Raphael Abramovitch

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R.R. Abramovich.

Raphael Rein Abramovich (1880–1963) was a Russian socialist, a member of the General Jewish Workers' Union in Lithuania, Poland and Russia (Bund) and a leader of the Menshevik wing of the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (RSDRP).

Life[edit]

Raphael Abramovich was born in Daugavpils in 1880; his real name was Raphael Rein, Abramovich being his patronymic name. As a student at Riga Polytechnic he became involved in revolutionary politics and became a convinced Marxist. In 1901 he joined the Bund and the RSDRP. When the Bund withdrew from the RSDRP in 1903, Abramovich maintained contact with Menshevik leaders Martov and Dan. The Bund and the Mensheviks eventually patched up their differences,[1] and Abramovich became a member of the Menshevik party. He edited the Social-Democratic journals Evreiskii Rabochii (Jewish Workers) and Nashe Slovo (Our Word). In 1905 Abramovich became a member of the Central Committee of the Bund. During the abortive Revolution of 1905, he represented the Bund in the St. Petersburg Soviet. In 1907 he ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the second Duma. He attended the conferences of the Bund and the RSDRP in 1906 and 1907. In 1911 he narrowly escaped arrest and fled abroad, mostly living in Germany and France.

In 1914 he at first sided with the Internationalist wing of the Menshevik party, which opposed the First World War, but he was not as radically anti-war as Martov. After the February Revolution of 1917, Abramovich returned to Russia. He became a member of the Central Committee of the Petrograd Soviet. For a while he became a qualified Revolutionary Defencist, siding with Mensheviks like Dan and Tsereteli against Martov. While Martov's Menshevik Internationalists opposed the war altogether, the Revolutionary Defencists supported a limited war effort in defence of the Revolution. However, they opposed territorial or financial war aims and rejected the unqualified pro-war stance of 'Social Patriots' like the aged Plekhanov and A.N. Potresov. After the October Revolution, Abramovich and Dan once more moved to the left and rejoined Martov's faction. Abramovich played a role in unsuccessful attempts to negotiate and all-socialist coalition with the Bolsheviks, comprising Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries of various factions and Popular Socialists. Neither Lenin nor most of the leaders of the other proposed coalition partners had any interest in this idea, though there was popular support for it among workers. The negotiations failed. Abramovich subsequently became more critical of the Bolsheviks. In 1918 he was arrested for anti-Soviet activities and escaped execution due to the intervention of Friedrich Adler and other foreign socialists.

In 1920 Abramovich left Soviet Russia. He settled in Berlin, where he co-founded and co-edited the Menshevik paper Sotsialisticheskii Vestnik (Socialist Courier). In the 1920s he was involved in organising the Vienna-based International Working Union of Socialist Parties, which united non-communist socialist parties that rejected the 'Social Patriot' leadership of the old Second International but refused to join the communist Third International. He was later included in the executive of the Labour and Socialist International.[2] Abramovich was also instrumental in maintaining contact between Mensheviks abroad and their comrades in Russia. He helped mobilise Western socialist and labour support for socialists persecuted by the Soviet government, e.g. during the Trial of the Socialist-Revolutionaries in 1922 and the Menshevik Trial in 1931.

After the rise of Hitler, Abramovich moved to Paris. In 1940, when the Germans invaded France, he fled to the United States. He mainly lived in New York. He was a contributor to the Yiddish Social-Democratic paper Forwerts (Forward). Abramovich wrote his memoirs in Yiddish and an English-language history of the Russian Revolution. He remained heavily involved in the activities of the Menshevik party in exile. In later years he opposed F.I. Dan's position that Soviet Russia, for all its flaws, was the country 'building socialism' and must be supported, and denounced Soviet totalitarianism. In 1949 he was one of the founders of the Union for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia.

Raphael Abramovich was the father of the journalist Mark Rein, who was kidnapped in Spain by the Soviet secret service OGPU in 1937 and subsequently murdered.

Selected works[edit]

Abramovich, R.R., The Soviet Revolution, 1917-1939. New York, 1962.

Abramowitsch, R., Wandlungen der bolschewistischen Diktatur. Berlin, 1931.

Abramowitsch, R., I. Zeretelli and W. Suchomlin, Der Terror gegen die sozialistischen Parteien in Russland und Georgien. Berlin, 1925.

Sources and links[edit]

Shukman, H. (ed), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the Russian Revolution. Blackwell, 1988.

Liebich, A., From the Other Shore: Russian Social Democracy after 1921. Harvard UP, 1997.

Burbank, J., Intelligentsia and Revolution: Russian Views of Bolshevism, 1917-1922. Oxford UP, 1989.

Brovkin, V.N., Dear Comrades: Menshevik Reports on the Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War. Hoover Press, 1991.

The following is a link to a speech Abramovich gave in 1931, protesting against both Italian fascism and the Menshevik Trial: http://www.uea.ac.uk/his/webcours/russia/documents/abramovich.shtml.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The principal bone of contention in 1903 had been that the Bund wanted to be recognised as an autonomous organisation within a federally structured RSDRP and as the sole legitimate representative of the Jewish proletariat. The RSDRP leaders, including Martov, rejected this, whereupon the Bund withdrew. In the subsequent dispute between Lenin and Martov over party membership conditions, Lenin therefore had a majority. Subsequently the Mensheviks accepted the Bund's demand for organisational autonomy, ad the Bund rejoined the Menshevik wing of the RSDRP.
  2. ^ Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 - 1940. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985. p. 294