The fates of Ludwig Martens and Santeri Nuorteva

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Before Dr McCartan had set sail for his ill-fated assignment in Moscow it was becoming clear that the presence of his two Bolshevik contacts in America was no longer acceptable to the US government. The Palmer raids increasingly took their toll on American left-wing and pro-Soviet circles, and foreigners were especially targeted for arrest and deportation. By late 1920 the Soviet bureau was shuttered, and Santeri Nuorteva got out just in time to avoid Palmer’s men. He went through Canada to England, where he was jailed for a time, and was eventually deported to Soviet Russia. There he was soon appointed to a high administrative position in the Narkomindel, and was in place before McCartan’s arrival. Suspicions arose about his bona fides, however, and he was jailed for almost a year. His arrest occurred while Dr McCartan was in Moscow, and McCartan recorded that he was thrown into prison on suspicion of being a British agent. Whatever the accuracy of this suggestion, Nuorteva seems to have overcome the setback; after being released, he again gained an important position, this time in the government of the Soviet Karelian Republic. His life ended in a Leningrad hospital in 1929, in unexplained circumstances.

As for Ludwig Martens, according to the New York Times he was deported from the US on 22 January 1921, accompanied by ‘his wife and two children and forty-six men and women from the Soviet bureau’. After returning to Russia he became a senior figure as a central planner in the industrialisation of the Soviet Union, and a specialist on the theory and production of diesel engines. He died in 1948, and in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of the Soviet state he was buried in Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, a burial ground reserved for outstanding figures in Soviet society.


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