Red Star over the Black Sea: Excerpts from Chapter 11

Saturday, June 17, 2023

On this date in 1951, a Turkish poet named Nâzım Hikmet awoke before dawn, crept out of his house in Istanbul, and boarded a motorboat piloted by his brother-in-law. Their destination? The Eastern bloc. 

Chris-Craft boat of the sort Nâzım Hikmet
used to escape Turkey in 1951


The two brothers-in-law rode their boat up the Bosphorous, the turquoise saltwater strait which divides Turkey, and Istanbul, into “European” and “Asian” sections, before heading out into the Black Sea. Their original idea had been to get Nâzım to Bulgaria, and from there the USSR. En route, however, the brothers-in-law spotted a Romanian cargo ship, the Plekhanov. Boarding this should would, for Nâzım, be just as good as traveling all the way into Bulgarian territorial waters. Either way, they figured, Nâzım would be safely deposited behind the Iron Curtain. Nâzım boarded the Plekhanov, and his brother-in-law turned around and piloted the boat back to Istanbul. They would never see each other again.

Below you'll find some excerpts from Chapter 11 of my new book, Red Star over the Black Sea: Nâzım Hikmet and his Generation. These pages relate what Nâzım was doing between the day of his escape from Turkey and his arrival in Moscow twelve days later. They're redacted and without footnotes, though. If you want the real deal, you'll have to buy the book.