It was a moment of hesitation for Ilich. He laid out the arguments for the necessity of going to court. “Grigory and I have decided to go to court. Go and let Kamenev know”, Ilich said to me. At this moment Kamenev was in a nearby flat. I was hurrying out the door when Vladimir Ilich stopped me: “Let us say our farewells; it may be that we will not see each other again”. See more
We embraced. I went to Kamenev and gave him Vladimir Ilich’s instructions. In the evening comrade Stalin and others persuaded Ilich not to go to court and by so doing saved his life. In the evening our flat we were searched, but only in our room. The search was performed by some kind of colonel and another military type in an overcoat with a white inner lining. They took a few notes from the the desk, together with some of my documents. They asked whether I knew where Ilich was, from which I concluded that he had not presented himself to the authorities.
I was close to the youth work. The youth were grouped into the union “Light and Knowledge”, and were developing their program. Among the boys were Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, anarchists and non-partisans. The program is archaic and primitive, but the controversy surrounding it is very interesting. For example, one of the points held that everyone should learn how to sew. See more
Then, one lad - a Bolshevik – remarked: “Why should everyone learn to sew? Of course, girls need to know how, as her husband won’t be able to sew a button to his trousers, but why should everyone learn?!” These words brought on a storm of indignation. Not only the girls, but all the boys were indignant, leaping from their seats: “It’s the wife that should sew the button to the trousers? What are you on about? Do you want to support the old female slavery? A wife is her husband’s comrade, not his servant!” The boy whose idea it was that only women should learn to sew was forced to surrender.
Ilyich addresses the First All-Russia Congress of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. In the hall, full of people, the Bolsheviks were sitting in the back, in a small group. Only the Bolsheviks applauded during Ilyich’s speech, but it was apparent that it created a strong impression. Someone said afterwards that Kerensky, after this address, was unconscious for three hours. I don’t know how close this was to the truth.
Went to a Central Committee hearing. Got to know the crowd a bit better from up close, observed the Petersburg Committee at work. I also found myself very interested in the adolescents, the working youth. Those kids are all caught up in the movement. Among them were supporters of a range of different parties—Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, SRs and anarchists. See more
The organization has drawn in up to 50 thousand young people, but at first, their movement was rather directionless. I worked with them a bit at one point. The high school students provided a stark contrast to the working youth. They would often march up in a crowd to Kshesinskaya’s house and scream various obscenities at the Bolsheviks’ address. It was clear that someone has been working on them very effectively.
I was more and more burdened by my work in the secretariat. I wanted to go to direct mass work. I also wanted to see Ilyich more often, for whom I was becoming increasingly and greater alarmed for. He was being persecuted more and more. You walk in Petersburg and hear some housewives talking: “And what should we do about this Lenin, who came from Germany? Should be drown him in a well." Of course it was clear where all this talk about bribery and betrayal was coming from, but it was not fun to listen to it. It’s one thing when a bourgeoisie speaks, and it’s another matter when the masses speak.
The All-Russian April conference was held. 151 delegated attended it, a new Central Committee was elected during the conference, important questions were discussed - about the current situation, about the war, about the preparation of the Third International, about the national situation, the agrarian situation, and the party program. I particularly remember Ilyich’s speech about the current situation. See more
In this speech the attitude of Ilyich to the masses was particularly striking, as he carefully looked at how the masses lived, what they were experiencing. Not only among the proletariat, but also among the broad sections of the petty bourgeoisie, one must be able to conduct explanatory work, Ilyich said.
The masses have organised a demonstration on Nevsky Prospekt. Supporters of the Provisional Government have also organised a demonstration on Nevsky. This turn of events has rallied the Bolsheviks. Resolutions in the spirit of Lenin were passed by the Petrograd Bolshevik organisation.
There was a large demonstration coming from the opposite bank of the Neva. The working working public greeted it, filling the sidewalks. There was another crowd approaching the workers's demonstration, in bowler hats and fedoras; they were greeted from the sidewalk by bowler hats and fedoras. See more
Closer towards the opposite Neva bank there were mostly workers, closer to the Morskaya, next to Politseiskii bridge, the bowler hats predominated. In this crowd, by word of mouth, they were telling how Lenin, using German gold, bribed the workers, who now all supported him. "We need to smash Lenin!" cried some fashionably dressed girl.
Lenin's theses were printed in Pravda. This was followed the next day by an article in Pravda by Kamenev "Our Disagreements," in which he dissociated himself from these theses. Kamenev's article stated that they were the expression of Lenin's private views, which neither Pravda nor the Bureau of the Central Committee shared. It was not these theses of Lenin's that the Bolshevik delegates had accepted, but those of the Central Committee Bureau, Kamenev alleged. Pravda stood on its former positions, he declared. See more
The bourgeois and Oborontsi newspapers have started a furious hounding campaign against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Kamenev's opinion meant nothing – everyone knew that Lenin's point of view would win the backing of the Bolshevik organization. The campaign against Lenin was the most effective way of popularizing his theses. Lenin had called the war an imperialist war of plunder, and everyone saw that he stood for peace in real earnest. This stirred the sailors and soldiers, stirred all those for whom the war was a life-and-death issue.
Ilich had barely woken when his comrades came to take him to a meeting of the Bolshevik members of the All-Russian Conference of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. The conference was being held in the Tauride Palace, somewhere in the upper floors. Lenin has summarized his views on what needs to be done in ten theses. In these theses he has assessed the current situation and given a clear and precise summary of the aims we should be reaching for and the paths we should take to achieve them. The other party members fell rapidly into confusion. See more
To many it seemed that Ilich’s conclusions were too extreme, and that it was premature to speak of a socialist revolution.
All my thoughts were in Russia. We crossed the border in little Finnish sleighs. And now everything became dear and familiar – the ramshackle old third-class carriages, the Russian soldiers. Awfully lovely. It wasn’t long before Robert found himself in the arms of an elderly soldier: clasping him round the neck, he jabbered away to him in French and ate the sweet Easter cream-cheese that the soldier was feeding him. See more
We all pressed up close to the windows. The platforms of the stations we passed through were thick with soldiers. Leaning out of the window, Usievich shouted: “Long live the world revolution!” The soldiers stared at us, incredulous.
A pale-faced lieutenant walked past us several times, and when Ilyich and I moved into the neighbouring carriage, which was empty, he took a seat next to Ilyich and started up a conversation with him. The lieutenant was a defencist; Ilyich – terribly pale himself – defended his point of view. Meanwhile, the carriage gradually filled up with soldiers until it was full to bursting. They stood on their seats, the better to see and hear the man who was making such a coherent case against the predatory war. Their listened with growing attention, their expressions becoming ever tenser.
The Germans kept up a constant charade of abundance; the cook served us the most filling meals, which our fraternity, in its emigration, had long forgotten. As we looked out of the windows of our compartment, we were struck by the total lack of adult men: only women, teenagers and children were visible at the stations, in the fields, and on the streets.
From the very first minutes, as soon as the news of the February Revolution came, Ilyich began to rush to Russia. It is necessary to go illegally, there are no legal ways. But how?Ilyich couldn’t sleep from the moment the news of the revolution came, and at night the most improbable of his plans were built. You can fly on an airplane. But this could only be conjured up in a sleepless, hallucinating state of mind. When it was said out loud, the impossibility, the unreality of this plan became clear. It is necessary to get a passport of some foreigner from a neutral country, a Swede is the best: a Swede will cause less suspicion. See more
A Swedish passport can be obtained through Swedish comrades, but not knowing the language can interfere with the plan. Perhaps, the Swede can be mute? But its it’s easy to slip up. “You will fall asleep, see Mensheviks in a dream and start swearing: bastards, bastards! And so the conspiracy will be lost,” I laughed.
Ilyich has not slept for days. This night he said: “You know, I can go with a passport of a mute Swede”. I laughed. “It is not going to work; you might start speaking in your sleep. If you dream of cadets, you will start mumbling: bastards, bastards. Everyone will find out that you are not a Swede.” In any case, the plan of travelling with a passport of some mute Swede was more realistic than flying over in some aeroplane. Ilyich wrote about his plan to Ganetsky in Sweden.
When Ilyich was about to head off to the library and I’d finished clearing away the dishes, Bronski came in, saying, “What, you don’t know what’s happened?! There’s a revolution in Russia!” And he told us about the latest reports published in the special editions of the newspapers. After he’d left, we went down to the lake, on whose shore all the newspapers were posted up as soon as they came out. We read the reports several times. A revolution really had happened in Russia. Ilych was all activity. See more
He asked Bronski to find out whether it might be possible to get back to Russia through Germany with the help of a smuggler. The journey could be made by plane – no big deal that the plane could be downed. But where to find the magic aeroplane that could transport us to revolution-making Russia?