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Alexander Berkman

AKA Ovsei Osipovich Berkman

Born: 21-Nov-1870
Birthplace: Kaunas, Lithuania
Died: 28-Jun-1936
Location of death: Nice, France
Cause of death: Suicide

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Anarchist

Nationality: Russia
Executive summary: A.B.C. of Anarchism

Born in Kaunas, Lithuania, Alexander Berkman was expelled from high school in Russia, purportedly after turning in a subversive essay for a writing assignment. He came to America when he was in his late teens, and briefly ran an ice cream parlor in Worcester, Massachusetts. On 22 July 1892, infuriated by industrialist Henry Clay Frick's hiring of thugs and killers to break a strike, Berkman burst into Frick's office in Pittsburgh and shot him, then stabbed him. Frick was not seriously injured, and Berkman spent his next 14 years in prison. Upon his release he traveled America advocating anarchism (suffering continual police harassment) and published the anarchist journal The Blast. He was frequently suspected of planting bombs, and publicly disavowed such tactics but was never shy about eulogizing anarchist acquaintances who were killed in the process of constructing explosives. In 1917, Berkman and his lover Emma Goldman were sentenced to two years in prison for advocating against the military draft.

During their imprisonment the government concocted evidence that Berkman was a spy for the German government, and soon after their release from prison in 1919, Berkman and Goldman were declared undesirable aliens by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and deported to Russia. Frick died of syphilis as Berkman was preparing for his exile, and reporters quoted his response: "Just say [Frick] was deported by God." After arriving in Russia, Berkman and Goldman grew disgusted with the authoritarian Bolshevik regime, and fled the country. They traveled and wrote in Sweden and Germany, before settling in France. There Berkman, suffering from kidney disease, mortally wounded himself with a revolver on 27 June 1936, and died the next day.

Girlfriend: Emma Goldman (open affair, 1889-1936)

    Expelled from School
    Assault 22-Jul-1892
    Shot: Self-Inflicted 27-Jun-1936
    Jewish Ancestry
    Lithuanian Ancestry

Author of books:
Prison Memoirs of An Anarchist (1912)
Anarchism on Trial (1917, with Emma Goldman)
The Bolshevik Myth (1925)
Letters from Russian Prisons (1925)
A.B.C. of Anarchism (1942, posthumous)
Nowhere at Home: Letters from Exile of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. (1975, posthumous; with Emma Goldman)


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