Chernigov Archive

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Angelica’s Hometown – Chernigov and its City Day

9.09.2016 Posted in Travel, Writing No Comments

Those who have been following my blog know that my biography about Angelica Balabanoff  The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel has been published by  McFarland Publishers in June. To celebrate the book launch for the past few months the articles in my blog More Then Red have been devoted to Angelica : her lifestyle, friends and recipes. Today I would like to devote a few words to Angelica’s hometown – Chernigov, today’s Ukraine, – which is about to celebrate its City Day on September 21. Angelica’s life story starts in Chernigov, hundreds of miles away from Paris, Rome and New York, cities where she would spend most of her life. Because the research on my book about Angeica was sponsored entirely by my own funds, I could not afford to go to all the places I needed to see. I had to abandon the idea of a trip to Chernigov. The journey promised to be interesting but long and expensive. Going there without knowing in advance what the trip might entail was rather complicated. I decided to continue looking for more documents about her childhood, while remaining in Paris, contacting the archives in the Ukraine by Internet, collecting any information I could from Google and reading Angelica’s memoirs. However I’m sure had I decided to go to Chernigov, I could have found a lot of most fasinating information about her family and childhood. (I ended up contacting the staff in the Chernigov archives by phone and they were most friendly and […]

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Writing about a Red Woman

22.07.2014 Posted in Writing No Comments

Dear Reader, as you know for the last 4 years I have been writing a biography of Angelica Balabanoff. So who is Angelica and why did I want to write about her? Born in 1878 in a dazzlingly rich family in Chernigov, Angelica broke ties with her parents and left for Europe, to become one of the leading female socialists of the European labor movement at the beginning of the 20th century. She was famous in Italy for “discovering” Mussolini, when he was an unknown socialist, and being the first person who “polished and educated” the future Il Duce. Only 5 feet tall, plum and unattractive, she was rumored to be a lover of Mussolini, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. For a long time, it was thought that Mussolini’s eldest daughter Edda was the daughter of Angelica. Angelica returned to Russia at the beginning of the October Revolution. Highly respected within the European socialist movement, her mere presence in Russia during the Revolution served as real publicity for what was happening in the country. After becoming one of the few women to occupy high-ranking positions within the all-male Bolshevik government, Angelica fled Russia, disagreeing with Lenin’s politics. She was accused by European and American secret services of promoting communist propaganda and by the Soviets of becoming a traitor. A brilliant translator, she spoke thirteen languages. An excellent speaker, she gathered crowds of men and women, addressing the most daring subjects at the time when women stayed at home. A constant traveler, […]