The Strange Comrade Balabanoff

The Life of a Communist Rebel


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About the Book

Born in 1878 to a wealthy Ukrainian family, Angelica Balabanoff broke ties with her parents and left for Europe to become one of the leading female socialists of the early 20th century. Just five feet tall, plump and plain, she was rumored to be a lover of Mussolini, Lenin, and Trotsky. Returning to Russia at the beginning of the October Revolution, she became one of the few women to occupy high-ranking positions within the all-male Bolshevik government, later fleeing Russia in disagreement with Lenin’s politics. She was accused by European and American secret services of promoting communist propaganda, and by the Soviets of disloyalty. She lived in small dormitory-like rooms, moving on average every two years with her two suitcases of important documents. She died in Rome at the age of 96, concluding her 65-year career by supporting Giuseppe Saragat in his quest to become president of Italy. During her nomadic life, state and police agencies in the countries she visited compiled documents on her. The author draws on this extensive, scattered archive in this first biography of Balabanoff.

About the Author(s)

Maria Lafont lives and works near Paris, France.

Bibliographic Details

Maria Lafont
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: 32 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9878-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2363-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction 9
List of Personalities 11
Abbreviations and Definitions 15
I A ­Natural-Born Rebel 17
II Professional Nomination 26
III Alone with Lenin 33
IV A Female Lecturer 38
V Forming Il Duce 50
VI Female Journalist 55
VII Expulsion 65
VIII International Spy 71
IX Lenin’s Favorite; Mussolini’s Most Trusted 74
X Mussolini’s Elegy 82
XI A ­Well-Hidden Family 91
XII Back to Russia 97
XIII De Facto Ambassador to the Scandinavian Countries 104
XIV Dining with the Lenins 112
XV ­Post-Mortem Research 118
XVI Organizing the First and Only General Strike in Switzerland 121
XVII Vice President of Foreign Affairs to the Ukraine 129
XVIII Governor of Odessa 141
XIX Lenin’s Most Trusted Agent 149
XX Freemason Without an Apron 156
XXI An Adolescent Armenian Boy 164
XXII Persona Non Grata 172
XXIII The Spy Whom I Loved 178
XXIV The Foundation of Angelica Balabanoff 185
XXV Under FBI Surveillance 197
XXVI The Red Popessa 201
Afterword: Ten Birth Dates 213
Chapter Notes 217
Bibliography 225
Index 229