Emma Goldman


May 29, 2022

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) was a Lithuanian anarchist, known for her activism, political writings, and conferences that brought together thousands of people across the United States. She played a key role in the development of anarchism in North America in the first half of the 20th century. Goldman was born in Kovno (now Kaunas), Lithuania - which was then part of the Russian Empire. She emigrated to the United States in 1885 and lived in New York, where she met and became part of the burgeoning anarchist movement. Attracted to anarchism after the Haymarket Uprising, Goldman became a renowned anarchist philosophy essayist and writer, writing anti-capitalist articles as well on women's emancipation, social issues and the union struggle. She and anarchist writer Alexander Berkman, her lifelong lover and companion, planned to assassinate Henry Clay Frick as a propaganda stunt for the deed. Although Frick survived the bombing, Berkman was sentenced to twenty-two years in jail. Goldman was arrested several times in the years that followed, for "inciting riots" and illegally distributing contraception information. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth. In 1917, Goldman and Berkman were sentenced to two years in jail for conspiring to "induce people not to enlist" in the conscription, which had recently been instituted in the United States. United States. After being released from prison, they were arrested again - along with hundreds of other progressives - and deported to Russia. Initially sympathetic to that country's Bolshevik Revolution, Goldman quickly voiced his opposition to the soviets' use of violence and the repression of independent voices. In 1923, she wrote about her experiences among the Bolsheviks, forming the book My Disillusionment in Russia. While living in England, Canada and France she wrote an autobiography called Living My Life. With the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Emma, ​​now in her 60s, traveled to Spain to support the Anarchist Revolution. During her lifetime, Goldman was celebrated by her admirers as a freethinker and "rebellious woman". , and derided by opponents as a supporter of political assassinations and violent revolutions. Her writings and lectures covered a variety of subjects, including the prison system, atheism, free speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, and women's emancipation. She also developed new ways of embedding gender politics in anarchism. Emma Goldman died in Toronto, Canada on May 14, 1940.


Emma Goldman's family was part of a community of Orthodox Jews who lived in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas (which at the time was called Kovno, and was part of the Russian Empire). Goldman's mother Taube Bienowitch had previously married a man with whom she had two daughters – Helena in 1860 and Lena in 1862. When her first husband died of tuberculosis, Taube was devastated. Goldman later wrote, "All the love she had had died with the young man she had married at the age of 15." Taube's second marriage was arranged by her family, as Emma put it, "quite different from her first. ". Her second husband, Abraham Goldman, invested Taube's inheritance in a business that quickly failed. The resulting difficulties, combined with the emotional estrangement between husband and wife, created a tense atmosphere at home. When Taube became pregnant, Abraham desperately wished the child was a boy. According to him, a daughter would only serve as another sign of failure. They would later have three children, but the first child they had together was actually a girl, Em