It is only necessary to go to Nevsky Prospekt and pass it from the Admiralty to Alexander the Third, and everything becomes clear without newspapers.
There are no trams. Everywhere are red flags. A huge crowd does not move, but is scattered across the Nevsky Prospekt, standing and discussing the events. Many soldiers. Many workers. Occasionally you come across a peasant from a distant village. Some girls, students, civilians. At the corner of the Sea agronomist - it is evident, a visitor - is telling the bearded soldiers that it is not so easy to divide the land.
The soldiers listen attentively, but, it is apparent that this is not interesting to them, but something more - maybe to each his own thing. How much, they say, each person in my own Ryazan provence will gain land per capita. And I do not care much about the Vologda region.
A heavy truck flew by. It is carrying armed people: workers, students. On the sides of the truck lie two soldiers with rifles. A red flag is waving. A young lady, following the truck with her eyes, tells her student companion:
“When they will be putting up the monument to the revolution, I think it is best to display a truck which carries the people of the revolution, armed with rifles.”
To declare the abdicated Emperor and his consort under arrest and to deliver the former Emperor to Tsarskoe Selo.
Brazen, with beastly faces, people in gray overcoats, pretending to be from some garrison committees, burst into the cell and rummaged through already pretty ramshackle surroundings. A certain spotted, beastlike soldier Kulikov was raging particularly hard. During various searches, and they completely undressed me, on a stone floor, in a cold cell, this monster decided that they needed to also remove my cross. They took it off, but someone from those who still believed in God objected, and they gave the cross back to me—the gold chain Kulikov claimed as a memento.
At the same time, people kept looking in the peephole trying to see when the consequences of this barbarity will begin. Soldiers came from garrison regiments to look at former tsarists servants now imprisoned. It really got on my nerves to hear the incessant clicking of the peephole’s lid. At the same time you could hear laughter, various jeering, and the promise to deal with us.
I appeared before the Moscow Soviet. The workers bombarded me with a veritable hail of highly aggressive questions, such as “Why has Grand Duke Nicholas been appointed Commander in Chief? “and “Why is Nicholas II allowed to travel freely throughout the whole of Russia?” These questions were undoubtedly prompted by a feeling of enmity towards the government, and I was disturbed to see the extent to which such attitudes, typical of the Petrograd Soviet, have now been embraced in Moscow. I realized that I would have to give a clear, unequivocal and firm answer to the workers, so I told them:
“The Grand Duke Nicholas was appointed by Nicholas II before his abdication; however he will not remain in the post of Senior Commander in Chief. Now Nicholas II is in my hands: in the hands of the Prosecutor General of Russia. Comrades, I remind you that up until this time, the Russian revolution has taken place without bloodshed, and I do not wish, nor will I allow bloodshed to cast a shadow over the revolution. I shall never be the Marat of the Russian revolution. Very shortly, Nicholas II, under my personal supervision, will be taken to the harbour and sent to England by steamer.”
Kerensky is now the only one who is not on either of the two sides, but exactly where he should be: with the Russian Revolution,. He is the only one, and quite alone. It’s terrible that he is alone. He is a man of brilliant intuition, but not a fully-rounded character. Nowadays, nobody should be alone. And to be alone right at the very top is absolutely terrible. Kerensky will either be joined by many more, and still more, or he will come tumbling down.
Our tactics: no trust in and no support of the new government; Kerensky is especially suspect; arming of the proletariat is the only guarantee; immediate elections to the Petrograd City Council; no rapprochement with other parties. Telegraph this to Petrograd.
I moved to Tsarskoe Selo with Lili Obolenskaya. What sorrowful minutes! I saw the Empress. She is very gentle, very calm, and shows an amazing nobility of the soul. It seems to me that she does not at all realize that it is all final and irreversible. She says that God is stronger than man, and it seems to her that everything is calming down. She does not even understand that everything that has happened is the result of her own mistakes.
There is only one man who can save the country, and that is Kerenski, for this little half-Jew lawyer of thirty-one years of age has still the confidence of the over-articulate Petrograd mob, who, being armed, are masters of the situation. The remaining members of the Government may represent the people of Russia outside the Petrograd mob, but the people of Russia, being unarmed and inarticulate, do not count. The Provisional Government could not exist in Petrograd if it were not for Kerenski.
I went to see him to-day at 9 a.m. He is so over- whelmed with work that he could not see me at any other hour. This is a welcome change from the old regime,when it was impossible to see anyone before 11 a.m. The huge Ministry of Justice, deserted by all the old officials, seemed empty. To Harold Williams and me the new Minister’s footsteps sounded hollow, as he walked to meet us through perhaps a hundred yards of reception apartments.
Kerenski seems shrewd,energetic and a man. Hehas a certain charm of manner.
He spoke repeatedly of his sympathy for England, and said that at the time of the Boer war he was one of the few Russians who had stood up for England. He is in favour of the continuance of the war, but without any idea of conquest. He says Milyukov has no tact, and we are not to believe him when he says that Russia wants Constantinople. He, Kerenski, wants the interationalisation of the Straits and self-government for Poland, Finland and Armenia, the latter as a separate entity from the Caucasus. He is instituting a search for proofs of the correspon- dence of the Romanov family with Germany.
I pressed the necessity of making each regiment swear allegiance to the Provisional Government, pending the decision of the Constituent Assembly as to a permanent constitution. He made a note of this, and asked me to speak to Guchkov. Guchkov received me at 11 a.m., together with General Kornilov, who had just arrived to take command of the Petrograd Military District. They both welcomed the suggestion that British officers who spoke Russian might be of use in barracks to reason with the men. Kornilov said that units would have to be brought to some sort of order before the oath was administered.
We remained in the mauve boudoir until quite late, but, just as we were about to go to bed, Volkoff entered in a state of painful agitation. He managed to tell us that M. Goutchkoff had arrived, and insisted upon seeing the Empress. It was then ii o'clock.
“But, at this hour— it's impossible,” said the Empress.
“Your Majesty, he insists,” stammered Volkoff.
The Empress turned to me— terror and pathos in her eyes.
“He has come to arrest me, Lili,” she exclaimed. “Telephone to the Grand Duke Paul, and ask him to come at once.”
Regaining her composure, the Empress rearranged the Red Cross head-dress which she had taken off, and stood waiting in silence for the Grand Duke. Neither Marie nor myself dared speak. At length, after what seemed an interminable agony of suspense, the Grand Duke entered, and the Empress told him in a few words about her ominous summons. The next moment, loud voices in the corridor, and the banging of a door, announced Goutchkoff's arrival in the adjoining room.
The newspaper "Sotsial-Demokrat" was published - the only people approaching vegetarianism, the only ones to refuse self-abuse and devouring of other tribes.
I received two more letters from dear Alix brought by officers from the regiment. At 11 o'clock I received Williams, Janin, Ryckel: all were warm and sympathetically treated. I had breakfast with Mama, and sat with her until 2:30. I received Coanda, Romei, Marcengo, and Lontkevich. I took a walk for about an hour. The weather was mild but all day it had been snowing. After tea I began packing things. I had dinner with Mama and played bezik with her.