Partner M. Eleanor Fitzgerald
New Montefiore Cemetery West Babylon, Suffolk County, New York, USA
Pauline Turkel (February 21, 1899 - April 5, 1987) lived with fellow activist Eleanor Fitzgerald for many years, in Greenwich Village and later in Sherman, Connecticut, where Turkel and Fitzgerald hosted Hart Crane and Djuna Barnes among their many guests.
Turkel was born on February 21, 1899, of Jewish immigrant parents from Galicia. She became anarchist through her half-brother, Henry Fruchter, who later turned to socialism. She attended lectures at the Ferrer Center on East 107th Street and met Emma Goldman at the office of Mother Earth. She became her secretary in 1916 or 1917. Turkel helped organize the 1917 rally for Mooney and Billings in Madison Square Garden and was active with Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Eleanor Fitzgerald in the No-Conscription effort that year.
During 1917 and 1918 Pauline H. Turkel was Emma Goldman's secretary at the offices of Mother Earth in New York and, with Hilda Adel and M. Eleanor Fitzgerald ("Fitzi"), worked for the release of political prisoners during the Red Scare that followed. She visited Emma Goldman in Munich in 1923 and saw her again in Paris the following year, when Emma was en route from Germany to England. In after years Pauline served in the American consulate in Rome and was associated with the Provincetown Players in Greenwich Village (of which Fitzi was the manager), where she was a friend of Eugene O'Neill, Hart Crane, Djuna Barnes, and other writes.
Eleanor Fitzgerald and Turkel became intimate friends. They lived together in Greenwich Village from 1918 to 1923 and afterwards had a house in Sherman, CT, where Fitzi died in 1955. In 1918 the police raided their apartment and seized their correspondence. Turkel went to the office of the Attorney General Palmer's chief New York agent to get them back. While he was on the telephone, his secretary put a legal-sized yellow sheet on his desk. Turkel took a peek and saw that it had a transcript of a phone conversation between Turkel and Fitzgerald that morning. Turkel demanded - and got - her letters back and added, "I don't like my phone tapped." The agent turned green with embarassment. During that time, Ben Capes used to writes letters to Turkel and called her "Bluebird," from Maeterlinck's play. Detectives tried to find "Bluebird" and questioned Turkel in the office of the League for the Amnesty of Political Prisoners, where she worked, about who "Bluebird" was.
Goldman was difficult to work with, impatient and strict. Berkman was nicer. Turkel loved him very much. In 1923 Fitzgerald and Turkel visited Berkman and Goldman in Munich. The police arrested them—except Berkman, who managed to slip away — and they had a full dossier on Goldman, with pictures going back to her childhood. They later visited them in France. Goldman was very jealous of Fitzgerald, whom Berkman adored. Later on, Emmy Eckstein was jealous of both Fitzgerald and Goldman. Fitzgerald had visited Berkman in Altanta prison before he was deported. Fitzgerald, a beautiful redhead, was very good to Turkel — actually brought her up, like a mother (she had no children of her own). She loved and helped people who were creative, for example, Djuna Barnes and Had Crane. Crane lived at their house in Connecticut for a time. He drank a lot and became difficult. Fitzgerald was generous to everybody but herself. She even helped Mike Gold, already a Communist, with his plays when she managed the Provincetown Playhouse. When Turkel got encephalitis in their New York apartment, she cared for her selflessly. Bob Minor tried to get her to join the Communist movement, but she refused.
From 1937 until her retirement in 1964 she was managing editor of The Psychoanalytical Quarterly in New York. In Lucy Robins Lang's description, Pauline had "the face of Da Vinci's Madonna... surveying the world with a faint, apprehension." Turkel inherited the Connecticut house in 1955 and sold it in 1964 to Professor Charles Issawi of Columbia. She died on April 5, 1987.
Pauline Turkel gave her Emma Goldman's letters to Jeanne Levey, who then gave them to the Tamiment Library.
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