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Maria Aleksandrovna Spiridonova

Maria Spiridonova, USSR Revolutionary.

Background

  • Spiridonova, Maria was born on October 28, 1884 in Tambov into a wealthy family.

  • Career

    • As a teenager, involved in revolutionary activity. Close to the SRs. Aged 19, according to revolutionary sources shot the tsarist general Luzhenovskii, who was in charge of quelling peasant uprisings during the 1905 Revolution. After the assassination, allegedly beaten up and raped by the general’s Cossack guards.

      According to other sources, shot her lover in a jealous fit. Sentenced to death for the murder, commuted to life exile in Siberia. The case was widely used in revolutionary propaganda (by Lenin, among others) as an example of tsarist cruelty.

      Spent her years of exile in Nerchinsk. Released immediately after the February Revolution 1917, and returned to Petrograd. Became one of the leaders of the left-wing SRs.

      After the BrestLitovsk Peace Treaty, one of the organizers of the anti-Bolshevik uprising in Moscow, July 1918. Initially very successful (the Cheka founder, Feliks Dzerzhinskii was taken prisoner, but soon released as a fellow revolutionary), the uprising was eventually crushed by Latvian Cheka detachments. Officially given a very lenient sentence: one year in prison.

      In reality, was never free again, moving from one concentration-camp or prison to another, and living in exile under close secretpolice supervision. In contrast to the publicity surrounding her before the revolution, her fate under communist rule was kept secret. In 1941, an inmate of the notorious Orel prison and shortly before the arrival of the German army, shot by NKVD guards (together with the other inmates.

      This was the standard practice of the NKVD in ‘cleaning’ up prisons before retreating). The Sixth of July, a film about her as a leader of the July 1918 antiBolshevik uprising, directed by Iurii Karasik in 1968 (Mosfilm) and starring Alla Demidova, makes no mention of her tragic end.
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    Born October 28, 1884
    Died 1941
    (aged 56)
    Nationality