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Project 1917 is a series of events that took place a hundred years ago as described by those involved. It is composed only of diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers and other documents

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

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

It seemed to me that now the Empress had no longer any need for my presence, after I had helped her contact Kerensky. He will protect her without my assistance.

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.

After taking up the post of Minister, the first order of Kerensky was that senior military chiefs do not have the right, under any circumstances, to leave their post or request dismissal or resignation. It was clear to me that this order was directed against me.

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.

Guchkov left, Kerensky became the new war minister. With this appointment a new step was made towards the destruction of the army, to please the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.

is a War and Navy minister
The Government has taken in five socialists. Kerenski is Minister of War. I went to the official residence of the Minister of War— 67, Moika—this morning, and was there before Kerenski arrived. He took me into his room and introduced me to his assistants, Colonel Yakubovich and Prince Tumanov.He will leave for the South-West Front in five or six days, “ when he has restored order here." Hope that springs eternal! I told him I was glad of his appointment, for I considered him to be the only man who could save Russia. 
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Instead of Guchkov stands Kerensky himself. He is much more like it. One hand freed from behind his back. Now he can raise his voice.

Milyukov is resigning. His place has been taken by Tereschenko, and Kerensky has replaced Guchkova as War Minister. The ministry has been expanded by the addition of two socialists. A new current to the sea of senselessness and madness in which we are drowning.

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

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

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

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.  

Age: 36
Lives in: Petrograd, Russian Empire
Occupation: politician


in Petrograd
in Moscow