Comrades! There arise moments in the existence of every nation – just as they do in the existence of individuals – when the most pressing question of the day is no longer how best to live, but whether life will continue at all. We are going through just such a moment, and must ask ourselves whether Russia will survive if the old order continues to exist. We are gathered here to swear that Russia will be free.
It’s going to be the same as the Great French Revolution, perhaps even worse.
The situation is such that we cannot do without many old bureaucrats. For who can replace them? And so they’ve decided to send members of the State Duma as ‘commissars’. One of the major and successful appointments was that of a Duma member and engineer Bublikov as commissar of ‘Communications’.
My first task was to dispatch a network-wide communiqué to the railwaymen regarding today’s events, and to call upon them to work toward the benefit of this newly free country. My second task was to ascertain the whereabouts of the Tsar. See more
I immediately issued an order stipulating that he mustn’t be allowed north of the Bologoye-Pskov line, and that the tracks and switches must be dismantled if he resolved to proceed by force.
We left Mofilev at 5 o’clock in the morning. The weather was bright and frosty.
The Empress had said to me that to go "would look like flight," and she was also afraid of the risk to the children had they been moved while they were so ill. On the morning, however, she told me that I should "quietly pack my bag to be able to start with them at any moment, should this prove necessary." The gentlemen had on that morning again raised the question of the Empress's departure, but it was too late now.
There will be further battles. Lord! Save Russia. Save her, save her, save her. Save her from herself, guide her as You see fit. See more
We’re sitting in the canteen and there’s a ring at the door. Three half-soldiers, mere boys. Seriously sozzled. Armed with rifles and revolvers. Here to “take our weapons”. Yet of good-natured appearance. They’re happy.
The firing, which had died down by this morning, began again about ten o'clock; it seemed to be pretty vigorous in the region of the Admiralty. Armoured cars, with machine-guns and displaying red flags, were continually passing the embassy at top speed. More fires were blazing at several points in the capital. See more
Close to the Summer Garden I met one of the Ethiopians who used to mount guard at the Emperor's door and had often ushered me into the imperial study. The honest man was also wearing civilian clothes and looked very dejected. We walked together for a short distance there were tears in his eyes. I tried to comfort him a little and shook his hand. While he was walking away I watched him with amused eyes. In this collapse of a whole political and social system he stands for the monarchical splendours of other days, the picturesque and sumptuous ceremonial introduced by Elizabeth and Catherine the Great (long ago) and all that magic atmosphere which was conjured up by the words which will henceforth mean nothing: "The Court of Russia."
I met Buchanan in the vestibule of the Ministry. Pokrovski said to us:
"The Council of Ministers has been sitting continuously all night in the Marie Palace. The Emperor has no illusions about the gravity of the situation, as he has given General Ivanov extraordinary powers to restore order; he also seems determined to reconquer his capital by force and will not hear of making terms with troops who have killed their officers and raised the red flag. But I doubt whether General Ivanov, who was at Mogilev yesterday, will ever reach Petrograd: the insurgents are in control of all the railways. And even if he succeeded in getting here, what could he do? All the regiments have gone over to the revolution. Only certain isolated detachments and a few bodies of police are still offering resistance. Of my colleagues in the ministry the majority are in flight and several have been arrested. I personally had the greatest difficulty in getting away from the Marie Palace tonight. Why, I'm awaiting my fate at this moment."
About five o'clock, a high official,. K-----, came to see me.
He then told me abruptly that he had been asked to see me by President Rodzianko, and asked me if I had no advice, no suggestion to send him.
"As French Ambassador," I said, "the war is my main concern of course, so I want the effects of the revolution to be kept down as much as possible and order to be restored at the earliest moment. Don't forget that the French army is making preparations for a great offensive and that the Russian army is bound in honour to do its share."
"Nicholas II cannot be allowed to reign any more; no one has any confidence left in him and he has lost all authority. In any case, he would never consent to sacrifice the Empress."
"You may change the Tsar, but you should stick to tsarism."
During a day which has been prolific in grave events and may perhaps have determined the future of Russia for a century to come, I have made a note of one episode which seems trivial at first sight, but in reality is highly significant. The town house of Kchechinskaïa, at the end of the Kammenny-Ostrov Prospekt and opposite Alexander Park, was occupied by the insurgents today and sacked from top to bottom. I remember a detail which makes it easy to see why the residence of the famous dancer has been singled out by mob fury. It was last winter; the cold was intense and the thermometer had fallen to-35°. Sir George Buchanan, whose embassy is centrally heated, had been unable to procure coal, which is the essential fuel for that system. He had appealed to the Russian Admiralty, but in vain. That very morning Sazonov had definitely told him it was impossible to find coal in any public depot. In the afternoon we went for a walk together on the Islands, as the sky was clear and there was no wind. Just as we were entering Kammenny-Ostrov Prospekt, Buchanan burst out: "Well, if that isn't a bit too thick!" He pointed to four military lorries opposite the dancer's house; they were laden with sacks of coal which a squad of soldiers was engaged in removing. "Don't worry, Sir George," I said. "You haven't the same claim as Madame Kchechinskaïa to the attentions of the imperial authorities."
It is probable that for years past many thousands of Russians have made similar remarks about the favours heaped upon Kchechinskaïa. The ballerina, once the beloved of the Tsarevitch and subsequently courted by two Grand Dukes at once, has become as it were a symbol of the imperial order. It is that symbol which has been attacked by the plebs today. A revolution is always more or less a summary and a sanction.
From Russia we receive nothing, not even letters! We relay through Scandinavia.
No sooner do I take a seat in the carriage than I see the following large-lettered headline on the front page of my neighbour’s newspaper: REVOLUTION IN RUSSIA. My heart quivers. For some reason, I believe it at once: this is no journalistic bluff, this is for real. I try to make out what it says. It’s too late to buy a paper of my own – the train has set off. “When you’re done with it, lend it to me,” I say to my neighbour. “I’m Russian – it’s only natural that I should be in interested in what’s going on.”
I see a handsome officer decorated with the order of St George. He is surrounded on all sides, surrounded tightly, as if in grips of a vise. He turned pale, but remains calm. No a single face muscle twiched; he looks right at the bastards’ faces with cold, calm eyes and I feel that he will look at death the same way. See more
He was disarmed.
He continues to stand still. Some worker dashes to him and attempts to grab one of the epaulettes. A soldier emerges from the crowd, who, no doubt came straight from the front lines, and smacks the worker across the face. The worker falls down. The crowd is cheering and yells “hurray!”. The officer slowly approaches the soldier and tells him something. The soldier stands still and salutes, but his face is smiling joyously. The warriors continue on in a calm, determined manner. The crowd steps back respectfully.
I have been looking at these foul scenes for hours. I am disgusted and in pain, and the pain makes me want to cry, but I don’t have the will to leave and stop watching.
The troops are disorganised, they’re all thronging about while officerless military patrols attempt to maintain order. Could it really be that socialism’s creative energies will be put into effect? My people, will you find in it yourselves to become great at last?
8 o’clock, we were woken up by heavy traffic, of both passenger and freight cars, that were overcrowded with soldiers who were shooting, mostly, into the air—there were also strong explosions of hand grenades. See more
The soldiers were screaming “Hurrah!” and all the cars were driving around with red flags, and everyone had red ribbons or bows on their chests or in buttonholes. The day went by calmly for us, and no one disturbed us.
We are once again in Rome after our travels in Naples, where we also explored Pompey in an automobile. I think that no city in the world will ever please me such as did Naples. See more
Antiquity is felt at every step in this Arab Montmartre, where the chaotic characters of the eastern bazar hide around every corner. God, food and decadence - these are the forces that set life in motion in Naples. The clouds are all Vesuvius’s eruptions, the water a blinding azure. The pavements are lined with hyacinths. But Pompey itself made little impression. I was right: we waited a thousand years to build up the courage to look into this heap of rubbish.
Military units and automobiles had already materialised, together with sinister-looking, revolver-wielding, long-haired types – and girls of a corresponding appearance. The Kremlin was taken almost without a single shot being fired, and, come evening, Moscow found itself in the hands of the revolutionary authorities. See more
The streets were full of people singing vile revolutionary songs while en route to their vile demonstrations. A “thanksgiving public prayer to the Lord God” had been announced; troops were on their way to the parade, where blasphemy and vileness reigned supreme. Everyone was happy and exultant; the red Dionysus was carousing around Moscow and pouring his red intoxicants into the crowd. Everything was swathed in red, with vile red rags everywhere you looked, and either Germans or Bolsheviks agitating against the war. My soul is heavy with death. The revolution is odious and repellent in my eyes.
Soldiers fraternize with the public and the mood, in general, is improving. It is difficult to understand how all this will end. Take care of our son.