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Nestor Makhno was born into a poor peasant family in Hulyai Pole, Ukraine, the youngest of five children. Church files show a birthdate of October 27, 1888, but Nestor Makhno‘s parents registered his date of birth as 1889 (possibly in an attempt to postpone conscription, or a later attempt to avoid execution after his arrest in 1910 for belonging to the anarchist group and for robberies). He studied at a parochial school between ages of eight and twelve.
Soon after the Russian Revolution of 1905 Makhno joined a group of anarchists and was engaged in property expropriations and killings of gendarmes. He was arrested in 1906, tried, and acquitted. He was again arrested in 1907, but Makhno could not be incriminated, and the charges were dropped. The third arrest came in 1908, when an infiltrator was able to testify against Makhno. In 1910 Makhno was sentenced to death by hanging, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he was sent to Butyrskaya prison in Moscow instead. There he spent 6 years until he was released after the February Revolution in 1917. The time spent in prison allowed him to improve his education, aided by intellectual cellmates (notably Piotr Arshinov). After his release Makhno joined the revolutionary movement in Ukraine and helped organize expropriation of property from wealthy landlords and capitalists in the eastern Ukraine.
In early 1918, the new Bolshevik government in Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk making peace with the Central Powers, but ceding large amounts of territory, including Ukraine, to them. The populace of Ukraine did not want to be ruled by the Central Powers, and rebelled. Partisan units were formed that waged guerrilla war against the German and Austro-Hungarian armies. In Yekaterinoslav province, this rebellion soon took an anarchist political tone. Nestor Makhno (along with Arshinov and Volin) was one of the main organizers of these partisan groups, eventually united into the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine (RIAU), also called the Black Army (because they fought under the anarchist black flag). The RIAU also battled against the Whites (counter-revolutionaries), Ukrainian nationalists, and anti-semitic pogromists. The anarchist movement in Ukraine came to be referred to as "Makhnovism" or pejoratively "Makhnovshchina."
In areas where the RIAU drove out opposing armies, villagers (and workers) sought to abolish capitalism and the state by organizing themselves into village assemblies, communes and free councils. The land and factories were expropriated and put under nominal peasant/worker control, but mayors and many officials were drawn directly from the ranks of Makhno‘s military, rather than local toilers. It is debatable whether Makhno‘s government or the RSFSR was more democratic in this period.
The Makhnovshchina (Anarchist Ukraine)
Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky, head of a criticized Ukrainian State — considered by some as a puppet Republic, had difficulty trying to occupy Ukraine as he was confronted by Makhno‘s Insurrectional Army. Thus, he was finally called back to Germany after the collapse of the German western front. In March 1918, the RIAU succeeded in defeating the Germans, Austrians, Ukrainian Nationalists of Symon Petlura, and multiple regiments of the White Army.
|Дата создания: 2010-10-15 00:00:00|
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