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Yourka Dubof (original name Yourka Laiwin), the son of a small farmer, was born in Latvia in 1887. When he was eighteen he moved to Riga where he became an art student. He became involved in revolutionary activity and claimed that he "his back torn by Cossack whips." After the 1905 Russian Revolution he returned to his father's farm.
Dubof moved to London where he associated with a group of Russian revolutionaries that included Peter Piaktow (Peter the Painter), Yakov Peters, George Gardstein, Fritz Svaars, Karl Hoffman, John Rosen, Max Smoller and William Sokolow.
Dubof spent time in Switzerland in 1910 but on his return he lived at 20 Galloway Road, Shepherd's Bush. It seems that Special Branch had him under observation and it was recorded that he had visited the Anarchist Club.
On 16th December 1910, a gang that included Dubof, attempted to break into the rear of Henry Harris's jeweller's shop in Houndsditch, from 11 Exchange Buildings in the cul-de-sac behind. The Daily Telegraph reported: "Some two or three weeks ago this particular house in Exchange Buildings was rented and there went to live there two men and a woman. They were little known by neighbours, and kept very quiet, as if, indeed, to escape observation. They are said to have been foreigners in appearance, and the whole neighbourhood of Houndsditch containing a great number of aliens, and removal being not infrequent, the arrival of this new household created no comment. The police, however, evidently had some cause to suspect their intentions. The neighbourhood is always well patrolled. Shortly before 11.30 last night there were sounds either at the back of these newcomers' premises or at Mr Harris's shop that attracted the attention of the police."
A neighbouring shopkeeper, Max Weil, heard their hammering, informed the City of London Police, and nine unarmed officers arrived at the house. Sergeant Robert Bentley knocked on the door of 11 Exchange Buildings. The door was open by Gardstein and Bentley asked him: "Have you been working or knocking about inside?" Bentley did not answer him and withdrew inside the room. Bentley gently pushed open the door, and was followed by Sergeant Bryant. Constable Arthur Strongman was waiting outside. "The door was opened by some person whom I did not see. Police Sergeant Bentley appeared to have a conversation with the person, and the door was then partly closed, shortly afterwards Bentley pushed the door open and entered."
According to Donald Rumbelow, the author of The Siege of Sidney Street (1973): "Bentley stepped further into the room. As he did so the back door was flung open and a man, mistakenly identified as Gardstein, walked rapidly into the room. He was holding a pistol which he fired as he advanced with the barrel pointing towards the unarmed Bentley. As he opened fire so did the man on the stairs. The shot fired from the stairs went through the rim of Bentley's helmet, across his face and out through the shutter behind him... His first shot hit Bentley in the shoulder and the second went through his neck almost severing his spinal cord. Bentley staggered back against the half-open door and collapsed backwards over the doorstep so that he was lying half in and half out of the house."
Sergeant Bryant later recalled: "Immediately I saw a man coming from the back door of the room between Bentley and the table. On 6 January I went to the City of London Mortuary and there saw a dead body and I recognised the man. I noticed he had a pistol in his hand, and at once commenced to fire towards Bentley's right shoulder. He was just in the room. The shots were fired very rapidly. I distinctly heard 3 or 4. I at once put up my hands and I felt my left hand fall and I fell out on to the footway. Immediately the man commenced to fire Bentley staggered back against the door post of the opening into the room. The appearance of the pistol struck me as being a long one. I think I should know a similar one again if I saw it. Only one barrel, and it seemed to me to be a black one. I next remember getting up and staggered along by the wall for a few yards until I recovered myself. I was going away from Cutler Street. I must have been dazed as I have a very faint recollection of what happened then."
Constable Ernest Woodhams ran to help Bentley and Bryant. He was immediately shot by one of the gunman. The Mauser bullet shattered his thigh bone and he fell unconscious to the ground. Two men with guns came from inside the house. Strongman later recalled: "A man aged about 30, height 5 ft 6 or 7, pale thin face, dark curly hair and dark moustache, dress dark jacket suit, no hat, who pointed the revolver in the direction of Sergeant Tucker and myself, firing rapidly. Strongman was shot in the arm, but Sergeant Charles Tucker was shot twice, once in the hip and once in the heart. He died almost instantly.
As George Gardstein left the house he was tackled by Constable Walter Choat who grabbed him by the wrist and fought him for possession of his gun. Gardstein pulled the trigger repeatedly and the bullets entered his left leg. Choat, who was a big, muscular man, 6 feet 4 inches tall, managed to hold onto Gardstein. Other members of the gang rushed to his Gardstein's assistance and turned their guns on Choat and he was shot five more times. One of these bullets hit Gardstein in the back. The men pulled Choat from Gardstein and carried him from the scene of the crime.
Yourka Dubof, Yakov Peters, Peter Piaktow and Fritz Svaars, half dragged and half carried Gardstein along Cutler Street. Isaac Levy, a tobacconist, nearly collided with them. Peters and Dubof lifted their guns and pointed them at Levy's face and so he let them pass. For the next half-hour they were able to drag the badly wounded man through the East End back streets to 59 Grove Street. Max Smoller and Nina Vassilleva, went to a doctor who they thought might help. He refused and threatened to tell the police.
They eventually persuaded Dr. John Scanlon, to treat Gardstein. He discovered that Gardstein had a bullet lodged in the front of the chest. Scanlon asked Gardstein what had happened. He claimed that he had been shot by accident by a friend. However, he refused to be taken to hospital and so Scanlon, after giving him some medicine to deaden the pain and receiving his fee of ten shillings, he left, promising to return later. Despite being nursed by Sara Trassjonsky, Gardstein died later that night.
The following day Dr. Scanlon told the police about treating Gardstein for gun-shot wounds. Detective Inspector Frederick Wensley and Detective Sergeant Benjamin Leeson arrived to find Trassjonsky burning documents. Soon afterwards, a Daily Chronicle journalist arrived: "The room itself is about ten feet by nine, and about seven feet high. A gaudy paper decorates the walls and two or three cheap theatrical prints are pinned up. A narrow iron bedstead painted green, with a peculiarly shaped head and foot faces the door. On the bedstead was a torn and dirty woollen mattress, a quantity of blood-stained clothing, a blood-stained pillow and several towels also saturated with blood. Under the window stood a string sewing machine, and a rickety table, covered with a piece of mole cloth, occupied the centre of the room. On it stood a cup and plate, a broken glass, a knife and fork, and a couple of bottles and a medicine bottle. Strangely contrasting with the dirt and squalor, a painted wooden sword lay on the table, and another, to which was attached a belt of silver paper, lay on a broken desk supported on a stool. On the mantelpiece and on a cheap whatnot stood tawdry ornaments. In an open cupboard beside the fireplace were a few more pieces of crockery, a tin or two, and a small piece of bread. A mean and torn blind and a strip of curtain protected the window, and a roll of surgeon's lint on the desk. The floor was bare and dirty, and, like the fireplace, littered with burnt matches and cigarette ends - altogether a dismal and wretched place to which the wounded desperado had been carried to die." Another journalist described the dead man "as handsome as Adonis - a very beautiful corpse."
The police offered a £500 reward for the capture of the men responsible for the deaths of Charles Tucker, Robert Bentley and Walter Choat. One man who came forward was Nicholas Tomacoff, who had been a regular visitor to 59 Grove Street. He told them that he knew that identities of three members of the gang. This included Yakov Peters. On 22nd December, 1910, Tomacoff took the police to 48 Turner Street, where Peters was living. When he was arrested Peters answered: "It is nothing to do with me. I can't help what my cousin Fritz (Svaars) has done."
Tomacoff also provided information on Yourka Dubof. He was described as "twenty-one, 5 feet 8 inches in height of pale complexion, with dark-brown hair". When he was arrested he commented: "You make mistake. I will go with you." He admitted that he had been at 59 Grove Street on the afternoon of 16th December 1910. He said he had gone to see Peter, who he knew was a painter, in an attempt to find work, as he had just been sacked from his previous job. At the police station Dubof and Peters were identified by Isaac Levy, as two of the men carrying George Gardstein in Cutler Street.
On 23rd January, 1911, A. H. Bodkin, opened the case for the Crown against Yourka Dubof, Yakov Peters, and Nina Vassilleva. He made a major mistake in arguing that it was George Gardstein who had shot Robert Bentley and Charles Tucker: "Gardstein was the man who came in flinging open that back door and shot Bentley at his right front; there were also other shots from the man on the stairs.... Several shots were fired at Bentley by the man Gardstein from the back, he advanced to the front door of the house, of that there is no doubt, for we have the hand, according to the evidence of Strongman, protruding through the door of No. 11, so as to sweep the place, firing at Woodhams, Bryant and Martin."
Bodkin based his analysis on the discover of the Dreyse gun in Gardstein's room: "Now Gardstein - under his pillow at 59 Grove Street was found exhibit No. 2, which was a Dreyse pistol. A pistol with a magazine, which on examination had been recently fired. It is difficult to say - for any expert to say - when it had been recently fired. It was a pistol rifled in four grooves, and Mr Goodwin, a gentleman who has kindly examined this pistol... has fired some shots from that pistol into sawdust. The cartridges which can be fired from that pistol are quite common cartridges which are standardised and are used for various automatic pistols, but the peculiarity of this Dreyse pistol is that it has four grooves. It appears that six bullets - two from Tucker's body, two from Bentley's body and two from Choat's body - were fired from the Dreyse pistol as they all have four groove marks upon them.... It is clear that Gardstein was the man who fired, and under his pillow a Dreyse pistol was found, and it seems quite proper to assume that he it was who used the Dreyse pistol. The only one to hit Bentley was Gardstein, and Bentley's bullets were from a Dreyse pistol."
What the prosecuting counsel had difficulty explaining was the lack of Dreyse ammunition in Gardstein's house. As Donald Rumbelow, the author of The Siege of Sidney Street (1973) has pointed out: "Now it has been wrongly assumed from Mr Bodkin's statement that the pistol was under the pillow for Gardstein to defend himself and to resist arrest. In support of this theory it has been alleged that a cap containing a quantity of ammunition was placed by the bed within easy reach of his hand. Certainly there was a cap with ammunition by the bed but none of it could be fired from the Dreyse... If, in fact, Gardstein had owned the Dreyse, it is reasonable to suppose that some ammunition for this weapon would have been found in his lodgings, which were described as an arsenal as well as a bomb factory. None was found." Rumbelow goes on to argue that the only ammunition "consisted of ... 308 .30 Mauser cartridges, some of D.W.M. (German) manufacture, and the other with plain heads; also 26 Hirtenberger 7.9 mm Mauser rifle cartridges". Rumbelow adds that "it is inconceivable, surely, that a man would have over 300 rounds of ammunition for a Mauser pistol which he didn't possess, and none for the Dreyse he is supposed to have used!"
Rumbelow suggested that Yakov Peters had planted his Dreyse gun in the room when along with Yourka Dubof, Peter Piaktow and Fritz Svaars, he had taken Gardstein to 59 Grove Street. Peters realised that Gardstein was dying and that the police would eventually find his body. If they also found the gun that had done most of the killing, they would assume that Gardstein was the man responsible for the deaths of the three policemen.
The case was adjourned when another gang members were arrested in February, 1911. The trial of the Houndsditch murders opened at the Old Bailey on 1st May. Yourka Dubof and Yakov Peters were charged with murder. Peters, Dubof, Karl Hoffman, Max Smoller and John Rosen were charged with attempting to rob Henry Harris's jeweller's shop. Sara Trassjonsky and Nina Vassilleva, were charged with harbouring a felon guilty of murder.
The opening speech of A. Bodkin lasted two and a quarter hours. Justice William Grantham was unimpressed with the evidence presented and directed the jury to say that the two men, against whom there was no evidence of shooting, were not guilty of murder. Grantham added that he believed that the policeman were killed by George Gardstein, Fritz Svaars and William Sokolow. "There were three men firing shots and I think they are dead."
The prosecution's principal witness that linked Peters and Dubof to Gardstein was Isaac Levy, who saw the men drag him along Cutler Street. Levy came under a fierce attack from defence counsel. After his testimony, Justice Grantham said that if there was no other evidence of identification he could not allow any jury to find a verdict of guilty on Levy's uncorroborated statement. After Grantham's summing-up made it clear that none of the men should be convicted of breaking and entering, the jury found them all not guilty and they were set free.
Bentley stepped further into the room. The shot fired from the stairs went through the rim of Bentley's helmet, across his face and out through the shutter behind him. 'Gardstein' by now had closed to within three or four feet and was firing just across the table. At point-blank range he could not miss. Bentley staggered back against the half-open door and collapsed backwards over the doorstep so that he was lying half in and half out of the house. Bryant, who had been standing partly behind him, glimpsed the pistol turning towards him and put out his hands instinctively, as he said later, "to ward off the flashes". He felt his left hand fall to his side and then, stumbling over the dying Bentley, he fell into the street. He had only a hazy recollection of what followed but he remembered getting up and staggering along the pavement. Fortunately he walked away from the entrance to the cul-de-sac, which probably saved his life. He was very dazed and fell down again. He regained consciousness some minutes later and found himself propped up against the wall of one of the houses. He had been shot in the arm and slightly wounded in the chest.
Constable Woodhams saw Bentley fall backwards over the doorstep and ran to help him. He could not see who was doing the shooting. Suddenly his leg buckled beneath him as a Mauser bullet shattered his thigh bone and he fell unconscious to the ground. Constable Strongman and Sergeant Tucker saw him fall but neither could see who was doing the shooting. Only a hand clutching a pistol protruded from the doorway. "The hand was followed by a man aged about 30, height 5 ft 6 or 7, pale thin face, dark curly hair and dark moustache, dress dark jacket suit, no hat, who pointed the revolver in the direction of Sergeant Tucker and myself, firing rapidly. P. S. Tucker and I stepped back a few yards, when the sergeant staggered and turned round.' Strongman caught him by the arm and Tucker staggered the length of the cul-de-sac before collapsing in the roadway. He had been shot twice, once in the hip and once in the heart. He died almost instantly.
Martin, who like Strongman was in plain clothes, had been standing by the open door when the shooting started. As Bentley then Bryant staggered back bleeding from gun wounds, he turned and ran for the partly open door behind him. Bessie Jacobs' first thought when she heard the opening shots was that the high wind had blown the chimney pot off. But then she saw the gun flashes through the tops of the shutters. She pulled her nightclothes tighter round her and as she reached the door it burst open and Martin leaped inside. He slammed the door behind him as she began to scream. He covered her mouth with his hand. `Don't scream, I'm a detective,' he pleaded. `I'll protect your mother and I'll protect you.'
In the darkness, some of the targets were little more than shadows, and bullets splintered and gouged the wooden fronts of the houses as the gang raced for the entrance. Twenty-two shots were fired. Gardstein had almost reached the entrance when Constable Choat caught hold of him by the wrist and fought him for possession of his gun. As Gardstein pulled the trigger repeatedly Choat desperately pushed the pistol away from the centre of his body and the shots were fired into his left leg. Others of the gang rushed to Gardstein's assistance and turned their guns on Choat. He was a big, muscular man, 6 feet q4 inches tall, and in spite of the darkness a target impossible to miss. He was shot five more times. The last two bullets were fired into his back. As he fell backwards he dragged Gardstein with him and a shot, fired at Choat, hit Gardstein in the back. Choat was kicked in the face to make him release his
grip on Gardstein, who was seized by two of the group and dragged away. But already he was a dying man.
Sidnejstrītas aplenkums Londonā (angļu: Siege of Sidney Street ) bija Londonas policijas un britu armijas vienības kauja Stepnijas apkaimē ar latviešu anarhistiem 1911. gada 3. janvārī, kas piesaistīja lielu plašsaziņas līdzekļu uzmanību un izraisīja debates britu parlamentā. Operāciju personīgi vadīja tā laika Lielbritānijas iekšlietu ministrs (Home Secretary) Vinstons Čērčils un tā tika nofilmēta.
The Great Mr. Churchill
It was said in the war that although we had not invented an unsinkable ship we had succeeded in producing an unsinkable politician, and, whatever else may be said of Mr. Winston Churchill, it will be conceded that his buoyancy is nothing short of amazing. The two catastrophes of Antwerp and the Dardanelles failed to sink him. He has been several times upon a lee shore, battering himself to pieces—or so it seemed—upon the rocks of various obdurate constituencies. The vessel might seem to be derelict, detached without any hope of salvage or any powerful party political tug to tow it out of danger and yet, somehow or other, it has always floated away, not merely to the open sea again, but into some prosperous harbor of ministerial office. The last case is the most remarkable of all. Mr. Churchill had detached himself, or had been detached, from the Liberal Party he had refused to call himself a Conservative he had been defeated in a whole series of elections and by-elections he had defied the Conservative Central Office in the famous fight of the Abbey Division. Yet he succeeded in floating into Parliament in the wake of the recent great Conservative flood tide, and was straightway appointed, by Mr. Stanley Baldwin, to one of the chief departments of State. Such a success might be of interest to America, where I have heard that success is worshiped.
I am encouraged to write frankly on the subject by the fact that your country shared with my own the honor of—or the responsibility for—the production of this great man. If upon his father's side he is the son of that most brilliant of 'young' Conservatives, Lord Randolph Churchill, and the descendant of the great Duke of Marlborough, on his mother's side he looks to the family of Jerome and the city of New York. In our study of a great man we should begin before the birth, and although I am ill equipped in the history of the family of Jerome, I might suggest that in the history of the family of Churchill, and especially the greatest of the Churchills, there might be found some clue to this success.
Here in England, where we believe in heredity, we remember that the great Duke understood very well how and when to detach himself from one cause and to attach himself to another, and we find this trait distantly referred to, and piously admired, in Mr. Winston Churchill's life of his father:—
As with the father, so with the son. I suppose the Liberals, and certainly the Conservatives, regard the work and record of Mr. Winston Churchill 'with mixed feelings.'
To begin at the beginning, our great man was born on November 30, 1874. As he has not yet written his own life we know too little of his youth, but in one of his father's letters, dated January 15, 1893, we find that the trait of 'unsinkableness' began early. 'I am happy to say,' Lord Randolph Churchill wrote from Bournemouth, 'Winston is going on well, and making a good and on the whole a rapid recovery. He had a miraculous escape from being smashed to pieces, as he fell thirty feet off a bridge over a chine, from which he tried to leap to the bough of a tree. What dreadfully foolhardy and reckless things boys do!'
It may have seemed foolhardy and reckless, but after all it is exactly what Mr. Churchill has been doing with complete success ever since—jumping from bridges to boughs, and from boughs to bridges, over abysmal chines, at prodigious risk, yet without fatal consequences.
It is appropriate that this adventurous spirit should have proposed for himself a career in the army. From Harrow he went to Sandhurst, and got his commission in 1895. There being no war within the British Empire at that time, he served with the Spanish forces in Cuba but we were never long without war in those happy times before the League of Nations, and in 1897 he saw fighting with the Malakand Field Force on the North West Frontier of India. In 1898 we hear of him, as orderly officer with the Tirah Expeditionary Force, and in that same year he was fighting in the Nile Valley, and was present at the battle of Khartum. In the midst of these adventures he found time to write a novel, Savrola, which interests us chiefly as showing upon what the young soldier's mind was at work. It is a lurid tale of revolution, written a little in the style of Bulwer-Lytton, and, first appearing in Macmillan's Magazine, was published as a novel in 1900. The hero, Savrola, has a fine gift of rhetoric, and a complete command of all those catchwords of liberty which are the revolutionary stock in trade. Red flags, revolutions, bombs, and barricades surround and adorn his triumphant career.
Then came the South African War, in which the young Churchill took an almost leading part as correspondent of the Morning Post. Is it necessary to say that he was the centre of his own picture, the hero of his own tale? How he was captured in an armored train, taken to Pretoria, thrown into prison, escaped after reading Carlyle's Frederick the Great and John Stuart Mill's Essay on Liberty, managed to cross 280 miles of hostile territory to the Portuguese border—all these things, and many others, are they not written in his book, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900)? The characteristic picture he drew of himself hiding in a deep-ravine amid a clump of trees still lingers in the minds of his admiring countrymen: 'My sole companion was a gigantic vulture, who manifested an extraordinary interest in my condition and made hideous and ominous gurglings from time to time.'
It was not the last time that vultures were cheated of their prey as they watched our subject's apparently, but deceptively, prostrate body.
But now we must come to politics, for in 1900 Mr. Churchill was elected as Conservative member for Oldham, and he entered politics toward the inglorious end of that great Conservative administration which was to be defeated, heavily and decisively, at the end of 1905. He notes in the life of his father that in 1880 the tendency of the day was 'strongly progressive' and that the position of the Conservative Party, on the other hand, was 'weak in the extreme.' And again: 'The sympathy and the intellect of the nation were estranged outmatched in debate, outnumbered in division, the Party was pervaded by a profound sense of gloom jeered at as the "Stupid Party," haunted by the profound distrust of an ever growing democracy, conscious that the march of ideas was leaving them behind.' All this might have been said by the unkind of the last days of the Balfour administration. Yet there were, at least, two men in the Party at that time who refused to be left behind in the march of ideas: Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who tried in vain to save the Conservatives by unfolding his great policy of Imperial Preference, and Mr. Winston Churchill, who so strongly objected to Imperial Preference, or had such little faith in its saving power, that he joined the other side.
The Liberal Party, of which Mr. Churchill thus became a member, was hardly the place where we should expect to find a cavalry lieutenant and the son of Lord Randolph Churchill. Mr. Churchill's bias, as I am happy to testify, had been toward Nationalism—a patriotism almost of the jingo kind, flushed indeed with an imperialism of the South African War, and tinged with an inherited sense of a class designed for rule. The Liberals cared for none of these things. They had not quite dared to oppose the war, but they had gathered courage with the mistakes of our South African generals, and had almost reached the side of the Boers by the time it ended. They had indeed, as a party tradition, a certain grudge against the British Empire, a certain hostility toward both the navy and the army. There were, it is true, shades of distinction within the Party itself: Mr. Asquith and Sir Edward Grey (now Lord Grey) led the Liberals of the Right, and were rather friendly than otherwise toward the Empire, against which the Radicals of the Left, led by such sharpshooters as Mr. Labouchere and Mr. Lloyd George, kept up a constant and harassing fire. The Prime Minister of those days, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, maintained an unsteady balance between the two extremes, but leaned rather to the Right than to the Left, and we may suppose that it was to strengthen his Right hand rather than his Left that he made Mr. Churchill, who had been returned as Liberal member for Central Manchester, Under Secretary for the Colonies.
The Liberals, although they did not like the traditions of their young recruit, were fain to admire his talents. He was an orator and a pamphleteer at least as brilliant as his father and like his father he had a fine talent for the business of politics. In 1908 he became President of the Board of Trade, and in 1910 Home Secretary.
In that autobiographical fragment, The World Crisis, 1911 to 1915, our hero tells the world that when he was appointed Home Secretary he began to discover the activities of a regular and extensive system of German-paid British agents. This discovery, he says, dominated his mind for seven years, so that he thought of little else. 'Liberal politics, the People's Budget, Free Trade, Peace, Retrenchment and Reform,—all the war cries of our election struggles began to seem unreal in the presence of this new preoccupation.' That may be so, but to a man of Mr. Churchill's energy even the German espionage system was insufficient to fill the whole day, and he came in touch with a thread, or rather with a live wire, of another no less formidable conspiracy, in a fashion so dramatic that I must say something of it here.
On the sixteenth of December, 1910, the London police, suspecting a burglary, tried to force a jeweler's shop in Houndsditch, and were met by bullets which killed three and wounded two others. In pursuit of the criminals they stormed a house in Stepney on the third of January, 1911. Thus began the famous 'Siege of Sidney Street,' in which Mr. Churchill took a dramatic and—need I add?—a central part. The struggle was as thrilling as anything in Savrola: for seven hours picked shots of the Scots Guards and Army police returned the fire of the anarchists, Mr. Churchill directing operations from a coign of vantage. Then the house went up in flames, and its whole garrison, two foreign desperadoes, deservedly perished in the conflagration. The names of the queer fish dredged up by the police in this strange affair—Jacob Peters, Yourka Dubof, John Zelin (alias Rosen), Mina Vassileva, George Gardstein, and Peter Piatkow (alias Peter the Painter)—have a more familiar and significant sound now than they had then. It was, in fact,—if he had only known it,—Mr. Churchill's first introduction to the Bolsheviki.
It is possible that the Liberals did not quite like their Home Secretary in so startling a role, nor were they altogether reconciled by the energetic measures he took to quell the industrial rioting at Tonypandy in South Wales, and the railway strike of 1911. These incidents suggest the man of action, the ex-officer of cavalry, rather than the enthusiast for the principles of Liberalism. They even shocked some of the old women among the Conservatives: 'In recent times,' said Lord Robert Cecil, 'no Minister had in so few months committed a greater series of outrages on Liberty and Justice.'
But now events were sloping darkly down to the tremendous cataclysm in which all such trifles were lost and forgotten. At the moment the politics of our country were wholly absorbed in an Irish Crisis: Ulster threatened armed resistance to separation. Mr. Churchill, who was by this time First Lord of the Admiralty, threw himself into the fray. 'Let the red blood flow,' he exclaimed as he ordered a battle squadron and flotilla to Lamlash, a base convenient for Belfast. Long afterward Mr. Churchill explained that he gave these orders in the hope that 'the popularity and influence of the Royal Navy might produce a peaceable solution even if the Army had failed.' Yet it is not, after all, altogether surprising that the Germans drew larger and darker conclusions from these alarms and excursions. 'How could they,' Mr. Churchill himself reflects, 'discern or measure the deep unspoken understandings which lay far beneath the froth and foam and fury of the storm?' How indeed? It was a deplorable and costly error. The Germans should have better understood how far our political play-acting could go! In the midst of this possibly too realistic drama came war, and amid the 'darkened scene of Europe' Mr. Churchill—as he suggests, upon his own responsibility—'pulled over the various levers which successively brought our naval organization into full preparedness.' The credit for these eleventh-hour precautions has, however, been disputed by the envious.
I should be the last to refuse our hero due credit for his share in winning the Great War, but there is some danger that the uninstructed reader of the aforementioned work might gather that Mr. Churchill was sole autocrat in the Admiralty, and not advised, and to some extent controlled, by an extremely efficient board of real experts in war. When we find him using such phrases as this, for example, 'I said to the Admirals, "Use Malta as if it were Toulon,"' we might think that all the decisions and moves in that intricate and deadly game of chess called war were made on our side by an amateur. But these impressions might easily be exaggerated. There were others.
It may be admitted, however, that the headstrong young man took a larger part in this technical matter than was altogether safe or prudent. 'Looking back with after knowledge and increased years,' he himself confesses, 'I seem to have been too ready to undertake tasks which were hazardous or even forlorn.' One of these was the unlucky Antwerp intervention at the beginning of October 1914. The higher Belgian Command had decided to evacuate the weak and antiquated defenses of the peaceful and extremely vulnerable seaport. Mr. Churchill upon the instant determined that Antwerp must be saved and that he must save it. He persuaded his colleagues to allow him to go 'to ascertain what could be done on either side.' He persuaded them also to allow him to throw a regiment of extremely valuable marines and a corps of untrained naval volunteers into the breach. Nay more he himself, as he tells us, 'strongly argued with the Belgians against evacuation,' and even took a part in directing field operations, with the result that Antwerp narrowly escaped entire destruction, the Belgian army was very nearly cornered, and part of our naval brigade was forced over into Holland, where it had to remain for the rest of the war.
Then we had the even more serious business of the Dardanelles, that 'legitimate gamble,' as Mr. Churchill afterward called it, which cost us so terribly dear. In the second volume of The World Crisis, Mr. Churchill describes—with, I trust, exaggerated emphasis—the influence he brought to bear upon our experts to force them into this forlorn hope. 'Nothing that I could do,' he complains in one passage, 'could overcome the Admirals now that they had definitely stuck their toes in.' And again he tells us that Lord Fisher, his First Sea Lord, explained to him his resignation on May 16, 1915, in the following words: 'You are bent on forcing the Dardanelles, and nothing will turn you from it—nothing—I know you so well!'
Whether in spite of or because of these and other political interventions, the course of the war did not go prosperously for Mr. Asquith's administration. The House of Commons and the country contrived—with some slight shadow of excuse—to lay at least part of the blame on the First Lord of the Admiralty, and Mr. Asquith was forced to a reconstruction which left Mr. Churchill out. Our hero thereupon bade a dramatic farewell to the House of Commons, and once more drew his sword from its sheath. But it was not for long. Mr. Asquith fell and Mr. Churchill, remembering that Mr. Lloyd George had been the 'first to welcome him when he crossed the floor of the House on the Free Trade issue in 1904,' returned from the shell-ploughed fields of Flanders to the political arena. The new Prime Minister, in fact, was a kindred spirit. He also was 'winning the war' by his native genius, with an even slighter equipment of military science, and he found a place for Mr. Churchill, first as Minister of Munitions, and then as Secretary of State for War and for Air.
I must pass quickly over the later part of his share in the history of the Coalition. As Secretary of State for the Colonies he was deeply involved in the not altogether fortunate experiment in Dominion Home Rule which resulted in the Irish Free State. He took part in the negotiations with the Sinn Fein delegates, and even went so far as to express his admiration for the late Michael Collins, in whom, perhaps, he may have seen the hero of Savrola come to life. There were four ministers of the Coalition chiefly concerned in those negotiations—Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Austen Chamberlain, Lord Birkenhead, and Mr. Churchill—and upon them was concentrated the blast of resentment which had been gathering strength for some time in the Conservative Party. The Die-Hards were not very strong in the House of Commons, but they were strong among the rank and file of the Conservative Party in the constituencies, and, moreover, they expressed the national sentiment. In my article on Mr. Stanley Baldwin, in the Atlantic for August 1923, 1 described how the storm gathered force until at last it swept all before it in the famous Carlton Club meeting. There is no need to retell the story here, since Mr. Churchill was not a member of the Club. As a Liberal Member of the Coalition, however, he suffered the full consequence, and shared in the resulting fall.
Then began what I might call the political Wanderjahre of our hero. He had long before been driven out of North West Manchester by Sir William Joynson Hicks, and had found refuge in Dundee, a busy and none too agreeable city in the East of Scotland. There he was now defeated by our one-and-only prohibitionist, Mr. Scrymgeour, and the pacifist and pro-German, Mr. E. D. Morel, who had by this time joined the Labor Party. He was defeated again at West Leicester, and a third time in the Abbey Division of Westminster. A notable change seemed to come over Mr. Churchill's politics as he moved through these successive defeats from the north to the south of these islands. At Dundee he had flirted with Socialism, and supported the nationalization of railways at West Leicester he was distinctly 'reactionary,' and at Westminster he proposed for himself the role of leading a new anti-Socialist party. He was, in fact, making a stronger and stronger bid for Conservative support, as he saw the breach widen between the Liberals and himself. Yet he hesitated to burn his boats and clung desperately to a middle position of 'Constitutionalist,' between the Liberal sea and the Conservative shore. These coy reservations delayed complete reunion, and although the Conservative 'machine' might have been willing to ignore them, Conservative electors were stubbornly distrustful.
I witnessed the dramatic defeat of our hero at the Abbey election. The ballots were being counted at tables in the Caxton Hall. All three candidates and their immediate friends were gathered on the floor Mr. Churchill paced restlessly to and fro like a caged lion all through that anxious morning. Some indiscreet friend anticipated the count by calculations of his own the rumor flew round that Mr. Churchill had won there was a cheer, a wild shaking of hands, a fluttering of handkerchiefs. But the counting proceeded pitiless Destiny in the shape of the Returning Officer announced the horrid truth: Mr. Churchill had been defeated by forty votes. 'Ah,' said the critics, 'he is dead. He has been buried in the Abbey!' Little did they realize the resiliency of our hero. His rise was to be no less dramatic than his fall.
There was one circumstance in particular which favored the revival. Mr. Churchill had denounced early and strongly the Revolutionaries of Russia, whom Mr. Lloyd George had inclined to patronize. He had faithfully described to the British public the manner in which that 'terrible sect' had infected Russia with the virus of Bolshevism this and such a barbed as 'bloody baboonery' had stuck in the public mind, so that, as the danger of Communism visibly increased, Mr. Churchill came to be looked upon as a gladiator on the side of Society. The great man, it is needless to say, rose to the occasion. As his distance from the Radicals grew wider, so his denunciations waxed always the stronger, till he came to be generally regarded as a sort of British Mussolini.
By this time Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and his Government were being forced more and more under the dominion of Moscow. The more they went to the Left, in obedience to the extremists of their own party, the more the country looked to Conservatism for its protection, and the better it suited Mr. Churchill's new role of Savior of Society. He found an unobtrusive Conservative vacancy in the sylvan, shades of Epping Forest, and there, without actually calling himself a Conservative, he received Conservative support and was swept into Parliament in the wake of the great Conservative victory.
And now to come to the greatest triumph of all—for the tidal wave of Conservatism did not merely drag him in its wake it caught him up and tossed him into the topmost office, almost, of the new administration. Exactly why Mr. Stanley Baldwin chose Mr. Winston Churchill as his Chancellor of the Exchequer has never been—and probably never will be—completely explained. By sacrificing not merely the fatted calf but the national cow in honor of the Prodigal Son, the new Prime Minister risked offending all those elder brothers of Conservatism who needed no repentance. He even risked his own inheritance—since there are thought to be no bounds to Mr. Churchill's ambitions. To have a cuckoo in one's nest is a misfortune to put one there might be thought a folly. It is commonly believed that a long intrigue had been going on among certain politicians and certain magnates of the press to bring about the downfall of Mr. Baldwin and restore to power the old Coalition or something like it. Such a combination would have included—so it is said—members of Mr. Baldwin's present administration, and was even intended to embrace—eventually—Mr. Lloyd George himself. The calculation was, it may be supposed, that an electoral stalemate would have reproduced the former three-party position in Parliament, an ideal state of affairs for such a cabal but the completeness of the Conservative victory threw out all the fine-laid plans of the plotters, and left them—or such of them as belonged to the Conservative Party—entirely at the disposition of Mr. Baldwin.
Now Mr. Baldwin is magnanimous to a fault: it is probable that he knew all about the intrigue, although he included some of the intriguers in his Government. He chose, in fact, the members of his administration for their ability and without respect to his personal feelings toward them, or theirs toward him. But in the case of Mr. Churchill, to whom he owed, and who owed him, nothing, he may have thought that trust and generosity would beget loyalty, and that a bold experiment might procure him a faithful as well as an able colleague.
Mr. Churchill—or so his friends say—is the sort of man who gives faith for faith, magnanimity for magnanimity. It is probable that he has always been by instinct a Conservative his career suggests instincts of patriotism and courage—not altogether sicklied o'er with the pale cast of Liberalism. The husks that the swine did eat could never have been to him a congenial diet, and the prodigal brings back to his party great political talents which should never have been estranged.
We shall see. There are, on the other hand, a good many Conservatives—including some of the staunchest and least self-seeking—who are disappointed and almost estranged by this appointment. They allege that Mr. Churchill has made at least one capital blunder in every one of the many offices he has held that—what is worse—he has never shown any sign of political principle and that his only consistency has been in the pursuit of his own political fortunes. They argue that the leopard does not change his spots nor the Ethiopian his skin, and they fear that even the brilliancy of the new Chancellor is erratic and may lead to some far-shining and illustrious calamity.
There is another objection to the appointment which might be argued with more show of reason. Mr. Churchill may be a gladiator in the fight against Communism but he has in his career brought down upon himself the animosity, not only of the Communists, but of a very large number of workingmen and ex-service men of all parties. Nor has he ever shown any perception of the truth that the Revolutionary movement cannot be fought by rhetoric alone, nor altogether by violence, but should be met by the fundamental remedy of protecting our industries, and so restoring the unemployed to employment. He has never, in fact, drawn the economic lesson from the old adage: 'Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.' If he remains a Free-Trader, he will be of little service—and may even be embarrassment—to a Government pledged to the 'safeguarding' of industries and Imperial Preference.
Mr. Baldwin once said that he owed much to his friends they certainly are not the sort of people who claim anything in return for their fidelity. Yet it might be said for them—what will not be said by them—that out of them Mr. Baldwin might have formed an administration, less showy, perhaps, but more trustworthy, less glittering but more solid, less brilliant but better principled, on whom he (and the nation) might have counted from the first and to the uttermost. He has preferred to make an experiment in fidelity he may be justified by the result, but in the meantime it is still permissible to congratulate him on the ample margin of his majority.
The Siege of Sidney Street GunfightSGT John " Mac " McConnell
Siege of Sidney Street
by Ben Johnson
Nowhere in the world is as famous for its murders as the East End of London. Jack the Ripper, the Krays, the Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811 are all cases for the connoisseur of crime.
Matching these were two related cases which occurred in December 1910 and January 1911 the Houndsditch murders and the Siege of Sidney Street which left three police officers dead and three more seriously injured.
Houndsditch is a long thoroughfare which runs from Bishopsgate to Aldgate High Street. Located at 120 Houndsditch was an import business run by a man named Max Weil. On the night of 16th December 1910 Weil arrived at number 120 to find his sister and their housemaid in a state of agitation. They could hear sounds coming from the jeweller’s shop next door at number 119 which suggested that someone was trying to break in from the rear of the premises.
Number 119 backed onto a tenement at 11 Exchange Buildings. Weil decided to alert the police of a possible break-in to the jewellers from Exchange Buildings. He walked around the corner to Bishopsgate police station and returned with Constable Piper who knocked on the door of number 11. Piper had a brief, unsatisfactory conversation with the man who answered the door and then left, his suspicions now thoroughly aroused, to summon help.
Piper returned with three sergeants and five more constables. One of the sergeants, Bentley, knocked on the door again. It was answered by the same man who had spoken to Piper. After another brief conversation, the man tried to shut the door in Bentley’s face. However, the sergeant was having none of this and he pushed his way into number 11.
All hell erupted. Bentley was met with two gunshots which struck him in the neck. He staggered back through the doorway, stunned and dying. Standing behind him, Sergeant Bryant now saw the gun being turned on him. More shots rang out hitting Bryant in the chest and arm. A constable named Woodhams ran to his assistance only to fall to a bullet in the thigh.
Both Bryant and Woodhams survived their wounds but were invalided out of the police force. Sergeant Tucker was not so lucky. He was shot twice, in the heart and the hip, by a man who appeared in the doorway of number 11. Tucker collapsed dying.
His killer now came scuttling from the building followed by at least two other men and a woman. As they sought to escape, another officer, Constable Choat, reared up out of the darkness at them, grappling with one of the men who responded by firing four bullets into his leg. Another of the gang came up behind Choat and pumped two shots into his back. Choat fell, dragging the man he had grabbed down with him. A third member of the gang now fired at Choat but hit the man he was holding, who was then borne away by his cohorts leaving Choat dying on the pavement.
The slain policemen were from the City of London force, but it was into the heart of the East End, Metropolitan Police territory, that the murder gang fled.
The man who had been mistakenly shot by his cohorts was found dead from his gunshot wounds in his lodgings the following day. His name was George Gardstein, and although that was not his real identity, he turned out to be the de facto leader of the gang, a group of Latvian anarchists who called themselves “Leesma”, meaning flame. They were a small group, around thirteen strong, including two women. Although ostensibly anarchists, subsequent research has pinpointed them as ‘expropriators”, carrying out robberies to fund Lenin and his Bolshevik movement. After the Russian revolution, one of the Leesma members, Jacob Peters, was to become second in command of Cheka, the dreaded Bolshevik secret police. Some modern historians believe that it was Peters who fired the shots which killed Bentley, Tucker and Choat and injured Bryant.
The Metropolitan and City police forces launched a joint operation to hunt down the anarchists and by the end of the year Peters and several others were in custody. Then, on the evening of 1st January 1911 a muffled figure slipped furtively into the City police headquarters at Old Jewry. Although never officially identified he is now known to have been Charles Perelman, former landlord to a number of Leesma members. Perelman had important information to impart. Two of the anarchists, Fritz Svaars and Josef Sokoloff were holed up in a second floor room at 100 Sidney Street. They were, he warned, armed with Mauser pistols.
In the early hours of 3rd January a long file of police officers wound their way through the silent streets of the East End to Sidney Street, which runs from Commercial Street in the south to the junction of Whitechapel and Mile End Roads to the north. The officers had not been told what their mission was but they knew that it was dangerous because the married men had been excluded. Some were armed but their weapons, antique revolvers, tube rifles and shotguns, were more suited to a museum than a gun battle.
On reaching Sidney Street the police evacuated the houses adjoining number 100 and then the first two floors of number 100 itself. By daybreak the stage had been lit for the great drama which was about to unfold over the next few hours.
At 07.30 Svaara and Sokoloff were alerted to their predicament. The front door was banged loudly and pebbles were hurled up at the anarchist’s window. They answered with several shots. Detective Sergeant Ben Leeson collapsed gravely wounded. Like Bryant and Woodhams, he recovered but was invalided out of the police force.
Battle commenced, but despite being so heavily outnumbered it was Svaars and Sokoloff who had the better of the fire fight. Their powerful handguns far outranged the police’s inferior weapons. Hopes that they might not have much ammunition were soon dashed.
The hours passed without discernable benefit for the besieging force. Midway through the morning Home Secretary Winston Churchill gave permission for the army to be used and in a short time a detachment of the Scots Guards turned up. Their participation transformed the situation. Equipped with powerful Lee Enfield rifles the soldiers virtually shot the second floor to pieces, forcing the duo to move downstairs and fire from the first and ground floor windows. But here too they were subject to a galling fire.
At noon Churchill himself came to watch the action, taking up a position close to the firing line. This was to be the subject of controversy. One o’clock and the house was seen to be on fire. The anarchists had not much longer to live. One of them was observed at a back window blazing away with two pistols. A little later one of the pistols was seen to jam.
The fire brigade was summoned but ordered to concentrate purely on preventing the fire from spreading. Now the soldiers redoubled their efforts sending a hail of shots screaming through the windows of number 100. Sokoloff peered out through the maelstrom a volley of shots ripped his head apart. Svaars mourned him with a barrage of return fire, but it was to be his final flourish because now the burning house had begun to cave in. He was last seen lying on a ground floor bed with his face in a pillow. The ceiling then collapsed and that was the end of him. By 2pm the siege of Sidney Street was over.
There was to be one final fatality resulting from the Houndsditch murders and the siege. On entering number 100 District Fire Officer Charles Pearson was struck by a piece of falling masonry which severed his spine and left him paralysed. He lingered for six months before succumbing to his injuries. On 6th January 2011 a plaque to his memory was unveiled at the site of where number 100 used to stand.
Jacob Peters and three other anarchists, Yourka Dubof, John Rosen and Nina Vassileve were subsequently tried for the Houndsditch murders but were all acquitted apart from Vassileve, who was found guilty of a minor offence which was subsequently quashed on appeal. Rightly or wrongly Gardstein, Svaars and Sokoloff were held to be the main culprits in the killing of the three officers.
It is fascinating to speculate on how different our history would have been had Churchill been shot and killed during the fire fight. Had he not been there in 1940 then Lord Halifax would have become Prime Minister and he was known to favour negotiated peace with the Nazis. Fascinating indeed!
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"The Adventure of the Avid Pupil" (2017)
Included in: Sherlock Holmes's School for Detection (Simon Clark)
Story Type: Pastiche
Canonical Characters: Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson (Inspector Lestrade Grimesby Roylott)
Other Characters: Simon Smedley
Unnamed Characters: Academy Students Corpse Trammer Cab Driver Police Officers Dead Woman (Finely Dressed Man Trawler-man Sewer Company Representative St Michael's Chapel Curate)
Locations: 221B, Baker Street Imperial Academy of Detective Inquiry and Forensic Science The Embankment
Story: One of Holmes's students, Smedley, a police officer, is boasting that he will soon surpass his master. Holmes challenges Smedley to evade him in disguise. Having expressed interest in the discovery of the body of a well-dressed man on the Embankment, Holmes takes up the case when a second body, this time a woman's, is found. He sends Smedley into the sewers to investigate.
Immigrazione e demografia a Londra
Nel 19 ° secolo, l' impero russo ospitava circa cinque milioni di ebrei , la più grande comunità ebraica dell'epoca. Sottoposti a persecuzioni religiose e violenti pogrom , molti emigrarono e tra il 1875 e il 1914 circa 120.000 arrivarono nel Regno Unito, principalmente in Inghilterra . L'afflusso raggiunse il culmine alla fine degli anni 1890, quando un gran numero di immigrati ebrei, per lo più poveri e semi-qualificati o non qualificati, si stabilirono nell'East End di Londra . La concentrazione di immigrati ebrei in alcune aree era quasi il 100% della popolazione, e uno studio intrapreso nel 1900 ha mostrato che Houndsditch e Whitechapel erano entrambi identificati come un "distretto intensamente ebraico ben definito".
Alcuni degli espatriati erano rivoluzionari, molti dei quali non erano in grado di adattarsi alla vita nella Londra politicamente meno oppressiva. Lo storico sociale William J. Fishman scrive che "gli anarchici meschuggena (pazzi) erano quasi accettati come parte del panorama dell'East End" i termini " socialista " e " anarchico " erano stati fusi nella stampa britannica, che li usava in modo intercambiabile per riferirsi a coloro che avevano credenze rivoluzionarie. Un articolo di punta del Times descriveva l'area di Whitechapel come quella che "ospita alcuni dei peggiori anarchici e criminali alieni che cercano la nostra costa troppo ospitale. E questi sono gli uomini che usano la pistola e il coltello".
Dall'inizio del secolo, la guerra tra bande persisteva nelle aree di Whitechapel e Aldgate di Londra tra gruppi di Bessarabiani e rifugiati da Odessa varie fazioni rivoluzionarie erano attive nell'area. L' indignazione del Tottenham del gennaio 1909, di due rivoluzionari russi a Londra - Paul Helfeld e Jacob Lepidus - fu un tentativo di rapinare un furgone a libro paga, che lasciò due morti e venti feriti. L'evento ha utilizzato una tattica spesso impiegata dai gruppi rivoluzionari in Russia: l'espropriazione o il furto di proprietà privata per finanziare attività radicali.
L'afflusso di emigrati e l'aumento della criminalità violenta ad esso associata, ha portato a preoccupazioni e commenti popolari sulla stampa. Il governo ha approvato l' Aliens Act 1905 nel tentativo di ridurre l'immigrazione. La stampa popolare rifletteva le opinioni di molti all'epoca un articolo di spicco del Manchester Evening Chronicle ha sostenuto il disegno di legge per vietare "lo straniero sporco, indigente, malato, verminoso e criminale che si scarica sul nostro suolo". Il giornalista Robert Winder , nel suo esame della migrazione in Gran Bretagna, ritiene che l'Atto "abbia approvato ufficialmente i riflessi xenofobi che avrebbero potuto . essere rimasti dormienti".
Banda di emigrati lettoni
Nel 1910 gli emigrati russi si incontravano regolarmente all'Anarchist Club in Jubilee Street, Stepney . Molti dei suoi membri non erano anarchici e il club divenne un luogo di incontro e luogo sociale per la diaspora emigrata russa , la maggior parte dei quali era ebrea. Il piccolo gruppo di lettoni che fu coinvolto negli eventi di Houndsditch e Sidney Street non erano tutti anarchici, sebbene in seguito la letteratura anarchica fu trovata tra i loro possedimenti. I membri del gruppo erano probabilmente rivoluzionari che erano stati radicalizzati dalle loro esperienze in Russia. Tutti avevano opinioni politiche di estrema sinistra e credevano che l'espropriazione della proprietà privata fosse una pratica valida.
Il probabile leader del gruppo era George Gardstein, il cui vero nome era probabilmente Poloski o Poolka ha usato gli alias Garstin, Poloski, Poolka, Morountzeff, Mourimitz, Maurivitz, Milowitz, Morintz, Morin e Levi. Gardstein, che probabilmente era un anarchico, era stato accusato di omicidio e atti di terrorismo a Varsavia nel 1905 prima del suo arrivo a Londra. Un altro membro del gruppo, Jacob (o Yakov) Peters , era stato un agitatore in Russia mentre era nell'esercito e in seguito come operaio in cantiere. Aveva scontato una pena in prigione per le sue attività ed era stato torturato per la rimozione delle unghie. Yourka Dubof era un altro agitatore russo che era fuggito in Inghilterra dopo essere stato frustato dai cosacchi . Fritz Svaars ( lettone : Fricis Svars ) era un lettone che era stato arrestato tre volte dalle autorità russe per reati terroristici, ma ogni volta riusciva a scappare. Aveva viaggiato negli Stati Uniti, dove ha intrapreso una serie di rapine, prima di arrivare a Londra nel giugno 1910.
Un altro membro era "Peter the Painter", un soprannome per una figura sconosciuta, forse di nome Peter Piaktow (o Piatkov, Pjatkov o Piaktoff), o Janis Zhaklis. Bernard Porter, in un breve abbozzo nel Dictionary of National Biography , scrive che non si conoscono dettagli precisi del passato dell'anarchico e che "Nessuno dei . 'fatti' biografici su di lui . è del tutto affidabile". William (o Joseph) Sokoloff (o Sokolow) era un lettone che era stato arrestato a Riga nel 1905 per omicidio e rapina prima di recarsi a Londra. Un altro dei membri del gruppo era Karl Hoffman - il cui vero nome era Alfred Dzircol - che era stato coinvolto in attività rivoluzionarie e criminali per diversi anni, tra cui la corsa alle armi. A Londra aveva praticato come decoratore. John Rosen - vero nome John Zelin o Tzelin - arrivò a Londra nel 1909 da Riga e lavorò come barbiere, mentre un altro membro della banda era Max Smoller, noto anche come Joe Levi e "Josepf l'ebreo". Era ricercato nella sua nativa Crimea per diversi furti di gioielli.
Polizia nella capitale
A seguito del Metropolitan Police Act 1829 e del City of London Police Act 1839, la capitale era controllata da due forze, la Metropolitan Police , che dominava la maggior parte della capitale, e la City of London Police , che erano responsabili delle forze dell'ordine all'interno i confini storici della città . Gli eventi di Houndsditch nel dicembre 1910 caddero nella competenza del servizio della City of London e le azioni successive a Sidney Street nel gennaio 1911 erano sotto la giurisdizione delle forze metropolitane. Entrambi i servizi passarono sotto il controllo politico del ministro degli Interni , che nel 1911 era il politico emergente di 36 anni Winston Churchill .
Mentre erano in movimento, o durante i loro normali doveri, gli ufficiali della City of London e delle forze metropolitane erano dotati di un corto manganello di legno per proteggersi. Quando hanno affrontato avversari armati, come nel caso di Sidney Street, alla polizia sono stati consegnati revolver Webley e Bull Dog , fucili da caccia e fucili di piccolo calibro dotati di canne a tubo Morris .22 , le ultime delle quali erano più comunemente gallerie di tiro al coperto.
Immigration och demografi i London
Under 1800-talet var det ryska imperiet hem för cirka fem miljoner judar , den största judiska gemenskapen vid den tiden. Underkastad religiös förföljelse och våldsamma pogromer emigrerade många och mellan 1875 och 1914 anlände cirka 120 000 till Storbritannien, mestadels till England . Tillströmningen nådde sin topp i slutet av 1890-talet när ett stort antal judiska invandrare - mestadels fattiga och halvkvalificerade eller outbildade - bosatte sig i East End i London . Koncentrationen av judiska invandrare i vissa områden var nästan 100 procent av befolkningen, och en undersökning som gjordes 1900 visade att Houndsditch och Whitechapel båda identifierades som ett "väldefinierat intensivt judiskt distrikt".
Några av de utlänningar var revolutionärer, varav många inte kunde anpassa sig till livet i det politiskt mindre förtryckande London. Socialhistorikern William J. Fishman skriver att " meschuggena (galna) anarkister accepterades nästan som en del av East End-landskapet" termerna " socialist " och " anarkist " hade samlats i den brittiska pressen, som använde termerna omväxlande för att hänvisa till dem med revolutionär tro. En ledande artikel i The Times beskrev Whitechapel-området som ett som "hamnar några av de värsta främmande anarkister och brottslingar som söker vår alltför gästvänliga strand. Och det är de män som använder pistolen och kniven."
Från sekelskiftet kvarstod krigföring i Whitechapel och Aldgate i London mellan grupper av Bessarabians och flyktingar från Odessa olika revolutionära fraktioner var aktiva i området. Den Tottenham Outrage januari 1909 av två revolutionära ryssar i London-Paul Helfeld och Jacob Lepidus-var ett försök att råna en löne van, som lämnade två döda och tjugo skadades. Händelsen använde en taktik som ofta användes av revolutionära grupper i Ryssland: expropriering eller stöld av privat egendom för att finansiera radikala aktiviteter.
Tillströmningen av utvandrare och ökningen av våldsbrott i samband med detta ledde till populära oro och kommentarer i pressen. Regeringen antog Aliens Act 1905 i ett försök att minska invandringen. Den populära pressen reflekterade många åsikter vid den tiden en ledande artikel i The Manchester Evening Chronicle stödde lagförslaget att hindra "den smutsiga, fattiga, sjuka, onda och kriminella utlänningen som dumpar sig på vår mark". I sin granskning av migrationen till Storbritannien menar journalisten Robert Winder att lagen "gav officiell sanktion mot främlingsfientliga reflexer som . kan ha varit vilande".
År 1910 träffades ryska emigranter regelbundet på anarkistklubben i Jubilee Street, Stepney . Många av dess medlemmar var inte anarkister, och klubben blev ett möte och en social plats för den ryska emigranten diaspora , varav de flesta var judiska. Den lilla gruppen av lettier som blev involverade i händelserna vid Houndsditch och Sidney Street var inte alla anarkister - även om anarkistisk litteratur senare hittades bland deras ägodelar. Medlemmar i gruppen var förmodligen revolutionärer som hade radikaliserats av sina erfarenheter i Ryssland. Alla hade extrema vänsterpolitiska åsikter och ansåg att expropriering av privat egendom var en giltig metod.
Den troliga ledaren för gruppen var George Gardstein, vars riktiga namn sannolikt hade varit Poloski eller Poolka han använde aliasen Garstin, Poloski, Poolka, Morountzeff, Mourimitz, Maurivitz, Milowitz, Morintz, Morin och Levi. Gardstein, som förmodligen var anarkist, hade anklagats för mord och terrorhandlingar i Warszawa 1905 innan han kom till London. En annan medlem i gruppen, Jacob (eller Yakov) Peters , hade varit en agitator i Ryssland medan han var i armén och senare som hamnarbetare. Han hade avtjänat en fängelse för sina aktiviteter och hade torterats genom att ta bort naglarna. Yourka Dubof var en annan rysk agitator som flydde till England efter att ha slagits av kosacker . Fritz Svaars ( lettisk : Fricis Svars ) var en lettisk som hade arresterats av de ryska myndigheterna tre gånger för terroristbrott, men flydde varje gång. Han hade rest genom USA, där han genomförde en serie rån innan han kom till London i juni 1910.
En annan medlem var "Peter målaren", ett smeknamn för en okänd figur, eventuellt heter Peter Piaktow (eller Piatkov, Pjatkov eller Piaktoff), eller Janis Zhaklis. Bernard Porter, i en kort skiss i Dictionary of National Biography , skriver att inga kända detaljer är kända om anarkistens bakgrund och att "Ingen av de . biografiska" fakta "om honom . är helt tillförlitlig." William (eller Joseph) Sokoloff (eller Sokolow) var en lettisk som hade arresterats i Riga 1905 för mord och rån innan han reste till London. En annan av gruppens medlemmar var Karl Hoffman - vars riktiga namn var Alfred Dzircol - som hade varit involverad i revolutionära och kriminella aktiviteter i flera år, inklusive vapenkörning. I London hade han tränat som dekoratör. John Rosen - riktigt namn John Zelin eller Tzelin - kom till London 1909 från Riga och arbetade som frisör, medan en annan gängmedlem var Max Smoller, även känd som Joe Levi och "Josepf the Jew". Han var efterlyst på sin hemort Krim för flera juvelrån.
Polis i huvudstaden
Efter Metropolitan Police Act 1829 och City of London Police Act 1839 poliserades huvudstaden av två styrkor, Metropolitan Police , som höll kontroll över större delen av huvudstaden, och City of London Police , som var ansvariga för brottsbekämpning inom de historiska stadsgränserna . Händelserna i Houndsditch i december 1910 omfattades av City of London-tjänsten, och de efterföljande åtgärderna på Sidney Street i januari 1911 var under jurisdiktionen för Metropolitan Force. Båda tjänsterna kom under politisk kontroll av inrikesministern , som 1911 var den 36-åriga uppväxande politiker Winston Churchill .
Medan de var på rytmen, eller under sina normala arbetsuppgifter, fick förarna för City of London och Metropolitan-styrkorna en kort träbyxa för skydd. När de mötte beväpnade motståndare - som var fallet på Sidney Street - utfärdades polisen med Webley- och Bull Dog- revolvrar, hagelgevär och småhålsgevär utrustade med .22 Morris-rörfat , varav de sista användes oftare på små inomhus skjutgallerier.
Inmigración y demografía en Londres
En el siglo XIX, el Imperio Ruso albergaba a unos cinco millones de judíos , la comunidad judía más grande en ese momento. Sometidos a persecuciones religiosas y pogromos violentos , muchos emigraron y entre 1875 y 1914 llegaron al Reino Unido alrededor de 120.000, la mayoría en Inglaterra . La afluencia alcanzó su punto máximo a fines de la década de 1890, cuando un gran número de inmigrantes judíos, en su mayoría pobres y semicalificados o no calificados, se establecieron en el East End de Londres . La concentración de inmigrantes judíos en algunas áreas era casi el 100 por ciento de la población, y un estudio realizado en 1900 mostró que Houndsditch y Whitechapel fueron identificados como un "distrito intensamente judío bien definido".
Algunos de los expatriados eran revolucionarios, muchos de los cuales no pudieron adaptarse a la vida en el Londres, políticamente menos opresivo. El historiador social William J. Fishman escribe que "los anarquistas meschuggena (locos) fueron casi aceptados como parte del paisaje del East End" los términos " socialista " y " anarquista " se habían combinado en la prensa británica, que usaba los términos indistintamente para referirse a quienes tenían creencias revolucionarias. Un artículo destacado en The Times describió el área de Whitechapel como una que "alberga a algunos de los peores anarquistas y criminales alienígenas que buscan nuestra costa demasiado hospitalaria. Y estos son los hombres que usan la pistola y el cuchillo".
Desde el cambio de siglo, la guerra de bandas persistió en las áreas de Whitechapel y Aldgate en Londres entre grupos de besarabianos y refugiados de Odessa varias facciones revolucionarias estaban activas en el área. El Tottenham Outrage de enero de 1909, por dos revolucionarios rusos en Londres — Paul Helfeld y Jacob Lepidus — fue un intento de robar una camioneta de nómina, que dejó dos muertos y veinte heridos. El evento utilizó una táctica empleada a menudo por grupos revolucionarios en Rusia: la expropiación o el robo de propiedad privada para financiar actividades radicales.
La afluencia de emigrados y el aumento de los delitos violentos asociados a ella, generó preocupaciones y comentarios populares en la prensa. El gobierno aprobó la Ley de Extranjería de 1905 en un intento por reducir la inmigración. La prensa popular reflejó las opiniones de muchos en ese momento un artículo destacado en The Manchester Evening Chronicle apoyó el proyecto de ley para prohibir "el extranjero sucio, desamparado, enfermo, bicho y criminal que se tira a nuestro suelo". El periodista Robert Winder , en su examen de la migración a Gran Bretaña, opina que la ley "sancionó oficialmente los reflejos xenófobos que podrían . haber permanecido inactivos".
Pandilla de emigrados letones
En 1910, los emigrados rusos se reunían regularmente en el Anarchist Club en Jubilee Street, Stepney . Muchos de sus miembros no eran anarquistas, y el club se convirtió en un lugar de reunión y social para la diáspora de emigrados rusos , la mayoría de los cuales eran judíos. El pequeño grupo de letones que se involucró en los eventos de Houndsditch y Sidney Street no eran todos anarquistas, aunque más tarde se encontró literatura anarquista entre sus posesiones. Los miembros del grupo eran probablemente revolucionarios que habían sido radicalizados por sus experiencias en Rusia. Todos tenían opiniones políticas de extrema izquierda y creían que la expropiación de la propiedad privada era una práctica válida.
El probable líder del grupo era George Gardstein, cuyo verdadero nombre probablemente era Poloski o Poolka usó los alias Garstin, Poloski, Poolka, Morountzeff, Mourimitz, Maurivitz, Milowitz, Morintz, Morin y Levi. Gardstein, que probablemente era un anarquista, había sido acusado de asesinato y actos de terrorismo en Varsovia en 1905 antes de su llegada a Londres. Otro miembro del grupo, Jacob (o Yakov) Peters , había sido un agitador en Rusia mientras estaba en el ejército y luego como trabajador de un astillero. Había cumplido una pena de prisión por sus actividades y había sido torturado quitándole las uñas. Yourka Dubof era otro agitador ruso que había huido a Inglaterra tras ser azotado por cosacos . Fritz Svaars ( letón : Fricis Svars ) era un letón que había sido arrestado por las autoridades rusas tres veces por delitos terroristas, pero que escapó en cada ocasión. Había viajado por Estados Unidos, donde cometió una serie de robos, antes de llegar a Londres en junio de 1910.
Otro miembro fue "Peter the Painter", un apodo para una figura desconocida, posiblemente llamado Peter Piaktow (o Piatkov, Pjatkov o Piaktoff), o Janis Zhaklis. Bernard Porter, en un breve esbozo en el Dictionary of National Biography , escribe que no se conocen detalles firmes de los antecedentes del anarquista y que "Ninguno de los . 'hechos' biográficos sobre él . es del todo confiable". William (o Joseph) Sokoloff (o Sokolow) era un letón que había sido arrestado en Riga en 1905 por asesinato y robo antes de viajar a Londres. Otro de los miembros del grupo era Karl Hoffman, cuyo verdadero nombre era Alfred Dzircol, que había estado involucrado en actividades revolucionarias y criminales durante varios años, incluido el tráfico de armas. En Londres había ejercido como decorador. John Rosen, cuyo nombre real es John Zelin o Tzelin, llegó a Londres en 1909 procedente de Riga y trabajó como barbero, mientras que otro miembro de la banda era Max Smoller, también conocido como Joe Levi y "Josepf the Jew". Fue buscado en su Crimea natal por varios robos de joyas.
Vigilancia en la capital
Tras la Ley de Policía Metropolitana de 1829 y la Ley de Policía de la Ciudad de Londres de 1839, la capital fue vigilada por dos fuerzas, la Policía Metropolitana , que dominaba la mayor parte de la capital, y la Policía de la Ciudad de Londres , que eran responsables de la aplicación de la ley dentro de los límites históricos de la ciudad . Los eventos en Houndsditch en diciembre de 1910 cayeron en el ámbito del servicio de la ciudad de Londres, y las acciones posteriores en Sidney Street en enero de 1911 estuvieron en la jurisdicción de la fuerza metropolitana. Ambos servicios quedaron bajo el control político del ministro del Interior , quien en 1911 era el político en ascenso Winston Churchill, de 36 años .
Durante la ronda o en el desempeño de sus funciones habituales, los oficiales de las fuerzas de la Ciudad de Londres y del Metropolitan recibieron una pequeña porra de madera para su protección. Cuando se enfrentaron a oponentes armados, como fue el caso en Sidney Street, la policía recibió revólveres Webley y Bull Dog , escopetas y rifles de pequeño calibre equipados con cañones de tubo Morris .22 , el último de los cuales se usaba más comúnmente en pequeños galerías de tiro bajo techo.
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