miércoles, 16 de abril de 2014

"Poor deluded fanatic": sobre Vera Figner en The Northern Star (03/071929)

Curioso perfil periodístico sobre Vera Figner en el periódico The Northern Star del 3 de Julio de 1929 a raíz de la publicación de "Memorias de una Revolucionaria". The Northern Star es un diario local australiano fundado en 1876 y digitalizado por la Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program (ANDP), un proyecto de la National Library of Australia. 

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Career of Vera Figner


Never has there been a more fatal miscarriage of revolutionary vengeance than the murder of Czar Alexander II* He, alone of all the Romanoffs, had laboured honestly for his country's weal; on the very, morning of his assassination he had signed a decree granting a liberal constitution to his people. By this act of violence, the Nihilists threw Russia back into the clutches of reaction, thus making.inevitable the horrors of Bolshevism (-writes Graham brooks in "John o' London's Weekly").

Amongst the select band—known as the "Executive Committee of the Will of the People"—who planned this tragedy was Vera Figner. For two years she managed to evade the police and continue her Terrorist activities she herself admits proposing a similar fate should be meted out to the new Czar—but in Februaiy, 18S3, she was betrayed by a confederate and Alex ander HI was enabled to exclaim, "Thank God, that terrible woman has been arrested."


Sentence of death was passed, out subsequently commuted to penal servitude for life, and, after twenty years in the fortress of Schlusselburg, Vera Figner was released by order cf Nicholas* II. Now, at seventy-six, she gives in "Memoirs of a Revolutionist," a full account of her activities as a Nihilist and of her sufferings as a prisoner.

There is much that is repellent jn these pages. Not one word of regret for the bloody work in which she was engaged: Not one sign of human sympathy for the victims; even when, by mistake, the wrong train is blown up and innocent people suffer the fate intended for another, she merely remarks: "This was a mishap, but the act in itsr/f produced an immense impression in Russia. ** The Czar's murder was "a triumph," and "our success was intoxicating." Yet, despite all this candid glorying in butchery, despite her pri<[e in her own share, there is something underlying this strange woman's character which awakens sympathy.


Born in 1852 in Kazan, Vera Figner was the daughter of a prosperous nobleman and-was reared in an atmosphere of luxury. At 18 she married a young lawyer, whoi* she soon persuaded to resign his position as ex amining magistrate in order that they might study medicine abroad. At the University of Zurich, Vera joined a students' secret society, left her husband, and dedicated her life to the revolutionary cause. On returning(to Russia she obtained a post as assistant physician in Samara, with the object of spreading the revolutionary gospel amongst the peasants of the 12 villages under her management.

The authorities soap, became suspicious. Vera was forced to seek similar employment elsewhere, and from then on used false passports. Meanwhile she had joined the Land and Freedom Society. In. 1879 that society was rent into two factions; those' who wished to achieve their Ideals by peaceful methods, and those who believed only in violence. To these latter, the Terrorists, Vera be longed. They seceded, formed them' selves into the "Executive Committee of the Will of the People," and immediately commenced planning the assassination of the Czar.


It was finally decided to attempt his life on his return fromvthe Crimea at three points on the railway—Odessa, Kharkov and Moscow; and, in case these all failed, to arrange aai explosion in the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg:— '1 Since I did not; chance to be one of the people assigned to the organisation of the attempts to which I had given - my approval, and-since the thought was unendurable to me that I should bear only a moral responsibility, and not take a part in an act for which the law threatened my comrades, I made every , effort to persuade the organisation to grant me some active part in its projects.". So the desired "concession" was made, and Vera journeyed to Odessa with dynamite.

At Odessa she took a , still more active part, but the mines failed to explode, and at the other two points the Czar-also escaped,, though others were killed. The attempt at . the Winter Palace resulted.in the slaughter or mutilation of fifty, unhappy soldiers, leaving the Czar unhurt. Whilst awaiting a further-opportunity: "I knew that at certain hours the Czar was accustomed to drive to the. Tsarskoye Selo station, and so I tvalked along that course and actually bore the Emperor. I wanted to see, if only for once in my life, the man whose existence was of such fatal significance to our party."


Having satisfied this morbid whim, she set about fresh plans. A houst was rented, in a street along which the Czar sometimes pas'sed on Sundays, and opened as a cheese shop. From the cellar of this house a tunnel was dug beneath the street. Vera herself assisting in the excavation. In this tunnel a mine was to be laid. The police were suspicious, and searched the premises, but nothing was found —a proper search would have revealed much! The mine was eventually laid, ancJ during the night' of February 28, 1881, Vera and four others sat up, completing the bombs which were to he thrown on the morrow if the mine failed to destroy their victim.

The Czar, however, took another route. The mine was therefore use less. Hurriedly some of the conspirators ran to intercept their prey else where; one hurled a bomb, wounding two cossacks. Alexander stepped from his carriage, and finding none was killed, said: " Thank God, all is well!" "We shall see yet whether all is well," yelled another of the conspirators, as he hurled the bomb which inflicted the terrible wounds from which the Czar died. Of this ghastly, tragedy. Vera Figner writes: "A heavy burden was lifted from our shoulders; reaction mustFix this text come to an end and give place to a new Russia.1 *

Poor deluded fanatic !