1 January 1938 – Alexander Gelver

In 1938, American-born communist sympathiser Alexander Gelver saw the New Year in with a bullet through his brain.

He was accused of spreading the belief that there was a better life to be had outside communist Russia around the factory where he had worked.

“…just inches from freedom, he was arrested”

In actual fact, Gelver had been instrumental is helping the Russians recreate Stalin’s left-wing vision of a ‘Worker’s Paradise’ in the 1920s and 30s, along with 14 others.

But Stalin had become deeply distrustful of any foreign influences and began to turn against his American volunteers. And, in turn, Gelver became increasingly fearful for his life after the others started disappearing mysteriously.

On the brink of freedom

Gelver made hasty plans to return to the United States. But instead, just inches from freedom, he was arrested outside the US Embassy. Gelver from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was just 24 when he was put to death, probably with a single bullet to the back of his head.

Also on this day

1907 – John Davis

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