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Project 1917 is a series of events that took place a hundred years ago as described by those involved. It is composed only of diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers and other documents

Poor Neverdovsky came to see me at the Embassy yesterday. He and his wife escaped from Vyborg disguised and by the skin of their teeth. The massacre of officers lasted two days, and was organized by sailors who came from Helsingfors, and called the local garrison “Black Hundred Reactionaries,” because they had not shed any officer blood. See more

Savinkov suspects German work in the KornilovCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917 business. His point is that there were three possible out­comes of the “ adventure ” :

  1.      Agreement between Aleksandr Kerensky and Kornilov.
  2.      Victory of Kornilov.
  3.      Victory of Kerenski.
See more

Allied military representatives met at the Minister of War’s house at 9.30 a.m. to hear a summary of the steps proposed to raise the morale of the army.

It is proposed to reduce its strength by the elimination of the older classes from the 10,000,000 it is now supposed to contain to 7,500,000, of which 4,000,000 will be com­batants, 500,000 depot troops and 3,000,000 auxiliary services. See more

Ragosin, Polovtsev’s A.D.C., came to lunch. He told me that Polovtsev, having tired of idleness, went to G.H.Q. to ask for employment. KornilovCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917 told him to go to Petro­grad, as he would come there soon and would want him. He went to Petrograd. See more

I dined last night with General Judson, the American Military Attache, who has taken a palace of a house and has A.D.C.’s, etc. He had Stevens, the American railroad expert, with De Candolle, our railway man, to talk to him, Verkhovski, the new Minister of War, and Colonel Polkovnikov, the new Commander of the District. I sat on Judson’s left; opposite Verkhovski.

Verkhovski is intelligent but very young. He looks twenty-eight but is really thirty-four. He is young in his ideas and is an enthusiast with an enthusiast’s lack of common sense. I am not sure that he does not talk for effect. See more

Colonel G (a General Staff Officer from the Northern Front), has just been in to see me. He, of course, wants to go to our army, and if there is a separate peace he will go as a private soldier. See more

Rogosin told me a story of Kerensky. One day, some weeks ago, the little Tsarevitch was playing at Tsarskoe Selo with a toy gun that the Cossacks had presented him with in the old days and of which he was passionately proud, when an officious soldier took the toy from him “lest he should shoot the sentries.” See more

Russian officers told me that carters in the East End of London called out to them: “When are you Russians going to fight?” Even our gardener in Ulster had asked: “Why do those Russians not fight?”

Kerenski was influenced by Nekrasov, originally a professor at the University of Tomsk, who had been a Cadet at the time of the Revolution, but had since worked much in co-operation with the Sovyet, by Galpern, a pacifist Jewish lawyer, and by a rela­tion, Baranovski, an ambitious but inexperienced soldier. These men preached political caution, either failing to understand or preferring to disregard the danger to the army. They were of the common political type, preferring to gain temporary peace by compromise rather than risk anything by decision.

The whole Russian fabric rested on the shoulders of Kornilov and Kerenski, “ the pillars of Hercules,” as Filonenko, the Com­missary at G.H.Q. named them in the private code he invented for use in communication with his cliief, Savinkov. With their divergency in character and aims, only an irresponsible well-wisher to both was required to complete the quarrel. This role was filled by Vladimir Lvov, a Cadet and late Procurator of the Synod in the Provisional Government.

In Dublin, on the 14th, I read of Kornilov’s failure, and wrote urging our diplomatic intervention in favour of Korni­lov, who had fought the battle of the Alliance.

It was all too late.

The conflict between Kornilov and Kerenski was inevitable from the first, for the two men were of very different character and stood for diametrically opposed principles. Kornilov was a hard-headed soldier of strong will and great courage, a tried patriot, but no politician. He was simple and honest, without a spark of personal ambition. With him Rttssia and Russia’s national honour stood first. Kerenski, the petty lawyer from Saratov, had spent his life in political agitation. He was subtle, vain and ambitious. Prior to the Revolution he had been a pacifist. With him the Revolution came first and Russia only second.

Both men were of humble origin. Kornilov was the son of a non-commissioned officer of Trans-Baikal Cossacks, and his mother was a Buriat woman. Kerenski’s father was a schoolmaster and his mother is said to have been a Jewess.

Kornilov was a man of wide education, and spoke several of the languages of Europe and Asia. He had fought his way to high command even under the old regime, without interest, by sheer hard work and ability. He was the first leading general the Russian army had found since the Revolution with the courage to risk everything in defending its vital interests from political interference. Kerenski had never been in a position of respon­sibility till suddenly called to power in the re-shuffle of the Revolution. His assets were his unbounded energy, his eloquence and his juggling political adroitness.

The State Conference at Moscow was called by Kerenski with the object of bringing all parties together, but it only revealed and widened the gulf between the Nationalists, who stood for the restoration of order, and the Internationalists, who wanted peace at any price in order to continue their social and political experi­ments. Under the influence of his political associates, Kerenski became convinced of the danger of a counter-revolution from the Right.

I asked that a telegram should be sent to Kerenski asking him in the interests of the Alliance to come to terms with Kornilov.

On arrival at noon at 10, Downing Street, I found a press telegram reporting the outbreak of the open quarrel between Kerenski and Kornilov. It was too late. After all, the sending of a note was only a gamble, but in war, it is always better to do something than to let things take their course, and it was very certain that if Russia had been Germany’s ally Germany would never have allowed matters to lapse to their present chaos.