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Anatol Kagan (1913–2009)

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Anatol Kagan, c.2004

Anatol Kagan, c.2004

Anatol Kagan (1913-2009) architect, writer, translator and political activist

Birth: 4 October 1913 at St Petersburg, Russia, son of  of Abram Saulovich Kagan (1888-1984), academic and publisher, and Eugenia Samoilovna Entin (b. 1889). Marriages: (1). Details unknown. (2) Probably in England. Details and name of spouse unknown. They had one daughter and one son. The marriage ended in divorce on 1 March 1954. (3) 12 April 1954 at North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, with Liberal Catholic rites, to native-born Dawn Gweneth Jackson (1906-2021), a comptometrist. Death: 2 July 2009 at Hunters Hill, New South Wales. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and one son. 

  • Spent his childhood in revolutionary Petrograd, in the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, his father was a leading member of the Mensheviks, and Anatol probably witnessed the start of the Bolshevik Revolution first hand. His father was imprisoned and the family was expelled from the USSR in 1922.
  • Spent his adolescence and early adult life in Berlin, Germany, at time of rise of the Nazis. Was increasingly committed to Marxism in the 1920s, joining the Young Communists in Berlin. His father became Trotsky's publisher, Anatol reading manuscripts as they were submitted making him perhaps “the first and best-read Trotskyist in the non-Soviet world”.
  • Completed his studies in Berlin becoming a qualified architect in 1937. In face of persecution he fled to London, married and then emigrated to Australia because “it was so far away”.
  • Arrived in Melbourne about 1939 and resumed work as an architect, initially taking little interest in politics. In 1943 he joined forces with Jim Dawson, a Port Melbourne bookseller organising seminars.
  • James McClelland introduced him to Nick Origlass. Became main Trotskyist and significant revolutionary intellectual in Melbourne, where Trotskyism was often a “shambles”.
  • His company, Anatol Kagan and Associates, designed Mount Scopus College. Moved to Sydney in 1955 and worked in the Government Architect’s office.
  • Joined Harbord branch of the Australian Labor Party, remaining close to Origlass and was in regular contact. Practiced ‘entrism’ in ALP, of which he was a member for over sixty years. In 1994 was made a life member of the ALP.
  • Completed his father’s memoirs and supplemented it with his own. Retired in 1973 and lived with his wife in Harbord. Sydney.

Hall Greenland, Red Hot: The Life and Times of Nick Origlass (Sydney, 1998); Anatol Kagan, In exile from St Petersburg. The Life and Times of Abram Saulovich Kagan (Blackheath, 2017).

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Citation details

'Kagan, Anatol (1913–2009)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Anatol Kagan, c.2004

Anatol Kagan, c.2004

Life Summary [details]


4 October, 1913
St Petersburg, Russia


2 July, 2009 (aged 95)
Hunters Hill, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Passenger Ship
Political Activism