Fanya Kaplan

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Fanya Yefimovna Kaplan, in 1907

Fanya Yefimovna Kaplan (1883September 3, 1918), a.k.a. Fanny Kaplan (born Dora Kaplan), was a political revolutionary and an attempted assassin of Vladimir Lenin.

Kaplan was born into a Jewish peasant family, one of seven children. She became a political revolutionary at an early age and joined a socialist group, the Socialist Revolutionaries. In 1906, Kaplan participated in an attempted assassination of a government official. The plot failed and Kaplan was arrested and sentenced to life of katorga works in Akatui, Siberia. She was released when the February Revolution overthrew the imperial government. As a result of her imprisonment, Kaplan suffered from continuous headaches and periods of blindness.

Kaplan became disillusioned with Lenin as a result of the conflict between the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Bolshevik party. The Bolsheviks had strong support in the soviets, which Lenin had argued in his 1917 tract "The State and Revolution" were the only legitimate avenue of post-revolutionary government; however, in elections to a competing body, the Constituent Assembly, the Bolsheviks failed to win a majority in the November 1917 elections and a Socialist Revolutionary was elected President in January 1918. The Bolsheviks, favoring soviets, ordered the Constituent Assembly to be dissolved. Over the next few months conflicts between the Bolsheviks and their political opponents led to the banning of all parties except the Bolsheviks. Kaplan decided to assassinate Lenin.

On August 30, 1918, Lenin was speaking at a Moscow factory. As Lenin left the building and before he entered his car, Kaplan called out to him. When Lenin turned towards her, she fired three shots. One passed through Lenin's coat, the other two hit him in the left shoulder and left lung.

Lenin was taken back to his living quarters at the Kremlin. He feared there might be other plotters planning to kill him and refused to leave the security of the Kremlin to seek medical attention. Doctors were brought in to treat him but were unable to remove the bullets outside of a hospital. But despite the severity of his injuries, Lenin survived. However, Lenin's health never fully recovered from the attack and it is believed the shooting contributed to the strokes that incapacitated and later killed him.

Kaplan was taken into custody and interrogated by the Cheka. She made the following statement: My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot at Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent eleven years at hard labour. After the Revolution I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it. When it became clear that Kaplan would not implicate other political opponents of Lenin, she was shot on September 3.

On August 17, only days before the attempted assassination of Lenin, Moisei Uritsky, People's Commissar for Internal Affairs in the Northern Region and head of the Cheka in Petrograd was assassinated. While there was no objective evidence linking the two assassinations, the Bolsheviks used them as an excuse to eliminate their political opponents. An official decree for Red Terror was issued only hours after the Kaplan's shootings calling for "a merciless mass terror against all the enemies of the revolution". In the next few months, about 800 SRs and other political opponents of Bolsheviks were executed without trial. During the first year the scope of Red Terror significantly expanded and the executions counted by thousands even by official statistics. Some historians consider this to be a harbinger of the Great Kaplan fr:Fanny Kaplan he:פאניה קפלן ro:Fania Kaplan


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