some of the leading anarchist revolutionaries in Russia. Its program called for creation of a parliament and the drafting of a constitution; universal voting rights; freedom of the press , speech, and assembly; local self-government; a volunteer army; redistribution of land to the people; and self-determination for oppressed peoples. Further, many of Russia's intellectuals and members of the higher classes, led by Alexander, wanted to forge a more modern Russia by adopting the liberal reforms of western Europe.

In the years that followed, Alexander initiated further reforms. In , he reformed the judiciary, making it an independent branch of government and abolishing secret trials and corporal punishment.

That year, too, he created the zemstvo system, granting autonomy and some measure of democracy to local government. Alexander advocated a free press, and he restructured the military, requiring military service of all social classes, not just of the lower classes. In this more liberal climate, numerous anarchist, populist, and revolutionary groups began to flex their muscles.

MEMOIRS OF A REVOLUTIONIST

Many of these groups believed that the only way to reform Russian society was through violence and terrorism, including the assassination of top government officials. Alexander himself survived a number of assassination attempts.


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On April 4, , an attempt on his life was made in St. Petersburg ; on April 20, , the tsar fled on foot as a would-be assassin fired five shots at him; in December , the anarchist group Narodnaya Volya People's Will tried unsuccessfully to bomb the tsar's train; on February 5, , the same group detonated a bomb beneath the tsar's dining room at the Winter Palace, but he survived because he was late arriving to dinner. In response to these attempts on his life and to the spread of anarchist and revolutionary doctrines, Alexander adopted more repressive policies in the later years of his reign.

Narodnaya Volya finally succeeded on March 13, The tsar was in St. Petersburg when a bomb was thrown at the carriage in which he was riding near the Winter Palace.


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  4. Alexander got out of the carriage to check on the condition of an injured bystander. When he approached the man who had thrown the bomb, a second terrorist threw a bomb that severely injured the tsar, who died a few hours later. Peter Kropotkin describes the scene in the excerpt from Memoirs of a Revolutionist that follows.

    The person of the Liberator of the serfs was surrounded by an aureole, which protected him infinitely better than the swarms of police officials. If Alexander II had shown at this juncture the least desire to improve the state of affairs in Russia; if he had only called in one or two of those men with whom he had collaborated during the reform period, and had ordered them to make an inquiry into the conditions of the country, or merely of the peasantry; if he had shown any intention of limiting the powers of the secret police , his steps would have been hailed with enthusiasm.

    Then and then only, a handful of revolutionists—the Executive Committee—supported, I must say, by the growing discontent in the educated classes, and even in the Tsar's immediate surroundings, declared that war against absolutism which, after several attempts, ended in in the death of Alexander II. Elements of what would become Kropotkin's Memoirs of a Revolutionist were first published in The Atlantic Monthly between and in English, the same year it received its first publication from Houghton Mifflin with an introduction by Georg Brandes.

    Later editions of this original release include those edited and introduced by James Allen Rodgers Doubleday , and Nicolas Walter Dover Publications , Both use endnotes to address Kropotkin's subsequent Russian-language additions in the translation of his Memoirs.

    Memoirs of a Revolutionist - Peter Kropotkin, Georg Brandes - Google книги

    After its initial release, Kropotkin continued to revise his Memoirs with Russian-language additions in a translation of the English release. These were published in multiple editions between and The canonical Soviet Academia edition derived from Kropotkin's Russian manuscript and became the basis for Soviet reprints.

    A reviewer of the English editions in The Slavonic and East European Review remarked that the memoirs remained readable and interesting in the present day.