Marguerite Harrison felt both relief and regret when she learned that Solomon Mogilevsky had been killed in a plane crash in the Caucasus Mountains. When she left Russia in 1923 she knew that she would never see him again, and she sensed that his death had been no accident.
As with Robert Imbrie, rumors swirled that Mogilevsky had been murdered by political enemies. According to newspaper reports, he was flying to a conference on March 22, 1925, with two other Soviet officials, including the man who had murdered Czar Nicholas II’s only brother. About fifteen minutes after takeoff, their Junkers plane caught fire. Mogilevsky and another passenger tried to jump from the burning craft as it plummeted to the ground, but he died when the plane exploded on impact. The Soviets conducted three investigations but could find no fault with the plane’s mechanics and never determined the cause of the crash.
Soviet officials accused Georgian rebels of sabotaging the plane, but some historians believe that Mogilevsky’s chief lieutenant, Lavrenty Beria, was responsible. A psychopathic killer and serial rapist, Beria later would become Stalin’s KGB chief and oversee the slaughter of millions.
Mogilevsky was buried with military honors at Alexander Garden, near where he had met Marguerite for her weekly reports five years earlier. Marguerite knew her feelings for Mogilevsky were inexplicable. “Logically we should have hated each other, and yet there had been a certain camaraderie between us,” she wrote. “I had always felt a certain unwilling admiration for Mogilevsky. He even had attracted me in a curious fashion.”
His death liberated her from the psychological grasp he held on her.
Newspaper account records Mogilevsky’s death.