Tag Archives: Finnish

Faces of the First Red Scare

As part of the ongoing research for my book on the global history of immigrant radicals who were deported during America’s First Red Scare, I have posted brief profiles of 836 (and counting) individual deportees I have identified. This list is a work in progress, and entries are being added updated as I obtain additional information.

Who is included:

This list includes radicals and suspected radicals who were deported between 1918 (following America’s entrance into the First World War) and 1925, when the last of the foreign-born radicals arrested between 1917 and 1920 were expelled, some after serving prison sentences or being interned as “enemy aliens.” It includes both those who were deported by government order and those who were ordered deported but “voluntarily departed” at their own expense with the government’s consent (both categories were included in US government deportation statistics). It does not include those who fled the country to avoid arrest or deportation. It includes both individuals deported for belonging to legally-defined “anarchistic classes,” and others who were suspected of radicalism but deported on other grounds (most commonly for entering the country without inspection or being retroactively deemed “likely to become a public charge” at the time of their entry).

This is not a complete list. In the fiscal years (June-July) 1918-1926, the United States deported 979 aliens as “anarchists,” and an unknown number of additional radical immigrants under other statutes. The largest single group of deportees, composed of 242 alleged radicals (as well as seven unrelated deportees) departed on the USAT Buford on December 21, 1919. However, it appears that no complete list of Red Scare deportees was produced by either the Bureau of Immigration or the Bureau of Investigation. I have instead had to rely on partial lists and mentions of individual cases included in these organizations’ files, congressional testimony, radical publications, newspaper reports, and other sources.

How to use this site:

Profiles have been posted in small batches. They are organized in alphabetical order by last name, followed by alternate spellings and pseudonyms in parentheses. (The Cyrillic spellings of Russian names are generally my best guess; American sources from the era were wildly inconsistent in their spellings of such names. The same is true of the transliteration of Chinese names in the Roman alphabet.) You can also browse the Index of Names.

Birth years are often approximate, usually having been calculated from an individual’s age at the time of their examination by immigration authorities, and some may therefore be off by a year.

You can search by individuals’ nationalities (country of birth and, in some cases, ethnicity [i.e. Jewish, Lithuanian, etc.]) by using the tags above.

Occupations describe the individuals’ employment in the US, not necessarily the work they engaged in before arrival or after their deportation.

Political affiliations represented include the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the anarcho-syndicalist Union of Russian Workers of the United States and Canada (URW); the anarchist Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM); anarchists unaffiliated with larger organizations; the Communist Party of America (CP); the Communist Labor Party (CLP); the Socialist Party of America (SP); the Socialist Labor Party (SLP); and unaffiliated socialists. You can search by political affiliation by using the tags above.

You may also use the “Search” box at the top of the page to look for individual names, locations, etc.

The main sources used for compiling these profiles are case files from the Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Record Group 85, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC; the Old German Files (OG) and Bureau Section Files (BS) of the Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Record Group 65, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD (as digitized at fold3.com); and (for Italians) the Casellario Politico Centrale (CPC), Archivio Centrale dello Stato, Rome, Italy.

A special thanks to Molly Thacker and Brooke Thompson, who photographed hundreds of INS files for me; Malcolm Archibald, who has translated a number of Russian-language sources; D.J. Alperovitz, who has provided photographs of several IWW members; and the dozens of other archivists, translators, activists, and colleagues who have helped me locate, acquire, and read material from across the globe while undertaking this research.

Finally, if you have additional information about any of the deportees, or spot an error, please contact me!

Jankovich to Justkavich

Jerto Jankovich

Born 1896, Bosnia, Austria-Hungary (present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina). Migrated to US 1913. Joined Socialist Party of America in Pittsburgh, and transferred into Communist Party of America in 1919. Arrested March 1920. Deported to Yugoslavia, June 1920.

FBI file OG 387576

John Janson (Johnson; Jensen; aka Earnest/Ernest Laukivors/Laukivirs/Laukioirs)

Janson’s Socialist Party membership card, under the name Ernest Loukivirs

Born 1886, Libau, Russia (present-day Latvia). Sailor; wrestler; model. Latvian. Migrated to US 1916. Joined Lettish Branch of the Socialist Party of America in Boston in March 1917 (not a deportable offense). 1918 left Boston to make his way to Russia via the West Coast. Arrested Denver for allegedly “advocating anarchy.” Arrested again in Wyoming June 1918. According to immigration authorities, “The alien is highly educated, having written considerable fiction, and is therefore, holding the views that he does, a dangerous person to have in the country.” Hoped to return to Latvia (“Lettland”) to fight for its independence. Deported on the Buford. Appears to be “the Boston deportee” (as he was the only Buford deportee from Boston) mentioned by Alexander Berkman, who Berkman described as a former sailor and former employee of a detective firm who in Russia quickly joined the Cheka.

INS file 54379/534

See also: Alexander Berkman, The Bolshevik Myth (Diary 1920-1922)

George Jerevich

Deported to Yugoslavia, September 1, 1920. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

Johan Johanson (John Johnson; real name Jonas Back)

Born 1874, Finland. Laborer. Migrated to US 1901. Wife and two children in Finland. Joined IWW circa 1917. Twice confined to an insane asylum in Idaho, in 1915 and 1918. Arrested September 1919 in Spokane, initially under state’s criminal syndicalism law. Deported August 14, 1920. September 1920 reported to have left for Soviet Russia. September 1921 rumored to to be en route to the US. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/81; FBI file BS 186701-200

Ragnar Johanson (Johannson)

Born 1887, Stockholm, Sweden. Painter; union organizer. Joined the syndicalist Young Socialist League circa 1900, also joined the painters union. 1910 participated in the founding congress of the syndicalist Sveriges Arbetares Centralorganisation (Central Organisation of the Workers of Sweden, or SAC), for which he became an organizer and gifted speaker. Migrated to US 1912. Joined IWW and became one of its best-known Swedish organizers. Was aiding IWW organizer Frank Little in Butte copper strike in 1917 where Little was lynched; received identical threats against his own life. Defendant in federal IWW trial in 1917-18, where sentenced to ten years in prison and a $30,000 fine. Sentenced commuted in exchange for deportation; deported January 1, 1923. Immediately resumed activity on behalf of the SAC; became manager of the SAC’s publishing house, Federativs förlag, from 1929 to 1954. 1940 briefly imprisoned for writing a pamphlet condemning the Hitler-Stalin Pact. 1942-1954 served as treasurer of the anarcho-syndicalist International Working Men’s Association. Died 1959.

INS file 54616/58

See also: https://www.sac.se/Om-SAC/Historik/Biografier/Johanson,-Ragnar-1887-1959; Henry Bengston, On the Left in America: Memoirs of the Scandinavian-American Labor Movement

David E. Johnson

Born 1883, Sweden. Laborer. Migrated to Canada 1900; migrated to US (from Canada) 1903; moved back and forth between US and Canada several times. Joined IWW 1916. Arrested March 1918, St. Maries, Idaho. Deported November 4, 1918. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54379/197

Oscar Johnson (aka Arthur Ludwig Holden)

Born 1893, Gottenburg, Sweden. Laborer. Migrated to US 1912. Joined IWW 1916. Survivor of 1916 Everett Massacre, for which he was arrested until charges dropped in 1917. Arrested Seattle, January 17, 1918. Described by immigration officials as “quite intelligent,” and “a very undesirable acquisition to the population of the United States.” Deported November 30, 1918. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54379/9

Mihail Jolnerovitz (Dimtro Jolnerovich)

Born c. 1896, Vilno Governorate, Russia (present-day Lithuania). Anarchist. Migrated to US 1913. Hotel housekeeper. Member of the Anarchist-Communist Groups of the United States and Canada. Distributed underground anarchist newspaper Free Society. Arrested February 23, 1920 in Cleveland. Deported to Russia, March 18, 1921.

INS file 55009/26

Victor Jubkiavich

“Voluntary departure” to Russia, 1921. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

John Justkavich (aka Sam Ushkovich)

Member of the Communist Party of America in Bayonne, New Jersey. Arrested during second Palmer Raids, January 1920. Deported to Russia on December 23, 1920. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

See also: The Morning Post (Camden, New Jersey), December 23, 1920

Mechuk to Meskov

Trofin Mechuk (Трофин Мечук; Trohwin; Trofwin Nacsuk)

Member of Russian Branch No. 3 of the Communist Party of America in Detroit. Arrested during second Palmer Raids, January 1920. “Voluntary departure” (via Canada) October 16, 1920. No further information found.

FBI file BS 202600-1378-1

Peter Melcishik

Deported to Russia January 22, 1921. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

Gregory Melnikov (Melnicoff; aka Kushneroff; Oleinik)

Born 1896, Volhynia, Russia (present-day Ukraine). Migrated to US 1917. Janitor. Arrested and beaten at the URW’s People’s House in New York City, November 11, 1919; denied being a URW member, but a “confidential source” for the Department of Justice testified that he was. Deported on the Buford.

INS file 54709/522

Nikolai Melikov (Николая Меликова; Nick Melincoff; Melikoff)

Member of the Union of Russian Workers in New York. Arrested during the first Palmer Raids, November 1919. Deported January 22, 1921. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

See also: National Popular Government League, To the American People: Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice

Pavel Melnikov (Павел Мельников; Paul Melnicoff; Pawel Melnik; Mcinicoff)

Born 1886, Kiev, Russia (present-day Ukraine). Slovenian. Laborer. Attended gymnasium in Russia until age 18; worked as a clerk in Russia. Migrated to US 1913. Joined the Union of Russian Workers circa 1918; became national URW organizer and lecturer; based in Seattle and San Francisco; taught English in URW’s school in San Francisco. Accused, based on no evidence, of involvement in various bomb and assassination plots. Arrested April 23, 1917 in Trenton, New Jersey for “uttering seditious remarks”; arrested March 1919 in San Francisco for “vagrancy.” Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54616/123

See also: Lazar Lipotkin, The Russian Anarchist Movement in North America

Peter Williamson Merta (Melta; Murti; aka Peter Williamson)

Born 1885, Finland. Migrated to US 1908, via Canada. Lumber worker. Secretary and treasurer of the IWW’s Lumber Workers’ Union No. 500 in Raymond, Washington. Application for US citizenship denied in 1916 due to his IWW membership. Arrested February 1918 while posting IWW stickers; sentenced to fifteen days prison. Detained for deportation upon his release in March 1918, but released on bail. Relocated to Duluth, Minnesota, where he became an editor of the Finnish-language IWW newspaper Industrialisti. Detained again December 1918. Attorney Charles Recht successfully argued for Merta to be deported to Sweden rather than Finland (where the conservative Whites had just won a civil war against the socialist Reds). His wife Elsie Merta, also an IWW member, initially asked to be deported along with Peter, but ultimately remained in the US.

INS file 54397/134; FBI file OG 8000-382409

See also: Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, House of Representatives, Communist and Anarchist Deportation Cases; Frances H. Early, A World Without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I

Sam Meskov (Самуэль Месков; Serpion; Meshkov; Miskoff; Meshoff; Moshoff)

Born 1889, Saratov, Russia. Miner. Migrated to US 1912. Wife and child in Russia. Joined the IWW in March 1919; distributed IWW literature. Arrested in Van Voorhis, Pennsylvania. Commissioner-General of Immigration A. Caminetti opined that he “is apparently an ignorant harmless fellow, [but] the Bureau [of Immigration] is of the opinion that this type of man is often dangerous because of his ignorance and the fact that he can be easily imposed upon by the shrewder type of radical.” Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/34; FBI file OG 284810

Tadzizieg to Targony

Yefin Tadzizieg (Tadsixieg; aka Podziziej)

Born 1892, Brest-Litovsk, Russia (present-day Brest, Belarus). Belarusian. Laborer. Migrated to US 1913. Circa 1918 joined Branch No. 1 of the Union of Russian Workers in Baltimore, then transferred into Branch No. 4; became the brach treasurer. Arrested during the first Palmer Raids, November 1919. Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/328

Hussein Tagiev (Хусейн Тагиев; Kussin; Gusein; Tagieff; aka Alexander Carson; Hussein Caucasian)

Born 1881, Nakhichevan, Russia (present-day Nakhichevan, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic). Persian. Laborer; carpenter. Migrated to US 1914. Wife and two children in Russia. He was once hospitalized for six weeks in Newport, Kentucky, after he “fell down in some hot water in the Andrew Steel Co.” 1916 moved to Detroit, where employed as an autoworker and briefly opened a soft drink stand at River View Park. September 1917 joined the Union of Russian Workers. Arrested October 14, 1918 for distributing radical literature at an Armenian coffeehouse. The local U.S. Attorney took a special interest in his case; he ordered all of the confiscated literature destroyed, and paroled Tagiev on the condition that he purchase $100 in Liberty Bonds and cease patronizing Detroit’s “Turkish” coffeehouses—although he was told that since he could not speak Greek, he was free to “go to the Greek coffee houses.” Despite Tagieff’s compliance (which required him to borrow $50 from a friend), he was detained again in February 1919 as an alien anarchist and a person “likely to become a public charge” (after being forced to spend $100!). He was held incommunicado for a week, and immigration agents confiscated “a book in Persian that was 500 years old that he had prized” (likely a Quran or other family heirloom). Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54616/82

See also: Agnes Inglis Papers, Joseph A. Labadie Collection, University of Michigan

George Talas

Deported to Hungary, May 8, 1920. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

William Tanner (Karl William Tanner)

Born 1884, Kuopio, Finland. Mechanic. Migrated to Canada 1911; from there migrated to US in 1912 (though he later mistakenly claimed 1914). Became prominent Finnish member of the IWW; wrote for and edited Finnish-language IWW newspaper. Defendant at the federal IWW trial 1917-18; sentenced to five years in prison. An enthusiastic supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution, he apparently joined the Communist Party of America while in Leavenworth Penitentiary, and by 1919 promoted what he called “Bolshevism-IWWism,” or “industrial communism.” July 1922 his sentence was commuted on the condition of deportation. Because the “Government of Finland may raise objections to receiving this man and might refuse to issue a passport,” he was deported to Russia on the grounds that Finland had been a Russian territory at the time of his birth, and because Russia was willing to issue him a passport. Deported October 31, 1922. Upon his departure Tanner declared: “Deported to Soviet Russia, I will continue fighting under the red flag of the workers’ republic for the crushing of world imperialism and for the building of the republic of work. Long live the class solidarity of the proletariat and the red Internationals.” 1923 migrated to Finland. 1925 became a speaker for the Communist-affiliated Suomen Ammattijärjestö (Finnish Trade Union Confederation) and an organizer for the Communists’ Sosialistinen työväen ja pienviljelijöiden vaalijärjestö (Socialist Electoral Organization of Workers and Smallholders ). 1927-1930 a member of the Finnish Parliament, where he “manifested communist orthodoxy.” In late 1930 he returned to the Soviet Union, where he worked for the Comintern. In 1935 he was a lecturer at the International Lenin School and director of a Moscow watch factory; that same year he was arrested as part of Stalin’s purges and sentenced to five years in the gulag at the White Sea-Baltic Canal for “counter-revolutionary activity”; 1937 transferred to the Ukhta-Izhemsk Camp. Released 1940 and died that same year.

INS file 54616/153

See also: Ancestry.com; Industrial Workers of the World Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University; Auvo Kostiainen, The Forging of Finnish-American Communism, 1917-1924: A Study in Ethnic Radicalism; Tommi Kippola, “Transnationell syndikalism i ett lokalt rum: Industrial Workers of the World och finländarna i Duluth 1915–1921” https://www.doria.fi/handle/10024/169623; https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tanner

Vasiliy Ivanovich Tarasyuk (Василий Иванович Тарасюк; Wasily; Tarasiuk; Tarasiak)

Photo of Tarasyuk and two friends

Born 1891, Kobrinsky Uyezd, Russia (present-day Belarus). Migrated to US 1910. Joined the Hartford, Connecticut branch of the Union of Russian Workers circa early 1919. Arrested during the first Palmer Raids, November 1919. Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/525

Alex Targony (таргони)

Born 1896, Volhynia region, Russia. Polish. Driver. Migrated to US 1913. Worked as driver for a milk delivery company in Youngstown, Ohio. Political affiliation unknown, but in 1917 he claimed exemption on his draft registration card on the grounds that he would “not fight against brother.” Arrested sometime prior to January 9, 1920. Deported to Russia, January 22, 1921. No further information found.

Included on list of deported radicals in INS file 54325/36G

See also: Ancestry.com

Volkov to Wälläri

Filip Volkov (Philip; Wolkoff; Volk)

Born 1881, Grodno Governorate, Russia (in present-day Belarus). Machinist. Served in Russian Army circa 1908. Migrated to US 1911. Wife and two children in Russia; she died in 1914. Joined Branch No. 1 of the Union of Russian Workers in Baltimore in 1917. Deportation warrant issued November 7, 1919, but he left Baltimore to avoid arrest; relocated to Cleveland, then returned to Baltimore after several months. Active in the Workers Red Cross/Workers Relief Society, a local organization composed largely of URW members to aid imprisoned comrades (but which federal agents mistakenly believed to be affiliated with the Communist Party). Arrested July 26, 1920. Deported February 1, 1921. Common-law wife and US-born daughter in Baltimore. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/304; FBI file OG 370100

Issay Volkov (Иссай Волков; George; Wolkoff)

Born 1890, Kovno, Russia (present-day Kaunas, Lithuania). Painter. In Russia had belonged to the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Migrated to US 1908. 1916 joined the Union of Russian Workers branch in Waterbury, Connecticut until it dissolved in 1917; March 1919 joined the IWW local there. 1919 a member of the Union of Russian Citizens (an umbrella organization of Russian progressives). Arrested during the first Palmer Raids, November 21, 1919. Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/171

George Voloh (Георгий Волох?)

Voloh’s URW membership card

Born 1897, Chernigov, Russia (present-day Chernihiv, Ukraine). Miner. Migrated to US 1913. Joined the Union of Russian Workers branch in Fairmont, West Virginia in 1919. Arrested December 1, 1919. Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/589

Peter Voloshin (Петр Волошин; Pete; Woloshim)

Born 1895, Russia. Widower. Migrated to US 1914. Machinist. 1917 joined the Socialist Party, then Detroit’s Russian Branch No. 3 of the Communist Party. Arrested January 1920. Deported to Russia, February 26, 1921.

INS file 54859/695

Nikolai Volosyuk (Николай Волосук; Nicolai; Nikolaj; Volosuk; aka Mike Walker)

Born 1888, Stołpie, Russia (present-day Poland). Steelworker. Migrated to US 1914. Joined the Union of Russian Workers branch in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Elected as a URW delegate to the Soviet of Workers Deputies of South Bethlehem, composed of members of the URW and local Lithuanian and Polish socialist groups, and for which he served as the recording secretary and a member of the executive committee. Arrested March 4, 1919; released on bail. Arrested again December 12, 1919. Deported on the Buford. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54709/696

Carl Voss (Carl Heinrich Frederick Voss)

Born 1891, Hamburg, Germany. Sailor; laborer. Migrated to US 1910 (deserted ship). Joined the IWW 1913; 1918 became organizer for the IWW’s Metal Mine Workers’ Industrial Union No. 800. Also a member of the International Seamen’s Union. Arrested Tucson, Arizona, September 8, 1918 for failing to register for the draft; January 1919 sentenced a year in the Yavapai County Jail; reported by the sherif to have “caused him more trouble than any other prisoner he as had in jail…on account of attempting to incite riots on several occasions, and attempting to effect a jail delivery.” Arrested upon his release in January 1920 and held for deportation. Deported May 22, 1920. Subsequent activities unknown.

INS file 54860/699

See also: Harry Weinberger Papers, Yale University

Niilo Wälläri (Nillo; Nullo; Nulo)

Born 1897, Lieto, Finland. Sailor; union organizer. Migrated to US 1916 (jumped ship). Joined the IWW in 1917. Attended the Finnish IWW’s Work People’s College in Duluth, Minnesota. Became prominent Finnish-speaking IWW orator and organizer. February 1919 arrested in Erie, Pennsylvania, for allegedly crossing state lines for “immoral purposes” with his seventeen-year-old common-law wife, Lyylie (Lillian) Jaaskelainen, after she was arrested for shoplifting and IWW materials were found in his possession. The couple officially married August 20, 1920 in Pittsburgh. Niilo was deported 1920 for entering the country without inspection. The Pennsylvania Board of Appeals denied his petition to have his wife’s sentence commuted so that she could travel to Finland with him. (Lillian Wallari remained in the US and became a chiropractor.) Following his deportation, Niilo traveled to Russia where he attended political education courses conducted by the outlawed and exiled Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue (Finnish Communist Party). Returned to Finland and in February 1921 became district secretary for the Suomen Sosialistinen Työväenpuolue (Finnish Socialist Workers’ Party) in Uusimaa. May 1923 became secretary of the SKP. Arrested that August and convicted of treason. While in prison wrote in opposition to the SKP’s conception of a small revolutionary vanguard, its focus on underground organizations, and its adherence to directives from exiled leaders in Russia, and in favor of mass organizations, a popular front with social democrats, national Communist autonomy from the Comintern, and neighborhood, rather than workplace, organizations. 1926 released from prison and became editor of the Communist Työväenjärjestöjen Tiedonantaja (Labor Union Informer); 1929 he cofounded the breakaway Suomen työväen vasemmistoryhmä (Left Group of Finnish Workers). In the 1930s he advocated a united front against fascism, joined the Social Democratic Party, and continued to contribute articles to the IWW’s Finnish-language newspaper Industrialisti. 1938 became head of the militant Finnish Seamen’s Union (Suomen Merimies-Unioni), the most powerful union in the country. Under his leadership the union helped run arms to the antifascists in the Spanish Civil War, aided Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, won Finnish seamen the eight-hour day in 1946, and organized a union boycott of apartheid South Africa in the 1960s. In 1946 Wälläri was allowed to visit the US for two months as a delegate to the International Maritime Conference. After the Second World War he joined the Finnish People’s Democratic League and the ruling Socialist Unity Party (Sosialistinen Yhtenäisyyspuolue), and remained the head of the Seamen’s Union until his death in 1967.

INS file 54648/26 (file missing); FBI file OG 350179

See also: Evening News (Harrisburg PA), January 21 and 22, 1920; Pittsburgh Press, April 19, 1934; Ancestry.com; Tommi Kippola, “Transnationell syndikalism i ett lokalt rum: Industrial Workers of the World och finländarna i Duluth 1915–1921” https://www.doria.fi/handle/10024/169623; Keijo Virtanen, Settlement or Return: Finnish Emigrants (1860-1930) in the International Overseas Return Migration Movement; John H. Hodgson, Communism in Finland: A History and Interpretation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967); Tauno Saarela, “American Impact on Finnish Communism in the 1920s,” in Labouring Finns: Transnational Politics in Finland, Canada, and the United States; Jukka Paastela, Finnish Communism Under Soviet Totalitarianism: Oppositions Within the Finnish Communist Party in Soviet Russia 1918-1935; Erkki Savolainen, Niilo Wälläri: legenda jo eläessään