At six o'clock yesterday evening armoured cars took up positions at all points commanding the approaches to the Winter Palace, and shortly afterwards delegates from the revolutionary committee came and demanded its unconditional surrender. See more
As no answer was returned, the signal for attack was given by the firing at 9 p.m. of a few blank rounds by the guns of the fortress and of the cruiser Aurora. The bombardment which followed was kept up continually till ten o'clock when there was a lull for about an hour. At eleven o'clock it began again, while all the time, as we watched it from the Embassy windows, the trams were running as usual over the Troitski Bridge.
The garrison of the palace consisted mainly of cadets from the military school and of a company of the women's battalion — for Russian women had been fighting at the front, and had by their courage and patriotism set a bright example that ought to have shamed the men. There was, however, no organized defense, and the casualties on either side were but few in number. The Ministers meanwhile must have passed through a terrible ordeal as they moved about from room to room, not knowing what fate was in store for them. By half-past two in the morning parties of the attacking force had penetrated into the palace by side entrances and disarm€d the garrison. The Ministers were then arrested and marched off through hostile crowds to the fortress. They seem to have been well treated by the commandant, who apparently thought it prudent to make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness for fear, as he remarked to someone, that the tables might be one day turned and that he might find himself an occupant of one of their cells.
I walked out this afternoon to see the damage that had been done to the Winter Palace by the prolonged bombardment of the previous evening, and to my surprise found that, in spite of the near range, there were on the river side but three marks where the shrapnel had struck. On the town side, the walls were riddled with thousands of bullets from machine guns, but not one shot from a field gun that had been fired from the opposite side of the Palace Square had struck the building.
From 10 o'clock to 11 o'clock I was with Kastritsky. During the evening I said goodbye to him. He left for the Crimea. The day became nice; in the sun it was 11 degrees. For a long time I chopped firewood.
I felt like a surgeon who has finished a difficult and dangerous operation I must wash my hands, take off my apron, and rest. Lenin was in a different position. He had just arrived from his refuge, after spending three and a half months cut off from real, practical direction. See more
One thing coincided with the other, and this only added to my desire to retire behind the scenes for a while. Lenin would not hear of it, however. He insisted that I take over the commissariat of the interior, saying that the most important task at the moment was to fight off a counter-revolution. I objected, and brought up, among other arguments, the question of nationality. Was it worthwhile to put into our enemies’ hands such an additional weapon as my Jewish origin?
Lenin almost lost his temper. “We are having a great international revolution. Of what importance are such trifles?” A good-humored bickering began. “No doubt the revolution is great,” I answered, “but there are still a good many fools left.” “But surely we don’t keep step with the fools?” “Probably we don’t, but sometimes one has to make some allowance for stupidity. Why create additional complications at the outset?”
I, Minister-President of the Provisional Government, and Supreme Commander of all the armed forces of the Russian Republic, declare that I am at the head of regiments from the Front who have remained faithful to the fatherland. See more
I order all the troops of the Military District of Petrograd, who through mistake or folly have answered the appeal of the traitors to the country and the Revolution, to return to their duty without delay.
Decree on Land
(1) Landed proprietorship is abolished forthwith without any compensation.
(2) The landed estates, as also all crown, monastery, and church lands, with all their livestock, implements, buildings and everything pertaining thereto, shall be placed at the disposal of the volost land committees and the uyezd Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies pending the convocation of the Constituent Assembly. See more
(3) All damage to confiscated property, which henceforth belongs to the whole people, is proclaimed a grave crime to be punished by the revolutionary courts. The uyezd Soviets of Peasants’ Deputies shall take all necessary measures to assure the observance of the strictest order during the confiscation of the landed estates, to determine the size of estates, and the particular estates subject to confiscation, to draw up exact inventories of all property confiscated and to protect in the strictest revolutionary way all agricultural enterprises transferred to the people, with all buildings, implements, livestock, stocks of produce, etc.
(4) The following peasant Mandate, compiled by the newspaper Izvestia Vserossiiskogo Soveta Krestyanskikh Deputatov from 242 local peasant mandates and published in No. 88 of that paper (Petrograd, No. 88, August 19, 1917), shall serve everywhere to guide the implementation of the great land reforms until a final decision on the latter is taken by the Constituent Assembly.
(5) The land of ordinary peasants and ordinary Cossacks shall not be confiscated.
Day broke on a city in the wildest excitement and confusion, a whole nation having up in long hissing swells of storm. Superficially all was quiet; hundreds of thousands of people retired at a prudent hour, got up early, and went to work. See more
In Petrograd the street-cars were running, the stores and restaurants open, theatres going, an exhibition of paintings advertised&… All the complex routine of common life—humdrum even in war-time—proceeded as usual. Nothing is so astounding as the vitality of the social organism—how it persists, feeding itself, clothing itself, amusing itself, in the face of the worst calamities.
On the day of my departure, I received news about a Bolshevik coup in Petrograd. Apparently, Kerensky fled, the government is overthrown, and the Soviets are in control of the city. See more
I had read multiple similar "sensations" in American newspapers before, so I thought nothing of it. Besides, it was impossible to trust the American press.