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. 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."
My dearest Nyurochka!
I am simply ready to cry! First, on the tram, they took that little red wallet from Veve away from me—a memory of you. Then, they stole the pen you gave me (now I have another one, a present from Dmitry Ilyich), and yesterday, they even stole my wonderful watch, the one that always made everybody jealous!
Today, I bought a new one. And you know how much it cost? 120 rubles!! And it’s not a jot better than the one I had. And that one only cost 45 franks! See more
It is especially eerie to me that things are leaving my hands one after the other that have connected me with you. It is inexpressibly sad. But nothing will ever be capable of weakening my tenderness for you, not by a hair. More than ever, I think about you, I love you, and I speak about you with an admiration that I must say attracts a bit of friendly mockery from the people around me.
It's our huge victory at the elections. It's exceeded all expectations. I'm almost certain I'll be elected Vice Mayor.
The situation is still the same. Terrible misfortunes at the front and other circumstances provoke a sharp reaction in us, but also in Germany. Times are dismal. Perhaps, I will also be arrested on charges of "incitement" or something like that. But it’s not important. See more
I'm ready to give a report on everything I've done. I was, am and will be an enemy of armed adventures, but I was, am, and will be a Social-Democrat-Internationalist. I can always fully answer for what I’ve actually done, but I will deny responsibility for what I couldn’t do because it would be against my political conscience.
There’s only one very strong, purely personal desire, and I would give anything for it to be fulfilled: to see you and Toto. But only leave when things get better. Someway. It's very hard to send money. I'm trying and trying. But I’m sure that I’ll be able to send some somehow, so when you receive this letter, you will already have it. I want to send 300 rubles now, but I hope to send more later. I’ll try to send 300 to 400 rubles every month. The main problem is not getting money--you can earn it, but to send it--that's what’s hard.
I love you terribly. I often reread your cheerful, courageous, wise, and gentle letters. I picture myself as you, try to remember every line, and my heart pours out with some kind of burning wave.
How happy we’ve been in recent years. But the terrible and the great in history is redeemed only by suffering. Our suffering is not in vain in the course of humanity. Besides, you believe like I do, that love and spirit are immortal. You just need them a bit more.
You are my only priceless ones. I’m very worried how you’ll go on without money. I'll do my best.
I’ve just sent you a telegram so that you’d know at the very least that I’m alive. You’ll know all the details already from the newspapers of course, by the time you receive this letter. I’ve had to show solidarity with the Bolsheviks. But… they ignore my advice. True, the movement sprang up spontaneously, but it was nevertheless right in fighting against the partially armed uprisings prompted by the anarchists and the awful state of Petrograd’s underbelly, in keeping with our prior agreement. See more
You know what happened, how all this overflew the banks. The Black Hundreds, hooligans, provocateurs, anarchists, desperate people; they turned the demonstration increasingly absurd and chaotic. I foresaw it. I warned of this in number of meetings, and recently in the article “Forward” which I sent to you, that the Petrograd proletariat and the revolutionaries in the garrison are dying, having detached from the outdated Russian democracy, and the revolution will surely perish. Now, courage lies in enlightening the masses and keeping them from the excessive pressure, which is relatively light in Petrograd, but fatal overall. What am I to do?
Trotsky and the Bolsheviks agree with each other in words, but in reality, they give way to the chaos. And behind them, I give way too. Maybe a bad experience will make the people look back, or no one will be able stop us ploughing into the abyss. The root of everything, of course, is war.
I really need you. You’d advise me. I have formidable trust in your instincts. You would be my sacred refuge too. Will this letter reach you? When? Will we see each other? Yesterday, death ran rampant through Petersburg.
A lot of people are turning sour here. They’re frustrated. They want the revolution to be as sweet as candy, and for democracy to follow us, the socialists, in through the door without a hitch.
I saw the most charming A. Mikh. Kollontai. She looked some ten years younger and had become very unassuming and sweet while retaining traces of her former elegance. Held in high affection in Bolshevik circles, she’s ubiquitously renowned as a first-class orator. She addressed me with great cordiality and asked me to send you a warm hello and to tell you that she’d like to see you here soonest. See more
Darling, come and visit.
The Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies recently adjourned at the Cadets’ College has only deepened my pessimism. The meeting began with a discussion of the Dacha Durnovo. Pereverzev, Liber, Kamenev, Tsereteli with his histrionics, and Lunacharsky, all made speeches, the latter receiving reproaches from the Asiatic Chkheidze for addressing the congress without the reverence apparently accorded it. See more
They all spoke very coherently, “convinced and convincing”, with calm and even business-like temper. Yet, essentially, despite the great superfluity of fine words, I left the assembly without having formed the slightest impression. Lord knows, an audience is correct in greeting every speech with an identically rousing storm of ovation, even if this speech stands in stark contradiction to its predecessor, and even if this predecessor was met by the very same ovation. The mood, I should note, in the hall was decidedly moderate and calm. I can see now that there is an audience capable of standing through one of Lenin’s speeches.
The bourgeois press is corrupted. It lies and vilifies without restraint. Perhaps we will begin taking them to court.
Unfortunately, far from all of the speeches currently being made at the All-Russia Conference of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies can be called intelligent. Lenin and his associates seem to have lost all their capacity for reason. Our well-known founder of a new religion, Father Anatoly Lunacharsky, has suffered the same loss. See more
Truth to tell, however, one ought to have long since given up on all these people. A dry well pumps no water, as the proverb goes. The attacks on the Provisional Government by our so-called extreme leftists serve as ample demonstration that this proverb contains a completely undeniable truth.
I have been working hard at the Congress. On the third day there was a large, captivating meeting. Tsereteli spoke about general politics with dignity and intelligence, and he defended his impossible position as powerfully and systematically as could be imagined possible. Lenin spoke after him. See more
He spoke passionately, with great revolutionary fire, but too quickly, and he made an error that all his detractors later clung to: he said that “the first and most important measure of a genuinely revolutionary government would be the arrest of its country's 50 wealthiest factory owners.”
Gorky introduced me to Lunacharsky. The latter seemed to me like a real charmer. Wide-ranging erudition, wonderful mastery of speech, an “almost Jewish” nimbleness! He seemed all around to belong to the chosen people, but the rumor goes that Lunacharsky isn’t a Jew at all, but a pure-blooded Russian and even a nobleman and a Southern landowner. See more
His strange surname seems to trace its roots to some kind of lunar enchantments that point to his “aristocratic roots from the left.” He treated me with great attention, as though he would even offer his services whenever they might be useful to me.