Just looked out of the window and saw the Emperor on a walk. He was leading the way, followed by Valya, with a watch officer bringing up the rear. I am overcome by a terrible anguish – he who enjoyed all the earth’s bounties, who exercised control over a loyal people, has been reduced to this! How splendid his rule might have been, if only he were capable of fathoming the exigencies of the age!
Dear comrades! The German government has announced that it shall allow the Russians passage from Switzerland in return for no more than a simple promise that, on their return to Russia, they make due effort to facilitate passage to Germany for a corresponding number of civilian prisoners. But Grimm suggested – and indeed everyone was of the same opinion – that, as long as this step remains unsanctioned by some competent Russian institution or other, it would be risky to embark on it.
In an atmosphere poisoned by social-patriotic slander, a unilateral granting of passage by Germany would forever serve as a nasty weapon against us. But the Leninists, whose eagerness to make the journey surpasses that of anybody else, declared that they’d stop at nothing to make it happen. This caused a commotion among the rest. Today I’ll be having a major conversation with Comrade Lenin. Today, too, we shall continue setting out a concrete plan of further action regarding the orchestration of our return to Russia.
I hold an ever gloomier view of the current situation. The Germans are swarming all over the place, discipline is in tatters, and there’s nothing now that can force the troops to defend themselves. The soldiers flee and hide. Things will be even worse in the future.
Nothing has yet been decided about the Emperor’s journey to England. He is living with the Empress and his children at Tsarskoe under a strong guard, and is allowed to walk in the park but is always under observation. From a private and confidential source I heard he is perfectly happy and takes exercise by clearing the paths in the park of snow. He does not yet realise that he will not be allowed to go as he had hoped to Livadia, but the loss of his throne does not seem to have depressed him. The Empress, on the other hand, is said to feel the humiliation of her present position deeply. She is, I hear, averse to the idea of going to England. Some telegrams have just been published in the Press, which were sent by her to the Emperor before and after Rasputin’s murder, which show clearly that he did everything she told him to. There was also published a hysterical letter from the Empress to Rasputin, in which she wrote as if she were addressing a saint, saying that she only found comfort when leaning on his shoulder, and praying him to bless ‘thy child’. She has been the Emperor’s evil genius even since they married, and nobody pities her…
Their Majesties then related the particulars of their interview with Kerensky.
“His first words,” said the Empress, were,
“I am Kerensky. You probably know my name.”
We made no answer.
“But you must have heard of me?” he persisted. Still no reply. “Well,” said Kerensky, “I’m sure I don’t know why we are standing. Let’s sit down— it’s far more comfortable!”
“He seated himself,” continued the Empress. “The Emperor and I slowly followed his example, and, finding that I still declined to speak, Kerensky insisted upon being left alone with the Emperor.”
The soldiers hurried me down the staircase, but I stopped half-way, and looked back. The Imperial Family was still where I had left them; with a rough gesture, my guards motioned me to descend. I could see my beloved Empress no longer. I walked to the door of the second entrance where some officers and soldiers stood, laughing and talking. Two automobiles were waiting outside. It was bitterly cold, and a bleak wind howled round the Palace, and drove the snow in stinging dust against my face as I sat in the open automobile waiting for Anna. At last she appeared; she looked ghastly, and her eyes were swollen with crying. Two officers sat facing us, and a third took his place beside the chauffeur. In this manner we saw the last of Tsarkoe Selo… but I had left my heart behind.
To-day Kerenski came to the palace for the first time. He went through all the rooms and noted all the sentry-posts, wishing to assure himself in person that we are well guarded. Before leaving he had a fairly long conversation with the Czar and Czarina.
Miliukov is greatly concerned at what is happening at Cronstadt, the great naval fortress which commands the approach to Petrograd from the Gulf of Finland.
The town (its population is about 55,000) refuses to recognize the authority either of the Provisional Government or the Soviet. The troops of the garrison, which consists of not less than 20,000 men, are in open revolt. See more
After massacring half their officers, they are keeping two hundred of them as hostages and forcing them to do the most degrading tasks, such as sweeping the streets and heavy navvy work.
Anarchy also reigns at Helsingfors.
At Schlusselburg the town is in the hands of a commune in full revolt, whose first act has been to make friends with a gang of German prisoners of war. At the request of this gang, sixty Alsace-Lorraine prisoners, for whom I had secured special treatment, have been kept in close confinement.
At five o'clock I went to see the Grand Duke Nicholas Michaïlovitch in his palace, which is full of Napoleonic relics. It is the first time I have had the chance of a talk with him since the revolution.
He affected an optimism to which silence was my only reply. But he certainly carried it no further than the occasion warranted and, to prevent me thinking that he was entirely hoodwinked by the course of events, he concluded with this cautious reservation
"As long as sensible and patriotic men like Prince Lvov, Miliukov and Gutchkov are at the head of the government, I shall be hopeful enough. If they fall, we are in for a leap into the unknown."
"In the first chapter of Genesis that 'unknown' is given a specific name."
"The Johu-bohu, which means 'chaos.'"
Today Kerensky, the present minister of Justice, came. He went through all the rooms and wanted to see us. He talked to me for five minutes. He introduced the new Palace commander and then left. He ordered the arrest of poor Anna and took her to the city together with Lili Dehn. This happened between 3 and 4 o'clock while I was walking. The weather was disgusting and it corresponded to our mood: Marie and Anastasia slept almost all day. After dinner the four of us calmly passed the evening away with Olga and Tatiana.
All day Washington had been in the hands of belligerent pacifists, truculent in manner, and determined to break into the Capitol. They tried to take possession of the Capitol steps, up which President must be when he entered, and met the same fate that Coxey’s rioters fell in with twenty-three years ago at the hands of the police, who dispersed them.