Michael Palij, The Anarchism of Nestor Makhno, 1918-1921: An Aspect of the Ukrainian Revolution, 1976.

21. Epilogue

The Romanian authorities put Makhno, his wife, and his followers into an internment camp in a medieval citadel in Bra§ov, Transylvania, which had been converted into a military prison. The Bolshevik government sent a series of sharp diplomatic notes demanding Makh-no's extradition, which were rejected by the Romanian government,2 who, nevertheless, to avoid a possible conflict with Soviet Russia, encouraged Makhno to leave the country. After seven and one-half months in Romania, Makhno and his followers crossed the Polish border on April 11, 1922, and gave themselves up to the Polish police.3 They were interned in a camp at Strzatkow, with the troops of the Ukrainian People's Republic.4

Polish authorities also considered Makhno's presence in Poland undesirable. Moreover, Moscow demanded his extradition on the ground that he was a criminal and not entitled to political asylum. Although the Polish government rejected this demand, it accused Makhno of organizing an insurrection in East Galicia with the intention of incorporating it into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. This alleged organization of an uprising was a provocation of the Polish political police, who were in contact with the Bolshevik mission in Warsaw. Consequently at the end of October 1922, Makhno was arrested and put in the Mokotow prison in Warsaw.6 He was suffering from tuberculosis and in prison his health deteriorated. When a visitor to the prison offered him a cigarette,

. . . Makhno inhaled smoke into his lungs again and a strong cough overwhelmed him. Uttering the words with difficulty and coughing, he went on: "I acquired lung illness at the time of my imprisonment at the Butyrki prison. It seemed that with years, it had passed; however, it is not so. Now the illness is appearing again.2

With a certain pride Makhno told the visitor that his wife was with him and that she had given birth to a daughter called Liusia. Although Makhno was brought to trial, he was subsequently acquitted and, on November 27, 1923, after thirteen months in prison, was released. He remained in Poland under police surveillance until late fall of 1924, when he left for Danzig, where he was arrested again.8 However, because he was suffering from tuberculosis, he was brought to the Danzig city hospital by police who regularly checked transients for communicable diseases. The anarchists in Danzig eventually helped him to escape from the hospital, and for forty days he hid in the city. The anarchists tried to smuggle him to Stettin by ship, but when they failed, Makhno and two others crossed the Polish Corridor to Germany in March 1925. From there he went to Paris, where he had decided to settle. Later he wrote: "[Now] I am in Paris, among foreigners, and among political enemies whom [I had] so much to fight."

For many reasons Makhno's life in Paris was most difficult, and he was unable to improve his material conditions or rise above his psychological misery. He was suffering from consumption and wounds that failed to heal. He never succeeded in learning sufficient French and was not able to adapt himself to the environment that was so different from what he was accustomed to in Ukraine. According to Berkman:

I was shocked at his appearance. The storm and stress of his year-long struggle, physical and mental suffering, had reduced the strong, stockily built povstantsy leader to a mere shadow. His face and body were scarred by wounds, his shattered foot made him permanently lame. Yet his spirit remained unbroken and he still dreamed of returning to his native land and taking up again the struggle for liberty and social justice. Life in exile was insupportable to him; he felt torn out by the very roots and he yearned for his beloved Ukraina.11

Although occasionally he got work at a plant or in a factory, his illness and inadequate knowledge of French prevented him from holding work for long. French, Spanish, and American anarchists collected money to provide Makhno with a modest income for his life. Makhno's wife and daughter opened a small grocery store in Vincennes, Seine, 18, rue de la Jarry; Makhno, however, lived a largely separate life.

Makhno devoted some of his time to writing and publishing a number of articles in different anarchist periodicals and newspapers and, although he apparently intended to write the history of his struggle, he failed to do so. He managed, however, to write incomplete memoirs dealing with the Ukrainian Revolution. Three volumes appeared, the first in Russian and French, while the author was still alive; the second and third in Russian only, posthumously.

Makhno, physically and psychologically tormented, was further distressed by bitter feuds among the anarchist leaders in Paris. Disagreements developed and divided Arshinov from Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, and Volin. Initially Makhno aligned himself with Arshinov; however, when Arshinov advocated an anarchist policy of recognizing the Stalin regime in 1931, he withdrew his support and generally remained aloof from the anarchist leaders' feud.14

During his last years Makhno grew weary of life and nostalgia for Ukraine filled his thoughts. His health declined steadily and he spent the last months of his life in Tenon Hospital in Paris. On July 27, 1934, Makhno died, and the next day he was cremated. About four hundred French, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and Jewish anarchists, including only two Ukrainians, his widow and his daughter, paid last tribute to Makhno.15 Many speakers, including the French anarchist Bonar, and Volin, glorified Makhno as a fighter for liberty. The urn containing Makhno's ashes was placed in Pere-Lachaise cemetery. Later it was moved several times and vault 6706 was finally purchased at Pere-Lachaise by anarchists from New York as a permanent resting place.17


1. Interviews by the author with Dr. Cyrille Radeff on September 15, 1973, Paris, and with Dr. Serhii S. Yermolenko on August 18, 1975, Minneapolis, Minn.

2. Berkman, "Nestor Makhno," pp. 2829; Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii, 1:385.

3. Gorelik, Goneniia na anarkhizm, p. 56; Peters, Nestor Makhno, p. 89; Nomad, Apostles of Revolution, p. 338.

4. Omelianovych-Pavlenko, Zymovyi pokhid, 2:2829.

5. Arbatov, "Bat'ko Makhno," p. 112.

6. Peter Arshinov, "Opravdanie Nestora Makhno," AV, nos. 56 (1923), p. 25; Nomad, Apostles of Revolution, p. 338; Edward Ligocki, Dialog z przeszloscia, pp. 25961; "Protiv gotoviashchegosia prestupleniia russkogo i pol'skogo pravitel'stv," VO, no. 2 (1922), p. 9.

7. Arbatov, "Bat'ko Makhno," p. 114.

8. Ibid.; Volin, "Nestor Makhno," p. 27; Arshinov, "Oprovdanie Nestora Makhno," p. 25; Voline, Unknown Revolution, p. 216; Footman, "Nestor Makhno," p. 126; Denikin, Ocherki, 5 :134.

9. N. Makhno, Po povodu "raz'iasneniia," pp. 1214; Aleksei Nikolaev, Zhizn'Nestora Makhno, p. 156.

10. Makhno was wounded about twelve times, including twice seriously (Volin, "Nestor Makhno," p. 7).

11. Berkman, "Nestor Makhno," p. 29.

12. Makhno to [Lev] Chykalenko; Peters, Nestor Makhno, p. 91; Avrich, Russian Anarchists, p. 24.

13. Makhno, Makhnovshchina, p. 34.

14. Peters, Nestor Makhno, p. 96.

15. At present the fate of Makhno's wife and daughter is unkown. According to Ida Mett, who knew them and Makhno from their arrival in Paris, the Germans sent Makhno's wife and daughter to Berlin during the German occupation, where his wife was presumably killed during an air raid. What happened to Makhno's daughter is unknown. In September 1973, the author visited Paris and talked with people who knew them to find a trace of their whereabouts, but in vain. However, the prevailing opinion reinforced that described by Mett (Ida Mett, "Souvenirs sur Nestor Makhno," p. 4).

16. Berland, "Makhno"; Volin, "Nestor Makhno," p. 7; Arbatov, "Bat'ko Makhno," p. 115; Meleshko, "Nestor Makhno ta ioho anarkhiia," no. 1, p. 10; Muromets, "Nestor Makhno," p. 16; "Smert' N. I. Makhno," PRO, nos. 4749 (1934), p. 1; "N. I. Makhno," p. 20; Peters, Nestor Makhno, pp. 96-97; Berkman, "Nestor Makhno," p. 30.

17. Interview with Cyrille Radeff.