I would like to say to everyone suffering the cruel torments of current conditions, to everyone who feels downhearted, I would like to say that even in these days, days which threaten to spell the end of Russia, the country’s intellectual life has not faded away, nor has it simply come to a standstill. On the contrary, it is continuing to develop energetically on all sides.
Vera told me what you said, and I felt bad for the both of us. I dreamt about you the other day. You were much bigger than you are now, with short hair like a boy, in a dirty dress and a dirty apron. But your face was very similar. You ran into the room and stopped when you saw me. See more
“Alya, do you not recognise me?” I asked, and I was really upset. Then you walked towards me but you seemed unfriendly and stubborn. I dreamt about Irina as well, and she was already grown up. She had green eyes and when I looked into them it was like seeing the wings of a butterfly. Alya! Tell the nanny not to put the stripy blue dress on you without me! You probably eat obnoxiously and pour milk all over yourself without me there. Anyway, when the weather’s nice for walking, go to Novinsky Boulevard instead of Sobachya Ploshchadka. There’s more room for you to play there, and it’s not as dusty. Martych! Don’t forget to pray every evening for everyone you love.
Pray now for Irina, and for the fact that Dad didn’t go to war. Big kisses.
It's raining. The fog. The cold. There is an incredible hole here, full of simply ridiculous things. Servant strikes. Cowardly but thieving homeowners. And also some kind of 'soldier's soviet'. The schoolchildren are sweet. Only they look brightly ahead.
Today the Tsesarevich told me: “Father gave us an exam. He remained very unhappy and said: “What did you learn?”" The young girls offered their services as teachers, and the crowned parents followed their example. The Emperor took upon himself the task of teaching history and geography, the Empress - God’s law and German, Iza - English, Nastenka - the history of art and music. See more
This is very good, as it engages them and brings a cultural stream into their democratised way of life. This was even noticed by one of the junior officers, who alternately guard the Emperor. He believes that they have just come down from the pedestal, and the Sovereign will gradually get used to his present way of life, if only his habits, his walks, tea at five o’clock in the evening and other meals will be allowed to him.
The political situation is getting worse every day, instead of clearing up. I think that if the submarine war does not prove its effectiveness by September, Germany will get rid of its illusions, with frightening consequences. I’m too grumpy to work.
The forces of anarchy are swelling and raging with the uncontrollable force of an equinoctial tide.
All discipline has vanished in the army. Officers are everywhere being insulted, ragged and---if they object---massacred. It is calculated that more than 1,200,000 deserters are wandering over Russia, filling the stations, storming the carriages, stopping the trains, and thus paralysing all the military and civil transport services. See more
At junctions in particular they seem positively to swarm. A train arrives: they make its occupants get out, take their places and compel the stationmaster to switch the train off in any direction they like. Or it may be a train laden with troops for the front. The men get out at some station, arrange a meeting, confer together for an hour or two, and wind up by demanding to be taken back to their starting point.
In the Civil Service there is no less disorder. The heads have lost all authority over their subordinates, who in any case spend most of their time in speechifying in the Soviets or demonstrating in the streets.
Of course the food shortage shows no sign of improvement, if indeed it is not getting worse. And yet there are in the stations of Petrograd four thousand wagons loaded with flour. But the lorry drivers refuse to work. Then the Soviet publishes an eloquent appeal:
Do not imitate the infamies of the old regime! Do not let your brothers die of hunger! Unload the wagons!"
The comrade lorry-drivers answer as one man: "We will not unload the wagons, because it is not our pleasure to do so. We are free!!"
Then when the day comes in which it pleases the comrade lorry-drivers to unload the wagons of flour, it is the turn of the bakers to refuse to work. Then the Soviet publishes an eloquent appeal:
Do not imitate the infamies of the old regime! Do not let your brothers die of hunger! Make bread!"
The comrade bakers answer as one man: "We will not make bread, because it is not our pleasure to do so. We are free!"
In the streets many of the izvochtchiks are refusing to keep to the left, because they are free. But as they are not agreed about it, the result is continual collision.
The police, which was the main, if not the only, framework of this enormous country, has simply ceased to exist, for the "Red Guard, a kind of municipal militia instituted in some of the large cities, is nothing but a hoard of outcasts and apaches. And as all the prisons have been opened, it is miraculous that more attacks on persons and property have not been reported.
Yet agrarian disorder is greatly on the increase, particularly in the districts of Kursk, Voronej, Tambov and Saratov.
One of the oddest signs of the general derangement is the attitude of the Soviets and their following towards the prisoners of war.
At Schlusselburg the German prisoners are allowed to go about unattended in the town. Within a distance of five versts from the front one of my officers has seen bodies of Austrian prisoners walking about without let or hindrance. To crown everything, a regional conference of German, Turkish and Austro-Hungarian prisoners has demanded---and successfully---that the "eight-hour day" should be applied to them!
"A battle royal is being fought between Kerensky and Miliukoff on the famous formula, ' Peace without annexations,' and as the majority of the Ministers are on Kerensky 's side, I should not be surprised if Miliukoff has to go. He would be a loss in many ways, as he represents the moderate element in the Cabinet and is quite sound on the subject of the war, but he has so little influence with his colleagues that one never knows whether he will be able to give effect to what he says. See more
The Government is still playing a waiting game, and prefers that the initiative in dealing with Lenin should come from the people. Miliukoff, with whom I discussed the question the other day, said that the popular feeling against Lenin was growing, that the troops were ready to arrest him whenever the Govern- ment gave the word, but that the latter did not wish to precipitate matters for fear of provoking civil strife. I told him that the time had come for the Government to act, and that Russia would never win the war if Lenin was allowed to go on inciting soldiers to desert, to seize the land, and to murder. He replied that the Government were but waiting for the psychological moment, which was not, he thought, far distant. Miliukoff also spoke more hopefully of the relative positions of the Provisional Government and the Soviet. The latter is being completely reorganized. Its members have been reduced to six hundred, and a new executive committee has been appointed. The effect of this reorganization will be to render it a more moderate, but at the same time a stronger, body. It is not therefore Hkely to renounce its claim to control and direct the policy of the Government.
In view of the military situation on the front and of the new moral element brought into the field by the revolution, I, personally, think that we shall have to consent to the revision of some of our agreements. I am anxious to conciliate the Labour party and the Socialists, who are constantly attacking us for wishing to continue the war for imperialistic ends. I have in my speeches tried to disillusion them of this idea, but without much success. I have also endeavoured to explain that it was not on account of their political opinions, but on account of the want of transport, that some of the Russian political refugees have been pre- vented returning to Russia. My statements have but exposed me to fresh attacks, while the Socialist Press is accusing our Labour delegates of being the paid emissaries of our Government and not the real repre- sentatives of British Labour."
I must supplement what I said at the end of this letter by a short explanatory statement. The attacks made against us in the Press on account of our deten- tion of Russian political refugees had taken such a serious turn that they were even endangering the lives of some of the British factory owners, whose position was already anything but secure owing to the uncertain attitude of the workmen. I had, therefore, to speak seriously to Miliukoff and to request him to take steps to put an end to this Press campaign. On his replying that the Russian Government was being similarly attacked, I said that that was not my concern, and that I could not allow my Government to be used as a lightning conductor to divert the attacks made on his Government. I then reminded him that I had, early in April, informed him that Trotzky and other Russian political refugees were being detained at Halifax until the wishes of the Provisional Government with regard to them had been ascertained. On April 8 I had, at his request, asked my Government to release them and to allow them to proceed on their journey to Russia. Two days later he had begged me to cancel this request and to say that the Provisional Government hoped they would be detained at Halifax until further information had been obtained about them. It was the Provisional Government, therefore, that was responsible for their further detention till April 21, and I should have to make this fact public unless a statement was published to the effect that we had not refused visas to the passports of any Russians presented by the Russian consular authorities. This he consented to do.
The attacks on our Labour delegates had been inspired by a message sent to a Russian Socialist by a member of the Independent Labour Party in London. The matter was eventually put right by Mr. Hyndman, who requested Kerensky by telegraph to " contradict most emphatically lying statement of the I.L.P.
Involuntarily I recalled that it was the holiday of the 1st and 2nd Infantry RegimentsThe Feast of the 1st and 2nd Rifle Regiments was celebrated on April 30 according to a new style, on the day of the Monks Zosima and Savvatiy Solovetsky.; but human eyes and trumpets did not announce this day today through the walls of the large palace. During the morning I thought about this. From 12 o'clock until dinner I gave Alexis geography lessons, took a walk and worked with Tatiana. The weather was clear and fine. The evening went as yesterday.