Thursday, August 20, 2015

Accident or Murder? A Soviet Mystery in Long Lake

Leon Trotsky and Ephraim Sklyansky Red Square review of Moscow troops October 14 1918On Saturday evening, August 22, 2015, at 7:30 pm, at the Long Lake Town Hall, Abbie Verner, Long Lake Town Archivist and President of the Long Lake Historical Society will present a program with slides and music about two men from the Soviet Union who drowned in Long Lake in 1925.

The two men, Isaiah Khurgin, and his colleague Ephraim Skliansky, were prominent Soviet citizens and active in the politics of Soviet Russia. The program outlines their backgrounds, their family information and the possible reason for their visit.

Ephraim Markovich Sklyansky joined the Bolsheviks during his years as a student in the medical faculty of Kiev University. At the time of the October Revolution he was a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet. Leon Trotsky was so impressed with his “great creative élan combined with concentrated attention to detail” that he appointed him his deputy on the Revolutionary Military Council, where he served during the Russian Civil War (1918-1920).

1925 Sverdlov Square - now Theatre Square - funerals of Bolshevik statesmen Ephraim Sklyansky and Isai KhurginIsai Yakovlevich Khurgin, the first head of Amtorg Trading Corporation, the first organization to represent trade with the Soviet Union in the United States. Controlled by the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade, prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the USA and the USSR in 1933 the organization served as the de facto trade delegation and a quasi-embassy of the Soviet Union, handling almost all imports from the USSR, and providing American companies with information about trade opportunities in the USSR. During World War II, Amtorg handled the flow of military supplies to the Soviet Union, including armaments, raw materials, food, and uniforms under the Lend-Lease program. In addition to the suspicious death of Khurgin in Long Lake in 1925, three other of the first five Amtorg presidents were executed during Stalin’s Great Purge in 1938.

Admission to the event is free, although contributions are welcome. This lecture is part of the Long Lake Historical Society Weekend.

The Long Lake Historical Society was founded in 2008, and collects books, papers, maps, diaries, photographs and ephemera pertaining to the Town of Long Lake and its residents both year-round and seasonal. For more information contact the Society’s president Abbie Verner at (518) 624-5374.

Photos: Above  (from left in the car), Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Podvoisky, Ephraim Sklyansky and Yemelyan Yaroslavsky (Aleksandr Muralov is on the left on the ground) in Red Square during a review of the Moscow garrison’s troops on October 14, 1918; and below, the 1925 funeral of Sklyansky and Khurgin in Sverdlov Square (now Theatre Square), Moscow.

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2 Responses

  1. Dave Gibson says:

    What a remarkable tale Abbie will tell – no doubt. I hope she contributes a related post to the Almanack about the circumstances of their drowning in Long Lake, or maybe that’s in a future book !

  2. Betsy Comeau says:

    Looking forward to hearing Abbie Verner and this Long Lake mystery!