Nikolai Markin was born in 1892 into a very poor family; when young his parents had been textile workers in one of the factories in Penza province but they subsequently moved to Vladikavkaz (now renamed Orjonikidze).
Nikolai's childhood was spent in harsh conditions and hardly having learnt to read and write he was forced out to work so as not to burden his parents for whom every piece of bread cost dear.
Reluctantly having to take employment in a stationer's shop as a boy assistant Nikolai was greatly burdened with financial responsibilities.
At that difficult time I had to leave him and go to work in Baku.
Before departing I left a small quantity of underground literature with him. A year later in 1909 I received the news from Vladikavkaz that Nikolai was in jail and so I went back to find out why.
It turned out that Nikolai could not stand his boss's harsh exploitation and had attempted in a fit of rage to scorch him; he was arrested and my booklets were found on him; on questioning he admitted them to be his and did not denounce me.
Nikolai was released after spending some eight months in jail but during this period he met up with the political prisoners and acquired from them the theoretical knowledge which was at that time so vital for a proletarian.
Upon leaving jail he engrossed himself in reading every available book on social and political questions.
The three of us, father, Nikolai and myself lived together for a while. As far as I recall this was a most marvellous time which was spent in arguments and reading; our father was an atheist or, as they called him in those days, a 'godless man'. But the end to all this was soon to come: father died and I was called up to the army and left the town under another surname while Nikolai became an apprentice fitter. At this point I lost touch with Nikolai for quite a long while and only in 1914 when I was in Vladikavkaz jail did I learn that he was serving in Petrograd in the depot of the Second Mine Battery. I was not to see him again as the imperialist war landed me in Austria-Hungary and by the time I had returned home from captivity there he was already dead.
He had perished a hero, as was to be expected, in the struggle against the White Guards, by the village of Pyany Bor on the River Kama in 1918.
V. Markin (his brother)
Leon Trotsky: In memory of Markin
Markin has perished - what a great loss. Markin was an excellent revolutionary and a fearless soldier, a real soldier of tlhe revolution.
A delegate from the Baltic Fleet, he became a member of the central Executive Committee of the First Congress of Soviets in 1917.
As a devoted and firm Bolshevik he fought with sombre detemination - a certain general sombreness was part of his nature - against Kerensky's regime.
When the Petrograd Soviet turned Bolshevik Markin accomplished the most wide ranging assignments for it with an indefatigable concentration. In particular he got the Soviet's evening newspaper 'Rabochii i Soldat' off the ground.
In the October days he fought in the front line. At the beginning of November he joined the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs where I came into contact with him through working together.
Though a naval gunner, he nevertheless at once orientated superlatively well in the apparatus of the Commissariat and with a firm hand effected a purge of the high-born and knavish diplomatic corps, re-organized the administration completely, confiscated the diplomatic contraband wihich had continued to arrive in suitcases from abroad and extraicted the most instructive secret documents publishing them upon his own responsibility in separate pamphlets.
The German diplomats at Brest-Litovsk pounced upon Markin's pamphlet with great eagerness and they were not the only ones.
Markin was to transfer to the War Department at the start of the Czechoslovak rebellion where he concentrated his efforts principally on the Volga flotilla. It could be said without any exaggeration that the strong flotilla that we had on the Volga was Markin's creation. In the business of fitting out and arming the vessels and in the selection of crews and their training he exhibited an energy without par; he negotiated with the trade unions, obtained bread for the workers, instituted prizes for the speediest arming of the gunboats, undertook a purge within the ranks of the sailors, acting against them now with a word, now with an example and where necessary with repression, goaded on the malingerers by telegraph and did not rest for a moment; he was one of those most precious characters who does not simply carry out the tasks allotted but sets his own targets and fights to achieve them with all his might, smashing down any obstacles in his path.
If there had been a few more of these Markins among active Soviet workers we would not have surrendered towns ingloriously; nor would there have been the breakdown on the railways, in the plants and in food distribution.
Having formed the flotilla Markin took up the most advanced combat positions in it; first he was chief commissariat and then as deputy to the commander, Comrade Raskolnikov, he fearlessly led the vessels into battle on his gunboat Vanya, later renamed Kommunist. He, like a truly zealous master, concerned himself with everything.
He took account of every shell. He organized supplies and at the same time he himself would go scouting at night, establishing te1ephone communications and urging the shore-based infantry flanks into firmer action.
Under enemy fire he was the same as ever; a somewhat sombre, firm, determined, honest soldier of the revolution.
On the eve of the capture of Kazan he led a landing party comprising 60 soldiers.
He had been promised the support of infantry units; Markin's landing party held on for over an hour under enemy fire awaiting infantry reinforcements, removed the breech blocks from shore batteries and left the quay-side which was already blazing all around from enemy shells.
Nikolai Georgievich Markin has fallen in battle aboard his gunboat Kommunist. Among our many losses his is one of the heaviest. He was relatively little-known in the party and in Soviet organizations for he was neither a journalist nor an orator. But his deeds were more lucid and expressive than any words.
I knew him closely at work and can testify that Markin was one of the best men in our ranks. It is hard to believe that he is no longer with us. Goodbye, good and true friend Markin