Victor Lvovich Kibalchich (better known as Victor Serge) was born in 1890 in Brussels, the son of anti-Czarist Russian exiles. Originally an anarchist, jailed for five years in France, he joined the Russian Revolution on arriving in Petrograd in January 1919 and worked for the newly founded Communist International as a journalist, editor and translator, and joined the Party during the siege of Petrograd. As a Comintern representative in Germany he helped prepare the aborted insurrection in the autumn of 1923, then fled to Vienna.
In 1925 he returned to Russia and joined the Left Opposition. He was expelled from the party in 1928 and briefly imprisoned. At this time he turned to writing fiction, which was published mainly in France. In 1933 he was arrested and deported to Central Asia. After an international campaign he was eventually allowed to leave Russia in April 1936 on the eve of the Moscow Show Trials.
Upon arrival in the West he renewed contact with Trotsky but later political differences developed and a bitter controversy developed between the two remaining veterans of the pre-Stalinist Russian Communist Party. Escaping from Paris in 1940 just ahead of the invading Nazi troops he found refuge in Mexico. During his last years Serge fought for ‘Socialism and Freedom,’ was isolated and physically attacked by the Stalinists, and wrote is greatest works ‘for the desk drawer.’ He died penniless shortly after the 30th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in November 1947, which he defended in one of his last writings.