I came across this statement:

1917 B-G (at 30) meets Russian-born Paula Munweis at Trotsky lecture, who works with B-G on political articles. In Dec. they marry in City Hall.

The author of the website seems to be very knowledgeable but he does not give references and my efforts to corroborate the above quote have not been successful.

To begin with, Wikipedia gives a different chronology for Ben-Gurion's marriage (but again, no citation!):

Settling in New York City in 1915, he [Ben-Gurion] met Russian-born Paula Munweis. They were married in 1917.

Apparently Trotsky was in New York in January-March 1917 but not in 1915 (from the wiki article on him). So the original quote is in some doubt.

Does anyone have conclusive sources for this?

EDIT: A bit of circumstantial evidence is provided by a letter written to Khrushchev by a Soviet professor of medicine, Graschenkov, who visited Israel in 1964 and met with Ben-Gurion and his wife. In the letter he writes that Ben-Gurion spoke highly of Lenin but dismissed Trotsky "whom we had known personally" as a "fanfaron". This suggests that the meeting did take place in 1917 (that's the position the publicator of the letter at the link I gave takes). However, there are arguments against such an interpretation:

  1. I am not 100% sure the letter is real. It looks like the real McCoy but I can't discount the possibility it's apocryphal.

  2. Assuming the letter is real, the bit about Lenin and Trotsky could have been embellished or made up altogether by the author to make the rest of it more palatable to Khrushchev.

  3. Assuming the letter is real and the Trotsky reference is accurately reported in it, the acquaintance between Ben-Gurion and Trotsky could date to the former's 1923 visit to the Soviet Union instead of 1917.

So I'm still looking for conclusive evidence.

  • 1
    Somebody has downvoted both the question and T.E.D.'s answer. I wish they would come forward and explain why. – Felix Goldberg Jul 23 '13 at 7:03
  • Well, given the topic, I'm inlined to believe the worst. In that case, frankly I kind of prefer not to have my suspicions confirmed. – T.E.D. Jul 25 '13 at 13:37
  • @T.E.D. I upvoted when it appeared. i guess yours is the other upvote. nevertheless i don't think i understand your comment. highly specific questions like this don't seem to do very well on the site which is a shame. huge unfocussed general questions seem to do better. – Tea Drinker Jul 29 '13 at 7:58
  • 2
    @LennartRegebro It's a sort of an ancillary question for the history of ideas thing - I was trying to place Ben-Gurion's socialist thought in broader context and came across this reference which struck me as a little to coincidental to be true. Just to be sure: when tracing a person's ideas it's useful to see what possible influences he might have experienced. If a man attends a lecture, we can assume he was at least interested in what the lecturer had to say. – Felix Goldberg Aug 22 '13 at 8:40
  • 1
    @LennartRegebro Heckling is an option I've considered - but in any case it shows he was not indifferent to Trotsky. Furthermore, one isolated datum shows very little but taken with others it can be of importance. – Felix Goldberg Aug 24 '13 at 13:58

The official story on wikipedia and a few other places appears to be that they did not meet in 1917, but were rather married in 1917. The story I seem to find about their meeting was that it was at the home of a friend (Samuel Bonchek's) in New York in 1915.

I did also find a bit about meeting at a Trotsky lecture too, but it took some searching. That work lists two references: Ben-Gurion, The Armed Prophet and Memoirs - David Ben-Gurion, so if the author wasn't repeating a rumor, the story may have from one of these two sources.

I can find no discussion about this matter on his wikipedia talk page.

  • Interesting find. My impression of this article on Ben-Gurion is that it gets the big picture alright but is sloppy with some of the details, so I'm still not fully content with its affirmation of the meeting at the lecture. I'll see what I can get at the library tomorrow. – Felix Goldberg Jun 22 '13 at 16:04
  • @FelixGoldberg - That's my suspicion too. I did a google search through its two (alleged) sources, and didn't find much of anything about Trotsky. – T.E.D. Jun 22 '13 at 16:17
  • I raked up something else and added it to the question text. Hope you can read Russian, though... :) – Felix Goldberg Jun 22 '13 at 18:38
  • it's not surprising that the histories of BG and Trotsky are messed up. Both friends and enemies of either have things they'd rather see blurred if not washed from public record. Same no doubt true of most any prominent figure in history... – jwenting Dec 20 '13 at 9:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.