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Professor Saunders will be talking about the Geordie roots of Rudolf Abel, the key figure in the recent film "Bridge of Spies", on the actual 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
‘Rudolf Abel’ (Willie Fisher), the Soviet spy exchanged for the American U2 pilot Gary Powers in 1962 (after having been in prison in the USA since 1957), was born at 140 Clara Street, Benwell, on 11 July 1903. He was the son of immigrants from Russia to Newcastle. His father was a fitter at Swan Hunter.
Matvei Fisher, Abel’s father, was a committed socialist. He writes in his Russian-language memoirs of the ‘Newcastle Socialist Society’, a free-standing socialist club which came into being in the 1890s and was sometimes affiliated to the Social Democratic Federation. He participated in a covert gun-running operation from Newcastle to Russia in the course of the Russian Revolution of 1905-7 (storing the weaponry at 42 Leazes Park Road), and agitated on behalf of socialism among the Russian crews who were sent to the Tyne by the tsarist government in the course of the First World War.
In Association with The North East Labour History Society.
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