The first week we were in the war. I had been studying a map of European waters, had measured the distanced across the English Channel, across the North Sea from Scotland to Norway and across the Strait of Otranto at the mouth of the Adriatic. I had examined the depths of the waters in those places, and had come to the conclusion that some kind of barrier, if it could be worked out on the technical side, offered the proper strategical solution of keeping German submarines out of the Atlantic and out of the Mediterranean.
I’m afraid that the Empress’s speeches will reach the ears of the members of the government, who nevertheless are doing everything possible to help the Emperor’s family. I would like them to understand what I have known for a long time - that we are talking about the pathological state of the Empress! Only in this is her justification, and perhaps it will be her only salvation.
We created the "Parade" in a Roman wine cellar called "Cave Talioni". We walked in the moonlight with the ballerinas and visited Naples and Pompeii.
It was a strange home-coming. The whole house was disorganised. The servants were still devoted to my interests, but food and fuel were difficult to obtain. I spent the morning of the next day lying on a couch in my dressing-room. I was really ill; the long strain had told, and Nature was now exacting her toll in the shape of occasional heart attacks. See more
The hours passed peacefully and slowly, but at ten o’clock in the evening the telephone rang, and my maid told me that the Commandant of the Equipage de la Garde wanted to speak to me. I was surprised and vexed. After the way in which certain officers had treated the Imperial Family, it was not agreeable for me to continue their acquaintance. However, I went to the ‘phone.
“Madame Dehn,” said a well-known voice, “have you actually come back from the Palace?”
“Yes, I returned to Petrograd a few days ago.”
“I heard that you had been placed under arrest. How is it then that you are at home?”
“Kerensky has given me permission to be with Titi. Cannot you, for my husband’s sake, and as one of his brother-officers, come over and see me?”
“Impossible,” answered the voice. “Look here, you can’t stay where you are.”
“Very well, since you order, I suppose I must obey, I’ll try and find somewhere else, as soon as I am rested.”
“You must go NOW.”
“I haven’t anywhere to go, and the child is ill.”
“Take him to an hotel. I won’t be responsible for your safety. Lots of things may happen during the night… The sailors may come and murder you.”
The Commandant then rang off, and left me to face this new terror. But my mind was made up. I would not leave home at a moment’s notice. If we had to die, we would die together. I was too exhausted, and the child was too ill, to contemplate a midnight flight. I rang up my husband’s nephew, who was in barracks, and he promised to keep me well advised; but fortunately the night passed peacefully. Nobody came near the house.
I had the leader of the "Cadet" party, Basil Maklakov, Princess Dolgoruky, Prince Scipio Borghese and Alexer Nicolaïevitch Benois, the painter and art critic, to lunch with me today.
Maklakov, who has seen as much of the revolution at close quarters as anyone, told us all about its beginnings.
"Not one of us," he said, " foresaw the immense scale of the movement; no one expected such a cataclysm. Of course we knew that the imperial regime was rotten; but we never suspected that it was as rotten as it has proved to be. That's why nothing was ready. I was discussing it only yesterday with Maxim Gorky and Cheidze; they haven't recovered from the shock even yet." See more
"So this combustion of all Russia has been spontaneous? " asked Borghese.
"Yes, absolutely spontaneous."
I remarked that the same thing happened in February., 1848, when the triumph of the Revolution surprised no one more than the leaders of the Republican Party, Ledru-Rollin, Armand Marrast and Louis Blanc; I added:
"You can never predict the day and hour of an eruption of Vesuvius. You have done pretty well when you can recognize the premonitory signs, record the first seismic waves and announce that an eruption is inevitable and imminent. So much the worse for the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum who require more than that warning!"
At Tsarskoïe-Selo a closer watch is being kept over the fallen sovereigns.
The Emperor still presents an extraordinary spectacle of indifference and imperturbability. He spends, in his calm and casual way, his day skimming the papers, smoking cigarettes, doing puzzles, playing with his children and sweeping up snow in the garden. He seems to find a kind of relief in being at length free of the burden of supreme power.
Diocletian at Salona and Charles V at San Juste could not have shown greater serenity.
The Empress, on the other hand, has taken to mystical exaltation; she is always saying:
"It is God who has sent us this ordeal; I accept it thankfully for my eternal salvation."
But she cannot refrain from outbursts of indignation when she sees how strictly those orders are carried out which deprive the Emperor of all freedom of movement, even within the confines of the palace. Sometimes a sentry refuses to allow him to pass into a gallery; sometimes the officer on duty, at the end of a meal taken in common, gives him orders to retire to his room. Nicholas II always obeys, without a word of reproach. Alexandra Feodorovna, rages and protests as if she had been insulted; but she soon recovers her self-control and calms down, murmuring:
"We must submit to this too.. . .Did not Christ drink the cup to the very dregs?"
It was a nice warm day, I got up at 9:30 since I had slept poorly, I walked to Mass. 0. Afansy Belyaev held services for us in the camp church. At the confession were: Vasili, the confessor, the deacon, the sexton and four choir boys who managed their duties very well. See more
It's a pity that not all the children could go with us to the church. I walked with Tatiana on the island; two of the officers of the guard also helped us. After dinner we passed the evening together.
All Petrograd, in fact, turned out to acclaim the “Grandmother of the Revolution” on her homecoming from Siberia, where she had spent forty-four of her seventy-three years in exile. A vast crowd, waving red flags and singing the “Marseillaise”, extended down the west end of the Nevsky Prospect as far as the Nikolaevsk Railway Station. See more
When The Associated Press correspondent arrived he found the crowd trying to storm the station, to which were admitted only veteran Nihilists and a deputation from the Ministry of Justice, headed by Minister of Justice Kerenski, together with delegations of welcome from Petrograd, Moscow, and Dorpat Universities and high schools.
At suggestion of M. Kerenski, the Reception Committee adopted a plan unique in Russian history for the welcoming of Madam Breshkovskaya - a plan symbolizing Russia’s transition from autocracy to democracy. The welcome took place in the gorgeous suite in the railroad station called the Imperial Reception Rooms, which under the old regime were used only for the reception of royal personages. The large drawing room in this suite, which had been the scene of meetings of the world’s most powerful monarchs, was now gathering place of the world's most extreme democrats, republicans, and socialists. Around the room were scores of baskets and wreaths of flowers, the scarlet tulip predominating - a flower which bids fair to become the floral emblem of the New Russia. The flowers bore various inscriptions, such as “To Our Dear Grandmother”, “To Russia’s Martyr Heroine”.
Among the revolutionary veterans the correspondent found Madam Vera Figner. She spent twenty years in jail but was released some years ago through a whim of Nicholas II after he had been pleased with the singing of her brother at a concert. Under her heavy fur cap she looked like the typical heroine of a Nihilist romance. Beside her stood Mademoiselle Zasulich, first among the most extreme women terrorist under Alexander II, who thirty-six years ago, then a slight, pretty girl of an aristocratic family, shot and dangerously wounded General Trepoff, the despotic Governor of Petrograd, in vengeance for his reputed torturing of political prisoners. By an irony of the revolution, General Trepoff’s son, former Premier Trepoff, is today a prisoner in the Fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Conversing with Mademoiselle Zasulich was M. Pianuich, who sat in the second Duma under Premier Stolipin and was sentenced to death on a trumped-up charge of conspiracy to murder Emperor Nicholas and was led through the streets of Petrograd in chains.
Also there was Professor Morosoff, a famous chemists and commentator of the Apocalypse, who suspected of advising the conspirators who made the bomb that killed Alexander II. Professor Morozoff for twenty-three years never left his cell in the Schlusselburg Fortress. He wes released after the revolution of 1905, but was again imprisoned a year later.
“Tell your people the revolution this time has achieved a final and irrevocable triumph”, he said to the correspondent. “A new era has come, which will transfigure Russia and irradiate the whole world”.
As the train arrived the crowd again attempted to storm the station, crying “Let us see Grandmother”. The militia, quieted them, explaining the danger of a crush and assuring them they would all be allowed to participate in the welcome of Madam Breshkovskaya, who was eager to see all her “grandchildren” and be seen by them.