Evgenia Bosh

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Evgenia Bosh (born August 11, 1879 in Ochakiv, Ukraine - died late 1924), sometimes known as Evgenia Bogtdanovna Bosch or Evheniya Bohdanivna Bosch, was a Bolshevik militant during the Russian Revolution, a military leader during the Revolution, and the first modern woman leader of a national government, as the Minister of the Interior, Leader of the Secret Police, and at one point the Acting Leader of the provisional Soviet government of the Ukraine in 1917. Evgenia Bosh is sometimes considered the first Prime Minister of independent Ukraine, but is nearly forgotten today, as her memory was deliberately suppressed by the Stalinist regime because of her sympathy with the opposition.[1]

Early life[edit]

Evgenia Bosh was born in Ukraine, with the name Gotlibovna Maysh, to an ethnic German immigrant from Luxembourg and his Moldavian wife. Bosh's parents quarrelled often and her childhood was reportedly an unhappy one.[2] She was educated at the Voznesensk women’s gymnasium.[3] At age 17, her parents attempted to arrange her marriage to an older man, but she rebelled and married a bourgeois businessman named Petr Bosh. They had two children.[2]

Radical politics[edit]

Bosh had a growing interest in radical politics. She had limited involvement with the Social Democrats. She joined the Bolshevik faction in 1903. In the meantime, her older sister, Elena Rozmirovich, was a dedicated revolutionary. The Bosh house was searched by the police for illegal political literature in 1906. The police search was unsuccessful, but Bosh left her husband and fled to Kiev, where she joined the revolutionary underground. Much of the Kiev group was arrested and exiled in 1910, but Bosh remained in Kiev and found a lover and revolutionary partner in Georgy Pyatakov. Bosh was head of the Kiev Committee of the Russian Social Democratic Worker’s Party (RSDRP). After the revolution she became Secretary of Regional Committee of RSDRP(B). Bosh and Pyatakov led the Kiev committee until their arrest and exile to Siberia in 1912.[2]

After escaping from their exile, Bosh and Piatakov made their way to Switzerland where an emigre group of revolutionaries was active. Bosh accepted Lenin’s invitation and attended the conference of Russian revolutionaries in Berne in 1915. She was initially opposed to Lenin's desire to urge the proletariat towards revolution. Her newspaper Social Democratic Voice argued:

We believe that the development of productive forces and social power of the proletariat have not reached the level at which the working class could carry out the socialist revolution.[4]

Declaration of Soviet Ukraine[edit]

Bosh was instrumental in launching the First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets (December 11–12, 1917, Kharkiv). At this Congress, the Ukrainian People’s Republic was proclaimed to be the Soviet Republic, and its membership in a federation with Soviet Russia was also declared. The Congress also denounced the Tsentralna Rada as well as its laws and instructions. The decrees of the Petrograd Council of People’s Commissars extended to Ukraine and an official alliance with the Russia Red Army was declared.[3]

She was persuaded to support Lenin's direction for the Bolsheviks, and in 1917 she went to Russia, and became a popular agitator, motivating troops along the south-western border of Ukraine to support the Bolsheviks. In March she led an army unit in Kiev as the revolutionaries battled the Provisional Government that was installed in Russia after the fall of the Romanovs. Bosh became Minister of the Interior when the Reds took control of the government in January 1918.[2] As Soviet Ukraine's first Minister of the Interior and Head of the Secret Police, Evgenia Bosh was responsible for taking direct charge of the Soviet fight against the bourgeois business owners' and landlords’ counter-revolution.[4]

Opposition to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk[edit]

In March, Bosh was outraged when the Soviets signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, which gave control of territories in western Ukraine to Germany. Bosh resigned her government post in protest and left Russia for Ukraine to fight the German advance into Ukraine. She enlisted in the Antonov-Ovseenko Red Army with Pyatakov and her daughter Maria. She became ill with tuberculosis and heart disease, however, and after several months of recuperation, she left Ukraine for Russia, where she filled political and military administrative posts for the next few years as the civil war continued.[2]

Trotskyism, death and legacy[edit]

She was harshly critical of the bureaucratic group she saw controlling the Soviet government. She was a supporter of Leon Trotsky, and signed the Platform of the 46, the first official statement by the opposition to the Stalinist regime. She wrote a memoir, A Year of Struggle, published posthumously in 1925. Bosh fell out of favour with the Joseph Stalin-Nikolai Bukharin leadership. In 1924, she succumbed to despair after hearing that Trotsky had been forced to resign as leader of the Red Army, as well as in pain from her heart condition and tuberculosis, and she died by suicide.[5][2] Her suicide was met with an immediate, deliberate effort by the Soviet government to suppress official acknowledgement of her death by cancelling public funeral rites:

The more rigorous comrades argued that suicide, however justified it might be by incurable illness, remained an act of indiscipline. Besides, in this particular case suicide was a proof of Oppositional leanings.[1]

A large suspension bridge over the Dnieper in Kiev was named in Bosh's honour when it was raised in 1925. The bridge was destroyed during World War II. The site of the Bosh bridge is now the location of the Metro Bridge.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Serge, Victor (2002). Memoirs of a Revolutionary. University of Iowa. ISBN 978-0-87745-827-2. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Fairfax, Kathy (1999). Comrades in Arms: Bolshevik Women in the Russian Revolution. Resistance Books. pp. 29–30. ISBN 090919694X. 
  3. ^ a b "Governments of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic - Officials". Ukraine Government. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Revolutionary Women: Yevgenia Bosch". League for the Fifth International. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ D'Atri, Andrea. "El rol de las mujeres socialistas al inicio de la revolución rusa". Archivo Chile, Centro Estudios “Miguel Enríquez”. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Dnieper Bridges". ASSOL. Retrieved October 24, 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bosh, Evgenia. The National Government and Soviet Power in Ukraine (1919)
  • Bosh, Evgenia. A Year of Struggle: The Struggle for the Régime in the Ukraine from April 1917 to German Occupation (God Borby: Borba Za Vlast Na Ukraine) (Moscow) 1925, republished 1990.

See also[edit]