The Russian Revolution in Ukraine

Nestor Makhno

Chapter 26: New members of our Group

Towards the middle of February three sailors from the Black Sea Fleet arrived in Gulyai-Pole. Two of them were peasants from Gulyai-Pole, the third was a stranger to us. He was visiting with his father who served as a coachman for the pomeshchik Abraham Jantzen. All three called themselves Left SRs. Two of them, Boris Veretel'nik (peasant of Gulyai-Pole) and E. Polonsky (the stranger) had party membership cards from the Sevastopol Committee of the Party of Left SRs. The third, Sharovsky, also a peasant of Gulyai-Pole, was not a party member.

All three from the first days of their arrival in Gulyai-Pole showed up at general assemblies and made an impression as energetic revolutionary workers. That was a time when sailors were renowned as fearless defenders of the Revolution. The inhabitants of Gulyai-Pole welcomed them with respect and listened to their speeches with interest.

Comrade Veretel'nik was familiar to me from childhood. So when he introduced me to his two companions I had no reason not to trust them. I presented all three to the Raion Revkom in Gulyai-Pole and they were admitted as members of the propaganda section of the Committee on conditions that all their agitation work in Gulyai-Pole and its raion would be carried out under the banner of the Revkom. This condition was accepted by them and they settled down to work in Gulyai-Pole.

The Sevastopol Committee of the Party of Left SRs summoned Veretel'nik and Polonsky back to Sevastopol but I, at their request and with the consent of the Anarchist Communist Group, wrote to the Sevastopol Committee in the name of the Gulyai-Pole Revkom that they were needed in the village. And the Party didn't bother them any more.

Shortly after this, Comrade Veretel'nik severed his connections with the Party of Left SRs and joined the Gulyai-Pole Anarchist Communist Group. Comrade Polonsky remained outside the Group but declared himself sympathetic to anarchism. He worked with Comrade Veretel'nik and other members of the Group, taking part in all their activities in Gulyai-Pole and its raion and giving an account of his work just as if he were a member.

Several times, it's true, the brother of Polonsky, a Bolshevik who belonged to the Revkom in Bolshoi Tokmak, invited our Polonsky to join him, promising him a position on the executive of the Revkom. But our Polonsky always refused, not wanting to leave Gulyai-Pole where the revolutionary spirit was infectious and his organizing work gave him great satisfaction.

The strength of our group was increasing. Our revolutionary work broadened. The Group was entirely devoted to it. There was no obstacle which could prevent us from winning over the revolutionary masses intellectually and spiritually.

Always the Group was in the vanguard of the Revolution, leading the toilers in their struggle against the oppressors. In the way it operated, the Group set an example of autonomous self-activity of peasants and workers. It taught them how to be activists and saw the results being put into practice by the toilers.

On to Chapter 27 The agrarian communes; their organization; their enemies

Back to Chapter 25 How the exchange of goods between city and village was organized and how we struggled to make it work

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