Moscow: Vseros. proletkul’t, 1923. Item #1155
104 pp.: tables. 17.6x24.9 cm. In original illustrated publisher’s wrappers. Losses of the pieces of the spine, wear to the extremities. Otherwise in a very good condition.
Very rare. First edition. Wrapper design by an unknown artist.
A unique evidence of one of the bloodiest massacres in the history of Russia.
Published in 1923, the edition provides lesser-known information on the shooting of goldfield workers on strike in northeast Siberia on 17 April 1912 (with the old calendar - 4 April). The incident took place at the goldfields of the Lena Gold Mining Joint Stock Company, a firm registered in London and traded in Paris, St. Petersburg, and London. The strike had been provoked by exceptionally harsh working environment that included a 16-hour work day, extremely dangerous conditions with more than 700 accidents per 1,000 employees, and poor quality of meat, which the workers were obliged to purchase with the coupons. In February 1912, 6,000 miners formed a strike committee and presented a set of demands to the company executives. The ultimatum was rejected and the protest culminated on 4 April 1912, when the peaceful demonstration was confronted by the police. The massacre, which resulted in 270 dead and 250 wounded, provoked nationwide strikes totalling more than 300,000 participants. Although two months after the Lena Execution, the Duma passed a law improving the conditions of workers across the Empire, the incident is widely considered a prerequisite to undermining Tsar’s authority.
This rare account of the 1912 Lena Massacre was compiled by the noted Soviet writer, playwright, and head of the national Proletkul’t, Valerian Pletnev (1886-1942). By the time the incident occured, the author was exiled to Siberia as a Menshevik activist and had to witness the shooting himself. The edition consists of two chapters. In the first chapter, the author offers a historical overview of the strike from the pre-protest activity of Lenzoto to the aftermath of the incident and provides such lesser-known materials as the employment contract, correspondence between the company management, Irkutsk governor, police department, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the document of demands, statements of the workers, eye-witness account of the shooting, petitions of the employees, reports of the prosecutor and Rittmeister of the Special Corps of Gendarmes etc. The section features numerous tables showing gold production by countries in pounds, gold production in Russia, Lenzoto income from 1904 until 1910, salaries by occupation, etc. The second chapter of the book comprises Pletnev’s one of the most famous works, a massacre-related play Lena written in 1921. The play was first performed in the Moscow Theatre of Proletkul’t in October 1921 and was staged by V. V. Ignatov and Valentin Smyshlaev and designed by the noted Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein and L. Nikitin.
Overall, the edition offers a rare account of one of the bloodiest events in the history of Russia.
No copies found in Worldcat.