Fanya Baron

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Fanya Baron
Fanya Baron in pre-revolutionary Russia
Freida Nisanovna Greck

Died(1921-09-30)September 30, 1921
Cause of deathExecuted
Spouse(s)Aron Baron
ChildrenTheodore Baron
Parent(s)Nathan Grefenson and Chasse Plutzky

Fanya Anisimovna Baron (Russian: Фа́ня Ани́симовна Ба́рон) (1887 – September 30, 1921) was a Russian anarchist revolutionary who lived in America from 1911[1] to 1917[2] when she returned to her homeland to build a post-revolutionary society. In 1921, she was executed by the Cheka.


Fanya was born in 1887 in Vilnius in a Jewish family. After graduation, she worked as a clerk and became an anarchist. In 1913 she fled to France, because of the threat of arrest for revolutionary activity.

Upon arriving in France, Fanya settled in Paris, where she took an active part in the anarchist movement, then left for the United States where her husband Aron Baron had fled from Siberian exile. In Chicago, Fanya and her husband worked on The Alarm with Lucy Parsons. Fanya was an activist within the American labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World (1912-1917).[citation needed] In 1915 she took part in the protests of unemployed workers.

Nabat and the Makhno movement[edit]

After the February Revolution in June 1917, she moved to Ukraine, where she joined the Confederation of Anarchists of Ukraine “Nabat”, and started to work in Kiev, Kharkov and other Ukrainian cities.[3] The Nabat confederation had ties with the Makhno movement. Several Nabat members (among them Fanya's husband Aron Baron, Voline and Peter Arshinov) were active in the Cultural-Educational Section of the Makhno movement.

Aaron and Fanya Baron in Russia

Voline and Aaron Baron were among anarchists who were arrested in a Cheka crackdown on anarchism at the end of 1920 (Avrich, 1973). On June 7, 1920, she was arrested in the "Free Brotherhood" bookstore in Kharkov, on suspicion of having links with the Makhnovists. On June 14, she was released. Fanya was arrested a second time on November 25, 1920, during the Bolshevik repression of the Nabat in Kharkov. She then spent months being transferred between various prisons around the RSFSR.[citation needed]

Escape from prison[edit]

In early July 1921, Fanya escaped from Ryazan prison.[3][4] She planned to help her husband Aron Baron escape from prison in Moscow. Aaron's brother, Semion, a Bolshevik communist, offered to help with the plan.[4] Later the same year, they were found out, with Fanya being arrested by the Cheka, and Semion Baron being executed on the spot. [4]

Capture and execution[edit]

Fanya Baron was among 13 anarchists held at Taganka prison without charges. In July 1921, they went on hunger strike, attracting the attention of visiting French, Spanish and Russian syndicalists who argued for their release. Leon Trotsky remarked at the time "We do not imprison the real anarchists, but criminals and bandits who cover themselves by claiming to be anarchists".[5] Fanya was shot by the Cheka on 30 September 1921. Aron was spared execution[4] until 1937, after spending 17 years in numerous prisons and exiles.


Emma Goldman wrote about the execution of Fanya Baron in My Further Disillusionment in Russia:

Fanya Baron was of the type of Russian woman completely consecrated to the cause of humanity. While in America she gave all her spare time and a goodly part of her meagre earnings in a factory to further Anarchist propaganda. Years afterward, when I met her in Kharkov, her zeal and devotion had become intensified by the persecution she and her comrades had endured since their return to Russia. She possessed unbounded courage and a generous spirit. She could perform the most difficult task and deprive herself of the last piece of bread with grace and utter selflessness. Under harrowing conditions of travel, Fanya went up and down the Ukraina to spread the Nabat, organize the workers and peasants, or bring help and succour to her imprisoned comrades. She was one of the victims of the Butyrki raid, when she had been dragged by her hair and badly beaten. After her escape from the Ryazan prison she tramped on foot to Moscow, where she arrived in tatters and penniless. It was her desperate condition which drove her to seek shelter with her husband's brother, at whose house she was discovered by the Tcheka. This big-hearted woman, who had served the Social Revolution all her life, was done to, death by the people who pretended to be the advance guard of revolution. Not content with the crime of killing Fanya Baron, the Soviet Government put the stigma of banditism on the memory of their dead victim.[3]

Fanya Baron in contemporary culture[edit]

An Australian anarchist bookshop, Jura Books, has named their library collection The Fanya Baron Library in honour of her courage and sacrifice for anarchist revolution.[6] Fanya is also mentioned in the 1939 Kenneth Rexroth poem, titled "August 22, 1939".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Radical Women: The Haymarket Tradition - By Carolyn Ashbaugh". 2012-02-04. Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  2. ^ "chile1 «". 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  3. ^ a b c Goldman, Emma (1924). "Chapter VII: Persecution of Anarchists". My Further Disillusionment in Russia. Retrieved 2020-01-15.
  4. ^ a b c d Goldman, Emma. Chapter 52, Continued, pp. 899-927. Living My Life. Anarchy Archives. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
  5. ^ Voline, 1947
  6. ^ "Jura Library | Jura Books". Retrieved 2016-03-29.


External links[edit]