Jacob Blumkin, 1892-1929

Rex Winsbury profiles a Soviet gunman and secret agent who assassinated the German Ambassador and was himself shot in 1929 after visiting Trotsky in exile.

In that astonishing quarter-century between the first cracks appearing in the ice that encrusted Russian Tsarist society, and the ice re-forming again over Soviet society under Stalin, the whirling eddies of revolution and counter-revolution brought to the surface of events a number of deeply ambiguous and ambivalent figures whose political motives and loyalties even today baffle the historian.

Such figures, if Russian novelists like Dostoevsky are to be believed, have always milled about in the lower depths of Russian life. It took the breakup of the ice of autocracy to allow some of them to emerge, briefly, into the light before they were pushed down again out of sight by the equally glacial regime of Stalin. One such person was Jacob Blumkin.

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