USS

She Story of SOVIET RUSSIA

By WALTER DURANTY

Author of “I Write as I Please”

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY PHILADELPHIA NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT, 1944, BY WALTER DURANTY

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

FIRST EDITION

Under Government regulations for saving metal and paper during the war, the size and bulk of this book have been reduced below the customary peacetime standards. Only the format has been affected. The text is complete and unabridged.

to MELCHIOR

who once took out a mote from mine eye.”-

PERMISSION TO USE excerpts from the author’s earlier publications has been courteously granted by the following: The Viking Press, Inc. (“Duranty Reports Russia,” 1934) Simon & Schuster, Inc. (“I Write As I Please,” 1935) Esquire, Inc. (“Stalin; Dealer in Destiny,” Coronet Magazine,

June, 1943)

17. 18.

Contents

“THe Occasion Propuces THE Man” Rasputin, Kerensky, LENIN

“Nor Any CHART TO GuIpDE THEM” Tue HostTire CIRCLE .

A TEMPORARY RETREAT .

Gops AND DEviIts .... .

Tue New ReEpustic

Lenin Deap AND Trotsky Livine “Tuis Irt-MatcuHep Par...” CREDITS AND DEBITS

THe Dark BAacKGROUND

UNITED EFFORT

THe Frve-YeAar PLran: A WEAPON Tue PLAN IN OPERATION . PoRTRAIT OF A STRONG Man .

Tue AGRICULTURAL Peon : “Man-Mapre FAMINE” .. .

YEAR OF SUCCESS .....

II

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37 53 65 75 85 96 107 117 127 137 146 156 165 T77 188

200

CONTENTS Tue TREASON TRIALS . THE GREAT PuRGE AND NATIONAL DEFENSE Woman’s PLace Moscow ann Municu BorRowED ‘TIME Tue Tiranic STRUGGLE A PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE APPENDIX

INDEX. 4 a. ck Se Se ee Oe OE SOR

USSR

Chapter 4

"THE OCCASION PRODUCES THE MAN"

THE FIRST THING to know and understand and remember about Rus- sia 1s that it is utterly different from the Western world, and that our standards of comparison cannot be applied to it. This is equally true about the former T'sarist Russia and the modern U. S. S. R.— Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, in which the word Russia has no place—because the whole process of Russian national life and political development was not like that of the West. Therefore, I repeat, no comparison is possible.

This sounds like a sweeping statement, but it is not based upon the somewhat hasty premise that Russia has been fifteen or more percent Asiatic in blood, and perhaps often fifty percent Asiatic in mentality. Especially as regards contempt for death, which might be stated as contempt for life. Asia’s misfortune—or its strength—has been that life is sometimes so little worth living that it can easily be relinquished.

An interesting point about the Slavic race, which today occupies Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, is that the word “Slav” does not mean or imply, as some Westerners have fondly thought, anything to do with slaves. The word means “slorious”—“Slava Bogu” (glory to God). Which indicates immedi- ately that the Slavic nations have no inferiority complex. In fact, I should say, the opposite. The Slavs don’t wail at walls, nor ever attempt, like the Germans, to tell you how great they are. They say, on the contrary, “We are a backward people, dark ignorant masses

of people who don’t know this nor know that, although we are 11

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eager to learn.” In their hearts they think, “We are Slavs, and that means glorious. We are the heirs of the future, alchough much of our past is dim.” A superiority complex.

The determining factor in Russian history has been the flatness of the Russian land. All European Russia, from the Ural Mountains to the Polish border in the West, from Leningrad, formerly St. Petersburg, to the Caucasus in the South, is fat. Nowhere crags or mountains to provide strongholds and points of defense. Geography more than climate determines the fate of nations. Western Europe evolved into the feudal system because robber barons and chicfs were able to take and fortify high points of ground, around which, thanks to their protection, grew communities of artisans and traders. These strong points and these robber barons gave protection also to farmers, or peasants, in the neighborhood. In Russia no such strong points existed, and no such protection was possible. ‘Therefore no such communitics of traders and artisans and of the surrounding fariners were created.

In Western Europe those communities came ultimately to repre- sent the light of democracy in the darkness of the middle ages. Dur- ing the centuries of struggle between kings and barons these com- munities played, as we say, “both ends against the middle,” and acquired, now from king and now from barons, the rights which Americans today regard as their natural heritage. In Russia there was none of that, and from the earliest days Russian history has been conditioned by flatness and the absence of strong defensive barriers against invasion. No mountain ranges to defend, no crags on which to build strong fortresses, no chance for feudal barons and the com- munities around them which wrested from them the rights of our Western democracy.

The land of Russia was open to attack, and was attacked by the Mongol-Tartar hordes, and enemies from west and north. It was an open land, exposed and undefended, and was therefore forced, in self-defense, to submit itself to one strong ruler, because the small local defense strongholds were lacking. Thus one might say that Russia was doomed to autocracy from the outset. The country stood or fell in accordance with the strength of its central authority; there were no possibilities of local, or feudal, defense.

The early history of Russia falls exactly into this pattern, a fight for a strong central protective power against outer enemies. One of

“THE OCCASION PRODUCES THE MAN” 13

its early leaders was pre-Romanof Ivan, surnamed The Ternble, who took the first steps toward the unification of Russia. After his death there were invasions of enemies, since always the flat Russian plain lay open to attack. But the seed which Ivan sowed bore fruit, and his successors continued to strive for national independence. Slowly but with invincible persistence they broke the attempts at foreign domination, until there came Peter (Romanof) the Great, who had a new and different vision. Peter was not content to fight the invading Swedes and finally to destroy the army of the hitherto invincible Charles XII at Poltava in the Ukraine; he was the first to dream of a Russia which might call upon the West for aid in the development of its natural wealth and resources.

Both Tsars, Ivan and Peter, had to fight and did fight against their own nobles. But the latter had no strong points to hold against the central power, no tough burghers to assist them with arms and money—in return for fresh privilege and greater freedom. So Ivan overcame the nobles and created a strong Russia under one central authority. After Ivan Russia once more grew disunited and weak, until Peter Romanof completed Ivan’s work. His internal struggle was less against the nobles, who as a class had never fully recovered from Ivan’s blows, than against a semi-noble semi-warrior caste called the Streltsi, a sort of Pretorian Guard or power behind the throne. Peter crushed the Streltsi as Ivan had crushed the nobles, and by doing so implanted upon his country the absolute authority of the centre over its vast circumference. Henceforth the Kremlin was the supreme and focal point, and the Tsar was Tsar of Ail the Russias, sole lord and master of all the Russians. To put it bluntly, there were no free men in Russia, as we consider free men. The Tsar was lord of all, the high justice and the low, and in his sight the great noble or the bishop was no more important than the peasant or the worker. He could and did tear down the mighty from their seats and exalt the humble and weak. He could marry a village girl and make her Empress of Russia, or exile a Prince of the Church, as he pleased.

Thus as a result primarily of geography, there was established the Tsarist Autocracy which endured until the fall of Nicholas IL. Naturally there grew around it offshoots, its instruments and mech- anism, its military and managerial system, generals and governors and a great host of bureaucrats. Their leaders, drawn from the

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former nobility which had submitted to the Tsar, or joined to its daughters by marriage, were the landlords of Russia, holding huge estates by royal grant, as did the relatives of the Imperial family. There was a relatively simall trading class and a larger body of artisans working individually or in groups, who could hardly be described as Labor in the Western sense of the word. They were craftsmen, but until the latter years of the ninercenth century Russia was an agricultural country W ith little organized industry of its own. (As late as 1896, for instance, there were less than four million factory workers in a total population of a hundred and forty mil- lion. Even by 1917, when the Revolution occurred, there were only ten million industrial workers in the whole country.) Finally, there was the immense peasant population, millions of men and women who worked the land by the sweat of their brows with the most primitive instruments and methods. Mentally and physically they were debased almost to the level of animals, and until less ‘than a hundred years ago they were sold like animals with the land on which they dwelt.

Greek philosophers were willing to admit, or at least to discuss, the principle that a benevolent despotism was the best form of gov- ernment. A further condition is necessary: that the despotism must be strong. The strength of the Tsarist autocrac v was proved by the face that it lasted, as I have said, from Ivan the Terrible to Nicholas II, despite foreign wars that were often disastrous and its own in- ternal dissensions or “palace coups.” Some Tsars were more “liberal” than others, but theirs was not the Hheralism of democracy as we conceive it, and was devored chiefly to bolstering the power and position of the Emperor. It ts significant that Alexander Mikhailovich, the second Romanof, called upon his fellow-rulers in Furape to undertake a holy war against Cromwell and the English Regicides, and that the great F:mpress Catherine refused to recognize the gov- ernment of the American Revolution. Liberal ideas and forcign travel were discouraged for all save a chosen few of the ruling class, and the Imperial authority consistently utilized the great influence of the Orthodox Church to maintain the masses in the “state in which it had pleased God to place them,” that is, in abysmal ignorance and subservience.

Nevertheless, the effects of forcign wars, notably the conflicts with Frederick the Great and Napoleon, contributed to break down

“THE OCCASION PRODUCES THE MAN” 5

the aloofness of Russia which was one of the “secret weapons” of ‘Tsarist autocracy. A similar effect was produced, more slowly but no less surely, by the Russian desire, first expressed by Peter, to obtain Western aid in the development of the country’s vast natural resources. It seems as though the Russians have always wished, even in modern times, to remain apart and exclusive and yet simultane- ously to share in and benefit by the progress of the West. As Russian industry gradually developed, in the second half of the nineteenth century, with the influx of foreign capital and the spread of educa- tion which it required, the nation became restive and began to feel that the rigid system of autocracy was like an iron band around a growing tree. The unrest, at first confined to the educated classes, began to permeate the new industrial proletariat, until throughout the country there was a sense of impending events, as when an ice- bound river heaves and groans in the springtime. At the outset the movement was one of discontent rather than of revolt, and com- paratively limited in scope. It might easily have been canalized or curbed by wise and resolute measures, but unfortunately for Tsar- dom, the Emperor Nicholas II was a man of weak and vacillatin character who not only blew alternately hot and cold but made the fatal error of allowing his country to be drawn into two losing wars.

The question has often been asked why a Marxist revolution should have occurred in Russia, the most backward and agricultural of white nations, whereas Marx himself predicted that it would come first in an advanced industrial state. My answer is that the Russian Revolution was only apparently, or I should better oy accidentally, a Marxist revolution. To be quite accurate, it was Marxist because Lenin who rode and to some extent directed its wave was himself a Marxist, and by force of his will and genius was able to guide it along Marxist channels. In reality, however, it was the revolt of an enslaved mass against the intolerable burden of a corrupt and weak- ened rule, a revolt more national than Marxist, similar, in fact, to the French Revolution of 1789. This is a point of cardinal importance which cannot be stressed too strongly, because it has determined the course of Soviet history. Later I shall explain why Lenin became a Marxist, but for the moment I digress to review briefly the Marxist doctrine.

Marx had argued that Capitalism, by which he meant the exploita- tion of men by Money, would ultimately produce a small minority

16 U.S. S. R.

of “bosses,” the moneyed group, and 2 great majority of their hire- lings, the proletariat. One fine day, said Marx, the Jatter would find they had “nothing to lose but their chains” and would forcibly seize everything, banks, factories, railroads, mines and the rest, from the hands of the privileged few. Marx expected this to occur in one of the highly industrialized countries of Europe, ike Britain or Ger- many. He did not foresee an additional exploitation, that of colonial or semi-colonial slaves. This was the use by the capitalist rulers of Western Europe of colored labor in the Congo, the Dutch and British East Indies and China to produce raw materials, rubber, tin, palm oil, foodstuffs, and a hundred other commodities which could be sold with such profit that the lot of the Western workers could be maintained above the Revolution level. Indirectly they too were profiting from the underpayment of their fellow proletarians i in the East. This was pointed out by the German Communist, Rosa Luxem- burg, whose views upon the “Theory of Colonial Slaves as a Hin- drance to Social Revolution in Europe” were later adopted by Lenin. Marx also forgot something clse. His book, “Das Kapital,” has been described as the Old Testament of the Bolshevik faith. It is a remark- able treatise on modern economics, burt it has the defeer that Karl Marx, a German Jew who emigrated to England, underestimated the compelling importance of nationalism, meaning leve of country, im the world. Nationalism is the strongest of the impondcrable forces which move mankind, stronger than religion, even than hunger or love; it is the strongest force of all. Men and women will dic for their country, for its flag and what that means to them, more readily than for anything else.

No one can deny that Jews have the strongest racial conscious- ness of any people, or that it has been reinforced for more than two thousand years by a strong religious consciousness. Nevertheless, Jewish revolutionaries, from Marx to Trotsky, have been inclined to underestimate the love-of-land-or-country force which impels men and women to fight against a foreign invader. Thus it seems that Marx was wrong on two counts. His “proletarian masses of Western Europe” were kept sweet by the crumbs of colonial profics which fell from their masters’ tables, and, secondly, were drugged into eager obedience by the potent opium of nationalism.

On the other hand, Marx was correct in his definition of the basic principles which should lead, and will always lead, to social revolu-

“THE OCCASION PRODUCES THE MAN” 17

tion. He said that when the great majority of a nation was unhappy and downtrodden, when it felt that too few were getting too much at the expense of too many, it would rise and sweep away this privileged minority. Lenin went further than Marx. Informed by his experience of the abortive revolutionary movement in Russia which followed the disastrous war with Japan in 1904-05, he de- veloped what might almost be called a “Blueprint for Revolution.” He said that not only was there required widespread popular dissatis- faction, but the other conditions were also necessary: that the ruling class should have Jost confidence in itself as well as losing the con- fidence of those it ruled; and Jast but not least, that the army and police force which were its instruments of rule should have been so broken by defeat in battle as to be of little value. In the war against Japan of 1904-05, the Russian Army was beaten and the Tsarist power correspondingly diminished. Beaten, I said, not broken, with the consequence that the revolutionary movement in 1905-06 which followed the war was crushed—if only by a narrow margin—by armed forces which still remained loyal to the Emperor. Lenin took that lesson to heart, and therefore added his fourth of the conditions requisite for social revolution. I repeat them now again:

1. That the great majority of the people is thoroughly dis- satisfied and finds its life intolerable;

2. That it has lost confidence in and respect for its rulers;

3. That the rulers have lost confidence in themselves.

And then Lenin’s fourth condition, that the ruler’s strongest weapon, the army and the police force, has been broken. There you have it in a nutshell.

These conditions did occur in 1917. This time the army was thor- oughly beaten, not partially, as by Japan twelve years before. The iul-fed, mentally starved, exploited Russian masses, eighty percent of the population, now felt obscurely that their rulers had somehow Jet them down, had sent their sons to slaughter and not given them enough in return. That is a dominant phrase, the not giving enough in return. So long as the feudal lords of Europe gave protection to the communities around them, the droit de seigneur, the taxes and other highhanded proceedings, were accepted not always willingly, but without revolt. When, however, the need for protection van-

18 U.S. S. R.

ished, the communities began to grumble and ask why they should give the girls to their lord’s enjoyment, or pay meney into his pocket. So then the Russian people felt unkind towards the ‘Tsar, because they felt he had failed them, had been unworthy of their trust. They no longer revered him dumbly, but began to ask loudly, why should he be set above them, to send their sons ta death, ad awhat did be give in return? Yewas not a suthcient answer fo say, as the Orthodox Church of Russia did say, that the sar was appointed by God. Because then came a second question: What about God Himself?

Lenin’s fourth condition, the defeat of the army in war, was patent for all to sec; and his third condition also, the lack of confi- dence by the rulers in themselves, Was no less true. In this connection I was told a story which reveals and explains many things. T don’t need to give the ‘narrator's name, but as a junior officer of an élite regiment in St. Petersburg, he was on guard one night in 1g76 in the Tsar’s personal apartment. The emperor had known my friend when he was a member of the corps des pages, the nursery of future gencrals and governors in the Tsarist State. Che Autocrat of All the Russias got up from his desk at midnight and came over to my friend, who was standing near the door. He said kindly, “I hope you are not tired, at least not so tired as Tam. Dam very tired, with all this weight on my shoulders, because between you and me Tam only a little grey man, and very tired tonight.”

That was the tocsin of doom, when the highest imperial ruler can speak thus of himself, as only “a litle grey man.” So Catherine would not have spoken, nor Peter nor Ivan the ‘Terrible. So, how- ever, spoke Nicholas II, and paid for ie with his life.

It is wrong to say, or believe, and Lenin never said it, that he “made” the Russian Revolution. You don’t make a revolution: it occurs. All you can do is take advantage of circumstances, and perhaps, if you are nimble, fortunate, courageous and astute, you can jump to the tiller of a drifting ship and direct it along the course which you have planned beforehand. ‘Vhat was what Lenin did. He did not so much “scize” power in Russia as pick up from the gurter the sceptre which had passed from the nerveless hands of Tsar Nicholas to the well-meaning but equally feeble hands of Kerensky. Lenin’s hands were neither nerveless nor feeble. He took the sceptre and held it and used it to mold his country in a new way along

“THE OCCASION PRODUCES THE MAN” 19

untrodden paths. Of the men who have lived on earth, Lenin was one of the greatest. During his years of exile he thought and planned and wrote. Literally, as I said, he prepared a “blueprint for revolu- tion,” coldly considering the errors he and his associates had com- mitted in 1905-06, and comparing them with the French Revolution, which was a true social revolution, although later diverted, after the death of Marat and Robespierre, and with that of Oliver Cromwell in England, which was not wholly a social revolution but neverthe- less did mean a real shift of power. Lenin took and analyzed all of this, to make his careful blueprint.

I never shall forget the speech of his widow, Krupskaya, made to the All-Union Soviet Congress on the day after Lenin died. When she told how it came about that Lenin adopted Marx as his master and guide through life, she said: “My husband was young and only seventeen when the T’sarist police took his older brother, whom he adored, and hanged him, because he had received a letter from a college friend who was involved in the assassination of Tsar Alex- ander II. ‘The elder brother of Vladimir Ilyich (Lenin) had no share or part in the killing of the Tsar. The letter from his friend was a letter from a friend, completely devoid of any conspirative inten- tion. But on account of that letter the brother of Lenin my husband was hanged by the Tsarist police, and that brutal, unjustified act released a bolt of lightning to shatter the Tsarist throne. From that day onwards Lenin set himself to destroy a society in which such things were possible. He sought long for a thread to guide him through the labyrinth of politics, and finally reached the conclusion that Marx held this guiding thread, that Marx was right in saying that Capitalism, the use of money by men to exploit their fellow- men, was the worst of human evils and had to be destroyed.”

Krupskaya was a strong, outstanding woman. Heavy and plain, physically unattractive, she had devoted her whole life to Lenin and his cause. She spoke with a deep voice like a man’s, and her words rang true as she told the Congress in its hour of mourning why Jenin had done what he did and what it meant to him. She touched no personal note. She told us the simple facts, slowly and impres- sively in her deep man’s voice.

It is a strange and paradoxical thing that the Bolsheviks, who had one of the greatest individual leaders of all time, profess to decry the importance of individual leadership. They maintain that the

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Occasion produces the Man, and refuse completely to accept Carlyle’s theory of Hero-worship, that the leader can direct or even create circumstances. Lenin said, with justice, that circum- stances cannot be created, but his life proved that a leader can direct.

In war even more than in peace—and what is social revolution but an explosion of civil war?—the skill and determination ot a leader are perhaps the most important single factor, Lenin had the advan- tage of knowing exactly what he wanted and how he proposed to achieve it. His years of exile had been devoted to the most careful study and preparation, to fit himself and his followers for the mo- ment when conditions and circumstances should be ripe for revolu- tion, so that then they could grasp the opportunity and take control of affairs. When I said that Lenin did not “make” the Revolution in Russia, | meant it therefore in the sense that he did not make the circumstances or conditions which led to it, but from his arrival ac Petrograd in the beginning of April to his actual seizure of power on November seventh he was following a path he had chosen before- hand. Because he knew that his task and that of his party was first of all ta judge which of the forces involved was the most important, and secondly to be so prepared that when the situation presented itself they would be masters of the situation. In Russia, therefore, Lenin aimed chiefly at the industrial workers as being the vanguard and most socially conscious element of the proletariat. Ete did so for three good reasons. Firstly, because the industrial workers were still almost part of the villages, they represented the most active and intelligent section of the peasantry, rather than being an urban mass. Secondly, they were easy for Bolshevik orators to reach in the cities and towns, either by word of mouth or by newspapers which most of them could read. Their peasant brethren, on the other hand, were mostly unable ro read, and in those days could not be reached by radio. Thirdly, they could be mobilized through their labor unions to anti-capitalist and even revolutionary action, by strikes ostensibly for higher wages to mect the increased cost of living, and by the more subtle Marxist doctrine that Capital did not provide an oppor- tunity for Labor, as ic always had maintained, but was simply a parasite on Labor's body and should therefore be destroyed.

Chapter Q

RASPUTIN, KERENSKY, LENIN

IN THE SPRING Of 1917 two events occurred in the space of less than four weeks, which determined the fate of Russia: the abdication of the T'sar, Nicholas II, in the second week of March, and the return of Lenin from exile in the first week of April.

In signing the act of abdication, Nicholas, that weak, vacillating, tired little grey man, proved himself strong as Samson to pull down the whole edifice of society whose principal pillar he was. For sev- eral months he had been commander-in-chief of the army, as well as Autocrat of All the Russias, and it was at his own headquarters at Mogilef, on the west front, that he resigned his throne. Exactly why he did so has never been clearly understood. His own position and that of his armies were hazardous indeed, but neither was utterly desperate. At the risk of over-simplification, I shall try to explain it as follows. The truth of the matter is that he was induced to abdicate by a person or persons close to him, perhaps of his own family, who feared that he would make a separate peace with Germany. The reason for this fear was their knowledge that the Empress Alexandra, a German-born princess of Hesse, had become convinced that the only hope of saving the throne for her husband and son lay in peace at any price. Of course the Empress was right; the war had never been popular in Russia, and by the beginning of 1917 its strain had become intolerable. On paper Russia’s manpower was inexhaustible, but ten million killed—perhaps the figure was higher—would have been a frightful price to pay for victory, and instead they had died im vain since most of Poland and part of the fertile Ukraine were

21

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already occupied by the enemy. Most of rhe Russian dead were peasants, the ignorant amorphous mass which formed over eighty percent of the population, but with them had been slaughtered their landlords, the officers of the Guards from general to lieutenant, who were really the backbone of the Vsarist regime, ‘The villages were weary of war; they lacked hands to till the ficlds, and cven the richest agricultural areas were menaced by starvation. ‘Transport had broken down, and the towns and cities were hungry although the urban workers had benefited somewhat by increased wages. The trading class had also protited by the war, but now the shortage of consumer's goods, and of food itself, had begun to threaten them too.

In any case, the second week of March, 1917, breught an outbreak of strikes, presumably of economic origin although there may have been other more subtle reasons, in Petrograd. “The Tsar sent from Headquarters peremptory instructions to suppress the strikes by force. The armed police force of the capital was curiously supine. It was fully competent to handle riots, but it was not employed. Why it was not employed is unknown, but one may guess that there were powerful influences in Petrograd, both Russian and foreign, which had decided to get rid of the Tsar and his German Empress because they believed that she would persuade him to make a separate peace with the enemy. When the Tsar learned that small effort was being made to check the “riots,” he sent orders, as [ said, to use troops against the riorers. This apparently was attempted, per- haps genuinely, perhaps perfunctorily. At any rate, the troops re- fused to fire on the rioters, and almost overnight there was a sort of new regime in Petrograd—I choose my words deliberately—which aimed at substituting a semi-parliamentary authority for the autoc- racy of the Tsar. Fverything was so confused and chaotic that the truth is hard to find, but there seems to be a kernel of fact in the whole medley, that some people had decided that the war must go on, and that therefore Nicholas and Alexandra must go out. A tenta- tive “government,” which never ventured to call itself more than a Provisional Government, was formed in Petrograd, and two of its representatives, Guchkov and Shulgin, were sent to Headquarters to tell the Tsar more or less bluntly that he would have ro abdicate. If he had been a man of stronger character he would have dismissed them or simply had them shot, but I suspect thar there were others in his immediate entourage to support the deputies’ demand. In fact,

RASPUTIN, KERENSKY, LENIN 23

it was a cooked-up job, and the tired little Jonely man lacked cour- age to resist it, or skill to perceive its consequences. Someone whis- pered in his ear and another put pen in his hand. . . and he signed his own death warrant ... and theirs. At first the Tsar wished to abdicate in favor of his son, and later of his uncle, the Grand-Duke Michael, but already the swift current of events was sweeping the regime to destruction. From that day onwards the story of Russia reads like a Greek tragedy, the fatal causes which led to an inevitable end. The Tsar Nicholas was caught in a net of circumstances, like Oedipus and Louis XVI of France. Resolute action might have saved him, but he could neither resolve nor act. There is reason to believe that the garrison of Petrograd was still loyal to its Emperor, although the loyalty of its commanders is less certain. Stories were current at the time that the Tsar wished to move troops from Headquarters to the capital, and that “railroad workers” blocked the move or per- suaded the troops to disobey. There may have been some truth in this, but it is more probable that transportation was already so dis- organized that the movement of two or three divisions was next to impossible.

In attempting to explain the tragic end of Tsardom, one cannot ignore the fantastic relationship of the Empress Alexandra and the Siberian monk Rasputin. The basic facts of the story are sufficiently well known to be told quite briefly. The ruling family of Hesse suffered from haemophilia, the “bleeding sickness,” presumably of syphilitic origin, which only afflicts males but is transmitted by females. In such cases blood refuses to coagulate, and even @ trifling scratch may cause death. Should victims survive to manhood, they die young from internal bleeding. Alexandra’s son, the late-born heir, in a family of daughters, to the Imperial throne, was a haemophiliac. His mother, a deeply religious woman, must have prayed despair- ingly that the curse should be lifted from her son. And prayed in vain, until one day her friend Countess Virubova told her of the monk Rasputin.

It has been stated that the life of the little Tsarevich was saved three times by Rasputin—and so his mother believed. The first time she saw it happen was in the Imperial Palace at Livadia, in the Crimea, which wasn’t a palace at all, but a pleasant country home set in gardens of flowers and beauty. If I remember rightly, the child, then four or five, knocked his knee on the edge of a fish-pond, and

24. U.S. S. R.

it bled and went on bleeding. Doctors were in attendance, but what could the doctors do? Then—this is hard to accept, but this is how it happened—the tall, dark, dirty, sweaty, bearded monk from Siberia, with his deep, hypnotic eves, came to her and said, “Daughter be not afraid, your son will not die but live.” He laid his hand on the child, and blood ceased to flaw from the knee. “Phat was the firse tinie.

Rasputin was a rascal, but even the Bolsheviks at their most bitter never suggested that the relationship between this heentious and hyper-sexed reprobate and the ‘Csarina was anything save that of a woman who loved her son, and 2 man who fer seme reason had power to stem the flow of bleed which could drain the child's life away. George Borrow, UL think in “Lavengro,” has a story about some gypsy who had power to check hacmorrhage in animals. At any rate, Rasputin did ie three times for the son of Alexandra, F.im-

ress of Russia. I forget the second time, although it served to cement his hold upon her mind. The third time was deep in the heart of the storm, when the clouds over Russia were dark with a burden of lightning and thunder, and the Tsar had assumed command of his troops in a final desperate attempt to avert the coming doom. The boy was staying with his father at Headquarters, and developed a large boil in his armpit which grew worse and worse, with high and higher fever. They knew it should be lanced, but to hacmophiliacs the wound of a knife is death. The Tsarina was at Tsarkoe-Selo, near Petrograd, five hundred miles away, getting messages cvery half-hour about the state of the child, each message worse than the last, until she understood that he was fated to die, and something worse than that, to die far away from her, when she couldn't sce him or touch him or hold his head in her arms, to ease, if might be, his passing.

Again Rasputin came to her and said, “Daughter, do not lose faith.” Ie was late at night, and the Empress did nor see him until six o’clock the next morning. He was spent and exhausted, and he said, “Daughter, all night I have striven with God, as once the Prophet Jacob strove with Elim, for the life of your son. I strove, and I prevailed. God told me, ‘The child will live,’ but He told me something else, that your life and the life of your son and your hus- band and your daughters is tied and enwrapped with mine, that so

RASPUTIN, KERENSKY, LENIN 25

long as I hive, you too will live and flourish, but when I die you will not long survive me.”

J was told this amazing story, almost Byzantine in its combination of credulity and legend, by a woman in Moscow in 1921, who de- clared that she learnt it from her sicter, formerly a servant at the Imperial Court. I have tried vainly to check its authenticity, and all I can say is that it seems to correspond to the whole fantastic episode of Rasputin. The story continues that an hour later the Tsarina received a message saying that to the astonishment of the surgeons and doctors at Headquarters, the young prince’s boil had subsided and his fever had gone down, and he was out of danger. Perhaps that will help to explain why this German woman, born Princess Alexandra of Hesse, had such reverence for the dirty licentious Siberian monk who called himself Rasputin.

Rasputin was always in need of money to gratify his vices. He undoubtedly was connected with war profiteers and contractors, for whom he obtained lucrative orders by his influence over the Em- press; and there is also reason to believe that he had treasonable relations with what would nowadays be called the German “Fifth Column” in Russia. Even more than the Allied blockade, the war on two fronts was breaking Germany’s heart; but if peace could be made with Russia there was still a chance of victory in the West. It is more than probable that the German Fifth Columnists paid Ras- putin to direct the Empress towards a peace which she herself desired in order to save her husband, whom she controlled, and her son, whom she adored. The war-to-the-end party in Petrograd was aware of this, and struck swiftly. Rasputin was lured ito the trap of his own lust and killed by Prince Felix Yussupof, with the aid, or at least complicity, of Dimitri Pavlovich Romanof, the Tsar’s cousin. As often in such cases, the motives were somewhat mixed; but one of the reasons was that they knew Rasputin’s influence over the Tsarina, and that he was urging her to make peace at any price with Germany.

Deprived of his support, a prey to despair and superstition that verged on mania, the Empress lost courage and will, as her letters published Jater lamentably reveal. In a sense Rasputin had been her backbone as well es her guide, as she had been for the Tsar. The death of her “Friend” left her powerless to uphold the feeble hands

26 US. S. R.

of her husband, who without her fell casy victim to his own wearl- ness and those who advised him that abdication was better than struggle. Neither he nor they were aware that Russian society de- pended upon the person and authority of the Fanperor, and that without him the whole edifice would collapse. “The plan, if plan there was, to put Grand-Duke Michael on the throne, died stillborn, and the Tsarist regime was immediately replaced by what looked like a liberal republic, headed by men of good will, Prince Lvov, Professor Miliukov, General Rodzianko, and other honored citizens who were not only loyal to their French and British allies but had long striven to lead Russia along the unfamiliar path of Western Democracy. They were loyal and well-meaning, but politically in- experienced and, alas, quite incapable ef understanding, much less defeating, the maclstrom of forces released by the crash of Tsardom. They did not understand what was happening or might happen, but one man understood, a small, sandy-haired, stocky, professorial-look- ing exile named Vladimir Ilyich ClHanof, sclf-named Lenin. The Germans had two strings to their bow. Their plan for separate peace with Russia through Rasputin and the Tsarina had failed. Lenin, its

alternative, succeeded.

Future historians may well reckon April 3, 1917, the day on which Lenin returned to Russia after ten years of exile, as a date comparable in importance to the Hegira of Mohammed. At the time, to the world at large and even to the Russians, Lenin's return would have scarcely been noticed save for the fact that he and his friends had been allowed by the German Government to travel from Switzer- land across Germany to the Russian border in a sealed train, although Germany and Russia were still at war and these men were Russian nationals. The Germans allowed him thus to travel because they hoped and believed that he would carry a virus—to use the jargon of the period—infecting with fatal gangrene the wounded Titan of the North. For this purpose they gave Lenin safe conduct and, it is said, furnished him with moncy.

Tonce asked Trotsky if it was true that Lenin came to Petrograd with a fund of German gold. :

He looked at me enigmatically and replied, “Whether it’s true or not, of one thing you can be sure, that the gold was not employed

for any but Lenin’s purposes.” As it happened, Lenin’s purpose and that of the Germans did for

RASPUTIN, KERENSKY, LENIN 27

the moment coincide. Having failed to make a separate peace through the agency of Rasputin and the Empress, the Germans evi- dently hoped that Lenin and his associates would hasten the process of Russian disintegration until the country was unable to go on fighting. They knew that he had consistently opposed the war as a monstrous example of capitalist greed and folly, and were confident that the Bolsheviks would strike at the root of national patriotism which they had always denounced as one of the capitalist devices by which the masses were tricked into obedience. For his part I believe that Lenin foresaw that a great social upheaval, a real revolu- tion rather than the transfer of power from one section of the ruling class to another, was possible if not probable in Russia, and hoped, as I said earlier, to direct and control it. At any rate, from the mo- ment of his arrival in Petrograd, where he was given a triumphal reception at the Finland Railway Station, he never ceased to attack the whole structure of bourgeois society and to demand its replace- ment by a system of Marxist collectivism. His speech that day ended with the words, “Long live the Socialist Revolution,” and on the following day he issued what are known as his “April theses,” which declared that the first stage of the Revolution had now been com- pleted by the downfall of Tsardom, and that the task ahead was to carry out the second stage, which would give power to the people instead of to the bourgeoisie. He advocated nationalization of all Jand and confiscation of landed estates, the creation of a single na- tional bank, and the establishment of a soviet republic rather than of a parliamentary regime. Finally he issued the slogan “‘No support for the Provisional Government,” which had been formed after the Tsar’s abdication by the more liberal members of the Duma.

If proof were needed that the person and position of the Emperor was the core and foundation of Russian society, and that his removal would throw the whole vast machine out of gear, it was amply forthcoming. Almost immediately after the collapse of the Tsar’s single authority it became apparent that there were in reality two authorities in Russia: the Committee of the Duma and the Executive Committee of the Soviet’ of Workers and Peasants. The former

1 The word “soviet” means “council,” and the chief difference between it and a parliamentary assembly lay in the fact that soviet members were chosen by a public show of hands from the group they represented, but were liable to suspension