Leonid Kannegisser posing with his cadet uniform
Nikolaev, Russian Empire
Petrograd, Russian SFSR
|Allegiance||Imperial Russian Army|
|Years of service||1913-1918|
Leonid Akimovic Kannegisser (Russian: Леони́д Иоаки́мович Каннегисер, March 1896 – October 1918) was a Russian poet and military cadet, known for assassinating Moisei Uritsky, chief of the Cheka in Petrograd, on 17 August 1918.
Life and career
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Leonid Akimovic Kannegisser (also spelled Kanngießer) was born in March 1896 in Nikolaev, Russian Empire, into a wealthy Jewish family. His father, Akim (Ioakim) Kannegisser, was a mechanical engineer and the head of Russia's largest shipyards, the Black Sea Shipyard, and his mother was a doctor. Kannegisser graduated from a private school, and in 1913 he became a military cadet in the Mikhailov Artillery School of the Imperial Russian Army. Kannegisser studied economics from 1915 to 1917 at the Petrograd Polytechnic Institute, and was a member of Popular Socialists, a moderate left-wing anti-Communist political party. On the night from 25 to 26 October 1917 (Old Style Julian Calendar), during the October Revolution, Kannegisser along with several other cadets defended the Provisional Government at the Winter Palace.
On 30 August 1918, around nine o’clock Kannegisser, wearing a leather jacket and an officers cap, turned up at the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, left his bicycle by the door and entered the building. Uritsky arrived in his car at around ten o’clock, and a few moments later Uritsky was fatally shot in his head and body by Kannegisser. After shooting Uritsky, he ran out into the street and tried to escape on his bicycle, riding quickly but was chased by a car. He threw away his bicycle and ran into the British embassy. Kannegisser left the embassy after having donned a longcoat and opened fire on Red Guards but he was arrested.
Kannegisser was tortured and declared that he had acted alone, and was executed shortly afterwards in Petrograd. Following his arrest, the Bolshevik authorities also arrested several members of his family and friends. After being released his parents emigrated from Russia and sought refuge in Warsaw, where they died.
Kannegisser was part of a clandestine anti-Bolshevik group led by his cousin, Maximilian Filonenko, who had close links with Boris Savinkov, who gave the order to assassinate Uritsky. Viktor Pereltsveig, an Army officer lover (Kannegisser was homosexual) was executed with a group of officers by the Cheka in the summer of 1918, he decided to take revenge by killing Uritsky, who had signed the execution orders. Mark Aldanov, who knew Kannegisser and his family, wrote that Uritsky's assassination was intended to restore the "good name of the Russians Jews" (Uritsky, as well as Kannegisser, were born to Jewish families). Uritsky's assassination, along with the attempted murder of Vladimir Lenin by Fanny Kaplan on the same day, sparked the beginning of the "Red Terror" campaign by the Bolsheviks.
From childhood Kannegisser had written poetry, and was a friend of Sergei Yesenin. He hosted in his house many literary meetings, where Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelshtam and others presented their poetry. His poems were posthumously published by Mark Aldanov in Paris in 1928. A major part of Kannegisser's literary heritage is preserved in the closed files of the Central Government Archives of Literature and Art in Moscow.
- Vitaliy Shentalinsky, "Crime without punishment", Progress-Pleyada, Moscow, 2007, ISBN 978-5-93006-033-1 (Russian: Виталий Шенталинский, "Преступление без наказания"), Chapter 2, Poet-terrorist. Link to text in Russian Journal
- Shentalinsky, page 115.