It's the anniversary of the Revolution, and we're on Red Square.
After the premiere of the Russian ballet several people wrote to me, asking what is the meaning of the red flag at the end of 'The Firebird'. In contemporary Russia the red flag is an emblem of those who believe that the prosperity of the entire world depends on the freedom of its peoples, achieved only through a victorious struggle.
Today the workers are celebrating their holiday. Going by the new calendar this takes place on 1 May. In the city there were demonstrations. It is the first time it has been celebrated freely in Russia. The weather is damp and snowy. I went to the woods.
May 1 was celebrated in a new style - there were no cabmen anywhere, there were no cabs, no trams were running. The street, which was flooded with bright sunlight, was crowded with people. There were processions with red flags, among which were blue Jewish and black anarchist flags. See more
We visited the countryside, where it was warm and green, and only by six o’clock we were able to go to the restaurant for dinner.
Comrades, workers and soldiers! Today, I am sure, the bright holiday of May 1 is again celebrated by the majority of workers of all countries. The workers no longer listen to their capitalists anymore, to their robbers and wilhemls, their Lloyd George ministers. See more
Today is a holiday of socialism, comrades! You made a great feat, you realised a dream for which whole generations of revolutionaries gave their lives: you achieved political freedom, you locked up Nikolai the Bloody.
On the day of May 1, we call on you, comrades, to fight for socialism, for the destruction of wage labour, for a full brotherhood…
I will never forget an adventure which happened to me on the border of Chiasso. I was travelling with a portrait of myself, which had been painted by Picasso not long before that. When the military authorities searched my luggage, they discovered the painting and refused to let it through. I was asked what the painting was, and when I replied that this was my portrait painted by a famous artist, they did not believe me: "This is not a portrait, but a plan", - they said. See more
"Yes, this is a plan of my face, but not of anything else", - I tried to convince them. However, I was unable to persuade these gentlemen. These arguments took a lot of time and I missed my train, and I had to stay in Chiasso until the following morning. Regarding my portrait - I had to leave it in the British embassy in Rome, addressing it to Lord Berners, who eventually sent it to me in Paris by diplomatic mail.
I've been working for days on my decorations and costumes and also on two paintings, which were started here. I want to finish them before the dearture. Decorations will be finished right here. Here I have 60 ballerinas. I go to sleep late. I know every girl in Rome. See more
The publication, therefore, on the ist by the Provisional Government of its declaration of solidarity with the Allies aroused the keen resentment of the internationalists.
According to the orthodox calendar to-day is the 18th April; but the Soviet has decided that we shall nationally adopt the Western style so as to fall in time with the proletariats of all countries and illustrate the international solidarity of the working classes, in spite of the war and the illusions of the bourgeoisie. See more
During the last few days preparations have been in progress for a colossal demonstration on the Champ-de-Mars. The weather has not been favourable. The sky has been livid, the wind cold and biting, and the Neva, which had begun to thaw, has piled up its floes again.
From early morning all the bridges and avenues have been thronged with processions proceeding towards the centre of the city, processions of workmen, soldiers, moujiks, women, and children, ---each preceded by tall red banners which had a fierce struggle with the wind.
Perfect order prevailed. The long snaky lines advanced, retreated and manœuvred as easily as a troop of supers on the stage. The Russian people has a rare sense of theatrical effect.
About eleven o'clock I went to the Champ-de-Mars with my secretaries, Chambrun and Dulong.
The huge square was like a human ocean in which the swaying of the crowd resembled the motion of waves. Thousands of red flags fluttered above these living billows. A dozen military orchestras, distributed at various points, made the welkin ring with the strains of the Marseillaise, alternating with operatic and dance selections. You cannot have a ceremony in Russia without music.
Nor can you have a ceremony without speeches. So the Soviet had posted at fixed intervals motor lorries, hung with red cloth, to serve as platforms. Orators followed each other in endless succession, all of them men of the people, whether wearing the workman's jacket, the soldier's greatcoat, the peasant's sheepskin, the priest's cassock or the Jew's gabardine. They spoke as if they would never stop, gesticulating vigorously. The audience gave them the closest attention. There was no interruption and everyone listened with glazed eye and strained car to these naive, grave, confused and fervent outpourings, replete with illusions and dreams, which have been germinating for centuries in the inarticulate soul of the Russian people. The subject of most of the speeches was social reforms and the partition of the land. The war was only mentioned incidentally, and as an affliction which will soon end in a brotherly reconciliation of all the nations. I spent an hour walking about the Champ-de-Mars and in that time counted about thirty-two banners bearing inscriptions such as: "Down with the War! . . . . Long Live the Internationale! . . . . We want Liberty, Land and Peace!"
As I was returning to the Embassy I passed Albert Thomas, escorted by "Russian comrades"; his face fairly beamed with revolutionary enthusiasm. As we met, he burst out:
"Isn't it splendid! Perfectly splendid!"
It was certainly a splendid spectacle; but I should appreciate its beauty more if there were no war, France were not invaded and the Germans had not been in Lille and Saint-Quentin for the past thirty-two months.
Not until evening did the processions cease to file into the Champ-de-Mars and the orators to follow each other in unbroken succession on the platforms draped in scarlet.
To-day has made a very deep impression upon me; it marks the end of a social order and the collapse of a world. The Russian revolution is composed of elements too discordant, illogical, subconscious and ignorant for anyone to judge at the present time what its historical significance may be or its power of self-diffusion. But if one thinks of the world drama of which it forms part, there is a temptation to apply to it the remark which Joseph de Maistre, in this very city, made about the trench Revolution: " It is not a revolution but an epoch."
Abroad, today is the first of May. Our "blockheads" decided to celebrate the day by processions through the streets with musicians and red flags. They came openly to us in the park and placed garlands on the graves. The weather got worse up to the time of the celebration. See more
I think wet snow started to fall. I went out to walk about 3:45, when all this started, I worked for an hour and a half with Tatiana. During the evening I read to the children, A Millionaire Girl.