I returned home completely without effort, and my poor little baby Chi-fu felt worse and could not recover herself for a long time, an unhappy dog. Good news was also coming from the front, our troops switched to a victorious offensive, took 10,000 prisoners.
The commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Kolchak, has departed for St. Petersburg in order to petition the American government for acceptance into the U.S. Navy as a volunteer. Kolchak endeavored till the final hour to maintain discipline in the fleet, but the Council’s promises seemed more attractive to his subordinates. See more
The admiral could not have given more than the Sevastopol Council’s representatives had promised: to have all the money that was found in Crimean banks shared among the sailors. In a striking gesture, he broke the golden cutlass that had been awarded him for his bravery, tossed it into the waves of the sea in view of the whole squadron, and walked away.
У нашего комиссара было никогда не оставлявшее его испуганно-озлобленное выражение лица. Постоянно оглядываясь на своих терроризовавших его помощников, он в обращении с нами старательно подражал их революционной резкости. В апреле месяце он титуловал меня «бывшим великим князем Александром», в мае я превратился в «адмирала Романова», к июню я уже стал просто «гражданином Романовым». Всякий намек на протест с моей стороны сделал бы его счастливым.
We completed our journey in the company of a convoy of sailors. When we arrived in Ay-Todor, we were presented with a list of all the things we were not supposed to do by a gentleman with the grand-sounding title “Special Commissar for the Provisional Government”. We were under house arrest and only allowed to move freely within the Ay-Todor-estate, in the few acres between the mountains and the seashore. See more
The commissar was a representative of the Provisional Government, while the sailors were acting on the authority of the local Soviet. These two representatives of revolutionary power were at constant loggerheads with one another. The sailors didn’t trust the commissar, and the commissar looked in horror at the hand-grenades in the belts of the revolutionary sailors. The Provisional Government commissar, who had been a member of the State Duma, and was from a wealthy family, was hoping that the revolutionary storm would soon blow over, the country would go back to normal, and power would remain in the hands of those with similar views to himself. Like all the irresponsible liberals of that time, he had ended up stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, so to speak. With his deep insincerity, he did not for a moment deceive the cynical sailors. They did not conceal their contempt for him, and refused to obey his orders and even refused to stand up when he appeared.
In all likelihood, some of our good friends, touched by our situation, managed to influence the Provisional Government and as a result we were visited by a commissioner, who gave us the order to immediately go to Crimea. The local council fully approved this plan, because it believed that the “presence of enemies of the people so close to the front is a great danger for revolutionary Russia.” See more
We almost had to carry the Empress to the station. She fought until the last minute, wanting to stay and stating that she would rather be arrested and thrown into prison.
There are rumors that the Emperor Nicholas II and all the royal family are to be sent to Siberia, despite the fact that in March he was given guarantees that he would have the right to choose between whether to reside in England or Crimea. Kerensky, the only socialist in the ranks of the Provisional Government, has told his intimates that Lloyd George has ruled out the former Tsar’s being allowed to enter England.
All these freedoms are all very well, but meanwhile we, for some reason, are obliged to suffer more than any other citizens. It seems we are heading, rapidly and irrevocably, towards a republican regime. I fear that we are not ready for this, and Russia will fall apart. Already, Ukraine wishes to become an independent republic. And above all, the Yids will now gain a great deal of power, as we’ve already seen in Kiev, but if they continue in this way, a pogrom is inevitable, and they are terribly afraid of this.
On the banners, which were carried by demonstrators in Kiev, who were full of revolutionary enthusiasm, with clear letters were written new political slogans:
“We demand an immediate peace!”
“We demand the return of our husbands and sons from the front!”
“Down with the government of capitalists!”
“We need peace, not bloodshed!”
“We demand an independant Ukraine.”
During the first two weeks everything went admirably. Merging with the crowd, we walked through the streets, and observed the triumphant demonstrations which have been organised to celebrate the country’s newly-acquired freedom. The days are filled with endless meetings, and countless orators are promising peace, triumph and freedom. It’s difficult to work out how this will all conclude, but, of course, one should never forget the Russian love of lofty rhetoric. People stop me on the street, shake my hand and say that my liberal views are well known. Officers and soldiers who meet me salute, although the practice of saluting, under the much-vaunted Order No. 1, has been revoked.
Everything seems to be very fine.
General Alexeev asks us to assemble in the main hall of the Mogilev headquarters. Nicky wants to address his former general staff with a farewell speech. By 11 o'clock the hall is full: generals, staff and company officers, and people from the retinue. Nicky enters, calm, composed, with something akin to a smile on his lips. He thanks his general staff and asks everyone to continue their work "with the same assiduousness and self-sacrifice." See more
He asks everyone to forget feuds and to faithfully and truthfully serve Russia and to lead our army to victory. Then he says his farewell words in short, military phrases, avoiding passionate words. His modesty strongly impresses everyone present. We yell "hurrah" as we have never yelled in the last 23 years. Old generals are crying.
Summoned into their presence, I found Maria Fyodorovna weeping uncontrollably in her seat; he, meanwhile, was on his feet, stock-still, gaze fixed on the floor, cigarette (naturally) in hand. We embraced. I didn’t know what service I could render him. His calmness testified to the fact that he was firmly convinced of the rectitude of his decision, although he did reproach his brother Mikhail Alexandrovich for leaving Russia without an Emperor when he refused the throne. See more
“Misha shouldn’t have done that,” he concluded sententiously. “I wonder who could have possibly given him such an odd piece of advice.”
This remark, coming from a man who’d just surrendered one-sixth of the world’s landmass to a handful of undisciplined soldiers and striking workers, robbed me of the power of speech.
I telegraphed Nicky and put himself at his complete disposal. At the same time, I called my brother Sergei Mikhailovich on the phone. His voice sounded very worried:
“The situation in Petrograd is getting worse and worse,” he nervously said. “Street clashes continue, and you can expect the troops to go over to the rebels at any moment."
“But what about cavalry guard? Can you also not rely on them?"
“There’s something weird and mysterious about way the order of their dispatch to St. Petersburg was canceled. The cavalry guard didn’t think to quit the front."
The bread queues in Petrograd have been getting longer and longer, although the wheat and rye has been rotting all along the Great Siberian Railroad and in the south west regions. The city garrison, which consisted of new recruits and reserves was not, of course, a reliable enough force to maintain order in the event of serious disturbances. I asked the military command if they were planning to bring more dependable regiments back from the front line. I received the reply that thirteen guard cavalry regiments were expected to come from the front shortly.
I finally got an invitation from Alix for breakfast in Tsarskoe Selo. Those breakfasts! It seems half a year of my life has been lost at breakfast in Tsarskoye Selo!
Alix was in bed and promised to see me as soon as I was done eating. There were eight of us at the table: Nicky, myself, the Heir, the Emperor’s four daughters and an aide-de-camp. They were all in good spirits and completely ignorant of political events. See more
We drank coffee in the violet parlor. Nicky went into the adjoining bedroom to inform Alix of my arrival. I briskly went in. Alix was lying in bed in a white lace peignoir. Her beautiful face was serious, and it didn’t suggest anything good. I realized that she suffered from the attacks. This upset me. After all, I was there to help, not harm. I also didn’t like how Nicky looked as he sat on the wide bed. In my letter to Alix, I stressed the words: "I want to see you completely alone so we can talk face to face." It was uncomfortably difficult to rebuke her for dragging her husband into the abyss in front of him.
I kissed her hand, and her lips barely touched my cheek. It was the coldest greeting she’s ever given me since the first day we met in 1893. I took a chair, pulled it close to the bed and sat opposite the wall covered with countless icons illuminated by blue and red lamps.
I started by pointing to an icon and I said that I will speak bluntly to Alix. I briefly described the general political situation, and stressed the fact that the revolutionary propaganda has penetrated into the very heart of the population and that they accepted all the slander and gossip as truth.
She sharply interrupted me:
— It’s not true! The people are still loyal to the Tsar. (She turned to Nicky). – Only the traitors in the Duma and in Petrograd society are my and his enemies.
I agreed that she was half right.
— There is nothing more dangerous than half-truths, Alix, — I said looking her straight in the face. — The nation is faithful to the Tsar, but the nation resents the influence Rasputin had. Nobody knows better than me how much you love Nicky, but I still have to admit that your intervention in state affairs brings harm to Nicky’s prestige and to autocracy as a popular idea. Alix, I have been your true friend for twenty-four years. I still am your loyal friend, and as such I want you to understand that all classes of people in Russia are hostile to your policy. You have a wonderful family. Why don’t you focus your worries on that and give your soul peace and harmony? Leave the affairs of the state to your husband!
She became incensed and looked at Nicky. He said nothing and continued to smoke.
I continued. I explained that, no matter how much I was an enemy of the parliamentary form of government in Russia, I was convinced that at this dangerous moment if the Emperor formed a government acceptable to the State Duma, then this action would reduce Nicky’s responsibility and make things easier for him
— For God's sake, Alix, don’t let your infuriation at the State Duma prevail over common sense. A radical change in policy would alleviate the people's anger. Don’t let that anger explode.
She smiled with contempt.
— Everything you say is ridiculous! Nicky is the Autocrat! How can he share what is his divine right with anyone?
— You're wrong, Alix. Your husband stopped being Autocrat on October 17, 1905. Then was the time to think about his “divine right.” Now –alas — it’s too late! Perhaps after two months there won’t be anything left to reminds us of the autocrats, who have sat on the throne of our ancestors.
She muttered something and then suddenly raised her voice. I followed her example. It seemed to me that I needed to change my manner of speaking.
— Don’t forget, Alix, I was quiet for thirty months. — I shouted in a terrible rage — I didn’t say a word for thirty months about what was going on in our government, or, more correctly, your government. I see that you’re willing to die with your husband, but don’t forget about us! Do we all have to suffer because of your blind foolhardiness? You have no right to drag your relatives into the abyss.
— I refuse to continue this debate, — she said coldly. — You exaggerate the danger. You will see that I’m right after you calm down.
I got up, kissed her hand, and I didn’t receive the usual kiss in response, and left.
Mikhail Alexandrovich and I spoke to his Majesty again. It was a waste of time. When it was my turn to speak I was so agitated I could not a say a word.
“Thank you, Sandro, for the letter you brought me from Kiev” – this was the only reply his Majesty gave to my many pages of advice.