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Sol’ts, Aron Aleksandrovich

(1872–1945), revolutionary and Soviet public figure. Aron Sol’ts was born near Vilna to a well-established merchant family. While a student in secondary school, he became active in worker revolutionary circles in Vilna. In 1895, Sol’ts enrolled in Saint Petersburg University and simultaneously began studying Marxism; in 1898 he joined the Rossiiskaia Sotsial-Demokraticheskaia Rabochaia Partiia (Russian Social Democratic Workers Party) and helped distribute the illegal paper Rabochee znamia (Workers’ Banner). He was expelled from the university for participating in the student demonstrations in 1899.


Sol’ts developed an association with Sergei Tsederbaum (Yulii Martov’s brother), who distributed the newspaper Iskra. Arrested in 1901, Sol’ts was exiled to Siberia. In November 1902, Sol’ts escaped to Ekaterinoslav, where he lived under a false identity and participated in printing Iskra. He was arrested again in May 1903 and released in October 1905. Arrested once more in June 1906 in Saint Petersburg, Sol’ts was exiled to Tobol’sk province in Siberia. He managed to escape to Tiumen’, where he immediately set up an illegal printing press that supplied the Urals with revolutionary publications. In 1909 he was again arrested, tried, and acquitted. In 1910, he went to Baku and from there to Saint Petersburg, where he lived and worked until his fifth arrest in 1913, when he was sentenced to exile in Narym (in Siberia). Sol’ts escaped yet again in 1914 and settled in Moscow. In July of that year, he was arrested, tried by a military court, and held in prison until October 1916.


In 1917, Sol’ts was elected a member of the Bolshevik Party Moscow Committee. He worked in Moscow in the editorial offices of the newspapers Sotsial-demokrat and Pravda. From 1920 to 1934, he was a member of the Central Control Commission—the party’s highest control body—and from 1923, of its presidium. From 1921, he simultaneously was a member of the Supreme Court and chaired the Amnesty Commission, which was empowered to review court verdicts and release people who had been convicted unjustly. On his initiative, more than 60 percent of the people incarcerated in Moscow prisons in the early 1920s were released. In 1934, following the reorganization of the Central Control Commission, Sol’ts was transferred to the chief prosecutor’s office as senior assistant to Chief Prosecutor Andrei Vyshinskii.


During the period of Stalin’s mass repressions, Sol’ts sought repeatedly to challenge unjust convictions. In 1938, he was retired, went on a hunger strike to protest injustices, and was confined to a psychiatric hospital for two months. He was released from a subsequent job as an archivist in the Museum of the Peoples of the USSR after declaring at a public meeting that Stalin had been an unknown before the revolution. Sol’ts’s last years were spent in seclusion; he was severely depressed. As a member of the Society of Old Bolsheviks, he was evacuated to Tashkent during World War II. He died just before the war’s end, soon after returning to Moscow.

Suggested Reading

Oleg Aksenov, “S Vyshinskim ne soglasen,” Moskovskaia pravda (23 June 1988), p. 4; Iurii Trifonov, Otblesk kostra (Moscow, 1965); K. A. Zalesskii, Imperiia Stalina. Biografischeskii entsiklopedicheskii slovar’ (Moscow, 2000).

Author

Translation

Translated from Russian by Chaim Chernikov