Breaking Stalin

Breaking Stalin

Chapter XX

Nikolai let out a sigh of relief as he sat down, exhaustedly knocking some papers off his cluttered desk.  He took a deep breath before reaching down to grab them.  A smile formed on the corner of his lips as he realized the paper on top was his most recent publication with the nice little earmarked corner slightly cutting off the 9 on the 1909.  He leaned back in his chair wondering if moving the date would change how people perceived the paper.  Perception was what it was all about when you were the 20 year old Chief Organizer of the Bolsheviks in the important Zamoskvereche district of Moscow.  And recently the Bolshevik organization had been shredded by the Tsar.  The Okhrana was raiding district after district.  Membership had already fallen by as much as 50% by some reports.
Many of the party leaders had already been imprisoned or detained, some had even been shipped away to prison camps in the north.  His district had not been untouched either, but the headquarters was still intact.  He rifled through the leaflet distractedly holding it next to his ear to cover the sound of silence in the background.  Silence?  His eyes snapped up while the leaflet crumpled in his shaky hands.  He stood up slowly and edged back towards the old wooden door that was the entrance to their hideout.
Headquarters was a very well chosen spot by all accounts.  It was right next to one of the river tributaries meaning the bridge next to it created a kind of natural hiding place.  The bridge and the road rose a few feet with a guardrail on the side until a single hole a few hundred feet from the riverbank opened to allow travelers to pass to the bridge or down onto the street below.  The street to the door started wide and narrowed as it passed an old church on the left, and right behind the church, built into the very same wall, was that small rickety door.  Headquarters wasn’t always empty, but it was strangely silent tonight, nothing disturbed the silence, even from the street outside.
Nikolai reached his shaky hands to the door, and slid it open.  The night sky greeted him with silence.  He quietly exited and locked the door behind him, hurriedly starting a brisk walk towards the bridge.  As he did so he could see figures emerging below him near the river, more emerged in front of him coming down from the road to the river.  He stopped, unsure of where to go, and then he thought of the church and started to walk quickly towards the doors, but they too opened revealing a man in a long petticoat, which buttoned all the way up to just below his chin.  His army style boots with baggy pants revealed him to be an officer.  He looked Bukharin up and down coolly.
“Hello, Nikolai, I don’t think we’ve met?”
“No, sir, we haven’t.”  Nikolai answered stiffly, the men around him had him rattled.

“Well I think it’s about time we should, yes?”  And with that the man waved at the men, who moved forward, grabbing and chaining Nikolai’s wrists coarsely.  It was his first foray in a Russian prison.  In two months time he would be out again and back to his Marxist schemes.  By late fall he was to be arrested again, and this time released with the fear of a pending trial that never came.  He was to continue his role as a Muscovian leader until the end of 1910, when almost all the Social Democratic Labor Party leadership was arrested.  This was the low point mark in Bolshevik history.  They did not reemerge as the leading party until after the revolution itself.  While in 1907, records state that 100,000 people were members of the party but by the end of 1909 less than 10,000 remained loyal.  The next few years were perilously dark for the Bolshevik leaders.  Russia had become a pit of venomous vipers for them.  But it was during this time in exile, when the party leadership that would eventually lead the new, glorious revolution, emerged.

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