86 Facts About Alexander Berkman


Alexander Berkman was a Russian-American anarchist and author.


Alexander Berkman was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century, famous for both his political activism and his writing.


Alexander Berkman lived in New York City, where he became involved in the anarchist movement.


Alexander Berkman was the one-time lover and lifelong friend of anarchist Emma Goldman.


In 1892, undertaking an act of propaganda of the deed, Alexander Berkman made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate businessman Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead strike, for which he served 14 years in prison.


Alexander Berkman was born Ovsei Osipovich Alexander Berkman in the Lithuanian city of Vilnius.


Alexander Berkman was the youngest of four children born into a well-off Lithuanian Jewish family.

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In 1877, Osip Alexander Berkman was granted the right, as a successful businessman, to move from the Pale of Settlement to which Jews were generally restricted in the Russian Empire.


Alexander Berkman attended the gymnasium, where he received a classical education with the youth of Saint Petersburg's elite.


Alexander Berkman became very upset when his favorite uncle, his mother's brother Mark Natanson, was sentenced to death for revolutionary activities.


Alexander Berkman had shown great promise as a student at the gymnasium, but his studies began to falter as he spent his time reading novels.


Alexander Berkman distributed banned material to other students and wrote some radical tracts of his own, which he printed using supplies pilfered from the school.


Alexander Berkman turned in a paper titled "There Is No God", which resulted in a one-year demotion as punishment on the basis of "precocious godlessness, dangerous tendencies and subordination".


Alexander Berkman's mother died in 1887, and his uncle Nathan Natanson became responsible for him.


Alexander Berkman had contempt for Natanson for his desire to maintain order and avoid conflict.


Natanson could not understand what Alexander Berkman found appealing in his radical ideas, and he worried that Alexander Berkman would bring shame to the family.


Late that year, Alexander Berkman was caught stealing copies of the school exams and bribing a handyman.


When his brother left for Germany in early 1888 to study medicine, Alexander Berkman took the opportunity to accompany him and from there made his way to New York City.


Alexander Berkman joined the Pioneers of Liberty, the first Jewish anarchist group in the US The group was affiliated with the International Working People's Association, the organization to which the Haymarket defendants had belonged, and they regarded the Haymarket men as martyrs.


Alexander Berkman became a typesetter for Most's German-language newspaper Freiheit.


In 1889, Alexander Berkman met and began a romance with Emma Goldman, another Russian immigrant.


Alexander Berkman eventually broke with Most and aligned himself with the autonomists.


Soon, Alexander Berkman was working for the autonomists' publications, Der Anarchist and Die Autonomie, but he remained committed to the concept of violent action as a tool for inspiring revolutionary change.


Alexander Berkman had never met either man but counted on their support.


Nold invited Alexander Berkman to stay with him, and he and Bauer introduced Alexander Berkman to several local anarchists.

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Alexander Berkman wore a new suit and a black derby hat, and in his pockets he had a gun and a dagger fashioned from a steel file.


Alexander Berkman went to Frick's office and asked to see him, saying he was the representative of a New York hiring agency, but he was told Frick was too busy to meet him.


The gunshots and struggle could be heard and seen from the street, and within minutes Frick's office had attracted all sorts of people, but Alexander Berkman continued to resist.


Alexander Berkman lent Berkman his own tie for the picture.


Also defending Alexander Berkman was Dyer Lum, an anarchist who had been a comrade of the Haymarket defendants, and Lucy Parsons.


Alexander Berkman was deeply interested in the debate concerning his action.


Alexander Berkman has shown that there are among the anarchists, men capable of being revolted by the crimes of capitalism to the point of giving their life to put an end to these crimes, or at least to open a way to such an end.


Alexander Berkman declined the services of a lawyer for his trial.


Alexander Berkman tried to learn the date of his trial, but it was kept secret by the district attorney out of fear of an attack by Alexander Berkman's comrades.


Alexander Berkman therefore was unaware of his trial until the morning it began.


The district attorney had selected the jury without allowing Alexander Berkman to examine prospective jurors, and the judge had no objection to the unusual procedure.


Alexander Berkman was asked to call his witnesses, but he had none.


Alexander Berkman felt the man's voice was "cracked and shrill" as he spoke to the jury in broken English himself.


The effect of the statement, Alexander Berkman thought, was being lost.


Alexander Berkman argued that he should be sentenced only for the attempt on Frick's life and that the other charges were elements of the main crime of assault with the intent to kill, but the judge overruled his objection.


In four hours, Alexander Berkman had been tried, convicted, and sentenced.


Alexander Berkman was brought to serve his sentence at Pennsylvania's Western Penitentiary.


Alexander Berkman tried to sharpen a spoon into a blade, but his attempt was discovered by a guard and Berkman spent the night in the dungeon.


Alexander Berkman thought about beating his head against the bars of his cell, but worried that his efforts might injure him but leave him alive.


Alexander Berkman wrote a letter to Goldman, asking her to secure a dynamite capsule for him.

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Alexander Berkman knew as soon as he saw Goldman that she had not brought the dynamite capsule.


Alexander Berkman developed a friendship with the prison chaplain, John Lynn Milligan, who was a strong advocate on behalf of the prison library.


Milligan encouraged Alexander Berkman to read books from the library, a process that furthered his knowledge of English.


Alexander Berkman frequently clashed with the prison's management over the mistreatment of his fellow prisoners.


In 1897, as Alexander Berkman finished the fifth year of his sentence, he applied to the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons.


Alexander Berkman had been given access to a large portion of the prison and had grown familiar with its layout.


Alexander Berkman was horrified to discover that the entrance was blocked by a large load of stones and bricks recently dumped for a construction project.


Days after he was released from solitary, Alexander Berkman tried to hang himself with a strip of his blanket.


Alexander Berkman received word that his sentence had been reduced by two-and-a-half years, thanks to a new law.


Early in his incarceration, Alexander Berkman questioned whether two men could love one another.


Alexander Berkman became intimate with one prisoner, "Johnny", when the two were confined to the dungeon.


Alexander Berkman discussed homosexuality with another prisoner, "George", a formerly married physician who told Berkman about his own homosexual prison affair.


In 1905, Alexander Berkman was transported from the Western Penitentiary to the Allegheny County Workhouse, where he spent the final 10 months of his sentence.


Alexander Berkman felt mixed emotions; while he was excited about the prospect of freedom, he was concerned about the friends he had made in the prison, and he was worried about what his life as a free man would be like.


Alexander Berkman was met at the workhouse gates by newspaper reporters and police, who recommended that he leave the area.


Alexander Berkman took the train to Detroit, where Goldman met him.


Alexander Berkman found herself "seized by terror and pity" at his gaunt appearance.


Later, at a friend's house, Alexander Berkman felt overwhelmed by the presence of well-wishers.


Alexander Berkman continued to suffer from depression and increasingly spoke about committing suicide.


Alexander Berkman began a new lecture tour, but when he failed to appear in Cleveland, concerned friends sent a telegram to Goldman in New York.

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Three days later, Alexander Berkman appeared in New York and contacted Goldman.


Alexander Berkman said the lecture tour had made him feel miserable.


Alexander Berkman had purchased a handgun in Cleveland with the intention of killing himself in a city where nobody knew him, but he was unable to complete the act.


Alexander Berkman considered returning to his old job as a printer, but his skills had become obsolete in light of innovations in linotype machines.


Alexander Berkman served as editor from 1907 to 1915, and took the journal in a more provocative and practical direction, in contrast to the more theoretical approach which had been favored by the previous editor, Max Baginski.


Alexander Berkman helped establish the Ferrer Center in New York during 1910 and 1911, and served as one of its teachers.


Some sources, including Charles Plunkett, one of the surviving conspirators, say that Alexander Berkman was the chief conspirator, the oldest and most experienced member of the group.


In late 1915, Alexander Berkman left New York and went to California.


Alexander Berkman arranged for Russian anarchists to protest outside the American embassy in Petrograd during the Russian Revolution, which led US President Woodrow Wilson to ask California's governor to commute Mooney's death sentence.


Alexander Berkman invoked the First Amendment, asking how the government could claim to fight for "liberty and democracy" in Europe while suppressing free speech at home:.


Alexander Berkman served his sentence in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, seven months of which he spent in solitary confinement for protesting the beating of other inmates.


Alexander Berkman moved to Berlin and almost immediately began to write a series of pamphlets about the Russian Revolution.


Alexander Berkman planned to write a book about his experience in Russia, but he postponed it while he assisted Goldman as she wrote a similar book, using as sources material he had collected.


Alexander Berkman worked on his book, The Bolshevik Myth, throughout 1923 and it was published in January 1925.


Alexander Berkman organized a fund for aging anarchists including Sebastien Faure, Errico Malatesta, and Max Nettlau.


Alexander Berkman continued to fight on behalf of anarchist prisoners in the Soviet Union, and arranged the publication of Letters from Russian Prisons, which detailed their persecution.


In 1926, the Jewish Anarchist Federation of New York asked Alexander Berkman to write an introduction to anarchism intended for the general public.


Alexander Berkman produced Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism, first published in 1929 and reprinted many times since.


Alexander Berkman spent his last years eking out a precarious living as an editor and translator.


In constant pain, forced to rely on the financial help of friends and dependent on Eckstein's care, Alexander Berkman decided to commit suicide.

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Alexander Berkman died weeks before the start of the Spanish Revolution, modern history's clearest example of an anarcho-syndicalist revolution.