Bob Gould, 2008

Artyom Sergeyev, 1921-2008
Son of Artem Sergeyev

Source: Ozleft, February 1, 2008. (Bob Gould and Ed Lewis)
Proofreading, editing, mark-up: Steve Painter

The Sydney Morning Herald on February 1 carries a lengthy obituary for Major General Artyom Sergeyev, son of Artem Sergeyev, a Russian exile from Tsarist repression after the 1905 revolution who was a working class militant in Brisbane before returning to Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, where he became a member of the Bolshevik Central Committee.

The Guardian-SMH obituary repeats, as if true, Stalinist slanders against the hundreds of thousands of communists and others who Stalin had murdered between 1937 and 1941. It says the Trotskyists were suspected of responsibility for the 1921 train wreck that killed Artem, the father of Artyom Sergeyev.

The difficulty with that proposition is that in 1921 Trotsky was second only to Lenin in the Russian government, and was the main military leader of the Red Army, which had just won the civil war against the Whites.

The slanders about Trotskyist wreckers were invented 15 years later to justify the murderous purges that claimed nearly a million lives. The real tragedy of the Russian political emigrants in Australia who were either deported back to Russia during the conservative hysteria after World War I, or who voluntarily returned, is that many of them eventually ended up in Stalinís gulags in the late 1930s or were killed by the Stalinists.

Russian emigrants and exiles who returned to support the 1917 revolution were among groups that were hardest hit during the purges.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography has an entry for Artem, which also mentions his son.

Artem was an important organiser of the Russian community in Brisbane, which included exiled Social Revolutionaries, anarchists and Marxists. Members of the Russian community and its organisations were active in the 1913 general strike and Artem was involved with a Russian-language newspaper, Australian Echo, which was suppressed as an unregistered publication.

Otto Pohl provides some background about attacks on the Russian community after 1917, and the deportation without trial of at least 11 Russians, and Louise Curtis describes the organisation of the Russian community in Brisbane in a paper, First World War Intelligence and the Russian Workers Association in Australia.