Of course it was impossible to keep track of the situation within the country while fighting on the front. Now, having spent a few days in the capital, I have heard of the most curious happenings. The State Duma, which was called up once again in November 1916, has been reverberating with revolutionary speeches.
Even the political factions on the right have been stirred by the general mood, and the government has lost many of its closest allies. In December the Duma was temporarily dissolved, at first until the end of January 1917 and later until the end of February. Significant here was surely the fact that the many of the strict old men of the State Council, the highest advisory body of the Russian Empire, had taken the side of the opposition, who were demanding the instigation of genuine parliamentary rule. In yet more news, the government has announced, for the first time openly, that it is again in pursuit of revolutionary organisations. The police have carried out numerous arrests.
I talked to Polivanov. He said the Ministry of Ways had been haggling over two years about the price of coal, and hence the miserable stuff that is ruining the engines. I asked him what he would do if dictator. He said he would call the best traffic managers together to consult. He would then place each main line under a dictator, who would have full powers on his line to hang or to do as he liked. See more
He says that the Russian engineers are good constructors but wretched traffic managers. The management of the railways presents no difficulties, but demands constant watching and active supervision. Meanwhile our states- men sleep.
He told me that Byelyaev had not been near him since his promotion to be Minister of War. He said that he (Polivanov) was hated by the Empress, by Kshinskaya (the dancer) and Virubova (the Empress’s favourite), and that, as Byelyaev wanted to keep his place, he did not care to risk a doubtful intimacy!
An appeal to French peasants of both sexes to help in solving the food problem has been issued by the ministry of agriculture and will be placarded in every country district. The appeal calls on the country people to sow as much grain as they can and wherever they can. so that "the sowings of the spring of 1917 may prepare the harvest of victory.” The document concludes: "To work then with all your energies. You are working for French victory and French peace. The country counts on”.
Mikhail Alexandrovich and I spoke to his Majesty again. It was a waste of time. When it was my turn to speak I was so agitated I could not a say a word.
“Thank you, Sandro, for the letter you brought me from Kiev” – this was the only reply his Majesty gave to my many pages of advice.
Consider the awful condition of the world before this thunder-bolt struck it. Could anyone, tracing back down the centuries and examining the record of the wickedness of man, find anything which could compare with the story of the nations during the last twenty years! Think of the condition of Russia during that time, with her brutal aristocracy and her drunken democracy, her murders on either side, her Siberian horrors, her Jew baitings and her corruption.
Trotsky is already in New York. I’d wager that within three months he’ll have quarrelled with the American socialists and gone off to form his own splinter group.
In ideas the Socialist party of the United States lagged far behind even European patriotic Socialism. In the United States there is a large class of successful and semi-successful doctors, lawyers, dentists, engineers, and the like who divide their precious hours of rest between concerts by European celebrities and the American Socialist party. See more
Their attitude toward life is composed of shreds and fragments of the wisdom they absorbed in their student days. Since they all have automobiles, they are invariably elected to the important committees, commissions, and delegations of the party. It is this vain public that impresses the stamp of its mentality on American Socialism. My first contact with these men was enough to call forth their candid hatred of me. My feelings toward them, though probably less intense, were likewise not especially sympathetic. We be longed to different worlds. To me they seemed the rottenest part of that world with which I was and still am at war.
It happened during the bombardment of enemy trenches in Sector 144 – The Karst Sector, under a deafening hail of shells. Here, I experienced something that is commonplace in the trenches. A group of twenty of our men were hit by one of our own grenades. We were showered with mud, smoke and torn metal. See more
Four men died. The others were seriously injured. I was taken to a hospital in Ronchi a few miles away from the enemy trenches. The doctors and surgeons took the greatest of pains in treating me. My wounds were serious. It was thanks only to the patience and skill of the doctors that I had forty-four pieces of grenade extracted successfully. My flesh was torn and my bones splintered. The pain was was hideous; I suffered agonies. Almost all the operations were performed without anaesthetic. Twenty-seven operations in the course of a single month. All except two were performed without a anaesthetic. This terrible, pain-filled life continued up until first bombardment, which blasted one entrance porch and the central part of the hospital building to pieces.