A short biography of Zhivoder, a revolutionary sailor who moved from Bolshevism to anarchism
Zhivoder was born into a peasant family in Poltava Province around 1883. In the period 1904-05 he was a member of the RDSLP (Bolsheviks) and took part in the Revolution of 1905-07. By 1910 he was working in the underground organisation of the Bolsheviks in St Petersburg. During the 1st World War he was a sailor of the Baltic Fleet. He took part in the Civil War serving as a member of staff and chief of the supply department of the Red Army on the Tsaritsyn front in 1918. He was a commander of the Ekaterinoslav military sector and the Lenin Brigade of the 14th Army. During this period his units relieved a Jewish village after a vicious pogrom by the troops of Grigoriev.
By the end of 1919 he had become disillusioned with the politics and ideology of Bolshevism, according to Trotsky, who knew him. In Chapter 36 of his autobiography My Life Trotsky talks despairingly of him:
Concerning the command of the southern Soviet front the Tsaritsyn commanders were not much better than the Whites. Their relationship with the Moscow centre was confined to constant demands for supplies. We had all been in short supply. All that produced by the factories was immediately sent to the armies. None of them absorbed so many guns and ammunition as Tsaritsyin. At first refusal Tsaritsyn cried treason of the Moscow "specialists".
Trotsky goes on to say that the resident Special Representative of the Tsaritsin army In Moscow was the sailor Zhivoder and that when tighter discipline was imposed “he went to the bandits”. (Apart from the fact that two of these commanders were Stalin and Voroshilov, and this is the famous Tsaritsyn incident of October-November 1918 and the first famous clash between Trotsky and Stalin, note the sly amalgam with the Whites and the usual character assassination so characteristic of Trotsky).
Zhivoder did indeed go "to the bandits”. Zhivoder organised military units at Kobelyaki in Poltava province during spring 1920 and by July had 600 combatants. He proclaimed himself an anarchist communist around this time. He then joined the staff of the Makhnovists and was appointed commander of the 3rd Regiment of the Makhnovists numbering 1800 combatants . He was involved in the guerrilla war against the Reds. He was killed in action at the Kuteinyokove district railway station on 23rd September 1920. According to Trotsky : “He seems to have been caught and shot.”
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