I am watching the ballet “The Good Humoured Ladies”.
I was chatting to Lunacharsky at a musical evening. I heard from him that Lenin had left for Russia three days ago, travelling through Germany in a sealed carriage with four revolutionary comrades, Jews and Zionists. There were heated discussions before they left. The patriotically inclined socialists had spoken out against Lenin, whereas others accused him of indiscretion. As for Lenin, it is pointless trying to argue with him. See more
Lunacharsky describes him as an exceptionally energetic man, the only one of all the socialist leaders to exert an enormous influence with the people, due to the clarity of his aims and the infectious power of his will. He exercises the control of an authoritative leader within the party and is one of only a few aristocrats (just as Plekhanov is) among the socialists, where Jews predominate.
Berlin, which we saw only from the window of the carriage, resembled a cemetery.
In Berlin, the platform at which the train stopped was cordoned off by plain-clothes operatives. We travelled in this way as far as Sassnitz, where we boarded a steamer. There, we were given instructions to carry out the usual formalities and fill out forms. Ilyich saw this as a cunning ruse by the enemy, and ordered us to sign our names using various pseudonyms, which later led to a comical misunderstanding. See more
The radio on the steamer received a query from Trelleborg, enquiring if there was a Mr Ulyanov on board the steamer. It was our comrade Ganetsky, who had been waiting for us at a port in Sweden for several days, and who had managed to get permission to use the government radio by impersonating a representative of the Russian Red Cross. The captain knew from the forms that there was no Ulyanov on board, but asked in any case, if, by chance, there was a Mr Ulyanov among us. Ilyich looked uncomfortably about him for some time, and eventually admitted that he was Ulyanov. Following this, Ganetsky had notification that we were on our way.
Now the steamer is coming closer. These few minutes seemed to last an eternity. At last, it docks. Gradually, a number of figures appear: Platten, Vladimir Ilyich, Zinoviev, Nadezhda Konstantnovna and many familiar comrades...Radek is there, too. Confident that the Germans would dutifully honour our conditions and not inspect our passports, he decided to take advantage of the situation and make his way into Russia “illegally”.
Life in Petersburg is becoming unbearable. Everybody is raving about the revolution, even wealthy people, and those who used to think of themselves as conservatives. A great many city-dwellers have run away to their estates in the Crimea. We have become fugitives. The revolution has still not reached the south of Russia, and the Crimea is relatively safe.
March has been vile and wretched. I have not been working, feeling wretched and everything has become muddled, somehow. There have been endless boring meetings of delegates. There was an argument with Mayakovsky, which was horrible and distasteful. I don’t know what he must think of me, but I gave him a piece of my mind.
If the Provisional Government really is serious about its stated intentions, then it must not waste a minute. Not one drop of Russian blood should be spilt for any other aim but defence. And true defence - as opposed to strategic defence - can only begin when peace is declared openly and officially, amid conditions formulated and approved by the greatest minds of world democracy.
Darkness and evil lie not in the external social forms of the people, but deeper, within the people’s spiritual core. The old autocracy has gone, and yet we still have a system of absolute power in Russia, and still the same lack of respect for human beings, for human dignity and human rights. See more
The old autocracy, bureaucracy and police have all gone, and yet the bribe is still the bedrock of Russian life, its basic constitution. Bribes are flourishing now as never before. Profiteering from the revolution is taking place on a massive scale.
The ballet had been so carefully rehearsed that the premiere went off flawlessly and the audience in Rome, impressed and perhaps flattered, reacted favourably to a Russian interpretation of a profoundly Italian story