A Horrible Story (Gesya Gelfman, 1881)


The story told by the dispatches about Hessy Helfmann, the Nihilist girl, is from Paris, and therefore to be received with strong suspicion, apart from the almost incredible character of the statement. Were it a story of any other country than Russia indeed it might be dismissed at once as a palpable fiction. Rut unhappily there are too many reasons for believing that in Russia police brutality is capable of being carried to great lengths, and that in a case like this, where the victim was a condemned regicide, there could be little temptation to refrain from indulgence in such brutality. If the frightful narrative is true, however, it will certainly have the effect of intensifying the hatred of the Nihilists, and sooner or later they will take their revenge. When a Government descends to the ineffable cruelty and baseness involved in the torture of a woman, and above all of a woman in such a condition, it is difficult to refrain from thinking that the administration of glass bombs in any department of that Government would be no more than just and reasonable. Let us hope however that the story is false, and that the new reign has not been soiled by so revolting a piece of cruelty.

“A Horrible Story,” Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 13, Number 80, 25 May 1881.