Max Eastman

Letter to Mr. Simon

(On the death penalty in the USSR)


Transcribed: By Juan Fajardo, from a digital image of the original (October 2023).


New York


November 15, 1941


Dear Mr. Simon:

Your letter of September 24 to the Reader’s Digest was forwarded to me somewhat belatedly and I am belated with my answer.

Nobody questions the fact that the death penalty was decreed for theft of “socialist property”, and the extension of all penalties to children twelve years old automatically extends that one.1 I am sorry to say that I can not tell you offhand when the previous decree was issued but I think it was the Spring of 1934. I am sure you could find it in the “Times” index for it was published all over the world.

I enclose a copy of an answer to another two other correspondents which might interest you.

Yours sincerely,

Max Eastman





1. A decree by the Central Executive Committee of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR, published in Izvestia on 8 April 1935, determined that minors from 12 years of age who committed serious crimes were to be “liable to all grades of criminal penalty”. Previously, the lower age limit had been 16 years of age. –