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.

References in periodicals archive ?
In fact, the history of the Russian Civil War itself provides an interesting case of an anarchist movement that built a highly effective military and political organization in the Ukraine: the Makhnovshchina, a movement organized and led by the Ukrainian anarchist Nestor Makhno (1889-1935).
Nestor Makhno was a peasant born in the town of Gulyai-Polye in the southern Ukraine in 1889.
It is perhaps an irony of history that, in today's France, the keenest interest in the Russian Revolution can be found in libertarian circles, beginning with the rediscovery of the anarchist Nestor Makhno.
Pursued by the authorities in several south American countries, and with a death sentence hanging over him in Argentine, Durruti returned to Europe in 1926, finding work in a Renault factory in Paris, where he met Nestor Makhno.
The author traces the tragic circumstances of the two families during the periods of Revolution, Civil War, the Nestor Makhno terror, typhus epidemic, famine and in the end emigration for some and exile for other members of his extended families.
Especially the banditry, plunder, rape and killing under Nestor Makhno, followed by the exile and execution of many Mennonite leaders, were seen as the height of Mennonite tragedy in that country.
The emphasis is on the political and military vicissitudes the movement underwent and on the motivations and thought processes of the Makhnovists shifting alliances and strategies and therefore treats the life of Nestor Makhno in a relatively perfunctory fashion.
While the principal contestants in the civil war were the White and Red armies, a third force which became the scourge of the Mennonite communities was the Anarchist group led by Nestor Makhno.