Nestor Makhno

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Makhno, Nestor Ivanovich


Born Oct. 17 (29), 1889, in Guliaipole, now in Zaporozh’e Oblast; died July 6, 1934, in Paris. One of the leaders of petit bourgeois counterrevolution in the Ukraine from 1918 to 1921 during the Civil War. Son of a peasant.

Makhno graduated from a parochial school. During the Revolution of 1905-07 he joined an anarchist group and took part in terrorist actions and “expropriations.” In 1909 he was sentenced to death for killing a police official, but the sentence was reduced to ten years of hard labor, because he was still a minor. He served his sentence in Butyrskaia Prison in Moscow, where he became a convinced anarchist. Set free by the February Revolution of 1917, he went to Guliaipole and in April 1918 organized an anarchist armed detachment. This unit began guerrilla warfare against the Austro-German occupiers and the hetman’s authorities and won great popularity among the peasantry.

Makhno was noted for his cruelty, despite his personal bravery. In 1919 and 1920 he fought against the White Guards and the followers of Petliura as well as against the Red Army. Three times he made an alliance with Soviet power, and three times he violated his agreements and rose in rebellion. In 1921 his units degenerated into nothing more than robbers and oppressors. On Aug. 26, 1921, he fled to Rumania, moving to Poland in 1922 and then to Paris in 1923, where he worked as a cobbler and printer. He wrote two volumes of memoirs that were filled with hatred toward Soviet power.