Catherine Breshkovsky

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Catherine Breshkovsky
Breshkovsky at work, ca. 1918
Native name
Екатерина Брешко-Брешковская
Екатерина Константиновна Вериго

13 January 1844 (1844-01-13)
Died12 September 1934 (1934-09-13) (aged 90)

Catherine Breshkovsky (real name Yekaterina Konstantinovna Breshko-Breshkovskaya (born Verigo), Russian: Екатерина Константиновна Брешко-Брешковская; born 25 January (13 January old style) 1844, Ivanovo village, Nevelsky district, Vitebsk province – 12 September 1934 Hvaly-Pochernice, near Prague, Czechoslovakia. A major figure in the Russian socialist movement, a Narodnik and later one of the founders of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. She spent over four decades in prison and Siberian exile for peaceful opposition to Tsarism, acquiring, in her latter years, international stature as a political prisoner. Also popularly known as Babushka, the grandmother of the Russian Revolution.[1]


She left her home at the age of 26 to join followers of anarchist Mikhail Bakunin in Kiev. As a Narodnik extremist, she was imprisoned 1874 at Katorga and exiled to Siberia in 1878, where she received a harsher sentence because of her refusal to submit to the authority of the Tsarist court.[2] during which she was interviewed by George Kennan, a journalist working for The Century magazine, along with artist George A. Frost. Kennan was later quoted to say "All my standards of courage, of fortitude, and of heroic self-sacrifice have been raised for all time, and raised by the hand of a woman".[3] After her release in 1896, she formed a Socialist-Revolutionary group and helped to organize the Socialist-Revolutionary Party in 1901.[citation needed]

Breshkovsky as sketched by Marguerite Martyn in 1919

She escaped to Switzerland and the United States in 1900. After returning to the Russian Empire in 1905, she was captured and exiled to Siberia again. After the February Revolution of 1917, political prisoners were released,[4] and Breshkovsky was given a seat in Aleksandr Kerensky's government. When the Bolsheviks organized the October Revolution, Breshkovsky was again forced to flee to the United States and Japan. She then moved to Czechoslovakia in 1924 where she continued to fight the Bolshevik regime until her death.[2]

Her son Nikolay Breshko-Breshkovsky became a writer.


  1. ^ Waraich, Malwinder Jit Singh (2007). Musings from the gallows : autobiography of Ram Prasad Bismil. Unistar Books, Ludhiana. p. 90.
  2. ^ a b "Revolt, They Said". Retrieved 2017-06-10.
  3. ^ Frazier, Ian (2010). Travels in Siberia. Picador – p. 55.
  4. ^ "Cheers Greet Return of Russia's "Mother"" (Latest News, Number 141). Los Angeles Herald. 14 April 1917. p. 3. Retrieved 31 October 2016. When Madame Catherine Breshkovskaya, “Grandmother of the Revolution,” arrived here after spending 44 of her 73 years in exile, she was greeted by a big gathering of former followers of her revolutionist movement. On her arrival from Siberia she was also greeted by a deputation from the ministry of justice, together with delegations from a number of universities.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Little Grandmother of the Russian Revolution: Reminiscences and Letters, Little, Brown and Co, Boston, 1918. from
  • Hidden Springs of the Russian Revolution: Personal Memoirs of Katerina Breshkovskaia. Lincoln Hutchinson, ed. Stanford University Press, 1931.

External links[edit]