I am tired, it’s late. Different people. Was busy with different things. Zenzinov came to visit. In the entryway, I did not fail to show him some clippings from “People Affairs” with its obviously mendacious words about Savinkov. He made excuses that in the report the words were misreported. See more
But I did not relent.
Rumours…Freezing weather, -20 degrees.
Also participating: Kaledin, Denikin, Milyukov, KornilovCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917, Trubetskoy, Struve, Savinkov.
At nine o’clock we were told that a commissar of Kerensky’s called Kuzmin had come with a convoy of ten men and wanted to speak to us. Kuzmin took three papers out of his pocket which he read to us, one after the other. They said that in view of the possible disturbances, and because of the approach of KornilovCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917, with the aim of restoring the monarchy, the Provisional Government thought it necessary to put (there followed each of our names) under house arrest and that the garrison at Tsarksoe Selo was charged with guarding us. See more
The Grand Duke took the paper and looked at the signature “Governor General of Petrograd, Boris Savnikov.” So that wretched creature who ordered the killing of the Grand Duke’s brother has now turned on the Grand Duke himself and on his family.
I came to the Winter Palace to a session of the Provisional Government in order to defend a bill on the death penalty behind the front line. Without a word, Kerensky held out a piece of paper covered in writing to me. I read it and could not believe my eyes. The gist of it was that the Commander-in-Chief is ordering the immediate transfer of complete military and civil authority to him. The signature of V Lvov was beneath this ultimatum. I advised Kerensky to come to an arrangement with Gen. KornilovCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917.
According to Gorky, who had just arrived in Koktebel, the issue of the death penalty emerged, with Savinkov calling for its introduction in the rear and Kerensky expressing a desire to abolish executions once again. But, given that the introduction of the death penalty is essentially the abolition of lynch law (i.e., the selfsame death penalty, meted out for what are essentially insignificant instances of misconduct), it will undoubtedly be introduced sooner or later; the most terrible thing about revolutions is sensitivity: it always ends up yielding the bloodiest fruits. See more
When the death penalty was being abolished, I said: fine, this is certainly the first gesture that needed to be made, but, alas, it does mean that the Russian revolution will be very bloody. I said this even as everyone was boasting about the “bloodlessness” of the Russian revolution. The least cruel are those who kill out of necessity and for the good of the endeavour, without any thought of justice and retribution. I believe that, of the two generative forces, Kerensky possesses only faith, but that he lacks a sufficiently profound contempt, and that he’s approaching the limit of his capacities...
Kerensky has certainly lost all sense of understanding. He is under cross influences. He opens himself almost to anything, almost like a woman. His domestic ways have also corrupted him. He has established (and he lives in the Winter Palace!) “court” orders, which adhere to miserable philistinism, parvenu. He has never been clever, but it seems that even ingenious intuition has abandoned him when festive, honey-feasting days have passed, and were replaced by severe (oh, how severe!) weekdays. See more
And he has become intoxicated… not from power, but from “success” in a Chaliapin manner. And then there’s the feeling that he is “going down”. He does not see people. Suppose he did not have this before, and now he is completely blind (now that he needs to choose people!). He even took Savinkov for a “faithful servant both in body and in soul” - only. Just like a “servant”, he took him away, hastily - away from the front. (It seems that they were together during the June offensive). And he became agitated, worried when he noticed that Savinkov was not without a keenness… He began to suspect him… of what?
Boris Savinkov has visited us. He was sober and healthy. Our situation as he sketched out for us is dire. Here it is in brief: we are to expect territorial losses. In the north, Riga and further, up to Narva; in the south, Moldova and Bessarabia. See more
Complete internal economic and political collapse. Every minute is crucial, as each minute is closer to the last. A state of military emergency must be declared throughout Russia.
KornilovCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917 is expected to arrive the day after tomorrow from Central Headquarters. He and Savinkov will present Kerensky with a proposal to introduce serious measures. Crisis talks are expected to take place in Moscow in a few days, and members of the government cannot arrive empty-handed. They must come with a detailed plan of steps to be taken and real authority. The matter in hand is, of course, clear and unavoidable, but what is going on? Where is Kerensky? What has happened? Has Kerensky been replaced, did we not see him earlier? Has the understanding in him grown that he can no longer balk from the necessity of “taking power”? I cannot see. I must find out more. That Kerensky is afraid of something is a fact, but of what? Of whom?
Letter to the Foreign Ministry
"Kerensky has formed a Government composed of six Socialist and eight non-Socialist members. Five of the latter belong to the Cadet party. Aksentieff, the president of the Council of Peasants, becomes Minister of the Interior, and Savenkoff, the former Terrorist, vice-Minister of War. KorniloffCommander in Chief of the Petrograd command - from 18 March 1917 is appointed Commander-in-Chief."
I’m lying face down on the grass. The grass is damp, still wet from the noisy midday rain. An ant is working exhaustedly right in front of my eyes. He drags a straw—it’s an unbearable burden. I examine him curiously. And him, and his straw, and the green stems of the grass, and the lumps of dried mud. All with curiosity. When I once expected a violent death, I skimmed “Niva.” with curiosity Is it because you read the Niva and follow an insignificant ant at these moments, that there’s no courage, no calm composure to understand to the end and measure of what we call death? See more
There, far beyond the bluish hill, where the birch trees stretch along the slope, are the enemy's trenches. I don’t dare look. I know that now a blast will be heard and, after it, almost at the same instant, the air will howl and clang, and as everything approaches, sounds will ring high in the sky - the sound of whistling shrapnel. And then again the rumble, again a heavy blast, and already the evil spirit is ringing and howling again. Evil spirit? . . .Yes if a person is really deserving, can and must he lie on the wet grass, prone, almost unconscious? Yes, if a person is really worthy, can and must he hear this ferocious howl? But if life is automatically given to someone, someone invisible, and someone infinitely alien has robbed them of it, how can I take this ant’s life, and in taking it, not even regret it, or even remember? Every living person is a real trifle . . .
On July 29th Kerensky presided at a conference at G.H.Q., which was also attended by Tereshchenko and General Alexyeev; by General Brusilov and his Chief of Staff, General Lukhomski; by Generals Ruzski and Klembovski, former and present Com- manders-in-Chief of the Northern Front; by General Denikin, then Commander-in-Chief of the Western Front; and by Savinkov, Commissary of the South-West Front. See more
General Denikin spoke out as a brave and experienced soldier, demanding the abolition of all elected committees in the army and the restoration of all authority and disciplinary power to officers. He seems to have been only half-heartedly supported by his comrades, and no definite decision was reached.
Our soldiers are in the city. They are not looting, though they are helping themselves to barrels of wine. Yesterday they showed great valour in storming Kalush, but today they drink like serfs. There are not too many of them, but the streets reek of spirit, shards of glass from shattered bottles litter the pavements, and the soldiers, dead-drunk and asleep with their rifles still in their hands, lie next to the rubbish.
The air in Petrograd is toxic with the fumes of words and the fog of anarchic thought. How easy it is to be a demagogue. How easy it is to whip up the crowd. Leaving Petrograd you realize the danger, the shame, the sadness and madness of it all. One must be brave; one must keep one’s faith.