The Bolsheviks are in power. Lenin, Trotsky, Lunacharsky, are national commissioners of Internal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and National Education. There is a truce offering with Germany. The Allies refuse to recognise the government of the Russian Revolution. And pacifists are blamed for all problems!
The Au Bon Gout pastry shop, which is in our building, is refusing from now on to bake bread for us. Now our poor servants will have to stand for hours once again in those “lines”! See more
Of recent political news (as per the papers) I will note the following:a. General Verkhovsky has arrived at Headquarters, but there is no news at all from Headquarters itself; b. The ministry of foreign affairs has begun operations (that's from Pravda); c. Lunacharsky has officially announced that all ministers of the former Ministry of the Court are to continue their work. He is silent on the appointment of new commissars; d. There is a (still peaceful) siege on the State Bank. Employees are not keeping the Bolsheviks away from the counters.
We have been terribly anxious for the prisoners since X. returned from the the Peter and Paul Fortress. Things there are bad, the “commandant” himself is afraid of the sailors, who seem capable of anything. We must conspire to have the prisoners removed. See more
Anywhere would be better than that fortress of sailors and Bolsheviks. It would be completely useless to appeal to Trotsky. Besides how repulsive it would be to have any dealings with him, it would be about as useful as trying to strike up a conversation with an ape.
The news out of Moscow is shocking. (They say things have again calmed down, but it is difficult to believe). The city is completely cut off. Telephone lines are down. Lunacharsky, the “patron of culture”, has been pulling his hair out, gasping and screaming (in the papers) that if things continue as they are he will “leave, leave this Bolshevik government”! He’s going nowhere.
I’ve just heard from eyewitness about what has happened in Moscow. St. Basil the Blessed cathedral and Uspensky cathedral have been destroyed. The Kremlin, where all of our most important artistic treasures from St Petersburg and Moscow are now being kept, is being bombed. See more
There are thousands of casualties. The war is turning savage and evil. What will happen next? Where do we go from here?! I cannot pull us out of this. I’ve done all I can. I am powerless to stop this horror. It’s impossible to work under the weight of the thoughts coming out of my head. That’s why I’m leaving the Soviet Union in exile. I understand the full weight of this decision. But I can’t do it anymore.
The Soviet government will propose an immediate democratic peace to all the nations and an immediate armistice on all fronts. It will secure the transfer of the land of the landed proprietors, the crown and the monasteries to the peasant committees without compensation; it will protect the rights of the soldiers by introducing complete democracy in the army; it will establish workers’ control over production; it will ensure the convocation of the Constituent Assembly at the time appointed; it will see to it that bread is supplied to the cities and prime necessities to the villages; it will guarantee all the nations inhabiting Russia the genuine right to self-determination.
Soldiers, actively resist Kerensky the Kornilovite! Be on your guard! Railwaymen, hold up all troop trains dispatched by Kerensky against Petrograd! Soldiers, workers in factory and office, the fate of the revolution and the fate of the democratic peace is in your hands! Long live the revolution!
The Bolsheviks make a point of keeping the civil war (should one happen) humane.
The situation is dire. The Military Revolutionary Committee and the General Headquarters are waiting to see who goes first.
Do the Soviets have enough strength to seize power? It is very likely that they do. Do the Soviets have enough strength to save Russian and the revolution? It is likely that they do not.
It's a difficult time. No glimpses of light. The mood is close to a heroic despair. See more
The flesh is weak. Not mine. I'm very healthy, even though I've lost weight, but Russia's flesh. It's very thin. There are hunger and poverty everywhere. I doubt that anything can stop their fatal spread. Maybe left-wing democracy can make a heroic effort, both deeply patriotic and socialist, but it will, most likely, die after that.
I’m not sure that I’ll have time to write to you tomorrow morning, so I’m writing at night. It’s bad. Very bad. See more
The food issue is terrifying. Hunger is at the gates. Something’s going to happen.
And so it would be good to be able to work.
Day after day the Bolshevik orators toured the barracks and factories, violently denouncing “this Government of civil war.” One Sunday we went, on a top-heavy steam tram that lumbered through oceans of mud, between stark factories and immense churches, to Obukhovsky Zavod, a Government munitions-plant out on the Schlüsselburg Prospekt. See more
The meeting took place between the gaunt brick walls of a huge unfinished building, ten thousand black-clothed men and women packed around a scaffolding draped in red, people heaped on piles of lumber and bricks, perched high upon shadowy girders, intent and thunder-voiced. Through the dull, heavy sky now and again burst the sun, flooding reddish light through the skeleton windows upon the mass of simple faces upturned to us.
Lunatcharsky, a slight, student-like figure with the sensitive face of an artist, was telling why the power must be taken by the Soviets. Nothing else could guarantee the Revolution against its enemies, who were deliberately ruining the country, ruining the army, creating opportunities for a new Kornilov.
A soldier from the Rumanian front, thin, tragical and fierce, cried, “Comrades! We are starving at the front, we are stiff with cold. We are dying for no reason. I ask the American comrades to carry word to America, that the Russians will never give up their Revolution until they die. We will hold the fort with all our strength until the peoples of the world rise and help us! Tell the American workers to rise and fight for the Social Revolution!”
Although we did not know it at the time, our fate really hung on the outcome of a Congress of Soviets which was then being held in Petrograd, and to which both Sheiman and Ostrovsky were delegates. See more
Sheiman returned to Helsingfors and visiting my cell told me that both Trotzky and Lounacharsky were insistent on the release of Kerensky's prisoners. That evening, he said, would be held a secret session of the executives of the Helsingfors Soviet at which he would urge the recommendation of Trotzky and Lounacharsky. If the executives agreed the question would then be referred to the entire Soviet, made up principally of sailors of the old Baltic fleet. That evening I was invited to tea in the officers' quarters, and while sitting there the telephone rang. "It is for you," said the officer who answered the call. I picked up the receiver and heard Sheiman's voice saying briefly: "The executive has voted unanimously for the release of the prisoners."