Alexander Berkman
Name: Alexander Berkman
Occupation: Writer
Gender: Male
Birth Day: November 21, 1870
Death Date: June 28, 1936(1936-06-28) (aged 65)
Nice, France
Age: Aged 65
Birth Place: Vilnius, Russia
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius

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Alexander Berkman

Alexander Berkman was born on November 21, 1870 in Vilnius, Russia (65 years old). Alexander Berkman is a Writer, zodiac sign: Sagittarius. Nationality: Russia. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.

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Family Members

# Name Relationship Net Worth Salary Age Occupation
#1 Yetta Berkman Parents N/A N/A N/A
#2 Osip Berkman Parents N/A N/A N/A

Does Alexander Berkman Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Alexander Berkman died on June 28, 1936(1936-06-28) (aged 65)
Nice, France.


Height Weight Hair Colour Eye Colour Blood Type Tattoo(s)


Biography Timeline


In 1877, Osip 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. The family moved to Saint Petersburg, a city previously off-limits to Jews. There, Ovsei adopted the more Russian name Alexander; he was known among family and friends as Sasha, a diminutive for Alexander. The Berkmans lived comfortably, with servants and a summer house. Berkman attended the gymnasium, where he received a classical education with the youth of Saint Petersburg's elite.


As a youth, Berkman was influenced by the growing radicalism that was spreading among workers in the Russian capital. A wave of political assassinations culminated in a bomb blast that killed Tsar Alexander II in 1881. While his parents worried—correctly, as it turned out—that the tsar's death might result in repression of the Jews and other minorities, Berkman became intrigued by the radical ideas of the day, including populism and nihilism. He became very upset when his favorite uncle, his mother's brother Mark Natanson, was sentenced to death for revolutionary activities.


Berkman's mother died in 1887, and his uncle Nathan Natanson became responsible for him. Berkman had contempt for Natanson for his desire to maintain order and avoid conflict. Natanson could not understand what Berkman found appealing in his radical ideas, and he worried that Berkman would bring shame to the family. Late that year, Berkman was caught stealing copies of the school exams and bribing a handyman. He was expelled and labelled a "nihilist conspirator".


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


In 1889, Berkman met and began a romance with Emma Goldman, another Russian immigrant. He invited her to Most's lecture. Soon Berkman and Goldman fell in love and became inseparable. Despite their disagreements and separations, Goldman and Berkman would share a mutual devotion for decades, united by their anarchist principles and love for each other.


In 1892, Berkman, Goldman, and Aronstam relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts, where they operated a successful luncheonette. At the end of June, Goldman saw a newspaper headline that brought to her attention the trio's first opportunity for political action: the Homestead Strike. In June 1892, workers at a steel plant in Homestead, Pennsylvania were locked out when negotiations between the Carnegie Steel Company and the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers failed. Henry Clay Frick, the factory's notoriously anti-union manager, hired 300 armed guards from the Pinkerton Detective Agency to break the union's picket lines. When the Pinkerton guards arrived at the factory on the morning of July 6, a gunfight broke out. Nine union workers and seven guards were killed in the 12-hour fight.

Within weeks of his arrival at prison, Berkman began planning his suicide. He tried to sharpen a spoon into a blade, but his attempt was discovered by a guard and Berkman spent the night in the dungeon. He thought about beating his head against the bars of his cell, but worried that his efforts might injure him but leave him alive. Berkman wrote a letter to Goldman, asking her to secure a dynamite capsule for him. A letter was smuggled out of the prison and arrangements were made for her to visit Berkman in November 1892, posing as his sister. Berkman knew as soon as he saw Goldman that she had not brought the dynamite capsule.


Between 1893 and 1897, the years when Bauer and Nold were also in the Western Penitentiary for their part in the assassination attempt, the three men surreptitiously produced 60 issues of a hand-written anarchist newsletter by transferring their work from cell to cell. They managed to send the completed newsletters, which they called Prison Blossoms, to friends outside the prison. Participating in Prison Blossoms, initially written in German and later in English, helped Berkman improve his English. He developed a friendship with the prison chaplain, John Lynn Milligan, who was a strong advocate on behalf of the prison library. Milligan encouraged Berkman to read books from the library, a process that furthered his knowledge of English.


In 1897, as Berkman finished the fifth year of his sentence, he applied to the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. Having served as his own attorney, Berkman had failed to object to the trial judge's rulings and thus had no legal basis for an appeal; a pardon was his only hope for early release. The Board of Pardons denied his application in October 1897. A second application was rejected in early 1899.


Now an escape seemed like Berkman's only option. The plan was to rent a house across the street from the prison and dig a tunnel from the house to the prison. Berkman had been given access to a large portion of the prison and had grown familiar with its layout. In April 1900, a house was leased. The tunnel would be dug from the cellar of the house to the stable inside the prison yard. When the digging was complete, Berkman would sneak into the stable, tear open the wooden flooring, and crawl through the tunnel to the house.


In 1905, Berkman was transported from the Western Penitentiary to the Allegheny County Workhouse, where he spent the final 10 months of his sentence. He found conditions in the workhouse "a nightmare of cruelty, infinitely worse than the most inhuman aspects of the penitentiary." The guards beat inmates at the slightest provocation, and one particularly sadistic guard shoved prisoners down the stairs. Berkman felt mixed emotions; he was concerned about the friends he had made in the prison, he was excited about the prospect of freedom, and he was worried about what life as a free man would be like.


Berkman was released from the workhouse on May 18, 1906, after serving 14 years of his sentence. He was met at the workhouse gates by newspaper reporters and police, who recommended that he leave the area. He took the train to Detroit, where Goldman met him. She found herself "seized by terror and pity" at his gaunt appearance. Later, at a friend's house, Berkman felt overwhelmed by the presence of well-wishers. He became claustrophobic and almost suicidal. Nevertheless, he agreed to a joint lecture tour with Goldman.


In September 1913, the United Mine Workers called a strike against coal-mining companies in Ludlow, Colorado. The largest mining company was the Rockefeller family-owned Colorado Fuel & Iron Company. On April 20, 1914, the Colorado National Guard attacked a tent colony of striking miners and their families and, during a day-long fight, 26 people were killed.


In late 1915, Berkman left New York and went to California. In San Francisco the following year, he started his own anarchist journal, The Blast. Although it was published for just 18 months, The Blast was considered second only to Mother Earth in its influence among U.S. anarchists.


On July 22, 1916, a bomb exploded during the San Francisco Preparedness Day Parade, killing ten people and wounding 40. Police suspected Berkman, although there was no evidence, and ultimately their investigation focused on two local labor activists, Thomas Mooney and Warren Billings. Although neither Mooney nor Billings were anarchists, Berkman came to their aid: raising a defense fund, hiring lawyers, and beginning a national campaign on their behalf. Mooney and Billings were convicted, with Mooney sentenced to death and Billings to life imprisonment.


In 1917 the U.S. entered World War I and Congress enacted the Selective Service Act, which required all men between the ages of 21 and 30 to register for military conscription. Berkman moved back to New York, where he and Goldman organized the No Conscription League of New York, which proclaimed: "We oppose conscription because we are internationalists, anti-militarists, and opposed to all wars waged by capitalistic governments." The organization was at the forefront of anti-draft activism, and chapters were established in other cities. The No Conscription League changed its focus from public meetings to disseminating pamphlets after police started disrupting the group's public events in search of young men who had not registered for the draft.

Berkman and Goldman were arrested during a raid of their offices on June 15, 1917, during which police seized what The New York Times described as "a wagon load of anarchist records and propaganda material". The pair were charged under Espionage Act of 1917 with "conspiracy to induce persons not to register", and were held on $25,000 bail each.


The jury found them guilty and Judge Julius M. Mayer imposed the maximum sentence: two years' imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and the possibility of deportation after their release from prison. 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. When he was released on October 1, 1919, Berkman looked "haggard and pale"; according to Goldman, the 21 months Berkman served in Atlanta took a greater toll on him than his 14-year incarceration in Pennsylvania.


Strikes broke out in Petrograd in March 1921 when workers demonstrated for better food rations and more autonomy for their unions. Berkman and Goldman supported the strikers, writing: "To remain silent now is impossible, even criminal." The unrest spread to the port of Kronstadt, where Trotsky ordered a military response. In the battle that ensued, 600 sailors were killed; 2,000 more were arrested; and 500 to 1,500 Soviet troops died. In the wake of these events, Berkman and Goldman decided there was no future in the country for them. Berkman wrote in his diary:

Berkman and Goldman left the country in December 1921. Berkman moved to Berlin and almost immediately began to write a series of pamphlets about the Russian Revolution. "The Russian Tragedy", "The Russian Revolution and the Communist Party", and "The Kronstadt Rebellion" were published during the summer of 1922.


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. Work on Goldman's book, My Two Years in Russia, was completed in December 1922, and the book was published in two parts with titles not of her choosing: My Disillusionment in Russia (1923) and My Further Disillusionment in Russia (1924). Berkman worked on his book, The Bolshevik Myth, throughout 1923 and it was published in January 1925.


Berkman moved to Saint-Cloud, France, in 1925. He organized a fund for aging anarchists including Sébastien Faure, Errico Malatesta, and Max Nettlau. He 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 Berkman to write an introduction to anarchism intended for the general public. By presenting the principles of anarchism in plain language, the New York anarchists hoped that readers might be swayed to support the movement or, at a minimum, that the book might improve the image of anarchism and anarchists in the public's eyes. Berkman produced Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism, first published in 1929 and reprinted many times since (often under the title What Is Communist Anarchism? or What Is Anarchism?). Anarchist Stuart Christie wrote that Now and After is "among the best introductions to the ideas of anarchism in the English language" and historian Paul Avrich described it as "the clearest exposition of communist anarchism in English or any other language".


Berkman spent his last years eking out a precarious living as an editor and translator. He and his companion, Emmy Eckstein, relocated frequently within Nice in search of smaller and less expensive quarters. Aronstam, who had changed his name to Modest Stein and attained success as an artist, became a benefactor, sending Berkman a monthly sum to help with expenses. In the 1930s his health began to deteriorate, and he underwent two unsuccessful operations for a prostate condition in early 1936. After the second surgery, he was bed-ridden for months. In constant pain, forced to rely on the financial help of friends and dependent on Eckstein's care, Berkman decided to commit suicide. In the early hours of June 28, 1936, unable to endure the physical pain of his ailment, Berkman tried to shoot himself in the heart with a handgun, but he failed to make a clean job of it. The bullet punctured a lung and his stomach and lodged in his spinal column, paralyzing him. Goldman rushed to Nice to be at his side. Berkman recognized her but was unable to speak. He sank into a coma in the afternoon, and died at 10 o'clock that night.


Berkman died weeks before the start of the Spanish Revolution, modern history's clearest example of an anarcho-syndicalist revolution. In July 1937, Goldman wrote that seeing his principles in practice in Spain "would have rejuvenated [Berkman] and given him new strength, new hope. If only he had lived a little longer!"


Berkman arranged for Russian anarchists to protest outside the American embassy in Petrograd during the Russian Revolution, which led U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to ask California's governor to commute Mooney's death sentence. When the governor reluctantly did so, he said that "the propaganda in [Mooney's] behalf following the plan outlined by Berkman has been so effective as to become world-wide." Billings and Mooney both were pardoned in 1939.

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Currently, Alexander Berkman is 152 years, 0 months and 7 days old. Alexander Berkman will celebrate 153rd birthday on a Tuesday 21st of November 2023.

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