16. The Dangerous Revolutionary Who Was Labeled “History’s Deadliest Woman”
Rosalia Samilovna Zalkind (1876 – 1947), a Russian revolutionary and Soviet politician better known as Rozalia Zemlyachka, was one of the organizers of the First Russian Revolution. More infamously, she was a key player in the Red Terror in the Crimea during the Russian Civil War in 1920 – 1921. Because of the latter feat, she has often been labeled “history’s deadliest woman”. Yet, for somebody with such an infamous accomplishment, relatively little is known about her. For one thing, most of Zemlyachka’s notoriety can be traced to a period of upheaval, during which record keeping was spotty and ad hoc, to say the least. On top of that, many of the records that did exist were destroyed in the turmoil that engulfed Russia and the Soviet Union during her lifetime.
For another, as a woman, neither her own party, the Bolsheviks, nor English speaking Soviet scholars and historians, put that much effort into documenting or digging up information about her. What is known from the records that do exist and from the available historic evidence is that Rozalia Zemlyachka was one of the key figures who helped organize the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905. Twelve years later, during the Russian Civil War, she emerged as one of the main organizers of the Red Terror after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. Particularly in 1920 to 1921, when she was one of the overseers of the Red Terror in the Crimea.