Slutskaya, Vera (1874–1917)

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Slutskaya, Vera (1874–1917)

Russian revolutionary leader who played an important role in the Bolshevik Party from 1902 until her death a few days after the Bolshevik Revolution. Name variations: Vera Slutskaia; Vera Kliment'evna Slutskaia. Born Berta Bronislavovna Slutskaya in Minsk on September 17, 1874; killed in action in Tsarskoe Selo (now Pushkin), on November 12, 1917.

Born into a family of merchants, Vera Slutskaya was a dentist by profession but joined the Russian revolutionary movement in 1898. For a brief period, 1901–02, she was a member of the Bund, a Jewish revolutionary organization. In 1902, however, she joined the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), later known at the Communist Party. A participant in the revolution of 1905–07 in Minsk and St. Petersburg, Slutskaya was a member of the military organization of the RSDLP. She served as a delegate to the fifth congress of the RSDLP in 1907, and was later assigned to carry out party work in St. Petersburg.

From 1909 to 1912, Slutskaya lived in exile in Germany and Switzerland. In 1913, she resumed party work in St. Petersburg, and was arrested several times by the tsarist police. The following year, she was exiled to the Caucasus. After the overthrow of tsarism in early 1917, she became a member of the St. Petersburg (now named Petrograd) committee of the Bolsheviks. An excellent orator and agitator, Slutskaya was a party organizer among poor women as well as secretary of the party's Vasileostrovskii Island district committee. During this turbulent time, she was a delegate to the sixth congress of the RSDLP. She also took part in the armed uprising in Petrograd during the October revolution of 1917.

When Vladimir Ilyich Lenin took the podium on November 7, 1917, to announce the dawn of Soviet rule in Russia, Slutskaya was in the audience along with Alexandra Kollontai, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Elena Stasova and other Bolshevik women. As the delegates stood to sing the socialist anthem "The Internationale," American journalist John Reed noticed that Kollontai had tears in her eyes. Leaving the hall after the meeting, Konkordiya Samoilova ran into Slutskaya. "Isn't it true, Vera," Samoilova beamed, "that even if all of us have to die, it will have been worth it just to live through this evening?" "Yes, of course," Slutskaya agreed immediately. This encounter stuck in Samoilova's memory, because less than a week later, on November 12, 1917, Vera Slutskaya was killed in a skirmish with anti-Bolshevik forces near Tsarskoe Selo while she was involved in transporting medicine to Red Guard units.


Clements, Barbara Evans. Bolshevik Women. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Karpetskaia, N.D. "Vovlechenie Trudiashchikhsia Zhenshchin Petrograda v Revoliutsionnoe Dvizhenie (Mart-Iiul' 1917 g.)" [The Involvement of the Toiling Women of Petrograd in the Revolutionary Movement (March–July 1917)], in Vestnik Leningradskogo Universiteta. No. 8, 1966, pp. 45–53.

Mierau, Fritz, ed. Links! Links! Links! Eine Chronik in Vers und Plakat. Berlin: Rütten & Loening, 1970.

Rips, Samuil Matusovich and Tat'iana Vasil'evna Kushtevskaia. Vera: Stranitsy Zhizni V.K. Slutskoi. Moscow: Izd-vo polit. lit-ry, 1991.

John Haag , Associate Professor History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia