Moscow: Co-operative publ. soc. of foreign workers in the USSR, 1932.
32 pp. In original illustrated publisher’s wrappers. Minor stain on outer edge of pages throughout copy, spine slightly rubbed, otherwise very good and clean.
First English edition. Scarce. Translated by the schoolteacher and socialist William Wheeldon (1893-1937) from the original Russian Vosstaniye na bronenostse ‘Potemkin’ [late 1920- early 1930s].
A vivid example of the Soviet propaganda directed towards foreign population of the USSR in the early 1930s. Both the author of the book, Semen Kanatchikov, and the translator, William Wheeldon, became the victims of the Soviet repressions and were executed during the great purge five years after the book was published.
The Revolt on the Armoured ‘Cruiser Potemkin’, was issued by the Co-operative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the U.S.S.R. in 1932. The publishing house was entrusted with distributing ideological, Marxist-Leninist, educational, fiction, and reference literature among foreign workers, specialists, and students in the Soviet Union. The Co-operative was founded in 1931 and existed until 1963, when it was reorganized into Progress and Mir[i.e. The World] publishing houses. Among the books printed by the Co-operative were: The Soviet Law on Marriage (1932), The World Crisis and the War Danger (1931) by N. Rudolf,Imperialist War against the Toiling Masses, the Toiling Masses against Imperialist War(1933) by K. Zetkin, The Architect of Socialist Society (1934) by K. Radek, etc. The present edition represents one of the first books issued by the publishing house.
The original Russian text of Vosstaniye na bronenostse ‘Potemkin’ was written by the Bolshevik activist Semen Kanatchikov (1879-1937) in the late 1920s - early 1930s. Following the October revolution, the author was involved in the educational and literary activity. In the late 1920s, Kanatchikov served the role of the editor of Krasnaya Nov’ [i.e. Red Virgin Soil] and Proletarskaya revolyutsiya [i.e. Proletarian Revolution] magazines. One of the organizers of the Communist University of Ya. M. Sverdlov, Semen was arrested and executed in 1937. From April 1938, he was included in the list of persons whose works were subject to unconditional withdrawal from libraries, making The Revolt on the Armoured ‘Cruiser Potemkin’ a rare survival of the time.
The text was translated by another victim of the Great Purge William Marshall Wheeldon. Will, who opposed WWI, joined the No Conscription Fellowship in 1915 and was charged with ‘wilfully obstructing police officers in the execution of their duty’ and sentenced to a month’s imprisonment. Unable to get work as a schoolteacher at the end of the war, in 1921 William left the USA and went to the Soviet Union with the Friends’ Emergency and War Relief Service working with them on famine relief in Buzuluk until 1923. In December 1929, Wheeldon was recruited as a translator by the Executive Committee of the Communist International (Comintern). On 5 October 1937, William was convicted of espionage and membership of a subversive group and sentenced to execution by firing squad on Christmas Day of 1937.
The book tells the story of the famous revolt on the armoured cruiser Potemkin. On 14 June 1905, the sailors refused to eat the borscht made from rotten meat partially infested with maggots. The uprising was triggered when Ippolit Giliarovsky, the ship’s second in command, allegedly threatened to shoot crew members for their refusal. The mutineers killed seven of the Potemkin’s eighteen officers, including Captain Evgeny Golikov, and headed to the port of Odessa, where they were joined by the supporting crowd. After the confrontation with the Tsarist troops that resulted in over 2,000 casualties, Potemkin set out to sea. On June 25th, the sailors, unable to receive the needed water and coal, surrendered to the Romanian authorities, who handed the ship over to Russian naval officers. Most of the mutineers were either sent to the forced labor camps or executed. The revolt, although unsuccessful, came to be viewed as a first step towards the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Overall, a rare survival of the time.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Yale University Library, Florida Atlantic University, University of California, Davis, and Stanford University.