My assistant came in late today. He tried to explain that the revolution has halted all street transport. I believe that a revolution is no excuse for being late!
Thousands, tens of thousands of people are wandering the streets today with red bow-knots on their chests. This monotonous loitering has begun to annoy me. Right now I sit at home and work with great pleasure, I finished the 3-rd Sonnet and continued working on the Violin concerto.
The sovereign still reigns, but his guard, carrying red banners, is already hurrying to the Tavrichesky palace to express its readiness to serve the Revolution.
Shame and disgrace! I was unable to reach Tsarskoye [Selo]; but my thoughts and feelings are always there! It must be hard for poor Aliks to live through these developments alone! God help us!
The train pulled in to Dno Station, to be greeted by a telegraph official bearing a telegram addressed to the Emperor. The telegram was handed over to His Majesty, and I entered his carriage to find out who it was from. The telegram, as the Tsar informed me, was from Rodzianko, who had requested that we stop off at Dno and await his arrival from Petrograd. The Tsar asked me if I had any information as to when Rodzianko would arrive. I replied that I did not, and that I would enquire by telegraph whether he had already left Petrograd. See more
I received the following reply: the chairman of the State Duma was currently in a committee meeting and didn’t know when he’d be able to depart. The Tsar decided to press on to Pskov and instructed me to send Rodzianko a communication to that effect. As the train pulled out of Dno Station, the Tsar summoned me to his compartment and shared with me his proposal of establishing a responsible government and generally making such concessions as would resolve the situation.
At that moment, we were primarily preoccupied with the development of the ministries. The issue of supreme executive power was not on the agenda: the majority of the Provisional Duma Committee’s members still took it as a given that the Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich would serve as regent until the coming of age of Alexei, the heir to the throne. See more
Come night, however, we came to an almost unanimous decision that the future state organisation of the country would be determined by the Constituent Assembly. Thus, the monarchy was forever abolished and consigned to the archives of history.
Nicky should have arrived today from the General Headquarters, but didn’t, and it was not known where the train was, rumours said that it was in Bologoe. All power is concentrated in the Interim Committee, which finds it really hard, considering the strong pressure that it is under from the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.
When I had breakfast and went to the gymnasium, it turned out that the gymnasium had already been disbanded due to rioting in Moscow where crowds traverse the streets, shouting and singing. On Vozdvizhensky square the junkers even shot blank rounds into the people; the people are dissatisfied with the sovereign and he will probably renounce his throne and we will have a republic like they do in France.
When Ilyich was about to head off to the library and I’d finished clearing away the dishes, Bronski came in, saying, “What, you don’t know what’s happened?! There’s a revolution in Russia!” And he told us about the latest reports published in the special editions of the newspapers. After he’d left, we went down to the lake, on whose shore all the newspapers were posted up as soon as they came out. We read the reports several times. A revolution really had happened in Russia. Ilych was all activity. See more
He asked Bronski to find out whether it might be possible to get back to Russia through Germany with the help of a smuggler. The journey could be made by plane – no big deal that the plane could be downed. But where to find the magic aeroplane that could transport us to revolution-making Russia?
Nothing has changed here - everyone is bored witless. Despite the fact that this swamp has been forgotten by both God and the Germans, the air here is surprisingly fresh, the wind often changes its direction, the snow is deep and at night the village is charmingly lit. It all feels very real. Tonight, for example, we heard rapid fire coming from the front, the floodlights and flares got to work, lighting up the horizon, and we got on our horses and rode over the hills to the front. While we were riding, of course, the commotion stopped, but the ride itself was pleasant enough.
At 10pm, the Empress received a telegram from the Emperor with the following message: “I hope to be home tomorrow morning.” The Tsarina passed on this news to her retinue. Everyone brightened up. The soldiers were happy. The palace announced that the Empress would emerge to see the troops. Everything was galvanised into activity. The wide doors were suddenly flung open and two elegant footmen took up position on either side of the doorway, each holding a silver candelabrum, complete with tapers, high in the air. The Empress emerged with Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna by her side. A quiet command was issued to the troops. See more
Holding her daughter by the hand, the calm, majestic Empress quietly descended the marble steps. There was a fairy-tale like quality to the extraordinary way in which the Russian Empress emerged to inspect the troops, at night, under the flickering light of the candelabra, in the snow-enveloped grounds... The silence was broken only by the creaking of snow underfoot. The sounds of shooting floated in from afar. The Empress slowly walked from row to row, acknowledging the soldiers with nods and smiles. The soldiers, for their part, followed her with their eyes in rapt silence. She said something or other to more than a few of the officers: “How cold it is, a serious frost…”
I received a telegram from Rodzianko, in which he informed me that power has reverted to the Provisional Comittee of the State Duma. He asks me to maintain calm, to bear in mind that everything that is happening is happening for the best, that the previous government, in showing itself incapable, is being replaced by one that will rise to the challenge, and asks me to take measures to prevent complications and excesses.
The events currently unfolding appear grandiose, moving even, but the meaning behind them is not as profound and great as everyone takes it to be. I am trying to remain scepitcal, although I am also moved to tears by the sights and songs of the soldiers marching to the State Duma. We can never go back, but we’ll not move much forward. A sparrow’s step maybe. A lot of blood will be spilt – more than has ever been spilt before.
Kerensky arrived. We kissed uncontrollably. He ran around the room, suddenly began to hurry:
“Well, it’s time for me to go…as I am incognito here with you…”
Unsettled, as well as without “incognito” - he disappeared. Yes, the former Kerensky, and - at to some degree - not the same.
The ever-growing danger of anarchy spreading throughout the whole country, the continued disintegration of the army, and the impossibility to continue the war under the present conditions, forcefully demand the passing of an Imperial Edict that can still appease the minds, which can only be done by calling on the respective ministry and instructing the chairman of the Duma with drafting it.
This thought of the Tsar’s abdication matured in the minds and hearts of our people by its own accord. It grew from a hated of the monarch, to say nothing of that multitude of invective which was hurled in our faces day after day by the revolutionary crowd. On the third day of the revolution, the question of whether or not a Tsar who has been endlessly and effortlessly ridiculed could continue to reign had, evidently, already been decided in the depths of each and every one of our souls.
There has been much fighting and burning again in Petrograd this morning. The soldiers are hunting down officers and gendarmes---a ruthless and savage chase which betrays all the barbarous instincts still latent in the moujik nature. See more
In the general anarchy which is raging in Petrograd, three directing bodies are in process of formation:
(1) The "Executive Committee of the Duma," with Rodzianko as its president and comprising twelve members, including Miliukov, Shulgin, Konovalov, Kerensky and Cheidze. It is thus representative of all parties of the progressive group and the Extreme Left. It is trying to secure the necessary reforms immediately in order to maintain the existing political system, at the cost of proclaiming another emperor, if need be. But the Tauris Palace is occupied by the insurgents so that the committee has to confer amidst general uproar, and is exposed to the bullying of the mob; (2) The "Council of Working-Men and Soldier Deputies," the Soviet. It holds its sittings at the Finland station. Its password and battlecry is "Proclaim the social Republic and put an end to the war." Its leaders are already denouncing the members of the Duma as traitors to the revolution, and openly adopting the same attitude towards the legal representative body as the Commune of Paris adopted towards the Legislative Assembly in 1792; (3) The "Headquarters of the Troops." This body sits in the Fortress of SS. Peter and Paul. It is composed of a few junior officers who have gone over to the revolution and several N.C.O.'s or soldiers who have been promoted to officer rank. It is endeavouring to introduce a little system into the business of supplying the combatants and is sending them food and ammunition. In particular it is keeping the Duma in a state of subjection. Through it the soldiery is all-powerful at the present moment. A few battalions, quartered in and around the Fortress, are the only organized force in Petrograd; they are the prætorians of the revolution and as determined, ignorant and fanatical as the famous battalions of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine and the Faubourg Saint-Marcel in that same year 1792.
Since the Russian revolution, memories of the French revolution have often passed through my mind. But the spirit of the two movements is quite dissimilar. By its origins, principles and social, rather than political character, the present upheaval has a much stronger resemblance to the Revolution of 1848.