Our Notes & References
Unusual pamphlet, providing a glimpse into the conspiratorial mindset of professional Russian revolutionaries. First edition, in very good condition; fragile pamphlets such as this are rarely encountered in such good condition and without institutional ownership marks.
With interesting provenance: from the library of Lev Borisovich Bernstein (1877-1962), a Russian activist and historian who lived in Paris from the early 1900s onwards, and was in close contact with many revolutionary figures, such as Maxim Gorky.
With the categorical slogan “No word is to be uttered during interrogations!” (our translation), the pamphlet analyses the main tactics of Tsar Nicholas II’s authorities against the revolutionaries, outlines numerous techniques for responding to searches and interrogations, such as providing false information and withstanding psychological pressure, and discusses whether a confession is worth making. “Taktika” is actually a recurring word in the text: both of the authorities against the revolutionaries, and of the latter against the former.
Vladimir Petrovich Makhnovets, here as Bakharev (1872-1921) was a Russian revolutionary leader, publicist, and a major theorist of the Russian Social-Democratic movement in exile. Two years after this booklet, he published an important early work on cryptography (Geneva, 1902) in which he describes how to write messages in chemical ink, as well as how to communicate through prison walls using built-in furniture and heating pipes.
The pamphlet is published by the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, an organisation established in Geneva in 1894 with the aim of printing and distributing revolutionary literature and then smuggling it into the Russian Empire. All of the Union’s publications were subject to confiscation at the borde, and this title is specifically listed in the Svodnyi katalog russkoi nelegalnoi i zapreshchennoi pechati XIX veka [Catalogue of the Russian illegal and banned 19th-century publications] (no. 1094).
The booklet also includes a letter by the editors and the wrappers list other important publications by the Union, including those by Vera Zasulich, Pavel Akselrod and Georgii Plekhanov. A second edition was published by the same organisation in Geneva in 1902.
Scarce on the market: although WorldCat lists 8 physical copies (mostly in the US), we could trace no copy at auction or on the market outside Russia, and only two there in recent years.
Lev Borisovich Bernstein (black ink stamp to upper wrapper).