Grigori Gershuni

This introductory paragraph about Grigori Gershuni was written by Ann Rabinowitz.

Sometimes, I find interesting stories about our Kupiskis families and I try and pass them onto you.  This one is about Gersh Isakov-Itskov Gershuni aka Grigori Andreevich Gershuni who was born August 29, 1870, the son of Sholom-Josel and Tauba Gershuni.  He was a pharmacist, but that is not what he has gone down in history for.

He was known as one of the great Russian Revolutionaries who was a founding member of the  Workers' Party for the Political Liberation of Russia. Later, he helped to found the Socialist Workers Party and the SR Combat Organization.  He went onto bigger and better things which culminated in his imprisonment for life in Akatui, Manchuria, in the summer of 1906.

It is Gershuni's escape from prison and his reappearance in San Francisco and beyond which is remarkable.  His story was written up in a popular magazine of the time,
The American Monthly Review Of Reviews, An International Magazine, edited by Albert Shaw, Volume 34, 1904, under the title "Thrilling Escape of a Russian Revolutionist"

It was said that he escaped in a barrel of sauerkraut which was a unique means of hiding oneself.  He lived another two years after his escape, until March 29, 1908, when he died of tuberculosis in Zurich, Switzerland, bringing an untimely end to his amazing career.

This article is courtesy of Google Books.


Minsk, ir va-em

There is a fair amount of information about Grigori in the Minsk Yizkor Book, Minsk, Jewish Mother-City, a Memorial Anthology, edited by Shlomo Even-Shushan, published in: Jerusalem, 1975-85, located on the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project.

There appears to be an entire chapter about him but it is not yet translated.  Below is a paragraph which mentions Grigori in passing but throws some light on his personality before his revolutionary days.  

During my time, there were classes for the public in Russian, under license from the government, of course. The vast majority of the lecturers were Jewish. These were public lectures in Russian, accompanied, already in those days, with a type of enchantment, and much experience. One of the lecturers was Gregory Gershuny, the well-known social revolutionary (his brother was a nose and throat doctor in Minsk). He was a chemist. I did not miss even one of his lectures. He was a wonderful lecturer with a clear style, understandable by everybody. He accompanied his words with many demonstrations. I recall these demonstrations: he had two flasks in his hand with white liquid in each. He mixed the liquids and – wonder of wonders – they turned red! Any inclination that I have towards the sciences comes not only from my grandfather of blessed memory, who was as they say in the Talmud “someone occupied in these matters”, but also from the lectures of Gershuni. Nobody in Minsk knew that before us was a person who would later become famous as one of the heads of the social revolutionaries who utilized terror against the heads of the Czarist government. He was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He escaped the deportation by hiding in a container of cabbage, and arrived in the United States.

From "Minsk at the Turn of the Century," by David Zakai, translated by Jerrold Landau

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