Russian people have proven that they are a great people worthy of a great future. On the edge of destruction, in a hopeless situation, under threat from a terrible enemy, they, inspired and ingenious, have carried out the shortest, bloodless, and painless of revolutions.
The long, oppressive horror has dissipated, and the Russian people have emerged from the gloomy, bewitched kingdom into a bright kingdom of freedom.
I arrived to Petersburg today in the afternoon, only found my aunt here, we had breakfast and lunch together, shared our impressions with each other. I am rather dumb, and comprehend everything poorly, because I have lived a senseless life for a long time, without any thoughts, as a plant. See more
Today the sun shines brightly and it’s melting here... Despite my dumbness, everything that has happened makes me happy. No one can yet evaluate what has happened, because history has not yet experienced anything on this scale. It was not possible for it not to happen, but it could have only occurred in Russia.
Russian revolution defeats its opponents and moves them not in the same way as the French revolution, it conquers not with terror and blood, but with its faith, charm, enthusiasm, that has swept the masses with a deep faith in bright ideals of democracy. Free people are undefeatable in their faith.
The Germans, who have hoped that we Bolsheviks will perform the role of those opposed to the war, have agreed to our terms.
Earmark two thousand, better three thousand, kronen for our journey. Intend leave Wednesday minimum ten persons. Wire.
I was delegated to the Soviet by our Bolshevik military organization. People kept asking "Why is a woman delegated by the military?". It's very unusual. But soon everyone stopped being so surprised.
I saw the sailor Derevenko, who, lounging in an armchair, ordered the Heir to give him this or that. Alexei Nikolaevich ran around with sad and surprised eyes, fulfilling the orders. This Derevenko enjoyed the love of Their Majesties: for so many years they spoiled him and his family, showering them with gifts. I felt almost sick; I begged that they would rather take me away.
Michel Alexandrovitch Stakhovitch, an admirer and great friend, appointed Governor-General of Finland by the Provisional Government, came to assure me that he was ready to do anything to improve my position.
I daily saw General Kornilov and his Chief of Staff, Colonel Balaban, an old friend from 1914 days. Kornilov gradually gave up his former optimism. On April 6tli he was called to attend a meeting of the Cabinet, and said afterwards that its members showed great weakness. See more
He was a man, at all events, and feared no one. One day a man of the Pavlovski Battalion asked him sneeringly when he proposed to have a parade, and he replied : “ Parade ! How do you imagine I should show rubbish like you to the Russian people ? As soon as you have established order I will have a parade."
To a man in one of the machine-gun regiments he said: "I suppose you think that the troops at the front regard you as heroes ? Well, I will tell you that they don’t; they think you are merely cowards that don’t want to fight.”
Such remarks must have been trying hearing for men who had suddenly wakened to find themselves popular heroes.
Actors and artists of the Mikhailovsky Theatre decided to establish the Ministry of Arts. I sat at their meeting as a spectator.
Suddenly among the names nominated to the ministry by the youth, I hear my own. See more
And here I am again, travelling from Petrograd to my Vitebsk. If you are to be a minister, then it is better to be a minister at home. My wife cried, seeing that I completely abandoned painting. “It will all end in failure and resentment,” she warned. And it happened. Unfortunately, the wife is always right. And when will I learn to obey her?
The Grand Duchess Marie was still very ill, and Anna, who knew this, decided to go and see her. The Empress was against the idea; Anna was ill, she said, and it was better for her health and her safety to keep as quiet as possible, and not to draw any undue attention to her presence in the Palace. See more
So strongly did the Empress disapprove, that she was taken in her wheeled chair to see Anna, but she returned more nervous and apprehensive than before.
Alexis Nicolaievitch feeling much better. We went to church this morning, where we found Their Majesties, the Grand-Duchesses Olga and Tatiana, and the various members of the suite who are sharing our captivity. When the priest prayed for the success of the Russian and Allied armies the Czar and Czarina knelt down, the whole congregation following their example. See more
A few days ago, as I was leaving Alexis Nicolaievitch’s room, I met ten soldiers wandering about in the passage. I went up to them and asked what they wanted.
“We want to see the Heir”
“He’s in bed and can’t be seen.”
“And the others?”
“They are also unwell.”
“And where is the Czar?”
“I don’t know.”
“Will he be going out?”
“I don’t know; but come, don’t hang about here. There must be no noise because of the invalids!”
They went back, walking on their toes and talking in low voices. These are the soldiers depicted to us as wild revolutionaries hating their ex-Czar.
General Kornilov, the new Military Governor of Petrograd, is endeavouring gradually to resume control of the troops of the garrison. The task is all the more arduous because most of the officers have been killed, degraded or forced to fly. He has ordered a review on the Winter Palace Square for this morning and, very judiciously, has selected only the best elements, those units in which discipline has suffered least. Since the fall of the imperial regime, it is the first time that a substantial force has been assembled in regular formation. See more
From the windows of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs I saw the review with Buchanan and Neratov.
The troops---ten thousand men or so---had a tolerable soldierly bearing and marched past in good order. There were very few officers. All the bands played the Marseillaise, but at a slow pace which made it sound sinister. In each company and squadron I noticed several red banners bearing inscriptions Land and Liberty! . . The Land for the People! . Long live the Social Republic! . . . Ona very small number I read: The War until Victory! Abovethe Winter Palace floated an enormous red flag.
The spectacle was singularly instructive. From the military point of view, I could condense my ideas thus: a force in which the spirit of. discipline has not wholly disappeared but which is thinking less of its military duties than of its hopes of political and social reform.
From the historical and picturesque aspect, I was obsessed by a vivid contrast. I reminded Buchanan and Neratov of the afternoon of the 2nd August, 1914, and that majestic scene when the Emperor appeared on the balcony of this same palace after swearing on the gospel and the holy ikons that he would not sign peace so long as a single enemy soldier stood on Russian soil. In that solemn hour I was at his side: he was grave but smiling. The great square was packed with people---even more so than this morning---soldiers, bourgeois, workmen, moujiks, women, children: and the whole crowd on its knees to receive the blessing of its father the Tsar, sang the hymn, Bojé tsaria kranié.
O temps évanouis, ô splendeurs éclipsées,
O soleils descendus derrière l'horizon!
A consignment of newspapers, the latest of which is eleven days old, has reached me from Paris and strengthens me in a view I took on reading the daily résumés transmitted by telegraph. The French public is enthusiastic for the Russian revolution! Once again our press will have been found wanting in moderation and judgment. I admit of course that as the disappearance of Tsarism is an accomplished fact, we were unquestionably obliged to adapt ourselves to the new state of affairs and to "put a good face on a bad business." It was therefore right and proper that French opinion should appear to receive the Russian revolution with confidence and sympathy. But for Heaven's sake no hosannahs! The Soviet isquite puffed up enough already. These pæons of praise and admiration will turn its head completely. The main fault is evidently that of the censorship which ought to have moderated the zeal of the sycophants.
From a personal letter which the same messenger has brought me I also learn that in the corridors of the Chamber and newspaper offices---and among polite society ---the honour of having brought about the revolution is attributed to Sir George Buchanan his purpose being to put an end to German intrigues. The suggestion is false. Criticisms of myself are appended, as might be expected; men recall that in the old days French diplomacy did not hesitate to resort to great methods on great occasions and did not allow itself to be checked by any vain respect for the principle of legitimacy. My behaviour is being contrasted with the example of my famous predecessor the Marquis de la Chétardie, who in 1741 had no hesitation in associating himself boldly with the national party in destroying German influence and placing Elizabeth Petrovna on the imperial throne.
Before long it will be realized that the revolution is the most damaging blow that could have been inflicted on Russian nationalism.
This evening, one of my guests at dinner was Prince Scipio Borghese, formerly a radical deputy at the Monte-Citorio, who has just arrived in Petrograd with his daughter, pretty Princess Santa; both are very open-minded and of many-sided intellect and they are anxious to see a revolution---and what a revolution!---at close quarters. My other guests were M. and Madame Polovtsov, Princess Sophie Dolgorouki, Count Sergei Kutusov, Count Nani Mocenigo, Poklevski, etc. . . .
I spoke of the favourable impression made upon me by this morning's review. On the other side of the scale, Polovtsov and Poklevski told me of the deplorable news they have received from the front.
Prince Borghese, with whom I had a long talk after dinner, asked me what characteristics had struck me most in the Russian revolutions, meaning the characteristics which in my opinion distinguish it most forcibly from Western revolutions. I replied:
"First of all you must realize that the Russian revolution has barely begun and that certain forces which are destined to play a tremendous part in it, forces such as land hunger, ethnical antagonisms, social disintegration, the economic débâcle and anti-Jewish passion, are so far at work only in theory. With that reservation, what strikes me most is this":
And I illustrated the following points with various examples:
(1) The fundamental psychological difference between the Latin or Anglo-Saxon revolution and the Slav revolution. The imagination of either of the former is logical and constructive; he destroys to build a new edifice, every part of which he has contemplated and thought out. The imagination of the latter is simply destructive and dispersive; his visions are the very essence of the indefinite.
(2) Eight-tenths of the Russian population cannot read or write, a fact which makes the audiences at public meetings and gatherings particularly responsive to the power of eloquence and the action of the leaders.
(3) Weakness of will is endemic in Russia; all Russian literature goes to prove it. Russians are incapable of persevering in any one course. The war of 1812 was comparatively short. The present war, with its length and its horrors, is too much for the staying power of the national temperament.
(4) Anarchy, with all that it implies in the way of extravagance, sloth and vacillation, is an inebriating passion to a Russian. It also gives him an excuse for endless public demonstrations, in which he satisfies his craving for spectacular and emotional display and his keen instinct for poetry and beauty.
(5) Lastly, the enormous area of the country makes each province a centre of separatism and each town a nucleus of anarchy; the slight authority still possessed by the Provisional Government is thereby totally paralysed.
"But What is the remedy?" Borghese asked.
"The socialists of the allied countries must show their comrades of the Soviet that the political and social conquests of the revolution are lost unless Russia is first saved."
The impression which the new Ministers made on me when I went to convey to them our official recog- nition was not such as to inspire me with great con- fidence for the future. Most of them already showed signs of strain and struck me as having undertaken a task beyond their strength. See more
Prince Lvoff had, as leader of the Zemstvos, done invaluable work in organizing subsidiary services for supplying the army with warm clothing and other things of which it stood in urgent need, and both he and his colleagues would have made excellent Ministers in more normal times. But the situation was the very reverse of normal, and in the impending struggle with the Soviet what was required was a man of action, prompt to seize the first favourable opportunity for suppressing that rival and illegally constituted assembly. There was no such man in the Government. Guchkoff, the Minister of War, was capable and energetic and fully alive to the neces- sity of restoring discipline in the army. But he could not carry his colleagues with him, and eventually resigned as a protest against their weakness. Miliukoff , staunch friend as he was of the Allies, advocated the strict observance of the treaties and agreements which the Imperial Government had concluded with them. He held that the acquisition of Constantinople was a matter of vital moment for Russia ; but on this question he was almost in a minority of one in the Government.
As regarded the propaganda which the Socialists were carrying on at the front, MiUukoff was deplorably weak, contending that nothing could be done but to meet it with counter-propaganda. Kerensky w^as the only Minister whose personality, if not altogether sympathetic, had something arresting about it that did not fail to impress one. As an orator he possessed the magnetic touch which holds an audience spellbound, and in the earlier days of the revolution he unceasingly strove to instil into the workmen and soldiers some of his own patriotic fervour. But, while advocating fight- ing out the w^ar to a finish, he deprecated any idea of conquest, and when Miliukoff spoke of the acquisition of Constantinople as one of Russia's war aims, he promptly disavowed him. With his hold on the masses, with his personal ascendancy over his colleagues, and in the absence of any qualified rival, Kerensky was the only man to whom we could look to keep Russia in the war. Tereschenko, the Minister of Finance, who subsequently became Minister for Foreign Affairs, was one of the most promising members of the new Government. Very young, an ardent patriot, brilliantly clever, and possessed of an unbounded faith in Kerensky, he was inclined to be too optimistic. I had a great personal regard for him, and we soon became friends. His mother was very rich, and he was supposed — though without cause — to have financed the revolution. An amusing story is told to the effect that when, after the Bolshevik revolution, Tereschenko, together with his colleagues, was imprisoned in the fortress, Schteglovitoff, the reactionary Minister of Justice, and a fellow-prisoner, meeting him in the exercising yard, remarked, " You paid five million roubles to come here. I would have sent you here for nothing."
It was a bright day. At 11 o'clock I went to Mass with Olga, Tatiana and Alexis. Marie and Anastasia's temperature fell to normal, but towards evening Marie's rose a little bit. I went for a two hour walk; I walked and worked and delighted in the weather. I returned home at 4:30. I sat for a long time with the children. In the evening we sat with Anna and others.