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Alexander Berkman
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Anarchist
    (November 21, 1870-June 28, 1936)
    Born in Vilnius, Lithuania
    Birth name was Ovsei Osipovich Berkman
    Emigrated to the US (1888)
    Lover/collaborator/lifelong friend of fellow anarchist Emma Goldman
    Unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate industrialist Henry Clay Frick (July 23, 1892)
    Served 14 years (1892-1906)
    Founded the anarchist journal 'The Blast' (1915)
    Served two years for violating the Espionage Act by encouraging people to resist the draft (1917-19)
    Deported to Russia (1919)
    Wrote 'Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist' (1912), 'The Bolshevik Myth' (1925) and 'Now and After: The ABCs of Communist Anarchism' (1929)
    He expected the assassination of Frick would motivate the working classes to unite and revolt against capitalism.
    Instead, the unsuccessful attempt created sympathy for the previously reviled Frick.
    When he was 37, he had an affair with 15 year old anarchist Becky Edelsohn.
    He and Goldman were described by J. Edgar Hoover as 'Beyond doubt, two of the most dangerous anarchists in this country.'
    When he first heard of the Communist uprising in Russia, he exclaimed 'This is the happiest day of my life.'
    He called the Bolsheviks 'the expression of the most fundamental longing of the human soul.'
    He was expelled from school for 'precocious godlessness, dangerous tendencies and insubordination' after writing an atheistic essay.
    During his trial for violating the Espionage Act, he asked 'Are you going to suppress free speech and liberty in this country, and still pretend that you love liberty so much that you will fight for it five thousand miles away?'
    He spent seven months of his sentence in solitary confinement for protesting the beating of other inmates.
    At a farewell banquet before he was exiled to Russia, he was told that Henry Clay Frick had died of a heart attack, prompting his observation that Frick had been 'deported by God.'
    He became disillusioned with the Soviet Union following the violent suppression of a workers' strike in St. Petersburg (1921).
    H.L. Mencken called him 'a transparently honest man... a shrewder and braver spirit than had been seen in public among us since the Civil War.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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