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Yemelyan Mikhailovich Yaroslavsky (Russian: Емельян Михайлович Ярославский, born Minei Izrailevich Gubelman, Мине́й Изра́илевич Губельма́н; March 3 [O.S. February 19] 1878 – December 4, 1943) was a Russian revolutionary, Soviet politician, communist party organizer and activist, journalist, and historian (he was official historian of the party for a time[citation needed]). He was an atheist and anti-religious activist; among his most important journalistic propaganda activities, he was editor of the atheist satirical journal Bezbozhnik ("The Godless" or "The Atheist"). He led the League of the Militant Godless, and also headed the Anti-Religious Committee of the Central Committee.


Yaroslavsky was born into a Jewish famity as Minei Israilevich Gubelman in Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai on March 3, 1878. He entered the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party in 1898 and organized communist cells on the Trans-Baikal (Zabaikalsky) Railroad). In 1901, he was a correspondent for the revolutionary newspaper "Iskra," and the following year became a member of the Party's Chita Committee. In 1903 he became a member of the St. Petersburg Committee of the Communist Party and became one of the leaders of the Military Wing of the party, siding with the Social Democrats' Bolshevik faction during the intraparty split.

Yaroslavsky took part in the 1905 Revolution and his wife, the revolutionary Olga Mikhailovna Genkina (1882–1905) was killed by a member of the Black Hundreds during the conflict. Yaroslavsky led communist activity in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinoslav, and Tampere (now in Finland) during the revolution and edited the paper "Kazarma". He was arrested in 1907 and sentenced to hard labor in the Gorny Zerentu Prison in the Nerchinsk region and later exiled to Eastern Siberia.

On September 15, 1921, Yaroslavsky was the prosecutor at the trial in Novonikolaevsk, now Novosibirsk, of the counter-revolutionary Lieutenant General Roman von Ungern-Sternberg.

With the outbreak of the German-Soviet War, the state reduced its anti-religious activities somewhat as the Russian Orthodox Church was seen as an institution that could be of use in rallying the population to defend the nation. The journals "Bezbozhnik" and "Antireligioznik" ceased publication and the League of the Militant Godless fell into obscurity (The official reason was the lack of newsprint, now needed for the war effort.[1]

Yaroslavsky died on December 4, 1943 in Moscow. His remains were cremated and the urn with his ashes was interred to the left side of the Senate Tower in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis behind Lenin's Mausoleum.

Honours and awards[]

  • Order of Lenin (1938)
  • Stalin Prize, 1st class (1943) - for the collective research work entitled "History of the Civil War", Volume 2 (1942)


  1. Edmund Simmons, Russia is No Riddle (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2005), 75; Thomas Fitzsimmons, RSFSR: Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, vols. 1 and 2(New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files, 1957), 579.

Further reading[]

  • George M. Enteen, "Writing Party History in the USSR: The Case of E. M. Iaroslavskii," Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 21, no. 2 (April 1986), pp. 321–339. In JSTOR.

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