I woke up at eight o’clock. It was quiet. It seemed as if everything was over. But a minute later, there was a gunshot very close by. Ten minutes later, another. Then the crack of a whip - a shot. And that was how it went on all day. Sometimes there is no firing for an hour, and then the shots would come five or ten times a minute.
The town seemed peaceful. We decided to go to the bank for the jewels. We rose early and set off. As he opened the gates for us the old janitor said: "Something's wrong in town. It strikes me that the Bolsheviks are up to something today. See more
Maybe you shouldn't go out; it pays, nowadays, to be careful”. He was right; there was in the air of the town something altogether peculiar. That curious sense of imminence to chaos acquired since the revolution, warned us that something was going to happen; as we walked, my heart contracted painfully. But the streets were still deserted. We took the first cab we came upon and drove towards the centre of the city. At first we met small groups, then crowds of armed soldiers. Their faces expressed the same silly excitement that I had noticed before.
As we turned into the Tverskaya our cab was stopped by a post of soldiers who barred the way with their rifles. We made a detour. Then, somewhere in the distance we heard shots in quick succession, like the beating of a drum. People ran down the street and there were soldiers again, gathering in groups, running. At the corner of the side street on which the bank was located, we dismissed our cab, preferring to walk. The driver, lashing the horse, set it at a gallop and quickly disappeared from view. Some men were carrying two stretchers towards usj the stretchers were empty. A man in a dark, shabby overcoat was lying at my feet, sprawling awkwardly, his head and shoulders upon the sidewalk, his body on the street. And still I did not quite understand what it was all about. Suddenly a volley broke from unseen rifles towards the end of the side street, leading into the Tverskaya. Putiatin and I did not even exchange a glance. We hurried towards the bank. The door was locked and bolted. At a complete loss, we stopped and looked at each other. What now?
The excitement in the street was swiftly increasing. The shooting, sometimes distant, sometimes quite near by, was almost incessant. All the cabs had quite naturally disappeared j and it would have been now, in any event, quite out of the question for us to drive through the town. Where were we to go and how? Putiatin did not know Moscow at all. I had forgotten most of it during the years of my absence. Still, we could not remain standing there j the shooting was coming closer; we had to move.
A small crowd had rushed into our street from the Tverskaya, as though pursued. In their continued rush they now carried us with them. Putiatin, afraid that we might lose each other, clutched me tightly under the arm. Together with the crowd we ran along, half pushed and half dragged, to a street running parallel to the Tverskaya.
Here trucks rumbled noisily by, filled with armed soldiers. These soldiers stood crowded closely together, shooting at random, as the trucks bounced them up and down on the cobblestones. Bullets whizzed above our heads and smashed through the lower windows of the houses. The shattered window-panes fell clattering to the ground. Occasionally, one of the crowd would suddenly sit down in a heap, or fall with an awkward throwing gesture of the arms. I did not turn around or look at them. For the second time in my life I was experiencing mortal fear. We sneaked from one side street into another, avoiding the larger thoroughfares, rushing like rats from corner to corner. As far as possible we tried going in the direction of that part of town where my husband's people lived. The Yusupovs' house was so far away as to be out of the question. By noon we were only at the Grand Opera. Now shells were bursting over the city; we could hear the explosions and the deafening roar when they hit. In one of the side streets adjoining the Theatre Square we had to remain for a long time Shooting was going on on all sides, all exits were blocked.
Then suddenly, probably from the square, a file of soldiers swung quickly into our street. It was steep goings they bent forward as they marched uphill towards us. As they marched we could see them reloading their rifles. A short distance from us they halted, exchanged matter-of- fact glances, deployed and, lifting their rifles, took aim. The small crowd of people, amidst whom we were first flattened in terror to the wall, now seeing no hope in that, with the black muzzles of those rifles still steadily upon them, all of one accord lay down flat.I remained standing. I could not lie down in front of the rifles of these men. I preferred to take what was coming on my feet. My head did not work; I did not think, yet I could not lie down. After a first volley came a second. I heard a bullet hit the wall just above my head, then two others. I was still alive. I do not remember how nor where the soldiers wentj I do not remember what was going on around me. I remember only that I turned around and saw upon the bright yellow plaster of the house three deep holes and around them white circles where the lime was knocked off. Two of them almost merged into one, the third farther off.
What happened afterwards remains in my memory as a continuous nightmare. The details of all the hours we spent that day in the streets of Moscow are enveloped in a fog permeated by a feeling of inexpressible horror and despair. People ran past me J they fell, rose, or remained lying j cries and moans were intermingled with the roar of shots and the exploding of shells, while a thick, vile-smelling dust stood in the air. My head had been crammed with so many impressions that it now refused to register j my mind was dulled. We reached the old Putiatins only after five in the afternoon, having spent the entire day, since nine that morning, in the streets.
Lights went out today at 10.30 pm. It went back on at 3 am.
With every hour things are getting more difficult. We are on our feet almost constantly. You hardly have a chance to come back after some errand or operation and grab a bite to eat, than the command comes again:
“Fall in!” See more
We are sent off to the Moscow River then to Prechistenka, to Nikitskaya, to Teatralnaya, and so it goes on. Our ears are ringing from the constant shooting (shots are far more deafening in the city than out in the field.)
It’s impossible to make any headway without artillery. We would have to storm building after building. The Bolsheviks have begun using artillery. At first, the shells were only falling on Arbat Square and the boulevards, but soon they were exploding all over our district. They are firing on the Kremlin, too. It breaks your heart to see shrapnel exploding over the Kremlin.
The papers have shocked me: they paint things not at all as they did before. Bolshevik victories everywhere, not a word about Kerensky, and Moscow in the crossfire of rifles and handguns. See more
I deliberated about whether I should go there; in any case, there’s no point holding concerts in this situation. Undoubtedly, all the soldiers are supporting the Bolsheviks from the front, but all the railroads might strike in response, as they have already threatened to do, and then I will be stranded for no good reason in a hungry, scandalized Moscow. Might it not be better to return before it’s too late?
The telephone station was recaptured yesterday by a combined force of soldiers, sailors, and workmen, but not without casualties on both sides. See more
Detachments of troops with field guns then surrounded the different military schools and demanded their unconditional surrender. At one of them, where serious resistance was offered, it is said that the casualties exceeded two hundred and that several cadets were thrown out from the windows on the top story. By 10 p.m. the Bolsheviks were once more in possession of the whole town.
Soldiers of the Petrograd garrison!
The struggle for freedom has reached a critical point. A meeting of the Petrograd garrison was held to discuss the defense of Petrograd and the revolution against an onslaught of counterrevolutionary forces. See more
The representatives gave short briefings on the mood within their units. All soldiers and sailors are conscious of the fact that the fate of the revolution and the people depends upon the results of the battle that is now beginning. All are preparing to fight to the end…
The livelihood of the people lies in the hands of those among the people who are armed. Ahead lies a battle, and beyond it—victory.
Soldiers of Petrograd, onward!
Thank you very much for the book and for the letter with it. Like you, I am rather aghast at the psychology of the Pacifist - and I should be more so if I didn't know how long and how effectively Germany has worked upon them all over the world. If you go back far enough you'll find that Marx - a Hun - was at the bottom of the rot. See more
There must always be, I suppose, a certain percentage of the perverse among mankind to whom cruelty and abominations make a subconscious appeal. They represent the "passive partner" in certain forms of vice: and few things are more curious than to study the forms which their mental perversities take. We have a reasonably large stock of them in England as well as the people who are,for financial reasons, working for the Hun. Someday the USA will awake to the fact that she too has been exploited psychologically by the world's enemy.
The situation is uncertain, i.e. very bad. Almost no one has the strength to turn up the voltage, and it is falling, leaving no resolution behind it.
It is not, they say, that his forces are not unified; it is not that they are too few. Instead, it seems to be a combination of both. Here, “compromising” voices have been growing in strength, especially at Novaya Zhizn. Its writers seem ready to form a government with the Bolsheviks—a coalition of “left-wing dem. parties.” (That is, we’re with them.)
The telephone doesn’t work; the Red Guard is occupying all the lines. The inhumanity of the “Bolshevist” mob toward the military cadets is unspeakable. The ministers imprisoned in the Peter and Paul have been set free “on the mercy” (?) “of the victors.” The seemingly departed Aurora has returned along with several other cruisers. This entire mighty, menacing (to us, not to the Germans!) flotilla is now stationed on the Neva.
The situation in the city is highly uncertain. No one waiting anymore in expectation of “Kerensky and his forces” … Yesterday, there was terrible bloodshed. They lay siege to the cadet school (the “Red Guard” and the soldiers) and beat the cadets viciously. See more
People are saying terrible things. One’s blood turns cold in one’s veins. God! God! Be merciful toward us, the sinful, the unhappy, who have so forgotten You!
The Duma was again in session in the Nicolai Hall. The Mayor said hopefully that the Petrograd regiments were ashamed of their actions; propaganda was making headway. See more
— Emissaries came and went, reporting horrible deeds by the Bolsheviki, interceding to save the yunkers, busily investigating….
“The Bolsheviki,” said Trupp, “will be conquered by moral force, and not by bayonets.….