The Last Maximalist

A Radiocast of Klara Klebanova's Memoir, Translated and Voiced by Caraid O' Brien

The Last Maximalist is an episodic radiocast produced by the Yiddish Book Center. The twelve-part audio series is based on the memoir of Klara Klebanova, a middle-class Jewish teenager who becomes a Maximalist revolutionary fighting for the rights of peasants and factory workers during the first Russian Revolution of 1905.

Scroll down the page to listen to each episode. 

The Last Maximalist Episode 1

During her senior year of high school, Klara becomes interested in politics and joins her first revolutionary group.

The Last Maximalist Episode 2

Klara works in an underground printing press for the Socialist Revolutionaries and discovers an even more radical revolutionary group, The Maximalists, originally known as The Young Ones. She is guided by two female comrades, who are willing to risk their lives for what they believe in.

The Last Maximalist Episode 3

Klara travels to Bialystok, the headquarters of the Maximalists. For the first time, she faces the class struggle within her own revolutionary party. Her Yiddish speaking comrades who grew up in poverty see her as a spoiled little rich girl, no matter how hard she tries to prove otherwise. Later, she has a dangerous encounter with soldiers in the Polish woods.

The Last Maximalist Episode 4

As a propagandist for the Maximalist party, Klara pursues her mission to convert factory workers to the Maximalist cause, competing with Democratic Socialists, Socialist Revolutionaries, and Anarchists for new members. She sees firsthand the horrendous living conditions of miners in the Ukraine, where she travels hoping to secure dynamite for the Maximalist cause.

The Last Maximalist Episode 5

Klara describes several expropriations carried out by the Maximalists, including the most lucrative one at Fonary Lane in Saint Petersburg.

The Last Maximalist Episode 6

Following an underground Maximalist conference in Helsinki, Finland, The Bear gives Klara a dangerous new assignment.

The Last Maximalist Episode 7

Klara and her comrade Lukich are followed by spies from the Russian Secret Police while smuggling dynamite from Finland into Russia.

The Last Maximalist Episode 8

Klara describes her first ordeal in jail, including frequent interrogations by the head of the Secret Police as well as an abusive guard.

The Last Maximalist Episode 9

Klara introduces us to some of her fellow political prisoners, including Olga Nasanova, the tragic leader of a failed sailor’s rebellion; Trofimova, a teenage girl abused by the police; and Tolia Ragozinnikova, a charming young singer.

The Last Maximalist Episode 10

Klara tells the tragic fate of her brave comrade, the beautiful singer Tolia Ragozinnikova, who is determined to escape prison and seek revenge against her captors.

The Last Maximalist Episode 11

Klara and her surviving Maximalist comrades finally face a trial after 20 months languishing in prison.

The Last Maximalist Episode 12

In this final episode, Klara is imprisoned at The Fortress, a harsh, newly built prison in the Lithuanian Castle. She corresponds with Lipa, who succeeds in a daring escape from prison. With only a few days left until her release, Klara falls seriously ill and is sent to the filthy prison hospital.

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Copyright in the English translation is held by Peter Kleban copyright 2019. Translation by Caraid O’Brien.