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Steklov, Iurii Mikhailovich

(1873–1941), revolutionary, Soviet historian, and publicist. Born Ovsii Moiseevich Nakhamkis, and subsequently known by the pseudonym Nevzorov, Iurii Steklov was the son of a Jewish merchant from Odessa. In 1893 he joined the Social Democratic movement and spread propaganda to workers’ circles. Arrested the following year, he was sentenced to 10 years in Siberia. He spent his first five years of exile in Iakutsk and fled abroad in 1899, living in Paris from 1900 to 1905.

In 1900, Steklov met Lenin in Geneva and contributed to his newspaper Iskra, the émigré newspaper Zaria, and other Social Democratic publications. After the Second Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (1903), Steklov joined the Bolsheviks. Returning to Russia in 1905, Steklov took part in activities of the Saint Petersburg Soviet of Workers Deputies, and worked for the Bolshevik publications Zvezda and Pravda. He was arrested but soon released, and from 1907 to 1910 led the Social Democratic faction in the Duma. In 1910, he was arrested again and expelled from Russia, and taught at the party school at Longemont (near Paris). In 1914, he returned to Russia, entering the Saint Petersburg University Law Faculty in 1916.

During the February Revolution, Steklov was elected to the executive committee of the Saint Petersburg Soviet. From 1917 until 1925, he was editor in chief of Izvestiia. From 1928 until 1935, he was the head of a state committee on education and a member of the editorial boards of the magazines Novyi mir and Krasnaia niva. In 1936, Steklov became a member of the Presidium of the Executive Committee of Soviets, which in the same year became the USSR Supreme Soviet. Arrested in 1938, Steklov was executed in September 1941.

Steklov’s works on the history of Marxism and the Russian revolutionary movement played an important role in the popularization of Marxism in the first years after the revolution. His works include N. G. Chernyshevskii: Ego zhizn’ i deiatel’nost’ (N. G. Chernyshevskii: His Life and Work; 1909), Internatsional (The Internationale; 1918), Karl Marks: Ego zhizn’ i deiatel’nost’ (Karl Marx: His Life and Work; 1918), Bortsy za sotsializm (Fighters for Socialism; 1924), and Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin: Ego zhizn’ i deiatel’nost’ (Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin: His Life and Work; 1927). Despite his tendentious attempts to portray Chernyshevskii as ideologically close to the Marxists, and Bakunin as an ideological founder of Russian Social Democracy, Steklov’s works laid the foundation for Soviet historiography and are also important in that they reflect views, prevalent during the 1920s, on the history of the revolutionary movement.



Translated from Russian by Chaim Chernikov