SHOT FOR ESPERANTO.

I was in the process of disentangling the “Nikolai Nekrasov” entry in the index for Harrison Salisbury’s excellent history of Russia’s revolutions from 1905 to 1917, Black Night, White Snow—understandably but annoyingly, Nikolai (Alekseevich) Nekrasov the 19th-century poet and publisher and Nikolai (Vissarionovich) Nekrasov the 20th-century politician and intriguer were lumped in together (as they are in other history books; revolutionaries had a taste for N.A.’s poetry)—when I discovered there was yet a third Nikolai Nekrasov with a Wikipedia entry, Nikolai Vladimirovich Nekrasov (1900-1938), “a Russian Esperanto writer, translator, and critic.” After learning Esperanto as a teenager, he “was president of the Tutrusia Ligo de junaj esperantistoj (All-Russia League of Young Esperantists) and editor of Juna Mondo (Young world), which he typeset himself in the print room… He was especially concerned with the history and criticism of Esperanto literature… In the early 1930s he actively participated in the compilation and preparation of material on literature for the Enciklopedio de Esperanto. He also published many of Zamenhof’s letters.” Then the hammer came down:

Nekrasov was arrested in 1938, and accused of being “an organizer and leader of a fascist, espionage, terrorist organization of Esperantists”. For this crime he was shot to death on October 4, 1938. His archive and library were obliterated; presumably many of his unpublished works and translations thus perished.

I’m sure you’ll be as happy as I was to learn that he was posthumously rehabilitated in 1957. (His “Soneto Pri Esperanto” is online, if you want a sample of his work.)

Comments

  1. Nekrasov wasn’t the only one, not by far. The matter of persecutions against Esperantists has been covered extensively by Ulrich Lins in “La danĝera lingvo” (also available in German as “Die Gefährliche Sprache”, in Russian as “Опасный язык”, in Italian as “La lingua pericolosa”, in Lithuanian as “Pavojingoji kalba”…). Two thirds of the 568 pages deal with happenings in the Soviet Union. Here’s a review in English.

  2. Some spiteful gossips say or repeat that there is something called an “esperantist sect”. If it is so, who is its chief guru?

  3. misteraitch says:

    The Japanese Oomoto movement could be considered an “esperantist sect:”
    Since the time of its second spiritual leader, Onisaburo Deguchi, the constructed language Esperanto has played a major role in the Oomoto religion. Starting in 1924, the religion has published books and magazines in Esperanto and this continues today. Almost all of the 45,000 active members of Oomoto have studied some Esperanto, and around 1,000 are fluent in the language.
    Members of Oomoto believe in several gods. The most important are Ookunitokotachi, Ushitora, and Hitsujisaru, but the creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof, is also considered a god. However, all of these gods, including Zamenhof, are believed to be aspects of a single Master God.

  4. Neil Walsh says:

    I have heard that there was a group of Esperanto speakers at the University of Tokyo some years ago as well. I have not had the time to research that tidbit, if anyone has any info. on it I would be interested to know.

  5. I read a short story by Vladimir Voynovich in which a character had quoted a Latin proverb, and ended up being banged up by the NKVD as a Latin spy. I wonder if that was based on a recollection of this case.

  6. David Marjanovi? says:

    “Die Gefährliche Sprache”
    No, never. German does not have separate rules for headlines: adjectives never get a capital letter, except when they are part of a proper name (the Black Sea — das Schwarze Meer).
    Oomoto? I just say Campus Crusade for Cthulhu. Google for that.

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