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from "Lenin: The Practice and Theory of Revolution" by James D. White
ISBN: 0333721578, Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

...Another zemlyachestvo (associations of people from the same locality) inclined towards radical politics was the Polish society, the Koło (Circle), to which many Poles and Polish speaking Lithuanians from the Vilna area belonged. Among these was Jozef Lukasiewicz, several of whose family members had taken part in the Polish uprising of 1863. Even as a schoolboy in Vilna Lukasiewicz read the banned publications of the Polish and Russian revolutionary organisations. He entered St Petersburg University in 1883 to study mathematics and physics, and soon joined a study group composed of Polish students who had contacts with the Polish socialist party 'Proletariat'. He recalls that he would have joined the Russian terrorist group People's Will, but was unable do so because its organisation had been destroyed. Lukasiewicz was to be one of the driving forces behind the assassination attempt of 1887 and the designer of the bomb to be used in the enterprise.

Polish students were the first organisers of workers' circles in St Petersburg which began to be formed in 1887. Bronisław Lelewel, Gabriel Rodziewicz and his wife Julia were the organisers of an influential workers' circle which was taken over by the Russian Mikhail Brusnev, one of the pioneers of Social Democracy in the St Petersburg labour movement. Brusnev recalls that in 1887 in preparation for the assassination of Alexander III he held in his apartment for safe keeping a complete laboratory designed for the manufacture of nitric acid.

Lukasiewicz had connections not only with the Polish student radicals in St Petersburg, but also with a revolutionary group in his native Vilna led by Antoni Gnatowski and Isaak Dembo. It was the Gnatowski group that was to supply the essential bomb-making materials. The group is also significant because some of its members would later become prominent in the Russian revolutionary movement. Among these were Charles Rappoport, later to be a leading figure in the French socialist movement, Lyubov Akselrod-Ortodoks, who became a Marxist philosopher, Leo Jogiches, a pioneer of Polish Social Democracy and lifelong associate of Rosa Luxemburg, and Timofei Kopelzon, later a founder member of the Jewish socialist party, the Bund. The group also included Bronisław Piłsudski and his more famous brother Józef, later to be the Polish head of state.

According to Akselrod-Ortodoks, the group's two leaders Gnatowski and Dembo were followers of People's Will. But the ideological outlook of the membership as a whole was less strictly defined. The group was familiar with Plekhanov's two main works of the period, Socialism and the Political Struggle and Our Differences. These were regarded with general disdain in the Gnatowski circle, since the views developed in them were held to be a betrayal of the revolutionary cause. The members of the group tended to agree with the criticism of Plekhanov's ideas which had been voiced by Lev Tikhomirov. Nevertheless, Akselrod could discern a movement towards Social Democracy in the group, and a gradual abandonment of the tactics associated with People's Will.

In Akselrod-Ortodoks's view, this transformation was dictated not so much by theoretical as by practical considerations. While continuing to believe in the efficacy of terrorism, the members of the Gnatowski circle began to organise study groups for the workers in Vilna, and this activity led to the acceptance in practice of the kind of Social Democratic principles which Plekhanov and his Liberation of Labour group propounded....