Pay attention to Kerensky’s absence from the council and from the advertisements created by the bourgeois press in his name: is the press using Kerensky in the interests of Russian Bonapartism? And what is Kerensky himself doing? He makes these great speeches while at the same time allowing the commander-in-chief Alexeev to deal the Provisional Government a slap in the face by declaring the utopian slogan “without annexation and indemnities”.
How well I remember his first visit to Moscow. It was,
I think, soon after he had been made Minister for War. He had just returned from a visit to the front. He spoke in the Big Theatre – the platform on which, later, the Bolsheviks ratified the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. Kerensky, however, was the first politician to speak from that famous stage which has given to the world Chaliapin, Sobinoff, Geltzer, Mordkin, and scores of other famous dancers and singers. On this occasion the huge amphitheatre was packed from top to bottom. In Moscow the embers of Russian patriotism were still warm, and Kerensky had come to stir them into flame again. Generals, high officials, bankers, great industrialists, merchants, accompanied by their wives, occupied the parterre and first balcony boxes. On the stage were the representatives of the Soldiers' Councils. A small pulpit had been erected in the foreground of the stage just above the prompter's trap-door. There was the usual ten minutes' delay, the customary rumours among the audience. Alexander Feodorovitch was ill. A new crisis had recalled him to St. Petersburg. Then the buzz of conversation gave place to a burst of clapping, and from the wings the pale figure of the War Minister made its way to the central dais. The audience rose to him. Kerensky held up his hand and plunged straight into his speech. He looked ill and tired. He drew himself up to his full height, as if calling up his last reserves of energy. Then, with an ever-increasing flow of words, he began to expound his gospel of suffering. Nothing that was worth having could be achieved without suffering. Man himself was born into this world in suffering. The greatest of all revolutions in history had begun on the Cross of Calvary.
Was it to be supposed that their own revolution was to be consolidated without suffering? They had a legacy of appalling difficulties left to them by the Tsarist régime: disorganised transport, lack of bread, lack of fuel. Yet the Russian people knew how to suffer. He had just returned from the trenches. He had seen men who had been living for months on end with mud and water up to their knees. Lice crawled over them. For days they had had nothing but a crust of black bread for sustenance. They were without the proper equipment for their self-defence They had not seen their women-folk for months. Yet they made no complaint. They had promised to do their duty to the end. It was only in St. Petersburg and in Moscow that he heard grumbling. And from whom? From the rich, from those who, in their silks and
ornaments of gold, came here today to listen to him in comfort. He raised his eyes to the balcony boxes, while with fierce staccato sentences he lashed himself into a passion. Were they to bring Russia down in ruins, to be guilty of the most shameful betrayal in history, while the poor and the humble, who had every reason to complain, were still holding out? He was ashamed at the apathy of the big cities. What had they done to be tired? Could they not watch a little longer? He had come to Moscow for a message for the men in the trenches. Was he to go back and say that their effort was in vain because "the heart of Russia" was now peopled by men of little faith?
As he finished his peroration, he sank back exhausted into the arms of his aide-de-camp. In the limelight his face had the pallor of death. Soldiers assisted him off the stage, while in a frenzy of hysteria the whole audience rose and cheered itself hoarse. The man with one kidney – the man who had only six weeks to live – would save Russia yet. A millionaire's wife threw her pearl necklace on to the stage. Every woman present followed her example, and a hail of jewellery descended from every tier of the huge house. In the box next to me, General Wogak, a man who had served the Tsar all his life and who hated the revolution as the pest, wept like a child. It was an epic performance…
The speech had lasted for two hours. Its effect on Moscow and on the rest of Russia lasted exactly two days.
The old power has been destroyed, and the people now in power have never touched the royal robes. This power will bring an end to the war with honour and dignity for the free state. Is this greater good not worth forgetting about one’s personal benefit?
I drove up to the first detachment; the staff and the chief ran out of the tent to meet me: “Please, let us go to the rally. Kerensky is speaking. It’s really close, only just over three kilometres from here, he’s going to speak!”
I too wanted to hear him, so we all jumped into the car and drove off. We were too late. Kerensky had already spoken. See more
A huge crowd of soldiers had gathered. On a high platform, a thin man of about average height in a soldier’s overcoat was screaming something hoarsely, which was difficult to make out. It didn’t seem as though there was any clarity or conviction in his speech or in his appeals to unite in order to save Russia.
When we returned to our detachment and the doctors were enthusiastically exchanging words and admiring Kerensky’s speech, I was silent. I felt a bit uneasy. “Do they really believe that this man can save Russia?” I thought.
I travelled to Helsingfors and Sveaborg. Not far from these two ports, our “large” navy (of dreadnoughts, frigates and cruisers) stood anchored in the Gulf of Finland. I spent two days there, attending many meetings, both public and behind closed doors. At the public meetings I was often openly attacked by Bolsheviks; during the private meetings I was given to hear very harsh criticism from a number of officers, whose lives, watched over by the vigilant eyes of the sailors’ committees, have descended into utter nightmare. See more
However, more generally both the officers and sailors were well inclined towards each other. At one of the meetings a far-left orator announced that, should the situation demand it, the Baltic Fleet will fulfill its duty and block the enemy’s road to the capital. These were brave words, sadly corresponding little with the reality of our capabilities. I returned to Helsingfors with a heavy heart, forced to admit to myself that the Baltic Fleet has been thoroughly embedded with German spies and Lenin’s agents.
The Fatherland is in peril, and each of us must defend it with every ounce of our strength, regardless of how difficult that might be. At this point in time I will not accept notices of resignation from members of the high command who wish to neglect their duty. Those who have already decided to leave the ranks of the army and the navy (deserters) must return by the date set (28th May).
Those who defy this order will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Mumble away! Agree all the words! Dot the 'i's and cross the 't's. If you need a dictatorship to save Russia - deliver one. And if Kerensky orders to hang me first for the sake of order, I will say hang me! If that is what is needed.
Comrades, for 10 years you have endured and kept silent. You knew how to perform the duties that the old hated regime imposed on you. You knew how to shoot people when the regime demanded so. Why don’t you have patience now? Is the Russian free state the state of rebellious slaves?
After thinking in my quiet office in the Ministry of Justice, I first considered it impossible for me to stop participating in the government’s main political decisions. The political situation inside the government coalition was so unstable that it was impossible to let things go on their own. Coming to this conclusion, I was reaching for the phone, intending to report my refusal, but then I suddenly realized the work in front of me, the government, Russia, if we enact a "truce." See more
The Russian front has completely collapsed in the last two or three months. Hindenburg-Ludendorff’s “General Plan” will be successful in the west, and Russia will be dominated by German pretenders for world domination. This can’t be allowed at any cost! No one in Russia is going to sign a separate peace with Germany. Russia can’t tolerate the defeat of its allies because it shares a common destiny with them. Hindenburg's plans must be thwarted, and for this it is necessary to resume military operations on the Russian front.
After several hours of difficult personal turmoil, I finally concluded that the government, the High Command and myself have no alternative, and called Lvov to inform him that I would accept the post offered to me.
Milyukov and Shingaryev went to the front. While they were gone, a Provisional Government meeting was unexpectedly called late one evening in Prince Lvov's apartment. Kerensky and Tereshchenko took it upon themselves to sharply attack the point about the Straits and Milyukov’s entire role in the Provisional Government. I was the only one to stand up for him. See more
The rest were silent or criticized Miliukov, his policy, and the question of the Straits was given no support. It was suggested that we should remove Miliukov. True, he heads a large social group. You can’t just throw him out. It was said that Milyukov could be given the Ministry of Education, but everyone supported the decision to remove him from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I saw that the Provisional Government was descending into demagoguery, and I finally concluded that the only way out was to finally break the great compromise and go to battle, even with harsh measures. I then returned home and wrote Lvov a letter.
I wrote him that I couldn’t take any further part, nor could I share responsibility for the country’s disintegration, what is now happening and doesn’t meet any opposition in the Provisional Government. I asked to be considered relieved from my post. Then, in order to prevent any attempts to convince me otherwise, or make any impossible attempts on their part, I sent this letter to Lvov and a copy to the editors of the New Times with a request to print.
How are things in the Black Sea?
The commandant came. He understands all my reasons for wanting to leave and approves the letter to Kerensky but he is very anxious for me not to take this step. He thinks that Kerensky will refuse. At such a critical and dangerous moment, the fact of my leaving will be exploited, misinterpreted, and will result in more unrest. See more
If this is really the case, I would reproach myself for the rest of my life for adding another drop to that cup of hatred which might cause it to overflow. I have decided to stay and await further instructions.
We all agreed that the foreign ministry should be given to someone who is more capable of showing flexibility in his conduct of the state’s foreign policy. I threatened to leave the cabinet, should Miliukov not be transferred to the post of education minister. I followed this with a demand that representatives of the socialist parties be immediately brought into the government. The crisis in the cabinet reached its zenith when Miliukov refused to accept the portfolio of the education ministry and resigned in protest.