Archive for April, 2016


April 30, 2016: a new episode of The Anatomy Lesson at 11pm EST on CFRC 101.9fm. Music by Dariush Dolat Shahi, Cell Memory and Castle If, Stephen O’Malley & Steve Noble, Big River Dream and Bérangère Maximin. Tune in at 101.9 FM, stream at http://audio.cfrc.ca:8000/listen.pls or download the finished show at cfrc.ca.

Cell Memory & Castle If – “Left Hand” Zwei Hände (2012)
Dariush Dolat-Shahi – “Otashgah (Side B)” Otashgah: Place of Fire (1986)
Bérangère Maximin – “Si Ce N’est Toi” Tant Que Les Heures Passes (2008)
Big River Dream – “In My Blood There A Curse” Bon Echo (split with Forest Management)
Stephen O’Malley & Steve Noble aka St. Francis Duo – “B” Peacemaker Assembly

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Joan Crawford. Photographed by Bain News Service, April 29, 1927. Negative reads: “Brown crepe [illegible] panne velvet orange & yellow emby [embroidery].“ Library of Congress, 

LC-B2- 4233-16.

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“Flame-Thrower Seeks Explosives At Long Branch Range,” The Toronto Star. October 03, 1947. Page 02.

“Searing Flame Leaps from the Wasp flame-thrower at the former army grenade and mortar range, Long Branch, to burn down weeds and grass in hunt for live shells and grenades. Work, dangerous for crew, is to remove possibility of their maiming or killing finders.  Search was started after a boy found one of missiles. It was turned over to experts.”

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April 23, 2016: a new episode of The Anatomy Lesson at 11pm EST on CFRC 101.9 FM (cfrcradio). Another tribute tonight, this time to Negativland and Richard Duaine Lyons. Some tunes from them this time around, as well as sample-based music by Theo Parrish, German Army, Zos Kia, Nocturnal Emissions, English Heretic, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Rhythm Of Cruelty, Ryuichi Sakamoto and AJ Cornell & Tim Darcy. Tune in at 101.9 FM, stream at http://audio.cfrc.ca:8000/listen.pls or download the finished show at cfrc.ca. 

OMD – “Time Zones” Dazzle Ships (1983)
Negativland – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” U2 (1991)
Ryuichi Sakamoto – “Not The 6 O’Clock News” B-2 Unit (1980)
English Heretic – “Operation Wandering Soul” The Underworld Service (2014)
Rhythm of Cruelty – “Repress” New Ethos
Nocturnal Emissions – “Routine surveillance exercise – Animal byproduct” Fruiting Body (1981)

Negativland – “Copying is An Illegal Act” These Guys Are From England and Who Gives A Shit (2001)
German Army – “Copyist” Yanomami
Theo Parrish – “Instant Insanity” Instant Insanity (2001)
AJ Cornell + Tim Darcy – “There Is A Door” Too Significant To Ignore
Zos Kia – “Truth” Transparent (split with Coil) (1997)
Negativland – “Christianity Is Stupid” Escape from Noise (1987)

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The Vision of Escaflowne, “The Diabolical Adonis.“ Written by Akihiko Inari. Directed by Yoshiyuki Takei. Music by Yoko Kanno. April 23, 1996.

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“Good Company In A Crowd – Kuntz’s Stone Ginger Beer,” Toronto Globe, September 13, 1933

“Kuntz’s Stone Ginger Beer is thoroughbred English – a brew with head, body and spirit.  As a pick-me-up when one is fagged  there is nothing like it.”

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“Robert Fripp, c’est un peu l’âme de la musique anglaise [Robert Fripp is a breath of fresh air in English music],” by Nathalie Petrowski. Le Devoir. April 18, 1979. Page 13.

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April 16, 2016: a new episode of The Anatomy Lesson at 11pm EST on CFRC 101.9 FM @cfrcradio​. An elliptical tribute to Tony Conrad. Music by Nurse With Wound Official, Charlemagne Palestine & Robert Feldman, Re:, Tuxedomoon, Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV, Hangedup, Yannis Kykriades & Andy Moor and more. Tune in at 101.9 FM, stream at http://audio.cfrc.ca:8000/listen.pls or download the finished show at cfrc.ca.

Brad Fiedel – “Terminator Arrives” The Terminator OST (1984)
Tuxedomoon – “Shelved Dreams” Heures Sans Soleil (1985)
Nurse With Wound – “Untitled (side 6)” Soliloquy For Lilith (1988)
Charlemagne Palestine & Robert Feldman – “Electronic & Flute” Sharing A Sonority (1967/2008)
Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV – “Informant” Sirens (2015)

Re: – “Orientalism As A Humanism” Alms (2004)
Yannis Kyriakides + Andy Moor – “Everyone Should Think of Their Final Breath” A Life Is A Billion Heartbeats (2015)
Hangedup + Tony Conrad – “Principles” Transit of Venus (2012)
Sarah Neufeld – “Chase The Bright And Burning” The Ridge

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The Vision of Escaflowne, “The Gallant Swordsman.“ Written by Ryota Yamaguchi. Directed by Shoji Kawamori. Music by Yoko Kanno. April 16, 1996.

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Nite Jewel, “Boo-Hoo,” Liquid Cool. Gloriette, 2016 (forthcoming)

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”I am in the strange position of knowing that I am on the ‘Kill List’. I know this because I have been told, and I know because I have been targeted for death over and over again. Four times missiles have been fired at me. I am extraordinarily fortunate to be alive.

I don’t want to end up a “Bugsplat” – the ugly word that is used for what remains of a human being after being blown up by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone. More importantly, I don’t want my family to become victims, or even to live with the droning engines overhead, knowing that at any moment they could be vaporized.

I am in England this week because I decided that if Westerners wanted to kill me without bothering to come to speak with me first, perhaps I should come to speak to them instead. I’ll tell my story so that you can judge for yourselves whether I am the kind of person you want to be murdered.”

– Malik Jalal, “I am on the Kill List. This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones.” Independent, April 12, 2016.

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“Origin stories are revealing. This one makes clear that ghettos are physical places that are perpetuated by vicious cycles of inequality and are justified by ideologies of cultural or racial pathology. No reference to “ghetto,” as place or modifier, can escape this history. Nevertheless, many of the most influential 20th-century social scientists and policy makers have tried. “Ghetto” is a book about books and a study of studies. Duneier shows in six thick chapters just how ideas and prescriptions for the early American ghetto elided the story of racism and power — the story of blacks as “America’s Jews.”

Beginning with the pioneering Chicago school of sociology and following the era of Jewish emancipation across ­Europe, researchers, often first- or second-­generation immigrants themselves, redefined Northern segregation as voluntary and natural. Economic forces and the tendency of “birds of a feather to flock together” led to self-segregation, according to Louis Wirth, a German Jew and the author of “The Ghetto,” published in 1928. Jewish areas like the Lower East Side “had come about without any legal mandate,” Duneier writes. These were turn-­of-the-century ethnic enclaves and slums as mere way stations for newcomers on the road to assimilation. The Chicago school scholars believed black areas were no different.

Duneier, the author of “Slim’s Table” and “Sidewalk,” knows better. Anti-black housing discrimination severely circumscribed neighborhood choices among ­African-Americans. Drawing on the work of black sociologists, Duneier uses their perspectives, rhetorical strategies and the push and pull between them and their white colleagues to frame each chapter, examining the erasure of the black ghetto as a place of forced confinement.

The metaphor of African-Americans as “America’s Jews” started in 1945 with the publication of “Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City,” by Horace Cayton and St. Clair Drake, two black University of Chicago graduate students. They presented a seminal and devastating critique of Northern racism in ­migration-era Chicago, based on an extensive W.P.A.-sponsored multiyear research project led by Cayton. Using imagery of the Nazi ghetto, the authors told of white neighborhoods closed to aspiring black homeowners and renters who “hit the invisible barbed-wire fence of restrictive covenants.” Like the yellow badge worn by Warsaw’s Jews, Cayton and Drake noted, Chicago’s blacks, “regardless of their affluence or respectability, wear the badge of color.” And yet black people managed to find cultural agency and build a robust life inside the ghetto, as others had for centuries.

“Black Metropolis” also observed that African-Americans in Chicago’s Bronzeville thought American hypocrisy would have to end with World War II. In light of Europe’s horrors, if America wanted to be a true beacon of democracy and freedom, surely it would treat its black citizens better than its German prisoners.

But Cayton and Drake’s research didn’t shape the direction of policy making over the next several decades. It was overshadowed by a more racially accommodating and far more influential work: Gunnar Myrdal’s “An American Dilemma,” published the year before “Black Metropolis.” In the tradition of Tocqueville, the Swedish economist was hired by the Carnegie Corporation to bring a foreigner’s impartial eye to America’s racial scene in the late 1930s. Myrdal had great intentions from the start, and he built an impressive team of researchers, many of whom were senior black scholars. But the colossal study had two major biases. Myrdal put the full weight of American racism on the South, fueling the Southern exceptionalism myth that white supremacy was parochial, atavistic and doomed. He also placed tremendous faith in “white people’s conscience.” If the reality of black suffering were put before white Americans, Myrdal surmised, they would abide the egalitarian principles of the American Creed: “A great many Northerners, perhaps the majority, get shocked and shaken in their conscience when they learn the facts.” Cayton and Drake had far less faith, given their findings, as well as the fact that the president of their own university, Robert Maynard Hutchins, publicly supported restrictive covenants, and used university funds to maintain them. To his credit, Myrdal knew Cayton’s research was valuable and tried to recruit him to his team, but after months of going back and forth over compensation, they could not agree on fair terms. Myrdal’s bible of mid-20th-century race-relations policy — a book so influential it was cited in the Brown v. Board of Education decision — left a gaping hole in the scholarship. Thus with only two mentions of the word “ghetto” in his 1,400-page book, Myrdal, and by extension the nation, failed to understand Northern racism and its enduring impact.”

– Khalil Gibran Muhammad, “‘Ghetto,’ by Mitchell Duneier,New York Review of Books. April 12, 2016.

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“Bank bandits in Los Angeles will have a tough time getting away with the swag with this new armored car on the job,” Toronto Star, September 15, 1923. 

Crime as promoting progress – technical innovation to defeat the primal, marginal bandit.

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”The Entente Internationale contre la Troisième Internationale – the name was changed around 1938 to the Entente Internationale Anticommuniste (EIA) was founded in Geneva late in 1924 by a member of the Geneva bar named Théodore Aubert, with the close collaboration of a White Russian refugee, well-connected with the Comité International de la Croix Rouge (CICR), the medical doctor Georges Lodygensky.

Aubert was born on 8 September 1878 at Geneva. His family came from the French Dauphiné towards the end of the seventeenth century, fleeing Catholic persecution of the Huguenots, and settled in Geneva. ‘They were received into the bourgeoisie in 1702.’ Théodore Aubert studied law at the University of Geneva and was admitted to the bar in 1901; he later became a member of the Bar Council and a delegate to the Grand Council of the Swiss Bar.

During the First World War, Aubert was mobilized as an infantry officer and served in 1917–1918 as a special delegate of the Swiss Federal Council to visit prisoners of war and civilian internees in France, Switzerland having assumed the representation of the diplomatic interests of the Central Powers when the United States entered the war. In December 1918, Aubert was in Berlin as a delegate of the CICR. Here he had the task of looking after the interests of Allied war prisoners, especially the Russians. He was thus present at the outbreak in Germany of the social conflicts that followed the German defeat. In May 1919 he was again in France as a delegate of the CICR and during the following months he visited ‘concentration camps situated in the liberated areas of France’. Aubert then took part in the Conference of the International Law Association, again as a delegate of the CICR.

Georges Lodygensky had been before the Revolution of 1917 the official delegate of the Tsarist regime to the Comité International de la Croix Rouge (CICR) and continued this work in Geneva after the end of the First World War. This was possible because Switzerland had refused to recognize the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution, and, in fact, did not recognize the Soviet Union until after the end of the Second World War. Throughout the history of the Entente, one encounters frequent liaisons and helpful contacts between personalities of the CICR and the leading spirits of the EIA.

A tenuous relationship between Switzerland and the Soviet Union had begun in 1918, the year in which a Soviet delegation – the Berzine Delegation – visited Switzerland for the first time and was expelled manu militari. An article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1926) shows how far a generalized fear of the Soviet Union prevailed in the Confederation. The author of the article, Carl Burckhardt, identified as an ‘official of the Swiss Federation’, explained the expulsion of the Soviet delegation as follows:

the Soviet delegation acted mainly as an organ of propaganda and espionage, and the revolutionary tendencies of the general strike in that year were undoubtedly aggravated by its influence. The difficulties of the military in countering these tendencies, together with the suffering caused by a widespread epidemic of influenza, roused public feelings and the delegation was requested to leave the country.

This quotation might seem to indicate that Swiss public opinion somehow linked the influenza epidemic with the Soviet mission, an example of the irrationality frequently found in such situations.

Two important events in Swiss history preceded the founding of the Entente: the first was closely allied with a European phenomenon of the time, inspired by the social unrest resulting from the world war and the Russian Revolution. It began in 1918 and was called in each country, the Civic Union, (Union Civique). The second event came later in 1923. This was the murder of the Soviet representative in Rome, Vorovsky, in Swiss territory. Théodore Aubert was active in founding the Swiss Union Civique, and he achieved wide notoriety in successfully defending the accomplice of the assassin of Vorovsky.

The Civic Unions were right-wing paramilitary groups formed to combat workers’ organizations in many European countries. The Swiss Civic Union had been formed after the general strike of 1918, by Aubert and some of his friends. Colonel de Diesbach, who commanded the detachment of dragoons that escorted the Soviet mission to the frontier, was later a member of the Permanent Bureau of the Entente.

Dmitri Novik, Aubert’s hagiographer of 1933, while relating the story of the Swiss general strike of 1918 and the forced departure of the Soviet mission, struck the proper note for the Entente’s gallery of authors dealing with social unrest. He wrote, ‘This is insufficient to root out evil. The strike will continue.’ The strike, employed by the Swiss workers, was viewed as evil incarnate. Novik continued:

Troops were mobilised while, at the same time, civilian groups were established in several Swiss towns to maintain order and ensure the functioning of public services. Aubert was the chief initiator of this movement. After the strike was suppressed, for several years he was in charge of managing the Civic Unions in French-speaking Switzerland. It was thus that he was called on to study from very close at hand the various subversive movements and, in particular, Bolshevism. Aubert was also in contact with the leaders of Civic Unions in France, Germany, Belgium and Holland, thus widening his international relationships, for which he had prepared the ground during the course of his various missions. These relationships would later be of use to him.

Novik, while presenting Aubert as a resolute enemy of the right of the workers to strike, tried also to show him to be ‘a sincere friend of the working class’ and added that ‘he is beginning to be recognized as such in working class environments’. Novik explained that Aubert was in favour of class collaboration. ‘It is useless to insist that Aubert is strongly in favour of the most robust social reforms based on intelligent cooperation between employers and workers.’  

On 10 May 1923, Vyatzlaw Vorowsky, the Soviet representative in Rome, who had come to Lausanne to act on behalf of his country at an international conference which, among other matters, concerned the Dardanelles, was shot to death with a revolver by Maurice Conradi, who held both Russian and Swiss citizenship. He had as an accomplice, a White Russian émigré, Arcadius Polounine. A press report of the time read:

At 21.00 hours, on 10th May 1923, the Soviet agent Vorowsky was shot in the Cecil Hotel restaurant by a ‘Swiss Russian’, Maurice Conradi, a former voluntary officer in the ‘White’ Russian army. Conradi also wounded two other Soviet agents acting as Vorowsky’s bodyguards: Ahrens and Divilkowsky. He then laid down his weapon and asked for the police to be called, adding ‘I have done something good for the whole world.’

The assassination of Vorovsky involved both the White Russian movement and the Tsarist section of the CICR. When Lodygensky returned to Geneva from Russia after the Revolution, in April 1920, he continued to occupy the two rooms comprising the offices of the Russian Red Cross, while at the same time, engaging occasionally in the practice of medicine, especially with clients among the Russian refugee colony. Dr Lodygensky himself used one of the two rooms; the other one contained the archives of the Russian Red Cross. It was there that Arkady Pavolvitch Polounine worked with two female secretaries. Polounine had been sent to Geneva to work as first secretary under Lodygensky by the White Russian general, Peter Nicolaievitch Wrangel.

The assassin Conradi, or ‘executioner’, as Lodygensky preferred to name him, had met Polounine during the Russian Civil War, when both were with the White Russian Armies. Later, on 25 March 1923, Conradi came to the Russian Red Cross in Geneva to see Polounine, according to the former’s pre-trial testimony, confirmed by Aubert’s address to the jury in November 1923. However, Lodygensky, writing many years later, stated that Conradi had come to see him seeking medical advice. Both of these reasons for Conradi’s visit to the Russian Red Cross offices may well have been exact.

In the course of the conversation between the two former comrades in arms, ‘they also renew their conviction that Bolshevism should be destroyed’. ‘Together, Conradi and Polounine decided to do what they could, within their limited resources, to achieve this end. Then, to render the act useful, it was a matter of deciding whom should be executed. Polounine mentioned Vorowsky.’ After this conversation, Conradi travelled to Berlin for reasons unknown; on his return, Polounine gave him a sum of money. A short time later, Conradi, who was in Lausanne awaiting the arrival of Vorowsky, sent an urgent letter to Polounine requesting a hundred Swiss francs. Polounine not only sent the money, but joined with it a note which, unluckily for Polounine, Conradi lost at the scene of the crime. 

Lodygensky was quite naturally standing at his traditional post at the Russian Orthodox Church in Geneva on the Sunday morning, 13 May, after the assassination. Polounine appeared; the two men looked at each other, apparently to signify a meeting after the service. Polounine then disappeared.

Lodygensky was called to the telephone during luncheon. A police agent requested him to come to the Russian Red Cross offices immediately. There he found a number of policemen in civilian dress, and Polounine, who was under arrest. A policeman demanded to look into the files belonging to Polounine, and Lodygensky showed him the relevant cabinets. Lodygensky continued, ‘the police were going through the files. Although I appeared totally calm, I did not feel any the less worried. But, fortunately, the police search was only superficial and they failed to examine other Red Cross papers.’ The policemen left and, as Lodygensky wrote,

Ill at ease, I picked up Polounine’s file, leafed through it meticulously and discovered a letter from Conradi. This document left no doubt as to the fact that the former comrades in the White army had already established close contact from the first time Conradi came to Geneva. It goes without saying that I immediately destroyed such a compromising document.

Lodygensky feared to be arrested in his turn, but, nevertheless, sought to use his time to find a lawyer to defend Polounine.

Lodygensky and Aubert were on a more than friendly basis. The White Russian delegate to the CICR had met Aubert almost immediately after the former’s return to Geneva from war-torn Russia, and had related to the lawyer his first-hand impressions of the Revolution. They saw each other frequently thereafter, and when Polounine arrived in Switzerland, Lodygensky presented the White Russian officer to Aubert. ‘The latter immediately appreciated the true worth of my assistant’s vast intelligence and extraordinary learning.’

This background explains the reasons why Aubert at once offered his services to defend Conradi’s accomplice, Polounine. Aubert was assured of support from the White Russian émigrés, of the Tsarist embassy still func- tioning in Paris, and of the Tsarist Red Cross in Geneva and in Paris. Lodygensky noted, ‘The archbishop of our parish, the Venerable Orloff, told whoever wished to listen that he would pray without respite for justice and truth to triumph in the Lausanne trial.’

Aubert became so deeply involved in the defence of Polounine that he abandoned completely the other work in his law office, leaving it entirely in the hands of his associate. (The defence of Conradi had been confided to a lawyer of the Lausanne Bar, Sydney Schoepfer.) Aubert made no attempt to plead the innocence of Polounine, correctly persuaded that the letter signed by his client and found at the scene of the killing could easily be considered as proof of complicity. Instead, Aubert spent his time drawing up ‘an irrefutable bill of indictment against anti-religious and inhuman communism’. To this end, testimony was solicited from members of the White Russian colonies in Western Europe, from persons associated with the Tsarist Red Cross and from members of the Russian aristocracy then in exile. A number of Russian writers living in France and Switzerland were also recruited.


The consolidated trials of Conradi and Polounine were held in Lausanne, in the great hall of the Casino de Montbénon, in order to have enough room to hold the large number of journalists, Swiss and foreign, expected to come to cover the trials which lasted eleven days, from 5 to 19 November 1923. Aubert spoke for a total of nine hours, on two days, 11 and 15 November. 

According to EIA sources, Aubert’s address to the Lausanne jury was widely translated, but we shall deal with only two printings, the French original which was entitled L’Affaire Conradi, with a subtitle Le procès du Bolchevisme, and an English-language version which bore the poorly inspired title Bolshevism’s Terrible Record: An Indictment. The French transcript had, according to Lodygensky, this unusual origin: several days before the end of the trial, Aubert received the visit of a stenographer who had been engaged by the ‘partie civile communiste’ (Communist plaintiff) to record the transcript of the trial, intending to use it as propaganda, but the ‘partie civile’, realizing that the cause was lost, refused to pay the stenogra- pher, who then offered his work to Aubert at a low price.67 This scenario is possible, and it is certain that during those months preceding the trial Lodygensky was in extremely close contact with Aubert. However, it is clear from the Lodygensky typescript that Aubert was reading a prepared text to the jury and that he had, at the end of his nine-hour plea to the jury, a fairly accurate text concerning what he had said in the courtroom.

It is significant that the first transcript of Aubert’s courtroom plea was entitled L’Affaire Conradi and not ‘L’Affaire Polounine’. This underlines the evident fact that the trial of Conradi, the actual assassin, was far more important than that of his accomplice Polounine. A surprising amount of evidence against Polounine had accumulated during the preliminary investigation by the examining magistrate, as Aubert admitted in his speech. However, it was unlikely that the jury could have condemned Polounine, unless it had previously condemned Conradi; whereas, one could imagine the contrary: Conradi condemned and Polounine set free. Thus, Aubert’s arguments, of necessity, frequently encompassed the defence of both men. I have not seen Schopfer’s defence of Conradi, but it was probably more legalistic than was Aubert’s, which was 99 per cent political.

The central argument of Aubert’s address before the Criminal Court of Lausanne in justification of the killing of Vorowsky was that Conradi (and Polounine) had been seized by an ‘irresistible force’ which drove them to the murderous act. According to the law in force in the Canton of Vaud, of which Lausanne was the capital, anyone possessed by such an ‘irresistible force’ to commit a crime could not be held responsible for his or her behaviour.

Aubert proposed to the jury several incidents from Polounine’s life to illustrate the ‘irresistible force’ which propelled the White Russian officer to become an accomplice to murder. Among the events to which Aubert assigned responsibility for Polounine’s homicidal mania was the decomposition of the Russian Imperial Army:

At that time, Polounine does not belong to the White army. He does not belong to the Korniloff detachments, but he suffers deeply. He suffers because a short time after the revolution was unleashed, the decomposition of the army becomes terribly apparent; this decomposition had begun under Kerensky and was initiated by Bolshevik agents who were working – I can here solemnly declare – with German gold and on Germany’s behalf.

What is therefore the reaction of an officer such as Polounine to such circumstances? He sees the army he loves falling apart, he sees his country, for which he is ready to lay down his life, about to be considered a criminal country! Do you not understand that at that moment an irresistible force took hold of him, this same irresistible force that leads us on to the battle field, that makes us die for our country and for our honour?

Another circumstance of the Russian Revolution, and a very important one, which, according to Aubert, weighed heavily in the determination of Polounine’s conduct, was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, by which Russia signed a separate treaty of peace with Germany:

What memories did Polounine bring with him to Geneva? The memory of his country’s dishonour, because of the betrayal of Lenin, because of the betrayal of Brest-Litovsk, the memory of that horrendous cruelty, of that misery, of that terror, of those nurses he had saved who had been so atrociously tortured. And his own family had not been spared. I will go on no further. Once again, here, Polounine appears as he is, in the purity of his motives, as a patriot. He has acted only on behalf of his mother- land and sacrificed himself for his motherland. He left this latter while she was being crucified. She is still on the cross.

Like the Princess Kourakine, whose evidence you have heard, Polounine, of peasant origin, was thinking of Russia, ‘this great dishonoured martyr, dismembered and bathed in blood’. Thus, always present was the irresistible force, the irresistible force of the desire for justice, the irresistible force of passionate love for his country; this country Russia.

During the first hour of his plea, Aubert challenged the State’s Attorney, insisting on attenuating circumstances based on the ‘irresistible force’:

You, the State Attorney, have said that Polounine did not warrant any mitigating circumstances since, in his case, there was neither provocation nor irresistible force. Let me say, however, that there was a force, and an irresistible force in the portrayal of Bolshevism such as we listened to last week, and so irresistible that you yourself, Sir, have yielded to it … so, you have experienced the effects of this irresistible force which Polounine obeyed …; but on Polounine, a Russian citizen who has seen blood spilt and who has lived through these horrors, this irresistible force exerted an influence a thousand times more powerful than on a magistrate who lives in a free and respected country.

Towards the end of his long plea to the jury, Aubert argued again for the ‘irresistible force’:

Do you understand that, in relation to the questions put to you [by the judge] all your answers should free Conradi and Polounine too? All the more so because Vorowsky’s arrival in Lausanne constituted for Polounine a violent provocation. His mind was haunted by the irresistible force for justice and by a love for one’s country. Do you understand? Yes, you have understood that if there are guilty persons, they are the Bolshevik leaders.

The pleading by Aubert of the ‘irresistible force’ as an exculpation for the criminal act of Conradi and Polounine could constitute a justification for any White Russian to kill any prominent Bolshevik anywhere. But why was Vorovsky chosen to become the victim of the two former officers of the White Russian Army? The reason given by Aubert was analogous to that proffered by mountain climbers: because the mountain was there. Vorovsky was killed because he was the most prominent Soviet functionary available in Switzerland. Any other representative of similar rank would have satisfied the requirements of the killer and his accomplice.

Vorovsky had been chosen for assassination because Conradi and Polounine were pushed by an ‘irresistible force’ to kill a prominent Bolshevik. But once Vorovsky had been designated as the victim, features of his own personality were found to justify the choice already made. One such aspect of Vorovsky’s curriculum vitae was constituted by proof of his significant Bolshevik past.

Early in his talk to the jury, Aubert referred to the fact revealed in the pre-trial investigation that Polounine had indicated Vorovsky to Conradi as a likely candidate for assassination: ‘He [Polounine] believed that the latter [Vorovsky] had a distinguished Bolshevik past and that he would certainly be one of the more prominent Bolshevik leaders in the very near future.’ Several paragraphs of Aubert’s speech before the Criminal Court were given over to establishing Vorovsky’s importance in the Soviet hierarchy: his death was a great blow to Bolshevism, hence morally justified. One example: Vorovsky was in Stockholm to greet Lenin when he arrived there on his way to the Finland Station.

Aubert showed in his oration how Polounine, and Aubert himself, were irritated by the fact that Vorovsky and other representatives of the Soviet Union were lodged in first-class hotels while travelling abroad. (This was a normal way of life for diplomats and other functionaries of all the countries in the world, then and now.) Aubert underlined the fact that ‘Vorowsky met his death in a luxurious restaurant’. Polounine was described as being filled with ‘indignation’ when he learned that Vorovsky, on an official mission in Genoa, was received with great consideration, ‘at these grand, over-polite dinner parties with princes and archbishops’. Hence, the assassination of Vorovsky was justified.

In addition to the basic plea of the ‘irresistible force’, Aubert discovered a further panoply of Communist ‘crimes’, which contributed to a justification of the murder of Vorovsky. Among these were such ill-defined conceptions as the accusation that Lenin had ‘poisoned the soul of Russia’:

Gentlemen, even if, instead of misery, instead of ruin, instead of distress, instead of famine, Lenin had brought the greatest prosperity to his country, the sole fact that he poisoned the soul of Russia would be sufficient to justify Conradi pulling the trigger!

Among other justifications invoked by Aubert for the murder of Vorovsky were petty reasons such as the affronts to Polounine’s Russian patriotism, racist reasons such as the foreign (non-Russian) elements allegedly among the personnel of the Cheka, or more easily understood reactionary reasons such as Soviet incitation to social unrest all over the world, co-education in Soviet schools and government-financed abortions in Soviet State hospitals.

Aubert denounced not only the persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church, but insisted that ‘the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches are persecuted quite as much’. But, true to his Huguenot ancestry, he could not resist the temptation to cite a previous religious persecution, nearer to Geneva than was Russia, the persecution of the Huguenots by the French Catholics, encouraged by Catherine de Medicis, and which resulted in the Massacre of St Bartholomew and the murder of Admiral Coligny, in 1572. To justify Polounine, Aubert quoted Charlotte de Laval, wife of Coligny, as saying to her husband, ‘Sir, I have on my heart so much of the blood of our people, that blood cries to God that you will be the murderer of those whose murder you did not prevent.’

The Lausanne jury, by a vote of nine to zero, declared that Conradi had voluntarily killed Vorovsky by means of a firearm, at the Hotel Cecil in Lausanne on 10 May 1923. The same jury, by the same unanimity, affirmed that Polounine had been an accomplice to that murder. And the same jury, by a vote of five to four, affirmed that both of the accused were guilty. The two accused were then set free. The leading newspaper of the city, Feuille d’Avis de Lausanne, explained the situation as follows:

The accused were declared guilty by five jury members out of nine and therefore benefited from a minority rule since the Vaudian criminal code requires a majority of six ‘yes’ and three ‘no’ for the accused to be declared guilty.

They were guilty but free from any punishment. The Conradi–Polounine case is a rarity in the annals of Western European justice. First, there was absolutely no doubt that Conradi had fired on Vorovsky and killed him, and that he had wounded two other Soviet citizens. Conradi self-proclaimed his culpability at the scene of the crime. Nor was there any doubt concerning Polounine’s guilt as an accomplice. Despite the criminal act of Lodygensky, destroying evidence in a case of murder, as he himself years later, with a bit of boasting, confessed, the investigating prosecutor quickly found more than sufficient guilt on the part of Polounine.

In the ‘Introduction’ to L’Affaire Conradi, we can read that, when three days after the murder, Polounine was arrested, he did not hesitate to admit that he had helped Conradi to carry out the deed, whether this was by discussing the possibilities with him, by giving him information about Vorowsky’s personality or even by giving him some money for his expenses on the trip from Zurich to Lausanne.

Second, neither of the accused showed the slightest sign of regret for his act. In most cases where the accused, confronted with irrefutable proof of his guilt, can hardly plead ‘not guilty’, he does proclaim before the court his profound remorse. Conradi, self-righteously announced his responsibility for the murder at the scene of the crime. Nor was there any scene of contrition in the courtroom at Lausanne, when Polounine was questioned. ‘To the question put by the Prosecution: Would he be prepared to do the same again? Polounine answered “yes”.’

Third, there was premeditation, a conspiracy. Since in one way or another, this book is entirely concerned with ‘Communist Plots’, it is highly relevant to underline the fact that the murder of Vorovsky was the result of an ‘Anti-Communist Plot’, openly presented as such by Aubert in his discourse to the Lausanne jury. I shall further here quote from the ‘Introduction’ to L’Affaire Conradi:

The detailed examination carried out by the examining Judge of Lausanne showed that no plot existed beyond this understanding between Conradi and Polounine; the Swiss National League in Lausanne and the former Russian Red Cross organization in Geneva were notably dismissed from the case in the clearest possible fashion, both by the findings of the inquiry and by the Prosecution.

(The public Prosecutor, in exonerating the ‘former organization of the Russian Red Cross’ from any complicity in the killing, was unaware that Lodygensky had purposely destroyed evidence of that complicity.)

It is impossible not to consider the verdict of the jury in Lausanne as a grave miscarriage of justice. There was no doubt of the physical culpability of Conradi and Polounine, who carried out the acts of which they were charged: there was premeditation, a conspiracy between the two men, and neither of the accused showed the slightest compunction for what they had done.”

– Herbert Southworth, Conspiracy and the Spanish Civil War: The Brainwashing of Francisco Franco.  Routledge: London and New York, 2002.  pp. 143-151.

Top photos: Münsterplatz in Zurich, November general strike, 1918. Photographed by Willy Gautschi. Source.

Middle photo: Le Monde illustré, May 19, 1923. No. 3413.

Bottom photos show, at left, Théodore Aubert, and Maurice Conradi.

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April 9, 2016: a new episode of The Anatomy Lesson at 11pm EST on CFRC 101.9fm ( cfrcradio) . A selection of some long-form improvisational music, free jazz and organ-driven electronic music. We’ll hear music from Colin Stetson’s re-imagining of Henry Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony, EXHAUSTION & Kris Wanders’ new collaborative album, electronic music by Madalyn Merkey and Vanessa Amara, the Roman Catholics side of a new split with Ensemble of Terror and Montreal’s Shining Wizard!

Tune in at 101.9 FM, stream at http://audio.cfrc.ca:8000/listen.pls or download the finished show at cfrc.ca.

Thanks to duchampdrone for sending CFRC the Roman Catholics/Ensemble of Terror split!

Madalyn Merkey – “Untitled #1” Please Don’t Keep Me Waiting (2010)
Vanessa Amara – “Both Of Us, Part 1” Both of Us / King Machine (2013)
Colin Stetson – “Sorrow: II – Lento E Largo – Tranquillissimo” Sorrow – A Reimagining of Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony

Shining Wizard (ft. Grace Brooks & James Goddard) – “Laugher” Shining Wizard ft. Grace Brooks & James Goddard
Roman Catholics – “Kyprios” Split with Ensemble of Terror
Exhaustion & Wanders – “A Vicious Indulgence” II

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