Re: Fanny Kaplan: some miscellaneous information #general
In her message (#48) of November 10, 1998, Cindy Gallard asked about
Fannie Kaplan and her family background. So far I have not been able to
find any information about the connection between Roitblatt (or Rothblatt)
and Roitman. The only Roitman in the Encyclopedia Judaica is David
Roitman, a noted cantor >from Odessa. However, I have made the following
notes about Fannie >from various Russian and other histories or
biographies, books I've read.
Fanny or Fanya is sometimes referred to as Dora.
There is some question as to whether she actually fired and wounded
Lenin, although she "confessed" to having shot him. She had very poor
eyesight and was nearly deaf as well. (Yet, despite her near blindness,
she was a milliner in a factory, according to Louis Rapoport, in his
"Stalin's War Against the Jews") Arkady Vaksberg (in his "Stalin Against
the Jews") says that a laborer named Novikov and a volunteer policeman
named Protopopov were the likely attackers and that they were allowed to
escape because they "did not have the right profile because of their
proletarian background, while Fanya presumably fit the "reigning class
paradigm.") However, another source, (Edvard Radzinksy in "Stalin") says
that a woman's hand was seen pointing a "Browning" and firing it at Lenin
at close range.
Accounts vary as to how seriously Lenin was wounded. A French
website I found recently called "A L'Ombre du Mausolee," said that Fanny
had used a "Browning" gun which expelled two bullets lubricated with
curare. (But Arkady Vaksberg says there is little doubt today that the
bullets were NOT poisoned or that Fanny did NOT shoot Lenin!) There are
details on this website about just where in Lenin's body the bullets
lodged. His vital organs were not touched.
Moreover, it is not clear to me- not that it matters- whether two or
three bullets were fired.
A young people's biography of Maxim Gorky by D.L. Fromberg,
translated by Alexander Roskin,(">from the Banks of the Volga" contains a
description of a meeting between Lenin and the writer Maxim Gorky, which
took place soon after "the events" of 1917. Lenin taked about the attempt
on his life, and his subsequent operation. Gorky was worried, and to allay
his concern " Lenin "carefully but seemingly without any effort raised his
arm, stretched it out, bent it, and then stretched it out again. Gorky ran
his finger over Lenin's collar bone and the muscles of his arm..." to
persuade himself that his friend had recovered.
In another book, Lenin is said to have forgiven Fanny, but the author
did not give this "rumor" much credence. There is much evidence to the
contrary! And in George Leggett's book on the Cheka ( Trotsky is alleged
claimed that" we didn't even execute the terrorist...who put two bullets in
According to a story in Emma Goldman's "Living my Life," the accused
Fanya (or Dora) was tortured for three days after her arrest. Another
source says, she was shot in the back of the head, not having had a
hearing, much less a trial. It is generally alleged that she was executed
on the order of Yakov Sverdlov. Yakov was a witness to the meeting between
Gorky and Lenin which I described above..
(This same Sverdlov, by the way, was a brother of Zinovy Sverdlov
Peshkov. Zinovy was converted Jew and Maxim Gorky's adopted son. Yakov was
appointed the first titular President of the Soviet Union, but he died
"suddenly" soon after and at a very young age, but not before he had
committed some rather ugly acts. Supposedly he died of typhus, but having
read so many books on Russian history lately, I suspect something more
nefarious than typhus, even though there was a typhus epidemic. I think he
might well have been "bumped off.") Sverdlov is supposed to have ordered
that Fanny's body be destroyed, but whether this order was carried out, I
George Leggett gives a detailed account of Lenin's assassination by
Fanny, her arrest and interrogation. She "testified" that she was Fania
Kaplan, age 28, that she came >from a family in the Volhynskaia Region, and
had changed her name >from Roidman to Kaplan in 1906. (This was the year
she had been sentenced perpetual penal servitude in Kiev for her
participation in an "anarchist" terrorist act.) A fellow named Malkov was
the one who actually executed her, although he was reluctant to kill a
woman. Malkov later wrote about this episode in his memoir.
But, complicating matters still more, there is a lengthy footnote in
Leggett's book, concerning an Angelica Balabanoff, who visited the wounded
Lenin. (She later became Secretary of the Comintern, and befriend Emma
Goldman during Goldman's exile >from the U.S. She was also a mentor of
Mussolini!) In one of the two books she wrote, a memoir of Lenin,
Balabanoff claimed that some illegal papers put out by members of the
Socialist Revolutionary Party reported that Kaplan had not been executed
but exiled to Siberia! Some anonymous political prisoner had written a
memoir in which she said she had met Kaplan in the Butyrki prison in 1938.
Kaplan had told this nameless memoirist that she had not been shot because
Lenin thought she should be given a light sentence because of her services
to the revolution.
There were periodic reports of her having been seen in Moscow or
Siberia, and Leggett notes a cable >from Moscow to the U.S. in January
1958, concerning Kaplan's recent death >from natural causes in a
concentration camp. But Leggett insists that Malkov's evidence and
contemporary press reports are more conclusive of Kaplan's execution soon
after she allegedly shot Lenin in 1918.
Ms. Gallard says that the daughter of the man who claimed to be
Fanny's brother said that her grandfather had come >from Ovruch, which is,
according to my modern map of the Ukraine, about 125 statute miles north of
Zhitomer. My gazetteer says that Ovruch is in the Zhitomer Oblast. And I
found it listed in Mark Heckman's website on Volhynia,
So I surmise that Ovruch is in the Volhynia Gubernia, Zhitomer
oblast. I hope I've got at least this right!
As if doing "mere" genealogy were not difficult enough!