Lev Kamenev at Nestor Makhno’s (Huliaipole, May 1919): The Four Stages of a Narrative

Korine Amacher

Abstract


This article is devoted to a meeting between the anarchist leader Makhno and the Bolshevik leaders Lev Kamenev and Kliment Voroshilov in early May 1919. This meeting took place in Ukraine, in Huliaipole, the headquarters of Makhno, as the civil war was raging. A detailed narration of Kamenev’s expedition was published in the Soviet journal Proletarskaya revolyutsiya in 1925. Written by a member of the Soviet delegation, it is the only remaining testimony of the expedition and the meeting. It is this text, written by a member of the Soviet delegation, that Russian historians use when referring to the Bolshevik expedition in Ukraine and the meeting between Kamenev and Makhno. Until now, historians did not know the identity of its author. But this article brings to light the identity of the “anonymous chronicler” of the expedition, who happens to be Vladimir Sokolin, a Russian who grew up in Geneva and joined the Tsarist army before converting to Bolshevism and becoming Kamenev’s secretary in November 1918. His archives are kept in Geneva and Moscow. Sokolin is the author of four texts about the expedition in which he participated. The texts were written at different times and in different political contexts: between 1919 and 1966 in the USSR and Switzerland. After recounting the story of the texts, this article analyses their differences. Even though they seem minor at first sight, the differences allow us to think about the way past events are transmitted by a witness, as well as the use that historians can make of such accounts.

Keywords


Revolution; Civil War; Ukraine; Nestor Makhno; Lev Kamenev

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2017.3.248

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