Durmashkin, Ilya Lvovich (1884-1938)

A Russian immigrant to the United States who returned to the Soviet Union in 1933 and was executed as a Trotskyist in 1938.

Durmashkin (also spelled in English as Dourmashkin) was born in 1884 to a Jewish family in Minsk, in the Russian Empire (now Belarus). According to the scarce information available from Russian sources, he received a higher education and was not a member of the Soviet Communist party. 1 In the United States, Durmashkin was a CPUSA member beginning in 1922 and worked at Amtorg and/or as the manager of a retail store (perhaps a bookstore) until early 1933, when the Soviets in New York began to suspect him of having “shady connections,” “giving out information and in other things.” The Soviets let him go to the USSR “without arousing his suspicions,” “in order that he… could be dealt properly over there.” 2

Upon his return to the USSR, Durmashkin lived in Moscow and worked as an information officer (“referent”) at the Scientific-Research Institute of the Polygraph Industry of the RSFSR. Arrested on January 19, 1938, he confessed to a number of crimes, including being a Trotskyite and a German spy. He was sentenced to death on August 22, 1938 on charges of “participation in a counterrevolutionary terrorist organization.” Executed on the same day, he was rehabilitated in May, 1991. 3

  1. Moskva, rasstrel’nye spiski – Kommunarka (Moscow, execution lists – Communarca site), http://lists.memo.ru/d11/f431.htm
  2. K. Lapin, Secy CCC [CPUSA] to Comrade Randolph, Moscow, USSR, January 9, 1933, CPUSA files, fund 515, description 1, file 3192. This document was earlier cited in Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, & Friedrikh Igorevich Firsov, The Secret World of American Communism, Yale University Press, 1995, p. 146.
  3. Moscow, execution lists, Op. cit.