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Non-fiction

Project 1917 is a series of events that took place a hundred years ago as described by those involved. It is composed only of diaries, letters, memoirs, newspapers and other documents

I sailed with my family and a few other Russians on the Norwegian boat Christianiafjord. We had been sent off in a deluge of flowers and speeches. At Halifax the British naval authorities inspected the steamer, and police officers made a perfunctory examination of the papers of the American, Norwegian and Dutch passengers. They subjected the Russians, however, to a downright cross examination, asking us about our convictions, our political plans, and so forth. I absolutely refused to enter into a discussion of such matters with them. They insisted that I was a dangerous socialist. The whole business was so offensive, so clearly a discrimination against the Russian revolutionaries, in contrast to the treatment accorded other passengers not so unfortunate as to belong to a nation allied to England, that some of the Russians sent a violent protest to the British authorities. I did not join with them because I saw little use in complaining to Beelzebub about Satan. 

✍    Also today

Dear Olga! Your marriage plan sounds very reasonable to me, and I shall stand (in the C.C.) for 100 frs. being issued to you: 50 frs. in the fist of a lawyer and 50 frs. to a “convenient old man” for marrying you! 

No, really!! To have the right of entry both into Germany and into Russia! 

Hurrah! A brilliant idea of yours! 

Best regards, 
Yours, Lenin

The Yellow Press has launched an invective-filled campaign to discredit the former Tsar and his wife, attempting to fan the flames of hatred and vengeance among the workers and soldiers of the capital. Fantastic descriptions, many bordering on vulgarity, of palace life have been appearing in various papers, even in some of those which continued to benefit from their former status as the “semi-official” voice of the government right up until the very last day of the regime. The more liberal and democratic papers have thus far restrained from sensationalism in their criticism of the overthrown monarch, but even in these papers the articles of otherwise sober-minded writers sometimes exhibit a highly dubious character.

During the first two weeks everything went admirably. Merging with the crowd, we walked through the streets, and observed the triumphant demonstrations which have been organised to celebrate the country’s newly-acquired freedom. The days are filled with endless meetings, and countless orators are promising peace, triumph and freedom. It’s difficult to work out how this will all conclude, but, of course, one should never forget the Russian love of lofty rhetoric. People stop me on the street, shake my hand and say that my liberal views are well known. Officers and soldiers who meet me salute, although the practice of saluting, under the much-vaunted Order No. 1, has been revoked.   

Everything seems to be very fine.

“Dostoevsky has been forgotten in Russia!”, I was once told by a soldier before the war. Now the revolution has proven it, opening up a desperate war of words between the democratic-bourgeois francophiles and the anarchic Tolstoyites. But we all known that “forgetting” is a very superficial psychological process. And no one can yet demonstrate any proof that the Russian “democratic and social republic” which is being presented to us will achieve anything of any seriousness for the Russian people.

Two Swedes are threateningly milling around me at one of the stations. One, in the pea-jacket of a railwayman, the other in civilian clothes. I wonder if maybe he’s a plain-clothes officer. Perhaps the Swedish government has decided to terminate my journey through Swedish territory? Suddenly they make a beeline for me, and the one in the railway uniform asks: “You’re not Alexandra Kollontai, are you?”. I was right! Now they’re going to arrest me. “How glad we are to see you, let me shake your hand!...

We are from the Union of Swedish Youth, we know of you through your articles and recognised you from your portrait in the newspaper. We were all wondering: could it really be you? Give the Russian workers our greetings. We share their joy. Your victory has brought us hope.


They speed me on my way with a long and heartfelt handshake.

A long interview with Polivanoff this morning, he being very optimistic as to the future. He thought Alexeieff was an over-strong disciplinarian. (Lord knows how long discipline of any kind will last with these men, who are really like children). He laid stress on the necessity for supporting the Provisional Government. I assured him that we should do all in our power in that direction, and added quite frankly that it was not only for the sake of Russia, but for the continuation of the war in conjunction with us Allies.

As early as the 14th March, i.e., even before the abdication of the Emperor and the formation of the Provisional Government, the Soviet issued under the form of a prikaz an Order of the Day to the army, inviting the troops to proceed at once to the election of representatives to the Council of Deputies and Soldiers. This prikaz further decreed that in each regiment a committee should be elected to seize and supervise the use of all arms, rifles, guns, machine guns, armoured cars, etc. . . .; in any case, the use of these arms was no longer to depend upon the will of the officers. The prikaz wound up by abolishing all outward signs of rank and prescribing that "any difference of opinion between officers and men" should henceforth be settled by the company committees. This fine document, which bore the signatures of Sokolov, Nachamkitz and Skobelev, was telegraphed the same evening to all the armies at the front. As a matter of fact, it would not have been possible to send it had not the mutineers seized the military telegraph offices at the very outset.

The moment Gutchkov was installed at the War Ministry, he tried to persuade the Soviet to withdraw the extraordinary prikaz which involved nothing less than the destruction of all discipline in the army.

After prolonged negotiations, the Soviet has consented to declare that for the time being the prikaz shall not apply to the fighting armies. But the moral effect of its publication still remains, and judging by the latest telegrams from General Alexeïev indiscipline is spreading to an alarming degree among the troops at the front.

How grievous to think that the Germans are only eighty kilometres from Paris

It was a cloudy day and thawing. In the morning I took a walk with Dolgorukov for three or four hours. Now there is plenty of time to read for my own enjoyment, there is sufficient time to sit up with the children. Marie*s strong temperature continued at 40.6 degrees. Anastasia has complications with her ears, though yesterday they punctures her right ear drum. During the day I took a walk to the old park.

Today:

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in Petrograd
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in Moscow