Forgotten Narratives: Moisei Uritsky

Uritsky on the right.

Whenever those who know me ask why I always obsess myself with the lives of people that no longer exist, especially ones that perhaps are not exactly role-models per se, I tell them that I have an affliction: It is the adamant need to find out about people’s narratives throughout history, especially the ones whose’ stories are not so well known.
Moisei Uritsky is such a person. A Bolshevik whose actions had important effects on the Russian Revolution, yet most often he is forgotten by history. Regardless of the fact that I am completely against Uritsky’s political stance who also by the way became part of a vile organization does not detract from the fact that a great deal can still be learned from his story. Who was this Uritsky exactly?
The Palace Square was once called Uritsky Square between 1918 to 1944, which means that he was a rather striking individual, at least from the Communist point of view. Having moved through the ranks of the Bolsheviks he finally found himself as the first head of the infamous Cheka police in Petrograd-later to be renamed Leningrad, that was the progenitor of the much worse KGB, the Soviet secret police, and main arm of terror to dominate and control the lives of millions of people through the lifetime of the U.S.S.R.
He was born in Cherkasy near Kiev, to a quintessential Jewish family in Eastern Europe. As a young boy his family was struck by tragedy when his father, who made a living as a merchant died, which meant a life full of poverty and drudgery with only one provider- undeniably an important reason why he turned towards social democracy later on in his youth.
Even while he began studying law a the the University of Kiev he was heavily engaged in revolutionary dialectics among his peers, until the point when just conversing turned into actual action. In 1897 he was picked up by the police for running illegal literature across the border, but also because he became heavily involved in the Jewish Bund, and later the 1905 Revolution.
Uritsky however played a substantial role in the violent taking of Russia in the October Revolution in 1917, having been one of the leaders who organized the men on the ground. After he was given a position in Cheka, Uritsky made is his personal task to go after the nobility, and those who owned substantial property in Petrograd through the use of the police.
Once the Civil War that plunged the new Russia in bitter fighting for four years began in 1918, he once again took up a seat on the Central Committee as People’s Commissar of the North. His career was cut short when a young soldier assassinated him in retaliation to a Cheka crackdown that resulted in the death of his ‘comrade’. The truth is that Uritsky was behind some egregious deeds during the early days of the Soviet Union.
The most important lesson that we can learn from Uristky is that perhaps coercion by violence will usually lead to more violence, and most likely to one’s end by its cold hand.
There is a trend in the grand narrative of  Jewish history in Europe that is just as salient. A great deal of many Jews seemed to have been swept up by the ideals of Communism, which were and are inherently evil, in hopes of a better life. However they soon caught on to what it truly was and left for Eretz Yisrael, while many remained behind to face antisemitism in a society that preached collective unity regardless of background- without a doubt just one contradiction amid the hundreds that plagued Soviet Russia.
Perhaps if Uritsky would have put his heart and soul in the development of Zionism and that of Eretz Yisrael even in those early days, like many of the Russian Jews who realized that a Socialist utopia was not exactly reality, he would have not faced such a tragic end. Yet, that is mere historical speculation, one which although is looked down upon by any self-respecting historian, can still not be put out of the human mind.
This is a crucial reminder that Israel must always remain a free market economy, and the freer, the better.
Milad Doroudiam a native of Jassy Romania, is a writer, historian, and the senior editor of The Art of Polemics magazine. He is currently working on a book on The Jassy Pogrom of 1941.