Statue of Lenin
A female revolutionary tried to take down Vladimir Lenin -- or did she? Photo by Reuters
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On this day in 1918, Fanny Kaplan was arrested for shooting and wounding Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Kaplan, the daughter of a Jewish schoolteacher, was born Feiga Haimovna Roytblat in Ukraine in 1890. She became a revolutionary at an early age, participating in the failed Russian Revolution of 1905, and a year later, was arrested for her part in a Kiev terror bombing. She spent the next 11 years in labor camps, until her release under a general amnesty ruling in February 1917.

By then she had given up anarchism for belief in the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which was strongly opposed to the Bolsheviks, and actually tried to overthrow them in 1918. The SRs won a majority of seats in the newly elected Constituent Assembly, but the Bolsheviks disbanded the legislature shortly after it convened, in January 1918. No one actually saw Kaplan fire the gun that wounded Lenin. He was shot while emerging from a rally in a Moscow factory on August 30, and Kaplan herself was nearly blind from her years in prison camps. There is, however, a version that says she allowed herself to be arrested for the crime.

On September 4, 1918, she was executed in Moscow. At the same time, the Bolsheviks announced a wave of violence they called the Red Terror, which was intended, as it was described in the newspaper Izvestiya, to "crush the hydra of counterrevolution with massive terror!”

During the next two months, an estimated 10,000-15,000 were killed.