My dear martyr, I cannot write, my heart is too full, I love you, we love you, thank you and bless you, and admire you—we kiss the wound on your forehead and your eyes full of suffering. See more
I cannot find words, but you know everything, and I know everything, distance changes our love—our souls are forever united, and through suffering we understand each other even more. All here are healthy, kiss you, bless you, and pray for you without end.
At six o'clock we heard a drosky driven at great speed over the cobbles, and as it came in sight we saw my uncle standing up and wildly waving the papers in his hand, "Free!" he called out. "Anna Alex- androvna, you are free !" The rest is confusion in my mind. There were laughter and sobs. People kissed and embraced me. I was In the drosky driving through Petrograd streets. I was In my uncle's house. The tea table was spread. It was like a dream. See more
After prison one gets used to freedom by slow de- grees. It seems strange at first to be allowed to move about freely, to go to church, to walk, to drive, to go wherever one desires, through woods, along leafy country roads. Not that I was entirely free to go where I liked.
Within a short time the cars stopped at the Detention House in the Furshkatskaya Ulitza, and I was, carried into the office of the commissioner. He was an officer, rather short in stature, but dignified and efficient. Offering me his hand, he asked me if I would be seated while he made out the necessary papers. See more
I had time to see that the House of Detention promised to be quite different from a prison. Indeed the soldiers of this house would not even permit the entrance of the fortress guards who had come with me. As if he divined that I was too weak to walk upstairs the commissioner gave orders that I was to be carried. It was into a large, light, clean room that they took me, and at my exclamation of joy at sight of windows the soldiers laughed heartily., But the doctor silenced them. "Go," he said, "see that her parents are telephoned, and send a woman to bathe and dress her. " His own arms lifted me from the chair on which I half sat, half lay. On a bed softer and cooler than even existed in my memory he laid me, said good night and gently left the room.
Three times, drunk soldiers burst into my chamber threatening to rape me and I escaped by a miracle. The first time I fell to my knees, holding the icon of the Virgin Mary to my chest, and begged them to spare me, for the sake of their mothers, and my elderly parents. They left. The second time, in my fear I threw myself against the wall, hammering and shouting. Ek. V. heard me and also shouted, until soldiers from some of the other corridors came running...The third time one sentry officer came. I pleaded with him tearfully and he spat at me and left.
Twice a day a soldier brought in a nauseous dish, a kind of soup made of the bones and skin of fish, none too fresh. Sometimes, if the soldier happened to be in an especially vicious mood, he spat in the soup before giving it to me, and more than once I found small pieces of glass among the bones. Yet so ravenous was my hunger that I actually swallowed enough of the vile stuff to keep myself alive. Only by holding my nose with my fingers was I able to get a few spoonfuls down my throat. What was left I was careful to pour into the filthy toilet, for I had been told that unless I ate what was given me I would be left to starve. See more
No food was allowed to be given the prisoners even when it was brought to the fortress by relatives and friends. When I begged the privilege of doing this myself the soldier replied: "A prisoner who works is not a prisoner at all." It was still very cold and when I lay down for the night I never removed my clothes. I had two woolen handkerchiefs, or rather, head kerchiefs, and one of these I tied over my head and the other wrapped around my shoulders for warmth. Usually I slept until about four o'clock when the bells of a church hard by broke into my slumbers. After that I tried to doze, but very soon came the tramp of boots on the stones of the corridors and the crash of wood which the soldiers brought in each day for their stoves, I always woke up shivering and my first move was towards a corner of my cell where the stones were dry and a little warm from the stove outside. Here I huddled and shook until the hot water and the black bread were thrust in.
My heart leaped and pounded in my breast and I clung desperately to my crutches lest I should fall into that unfathomed darkness. A few minutes of wild terror and then as my eyes grew ac- customed to the dark I saw ahead of me a narrow iron cot towards which I moved with infinite caution. In my progress towards the bed my feet sank into pools of stagnant water which covered the floor, and soon I perceived that the walls of the cell were also dripping with moisture. See more
The tiny window, high in the farthest wall, admitted little air, and the whole place was foul with dampness and the odor of years. It reeked with even worse smells as I quickly discovered, for close to the bed was an uncovered toilet connected with archaic plumbing. The bed was hard and lumpy and I do not think that the thin mattress had ever been cleaned or aired. However, that mattress was not to afflict me long. Within a few minutes my cell door was thrown open and several uniformed men entered. At their head was a black-bearded ruffian who told me that he was Koutzmine, representative of the Minister of Justice, and was authorized to arrange the regime of all prisoners. At his orders the soldiers tore from under me the ill-smelling mattress and the hard little pillow, leaving me only a rough bed of planks. Under his orders they tore off my rings and jerked loose a gold chain from which were suspended several precious relics. They hurt me and I cried out in protest, where- upon the soldiers spat at me, struck me with their fists and left, noisily clanging the iron door behind them. Wrapping my cloak around me, I crouched down on the bed shivering from head to foot and filled with such an agony of loathing and disgust and desolation that I thought I should die.
I saw the sailor Derevenko, who, lounging in an armchair, ordered the Heir to give him this or that. Alexei Nikolaevich ran around with sad and surprised eyes, fulfilling the orders. This Derevenko enjoyed the love of Their Majesties: for so many years they spoiled him and his family, showering them with gifts. I felt almost sick; I begged that they would rather take me away.
I have never witnessed – and, in all likelihood, will never witness again – a degree of moral forbearance as great as that exhibited by Her Majesty and her children. “You know, Anya,” said the Empress, “it’s all over for Russia now that the Emperor has abdicated, but we must condemn neither the Russian people nor the troops: the blame does not lie with them.” The Empress knew only too well who was responsible for this atrocity.
Half-asleep I saw my parents and my sister and remember overhearing their conversations with Her Majesty about some kind of riots.
Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich paid a visit to the Emperor and set about convincing him that the army was growing increasingly discontented at his prolonged absence from the Stavka (General Headquarters of the High Command). Following this conversation, the Emperor decided to take off, regarding discontent in the army as a sufficiently serious reason to hasten to the Stavka; at the same time, however, he and the Empress learned of further developments that outraged and disturbed them deeply.
The Emperor informed me that he’d been told by a trustworthy source that the British ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, was playing an active role in the intrigues against Their Majesties, and that he and the Grand Dukes were all but holding meetings on the subject at the embassy. The Emperor spoke of his intention to send a telegram to King George and ask him to forbid the British ambassador from interfering in the domestic politics of Russia; he perceived in all this a desire on the part of Britain to foment revolution in our country, and thereby to leave it in a weaker position once we get to peace negotiations. But as for requesting that Buchanan be recalled, this, in His Majesty’s words, “would be too severe a move”.
All has been quiet on the front since mid-December, and the Tsar has felt his presence at headquarters to be superfluous. Each day he has received news over the direct line in the evening. The Tsar’s snooker room is full of military maps, so that no one, not the children, not the servants and not even the Empress, has dared enter for fear of disturbing them. The keys were last seen with the Tsar. The recent snowstorms and the danger they represent to the supply question in the capital have given Their Majesties great cause for concern.
At around 4 I went for a walk with father. It is cold, -12 degrees, and it is snowing. At 5 we four went together to Anna’s for her name day.