Who was the Marxist intellectual who shot himself in the head and lived?

Some time ago I remember reading about a Communist or Marxist philosopher who attempted suicide by gunshot, but somehow managed to not die. I really can’t remember any more than that, except I believe he was a Russian or German Jew and a Marxist. Does this ring a bell for anyone?

Are you thinking of Trotsky who was hit in the head with an ice axe and lived a day or so after?

Yeah, I think you’re thinking about Trotsky.

She wasn’t a Marxist, but Unity Mitford shot herself in the head and survived.

Yeah, but in her case, there were no vital structures located within…

No, definitely not Trotsky. I know all about what happened to him. The person I’m talking about is far more obscure. He was, I think, one of those Old Bolshevik characters, that first wave of guys who were motivated by genuine conviction in Marxist philosophy, as opposed to the second wave under Stalin who were more motivated by political power. I think he left Russia when Stalin took over; despondent over something or other, he shot himself in the head, but lived.

Unfortunately I can’t be of any help with the answer, but just wanted to chime in and say that this sounds familiar to me as well.

Are you thinking of Joseph Stalin’s older son, who shot himself in the head and survived (although he later tried again to commit suicide and succeeded)?:


No, it’s someone else and more obscure. I’m just going to have to comb Wikipedia’s lists of Russian Marxists until I find it, or else it’ll drive me insane.

Maksim Gorky was an intellectual of that period who tried to kill himself and failed. But the bullet missed his heart, not his head, and the incident took place in the late 1880s.


Aside from a/ not being a Marxist, b/ not trying to commit suicide, and c/ not a Jew, I think you have it!

Probably not the person you’re looking for, as he wasn’t Jewish and attempted suicide because his wife left him, not because of disallusionment with Stalin, but Pavel Dybenko was an Old Bolshevik who attempted suicide and then went on to be purged and killed by Stalin.

Could be Mayakofsky. The facts don’t match but he’s the famous one.

Isn’t there a quote floating around, approximately : ‘Note I shoot myself in the heart and not the head’?

The facts don’t quite match for Vladimir Mayakovsky either:

He succeeded in killing himself and he wasn’t Jewish.

Now that I think about it, I may have misremembered something. He might not have been a Marxist, but a surrealist, or otherwise avant-garde painter of the pre-Hitlerian Germany.

Hans Fallada?