We left Petrograd on the morning of January 7th. The party consisted of the Ambassador, Lady Georgina and Miss Meriel Buchanan, Admiral Stanley, Commander Spenser-Cooper and Paymaster Collis, Majors Scale, Neilson and myself. See more
The “ People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs ” had refused to reserve us accommodation, but a bribe of two bottles of brandy had proved more successful with the officials on the spot, and we had a comfortable carriage. Most of the Allied representatives and of the British colony came to the station to bid farewell to the Ambassador, who, like the big English gentleman he is, had fought their battle to the end with rare courage, devotion and ability. Only one Russian came, Madame В, but no doubt many more would have come if they had dared, for no Ambassador that England had sent to Petrograd ever loved Russia more or worked harder in her interests.
There has been a hitch in the peace negotiations. The Pravda (“Truth’’) publishes articles such as “ The Mask Torn Off,” and as the Novaya Jizn ("The New Life”) says, makes big eyes ofinnocence!! The hitch has come over the interpretation of the principle, “No annexations”. See more
The Germans refuse to withdraw their troops from Poland and Kurland and from parts of Latvia and Esthonia on the ground that these provinces have declared that they are in favour of absolute separation from Russia and of independence within the German sphere of influence.
Trotsky is now making warlike speeches and talking of a volunteer army !
The question is, how can an able man like Trotsky have expected anything else, and, if lie expected this, why did he allow the Russian army to be destroyed?
Lunching with some friends one day, I was given some excellent Madeira, and noticed that the bottle came from the Imperial cellar. My hostess’s little boy of five, while playing in the Alexandrovski garden with his nurse, had found two bottles in the snow.
This was, however, only a local remedy. “ The freest army in the world ” turned its attention to private cellars, and for weeks there was drunken shooting every day in one district or another. The Left Press wrote that this cellar-looting was the result of bourgeois propaganda, which of course was nonsense. It was simply the natural result of removing all control from armed men, of continuing to feed them, and of giving them nothing to do.
The Germans categorically refused to accept terms which they said could only be applied to a beaten country. They then put up their own terms. See more
At the meeting at noon on the 5th Yoffe read a declaration that the Russians had decided to break off negotiations in order to return to consult their Government. The enemy delegates were visibly annoyed, but brightened considerably when a temporary truce was arranged, to expire at noon on December 17th.
Most of the delegates behaved themselves, but the peasant got drunk and very argumentative. The soldier tried propaganda on his own and got a rebuff. He tried to reason with a German soldier: “ We have kicked out our Nikolai, why don’t you do the same with your Wilhelm? ” The German said: “ Why should I pull a sound tooth out of my head because you had a toothache a year ago?”
Both Manikovski and Marushevski were arrested at 5 a.m. yesterday (Monday).
Manikovski’s offence is that when released by the Bolsheviks to take charge of the office of the Minister of War he sent a circular telegram telling his subordinates that they could only be removed from their posts with his consent. See more
This had, of course, been done merely to calm their nerves and to induce them to work in the interests of the army and the country. Marushevski’s crime was, first, that he had continued to address General Dukhonin as “ Supreme Commander-in-Chief,” and had so encouraged him to persist in the contumacious course which ended in his murder; secondly, that he had sent in his resignation rather than take any part in the negotiations for a separate armistice.
Their cross-examination was carried on at the Smolni till 3 a.m. today.
I dined with the W-s. They say that Smolni talks of arresting the Ambassador, Thornhill and me. Thornhill “ because he pushes his nose in everywhere,” and me as the " ame damnee ” of the Embassy. See more
Durnovo also sent me a warning that I should not sleep at home for two or three nights.
The Bolsheviks, however, did not go so far yet as to arrest their allies.
I saw Marushevski to-day. He told me that he had gone to the Smolni at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Trotski threatened him with the “ Trubelskoe Bastion ” (that is, with imprisonment in the Fortress of Peter and Paul) if he did not at once detail General Staff officers to take part in the negotiations for a separate armistice. See more
Feeling ran high, and the little man had said finally : ‘‘I will talk to Podvoiski. I do not want to have anything more to do with you ! ” He said that Trotski made “ the very worst impression ” on him.
Podvoiski over-persuaded him, and he sent, as I had recommended, officers to take part in the negotiations as technical experts, and, as such, to safeguard as far as might be possible the interests of Russia and of her Allies. Colonels Shishkin and Stanislavski have gone.
Little Proctor has arrived from Arkhangel in a deuce of a panic. He says that the Ambassador and his family and all British subjects should at once go home via Bergen, and that the Embassy should move to Arkhangel to escape the massacre that will take place when the northern armies descend in hunger on Petrograd to loot and murder. See more
I told the Ambassador of his ideas, but the old man said he did not want to see him, that it bored him to be told constantly that his throat was going to be cut: if it was, it was, and that was an end of it!
Trotsky has communicated to the Allied military attaches a note asserting that his Government never desired a separate but a general peace, but that it was determined to have peace. It will, the note concluded, be the fault of the Allied Governments if Russia has after all to make a separate peace. See more
I have come to the conclusion that the only thing for us to do is to faire bonne mine a mauvais jeu. Acting on an idea originally suggested by Knox, I have telegraphed to the Foreign Office as follows:
"I share the view, already expressed by General Knox, that the situation here has become so desperate that we must reconsider our attitude.
In my opinion, the only safe course left to us is to give Russia back her word and to tell her people that, realizing how worn out they are by the war and the disorganization inseparable from a great revolution, we leave it to them to decide whether they will purchase peace on Germany's terms or fight on with the Allies, who are determined not to lay down their arms till binding guarantees for the world's peace have been secured. It has always been my one aim and object to keep Russia in the war, but one cannot force an exhausted nation to fight against its will. If anything could tempt Russia to make one more effort, it would be the knowledge that she was perfectly free to act as she pleased, without any pressure from the Allies. There is evidence to show that Germany is trying to make an irreparable breach between us and Russia, so as to pave the way for the German protectorate which she hopes eventually to establish over the latter. For us to hold to our pound of flesh and to insist on Russia fulfilling her obligations, under the 1914 Agreement, is to play Germany's game. Every day that we keep Russia in the war against her will does but embitter her people against us. If we release her from those obligations, the national resentment will turn against Germany if peace is delayed or purchased on too onerous terms. For us it is a matter of life and death to checkmate this latest German move, for a Russo-German Alliance after the war would constitute a perpetual menace to Europe, and more especially to Great Britain.
I am not advocating any transaction with the Bolshevik Government. On the contrary, I believe that the adoption of the course which I have suggested will take the wind out of their sails, as they will no longer be able to reproach the Allies with driving Russian soldiers to the slaughter for their Imperialistic aims."
Kirilenko’s new Declaration of the Rights of Soldiers was read at the general meeting of the Soviet last night, but was not published as the majority of the Soviet thought it should be first elaborated in detail. See more
It provides for the election of commanders, the abolition of rank and of badges of rank, the abolition of military schools for the preparation of officers, the extension of the rights of committees, the responsibility of the command to committees for the success of operations, the levelling up of the rates of pay of officers and men.
Neilson returned from the Western Front, which he left on the 13th, spending the time since at G.H.Q. He was not allowed to visit the armies. Fraternisation is rapidly increasing. There now serve in committees on the front 54,000 men with allowances of Rs.250,000 a month, yet the committees, like the officers, have lost all power. Desertion is not increasing, and officers say the men will remain in the trenches in the winter if clothed and fed and not asked to fight. The truth of it is that they lack the initiative to leave. The ordinary soldier gets up at 10 a.m., lounges about and perhaps plays cards till 1 p.m. when he dines. He then sleeps a little, and perhaps takes a short walk, so passing the time till 5 p.m., when he starts playing cards—the real business of the day—and this he continues till 3 a.m.
Verkhovski came to see the Ambassador, and I interpreted. Incidentally, he said that Kerenski had not wanted to let the Cossacks suppress the rising “ on their own,” as he knew that would be “ the end of the Revolution.” I suggested that “ perhaps it would have saved Russia.” See more
Verkhovski disagreed, and said it was a mistake to imagine that the Cossacks could conquer Russia. All the same, I believe they could if they were not handicapped by men of the type of Kerenski, for they represent the only force that has any approach to discipline, and if they acted quickly and resolutely all the elements that stand for law and order might rally to their side. Verkhovski professed to believe that the moderate socialists still have a chance. I doubt it. I agree with Trotski that the only opposition the Bolsheviks had to fear was from Kornilov’s and Kaledin’s party, and that is now past.
At midday on the 13th, a council of war was held and the opinion of Stankevich that negotiations should be opened with the Bolsheviks prevailed. Savinkov denounced this decision as a crime against the country and left Gatchina that evening to try to obtain help from the XVIIth Corps, then at Nevel. See more
He soon found that the failure of the infantry to come up was to be ascribed to the contradictory orders and probable treachery of General Cherimisov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Front.
It was truly said that the Russian sailors killed many more Russian officers during the eight months after the Revolution than they had killed German officers in the preceding three and a half years of war.
About 1,000 women marched past the Embassy this morning on their way to be inspected by Kerenski on the Palace Square. They made the best show of any soldiers I have seen since the Revolution, but it gave me a lump in the throat to see them, and the utter swine of “ men " soldiers jeering at them.