Speaking Her Mind - 1927-1928

During 1927 Smedley became convinced that within a year or so Britain would go to war against the Soviet Union in order to stop Bolshevik influence from spreading across the British Empire in Asia.[1] On June 29 she reported to Florence: »I am writing ... for the Indian press,, counteracting British propaganda against Russia, for ... if another war breaks-and it is bound to within a year at the latest-[we hope that] India will strike for its freedom and that all Asia will at last be free.«
In Berlin, Smedley could see that German political life was heading for a crisis: fascism was on the march, but so was the German Communist Party. She was more sympathetic to the Communists, of course, but she differed sharply with them in several ways. Perhaps most of all she was angered by their simplistic glorification of the working class as full of selfless idealism. Her own experience in the American West had convinced her that this attitude was fatuous and self-serving and that the problems of poor people would not immediately disappear after a successful political revolution. In an August article in the New Masses, she admitted that she had joined the Indian independence movement »not only because it was a movement for freedom but also because it was a movement just about as distant from American life and thought as any movement can be.«
She was convinced that Marxism had to deal with the psychological problems of the working class in order to erase the scars of educational and economic poverty.* (* Smedley's own analyst, Dr. Naef, was associated with the Berlin Institute, which pioneered study of the psychological problems of working-class men, returning soldiers in particular)
  Under the influence of Tilla Durieux and her left-wing friends, she argued in the Modern Review for January, 1927, that a true people's theater offered one way to attack this problem:

We know that in the soul of every individual, as of the masses, both social and anti-social instincts slumber, and that anti-social instincts, [when] denied creative outlet or application, break out in open or subtle anti-social actions—in cruelty, crime, and even in war. The possible value of the theatre as an institution for using up and sublimating this energy cannot be underestimated. It gives the opportunity to act out every kind of emotion, not in an evil but in an artistic and creative manner. When mankind has the opportunity to live creatively everything within it, war, with its dramatic appeal and its opportunity for lawlessness of every kind, will have no hold on the masses.[2]

Smedley also differed from the Communists in believing that the rise of workers to power would not in itself solve problems of sexual identity for women. In short, Smedley was elated over the coming revolution but ambivalent about Communist leadership. As she had told Florence on June 29: »I have joined an 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft' for the study of Marxism and Imperialism... Our leader is a well-known Marxian economist. Within my own opinions I remain nonpolitical insofar as the Communist Party is concerned, and could never join it. I am more and more interested in economic action alone. But I must know other things also.«
In May of 1927, in a Modern Review article on Helena Lange, who founded the first girls' gymnasium in Germany and created the women's rr.agazine Die Frau, Smedley criticized anarchist and Communist philosophies for refusing to address the »women's problem« within the revolutionary working class. Much to the anger of party members, she argued that the »secret shame« of working-class women—the way they were treated as property or »sex slaves« by working-class men—had to be exposed and dealt with. Clearly, her concern was rooted in personal experience, not ideology. At about this time she had written to Margaret Sanger:

You have touched a problem that is more real than most people know—that of the rapidity of man in sex union. Few women will be frank enough to say that they are generally left in a most awful nervous tension, to lie awake in bitterness all night long, while a man slumbers peacefully... The cause of this in men you did not fully treat... One cause is that many men get their sex start in life with prostitutes, [who want] to get through the business as soon as possible. I've heard that they often say to a man: »Well, for Christ's sake, aren't you through yet!« In such a relationship a man need think only of himself—never of the woman. In brothels for soldiers—as on the Rhine after the war—each soldier was allotted 15 minutes with a prostitute. ... In this way decent women get husbands whose sex training has been gained from prostitutes. This training is as deadly as syphilis. It is the revenge of the prostitute against the »respectable« women who consider themselves better, [dated only January 13]

Smedley's work with Dr. Naef had increased her appreciation of the complexities that go into the molding of a sexual identity. Having gained a new understanding of the relationship between the drives for power and for sexual gratification, her sympathy for Chatto and her understanding of men in general grew. She acknowledged the deep hostilities and resentments behind her own striving for equal power, and even decided that men had the more difficult task, because sharing was harder than taking. But she was also convinced that individual men, like colonial powers, would not give up their positions of dominance except under the threat of force. If even Chatto, who at least intellectually accepted the notion of equality between the sexes, could not give up his drive for dominance, what chance was there for the wives of working-class men? Always impatient with the idea of slow progress through political reform, Smedley favored radical—and personal—action. In a letter to Sanger on December 27, 1927, she suggested that working-class women use sexuality as a political weapon: »I myself would advocate the use of birth-control methods, a complete birth strike, and a change in the form of society by revolution.«
Emboldened by psychoanalysis, Smedley attempted to address American audiences on the subject of sexual identity. But the candor with which she discussed sexual problems, as well as the real and potential perversions in her own emotional life, were seen by most U.S. editors as too scandalous for publication. In her June 29 letter to Florence she wrote:

I have an article to appear soon in the New Masses [«One is Not Made of Wood,« August 1927]. It is anonymous and was submitted to The Nation for its series on »These Modern Women.« They were afraid to publish it and sent it to the American Mercury. But [the editor of the Mercury, H. L.] Mencken—according to a letter from the New Masses—also got cold feet and said the post office was watching him too closely. So it went to the New Masses and they said if I would give it to them they would fight on the issue. But even they wanted to cut out the word »homosexuality« and change a whole paragraph. I have let them. In the meantime I have a letter from The Nation telling me that they could not have published the article without toning it down [because] »our readership, advanced as it is, also has its definite limitations.« Then [Oswald Garrison] Villard [editor of The Nation] is good enough to go on and say: »May I say to you that I think that yours is one of the most extraordinary human documents I have ever read, for its frankness, its self-revelations, and the moving character of the story.« Now if he really thought that, why did he not run it ... ? And why didn't Mencken? Well, read the article yourself when it appears and see if you think Villard has merely flattered me. But I wish you would not tell [others that I am the one] who wrote it, outright just like that. The Indians will always use it against me anyway. What I think is that America is frightfully backward in such things.

As Smedley became more stridently forthright, the strain in her relations with Indian colleagues increased and led to a public debate with Lajpat Rai. Smedley's overriding priority was to convince modern Indian nationalists like Rai that the time had come for them to choose sides. As she saw it, the choice was either the capitalist West and continuation of India's colonial status; or it was Communist Russia, and ideally, the abandonment by nationalist leaders of their upper-class status in return for independence and social justice.
Soon after the League Against Imperialism was formed, Smedley began implementing one of its main objectives: getting news about China into the Indian press. The Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang) had established an information bureau in Berlin. From this source, she wrote articles on the activities of Indian nationalist organizations in Canton (Guangzhou), Hankou, and Shanghai; of Indian officers court-martialed in Shanghai; of Harbant Singh, an Indian revolutionary who shot and killed the head of the Indian police in Shanghai; of seventy Indian policemen who went over to the revolutionary Canton government; and of a »whole brigade« of Indian troops sent back from China for being untrustworthy. Obviously, these articles were meant to suggest that the Chinese and the Indians, as fellow victims of British imperialism, should unite in an attempt to rid themselves of the British. (This message was not lost on British intelligence agents in the Home Rule Office, who began to keep closer tabs on who in India were receiving and publishing Smedley's articles.)[3]
Reading these articles written for Indian audiences gives one the feeling of having stumbled into the middle of a family feud—which, of course, was exactly the case. Smedley was India's divorced daughter-in-law, albeit one who was still a strong advocate for many of the views of her former husband. She was taking sides in a clash within the Indian nationalist movement between domestic leaders like Gandhi and Rai and overseas leaders in exile like Chattopadhyaya. The leaders in India felt that those in exile were out of touch with realities inside India and too heavily influenced by foreign values and perceptions. The leaders in exile felt that their counterparts in the homeland were too parochial and did not see the larger international forces at work. In »The Indian Revolutionary Movement Abroad,« published in The People on August 11 and 18,1927, Smedley tried to demonstrate the superiority of the »internationalist« view, but she undercut the effectiveness of her argument by using insulting and condescending language. For example: »The Indian leaders [in India] are nearly all poisoned by their English education or their dependence upon an English interpretation of world events. The Indian exiles, living as they do in many lands, can see the world situation through Indian eyes, and not just through British eyes. But most of the Indian leaders are afraid of them—it isn't safe and it isn't respectable to see the world except through the crooked spectacles of England.« She added that the 1917 Russian Revolution and the worldwide Socialist movement had caused Indians »whose brains are still mobile« to revise their outlook.
In a five-part series entitled »England's War Plans Against Asia,« Smedley argued that Britain saw Russia as a threat to her domination of India and China, whose raw materials were essential for her factories. As evidence that war was about to break out between Britain and the Soviet Union, she offered the following: the British raid on the Russian Trade Delegation in London, and the subsequent suspension of diplomatic relations between the two powers; increased anti-Russian propaganda in the British press; British support of former Russian Czarist officers in Europe, the existence of the headquarters of a Czarist government in exile in England, and British support of Czarist armies in China; and Britain's building of air bases, military camps, and a military railroad through the Khyber Pass to the Afghan frontier. Smedley urged India, Russia, and China to stand together against the British or any other imperialist power that might threaten one of them. As for those who believed that the Comintern might be a front for Russian imperialism, she wrote: »Such people are absolutely ignorant of the fundamental and underlying principles of Socialism, or in a more restricted sense still, Communism... [They] are unable to get out of their own skins and conceive of an economic system whose life is built upon principles that make imperialism absolutely impossible. To excuse their own cynical ignorance, they try to read into the Socialist system all the rottenness of the capitalist system.«[4]
In India, Smedley's rhetoric hit like gasoline on a fire. In an angry response, her old mentor Lajpat Rai, the publisher of The People, pointed out on October 13 that Smedley had nothing new to tell Indians. They had known for two hundred years, he said, that Britain used India as a base for all her wars in the East, both defensive and offensive, and that Britain was not ruling India out of philanthropic motives. As for the Russians, Rai said he was not convinced that they were disinterested friends, as Smedley claimed. He questioned what would happen when Russia gained the same power in the world as the British Empire. Addressing Smedley's condemnation of communalism in India, Rai said Indians knew quite well that it was a poison to true nationalism. But, he asked, wasn't communism itself a kind of communalism, the organized war of one class against another? Clearly, she had stung him: »Miss Smedley is mistaken if she thinks we are all babies and do not understand even elementary politics. Sitting in Berlin and writing from her place of vantage, she can call us traitors, cowards, and fools. But we know we are nothing of the kind. Only we realize what our power is and what our resources are and what we can do and what we cannot do... Miss Smedley has not told us what we should do. Should we organize a rising against the British and get our heads and bones and bodies powdered into smithereens? Will India be a bit freer or happier if some of us are out of the way?«
On November 17 Chatto's sister-in-law, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, published a letter in The People that was even more hostile toward Smedley (confirming Smedley in her belief that Chatto's family despised her because of her working-class background). Rejecting the suggestion that Soviet Russia was the answer to India's problems, Kamaladevi called Agnes a Communist and attacked her personally: »[Indians abroad] fail to see that these Communist friends are usually those who either have no opportunity of becoming capitalists, and thus convert a disadvantage into a virtue, or bourgeoisie who play the superficial role of the Communists as a sort of recreation or amusement.«
It is clear that Kamaladevi was upset by the influence she perceived Smedley as having on the life of her brother-in-law and on other young Indians abroad. In 1927 Chatto had joined the German Communist Party and was followed a year later by a brilliant young physicist and protege of Einstein's, Gangadiri Adhikari, who was convinced that Smedley and Chatto were right to see international communism as the only hope for India. At about this time Chatto's sister, Suhasini Chattopadhyaya, also became a Communist. Still, the Communist Party of India remained quite small and had little influence on Indian domestic politics—another reason why Kamaladevi saw joining the Communist movement as a waste of effort.[5] But the crux of Kamaladevi's disagreement with Smedley was philosophical: »The theory that equal opportunities both physical and mental are going to solve the problem of misery is a most fallacious one, at least as it is interpreted by the Communists. If everyone learns to read and write and every stomach is fed, the world is not going to become a paradise. Happiness can begin when we learn to hold life sacred. Then alone can we say the movement brings comfort and relief to a grief-stricken world.« Smedley did not believe paradise would arrive with the advent of communism. But having grown up in poverty, she viewed Gandhian notions of »love« and the »sacredness of life« as fine sentiments that could not be indulged until the fight for basic necessities had been won.
Each was reacting to the other emotionally, for each had been hit at the most vulnerable spot: Smedley was challenged on her ability to comprehend political realities; Rai and Kamaladevi were accused of being provincial and unwilling to sacrifice their privileged status and position. But this three-way collision only reconfirmed the previous goals of each. Rai wanted India to be given Dominion status so that it could proceed with gradual reform, which would allow him to protect his Hindu constituency in the Punjab from what he considered to be a hostile Muslim community surrounding it. Kamaladevi wanted to bring about independence and reform without loss of life and without sacrificing ethical ideals. Smedley wanted the liberation of India and all colonial peoples to come about as quickly as possible at whatever cost, because for her, seeing others locked into poverty and ignorance was intolerable. Rai, it appears, was able to understand Smedley's emotional commitment to her cause. Smedley cared deeply about Rai's opinion of her, but she felt she had the right »to go beyond« her teacher. And at this time, she could only view Kamaladevi's talk about the sacredness of life as a hypocritical dodge of the real issues.
Smedley was defended by several people, including M. Acharya and Jaya Surya Naidu, the son of Chatto's eldest sister. In the December 15 issue of The People, Rai tried to terminate the debate with an apology:

I could have and should have pitched my comments in a milder key. I have known Miss Smedley for the last ten years and I have never doubted her sincerity. She is not a person who can be bought for money. She is a born revolutionary and has all the mentality, tendencies, and habits of one. Her life spent in constant struggle for living and honour has if anything, added to these tendencies. Personally, her motives are absolutely pure and clean. She is a woman capable of great sacrifices for her friends and her cause, and I can say from personal knowledge that gold has no temptations for her...
We have no love for our chains and Miss Smedley knows it. We are working according to our lights. Miss Smedley ought to know that I, for one, have no other occupation in life. All the same 1 am very sorry if I have hurt her. I should have known that coming from me the remarks could not but hurt her. Here the incident must close.

On January 29, 1928, Smedley had the last word; in an unusually lengthy essay in the Forward (Calcutta), she defended the strident tone of her earlier articles as an attempt to rouse Indian leaders into action. By this time the personal vindictiveness of the debate had dissipated, largely because Smedley had joined the critical attack on Katherine Mayo's recently published Mother India, which was then being highly publicized in the United States. By giving the impression that only the Christians and the English were addressing India's social, political, and economic problems, Mayo seemed to be making a case for continued British rule, and thereby offended Indian leaders of every political persuasion. (For example, she deplored the evils of the caste system without mentioning that Gandhi, the acknowledged leader of the untouchables, not only continually denounced it but also practiced what he preached. And she failed to say that enlightened families like the Nehrus and Chattopadhyayas had worked not only to elevate the status of the women in their families but also to break down such social practices as child marriage, purdah, and permanent widowhood.) Nehru and Gandhi attacked the book. Lajpat Rai wrote editorials against it in The People and even produced a point-by-point refutation of its charges and distortions. Given the level of concern, Smedley's noisy campaign against the book was much appreciated. Rai was particularly grateful to have an American woman activist take on Mayo. It was one month after the appearance of Smedley's first review of Mother India for the New Masses that Rai published his »apology« to Smedley.[6]
In December of 1927, during the heat of battle with her Indian comrades, Smedley received a visit from her old friend Margaret Sanger, who arrived with her husband, J. Noah H. Slee. Besides making the necessary personal arrangements for them, Smedley set up two speaking engagements for Sanger. The first and larger one was sponsored by the Association of German Medical Women, a group of physicians who were campaigning against a proposed law that would make abortion a crime. Sanger's second lecture was delivered to a joint meeting of the Hindustani Association of Central Europe and the Chinese Student Association. During their ten days together, Smedley also introduced Sanger and her husband to several famous German friends: Dr. Helena Lange, founder of the first girls' gymnasium in Germany; Adele Schreiber, a former member of the Reichstag who had written an introduction for a German translation of Sanger's latest book; Kathe Kollwitz, who agreed to illustrate Sanger's next book; and Dr. Helene Stocker, director of the League for the Protection of Mothers.[7]
Bakar spent a quiet Christmas with Smedley at her apartment. She was flat on her back with a hot water bottle on her stomach, for an as-yet-undiagnosed complaint. One source says that Bakar proposed marriage and that Smedley refused, knowing it would ruin his career. At any rate, early in 1928, having completed his doctoral degree, Bakar returned to India. The two never saw each other again.[8]
Before returning to America, Sanger asked Smedley to work for the prompt establishment of a birth control clinic in Germany. In mid-January, Smedley was joined in this project by Josephine Bennett, an old friend from Indian and birth control work in New York and a close associate of Sanger's. In considering how to organize a clinic, Smedley decided to form a working advisory committee made up strictly of medical professionals who had the commitment and the political backing to withstand the inevitable public outcry. Although birth control was not illegal in Germany, the Catholics and the National Socialists (the Nazi party) were trying to have it outlawed, and it was receiving only token support from the Communists and the Social Democrats. On the advice of Kathe Kollwitz's son, Dr. Hans Kollwitz, she turned to Dr. Richard Schmienke, a Communist Party member and the commissioner of health for the Berlin working-class district of Neukolln, who had already tried to establish a birth control clinic in Saxony. Because the majority of elected representatives in this district were Communists and Socialists, they expected minimal opposition. Schmienke had read Sanger's articles and wanted to model the first Berlin clinic after Sanger's clinic in New York. But in February of 1928, the best he could offer was three free rooms in a clinic set up to treat venereal diseases. Smedley, unwilling to risk letting the public associate birth control with venereal disease, rejected the offer; but she did win Schmienke's commitment to search further for space and to organize women doctors in his district to help with the work.[9]
There is no doubt that during this period Smedley was working closely with the German Communist Party. The Communists and Socialists with whom she was associating were an impressive group of artists, doctors, and professionals. On February 21 she spoke in German on the labor movement in India to the Congress of Proletarian Women, a large Communist-front organization (it claimed 30,000 members in Germany). When she finished her speech, the audience rose to its feet and spontaneously began to sing the »International.« It was heady stuff. Fascism may have been on the march in Germany, but to Smedley in Berlin, so were the Communists. In her experience, it was the Communist and Socialist professionals who were giving the most generously of their time and talents to help the poor and the workers of Germany.[10]
Since December, and throughout Sanger's visit, Smedley had been struggling with her health. Sometime in January her analyst, Dr. Naef, had diagnosed the problem as appendicitis and recommended an operation. But Smedley, short of money and fearful of being anesthetized, balked at the suggestion. Instead, she started on a special diet and began taking the drug atropia to control possible spasms*
(* Smedley was also having some sort of gynecological problem and for a while debated the merits of havlng a hysterectomy when they took out the appendix. She consulted several women doctor friends and dec'ded against it after hearing that women who had such operations often "become fat and look like female eunuchs" (Smedley to Sanger, February 14, 1928).)
By late February Smedley admitted that her pain had become unbearable, and she appealed to Sanger to ask her husband for the money to have an operation. On March 2, with Jo Bennett at her side, Smedley submitted to an operation to remove her appendix and repair her uterus. Even after a rectal anaesthesia was administered, she fought against the taking of ether until Bennett finally calmed her. After the surgery she had a four-day bout with postoperative fever and complained of pain around her heart, which was treated with »electric baths« and heat pads. Kathe Kollwitz visited Smedley in the hospital, and they tried to work on a translation of a Sanger manuscript, but Smedley was too weak to make much progress. Instead, Kollwitz made several sketches of Smedley in her hospital bed. On March 16, Smedley was finally released from the hospital, and two days later Jo Bennett wrote to Sanger: »She has certainly had a hard fight all her life against poverty, ill health, and I believe, almost insanity. But she is better now than I have ever seen her.«
Indeed, by April Smedley seemed full of energy. She was teaching two courses again at the university, walking three evenings a week to the homes of private students, and working to finish revising her book. When Jo Bennett contracted a severe case of influenza, Smedley nursed her at home and then visited her regularly in the hospital until she was well. By the end of May, Jo Bennett had completely recovered and moved to Paris to work on birth control there. Smedley was to join her in Paris for the month of August.
Other minor problems cropped up to delay the opening of the Berlin clinic, which had been scheduled for June 1. Much discussion led to a decision that the clinic should not be named for Margaret Sanger, because that would encourage monarchists, Catholics, and National Socialists to attack it as a foreign-funded institution. And, as Smedley explained to Sanger on July 7, the fact that the clinic had Communists on its advisory board could make Sanger even more vulnerable in the United States. (Smedley knew that Sanger had already been criticized in New York for seeking an invitation to visit birth control clinics in Russia.) On July 7, after crucial last-minute help from Dr. Kurt Bendix, a prominent Social Democrat, the Beratungstelle fiir Geburtenregelung (Birth Control Clinic) opened its doors.
At some point during the winter of 1927-28, Smedley made the political and personal decision to go to China as a journalist. The night before the opening of the birth control clinic, she had given a lecture at the University of Berlin entitled »The Revolt in Asia.« She had believed for some time that a showdown between Asian nationalists and European imperialists, particularly the British, would soon occur. China, Smedley thought, would be center stage, and she intended to be there. More important, Smedley made the decision because of a perceived mission for which she thought she was uniquely qualified.[11]
The formation of the League Against Imperialism had stimulated the Indian National Congress into taking steps toward establishing direct formal ties with the Guomindang government in Nanjing. All attempts by the National Congress, from the exchange of Congress and Guomindang Party representatives to sending the Chinese an ambulance and medical team, were vetoed by the British. Since the formation of the League Against Imperialism, Smedley had focused her attention on getting more news about China into the Indian press. But the British censored many stories from China, such as those about strikes against British-owned factories that were at all supportive of the workers. This censorship was proof enough for Smedley that the British considered such stories incendiary and were afraid that the sparks of nationalism and anticolonialism might spread from China to India. Therefore she decided to defy the British by personally becoming a catalyst linking the two nationalist movements. Her plan was to go to China to write news stories for the Indian press and to help put the Indians in the treaty ports in touch with the Chinese nationalists in Nanjing. Smedley had been cultivating contacts within the Chinese nationalist community in Berlin. As an activist in the Indian cause, she already knew how to evade British mail censorship and publish in the Indian press. Now she had to get herself to China.
Her first problem was the lack of a passport. It took her lawyer in New York, Gilbert Roe, six months to collect sworn affidavits from her father and from the doctor who had attended her birth, and divorce papers from Ernest Brundin. These, along with her seaman's pass and sworn statements from Josephine Bennett and Roe himself, finally proved sufficient, and Roe sent her her passport in the first week of July.[12] Her second problem was financial: she intended to work in China as a journalistic stringer for the Frankfurter Zeitung and various American and Indian publications, but she needed money to pay for her passage and her living expenses when she arrived. The answer to this problem was provided by a new American friend, David Friday, who had been president of Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) from 1921 to 1923, and who now generously offered to loan her enough money to get through a year in China and, he hoped, establish a birth control clinic there.[13] Another piece of good news reached her in late June: Gilbert Roe had negotiated a contract with Coward-McCann for publication of Daughter of Earth, but some further revisions would be required.
With her preparations for China well underway, Smedley spent August in Paris with Jo Bennett, who was doing birth control work there. Another purpose of the trip was to meet with her American editor and make the final changes on her manuscript. In early September, she took the train from Paris to Frankfurt, where she worked intensely for six weeks with Julian Gumperz, who translated her book into German.*
(* Julian Cumperz was an independenly wealthy German-American citizen who had studied polltical economy at the University of Halle, where he became a student of Marxism. When World War I broke out, Gumperz moved to Berlin and published an antiwar magazine called The Oppositionist (Der Gegner). This experlence led him to the idea of founding a publishing house that could bring out inexpensive, good books "for the masses"-the first paperback books. The Malik Verlag's handsome paperbound editions of leftist and progressive works (those of Upton Sinclair, for example) startled the German publishing world. Polltically, Gumperz was usually aligned with the German Communist Party, but he never actually joined. In 1928 he had just returned from a year in the United States, where he developed a strong interest in rural American politics and economics, about which he was writing a doctoral thesis. Smedley's autoblographical manuscript about growing up in rural America seemed a perfect fit with Gumperz's interests and polltics. Smedley's respect and affection for the man rose rapidly (see letters to Sanger, August 21, 1928, and to Karin Michaelis, dated simply "Frankfurt, Friday"). Besides the translation effort, Smedley and Gumperz collaborated on an article about current literary trends in Germany for an English-reading audience (Modern Review [February 1929]; repeated in Survey, February 1, 1929). On Gumperz see Hede Massing, This Deception (New York, 1951), pp. 43-65; and 1976 interview.)
On October 16, 1928, she wrote to Karin Michaelis: »You will find the book much changed. The murder theme has been taken out entirely... I wonder what you will think of it as it is now.« Gumperz, she said, had translated her book into German and would arrange for its publication in other European countries; reminding Michaelis of her offer to review the book, she added that Gumperz would send her one of the first copies of both the English and German editions.[14]
Smedley left Frankfurt for Berlin on October 27 after giving Julian Gumperz power of attorney to act for her in all matters in Europe. Arrangements had been completed with the Frankfurter Zeitung certifying her as a correspondent in China. With all decisions on her book now behind her, and her passport and visas in hand for the trip to China, Smedley's thoughts turned to the few loose ends left in Berlin.
Smedley's exuberance was damped in Berlin when she received a letter from Josephine Bennett informing her that she had been visited and questioned by the police after Smedley's August visit. She became apprehensive about her personal safety en route to China, fearing harassment from British agents along the way. Smedley was convinced that Scotland Yard was still keeping track of her. She reminded Sanger in an October 30 letter that Sanger herself had been questioned by British authorities in detail in both Hong Kong and Penang about her connections with Smedley and the Indian nationalists. Smedley asked for Sanger's help in case she disappeared or was arrested. Melodramatically, she gave specific instructions to Sanger to contact her lawyer and friend Gilbert Roe if necessary, and even explained how he should be paid. She requested that should anything happen to her while in China, Sanger should notify Roe that everything, including her book royalties, be turned over to Mr. Gumperz to do with as he thought best.
With her thoughts now turned toward China, Smedley spent most of the next six weeks crossing the Soviet Union. During a stopover in Moscow she met Mme. Sun Yat-sen. Although impressed by the general improvement of conditions since 1921, Smedley was concerned about the large number of orphans still wandering the streets. She visited orphanages and wrote an article about the problem for the Nation. Smedley spent a week touring Moscow and then boarded a train for China toward the end of November, 1928.[15]
While Smedley was on the train to the Sino-Soviet border, events were occurring in India that increased the interest of British intelligence in her whereabouts. On November 17, 1920, Smedley's mentor, Lajpat Rai, the Lion of the Punjab, died in Lahore of injuries sustained in a nonviolent protest march two weeks earlier. Rai's death was attributed to wounds received at the hands of a British police officer, J. P. Saunders. In the Punjab, young men thirsted for revenge and called for the assassination of the police officer. In late November, as Smedley made her way across Russia, Saunders was gunned down on the steps of Lahore's police headquarters by a young radical Sikh revolutionary from California.[16]