We rented an empty store on Petrovka for a month and began to hang works. The store consisted of two rooms: one big, and another, smaller one, in the back. In the first room we hung counter reliefs by Tatlin, plus Popova, Exter, Udaltsova, Bruni, Klyun, and Malevich.
I exhibited an abstract composition 150x100, "Two Figures," a few small ones, and abstract graphic works. And Bruni exhibited a broken cement casket and a glass, with a bullet hole, which caused particular indignation in the public. There were very few visitors during the workday. Visitors were all different. Mostly accidental, who laughed and also expressed indignation.
I explained things, myself not fully understanding cubism, which I didn't really understand myself. Some came and saw such works for the first time, but didn't laugh and tried to understand and returned several times, listening to my explanations, and upon understanding were terribly thankful and became fans.
It was only hard to explain those works and those artists who were not talented and were only imitating the futurists.
Saint Petersburg has changed dramatically. The streets are engulfed by strife. Almost everyone wears red cockades. Even our driver had to put one on while making his way to pick us up from the train station. “Take this abomination off!” - my mother exclaimed.
Lenin left a great, even grandiose, impression on me, even though the impression was also tragic, almost dark. However, our real discussion will take place only tomorrow. Although I cannot agree with him. He is too hasty in his desire to travel, and I believe his unconditional agreement to travel with the sanction of Germany but not Russia to be a mistake that might have negative consequences for his future.
I bought myself a terribly cute chronometer watch for 36 francs with a 5-year warranty.
Martov was very charming both generally and with me in particular. I would like to retain good relations with this man.
But Lenin is grandiose. He is like a yearning lion making his way towards a desperate battle.
I hope we shall be starting out on Wednesday—together with you, I hope.
We have more money for the journey than I thought, enough for 10–12 persons. The comrades in Stockholm have been a great help.
It is quite possible that the majority of the workers in Petrograd are now social-patriots... We shall fight. The war will agitate for us.
A thousand greetings. Au revoir.
What is war?
Swamps, swamps, swamp- overgrown with grass or blanketed by snow. In the west, a dull German spotlight sweeps the skies night after night. On sunny days a German Fokker plane appears, stubbornly flying the same route; you can guess and trace its exact path in the sky. White, grey and reddish smoke blooms all around it (that’s us shooting at it, almost never on target, just like Germans with our planes). The Fokker wavers and falters, but tries to hold fast on its wretched path, methodically dropping the occasional bomb, which means the place upon which it takes aim has been jabbed by dozens of executive, German hands. Bombs sometimes fall in the cemetery, sometimes on a herd of cattle, sometimes on a herd of people but more often than not, they fall in the swamp. That’s thousands roubles from the public purse in the swamp.
People stare at all this, languishing in boredom, going to waste from inertia. They’ve already managed to drag all the depravity of pre-war life here: infidelity, cards , insobriety, altercations and rumour.
Russia was known by those who knew her best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their habitual attitude towards life. The autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, character or purpose; and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian people have been added on all their naïve majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a League of Honour.
His Majesty’s Ministers quite realize the difficulties to which you refer in your letter, but they do not think, unless the position changes, that it is now possible to withdraw the invitation which has been sent, and they therefore trust that the King will consent to adhere to the original invitation, which was sent on the advice of His Majesty’s Ministers’.
"There has been a cleavage in the Soviet, and the Socialist-pacifist elements are losing ground. The troops as a whole are said to be in favour of continuing the war, and even the Socialists declare that they will only fraternize with the German Socialists if the latter dethrone the Hohenzollerns. Work is being resumed in the factories, but, owing to many engineers and fore- men having been dismissed, the output is much less than it was. The most striking feature of the situation is the perfect order that reigns in the town. It is only in the trams and in the railway trains, where the soldiers force their way into the best seats without pay- ing for them, that there is any real disorder. In certain country districts, however, the peasants have been cut- ting down the woods of the landed proprietors and are talking of dividing up their lands. But, so far as I am aware, there has been no incendiarism nor anything in the shape of an organized Jacquerie."
Marie and Anastasia apparently have passed the crisis, for their temperature remained normal; all day they intermittently sleep and wake. I took a walk after 11 o'clock. Outside it was melting very much. During the day I worked quite a while. In the evening I sat with Anna.
At 8.35 o’clock tonight the United States virtually made its entrance into the war.