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Posts Tagged ‘Leonid Kannegisser

“The law of unintended consequences pushes us ceaselessly through the years, permitting no pause for perspective”*…

Caricature of Alexander Helphand. 1920

Catherine Merridale with the cautionary tale of of a Ukrainian millionaire businessman, lauded for his business acumen, who made an enormous contribution to the twentieth-century’s dark history of violence – he was instrumental in supporting Lenin’s return to Russia to foment revolution…

Who has not dreamed, this year at least, of watching Putin’s fall from power? Who has not hoped to see the day the Russians get to organise and push him out themselves? And which spy team, in thinking that, has not looked for some Russian they might sponsor for that job, some active oppositionist who has coherent plans?

If any spy is reading this, I have a message now. The whole trick has been tried before, and it did not go well. A century ago, indeed, in the midst of another deadlocked war, the German Foreign Service backed a whole string of assorted anti-Tsarist nationalists, Marxists, adventurers, and crooks. The most successful of these was Lenin (a warning in itself, of course). But the most colourful was another Bolshevik, a millionaire businessman and bon viveur called Alexander Helphand. Both mastermind and sad buffoon — well-read, unscrupulous, and vastly fat — this man helped shape his century. He died forgotten all the same, his many fortunes spent. To picture him — he deserves that — imagine Orson Welles

The remarkable tale: “Alexander Helphand — impresario of revolutionary disaster who smoothed Lenin’s return to Russia.”

* Richard Schickel

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As we tread with care, we might recall that it was on this date in 1918 that Moisei Uritsky was assassinated. A Bolshevik leader and head of the Cheka (the first in the string of Soviet secret police organizations), he was shot by a military cadet, Leonid Kannegisser (who was executed soon after).

Uritsky’s death, followed closely (on August 30) by an attempt on Lenin by Fanny Kaplan, led the Bolsheviks to begin a wave of repression and persecution known as the Red Terror.

Moisei Uritsky

source

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