The Amherst concentration camp was located in an old and very dilapidated iron- foundry that had been confiscated from its German owner. The sleeping bunks were ar- ranged in three tiers, two deep, on each side of the hall. About eight hundred of us lived in these conditions. The air in this improvised dormitory at night can be imagined. Men hopelessly dogged the passages, elbowed their way through, lay down or got up, played cards or chess. Many of them practised crafts, some with extraordinary skill. I still have, stored in Moscow, some things made by Amherst prisoners. And yet, in spite of the heroic efforts of the prisoners to keep themselves physically and morally fit, five of them had gone insane. We had to eat and sleep in the same room with these madmen.
Wilson makes a special batch of 'liberation' land mines.
Behind the Great French Revolution there is a great sin - to execute Lavoisier and to tell him, that his request for a postponement as to compelete some important chemical experiments won’t be granted, as “the republic does not need scientists and experimenters”. But the last century created a decisive revolution in this respect in human minds, as now one shouldn’t be afraid of a democracy that would forget the ever regal role of science in human life.
We can not but wait, we must wait, under the new system of our life, to intensify the means of all kinds of scientific activity. And if so, then for us there is a new reason to strengthen our working energy to the highest degree.
Guilbeaux, in confidence, told me about a serious plan of his friends, Russian revolutionaries, that seems to me to be very serious. Having exhausted all usual and unusual ways of trying to get entry into their country, having been denied by France and England, unsuccessfully trying to have the International Red Cross involved, they had a daring thought to try to get in touch with the general consul of Germany through their friends in Switzerland. See more
They have signed (or will sign) an agreement, according to which they are obligated to demand the release of all civilian German prisoners. In return, Germany obliges to let them pass through their territory into Russia, from one border to the other, in stamped and sealed train cars. I am vehemently against this plan. I have no doubts in the clear conscience of Russian revolutionaries and I understand the impatience that gnaws at them very well. But I cannot accept that they have gone to German government for help, not only because it is the enemy (they do not recognize it as such), but because it is the worst supporter of militant imperialism. Whatever they do in the future and however honest their intentions are, in the eyes of Europe and their own people they will be enemy’s accomplices.
A wonderful quiet day. During the morning I took a walk. During the day, Marie and Anastasia were taken to the playroom. I worked with Dolgorukov; now almost all of the path is clean. At 6:30 I went to vespers with Olga and Tatiana. During the evening I read Chekov aloud.
Left G.H.Q. last night and arrived at Petrograd today. Managed to get rooms at Hotel de l’Ours. The journey up was bad. Riggs, who came up, shared a two-berth sleeper with me, Missi, my faithful Russian servant, leaning against the door all night, as private soldiers were all over the place, allowed to go anywhere now and no class distinctions in the trains. One could not move from one’s berth, and there was no food, but the men behaved quite well to us. See more
My rooms are good, but no heating and one sits in a coonskin coat (which I thank my stars I brought from Canada), and shivers even in that, as this Russian winter is by no means over, and as the American paper said of North Dakota, ‘it ain’t no Garden of Eden in the winter-time’.
No bread or biscuits, and a boiled egg and marmalade alone are about as nasty as a meal as I know; however, I suppose one is devilish lucky to get that.
Streets are more or less quiet, but big hungry crowds at the bakers’ shops.
Went to the Embassy and heard their news, which was far from cheering. Walked back, passing the ‘Winter Palace’, where the sentries leaned against the wall and smoked cigarettes. Some of the soldiers salute me and some don’t, though they look shy and half inclined to, but then I suppose they think it would not look sufficiently revolutionary.
At my table at dinner (?) sat a British merchant who has been here many years. Very depressed – sees no end to the trouble. All his workmen on strike and demanding hopeless wages. Thinks there will be another sample of revolution ere long, and I expect he is right.