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Title: The Russian Turmoil - Memoirs: Military, Social, and Political
Author: Denikin, Anton Ivanovich
Language: English
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THE RUSSIAN TURMOIL


[Illustration: The Stavka Quartermaster-General's Branch. Standing on
the pathway, from left to right (centre): Generals Denikin (Chief of
Staff), Alexeiev (Supreme C.-in-C.), Josephovitch and Markov (first and
second Quartermasters-General).]


THE RUSSIAN TURMOIL

Memoirs: Military, Social, and Political

by

GENERAL A. I. DENIKIN

With 27 Illustrations, Diagrams and Maps



London: Hutchinson & Co.
Paternoster Row



CONTENTS


      PAGE

 FOREWORD                                                             11

 CHAPTER I.

 THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE OLD POWER: FAITH, THE CZAR, AND THE
 MOTHER COUNTRY                                                       13

 CHAPTER II.

 THE ARMY                                                             23

 CHAPTER III.

 THE OLD ARMY AND THE EMPEROR                                         33

 CHAPTER IV.

 THE REVOLUTION IN PETROGRAD                                          40

 CHAPTER V.

 THE REVOLUTION AND THE IMPERIAL FAMILY                               48

 CHAPTER VI.

 THE REVOLUTION AND THE ARMY                                          57

 CHAPTER VII.

 IMPRESSIONS OF PETROGRAD AT THE END OF MARCH, 1917                   66

 CHAPTER VIII.

 THE STAVKA: ITS RÔLE AND POSITION                                    72

 CHAPTER IX.

 GENERAL MARKOV                                                       79

 CHAPTER X.

 THE POWER--THE DUMA--THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT--THE HIGH
 COMMAND--THE SOVIET OF WORKMEN'S AND SOLDIERS' DELEGATES             84

 CHAPTER XI.

 THE BOLSHEVIK STRUGGLE FOR POWER--THE POWER OF THE ARMY AND
 THE IDEA OF A DICTATORSHIP                                           96

 CHAPTER XII.

 THE ACTIVITIES OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT--INTERNAL POLITICS,
 CIVIL ADMINISTRATION--THE TOWN, THE VILLAGE, AND THE AGRARIAN
 PROBLEM                                                             106

 CHAPTER XIII.

 THE ACTIVITIES OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT: FOOD SUPPLIES,
 INDUSTRY, TRANSPORT, AND FINANCE                                    116

 CHAPTER XIV.

 THE STRATEGICAL POSITION OF THE RUSSIAN FRONT                       127

 CHAPTER XV.

 THE QUESTION OF THE ADVANCE OF THE RUSSIAN ARMY                     138

 CHAPTER XVI.

 MILITARY REFORMS--THE GENERALS--THE DISMISSAL FROM THE HIGH
 COMMAND                                                             146

 CHAPTER XVII.

 "DEMOCRATISATION OF THE ARMY"--ADMINISTRATION, SERVICE AND
 ROUTINE                                                             153

 CHAPTER XVIII.

 THE DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE SOLDIER AND COMMITTEES         159

 CHAPTER XIX.

 THE DEMOCRATISATION OF THE ARMY: THE COMMISSARS                     168

 CHAPTER XX.

 THE DEMOCRATISATION OF THE ARMY--THE STORY OF "THE DECLARATION
 OF THE RIGHTS OF THE SOLDIER"                                       174

 CHAPTER XXI.

 THE PRESS AND PROPAGANDA                                            189

 CHAPTER XXII.

 THE CONDITION OF THE ARMY AT THE JULY ADVANCE                       209

 CHAPTER XXIII.

 OFFICERS' ORGANISATIONS                                             229

 CHAPTER XXIV.

 THE REVOLUTION AND THE COSSACKS                                     239

 CHAPTER XXV.

 NATIONAL UNITS                                                      248

 CHAPTER XXVI.

 MAY AND THE BEGINNING OF JUNE IN THE SPHERE OF MILITARY
 ADMINISTRATION--THE RESIGNATION OF GUTCHKOV AND GENERAL
 ALEXEIEV--MY DEPARTURE FROM THE STAVKA--THE ADMINISTRATION
 OF KERENSKY AND GENERAL BRUSSILOV                                   255

 CHAPTER XXVII.

 MY TERM AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF ON THE WESTERN RUSSIAN FRONT          264

 CHAPTER XXVIII.

 THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE IN THE SUMMER OF 1917--THE DÉBÂCLE              271

 CHAPTER XXIX.

 THE CONFERENCE AT THE STAVKA OF MINISTERS AND COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF
 ON JULY 16TH                                                        281

 CHAPTER XXX.

 GENERAL KORNILOV                                                    297

 CHAPTER XXXI.

 MY SERVICE AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE SOUTH-WESTERN FRONT--THE
 MOSCOW CONFERENCE--THE FALL OF RIGA                                 308

 CHAPTER XXXII.

 GENERAL KORNILOV'S MOVEMENT AND ITS REPERCUSSION ON THE
 SOUTH-WEST FRONT                                                    318

 CHAPTER XXXIII.

 IN BERDICHEV GAOL--THE TRANSFER OF THE "BERDICHEV GROUP" OF
 PRISONERS TO BYKHOV                                                 329

 CHAPTER XXXIV.

 SOME CONCLUSIONS AS TO THE FIRST PERIOD OF THE REVOLUTION           338


[Illustration: The old banner]

[Illustration: And the new.]



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


 THE STAVKA QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL'S BRANCH                _Frontispiece_

 THE OLD BANNER AND THE NEW                              Facing page   8

 THE GRAND DUKE NICHOLAS DISTRIBUTES CROSSES OF ST.
 GEORGE                                                     "    "    14

 FUNERAL OF THE FIRST VICTIMS OF THE MARCH REVOLUTION
 IN PETROGRAD                                               "    "    44

 GENERAL ALEXEIEV                                           "    "    72

 GENERAL KORNILOV                                           "    "    72

 GENERAL MARKOV                                             "    "    78

 FOREIGN MILITARY REPRESENTATIVES AT THE STAVKA             "    "   144

 THE CONFERENCE OF COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF                      "    "   166

 A GROUP OF "PRISONERS" AT BERDICHEV                        "    "   166

 THE OLD ARMY: A REVIEW. GENERAL IVANOV                     "    "   192

 THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY: A REVIEW. KERENSKY                 "    "   192

 BEFORE THE BATTLE IN THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY: A MEETING     "    "   200

 TYPES OF MEN IN THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY                     "    "   200

 BEFORE THE BATTLE IN THE OLD ARMY: PRAYERS                 "    "   208

 TYPES OF SOLDIERS OF THE OLD ARMY                          "    "   210

 GENERAL ALEXEIEV'S FAREWELL                                "    "   254

 KERENSKY ADDRESSING SOLDIERS' MEETING                      "    "   262

 GENERAL KORNILOV'S ARRIVAL AT PETROGRAD                    "    "   280

 GENERAL KORNILOV IN THE TRENCHES                           "    "   280

 GENERAL KORNILOV'S WELCOME IN MOSCOW                       "    "   316



LIST OF DIAGRAMS AND MAPS


                                                                    PAGE

 1. DIAGRAM OF THE COMPARATIVE FORCES OF THE GERMANS IN
    DIFFERENT THEATRES OF WAR                                         32

 2. DIAGRAM INDICATING THE POLITICAL PARTY DIVISIONS IN RUSSIA
    AFTER THE REVOLUTION                                              90

 3. MAP OF THE RUSSIAN EUROPEAN FRONT IN 1917                        130

 4. MAP OF THE RUSSIAN CAUCASIAN FRONT IN 1917                       131

 5. MAP OF THE RUSSIAN FRONT IN JUNE AND JULY, 1917                  298

 6. MAP OF THE RUSSIAN FRONT TILL AUGUST 19TH AND AFTER              299



FOREWORD


In the midst of the turmoil and bloodshed in Russia people perish and
the real outlines of historical events are obliterated. It is for this
reason that I have decided to publish these memoirs, in spite of the
difficulties of work in my present condition of a refugee, unable to
refer to any archives or documents and deprived of the possibility of
discussing events with those who have taken part in them.

The first part of my book deals chiefly with the Russian Army, with
which my life has been closely linked up. Political, social and
economic questions are discussed only in so far as I have found it
necessary to describe their influence upon the course of events.

In 1917 the Army played a decisive part in the fate of Russia. Its
participation in the progress of the Revolution, its life, degradation
and collapse should serve as a great warning and a lesson to the new
builders of Russian life. This applies not only to the struggle against
the present tyrants. When Bolshevism is defeated, the Russian people
will have to undertake the tremendous task of reviving its moral and
material forces, as well as that of preserving its sovereign existence.
Never in history has this task been as arduous as it is now, because
there are many outside Russia's borders waiting eagerly for her end.
They are waiting in vain. The Russian people will rise in strength
and wisdom from the deathbed of blood, horror and poverty, moral and
physical.



The Russian Turmoil



CHAPTER I.

THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE OLD POWER: FAITH, THE CZAR AND THE MOTHER
COUNTRY.


The inevitable historical process which culminated in the Revolution
of March, 1917, has resulted in the collapse of the Russian State.
Philosophers, historians and sociologists, in studying the course
of Russian life, may have foreseen the impending catastrophe. But
nobody could foresee that the people, rising like a tidal wave,
would so rapidly and so easily sweep away all the foundations of
their existence: the Supreme Power and the Governing classes which
disappeared without a struggle; the intelligencia, gifted but weak,
isolated and lacking will-power, which at first, in the midst of a
deadly struggle, had only words as a weapon, later submissively bent
their necks under the knife of the victors; and last, but not least, an
army of ten million, powerful and imbued with historic traditions. That
army was destroyed in three or four months.

This last event--the collapse of the army--was not, however, quite
unexpected, as the epilogue of the Manchurian war and the subsequent
events in Moscow, Kronstadt and Sevastopol were a terrible warning.
At the end of November, 1905, I lived for a fortnight in Harbin, and
travelled on the Siberian Railway for thirty-one days in December,
1907, through a series of "republics" from Harbin to Petrograd. I thus
gained a clear indication of what might be expected from a licentious
mob of soldiers utterly devoid of restraining principles. All the
meetings, resolutions, soviets--in a word, all the manifestations of
a mutiny of the military--were repeated in 1917 with photographic
accuracy, but with greater impetus and on a much larger scale.

It should be noted that the possibility of such a rapid psychological
transformation was not characteristic of the Russian Army alone. There
can be no doubt that war-weariness after three years of bloodshed
played an important part in these events, as the armies of the whole
world were affected by it and were rendered more accessible to the
disintegrating influences of extreme Socialist doctrines. In the
autumn of 1918 the German Army Corps that occupied the region of the
Don and Little Russia were demoralised in one week, and they repeated
to a certain extent the process which we had already lived through of
meetings, soviets, committees, of doing away with Commanding Officers,
and in some units of the sale of military stores, horses and arms.
It was not till then that the Germans understood the tragedy of
the Russian officers. More than once our volunteers saw the German
officers, formerly so haughty and so frigid, weeping bitterly over
their degradation.

"You have done the same to us; you have done it with your own hands,"
we said.

"Not we; it was our Government," was their reply.

In the winter of 1918, as Commander-in-Chief of the Volunteer Army, I
received an offer from a group of German officers to join our army as
volunteers in the ranks.

The collapse of the army cannot be explained away as the psychological
result of defeats and disasters. Even the victors experienced
disturbances in the army. There was a certain amount of disaffection
among the French troops occupying, in the beginning of 1918, the
region of Odessa and Roumania, in the French fleet cruising in the
Black Sea, among the British troops in the region of Constantinople
and Transcaucasia. The troops did not always obey the orders of their
Commanding Officers. Rapid demobilisation and the arrival of fresh,
partly volunteer elements, altered the situation.

[Illustration: The Grand Duke Nicholas distributes Crosses of St.
George.]

What was the condition of the Russian Army at the outbreak of the
Revolution? From time immemorial the entire ideology of our soldiers
was contained in the well-known formula: "For God, for the Czar and
for the Mother Country." Generation after generation was born and bred
on that formula. These ideas, however, did not penetrate deeply enough
into the masses of the people and of the army. For many centuries
the Russian people had been deeply religious, but their faith was
somewhat shaken in the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The Russian
people, as the Russian saying goes, was "the bearer of Christ"--a
people inwardly disposed towards Universal Brotherhood, great in its
simplicity, truthfulness, humility and forgiveness. That people,
Christian in the fullest sense of the word, was gradually changing as
it came under the influence of material interests, and learnt or was
taught to see in the gratifying of those interests the sole purpose
of life. The link between the people and its spiritual leaders was
gradually weakening as these leaders were detached from the people,
entered into the service of the Governing powers, and shared the
latter's deficiencies. The development of this moral transformation
of the Russian people is too deep and too complex to fall within the
scope of these memoirs. It is undeniable that the youngsters who
joined the ranks treated questions of the Faith and of the Church with
indifference. In barracks they lost the habits of their homes, and
were forcibly removed from a more wholesome and settled atmosphere,
with all its creeds and superstitions. They received no spiritual or
moral education, which in barracks was considered a matter of minor
importance, completely overshadowed by practical and material cares
and requirements. A proper spirit could not be created in barracks,
where Christian morals, religious discourses, and even the rites of
the Church bore an official and sometimes even compulsory character.
Commanding Officers know how difficult it was to find a solution of the
vexed question of attendance at Church services.

War introduced two new elements into the spiritual life of the army. On
the one hand, there was a certain moral coarseness and cruelty; on the
other, it seemed as if faith had been deepened by constant danger. I do
not wish to accuse the orthodox military clergy as a body. Many of its
representatives proved their high valour, courage and self-sacrifice.
It must, however, be admitted that the clergy failed to produce a
religious revival among the troops. It is not their fault, because the
world-war into which Russia was drawn was due to intricate political
and economic causes, and there was no room for religious fervour.
The clergy, however, likewise failed to establish closer connection
with the troops. After the outbreak of the Revolution the officers
continued for a long time to struggle to keep their waning power and
authority, but the voice of the priests was silenced almost at once,
and they ceased to play any part whatsoever in the life of the troops.
I recall an episode typical of the mental attitude of military circles
in those days. One of the regiments of the Fourth Rifle Division had
built a camp Church quite close to its lines, and had built it with
great care and very artistically. The Revolution came. A demagogue
captain decided that his company had inadequate quarters and that a
Church was a superstition. On his own authority he converted the Church
into quarters for his company, and dug a hole where the altar stood
for purposes which it is better not to mention. I am not surprised
that such a scoundrel was found in the regiment or that the Higher
Command was terrorised and silent. But why did two or three thousand
orthodox Russians, bred in the mystic rites of their faith, remain
indifferent to such a sacrilege? Be that as it may, there can hardly be
any doubt that religion ceased to be one of the moral impulses which
upheld the spirit of the Russian Army and prompted it to deeds of
valour or protected it later from the development of bestial instincts.
The orthodox clergy, generally speaking, was thrown overboard
during the storm. Some of the high dignitaries of the Church--the
Metropolitans--Pitirim and Makarius--the Archbishop Varnava and others,
unfortunately were closely connected with the Governing bureaucracy
of the Rasputin period of Petrograd history. The lower grades of
the clergy, on the other hand, were in close touch with the Russian
intellectuals.

I cannot take it upon myself to judge of the extent to which the
Russian Church remained an active force after it came under the yoke of
the Bolsheviks. An impenetrable veil hangs over the life of the Russian
Church in Soviet Russia, but there can be no doubt that spiritual
renaissance is progressing and spreading, that the martyrdom of
hundreds, nay, thousands, of priests is waking the dormant conscience
of the people and is becoming a legend in their minds.


THE CZAR.

It is hardly necessary to prove that the enormous majority of the
Commanding Officers were thoroughly loyal to the Monarchist idea and
to the Czar himself. The subsequent behaviour of the higher Commanding
Officers who had been Monarchists was due partly to motives of
self-seeking, partly to pusillanimity and to the desire to conceal
their real feelings in order to remain in power and to carry out their
own plans. Cases in which a change of front was the result of the
collapse of ideals, of a new outlook, or was prompted by motives of
practical statesmanship, were rare. For example, it would have been
childish to have believed General Brussilov when he asserted that from
the days of his youth he had been "a Socialist and a Republican." He
was bred in the traditions of the Old Guards, was closely connected
with circles of the Court, and permeated with their outlook. His
habits, tastes, sympathies and surroundings were those of a _barin_.[1]
No man can be a lifelong liar to himself and to others. The majority
of the officers of the Regular Russian Army had Monarchist principles
and were undoubtedly loyal. After the Japanese war, as a result of the
first Revolution, the Officers' Corps was, nevertheless, placed, for
reasons which are not sufficiently clear, under the special supervision
of the Police Department, and regimental Commanding Officers received
from time to time "black lists." The tragedy of it was that it was
almost useless to argue against the verdict of "unreliability," while,
at the same time, it was forbidden to conduct one's own investigation,
even in secret. This system of spying introduced an unwholesome
spirit into the army. Not content with this system, the War Minister,
General Sukhomlinov, introduced his own branch of counter-spies, which
was headed unofficially by Colonel Miassoyedov, who was afterwards
shot as a German spy. At every military District Headquarters an
organ was instituted, headed by an officer of the Gendarmerie
dressed up in G.H.Q. uniform. Officially, he was supposed to deal
with foreign espionage, but General Dukhonin (who was killed by the
Bolsheviks), when Chief of the Intelligence Bureau of the Kiev G.H.Q.
before the War, bitterly complained to me of the painful atmosphere
created by this new organ, which was officially subordinate to the
Quartermaster-General, but in reality looked on him with suspicion, and
was spying not only upon the Staff, but upon its own chiefs.

Life itself seemed to induce the officers to utter some kind of protest
against the existing order. Of all the classes that served the State,
there had been for a long time no element so downtrodden and forlorn
or so ill-provided for as the officers of the Regular Russian Army.
They lived in abject poverty. Their rights and their self-esteem were
constantly ignored by the Senior Officers. The utmost the rank and
file could hope for as the crowning of their career was the rank of
Colonel and an old age spent in sickness and semi-starvation. From the
middle of the nineteenth century the Officers' Corps had completely
lost its character as a class and a caste. Since universal compulsory
service was introduced and the nobility ceased to be prosperous the
gates of military schools were opened wide to people of low extraction
and to young men belonging to the lower strata of the people, but with
a diploma from the civil schools. They formed a majority in the Army.
Mobilisations, on the other hand, reinforced the Officers' Corps by the
infusion of a great many men of the liberal professions, who introduced
new ideas and a new outlook. Finally, the tremendous losses suffered
by the Regular Officers' Corps compelled the High Command to relax to
a certain extent the regulations concerning military training and
education, and to introduce on a broad scale promotions from the ranks
for deeds of valour, and to give rankers a short training in elementary
schools to fit them to be temporary officers.

These circumstances, characteristic of all armies formed from the
masses, undoubtedly reduced the fighting capacity of the Officers'
Corps, and brought about a certain change in its political outlook,
bringing it nearer to that of the average Russian intellectual and to
democracy. This the leaders of the Revolutionary democracy did not,
or, to be more accurate, would not, understand in the first days of
the Revolution. In the course of my narrative I will differentiate
between the "Revolutionary Democracy"--an agglomeration of socialist
parties--and the true Russian Democracy, to which the middle-class
intelligencia and the Civil Service elements undoubtedly belong.

The spirit of the Regular Officers was, however, gradually changing.
The Japanese War, which disclosed the grave shortcomings of the country
and of the Army, the Duma and the Press, which had gained a certain
liberty after 1905, played an important part in the political education
of the officers. The mystic adoration of the Monarch began gradually to
vanish. Among the junior generals and other officers there appeared men
in increasing numbers capable of differentiating between the idea of
the Monarchy and personalities, between the welfare of the country and
the form of government. In officer circles opportunities occurred for
criticism, analysis, and sometimes for severe condemnation.

It is to be wondered that in these circumstances our officers remained
steadfast and stoutly resisted the extremist, destructive currents of
political thought. The percentage of men who reached the depths and
were unmasked by the authorities was insignificant. With regard to the
throne, generally speaking, there was a tendency among the officers to
separate the person of the Emperor from the miasma with which he was
surrounded, from the political errors and misdeeds of the Government,
which was leading the country steadily to ruin and the Army to defeat.
They wanted to forgive the Emperor, and tried to make excuses for him.

In spite of the accepted view, the monarchical idea had no deep, mystic
roots among the rank and file, and, of course, the semi-cultured masses
entirely failed to realise the meaning of other forms of Government
preached by Socialists of all shades of opinion. Owing to a certain
innate Conservatism, to habits dating from time immemorial, and to
the teaching of the Church, the existing régime was considered as
something quite natural and inevitable. In the mind and in the heart
of the soldier the idea of a monarch was, if I may so express it, "in
a potential state," rising sometimes to a point of high exaltation
when the monarch was personally approached (at reviews, parades and
casual meetings), and sometimes falling to indifference. At any rate,
the Army was in a disposition sufficiently favourable to the idea of
a monarchy and to the dynasty, and that disposition could have easily
been maintained. But a sticky cobweb of licentiousness and crime was
being woven at Petrograd and Czarskoe Selo. The truth, intermingled
with falsehood, penetrated into the remotest corners of the country
and into the Army, and evoked painful regrets and sometimes malicious
rejoicings. The members of the House of Romanov did not preserve the
"idea" which the orthodox monarchists wished to surround with a halo of
greatness, nobility and reverence. I recall the impression of a sitting
of the Duma which I happened to attend. For the first time, Gutchkov
uttered a word of warning from the Tribune of the Duma about Rasputin.

"All is not well with our land."

The House, which had been rather noisy, was silent, and every word,
spoken in a low voice, was distinctly audible in remote corners. A
mysterious cloud, pregnant with catastrophe, seemed to hang over the
normal course of Russian history. I will not dwell on the corrupt
influences prevailing in Ministerial dwellings and Imperial palaces
to which the filthy and cynical impostor found access, who swayed
ministers and rulers.

The Grand Duke Nicholas is supposed to have threatened to hang
Rasputin should he venture to appear at G.H.Q. General Alexeiev also
disapproved strongly of the man. That the influence of Rasputin did
not spread to the old Army is due entirely to the attitude of the
above-named generals. All sorts of stories about Rasputin's influence
was circulated at the front, and the Censor collected an enormous
amount of material on the subject, even from soldiers' letters from the
front; but the gravest impression was produced by the word "TREASON"
with reference to the Empress. In the Army, openly and everywhere,
conversations were heard about the Empress' persistent demands for a
separate peace and of her treachery towards Lord Kitchener, of whose
journey she was supposed to have informed the Germans. As I recall the
past, and the impression produced in the Army by the _rumour_ of the
Empress' treason, I consider that this circumstance had a very great
influence upon the attitude of the Army towards the dynasty and the
revolution. In the spring of 1917 I questioned General Alexeiev on
this painful subject. His answer, reluctantly given, was vague. He
said: "When the Empress' papers were examined she was found to be in
possession of a map indicating in detail the disposition of the troops
along the entire front. Only two copies were prepared of this map, one
for the Emperor and one for myself. I was very painfully impressed. God
knows who may have made use of this map."

History will undoubtedly throw light on the fateful influence exercised
by the Empress Alexandra upon the Russian Government in the period
preceding the Revolution. As regards the question of treason, this
disastrous rumour has not been confirmed by a single fact, and was
afterwards contradicted by the investigations of a Commission specially
appointed by the Provisional Government, on which representatives of
the Soviet of workmen and soldiers served.

We now come to the third foundation--the _Mother Country_. Deafened
as we were, alas! by the thunder and rattle of conventional patriotic
phrases, endlessly repeated along the whole length and breadth of
Russia, we failed to detect the fundamental, innate defect of the
Russian people--its lack of patriotism. It is no longer necessary to
force an open door by proving this statement. The Brest-Litovsk Treaty
provoked no outburst of popular wrath. Russian society was indifferent
to the separation of the Border States, even those that were Russian
in spirit and in blood. What is more, Russian society approved of this
dismemberment. We know of the agreement between Poland and Petlura,
between Poland and the Soviet. We know that Russian territorial and
material riches were sold for a song to international, political
usurers. Need we adduce further proofs?

There can be no doubt that the collapse of Russian Statehood as
manifested in "self-determination" was in several instances caused by
the desire to find a temporary safeguard against the Bedlam of the
Soviet Republic. Life, however, unfortunately does not stop at the
practical application of this peculiar "sanitary cordon," but strikes
at the very idea of Statehood. This occurred even in such stable
districts as the Cossack provinces, not, however, among the masses,
but among the leaders themselves. Thus at Ekaterinodar in 1920, at the
"High Krug" (Assembly) of the three Cossack armies, the mention of
Russia was omitted after a heated discussion from the proposed formula
of the oath....

Is Crucified Russia unworthy of our love?

What, then, was the effect of the Mother Country idea upon the
conscience of the old Army? The upper strata of the Russian
intellectuals were well aware of the reasons for the world
conflagration, of the conflict of the Powers for political and
economic supremacy, for free routes, for markets and colonies--a
conflict in which Russia's part was merely one of self-defence. On
the other hand, the average number of the Russian _intelligencia_,
as well as officers, were often satisfied merely with the immediate
and more obvious and easily comprehensible causes. Nobody wanted the
war, except, perhaps, the impressionable young officers yearning for
exploits. It was believed that the powers-that-be would take every
precaution in order to avoid a rupture. Gradually, however, the fatal
inevitability of war was understood. There was no question on our part
of aggressiveness or self-interest. To sympathise sincerely with the
weak and the oppressed was in keeping with the traditional attitude of
Russia. Also, we did not draw the sword--the sword was drawn against
us. That is why, when the war began, the voices were silenced of those
who feared that, owing to the low level of her culture and economic
development, Russia would be unable to win in the contest with a strong
and cultured enemy. War was accepted in a patriotic spirit, which was
at times akin to enthusiasm. Like the majority of the intellectuals,
the officers did not take much interest in the question of war aims.
The war began; defeat would have led to immeasurable disaster to
our country in every sphere of its life, to territorial losses,
political decadence and economic slavery. Victory was, therefore,
a necessity. All other questions were relegated to the background.
There was plenty of time for their discussion, for new decisions and
for changes. This simplified attitude towards the war, coupled with
a profound understanding and with a national self-consciousness, was
not understood by the left wing of the Russian politicians, who were
driven to Zimmerwald and Kienthal. No wonder, therefore, that when
the anonymous and the Russian leaders of the Revolutionary democracy
were confronted in February, 1917, before the Army was deliberately
destroyed, with the dilemma: "Are we to save the country or the
Revolution?" they chose the latter.

Still less did the illiterate masses of the people understand the idea
of national self-preservation. The people went to war submissively,
but without enthusiasm and without any clear perception of the
necessity for a great sacrifice. Their psychology did not rise to the
understanding of abstract national principles. "The people-in-arms,"
for that was what the Army really was, were elated by victory and
downhearted when defeated. They did not fully understand the necessity
for crossing the Carpathians, and had, perhaps, a clearer idea of
the meaning of the struggle on the Styr and the Pripet. And yet it
found solace in the thought: "We are from Tambov; the Germans will
not reach us." It is necessary to repeat this stale saying, because
it expresses the deep-rooted psychology of the average Russian. As a
result of this predominance of material interests in the outlook of
"the people-in-arms," they grasped more easily the simple arguments
based on realities in favour of a stubborn fight and of victory, as
well as the impossibility of admitting defeat. These arguments were:
A foreign German domination, the ruin of the country and of the home,
the weight of the taxes which would inevitably be levied after defeat,
the fall in the price of grain, which would have to go through foreign
channels, etc. In addition, there was some feeling of confidence that
the Government was doing the right thing, the more so as the nearest
representatives of that power, the officers, were going forward
with the troops and were dying in the same spirit of readiness and
submission as the men, either because they had been ordered to do
so, or else because they thought it their duty. The rank and file,
therefore, bravely faced death. Afterwards when confidence was shaken,
the masses of the Army were completely perplexed. The formulas,
"without annexations and indemnities," "the self-determination of
peoples," etc., proved more abstract and less intelligible than the
old repudiated and rusty idea of the Mother Country, which still
persisted underneath them. In order to keep the men at the front, the
well-known arguments of a materialistic nature, such as the threat of
German domination, the ruin of the home, the weight of taxes, were
expounded from platforms decorated with red flags. They were taught by
Socialists, who favoured a war of defence.

Thus the three principles which formed the foundations of the Army were
undermined. In describing the anomalies and spiritual shortcomings
of the Russian Army, far be it from me to place it below the level
of armies of other countries. These shortcomings are inherent in all
armies formed from the masses, which are almost akin to a militia, but
this did not prevent these armies or our own from gaining victories
and continuing the war. It is necessary, however, to draw a complete
picture of the spirit of the Army in order to understand its subsequent
destiny.



CHAPTER II.

THE ARMY.


The Russo-Japanese war had a very great influence upon the
development of the Russian army. The bitterness of defeat and the
clear consciousness that the policy governing military affairs was
disastrously out of date gave a great impulse to the junior military
elements and forced the slack and inert elements gradually to alter
their ways or else to retire. In spite of the passive resistance of
several men at the head of the War Ministry and the General Staff, who
were either incompetent or else treated the interests of the army with
levity and indifference, work was done at full speed. In ten years the
Russian army, without of course attaining the ideal, made tremendous
progress. It may be confidently asserted that, had it not been for the
hard lessons of the Manchurian campaign, Russia would have been crushed
in the first months of the Great War.

Yet the cleansing of the commanding personnel went too slowly. Our
softness ("Poor devil! we must give him a job"), wire-pulling,
intrigues, and too slavish an observance of the rules of seniority
resulted in the ranks of senior commanding officers being crowded with
worthless men. The High Commission for granting testimonials, which
sat twice a year in Petrograd, hardly knew any of those to whom these
testimonials were given. Therein lies the reason for the mistakes made
at the outbreak of war in many appointments to High Commands. Four
Commanders-in-Chief (one of them suffered from mental paralysis--it is
true that his appointment was only temporary), several Army Commanders,
many Army Corps and Divisional Commanders had to be dismissed. In the
very first days of the concentration of the Eighth Army, in July,
1914, General Brussilov dismissed three Divisional and one Army Corps
Commanders. Yet nonentities retained their commands, and they ruined
the troops and the operations. Under the same General Brussilov,
General D., relieved several times of his command, went from a cavalry
division to three infantry divisions in turn, and found final repose
in German captivity. Most unfortunately, the whole army was aware of
the incompetence of these Commanding Officers, and wondered at their
appointments. Owing to these deficiencies, the strategy of the entire
campaign lacked inspiration and boldness. Such, for example, were
the operations of the North-Western front in East Prussia, prompted
solely by the desire of G.H.Q. to save the French Army from a desperate
position. Such, in particular, was Rennenkampf's shameful manoeuvre,
as well as the stubborn forcing of the Carpathians, which dismembered
the troops of the South-Western front in 1915, and finally our advance
in the spring of 1916.

The last episode was so typical of the methods of our High Command and
its consequences were so grave that it is worth our while to recall it.

When the armies of the South-Western front took the offensive in May,
the attack was eminently successful and several Austrian divisions
were heavily defeated. When my division, after the capture of Lutsk,
was moving by forced marches to Vladimir Volynsk, I considered--and
we all considered--that our manoeuvre represented the entire scheme
of the advance, that our front was dealing the main blow. We learnt
afterwards that the task of dealing the main blow had been entrusted
to the Western front, and that Brussilov's armies were only making a
demonstration. There, towards Vilna, large forces had been gathered,
equipped with artillery and technical means such as we had never had
before. For several months the troops had been preparing _places
d'armes_ for the advance. At last all was ready, and the success of the
Southern armies that diverted the enemy's attention and his reserves
also promised success to the Western front.

Almost on the eve of the contemplated offensive the historical
conversation took place on the telephone between General Evert,
C.-in-C. of the Western front, and General Alexeiev, Chief of Staff of
the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. The gist of the conversation was the
following:

_A._ Circumstances require an immediate decision. Are you ready for the
advance and are you certain to be successful?

_E._ I have no certainty of success. The enemy's positions are very
strong. Our troops will have to attack the positions against which
their previous attacks have failed.

_A._ If that is the case, you must give immediate orders for the
transfer of troops to the South-Western front. I will report to the
Emperor.

So the operation, so long awaited and so methodically prepared,
collapsed. The Western Army Corps, sent to reinforce us, came too late.
Our advance was checked. The senseless slaughter on the swampy banks
of the Stokhod then began. Incidentally, the Guards lost the flower
of their men in those battles. Meanwhile, the German Eastern front
was going through a period of intense anxiety. "It was a critical
time," says Ludendorff in his _Mes Souvenirs de Guerre_. "We had
spent ourselves, and we knew full well that no one would come to our
assistance if the Russians chose to attack us."

An episode may be mentioned in this connection, which occurred to
General Brussilov. The story is not widely known, and may serve as
an interesting sidelight on the character of the General--one of the
leaders of the campaign. After the brilliant operations of the Eighth
Army, which ended in the crossing of the Carpathians and the invasion
of Hungary, the C.-in-C., General Brussilov, suffered a curious
psychological breakdown. Under the impression that a partial reverse
had been sustained by one of the Army Corps, he issued an order for
a general retreat, and the Army began rapidly to roll back. He was
haunted by imaginary dangers of the enemy breaking through, surrounding
our troops, of attacks of enemy cavalry which were supposed to threaten
the G.H.Q. Twice General Brussilov moved his H.Q. with a swiftness akin
to a panicky flight. The C.-in-C. was thus detached from his armies and
out of touch with them.

We were retreating day after day in long, weary marches, and utterly
bewildered. The Austrians did not outnumber us, and their moral was no
higher than ours. They did not press us. Every day, my riflemen and
Kornilov's troops in our vicinity delivered short counter-attacks, took
many prisoners, and captured machine-guns.

The Quartermaster-General's branch of the Army was even more puzzled.
Every day it reported that the news of the retreat was unfounded;
but Brussilov at first disregarded these reports, and later became
greatly incensed. The General Staff then had recourse to another
stratagem: they approached Brussilov's old friend, the veteran General
Panchulidzev, Chief of the Army Sanitation Branch, and persuaded him
that, if this retreat continued, the Army might suspect treason and
things might take an ugly turn. Panchulidzev visited Brussilov. An
intensely painful scene took place. As a result, Brussilov was found
weeping bitterly and Panchulidzev fainted. On the same day, an order
was issued for an advance, and the troops went forward rapidly and
easily, driving the Austrians before them. The strategical position was
restored as well as the reputation of the Army Commander.

It must be admitted that not only the troops but the Commanders were
but scantily informed of the happenings of the front, and had hazy
ideas on the general strategical scheme. The troops criticised them
only when it was obvious that they had to pay the price of blood for
these schemes. So it was in the Carpathians, at Stokhod, during the
second attack on Przemyshl in the spring of 1917, etc. The moral of
the troops was affected chiefly by the great Galician retreat, the
unhappy progress of the war on the Northern and Western fronts--where
no victories were won--and by the tedious lingering for over a year in
positions of which everyone was sick to death.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have already mentioned the cadres of commissioned officers. The great
and small shortcomings of these cadres increased as the cadres became
separated. No one expected the campaign to be protracted, and the Army
organisation was not careful to preserve the cadres of officers and
non-commissioned officers. They were drafted wholesale into the ranks
at the outbreak of war. I remember so well a conversation that took
place during the period of mobilisation, which was then contemplated
against Austria alone. It occurred in the flat of General V. M.
Dragomirov, one of the prominent leaders of the Army. A telegram was
brought in announcing that Germany had declared war. There was a dead
silence. Everyone was deep in thought. Somebody asked Dragomirov:

"How long do you think the war will last?"

"Four months."

Companies went to the front sometimes with five to six officers.
Regular officers, and later the majority of other officers, invariably
and in all circumstances gave the example of prowess, pluck and
self-sacrifice. It is only natural that most of them were killed.
Another reliable element--the N.C.O.'s of the Reserve--was also
recklessly squandered. In the beginning of the war they formed
sometimes 50 per cent. of the rank and file. Relations between officers
and men in the old army were not always based upon healthy principles.
It cannot be denied that there was a certain aloofness caused by
the insufficient attention paid by the officers to the spiritual
requirements of the soldier's life. These relations, however, gradually
improved as the barriers of caste and class were broken down. The war
drew officers and men ever closer together, and in some regiments,
mostly of the line, there was a true brotherhood in arms. One
reservation must here be made. The outward intercourse bore the stamp
of the general lack of culture from which not only the masses but also
the Russian intellectuals suffered. Heartfelt solicitude, touching care
of the men's needs, simplicity and friendliness--all these qualities
of the Russian officer, who lay for months on end in the wet, dirty
trenches beside their men, ate out of the same pot, died quietly and
without a murmur, was buried in the same "fraternal grave"--were marred
by an occasional roughness, swearing, and sometimes by arbitrariness
and blows.

There can be no doubt that the same conditions existed within the
ranks, and the only difference was that the sergeant and the corporal
were rougher and more cruel than the officers. These deplorable
circumstances coupled with the boredom and stupidity of barrack life,
and the petty restrictions imposed upon the men by the military
regulations, gave ample scope for underground seditious propaganda in
which the soldier was described as the "victim of the arbitrariness
of the men with golden epaulettes." The sound feeling and naturally
healthy outlook of the men was not mentioned while the discomforts
of military life were insisted on in order to foster a spirit of
discontent.

This state of affairs was all the more serious because during the
war the process of consolidating the different units became more and
more difficult. These units, and especially the infantry regiments,
suffering terrible losses and changing their personnel ten or twelve
times, became to some extent recruiting stations through which men
flowed in an uninterrupted stream. They remained there but a short
time, and failed to become imbued with the military traditions of
their unit. The artillery and some other special branches remained
comparatively solid, and this was due in some measure to the fact
that their losses were, as compared with the losses suffered by the
infantry, only in the proportion of one to ten or one to twenty.

On the whole the atmosphere in the Army and in the Navy was not,
therefore, particularly wholesome. In varying degrees, the two elements
of the Army--the rank and file and the commanding cadres--were divided.
For this the Russian officers, as well as the intellectuals, were
undoubtedly responsible. Their misdeeds resulted in the idea gaining
ground that the _barin_ (master) and the officer were opposed to the
_moujik_ and the soldier. A favourable atmosphere was thus created for
the work of destructive forces.

Anarchist elements were by no means predominant in the Army. The
foundations, though somewhat unstable, had to be completely shattered;
the new power had to commit a long series of mistakes and crimes to
convert the state of smouldering discontent into active rebellion,
the bloody spectre of which will for some time to come hang over our
hapless Russian land.

Destructive outside influences were not counteracted in the Army by a
reasonable process of education. This was due partly to the political
unpreparedness of the officers, partly to the instinctive fear felt
by the old régime of introducing "politics" into barracks, even with
a view to criticising subversive doctrines. This fear was felt not
only in respect of social and internal problems but even in respect
of foreign policy. Thus, for example, an Imperial order was issued
shortly before the war, strictly prohibiting any discussion amongst
the soldiers on the subject of the political issues of the moment (the
Balkan question, the Austro-Serbian conflict, etc.). On the eve of the
inevitable national war, the authorities persistently refrained from
awakening wholesome patriotism by explaining the causes and aims of
the war, and instructing the rank and file on the Slav question and
our long-drawn struggle against Germanism. I must confess that, like
many others, I did not carry out that order, and that I endeavoured
properly to influence the moral of the Archangel regiment which I then
commanded. I published an impassioned article against the order in the
Military Press, under the title _Do not quench the spirit_. I feel
certain that the statue of Strassbourg in the Place de la Concorde in
Paris, draped in a black veil, played an important part in fostering
the heroic spirit of the French Army.

Propaganda penetrated into the old Russian Armies from all sides.
There can be no doubt that the fitful attempts of the ever-changing
governments of Goremykin, Sturmer, Trepov, etc., to arrest the normal
course of life in Russia, provided ample material for propaganda and
roused the anger of the people, which was reflected in the Army.
Socialist and defeatist writers took advantage of this state of
affairs. Lenin first contrived to introduce his doctrines into Russia
through the Social Democratic party of the Duma. The Germans worked
with even greater intensity.

It should, however, be noted that all this propaganda from outside and
from within affected chiefly the units of the rear, the garrisons and
reserve battalions of the main centres, and especially of Petrograd,
and that, before the Revolution, its influence at the front was
comparatively insignificant. Reinforcements reached the front in a
state of perplexity, but under the influence of a saner atmosphere,
and of healthier, albeit more arduous, conditions of warfare, they
rapidly improved. The effect of destructive propaganda was, however,
noticeable in certain units where the ground was favourable, and two
or three cases of insubordination of entire units occurred before the
Revolution, and were severely repressed. Finally, the bulk of the
Army--the peasantry--was confronted with one practical question which
_prompted them instinctively to delay the social revolution_: "THE LAND
WOULD BE DIVIDED IN OUR ABSENCE. WHEN WE RETURN WE SHALL DIVIDE IT."

       *       *       *       *       *

The inadequate organisation of the rear, the orgy of theft, high
prices, profiteering and luxury, for which the front paid in blood,
naturally afforded material for propaganda. The Army, however, suffered
most heavily from the lack of technical means, especially of ammunition.

It was only in 1917 that General Sukhomlinov's trial disclosed to the
Russian Army and to public opinion the main causes of the military
catastrophe of 1915. Plans for replenishing the Russian Army stores had
been completed, and credits for that purpose assigned as early as in
1907. Curiously enough, these credits were increased on the initiative
of the Commission for National Defence, not of the Ministry of War.
As a rule, neither the Duma nor the Ministry of Finance ever refused
war credits or reduced them. During Sukhomlinov's tenure of office
the War Ministry obtained a special credit of 450 million roubles, of
which less than 300 millions were spent. Before the war, the question
of providing the Army with munitions after the peace-time stores
were exhausted was never even raised. It is true that the intensity
of firing reached, from the very outbreak of war, unexpected and
unheard-of proportions, which upset all the theoretical calculations of
military specialists in Russia and abroad. Naturally, heroic measures
were necessary in order to deal with this tragic situation.

Meanwhile, the supplies of ammunition for the reinforcements that
came to the front--at first only 1/10th equipped, and later without
any rifles at all--were exhausted as early as in October, 1914. The
Commander-in-Chief of the South-Western front telegraphed to G.H.Q.:
"The machinery for providing ammunition has completely broken down.
In the absence of fresh supplies, we shall have to cease fighting, or
else send troops to the front in an extremely precarious condition." At
the same time (the end of September) Marshal Joffre inquired "whether
the Imperial Russian Army was adequately supplied with shells for the
uninterrupted conduct of war." The War Minister, General Sukhomlinov,
replied: "The present condition of the Russian Army in respect of
ammunition gives no ground for serious apprehension." Orders were not
placed abroad, and Japanese and American rifles were refused "in order
to avoid the inconvenience due to different calibres."

When the man who was responsible for the military catastrophe faced his
judges in August, 1917, his personality produced a pitiful impression.
The trial raised a more serious, painful question: "How could this
irresponsible man, with no real knowledge of military matters, and
perhaps even consciously a criminal, have remained in power for six
years?" How "shamelessly indifferent to good and evil," according
to Pushkin's saying, the military bureaucracy must have been, that
surrounded him and tolerated the sins of omission and commission, which
invariably and systematically injured the interests of the State.

The final catastrophe came in 1915.

I shall never forget the spring of 1915, the great tragedy of the
Russian Army---the Galician retreat. We had neither cartridges nor
shells. From day to day, we fought heavy battles and did lengthy
marches. We were desperately tired--physically and morally. From hazy
hopes we plunged into the depths of gloom. I recall an action near
Przemyshl in the middle of May. The Fourth Rifle Division fought
fiercely for eleven days. For eleven days the German heavy guns were
roaring, and they literally blew up rows of trenches, with all their
defenders. We scarcely replied at all--we had nothing to reply with.
Utterly exhausted regiments were beating off one attack after another
with bayonets, or firing at a close range. Blood was flowing, the ranks
were being thinned, and graveyards growing. Two regiments were almost
entirely annihilated by firing.

I would that our French and British friends, whose technical
achievement is so wondrous, could note the following grotesque fact,
which belongs to Russian history:

Our only six-inch battery had been silent for three days. When it
received FIFTY SHELLS the fact was immediately telephoned to all
regiments and companies, and all the riflemen heaved a sigh of relief
and joy.

What painful, insulting irony there was in Brussilov's circular, in
which the C.-in-C., incapable of providing us with ammunition, and with
a view to raising our spirits and our moral, advised us not to lay too
much stress upon the German superiority in heavy guns, because there
had been many cases of the Germans inflicting but small losses in our
ranks by spending an enormous amount of shells....

On May 21st, General Yanushkevitch (Chief of the Staff of the Supreme
C.-in-C., the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievitch) telegraphed to
the War Minister: "The evacuation of Przemyshl is an accomplished
fact. Brussilov alleges a shortage of ammunition, that _bête noire_,
yours and mine ... a loud cry comes from all the armies: 'Give us
cartridges.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

I am not inclined to idealise our Army. I have to speak many sad
truths about it. But when the Pharisees--the leaders of the Russian
Revolutionary Democracy--endeavour to explain away the collapse of the
Army for which they are mainly responsible, by saying that the Army was
already on the verge of collapse, they are lying.

I do not deny the grave shortcomings of our system of appointments to
the High Command, the errors of our strategy, tactics and organisation,
the technical backwardness of our Army, the defects of the Officers'
Corps, the ignorance of the rank and file, and the vices of barrack
life. I know the extent of desertions and shirking, of which our
intellectuals were hardly less guilty than the ignorant masses. The
Revolutionary Democracy did not, however, devote special attention
to _these_ serious defects of the Army. It could not remedy these
evils, did not know how to cure them, and, in fact, did not combat
them at all. Speaking for myself, I do not know that the Revolutionary
Democracy has cured or even dealt seriously and effectively with
any one of these evils. What of the famous "Freedom from Bondage"
of the soldier? Discarding all the exaggerations which this term
implies, it may be said that the mere fact of the Revolution brought
about a certain change in the relations between the officers and
the men. In normal circumstances, and without coarse and malicious
outside interference, this change might have become a source of great
moral strength, instead of a disaster. It was into this sore that
the Revolutionary Democracy poured poison. The very essence of the
military organisation: its eternal, unchangeable characteristics,
discipline, individual authority, and the non-political spirit of the
Army, were ruthlessly assailed by the Revolutionary Democracy. These
characteristics were lost. And yet it seemed as if the downfall of
the old régime opened new and immense possibilities for cleansing
and uplifting the Russian people's Army and its Command morally and
technically. Like people, like Army. After all, the old Russian Army,
albeit suffering from the deficiencies of the Russian people, had
also the people's virtues, and particularly an exceptional power
of endurance in facing the horrors of war. The Army fought without
a murmur for nearly three years. With extraordinary prowess and
self-sacrifice the men went into action with empty hands against the
deadly technique of the enemy. The rivers of blood shed by the rank
and file atoned for the sins of the Supreme power, the Government, the
people, and of the Army itself.[2]

Our late Allies should never forget that in the middle of January,
1917, the Russian Army was holding on its front 187 enemy divisions,
or 49 per cent. of the enemy's forces operating on the European and
Asiatic fronts.

The old Russian Army was still strong enough to continue the war and to
win victories.

[Diagram: Comparative forces of the Germans in different theatres
of war]



CHAPTER III.

THE OLD ARMY AND THE EMPEROR.


In August, 1915, the Emperor, influenced by the entourage of the
Empress and of Rasputin, decided to take the Supreme Command of the
Army. Eight Cabinet Ministers and some politicians warned the Emperor
against this dangerous step, but their pleadings were of no avail. The
official motives they adduced were, on the one hand, the difficulty of
combining the tasks of governing the country and commanding the Army,
and, on the other, the risk of assuming responsibility for the Army at
a time when it was suffering reverses and retreating. The real motive,
however, was the fear lest the difficult position of the Army be
further imperilled by the lack of knowledge and experience of the new
Supreme C.-in-C., and that the German-Rasputin clique that surrounded
him, having already brought about the paralysis of the Government and
its conflict with the Duma, would bring about the collapse of the Army.

There was a rumour, which was afterwards confirmed, that the Emperor
came to this decision partly because he feared the entourage of the
Empress, and partly because of the popularity of the Grand Duke
Nicholas, which was growing in spite of the reverses suffered by the
Army.

On August 23rd, an order was issued to the Army and Navy. To the
official text, the Emperor added a note in his own hand, a facsimile of
which is reproduced overleaf:

This decision, in spite of its intrinsic importance, produced no strong
impression upon the Army. The High Commanding Officers and the lower
grades of Commissioned Officers were well aware that the Emperor's
personal part in the Supreme Command would be purely nominal, and the
question in everyone's mind was:

"Who will be the Chief of Staff?"

The appointment of General Alexeiev appeased the anxiety of the
officers. The rank and file cared but little for the technical side
of the Command. To them, the Czar had always been the Supreme Leader
of the Army. One thing, however, somewhat perturbed them: the belief
had gained ground among the people years before that the Emperor was
unlucky.

[Illustration: Note added by the Emperor to Army and Navy order

    _Translation_:--"With firm faith in the grace of God, and with
    unshaken assurance of final victory, let us fulfil our sacred duty
    of defending Russia till the end, and let us not bring shame to the
    Russian land.--NICHOLAS."]

In reality, it was General M. V. Alexeiev who took command of the
armed forces of Russia. In the history of the Russian war and the
Russian turmoil, General Alexeiev holds so prominent a place that his
importance cannot be gauged in a few lines. A special historical study
would be necessary in order to describe the career of a man whose
military and political activities, which some have severely criticised
and others extolled, never caused anyone to doubt that (in the words
of an Army Order to the Volunteer Army) "his path of martyrdom was
lighted by crystalline honesty and by a fervent love for his Mother
Country--whether great or downtrodden."

Alexeiev sometimes did not display sufficient firmness in enforcing
his demands, but, in respect of the independence of the "Stavka"
(G.H.Q.) from outside influences, he showed civic courage which
the High Officials of the old régime, who clung to their offices,
completely lacked.

One day, after an official dinner at Mohilev, the Empress took
Alexeiev's arm, and went for a walk in the garden with him. She
mentioned Rasputin. In terms of deep emotion she tried to persuade the
General that he was wrong in his attitude towards Rasputin, that "the
old man is a wonderful saint," that he was much calumniated, that he
was deeply devoted to the Imperial family, and, last but not least,
that his visit would bring luck to the "Stavka."

Alexeiev answered dryly that, so far as he was concerned, the question
had long since been settled. Should Rasputin appear at G.H.Q., he would
immediately resign his post.

"Is this your last word?"

"Yes, certainly."

The Empress cut the conversation short, and left without saying
good-bye to the General, who afterwards admitted that the incident had
an ill-effect upon the Emperor's attitude towards him. Contrary to the
established opinion, the relations between the Emperor and Alexeiev,
outwardly perfect, were by no means intimate or friendly, or even
particularly confidential. The Emperor loved no one except his son.
Therein lies the tragedy of his life as a man and as a ruler.

Several times General Alexeiev, depressed by the growth of popular
discontent with the regime and the Crown, endeavoured to exceed the
limits of a military report and to represent to the Emperor the
state of affairs in its true light. He referred to Rasputin and to
the question of a responsible Ministry. He invariably met with the
impenetrable glance, so well-known to many, and the dry retort:

"I know."

Not another word.

In matters of Army administration, the Emperor fully trusted Alexeiev,
and listened attentively to the General's long, and perhaps even too
elaborate, reports. Attentively and patiently he listened, but these
matters did not seem to appeal to him. There were differences of
opinion in regard to minor matters, appointments to G.H.Q., new posts,
etc.

No doubt was left in my mind as to the Emperor's complete indifference
in matters of high strategy after I read an important record--that
of the deliberations of a Military Council held at G.H.Q. at
the end of 1916, under the chairmanship of the Emperor. All the
Commanders-in-Chief and the high officials of G.H.Q. were present, and
the plans of the 1917 campaign and of a general advance were discussed.

Every word uttered at the conference was placed on record. One could
not fail to be impressed by the dominating and guiding part played by
General Gourko--Chief of the General Staff _pro tem._--by the somewhat
selfish designs of various Commanders-in-Chief, who were trying to
adapt strategical axioms to the special interests of their fronts, and
finally by the total indifference of the Supreme C.-in-C.

Relations similar to those just described continued between the Emperor
and the Chief of Staff when General Gourko took charge of that office
while Alexeiev, who had fallen seriously ill in the autumn of 1916, was
undergoing a cure at Sevastopol, without, however, losing touch with
G.H.Q., with which he communicated by direct wire.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile, the struggle between the progressive block of the Duma and
the Government (General Alexeiev and the majority of the Commanding
Officers undoubtedly sympathised with the former) was gradually
becoming more and more acute. The record of the sitting of the Duma
of November 1st, 1916 (of which the publication was prohibited and an
abridged version did not appear in the Press till the beginning of
January, 1917), when Shulgin and Miliukov delivered their historical
speeches, was circulated everywhere in the Army in the shape of
typewritten leaflets. Feeling was already running so high that these
leaflets were not concealed, but were read and provoked animated
discussions in officers' messes. A prominent Socialist, an active
worker of the Union of Towns, who paid his first visit to the Army
in 1916, said to me: "I am amazed at the freedom with which the
worthlessness of the Government and the Court scandals are being
discussed in regiments and messes in the presence of Commanding
officers, at Army Headquarters, etc., and that in our country of
arbitrary repression ... at first it seemed to me that I was dealing
with 'agents provocateurs.'"

The Duma had been in close connection with the Officers' Corps for
a long time. Young officers unofficially partook in the work of the
Commission of National Defence during the period of the reorganisation
of the Army and revival of the Fleet after the Japanese War. Gutchkov
had formed a circle, in which Savitch, Krupensky, Count Bobrinski
and representatives of the officers, headed by General Gourko, were
included. Apparently, General Polivanov (who afterwards played
such an important part in contributing to the disintegration of the
Army, as Chairman of the "Polivanov Commission") also belonged to
the circle. There was no wish to "undermine the foundations," but
merely to push along the heavy, bureaucratic van, to give impetus
to the work, and initiative to the offices of the inert Military
Administration. According to Gutchkov, the circle worked quite openly,
and the War Ministry at first even provided the members with materials.
Subsequently, however, General Sukhomlinov's attitude changed abruptly,
the circle came under suspicion, and people began to call it "The Young
Turks."

The Commission of National Defence was, nevertheless, very well
informed. General Lukomski, who was Chief of the Mobilisation Section,
and later Assistant War Minister, told me that reports to the
Commission had to be prepared extremely carefully, and that General
Sukhomlinov, trivial and ignorant, produced a pitiful impression on
the rare occasions on which he appeared before the Commission, and was
subjected to a regular cross-examination.

In the course of his trial, Sukhomlinov himself recounted an episode
which illustrates this state of affairs. One day, he arrived at a
meeting of the Commission when two important military questions were to
be discussed. He was stopped by Rodzianko,[3] who said to him:

"Get away, get away. You are to us as a red rag to a bull. As soon as
you come, your requests are turned down."

After the Galician retreat, the Duma succeeded at last in enforcing the
participation of its members in the task of placing on a proper basis
all orders for the Army, and the Unions of Zemstvos and Towns were
permitted to create the "General Committee for provisioning the Army."

The hard experience of the war resulted at last in the simple scheme
of mobilising the Russian industries. No sooner did this undertaking
escape from the deadening atmosphere of military offices than it
advanced with giant strides. According to official data, in July, 1915,
each Army received 33 parks of artillery instead of the requisite 50,
whereas, in September, the figure rose to 78, owing to the fact that
private factories had been brought into the scheme. I am in a position
to state, not only on the strength of figures, but from personal
experience, that, at the end of 1916, our Army, albeit falling short of
the high standards of the Allied armies in respect of equipment, had
sufficient stores of ammunition and supplies wherewith to begin an
extensive and carefully-planned operation along the entire front. These
circumstances were duly appreciated in the Army, and confidence in the
Duma and in social organisations was thereby increased. The conditions
of internal policy, however, were not improving. In the beginning of
1917, out of the extremely tense atmosphere of political strife, there
arose the idea of a new remedy:

                             "REVOLUTION."

       *       *       *       *       *

Representatives of certain Duma and social circles visited Alexeiev,
who was ill at Sevastopol. They told the General quite frankly that
a revolution was brewing. They knew what the effect would be in the
country, but they could not tell how the front would be impressed, and
wanted advice.

Alexeiev strongly insisted that violent changes during the war were
inadmissible, that they would constitute a deadly menace to the front,
which, according to his pessimistic view, "was already by no means
steady," and pleaded against any irretrievable steps for the sake of
preserving the Army. The delegates departed, promising to take the
necessary measures in order to avert the contemplated revolution. I do
not know upon what information General Alexeiev based his subsequent
statement to the effect that the same delegates afterwards visited
Generals Brussilov and Ruzsky, and after these generals had expressed
an opposite view to his, altered their previous decision; but the
preparations for the revolution continued.

It is as yet difficult to elucidate all the details of these
negotiations. Those who conducted them are silent; there are no
records; the whole matter was shrouded in secrecy, and did not reach
the bulk of the army. Certain facts, however, have been ascertained.

Several people approached the Emperor, and warned him of the impending
danger to the country and the dynasty--Alexeiev, Gourko, the Archbishop
Shavelski, Purishkevitch (a reactionary member of the Duma), the Grand
Dukes Nicholas Mikhailovitch and Alexander Mikhailovitch, and the
Dowager Empress. After Rodzianko's visit to the Army in the autumn of
1916, copies of his letter to the Emperor gained circulation in the
Army. In that letter the President of the Duma warned the Emperor of
the grave peril to the throne and the dynasty caused by the disastrous
activities of the Empress Alexandra in the sphere of internal policy.
On November 1st, the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovitch read a letter to
the Emperor, in which he pointed out the impossible manner, known to
all classes of society, in which Ministers were appointed, through the
medium of the appalling people who surrounded the Empress. The Grand
Duke proceeded:

"... If you could succeed in removing this perpetual interference,
the renascence of Russia would begin at once, and you would recover
the confidence of the vast majority of your subjects which is now
lost. When the time is ripe--and it is at hand--you can yourself grant
from the throne the desired responsibility (of the Government) to
yourself and the legislature. This will come about naturally, easily,
without any pressure from without, and not in the same way as with
the memorable act of October 17th, 1905.[4] I hesitated for a long
time to tell you the truth, but made up my mind when your mother
and your sisters persuaded me to do so. You are on the eve of new
disturbances, and, if I may say so, new attempts. Believe me, if I so
strongly emphasise the necessity for your liberation from the existing
fetters, I am doing so not for personal motives, but only in the hope
of saving you, your throne, and our beloved country from irretrievable
consequences of the gravest nature."

All these representations were of no avail.

Several members of the right and of the liberal wing of the Duma and
of the progressive bloc, members of the Imperial family, and officers,
joined the circle. One of the Grand Dukes was to make a last appeal
to the Emperor before active measures were undertaken. In the event
of failure, the Imperial train was to be stopped by an armed force on
its way from G.H.Q. to Petrograd. The Emperor was to be advised to
abdicate, and, in the event of his refusal, he was to be removed by
force. The rightful heir, the Czarevitch Alexis, was to be proclaimed
Emperor, and the Grand Duke Michael, Regent.

At the same time, a large group of the progressive bloc of the Duma, of
representatives of Zemstvos and towns--well versed in the activities of
the circle--held several meetings, at which the question was discussed
of "the part the Duma was to play after the _coup d'état_."[5] The new
Ministry was then outlined, and of the two suggested candidates for the
Premiership, Rodzianko and Prince Lvov, the latter was chosen.

Fate, however, decreed otherwise.

Before the contemplated _coup d'état_ took place, there began, in the
words of Albert Thomas, "the brightest, the most festive, the most
bloodless Russian Revolution."



CHAPTER IV.

THE REVOLUTION IN PETROGRAD.


I did not learn of the course of events in Petrograd and at G.H.Q.
until some time had elapsed, and I will refer to these events briefly
in order to preserve the continuity of my narrative. In a telegram
addressed to the Emperor by the members of the Council of the Empire on
the night of the 28th February, the state of affairs was described as
follows:--

"Owing to the complete disorganisation of transport and to the lack
of necessary materials, factories have stopped working. Forced
unemployment, and the acute food crisis due to the disorganisation of
transport, have driven the popular masses to desperation. This feeling
is further intensified by hatred towards the Government and grave
suspicions against the authorities, which have penetrated deeply into
the soul of the nation. All this has found expression in a popular
rising of elemental dimensions, and the troops are now joining the
movement. The Government, which has never been trusted in Russia, is
now utterly discredited and incapable of coping with the dangerous
situation."

Preparations for the Revolution found favourable ground in the
general condition of the country, and had been made long since. The
most heterogeneous elements had taken part in these activities; the
German Government, which spared no means for Socialist and defeatist
propaganda in Russia, and especially among the workmen; the Socialist
parties, who had formed "cells" among the workmen and in the regiments;
undoubtedly, too, the Protopopov Ministry, which was said to have been
provoking a rising in the streets in order to quell it by armed force,
and thus clear the intolerably tense atmosphere. It would seem that all
these forces were aiming at the same goal, which they were trying to
reach by diverse means, actuated by diametrically opposed motives.

At the same time, the progressive block and social organisations began
to prepare for great events which they considered inevitable, and other
circles, in close touch with these organisations or sharing their
views, were completing the arrangements for a "_Palace coup d'état_" as
the last means of averting the impending Revolution.

Nevertheless, the rebellion started as an elemental force and caught
everybody unawares. Several days later, when General Kornilov
visited the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workmen
and Soldiers' Deputies, prominent members of that body incidentally
explained that "the soldiers mutinied independently of the workmen,
with whom the soldiers had not been in touch on the eve of the
rebellion," and that the "mutiny had not been prepared--hence the
absence of a corresponding administrative organ."

As regards the circles of the Duma and the social organisations, they
were prepared for a _coup d'état_, but not for the Revolution. In
the blazing fire of the outbreak they failed to preserve their moral
balance and judgment.

The first outbreak began on February 23rd, when crowds filled the
streets, meetings were held, and the speakers called for a struggle
against the hated power. This lasted till the 26th, when the popular
movement assumed gigantic proportions and there were collisions with
the police, in which machine-guns were brought into action. On the
26th an ukaze was received proroguing the Duma, and on the morning of
the 27th the members of the Duma decided not to leave Petrograd. On
the same morning the situation underwent a drastic change, because
the rebels were joined by the Reserve battalions of the Litovski,
Volynski, Preobrajenski, and Sapper Guards' Regiments. They were
Reserve battalions, as the real Guards' Regiments were then on the
South-Western Front. These battalions did not differ, either in
discipline or spirit, from any other unit of the line. In several
battalions the Commanding Officers were disconcerted, and could not
make up their minds as to their own attitude. This wavering resulted,
to a certain extent, in a loss of prestige and authority. The troops
came out into the streets without their officers, mingled with the
crowds, and were imbued with the crowds' psychology. Armed throngs,
intoxicated with freedom, excited to the utmost, and incensed by street
orators, filled the streets, smashed the barricades, and new crowds of
waverers joined them. Police detachments were mercilessly slaughtered.
Officers who chanced to be in the way of the crowds were disarmed and
some of them killed. The armed mob seized the arsenal, the Fortress of
Peter and Paul, and the Kresti Prison.

On that decisive day there were no leaders--there was only the tidal
wave. Its terrible progress appeared to be devoid of any definite
object, plan, or watchword. The only cry that seemed to express the
general spirit was "_Long live Liberty_."

Somebody was bound to take the movement in hand. After violent
discussions, much indecision and wavering, that part was assumed by the
Duma. A Committee of the Duma was formed, which proclaimed its objects
on February 27th in the following guarded words:--

"In the strenuous circumstances of internal strife caused by the
activities of the old Government, the temporary Committee of the
members of the Duma has felt compelled to undertake the task of
restoring order in the State and in society.... The Committee expresses
its conviction that the population and the army will render assistance
in the difficult task of creating a new Government, which will
correspond to the wishes of the population, and which will be in a
position to enjoy its confidence."

There can be no doubt that the Duma, having led the patriotic and
national struggle against the Government detested by the people, and
having accomplished great and fruitful work in the interests of the
army, had obtained recognition in the country and in the army. The
Duma now became the centre of the political life of the country. No
one else could have taken the lead in the movement. No one else could
have gained the confidence of the country, or such rapid and full
recognition as the Supreme Power, as the power that emanated from
the Duma. The Petrograd Soviet of Workmen and Soldiers' Deputies was
fully aware of this fact, and it did not then claim _officially_ to
represent the Russian Government. Such an attitude towards the Duma
at that moment created the illusion of the _national_ character of
the Provisional Government created by the Duma. Alongside, therefore,
with the troops that mingled with the armed mob and destroyed in their
trail everything reminiscent of the old power, alongside with the
units that had remained faithful to that power and resisted the mob,
regiments began to flock to the Taurida Palace with their commanding
officers, bands and banners. They greeted the new power in the person
of Rodzianko, President of the Duma, according to the rules of the old
ritual. The Taurida Palace presented an unusual sight--legislators,
bureaucrats, soldiers, workmen, women; a chamber, a camp, a prison,
a headquarters, Ministries. Everyone foregathered there seeking
protection and salvation, demanding guidance and answers to puzzling
questions which had suddenly arisen. On the same day, February 27th,
an announcement was made from the Taurida Palace:--

"Citizens. Representatives of the workmen, soldiers and people of
Petrograd, sitting in the Duma, declare that the first meeting of
their representatives will take place at seven o'clock to-night on
the premises of the Duma. Let the troops that have joined the people
immediately elect their representatives--one to each company. Let the
factories elect their deputies--one to each thousand. Factories with
less than a thousand workmen to elect one deputy each."

This proclamation had a grave and fateful effect upon the entire course
of events. In the first place, it created an organ of unofficial,
but undoubtedly stronger, power alongside with the provisional
Government--the Soviet of Workmen and Soldiers' deputies, against which
the Government proved impotent. In the second place, it converted the
political and bourgeois revolution, both outwardly and inwardly, into
a social revolution, which was unthinkable, considering the condition
of the country at that time. Such a revolution in war time could not
fail to bring about terrible upheavals. Lastly, it established a close
connection between the Soviet, which was inclined towards Bolshevism
and defeatism, and the army, which was thus infected with a ferment
which resulted in its ultimate collapse. When the troops, fully
officered, smartly paraded before the Taurida Palace, it was only
for show. The link between the officers and the men had already been
irretrievably broken; discipline had been shattered. Henceforward, the
troops of the Petrograd district represented a kind of Pretorian guard,
whose evil force weighed heavily over the Provisional Government. All
subsequent efforts made by Gutchkov, General Kornilov and G.H.Q. to
influence them and to send them to the front were of no avail, owing to
the determined resistance of the Soviet.

The position of the officers was undoubtedly tragic, as they had to
choose between loyalty to their oath, the distrust and enmity of the
men, and the dictates of practical necessity. A small portion of the
officers offered armed resistance to the mutiny, and most of them
perished. Some avoided taking any part in the events, but the majority
in the regiments, where comparative order prevailed, tried to find in
the Duma a solution of the questions which perturbed their conscience.
At a big meeting of officers held in Petrograd on March 1st, a
resolution was carried: "To stand by the people and unanimously to
recognise the power of the Executive Committee of the Duma, pending the
convocation of the Constituent Assembly; because a speedy organisation
of order and of united work in the rear were necessary for the
victorious end of the war."

       *       *       *       *       *

Owing to the unrestrained orgy of power in which the successive
rulers appointed at Rasputin's suggestion had indulged during their
short terms of office, there was in 1917 no political party, no class
upon which the Czarist Government could rely. Everybody considered
that Government as the enemy of the people. Extreme Monarchists
and Socialists, the united nobility, labour groups, Grand Dukes
and half-educated soldiers--all were of the same opinion. I do not
intend to examine the activities of the Government which led to the
Revolution, its struggle against the people and against representative
institutions. I will only draw a summary of the accusations which were
justly levelled by the Duma against the Government on the eve of its
downfall:

All the Institutions of the State and of society--the Council of the
Empire, the Duma, the nobility, the Zemstvos, the municipalities--were
under suspicion of disloyalty, and the Government was in open
opposition to them, and paralysed all their activities in matters of
statesmanship and social welfare.

Lawlessness and espionage had reached unheard-of proportions. The
independent Russian Courts of Justice became subservient to "the
requirements of the political moment."

[Illustration: Funeral of the first victims of the March Revolution in
Petrograd.]

Whilst in the Allied countries all classes of society worked
whole-heartedly for the defence of their countries, in Russia that
work was repudiated with contempt, and the work was done by unskilled
and occasionally criminal hands, which resulted in such disastrous
phenomena as the activities of Sukhomlinov and Protopopov. The
Committee "of Military Industries," which had rendered great services
in provisioning the Army, was being systematically destroyed. Shortly
before the Revolution its labour section was arrested without any
reason being assigned, and this very nearly caused sanguinary
disturbances in the capital. Measures adopted by the Government without
the participation of social organisations shattered the industrial life
of the country. Transport was disorganised, and fuel was wasted. The
Government proved incapable and impotent in combating this disorder,
which was undoubtedly caused to a certain extent by the selfish and
sometimes rapacious designs of industrial magnates. The villages were
derelict. A series of wholesale mobilisations, without any exemptions
granted to classes which worked for defence, deprived the villages
of labour. Prices were unsettled, and the big landowners were given
certain privileges. Later, the grain contribution was gravely
mismanaged. There was no exchange of goods between towns and villages.
All this resulted in the stopping of food supplies, famine in the
towns, and repression in the villages. Government servants of all kinds
were impoverished by the tremendous rise in prices of commodities, and
were grumbling loudly.

Ministerial appointments were staggering in their fitfulness, and
appeared to the people as a kind of absurdity. The demands of the
country for a responsible Cabinet were voiced by the Duma and by the
best men. As late as the morning of February 27th, the Duma considered
that the granting of the minimum of the political desiderata of Russian
society was sufficient to postpone "the last hour in which the fate
of the Mother Country and of the dynasty was to be settled." Public
opinion and the Press were smothered; the Military Censorship of all
internal regions (including Moscow and Petrograd) had made the widest
use of its telephones. It was impregnable, protected by all the powers
of martial law. Ordinary censorship was no less severe. The following
striking fact was discussed in the Duma:

In February, 1917, a strike movement, prompted to a certain extent
by the Germans, began to spread in the factories. The Labour members
of the Military Industries Committee then drafted a proclamation, as
follows:--"Comrades, workmen of Petrograd, we deem it our duty to
address to you an urgent request to resume work. The labouring class,
fully aware of its present-day responsibilities, must not weaken itself
by a protracted strike. The interests of the labouring class are
calling upon you to resume work." In spite of Gutchkov's appeal to the
Minister of the Interior and to the Chief Censor, this appeal was twice
removed from the printing press, and was prohibited.

The question is still open for discussion and investigation as to
what proportion of the activities of the old régime in the domain
of economics can be attributed to individuals, what to the system,
and what to the insuperable obstacles created in the country by a
devastating war. But no excuse will ever be found for stifling the
conscience, the mind, and the spirit of the people and all social
initiative. No wonder, therefore, that Moscow and the provinces joined
the Revolution without any appreciable resistance. Outside Petrograd,
where the terror of street fighting and the rowdiness of a bloodthirsty
mob were absent (there were, however, many exceptions), the Revolution
was greeted with satisfaction, and even with enthusiasm, not only by
the Revolutionary Democracy, but by the real Democracy, the Bourgeoisie
and the Civil Service. There was tremendous animation; thousands of
people thronged the streets. Fiery speeches were made. There was great
rejoicing at the deliverance from the terrible nightmare; there were
bright hopes for the future of Russia. There was the word:

"LIBERTY."

It was in the air. It was reproduced in speeches, drawings, in music,
in song. It was stimulating. It was not yet stained by stupidity, by
filth and blood.

Prince Eugene Troubetskoi wrote: "This Revolution is unique. There
have been bourgeois revolutions and proletarian revolutions, but such
a national Revolution, in the broadest sense of the word, as the
present Russian Revolution, there has never been. Everyone took part
in this Revolution, everyone made it: the proletariat, the troops,
the bourgeoisie, even the nobility ... all the live forces of the
country.... May this unity endure!" In these words the hopes and fears
of the Russian intelligencia, not the sad Russian realities, are
reflected. The cruel mutinies at Helsingfors, Kronstadt, Reval, and the
assassination of Admiral Nepenin and of many officers were the first
warnings to the optimists.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the first days of the Revolution the victims in the Capital were
few. According to the registration of the All-Russian Union of Towns,
the total number of killed and wounded in Petrograd was 1,443,
including 869 soldiers (of whom 60 were officers). Of course, many
wounded were not registered. The condition of Petrograd, however, out
of gear and full of inflammable material and armed men, remained for a
long time strained and unstable. I heard later from members of the Duma
and of the Government that the scales were swaying violently, and that
they felt like sitting on a powder-barrel which might explode at any
moment and blow to bits both themselves and the structure of the new
Government which they were creating. The Deputy-Chairman of the Soviet
of Workmen and Soldiers' Deputies, Skobelev, said to a journalist:--

"I must confess that, when in the beginning of the Revolution, I
went to the entrance of the Taurida Palace to meet the first band of
soldiers that had come to the Duma, and when I addressed them, I was
almost certain that I was delivering one of my last speeches, and that
in the course of the next few days I should be shot or hanged."

Several officers who had taken part in the events assured me that
disorder and the universal incapacity for understanding the position in
the Capital were so great that _one solid battalion_, commanded by an
officer who knew what he wanted, might have upset the entire position.
Be that as it may, the temporary Committee of the Duma proclaimed on
March 2nd the formation of a Provisional Government. After lengthy
discussions with the parallel organs of "Democratic Power," the Soviet
of Workmen and Soldiers' Deputies, the Provisional Government issued a
declaration:--

"(1) Full and immediate amnesty for all political, religious and
terrorist crimes, military mutinies and agrarian offences, etc.

"(2) Freedom of speech, the Press, meetings, unions and strikes.
Political liberties to be granted to all men serving in the Army within
the limits of military requirements.

"(3) Cancellation of all restrictions of class, religion and
nationality.

"(4) Immediate preparation for the convocation of a Constituent
Assembly elected by universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage for
the establishment of a form of government and of the Constitution of
the country.

"(5) The police to be replaced by a people's Militia, with elected
chiefs, subordinate to the organ of Local Self-Government.

"(6) Members of Local Self-Governing Institutions to be elected by
universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage.

"(7) The units of the Army that have taken part in the Revolutionary
movement are not to be disarmed or removed from Petrograd.

"(8) Military discipline to be preserved on parade and on duty. The
soldiers, however, are to be free to enjoy all social rights enjoyed by
other citizens.

"The Provisional Government deems it its duty to add that it has no
intention of taking advantage of wartime to delay carrying out the
aforesaid reforms and measures."

This Declaration was quite obviously drafted under pressure from the
"parallel power."

In his book, _Mes Souvenirs de Guerre_, General Ludendorff says: "I
often dreamt of that Revolution which was to alleviate the burdens
of our war. Eternal chimera! To-day, however, the dream suddenly and
unexpectedly came true. I felt as if a heavy load had fallen off my
shoulders. I could not, however, foresee that it would be the grave of
our might."

One of the most prominent leaders of Germany--the country that had
worked so hard for the poisoning of the soul of the Russian people--has
come to the belated conclusion that "Our moral collapse began with the
beginning of the Russian Revolution."



CHAPTER V.

THE REVOLUTION AND THE IMPERIAL FAMILY.


Alone in the Governor's old Palace at Mohilev the Czar suffered in
silence; his wife and children were far away, and there was no one with
him in whom he was able or willing to confide.

Protopopov and the Government had at first represented the state of
affairs as serious, but not alarming--popular disturbances to be
suppressed with "a firm hand." Several hundred machine-guns had been
placed at the disposal of General Habalov, Commander of the troops of
the Petrograd district. Both he and Prince Golitzin, President of the
Cabinet, had been given full authority to make use of exceptional means
of quelling the riots. On the morning of the 27th General Ivanov had
been despatched with a small detachment of troops and a secret warrant,
to be made public after the occupation of Czarskoe Selo. The warrant
invested him with full military and civic powers. No one could have
been less fitted than General Ivanov to occupy so highly important
a position, which amounted actually to a Military Dictatorship.
Ivanov was a very old man--an honest soldier, unfitted to cope with
political complications and no longer in possession of strength,
energy, will-power, or determination.... His success in dealing with
the Kronstadt disturbances of 1906 most probably suggested his present
nomination.

Afterwards, when looking over Habalov's and Bieliaiev's[6] reports,
I was aghast at the pusillanimity and the shirking of responsibility
which they revealed.

The clouds continue to darken.

On February 26th the Empress wired to the Czar: "Am very anxious
about the state of affairs in town...." On the same day Rodzianko
sent his historic telegram: "Position serious. Anarchy in the
capital. Government paralysed. Transport, supplies of fuel and
other necessaries completely disorganised. General discontent grows.
Disorderly firing in the streets. Military units fire at each other.
Imperative necessity that some person popular in the country should be
authorised to form new Cabinet. No delay possible. Any delay fatal.
I pray God that the Monarch be not now held responsible." Rodzianko
forwarded copies of his telegram to all the Commanders-in-Chief, asking
their support.

Early on the 27th the President of the Duma wired again to the Czar:
"Position constantly aggravated. Measures must be taken immediately, as
to-morrow may be too late. This hour decides the fate of our country
and the dynasty."

It is incredible that, after this, the Czar should not have realised
the impending catastrophe, but, in the weakness and irresolution
that characterised him, it is probable that he seized the slightest
available excuse to postpone his decision, and in a fatalistic manner,
left to fate to carry out her secret decrees....

Be that as it may, another impressive warning from General Alexeiev,
confirmed by telegrams from the Commanders-in-Chief, yielded no better
results, and the Czar, anxious about the fate of his family, left for
Czarskoe Selo on the morning of the 29th, without coming to any final
decision on the concessions to be granted to his people.

General Alexeiev, although straightforward, wise, and patriotic, was
lacking in firmness, and his power and influence with the Emperor were
too slight to permit of his insisting on a step the obvious necessity
for which was evident even to the Empress. She wired to her husband on
the 27th: "Concessions inevitable."

The futile journey was two days in accomplishment. Two days without
any correspondence or news as to the course of events, which were
developing and changing every hour.... The Imperial train, taking a
roundabout course, was stopped at Vishera by orders from Petrograd.
On hearing that the Petrograd garrison had acclaimed the Provisional
Committee of the Duma, and that the troops of Czarskoe Selo had sided
with the Revolution, the Czar returned to Pskov.

At Pskov, on the evening of March 1st, the Czar saw General Ruzsky, who
explained the position to him, but no decision was arrived at, except
that on the 2nd of March, at 2 a.m., the Czar again sent for Ruzsky,
and handed him an ukase, which made the Cabinet responsible to the
Duma. "I knew that this compromise had come too late," said Ruzsky to
a correspondent, "but I had no right to express my opinion, not having
received any instructions from the Executive Committee of the Duma, so
I suggested that the Emperor should see Rodzianko."[7]

All night long discussions full of deep interest and importance to the
fate of the country were held over the wire--between Ruzsky, Rodzianko,
and Alexeiev; between Headquarters and the Commanders-in-Chief, and
between Lukomsky[8] and Danilov.[9]

They unanimously agreed that the Abdication of the Emperor was
unavoidable.

Before midday on March 2nd Ruzsky communicated the opinion of Rodzianko
and the Military Commanders to the Czar. The Emperor heard him calmly,
with no sign of emotion on his fixed, immovable countenance, but at 3
p.m. he sent Ruzsky a signed Act of Abdication in favour of his son--a
document drawn up at Headquarters and forwarded to him at Pskov.

If the sequence of historical events follows immutable laws of its
own, there also seems to be a fate influencing casual happenings of
a simple, everyday nature, which otherwise seem quite avoidable. The
thirty minutes that elapsed after Ruzsky had received the Act of
Abdication materially affected the whole course of subsequent events:
before copies of the document could be despatched, a communication,
announcing the delegates of the Duma, Gutchkov and Shulgin, was
received.... The Czar again postponed his decision and stopped the
publication of the Act.

The delegates arrived in the evening.

Amidst the complete silence of the audience,[10] Gutchkov pictured the
abyss that the country was nearing, and pointed out the only course to
be taken--the abdication of the Czar.

"I have been thinking about it all yesterday and to-day, and have
decided to abdicate," answered the Czar. "Until three o'clock to-day I
was willing to abdicate in favour of my son, but I then came to realise
that I could not bear to part with him. I hope you will understand
this? As a consequence, I have decided to abdicate in favour of my
brother."

The delegates, taken aback by such an unexpected turn of events,
made no objection. Emotion kept Gutchkov silent. "He felt he could
not intrude on paternal relations, and considered that any pressure
brought to bear upon the Emperor would be out of place." Shulgin was
influenced by political motives. "He feared the little Czar might grow
up harbouring feelings of resentment against those who had parted him
from his father and mother; also the question whether a regent could
take the oath to the Constitution on behalf of an Emperor, who was not
of age was a matter of debate."[11]

"The resentment" of the little Czar concerned a distant future. As to
legality, the very essence of a Revolution precludes the legality of
its consequences. Also the _enforced_ abdication of Nicholas II., his
rejection of the rights of inheritance of _his son_, a minor, and,
lastly, the transfer of supreme power by Michael Alexandrovitch, a
person who _had never_ held it, to the Provisional Government by means
of an act, in which the Grand Duke "appeals" to Russian citizens to
obey the Government, are all of doubtful legality.

It is not surprising that, "in the minds of those living in those
first days of the Revolution"--as Miliukov says--"the new Government,
established by the Revolution, was looked upon, not as a consequence
of the acts of March 2nd and 3rd, but as a result of the events of
February 27th...."

I may add that later, in the minds of many Commanding Officers--amongst
them, Kornilov, Alexeiev, Romanovsky and Markov, who played a
leading part in the attempt to save Russia--legal, party or dynastic
considerations had no place. This circumstance is of primary importance
for a proper understanding of subsequent events.

About midnight on March 2nd the Czar handed Rodzianko and Ruzsky two
slightly amended copies of the Manifesto of his Abdication.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In the midst of our great conflict with a foreign enemy, who has been
striving for close on three years to enslave our country, it has been
the will of God to subject Russia to new and heavy trials. Incipient
popular disturbances now imperil the further course of the stubborn
war. The fate of Russia, the honour of our heroic Army, the entire
future of our beloved Land, demand that the war should be carried to a
victorious conclusion.

"The cruel foe is nearly at his last gasp, and the hour approaches when
our gallant Army, together with our glorious Allies, will finally crush
our enemy's resistance. In these decisive days of Russia's existence we
feel it our duty to further the firm cohesion and unification of all
the forces of the people, and, with the approval of the State Duma,
consider it best to abdicate the Throne of Russia and lay down our
supreme power. Not wishing to part from our beloved Son, we transmit
our inheritance to our Brother, the Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovitch,
and give him our blessing in ascending the Throne of the Russian Empire.

"We command our Brother to rule the State in complete and undisturbed
union with the representatives of the people in such Legislative
Institutions as the People will see fit to establish, binding himself
by oath thereto in the name of our beloved country.

"I call all true sons of the Fatherland to fulfil their sacred duty--to
obey the Czar in this time of sore distress and help him, together with
the representatives of the people, to lead the Russian State along the
road to victory, happiness and glory.

"May the Lord our God help Russia!

                                                             "NICHOLAS."

       *       *       *       *       *

Late at night the Imperial train left for Mohilev. Dead silence,
lowered blinds and heavy, heavy thoughts. No one will ever know what
feelings wrestled in the breast of Nicholas II., of the Monarch, the
Father and the Man, when, on meeting Alexeiev at Mohilev, and looking
straight at the latter with kindly, tired eyes, he said irresolutely:--

_"I have changed my mind. Please send this telegram to Petrograd."_

_On a small sheet of paper, in a clear hand, the Czar had himself
traced his consent to the immediate accession to the throne of his son,
Alexis_....

Alexeiev took the telegram, and--did not send it. It was too late; both
Manifestoes had already been made public to the Army and to the country.

For fear of "unsettling public opinion," Alexeiev made no mention
of the telegram, and kept it in his portfolio until he passed it on
to me towards the end of May, when he resigned his post of Supreme
Commander-in-Chief. The document, of vast importance to future
biographers of the Czar, was afterwards kept under seal at the
Operations Department of General Headquarters.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meantime, the members of the Cabinet and of the Provisional
Committee[12] had assembled at the Palace of the Grand Duke Michael
Alexandrovitch about midday on May 3rd. Since the 27th of February,
the latter had been cut off from all communication with Headquarters
or with the Emperor. But the issue of this Conference was practically
predetermined by the spirit prevailing in the Soviet of Workmen's
Delegates, after the gist of the Manifesto became known to them, by the
Resolution of Protest passed by their Executive Committee and forwarded
to the Government, by Kerensky's uncompromising attitude, and by the
general correlation of forces. Except Miliukov and Gutchkov, all the
others, "without the faintest desire of influencing the Grand Duke
in any way," eagerly advised him to abdicate. Miliukov warned them
that "the support of a symbol familiar to the masses is necessary,
if decided authority is to be maintained, and that the Provisional
Government, if left alone, might founder in the sea of popular
disturbances, and that it might not survive until the Convocation of
the Constituent Assembly...."

After another conference with Rodzianko, President of the Duma, the
Grand Duke came to his final decision to abdicate.

The "Declaration" of the Grand Duke was published on the same day:

    "A heavy burden has been laid on me by the wish of my Brother, who
    has transferred the Imperial Throne of All Russia to me at a time
    of unexampled warfare and popular disturbances.

    "Animated, together with the nation, by one thought, that the
    welfare of our country must prevail over every other consideration,
    I have decided to accept supreme power only if such be the will
    of our great people, whose part it is to establish the form of
    government and new fundamental laws of the Russian State through
    their representatives in the Constituent Assembly.

    "With a prayer to God for His blessing, I appeal to all citizens
    of the Russian State to obey the Provisional Government, which
    is constituted and invested with full powers by the will of the
    State Duma, until a Constituent Assembly, convoked at the earliest
    possible moment by universal, direct, equal and secret suffrage,
    can establish a form of government which will embody the will of
    the people."

                                                              "MICHAEL."

After his abdication, the Grand Duke resided in the neighbourhood of
Gatchino, and stood completely aloof from political life. About the
middle of March, 1918, he was arrested by order of the local Bolshevik
Committee, taken to Petrograd, and, some time later, exiled to the
Government of Perm.

It was rumoured that the Grand Duke, accompanied by his faithful
English valet, had escaped about the middle of July; since then nothing
definite has been heard about him. The search organised by the Siberian
Government and by that of Southern Russia, as also by the desire of the
Dowager Empress, yielded no certain results. The Bolsheviks, for their
part, volunteered no official information whatever. But subsequent
investigations brought some data to light which indicated that the
"release" was a deception, and that the Grand Duke was secretly carried
off by Bolsheviks, murdered in the vicinity of Perm, and his body
drowned under the ice.

The mystery of the Grand Duke's fate gave rise to fanciful rumours
and even to the appearance of impostors in Siberia. During the summer
of 1918, at the time of the first successful advance of the Siberian
troops, it was widely reported both in Soviet Russia and in the South
that the Siberian Anti-Bolshevist forces were led by the Grand Duke
Michael Alexandrovitch. Periodically, until late in 1919, his spurious
manifestoes appeared in the Provincial Press, chiefly in papers of the
extreme Right.

It must be noted, however, that when, in the summer of 1918, the Kiev
monarchists carried on an active campaign to impart a monarchical
character to the Anti-Bolshevist military movement, they rejected the
principle of legitimacy, partly because of the personality of some of
the candidates, and, in regard to Michael Alexandrovitch, because he
had "tied himself" by a solemn promise to the Constituent Assembly.

In consideration of the complexity and confusion of the conditions that
obtained in March, 1917, I have come to the conclusion that a struggle
to retain Nicholas II. at the head of the State would have led to
anarchy, disruption of the Front, and terrible consequences, both for
the Czar and for the country. A Regency, with Michael Alexandrovitch
as Regent, might have involved conflict, but no disturbance, and was
certain of success. It would have been more difficult to place Michael
Alexandrovitch on the throne, but even that would have been possible if
a Constitution on broad, democratic lines had been accepted by him.

The members of the Provisional Government and of the Provisional
Committee--Miliukov and Gutchkov excepted--terrorised by the Soviets of
Workmen's Delegates, and attributing too much importance to them and to
the excited workmen and soldier masses in Petrograd, took on themselves
a heavy responsibility for the future when they persuaded the Grand
Duke to decline the immediate assumption of Supreme Power.[13]

I am not referring to Monarchism or to a particular dynasty. These are
secondary questions. I am speaking of Russia only.

It is certainly hard to say whether this power would have been lasting
and stable, whether it would not have undergone changes later on; but,
if it had even succeeded in maintaining the Army during the war, the
subsequent course of Russian history might have been one of progress,
and the upheavals that now endanger her very existence might have been
avoided.

       *       *       *       *       *

On March 7th the Provisional Government issued an order according to
which "The ex-Emperor and his Consort are deprived of liberty, and the
ex-Emperor is to be taken to Czarskoe Selo." The duty of arresting the
Empress was laid on Kornilov, and orthodox Monarchists never forgave
him for it. But, strangely enough, Alexandra Fedorovna, after hearing
of the warrant, expressed her satisfaction that the renowned General
Kornilov, and not a member of the new Government, had been sent to her.

The Emperor was arrested by four members of the Duma.

On March 8th, after leave-takings at Headquarters, the Czar quitted
Mohilev amidst the stony silence of the crowd, and under the tearful
eyes of his mother, who never saw her son again.

To understand the seemingly incomprehensible behaviour of the
Government to the Imperial family during the period of their residence
both at Czarskoe Selo and at Tobolsk, the following circumstances must
be kept in mind. Notwithstanding that, in the seven and a half months
of the existence of the Provisional Government, not one single serious
attempt was made to liberate the captives, yet they attracted the
exclusive attention of the Soviet of Workmen and Soldiers' Delegates.
On March 10th Vice-President Sokolov made the following announcement
to a unanimously approving audience: "I was informed yesterday that
the Provisional Government had consented to allow Nicholas II. to go
to England and that it is discussing arrangements with the British
authorities without the knowledge or the consent of the Executive
Committee of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates. We have mobilised all
the military units that we can influence, and have taken measures to
prevent Nicholas II. from leaving Czarskoe without our permission.
Telegrams have been sent down the railway lines ... to detain the train
of Nicholas II. should it appear.... We have despatched our Commissars
with the necessary number of troops and armoured cars, and have closely
surrounded the Alexander Palace. After that we conferred with the
Provisional Government, who confirmed all our orders. At present
the late Czar is under our protection, as well as under that of the
Provisional Government...."

On the 1st August, 1917, the Imperial family was exiled to Tobolsk,
and, after the establishment of Bolshevist rule in Siberia, they were
transferred to Ekaterinburg, and were the victims of incredible insults
and cruelty by the mob, until they were put to death.[14] Thus did
Nicholas II. atone for his grievous sins, voluntary and involuntary,
against the Russian people.[15]

In the course of the second Kuban campaign I received the news of the
death of the Emperor Nicholas II., and ordered memorial services for
the soul of the former leader of the Russian Army to be held in the
Volunteer Army. Democratic circles and the Press criticised me severely
for this.

The words of wisdom, _Vengeance is mine: I will repay_, were obviously
forgotten.



CHAPTER VI.

THE REVOLUTION AND THE ARMY.


ORDER NO. 1.

These events found me far away from the Capital, in Roumania, where I
was commanding the Eighth Army Corps. In our remoteness from the Mother
Country we felt a certain tension in the political atmosphere, but we
certainly were not prepared for the sudden _dénouement_ or for the
shape it assumed.

On the morning of March 3rd I received a telegram from Army
Headquarters--"For personal information"--to the effect that a mutiny
had broken out in Petrograd, that the Duma had assumed power, and that
the publication of important State documents was expected. A few hours
later the wire transmitted the manifestoes of the Emperor Nicholas
the Second and of the Grand Duke Michael. At first an order was given
for their distribution, then, much to my amazement (as the telephones
had already been spreading the news) the order was countermanded
and finally confirmed. These waverings were apparently due to the
negotiations between the temporary Committee of the Duma and the
Headquarters of the Norman Front about postponing the publication of
these Acts owing to a sudden change in the Emperor's fundamental idea,
namely, the substitution of the Grand Duke Michael for the Grand Duke
Alexis as Heir to the Throne. It proved, however, impossible to delay
the distribution. The troops were thunderstruck. No other word can
describe the first impression produced by the _manifestoes_. There was
neither sorrow nor rejoicing. There was deep, thoughtful silence. Thus
did the regiments of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Divisions take the
news of the abdication of their Emperor. Only occasionally on parade
did the rifle waver and tears course down the cheeks of old soldiers.

In order accurately to describe the spirit of the moment, undimmed by
the passing of time, I will quote extracts from a letter I wrote to a
near relation on March 8th:

"A page of history has been turned. The first impression is stunning
because it is so unexpected and so grandiose. On the whole, however,
the troops have taken the events quietly. They express themselves
with caution; but three definite currents in the mentality of the men
can easily be traced: (1) A return to the past is impossible; (2) the
country will receive a Constitution worthy of a great people, probably
a Constitutional Limited Monarchy; (3) German domination will come to
an end and the war will be victoriously prosecuted."

The Emperor's abdication was considered as the inevitable result of
the internal policy of the last few years. There was, however, no
irritation against the Emperor personally or against the Imperial
Family. Everything was forgiven and forgotten. On the contrary,
everyone was interested in their fate, and feared the worst. The
appointment of the Grand Duke Nicholas as Supreme Commander-in-Chief,
and of General Alexeiev as his Chief-of-Staff, was favourably received,
alike by officers and men, and interest was manifested in the question
as to whether the Army would be represented in the Constituent
Assembly. The composition of the Provisional Government was treated
more or less as a matter of indifference. The appointment of a civilian
to the War Ministry was criticised, and it was only the part he had
taken in the Council of National Defence, and his close connection with
the officers' circles, that mitigated the unfavourable impression. A
great many people have found it surprising and incomprehensible that
the collapse of a Monarchist régime several centuries old should not
have provoked in the Army, bred in its traditions, either a struggle or
even isolated outbreaks, or that the Army should not have created its
own Vendée.

I know of three cases only of stout resistance: The march of General
Ivanov's detachment on Czarskoe Selo, organised by Headquarters in
the first days of the risings in Petrograd, very badly executed and
soon countermanded, and two telegrams addressed to the Emperor by
the Commanding Officers of the Third Cavalry and the Guards Cavalry
Corps, Count Keller (killed in Kiev in 1918 by Petlura's men) and Khan
Nachitchevansky. They both offered themselves and their troops for
the suppression of the mutiny. It would be a mistake to assume that
the Army was quite prepared to accept the provisional "Democratic
Republic," that there were no "loyal" units or "loyal" chiefs ready
to engage in the struggle. They undoubtedly existed. There were,
however, two circumstances which exercised a restraining influence.
In the first place, both Acts of Abdication were apparently legal,
and the second of these Acts, in summoning the people to submit to
the Provisional Government "invested with full power," took the wind
out of the sails of the monarchists. In the second place, it was
apprehended that civil war might open the front to the enemy. The Army
was _then_ obedient to its leaders, and they--General Alexeiev and all
the Commanders-in-Chief--recognised the new power. The newly-appointed
Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the Grand Duke Nicholas, said in his first
Order of the Day: "The power is established in the person of the new
Government. I, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, have recognised that
power for the good of our Mother Country, serving as an example to us
of our duty as soldiers. I order all ranks of our gallant Army and Navy
implicitly to obey the established Government through their direct
Chiefs. Only then will God grant us victory."

       *       *       *       *       *

The days went by. I began to receive many--both slight and important--
expressions of bewilderment and questions from the units of my corps:
Who represents the Supreme Power in Russia? Is it the temporary
Committee which created the Provisional Government, or is it the
latter? I sent an inquiry, but received no answer. The Provisional
Government itself, apparently, had no clear notion of the essence of
its power.

For whom should we pray at Divine Service? Should we sing the National
Anthem and "O God, Save Thy People!" (a prayer in which the Emperor was
mentioned)?

These apparent trifles produced, however, a certain confusion in the
minds of the men and interfered with established military routine. The
Commanding Officers requested that the oath should be taken as soon as
possible. There was also the question whether the Emperor Nicolas had
the right to abdicate not only for himself, but for his son, who had
not yet attained his majority.

Other questions soon began to interest the troops. We received the
first Order of the Day of the War Minister, Gutchkov, with alterations
of the Army Regulations in favour of the "Democratisation of the Army"
(March 5th). By this Order, inoffensive at first sight, the officers
were not to be addressed by the men according to their rank, and were
not to speak to the men in the second person singular. A series of
petty restrictions established by Army Regulations for the men, such
as no smoking in the streets and other public places, no card-playing,
and exclusion from Clubs and Meetings, were removed. The consequences
came as a surprise to those who were ignorant of the psychology of
the rank and file. The Commanding Officers understood that if it were
necessary to do away with certain out-of-date forms the process should
be gradual and cautious, and should by no means be interpreted as one
of "the fruits of the Revolutionary victory." The bulk of the men did
not trouble to grasp the meaning of these insignificant changes in the
Army Regulations, but merely accepted them as a deliverance from the
restrictions imposed on them by routine and by respect to the Senior
Officers.

"There is liberty, and that's all there is to it."

All these minor alterations of the Army Regulations, broadly
interpreted by the men, affected, to a certain degree, the discipline
of the army. But that soldiers should be permitted, during the war
and during the Revolution, to join in the membership of various
Unions and Societies formed for political purposes, was a menace to
the very existence of the army. G.H.Q., perturbed by this situation,
had recourse to a measure hitherto unknown in the army--to a kind of
plébiscite. All Commanding Officers, including Regimental Commanders,
were advised to address direct telegrams to the Minister of War,
expressing their views on the new orders. I do not know whether the
telegraph was able to cope with this task and whether the enormous mass
of telegrams reached their destination, but I know that those that came
to my notice were full of criticism and of fears for the future of
the army. At the same time, the Army Council in Petrograd, consisting
of Senior Generals--the would-be guardians of the experience and
traditions of the army--decided at a meeting held on March 10th to make
the following report to the Provisional Government: "The Army Council
deems it its duty to declare its full solidarity with the energetic
measures contemplated by the Provisional Government in re-modelling our
armed forces in accordance with the new forms of life in the country
and in the army. We are convinced that these reforms will be the best
means of achieving rapid victory and the deliverance of Europe from
the yoke of Prussian militarism." I cannot help sympathising with a
civilian War Minister after such an occurrence. It was difficult for
us to understand the motives by which the War Ministry was guided in
issuing its Orders of the Day. We were unaware of the unrestrained
opportunities of the men who surrounded the War Minister, as well as of
the fact that the Provisional Government was already dominated by the
Soviet and had entered upon the path of compromise, being invariably
on the losing side. At the Congress of the Soviets on March 30th, one
of the speakers stated that in the Conciliation Commission there never
was a case in which the Provisional Commission did not give way on
important matters.

       *       *       *       *       *

ON THE FIRST OF MARCH THE SOVIET OF WORKMEN AND SOLDIERS' DELEGATES
ISSUED AN ORDER OF THE DAY No. 1., WHICH PRACTICALLY LED TO THE
TRANSFER OF ACTUAL MILITARY POWER TO THE SOLDIERS' COMMITTEES, TO A
SYSTEM OF ELECTIONS AND TO THE DISMISSAL OF COMMANDING OFFICERS BY THE
MEN. THAT ORDER OF THE DAY GAINED WIDE AND PAINFUL NOTORIETY AND GAVE
THE FIRST IMPETUS TO THE COLLAPSE OF THE ARMY.


    _ORDER No. 1._

    March 1st, 1917.

    To the Garrison of the Petrograd District, to all Guardsmen,
    soldiers of the line, of the Artillery, and of the Fleet, for
    immediate and strict observance, and to the workmen of Petrograd
    for information.

    The Soviet of Workmen and Soldiers' Delegates has decreed:

    (1) That Committees be elected of representatives of the men in
    all companies, battalions, regiments, parks, batteries, squadrons
    and separate services of various military institutions, and on the
    ships of the fleet.

    (2) All military units not yet represented on the Soviet of
    Workmen's Delegates to elect one representative from each
    company. These representatives to provide themselves with written
    certificates and to report to the Duma at 10 A.M. on March 2nd.

    (3) In all its political activities the military unit is
    subordinate to the Soviet,[16] and to its Committees.

    (4) The Orders of the Military Commission of the Duma are to be
    obeyed only when they are not in contradiction with the orders and
    decrees of the Soviet.

    (5) All arms--rifles, machine-guns, armoured cars, etc.--are to
    be at the disposal and under the control of Company and Battalion
    Committees, and should never be handed over to the officers even
    should they claim them.

    (6) On parade and on duty the soldiers must comply with strict
    military discipline; but off parade and off duty, in their
    political, social and private life, soldiers must suffer no
    restriction of the rights common to all citizens. In particular,
    saluting when off duty is abolished.

    (7) Officers are no longer to be addressed as "Your Excellency,"
    "Your Honour," etc. Instead, they should be addressed as "Mr.
    General," "Mr. Colonel," etc.

    Rudeness to soldiers on the part of all ranks, and in particular
    addressing them in the second person singular, is prohibited, and
    any infringement of this regulation and misunderstandings between
    officers and men are to be reported by the latter to the Company
    Commanders.

                                          (Signed) THE PETROGRAD SOVIET.

The leaders of the Revolutionary Democracy understood full well
the results of Order No. 1. Kerensky is reported to have declared
afterwards pathetically that he would have given ten years of his
life to prevent the Order from being signed. The investigation made
by military authorities failed to detect the authors of this Order.
Tchkeidze and other members of the Soviet afterwards denied their
personal participation and that of the members of the Committee in the
drafting of the Order.

Pilates! They washed their hands of the writing of their own Credo. For
their words are placed on record, in the report of the secret sitting
of the Government, the Commanders-in-Chief and the Executive Committee
of the Workmen and Soldiers' Deputies of May 4th, 1917:

_Tzeretelli_: You might, perhaps, understand Order No. 1 if you knew
the circumstances in which it was issued. We were confronted with an
unorganised mob, and we had to organise.

_Skobelev_: I consider it necessary to explain the circumstances in
which Order No. 1. was issued. Among the troops that overthrew the old
régime, the Commanding Officers did not join the rebels. In order to
deprive the former of their importance, we were forced to issue Order
No. 1. We had inward apprehensions as to the attitude of the front
towards the Revolution. Certain instructions were given, which provoked
our distrust. To-day we have ascertained that this distrust was well
founded.

A member of the Soviet, Joseph Goldenberg, Editor of _New Life_,
was still more outspoken. He said to the French journalist, Claude
Anet: (Claude Anet: _La Révolution Russe_) "Order No. 1. was not an
error, but a necessity. It was not drafted by Sokolov. It is the
expression of the unanimous will of the Soviet. On the day we 'made the
Revolution,' we understood that if we did not dismember the old army,
it would crush the Revolution. We had to choose between the army and
the Revolution. We did not hesitate--we chose the latter, and I dare
say that we were right."

Order No. 1. was disseminated rapidly and everywhere along the whole
front and in the rear, because the ideas which it embodied had
developed for many years, in the slums of Petrograd as well as in the
remote corners of the Empire, such as Vladivostock. They had been
preached by all local army demagogues and were being repeated by all
the delegates who visited the front in vast numbers and were provided
with certificates of immunity by the Soviet.

       *       *       *       *       *

The masses of the soldiery were perturbed. The movement began in
the rear, always more easily demoralised than the front, among the
half-educated clerks, doctors' assistants, and technical units. In
the latter part of March in our units, breaches of discipline only
became more frequent. The officer in command of the Fourth Army was
expecting every hour that he would be arrested at his Headquarters by
the licentious bands of men attached to service battalions for special
duty, such as tailoring, cooking, bootmaking, etc.

The text of the oath of allegiance to the Russian State was received
at last. The idea of Supreme Power was expressed in these words: "I
swear to obey the Provisional Government now at the head of the Russian
State, pending the expression of the popular will through the medium of
the Constituent Assembly." The oath was taken by the troops everywhere
without any disturbance, but the idyllic hopes of the Commanding
Officers were not fulfilled. There was no uplifting of the spirit and
the perturbed minds were not quieted. I may quote two characteristic
episodes. The Commander of one of the Corps on the Roumanian front
died of heart-failure during the ceremony. Count Keller declared that
he would not compel his corps to take the oath because he did not
understand the substance and the legal foundations of the Supreme Power
of the Provisional Government. (Replying to a question addressed from
the crowd as to who had elected the Provisional Government, Miliukov
had answered: "We have been elected by the Russian Revolution"). Count
Keller said he did not understand how one could swear allegiance to
Lvov, Kerensky and other individuals, because they could be removed
or relinquish their posts. Was the oath a sham? I think that not only
for the monarchists, but for many men who did not look upon the oath
as a mere formality, it was in any case a great, moral drama difficult
to live through. It was a heavy sacrifice made for the sake of the
country's salvation and for the preservation of the army....

In the middle of May I was ordered to attend a Council at the
Headquarters of the General-in-Command of the Fourth Army. A long
telegram was read from General Alexeiev full of the darkest possible
pessimism, recounting the beginning of the administrative machine and
of the army. He described the demagogic activities of the Soviet,
which dominated the will-power and the conscience of the Provisional
Government, the complete impotence of the latter and the interference
of both in army administration.

In order to counteract the dismemberment of the army, the despatch was
contemplated of members of the Duma and of the Soviet, possessing a
certain amount of statesmanlike experience, to the front for purposes
of propaganda....

This telegram impressed us all in the same way: _General Headquarters
had ceased to be the chief administrative authority in the army._
And yet a stern warning and remonstrance from the High Command,
supported by the army, which in the first fortnight had still retained
discipline and obedience might, perhaps, have relegated the Soviet,
which over-estimated its importance, to its proper place; might have
prevented the "democratisation" of the army and might have exercised
a corresponding pressure upon the entire course of political events,
albeit devoid of any character of counter-revolution or of military
dictatorship. The loyalty of the Commanding Officers and the complete
absence of active resistance on their part to the destructive policy of
Petrograd exceeded all the expectations of the Revolutionary Democracy.

Kornilov's movement came too late.

We drafted a reply suggesting stringent measures against intrusion into
the sphere of military administration. On March 18th I received orders
to proceed forthwith to Petrograd and to report to the War Minister.
I left on the same night and by means of a complex system of carts,
motor cars and railway carriages arrived in the Capital after five
days' journey. On my way I passed through the Headquarters of Generals
Letchitski, Kaledin, and Brussilov. I met many officers and many men
connected with the army. Everywhere I heard the same bitter complaint
and the same request:

"Tell _them_ that _they_ are ruining the army."

The summons I had received gave no indication as to the object of my
errand. I was completely in the dark and made all kinds of surmises.
In Kiev I was struck by the cry of a newsboy who ran past. He shouted:
"Latest news. General Denikin is appointed Chief of the Staff of the
Supreme Commander-in-Chief."



CHAPTER VII.

IMPRESSIONS OF PETROGRAD AT THE END OF MARCH, 1917.


Before his abdication the Emperor signed two ukazes--appointing Prince
Lvov President of the Council of Ministers and the Grand-Duke Nicholas
Supreme Commander-in-Chief. "In view of the general attitude towards
the Romanov Dynasty," as the official Petrograd papers said, and in
reality for fear of the Soviet's attempting a military _coup d'état_,
the Grand-Duke Nicholas was informed on March 9th by the Provisional
Government that it was undesirable that he should remain in supreme
command. Prince Lvov wrote: "The situation makes your resignation
imperative. Public opinion is definitely and resolutely opposed to any
members of the House of Romanov holding any office in the State. The
Provisional Government is not entitled to disregard the voice of the
people, because such disregard might bring about serious complications.
The Provisional Government is convinced that, for the good of the
country, you will bow to the necessity and will resign before returning
to G.H.Q." This letter reached the Grand-Duke when he had already
arrived at G.H.Q. Deeply offended, he immediately handed over to
General Alexeiev and replied to the Government: "I am glad once more
to prove my love for my country, which Russia _heretofore_ has never
doubted...."

The very serious question then arose of who was to succeed him.
There was great excitement at G.H.Q., and all sorts of rumours were
circulated, but on the day I passed Mohilev nothing was known. On the
23rd I reported to the War Minister Gutchkov, whom I had never met
before. He informed me that the Government had decided to appoint
General Alexeiev to the Supreme Command. At first there had been
differences of opinion. Rodzianko and others were against Alexeiev.
Rodzianko suggested Brussilov; but now the choice had definitely
fallen on Alexeiev. The Government considered him as a man of lenient
disposition, and deemed it necessary to reinforce the Supreme Command
by a fighting general as Chief-of-Staff. I had been selected on
condition that General Klembovski, who was then Alexeiev's assistant,
should remain in charge _pro tem._ until I became familiar with
the work. I had been, in part, prepared for this offer by the news
columns of the Kiev paper. Nevertheless, I felt a certain emotion, and
apprehended the vast amount of work which was being thrust upon me so
unexpectedly and the tremendous moral responsibility inherent in such
an appointment. At great length and quite sincerely I adduced arguments
against the appointment. I said that my career had been spent among my
men and at Fighting Headquarters, that during the war I had commanded
a division and an army corps, and that I was very anxious to continue
this work at the front. I said that I had never dealt with matters of
policy, of national defence, or of administration on such a colossal
scale. The appointment, moreover, had an unpleasant feature. It appears
that Gutchkov had quite frankly explained to Alexeiev the reasons
for my appointment on behalf of the Provisional Government, and had
given the matter the character of an ultimatum. A grave complication
had thus arisen. A Chief-of-Staff was being imposed upon the Supreme
C.-in-C., and for motives not altogether complimentary to the latter.
My arguments, however, were unavailing. I succeeded in obtaining a
delay and the privilege of discussing the matter with General Alexeiev
before taking a definite decision. In the War Minister's office I
met my colleague, General Krymov, and we were both present while the
Minister's assistants reported on uninteresting matters of routine. We
then retired into the next room and began to talk frankly.

"For God's sake," said Krymov, "don't refuse the appointment. It is
absolutely necessary."

He imparted to me his impressions in abrupt sentences in his own
peculiar and somewhat rough language, but with all his usual sincerity.
He had arrived on March 14th, summoned by Gutchkov, with whom he had
been on friendly terms, and they had worked together. He was offered
several prominent posts, had asked leave to look round, and then
had refused them all. "I saw that there was nothing for me to do in
Petrograd, and I disliked it all." He particularly disliked the men who
surrounded Gutchkov.

"I am leaving Colonel Samarine, of the General Staff, as a Liaison
Officer. There will be at least one live man."

By the irony of fate that officer whom Krymov trusted so well
afterwards played a fatal part, as he was the indirect cause of the
General's suicide.... Krymov was very pessimistic in his account of the
political situation:

"Nothing will come of it in any case. How can business be done when
the Soviet and the licentious soldiery hold the Government pinioned?
I offered to cleanse Petrograd in two days with one division; but,
of course, not without bloodshed. 'Not for anything in the world,'
they said. Gutchkov refused. Prince Lvov, with a gesture of despair,
exclaimed: 'Oh! but there would be such a commotion!' Things will get
worse. One of these days I shall go back to my army corps. I cannot
afford to lose touch with the troops, as it is upon them that I base
all my hopes. My corps maintains complete order and, perhaps, I shall
succeed in preserving that spirit."

       *       *       *       *       *

I had not seen Petrograd for four years. The impression produced by the
Capital was painful and strange.... To begin with, the Hotel Astoria,
where I stayed, had been ransacked. In the hall there was a guard
of rough and undisciplined sailors of the Guards. The streets were
crowded, but dirty and filled with the new masters of the situation
in khaki overcoats. Remote from the sufferings of the front, they
were "deepening and saving" the Revolution. From whom? I had read a
great deal about the enthusiasm in Petrograd, but I found none. It
was nowhere to be seen. The ministers and rulers were pale, haggard,
exhausted by sleepless nights and endless speeches at meetings and
councils, by addresses to various delegations and to the mob. Their
excitement was artificial, their oratory was full of sonorous phrases
and commonplaces, of which the orators themselves were presumably
thoroughly sick. Inwardly in their heart of hearts they were deeply
anxious. No practical work was being done; in fact, the ministers had
no time to concentrate their thoughts upon the current affairs of
State in their departments. The old bureaucratic machine, creaking and
groaning, continued to work in a haphazard manner. The old wheels were
still revolving while a new handle was being applied.

The officers of the regular army felt themselves to be stepsons of
the Revolution and were unable to hit upon a proper tone in dealing
with the men. Among the higher ranks, and especially the officers of
the General Staff, there appeared already a new type of opportunist
and demagogue. These men played upon the weaknesses of the Soviet and
of the new governing class of workmen and soldiers, to flatter the
instincts of the crowd, thereby gaining their confidence and making new
openings for themselves and for their careers against the background
of revolutionary turmoil. I must, however, admit that in those days
the military circles proved sufficiently stolid in spite of all the
efforts to dismember them, and that the seeds of demoralisation were
not allowed to grow. Men of the type described above, such as the young
assistant of the War Minister, Kerensky, as well as Generals Brussilov,
Cheremissov, Bonch-Bruevitch, Verkhovsky, Admiral Maximov and others
were unable to strengthen their influence and their position with the
officers.

The citizen of Petrograd, in the broadest sense of the word, was by no
means enthusiastic. The first enthusiasm was exhausted and was followed
by anxiety and indecision.

Another feature of the life in Petrograd deserves to be noticed. Men
have ceased to be themselves. Most of them seem to be acting a part
instead of living a life inspired by the new breath of revolution.
Such was the case even in the Councils of the Provisional Government,
in which the deliberations were not altogether sincere, so I was
told, owing to the presence of Kerensky, the "hostage of democracy."
Tactical considerations, caution, partisanship, anxiety for one's
career, feelings of self-preservation, nervousness and various
other good and bad feelings prompted men to wear blinkers and to
walk about in these blinkers as apologists for, or at least passive
witnesses of, "the conquests of the Revolution." Such conquests as
obviously savoured of death and corruption. Hence the false pathos
of endless speeches and meetings; hence these seemingly strange
contradictions. Prince Lvov saying in a public speech: "The process
of the great Russian Revolution is not yet complete, but every day
strengthens our faith in the inexhaustible creative forces of the
Russian people, in its statesmanlike wisdom and in the greatness of
its soul."... The same Prince Lvov bitterly complaining to Alexeiev
of the impossible conditions under which the Provisional Government
was working, owing to the rapid growth of demagogy in the Soviet
and in the country. Kerensky, the exponent of the idea of Soldiers'
Committees, and Kerensky sitting in his railway carriage and nervously
whispering to his adjutant: "Send these d.... committees to h...."
Tchkheidze and Skobelev warmly advocating full democratisation of the
army at a joint sitting of the Soviet, of the Government and of the
Commanders-in-Chief, and during an interval in private conversation
admitting the necessity of rigid military discipline and of their own
incapacity to convince the Soviet of this necessity....

I repeat that even then, at the end of March, one could clearly feel
in Petrograd that the ringing of the Easter bells had lasted too long,
and that they would have done better to ring the alarm bell. There were
only two men of all those to whom I had the occasion to speak who had
no illusions whatever: Krymov and Kornilov.

       *       *       *       *       *

I met Kornilov for the first time on the Galician plains, near Galtich,
at the end of August, 1914, when he was appointed to the Command of
the 48th Infantry Division and myself to the 4th (Iron) Rifle Brigade.
Since that day, for four months, our troops went forward side by side
as part of the 14th Corps, fighting incessant, glorious and heavy
battles, defeating the enemy, crossing the Carpathians and invading
Hungary. Owing to the wide extent of the front we did not often meet;
nevertheless, we knew each other very well. I had already then a clear
perception of Kornilov's main characteristics as a leader. He had an
extraordinary capacity for training troops: out of a second-rate unit
from the district of Kazan he made, in several weeks, an excellent
fighting division. He was resolute and extremely pertinacious in
conducting the most difficult and even apparently doomed operations.
His personal prowess, which provoked boundless admiration and gave
him great popularity among the troops, was admirable. Finally, he
scrupulously observed military ethics with regard to units fighting
by his side and to his comrades-in-arms. Many commanding officers
and units lacked that quality. After Kornilov's astounding escape
from Austrian captivity, into which he fell when heavily wounded,
and covering Brussilov's retreat from the Carpathians, towards the
beginning of the Revolution, he commanded the 25th Corps. All those
who knew Kornilov even slightly felt that he was destined to play
an important part in the Russian Revolution. On March 2nd Rodzianko
telegraphed direct to Kornilov: "The Temporary Committee of the Duma
requests you, for your country's sake, to accept the chief command
in Petrograd and to arrive at the Capital at once. We have no doubt
that you will not refuse the appointment, and will thereby render an
inestimable service to the country." Such a revolutionary method of
appointing an officer to a high command, without reference to G.H.Q.,
obviously produced a bad impression at the "Stavka." The telegram
received at the "Stavka" is marked "Undelivered," but on the same day
General Alexeiev, having requested the permission of the Emperor, who
was then at Pskov, issued an order of the day (No. 334): "... I agree
to General Kornilov being in temporary high command of the troops of
the Petrograd Military District."

I have mentioned this insignificant episode in order to explain the
somewhat abnormal relations between two prominent leaders, which were
occasioned by repeated, petty, personal friction.

I talked to Kornilov at dinner in the War Minister's house. It was the
only moment of rest he could snatch during the day. Kornilov, tired,
morose and somewhat pessimistic, discussed at length the conditions
of the Petrograd Garrison, and his intercourse with the Soviet. The
hero-worship with which he had been surrounded in the army had faded in
the unhealthy atmosphere of the Capital among the demoralised troops.
They were holding meetings, deserting, indulging in petty commerce
in shops and in the street, serving as hall-porters and as personal
guards to private individuals, partaking in plundering and arbitrary
searches, but were not serving. It was difficult for a fighting general
to understand their psychology. He often succeeded by personal pluck,
disregard of danger, and by a witty, picturesque word in holding the
mob, for that was what military units were. There were, however,
cases when the troops did not come out of barracks to meet their
Commander-in-Chief, when he was hissed and the flag of St. George was
torn from his motor-car (by the Finland Regiment of the Guards).

Kornilov's description of the political situation was the same as that
given by Krymov: Powerlessness of the Government and the inevitability
of a fierce cleansing of Petrograd. On one point they differed:
Kornilov stubbornly clung to the hope that he would yet succeed in
gaining authority over the majority of the Petrograd Garrison. As we
know, that hope was never fulfilled.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE STAVKA: ITS RÔLE AND POSITION.


On March 25th I arrived at the Stavka, and was immediately received
by General Alexeiev. Of course he was offended. "Well," he said, "if
such are the orders, what's to be done?" Again, as at the War Ministry,
I pointed out several reasons against my appointment, among others,
my disinclination for Staff work. I asked the General to express his
views quite frankly, and in disregard of all conventionalities as my
old Professor, because I would not think of accepting the appointment
against his will. Alexeiev spoke politely, dryly, evasively, and
showed again that he was offended. "The scope," he said, "was wide,
work difficult, and much training necessary. Let us, however, work
harmoniously." In the course of my long career I have never been placed
in such a position, and could not, of course, be reconciled to such an
attitude. "In these circumstances," I said, "I absolutely refuse to
accept the appointment. In order to avoid friction between yourself
and the Government, I will declare that it is entirely my own personal
decision."

Alexeiev's tone changed immediately. "Oh! no," he said, "I am not
asking you to refuse. Let us work together, and I will help you. Also,
there is no reason, if you feel that the work is not to your liking,
why you should not take command of the First Army, in which there will
be a vacancy two or three months hence. I will have to talk the matter
over with General Klembovski. He could not, of course, remain here as
my assistant."

[Illustration: General Alexeiev.]

[Illustration: General Kornilov.]

Our parting was not quite so frigid; but a couple of days went by and
there were no results. I lived in a railway carriage, and did not go to
the office or to the mess. As I did not intend to tolerate this silly
and utterly undeserved position, I was preparing to leave Petrograd.
On March 28th the War Minister came to the Stavka and cut the Gordian
knot. Klembovski was offered the command of an army or membership of
the War Council. He chose the latter, and on April 5th I took charge
as Chief of the Staff. Nevertheless, such a method of appointing the
closest assistant to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, practically by
force, could not but leave a certain trace. A kind of shadow seemed
to lie between myself and General Alexeiev, and it did not disappear
until the last stage of his tenure of office. Alexeiev saw in my
appointment a kind of tutelage on the part of the Government. From the
very first moment I was compelled to oppose Petrograd. I served our
cause and tried to shield the Supreme C.-in-C.--and of this he was
often unaware--from many conflicts and much friction, taking them upon
myself. As time went by friendly relations of complete mutual trust
were established, and these did not cease until the day of Alexeiev's
death.

On April 2nd the General received the following telegram: "The
Provisional Government has appointed you Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
It trusts that, under your firm guidance, the Army and the Navy will
fulfil their duty to the country to the end." My appointment was
gazetted on April 10th.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Stavka, on the whole was not favoured. In the circles of the
Revolutionary Democracy it was considered a nest of counter-Revolution,
although such a description was utterly undeserved. Under Alexeiev
there was a loyal struggle against the disruption of the Army. Under
Brussilov--opportunism slightly tainted with subservience to the
Revolutionary Democracy. As regards the Kornilov movement, although it
was not essentially counter-Revolutionary, it aimed, as we shall see
later, at combatting the Soviets that were half-Bolshevik. But, even
then, the loyalty of the officers of the Stavka was quite obvious. Only
a few of them took an active part in the Kornilov movement. After the
office of Supreme Commander-in-Chief was abolished, and the new office
created of Supreme Commanding Committees, nearly all the members of
the Stavka under Kerensky, and the majority of them under Krylenko,
continued to carry on the routine work. The Army also disliked the
Stavka--sometimes wrongly, sometimes rightly--because the Army did
not quite understand the distribution of functions among the various
branches of the Service, and ascribed to the Stavka many shortcomings
in equipment, organisation, promotion, awards, etc., whereas these
questions belonged entirely to the War Ministry and its subordinates.
The Stavka had always been somewhat out of touch with the Army. Under
the comparatively normal and smoothly working conditions of the
pre-Revolutionary period this circumstance did not greatly prejudice
the working of the ruling mechanism; but now, when the Army was not
in a normal condition, and had been affected by the whirlwind of the
Revolution, the Stavka naturally was behind the times.

Finally, a certain amount of friction could not fail to arise between
the Government and the Stavka, because the latter constantly protested
against many Government measures, which exercised a disturbing
influence on the Army. There were no other serious reasons for
difference of opinion, because neither Alexeiev nor myself, nor the
various sections of the Stavka, ever touched upon matters of internal
policy. The Stavka was non-political in the fullest sense of the word,
and during the first months of the Revolution was a perfectly reliable
technical apparatus in the hands of the Provisional Government. The
Stavka did but safeguard the highest interests of the Army, and, within
the limits of the War and of the Army, demanded that full powers be
given to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. I may even say that the
personnel of the Stavka seemed to me to be bureaucratic and too deeply
immersed in the sphere of purely technical interests; they were not
sufficiently interested in the political and social questions which
events had brought to the fore.

       *       *       *       *       *

In discussing the Russian strategy in the Great War, after August,
1915, one should always bear in mind that it was the personal
strategy of General Alexeiev. He alone bears the responsibility
before history for its course, its successes and failures. A man of
exceptional conscientiousness and self-sacrifice, and devoted to
his work, he had one serious failing: all his life he did the work
of others as well as his own. So it was when he held the post of
Quartermaster-General of the General Staff, of Chief-of-Staff of the
Kiev District, and later of the South-Western front and finally of
Chief-of-Staff to the Supreme C.-in-C. Nobody influenced strategical
decisions, and, as often as not, final instructions, written in
Alexeiev's tiny and neat hand-writing, appeared unexpectedly on
the desk of the Quartermaster-General, whose duty under the law
and whose responsibility in these matters were very grave. If such
a procedure was to a certain extent justifiable, when the post of
Quartermaster-General was occupied by a nonentity, there was no excuse
for it when he was superseded by other Quartermasters-General, such as
Lukomski or Josephovitch. These men could not accept such a position.
The former, as a rule, protested by sending in memoranda embodying his
opinion, which was adverse to the plan of operations. Such protests,
of course, were purely academic, but presented a guarantee against
the judgment of history. General Klembovski, my predecessor, was
compelled to demand non-interference with the rightful sphere of his
competence as a condition of his tenure of office. Till then, Alexeiev
had directed all the branches of administration. When these branches
acquired a still broader scope, this proved practically impossible,
and I was given full liberty in my work except ... in respect of
strategy. Again, Alexeiev began to send telegrams in his own hand of
a strategical nature, orders and directions, the motives of which the
Quartermaster-General and myself could not understand. Several times,
three of us, the Quartermaster-General, Josephovitch, his assistant,
General Markov, and myself, discussed this question. The quick-tempered
Josephovitch was greatly excited, and asked to be appointed to a
Divisional Command. "I cannot be a clerk," he said. "There is no need
for a Quartermaster-General at the Stavka if every clerk can type
instructions." The General and myself began to contemplate resignation.
Markov said that he would not stay for a single day if we went. I
finally decided to have a frank talk with Alexeiev. We were both under
the strain of emotion. We parted as friends, but we did not settle the
question. Alexeiev said: "Do I not give you a full share of the work? I
do not understand you." Alexeiev was quite sincerely surprised because
during the war he had grown accustomed to a régime which appeared to
him perfectly normal. So we three held another conference. After a
lengthy discussion, we decided that the plan of campaign for 1917 had
long since been worked out, that preparations for that campaign had
reached a stage in which substantial alterations had become impossible,
that the details of the concentration and distribution of troops were
in the present condition of the Army a difficult matter, allowing for
differences of opinion; that we could perhaps manage to effect certain
alterations of the plan, and that finally our retirement _in corpore_
might be detrimental to the work, and might undermine the position
of the Supreme C.-in-C., which was already by no means stable. We
therefore decided to wait and see. We did not have to wait very long,
because, at the end of May, Alexeiev left the Stavka, and we followed
him very soon afterwards.

       *       *       *       *       *

What place did the Stavka occupy as a military and political factor of
the Revolutionary period?

The importance of the Stavka diminished. In the days of the Imperial
régime, the Stavka, from the military point of view, occupied a
predominant position. No individual or institution in the State was
entitled to issue instructions or to call to account the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief, and it was Alexeiev and not the Czar who in reality
held that office. Not a single measure of the War Ministry, even if
indirectly affecting the interests of the Army, could be adopted
without the sanction of the Stavka. The Stavka gave direct orders to
the War Minister and to his Department on questions appertaining to
the care of the Army. The voice of the Stavka had a certain weight
and importance in the practical domain of administration at the
theatre of war, albeit without any connection with the general trend
of internal policy. That power was not exercised to a sufficient
degree; but on principle it afforded the opportunity of carrying on
the defence of the country in co-operation with other branches of the
administration, which were to a certain extent subordinate to it. With
the beginning of the Revolution, these conditions underwent a radical
change. Contrary to the examples of history and to the dictates of
military science, the Stavka became practically subordinate to the War
Minister. This was not due to any act of the Government, but merely to
the fact that the Provisional Government combined supreme power with
executive power, as well as to the combination of the strong character
of Gutchkov and the yielding nature of Alexeiev. The Stavka could no
longer address rightful demands to the branches of the War Ministry
which were attending to Army equipments. It conducted a lengthy
correspondence and appealed to the Ministry of War. The War Minister,
who now signed orders instead of the Emperor, exercised a strong
influence upon appointments and dismissals of officers in High Command.
These appointments were sometimes made by him after consultation with
the fronts, but the Stavka was not informed. Army regulations of the
highest importance altering the conditions of the troops in respect of
reinforcements, routine and duty, were issued by the Ministry without
the participation of the Supreme Command, which learnt of their issue
only from the Press. In fact, such a participation would have actually
been useless. Two products of the Polivanov Commission--the new Courts
and the Committees--which Gutchkov _accidentally_ asked me to look
through, were returned with a series of substantial objections of my
own, and Gutchkov expounded them in vain before the representatives of
the Soviet. The only result was that certain changes in the drafting of
the regulations were made.

All these circumstances undoubtedly undermined the authority of the
Stavka in the eyes of the Army, and prompted the Generals in High
Command to approach the more powerful Central Government Departments
without reference to the Stavka, as well as to display excessive
individual initiative in matters of paramount importance to the
State and to the Army. Thus, in May, 1917, on the Northern Front,
all the pre-War soldiers were discharged instead of the prescribed
percentage, and this created grave difficulties on other fronts. On
the South-Western Front Ukranian units were being formed. The Admiral
in command of the Baltic Fleet ordered the officers to remove their
shoulder-straps, etc.

The Stavka had lost influence and power, and could no longer occupy
the commanding position of an administrative and moral centre. This
occurred at the most terrible stage of the World War, when the Army
was beginning to disintegrate, and when not only the entire strength
of the people was being put to the test, but the necessity had arisen
for a power exceptionally strong and wide in its bearing. Meanwhile,
the matter was quite obvious: if Alexeiev and Denikin did not enjoy the
confidence of the Government, and were considered inadequate to the
requirements of the Supreme Command, they should have been superseded
by new men who did enjoy that confidence and who should have been
invested with full powers. As a matter of fact, changes were made
twice. But only the men were changed, not the principles of the High
Command. In the circumstances, when no one actually wielded power,
military power was not centred in anybody's hands. Neither the Chiefs
who enjoyed the reputation of serving their country loyally and with
exceptional devotion, like Alexeiev, and later the "Iron Chiefs," such
as Kornilov undoubtedly was and as Brussilov was supposed to be, nor
all the Chameleons that fed from the hand of the Socialist reformers of
the Army had any real power.

The entire military hierarchy was shaken to its very foundations,
though it retained all the attributes of power and the customary
routine--instructions which could not move the Armies, orders that were
never carried out, verdicts of the Courts which were derided. The full
weight of oppression, following the line of the least resistance, fell
solely upon the loyal commanding officers, who submitted without a
murmur to persecution from above as well as from below. The Government
and the War Ministry, having abolished repressions, had recourse to
a new method of influencing the masses--to _appeals_. Appeals to
the people, to the Army, to the Cossacks, to everybody, flooded the
country, inviting all to do their duty. Unfortunately, only those
appeals were successful that flattered the meanest instincts of
the mob, inviting it to neglect its duty. As a result, it was not
counter-Revolution, Buonapartism, or adventure, but the elemental
desire of the circles where the ideas of statesmanship still prevailed,
to restore the broken laws of warfare, that soon gave rise to a new
watchword:

    "_Military power must be seized_."

Such a task was not congenial to Alexeiev or Brussilov. Kornilov
subsequently endeavoured to undertake it, and began independently
to carry out a series of important military measures and to address
ultimatums on military questions to the Government. At first, the only
question raised was that of granting "full powers" to the Supreme
Command within the scope of its competence.

It is interesting to compare this state of affairs with that of the
command of the armies of our powerful foe. Ludendorff, the first
Quartermaster-General of the German Army says (_Mes Souvenirs de
Guerre_): "In peace-time the Imperial Government exercised full power
over its Departments.... When the War began the Ministers found it
difficult to get used to seeing in G.H.Q. a power which was compelled,
by the immensity of its task, to act with greater resolution as that
resolution weakened in Berlin. Would that the Government could clearly
have perceived this simple truth.... The Government went its own way,
and never abandoned any of its designs in compliance with the wishes
of G.H.Q. On the contrary, it disregarded much that we considered
necessary for the prosecution of the War."

If we recall that in March, 1918, the deputy of the Reichstag, Haase,
was more than justified in saying that the Chancellor was nothing but
a figure-head covering the military party, and that Ludendorff was
actually governing the country, we will understand the extent of the
power which the German Command deemed it necessary to exercise in order
to win the World War.

I have drawn a general picture of the Stavka, such as it was when
I took charge as Chief-of-Staff. Taking the entire position into
consideration, I had two main objects in view: first, to counteract
with all my strength the influences which were disrupting the Army, so
as to preserve that Army and to hold the Eastern Front in the world
struggle; and secondly, to reinforce the rights, the power, and the
authority of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. A loyal struggle was at
hand. In that struggle, which only lasted two months, all sections of
the Stavka had their share.

[Illustration: General Markov.]



CHAPTER IX.

GENERAL MARKOV.


The duties of the Quartermaster-General in the Stavka were many-sided
and complex. As in the European Army, it proved therefore necessary to
create the office of a second Quartermaster-General. The first dealt
merely with matters concerning the conduct of operations. I invited
General Markov to accept this new office. His fate was linked up with
mine until his glorious death at the head of a Volunteer Division.
That Division afterwards bore with honour his name, which has become
legendary in the Volunteer Army. At the outbreak of war he was a
lecturer at the Academy of the General Staff. He went to the war as
Staff-Officer to General Alexeiev. Then he joined the 19th Division,
and in December, 1914, he served under my command as Chief-of-Staff
of the 4th Rifle Brigade, which I then commanded. When he came to our
Brigade he was unknown and unexpected, as I had asked the Army G.H.Q.
for another man to be appointed. Immediately upon his arrival he told
me that he had recently undergone a slight operation, was not feeling
well, was unable to ride, and would not go up to the front line. I
frowned, and the Staff exchanged significant glances. The "Professor,"
as we afterwards often called him as a friendly jest, was obviously out
of place in our midst.

I started one day with my staff, all mounted, towards the line where
my riflemen were fiercely fighting, near the town of Friestach. The
enemy was upon us, and the fire was intense. Suddenly, repeated showers
of shrapnel came down upon us. We wondered what it meant, and there
was Markov gaily smiling, openly driving to the firing line in a huge
carriage. "I was bored staying in, so I have come to see what is going
on here."

From that day the ice was broken, and Markov assumed a proper place in
the family of the "Iron Division." I have never met a man who loved
military work to such an extent as Markov. He was young (when he was
killed in the summer of 1918 in action he was only 39 years of age),
impetuous, communicative, eloquent. He knew how to approach, and
closely, too, any _milieu_--officers, soldiers, crowds--sometimes far
from sympathetic, and how to instil into them his straightforward,
clear, and indisputable articles of faith. He was very quick to grasp
the situation in battle, and made work much easier for me. Markov had
one peculiarity. He was quite exceptionally straightforward, frank,
and abrupt when attacking those who, in his opinion, did not display
adequate knowledge, energy, or pluck. While he was at Headquarters
the troops therefore viewed him (as in the Brigade) with a certain
reserve, and sometimes even with intolerance (as in the Rostov period
of the Volunteer Army). No sooner, however, did Markov join the
Division than the attitude towards him became one of love on the part
of the riflemen, or even enthusiasm on the part of the Volunteers.
The Army had its own psychology. It would have no abruptness and
blame from Markov as a Staff Officer. But when _their_ Markov, in his
usual short fur coat with his cap at the back of his head, waving
his inevitable whip, was in the rifleman's firing line, under the
hot fire of the enemy, he could be as violent as possible, he could
shout and swear--his words provoked sometimes sorrow, sometimes mirth,
but there was always a sincere desire to be worthy of his praise. I
recall the heavy days which the Brigade endured in February, 1915.
The Brigade was pushed forward, was surrounded by a semi-circle of
hills occupied by the enemy, who was in a position to snipe us. The
position was intolerable, the losses were heavy, and nothing could be
gained by keeping us on that line. But the 14th Infantry Division next
to us reported to the Army H.Q.: "Our blood runs cold at the thought
of abandoning the position and having afterwards once more to attack
the heights which have already cost us rivers of blood." I remained.
Matters, however, were so serious that one had to be in close touch
with the men. I moved the field H.Q. up to the position. Count Keller,
in command of our section, having travelled for eleven hours in deep
mud and over mountain paths, arrived at that moment, and rested for a
while.

"Let us now drive up to the line."

We laughed.

"How shall we drive? Would you come to the door, enemy machine-guns
permitting?"

Count Keller left fully determined to extricate the Brigade from the
trap. The Brigade was melting away. In the rear there was only one
ramshackle bridge across the San. We were in the hands of fate. Will
the torrent swell? If it does, the bridge will be swept away, and
our retreat will be cut off. At this difficult moment the Colonel in
command of the 13th Rifle Regiment was severely wounded by a sniper
as he was coming out of the house where the H.Q. were stationed. All
officers of his rank having been killed, there was nobody to replace
him. I was pacing up and down the small hut, in a gloomy mood. Markov
rose.

"Give me the 13th Regiment, sir," said Markov.

"Of course, with pleasure."

I had already thought of doing so. But I hesitated to offer it to
Markov lest he should think it was my intention to remove him from the
Staff. Markov afterwards went with his regiment from one victory to
another. He had already earned the Cross of St. George and the sword
of St. George, but for nine months the Stavka would not confirm his
appointment, because he had not reached the dead line of seniority.

I recall the days of the heavy Galician retreat, when a tidal wave
of maddened peasants, with women, children, cattle and carts, was
following the Army, burning their villages and houses.... Markov was in
the rear, and was ordered promptly to blow up the bridge at which this
human tide had stopped. He was, however, moved by the sufferings of the
people, and for six hours he fought for the bridge at the risk of being
cut off, until the last cart of the refugees had crossed the bridge.

His life was a perpetual fiery impulse. On one occasion I had lost
all hope of ever seeing him again. In the beginning of September,
1915, in the course of the Lutsk operation, in which our Division
so distinguished itself, between Olyka and Klevan, the left column
commanded by Markov broke the Austrian line and disappeared. The
Austrians closed the line. During the day we heard no news, and the
night came. I was anxious for the fate of the 13th Regiment, and rode
to a high slope, observing the enemy's firing line in the silent
distance. Suddenly, from afar, from the dense forest, in the far rear
of the Austrians, I heard the joyous strains of the Regimental March of
the 13th. What a relief it was!

"I got into such a fix," said Markov afterwards, "the devil himself
could not have known which were my riflemen and which were Austrians. I
decided to cheer up my men and to collect them by making the band play."

Markov's column had smashed the enemy, had taken two thousand prisoners
and a gun, and had put the Austrians to disorderly flight towards
Lutsk.

In his impulsiveness he sometimes went from one extreme to another,
but, as soon as matters grew really desperate, he immediately regained
self-possession. In October, 1915, the 4th Rifle Division was
conducting the famous Chartoriisk operation, had broken the enemy on a
front about twelve miles wide and over fifteen miles deep. Brussilov,
having no reserves, hesitated to bring up troops from another front
in order to take advantage of this break. Time was short. The Germans
centred their reserves, and they were attacking me on all sides. The
situation was difficult. Markov, from the front line, telephoned: "The
position is peculiar. I am fighting the four quarters of the earth. It
is so hard as to be thoroughly amusing." Only once did I see him in a
state of utter depression, when, in the spring of 1915, near Przemyshl,
he was removing from the firing line the remnants of his companies. He
was drenched with the blood of the C.O. of the 14th Regiment, who had
been standing by, and whose head had been torn off by a shell.

Markov never took any personal precautions. In September, 1915, the
Division was fighting in the direction of Kovel. On the right our
cavalry was operating, was moving forward irresolutely, and was
perturbing us by incredible news of the appearance of important enemy
forces on its front, on our bank of the River Styr. Markov became
annoyed with this indecision, and reported to me: "I went to the Styr
with my orderly to give the horses a drink. Between our line and the
Styr there is no one, neither our cavalry nor the enemy."

I reported him for promotion to General's rank, as a reward for several
battles, but my request was not granted on the plea that he was "a
youngster." Verily youth was a great defect. In the spring of 1916
the Division was feverishly preparing for the break-through at Lutsk.
Markov made no secret of his innermost wish: "It is to be either one
or the other--a wooden cross or the Cross of St. George of the Third
Degree." But the Stavka, after several refusals, compelled him to
accept "promotion"--once again the office of Divisional Chief-of-Staff.
(This measure was due to a great dearth of officers of the General
Staff, because the normal activities of the Academy had come to an
end. Colonels and Generals were made to hold for a second time and on
special conditions the office of Chief of Divisional Staff before they
were appointed to Divisional Commands.) After several months on the
Caucasian Front, where Markov suffered from inaction, he lectured for
some time at the Academy, which had then reopened, and later returned
to the Army. At the outbreak of the Revolution he was attached to the
Commanding Officer of the Tenth Army as General for special missions.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the beginning of March a mutiny broke out at Briansk in the big
garrison. It was attended by pogroms and by the arrest of officers.
The townfolk were terribly excited. Markov spoke several times in the
crowded Council of Military Deputies. After tempestuous and passionate
debates, he succeeded in obtaining a resolution for restoring
discipline and for freeing twenty of those arrested. Nevertheless,
after midnight several companies in arms moved to the railway station
in order to do away with Markov and with the arrested officers. The mob
was infuriated and Markov seemed to be doomed, but his resourcefulness
saved the situation. Trying to make his voice heard above the tumult,
he addressed an impassioned appeal to the mob. The following sentence
occurred in his speech: "Had any of my 'Iron' Riflemen been here, he
would have told you who General Markov is." "I served in the 13th
Regiment," came a voice from the crowd.

Markov pushed aside several men who were surrounding him, advanced
rapidly towards the soldier, and seized him by the scruff of the neck.

"You? You? Then why don't you thrust the bayonet into me? The
enemy's bullet has spared me, so let me perish by the hand of my own
rifleman...."

The mob was still more intoxicated, but with admiration. Accompanied by
tempestuous cheering, Markov and the arrested officers left for Minsk.

Markov was lifted by the wave of events, and gave himself entirely to
the struggle, without a thought for himself or for his family. Faith
and despair succeeded each other in his mind; he loved his country and
felt sorry for the Army, which never ceased to occupy a prominent place
in his heart and in his mind.

Reference will be made more than once in the course of this narrative
to the personality of Markov, but I could not refrain from satisfying
my heart's desire in adding a few laurels to his wreath--the wreath
that was placed upon his tomb by two faithful friends, with the
inscription:--

    "He lived and died for the good of his country."



CHAPTER X.

    THE POWER--THE DUMA--THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT--THE HIGH
    COMMAND--THE SOVIET OF WORKMEN'S AND SOLDIERS' DELEGATES.


Russia's exceptional position, confronted on the one hand with a world
war and on the other with a revolution, made the establishment of a
strong power an imperative necessity.

The DUMA, which, as I have already said, unquestionably enjoyed
the confidence of the country, refused, after lengthy and heated
discussions, to head the Revolutionary power. Temporarily dissolved
by the Imperial ukaze of February 27th, it remained loyal, and "did
not attempt to hold an official sitting," as it "considered itself a
legislative institution of the old régime, co-ordinated by fundamental
law with the obviously doomed remnants of autocracy." (Miliukov,
_History of the Second Russian Revolution_.) The subsequent decrees
emanated from the "private conference of the members of the Duma." This
body elected the "temporary Committee of the Duma," which exercised
supreme power in the first days of the Revolution.

When power was transferred to the PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT, the Duma
and the Committee retired to the background, but did not cease to
exist, and endeavoured to give moral support and a _raison d'être_
to the first three Cabinets of the Government. On May 2nd, during
the first Government crisis, the Committee still struggled for the
right to _appoint_ members of the Government; subsequently it reduced
its demands to that of the right to _participate_ in the formation
of the Government. Thus, on July 7th, the Committee of the Duma
protested against its exclusion from the formation of a new Provisional
Government by Kerensky, as it considered such a course as "legally
inadmissible and politically disastrous." The Duma, of course, was
fully entitled to participate in the direction of the life of the
country, as, even in the camp of its enemies, the signal service
was recognised which the Duma had rendered to the Revolution "In
converting to it the entire front and all the officers" (Stankevitch:
_Reminiscences_). There can be no doubt that, had the Soviet taken the
lead in the Revolution, there would have been a fierce struggle against
it, and the Revolution would have been squashed. It might, perhaps,
have then given the victory to the Liberal Democracy, and would have
led the country to a normal evolutionary development. Who knows?

The members of the Duma themselves felt the strain of inactivity
which was at first voluntary and later compulsory. There were many
absentees, and the President of the Duma had to combat this attitude.
Nevertheless, the Duma and the Committee were quite alive to the
importance of the trend events were taking. They issued resolutions
condemning, warning, and appealing to the common sense, the heart,
and the patriotism of the people, of the Army, and of the Government.
The Duma, however, had already been swept aside by the Revolutionary
elements. Its statesmanlike appeals, full of the clear consciousness of
impending perils, had ceased to impress the country, and were ignored
by the Government. Even a Duma so peaceable that it did not even fight
for power aroused the apprehensions of the Revolutionary Democracy, and
the Soviets led a violent campaign for the abolition of the Council
of the State and of the Duma. In August the Duma relaxed its efforts
in issuing proclamations, and when Kerensky dissolved the Duma at the
bidding of the Soviets, nineteen days before the expiration of its five
years' term, on October 6th, this news did not produce any appreciable
effect in the country. Rodzianko kept alive for a long time the idea
of the Fourth Duma or of the Assembly of all Dumas as the foundation
of the power of the State. He stuck to this idea throughout the Kuban
campaigns and the Ekaterinodar Volunteer period of the anti-Bolshevik
struggle. But the Duma was dead....

None can tell whether the Duma's abdication of power was inevitable
in the days of March, and whether it was rendered imperative by the
relative strength of the forces that struggled for power, whether
the "class" Duma could have retained the Socialist elements in its
midst and have continued to wield a certain influence in the country,
acquired as a result of its fight against autocracy. It is at least
certain that, in the years of trouble in Russia, when no normal,
popular representation was possible, all Governments invariably felt
the necessity for some substitute for this popular representation,
were it only as a kind of tribune from which expression could be given
to different currents of thought, a rock upon which to stand and to
divine moral responsibilities. Such was the "Temporary Council of
the Russian Republic" at Petrograd in October, 1917, which, however,
had been started by the Revolutionary Democracy, as a counter-blast
to the contemplated Bolshevik Second Congress of Soviets. Such was
the partial constituent Assembly of 1917, which was held on the Volga
in the summer of 1918, and such the proposed convocation of the High
Council and Assembly (_Sobor_) of the Zemstvos in the South of Russia
and in Siberia in 1919. Even the highest manifestation of collective
dictatorship--"the Soviet of People's Commissars"--which reached a
level of despotism and had suppressed social life and all the live
forces of the country to an extent unknown in history, and reduced
the country to a graveyard, still considered it necessary to create a
kind of theatrical travesty of such a representative institution by
periodically convoking the "All-Russian Congress of Soviets."

The authority of the Provisional Government contained the seed of its
own impotence. As Miliukov has said, that power was devoid of the
"symbol" to which the masses were accustomed. The Government yielded
to the pressure of the Soviet, which was systematically distorting all
State functions and making them subservient to the interests of class
and party.

Kerensky, the "hostage of Democracy," was in the Government. In a
speech delivered in the Soviet he thus defined his rôle: "I am the
representative of Democracy, and the Provisional Government should look
upon me as expressing the demands of Democracy, and should particularly
heed the opinions which I may utter." Last, but not least, there were
in the Government representatives of the Russian Liberal Intelligencia,
with all its good and bad qualities, and with the lack of will-power
characteristic of that class, the will-power which, by its boundless
daring, its cruelty in removing obstacles, and its tenacity in seizing
power, gives victory in the struggle for self-preservation to class,
caste and nationality. During the four years of the Russian turmoil the
Russian Intelligencia and Bourgeoisie lived in a state of impotence
and of non-resistance, and surrendered every stronghold; they even
submitted to physical extermination and extinction. Strong will-power
appeared to exist only on the two extreme flanks of the social front.
Unfortunately it was a will to destroy and not to create. One flank has
already produced Lenin, Bronstein, Apfelbaum, Uritzki, Dzerjinski, and
Peters.... The other flank, defeated in March, 1917, may not yet have
said its last word. The Russian Revolution was undoubtedly national in
its origin, being a mode of expressing the universal protest against
the old régime. But, when the time came for reconstruction, two forces
came into conflict which embodied and led two different currents of
political thought, two different outlooks. According to the accepted
phrase, it was a struggle between the Bourgeoisie and the Democracy.
But it would be more correct to describe it as a struggle between the
Bourgeois and the Socialist Democracies. Both sides derived their
leading spirits from the same source--the Russian Intelligencia--by no
means numerous and heterogeneous, not so much in respect of class and
wealth as of political ideas and methods of political contest. Both
sides inadequately reflected the thoughts of the popular masses in
whose name they spoke. At first these masses were merely an audience
applauding the actors who most appealed to its impassioned, but not
altogether idealistic, instincts. It was only after this psychological
training that the inert masses, and in particular the Army, became, in
the words of Kerensky, "an elemental mass melted in the fire of the
Revolution and ... exercising tremendous pressure which was felt by
the entire organism of the State." To deny this would be tantamount to
the denial, in accordance with Tolstoi's doctrine, of the influence of
leaders upon the life of the people. This theory has been completely
shattered by Bolshevism, which has conquered for a long time the masses
of the people with whom it has nothing in common and who are inimical
to the Communist creed.

In the first weeks of the new Government the phenomenon became
apparent, which was described in the middle of July by the Committee of
the Duma in its appeal to the Government in the following words: "The
seizure of the power of the State by irresponsible organisations, the
creation by these organisations of a dual power in the centre, and of
the absence of power in the country."

       *       *       *       *       *

The power of the Soviet was also conditional in spite of a series of
Government crises and of opportunities thereby provided for seizing
that power and wielding it without opposition and unreservedly (the
Provisional Government offered no resistance). The Revolutionary
Democracy, as represented by the Soviet, categorically declined to
assume that rôle because it realised quite clearly that it lacked
the strength, the knowledge, and the skill to govern the country in
which it had as yet no real support. Tzeretelli, one of the leaders
of Revolutionary Democracy, said: "The time is not yet ripe for
the fulfilment of the ultimate aims of the proletariat and for
the solution of class questions.... We understand that a Bourgeois
Revolution is in progress ... as we are unable fully to attain to our
bright ideal ... and we _do not wish to assume that responsibility
for the collapse of the movement_, which we could not avoid if we
made the desperate attempt to impose our will upon events at the
present moment." Another representative, Nahamkes, said that they
preferred "to compel the Government to comply with their demands by
means of perpetual organised pressure." A member of the Executive
Committee of the Soviet, Stankevitch, thus describes the Soviet in his
_Reminiscences_, which reflect the incorrigible idealism of a Socialist
who is off the rails and who has now reached the stage of excusing
Bolshevism, but who nevertheless impresses one as being sincere: "The
Soviet, a gathering of illiterate soldiers, took the lead because
it asked nothing and because it was only a screen covering what was
actually complete anarchy." Two thousand soldiers from the rear and
eight hundred workmen from Petrograd formed an institution which
pretended to guide the political, military, economic and social life
of an enormous country. The records of the meetings of the Soviet,
as reported in the Press, testify to the extraordinary ignorance and
confusion which reigned at these meetings. One could not help being
painfully impressed by such a "representation" of Russia. An impotent
and subdued anger against the Soviet was growing in the circles of the
Intelligencia, the Democratic Bourgeoisie and the Officers. All their
hatred was concentrated upon the Soviet, which they abused in terms
of excessive bitterness. That hatred, often openly expressed, was
wrongly interpreted by the Revolutionary Democracy as abhorrence of
the very _idea of Democratic Representation_. In time the supremacy of
the Petrograd Soviet, which ascribed to itself the exceptional merit
of having destroyed the old régime, began to wane. A vast network
of Committees and Soviets, which had flooded the country and the
Army, claimed the right to participate in the work of the State. In
April, therefore, a Congress was held of the delegates of Workmen and
Soldiers' Soviets. The Petrograd Soviet was reorganised on the basis
of a more regular representation, and in June the All-Russian Congress
of Representatives of the Soviets was opened. The composition of this
fuller representation of Democracy is interesting:--

 Revolutionary Socialists                   285
 Social Democrats (Mensheviks)              248
 Social Democrats (Bolsheviks)              105
 Internationalists                           32
 Other Socialists                            73
 United Social Democrats                     10
 Members of the "Bund"                       10
 Members of the "Edimstvo" (Unity) group      3
 Popular Socialists                           3
 Trudovik (Labour)                            5
 Communist Anarchists                         1

Thus, the overwhelming masses of Non-Socialist Russia were not
represented at all; even the elements that were either non-political
or belonged to the groups of the right and were elected by the Soviets
and Army Committees as non-party members, hastened for motives
altogether in the interests of the State to profess the Socialistic
creed. In these circumstances the Revolutionary Democracy could hardly
be expected to exercise self-restraint, and there could be no hope
of keeping the popular movement within the limits of the Bourgeois
Revolution. In reality the ramshackle helm was seized by a block of
Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, in which first the former and
then the latter predominated. It is that narrow partisan block which
held in bondage the will of the Government and is primarily responsible
for the subsequent course of the Revolution.

The composition of the Soviet was heterogeneous: intellectuals,
bourgeoisie, workmen, soldiers and many deserters. The Soviet and the
Congresses, and especially the former, were a somewhat inert mass,
utterly devoid of political education. Action, power and influence
afterwards passed therefore into the hands of Executive Committees
in which the Socialist intellectual elements were almost exclusively
represented. The most devastating criticism of the Executive Committee
of the Soviet came from that very institution, and was made by one
of its members, Stankevitch: the meetings were chaotic, political
disorganisation, indecision, haste, and fitfulness showed themselves
in its decisions, and there was a complete absence of administrative
experience and true democracy. One of the members advocated anarchy in
the "Izvestia," another sent written permits for the expropriation of
the landlords, a third explained to a military delegation which had
complained of the Commanding Officers that these officers should be
dismissed and arrested, etc.

"The most striking feature of the Committee is the preponderance of the
alien element," wrote Stankevitch. "Jews, Georgians, Letts, Poles, and
Lithuanians were represented out of all proportion to their numbers
in Petrograd and in the country."


Russia during the turmoil.

         +----------+----------+-----------+-------+-----------+
         |          |          |           |       |           |
 Anarcho-Communists |      Non-Party       |   Non-Party  Conservatives
      ########      |      ----####        |   --------     --------
                    |      (Peasants)      |
                    |     Workmen (few)    |
                    |                      |
                Socialists              Liberals
                    |                   --------
        +-----------+-------------+        |
        |           |             |        +--------------+
        |       Non-Party         |        |              |
        |       ----####          |  Constitutional-   Radical-
        |      Mostly Workmen     |     --------       --------
        |                         |     Democrats      Democrats
 Social-Democrats             Populists
        |                         |
     +--+---+----+                +---------------+-----------+
     |      |    |                |               |           |
 Bolsheviks | Edinstvo          Social          Popular     Labour
  ########  | --------      Revolutionaries    --------    --------
            |                     |           Socialists  "Trudovik"
        Mensheviks                |
            |                     +------+-------+
        +---+-----------+         |      |       |
        |               |        Left  Centre  Right
 Internationalists  Defencists   ####  ---###  ----
     ########        --------

 -------- Defencists

 ----#### Partly Defencist
          Partly Defeatist

 ######## Defeatists

The following is a list of the first Presidium of the All-Russian
Central Committee of the Soviets:--

    1 Georgian
    5 Jews
    1 Armenian
    1 Pole
    1 Russian (if his name was not an assumed one).

This exceptional preponderance of the alien element, foreign to the
Russian national idea, could not fail to tinge the entire activities of
the Soviet with a spirit harmful to the interests of the Russian State.
The Provisional Government was the captive of the Soviet from the very
first day, as it had under-estimated the importance and the power
of that institution, and was unable to display either determination
or strength in resisting the Soviet. The Government did not even
hope for victory in that struggle, as, in its endeavour to save the
country, it could not very well proclaim watchwords which would have
suited the licentious mob and which emanated from the Soviet. The
Government talked about duty, the Soviet about rights. The former
"prohibited," the latter "permitted." The Government was linked with
the old power by the inheritance of statesmanship and organisation, as
well as the external methods of administration; whereas the Soviet,
springing from mutiny and from the slums, was the direct negation of
the entire old régime. It is a delusion to think, as a small portion
of the moderate democracy still appear to do, that the Soviet played
the part of "restraining the tidal wave of the people." _The Soviet
did not actually destroy the Russian State, but was shattering it,
and did so to the extent of smashing the Army and imposing Bolshevism
on it._ Hence the duplicity and insincerity of its activities. Apart
from its declarations, all the speeches, conversations, comments,
and articles of the Soviet and of the Executive Committee, of its
groups and individuals, came to the knowledge of the country and of
the Front, and tended towards the destruction of the authority of the
Government. Stankevitch wrote that not deliberately, but persistently,
the Committee was dealing death-blows to the Government.

Who, then, were the men who were trying to democratise the Army
Regulations, smashing all the foundations of the Army, inspiring the
Polivanov Commission, and tying the hands of two War Ministers? The
following is the personnel elected in the beginning of April from the
Soldiers' Section of the Soviet to the Executive Committee:--

 War-time Officers                    1
 Clerks                               2
 Cadets                               2
 Soldiers from the rear               9
 Scribes and men on special duty      5

I will leave their description to Stankevitch, who said: "At first
hysterical, noisy, and unbalanced men were elected, who were utterly
useless to the Committee...." New elements were subsequently added.
"The latter tried consciously, and in the measure of their ability, to
cope with the ocean of military matters. Two of them, however, seemed
to have been inoffensive scribes in Reserve Battalions, who had never
taken the slightest interest in the War, the Army, or the political
Revolution." The duplicity and the insincerity of the Soviet were
clearly manifested in regard to the War. The intellectual circles of
the Left and of the Revolutionary Democracy mostly espoused the idea
of Zimmerwald and of Internationalism. It was natural, therefore, that
the first word which the Soviet addressed on March 14, 1917, "To the
Peoples of the Whole World," was:

                                "PEACE."

The world problems, infinitely complex, owing to the national,
political, and economic interests of the peoples who differed in their
understanding of the Eternal Truth, could not be solved in such an
elementary fashion. Bethmann-Holweg was contemptuously silent. On
March 17th, 1917, the Reichstag, by a majority against the votes of
both Social Democratic parties, declined the offer of peace without
annexations. Noske voiced the views of the German Democracy in saying:
"We are offered from abroad to organise a Revolution. If we follow
that advice the working classes will come to grief." Among the Allies
and the Allied Democracies the Soviet manifesto provoked anxiety,
bewilderment, and discontent, which were vividly expressed in the
speeches made by Albert Thomas, Henderson, Vandervelde, and even the
present-day French Bolshevik, Cachin, upon their visits to Russia. The
Soviet subsequently added to the word "Peace" the definition, "Without
annexations and indemnities on the basis of the self-determination of
peoples." The theory of this formula promptly clashed with the actual
question of Western and Southern Russia occupied by the Germans;
of Poland, of Roumania, Belgium, and Serbia, devastated by the
Germans; of Alsace-Lorraine and Posen, as well as of the servitude,
expropriations, and compulsory labour which had been imposed upon all
the countries invaded by the Germans. According to the programme of the
German Social Democrats, which was at length published in Stockholm,
the French in Alsace-Lorraine, the Poles in Posen, and the Danes in
Schleswig were only to be granted national autonomy under the sceptre
of the German Emperor. At the same time, the idea of the independence
of Finland, Russian Poland, and Ireland was strongly advocated. The
demand for the restoration of the German colonies was curiously blended
with the promises of independence for India, Siam, Korea.

The sun did not rise at the bidding of Chanticleer. The _ballon
d'essai_ failed. The Soviet was forced to admit that "time is necessary
in order that the peoples of all countries should rise, and with
an iron hand compel their rulers and capitalists to make peace....
Meanwhile, the comrade-soldiers who have sworn to defend Russian
liberties should not refuse to advance, as this may become a military
necessity...." The Revolutionary Democracy was perplexed, and their
attitude was clearly expressed in the words of Tchkeidze: "We have
been preaching against the War all the time. How can I appeal to the
soldiers to continue the War and to stay at the Front?"

Be that as it may, the words "War" and "Advance" had been uttered.
They divided the Soviet Socialists into two camps, the "Defeatists"
and "Defensists."[17] Theoretically, only the right groups of the
Social Revolutionaries, the popular Socialists, the "Unity" ("Edistvo")
group, and the Labour party ("Trudoviki") belonged to the latter.
All other Socialists advocated the immediate cessation of the war and
the "deepening" of the Revolution by means of internal Class War. In
practice, when the question of the continuation of the war was put to
the vote, the Defensists were joined by the majority of the Social
Revolutionaries and of the Social Democrat Mensheviks. The resolutions,
however, bore the stamp of ambiguity--neither war nor peace. Tzeretelli
was advocating "a movement against the war in all countries, Allied and
enemy." The Congress of the Soviets at the end of May passed an equally
ambiguous resolution, which, after demanding that annexations and
indemnities should be renounced by all belligerents, pointed out that,
"so long as the war lasts, the collapse of the Army, the weakening
of its spirit, strength and capacity for _active_ operations would
constitute a strong menace to the cause of Freedom and to the vital
interests of the country." In the beginning of June the Second Congress
passed a new resolution. On the one hand, it emphatically declared that
"the question of the advance should be decided solely from the point of
view of purely military and strategical considerations"; on the other
hand, it expressed an obviously Defeatist idea: "Should the war end by
the complete defeat of one of the belligerent groups, this would be
a source of new wars, would increase the enmity between peoples, and
would result in their complete exhaustion, in starvation and doom."
The Revolutionary Democracy had obviously confused two ideas: the
_strategic victory_ signifying the end of the war and _the terms of the
Peace Treaty_, which might be humane or inhuman, righteous or unjust,
far-seeing or short-sighted. In fact, what they wanted was war and
an advance, but _without a victory_. Curiously enough, the Prussian
Deputy, Strebel, the editor of _Vorwaerts_, invented the same formula
as early as in 1915. He wrote: "I openly profess that a complete
victory of the Empire would not benefit the Social Democracy."

There was not a single branch of administration with which the Soviet
and the Executive Committee did not interfere with the same ambiguity
and insincerity, due on the one hand to the fear of any action contrary
to the fundamentals of their doctrine, and on the other to the obvious
impossibility of putting these doctrines into practice. The Soviet
did not, and could not, partake in the creative work of rebuilding
the State. With regard to Economics, Agriculture, and Labour, the
activities of the Soviet were reduced to the publication of pompous
Socialist Party programmes, which the Socialist Ministers themselves
clearly understood to be impracticable in the atmosphere of War,
Anarchy, and Economic crisis prevailing in Russia. Nevertheless, these
Resolutions and Proclamations were interpreted in the factories and
in the villages as a kind of "Absolution." They roused the passions
and provoked the desire, immediately and arbitrarily, to put them
into practice. This provocation was followed by restraining appeals.
In an appeal addressed to the sailors of Kronstadt on May 26th, 1917,
the Soviet suggested "that they should demand immediate and implicit
compliance with all the orders of the Provisional Government given in
the interests of the Revolution and of the security of the country...."

All these literary achievements are not, however, the only form of
activity in which the Soviet indulged. The characteristic feature of
the Soviet and of the Executive Committee was the complete absence of
discipline in their midst. With reference to the special Delegation
of the Committee, whose object it was to be in contact with the
Provisional Government, Stankevitch says: "What could that Delegation
do? While it was arguing and reaching a complete agreement with the
Ministers, dozens of members of the Committee were sending letters
and publishing articles; travelling in the provinces, and at the
Front in the name of the Committee; receiving callers at the Taurida
Palace, everyone of them acting independently and taking no heed of
instructions, Resolutions, or decisions of the Committee."

Was the Central Committee of the Soviet invested with actual power? A
reply to this question can be found in the appeal of the Organising
Committee of the Labour Socialist Democratic Party of July 17th. "The
watchword 'All-Power to the Soviets,' to which many workmen adhere, is
a dangerous one. _The following of the Soviets represents a minority
in the population_, and we must make every effort in order that the
Bourgeois elements, who are still willing and capable of joining us
in preserving the conquests of the Revolution, shall share with us
the burdens of the inheritance left by the old régime, which we have
shouldered, and the enormous responsibility for the outcome of the
Revolution which we bear in the eyes of the people." The Soviet, and
later the All-Russian Central Committee, could not, and would not,
by reason of its composition and their political ideas, exercise a
powerful restraining influence upon the masses of the people, who had
thrown off the shackles and were perturbed and mutinous. The movement
had been inspired by the members of the Soviet, and the influence and
authority of the Soviet were, therefore, entirely dependent on the
extent to which they were able to flatter the instincts of the masses.
These masses, as Karl Kautsky, an observer from the Marxist Camp, has
said, "were concerned merely with their requirements and their desires
as soon as they were drawn into the Revolution, and they did not care a
straw whether their demands were practicable or beneficial to society."
Had the Soviet endeavoured to resist with any firmness or determination
whatsoever the pressure of the masses, it would have run the risk of
being swept away. Also, day after day and step by step, the Soviet was
coming under the influence of Anarchist and Bolshevik ideas.



CHAPTER XI.

    THE BOLSHEVIK STRUGGLE FOR POWER--THE POWER OF THE ARMY AND THE
    IDEA OF A DICTATORSHIP.


In the first period--from the beginning of the Revolution until the
_coup d'état_ of November--the Bolsheviks were engaged in struggling
to seize power by destroying the Bourgeois régime and disorganising
the Army, thus paving the way for the _avénement_ of Bolshevism, as
Trotsky solemnly expressed it. On the day after his arrival in Russia
Lenin published his programme, of which I will here mention the salient
points:

    (1) The War waged by the "Capitalist Government" is an
    Imperialistic, plundering War. No concessions, therefore, should
    be made to Revolutionary "Defensism." The representatives of that
    doctrine and the Army in the field should be made clearly to
    understand that the War cannot end in a truly Democratic peace,
    without coercion, _unless_ Capitalism is destroyed.

    The troops must fraternize with the enemy.

    (2) The first stage of the Revolution by which the Bourgeoisie came
    into power must be followed by the second stage in which power must
    pass into the hands of the Proletariat and of the poorest peasants.

    (3) No support should be given to the Provisional Government, and
    the fallacy of its promises should be exposed.

    (4) The fact must be acknowledged that, in the majority of the
    Soviets, the Bolshevik party is in a minority. The policy must
    therefore be continued of criticising and exposing mistakes, while
    at the same time advocating the necessity for the transfer of
    Supreme Power to the Soviet.

    (5) Russia is not a Parliamentary Republic--that would have been
    a step backwards--but a Republic of the Soviets of Workmen's and
    Peasants' Deputies.

    The police (Militia?), the Army, and the Civil Service must be
    abolished.

    (6) With regard to the agrarian question, the Soviets of
    farm-labourers' deputies must come to the fore. All landowners'
    estates must be confiscated, and all land in Russia nationalised
    and placed at the disposal of Local Soviets of Peasants' Deputies.
    The latter to be elected among the poorest peasants.

    (7) All the banks in the country must be united in one National
    Bank, controlled by the Soviet.

    (8) Socialism must not be introduced now, but a step must be taken
    towards the ultimate control by the Soviet of all industries and of
    the distribution of materials.

    (9) The State shall become a Commune, and the Socialist Democratic
    Bolshevik Party shall henceforward be called "The Communist Party."

I shall not dwell upon this programme, which was put into practice,
with certain reservations, in November, 1917. During the first period
the activities of the Bolsheviks, which are of great importance, were
based upon the following three principles:

    (1) The overthrow of the Government and the demoralisation of the
    Army.

    (2) The promotion of class war in the country and discontent in the
    villages.

    (3) The seizure of power by the minority, which, according to
    Lenin, was to be "well-organised, armed and centralised," _i.e._,
    the Bolshevik party. (This was, of course, a negation of Democratic
    forms of Government.)

The ideas and aims of the party were, of course, beyond the
understanding not only of the ignorant Russian peasantry, but even of
the Bolshevik underlings scattered throughout the land. The masses
wanted simple and clear watchwords to be immediately put into practice,
which would satisfy their wishes and demands arising from the turmoil
of the Revolution. That "simplified" Bolshevism inherent in all
popular movements against the established power in Russia was all the
easier to institute in that it had freed itself from all restraining
moral influences and was aiming primarily at destruction pure and
simple, ignoring the consequences of military defeat and of the ruin
of the country. The Provisional Government was the first target. In
the Bolshevik Press, at public meetings, in all the activities of
the Soviets and Congresses, and even in their conversations with
the members of the Provisional Government, the Bolshevik leaders
stubbornly and arrogantly advocated its removal, describing it as
an instrument of counter-Revolution and of International reaction.
The Bolsheviks, however, refrained from decisive action, as they
feared the political backwardness of the country as a whole. They
began what soldiers call "a reconnaissance," and carried it out with
great intensity. They seized several private houses in Petrograd, and
organised a demonstration on the 20th and 21st of April. That was the
first "review" of the proletariat, at which an estimate was made of
the Bolshevik forces. The excuse for this demonstration, in which the
workmen and the troops participated, was given by Miliukov's Note on
International Policy. I say _excuse_ because the real reason lay in
the fundamental divergence of opinion mentioned above. Everything else
was only a pretext. As a result of the demonstration there were great
disturbances and armed conflicts in the capital, and many casualties.
The crowds carried placards bearing the inscriptions: "Down with
the Miliukov Policy of Conquests," and "Down with the Provisional
Government."

The review was a failure. In the course of the debate in the Soviet on
this occasion, the Bolsheviks demanded that the Government be deposed,
but there was a note of hesitation in their speeches: "The proletariat
should first discuss the existing conditions and form an estimate of
its strength." The Soviet passed a resolution condemning both the
Government's policy of conquest and the Bolshevik demonstration,
while at the same time "congratulating the Revolutionary Democracy
of Petrograd, which had proved its intense interest in international
politics by meetings, resolutions and demonstrations."

Lenin was planning another armed demonstration on a large scale on June
10th during the Congress of the Soviets; but it was countermanded, as
the great majority of the Congress was opposed to it. The demonstration
was likewise intended as a means of seizing power. This internal
struggle between the two wings of the Revolutionary Democracy, which
were bitterly antagonistic to one another, is extremely interesting.
The Left wing made every endeavour to induce the "Defensist" block,
which was preponderant, to break with the Bourgeoisie and to assume
power. The block was also resolutely opposed to such a course.

Within the Soviets new combinations were coming into being. On certain
questions the Social Revolutionaries of the Left and the Social
Democrats--Internationalists--were leaning towards the Bolsheviks.
Nevertheless, until September the Bolsheviks were not in a majority
in the Petrograd Soviet or in many provincial Soviets. It was only on
September 25th that Bronstein Trotsky succeeded Tchkeidze as Chairman
of the Petrograd Soviet. The motto, "All Power to the Soviets,"
sounded from their lips like self-sacrifice or provocation. Trotsky
explained this contradiction by saying that, owing to constant
re-elections, the Soviets reflected the true (?) spirit of the masses
of workmen and soldiers, who were leaning to the Left, whereas, after
the break with the Bourgeoisie, extremist tendencies were bound to
prevail in the Soviets. As the true aspect of Bolshevism gradually
revealed itself these dissensions deepened, and were not limited to
the Social Democratic programme or to party tactics. It was a struggle
between Democracy and the Proletariat, between the majority and a
minority, which was intellectually backward, but strong in its mutinous
daring and headed by strong and unprincipled men. It was a struggle
between the democratic principles of Universal Suffrage, political
liberties, equality, etc., and the dictatorship of a privileged class,
madness, and imminent slavery. On the 2nd July there was a second
Ministerial crisis, for which the outward cause was the disapproval
of the Liberal Ministers of the Act of Ukrainian Autonomy. On July
3rd-5th the Bolsheviks made another riot in the Capital, in which
workmen, soldiers and sailors participated. It was done this time on
a large scale, and was accompanied by plunder and murder. There were
many victims, and the Government was in great difficulty. Kerensky
was at that time visiting us on the Western Front. His conversations
with Petrograd over the direct wire indicated that Prince Lvov and
the Government were deeply depressed. Prince Lvov summoned Kerensky
to return to Petrograd at once, but warned him that he could not
be responsible for his safety. The rebels demanded that the Soviet
and the Central Executive Committee of the Congress should assume
power. These wings of the Revolutionary Democracy returned another
categorical refusal. The movement found no support in the provinces,
and the mutiny was quelled chiefly by the Vladimir military school and
the Cossack regiments. Several companies of the Petrograd garrison
likewise remained loyal. Bronstein Trotsky wrote that the movement was
premature because there were too many passive and irresolute elements
in the garrison; but that it had nevertheless been proved that, "except
the cadets, no one wanted to fight against the Bolsheviks _for the
Government and for the leading parties in the Soviet_."

The tragedy of the Government headed by Kerensky, and of the Soviet,
lay in the fact that the masses would not follow abstract watchwords.
They proved equally indifferent to the country and to the Revolution,
as well as to the International, and had no intention of shedding their
blood and sacrificing their lives for any of these ideas. The crowd
followed those who gave practical promises and flattered its instincts.

       *       *       *       *       *

When we speak of "power," with reference to the first period of the
Russian Revolution, we actually mean only its outward forms; for under
the exceptional conditions imposed by a World War on a scale unequalled
in history, when 20 per cent. of the entire male population was under
arms, the power was really concentrated in the hands of the Army. That
Army had been led astray, had been demoralised by false doctrines, had
lost all sense of duty, and all fear of authority. Last, but not least,
it had no leader. The Government, Kerensky, the Commanding Corps, the
Soviet, Regimental Committees--for many reasons none of these could
claim that title. The dissensions between all these contending forces
were reflected in the minds of the men, and hastened the ruin of the
Army. It is useless to make any surmises which cannot be proved by
realities, especially in the absence of historical perspective; but
there can be no doubt the question, whether or not it would have been
possible to erect a dam which would have stemmed the tide and preserved
discipline in the Army, will continue to arouse attention. Personally,
I believe that it was possible. At first the Supreme Command might have
done it, as well as the Government, had it shown sufficient resolve to
squash the Soviets or sufficient strength and wisdom to draw them into
the orbit of statesmanship and of truly democratic constructive work.

There can be no doubt that, in the beginning of the Revolution, the
Government was recognised by all the sane elements of the population.
The High Command, the officers, many regiments, the Bourgeoisie, and
those Democratic elements which had not been led astray by militant
Socialism adhered to the Government. The Press in those days was full
of telegrams, addresses and appeals from all parts of Russia, from
various Social, Military and class organisations and institutions whose
democratic attitude was undoubted.

As the Government weakened and was driven into two successive
coalitions, that confidence correspondingly decreased and could not
find compensation in fuller recognition by the Revolutionary Democracy;
because anarchist tendencies, repudiating all authority, were gaining
ground within these circles. In the beginning of May, after the armed
rising in the streets of Petrograd, which took place without the
knowledge of the Soviet, but with the participation of its members;
after the resignation of Miliukov and Gutchkov, the complete impotence
of the Provisional Government became so clearly apparent that Prince
Lvov appealed to the Soviet, with the consent of the Duma Committee and
of the Constitutional Democratic Party. He invited "the active creative
forces of the country to participate directly in the government which
had hitherto refrained from any such participation."

After some hesitation, the Soviet deemed it necessary to accept the
offer, thereby assuming direct responsibility for the fate of the
revolution. (Four members of the Soviet accepted Ministerial posts.)
The Soviet declined to assume full power "because the transfer of
power to the Soviets in that period of the revolution would have
weakened it and would have prematurely estranged the elements capable
of serving it, which would constitute a menace to the revolution." The
impression produced by such declarations upon the Bourgeoisie and upon
the "hostages" in the Coalition Government can be imagined. Although
the Soviet expressed full confidence in the Government and appealed
to the democracy to grant it full support, which would guarantee the
authority of the Government, that Government was already irretrievably
discredited. The Socialist circles which had sent their representatives
to join it neither altered nor strengthened its intellectual level. On
the contrary, it was weakened, inasmuch as the gulf was widened which
separated the two political groups represented in the Government.
While officially expressing confidence in the Government, the Soviet
continued to undermine its power and became somewhat lukewarm towards
the Socialist Ministers, who had been compelled by circumstances to
deviate, to a certain extent, from the programme of the Socialist
party. The people and the Army did not pay much attention to these
events, as they were beginning to forget that there was any power at
all, owing to the fact that the existence of that power had no bearing
upon their everyday life.

The blood shed during the Petrograd rising organised by the
anarchist-Bolshevik section of the Soviet on July 4th-5th, Prince
Lvov's resignation, and the formation of a new coalition in which the
Socialists, nominated by the Soviet, definitely predominated were
but stepping stones towards the complete collapse of the power of
the State. As I have already said, the first Government crisis was
occasioned by events which, however important politically, were only
"excuses." In the new Coalition the Democratic Bourgeoisie played but
a secondary part, and its "temporary" assistance was only required in
order that responsibility might be shared; while everything was decided
behind the curtain, in the circles closely connected with the Soviet.
Such a coalition could have no vitality and could not reconcile even
the opportunist elements of the Bourgeoisie with the Revolutionary
Democracy. Apart from political and social considerations, the relative
strength of the forces which were brought into play was influenced
by the growing discontent of the masses with the activities of the
Government owing to the general condition of the country. The masses
accepted the revolution not as an arduous, transitory period, linked
up with the past and present political development of Russia and of
the world, but as an independent reality of the day, carrying in its
trail real calamities such as the War, banditism, lawlessness, stoppage
of industry, cold and hunger. The masses were unable to grasp the
situation in its complex entirety and could not differentiate between
elemental, inevitable phenomena inherent in all revolutions and the
will for good or evil of departments of the Government, institutions
or individuals. They felt that the situation was intolerable and tried
to find a remedy. As a result of the universal recognition of the
impotence of the existing power, a new idea began to occupy the minds
of the people:

                            A DICTATORSHIP.

I emphatically declare that in the social and military circles with
which I was in touch the tendency towards a dictatorship was prompted
by a patriotic and clear consciousness of the abyss into which the
Russian people was rapidly sinking. _It was not in the slightest
degree inspired by any reactionary or counter-revolutionary motives._
There can be no doubt that the movement found adherents among the
reactionaries and among mere opportunists; but both these elements
were accessory and insignificant. Kerensky thus interpreted the rise
of the movement which he described as "the tide of conspiracy": "The
Tarnopol defeat created a movement in favour of conspiracies, while the
Bolshevik rising of July demonstrated to the uninitiated the _depth of
the disruption of Democracy, the impotence of the revolution_ against
anarchy, as well as the strength of the organised minority which acted
spontaneously." It would be difficult to find a better excuse for the
movement. In the atmosphere of popular discontent, universal disorder
and approaching anarchy, endeavours at creating a dictatorship were the
natural outcome of the existing conditions. These endeavours had their
origin in a search for a _strong national and democratic power, but not
a reactionary one_.

On the whole the Revolutionary Democracy lived in an atmosphere
poisoned by the fear of a counter-revolution. All its cares, measures,
resolutions and appeals, as well as the disruption of the Army and the
abolition of the police in the villages, tended towards a struggle with
this imaginary foe, which was supposed to menace the conquests of the
revolution. Were the conscious leaders of the Soviet really convinced
that such a danger existed, or were they fanning this unfounded fear
as a tactical move? I am inclined to accept the second solution,
because it was quite obvious, not only to myself, but to the Soviet
as well, that the activities of the Democratic Bourgeoisie meant not
counter-revolution, but merely opposition. And yet in the Russian
partisan press and in wide circles outside Russia it is precisely
in the former sense that the pre-November period of the Revolution
was interpreted. The Provisional Government proclaimed a broad,
Democratic programme upon its formation. In the circles of the Right
this programme was criticised and there was discontent; but no active
opposition. In the first four or five months after the beginning of
the Revolution there was not a single important counter-revolutionary
organisation in the country. These organisations became more or less
active and other secret circles, especially officers' circles, were
formed in July in connection with the plans for a Dictatorship. There
can be no doubt that many people with pronounced tendencies towards a
restoration joined these circles. But their main object was to combat
the unofficial government, which was a class government, as well as
the personnel of the Soviet and the Executive Committee. Had these
circles not collapsed prematurely owing to their weakness, numerical
insignificance and lack of organisation, some of the members of
those institutions might very possibly have been destroyed. While
constantly resisting counter-revolution from the Right, the Soviet gave
every opportunity for the preparations for a real counter-revolution
emanating from its own midst, from the Bolsheviks.

I remember that different persons who came to the Stavka began to
discuss the question of a dictatorship and to throw out feelers, as it
were, approximately in the beginning of June. All these conversations
were stereotyped to such an extent that I have no difficulty in
summarising them.

"Russia is moving towards inevitable ruin. The Government is utterly
powerless. We must have a strong power. Sooner or later we shall have
to come to a Dictatorship."

Nobody mentioned restoration or a change of policy in a reactionary
direction. The names were mentioned of Kornilov and Brussilov. I
warned them against hasty decisions. I must confess that we still
entertained the illusory hope that the Government--by internal
evolution, under the influence of a new, armed demonstration on the
part of the anti-National extremist elements towards which they were so
lenient--would realise the futility and hopelessness of continuing in
their present position and would come to the idea of power vested in
one man, which might be achieved in a constitutional manner. The future
seemed pregnant with disaster in the absence of a truly lawful power.
I pointed out that there were no military leaders enjoying sufficient
authority with the demoralised soldiery, but that if a military
dictatorship should become necessary for the State and practicable,
Kornilov was already very much respected by the officers, whereas
Brussilov's reputation had been injured by his opportunism.

In his book Kerensky says that "Cossack circles and certain politicians"
had suggested repeatedly to him that the impotent Government should
be replaced by a personal dictatorship. It was only when society was
disappointed in him as the "possible organiser and chief agent for
altering the system of Government" that "a search began for another
individual."

There can be no doubt that the men and social circles that appealed to
Kerensky in the question of a dictatorship were not his apologists and
did not belong to the "Revolutionary Democracy," but the mere fact of
their appeal is sufficient proof that their motives could not have been
reactionary, and that it reflected the sincere desire of the Russian
patriotic elements to see a strong man at the helm in days of storm and
strife.

Perhaps there may also have been another motive; there had been a short
period, approximately in June, when not only the Russian public, but
also the officers had succumbed to the charm of the War Minister's
impassioned oratory and pathos. The Russian officers, who were being
sacrificed wholesale, had forgotten and forgiven and were desperately
hoping that he would save the Russian Army. And their promise to die in
the front line was by no means an empty one. During Kerensky's visits
to the front, it was a painful sight to see these doomed men, their
eyes shining with exaltation, and their hearts beating with hope, a
hope that was destined to be so bitterly and mercilessly disappointed.

It is to be noted that Kerensky, seeking in his book to justify the
temporary "concentration of power" which he assumed on August 27th,
says: "In the struggle against the conspiracy conducted by a single
will, the State was compelled to set against it a will capable of
resolute and quick action. No collective power, much less a Coalition,
can possess such a single will."

I think that the internal condition of the Russian State threatened
with a monstrous joint conspiracy of the German General Staff and
the anti-national and anti-constitutional elements of the Russian
exiles was sufficiently grave to warrant the demand for a strong power
"capable of resolute and quick action."



CHAPTER XII.

    THE ACTIVITIES OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT--INTERNAL POLITICS,
    CIVIL ADMINISTRATION--THE TOWN, THE VILLAGE AND THE AGRARIAN
    PROBLEM.


I will deal in this and in the subsequent chapters with the internal
condition of Russia in the first period of the Revolution only in
so far as it affected the conduct of the World War. I have already
mentioned the duality of the Supreme Administration of the country and
the incessant pressure of the Soviet upon the Provisional Government. A
member of the Duma, Mr. Shulgin, wittily remarked: "The old régime is
interned in the fortress of Peter and Paul, and the new one is under
domiciliary arrest." The Provisional Government did not represent the
people as a whole; it could not and would not forestall the will of
the Constituent Assembly by introducing reforms which would shake the
political and social structure of the State to its very foundations.
It proclaimed that "not violence and compulsion, but the voluntary
obedience of free citizens to the power which they had themselves
created, constituted the foundation of the new administration of the
State. Not a single drop of blood has been shed by the Provisional
Government which has erected no barrier against the free expression
of public opinion...." This non-resistance to evil at the moment when
a fierce struggle, unfettered by moral or patriotic considerations,
was being conducted by some groups of the population for motives of
self-preservation and by others for the attainment by violence of
extreme demands, was undoubtedly a confession of impotence. In the
subsequent declarations of the second and third Coalition Governments
mention was made "of stringent measures" against the forces of
disorganisation in the country. These words, however, were never
translated into deeds.

The idea of not forestalling the will of the Constituent Assembly was
not carried out by the Government, especially in the domain of national
self-determination. The Government proclaimed the independence of
Poland, but made "the consent to such alterations of the territory of
the Russian State as may be necessary for the creation of independent
Poland" dependent upon the All-Russian Constituent Assembly. That
proclamation, the legal validity of which is contestable, was, however,
in full accord with the juridical standpoint of society. With regard to
Finland, the Government did not alter her legal status towards Russia,
but confirmed the rights and privileges of the country, cancelled all
the limitations of the Finnish Constitution and intended to convoke
the Finnish Chamber ("Seim") that was to confirm the new constitution
of the Principality. The Government subsequently adhered to their
intention to entertain favourably all the just demands of the Finns for
local reconstruction. Nevertheless, both the Provisional Government and
Finland were engaged in a protracted struggle for power on account of
the universal desire for the immediate satisfaction of the interests
of the separate nationalities. On July 6th the Finnish Assembly passed
a law (by the majority of Social-Democratic votes) proclaiming the
assumption by that body of supreme power after the abdication "of
the Finnish Grand-Duke" (the official title of the Russian Emperor).
Only foreign affairs, military legislation and administration were
left to the Provisional Government. This decision corresponded to a
certain degree with the resolution of the Congress of Soviets, which
demanded that full independence should be granted to Finland before
the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, with the above-mentioned
restrictions. The Russian Government answered this declaration of
the actual independence of Finland by dissolving the Assembly, which
met, however, once again in September of its own free will. In this
struggle, the intensity of which varied according to the rise and fall
of the political barometer in Petrograd, the Finnish politicians,
disregarding the interests of the State and having no support
whatsoever in the Army, counted exclusively upon the loyalty or, to
be more correct, the weakness of the Provisional Government. Matters
never reached the stage of open rebellion. The conscious elements of
the population kept the country within the limits of reasonableness,
not out of loyalty, but perhaps because they feared the consequences
of civil war and especially of the sabotage in which the licentious
soldiers and sailors would have presumably indulged.

May and June were spent in a struggle for power between the Government
and the self-appointed Central Rada (Assembly). The All-Ukrainian
Military Congress, also convened arbitrarily on June 8th, demanded
that the Government should immediately comply with all the demands
of the Central Rada and the Congresses, and suggested that the Rada
should cease to address the Government, but should begin at once
to organise the autonomous administration of the Ukraine. On June
11th the autonomous Constitution of the Ukraine was adopted and a
Secretariat (Council of Ministers) formed under the chairmanship
of Mr. Vinnichenko. After the Government envoys--the Ministers
Kerensky, Tereschenko and Tzeretelli--had negotiated with the Rada, a
proclamation was issued on July 2nd, which forestalled the decision of
the Constituent Assembly and proclaimed the autonomy of the Ukraine
with certain restrictions. The Central Rada and the Secretariat were
gradually seizing the administration, creating a dual power on the spot
and discrediting the All-Russian Government. They thus provoked civil
strife and provided moral excuses for every endeavor to shirk civic
and military duties to the common Mother Country. The Central Rada,
moreover, contained from the outset sympathisers with Germany and was
undoubtedly connected through the "Union for the Liberation of the
Ukraine" with the headquarters of the Central Powers. Bearing in mind
the ample material collected by the Stavka, Vinnichenko's half-hearted
confession to a French correspondent (?) with regard to Germanophil
tendencies in the Rada, and finally the report of the Procurator of the
Kiev Court of Appeal at the end of August, 1917, I cannot doubt that
the Rada played a criminal part. The Procurator complained that the
complete destruction of the machinery of intelligence and of criminal
investigation deprived the Government prosecutors of the possibility
of investigating the situation; he said that not only German espionage
and propaganda, but the mutinies of the Ukrainian troops, as well as
the destination of obscure funds of undoubted Austro-German origin ...
could be traced to the Rada.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Ministry of the Interior, which, in the old days, practically
controlled the Autocracy and provoked universal hatred, now went to the
other extreme. It all but abolished itself, and the functions of that
branch of the administration were divided among local, self-appointed
organisations. The history of the organs of the Ministry of the
Interior is, in many ways, similar to the fate of the Supreme Command.
On March 5th the Minister-President issued an order for the suppression
of the offices of Governor and of Inspector of Police ("Ispravnik"),
which were to be replaced by the presidents of the Provincial and
District self-governing Councils ("Oupravas"), and for the police
to be replaced by a militia organised by Social Institutions. This
measure, adopted owing to the universal dislike for the agents of
the old régime, was, in fact, the only actual manifestation of the
Government's will; because the status of the Commissars was not
established by law until the month of September. The instructions and
orders of the Government were, on the whole, of an academic nature,
because life followed its own course, and was regulated, or, to be more
correct, muddled up, by local revolutionary changes of the law. The
office of Government Commissars became a sinecure from the very outset.
They had no power or authority, and became entirely dependent upon
revolutionary organisations. When the latter passed a vote of censure
upon the activities of a Commissar, he could practically do nothing
more. The organisations elected a new one, and his confirmation in
office by the Provisional Government was a mere formality. In the first
six weeks seventeen Provincial Commissars and a great many District
Commissars were thus removed. Later, in July, Tzeretelli, during his
tenure of the office of Minister of the Interior, which lasted for a
fortnight, gave official sanction to this procedure and sent a circular
to the Local Soviets and Committees, inviting them to send in to him
the names of desirable candidates, which were to replace the unsuitable
ones. Thus there remained no representatives of the Central power on
the spot. In the beginning of the Revolution the so-called "Social
Committees" or "Soviets of Social Organisation" really represented
a social Institution comprising the union of towns and _Zemstvos_,
of Municipal Dumas, professional Unions, Co-operatives, Magistrates,
etc. Things went from bad to worse when these Social Committees were
dissolved into class and party organisations. Local power passed into
the hands of the Soviets of Workmen and Soldiers and in places before
the law had been produced to "democratised" Socialistic Dumas, closely
reminiscent of semi-Bolshevik Soviets.

The regulations issued by the Government on April 15th, on the
organisation of Municipal Self-Government, comprised the following main
points:

    (1) All citizens of both sexes, having attained the age of twenty,
    were given the suffrage in the town.

    (2) No domiciliary qualification was established.

    (3) A proportional system of elections was introduced.

    (4) The Military were given the suffrage in the localities in which
    the respective garrisons were quartered.

I will not examine in detail these regulations, which are probably the
most Democratic ever known in Municipal Law, because the experience
gained in their application was too short to afford any ground for
discussion. I will only note one phenomenon which accompanied the
introduction of these regulations in the autumn of 1917. The free vote
in many places became a mockery. Throughout the length and breadth of
Russia, all the non-Socialist and politically neutral parties were
under suspicion and were subjected to persecution. They were not
allowed to conduct propaganda, and their meetings were dispersed.
Electioneering was characterised by blatant abuses. Occasionally
election agents were subjected to violence and lists of candidates
destroyed. At the same time the licentious and demoralised soldiery
of many garrisons--chance guests in the town in which, as often as
not, they had only appeared a day or two before--rushed to the polls
and presented lists drawn up by the extreme Anti-National parties.
There were cases when military units, arriving after the elections,
demanded a re-election and accompanied this demand by threats and
sometimes murders. There can be no doubt that, among the circumstances
that affected the August elections in Petrograd to the Municipal Duma,
to which sixty-seven Bolsheviks out of two hundred were elected, the
presence in the Capital of numerous demoralised garrisons was not the
least important. The authorities were silent because they were absent.
The _Petite Bourgeoisie_, the intellectual workers, in a word, the Town
Democracy in the widest sense, was the weakest party and was always
defeated in that Revolutionary struggle. The mutinies, rebellions,
and separations of various Republics--the precursors of the bloody
Soviet Régime--had the most painful effect on the life of that portion
of the community. The "self-determination" of the soldiers caused
uneasiness and even fear of unrestricted violence. Even travelling
was unsafe and difficult, because the railways fell into the hands of
deserters. The "self-determination" of the workmen resulted in the
impossibility of obtaining supplies of the most necessary commodities,
owing to a tremendous rise in prices. The "self-determination" of the
villages produced a stoppage of supplies, and the villages were thus
left to starve; not to mention the moral ordeal of the class which was
subjected to insults and degradation. The Revolution had raised hopes
for the betterment of the conditions of life for everyone except the
_Bourgeois_ Democracy, because even the moral conquests proclaimed
by the new Revolutionary power--liberty of speech, of the Press and
of meetings, etc.--soon belonged exclusively to the Revolutionary
Democracy. The upper _Bourgeoisie_ (intellectually superior) was
organised to a certain extent by means of the Constitutional Democratic
Party, but the _Petite Bourgeoisie_ (the _Bourgeois_ Democracy) had
no organisation whatsoever and no means for an organised struggle.
The Democratic Municipalities were losing their true Democratic
aspect--not as a result of the new Municipal law, but of Revolutionary
practice--and became mere class organs of the Proletariat, or the
representatives of purely Socialistic parties, completely out of touch
with the people.

Self-government in the districts and in the villages in the first
period of the Revolution was of more or less the same nature. Towards
the autumn there should have been a Democratic system of _Zemstvo_
Administration, on the same basis as that in the municipalities.
The District (Volost) _Zemstvo_ was to undertake the administration
of local agriculture, education, order and safety. As a matter
of fact, the villages were administered--if such a word can be
applied to Anarchy--by a complex agglomeration of revolutionary
organisations, such as peasant Congresses, Supply and Land Committees,
Popular Soviets, Village Councils, etc. Very often another peculiar
organisation--that of the deserters--dominated them all. At any rate,
the All-Russian Union of Peasants agreed with the following declaration
made by the left wing: "All our work for the organisation of various
Committees will be of no avail if these Social Organisations are to
remain under the constant threat of being terrorised by accidental
armed bands."

The only question that deeply perturbed the minds of the peasantry
and overshadowed all other events, was the old, painful, traditional
question:


THE QUESTION OF THE LAND.

It was an exceptionally complex and tangled question. It arose more
than once in the shape of fruitless mutinies, which were ruthlessly
suppressed. The wave of agrarian troubles which swept over Russia in
the years of the First Revolution (1905-6) and left a trail of fire
and ruined estates was an indication of the consequences that were
bound to follow the Revolution of 1917. It is difficult to form an
exhaustive idea of the motives which prompted the land-owners to defend
their rights so stubbornly and so energetically: was it atavism, a
natural yearning for the land, statesmanlike considerations as to the
desirability of increasing the productivity of the land by introducing
higher methods of agriculture, a desire to maintain a direct influence
over the people, or was it merely selfishness?... One thing is
certain--the agrarian reforms were overdue. Retribution could not fail
to overtake the Government and the Ruling Classes for the long years of
poverty, oppression, and, what is most important, the incredible moral
and intellectual darkness in which the peasant masses were kept, their
education being entirely neglected.

The peasants demanded that all land should be surrendered to them, and
would not wait for the decision of the Central Land Committee or of the
Constituent Assembly. This impatience was undoubtedly due, to a great
extent, to the weakness of the Government and to outside influences,
which will be described later. There was no divergence of opinion as
to the fundamental idea of the reforms. The Liberal Democracy and
the _Bourgeoisie_, the Revolutionary Democracy and the Provisional
Government, all spoke quite definitely about "handing the land over to
the workers." With the same unanimity these elements favoured the idea
of leaving the final decision on the reform of the land and legislation
on the subject to the Constituent Assembly. This irreconcilable
divergence of opinion arose by reason of the very essence of land
reform. Liberal circles in Russia stood for the private ownership of
the land--an idea which found increasing favour with the peasants--and
demanded that the peasants should receive allotments rather than that
the land should be entirely redistributed. On the other hand, the
Revolutionary Democracy advocated, at all meetings of every party,
class and profession, the adoption of the Resolution of the All-Russian
Congress of Peasants, which was passed on May 25th, with the approval
of the Minister Tchernov on "the transfer of all lands ... _to the
people as a whole, as their patrimony, on the basis of equal possession
without any payment_." The peasants did not or would not understand
this Social Revolutionary Resolution, which caused dissensions. The
peasants were private owners by nature and could not understand the
principle of nationalisation. The principle of equal possession meant
that many millions of peasants, whose allotments were larger than the
normal, would lose their surplus allotments, and the whole question
of the redistribution of the land would lead to endless civil war;
because there were innumerable peasants who had no land at all, and
only 45,000,000 dessiatines of arable land which did not belong to the
peasants to divide among 20,000,000 peasant households.

The Provisional Government did not consider itself entitled to solve
the land problem. Under the pressure of the masses, it transferred
its rights partly to the Ministry of Agriculture, partly to the
Central Land Committee, which was organised on the basis of broad,
democratic representation. The latter was entrusted with the task of
collecting data and of drawing up a scheme of land reform, as well
as of regulating the existing conditions with regard to the land. In
practice, the use of the land transfer, rent, employment of labour,
etc., were dealt with by the Local Land Committees. These bodies
contained illiterate elements--the intellectuals as a rule were
excluded--which had selfish motives and had no perception either of the
extent or of the limits of their powers. The Central Representative
Institutions and the Ministry of Agriculture, under Tchernov, issued
appeals against arbitrariness and for the preservation of the land,
pending the decision of the Constituent Assembly. At the same time
they overtly encouraged "temporary possession of the land," as seizure
of the land was then described, on the excuse that the Government
were obliged to sell as much land as possible. The propaganda that
was conducted on a large scale in the villages by irresponsible
representatives of Socialist and Anarchist circles completed Tchernov's
work.

The results of this policy were soon apparent. In one of his circulars
to Provincial Commissars, the Minister of the Interior, Tzeretelli,
admitted that complete anarchy reigned in the villages: "Land is being
seized and sold, agricultural labourers are forced to stop working, and
landowners are faced with demands which are economically impossible.
Breeding stock is being destroyed and implements plundered. Model farms
are being ruined. Forests are being cut down irrespective of ownership,
timber and logs are being stolen, and their shipment prevented. No
sowing is done on privately-owned farms, and harvests of grain and hay
are not reaped." The Minister accused the Local Committees and the
Peasant Congresses of organising arbitrary seizures of the land, and
came to the conclusion that the existing conditions of agriculture and
forestry "would inevitably bring about endless calamities for the Army
and the country, and threatened the very existence of the State." If
we recall the fires, the murders, the lynchings, the destruction of
estates, which were often filled with treasures of great historical
and artistic value, we shall have a true picture of the life of the
villages in those days.

The question of the ownership of the land by the landlords was thus
not merely a matter of selfish class interest, all the more as, not
only the landlords but the wealthy peasants were subjected to violence
by order of the Committees, and in spite of them. One village rose
against another. It was not a question of the transfer of riches
from one class or individual to another, but of the destruction of
treasures, of agriculture, and of the economic stability of the State.
The instincts of proprietorship inherent in the peasantry irresistibly
grew as these seizures and partitions took place. The mental attitude
of the peasantry upset all the plans of the Revolutionary Democracy.
By converting the peasants into a _Petite Bourgeoisie_, it threatened
to postpone to an indefinite date the triumph of Socialism. The
villagers were obsessed by the idea of land distribution and by
their own interests, and were not in the least concerned with the
War, with politics, or with social questions which did not directly
affect them. The workers of the village were being killed and maimed
at the front, and the village, therefore, considered the War as a
burden. The authorities disallowed seizures of the land and imposed
restrictions in the shape of monopolies and fixed prices for corn. The
peasantry, therefore, bore a grudge against the Government. The towns
ceased to supply manufactured goods and the villages were estranged
from the towns and ceased to supply them with grain. This was the only
real "conquest" made by the Revolution, and those who profited by it
grew very anxious as to the attitude of future Governments towards
the arbitrary solution of the land question. They therefore actively
encouraged anarchy in the villages, condoned seizures and undermined
the authority of the Provisional Government. By this means they hoped
to bring the peasants over to their side as supporters, or, at least,
as a neutral element, in the impending decisive struggle for power.

       *       *       *       *       *

The abolition of the police by the order issued on April 17th was one
of the acts of the Government which seriously complicated the normal
course of life. In reality, this act only confirmed the conditions
which had arisen almost everywhere in the first days of the Revolution,
and were directly due to the wrath of the people against the Executive
of the old regime, and especially of those who had been oppressed and
persecuted by the police and had suddenly found themselves on the crest
of the wave. It would be a hopeless task to defend the Russian police
as an institution. It could only be considered good by comparing it
with the militia and with the Extraordinary Bolshevik Commission....

In any case it would have been useless to resist the abolition of the
police, because it was a psychological necessity. There can be no
doubt that the attitude and actions of the old police were due less to
their political opinions than to the instructions of their employers
and to their own personal interests. No wonder, therefore, that the
gendarmes and the policemen, insulted and persecuted, introduced a
very bad element into the Army, into which they were subsequently
forcibly drafted. The Revolutionary Democracy, in self defence, grossly
exaggerated their counter-revolutionary activities in the Army;
nevertheless, it is absolutely true that a great many ex-officers of
the police and of the gendarmerie, partly, perhaps, from motives of
self-defence, chose for themselves a most lucrative profession--that
of the demagogue and the agitator. The fact is that the abolition of
the police in the very midst of the turmoil--when crime was on the
increase and the guarantees of public safety and of the safety of
individual property were weakened--was a real calamity. The militia,
indeed, far from being a substitute for the police, was a caricature
of them. In Western countries the police is placed as a united force
under the orders of a Department of the Central Government. The
Provisional Government placed the militia under the orders of _Zemstvo_
and Municipal Administrations. The Government Commissars were only
entitled to make use of the militia for certain definite purposes. The
cadres of the militia were filled by untrained men, devoid of technical
experience, and, as often as not, criminals. By virtue of the new
law, there were admitted to the militia persons under arrest or who
had served a term of imprisonment for comparatively grave offences.
The system of recruiting practised by some forcibly "democratised"
_Zemstvo_ and Municipal institutions tended quite as much as the new
law towards the deterioration of the personnel of the militia.

The Chief of the Central Administration of the Militia himself admitted
that escaped convicts were sometimes placed in command of the militia.
The villages were sometimes without any militia at all, and they
administered themselves as best they could.

In its proclamation of April 25th the Provisional Government gave
an accurate description of the condition of the country in stating
that "the growth of new social ties was slower than the process of
disruption caused by the collapse of the old régime." In every feature
of the life of the people this fact was clearly to be observed.



CHAPTER XIII.

    THE ACTIVITIES OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT: FOOD SUPPLIES,
    INDUSTRY, TRANSPORT AND FINANCE.


In the early spring of 1917 the deficiency in supplies for the Army
and for the towns was rapidly growing. In one of its appeals to the
peasants the Soviet said: "The enemies of freedom, the supporters of
the deposed Czar, are taking advantage of the shortage of food in
the towns _for which they are themselves responsible_ in order to
undermine your freedom and ours. They say that the Revolution has
left the country without bread...." This simple explanation, adduced
by the Revolutionary Democracy in every crisis, was, of course,
one-sided. There was the inheritance of the old régime as well as the
inevitable consequences of three years of war, during which imports
of agricultural implements had come to a standstill, labourers were
taken from the land, and, as a result, the area under crops was
diminished. But these were not the only reasons for the food shortage
in a fertile country--a shortage which in the autumn was considered by
the Government as disastrous. The food policy of the Government and
the fluctuation of prices, the depreciation of the currency and a rise
in the price of commodities entirely out of proportion to the fixed
prices for grain also largely contributed to this result. This rise
in prices was due to general economic conditions, and especially to a
very rapid rise in wages; to the agrarian policy of the Government, the
inadequacy of the area under crops, to the turmoil in the villages,
and to the breakdown of transport. Private trade was abolished and
the entire matter of food supplies was handed over to Food Supply
Committees--undoubtedly democratic in character, but, with the
exception of the representatives of the Co-operatives, inexperienced
and devoid of a creative spirit. There are many more reasons, great and
small, which may be included in the formula: The Old Régime, the War
and the Revolution.

On March 29th the Provisional Government introduced the grain monopoly.
The entire surplus of grain, excluding normal supplies, seed corn and
fodder, reverted to the State. At the same time the Government once
again raised the fixed price of grain, and promised to introduce fixed
prices for all necessary commodities, such as iron, textiles, leather,
kerosine oil, etc. This last measure, which was universally recognised
as just, and to which the Minister of Supplies attributed a very great
importance, proved impossible of application owing to the confused
condition of the country. Russia was covered by a huge network of Food
Supply Institutions, which cost 500,000,000 roubles a year, but could
not cope with their work. The villages, on the other hand, had ceased
to pay taxes and rents, were flooded with paper money, for which they
could get no equivalent in manufactured goods, and were by no means
anxious to supply grain. Propaganda and appeals were of no avail, and,
as often as not, force had to be applied.

In its Proclamation of August 29th the Government admitted that the
Country was in a desperate position; the Government stores were
emptying; towns, provinces, and armies at the Front were in dire
need of bread, _although, in fact, there was sufficient bread in
the country_. Some had not delivered last year's harvest; some were
agitating and preventing others from doing their duty. In order to
avert grave danger, the Government once more raised the fixed prices
and threatened to apply stringent measures against the offenders, and
to regulate prices and the distribution of articles required by the
villages. But the vicious circle of conflicting political, social and
class interests was narrowing, like to a tight noose, round the neck of
the Government, paralysing its will-power and energy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The condition of industry was no less acute, and it was steadily
falling into ruin. Here, as in the matter of supplies, the calamity
cannot be ascribed to one set of causes, as happened when the employers
and the workmen levelled accusations against one another. The former
were charged with taking excessive profits and having recourse to
sabotage in order to upset the Revolution, while the latter were
blamed for slackness and greed and for deriving selfish gains from the
Revolution. The causes may be divided into three categories.

Owing to various political and economic reasons and to the fact
that the old Government did not devote sufficient attention to the
development of the natural resources of the country, our industries
were not placed on a solid basis, and were to a great extent dependent
upon foreign markets even for such material as might easily have been
found in Russia. Thus in 1912 there was a serious shortage of pig-iron,
and in 1913 of fuel. From 1908 to 1913 imports of metals from abroad
rose from 29 to 34 per cent. Before the War we imported 48 per cent.
of cotton. We needed 2,750,000 pouds[18] of wool from abroad out of a
total of the 5,000,000 pouds produced.

The War unquestionably affected industry very deeply. Normal imports
came to a standstill. The mines of Dombrovsk were lost. Owing to
strategical requirements, transport was weakened, supplies of fuel and
of raw materials diminished. Most of the factories had to work for
the Army, and their personnel was curtailed by mobilisations. From an
economic point of view, the militarisation of industry was a heavy
burden for the population, because, according to the estimates made
by one of the Ministers, the Army absorbed 40 to 50 per cent. of the
total of goods produced by the country. Finally, the War widened the
gulf between the employers and the workmen, as the former made immense
profits, whereas the latter were impoverished, and their condition was
further aggravated by the suspension of certain professional guarantees
on account of the War by the fact that certain categories of workmen
were drafted by conscription to definite industrial concerns, and by
the general burden of inflated prices and inadequate food supplies.

Even in these abnormal circumstances Russian industries to some extent
fulfilled the requirements of the moment, but the Revolution dealt
them a death blow, which caused their gradual dislocation and ultimate
collapse. On the one hand, the Provisional Government was legislating
for the establishment of a strict Government control of the industries
of the country and for regulating them by heavily taxing profits and
excess war profits, as well as by Government distribution of fuel, raw
materials and food. The latter measure caused the trading class to be
practically eliminated and to be replaced by democratic organisations.
Whether excess profits disappeared as a result of this policy, or were
merely transferred to another class, it is not easy to decide. On the
other hand, the Government were deeply concerned with the protection
of labour, and were drafting and passing various laws concerning the
freedom of unions, labour exchanges, conciliation boards, social
insurance, etc. Unfortunately, the impatience and the desire for
"law-making" which had seized the villages were also apparent in the
factories. Heads of industrial concerns were dismissed wholesale, as
well as the administrative and technical staffs. These dismissals were
accompanied by insults and sometimes by violence, out of revenge for
past offences, real or imaginary. Some of the members of the staffs
resigned of their own accord, because they were unable to endure the
humiliating position into which they were forced by the workmen. Given
our low level of technical and educational standards, such methods
were fraught with grave danger. As in the Army, so in the factories,
Committees replaced by elections the dismissed personnel with utterly
untrained and ignorant men. Sometimes the workmen completely seized the
industrial concerns. Ignorant and unprovided with capital, they led
these concerns to ruin, and were themselves driven to unemployment and
misery. Labour discipline in the factories completely vanished, and no
means was left of exercising moral, material or judicial pressure or
compulsion. The "consciousness" alone of the workers proved inadequate.
The technical and administrative personnel which remained or was newly
elected could no longer direct the industries and enjoyed no authority,
as it was thoroughly terrorised by the workmen. Naturally, therefore,
the working hours were still further curtailed, work became careless,
and production fell to its lowest ebb. The metallurgical industries
of Moscow fell 32 per cent. and the productivity of the Petrograd
factories 20 to 40 per cent. as early as in the month of April. In
June the production of coal and the general production of the Donetz
basin fell 30 per cent. The production of oil in Baku and Grozni
also suffered. The greatest injury, however, was inflicted upon the
industries by the monstrous demands for higher wages, completely out of
proportion to the cost of living and to the productivity of labour, as
well as to the actual paying capacity of the industries. These demands
greatly exceeded all excess profits. The following figures are quoted
in a Report to the Provisional Government: In eighteen concerns in the
Donetz Basin, with a total profit of 75,000,000 roubles per annum, the
workmen demanded a wage increase of 240,000,000 roubles per annum; the
total amount of increased wages in all the mining and metallurgical
factories of the South was 800,000,000 roubles per annum. In the Urals
the total Budget was 200,000,000, while the wages rose to 300,000,000.
In the Putilov factory alone, in Petrograd, before the end of 1917, the
increase in wages amounted to 90,000,000 roubles. The wages rose from
200 to 300 per cent. The increase in the wages of the textile workers
of Moscow rose 500 per cent., as compared to 1914. The burden of these
increases naturally fell on the Government, as most of the factories
were working for the defence of the country. Owing to the condition
of industry described above, and to the psychology of the workmen,
industrial concerns collapsed, and the country experienced an acute
shortage of necessary commodities, with a corresponding increase in
prices. Hence the rise in the price of bread and the reluctance of the
villages to supply the towns.

At the same time Bolshevism introduced a permanent ferment into
the labouring masses. It flattered the lowest instincts, fanned
hatred against the wealthy classes, encouraged excessive demands,
and paralysed every endeavour of the Government and of the moderate
Democratic organisations to arrest the disruption of industry: "All
for the Proletariat and through the Proletariat...." Bolshevism held
up to the working class vivid and entrancing vistas of political
domination and economic prosperity, through the destruction of the
Capitalist régime and the transfer to the workmen of political power,
of industries, of the means of production, and of the wealth of the
country. And all this was to come at once, immediately, and not as a
result of a lengthy, social, economic process and organised struggle.
The imagination of the masses, unfettered by knowledge or by the
authority of leading professional unions, which were morally undermined
by the Bolsheviks, and were on the verge of collapse, was fired by
visions of avenging the hardships and boredom of heavy toil in the
past, and of enjoying amenities of a _Bourgeois_ existence, which they
despised and yet yearned for with equal ardour. It was "Now or Never:
All or Nothing!" As life was destroying illusions, and the implacable
law of economics was meting out the punishment of high prices, hunger
and unemployment, Bolshevism was the more convincingly insisting upon
the necessity of rebellion and explaining the causes of the calamity
and the means of averting it. The causes were: the policy of the
Provisional Government, which was trying to reintroduce enslavement by
the Bourgeoisie, the sabotage of the employers, and the connivance of
the Revolutionary Democracy, including the Mensheviks, which had sold
itself to the Bourgeoisie. The means was the transfer of power to the
Proletariat.

All these circumstances were gradually killing Russian Industry.

In spite of all these disturbances, the dislocation of industry was
not immediately felt in the Army to an appreciable degree, because
attention was concentrated upon the Army at the expense of the vital
necessities of the country itself, and also because for several months
there had been a lull at the Front. In June, 1917, therefore, we were
provided adequately, if not amply, for an important offensive. Imports
of war material through Archangel, Murmansk, and partly through
Vladivostok had increased, but had not been sufficiently developed by
reason of the natural shortcomings of maritime routes, and of the low
carrying capacity of the Siberian and of the Murmansk Railways. Only 16
per cent. of the actual needs of the Army were satisfied. The military
administration, however, clearly saw that we were living on the old
stores collected by the patriotic impulse and effort of the country in
1916. By August, 1917, the most important factories for the production
of war materials had suffered a check. The production of guns and
of shells had fallen 60 per cent., and of aircraft 80 per cent. The
possibility of continuing the War under worse material conditions
was, however, amply proved later by the Soviet Government, which had
been using the supplies available in 1917 and the remnants of Russian
Industrial production for the conduct of civil war for more than three
years. This, of course, was only possible through such an unexampled
curtailment of the consuming market that we are practically driven back
to primitive conditions of life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transport was likewise in a state of dislocation. As early as May,
1917, at the Regular Congress of Railway Representatives at the Stavka,
the opinion was expressed, and confirmed by many specialists, that,
unless the general conditions of the country changed, our railways
would come to a standstill within six months. Practice has disproved
theory. For over three years, under the impossible conditions of Civil
War and of the Bolshevik Régime, the railways have continued to work.
It is true that they did not satisfy the needs of the population
even in a small measure, but they served the strategical purposes.
That this situation cannot last, and that the entire network of the
Russian Railways is approaching its doom, is hardly open to doubt. In
the history of the disintegration of the Russian Railway System the
same conditions are traceable which I have mentioned in regard to the
Army, the villages, and especially the industries: the inheritance of
the unwise policy of the past in regard to railways, the excessive
demands of the War, the wear and tear of rolling stock, and anarchy on
the line, due to the behaviour of a licentious soldiery; the general
economic condition of the country, the shortage of rails, of metal and
of fuel; the "democratisation" of Railway Administration, in which
the power was seized by various Committees; the disorganisation of
the administrative and technical personnel, which was subjected to
persecution; the low producing power of labour and the steady growth
of the economic demands of the railway employees and workmen.

In other branches of the Administration the Government offered a
certain resistance to the systematic seizure of power by private
organisations, but in the Ministry of Railways that pernicious system
was introduced by the Government itself, in the person of the Minister
Nekrassov. He was the friend and the inspirer of Kerensky, alternately
Minister of Railways and of Finance, Assistant and Vice-President of
the Council of Ministers, Governor-General of Finland, Octobrist, Cadet
(Constitutional Democrat), and Radical Democrat, holding the scales
between the Government and the Soviet. Nekrassov was the darkest and
the most fatal figure in the Governing Circles, and left the stamp
of destruction upon everything he touched--the All-Russian Executive
Committee of the Union of Railways, the autonomy of the Ukraine, or the
Kornilov movement.

The Ministry had no economic or technical plan. As a matter of fact,
no such plan could ever be carried out, because Nekrassov decided to
introduce into the Railway Organisation, hitherto strongly disciplined,
"the new principles of Democratic Organisation, instead of the old
watchwords of compulsion and fear"(?). Soviets and Committees were
implanted upon every branch of the Railway Administration. Enormous
sums were spent upon this undertaking, and, by his famous circular of
May 27th, the Minister assigned to these organisations a very wide
scope of control and management, as well as of the "direction" which
they were henceforward entitled to give to the responsible personnel
in the Administration. Executive functions were subsequently promised
to these organisations.... "Meanwhile the Ministry of Railways and its
subordinate branches will work in strict accordance with the ideas
and wishes of the United Railway Workers." Nekrassov thus handed
over to a private organisation the most important interests of the
State--the direction of the Railway policy, the control of the Defence,
of industries, and of all other branches dependent upon the railway
system. As one of our contemporary critics has said, this measure
would have been entirely justified had the whole population of Russia
consisted of railway employees. This reform, carried out by Nekrassov
on a scale unprecedented in history, was something worse than a mere
blunder. The general trend of Ministerial policy was well understood.
In the beginning of August, at the Moscow Congress, which was turned
into a weapon for the Socialist parties of the Left, one of the leaders
declared that "the Railway Union must be fully autonomous and no
authority except that of the workers themselves should be entitled to
interfere with it." In other words, a State within a State.

Disruption ensued. A new phase of the arbitrariness of ever-changing
organisations was introduced into the strict and precise mechanism of
the railway services in the centre as well as throughout the country.
I understand the democratisation that opens to the popular masses
wide access to science, technical knowledge, and art, but I do not
understand the democratisation of these achievements of human intellect.

There followed anarchy and the collapse of Labour discipline. As early
as in July the position of the railways was rendered hopeless through
the action of the Government.

After holding the office of Minister of Railways for four months,
Nekrassov went to the Ministry of Finance, of which he was utterly
ignorant, and his successor, Yurenev, began to struggle against
the usurpation of power by the railwaymen, as he considered "the
interference of private persons and organisations with the executive
functions of the Department as a crime against the State." The struggle
was conducted by the customary methods of the Provisional Government,
and what was lost could no longer be recovered. At the Moscow Congress
the President of the Union of the Railwaymen, fully conscious of its
power, said that the struggle against democratic organisations was a
manifestation of counter-Revolution, that the Union would use every
weapon in order to counteract these endeavours, and "would be strong
enough to slay this counter-Revolutionary hydra." As is well known, the
All-Russian Executive Committee of the Union of Railways subsequently
became a political organisation pure and simple, and betrayed
Kornilov to Kerensky and Kerensky to Lenin. With a zeal worthy of the
secret police of the old régime, it hunted out Kornilov's followers,
and finally met an inglorious end in the clutches of Bolshevik
Centralisation.

       *       *       *       *       *

We now come to another element in the life of the State--Finance. Every
normal financial system is dependent upon a series of conditions:
general political conditions, offering a guarantee of the external
and internal stability of the State and of the country; strategical
conditions, defining the measure of efficiency of the National Defence;
economic conditions, such as the productivity of the country's
industries and the relation of production to consumption; the
conditions of labour, of transport, etc. The Government, the Front,
the villages, the factories, and the transport offered no necessary
guarantees, and the Ministry of Finance could but have recourse to
palliatives in order to arrest the disruption of the entire system
of the currency and the complete collapse of the Budget, pending the
restoration of comparative order in the country. According to the
accepted view, the main defects of our pre-War Budget were that it was
based upon the revenue of the spirit monopoly (800,000,000 roubles),
and that there was scarcely any direct taxation. Before the War the
Budget of Russia was about 3½ milliards of roubles; the National Debt
was about 8½ milliards, and we paid nearly 400,000,000 roubles interest
per annum; half of that sum went abroad, and was partially covered by
1½ milliards of our exports. The War and Prohibition completely upset
our Budget. Government expenses during the War reached the following
figures:

             ½ 1914     5 milliards of roubles.
               1915    12     "         "
               1916    18     "         "
 Seven months, 1917    18     "         "

The enormous deficit was partially covered by loans and by paper
currency. The expenses of the War were met, however, out of the
so-called "War Fund." At the Stavka, in accordance with the dictates
of practical wisdom, expenditure was under the full control of the
Chief-of-Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, who determined the
heads of expenditure in his Orders, schedules, and estimates.

The Revolution dealt the death-blow to our finance. As Shingarev, the
Minister of Finance, said, the Revolution "induced everyone to claim
more rights, and stifled any sense of duty. Everybody demanded higher
wages, but no one dreamt of paying taxes, and the finances of the
country were thus placed in a hopeless position." There was a real
orgy; everyone was desperately trying to grab as much as possible from
the Treasury under the guise of democratisation, taking advantage
of the impotence of the Government and of powerlessness to resist.
Even Nekrassov had the courage to declare at the Moscow Congress that
"Never in history had any Czarist Government been as generous and
prodigal as the Government of Revolutionary Russia," and that "the
new Revolutionary régime is much more expensive than the old one."
Suffice it to quote a few "astronomic" figures in order to gauge the
insuperable obstacles in the way of a reasonable Budget. The decline of
production and the excessive rise in wages resulted in the necessity
of enormous expenditure for subsidies to expiring concerns and for
overpayments for means of production. These over-payments in the
Donetz Basin alone amounted to 1,200,000,000 roubles; the increase in
the soldiers' pay, 500,000,000 roubles; railwaymen's pay, 350,000,000
roubles; Post Office employees, 60,000,000 roubles. After a month
the latter demanded another 105,000,000 roubles, while the entire
revenue of the Posts and Telegraphs was 60,000,000 roubles. The Soviet
demanded 11 milliards (in other words, nearly the total of the Budget
for 1915) for allowances to soldiers' wives, whereas only 2 milliards
had been spent till 1917 under this head. The Food Supply Committees
cost 500,000,000 roubles per annum, and the Land Committee 140,000,000
roubles, etc., etc. Meanwhile the revenue was falling steadily. Thus,
for example, the Land Tax fell 32 per cent. in the first few months of
the Revolution; the revenue from town property, 41 per cent.; the House
Tax, 43 per cent., etc. At the same time, our internal troubles caused
the depreciation of the rouble and a fall in the price of Russian
securities abroad. The Provisional Government based its financial
policy upon "reorganisation of the Financial System on democratic
lines and the direct taxation of the propertied classes" (Death
Duties, Excess Profits Taxes, Income Taxes, etc.). The Government,
however, would not adopt the measure recommended by the Revolutionary
Democracy--a compulsory loan or a high Capital Levy--a measure
distinctly tainted with Bolshevism. All these just taxes, introduced or
planned, did not suffice even partially to satisfy the growing needs of
the State. In the month of August the Finance Ministry was compelled to
increase indirect taxation on certain monopolies, such as tea, sugar,
and matches. These measures were, of course, extremely burdensome, and
therefore highly unpopular.

Expenditure was growing, revenue was not forthcoming. The Liberty Loan
was not progressing favourably, and there could be no hope for foreign
loans on account of the condition of the Russian Front. Internal loans
and Treasury Bonds yielded 9½ milliards in the first half of 1917.
Ordinary revenue was expected to yield 5,800,000,000 roubles. There
remained one weapon established by the historical tradition of every
revolution--the Printing Press.

Paper currency reached colossal proportions:

 ½ 1914   1,425,000,000 roubles.
   1915   2,612,000,000   "
   1916   3,488,000,000   "
 ½ 1917   3,990,000,000   "

According to the estimates of July, 1917, the total of paper currency
was 13,916,000,000 roubles (the gold reserve was 1,293,000,000
roubles), as against 2 milliards before the War. Four successive
Finance Ministers were unable to drag the country out of the financial
morass. This might possibly have been achieved by the awakening of the
national spirit and an understanding of the interests of the State, or
by the growth of a wise and strong power which could have dealt a final
blow to the anti-State, selfish motives of the Bourgeois elements that
based their well-being upon the War and upon the blood of the people,
as well as of the Democracy, which, in the words of Shingarev, "so
severely condemned through its representatives in the Duma the very
same poison (paper currency) which it was now drinking greedily at the
moment when that Democracy had become its own master."



CHAPTER XIV.

THE STRATEGICAL POSITION OF THE RUSSIAN FRONT.


The first and fundamental question with which I was confronted at the
Stavka was _the objective of our Front_. The condition of the enemy did
not appear to us as particularly brilliant. But I must confess that
the truth as at present revealed exceeds all our surmises, especially
according to the picture drawn by Hindenburg and Ludendorff of the
condition of Germany and of her Allies in 1917. I will not dwell
upon the respective numerical strength, armaments, and strategical
positions on the Western Front. I will only recall that in the middle
of June Hindenburg gave rather a gloomy description of the condition
of the country in his telegram to the Emperor. He said: "We are very
much perturbed by the depression of the spirits of the people. That
spirit must be raised, _or we shall lose the War_. Our Allies also
require support, lest they desert us.... Economic problems must be
solved, which are of paramount importance to our future. The question
arises--Is the Chancellor capable of solving them? A solution must be
found _or else we perish_."

The Germans were anticipating a big offensive of the British and the
French on the Western Front, where they had concentrated their main
attention and their main forces, leaving on the Eastern Front after the
Russian Revolution only such numbers as were scarcely sufficient for
defence. And yet the position on the Eastern Front continued to create
a certain nervousness at the German G.H.Q. Will the Russian people
remain steadfast, or will the Defeatist tendencies prevail? Hindenburg
wrote: "As the condition of the Russian Army prevented us from finding
a clear answer to that question, our position in regard to Russia
remained insecure."

In spite of all its defects, the Russian Army in March, 1917, was
a formidable force, with which the enemy had seriously to reckon.
Owing to the mobilisation of industry, to the activities of the
War-Industries Committees, and partly to the fact that the War
Ministry was showing increased energy, our armaments had reached
a level hitherto unknown. Also, the Allies were supplying us with
artillery and war materials through Murmansk and Archangel on a
larger scale. In the spring we had the powerful Forty-Eighth Corps--a
name under which heavy artillery of the highest calibre for special
purposes, "Taon," was concealed. In the beginning of the year the
engineering troops were reorganised and amplified. At the same time new
infantry divisions were beginning to deploy. This measure, adopted by
General Gourko during his temporary tenure of office as Chief-of-Staff
of the Supreme C.-in-C., consisted in the reduction of regiments from
four battalions to three, as well as the reduction of the number of
guns to a division. A third division was thus created in every Army
Corps, with artillery. There can be no doubt that, had this scheme been
introduced in peace-time, the Army Corps would have been more pliable
and considerably stronger. It was a risky thing to do in war-time.
Before the spring operations the old divisions were disbanded,
whereas the new ones were in a pitiable state in regard to armaments
(machine-guns, etc.), as well as technical strength and equipment. Many
of them had not been sufficiently blended together--a circumstance of
particular importance in view of the Revolution. The position was so
acute that in May the Stavka was compelled to sanction the disbanding
of those of the Third Division which should prove feeble, and to
distribute the men among units of the line. This idea, however, was
hardly ever put into practice, as it encountered strong opposition
on the part of units already disaffected by the Revolution. Another
measure which weakened the ranks of the Army was the dismissal of the
senior men in the ranks.

This decision, fraught with incalculable consequences, was taken on the
eve of a general offensive. It was due to a statement made at a Council
at the Stavka by the Minister of Agriculture (who was also in charge
of supplies) that the condition of supplies was critical, and that
he could not undertake the responsibility of feeding the Army unless
about a million men were removed from the ration list. In the debate
attention was drawn to the presence in the Army of an enormous number
of non-combatants, quite out of proportion to the numbers of fighting
men, and to the inclusion in the Army of a quantity of auxiliary
bodies, which were hardly necessary, such as of Labour Organisations,
Chinese, and other alien Labour Battalions, etc. Mention was also
made of the necessity of having a younger Army. I very much feared
this trend of mind, and gave orders to the Staff to draw up accurate
lists of all the above-named Capitalists. While this work was still
in preparation the War Minister issued, on April 5th, an Order of the
Day giving leave, in the internal districts, to soldiers over forty to
work in the fields till May 15th. Leave was afterwards extended till
June 15th, but practically hardly anyone returned. On April 10th the
Provisional Government discharged all men over forty-three. Under the
pressure of the men it became unavoidable to spread the provisions
of the first Order to the Army, which would not be reconciled to any
privileges granted to the rear. The second Order gave rise to a very
dangerous tendency, as it practically amounted to a _beginning of
demobilisation_. The elemental desire of those who had been given leave
to return to their homes could not be controlled by any regulations,
and the masses of these men, who flooded the railway stations, caused
a protracted disorganisation of the means of transport. Some regiments
formed out of Reserve battalions lost most of their men. In the rear of
the Army transport was likewise in a state of confusion. The men did
not wait to be relieved, but left the lorries and the horses to their
fate; supplies were plundered and the horses perished. The Army was
weakened as a result of these circumstances, and the preparations for
the defensive were delayed.

[Map: The Russian (European) Front in 1917.]

[Map: The Russian Caucasian Front in March 1917.]

The Russian Army occupied an enormous Front, from the Baltic to the
Black Sea and from the Black Sea to Hamadan. Sixty-eight infantry
and nine cavalry corps occupied the line. Both the importance of and
the conditions obtaining on these Fronts varied. Our Northern Front,
including Finland, the Baltic and the line of the Western Dvina, was
of great importance, as it covered the approaches to Petrograd. But
the importance at that Front was limited to defensive purposes, and
for that reason it was impossible to keep at that Front large forces
or considerable numbers of guns. The conditions of that Theatre--the
strong defensive line of the Dvina--a series of natural positions in
the rear linked up with the main positions of the Western Russian
Front, and the impossibility of any important operations in the
direction of Petrograd without taking possession of the Sea, which was
in our hands--all this would have justified us in considering that
the Front was, to a certain extent, secure, had it not been for two
circumstances, which caused the Stavka serious concern: The troops of
the Northern Front, owing to the vicinity of Revolutionary Petrograd,
were more demoralised than any other, and the Baltic Fleet and its
bases--Helsingfors and Kronstadt, of which the latter served as the
main base of Anarchism and Bolshevism--were either "autonomous" or in
a state of semi-Anarchy. While preserving to a certain degree the
outward form of discipline, the Baltic Fleet was actually in a state
of complete insubordination. The Admiral in command, Maximov, was
entirely in the hands of the Central Committee of Sailors. Not a single
order for Naval operations could be carried out without the sanction
of that Committee, not to speak of Naval actions. Even the work of
laying and repairing minefields--the main defence of the Baltic--met
with opposition from Sailors' Organisations and the crews. Not only
the general decline of discipline, but the well-planned work of the
German General Staff were quite obvious, and apprehensions were
entertained lest Naval secrets and codes be revealed to the enemy. At
the same time, the troops of the Forty-Second Corps, quartered along
the Finnish Coast and on the Monzund Islands, had been idle for a
long time and their positions scattered. With the beginning of the
Revolution they were, therefore, rapidly demoralised, and some of them
were nothing but physically and morally degenerate crowds. To relieve
or to move them was an impossibility. I recall that in May, 1917, I
made several unavailing endeavours to send an Infantry Brigade to the
Monzund Islands. Suffice it to say that the Army Corps Commander would
not make up his mind to inspect his troops and get into touch with
them--a circumstance which is typical of the troops as well as of the
personality of their Commander. In a word, the position on the Northern
Front in the spring of 1917 was the following: We received daily
reports of the Channel between the Islands of the Gulf of Riga and the
mainland being blocked with ice, and this ice appeared to be the chief
real obstacle to an invasion of the German Fleet and Expeditionary
Forces.

The Western Front extended from the Disna to the Pripet. On this long
line two sectors--Minsk-Vilna and Minsk-Baranovitchi--were of the
greatest importance to us, as they represented the two directions in
which our troops, as well as the Germans, might undertake offensive
operations, for which there had already been precedents. The other
sections of the Front, and especially the Southern--the Pollessie,
with its forests and marshes--owing to the conditions of the country
and of the railways, were passive. Along the River Pripet, its
tributaries and canals, a kind of half-peaceful intercourse with the
Germans had long since been established, as well as a secret exchange
of goods, which was of some advantage to the "Comrades." For example,
we received reports that Russian soldiers from the Line, with bags,
appeared daily in the market of Pinsk, and that their advent was for
many reasons encouraged by the German authorities. There was another
vulnerable point--the bridge-head on the Stokhod by the station,
Chrevishe-Golenin, occupied by one of the Army Corps of General Lesh.
On March 21st, after strong artillery preparation and a gas attack, the
Germans fell upon our Corps and smashed it to pieces. Our troops had
heavy casualties, and the remnants of the Corps retreated behind the
Stokhod. The Stavka did not get an accurate list of the casualties,
because it was impossible to ascertain the numbers of killed or wounded
under the head of "Missing." The German Official Communiqué gave a
list of prisoners--150 officers and about 10,000 men. Owing to the
conditions in that theatre of war, this tactical success was of no
strategical importance, and could lead to no dangerous developments.
Nevertheless, we could not but wonder at the frankness of the
cautious _Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung_, the official organ of
the German Chancellor, which wrote: "The Communiqué of the Stavka of
the Russian Supreme Command of March 29th is mistaken in interpreting
the operations undertaken by the German troops, and dictated by a
tactical necessity which had arisen only within the limits of a given
sector, was an operation of general importance." The paper knew the
facts of which we were not certain and which have now been explained
by Ludendorff. From the beginning of the Russian Revolution, Germany
had a new aim: _Unable to conduct operations on both the main Fronts,
she had decided attentively to follow and to encourage the process
of demoralisation in Russia, striking at her not by arms, but by
developing propaganda_. The battle of the Stokhod was fought on the
personal initiative of General Linsingen, and the German Government was
frightened because it considered that "at a moment when fraternisation
was proceeding at full speed" German attacks might revive the dying
flames of patriotism in Russia and postpone her collapse. The
Chancellor asked the German G.H.Q. to make as little as possible of
that success, and the G.H.Q. cancelled all further offensives "in order
not to dash the hopes for peace which were about to be realised."

Our reverse on the Stokhod produced a strong impression in the country.
It was the first fighting experience of the "Freest Revolutionary
Army in the world...." The Stavka merely gave the facts in a spirit
of impartiality. In the circles of the Revolutionary Democracy the
reverse was explained partly by the treachery of the Commanding
Officers and partly by a conspiracy to emphasise by this example the
impracticability of the new Army Regulations and the danger of the
collapse of discipline, partly by the incompetence of the military
authorities. The Moscow Soviet wrote to the Stavka accusing one of the
assistants of the War Minister who had commanded a division on that
Front of being a traitor. Others attributed our defeat solely to the
demoralisation of the troops. In reality, the reasons for the defeat
were two-fold: The _tactical_ reason--the doubtful practicability
of occupying a narrow bridge-head when the river was swollen, the
insecurity of the rear and perhaps inadequate use of the troops and of
technical means; and the _psychological_ reason, the collapse of the
_moral_ and of the discipline of the troops. The last circumstance,
apparent in the enormous number of prisoners, gave both the Russian
Stavka and Hindenburg's headquarters much food for thought.

The South-Western Front, from the Pripet to Moldavia, was the most
important, and attracted the greatest attention. From that Front,
operating lines of the highest importance led to the North-West, into
the depths of Galicia and Poland, to Cracow, Warsaw and Brest-Litovsk.
The advance along these lines was covered from the South by the
Carpathians, separated the Southern Austrian group of armies from the
Northern German, and threatened the rear and the communications of the
latter. These operating lines, upon which no serious obstacles were
encountered, led us to the Front of the Austrian troops, whose fighting
capacity was lower than the Germans. The rear of our South-Western
Front was comparatively well-organised and prosperous. The psychology
of the troops, of the Command, and of the Staffs always differed
considerably from the psychology of other Fronts. In the glorious,
but joyless, campaign only the armies of the South-Western Front had
won splendid victories, had taken hundreds of thousands of prisoners,
had made victorious progress hundreds of miles deep into the enemy
territory, and had descended into Hungary from the Carpathians. These
troops had formerly always believed in success. Brussilov, Kornilov,
Kaledin had made their reputations on that Front. Owing to all these
circumstances the South-Western Front was regarded as the natural base
and the centre of the impending operations. Consequently, troops,
technical means, the greater part of the heavy artillery ("Taon") and
munitions were concentrated at that Front. The region between the
Upper Seret and the Carpathians was, therefore, being prepared for
the offensive, _Places d'armes_ erected, roads made. Further south
there was the Roumanian Front, stretching to the Black Sea. After
the unsuccessful campaign of 1916 our troops occupied the line of
the Danube, the Seret and the Carpathians, and it was sufficiently
fortified. Part of General Averesco's Roumanian troops occupied
the Front between our Fourth and Ninth Armies, and part were being
organised under the direction of the French General, Berthelot,
assisted by Russian Gunner Instructors. The reorganisation and
formation proceeded favourably, the more so as the Roumanian soldier
is excellent war material. I became acquainted with the Roumanian
Army in November, 1916, when I was sent with the Eighth Army Corps to
Buseo, into the thick of the retreating Roumanian Armies. Curiously
enough, I was ordered to advance in the direction of Bucarest until
I came into contact with the enemy, and to cover that direction with
the assistance of the retreating Roumanian troops. For several months
I fought by Buseo, Rymnik and Fokshany, having two Roumanian Corps
at times under my command and Averesco's Army on my flank. I thus
gained a thorough knowledge of the Roumanian troops. In the beginning
of the campaign the Roumanian Army showed complete disregard of the
experience of the World War. In matters of equipment and ammunition
their levity was almost criminal. There were several capable Generals,
the officers were effeminate and inefficient, and the men were
splendid. The artillery was adequate, but the infantry was untrained.
These are the main characteristics of the Roumanian Army, which soon
afterwards acquired better organisation and improved in training and
equipment. The relations between the actual Russian Commander-in-Chief,
who was designated as the Assistant C.-in-C., and the King of Roumania,
who was nominally in Chief Command, were fairly cordial. Although the
Russian troops began to commit excesses, which had a bad effect upon
the attitude of the Roumanians, the condition of the Front did not,
however, cause serious apprehension. Owing to the general conditions at
the Theatre of War, only an advance in great strength in the direction
of Bucarest and an invasion of Transylvania could have had a political
and strategical effect. But new forces could not be moved to Roumania,
and the condition of the Roumanian Railways excluded all hope of the
possibility of transport and supplies on a large scale. The theatre,
therefore, was of secondary importance, and the troops of the Roumanian
Front were preparing for a local operation, with a view to attracting
the Austro-German forces.

The Caucasian Front was in an exceptional position. It was far distant.
For many years the Caucasian Administration and Command had enjoyed a
certain degree of autonomy. From August, 1916, the Army was commanded
by the Grand-Duke Nicholas, a man of commanding personality, who took
advantage of his position whenever there was a difference of opinion
between himself and the Stavka. Finally, the natural conditions of
the theatre of war and the peculiarities of the enemy rendered that
Front entirely different from the European. All this led to a kind
of remoteness and aloofness of the Caucasian Army and too abnormal
relations with the Stavka. General Alexeiev repeatedly stated that,
in spite of all his efforts, he was unable clearly to discern the
situation in the Caucasus. The Caucasus lived independently, and told
the Government only as much as it considered necessary; and the reports
were coloured in accordance with local interests.

In the spring of 1917 the Caucasian Army was in a difficult position,
not by reason of the strategical or fighting advantages of the
enemy--the Turkish Army was by no means a serious menace--but of
internal disorganisation. The countryside was roadless and bare. There
were no supplies or forage, and the difficulties of transport made
the life of the troops very arduous. The Army Corps on the Right Flank
was comparatively well supplied, owing to facilities for transport
across the Black Sea, but the other Army Corps, and especially those
of the Left Flank, fared very badly. Owing to geographical conditions,
light transport required an enormous number of horses, while there
was no fodder on the spot. Railways of all kinds were being built
very slowly, partly owing to a lack of railway material and partly
because that material had been wasted by the Caucasian Front upon the
Trapezund Railway, which was of secondary importance, owing to the
parallel Maritime transport. In the beginning of May General Yudenitch
reported that, owing to disease and loss of horses, transport was
completely disorganised, batteries in position had no horses, half of
the transport was non-existent, and 75,000 horses were needed. Tracks,
rolling stock and forage were urgently required. In the first half of
April 30,000 men (22 per cent.) of the Infantry of the Line had died of
typhus and scurvy. Yudenitch therefore foreshadowed the necessity of
a compulsory retreat to points of supply, the centre towards Erzerum
and the Right Flank to the frontier. The solution suggested by General
Yudenitch could not be accepted, both for moral reasons and because our
retreat would have freed Turkish troops for action on other Asiatic
Fronts. This circumstance particularly worried the British Military
Representative at the Stavka, who repeatedly conveyed to us the
desire of the British G.H.Q. that the Left Flank of our troops should
advance in the valley of the River Diala for a combined operation
with General Maude's Mesopotamian contingent against Halil Pasha's
Army. This advance was necessary to the British rather for political
considerations than for strategical requirements. The actual condition
of our Left Flank Army Corps was, moreover, truly desperate, and in
May tropical heat set in in the valley of the Diala. As a result the
Caucasian Front was unable to advance, and was ordered actively to
defend its position. The advance of the Army Corps of the Left Flank,
in contact with the British, was made conditional upon the latter
supplying the troops. As a matter of fact, in the middle of April, a
partial retreat took place in the direction of Ognot and Mush; at the
end of April the Left Flank began its fruitless advance in the valley
of the Diala, and subsequently a condition arose on the Caucasian Front
which was something between War and Peace.

In conclusion, mention must be made of another portion of the Armed
Forces of Russia in that theatre--the Black Sea Fleet. In May and in
the beginning of June serious disturbances had already occurred, which
led to the resignation of Admiral Koltchak. The Fleet, however, was
still considered strong enough to carry out its task--to hold the Black
Sea and also to blockade the Turkish and Bulgarian coasts and guard the
maritime routes to the Caucasian and Roumanian Fronts.

I have given a short summary of the conditions of the Russian
Front without indulging in a detailed examination of strategical
possibilities. Whatever our strategy during that period may have been,
it was upset by the masses of the soldiery, for from Petrograd to the
Danube and the Diala demoralisation was spreading and growing. In the
beginning of the Revolution it was impossible to gauge the extent of
its effects upon various fronts and upon future operations. But many
were those whose minds were poisoned by a suspicion as to the futility
of all our plans, calculations and efforts.



CHAPTER XV.

THE QUESTION OF THE ADVANCE OF THE RUSSIAN ARMY.


We were thus confronted with a crucial question: SHOULD THE RUSSIAN
ARMY ADVANCE?

On March 27th the Provisional Government issued a proclamation "To the
Citizens" on the subject of war aims. The Stavka could not detect any
definite instructions for governing the Russian Army in the midst of a
series of phrases in which the true meaning of the appeal was obscured
in deference to the Revolutionary Democracy. "The Defence at all costs
of our national patrimony and the liberation of the country from the
enemy who has invaded it is the first and vital aim of our soldiers,
who are defending the freedom of the people.... Free Russia does not
aim at domination over other peoples, at depriving them of _their_
national patrimony, or at the forcible seizure of foreign territories.
She aims at a lasting peace, on the basis of the self-determination
of peoples. The Russian people do not wish to increase their external
power at the expense of other peoples ... but ... will not allow their
Mother Country to come out of the great struggle downtrodden and
weakened. These principles will constitute the basis of the Foreign
Policy of the Provisional Government ... _while all the obligations to
our Allies will be respected_."

In the Note of April 18th, addressed to the Allied Powers by the
Foreign Minister, Miliukov, we find yet another definition: "The
universal desire of the people to carry the World War to a victorious
conclusion ... has grown owing to the consciousness of the common
responsibility of everyone. This desire has become more active,
because it is concentrated on the aim which is immediate and clear to
everyone--_that of repelling the enemy who has invaded the territory
of our Mother Country_." These, of course, were mere phrases, which
described the War aims in cautious, timorous and nebulous words,
allowing of any interpretation, and deprived, moreover, any foundation
in fact. The will for victory in the people and in the Army had
not only not grown, but was steadily decreasing, as a result of
weariness and waning patriotism, as well as of the intense work of
the abnormal coalition between the representatives of the extreme
elements of the Russian Revolutionary Democracy and the German
General Staff. That coalition was formed by ties which were unseen
and yet quite perceptible. I will deal with that question later, and
will only say here that the destructive work, in accordance with
the Zimmerwald programme, for ending the War began long before the
Revolution and was conducted from within as well as from without. The
Provisional Government was trying to pacify the militant element of the
Revolutionary Democracy by expounding meaningless and obscure formulas
with regard to the War aims, but it did not interfere with the Stavka
in regard to the choice of strategical means. We were, therefore, to
decide the question of the advance independently from the prevailing
currents of political opinion. The only clear and definite object upon
which the Commanding Staffs could not fail to agree was to defeat the
enemy in close union with the Allies. Otherwise our country was doomed
to destruction.

Such a decision implied an advance on a large scale because victory was
impossible without it, and a devastating war might otherwise become
protracted. The responsible organs of the Democracy, the majority of
whom had Defeatist tendencies, tried correspondingly to influence
the masses. Even the moderate Socialist circles were not altogether
free from these tendencies. The masses of the soldiery utterly failed
to understand the ideas behind of the Zimmerwald programme; but the
programme itself offered a certain justification for the elementary
feelings of self-preservation. In other words, it was a question with
them of saving their skin. The idea of an advance could not, therefore,
be particularly popular with the Army, as demoralisation was growing.
There was no certainty not only that the advance would be successful,
but even that the troops would obey the order to go forward. The
colossal Russian Front was still steady ... by the force of inertia.
The enemy feared it, as, like ourselves, he was unable to gauge its
potential strength. What if the advance were to disclose our impotence?

Such were the motives adduced against an advance. But there were
too many weighty reasons in favour of it, and these reasons were
imperative. The Central Powers had exhausted their strength, moral and
material, and their man power. If our advance in the autumn of 1916,
which had no decisive strategical results, had placed the enemy forces
in a critical position, what might not happen now, when we had become
stronger and, technically better equipped, when we had the advantage
in numbers, and the Allies were planning a decisive blow in the spring
of 1917? The Germans were awaiting the blow with feverish anxiety,
and in order to avert it they had retreated thirty miles on a front
of 100 miles between Arras and Soissons to the so-called Hindenburg
line, after causing incredibly ruthless and inexcusable devastation to
the relinquished territory. This retreat was significant, as it was
an indication of the enemy's weakness, and gave rise to great hopes.
_We had to advance._ Our intelligence service was completely destroyed
by the suspicions of the Revolutionary Democracy, which had foolishly
believed that this service was identical with the old secret police
organisation, and had therefore abolished it. Many of the delegates
of the Soviet were in touch with the German agents. The fronts were
in close contact, and espionage was rendered very easy. In these
circumstances our decision not to advance would have been undoubtedly
communicated to the enemy, who would have immediately commenced the
transference of his troops to the Western Front. This would have been
tantamount to treason to our Allies, and would have inevitably led to a
separate peace--with all its consequences--if not officially, at least
practically. The attitude of the revolutionary elements in Petrograd
in this matter was, however, so unstable that the Stavka had at first
suspected--without any real foundation--the Provisional Government
itself.

This caused the following incident: At the end of April, in the
temporary absence of the Supreme C.-in-C., the Chief of the Diplomatic
Chancery reported to me that the Allied Military Attaches were
greatly perturbed because a telegram had just been received from the
Italian Ambassador at Petrograd, in which he categorically stated
that the Provisional Government had decided to conclude a separate
peace with the Central Powers. When the receipt of a telegram had
been ascertained, I sent a telegram to the War Minister, because I
was then unaware of the fact that the Italian Embassy, owing to the
impulsiveness of its personnel, had more than once been the channel
through which false rumours had been spread. My telegram was most
emphatic, and ended thus: "Posterity will stigmatise with deep contempt
the weak-kneed, impotent, irresolute generation which was good
enough to destroy the rotten régime, but not good enough to preserve
the honour, the dignity, and the very existence of Russia." The
misunderstanding was painful indeed; the news was false, the Government
was not thinking of a separate peace. Later, at the fateful sitting of
the Conference at the Stavka of Commanders-in-Chief and members of the
Government, on July 16th, I had an opportunity of expressing my views
once more. I said: "... There is another way--the way of treason. It
would give a respite to our distressed country.... But the curse of
treachery will not give us happiness. At the end of that way there is
slavery--political, economical, and moral."

I am aware that in certain Russian circles such a straightforward
profession of moral principles in politics was afterwards condemned.
It was stated that such idealism is misplaced and pernicious, that
the interests of Russia must be considered above all "conventional
political morality."... A people, however, lives not for years, but for
centuries, and I am certain that, had we then altered the course of our
external policy, the sufferings of the Russian people would not have
been materially affected, and the gruesome, blood-stained game with
marked cards would have continued ... at the expense of the people.
The psychology of the Russian military leaders did not allow of such a
change, of such a compromise with conscience. Alexeiev and Kornilov,
abandoned by all and unsupported, continued for a long time to follow
that path, trusting and relying upon the common-sense, if not the noble
spirit, of the Allies and preferring to be betrayed rather than betray.

Was that playing the part of a Don Quixote? It may be so. But the other
policy would have had to be conducted by other hands less clean. As
regards myself, three years later, having lost all my illusions and
borne the heavy blows of fortune, having knocked against the solid
wall of the overt and blind egoism of the "friendly" powers, and
being therefore free from all obligations towards the Allies, almost
on the eve of the final betrayal by these powers of the real Russia,
I remained the convinced advocate of _honest policy_. Now the tables
are turned. At the end of April, 1920, I had to try and convince
British Members of Parliament that a healthy national policy cannot be
free from all moral principles, and that an obvious crime was being
committed because no other name could be given to the abandonment of
the armed forces of the Crimea to the discontinuance of the struggle
against Bolshevism, its introduction into the family of civilised
nations, and to its indirect recognition; that this would prolong for
a short while the days of Bolshevism in Russia, but would open wide
the gates of Europe to Bolshevism. I am firmly convinced that the
Nemesis of history will not forgive THEM, as it would not have then
forgiven us. The beginning of 1917 was a moment of acute peril for the
Central Powers and a decisive moment for the Entente. The question
of the Russian advance greatly perturbed the Allied High Command.
General Barter, the Representative of Great Britain, and General Janin,
the French Representative at Russian Headquarters, often visited the
Supreme C.-in-C. and myself, and made inquiries on the subject. But the
statements of the German Press, with reference to pressure from the
Allies and to ultimatums to the Stavka, are incorrect. These would have
simply been useless, because Janin and Barter understood the situation,
and knew that it was the condition of the Army that hindered the
beginning of the advance. They tried to hurry and to increase technical
assistance, while their more impulsive compatriots--Thomas, Henderson,
and Vandervelde--were making hopeless endeavours to fan the flame of
patriotism by their impassioned appeals to the Representatives of the
Russian Revolutionary Democracy and to the troops.

The Stavka also took into consideration the strong probability that
the Russian Army would have rapidly and finally collapsed had it
been left in a passive condition and deprived of all impulses for
active hostilities, whereas a successful advance might lift and heal
the _moral_, if not through sheer patriotism, at least through the
intoxication of a great victory. Such feelings might have counteracted
all international formulas sown by the enemy on the fertile soil of
the Defeatist tendencies of the Socialistic Party. Victory would
have given external peace, and some chance of peace within. Defeat
opened before the country an abyss. The risk was inevitable, and was
justified by the aim of saving Russia. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief,
the Quartermaster-General, and myself fully agreed as to the necessity
of an advance. And this view was shared in principle by the Senior
Commanding Officers. Different views were held on various Fronts as
to the degree of fighting capacity of the troops and as to their
preparedness. I am thoroughly convinced that the decision itself
independently of its execution rendered the Allies a great service,
because the forces, the means, and the attention of the enemy were kept
on the Russian Front, which, although it had lost its former formidable
power, still remained a potential danger to the enemy. The same
question, curiously enough, was confronting Hindenburg's Headquarters.
Ludendorff writes: "The general position in April and in May precluded
the possibility of important operations on the Eastern Front." Later,
however, "... there were great discussions on the subject at G.H.Q.
Would not a rapid advance on the Eastern Front with the available
troops, reinforced by a few divisions from the West, offer a better
chance than mere waiting? It was a most propitious moment, as some
people said, for smashing the Russian Army, when its fighting capacity
had deteriorated.... I disagreed, in spite of the fact that our
position in the West had improved. I would not do anything that might
destroy the real chances of peace." Ludendorff means, of course,
separate peace. What such a peace was to be we learnt later, at
Brest-Litovsk....

The Armies were given directions for a new offensive. The general idea
was to break through the enemy positions on sectors specially prepared
on all European fronts, to advance on a broad front in great strength
on the South-Western Front, in the direction from Kamenetz-Podolsk to
Lvov, and further to the line of the Vistula, while the striking force
of our Western Front was to advance from Molodetchno to Vilna and the
Niemen, throwing back northwards the German Armies of General Eichorn.
The Northern and the Roumanian Fronts were to co-operate by dealing
local blows and attracting the forces of the enemy. The time for the
advance was not definitely fixed, and a broad margin was allowed. But
the days went by, and the troops, who had hitherto obeyed orders and
carried out the most difficult tasks without a murmur, the same troops
that had hitherto withstood the onset of the Austro-German Armies with
naked breasts, without cartridges or shells, now stood with their
will-power paralysed and their reason obscured. The offensive was still
further delayed.

Meanwhile the Allies, who had been preparing a big operation for the
spring, as they had counted upon strong reinforcements being brought
up by the enemy in the event of the complete collapse of the Russian
Front, began the great battle in France, as had been planned, at the
end of March, and _without awaiting_ the final decision on our advance.
The Allied Headquarters, however, did not consider simultaneous action
as a necessary condition of the contemplated operations, even before
disaffection had begun in the Russian Army. Owing to the natural
conditions of our Front we were not expected to begin the advance
before the month of May. Meanwhile, according to the general plan of
campaign for 1917, which had been drawn up in November, 1916, at the
Conference at Chantilly, General Joffre intended to begin the advance
of the Anglo-French Army at the end of January and the beginning of
February. General Nivelle, who superseded him, altered the date to the
end of March after the Conference at Calais of February 14th, 1917.
The absence of co-ordination between the Western and Eastern European
Fronts was bearing bitter fruit. It is difficult to tell whether the
Allies would have deferred their spring offensive for two months, and
whether the advances of a combined operation with the Russian Front
would have been a compensation for the delay, which gave Germany the
opportunity of reinforcing and reorganising her armies. One thing is
certain--that that lack of co-ordination gave the Germans a great
respite. Ludendorff wrote: "I detest useless discussions, but I cannot
fail to think of what would have happened had Russia advanced in April
and May and had won a few minor victories. We would have been faced, as
in the autumn of 1916, with a fierce struggle. Our munitions would have
reached a very low ebb. After careful consideration, I fail to see how
our High Command could have remained the master of the situation had
the Russians obtained in April and May even the same scant successes
which crowned their efforts in June. In April and May of 1917, in spite
of our victory (?) on the Aisne and in Champagne, it was only the
Russian Revolution that saved us."

       *       *       *       *       *

Apart from the general advance on the Austro-German Front, another
question of considerable interest arose in April--that of an
_independent operation for the conquest of Constantinople_. Inspired
by young and spirited naval officers, the Foreign Minister, Miliukov,
repeatedly negotiated with Alexeiev, and tried to persuade him to
undertake that operation, which he considered likely to be successful,
and which would, in his opinion, confront the Revolutionary Democracy,
which was protesting against annexations, with an accomplished fact.
The Stavka disapproved of this undertaking, as the condition of
our troops would not permit of it. The landing of an Expeditionary
Force--in itself a very delicate task--demanded stringent discipline,
preparation, and perfect order. What is more, the Expeditionary
Force, which would lose touch with the main Army, should be imbued
with a very strong sense of duty. To have the sea in the rear is a
circumstance which depresses even troops with a very strong _moral_.
These elements had already ceased to exist in the Russian Army. The
Minister's requests were becoming, however, so urgent that General
Alexeiev deemed it necessary to give him an object-lesson, and a small
Expedition was planned to the Turkish coast of Asia Minor. As far
as I can remember, Zunguldak was the objective. This insignificant
operation required a detachment consisting of one Infantry Regiment,
one Armoured Car Division, and a small Cavalry contingent, and was
to have been carried out by the troops of the Roumanian Front. After
a while the Headquarters of that Front had shamefacedly to report
that the detachment could not be formed because the troops declined
to join the Expeditionary Force. This episode was due to a foolish
interpretation of the idea of peace without annexations, which
distorted the very principles of strategy and was also, perhaps, due
to the same instinct of self-preservation. It was another ill omen for
the impending general advance. That advance was still being prepared,
painfully and desperately.

The rusty, notched Russian sword was still brandished. The question
was, when would it stop and upon whose head would it fall?

[Illustration: Foreign military representatives at the Stavka. Standing
on the pathway, from left to right: Lieut.-Col. Marsengo (Italy); 2.
General Janin (France); 3. General Alexeiev; 4. General Barter (Great
Britain); 5. General Romei Longhena (Italy).]



CHAPTER XVI.

MILITARY REFORMS--THE GENERALS--THE DISMISSAL FROM THE HIGH COMMAND.


Preparations for the advance continued alongside of the so-called
"Democratisation." These phenomena must be here recorded, as they had
a decisive effect upon the issue of the summer offensive and upon the
final destinies of the Army. Military reforms began by the dismissal
of vast numbers of Commanding Generals. In military circles this was
described, in tragic jest, as "The slaughter of the innocents." It
opened with the conversation between the War Minister, Gutchkov, and
the General on duty at the Stavka, Komzerovski. At the Minister's
request the General drew up a list of the Senior Commanding Officers,
with short notes (records of service). This list, afterwards completed
by various people who enjoyed Gutchkov's confidence, served as a basis
for the "slaughter." In the course of a few weeks 150 Senior Officers,
including seventy Commanders of Infantry and Cavalry Divisions, were
placed on the Retired List. In his speech to the Delegates of the
Front on April 29th, 1917, Gutchkov gave the following reasons for
this measure: "It has been our first task, after the beginning of the
Revolution, to make room for talent. Among our Commanding Officers
there were many honest men; but some of them were unable to grasp the
new principles of intercourse, and in a short time more changes have
been made in our commanding personnel than have ever been made before
in any army.... I realised that there could be no mercy in this case,
and I was merciless to those whom I considered incapable. Of course,
I may have been wrong. There may have been dozens of mistakes, but I
consulted knowledgeable people and took decisions only when I felt that
they were in keeping with the general opinion. At any rate, we have
promoted all those who have proved their capacity among the Commanding
Officers. I disregarded hierarchical considerations. There are men who
commanded regiments in the beginning of the War and are now commanding
armies.... We have thus attained not only an improvement, but something
different and equally important. By proclaiming the watchword 'Room for
talent' we have instilled joy into the hearts, and have induced the
officers to work with impetus and inspiration...."

What did the Army gain by such drastic changes? Did the _cadres_ of the
Commanding Officers really improve? In my opinion that object was not
attained. New men appeared on the scene, owing to the newly-introduced
right of selecting assistants, not without the interference of our old
friends--family ties, friendship and wire-pulling. Could the Revolution
give new birth to men or make them perfect? Was a mechanical change
of personnel capable of killing a system which for many years had
weakened the impulse for work and for self-improvement? It may be that
some talented individuals did come to the fore, but there were also
dozens, nay, hundreds, of men whose promotion was due to accident and
not to knowledge or energy. This accidental character of appointments
was further intensified when later Kerensky abolished for the duration
of the War all the existing qualifications, as well as the correlation
of rank and office. The qualification of knowledge and experience
was also thereby set aside. I have before me a list of the Senior
Commanding Officers of the Russian Army in the middle of May, 1917,
when Gutchkov's "slaughter" had been accomplished. The list includes
the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the Commanders-in-Chief of Fronts,
Armies and Fleets, and their Chiefs of Staff--altogether forty-five men:


OPPORTUNISTS.

 ------------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------
     The     |   Approving    | Non-Resisters  |   Opponents    |
  Commanding |      of        |     to         |      of        |Total.
  Personnel. |Democratisation.|Democratisation.|Democratisation.|
 ------------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------
 The Supreme |                |                |                |
   C.-in-C.  |                |                |                |
 Army        |                |                |                |
   Commanders|                |                |                |
 Fleet       |                |                |                |
   Commanders|        9       |        5       |        7       |
 Chiefs      |                |                |                |
   of Staff  |        6       |        6       |        7       |
 ------------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------
             |       15       |       11       |       14       |  40
 ------------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------

I have excluded five names, as I have no data about them.

These men were the brain, the soul and the will-power of the Army. It
is difficult to estimate their military capacity according to their
last tenures of office, because strategy and military science in
1917 had almost entirely ceased to be applied and became slavishly
subservient to the soldiery, but I know the activities of these men in
regard to the struggle against democratisation--_i.e._, the disruption
of the Army, and the above table indicates the three groups into which
they were divided. Subsequently, after 1918, some of these men took
part in the struggle or kept aloof from it.


OPPORTUNISTS.

 --------------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------
     The       |   Approving    | Non-Resisters  |   Opponents    |
  Commanding   |      of        |     to         |      of        |Total.
  Personnel.   |Democratisation.|Democratisation.|Democratisation.|
 --------------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------
 In Anti-      |                |                |                |
  Bolshevik    |                |                |                |
  Organisations|        2       |        7       |       10       |  19
 With the      |                |                |                |
  Bolsheviks   |        6       |       --       |        1       |   7
 Retired from  |                |                |                |
  the struggle |        7       |        4       |        3       |  14
 --------------+----------------+----------------+----------------+------

Such are the results of the changes in the High Command, where men
were in the public eye and where their activities attracted the
critical attention not only of the Government, but of military and
social circles. I think that in the lower grades things were no
better. The question of the justice of this measure may be open to
discussion, but, personally, I have no doubt whatsoever about its
extreme impracticability. The dismissal _en masse_ of Army Chiefs
definitely undermined the faith in the Commanding Staffs, and afforded
an excuse for the arbitrariness and violence of the Committees and of
the men towards individual representatives of the Commanding Staff.
Constant changes and transfers removed most officers from their
units, where they may have enjoyed respect and authority acquired
by military prowess. These men were thrown into new circles strange
to them, and time was needed, as well as difficult work, in the new
and fundamentally changed atmosphere in order to regain that respect
and authority. The formation of Third Infantry Divisions was still
proceeding, and was also occasioning constant changes in the Commanding
Personnel. That chaos was bound to ensue as a result of all these
circumstances is fairly obvious. So delicate a machine as the Army was
in the days of War and Revolution could only be kept going by the
force of inertia, and could not withstand new commotions. Pernicious
elements, of course, should have been removed and the system of
appointments altered, and the path opened for those who were worthy;
beyond that the matter ought to have been allowed to follow its natural
course without laying too much stress upon it and without devising a
new system. Apart from the Commanding Officers who were thus removed,
several Generals resigned of their own accord--such as Letchitzki and
Mistchenko--who could not be reconciled to the new régime, and many
Commanders who were evicted in a Revolutionary fashion by the direct or
indirect pressure of the Committee or of the soldiery. Admiral Koltchak
was one of them. Further changes were made, prompted by varying and
sometimes self-contradictory views upon the Army Administration. These
changes were, therefore, very fitful, and prevented a definite type of
Commanding Officer from being introduced.

Alexeiev dismissed the Commander-in-Chief, Ruzsky, and the Army
Commander, Radko-Dmitriev, for their weakness and opportunism. He
visited the Northern Front, and, having gained an unfavourable
impression of the activities of these Generals, he discreetly raised
the question of their being "overworked." That is the interpretation
given by the Army and Society to these dismissals.

Brussilov dismissed Yudenitch for the same reasons. I dismissed an
Army Commander (Kvietsinski) because his will and authority were
subservient to the disorganising activities of the Committees who were
democratising the Army.

Kerensky dismissed the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and the
Commanders-in-Chief, Gourko and Dragomirov, because they were
strenuously opposed to the democratisation of the Army. He also
dismissed Brussilov for the opposite motives, because Brussilov was
an Opportunist, pure and simple.

Brussilov dismissed the Commander of the Eighth Army, General
Kaledin--who later became the Ataman of the Don and was universally
respected--on the plea that he had "lost heart" and did not approve
of democratisation. This dismissal of a General with a magnificent
War record was effected in a rude and offensive manner. He was at
first offered the command of another Army, and then offered to retire.
Kaledin then wrote to me: "My record entitles me to be treated
otherwise than as a stop-gap, without taking my own views into
consideration."

General Vannovski, who was relieved of the command of an Army Corps
by the Army Commander because he refused to acknowledge the priority
of the Army Committee, was immediately appointed by the Stavka to a
Higher Command and given an Army on the South-Western Front.

General Kornilov, who had refused the Chief Command of the troops of
the Petrograd District, "because he considered it impossible to be
a witness of and a contributor to the disruption of the Army by the
Soviet," was afterwards appointed to the Supreme Command at the Front.
Kerensky removed me from the office of Chief-of-Staff of the Supreme
C.-in-C. because I did not share the views of the Government and openly
disapproved of its activities, but, at the same time, he allowed me to
assume the high office of Commander-in-Chief of our Western Front.

Things also happened of an entirely different nature. The Supreme
Commander-in-Chief, General Alexeiev, made several unavailing efforts
to dismiss Admiral Maximov, who had been elected to the command of the
Baltic Fleet and was entirely in the hands of the mutinous Executive
Committee of the Baltic Fleet. It was necessary to remove that
officer, who had brought about so much evil, influenced, no doubt, by
his surroundings, because the Committee refused to release him, and
Maximov refused all summonses to come to the Stavka on the plea that
the condition of the Fleet was critical. In the beginning of June
Brussilov managed to remove him from the Fleet ... at the price of
appointing him Chief of the Naval Staff of the Supreme C.-in-C. Many
other examples might be quoted of incredible contrasts in principles of
Army Administration occasioned by the collision of two opposing forces
and two schools of thought.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have already said that the entire Commanding Staff of Generals
was strictly loyal to the Provisional Government. General Kornilov,
the would-be "rebel," addressed the following speech to a Meeting
of Officers: "The old régime has collapsed. The people are building
a new structure of liberty, and it is the duty of the people's Army
wholeheartedly to support the new Government in its difficult, creative
work." The Commanding Staff may have taken some interest in questions
of general policy and in the Socialistic experiments of the Coalition
Governments, but no more than was taken by all cultured Russians,
and they did not consider themselves entitled or obliged to induce
the troops to participate in the solution of social problems. Their
only concern was to preserve the Army and the Foreign policy which
contributed to the victory. Such a connection between the Commanding
Staff and the Government, at first "a love match" and later one of
convenience, prevailed until the General Offensive in June, while
there still remained a flicker of hope that the mood of the Army would
change. That hope was destroyed by events, and, after the advance,
the attitude of the Commanding Staff was somewhat shaken. I may add
that the _entire_ Senior Commanding Staff considered as inadmissible
the democratisation of the Army which the Government was enforcing.
From the table which I have quoted it can be seen that 65 per cent. of
the Commanding Officers did not raise a sufficiently strong protest
against the disruption of the Army. The reasons were manifold and
entirely different. Some did it for tactical considerations, as they
thought that the Army was poisoned and that it should be healed by such
dangerous antidotes. Others were prompted by purely selfish motives.
I do not speak from hearsay, but because I know the _milieu_ and the
individuals, many of whom have discussed the matter with me with
perfect frankness. Cultured and experienced Generals could not frankly
and scientifically advocate such "military" views as, for example,
Klembovski's suggestion that a triumvirate should be placed at the head
of the Army, consisting of the Commander-in-Chief, a Commissar, and
an elected soldier; Kvietzinski's suggestion that the Army Committee
should be invested with special plenary power by the War Minister and
the Central Committee of the Soviet, which would entitle them to act in
the name of that Committee; or Viranovski's suggestion that the entire
Commanding Staff should be converted into "technical advisers" and
their power transferred entirely to the Commissars and the Committee.

The loyalty of the High Commanding Staff can be gauged from the
following fact: At the end of April General Alexeiev, despairing of
the possibility of personally preventing the Government from adopting
measures which tended to disrupt the Army, and before issuing the
famous Proclamation of the Rights of the Soldier, wired in cipher to
all the Commanders-in-Chief a draft of a strong and resolute collective
appeal from the Army to the Government. This appeal pointed to the
abyss into which the Army was being hurled. In the event of the draft
being approved, it was to have been signed by all Senior ranks,
including Divisional Commanders. The Fronts, however, for various
reasons, disapproved of such means of influencing the Government.
General Ragosa, the temporary C.-in-C. of the Roumanian Front, who was
afterwards Ukrainian War Minister under the Hetman, replied that the
Russian people seemed to be ordained by the Almighty to perish, and
it was therefore useless to struggle against Fate. With a sign of the
Cross, one should patiently await the dictates of Fate!... This was
literally the sense of his telegram.

Such was the attitude and the confusion in the higher ranks of the
Army. As regards the Commanders, who fought unremittingly against the
disruption of the Army, many of them struggled against the tide of
democratisation, as they considered it their duty to the people. They
did this in disregard of the success or failure of their efforts, of
the blows of Fate, or of the dark future, of which some already had a
premonition, and which was already approaching with disaster in its
train. On they went, with heads erect, misunderstood, slandered and
savagely hated, as long as life and courage permitted.



CHAPTER XVII.

"DEMOCRATISATION OF THE ARMY"--ADMINISTRATION, SERVICE AND ROUTINE.


In order to carry out the democratisation of the Army and the reform
of the War Ministry in accordance with the new régime, Gutchkov
established a Commission under the Chairmanship of the late War
Minister, Polivanov, who died at Riga in 1920, where he was the expert
of the Soviet Government in the Delegation for making peace with
Poland. The Commission was composed of representatives of the Military
Commission of the Duma and of representatives of the Soviet. There was
a similar Commission in the Ministry of the Navy under the Chairmanship
of Savitch, a prominent member of the Duma. I know more about the
work of the First Commission, and will therefore dwell upon it. The
regulations drafted by the Commission were not confirmed until they
had been approved by the Military Section of the Executive Committee
of the Soviet, which enjoyed great authority and often indulged in
independent military law-making. No future historian of the Russian
Army will be able to avoid mention of the Polivanov Commission--this
fatal Institution whose stamp is affixed to every one of the measures
which destroyed the Army. With incredible cynicism, not far removed
from treachery, this Institution, comprising many Generals and officers
appointed by the War Minister, systematically and daily introduced
pernicious ideas and destroyed the rational foundations of military
administration. Very often drafts of regulations, which appeared to
the Government as excessively demagogic and were not sanctioned,
appeared in the Press and came to the knowledge of the masses of the
soldiery. They were instilled into the Army, and subsequently caused
pressure to be brought to bear upon the Government by the soldiery.
The military members of the Commission seemed to be competing with
one another in slavish subservience to the new masters, and endorsed
by their authority the destructive ideas. Men who reported to the
Committee have told me that civilians occasionally protested during the
debates and warned the Committee against going too far, but no such
protests ever came from the military members. I fail to understand
the psychology of the men, who came so rapidly and unreservedly under
the heel of the mob. The list of military members of the Commission
of the month of May indicates that most of them were Staff Officers
and representatives of other Departments, mostly of Petrograd
(twenty-five); only nine were from the Army, and these do not seem
to have been drawn from the line. Petrograd has its own psychology
different from that of the Army. The most important and detrimental
Democratic regulations were passed concerning the organisation of
Committees, disciplinary action, the reform of the Military Courts,
and, finally, the famous "Declaration of the Rights of the Soldier."

_Military Chiefs were deprived of disciplinary power._ It was
transferred to Regimental and Company Disciplinary Courts, which also
had to settle "misunderstandings" between officers and men. There is
no need to comment upon the importance of this curtailment of the
disciplinary power of the officers; it introduced complete anarchy in
the internal life of regimental units, and the officer was discredited
_by the law_. The latter circumstance is of paramount importance, and
the Revolutionary Democracy took full advantage of this procedure
in all its attempts at law-making. The reform of the Courts aimed
at weakening the influence of military judges by appointment upon
the course of the trial, the introduction of juries and the general
weakening of military justice. Field Courts-Martial were abolished,
which meted out quick punishment on the spot for obvious and heavy
crimes, such as treason, desertion, etc.

The democratisation of the Military Courts might be excused to a
certain extent by the fact that confidence in the officers, having
been undermined, it was necessary to create judicial Courts of a
mixed composition on an elective basis, which in theory were supposed
to enjoy to a greater extent the confidence of the Revolutionary
Democracy. But that object was not attained, because the Military
Courts--one of the foundations of order in the Army--fell entirely
into the hands of the mob. The investigating organs were completely
destroyed by the Revolutionary Democracy, and investigation was
strongly resisted by the armed men and sometimes by the Regimental
Revolutionary Institutions. The armed mob, which included many
criminal elements, exercised unrestrained and ignorant pressure upon
the conscience of the judges, and passed sentences in advance of
the verdicts of the judges. Army Corps Tribunals were destroyed, and
members of the jury who had dared to pass a sentence distasteful
to the mob were put to flight. These were common occurrences. The
case was heard in Kiev of the well-known Bolshevik, Dzevaltovski, a
captain of the Grenadier Regiment of the Guards, who was accused, with
seventy-eight other men, of having refused to join in the advance
and of having dragged his regiment and other units to the rear. The
circumstances of the trial were these: In Court there was a mob of
armed soldiers, who shouted approval of the accused on his way from the
prison to the Court. Dzevaltovski called, together with his escort,
at the Local Soviet, where he received an ovation. Finally, while the
jury were deliberating, the Armed Reserve Battalions paraded before the
Court with the band and sang the "International." Dzevaltovski and all
his companions were, of course, found "Not guilty." Military Courts
were thus gradually abolished.

It would be a mistake, however, to ascribe this new tendency solely to
the influence of the Soviets. It may also be explained by Kerensky's
point of view. He said: "I think that no results can be achieved by
violence and by mechanical compulsion in the present conditions of
warfare, where huge masses are concerned. The Provisional Government in
the three months of its existence has come to the conclusion that it is
necessary to appeal to the common-sense, the conscience and the sense
of duty of the citizens, and that it is the only means of achieving the
desired results."

In the first days of the Revolution the Provisional Government
abolished Capital Punishment by the Ukase of March 12th. The Liberal
Press greeted this measure with great pathos. Articles were written
expressing strongly humanitarian views, but scant understanding of
realities, of the life of the Army, and also scant foresight. V.
Nabokoff, the Russian Abolitionist, who was General Secretary to the
Provisional Government, wrote: "This happy event is a sign of true
magnanimity and of wise foresight.... Capital Punishment is abolished
unconditionally and for ever.... It is certain that in no other country
has the moral condemnation of this, the worst kind of murder, reached
such enormous proportions as in Russia.... Russia has joined the States
that no longer know the shame and degradation of judicial murder."
It is interesting to note that the Ministry of Justice drafted two
laws, in one of which Capital Punishment was maintained for the most
serious military offences--espionage and treason. But the Department of
Military Justice, headed by General Anushkin, emphatically declared in
favour of complete abolition of Capital Punishment.

July came. Russia had already become used to Anarchist outbreaks, but
was nevertheless horror-stricken at the events that took place on the
battlefields of Galicia, near Kalush and Tarnopol. The telegrams of the
Government Commissars, Savinkov and Filonenko, and of General Kornilov,
who demanded the immediate reintroduction of Capital Punishment, were
as a stroke of a whip to the "Revolutionary Conscience." On July
11th, Kornilov wrote: "The Army of maddened, ignorant men, who are
not protected by the Government from systematic demoralisation and
disruption, and who have lost all sense of human dignity, is in full
flight. On the fields, which can no longer be called battlefields,
shame and horror such as the Russian Army has never known reign
supreme.... The mild Government measures have destroyed discipline,
and are provoking the fitful cruelty of the unrestrained masses. These
elemental feelings find expression in violence, plunder and murders....
Capital Punishment would save many innocent lives at the price of a few
traitors and cowards being eliminated."

On July 12th the Government restored Capital Punishment and
Revolutionary Military Tribunals, which replaced the former Field
Courts-Martial. The difference was that the judges were elected (three
officers and three men) from the list of the juries or from Regimental
Committees. This measure, the restoration of Capital Punishment, due
to pressure having been brought to bear upon the Government by the
Military Command, the Commissars, and the Committees, was, however,
foredoomed to failure. Kerensky subsequently tried to apologise to
the Democracy at the "Democratic Conference": "Wait till I have
signed a single death sentence, and I will then allow you to curse
me...." On the other hand, the very personnel of the Courts and their
surroundings, described above, made the very creation of these Courts
impossible: there were hardly any judges capable of passing a death
sentence or any Commissars willing to endorse such a sentence. On the
Fronts which I commanded there were, at any rate, no such cases. After
the new Revolutionary Military Tribunals had been functioning for two
months, the Department of Military Justice was flooded with reports
from Military Chiefs and Commissars on the "blatant infringements of
judicial procedure, upon the ignorance and lack of experience of the
judges."

The disbandment of mutinous regiments was one of the punitive measures
carried out by the Supreme Administration or Command. This measure
had not been carefully thought out, and led to thoroughly unexpected
consequences--it provoked mutinies, prompted by a desire to be
disbanded. Regimental honour and other moral impulses had long since
been characterised as ridiculous prejudices. The actual advantages of
disbanding, on the other hand, were obvious to the men: regiments were
removed from the firing line for a long time, disbanding continued for
months, and the men were sent to new units, which were thus filled
with vagabond and criminal elements. Responsibility for this measure
can be equally divided between the War Ministry, the Commissars,
and the Stavka. The whole burden of it finally fell once more upon
the guiltless officers, who lost their regiments--which were their
families--and their appointments, and were compelled to wander about in
new places or find themselves in the desolate condition of the Reserve.

Apart from this undesirable element, units were filled with the late
inmates of convict prisons, owing to the broad amnesty granted by the
Government to criminals, who were to expiate their crimes by military
service. My efforts to combat this measure were unavailing, and
resulted in the formation of a special regiment of convicts--a present
from Moscow--and in the formation of solid anarchist cadres in the
Reserve Battalions. The _naïf_ and insincere argument of the Legislator
that crimes were committed because of the Czarist Régime, and that
a free country would convert the criminal into a self-sacrificing
hero, did not come true. In the garrisons, where amnestied criminals
were for some reason or other more numerous, they became a menace to
the population before they ever saw the Front. Thus, in June, in the
units quartered at Tomsk, there was an intense propaganda of wholesale
plunder and of the suppression of all authority. Soldiers formed large
robber bands and terrorized the population. The Commissar, the Chief
of the garrison, and all the local Revolutionary Organisations started
a campaign against the plunderers; after much fighting, no less than
2,300 amnestied criminals were turned out of the garrison.

Reforms were intended to affect the entire administration of the Army
and of the Fleet, but the above-mentioned Committees of Polivanov
and Savitch failed to carry them out, as they were abolished by
Kerensky, who recognised at last all the evil they had wrought. The
Committees merely prepared the Democratisation of the War and Naval
Councils by introducing elected soldiers into them. This circumstance
is the more curious because, according to the Legislator's intention,
these Councils were to consist of men of experience and knowledge,
capable of solving questions of organisation, service, and routine,
of military and naval legislation, and of making financial estimates
of the cost of the armed forces of Russia. This yearning of the
uncultured portion of Democracy for spheres of activity foreign to it
was subsequently developed on an extensive scale. Thus, for example,
many military colleges were, to a certain extent, managed by Committees
of servants, most of whom were illiterate. Under the Bolshevik Régime,
University Councils numbered not only Professors and students, but also
hall-porters.

I will not dwell upon the minor activities of the Committees, the
reorganisation of the Army, and the new regulations, but will describe
the most important measure--the Committees and the "Declaration of the
Rights of the Soldier."



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE SOLDIER AND COMMITTEES.


Elective bodies from the Military Section of the Soviet to Committees
and Soviets of various denominations in regimental units and in
the Departments of the Army, the Fleet and the rear, were the most
prominent factor of "Democratisation." These institutions were partly
of a mixed type, and included both officers and men and partly soldiers
and workers' institutions pure and simple. Committees and Soviets were
formed everywhere as the common feature of Revolutionary Organisations,
planned before the Revolution and sanctioned by the Order No. 1.
Elections from the troops to the Soviet in Petrograd were fixed for
February 27th, and the first Army Committees came into being on March
1st, in consequence of the above-mentioned Order No. 1. Towards the
month of April self-appointed Soviets and Committees, varying in
denomination, personnel and ability, existed in the Army and in the
rear, and introduced incredible confusion into the system of military
hierarchy and administration. In the first month of the Revolution the
Government and the military authorities did not endeavour to put an
end to or to restrict this dangerous phenomenon. They did not at first
realise its possible consequences, and counted upon the moderating
influence of the Officer element. They occasionally took advantage of
the Committees for counteracting acute manifestations of discontent
among the soldiers, as a doctor applies small doses of poison to a
diseased organism. The attitude of the Government and of the military
authorities towards these organisations was irresolute, but was one of
semi-recognition. On April 9th, addressing the Army Delegates, Gutchkov
said at Yassy: "A Congress will soon be held of the Delegates of all
Army Organisations, and general regulations will then be drawn up.
Meanwhile, you should _organise as best you can_, taking advantage of
the existing organisations and working for general unity."

In April the position became so complicated that the authorities could
no longer shirk the solution of the question of Committees. At the end
of March there was a Conference at the Stavka, attended by the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief, the War Minister, Gutchkov, his Assistants, and
officers of the General Staff. I was also present in my capacity as
future Chief-of-Staff to the Supreme C.-in-C. A draft was presented to
the Conference, brought from Sevastopol by the Staff-Colonel Verkhovski
(afterwards War Minister). The draft was modelled upon the regulations
already in force in the Black Sea Fleet. The discussion amounted to the
expression of two extreme views--mine and those of Colonel Verkhovski.
The latter had already commenced those slightly demagogic activities
by which he had at first gained the sympathies of the soldiers and
of the sailors. He had had a short experience in organising these
masses. He was persuasive because he used many illustrations--I do
not know whether the facts he mentioned were real or imaginary--his
views were pliable, and his eloquence was imposing. He idealised the
Committees, and argued that they were very useful, even necessary and
statesmanlike, inasmuch as they were capable of bringing order into the
chaotic movements of the soldiery. He emphatically insisted upon the
competence and the rights of these Committees being broadened.

I argued that the introduction of Committees was a measure which
the Army organisation would be unable to understand, and that it
amounted to disruption of the Army. If the Government was unable to
cope with the movement, it should endeavour to paralyse its dangerous
consequences. With that end in view, I advocated that the activities of
the Committees should be limited to matters of internal organisation
(food supplies, distribution of equipment, etc.), that the officer
element should be strengthened, and that the Committees should remain
within the sphere of the lower grades of the Army, in order to prevent
them from spreading and acquiring a preponderating influence upon
larger formations such as Divisions, Armies, and Fronts. Unfortunately,
I only succeeded in compelling the Conference to accept my views to an
insignificant degree, and on March 30th the Supreme C.-in-C. issued
an Order of the Day on the "transition to the new forms of life," and
appealing to the officers, men, and sailors wholeheartedly to unite in
the work of introducing strict order and solid discipline within the
units of the Army and Navy.

The main principles of the regulations were the following:

    (1) The _fundamental objects_ of the organisation were (_a_) to
    increase the fighting power of the Army and of the Navy in order
    to win the War; (_b_) to devise new rules for the life of the
    soldier-citizen of Free Russia; and (_c_) to contribute to the
    education of the Army and of the Fleet.

    (2) The _structure_ of the organisation: Permanent
    sections--Company, Regimental, Divisional, and Army Committees.
    Temporary sections--Conferences, attached to the Stavka, of Army
    Corps, of the Fronts, and of the Centre. The latter to form
    permanent Soviet.

    (3) The Conferences to be called by the respective Commanding
    Officers or on the initiative of the Army Committees. All the
    resolutions of the Conferences and Committees to be confirmed by
    the respective military authorities prior to publication.

    (4) The _competence_ of the Committees was limited to enforcing
    order and fighting power (discipline, resistance to desertion,
    etc.), routine (leave, barrack life, etc.), internal organisation
    (control of food supplies and equipment), and education.

    (5) _Questions of training_ were unreservedly excluded from
    discussion.

    (6) The _personnel of the Committees_ was determined in proportion
    to elected representatives--one officer to two men.

In order to give an idea of the slackening of discipline in the
higher ranks I may mention that, immediately after receiving these
regulations, and obviously under the influence of Army organisations,
General Brussilov issued the following order: "Officers to be excluded
from Company Committees, and in higher Committees the proportion
lowered from one-third to one-sixth...."

In less than a fortnight, however, the War Ministry, in disregard
of the Stavka, published its own regulations, drafted by the famous
Polivanov Committee, with the assistance of Soviet representatives. In
these new regulations substantial alterations were made: the percentage
of officers in Committees was reduced; Divisional Committees abolished;
"the taking of rightful measures against abuses by Commanding Officers
in the respective units" were added to the powers of the Committees;
the Company Committees were not permitted to discuss the matter of
military preparedness and other purely military matters affecting
the unit, but no such reservation was made with regard to Regimental
Committees; the Regimental Commanding Officer was entitled to appeal
against but not to suspend the decisions of the Committee; finally, the
Committees were given the task of negotiating with political parties
of every description in the matter of sending delegates, speakers, and
pamphlets explaining the political programme before the elections to
the Constituent Assembly.

These regulations, which were tantamount to converting the Army in
war-time into an arena of political strife and depriving the Commanding
Officer of all control over his unit, constituted, in fact, one of the
main turning points on the path of destruction of the Army.

The following appreciation of these regulations by the Anarchist,
Makhno (the Order of the Day of one of his subordinate Commanders of
November 10th, 1919), is worthy of note: "As any party propaganda at
the present moment strongly handicaps the purely military activities
of the rebel armies, I emphatically declare to the population that all
party propaganda is strictly prohibited pending the complete victory
over the White Armies...."

Several days later, in view of a protest from the Stavka, the
War Ministry issued orders for the immediate suspension of the
regulations concerning the Committees. Where the Committees had
already been formed, they were allowed to carry on in order to avoid
misunderstandings. The Ministry decided to alter the section of the
regulations concerning the Committees, in accordance with the orders of
the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, in which fuller consideration was given
to the interests of the troops. Thus, in the middle of April there was
an infinite variety in the organisation of the Army. Some institutions
were illegal, others were sanctioned by the Stavka, and others still by
the War Ministry. All these contradictions, changes, and re-elections
might have led to ridiculous confusion had not the Committees
simplified matters: they simply cast off all restrictions and acted
arbitrarily. Wherever troops or Army departments were quartered
among the population local Soldiers' Soviets or Soviets of Soldiers
and Workmen were formed, which recognised no regulations, and were
particularly intent upon covering deserters and mercilessly exploiting
municipalities, Zemstvos, and the population. The authorities never
opposed them, and it was only at the end of August that the War
Ministry lost patience with the abuses of these "Institutions of the
Rear," and informed the Press that it _intended_ to undertake the
drafting of special regulations concerning these Institutions.

Who were the members of the Committees? The combatant element, living
for and understanding the interests of the Army and imbued with its
traditions, was scantily represented. Valour, courage and a sense of
duty were rated very low on the market of Soldiers' Meetings. The
masses of the soldiery, who were, alas! ignorant, illiterate, and
already demoralised and distrusted their Chiefs, elected mostly men
who imposed on them by smooth talking, purely external political
knowledge derived from the revelation of Party propaganda; chiefly,
however, by shamelessly bowing to the instincts of the men. How could
a real soldier, appealing to the sense of duty, to obedience and to
a struggle for the Mother Country, compete with such demagogues? The
officers did not enjoy the confidence, they did not wish to work in
the Committees, and their political education was probably inadequate.
In the Higher Committees one met honest and sensible soldiers more
often than officers, because a man wearing a soldier's tunic was in
a position to address the mob in a manner in which the officer could
never dare to indulge. The Russian Army was henceforward administered
by Committees formed of elements foreign to the Army and representing
rather Socialist Party organs. It was strange and insulting to the Army
that Congresses of the Front, representing several million combatants
and many magnificent units with a long and glorious record, and
comprising officers and men of whom any Army might be proud, were held
under the Chairmanship of such men as civilian Jews and Georgians, who
were Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, or Social Revolutionaries--Posner on the
Western Front, Gegetchkory on the Caucasian, and Doctor Lordkipanitze
on the Roumanian.

       *       *       *       *       *

What, then, were these Army Organisations doing that were supposed to
reconstruct "the freest Army in the world"? I will quote a list of
questions discussed at Conferences of the Front and which influenced
the Front and Army Committees:

    (1) The attitude towards the Government, the Soviet and the
    Constituent Assembly.

    (2) The attitude towards War and Peace.

    (3) The question of a Democratic Republic as a desirable form of
    Government.

    (4) The question of the land.

    (5) The Labour question.

These intricate and burning political and social questions, to which
a radical solution was being given and which created partisanship
and class strife, were thus introduced into the Army that was facing
a strong and cruel enemy. The effect was self-evident. But even
in strictly military matters certain utterances were made at the
Conference at Minsk, which attracted the particular attention of the
military and civil authorities, and caused us gravely to ponder. It was
suggested that the rank of officer, individual disciplinary power,
etc., should be abolished, and that the Committees should be entitled
to remove Commanding Officers of whom they disapproved. From the very
first days of their existence the Committees fought stubbornly to
obtain full power not only with regard to the administration of the
Army, but even for the formula: "All Power to the Soviets." At first,
however, the attitude of the Army Committees towards the Provisional
Government was perfectly loyal, and the lower the Committee the
more loyal it was. The Petrograd papers of March 17th were full of
resolutions proclaiming unrestricted obedience to the Provisional
Government, of telegrams greeting and of records of delegations sent
by the troops, who were perturbed by rumours of the opposition of the
Soviet. This attitude later underwent several changes, due to the
propaganda of the Soviet. A powerful influence was exercised by the
resolution of the Congress of Soviets, which I have already quoted,
and which appealed to the Russian Revolutionary Democracy to organise
under the guidance of the Soviets and to be prepared to resist all the
attempts of the Government to avoid the control of the Democracy or the
fulfilment of their pledges.

The Higher Committees indulged chiefly in political activities and
in the strengthening of Revolutionary tendencies in the Army, while
the Lower Committees gradually became absorbed in matters of service
and routine, and were weakening and discrediting the authority of the
Commanding Officers. The right to remove these officers was practically
established, because the position of those who had received a vote of
censure became intolerable. Thus, for instance, on the Western Front,
which I commanded, about sixty Senior Officers resigned--from Army
Corps to Regimental Commanders. What was, however, infinitely more
tragic was the endeavour of the Committees, on their own initiative and
under pressure from the troops, to interfere with purely military and
technical Orders, thus rendering military operations difficult or even
impossible. The Commanding Officer who was discredited, fettered and
deprived of power, and, therefore, of responsibility, could no longer
confidently lead the troops into the field of victory and death.... As
there was no authority the Commanding Officers were compelled to have
recourse to the Committees, which sometimes did exercise a restraining
influence over the licentious soldiery, resisted desertion, smoothed
friction between officers and men, appealed to the latter's sense
of duty--in a word, tried to arrest the collapse of the crumbling
structure. These activities of some of the Committees still misled
their apologists, including Kerensky. It is no use to argue with men
who think that a structure may be erected by one laying bricks one day
and pulling them to pieces on the next.

The work, overt and unseen, of Army Committees, alternating between
patriotic appeals and internationalist watchwords, between giving
assistance to Commanding Officers and dismissing them, between
expressions of confidence in, or of distrust of, the Provisional
Government, and ultimatums for new boots or travelling allowances
for members of Committees.... The historian of the Russian Army, in
studying these phenomena, will be amazed at the ignorance of the
elementary rules governing the very existence of an armed force,
which was displayed by the Committees in their decisions and in their
writings.

The Committees of the Rear and of the Fleet were imbued with a
particularly demagogic spirit. The Baltic Fleet was in a state
approaching anarchy all the time; the Black Sea Fleet was in a better
condition, and held out until June. It is difficult to estimate the
mischief made by these Committees and Soviets in the Rear, scattered
all over the country. Their overbearing manner was only comparable
with their ignorance. I will mention a few examples illustrating these
activities.

The Regional Committee of the Army, the Fleet and the Workmen of
Finland issued a declaration in May, in which, not content with the
autonomy granted to Finland by the Provisional Government, they
demanded her complete independence, and declared that "they would give
every support to all the Revolutionary Organisations working for a
speedy solution of that question."

The Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet, in conjunction with the
above-mentioned Committee, made a declaration, which coincided with the
Bolshevik outbreak in Petrograd in the beginning of June. They demanded
"all power to the Soviets. We shall unite in the Revolutionary struggle
of our working Democracy for power, and will not allow the ships to be
called out by the Provisional Government for the suppression of the
mutiny to leave Petrograd."

The Committee of the Minsk Military District, shortly before the
advance, gave leave to all the Reservists to proceed to their farms.
I gave orders for the trial of the Committee, but the order was of no
avail, because, in spite of all my representations, the War Ministry
had not established any legal responsibility for the Committees, whose
decisions were recorded by vote and occasionally by secret ballot. I
will mention yet another curious episode. The Committee of one of the
Cavalry Depôts on my Front decided that horses should be watered only
once a day, so most of the horses were lost.

It would be unjust to deny that the organisations of the Rear
occasionally did adopt reasonable measures, but these instances are
few indeed, and they were drowned in the general wave of anarchy
which these organisations had raised. The attitude of the Committees
towards the War, and in particular towards the proposed advance, was,
of course, a momentous matter. In Chapter X. I have already described
the self-contradictions of the Soviets and Congresses, as well as
the ambiguous and insincere directions which they gave to the Army
Organisations, and which amounted to the acceptance of War and of the
advance, but without victory. The same ambiguity prevailed in the
High Committees, with the exception, however, of the Committee of our
Western Front, which passed in June a truly Bolshevik Resolution to the
effect that War has been engendered by the plundering policy of the
Government; that the only means of ending the War was for the united
Democracies of all countries to resist their Governments; and that a
decisive victory of one or the other of the contending groups of Powers
would only tend to increase militarism at the expense of Democracy.

As long as the Front was quiet the troops accepted all these discourses
and Resolutions in a spirit of comparative indifference. But when
the time came for the advance, many people thought of saving their
skins, and the ready formulas of Defeatism proved opportune. Besides
the Committees, who were continuing to pass patriotic Resolutions,
certain organisations reflecting the views of the units of the Army, or
their own, violently opposed the idea of an advance. Entire regiments,
divisions, and even Army Corps, especially on the Northern and Western
Russian Fronts, refused to conduct preparatory work or to advance to
the firing line. On the eve of the advance we had to send large forces
for the suppression of units that had treacherously forgotten their
duty.

I have already mentioned the attitude of many Senior Commanders towards
the Committees. The best summary of these views can be found in the
appeal of General Fedotov, in temporary command of an Army, to the
Army Committee: "Our Army is at present organised as no other Army in
the world.... Elected bodies play an important part. We--_the former
leaders_--can only give the Army our military knowledge of strategy
and tactics. You--the Committees--are called upon to organise the Army
and to create its internal strength. Great indeed is the part which
you--the Committees--are called upon to play in the creation of a
new and strong Army. History will recognise this...."

Before the Army Organisations were sanctioned the Commander of the
Caucasian Front issued an Order for the decisions of the self-appointed
Tiflis Soldiers' Soviet to be published in the Orders of the Day, and
for all regulations appertaining to the Organisation and routine of the
Army to be sanctioned by that Soviet. Is one to wonder that such an
attitude of a certain portion of the Commanding Staffs gave an excuse
and a foundation for the growing demands of the Committees?

As regards the Western and South-Western Fronts, which I commanded,
I definitely refused to have anything to do with the Committees,
and suppressed, whenever possible, such of their activities as were
contrary to the interests of the Army. One of the prominent Commissars,
a late member of the Executive Committee of the Soviet, Stankevitch,
wrote: "Theoretically, it became increasingly apparent that either the
Army must be abolished or else the Committees. In practice, one could
do neither one nor the other. The Committees were a vivid expression
of the incurable sociological disease of the Army, and a sign of its
certain collapse and paralysis. Was it not for the War Ministry to
hasten the death by a resolute and hopeless surgical operation?"

The once great Russian Army of the first period of the Revolution
dwindled inevitably to nothing under such conditions as these:

There was no Mother Country. The leader had been crucified. In his
stead a group appeared at the Front of five Defensists and three
Bolsheviks, and made an appeal to the Army:

"Forward, to battle for liberty and for the Revolution, but ... without
inflicting a decisive defeat upon the enemy," cried the former.

"Down with the War and all power to the Proletariat!" shouted the
others.

The Army listened and listened, but would not move. And then ... it
dispersed!

[Illustration: The Conference of Commanders-in-Chief. Standing on
the pathway, from left to right: Generals Denikin, Danilov, Hanjin.
Seated (left): Doukhonin, Gourko, Brussilov. Centre: Alexeiev. Right:
Dragomirov, Scherbatchev.]

[Illustration: A group of "prisoners" at Berdichev. From left to right:
Captain Kletzando, General Elsner, General Vannovsky, General Denikin,
General Erdeli, General Markov, General Orlov.]



CHAPTER XIX.

THE DEMOCRATISATION OF THE ARMY: THE COMMISSARS.


The next measure for the democratisation of the Army was the
introduction of the Institution of Commissars. The idea was derived
from the history of the French Revolutionary Wars, and was fostered
in various circles at different times; it was prompted chiefly by
_distrust of the Commanding Staffs_. Pressure was brought to bear
from below. The Conference of the Delegates of the Front addressed an
emphatic demand to the Soviet in the middle of April that Commissars
should be introduced in the Army. The excuse was that it was no longer
possible to preserve order in respect of the attitude of the men
towards individual Commanding Officers, and that, if cases of arbitrary
dismissal had as yet been avoided, it was only due to the fact that
the Army expected the Soviet and the Government to take the necessary
steps and did not wish to handicap their work. At the same time, the
Conference suggested the absurd idea of the simultaneous appointment
to the Army of three kinds of Commissars: (1) from the Provisional
Government, (2) from the Soviets, and (3) from the Army Committees.
The Conference went very far in their demands, and demanded that the
Commissariats, as controlling organs, should: discuss _all_ matters
appertaining to the competence of the Commanders of Armies and Fronts;
counter-sign _all_ Army Orders; investigate the activities of the
Commanding Staffs, with the right to recommend their dismissal.

Protracted negotiations on this matter ensued between the Soviet and
the Government, and at the end of April it was agreed that Commissars
would be appointed to the Army--one from the Provisional Government and
one from the Soviet. This decision, however, was subsequently altered,
probably as the result of the formation of a Coalition Ministry (May
5th). One Commissar was appointed by agreement between the Government
and the Soviet. He represented both these bodies, and was responsible
to them. At the end of June the Provisional Government introduced the
office of Commissar of the Fronts, and thus defined their function:
according to the instructions of the War Ministry, they were to see
that all political questions arising within the Armies of the Front
should be given a uniform solution, and that the work of the Army
Commissars should be co-ordinated. At the end of July a final touch
was given by the appointment of a High Commissar attached to the
Stavka, and the entire official correspondence was concentrated in the
political section of the War Ministry. No law, however, was passed
defining the rights and the duties of the Commissars. The Commanding
Staffs, at any rate, were unaware of such laws, and this alone gave
rise to all the misunderstandings and conflicts that followed. The
Commissars had secret instructions to watch the Commanding Staffs and
Headquarters in respect of their political reliability. From that
point of view the democratic régime went further, perhaps, than the
autocratic. Of this I became convinced during my command of the Western
and South-Western Fronts, in reading the telegrams exchanged between
the Commissariats and Petrograd. These telegrams--may the Commissars
forgive me!--were handed to me, de-coded, by my Staff, immediately
after their despatch. This part of the Commissars' duty required a
certain training in political intelligence, but their overt duties were
infinitely more complex: they demanded statesmanship, a clear knowledge
of the aims to be pursued, an understanding of the psychology, not
merely of the officers and men, but of the Senior Commanding Staff,
acquaintance with the fundamental principles of service and routine in
the Army, great tact, and, finally, the personal qualities of courage,
strong will, and energy. Only such qualifications were capable of
mitigating to a certain degree the disastrous consequences of a measure
which deprived (to be more accurate, sanctioned the deprivation of) the
Commanding Officers of the possibility of influencing the troops--that
influence being the only means of strengthening the hope and faith in
victory.

Such elements were not to be found, unfortunately, in the circles
connected with the Government and the Soviet and enjoying their
confidence. The personnel of the Commissars whom I met may be described
thus: War-time officers, doctors, solicitors, newspaper men, exiles
and _emigrés_ completely out of touch with Russian life, members of
militant Revolutionary organisations, etc. These men had, obviously,
inadequate knowledge of the Army. All these men belonged to Socialist
parties, from Social-Democrat Mensheviks to the group "Edinstvo"
(unity), War party blinkers, and very often did not follow the
political lines of the Government because they considered themselves
tied by Soviet and party discipline. Owing to political differences of
opinion, the attitude of the Commissars towards the War also varied.
Stankevitch, one of the Commissars, who carried out his duties in his
own way most conscientiously, when proceeding to visit an advancing
Division was beset with doubts: "The soldiers believe that we do not
wish to deceive them; they force themselves, therefore, to forget
their doubts, and they go forward to death and murder. But we, are we
entitled not only to encourage them, but to take upon ourselves the
decision?" According to Savinkov (who was Commissar of the Seventh
Army of the South-Western Front, and later War Minister), not all the
Commissars agreed upon the question of Bolshevism, and not all of
them considered a resolute struggle against the Bolsheviks possible
or desirable. Savinkov was an exception. Although not a soldier by
profession, he was steeled in struggle and wanderings, in constant
danger, and his hands were stained with the blood of political victims.
This man, however, understood the laws of the struggle, threw off the
yoke of the party, and fought more resolutely than others against the
disorganisation of the Army. But the personal touch in his attitude
towards the events was somewhat too marked. None of the Commissars,
with the exception of very few men of the Savinkov type, displayed
personal strength or energy. They were men of words, not of deeds.
Their lack of training would not have had such negative results had it
not been for the fact that, their functions not being clearly defined,
they gradually began to interfere with every feature of the life and
service of the troops, partly on their own initiative, partly at the
instigation of the men and of the Army Committees, and partly even
of Commanding Officers, who were trying to escape responsibility.
Questions of appointments, dismissals, and even operative plans
attracted the attention of the Commissars, not only from the point of
view of "covert counter-Revolution," but from the point of view of
practicability. The confusion in their minds was so great that the
weaker elements among the Commanding Staffs were sometimes completely
disheartened. I remember one case during the July retreat on the
South-Western Front. One of the Army Corps Commanders rashly destroyed
a well-equipped military railway, thereby placing the Army in an
exceedingly difficult position. He was dismissed by the Army Commander,
and afterwards expressed to me his sincere astonishment: "Why had he
been dismissed? He had acted--upon the instructions of the Commissar."

The Commissars carried out the ideas of the Soviet and whole-heartedly
defended the sacred newly-acquired rights of the soldier, but failed
to fulfil their primary duty--direct the political life of the Army.
Very often the most destructive propaganda was permitted. Soldiers'
meetings and Committees were allowed to pass all kinds of anti-National
and anti-Government resolutions, and the Commissars only interfered
when the tension of the atmosphere resulted in an armed mutiny. Such a
policy puzzled the troops, the Committees, and the Commanding Officers.

The institution of Commissars did not attain its purpose. Among the
soldiers the Commissars could not be popular because they were to
a certain extent an instrument of compulsion, and occasionally of
suppression. At the same time, the extent of their power was not
well defined, and they could not gain proper authority over the most
undisciplined units. This was confirmed later after the seizure of
power by the Bolsheviks, when the Commissars were the first to flee
from their posts in a great hurry and in secret.

There thus appeared in the Russian Army, instead of one authority,
three different authorities, which excluded one another--the Commanding
Officer, the Committee, and the Commissar. They were shadowy
authorities. Another authority was overhanging, and was oppressing them
morally with all its insensate weight--the power of the mob.

       *       *       *       *       *

In examining the question of the new Institutions--Commissars and
Committees--and of their bearing upon the destinies of the Russian
Army, I have done so solely from the point of view of the preservation
of our Armed Forces as an important factor in the future of our
country. It would, however, be a mistake to overlook the connection
between these measures and the entirety of laws which govern the
life of the people and the course of the Revolution. These measures,
moreover, bear the stamp of logic and of inevitability owing to the
part which the Revolutionary Democracy had chosen to play. Therein lies
the tragedy of the situation. The Socialist Democracy did not possess
any elements sufficiently trained to become the instruments of Army
Administration. At the same time, it did not have the courage or the
possibility to quell the resistance of the Bourgeois Democracy and of
the Commanding Staffs, and to compel them to work for the glorification
of Socialism, as the Bolsheviks afterwards did, who forced the remnants
of the Russian _intelligencia_ and of the officers to serve Communism
by applying methods of sanguinary and ruthless extermination. When the
Revolutionary Democracy actually assumed power and set up to fulfil
certain aims it was well aware of the fact that those elements in
the administration and the Command who were called upon to carry out
these aims did not share the views of the Revolutionary Democracy.
Hence the inevitable distrust of these elements and the desire to
weaken their influence and their authority. What methods did the
Democracy have recourse to? As the Central Revolutionary organ was
utterly devoid of statesmanship and of patriotism, it applied in its
struggle against political opponents destructive methods, completely
disregarding the fact that by these methods they were destroying the
country and the Army. Another circumstance must be borne in mind--the
Revolution that had shaken the State to its very foundations and upset
the established class relations occurred at the moment when the flower
of the Nation--over 10,000,000 men--were under arms. Elections to the
Constituent Assembly were impending. In these circumstances it was
impossible to avoid politics being introduced into the Army, as it is
impossible to arrest the course of a river. But it would have been
possible to divert it to proper channels. In this matter, however, the
two contending forces (that which wished to preserve the State and the
Demagogic Force) also collided, as both endeavoured to influence the
attitude of the Army, which was a decisive factor in the Revolution.

These were the propositions which pre-ordained and explained the
subsequent course of the Democratisation of the Army. The Socialist
Democracy, which governed at first behind the scenes and then overtly,
was endeavouring to strengthen its position and to bow to the
instincts of the crowd, destroyed the military power and connived at
the Institution of Elective Military Organisations, which were less
dangerous and more open to its influence than the Commanding Staffs,
although they did not answer the requirements of the Soviet. The
necessity of military authority of some sort was clearly realised.
The Commanding Staffs were distrusted, and there was a desire to
create a buffer between the two artificially separated elements of
the Army. These considerations inspired the creation of the office of
Commissars, who bore the dual responsibility before the Soviet and the
Government. Neither the men nor the officers were satisfied with these
institutions, which fell together with the Provisional Government, were
revived with certain modifications in the Red Army, and once again
swept away by the tide of events.

"Peoples cannot choose their Institutions, as man cannot choose his
age. Peoples obey the Institutions to which they are tied by their
past, their creed, by the economic laws and surroundings in which they
live. There are many examples in history when the people have destroyed
by violent Revolution the Institutions which it has taken a dislike
for. But there is not a case in history of these new institutions
forcibly imposed upon the people becoming permanent and solid. After a
while the past comes again into force, because we are created entirely
by that past and it is our supreme ruler."[19]

It is obvious that the Russian National Army will be revived not only
on democratic, but on historical foundations.



CHAPTER XX.

    THE DEMOCRATISATION OF THE ARMY--THE STORY OF "THE DECLARATION OF
    THE RIGHTS OF THE SOLDIER."


The ill-famed law, emanating from the Polivanov Committee and known
as the "Declaration of the Rights of the Soldier," was confirmed by
Kerensky on May 9th. I will give the main points of that law:

    (1) "All soldiers of the Army enjoy full rights of citizenship."

    (2) Every soldier is entitled to the membership of any political,
    national, religious, economic, or professional organisation,
    society or union.

    (3) Every soldier off duty has the right freely and openly to
    express in word, writing, or in the Press his political, religious,
    social and other views.

    (4) All printed matter (periodicals and other) should be delivered
    to the addressees.

    (5) Soldiers are not to be appointed as orderlies. Officers are
    entitled to have one servant, appointed by mutual consent (of the
    soldier and of the officer); wages also to be settled by mutual
    consent, but there should be no more than one servant to each
    officer, Army doctor, Army clerk, or Priest.

    (6) Saluting is abolished for men as well as for units.

    (7) No soldier is to be punished or fined without trial. At
    the Front the Commanding Officer is entitled, on his own
    responsibility, to take the necessary steps, including armed
    force, against disobedient subordinates. Such steps are not to be
    considered as disciplinary punishments. Internal administration,
    punishments, and control in cases defined by Army regulations,
    belong to elective Army Organisations.

This "Declaration of Rights," of which the above is but a brief
summary, gave official sanction to the malady with which the Army
was stricken, and which spread in varying degrees owing to mutinies,
violence, and "by Revolutionary methods," as the current expression
goes. It dealt a death-blow to the old Army. It introduced boundless
political discussions and social strife into the unbalanced ARMED
MASSES which had already become aware of their rough physical power.
"The Declaration" admitted and sanctioned wide propaganda by speech and
pamphlet of anti-national, immoral and anti-Social doctrines, and even
the doctrines that repudiated the State and the very existence of the
Army. Finally, it deprived Commanding Officers of disciplinary power,
which was handed over to elective bodies, and once again insulted and
degraded the Commanding Staff. In his remarks attached to the text of
the "Declaration," Kerensky says: "Let the freest Army and Navy of the
World prove that there is strength and not weakness in Liberty, let
them forge a new iron discipline of duty and raise the Armed Power of
the country."

And the "Great Silent One," as the French picturesquely describe the
Army, began to talk and to shout louder and louder still, enforcing its
demands by threats, by arms, and by shedding the blood of those who
dared to resist its folly.

At the end of April the final draft of the "Declaration" was sent by
Gutchkov to the Stavka for approval. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief and
myself returned an emphatic disapproval, in which we gave vent to all
our moral sufferings and our grief for the dark future of the Army. Our
conclusion was that the "Declaration" "was the last nail driven into
the coffin which has been prepared for the Russian Army." On May 1st
Gutchkov resigned from the War Ministry, as he did not wish "to share
the responsibility for the heavy sin which was committed against the
Mother Country," and in particular to sign the "Declaration."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Stavka sent copies of the draft "Declaration" to the
Commander-in-Chief of the Fronts for reference, and they were called
by General Alexeiev to Moghilev, in order to discuss the fateful
position. This historical Conference took place on May 2nd. The
speeches, in which the collapse of the Russian Army was described,
were restrained and yet moving, as they reflected deep sorrow and
apprehension. Brussilov, in a low voice expressing sincere and unfeigned
pain, ended thus: "All this can yet be borne, and there still remains
some hope of saving the Army and leading it forward, provided the
'Declaration' is not issued. If it is, there is no salvation, and I
would not remain in office for a single day." This last sentence
provoked a warm protest from General Stcherbatchov, who argued that no
one should resign, that, however arduous and hopeless the position may
be, the leaders cannot abandon the Army.... Somebody suggested that all
the Commanders-in-Chief should immediately proceed to Petrograd,
and address to the Provisional Government a stern warning and
definite demands. The General who suggested this thought that such a
demonstration would produce a very strong impression and might arrest
the progress of destructive legislation. Others thought that it was a
dangerous expedient and our last trump card, and that, should the step
prove ineffective, the High Command would be definitely discredited. The
suggestion, however, was accepted, and, on the 4th May, a Conference took
place of all the Commanders-in-Chief (with the exception of the Caucasian
Front), the Provisional Government, and the Executive Committee of
the Soviet. I am in possession of the record of that Conference, of
which I give extensive extracts below. The condition of the Army, such
as it appeared to its leaders, in the course of events, and without,
therefore, any historical perspective, is therein described, as well as
the characteristics of the men who were then in power. The trend of the
speeches made by the Commander-in-Chief was the same as in the Stavka,
but they were less emphatic and less sincere. Brussilov smoothed
over his accusations, lost his pathos, "warmly greeted the Coalition
Ministry," and did not repeat his threat of resignation.


THE RECORD.

_General Alexeiev._--I consider it necessary to speak quite frankly. We
are all united in wishing for the good of our country. Our paths may
differ, but we have a common goal of ending the War in such a manner as
to allow Russia to come out of it unbroken, albeit tired and suffering.
Only victory can give us the desired consummation. Only then will
creative work be possible. But victory must be achieved, and that is
only possible if the orders of the Commanding Officers are obeyed. If
not, it is not an Army, but a mob. To sit in the trenches does not mean
to reach the end of the War. The enemy is transferring, in great haste,
division after division from our Front to the Franco-British Front, and
we continue to sit still. Meanwhile, the conditions are most favourable
for our victory, but we must advance in order to win it. Our Allies are
losing faith in us. We must reckon with this in the diplomatic sphere,
and I particularly in the military one. It seemed as if the Revolution
would raise our spirits, would give us impetus, and therefore victory.
In that, unfortunately, we have so far been mistaken. Not only is
there no enthusiasm or impetus, but the lowest instincts have come
to the fore, such as self-preservation. The interests of the Mother
Country and its future are not being considered.... You will ask what
has happened to the authority, to principles, or even to physical
compulsion? I am bound to state that the reforms to which the Army
has as yet failed to adapt itself have shaken it, have undermined
order and discipline. Discipline is the mainstay of the Army. If we
follow that path any further there will be a complete collapse....
The Commanders-in-Chief will give you a series of facts describing
the condition of the Armies. I will offer a conclusion and will give
expression to our desires and demands, which must be complied with.

_General Brussilov._--I must first of all describe to you the present
condition of the officers and men. Cavalry, artillery and engineering
troops have retained about 50 per cent. of their cadres. But in
the infantry, which is the mainstay of the Army, the position is
entirely different. Owing to enormous casualties in killed, wounded
and prisoners, as well as many deserters, some regiments have changed
their cadres nine or ten times, so that only from three to ten men
remain of the original formation. Reinforcements are badly trained
and their discipline is still worse. Of the regular officers from two
to four remain and in many cases they are wounded. Other officers
are youngsters commissioned after a short training and enjoying no
authority owing to their lack of experience. It is upon these new
cadres that the task has fallen to remodel the Army on a new basis, and
that task has so far proved beyond their capacity. Although we felt
that a change was necessary and that it had already come too late, the
ground was nevertheless unprepared. The uneducated soldier understood
it as a deliverance from the officers' yoke. The officers greeted the
change with enthusiasm. Had this not been so, the Revolution may not
have probably passed so smoothly. The result, however, was that freedom
was only given to the men, whereas the officers had to be content
to play the part of pariahs of liberty. The unconscious masses were
intoxicated with liberty. Everyone knows that extensive rights have
been granted, but they do not know what these rights are, and nobody
bothers about duties. The position of the officers is very difficult.
From 15 to 20 per cent. have rapidly adapted themselves to the new
conditions, because they believed that these conditions were all to
the good. Those of the officers who were trusted by the men did not
lose that trust. Some, however, became too familiar with the men, were
too lenient and even encouraged internal dissensions amongst the men.
But the majority of the officers, about 75 per cent., were unable to
adapt themselves. They were offended, retired to the background and
do not know what to do now. We are trying to bring them into contact
with the soldiers once more, because we need the officers for continued
fighting, and we have no other cadres. Many of the officers have no
political training, do not know how to make speeches--and this, of
course, handicaps the work of mutual understanding. It is necessary to
explain and to instil into the masses the idea that freedom has been
granted to _everyone_. I have known our soldiers for forty-five years,
I love them and I will do my best to bring them into close touch with
the officers, but the Provisional Government, the Duma and particularly
the Soviet should also make every effort in order to assist in that
work which must be done as soon as possible in the interests of the
country. It is also necessary, owing to the peculiar fashion in
which the illiterate masses have understood the watchword "without
annexations and indemnities." One of the regiments has declared that
not only would it refuse to advance, but desired to leave the front and
to go home. The Committees opposed this tendency, but were told that
they would be dismissed. I had a lengthy argument with the regiment,
and when I asked the men whether they agreed with me, they begged leave
to give me a written answer. A few minutes later they presented to me
a poster: "Peace at any price and down with the War." In the course of
a subsequent talk I had with one of the men, he said to me: "If there
are to be no annexations, why do we want that hill top?" My reply
was: "I also do not want the hill top, but we must beat the enemy who
is occupying it." Finally, the men promised to hold on, but refused
to advance, arguing that "the enemy is good to us and has informed
us that he will not advance provided we do not move. It is important
that we should go home to enjoy freedom and the land. Why should we
allow ourselves to be maimed?" Is it to be an offensive or a defensive
campaign? Success can be only obtained by an offensive. If we conduct
a passive defence the front is bound to be broken. If discipline is
strong a break-through may yet be remedied. But we must not forget that
we have no well-disciplined troops, that they are badly trained and
that the officers have no authority. In these circumstances an enemy
success may easily become a catastrophe. The masses must, therefore, be
persuaded that we must advance instead of remaining on the defensive.

We thus have many shortcomings, but numerical superiority is still
on our side. If the enemy succeeds in breaking the French and the
British, he will throw his entire weight upon us and we will then be
lost. We need a strong government upon which we could rely, and we
whole-heartedly greet the coalition government. The power of the State
can only be strong when it leans upon the Army, which represents the
armed forces of the nation.

_General Dragomirov._--The prevailing spirit in the Army is the
desire of peace. Anyone might be popular in the Army who would preach
peace without annexations and would advocate self-determination. The
illiterate masses have understood the idea of "no annexations" in a
peculiar fashion. They do not understand the conditions of different
peoples, and they repeatedly ask the question: "Why do not the Allied
democracies join in our declarations?" The desire for peace is so
strong that reinforcements refuse to accept equipment and arms and say:
"They are no good to us as we do not intend to fight." Work has come to
a standstill and it is even necessary to see to it that trenches are
not dismantled and that roads are mended. In one of the best regiments
we found, on the sector which it had occupied, a red banner inscribed:
"Peace at all costs." The officer who tore that banner had to flee for
his life. During the night men from that regiment were searching for
the officer at Dvinsk, as he had been concealed by the Headquarters
Staff. The dreadful expression "Adherents of the old régime" caused
the best officers to be cast out of the Army. We all wanted a change,
and yet many excellent officers, the pride of the Army, had to join
the Reserve simply because they tried to prevent the disruption of the
Army, but failed to adapt themselves to the new conditions. What is
much more fatal is the growth of slackness and of a lingering spirit.
Egoism is reaching terrible proportions, and each unit thinks only of
its own welfare; endless deputations come to us daily, demanding to
be relieved, to remove Commanding Officers, to be re-equipped, etc.
All these deputations have to be addressed, and this hinders our work.
Orders that used to be implicitly obeyed now demand lengthy arguments;
if a battery is moved to a different sector, there is immediate
discontent, and the men say: "You are weakening us--you are traitors."
Owing to the weakness of the Baltic Fleet, we found it necessary to
send an Army Corps to the rear to meet the eventual landing of an enemy
force, but we were unable to do so, because the men said: "Our line
is long enough as it is and if we lengthen it still more we will be
unable to hold the enemy." Formerly we had no difficulty whatsoever
in regrouping the troops. In September, 1915, eleven Army Corps were
removed from the Western front, and this saved us from a defeat which
might have decided the fate of the War. At present such a thing would
be impossible, as every unit raises objections to the slightest move.
It is very difficult to compel the men to do anything in the interests
of the Mother Country. Regiments refuse to relieve their comrades
in the firing line under various excuses--such as bad weather, or
the fact that not all their men had had their baths. On one occasion
a unit refused to go to the front on the plea that it had already
been in the firing line at Easter time. We are compelled to ask the
Committees of various regiments to argue the matter out. Only a small
minority of officers is behaving in an undignified manner, trying to
make themselves popular by bowing to the instincts of the men. The
system of elections has not been introduced in its entirety, but many
unpopular officers have been summarily dismissed as they were accused
of being adherents to the old régime; other Commanding Officers, who
had been considered incompetent and liable to dismissal, have been made
to stay. It was quite impossible not to grant the demands for their
retention. With regard to excesses there have been individual cases of
shootings of officers.... Things cannot continue on these lines. We
want strong power. We have fought for the country. You have taken the
ground from under our feet. Will you kindly restore it? Our obligations
are colossal, and we must have the power in order to be able to lead to
victory the millions of soldiers who are entrusted to our care.

_General Stcherbatchov._--The illiteracy of the soldiery is the main
reason of all these phenomena. It is not, of course, the fault of our
people that it is illiterate. For this the old régime is entirely
responsible, as it looked upon education from the point of view of the
Ministry of the Interior. Nevertheless, we have to reckon with the fact
that the masses do not understand the gravity of our position, and that
they misinterpret even such ideas as may be considered reasonable....
If we do not wish Russia to collapse, we must continue the struggle
and we must advance. Otherwise we shall witness a grotesque sight.
The representatives of oppressed Russia fought heroically; but having
overthrown the government that was striving for peace with dishonour,
the citizens of free Russia are refusing to fight and to safeguard
their liberties. This is grotesque, strange, incomprehensible. But it
is so. The reason is that discipline has gone and there is no faith
in the Commanding Officers. Mother Country, to most men, is an empty
sound. These conditions are most painful, but they are particularly
painful on the Roumanian front, where one has to reckon not only with
military surroundings of specific difficulty, but also with a very
complex political atmosphere. Our people are used to plains, and the
mountainous nature of the theatre of war has a depressing effect upon
the troops. We often hear the complaint: "Do not keep us in these
cursed mountains." We have only one railway line to rely upon for
supplies, and have great difficulty in feeding the troops. This, of
course, enhances discontent. The fact that we are fighting on Roumanian
territory is interpreted as a fight "for Roumania," which is also an
unpopular idea. The attitude of the local population is not always
friendly, and the men come to the conclusion that they are being
refused assistance by those on whose behalf they are fighting. Friction
thus arises and deepens, because some of the Roumanians blame us for
the defeats which they have themselves suffered and owing to which
they have lost most of their territory and of their belongings. The
Roumanian Government and the Allied representatives are well aware of
the ferment in our Army, and their attitude towards us is changing.
I personally noticed that a shadow has fallen between us, and that
the former respect and faith in the prowess of the Russian Army have
vanished. I still enjoy great authority, but if the disruption of the
Army continues not only shall we lose our Allies but make enemies of
them, and there would then be a danger of peace being made at our
expense. In 1914 we advanced across the whole of Galicia. In 1915, in
our retreat, we took at the South-Western front 100,000 prisoners.
You may judge what that retreat was like and what was the spirit of
the troops. In the summer of 1916 we saved Italy from disaster. Is
it possible that we may now abandon the Allied cause and be false to
our obligations? The Army is in a state of disruption, but that can
be remedied. Should we succeed, within a month and a half our brave
officers and men would advance again. History will wonder at the
inadequate means with which we achieved brilliant results in 1916. If
you wish to raise the Russian Army and to convert it into a strong
organised body which will dictate the terms of peace, you must help us.
All is not lost yet, but only on condition that the Commanding Officers
will regain prestige and confidence. We hope that full powers in the
Army will once again be vested in the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, who
alone can manage the troops. We will obey the will of the Provisional
Government, but you must give us strong support.

_General Gourko._--If you wish to continue the War till the desired
end, you must restore the power of the Army. We have received the draft
of the "Declaration" (of the rights of the soldier). Gutchkov would
not sign it and has resigned. I am bound to say that if a civilian
has resigned and refused to sign that declaration--to us, the Army
Chiefs, it is inacceptable. It simply completely destroys everything
that is left. I will recount to you an episode which occurred while I
was temporarily holding the office of Chief-of-Staff of the Supreme
C.-in-C.

On February 13th I had a long talk with the late Czar, trying to
persuade him to grant a responsible ministry. As a last trump card, I
alluded to our international position, to the attitude of our Allies
and to the probable consequences of this measure. But my card was
already beaten. I will now endeavour to describe our international
position. We have no direct indication of the attitude of our Allies
towards our intentions to give up the struggle. We cannot, of course,
force them to express their innermost thoughts. As in time of war, one
is often compelled to come to a decision "for the enemy," I will now
try to argue "for the Allies."

It was easy to begin the Revolution, but we have been submerged by its
tidal wave. I trust that common sense will help us to survive this. If
not, if the Allies realise our impotence, the principles of practical
policy will force upon them the only issue--a separate peace. That
would not be on their part a breach of obligations, because we had
promised to fight together and have now come to a standstill. If one
of the parties is fighting and the other is sitting in the trenches,
like a Chinese dragon, waiting for the result of the fight--you must
agree that the fighting side may begin to think of making separate
peace. Such a peace would, of course, be concluded at our expense.
The Austrians and the Germans can get nothing from our Allies: their
finance is in a state of collapse and they have no natural riches.
Our finances are also in a state of collapse, but we have immense
untouched natural resources. Our Allies would, of course, come to such
a decision only as a last resort, because it would be not peace, but a
lengthy armistice. Bred as they are upon the ideals of the nineteenth
century, the Germans, having enriched themselves at our expense, would
once again fall upon us and upon our late Allies. You may say that if
this is possible why should we not conclude a separate peace first.
Here I will mention first of all the moral aspect of the question. The
obligation was undertaken by Russia, not merely by the late autocrat.
I was aware--long before you had heard of it--of the duplicity of the
Czar, who had concluded soon after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 an
alliance with the Emperor William, while the Franco-Russian Alliance
was still in existence. The free Russian people, responsible for its
acts, cannot renounce its obligations. But setting aside the moral
aspect, there remains the material problem. If we open negotiations
they cannot remain secret, and our Allies would hear of it within
two or three days. They would also enter into a parley, and a kind
of auction sale would begin. The Allies are, of course, richer than
ourselves, but on their side the struggle has not yet ended; besides,
our enemies could get much more at our expense. It is precisely from
the international point of view that we must prove our capacity for
a continued struggle. I will not continue to revolutionise the Army,
because if I should we might find ourselves powerless not only to
advance but even to remain on the defensive. The latter is infinitely
more difficult. In 1915 we retreated and orders were obeyed. You
were entitled to expect this, because we had trained the Army. The
position has now been altered; you have created something new and have
deprived us of power. You can no longer hold us responsible, and the
responsibility must fall heavily upon your heads. You say that the
Revolution is still proceeding. Listen to us. We are better acquainted
with the psychology of the troops, we have gone with them through
thick and thin. Stop the Revolution and give us, the military Chiefs,
a chance to do our duty and to bring Russia to such a condition in
which you may continue your work. Otherwise, we will hand over to you
not Russia, but a field in which our enemies will sow and reap, and
Democracy itself will curse you. It will be Democracy that will suffer
if the Germans win. Democracy will be starving--while the peasants will
always manage to feed themselves on their own land. It was said of
the old régime that it "played into the hands of William." Will it be
possible to level the same accusation against you? William is fortunate
indeed, as both Monarchs and Democracies are playing into his hands.
The Army is on the eve of disruption. Our Mother Country is in danger
and is nearing a collapse. You must help. It is easy to destroy, and if
you know how to destroy--you should also know how to rebuild.

_General Alexeiev._--The main points have been stated, and they are
true. The Army is on the brink of the abyss. Another step and it will
fall into the abyss and will drag along Russia and all her liberties,
and there will be no return. Everyone is guilty, and the guilt lies
heavily upon all that has been done in that direction for the last
two and a half months. We have made every effort and are now devoting
all our strength to the task of restoring the Army. We trust that Mr.
Kerensky will apply all his qualities of mind and character and all
his influence to that consummation, and will help us. But that is
not enough. Those who have been disrupting the Army must also help.
Those who have issued the Order No. 1 must issue a series of orders
and comments. If the "Declaration" is published, as Gutchkov said,
the last flimsy foundations will fall into dust and the last hope
will be dashed. Be patient, there is time still. That which has been
granted in the last two and a half months has not as yet taken root.
We have regulations defining rights and duties. All the regulations
that are issued nowadays only mention rights. You must do away with
the idea that peace will come by itself. Those who say "down with the
War" are traitors, and those who say "there should be no advance"
are cowards. We still have men with sincere convictions. Let them
come to us not as passing stars, but let them live with us and dispel
the misunderstandings that have arisen. You have the Press. May it
encourage patriotism and demand that everyone do his duty.

_Prince Lvov._--We have heard the Commanders-in-Chief, we understand
all they have said and will do our duty to our country till the end.

_Tzeretelli._--There is no one here who has contributed to the
disruption of the Army and played into the hands of William. I have
heard the accusation that the Soviet has contributed to the disruption
of the Army. And yet everyone agrees that the Soviet is the only
institution that enjoys authority at present. What would happen were
there no Soviet? Fortunately, Democracy has come to the rescue and
we still have hope in salvation. What can you do? There are only two
paths for you to follow. One is to reject the policy of the Soviets.
But you would then have no source of power wherewith to hold the Army
and to lead it for the salvation of Russia. Your other path is the
true path, which we have tried; the path of unity with the desires
and expectations of the people. If the Commanding Officers have
failed to make it quite clear that the whole strength of the Army
for the defence of the country lay in the advance, there is no magic
wand capable of doing it. It is alleged that the watchword "Without
annexations or indemnities" has demoralised the Army and the masses.
It is quite likely that it has been misunderstood, but it should have
been explained that this was the ultimate aim; we cannot renounce that
watchword. We are aware that Russia is in danger, but her defence is
a matter for the people as a whole. The Power must be united and must
enjoy the confidence of the people, but this can only be achieved
if the old policy is completely discarded. Unity can only be based
on confidence, which cannot be bought. The ideals of the Soviet are
not those of separate and small groups--they are the ideals of the
country. To renounce them is to renounce the country. You might,
perhaps, understand Order No. 1 if you knew the conditions in which it
was issued. We were confronted with an unorganised mob and we had to
organise it. The masses of the soldiery do not wish to go on with the
War. They are wrong, and I cannot believe that they are prompted by
cowardice. It is the result of distrust. Discipline should remain. But
if the soldiers realise that you are not fighting against Democracy,
they will trust you. By this means the Army may yet be saved. By this
means the authority of the Soviet will be strengthened. There is only
one way of salvation, the way of confidence and of the Democratisation
of the country and of the Army. It is by accepting those principles
that the Soviet has gained the confidence of the people and is now in
a position to carry out its ideas. As long as that is so, not all is
lost. You must try to enhance the confidence in the Soviet.

_Skobelev._--We have not come here to listen to reproaches. We know
what is going on in the Army. The conditions which you have described
are undoubtedly ominous. It will depend upon the spirit of the Russian
people whether the ultimate goal will be reached and whether we shall
come out of the present difficulty with honour. I consider it necessary
to explain the circumstances in which Order No. 1 was issued. In the
troops which had overthrown the old régime, the Commanding Officers
had not joined the mutineers; we were compelled to issue that Order so
as to deprive these officers of authority. We were anxious about the
attitude of the front towards the Revolution and about the instructions
that were being given. We have proved to-day that our misgivings were
not unfounded. Let us speak the truth: the activities of the Commanding
Staff have prevented the Army, in these two and a half months, from
understanding the Revolution. We quite realise the difficulties of
your position. But when you say that the Revolution must be stayed, we
are bound to reply that the Revolution cannot begin or end to order.
Revolution may take its normal course when the mental process of the
Revolution spreads all over the country, when it is understood by the
70 per cent. of illiterate people.

Far be it from us to demand that all Commanding Officers be elected. We
agree with you that we have power and have succeeded in attaining it.
When you will understand the aims of the Revolution and will help the
people to understand our watchword, you will also acquire the necessary
power. The people must know what they are fighting for. You are leading
the Army for the defeat of the enemy, and you must explain that a
strategical advance is necessary in order that the watchwords that
have been proclaimed may be vindicated. We trust the new War Minister
and hope that a revolutionary Minister will continue our work and will
hasten the mental process of the Revolution in the heads of those who
think too slowly.

_The War Minister--Kerensky._--As Minister and Member of the
Government, I must say that we are trying to save the country and to
restore the fighting capacity and activities of the Russian Army. _We
assume responsibility, but we also assume the right to lead the Army_
and to show it the path of future development. Nobody has been uttering
reproaches here. Everyone has described what he has lived through and
has tried to define the causes of events, but our aims and desires are
the same. The Provisional Government recognises that the Soviet has
played a prominent part and admits its work of organisation--otherwise
I would not be War Minister. No one can level accusations at the
Soviet. But no one can accuse the Commanding Staffs either, because the
officers have borne the brunt of the Revolution quite as much as the
rest of the Russian people. Everyone understands the position. Now that
my comrades are joining the Government, it will be easier to attain our
common aims. There is but one thing for us to do--to save our freedom.
I will ask you to proceed to your commands and to remember that the
whole of Russia stands behind you and behind the Army. It is our aim to
give our country complete freedom. But this cannot be done unless we
show the world at large that we are strong in spirit.

_General Gourko_ (replying to Skobelev and Tzeretelli).--We are
discussing the matter from different angles. Discipline is the
fundamental condition of the existence of the Army. The percentage of
losses which a unit may suffer without losing its fighting capacity
is the measure of its endurance. I have spent eight months in the
South African Republics and have seen regiments of two different
kinds: (1) Small, disciplined and (2) Volunteer, undisciplined. The
former continued to fight and did not lose their fighting power when
their losses amounted to 50 per cent. The latter, although they were
volunteers who knew what they were fighting for, left the ranks and
fled from the battlefield after losing 10 per cent. No force on earth
could induce them to fight. That is the difference between disciplined
and undisciplined troops. We demand discipline. We do all we can to
persuade. But your authoritative voice must be heard. We must remember
that if the enemy advances, we shall fall to pieces like a pack of
cards. If you will not cease to revolutionise the Army--you must assume
power yourselves.

_Prince Lvov._--Our ends are the same and everyone will do his duty. I
thank you for your visit and for giving us your views.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Conference came to a close. The Commanders-in-Chief rejoined their
fronts, fully conscious that the last card had been beaten. At the same
time, the Soviet orators and the Press started a campaign of abuse
against Generals Alexeiev, Gourko and Dragomirov, which rendered their
resignations imperative. On the 9th of May, as I already mentioned,
Kerensky confirmed the "Declaration" while issuing an Order of the Day
on the inadmissibility of senior Commanding Officers relinquishing
their posts "in order to shirk responsibility." What was the impression
produced by that fateful Order?

Kerensky _afterwards_ tried to adduce the excuse that the regulation
was drafted before he had assumed office and was approved of by the
Executive Committee as well as by "military authorities," and that he
had no reason to refuse to confirm it; in a word, that he was compelled
to do so. But I recall more than one of Kerensky's speeches in which,
believing his course to be the right one, he prided himself on his
courage in issuing a Declaration "which Gutchkov had not dared to sign,
and which had evoked the protests of all the Commanding Officers."
On May 13th the Executive Committee of the Soviets responded to the
Declaration by an enthusiastic proclamation which dwelt mainly upon the
question of saluting. Poor, indeed, was the mind that inspired this
verbiage: "Two months we have waited for this day.... Now the soldier
is by law a citizen.... Henceforward the citizen soldier is free from
the servile saluting, and will greet anyone he chooses as an equal and
free man.... In the Revolutionary Army discipline will live through
popular enthusiasm ... and not by means of compulsory saluting...."
Such were the men who undertook to reorganise the Army.

As a matter of fact, the majority of the Revolutionary Democracy of
the Soviets were not satisfied with the Declaration. They described
it as "a new enslavement of the soldier," and a campaign was opened
for further widening of these rights. Members of the Defencist
coalition demanded that the Regimental Committees should be empowered
to challenge the appointments of the Commanding Officers and to give
them attestations, as well as that freedom of speech should be granted
on service. Their chief demand, however, was for the exclusion of
Paragraph 14 of the Declaration entitling the Commanding Officer to use
arms in the firing line against insubordination. I need hardly mention
the disapproval of the Left, "Defeatist" Section of the Soviet.

The Liberal Press utterly failed to appraise the importance of the
Declaration and never treated it seriously. The official organ of the
Constitutional Democratic Party (_Retch_, May 11th) had an article
which expressed great satisfaction that the Declaration "afforded
every soldier the chance of taking part in the political life of the
country, definitely freed him from the shackles of the old régime and
led him from the stale atmosphere of the old barracks into the fresh
air of liberty." It also said that "throughout the world all other
armies are remote from politics, whilst the Russian Army will be the
first to enjoy the fullness of political rights." Even the Conservative
paper (_Novoc Vremia_) said in a leading article: "It is a memorable
day; to-day the great Army of mighty Russia becomes truly the Army
of the Revolution.... Intercourse between warriors of all ranks will
henceforward be placed upon the common foundation of a sense of duty
binding on every citizen, irrespective of rank. And the Revolutionary
Army of regenerated Russia will go forward to the great ordeal of blood
with faith in victory and in peace." Difficult, indeed, was the task
of the Commanding Officers who were endeavouring to preserve the Army
when they found that the fundamental principles upon which the very
existence of the Army depended were misunderstood so grossly, even in
circles which had heretofore been considered as the mainstay of Russian
statesmanship.

The Commanding Officers were still more disheartened, and the Army fell
into the abyss with ever-increasing rapidity.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE PRESS AND PROPAGANDA.


In the late World War, along with aeroplanes, tanks, poison gases
and other marvels of military _technique_, a new and powerful weapon
came to the fore, viz: _propaganda_. Strictly speaking, it was not
altogether new, for as far back as 1826 Canning said, in the House of
Commons: "Should we ever have to take part in a war we shall gather
under our flag all the rebels, all those who, with or without cause,
are discontented in the country that goes against us." But now this
means of conflict attained an extraordinary development, intensity
and organisation, attacking the most morbid and sensitive points of
national psychology. Organised on a large scale, supplied with vast
means, the propaganda organs of Great Britain, France and America,
especially those of Great Britain, carried on a terrible warfare by
word of mouth, in the Press, in the films and ... with gold, extending
this warfare over the territories of the enemy, the Allies and the
neutrals, introducing it into all spheres--military, political, moral
and economic. The more so, that Germany especially gave grounds enough
for propaganda to have a plentiful supply of irrefragable, evidential
material at its disposal. It is difficult to enumerate, even in their
general features alone, that enormous arsenal of ideas which, step by
step, drop by drop, deepened class differences, undermined the power of
the State, sapped the moral powers of the enemy and their confidence
in victory, disintegrated their alliance, roused the neutral powers
against them and finally raised the falling spirits of their allied
peoples. Nevertheless, we should not attach exceptional importance to
this external moral pressure, as the leaders of the German people are
now doing, to justify themselves: Germany has suffered a political,
economic, military and moral defeat. It was only the interaction of all
these factors that determined the fatal issue of the struggle, which,
towards its end, became a lingering death-agony. One could only marvel
at the vitality of the German people, which, by its intellectual power
and the stability of its political thought, held out so long, until at
last, in November, 1918, "a double death-blow, both at the front and
in the rear," laid it in the dust. In connection with this, history
will undoubtedly note a great analogy between the parts played by the
"Revolutionary Democracies" of Russia and of Germany in the destinies
of these peoples. After the _débâcle_ the leader of the German
Independent Social Democrats acquainted the country with the great and
systematic work which they had carried on, from the beginning of 1918,
for the breaking down of the German Army and Navy, to the glory of the
social revolution. In this work one is struck by the similarity of
method and _modus operandi_ with those practised in Russia.

While unable to resist British and French propaganda, the Germans were
very successful in applying this means to their Eastern antagonist, the
more so that: "Russia created her own misfortunes," said Ludendorff,
"and the work which we carried on there was not too hard."

The results of the interaction of the skilful hand of Germany with the
movements which arose, less from the fact itself of the Revolution than
from the individual character of the Russian rebellion, exceeded the
highest hopes of the Germans.

The work was carried on in three directions--political, military and
social. In the first we note the idea, quite clearly and definitely
formulated and systematically carried out by the German Government,
_of the dismemberment of Russia_. Its realisation took shape in the
proclamation, on November 15, 1916, of the Kingdom of Poland[20] _with
a territory which was to extend eastward "as far as possible"_; in the
creation of the States of Courland and Lithuania--"independent," but
in union with Germany; in the sharing of the White Russian provinces
between Poland and Lithuania, and, finally, in the prolonged and very
persistent preparation of the secession of Little Russia, which took
place later, in 1918. While the former facts had a meaning only in
principle, concerning, as they did, territories actually occupied by
the Germans and defined the character of the future "annexations," the
attitude assumed by the Central Powers with respect to Little Russia
exercised a direct influence on the stability of our South-Western
front, creating political complications in the country and separatist
tendencies in the Army. I shall return to this question later.

The German Headquarters included an excellently organised
"press-bureau," which, besides influencing and directing the home Press,
also guided German propaganda, which penetrated mainly into Russia and
France. Miliukov quotes a circular issued by the German Foreign Office
to all its representatives in neutral countries: "You are informed that
on the territory of the country to which you are accredited, special
offices have been instituted for the organisation of propaganda in the
States, now fighting with the German coalition. The propaganda will
be engaged in exciting the social movement and, in connection with
the latter, strikes, revolutionary outbreaks, separatism, among the
constituent parts of these States, and civil war, as well as agitation
in favour of disarmament and the cessation of the present sanguinary
slaughter. You are instructed to afford all possible protection and
support to the directors of the said propaganda offices."

It is curious that, in the summer of 1917, the British Press took up
arms against Sir George Buchanan and the British Propaganda Ministry
for their inertness in the matter of influencing the Democracy of
Russia and of fighting German propaganda in that country. One of the
papers pointed out that the British bureau of Russian propaganda had
at its head a novelist and literary beginners who had "as much idea of
Russia as of Chinese metaphysics."

As for us, neither in our Government departments nor at the Stavka did
we have any organ whatever which was even in some degree reminiscent of
the mighty Western propaganda institutions. One of the sections of the
Quartermaster-General's department had charge of technical questions,
concerning relations with the Press, and was left without importance,
influence, or any active task. The Russian Army, well or badly, fought
in primitive ways, without ever having recourse to that "poisoning of
the enemy's spirit," which was so widely practised in the West. And it
paid for this with superfluous torrents of blood. But if opinions may
differ regarding the morality of destructive propaganda, we cannot but
note our complete inertness and inactivity in another and perfectly
pure sphere. We did absolutely nothing to acquaint foreign public
opinion with the exceptionally important part played by Russia and
the Russian Army in the World War, with the enormous losses suffered
and the sacrifices made by the Russian people, with those constant
majestic deeds of self-sacrifice, incomprehensible, perhaps, to the
cold understanding of our Western friends, which the Russian Army made
whenever the Allied front was within a hair's-breadth of defeat....
Such a want of comprehension of the part played by Russia I have
met with almost everywhere, in wide social circles, long after the
conclusion of peace, in my wanderings over Europe.

The following small episode is a burlesque, but very characteristic
instance of this. On a banner presented to Marshal Foch "from American
friends" are depicted the flags of all countries, lands and colonies,
which in one way or another came within the orbit of the Entente; the
Russian flag occupies the forty-sixth place, after Hayti and Uruguay
and immediately after San-Marino.

Is this ignorance or triviality?

We did nothing to lay a firm moral foundation for national unity during
our occupation of Galicia, did not draw public opinion to our side
during the occupation of Roumania by the Russian troops, did nothing
to restrain the Bulgarian people from betraying the interests of the
Slavonic races. Finally, we took no advantage of the presence on
Russian soil of an enormous number of prisoners, to give them at least
a correct idea of Russia.

The Stavka, firmly barricaded within the sphere of purely military
questions connected with the carrying out of the campaign, made no
attempt to gain any influence over the general course of political
events, which agrees completely with the service idea of a national
army. But, at the same time, the Stavka distinctly avoided influencing
the public spirit of the country so as to lead this powerful factor to
moral co-operation in the struggle. There was no connection with the
leading organs of the Press, which was represented at the Stavka by men
possessing neither weight nor influence.

When the thunderstorm of the Revolution broke and the political
whirlwind swept up and convulsed the Army, the Stavka could remain
inert no longer. It had to respond. The more so, that suddenly no
source of moral power was to be found in Russia which might have
protected the Army. The Government, especially the War Office, rushed
irresistibly down the path of opportunism; the Soviets and the
Socialist Press undermined the Army; the Bourgeois Press now cried
"videant consules ne quid Imperio detrimenti caparet," now naïvely
rejoiced at the "democratisation and liberation" which were taking
place. Even in what might have been considered the competent spheres
of the higher military bureaucracy of Petrograd there reigned such a
variety of views, as plunged the public opinion of the country into
perplexity and bewilderment.

It turned out, however, that for the conflict the Stavka possessed
neither organisation nor men, neither technique nor knowledge and
experience. And, worst of all, the Stavka was in some way or other
shoved and thrown aside by the madly-careering chariot of life. Its
voice grew weaker and sank into silence.

[Illustration: The Old Army: a review. General Ivanov.]

[Illustration: The Revolutionary Army: a review. Kerensky.]

The second Quartermaster-General--General Markov--had a serious task
before him--he had to create the necessary apparatus, to establish
communications with the important papers, to supply the Stavka with
a "megaphone" and raise the condition of the Army Press, which was
leading a wretched existence and which the army organisations were
trying to destroy. Markov took up the task warmly, but failed to do
anything serious, as he only remained in office two months. Every step
of the Stavka in this direction called forth from the Revolutionary
Democracy a disingenuous accusation of counter-revolutionary action.
And Liberal Bourgeois Moscow, to which he turned for aid, in the form
of intellectual and technical assistance in his task, replied with
eloquent promises, but did absolutely nothing.

Thus the Stavka had no means at all, not only for actively combating
the disintegration of the Army, but for resisting German propaganda,
which was spreading rapidly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ludendorff says frankly and with a national egotism rising to a high
degree of cynicism: "I did not doubt that the _débâcle_ of the Russian
Army and the Russian people was fraught with great danger for Germany
and Austria-Hungary.... _In sending Lenin to Russia_ our Government
assumed an enormous responsibility! This journey was justified from a
military point of view; _it was necessary that Russia should fall_. But
our Government should have taken measures that this should not happen
to Germany."[21]

Even now the boundless sufferings of the Russian people, now "out of
the ranks," did not call forth a single word of pity or regret from its
moral corrupters....

With the beginning of the campaign, the Germans altered the direction
of their work with respect to Russia. Without breaking their
connections with the well-known reactionary circles at Court, in the
Government and in the Duma, using all means for influencing these
circles and all their motives--greed, ambition, German atavism, and
sometimes a peculiar understanding of patriotism--the Germans entered
at the same time into close fellowship with the Russian Revolutionaries
in the country, and especially abroad, amongst the multitudinous
emigrant colony. Directly or indirectly, all were drawn into the
service of the German Government--great agents in the sphere of spying
and recruiting, like Parvus (Helfand); provocateurs, connected with the
Russian Secret Police, like Blum; propaganda agents--Oulianoff (Lenin),
Bronstein (Trotsky), Apfelbaum (Zinovieff), Lunacharsky, Ozolin, Katz
(Kamkoff), and many others. And in their wake went a whole group of
shallow or unscrupulous people, cast over the frontier and fanatically
hating the _régime_ which had rejected them--hating it to the degree
of forgetfulness of their native land, or squaring accounts with this
_régime_, acting sometimes as blind tools in the hands of the German
General Staff. What their motives were, what their pay, how far they
went--these are details; what is important is that they sold Russia,
serving those aims which were set before them by our foe. They were all
closely interlaced with one another and with the agents of the German
Secret Service, forming with them one unbroken conspiracy.

The work began with a widespread Revolutionary and Separatist
(Ukrainian) propaganda among the prisoners of war. According to
Liebknecht, "the German Government not only helped this propaganda,
but carried it on itself." These aims were served by the Committee
of Revolutionary Propaganda, founded in 1915 at The Hague by the
Union for the Liberation of the Ukraine in Austria by the Copenhagen
Institute (Parvus's organisation), and a whole series of papers of a
Revolutionary and Defeatist character, partly published at the expense
of the German Staff, partly subsidised by it--the _Social Democrat_
(Geneva--Lenin's paper), _Nashe Slovo_ (Paris--Trotsky's paper), _Na
Tchoozhbeenie_ (Geneva--contributions from Tchernoff, Katz and others),
_Russkii Viestnik_, _Rodnaya Retch_, _Nedielia_, and so forth. Similar
to this was the activity--the spread of Defeatist and Revolutionary
literature, side by side with purely charitable work--of the Committee
of Intellectual Aid to Russian Prisoners of War in Germany and Austria
(Geneva), which was in connection with official Moscow and received
subsidies from it.

To define the character of these publications it is enough to quote
two or three phrases expressing the views of their inspirers. Lenin
said in the _Social Democrat_: "The least evil will be the defeat
of the Czarist monarchy, the most barbarous and reactionary of all
Governments." Tchernoff, the future Minister of Agriculture, declared
in the _Mysl_ that he had one Fatherland only--the International!

Along with literature the Germans invited Lenin's and Tchernoff's
collaborators, especially from the editorial staff of _Na
Tchoozhbeenie_, to lecture in the camps, while a German spy, Consul Von
Pelche, carried on a large campaign for the recruiting of agitators for
propaganda in the ranks of the Army--among the Russian emigrants of
conscript age and of Left Wing politics.

All this was but preparatory work. The Russian Revolution opened
boundless vistas for German propaganda. Along with honest people, once
persecuted, who had struggled for the good of the people, there rushed
into Russia all that revolutionary riff-raff which absorbed the members
of the Russian secret police, the international informers and the
rebels.

The Petrograd authorities feared most of all the accusation of want of
Democratic spirit. Miliukov, as Minister, stated repeatedly that "the
Government considers unconditionally possible the return to Russia of
all emigrants, regardless of their views on the War and independently
of their registration in the International Control List."[22] This
Minister carried on a dispute with the British, demanding the release
of the Bolsheviks, Bronstein (Trotsky), Zourabov and others, who had
been arrested by the British.

Matters were more complicated in the case of Lenin and his supporters.
Despite the demands of the Russian Government, the Allies would
undoubtedly have refused to let them through. Therefore, as Ludendorff
acknowledges, the German Government despatched Lenin and his companions
(the first group consisted of seventeen persons) to Russia, allowing
them free transit through Germany. This undertaking, which promised
extraordinarily important results, was richly financed with gold and
credit through the Stockholm (Ganetsky-Fuerstenberg) and Copenhagen
(Parvus) centres and through the Russian Siberian Bank. That gold
which, as Lenin expressed it, "does not smell."

In October, 1917, Bourtsev published a list of 159 persons brought
through Germany to Russia by order of the German General Staff. Nearly
all of them, according to Bourtsev, "were revolutionaries who, during
the War, had carried on a defeatist campaign in Switzerland and were
now William's voluntary or involuntary agents." Many of them at once
assumed a prominent position in the Social Democratic party, in the
Soviet, the Committee[23] and the Bolshevik Press. The names of Lenin,
Tsederbaum (Martov), Lunacharsky, Natanson, Riazanov, Apfelbaum
(Zinoviev) and others soon became the most fateful in Russian history.

On the day of Lenin's arrival in Petrograd the German paper _Die Woche_
devoted an article to this event, in which he was called "a true
friend of the Russian people and an honourable antagonist." And the
Cadet semi-official organ, the _Retch_, which afterwards boldly and
unwaveringly waged war against the Lenin party, greeted his arrival
with the words: "Such a generally acknowledged leader of the Socialist
party ought now to be in the arena, and his arrival in Russia, whatever
opinion may be held of his views, should be welcomed."

On April 3rd Lenin arrived in Petrograd, where he was received with
much state, and in a few days declared his theses, part of which formed
the fundamental themes of German propaganda: "Down with war and all
power to the Soviet!"

Lenin's first actions seemed so absurd and so clearly anarchistic that
they called forth protests not only in the whole of the Liberal Press,
but also in the greater part of the Socialist Press.

But, little by little, the Left Wing of the Revolutionary Democracy,
reinforced by German agents, joined overtly and openly in the
propaganda of its chief, without meeting any decisive rebuff either
from the double-minded Soviet or the feeble Government. The great wave
of German and mutinous propaganda engulfed more and more the Soviet,
the Committee, the Revolutionary Press, and the ignorant masses, and
was reflected, consciously or unconsciously, even among those who stood
at the helm of the State.

From the very first Lenin's organisation, as was said afterwards, in
July, in the report of the Procurator of the Petrograd High Court of
Justice, "aiming at assisting the States warring against Russia in
their hostile actions against her, entered into an agreement with the
agents of the said States to forward the disorganisation of the Russian
Army and the Russian rear, for which purpose it used the financial
means received from these States to organise a propaganda among the
population and the troops ... and also, for the same purpose, organised
in Petrograd, from July 3rd to 5th, an armed insurrection against the
Supreme Power existing in the State."

The Stavka had long and vainly raised its voice of warning. General
Alexeiev had, both personally and in writing, called on the Government
to take measures against the Bolsheviks and the spies. Several times
I myself applied to the War Office, sending in, among other things,
evidential material concerning Rakovsky's spying and documents
certifying the treason of Lenin, Skoropis-Yoltoukhovsky and others.
The part played by the Union for the Liberation of the Ukraine (of
which, besides others, Melenevsky and V. Doroshenko were members)[24]
as an organisation of the Central Powers for propaganda, spying and
recruiting for "Setch Ukraine units," was beyond all doubt. In one of
my letters (May 16th), based on the examination of a Russian officer,
Yermolenko, who had been a prisoner of war and had accepted the part
of a German agent for the purpose of disclosing the organisation,
the following picture was revealed: "Yermolenko was transferred to
our rear, on the front of the Sixth Army, to agitate for a speedy
conclusion of a separate peace with Germany. Yermolenko accepted this
commission at the insistence of his comrades. Two officers of the
German General Staff, Schiditzky and Lubar, informed him that a similar
agitation was being carried on in Russia by the sectional president of
the Union for the Liberation of the Ukraine, A. Skoropis-Yoltoukhovsky,
and by Lenin, as agents of the German General Staff. Lenin had been
instructed to seek to undermine by all means the confidence of the
Russian people in the Provisional Government. The money for this work
was received through one Svendson, an employee of the German Embassy in
Stockholm. These methods were practised before the Revolution also. Our
command turned its attention to the somewhat too frequent appearance
of "escaped prisoners." Many of them having surrendered to the enemy,
passed through a definite course of intelligence work, and having
received substantial pay and "papers," were permitted to pass over to
us through the line of trenches.

Being altogether unable to decide what was a case of courage and what
of treachery, we nearly always sent all escaped prisoners from the
European to the Caucasian Front.

All the representations of the High Command as to the insufferable
situation of the Army, in the face of such vast treachery, remained
without result. Kerensky carried on free debates in the Soviet with
Lenin on the subject whether the country and the Army should be broken
down or not, basing his action on the view that he was the "War
Minister of the Revolution," and that "freedom of opinion was sacred to
him, whencesoever it might proceed." Tzeretelli warmly defended Lenin:
"I do not agree with Lenin and his agitation. But what has been said by
Deputy Shulgin is a slander against Lenin, _Never has Lenin called for
actions which would infringe upon the course of the Revolution. Lenin
is carrying on an idealist propaganda._"

This much-talked-of freedom of opinion extremely simplified the work
of German propaganda, giving rise to such an unheard-of phenomenon as
the open preaching in German, at public meetings and in Kronstadt,
of a separate peace and of distrust of the Government, by an agent
of Germany, the President of the Zimmerwald and Kienthal Conference,
Robert Grimm!...

What a state of moral prostration and loss of all national dignity,
consciousness, and patriotism is presented by the picture of Tzeretelli
and Skobelev "vouching" for the _agent provocateur_; of Kerensky
importuning the Government to grant Grimm the right of entry into
Russia; of Tereshtchenko permitting it, and of Russians listening to
Grimm's speeches--without indignation, without resentment.

During the Bolshevik insurrection of July the officials of the Ministry
of Justice, exasperated by the laxity of the leaders of the Government,
decided, with the knowledge of their Minister, Pereverzev, to publish
my letter to the Minister of War and other documents, exposing Lenin's
treason to his country. The documents being a statement signed by two
Socialists, Alexinsky and Pankratov, were given to the printers. The
premature disclosure of this fact called forth a passionate protest
from Tchkheidze and Tzeretelli, and terrible anger on the part of the
Ministers Nekrassov and Tereshtchenko. The Government forbade the
publication of information which sullied the good name of comrade
Lenin, and had recourse to reprisals against the officials of the
Ministry of Justice. However, the statement appeared in the Press.
In its turn the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workmen's and
Soldiers' Delegates exhibited a touching care, not only for the
inviolability of the Bolsheviks, but even for their honour, by issuing
on July 5th a special appeal calling on people "to refrain from the
spreading of accusations reflecting dishonour" on Lenin and "other
political workers" pending the investigation of the matter by a special
commission. This consideration was openly expressed in a resolution
passed by the Central Executive Committees (on July 8th), which,
while condemning the attempt of the Anarchist-Bolshevist elements to
overthrow the Government, expressed the fear that the "inevitable"
measures to which the Government and the military authorities must
have recourse ... would create a basis for the demagogic agitation of
the counter-Revolutionaries who, for the time being, gathered round
the flag of the Revolutionary régime, but who might pave the way for a
military Dictatorship."

However, the exposure of the direct criminal participation of the
leaders of Bolshevism in acts of mutiny and treason may have obliged
the Government to begin repressions. Lenin and Apfelbaum (Zinoviev)
escaped to Finland, while Bronstein (Trotsky), Kozlovsky, Raskolnikov,
Remniov, and many others were arrested. Several Anarchist-Bolshevist
newspapers were suspended.

These repressions, however, were not of a serious character. Many
persons known to have been leaders in the mutiny were not charged at
all, and their work of destruction was continued with consistency and
energy.

       *       *       *       *       *

While carrying the war into our country the Germans persistently
and methodically put into practice another watchword--peace at the
Front. Fraternisation had taken place earlier as well, before the
Revolution; but it was then due to the hopelessly wearisome life in the
trenches, to curiosity, to a simple feeling of humanity even towards
the enemy--a feeling exhibited by the Russian soldier more than once
on the battlefield of Borodino, in the bastions of Sevastopol, and in
the Balkan mountains. Fraternisation took place rarely, was punished
by the commanders, and had no dangerous tendencies in it. But now the
German General Staff organised it on a large scale, systematically
and along the whole Front, with the participation of the higher Staff
organs and the commanders, with a detailed code of instructions, which
included the observation of our forces and positions, the demonstration
of the impressive armament and strength of their own positions,
persuasion as to the aimlessness of the War, the incitement of the
Russian soldiers against the Government and their commanders, in whose
interest exclusively this "sanguinary slaughter" was being continued.
Masses of the Defeatist literature manufactured in Germany were passed
over into our trenches, and at the same time agents of the Soviet and
the Committee travelled quite freely along the Front with similar
propaganda, with the organisation of "exhibition fraternisation," and
with whole piles of _Pravda_, _Trench Pravda_, _Social Democrat_, and
other products of our native Socialist intellect and conscience--organs
which, in their forceful argumentation, left the Jesuitical eloquence
of their German brethren far behind. At the same time a general
meeting of simple "delegates from the Front" in Petrograd was passing
a resolution in favour of allowing fraternisation for the purpose of
revolutionary propaganda among the enemy's ranks!

One cannot read without deep emotion of the feelings of Kornilov,
who, for the first time after the Revolution, in the beginning of
May, when in command of the Eighth Army, came into contact with this
fatal phenomenon in the life of our Front. They were written down by
Nezhintsev, at that time captain of the General Staff and later the
gallant commander of the Kornilov Regiment, who in 1918 fell in action
against the Bolsheviks at the storm of Ekaterinodar.

"When we had got well into the firing zone of the position," writes
Nezhintsev, "the General (Kornilov) looked very gloomy. His words,
'disgrace, treason,' showed his estimate of the dead silence of the
position. Then he remarked:

"'Do you feel all the nightmare horror of this silence? You understand
that we are watched by the enemy artillery observers and that we are
not fired at. Yes, the enemy are mocking us as weaklings. Can it be
that the Russian soldier is capable of informing the enemy of my
arrival at the position?'

"I was silent, but the sacred tears in the eyes of this hero touched me
deeply, and at this moment I vowed in my mind that I would die for him
and for our common Motherland. General Kornilov seemed to feel this. He
turned to me suddenly, pressed my hand, and turned away, as if ashamed
of his momentary weakness.

"The acquaintance of the new Commander with the infantry began with
the units in the Reserve, when formed in rank, holding a meeting and
replying to all appeals for the necessity of an advance by pointing
out how useless it was to continue a Bourgeois war, carried on by
'militarists.' When, after two hours of fruitless discussion, General
Kornilov, worn out morally and physically, proceeded to the trenches,
he found a scene there which could scarcely have been foreseen by any
soldier of this age.

"We entered into a system of fortifications where the trench-lines
of both sides were separated or, more correctly, joined by lines of
barbed wire.... The appearance of General Kornilov was greeted ... by
a group of German officers, who gazed insolently on the Commander of
the Russian Army; behind them stood some Prussian soldiers. The General
took my field-glasses and, ascending the parapet, began to examine the
arena of the fights to come. When someone expressed a fear that the
Prussians might shoot the Russian Commander, the latter replied:

"'I would be immensely glad if they did; perhaps it might sober our
befogged soldiers and put an end to this shameful fraternisation.'

"At the positions of a neighbouring regiment the Commander of the Army
was greeted by the _bravura_ march of a German Jaeger regiment, to
whose band our 'fraternising' soldiers were making their way. With the
remark, 'This is treason!' the General turned to an officer standing
next him, ordering the fraternisers from both sides to be told that if
this disgraceful scene did not cease at once he would turn the guns
loose on them. The disciplined Germans ceased playing and returned to
their own trenches, seemingly ashamed of the abominable spectacle.
But our soldiers--oh! they held meetings for a long time, complaining
of the way their 'counter-Revolutionary commanders oppressed their
liberty.'"

In general I do not cherish feelings of revenge. Yet I regret
exceedingly that General Ludendorff left the German Army prematurely,
before its break-up, and did not experience directly in its ranks those
inexpressibly painful moral torments which we Russian officers have
suffered.

[Illustration: Before the battle in the Revolutionary Army: a meeting.]

[Illustration: Types of men in the Revolutionary Army.]

Besides fraternisation, the enemy High Command practised, on an
extensive scale and with provocatory purpose, the dispatch of flags
of truce directly to the troops, or rather to the soldiers. Thus,
about the end of April on the Dvinsk Front there came with a flag of
truce a German officer, who was not received. He managed, however, to
address to the crowd of soldiers the words: "I have come to you with
offers of peace, and am empowered to speak even with the Provisional
Government, but your commanders do not wish for peace." These words
were spread rapidly, and caused agitation among the soldiers and
even threats to desert the Front. Therefore when, a few days later,
in the same section, _parliamentaires_ (a brigade commander, two
officers, and a bugler) made their appearance again, they were taken
to the Staff quarters of the Fifth Army. It turned out, of course,
that they had no authorisations, and could not even state more or
less definitely the object of their coming, since "the sole object of
the pseudo-_parliamentaires_ appearing on our Front," says an order
of the Commander-in-Chief, "has been to observe our dispositions and
our spirit, and, by a lying exhibition of their pacific feelings, to
incline our troops to an inaction profitable to the Germans and ruinous
to Russia and her freedom." Similar cases occurred on the Fronts of
the Eighth, Ninth, and other Armies.

It is characteristic that the Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern German
Front, Prince Leopold of Bavaria, found it possible to take a personal
part in this course of provocation. In two radiograms, bearing the
systematic character of the customary proclamations and intended for
the soldiers and the Soviet, he stated that the High Command was ready
to meet half-way "the repeatedly expressed desire of the Russian
Soldiers' Delegates to put an end to bloodshed"; that "military
operations between us (the Central Powers) and Russia could be put an
end to _without Russia breaking with her Allies_"; that "if Russia
wants to know the particulars of our conditions, let her give up her
demand for their publication...." And he finishes with a threat: "Does
the new Russian Government, instigated by its Allies, wish to satisfy
itself whether divisions of heavy guns are still to be found on our
Eastern Front?"

Earlier, when leaders did discreditable things to save their armies and
their countries, at least they were ashamed of it and kept silence.
Nowadays military traditions have undergone a radical change.

To the credit of the Soviet it must be said that it took a proper
view of this provocationary invitation, saying in reply: "The
Commander-in-Chief of the German troops on the Eastern Front offers us
'a separate truce and secrecy of negotiations.' But Russia knows that
the _débâcle_ of the Allies will be the beginning of the _débâcle_ of
her own Army, and the _débâcle_ of the Revolutionary troops of Free
Russia would mean not only new common graves, but the failure of the
Revolution, the fall of Free Russia."

       *       *       *       *       *

From the very first days of the Revolution a marked change naturally
took place in the attitude of the Russian Press. It expressed itself on
the one hand in a certain differentiation of all the Bourgeois organs,
which assumed a Liberal-Conservative character, the _tactics_ of which
were adopted by an inconsiderable part of the Socialist Press, of the
type of Plekhanov's _Yedinstvo_; and on the other in the appearance of
an immense number of Socialist organs.

The organs of the Right Wing underwent a considerable evolution, a
characteristic indication of which was the unexpected declaration of
a well-known member of the _Novoye Vremya_ staff, Mr. Menshikov: "We
must be grateful to destiny that the Monarchy, which for a thousand
years has betrayed the people, has at last betrayed itself and put a
cross on its own grave. To dig it up from under that cross and start a
great dispute about the candidates for the fallen throne would be, in
my opinion, a fatal mistake." In the course of the first few months the
Right Press partly closed down--not without pressure and violence on
the part of the Soviets--partly it assumed a pacific-Liberal attitude.
It was only in September, 1917, that its tone grew extremely violent in
connection with the final exposure of the weakness of the Government,
the loss of all hope of a legal way out of the "no thoroughfare" which
had arisen, and the echoes of Kornilov's venture. The attacks of the
extremist organs on the Government passed into solid abuse of it.

Though differing in a greater or lesser degree in its understanding of
the social problems which the Revolution had to solve, though guilty,
perhaps, along with Russian society, of many mistakes, yet the Russian
Liberal Press showed an exceptional unanimity in the more important
questions of a constitutional and national character: full power to
the Provisional Government, Democratic reforms in the spirit of the
programme of March 2nd,[25] war until victory along with the Allies,
an All-Russia Constituent Assembly as the source of the supreme power
and of the constitution of the country. In yet another respect has the
Liberal Press left a good reputation behind it in history: in the days
of lofty popular enthusiasm, as in the days of doubt, vacillation and
general demoralisation, which distinguished the Revolutionary period of
1917, no place was found in it, nor in the Right Press either, for the
distribution of German gold....

The appearance, on a large scale, of the new Socialist Press was
accompanied by a series of unfavourable circumstances. It had no
normal past, no traditions. Its prolonged life below the surface, the
exclusively destructive method of action adopted by it, its suspicious
and hostile attitude towards all authority, put a certain stamp on the
whole tendency of this Press, leaving too little place and attention
for creative work. The complete discord in thought, the contradictions
and vacillation which reigned both within the Soviet and also among the
party groups and within the parties, were reflected in the Press, just
as much as the elemental pressure from below of irresistible, narrowly
egotistic class demands; for neglect of these demands gave rise to
the threat, which was once expressed by the "beauty and pride of the
Revolution," the Kronstadt sailors to Tchernov, the Minister: "If you
will not give us anything, Michael Alexandrovitch will." Finally, the
Press was not uninfluenced by the appearance in it of a number of such
persons as brought into it an atmosphere of uncleanness and perfidy.
The papers were full of names, which had emerged from the sphere of
crime, of the Secret Police and of international espionage. All these
gentlemen--Tchernomazov (a provocator in the Secret Police and director
of the pre-Revolutionary _Pravda_), Berthold (the same and also
editor of the _Communist_), Dekonsky, Malinovsky, Matislavsky, those
colleagues of Lenin and Gorky--Nahamkes, Stoutchka, Ouritsky, Gimmer
(Soukhanov), and a vast number of equally notorious names--brought the
Russian Press to a hitherto unknown degree of moral degradation.

The difference was only a matter of scope. Some papers, akin to
the Soviet semi-official organ, the _Izvestia of the Workmen's and
Soldiers' Delegates_, undermined the country and the Army, while others
of the _Pravda_ type (the organ of the Bolshevik Social Democrats)
broke them down.

At the same time as the _Izvestia_ would call on its readers to
support the Provisional Government, while secretly ready to strike
a blow at it, the _Pravda_ would declare that "the Government is
counter-Revolutionary, and therefore there can be no relations
with it. The task of the Revolutionary Democracy is to attain to
the dictatorship of the proletariat." And Tchernov's Socialist
Revolutionary organ, the _Delo Naroda_, would discover a neutral
formula: all possible support to the Coalition Government, but "there
is not, and cannot be, any unanimity in this question; more than that,
there must not be, in the interests of the double defence."

At the same time as the _Izvestia_ began to preach an advance, but
without a final victory, not abandoning, however, the intention of
"deciding over the heads of the Government and the ruling classes the
conditions on which the War might be stopped," the _Pravda_ called for
universal fraternisation, and the Socialist Revolutionary, _Zemlia i
Volia_, alternately grieved that Germany still wished for conquest,
or demanded a separate peace. Tchernov's paper, which in March had
considered that, "should the enemy be victorious, there would be an end
to Russian freedom," now, in May, saw in the preaching of an advance
"the limit of unblushing gambling on the fate of the Fatherland, the
limit of irresponsibility and demagogy." Gorky's paper, _Novaya Zhizn_,
speaking through Gimmer (Soukhanov), rises to cynicism when it says:
"When Kerensky gives orders for _Russian soil to be cleared of enemy
troops_, his demands far exceed the limits of military _technique_.
He calls for a political act, one which has never been provided for
by the Coalition Government. For clearing the country by an advance
signifies 'complete victory'...." Altogether the _Novaya Zhizn_
supported German interests with especial warmth, raising its voice in
all cases when German interests were threatened with danger, either
on the part of the Allies or on ours. And when the advance of the
disorganised Army ended in failure--in Tarnopol and Kalush--when Riga
had fallen, the Left Press started a bitter campaign against the Stavka
and the commanding personnel, and Tchernov's paper, in connection
with the proposed reforms in the Army, cried hysterically: "Let the
proletarians know that it is proposed again to give them up to the
iron embrace of beggary, slavery and hunger.... Let the soldiers know
that it is proposed again to enslave them with the 'discipline' of
their commanders and to force them to shed their blood without end, so
long as the belief of the Allies in Russia's 'gallantry' is restored."
The most straightforward of all, however, was afterwards the _Iskra_,
the organ of the Menshevist Internationalists (Martov-Zederbaum),
which, on the day of the occupation of the island of Oesel by a German
landing-party, published an article entitled "Welcome to the German
Fleet!"

The Army had its own military Press. The organs of the Army staffs and
of those at the Front, which used to appear before the Revolution,
were of the nature of purely military bulletins. Beginning with the
Revolution, these organs, with their weak literary forces, began to
fight for the existence of the Army, conscientiously, honestly, but
not cleverly. Meeting with indifference or exasperation on the part of
the soldiers, who had already turned their backs on the officers, and
especially on the part of the Committee organs of the "Revolutionary"
movement, which existed side by side with them, they began to weaken
and die out, until at last, in the days of August, an order from
Kerensky closed them altogether; the exclusive right of publishing Army
newspapers was transferred to the Army Committee and the Committees of
the troops at the Front. The same fate befell the _News of the Active
Army_, the Stavka organ, started by General Markov and left without
support from the weighty powers of the Press of the capital.

The Committee Press, widely spread among the troops at the expense of
the Government, reflected those moods of which I have spoken earlier
in the chapter on the Committees, ranging from Constitutionalism to
Anarchism, from complete victory to an immediate conclusion of peace,
without orders. It reflected--but in a worse, more sorry form, as
regards literary style and content--that disharmony of thought and
those tendencies towards extreme theories which characterised the
Socialist Press of the Capital. In this respect, in accordance with the
personnel of the Committees, and to some extent with their proximity to
Petrograd, the respective Fronts differed somewhat from one another.
The most moderate was the South-Western Front, somewhat worse, the
Western, while the Northern Front was pronouncedly Bolshevist. Besides
local talent, the columns of the Committee Press were in many cases
opened wide to the resolutions not only of the extreme national
parties, but even of the German parties.

It would be incorrect, however, to speak of the immediate action of the
Press on the masses of the soldiers. It did not exist any more than
there were any popular newspapers which these masses could understand.
The Press exercised an influence principally on the semi-educated
elements in the ranks of the Army. This sphere turned out to be nearer
to the soldiers, and to it passed a certain share of that authority
which was enjoyed earlier by the officers. Ideas gathered from the
papers and refracted through the mental prism of this class passed
in a simplified form to the soldiery, the vast majority of which
unfortunately consisted of ignorant and illiterate men. And among these
masses all these conceptions, stripped of cunningly-woven arguments,
premises and grounds, were transformed into wondrously simple and
terrifically logical conclusions.

In them dominated the straightforward negation: "Down!"

Down with the Bourgeois Government, down with the counter-Revolutionary
Commanders, down with the "sanguinary slaughter," down with everything
of which they were sick, of which they were wearied, all that in one
way or another interfered with their animal instincts and hampered
"free will"--down with them all!

In such an elementary fashion did the Army at innumerable soldiers'
meetings settle all the political and social questions that were
agitating mankind.

       *       *       *       *       *

The curtain has fallen. The Treaty of Versailles has for a time given
pause to the armed conflict in Central Europe. Evident to the end that,
having regained their strength, the nations may again take up their
arms, so as to burst the chains in which defeat has fettered them.

The idea of the "world-peace," which the Christian churches have been
preaching for twenty centuries, is buried for years to come.

To us, how childishly naïve now seem the efforts of the humanists of
the nineteenth century, who by prolonged, ardent propaganda sought
to soften the horrors of war and to introduce the limiting norms
of International Law! Yes, now, when we know that one may not only
infringe the neutrality of a peaceful, cultured country, but give it
to be ravaged and plundered; when we can sink peaceable ships, with
women and children on board, by means of submarines; poison people with
suffocating gases and tear their bodies with the fragments of explosive
bullets; when a whole country, a whole nation, is quoted by cold,
political calculation merely as a "Barrier" against the invasion of
armed force and pernicious ideas, and is periodically either helped or
betrayed in turn.

But the most terrible of all weapons ever invented by the mind of man,
the most shameful of all the methods permitted in the late World War
was _the poisoning of the soul of a people_!

Germany assigns the priority of this invention to Great Britain. Let
them settle this matter between themselves. But I see my native land
crushed, dying in the dark night of horror and insanity. And I know her
tormentors.

Two theses have arisen before mankind in all their grim power and all
their shameless nakedness:

_All is permissible for the advantage of one's country!_

_All is permissible for the triumph of one's party, one's class!_

All, even the moral and physical ruin of an enemy country, even the
betrayal of one's native land and the making on its living body of
_social experiments_, the failure of which threatens it with paralysis
and death.

Germany and Lenin unhesitatingly decided these questions in the
affirmative. The world has condemned them; but are all those who speak
of the matter so unanimous and sincere in their condemnation? Have not
these ideas left somewhat too deep traces in the minds, not so much
perhaps of the popular masses as of their leaders? I, at least, am led
to such a conclusion by all the present soulless world policy of the
Governments, especially towards Russia, by all the present utterly
selfish tactics of the class organisations.

This is terrible.

I believe that every people has the right to defend its existence,
sword in hand; I know that for many years to come war will be the
customary method of settling international disputes, and that methods
of warfare will be both honourable and, alas! dishonourable. But there
is a certain limit, beyond which even baseness ceases to be simply
baseness and becomes insanity. This limit we have already reached. And
if religion, science, literature, philosophers, humanitarians, teachers
of mankind do not arouse a broad, idealistic movement against the
Hottentot morality with which we have been inoculated, the world will
witness the decline of its civilisation.

[Illustration: Before the battle in the Old Army: Prayers.]



CHAPTER XXII.

THE CONDITION OF THE ARMY AT THE JULY ADVANCE.


Having outlined a whole series of conditions which exercised an
influence on the life, spirit, and military efficiency of the once
famous Russian Army, I shall now pass to the sorrowful tale of its fall.

I was born in the family of an officer of the line, and for twenty-two
years (including the two years of the Russo-Japanese War) before the
European War served in the ranks of modest line units and in small Army
Staffs. I shared the life, the joys and the sorrows of the officer and
the soldier, and devoted many pages in the Military Press to their
life which was my own. From 1914 to 1920, almost without interval, I
stood at the head of the troops and led them into battle on the fields
of White Russia, Volynia, Galicia, in the mountains of Hungary, in
Roumania, and then--then in the bitter internecine war which, with
bloody share, ploughed up our native land.

I have more grounds and more right to speak of the Army and in the
name of the Army than all those strangers of the Socialist Camp, who,
in their haughty self-conceit, as soon as they touched the Army,
began breaking down its foundations, judging its leaders and fighters
and diagnosing its serious disease, who even now, after grievous
experiments and experiences, have not given up the hope of transforming
this mighty and terrible weapon of national self-preservation into a
means for satisfying party and social appetites. For me, the Army is
not only an historical, social, national phenomenon, but nearly the
whole of my life, in which lie many memories, precious and not to be
forgotten, in which all is bound up and interlaced into one general
mass of swiftly passing days of sadness and of joy, in which there are
hundreds of cherished graves, of buried dreams and unextinguishable
faith.

The Army should be approached cautiously, never forgetting that not
only its historical foundations, but even such details of its life
as may, perhaps, seem strange and absurd, have their meaning and
significance.

When the Revolution began that old veteran, beloved by both officers
and soldiers, General P. I. Mishtchenko, being unable to put up with
the new régime, retired from the Army. He lived at Temir-Han Shoura,
never went outside his garden fence, and always wore his General's
uniform and his crosses of St. George, even in the days of Bolshevik
power. One day the Bolsheviks came to search his house, and, among
other things, wanted to deprive him of his shoulder straps and
decorations. The old General retired to a neighbouring room and shot
himself.

Let whoever will laugh at "old-fashioned prejudices." We shall
reverence his noble memory.

And so the storm-cloud of the Revolution broke.

There was no doubt whatever that such a cataclysm in the life of the
nation could not but have a grave effect. The Revolution was _bound_
to convulse the Army, greatly weakening and breaking all its historic
ties. Such a result was normal, natural and unavoidable, independently
of the condition of the Army at the moment, independently of the mutual
relations of Commanders and subordinates. We can speak only of the
circumstances which arrested or hastened the disintegration of the Army.

A Government appeared.

Its source might have been one of three elements: The High Command
(a military dictatorship), the Bourgeois State Duma (the Provisional
Government), or the Revolutionary Democracy (the Soviet). It was the
Provisional Government that was acknowledged. The attitude of the other
two elements towards it was different; the Soviet practically robbed
the Government of its power, while the High Command submitted to it
implicitly, and was therefore obliged to carry out its plans.

The Government had two courses open to it; it could combat the
disintegrating influences which began to appear in the Army by stern
and ruthless measures, or it could encourage them. Owing to pressure
from the Soviet and partly through want of firmness and through
misunderstanding of the laws of existence of armed forces, the
Government chose the second course.

This circumstance decided the fate of the Army. All other circumstances
could but influence the duration of the process of disruption and its
depth.

[Illustration: Types of soldiers of the Old Army. This company was sent
to the West European Front.]

The festive days of touching and joyous union between the officers
and the soldiers vanished rapidly, being replaced by tiresome, weary
week-days. But they had been in the past, those days of joy, and,
therefore, no impassable abyss existed between the two Ranks, over
which the inexorable logic of life had long been casting a bridge.
The unnecessary, obsolete methods, which had introduced an element of
irritation into the soldiery, fell away at once, as of themselves; the
officers became more thoughtful and industrious.

Then came a torrent of newspapers, appeals, resolutions, orders, from
some unknown authority, and with them a whole series of new ideas,
which the soldier masses were unable to digest and assimilate. New
people appeared, with a new speech, so fascinating and promising,
liberating the soldiers from obedience and inspiring hope that they
would be saved from deadly danger immediately. When one Regimental
Commander naïvely inquired whether these people might not be tried
by Field Court-Martial and shot, his telegram, after passing through
all official stages, called forth the reply from Petrograd that these
people were inviolable, and had been sent by the Soviet to the troops
for the very purpose of explaining to them the true meaning of current
events.

When such leaders of the Revolutionary Democracy, as have not yet lost
their feeling of responsibility for crucified Russia, now say that the
movement, caused by the deep class differences between the officers
and the soldiers and by "the enslavement" of the latter, was of an
elemental nature, which they could not resist, this is deeply untrue.

All the fundamental slogans, all the programmes, tactics, instructions
and text-books, forming the foundation of the "democratisation" of
the Army, had been drawn up by the military sections of the secret
Socialist parties long before the War, outside of "elemental" pressure,
on the grounds of clear, cold calculation, as a product of "Socialist
reasoning and conscience."

True, the officers strove to persuade the men not to believe the
"new words" and to do their duty. But from the very beginning the
Soviets had declared the officers to be foes of the Revolution; in
many towns they had been subjected to cruel torture and death, and
this with impunity. Evidently not without some reason, when even the
"Bourgeois" Duma issued such a strange and unexpected "announcement"
as the following: "This first day of March, rumours were spread among
the soldiers of the garrison of Petrograd to the effect that the
officers in the regiments were disarming the soldiers. These rumours
were investigated and found to be false. As President of the Military
Commission of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma, I declare
that the most decided measures _will be_ taken to prevent such action
on the part of the officers, up to the shooting of those guilty of it.
Signed, COLONEL ENGELHARDT."

Next came Order No. 1., the Declaration and so forth.

Perhaps, however, it might have been possible to combat all this verbal
ocean of lies and hypocrisy which flowed from Petrograd and from the
local Soviets and was echoed by the local demagogues had it not been
for a circumstance which paralysed all the efforts of the Commanders,
viz., the animal feeling of self-preservation which had flooded the
whole mass of the soldiers. This feeling had always existed. But it
had been kept under and restrained by examples of duty fulfilled, by
flashes of national self-consciousness, by shame, fear and pressure.
When all these elements had disappeared, when for the soothing of a
drowsy conscience there was a whole arsenal of new conceptions, which
justified the care for one's own hide and furnished it with an ideal
basis, then the Army could exist no longer. This feeling upset all the
efforts of the Commanders, all moral principles and the whole regiment
of the Army.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a large, open field, as far as the eye can see, run endless lines of
trenches, sometimes coming close up to each other, interlacing their
barbed wire fences, sometimes running far off and vanishing behind a
verdant crest. The sun has risen long ago, but it is still as death
in the field. The first to rise are the Germans. In one place and
another their figures look out from the trenches; a few come out on to
the parapet to hang their clothes, damp after the night, in the sun.
A sentry in our front trench opens his sleepy eyes, lazily stretches
himself, after looking indifferently at the enemy trenches. A soldier
in a dirty shirt, bare-footed, with coat slung over his shoulders,
cringing under the morning cold, comes out of his trench and plods
towards the German positions, where, between the lines, stands a
"postbox"; it contains a new number of the German paper, _The Russian
Messenger_, and proposals for barter.

All is still. Not a single gun is to be heard. Last week the Regimental
Committee issued a resolution against firing, even against distance
firing; let the necessary distances be estimated by the map. A
Lieutenant-Colonel of the gunners--a member of the Committee--gave
his full approval to this resolution. When yesterday the Commander
of a field battery began firing at a new enemy trench, our infantry
opened rifle fire on our observation post and wounded the telephone
operator. During the night the infantry lit a fire on the position
being constructed for a newly arrived heavy battery.[26]

Nine a.m. The first Company gradually begins to awaken. The trenches
are incredibly defiled; in the narrow communication trenches and those
of the second line the air is thick and close. The parapet is crumbling
away. No one troubles to repair it; no one feels inclined to do so,
and there are not enough men in the Company. There is a large number
of deserters; more than fifty have been allowed to go. Old soldiers
have been demobilised, others have gone on leave with the arbitrary
permission of the Committee. Others, again, have been elected members
of numerous Committees, or gone away as delegates; a while ago, for
instance, the Division sent a numerous delegation to "Comrade" Kerensky
to verify whether he had really given orders for an advance. Finally,
by threats and violence, the soldiers have so terrorised the regimental
surgeons that the latter have been issuing medical certificates even to
the "thoroughly fit."

In the trenches the hours pass slowly and wearily, in dullness and
idleness. In one corner men are playing cards, in another a soldier
returned from leave is lazily and listlessly telling a story; the air
is full of obscene swearing. Someone reads aloud from the _Russian
Messenger_ the following:

"The English want the Russians to shed the last drop of their blood for
the greater glory of England, who seeks her profit in everything....
Dear soldiers, you must know that Russia would have concluded peace
long ago had not England prevented her.... We must turn away from
her--the Russian people demand it; such is their sacred will."

Someone or other swears.

"Don't you wish for peace. _They_ make peace, the ----; we shall die
here, without getting our freedom!"

Along the trenches came Lieutenant Albov, the Company Commander. He
said to the groups of soldiers, somewhat irresolutely and entreatingly:

"Comrades, get to work quickly. In three days we have not made a single
communication trench to the firing line."

The card players did not even look round; someone said in a low voice,
"All right." The man reading the newspaper rose and reported, in a free
and easy manner:

"The Company does not want to dig, because that would be preparation
for an advance, and the Committee has resolved...."

"Look here, you understand nothing at all about it, and, moreover, why
do you speak for the whole Company? Even if we remain on the defensive
we are lost in case of an alarm; the whole Company cannot get out to
the firing line along a single trench."

He said this, and with a gesture of despair went on his way. Matters
were hopeless. Every time he tried to speak with them for a time, and
in a friendly way, they would listen to him attentively; they liked to
talk to him, and, on the whole, his Company looked on him favourably
in their own way. But he felt that between him and them a wall had
sprung up, against which all his good impulses were shattered. He
had lost the path to their soul--lost it in the impassable jungle of
darkness, roughness, and that wave of distrust and suspicion which
had overwhelmed the soldiers. Was it, perhaps, that he used the wrong
words, or was not able to say what he meant? Scarcely that. But a
little while before the War, when he was a student and was carried away
by the popular movement, he had visited villages and factories and had
found "real words" which were clear and comprehensible to all. But,
most of all, with what words can one move men to face death when all
their feelings are veiled by one feeling--that of self-preservation?

The train of his thoughts was broken by the sudden appearance of the
Regimental Commander.

"What the devil does this mean? The man on duty does not come forward.
The men are not dressed. Filth and stench. What are you about,
Lieutenant?"

The grey-headed Colonel cast a stern glance on the soldiers which
involuntarily impressed them. They all rose to their feet. He glanced
through a loop-hole and, starting back, asked nervously:

"What is that?"

In the green field, among the barbed wire, a regular bazaar was
going on. A group of Germans and of our men were bartering vodka,
tobacco, lard, bread. Some way off a German officer reclined on the
grass--red-faced, sturdy, with an arrogant look on his face--and
carried on a conversation with a soldier named Soloveytchick; and,
strange to say, the familiar and insolent Soloveytchick stood before
the Lieutenant respectfully.

The Colonel pushed the observer aside and, taking his rifle from him,
put it through the loop-hole. A murmur was heard among the soldiers.
They began to ask him not to shoot. One of them, in a low voice, as if
speaking to himself, remarked:

"This is provocation."

The Colonel, crimson with fury, turned to him for a moment and shouted:

"Silence!"

All grew silent and pressed to the loop-hole. A shot was heard, and the
German officer convulsively stretched himself out and was still; blood
was running from his head. The haggling soldiers scattered.

The Colonel threw the rifle down and, muttering through his teeth
"Scoundrels!" strode further along the trenches. The "truce" was
infringed.

The Lieutenant went off to his hut. His heart was sad and empty. He was
oppressed by the realisation of his unwantedness and uselessness in
these absurd surroundings, which perverted the whole meaning of that
service to his country, which alone justified all his grave troubles
and the death which might perhaps be near. He threw himself on his bed,
where he lay for an hour, for two hours, striving to think of nothing,
to forget himself.

But from beyond the mud wall, where the shelter lay, there crept
someone's muffled voice, which seemed to wrap his brain in a filthy fog:

"It is all very well for them, the ----. They receive their hundred and
forty roubles a month clear, while we--so generous of them--get seven
and a half. Wait a bit, our turn will come."

Silence.

"I hear they are sharing the land in our place in the province of
Kharkov. If I could only get home."

There was a knock at the door. The Sergeant-Major had come.

"Your honour (so he always addressed his Company Commander in the
absence of witnesses), the Company is angry, and threatens to leave the
position if it is not relieved at once. The Second Battalion should
have relieved us at five o'clock, and it is not here yet. Couldn't they
be rung up?"

"They will not go away. All right, I shall inquire; but, all the same,
it is too late now. After this morning's incident the Germans will not
allow us to be relieved by day."

"They will allow us. The Committee members know about it already.
I think"--he lowered his voice--"that Soloveytchick has managed to
slip across and explain matters. It is rumoured that the Germans have
promised to overlook it, on condition that next time the Colonel comes
to visit the trenches we should let them know, and they will throw a
bomb. You had better report it or else, who knows?"

"All right."

The Sergeant-Major was preparing to leave. The Lieutenant stopped him.

"Matters are bad, Petrovitch. They do not trust us."

"God alone knows whom they trust; only last week the Sixth Company
elected their Sergeant-Major themselves, and now they are making a mock
of him; they won't let him say a word."

"What will things be afterwards?"

The Sergeant-Major blushed, and said softly:

"Then the Soloveytchicks will rule over us, and we shall be, so to
speak, dumb animals before them--that is how matters will be, your
honour."

The relief came at last. Captain Bouravin, the Commander of the Fifth
Company, came into the hut. Albov offered to show him the section and
explain the disposition of the enemy.

"Very well, though that does not matter, because I am not really in
command of the Company--I am boycotted."

"How?"

"Just so. They have elected the 2nd Lieutenant, my subaltern,
as Company Commander, and degraded me as a supporter of the old
régime, because, you see, I had drill twice a day--you know that the
marching contingents come up here absolutely untrained. Indeed, the
2nd Lieutenant was the first to vote for my removal. 'We have been
slave-driven long enough,' said he. 'Now we are free. We must clean out
everyone, beginning with the head. A young man can manage the regiment
just as well, so long as he is a true Democrat and supports the freedom
of the soldier.' I would have left, but the Colonel flatly refused to
allow it, and forbids me to hand over the company. So now, you see, we
have two commanders. I have stood the situation for five days. Look
here, Albov, you are not in a hurry, are you? Very good, then; let us
have a chat. I am feeling depressed. Albov, have you not yet thought of
suicide?"

"Not as yet."

Bouravin rose to his feet.

"Understand me, they have desecrated my soul, outraged my human
dignity, and so every day, every hour, in every word, glance or gesture
one sees a constant outrage. What have I done to them? I have been in
the service for eight years; I have no family, no house or home. All
this I have found in the regiment, my own regiment. Twice I have been
badly wounded, and before my wounds were healed have rushed back to the
regiment--so there you are! And I loved the soldier--I am ashamed to
speak of it myself, but they must remember how, more than once, I have
crept out under the barbed wire to drag in the wounded. And now! Well,
yes, I reverence the regimental flag and hate their crimson rags. I
accept the Revolution. But to me Russia is infinitely dearer than the
Revolution. All these Committees and meetings, all this adventitious
rubbish which has been sown in the Army I am organically unable to
swallow and digest. But, after all, I interfere with no one; I say
nothing of this to anyone, I strive to convince no one. If only the War
could be ended honourably, and then I am ready to break stones on the
highway, only not to remain in an Army democratised in such a manner.
Take my subaltern; he discusses everything with them--nationalisation,
socialisation, labour control. Now I cannot do so--I never had time
to study it, and I confess I never took any interest in the matter.
You remember how the Army Commander came here and, amidst a crowd of
soldiers, said: 'Don't say "General"; call me simply Comrade George.'
Now I cannot do such things; besides, all the same, they would not
believe me. So I am silent. But they understand and pay me off. And,
you know, with all their ignorance, what subtle psychologists they
are! They are able to find the place where the sting hurts most. Now,
yesterday for instance...."

He stooped down to Albov's ear, and continued in a whisper:

"I returned from our mess. In my tent, at the head of my bed, I have
a photograph--well, just a treasured memory. There they had drawn an
obscenity!"

Bouravin rose and wiped his brow with his handkerchief.

"Well, let us take a look at the positions. God willing, we shall not
have to stand it long. No one in the Company wants to go scouting. I
go myself every night; sometimes there is a volunteer who accompanies
me--he has a hunter's strain in him. Should anything happen, please,
Albov, see to it that a little packet--it is in my bag--is sent to its
destination."

The company, without waiting for the completion of the relief, wandered
away in disorder. Albov plodded after them.

The communication trench ended in a broad hollow. Like a great ant-hill
the regimental bivouac stretched in rows of huts, tents, smoking
camp-kitchens and horse-lines. They had once been carefully masked by
artificial plantations, which had now withered, lost their leaves, and
were merely leafless poles. On an open green soldiers were drilling
here and there--listlessly, lazily, as if to create an impression
that they were doing something; after all, it would be awkward to
be doing absolutely nothing at all. There were few officers about;
the good ones were sick of the trivial farce into which real work was
now transformed, while the inferior ones had a moral justification
for their laziness and idleness. In the distance something between a
mob and a column marched along the road towards the regimental staff
quarters, carrying crimson flags. Before them went a huge banner
bearing the inscription, in white letters, visible in the distance:
"Down with War!"

These were reinforcements coming up. At once, all the soldiers drilling
on the green, as if at a signal, broke their ranks and ran towards the
column.

"Hey, countrymen! What province are you from?"

An animated conversation began on the usual anxious themes: how did
matters stand with the land; would peace be concluded soon? Much
interest, also, was shown in the question as to whether they had
brought any home-brewed spirits, as "their own regimental" home brew,
manufactured in fairly large quantities at "the distillery" of the
Third Battalion, was very disgusting, and gave rise to painful symptoms.

Albov made his way to the mess-room. The officers were gathering for
dinner. What had become of the former animation, friendly talk, healthy
laughter and torrents of reminiscences of a stormy, hard, but glorious
life of war? The reminiscences had faded, the dreams had flown away,
and stern reality crushed them all down with its weight.

They spoke in low voices, sometimes breaking off or expressing
themselves figuratively: the mess servants might denounce them, and
also new faces had appeared among themselves. Not so long ago the
Regimental Committee, on the report of a servant, had tried an officer
of the regiment, who wore the Cross of St. George and to whom the
regiment owed one of its most famous victories. This Lieutenant-Colonel
had said something about "mutinous slaves." And though it was proved
that those were not his own words and that he had only quoted a speech
made by Comrade Kerensky, the Committee "expressed its indignation at
him"; he had to leave the regiment.

The personnel of the officers, too, was much changed. Of the original
staff, some two or three remained. Some had perished, others had been
crippled, others again, having earned "distrust," were wandering about
the Front, importuning Staffs, joining shock battalions, entering
institutions in the rear, while some of the weaker brethren had simply
gone home. The Army had ceased to need the bearers of the traditions
of its units, of its former glory--of those old Bourgeois prejudices,
which had been swept into the dust by the Revolutionary creative power.

Everyone in the regiment knows already of that morning's event in
Albov's Company. He is questioned about details. A Lieutenant-Colonel
sitting next him wagged his head.

"Well done, our old man. There was something in the Fifth Company, too.
But I am afraid it will end badly. Have you heard what was done to the
Commander of the Doubov Regiment, because he refused to confirm an
elected Company Commander and put three agitators under arrest? _He was
crucified._ Yes, my boy! They nailed him to a tree and began, in turn,
to stick their bayonets into him, to cut off his ears, his nose, his
fingers."

He seized his head in his hands.

"My God! Where do these men get so much brutality, so much baseness?"

At the other end of the table the ensigns are carrying on a conversation
on that ever harassing theme--where to get away to.

"Have you applied for admission to the Revolutionary Battalion?"

"No, it is not worth while. It seems that it is being formed under the
superintendence of the Executive Committee, with Committees, elections
and "Revolutionary" discipline. It does not suit me."

"They say that shock units are being formed in Kornilov's Army and at
Minsk also. That would be good...."

"I have applied for transfer to our rifle brigade in France. Only I do
not know what I am to do about the language."

"Alas! my boy, you are too late," remarked the Lieutenant-Colonel from
the other end of the table. "The Government has long ago sent 'emigrant
comrades' there to enlighten minds. And now our brigades, somewhere
in the South of France, are in the situation of something like either
prisoners of war or disciplinary battalions."

This talk, however, was realised by all to be of a purely platonic
character, in view of the hopelessness of a situation from which there
was no escape. It was only a case of dreaming a little, as Tchekhov's
_Three Sisters_ once dreamed of Moscow. Dreaming of such a wondrous
place, where human dignity is not trampled into the mud daily, where
one can live quietly and die honourably, without violence and without
outrage to one's service. Such a very little thing.

"Mitka, bread!" boomed out the mighty bass of 2nd Lieutenant Yassny.

He is quite a character, this Yassny. Tall and sturdy, with a
thick crop of hair and a copper-coloured beard, he is altogether
an embodiment of the strength and courage of the soil. He wears
four crosses of St. George, and has been promoted from the rank of
Sergeant for distinction in action. He does not adapt himself to his
new surroundings in the least, said "levorution" for "revolution" and
"mettink" for "meeting," and cannot reconcile himself to the new order.
Yassny's undoubted "democratic" views, his candour and sincerity,
have given him an exceptionally privileged position in the regiment.
Without enjoying any special influence, he can, however, condemn,
rudely, harshly, sometimes with an oath, both people and ideas, which
are jealously guarded and worshipped by the regimental "Revolutionary
Democracy." The men are angry, but suffer him.

"There is no bread, I say."

The officers, absorbed in their thoughts and in their conversation, had
not even noticed that they had eaten their soup without bread.

"There will be no bread to-day," answered the waiter.

"What is the meaning of this? Call the mess-sergeant."

The mess-sergeant came, and began to justify himself in a bewildered
manner; he had sent in a request that morning for two pouds of bread.
The head of the Commissariat had endorsed it "to be issued," but the
clerk, Fedotov, a member of the Commissariat Committee, had endorsed it
in his turn "not to be issued." So the storehouse would not issue any
bread.

No one made any objection, so painfully ashamed was everyone both of
the mess-sergeant and of those depths of inanity which had suddenly
broken into their life and swamped it with a grey, filthy slime.
Only Yassny's bass voice rang out distinctly under the arches of the
mess-room:

"What swine!"

Albov was just preparing for a nap after dinner when the flap of his
tent was lifted, and through the aperture appeared the bald head of the
Chief of the Commissariat--a quiet, elderly Colonel, who had joined the
Army again from the retired list.

"May I come in?"

"I beg your pardon, Colonel."

"Never mind, my dear fellow, don't get up. I have just come in for a
second. You see, to-day at six o'clock there is to be a regimental
meeting. It will hear the Report of the Committee for verifying
the Commissariat, and apparently they will go for me. I am no
speech-maker, but you are a master of it. Take my part, should it be
necessary."

"Certainly. I did not intend going, but once it is necessary, I shall
be there."

"Thank you, then, my dear fellow."

By six o'clock the square next to the regimental Staff quarters was
completely covered with men. At least two thousand had turned up.
The crowd moved, chattered, laughed--just such a Russian crowd as
on the Khodynka in Moscow or the _Champs de Mars_ in Petrograd at a
holiday entertainment. The Revolution could not transform it all at
once, either mentally or spiritually. But, having stunned it with a
torrent of new words and opened up before it unbounded possibilities,
the Revolution had destroyed its equilibrium and made it nervously
susceptible and stormily reactive to all methods of external influence.
An ocean of words--both morally lofty and basely criminal--flowed
through their minds as through a sieve, which passed through the
trend of the new ideas and retained only those grains which had a
real applied meaning in their daily life, in the surroundings of
the soldier, the peasant, the workman. Hence the absolute absence
of results from the torrents of eloquence which flooded the Army at
the instance of the Minister of War; hence, too, the illogical warm
sympathy with both speakers of clearly opposed politics.

Under such conditions, what practical meaning could the crowd find in
such ideas as duty, honour, interests of the State, on the one hand;
annexations, indemnities, the self-determination of peoples, conscious
discipline, and other dim conceptions on the other.

The whole regiment had turned out; the soldiers were attracted by
the meeting, as by any other spectacle. Delegates had been sent by
the Second Battalion, which was in the trenches--about one-third of
the battalion. In the middle of the square stood a platform for the
speakers; it was decorated with red flags, faded with time and rain;
they have been there since the platform was erected for a review by the
Commander of the Army. Reviews are now held not among the ranks, but
from a tribune. To-day the agenda of the meeting contain two questions:
"(1) The Report of the Commissariat Committee on the anomalies in the
supply of Officers' rations; and (2) the report of Comrade Sklianka,
an orator specially invited from the Moscow Soviet to speak about the
formation of a Coalition Ministry."

During the preceding week a stormy meeting, which nearly ended in a
riot, had been held in connection with the complaint of one of the
companies that the soldiers had to eat lentils, which they hated,
and thin soup, simply because all the groats and butter were taken
for the officers' mess. This was clearly nonsense. Nevertheless, it
was resolved to appoint a Committee for investigation, which would
report to a general meeting of the regiment. The Report was drawn up
by a member of the Committee, Lieutenant-Colonel Petrov, who had been
removed the year before from the post of Chief of the Commissariat and
was now settling accounts with his successor. In a petty, cavilling
way, with a sort of mean irony, he enumerated slight, irrelevant,
inaccuracies in the Commissariat Department of the regiment--there were
no serious ones--and dragged out his Report endlessly in his creaking,
monotonous voice. The crowd, which at first had kept quiet, now hummed
again, having ceased to listen. From different sides voices were heard:

"Enough!"

"That will do!"

The Chairman of the Commission ceased reading and suggested that "those
comrades who wished" should express their opinions. A tall, stout
soldier ascended the platform, and began speaking in a loud, hysterical
voice:

"Comrades, you have heard? That is where the soldiers' property goes.
We suffer, our clothes are worn out, we are covered with lice, we go
hungry, while they pull the last piece of food out of our mouths."

As he spoke a spirit of nervous excitement kept growing in the crowd,
muffled murmurs ran through it, and shouts of approval burst from it
here and there.

"When will there be an end to all this? We are worn out, weary to
death."

Suddenly 2nd Lieut. Yassny's deep voice was heard from the rear ranks,
drowning the voices both of the speaker and of the crowd.

"What is your Company?"

Some confusion took place. The orator was dumb. Shouts of indignation
were flung at Yassny.

"What is your Company, I ask you?"

"The Seventh!"

Voices were heard in the ranks:

"We have no such man in the Seventh Company."

"Wait a bit, my friend," boomed Yassny, "was it not you that came in
to-day with the new lot ... you were carrying a large placard? When
have you had time to get worn out, poor fellow?"

The spirit of the crowd changed in an instant. It began to hiss, laugh,
shout, and crack jokes. The unsuccessful orator disappeared in the
crowd. Someone shouted:

"Pass a resolution!"

Lieutenant-Colonel Petrov mounted the platform again, and began to
read out a ready resolution for transferring the officers' mess to
privates' rations. But no one listened to him now. Two or three voices
shouted "That's right!" Petrov hesitated a little, then put the paper
in his pocket and left the platform. The second question, concerning
the removal of the Chief of the Commissariat and the immediate election
of his successor (the author of the report was the candidate proposed)
remained unread. The Chairman of the Committee then announced:

"Comrade Sklianka, member of the Executive Committee of the Moscow
Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates, will now address the
meeting."

They were tired of their own speakers--it was always one and the
same thing--and the arrival of a new man, somewhat advertised by
the Committee, aroused general interest. The crowd closed up round
the platform and was still. A small, black-haired man, nervous and
short-sighted, who constantly adjusted the eyeglasses which kept
slipping off his nose, mounted the platform, or rather quickly ran
up on to it. He began speaking rapidly, with much spirit and much
gesticulation.

"Soldier comrades! Three months have passed already since the Petrograd
workers and Revolutionary soldiers threw off the yoke of the Czar and
of all his Generals. The Bourgeoisie, in the person of Tereshtchenko,
the well-known sugar refiner; Konovalov, the factory owner; the
landowners, Gutchkov, Rodzianko, Miliukov, and other traitors to the
interests of the people, having seized the supreme power, have tried to
deceive the popular masses.

"The demand of the people that negotiations be commenced at once for
that peace which we are offered by our German worker and soldier
brethren--who are just as much bereft of all that makes life worth
living as we are--has ended in a fraud--a telegram from Miliukov to
England and France to say that the Russian people are ready to fight
until victory is attained.

"The unfortunate people understood that the supreme power had fallen
into even worse hands, _i.e._, into those of the sworn foes of the
workman and the peasant. Therefore the people shouted mightily: 'Down
with you, hands off!'

"And the accursed Bourgeoisie shook at the mighty cry of the workers
and hypocritically invited to a share in their power the so-called
Democracy--the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, who always
associated with the Bourgeoisie for the betrayal of the interests of
the working people."

Having thus outlined the process of the formation of the Coalition
Ministry, Comrade Sklianka passed in greater detail to the fascinating
prospects of rural and factory anarchy, where "the wrath of the
people sweeps away the yoke of capital" and where "Bourgeois property
gradually passes into the hands of its real masters--the workmen and
the poorer peasants."

"The soldiers and the workmen still have enemies," he continued. "These
are the friends of the overthrown Czarist Government, the hardened
admirers of shooting, the knout, and blows. The most bitter foes of
freedom, they have now donned crimson rosettes, call you 'comrades' and
pretend to be friends, but cherish the blackest intentions in their
hearts, preparing to restore the rule of the Romanovs.

"Soldiers, do not trust these wolves in sheep's clothing! They call
you to fresh slaughter. Well, follow them if you like! Let them pave
the path for the return of the bloody Czar with your corpses. Let your
orphans, your widows and children, deserted by all, pass again into
slavery, hunger, beggary, and disease!"

The speech undoubtedly had a great success. The atmosphere grew
red-hot, the excitement increased--that excitement of the "molten
mass," in the presence of which it is impossible to foresee either the
limits or the tension, or the tracks along which the torrent will pour.
The crowd was noisy and agitated, accompanying with shouts of approval
or curses against "the enemies of the people" those parts of the speech
which especially touched its instincts, its naked, cruel egotism.

Albov, pale, with burning eyes, made his appearance on the platform.
He spoke excitedly of something or other to the chairman, who then
addressed the crowd. The chairman's words were inaudible amidst the
noise; for a long time he waved his hands and the flag which he had
pulled down, until at last the noise had subsided somewhat.

"Comrades, Lieutenant Albov wishes to address you!"

Shouts and hisses were heard.

"Down with him! We do not want him!"

But Albov was already on the platform, gripping hard, bending downwards
towards the sea of heads. And he said:

"No, I will speak, and you dare not refuse to listen to one of those
officers whom this man has been abusing and dishonouring here before
you. Who he may be, whence he has come, who pays him for his speeches,
so profitable to the Germans, not one of you knows. He has come here,
befogged you, and will go on his way to sow evil and treason. And you
have believed him. And we, who along with you have now carried our
heavy cross into the fourth year of the War--we are now to be regarded
as your enemies? Why? Is it because we never sent you into action,
but led you, bestrewing with officers' corpses the whole of the path
covered by the regiment? Is it because that, of the officers who led
you in the beginning, there is not one left in the regiment who is not
maimed?"

He spoke with deep sincerity and pain in his voice. There were moments
when it seemed as if his words were breaking through the withered crust
of those hardened hearts, as if a break would again take place in the
attitude of the crowd.

"He, your 'new friend,' is calling you to mutiny, to violence, to
robbery. Do you understand who will benefit when, in Russia, brother
rises against brother, so as to turn to ashes, in sack and fire,
the last property left not only to the 'capitalists,' but to the
poverty-stricken workers and peasants? No, it is not by violence,
but by law and right, that you will acquire land and liberty and a
tolerable existence. Your enemies are not here, among the officers,
but there--beyond the barbed wire. And we shall not attain either to
freedom or to peace by a dishonourable, cowardly standing in one and
the same place, but in the general mighty rush of an _advance_."

Was it that the impression of Sklianka's speech was still too vivid or
that the regiment took offence at the word "cowardly"--for the most
arrant coward will never forgive such a reminder--or, finally, was it
the fault of the magic word "advance," which for some time past had
ceased to be tolerated in the Army? But anyhow Albov was not allowed to
continue his speech.

The crowd bellowed, belched forth curses, pressed forward more and
more, advancing toward the platform, and broke down the railing. An
ominous roar, faces distorted with fury, and hands stretched forth
towards the platform. The situation was becoming critical. 2nd Lieut.
Yassny pushed his way through to Albov, took him by the arm, and
forcibly led him to the exit. The soldiers of the First Company had
already rushed up to it from all sides, and with their aid Albov, with
great difficulty, made his way out of the crowd, amidst a shower of
choice abuse. Someone shouted out after him:

"Wait a bit, you ----; we will settle accounts with you!"

Night. The bivouac had grown quiet. Clouds had covered the sky. It was
dark. Albov, sitting on his bed in his narrow tent, illuminated by
the stump of a candle, was writing a report to the Commander of the
Regiment:

"The officers--powerless, insulted, meeting with distrust and
disobedience from their subordinates--can be of no further use. I beg
of you to apply for my reduction to the ranks, so that there I might
fulfil my duty honestly and to the end."

He lay down on his bed. He gripped his head in his hands. A kind of
uncanny, incomprehensible emptiness seized him, just as if some unseen
hand had drawn out of his head all thought, out of his heart all pain.
What was that? A noise was heard, the tent-pole fell down, the light
went out. A number of men on the tent. Hard, cruel blows were showered
on the whole of his body. A sharp, intolerable pain shot through his
head and his chest. Then his whole face seemed covered with a warm,
sticky veil, and soon everything became still and calm again, as if all
that was terrible and hard to bear had torn itself away, had remained
here, on earth, while his soul was flying away somewhere and was
feeling light and joyous.

Albov awoke to feel something cold touching him: a private of his
company, Goulkin, an elderly man, was sitting at the foot of his bed
and wiping away the blood from his head with a wet towel. He noticed
that Albov had regained consciousness.

"Look how they have mangled the man, the scum! It can have been no
other than the Fifth Company--I recognised one of them. Does it hurt
you much? Perhaps you would like me to go for the doctor?"

"No, my friend, it does not matter. Thank you!" and Albov pressed his
hand.

"And their Commander, too, Captain Bouravin, has met with a misfortune.
During the night they carried him past us on a stretcher, wounded
in the abdomen; the _sanitar_ said that he would not live. He was
returning from reconnoitring, and the bullet took just at our very
barbed wire. Whether it was a German one or whether our own people did
not recognise him--who knows?"

He was silent for a while.

"What has come to the people one simply can't understand. And all
this is just put on. It is not true--that which they say against the
officers--we understand that ourselves. Of course, there are all sorts
among you. But we know them very well. Don't we see for ourselves that
you, now, are for us with all your heart. Or let us say 2nd Lieut.
Yassny. Could such a one sell himself? And yet, try to say a word, to
take your part--there would be no living for us. There is a great deal
of hooliganism now. It is only hooligans that men listen to. My idea is
that all this is taking place because men have forgotten God. Men have
nothing to be afraid of."

Albov closed his eyes from weakness. Goulkin hastily arranged the
blanket, which had slipped to the floor, made the sign of the cross
over him, and quietly slipped out of the tent.

But sleep would not come. His heart was full of an inexhaustible
sadness and an oppressive feeling of loneliness. He yearned so much to
have some living being at hand, so that he might silently, wordlessly
feel its proximity, and not remain alone with his dreadful thoughts. He
regretted that he had not detained Goulkin.

All was quiet. The whole camp was sleeping. Albov leaped from his bed
and lit the candle again. He was seized with a dull, hopeless despair.
He had no more faith in anything. Impenetrable darkness lay before
him. To make his exit from life? No, that would be surrender. He
must go on, with clenched teeth and hardened heart, until some stray
bullet--Russian or German--broke the thread of his wearisome days.

Dawn was coming on. A new day was beginning, new Army week-days,
horribly like their predecessors.

       *       *       *       *       *

Afterwards?

Afterwards the "molten element" overflowed its banks completely.
Officers were killed, burnt, drowned, torn asunder and had their heads
broken through with hammers, slowly, with inexpressible cruelty.

Afterwards--millions of deserters. Like an avalanche the soldiery moved
along the railways, water-ways and country roads, trampling down,
breaking and destroying the last nerves of poor, roadless Russia.

Afterwards--Tarnopol, Kalush, Kazan. Like a whirlwind robbery, murder,
violence, incendiarism swept over Galicia, Volynia, the Podolsk and
other provinces, leaving behind it everywhere a trail of blood and
arousing in the minds of the Russian people, crazed with grief and weak
in spirit, the monstrous thought:

"O Lord! if only the Germans would come quickly."

This was done by the soldier.

That soldier of whom a great Russian writer, with intuitive conscience
and a bold heart, has said:[27]

"... How many hast thou killed during these days, oh soldier? How many
orphans hast thou made? How many inconsolable mothers hast thou left?
Dost thou hear the whisper on their lips, from which thou hast driven
the smile of joy for evermore?

"Murderer! Murderer!

"But why speak of mothers, of orphaned children? A more terrible moment
came, which none had expected--and thou didst betray Russia, thou didst
cast the whole of the Motherland, which had bred thee, under the feet
of the foe!

"Thou, oh soldier, whom we loved so--and whom we still love."



CHAPTER XXIII.

OFFICERS' ORGANISATIONS.


In the early days of April the idea arose among the Headquarters'
officers of organising a "Union of the Officers of the Army and the
Navy." The initiators of the Union[28] started with the view that it
was necessary "to think alike, so as to understand alike the events
that were taking place, to work in the same direction," for up to the
present time "the voice of the officers--of all the officers--has been
heard by none. As yet we have said nothing about the great events
amidst which we are living. Everyone who chooses says for us whatever
he chooses. Military questions, and even the questions of our daily
life and internal order, are settled for us by anyone who likes and in
any way he likes." There were two objections made in principle, one
being the objection to the introduction by the officers themselves
into their ranks of those principles of collective self-government
with which the Army had been inoculated from outside, in the form of
Soviets, Committees and Congresses, and had brought disintegration
into it. The second objection was the fear lest the appearance of an
independent Officers' Organisation should deepen still more those
differences which had arisen between the soldiers and the officers.
On the basis of these views we, along with the Commander-in-Chief, at
first took up an altogether negative attitude towards this proposal.
But life had already broken out of its bounds and laughed at our
motives. A draft declaration was published, granting the Army full
freedom for forming Unions and meetings, and it would now have been an
injustice to the officers to deprive them of the right of professional
organisation, if only as a means of self-preservation. In practice,
officers' societies had sprung up in many of the Armies, and in Kiev,
Moscow, Petrograd and other towns they had done so from the earlier
days of the Revolution. They all wandered in different directions,
groping their way, while some Unions in the large centres, under the
influence of the disintegrating conditions of the rear, displayed a
strong leaning towards the policy of the Soviets.

The officers of the rear frequently lived a completely different
spiritual life from those of the Front. Thus, for instance, the Moscow
Soviet of officers' delegates passed, in the beginning of April, a
resolution to the effect that "the work of the Provisional Government
should proceed ... in the spirit of the Socialistic and political
demands of the Democracy, represented by the Council of Workmen's and
Soldiers' Delegates," and expressed a wish that there should be more
representatives of the Socialist parties in the Provisional Government.
An adulteration of the officers' views was also developing on a
larger scale; the Petrograd officers' Council summoned an "All-Russia
Congress of officers' delegates, Army surgeons and officers" in
Petrograd for May 8th. This circumstance was the more undesirable in
that the initiator of the Congress--the Executive Committee, with
Lieutenant-Colonel Goushchin, of the General Staff, at its head--had
already disclosed to the full its negative policy by its participation
in the drafting of the declaration of soldiers' rights, by its active
co-operation in the Polivanov Commission and its servility before the
Council of Workmen's and Soldier's Delegates, and by its endeavours
to unite with it. A proposal in this sense being made, the Council,
however, replied that such a union was "as yet impossible on technical
grounds."

Having discounted all these circumstances, the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief gave his approval to the summoning of a Congress of
officers, on condition that no pressure should be exercised either in
his name or in that of the Chief-of-Staff. This scrupulous attitude
somewhat complicated matters. Some of the Staffs, being out of sympathy
with the idea, prevented the circulation of the appeal, while some of
the High Commanders, as, for example, the Commander of the troops of
the Omsk district, forbade the delegation of officers altogether. In
some places also this question roused the suspicion of the soldiers and
caused some complications, in consequence of which the initiators of
the Congress invited the units to delegate soldiers as well as officers
to be present at the sessions.

Despite all obstacles, over 300 officer delegates gathered in Moghilev,
76 per cent. being from the Front, 17 per cent. from fighting units in
the rear, and 7 per cent. from the rear. On May 7th the Congress was
opened with a speech by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. On that day,
for the first time, the High Command said, not in a secret meeting,
not in a confidential letter, but openly, before the whole country:
"Russia is perishing." General Alexeiev said: "In appeals, in general
orders, in the columns of the Daily Press, we often meet with the short
sentence: 'Our country is in danger.'

"We have grown too well accustomed to this phrase. We feel as if we
were reading an old chronicle of bygone days, and do not ponder over
the grim meaning of this curt sentence. But, gentlemen, this is, I
regret to say, a serious fact. _Russia is perishing. She stands on
the brink of an abyss. A few more shocks, and she will crash with all
her weight into it._ The enemy has occupied one-eighth part of her
territory. He cannot be bribed by the Utopian phrase: 'Peace without
annexations or indemnities.' He says frankly that he will not leave our
soil. He is stretching forth his greedy grip to lands where no enemy
soldier has ever set foot--to the rich lands of Volynia, Podolia and
Kiev--_i.e._, to the whole right bank of our Dnieper.

"And what are we going to do? Will the Russian Army allow this to
happen? Will we not thrust this insolent foe out of our country and let
the diplomatists conclude peace afterwards, with annexations or without
them?

"Let us be frank. The fighting spirit of the Russian Army has fallen;
but yesterday strong and terrible, it now stands in fatal impotence
before the foe. Its former traditional loyalty to the Motherland has
been replaced by a yearning for peace and rest. Instead of fortitude,
the baser instincts and a thirst for self-preservation are rampant.

"At home, where is that strong authority for which the whole country
is craving? Where is that powerful authority which would force every
citizen to do his duty honestly by the Motherland?

"We are told that it will soon appear, but as yet it does not exist.

"Where is the love of country, where is patriotism?

"The great word 'brotherhood' has been inscribed on our banners, but
it has not been inscribed in our hearts and minds. Class enmity rages
amongst us. Whole classes which have honestly fulfilled their duty to
their country have fallen under suspicion, and on this foundation a
deep gulf has been created between two parts of the Army--the officers
and the soldiers.

"And it is at this very moment that the first Congress of officers of
the Russian Army has been summoned. I am of the opinion that a more
convenient, a more timely moment, could not have been chosen to attain
unity in our family, to form a general united family of the corps of
Russian officers, to discuss the means of breathing ardour into our
hearts, _for without ardour there is no victory, without victory there
is no salvation, no Russia_.

"May your work therefore be inspired with love for your Motherland and
with heartfelt regard for the soldier; mark the ways for raising the
moral and intellectual calibre of the soldiers, so that they may become
your sincere and hearty comrades. Do away with that estrangement which
has been artificially sown in our family.

"At the present moment--this is a disease common to all--people would
like to set all the citizens of Russia on platforms or pedestals and
scrutinise how many stand behind each of them. What does it matter that
the masses of the Army accepted the new order and the new Constitution
sincerely, honestly and with enthusiasm?

"_We must all unite on one great object: Russia is in danger. As
members of the great Army, we must save her. Let this object unite us
and give us strength to work._"

This speech, in which the leader of the Army expressed "the anxiety of
his heart," served as the prologue to his retirement. The Revolutionary
Democracy had already passed its sentence on General Alexeiev at
its memorable session with the Commanders-in-Chief on May 4th; now,
after May 7th, a bitter campaign was begun against him in the Radical
Press, in which the Soviet semi-official organ _Isvestia_ competed
with Lenin's papers in the triviality and impropriety of its remarks.
This campaign was the more significant in that the Minister of War,
Kerensky, was clearly on the side of the Soviet in this matter.

As if to supplement the words of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I said
in my speech, when touching on the internal situation in the country:

"... Under pressure of the unavoidable laws of history, autocracy has
fallen, and our country has passed under the rule of the people. We
stand on the threshold of a new life, long and passionately awaited,
for which many thousand Idealists have gone to the block, languished in
the mines and pined in the _tundras_.

"But we look to the future with anxiety and perplexity.

"For there is no liberty in the Revolutionary torture-chamber.

"There is no righteousness in misrepresenting the voice of the people.

"There is no equality in the hounding down of classes.

"And there is no strength in that insane rout where all around seek to
grasp all that they possibly can, at the expense of their suffering
country, where thousands of greedy hands are stretched out towards
power, breaking down the foundations of that country...."

Then the sessions of the Congress began. Whoever was present has
carried away, probably for the rest of his life, an indelible
impression produced by the story of the sufferings of the officers.
It could never be written, as it was told with chilling restraint by
these, Captain Bouravin and Lieutenant Albov, who touched upon their
most intimate and painful experiences. They had suffered till they
could suffer no more; in their hearts there were neither tears nor
complaints.

I looked at the boxes, where the "younger comrades" sat who had been
sent to watch for "counter-Revolution." I wanted to read in their faces
the impression produced by all that they had heard. And it seemed to me
that I saw the blush of shame. Probably it only seemed so to me, for
they soon made a stormy protest, demanded the right of voting at the
Congress, and--five roubles per day "officer's allowance."

At thirteen general meetings the Congress passed a series of
resolutions.

Among all the classes, castes, professions and trades which exhibited a
general elemental desire to get from the weak Government all that was
possible, in their own private interests, the officers were the only
Corporation which never asked anything _for itself personally_.

The officers requested and demanded _authority_--over themselves and
over the Army. A firm, single, national authority--"commanding, not
appealing." The authority of a Government leaning on the trust of the
nation, not on irresponsible organisations. Such an authority the
officers were prepared wholeheartedly and unreservedly to obey, _quite
irrespective of differences of political opinions_. I affirm, moreover,
that all the inner social class conflict which was blazing up more and
more throughout the country did not affect the officers at the Front,
who were immersed in their work and in their sorrows; it did not touch
them deeply; the conflict attracted the attention of the officers
only when its results obviously endangered the very existence of the
country, and of the Army in particular. Of course, I am speaking of the
mass of the officers; individual leanings towards reaction undoubtedly
existed, but they were in no respect characteristic of the Officers'
Corps in 1917.

One of the finest representatives of the Officers' Class, General
Markov, a thoroughly educated man, wrote to Kerensky, condemning his
system of slighting the Command: "Being a soldier by nature, birth and
education, I can judge and speak only of my own military profession.
All other reforms and alterations in the constitution of our country
interest me only as an ordinary citizen. But I know the Army; I have
devoted to it the best days of my life; I have paid for its successes
with the blood of those who were near to me, and have myself come out
of action steeped in blood." This the Revolutionary Democracy had not
understood or taken into consideration.

The Officers' Congress in Petrograd, at which about 700 delegates
were gathered (May 18-26), passed off in a totally different manner.
It split into two sharply-divided camps: the Officers and officials
of the Rear who had given themselves to politics and a smaller number
of real officers of the Line who had become delegates through a
misunderstanding of the matter. The Executive Committee drew up their
programme in strict agreement with the custom of the Soviet Congresses:
(1) The attitude of the Congress towards the Provisional Government and
the Soviet; (2) the War; (3) the Constituent Assembly; (4) the labour
question; (5) the land question; and (6) the reorganisation of the
Army on Democratic principles. An exaggerated importance was attached
to the Congress in Petrograd, and at its opening pompous speeches were
made by many members of the Government and by foreign representatives;
the Congress was even greeted in the name of the Soviet by Nahamkes.
The very first day revealed the irreconcilable differences between the
two groups. These differences were inevitable, if only because, even
on such a cardinal question as "Order No. 1.," the Vice-Chairman of
the Congress, Captain Brzozek, expressed the view that "its issue was
dictated by historical necessity: the soldier was downtrodden, and it
was imperatively necessary to free him." This declaration was greeted
with prolonged applause by part of the delegates!

After a series of stormy meetings, a resolution was passed by a
majority of 265 against 246, which stated that "the Revolutionary power
of the country was in the hands of the organised peasants, workmen and
soldiers, who form the predominating mass of the population," and that
therefore the Government must be responsible to the All-Russia Soviet!

Even the resolution advocating an advance was passed by a majority of
little more than two-thirds of those who cast their votes.

The attitude of the Petrograd Congress is to be explained by the
declaration made on May 26th by that group, which, reflecting the
real opinion of the Front, took the point of view of "all possible
support to the Provisional Government." "In summoning the Congress the
Executive Committee of the Petrograd Council of Officers' Delegates
did not seek for the solution of the most essential problem of the
moment--the regeneration of the Army--since the question of the
fighting capacity of the Army and of the measures for raising its
level was not even mentioned in the programme, and was included only
at our request. If we are to believe the statement--strange, to say no
more--made by the Chairman, Lieutenant-Colonel Goushchin, the object of
the summoning of the Congress was the desire of the Executive Committee
to pass under our flag into the Council of Workmen's and Soldiers'
Delegates." This declaration led to a series of serious incidents;
three-quarters of the delegates left the meeting and the Congress came
to an end.

I have mentioned the question of the Petrograd Officers' Council and
Congress only in order to show the spirit of a certain section of the
officers of the Rear, which was in frequent contact with the official
and unofficial rulers, and represented, in the eyes of the latter, the
"voice of the Army."

The Moghilev Congress, which attracted the unflagging attention of the
Supreme Commander-in-Chief, and was much favoured by him, closed on May
22nd. At this time General Alexeiev had already been relieved of the
command of the Russian Army. So deeply had this episode affected him
that he was unable to attend the last meeting. I bade farewell to the
Congress in the following words:

"The Supreme Commander-in-Chief, who is leaving his post, has
commissioned me, gentlemen, to convey to you his sincere greetings, and
to say that his heart, that of an old soldier, beats in unison with
yours, that it aches with the same pain, and lives with the same hope
for the regeneration of the disrupted, but ever great, Russian Army.

"Let me add a few words from myself.

"You have gathered here from the distant blood-bespattered marches of
our land, and laid before us your quenchless sorrow and your soul-felt
grief.

"You have unrolled before us a vivid and painful picture of the life
and work of the officers amidst the raging sea of the Army.

"You, who have stood a countless number of times in the face of death!
You, who have intrepidly led your men against the dense rows of the
enemy's barbed wire, to the rare boom of your own guns, treacherously
deprived of ammunition! You, who, hardening your hearts, but keeping
up your spirits, have cast the last handful of earth into the grave of
your fallen son, brother, or friend!

"Will you quail now?

"No!

"You who are weak, raise your heads. You who are strong, give of your
determination, of your aspirations, of your desire to work for the
happiness of your Motherland--pour them into the thinned ranks of your
comrades at the Front. You are not alone. With you are all those who
are honourable, all who think, all who have paused at the brink of that
common sense which is now being abolished.

"The soldiers also will go with you, understanding clearly that you are
leading them, not backwards, to serfdom and to spiritual poverty, but
forwards, to freedom and to light.

"And then such a thunderstorm will break over the foe as will put an
end both to him and to the War.

"These three years of the War I have lived one life with you, thought
the same thoughts, shared with you the joy of victory and the burning
pain of retreat. I have therefore the right to fling into the faces of
those who have outraged our hearts, who from the very first days of the
Revolution have wrought the work of Cain on the corps of officers--I
have the right to fling in their faces the words: 'You lie! The Russian
officer has never been either a mercenary or a Pretorian.'

"Under the old régime you were victimised, down-trodden, and deprived
of all that makes life worth living. In no less a degree than
yourselves, leading a life of semi-beggary, our officers of the Line
have managed to carry through their wretched, laborious life like a
burning torch, the thirst for achievement for the happiness of his
Motherland.

"Then let my call be heard through these walls by the builders of the
new life of the State:

"Take care of the officer! For from the beginning and till now he has
stood, faithfully and without relief, on guard over the order of the
Russian State. He can be relieved by death alone."

Printed by the Committee, the text of my speech was circulated at the
Front, and I was happy to learn, from many letters and telegrams, that
the words spoken in defence of the officer had touched his aching heart.

The Congress left a permanent institution at the Stavka--the "Chief
Committee of the Officers' Union."[29] During the first three months of
its existence the Committee did not succeed in rooting itself deeply
in the Army. Its activities were confined to organising branches of the
Union in the Armies and in military circles, to the examination of the
complaints that reached it. In exceptional cases incompetent officers
were recommended for dismissal (the "black-board"); to a certain
very limited degree officers expelled by the soldiers were granted
assistance, and declarations were addressed to the Government and to
the Press in connection with the more important events in public and
military life. After the June advance the tone of these declarations
became acrimonious, critical, and defiant, which seriously disturbed
the Prime Minister, who persistently sought to have the Chief Committee
transferred from Moghilev to Moscow, as he considered that its attitude
was a danger to the Stavka.

The Committee, which was somewhat passive during the command of General
Brussilov, did, indeed, take part afterwards in General Kornilov's
venture. But it was not this circumstance that caused the change in its
attitude. _The Committee undoubtedly reflected the general spirit with
which the Command and the Russian officers were then imbued, a spirit
which had become hostile to the Provisional Government._ Also, no
clear idea had been formed among the officers of the political groups
within the Government of the covert struggle proceeding between them,
or of the protective part played by many representatives of the Liberal
Democracy among them. A hostile attitude was thus created towards the
Government as a whole.

Having remained hitherto perfectly loyal and in the majority of cases
well-disposed, having patiently borne, much against the grain, the
experiments which the Provisional Government made, deliberately or
involuntarily, on the country and on the Army, these elements lived
only in the hope of the regeneration of the Army, of an advance and of
victory. When all these hopes crashed to the ground, then, not being
united in their ideals with the second Coalitional Government, but,
on the contrary, deeply distrusting it, the masses of the officers
abandoned the Provisional Government, which thus lost its last reliable
support.

This moment is of great historical importance, giving the key to the
understanding of many later events. As a whole, deeply democratic
in their personnel, views and conditions of life, _rejected by the
Revolutionary Democracy_ with incredible harshness and cynicism,
and finding no real support in the liberal circles in close touch
with the Government, the Russian officers found themselves in a
state of tragic isolation. This isolation and bewilderment served
more than once afterwards as a fertile soil for outside influences,
foreign to the traditions of the officer caste and to its former
political character--influences which led to dissension, and in the
end to fratricide. For there can be no doubt that all the power, all
the organisation, both of the Red and of the White Armies, rested
exclusively on the personality of the former Russian officer.

And if afterwards, in the course of three years of conflict, we have
witnessed the rise of two conflicting forces in the Russian public life
of the anti-Bolshevist camp, we must seek for their original source not
in political differences only, but also in that work of Cain towards
the officers' caste, which was wrought by the Revolutionary Democracy
from the first days of the Revolution.

As everyone realised that the "new order" and the Front itself are
on the verge of collapse, it was obvious that officers should have
attempted some organisation to meet such a contingency. But the
advocates of action were lying in prison; the Chief Council of the
Officers' Union, which was best suited for this task, had been broken
up by Kerensky in the latter days of August. The majority of the
responsible leaders of the Army were perturbed by a terrible and not
unfounded fear for the fate of the Russian officers. In this respect
the correspondence between General Kornilov and General Doukhonin is
very characteristic. After the Bolshevist _coup d'état_ on November
1 (14), 1917, General Kornilov wrote to Doukhonin from his prison in
Bykhov:

"Foreseeing the further course of events, I think that it is necessary
for you to take such measures as would create a favourable atmosphere,
while thoroughly safeguarding Headquarters, for a struggle against the
coming Anarchy."

Among these measures General Kornilov suggested "the concentration in
Moghilev, or in a point near to it, under a reliable guard, of a store
of rifles, cartridges, machine-guns, automatic guns and hand-grenades
for distribution among the officer-volunteers, who will undoubtedly
gather together in this region."

Doukhonin made a note against this point: "This might lead to excesses."

Thus the constant morbid fears of an officers' "Counter-Revolution"
proved to be in vain. Events took the officers unawares. They were
unorganised, bewildered; they did not think of their own safety, and
finally scattered their forces.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE REVOLUTION AND THE COSSACKS.


A peculiar part was played by the Cossacks in the history of the
Revolution.

Built up historically, in the course of several centuries, the
relations of the Cossacks with the Central Government, common to
Russia, were of a dual character. The Government did all to encourage
the development of Cossack colonisation on the Russian south-eastern
borders, where war was unceasing. It made allowances for the
peculiarities of the warlike, agricultural life of the Cossacks, and
allowed them a certain degree of independence and individual forms of
democratic rule, with representative organs (the Kosh, kroog, rada), an
elected "Army elder" and hetmans.

"In its weakness," says Solovyov, "The State did not look too strictly
on the activities of the Cossacks, so long as they were directed only
against foreign lands; the State being weak, it was considered needful
to give these restless forces an outlet." But the "activities" of the
Cossacks were more than once directed against Moscow as well. This
circumstance led to a prolonged internecine struggle, which lasted
until the end of the eighteenth century, when, after a ferocious
suppression of the Pougatchov Rebellion, the free Cossacks of the
South-East were dealt a final blow; they gradually lost their markedly
oppositionary character, and even gained the reputation of the most
conservative element in the State, the pillars of the throne and the
régime.

From that time onward the Government incessantly showed favour to the
Cossacks by emphasising their really great merits, by solemn promises
to preserve their "Cossack Liberties,"[30] and by the appointment of
members of the Imperial family to honorary posts among the Cossacks.
At the same time, the Government took all measures to prevent these
"liberties" from developing to excess at the expense of that ruthless
centralisation, which was a historical necessity in the beginning of
the building up of the Russian State and a vast historical blunder
in its later development. To the number of these measures we must
refer the limitation of Cossack self-government, and, latterly, the
traditional appointment to the post of Hetman of persons not belonging
to the Cossack caste, and often complete strangers to the life of the
Cossacks. The oldest and most numerous Cossack Army, that of the Don,
has had Generals of German origin at its head more than once.

It seemed as if the Czarist Government had every reason to depend upon
the Cossacks. The repeated repression of the local political labour
and agrarian disturbances which broke out in Russia, the crushing of
a more serious rising--the revolution of 1905-1906, in which a great
part was played by the Cossack troops--all this seemed to confirm the
established opinion of the Cossacks. On the other hand, sundry episodes
of the "repressions," accompanied by inevitable violence, sometimes
cruelty, were widely spread among the people, were exaggerated, and
created a hostile attitude towards the Cossacks at the factories,
in the villages, among the Liberal _intelligencia_, and especially
among those elements which are known as the Revolutionary Democracy.
Throughout the whole of the underground literature--in its appeals,
leaflets, and pictures--the idea of a "Cossack" became synonymous with
"servant" of the Reactionary party.

This definition was greatly exaggerated. The bard of the Don Cossacks,
Mitrophan Bogayevsky, says of the political character of the Cossacks:
"The first and fundamental condition which prevented the Cossacks, at
least in the beginning, from breaking up was the idea of the State,
a lawful order, a deep-seated realisation of the necessity of a life
within the bounds of law. This seeking of a lawful order runs, and has
run, like a scarlet thread through all the circles of all the Cossack
Armies." But such altruistic motives, by themselves, do not exhaust the
question. Notwithstanding the grievous weight of universal military
service, the Cossacks, especially those of the South, enjoyed a certain
prosperity which excluded that important stimulus which roused against
the Government and the régime both the workers' class and the peasantry
of Central Russia. An extraordinarily complicated agrarian question
set the caste economic interests of the Cossacks against the interests
of the "outsider"[31] settlers. Thus, for instance, in the oldest and
largest Cossack Army, that of the Don, the amount of land secured to an
individual farm was, on the average, in _dessiateens_: for Cossacks,
19.3 to 30; for native peasants, 6.5; for immigrant peasants, 1.3.
Finally, owing to historical conditions and a narrow territorial system
of recruiting, the Cossack units possessed a perfectly homogeneous
personnel, a great internal unity, and a discipline which was firm,
though somewhat peculiar as to the mutual relations between the
officers and the privates, and therefore they conceded complete
obedience to their chiefs and to the Supreme Power.

With the support of all these motives, the Government made a wide use
of Cossack troops for suppressing popular agitation, and thus roused
against them the mute exasperation of the fermenting, discontented
masses of the population.

In return for their historical "liberties," the Cossack Armies, as I
have said, give all but universal military service. Its burden and the
degree of relative importance of these troops among the armed forces of
the Russian Empire are shown in the following table:


COMPOSITION OF THE COSSACK TROOPS IN THE AUTUMN OF 1913.

 ---------------+------------+---------------+-------------
    Armies.     |  Cavalry   |  Sotnias not  |  Infantry
                | Regiments. |   included    | Battalions.
                |            | in Regiments. |
 ---------------+------------+---------------+-------------
  Don           |     60     |      72       |     --
  Kouban        |     37     |      37       |     22
  Orenburg      |     18     |      40       |     --
  Terek         |     12     |       3       |      2
  Ural          |      9     |       4       |     --
  Siberian      |      9     |       3       |     --
  Trans-Baikal  |      9     |      --       |     --
  Semiretchensk |      3     |       7       |     --
  Astrakhan     |      3     |      --       |     --
  Amur          |      2     |       5       |     --
 ---------------+------------+---------------+-------------
  TOTAL[32]     |    162     |     171       |     24
 ---------------+------------+---------------+-------------

Partly as cavalry of the line--in divisions and corps, partly as Army
corps and divisional cavalry--in regiments, sub-divisions and detached
_sotnias_, the Cossack units were scattered over all the Russian
fronts, from the Baltic to Persia. _Among the Cossacks, as against all
the other component parts of the Army, desertion was unknown._

At the outbreak of Revolution all the political groups, and even
the representatives of the Allies, devoted great attention to the
Cossacks--some building exaggerated hopes on them, others regarding
them with unconcealed suspicion. The circles of the Right looked to the
Cossacks for Restoration; the Liberal Bourgeoisie, for active support
of law and order; while the parties of the Left feared that they were
counter-Revolutionary, and therefore started a strong propaganda in
the Cossack units, seeking to disintegrate them. This was to some
extent assisted by the spirit of repentance which showed itself at
all Cossack meetings, Congresses, "Circles" and "Radas" at which the
late power was accused of systematically rousing the Cossacks against
the people. The mutual relations between the Cossacks and the local
agricultural population were unusually complicated, especially in
the Cossack territories of European Russia.[33] Intermingled with
the Cossack allotments were peasant lands--those of whilom settlers
(the indigenous peasantry)--lands let on long lease, on which large
settlements had sprung up, finally lands which had been granted by the
Emperor to various persons and which had gradually passed into the
hands of "outsiders." On the basis of these mutual relations dissension
now arose which began to assume the character of violence and forcible
seizures. With respect to the Don Army, which gave the keynote to
all others, the Provisional Government considered it necessary to
publish on April 7th an appeal in which, while affirming that "the
rights of the Cossacks to the land, as they have grown historically,
remain inviolable," also promised the "outsider" population, "whose
claim to the land is also based on historical rights," that it would
be satisfied, in as great a measure as possible, by the Constituent
Assembly. This agrarian puzzle, which surrounded with uncertainty the
most tender point of the Cossacks' hopes, was explained unequivocally,
in the middle of May, by the Minister of Agriculture, Tchernov (at the
All-Russia Peasant Congress), who stated that the Cossacks held large
tracts of land and that now they would have to surrender a portion of
their lands.

In the Cossack territories meanwhile work was in full swing in the
sphere of self-determination and self-government; the information
supplied by the Press was vague and contradictory; no one had yet heard
the voice of the Cossacks as a whole. One can understand, therefore,
that general attention which was concentrated on the All-Russia Cossack
Congress, which gathered in Petrograd in the beginning of June.

The Cossacks paid a tribute to the Revolution and to the State,
referred to their own needs (after all, the question of their holdings
was the most vital one), and ... smiled to the Soviet....

The impression thus produced was indefinite; neither were the hopes of
the one side fulfilled nor the fears of the other dissipated.

Meanwhile, at the initiative of the Revolutionary Democracy, a violent
propaganda was set on foot for introducing the idea of doing away with
the Cossacks as a separate caste. But, on the whole, this idea of
self-abolition had no success. On the contrary, a growing aspiration
spread among the Cossacks for maintaining their internal organisation
and for the union of all the Cossack Armies.

Cossack Governments sprang up everywhere, elected Hetmans and
representative institutions ("Circles" and Radas), whose authority
increased in accordance with the weakening of the authority and power
of the Provisional Government. Such eminent men appeared at the head
of the Cossacks as Kaledin (the Don), Doutov (Orenburg), and Karaoulov
(the Terek).

A triple power was formed in the Cossack territories; the Hetman with
his Government, the commissary of the Provisional Government, and the
Soviet.[34]

The Commissaries, however, after a short and unsuccessful struggle,
soon subsided and exhibited no activity. Far more serious became
the struggle of the Cossack authority with the local Soviets and
Committees, which sought support in the unruly mob of soldiers who
flooded the territories under the name of Reserve Army Battalions and
Rear Army Units. This curse of the population positively terrorised
the land, creating anarchy in the towns and settlements, instituting
sacks, seizing lands and businesses, trampling upon all rights, all
authority, and creating intolerable conditions of life. The Cossacks
had nothing with which to combat this violence--all their units were at
the Front. Only in the Don territory, accidentally, in the autumn of
1917, not without the deliberate connivance of the Stavka, a division
was concentrated, and afterwards three divisions, with the aid of which
General Kaledin attempted to restore order.

But all the measures taken by him, as for instance the occupation by
armed forces of railway junctions, of the more important mines, and of
large centres, which secured normal communication and supplies for the
centre and the fronts, were met not only with violent resistance on the
part of the Soviets and with accusations of counter-revolutionism, but
even with some suspicion on the part of the Provisional Government. At
the same time the Cossacks of the Kouban and of the Terek asked the Don
to send them if only a few _sotnias_, as it was "becoming impossible to
breathe for _comrades_."

The friendly relations, instituted in the early days of the Revolution,
between the general Russian and the Cossack Revolutionary Democracies
were soon broken off finally. "Cossack Socialism" turned out to be
so self-sufficing, so concentrated in its own castes and corporation
limits, that it could find no place in that doctrine.

The Soviets insisted on the equalising of the holdings of the Cossacks
and the peasants, while the Cossacks vigorously defended their right
of property and disposal in the Cossack lands, basing it on their
historical merits as conquerors, protectors, and colonisers of the
former marches of Russia's territory.

The organisation of a general territorial Government failed. An
internecine struggle began.

The consequences were two-fold: The first was a painful atmosphere of
estrangement and hostility between the Cossacks and the "outsider"
population, which later, in the swiftly changing kaleidoscope of the
civil war, sometimes assumed monstrous forms of mutual extermination,
as the power passed from the hands of one side into those of the
other. Along with this, one or the other half of the population of the
larger Cossack territories were generally deemed as participating in
the building up and the economy of the land.[35] The second was the
so-called Cossack separatism or self-determination.

The Cossacks had no reason to expect from the Revolutionary Democracy
a favourable settlement of their destiny, especially in the question
most vital to it--the land question. On the other hand, the Provisional
Government had also assumed an ambiguous attitude in this matter, and
the Government power was openly tending to its fall. The future assumed
altogether indefinite outlines. Hence, independently of the general
healthy aspiration towards decentralisation, there appeared among the
Cossacks, who for centuries had been seeking "freedom," a tendency
themselves to secure the maximum of independence, so as to place the
future Constituent Assembly before an accomplished fact, or as the
more outspoken Cossack leaders put it, "that there should be something
from which to knock off." Hence a gradual evolution from territorial
self-government to autonomy, federation, and confederation. Hence,
finally--with the intrusion of individual local self-love, ambition,
and interests--a permanent struggle began with every principle of an
imperial tendency, a struggle which weakened both sides and greatly
prolonged the civil war.[36] It was these circumstances, too, that gave
birth to the idea of an independent Cossack army, which first arose
among the Cossacks of the Kouban and was not then supported by Kaledin
and the more imperialistic elements of the Don.

All that I have related refers mainly to the three Cossack bodies (the
Don, the Kouban, and the Terek) which form more than sixty per cent.
of Cossack-dom. But the general characteristic features belong to the
other Cossack armies as well.

Along with the alterations in the composition of the Provisional
Government and with the decline of its authority, changes took place
in the attitude toward it of Cossack-dom, expressing themselves
in the resolutions and appeals of the Council of the union of the
Cossack armies, of the hetmans, circles, and Governments. If before
July the Cossacks voted for all possible support to the Government
and for complete obedience, later, however, _while acknowledging the
authority of the Government to the very end_, it comes forward in
sharp opposition to it on the questions of the organisation of the
Cossack administration and _zemstvo_, of the employment of Cossacks
for the repression of rebellious troops and districts and so forth. In
October the Kouban rada assumes constituent powers and publishes the
constitution of the "Kouban territory." It speaks of the Government in
such a manner as the following: "When will the Provisional Government
shake off these fumes (the Bolshevist aggression) and put an end, by
resolute measures, to these scandals?"

The Provisional Government, being already without authority and without
any real power, surrendered all its positions and agreed to peace with
the Cossack Governments.

It is remarkable that, even at the end of October, when, owing to the
breach of communications, no correct information had yet been received
on the Don about the events in Petrograd and Moscow and about the fate
of the Provisional Government, and when it was supposed that its
fragments were functioning somewhere or other, the Cossack elders, in
the person of the representatives of the South-Eastern Union, then
gathering,[37] sought to get into touch with the Government, offering
it aid against the Bolsheviks, but conditioning this aid with a whole
series of economic demands: a non-interest-bearing loan of 500,000,000
roubles, the State to pay all the expenses of supporting Cossack units
outside the territory of the union, the institution of a pension fund
for all sufferers, and the right of the Cossacks to all "spoils of
war"(?) which might be taken in the course of the coming civil war.

It is not without interest that for a long time Pourishkevitch
cherished the idea of the transfer of the State Duma to the Don, as a
counterpoise to the Provisional Government and for the preservation of
the source of authority, in case of the fall of the latter. Kaledin's
attitude towards this proposal was negative.

A characteristic indication of the attitude which the Cossacks had
succeeded in retaining towards themselves in the most varied circles
was that attraction to the Don which later, in the winter of 1917,
led thitherward Rodzianko, Miliukov, General Alexeiev, the Bykhov
prisoners, Savinkov, and even Kerensky, who came to General Kaledin, in
Novotcherkassk, in the latter days of November, but was not received by
him. Pourishkevitch alone did not come, and that only because he was
then in prison in Petrograd, in the hands of the Bolsheviks.

And suddenly it turned out that the whole thing was a mystification,
pure and simple, that at that time the Cossacks had no power left
whatever.

In view of the growing disorders on the Cossack territory, the hetmans
repeatedly appealed for the recall from the front of if only part of
the Cossack divisions. They were awaited with enormous impatience,
and the most radiant hopes were built on them. In October these hopes
seemed to be on the eve of fulfilment; the Cossack divisions had
started for home. Overcoming all manner of obstacles on their way,
retarded at every step by the Vikzhel (All-Russia Executive Railway
Committee) and the local Soviets, subjected more than once to insults,
disarmament, resorting in one place to requests, in another to cunning,
and in some places to armed threats, the Cossack units forced their way
into their territories.

But no measures could preserve the Cossack units from the fate which
had befallen the Army, for the whole of the psychological atmosphere
and all the factors of disruption, internal and external, were
absorbed by the Cossack masses, perhaps less intensively, but on the
whole in the same way. The two unsuccessful and, for the Cossacks,
incomprehensible marches on Petrograd, with Krymov[38] and Krasnov,[39]
introduced still greater confusion into their vague political outlook.

The return of the Cossack troops to their homeland brought complete
disenchantment with it: they--at least the Cossacks of the Don, the
Kouban, and the Terek[40]--brought with them from the front the most
genuine Bolshevism, void, of course, of any kind of ideology, but with
all the phenomena of complete disintegration which we know so well.
This disintegration ripened gradually, showed itself later, but at
once exhibiting itself in the denial of the authority of the "elders,"
the negation of all power, by mutiny, violence, the persecution and
surrender of the officers, but principally by complete abandonment
of any struggle against the Soviet power, which falsely promised the
inviolability of the Cossack rights and organisation. Bolshevism and
the Cossack organisation! Such grotesque contradictions were brought to
the surface daily by the reality of Russian life, on the basis of that
drunken debauch into which its long-desired freedom had degenerated.

Now began the tragedy of Cossack life and the Cossack family in which
an insurmountable barrier had arisen between the "elders" and the "men
of the front," destroying their life and rousing the children against
their fathers.



CHAPTER XXV.

NATIONAL UNITS.


In the old Russian Army the national question scarcely existed. Among
the soldiery the representatives of the races inhabiting Russia
experienced somewhat greater hardships in the service, caused by their
ignorance or imperfect knowledge of the Russian language, in which
their training was carried on. It was only this ground--the technical
difficulties of training--and perhaps that of general roughness and
barbarism, but in no case that of racial intolerance, that often led to
that friction, which made the position of the alien elements difficult,
the more so that, according to the system of mixed drafting, they
were generally torn from their native lands; the territorial system
of filling the ranks of the Army was considered to be technically
irrational and politically--not void of danger. The Little Russian
question in particular did not exist _at all_. The Little Russian
speech (outside the limits of official training), songs and music
received full recognition and did not rouse in anyone any feeling of
separateness, being accepted as Russian, as one's own. In the Army,
with the exception of the Jews, all the other alien elements were
absorbed fairly quickly and permanently; the community of the Army
was in no way a conductor either for compulsory Russification or for
national Chauvinism.

Still less were national differences to be noticed in the community of
officers. Qualities and virtues--corporative, military, pertaining to
comradeship or simply human, overshadowed or totally obliterated racial
barriers. Personally, during my twenty-five years of service before the
revolution, it never came into my head to introduce this element into
my relations as commander, as colleague, or as comrade. And this was
done intuitively, not as the result of certain views and convictions.
The national questions which _were raised outside the Army_, in the
political life of the country, interested me, agitated me, were settled
by me in one or the other direction, harshly and irreconcilably at
times, but always without trespassing on the boundaries of military
life.

The Jews occupied a somewhat different position. I shall return to this
question later. But it may be said that, with respect to the old Army,
this question was of popular rather than of political significance.
It cannot be denied that in the Army there was a certain tendency to
oppress the Jews, but it was not at all a part of any system, was not
inspired from above, but sprang up in the lower strata and in virtue
of complex causes, which spread far outside of the life, customs, and
mutual relations of the military community.

In any case, the war overthrew all barriers, while the revolution
brought with it the repeal, in legislative order, of all religious and
national restrictions.

With the beginning of the revolution and the weakening of the
Government, a violent centrifugal tendency arose in the borderlands
of Russia, and along with it a tendency towards the nationalisation,
_i.e._, the dismemberment, of the Army. Undoubtedly, the need of such
dismemberment did not at that time spring from the consciousness
of the masses and had no real foundation (I do not speak of the
Polish formations). The sole motives for nationalisation then lay
in the seeking of the political upper strata of the newly formed
groups to create a real support for their demands, and in the
feeling of self-preservation which urged the military element to
seek in new and prolonged formations a temporary or permanent relief
from military operations. Endless national military congresses
began, without the permission of the Government and of the High
Command. All races suddenly began to speak; the Lithuanians, the
Esthonians, the Georgians, the White Russians, the Little Russians,
the Mohammedans--demanding the "self-determination" proclaimed--from
cultural national autonomy to full independence inclusive, and
principally the immediate formation of separate bodies of troops.
Finally, more serious results, undoubtedly negative as regards the
integrity of the Army, were attained by the Ukrainian, Polish, and
partially by the Trans-Caucasian formations. The other attempts were
nipped in the bud. It was only during the last days of the existence
of the Russian Army, in October, 1917, that General Shcherbatov,
seeking to preserve the Roumanian front, began the classification of
the Army, on a large scale, according to race--an attempt which ended
in complete failure. I must add that one race only made no demand
for self-determination with regard to military service--the Jewish.
And whenever a proposal was made from any source--in reply to the
complaints of the Jews--to organise special Jewish regiments, this
proposal roused a storm of indignation among the Jews and in the
circles of the Left, and was stigmatised as deliberate provocation.

The Government showed itself markedly opposed to the reorganisation
of the Army according to race. In a letter to the Polish Congress
(June 1st, 1917) Kerensky expressed the following view: "The great
achievement of the liberation of Russia and Poland can be arrived at
only under the condition that the organism of the Russian Army is
not weakened, that no alterations in its organisation infringe its
unity.... The extrusion from it of racial troops ... would, at this
difficult moment, tear its body, break its power, and spell ruin both
for the revolution and for the freedom of Russia, Poland, and of the
other nationalities inhabiting Russia."

The attitude of the commanding element towards the question of
nationalisation was dual. The majority was altogether opposed to
it; the minority regarded it with some hope that, by breaking their
connection with the Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates, the
newly created national units might escape the errors and infatuations
of democratisation and become a healthy nucleus for fortifying the
front and building up the army. General Alexeiev resolutely opposed
all attempts at nationalisation, but encouraged the Polish and
Tchekho-Slovak formations. General Brussilov allowed the creation
of the first Ukrainian formation on his own responsibility, after
requesting the Supreme Commander-in-Chief "not to repeal it and not
to undermine his authority thereby."[41] The regiment was allowed to
exist. General Ruzsky, also without permission, began the Esthonian
formations,[42] and so forth. From the same motives, probably, which
led some commanders to allow formations, but with a reverse action,
the whole of the Russian revolutionary democracy, in the person of the
Soviets and the army committees, rose against the nationalisation of
the Army. A shower of violent resolutions poured in from all sides.
Among others, the Kiev Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates,
about the middle of April, characterised Ukrainisation in rude and
indignant language, as simple desertion and "hide-saving," and by
a majority of 264 against 4 demanded the repeal of the formation
of Ukrainian regiments. It is interesting to note that as great an
opponent of nationalisation was found in the Polish "Left," which had
split off from the military congress of the Poles in June, because of
the resolution for the formation of Polish troops.

The Government did not long adhere to its original firm decision
against nationalisation. The declaration of July 2nd, along with
the grant of autonomy to the Ukraine, also decided the question of
nationalising the troops: "The Government considers it possible to
continue its assistance to a closer national union of the Ukrainians
in the ranks of the Army itself, or to the drafting into individual
units of Ukrainians exclusively, in so far as such a measure does not
injure the fighting capacity of the Army ... and considers it possible
to attract to the fulfilment of those tasks the Ukrainian soldiers
themselves, who are sent by the Central Rada to the War Ministry, the
General Staff, and the Stavka."

A great "migration of peoples" began.

Other Ukrainian agents journeyed along the front, organising Ukrainian
_gromadas_ and committees, getting resolutions passed for transfers
to Ukrainian units, or concerning reluctance to go to the front under
the plea that "the Ukraine was being stifled" and so forth. By October
the Ukrainian committee of the Western front was already calling for
armed pressure on the Government for the immediate conclusion of
peace. Petlura affirmed that he had 50,000 Ukrainian troops at his
disposal. Yet the commander of the Kiev military district, Colonel
Oberoutchev,[43] bears witness as follows: "At the time when heroic
exertions were being made to break the foe (the June advance) _I was
unable to send a single soldier to reinforce the active army_. As
soon as I gave an order to some reserve regiment or other to send
detachments to reinforce the front, a meeting would be called by a
regiment which had until then lived, peaceably, without thinking of
Ukrainisation, the yellow and blue Ukrainian flag would be unfurled and
the cry raised: 'Let us march under the Ukrainian flag!'

"And after that they would not move. Weeks would pass, a month, but the
detachments would not stir, either under the red, or under the blue and
yellow flag."

Was it possible to combat this unconcealed care for their own safety?
The answer is given by Oberoutchev again--an answer very characteristic
in its lifeless party rigour:

"Of course, I could have used force to get my orders obeyed. And that
force lay in my hands." But "by using force against the disobedient,
who are acting under the Ukrainian flag, one risks the reproach
that one is struggling not against acts of anarchy, but against
national freedom and the self-determination of nations. And for me, a
Socialist-Revolutionary, to risk such a reproach, and in the Ukraine
too, with which I had been connected all my life, was impossible. And
so I decided to resign."[44]

And he resigned. True, it was only in October, shortly before the
Bolshevist _coup d'état_, having occupied the post of commander of the
troops in the most important district next the front for nearly five
months.

As a development of the orders of the Government, the Stavka appointed
special divisions on each front for Ukrainisation, and on the
South-Western front also the 34th Army Corps, which was under the
command of General Skoropadsky. To these units, which were mostly
quartered in the deep reserve, the soldiers flocked from the whole
front, without leave asked or given. The hopes of the optimists on
the one hand and the fears of the Left circles on the other that
nationalisation would create "firm units" (counter-revolutionary in the
terminology of the Left) were speedily dispersed. The new Ukrainian
troops were permeated with the same elements of disintegration as the
regulars.

Meanwhile, among the officers and old soldiers of many famous regiments
with a great historical past, now transformed into Ukrainian units,
this measure roused acute pain and the recognition that the end
of the Army was near.[45] In August, when I was in command of the
South-Western front, bad news began to come to me from the 34th Army
Corps. The corps seemed to be escaping from direct subordination,
receiving both directions and reinforcements from the "General
Secretary Petlura" directly. His commissary was attached to the Staff
of the corps, over which waved the "yellow-blue flag." The former
Russian officers and sergeants, left in the regiments because there was
no Ukrainian command, were treated with contumely by the often ignorant
Ukrainian ensigns set over them and by the soldiers. An extremely
unhealthy atmosphere of mutual hostility and estrangement was gathering
in these units.

I sent for General Skoropadsky and invited him to moderate the violent
course of the process of Ukrainisation and, in particular, either to
restore the rights of the Commanders or to release them from service
in the corps. The future Hetman declared that a mistaken idea had been
formed of his activity, probably because of the historical past of the
Skoropadsky family,[46] that he was a true Russian, an officer of the
Guards and was altogether free of all seeking for self-determination,
that he was only obeying orders, for which he himself had no sympathy.
But immediately afterwards Skoropadsky went to the Stavka, whence my
Staff received directions to aid the speedy Ukrainisation of the 34th
Army Corps.

The question of the Polish formations was in a somewhat different
position. The Provisional Government had declared the independence
of Poland, and the Poles now counted themselves "foreigners"; Polish
formations had long ago existed on the South-Western front, though they
were breaking up (with the exception of the Polish Lancers); having
given permission to the Ukrainians, the Government could not refuse it
to the Poles. Finally, the Central Powers, by creating the appearance
of Polish independence, also had in view the formation of a Polish
Army, which, however, ended in failure. America also formed a Polish
Army on French territory.

In July, 1917, the formation of a Polish corps was assigned to the
Western front, of which I was then Commander-in-Chief. At the head of
the corps I put General Dovbor-Mousnitsky,[47] who is now in command
of the Polish Army at Poznan. A strong, energetic, resolute man, who
fearlessly waged war on the disintegration of the Russian troops and
on the Bolshevism among them, he succeeded in a short time in creating
units which, if not altogether firm, were, in any case, strikingly
different from the Russian troops in their discipline and order. It
was the old discipline, rejected by the Revolution--without meetings,
commissaries or committees. Such units roused another attitude towards
them in the Army, notwithstanding the rejection of nationalisation in
principle. Being supplied with the property of the disbanded mutinous
divisions and treated with complaisance by the Chief of Supplies, the
corps was soon able to organise its own commissariat. By order, the
ranks of the officers in the Polish corps were filled by the transfer
of those who desired it, and the ranks of the soldiers--exclusively
by volunteers or from reserve battalions; practically, however, the
inevitable current from the front set in, caused by the same motives
which influenced the Russian soldiers, devastating the thinned ranks of
the Army.

In the end the Polish formations turned out to be altogether useless to
us. Even at the June military congress of the Poles, fairly unanimous
and unambiguous speeches were heard which defined the aims of these
formations. Their synthesis was thus expressed by one of the delegates:
"It is a secret for no one that the War is coming to an end, and we
need the Polish Army, not for the War, not for fighting; we need it so
that at the coming international conference we may be reckoned with,
that there should be power at our backs."

And indeed the corps did not make its appearance at the front--it is
true that it was not yet finally formed; it did not wish to interfere
in the "home affairs" of the Russians (October and later--the struggle
against Bolshevism) and soon assumed completely the position of "a
foreign army," being taken over and supported by the French command.

But neither were the hopes of the Polish nationalists fulfilled. In the
midst of the general break-down and fall of the front in the beginning
of 1918 and after the irruption of the Germans into Russia, part of the
corps was captured and disarmed, part of it dispersed and the remnants
of the Polish troops afterwards found a hospitable asylum in the ranks
of the Volunteer Army.

Personally, I cannot but say a good word for the 1st Polish Corps, to
the units of which, quartered in Bykhov, we owe much in the protection
of the lives of General Kornilov and the other Bykhov prisoners, in the
memorable days of September to November.

Centrifugal forces were scattering the country and the Army. To
class and party intolerance was added the embitterment of national
dissensions, partly based on the historically-created relations between
the races inhabiting Russia and the Imperial Government, and partly
altogether baseless, absurd, fed by causes which had nothing in common
with healthy national feeling. Latent or crushed at an earlier date,
these dissensions broke out rudely at just that moment, unfortunately,
when the general Russian authority was voluntarily and conscientiously
taking the path of recognition of the historical rights and the
national cultural self-determination of the component elements of the
Russian State.

[Illustration: General Alexeiev's (centre) farewell.]



CHAPTER XXVI.

    MAY AND THE BEGINNING OF JUNE IN THE SPHERE OF MILITARY
    ADMINISTRATION--THE RESIGNATION OF GUTCHKOV AND GENERAL
    ALEXEIEV--MY DEPARTURE FROM THE STAVKA--THE ADMINISTRATION OF
    KERENSKY AND GENERAL BRUSSILOV.


On May 1st the Minister of War, Gutchkov, left his post. "We wished,"
so he explained the meaning of the "democratisation" of the Army which
he tried to introduce, "to give organised forms and certain channels to
follow, to that awakened spirit of independence, self-help and liberty
which had swept over all. But there is a line, beyond which lies the
beginning of the ruin of that living, mighty organism which is the
Army." Undoubtedly that line was crossed even before the first of May.

I am not preparing to characterise Gutchkov, whose sincere patriotism
I do not doubt. I am speaking only of the system. It is difficult to
decide who could have borne the heavy weight of administering the Army
during the first period of the Revolution; but, in any case, Gutchkov's
Ministry had not the slightest grounds to seek the part of guiding the
life of the Army. It did not lead the Army. On the contrary, submitting
to a "parallel power" and impelled from below, the Ministry, somewhat
restively, _followed the Army_, until it came right up to the line,
beyond which final ruin begins.

"To restrain the Army from breaking up completely under the influence
of that pressure which proceeded from the Socialists, and in particular
from their citadel--the Soviet of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates--to
gain time, to allow the diseased process to be absorbed, to help the
healthy elements to gain strength, such was my aim," wrote Gutchkov to
Kornilov in June, 1917. The whole question is whether the resistance
to the destroying powers was resolute enough. The Army did not feel
this. The officers read the orders, signed by Gutchkov, which broke
up completely the foundations of military life and custom. That these
orders were the result of a painful internal drama, a painful struggle
and defeat--this the officers did not know, nor did it interest them.
Their lack of information was so great that many of them even now,
four years later, ascribe to Gutchkov the authorship of the celebrated
"Order No. 1." However it may be, the officers felt themselves deceived
and deserted. Their difficult position they ascribed principally to the
reforms of the Minister of War, against whom a hostile feeling arose,
heated still more by the grumbling of hundreds of Generals removed by
him and of the ultra-monarchical section of the officers, who could not
forgive Gutchkov his supposed share in the preparation of the Palace
_coup d'état_ and of the journey to Pskov.[48]

Thus the resignation of this Minister, even if caused "by those
conditions, in which the Government power was placed in the country,
and in particular the power of the Minister of the Army and the Navy
with respect to the Army and the fleet,"[49] had another justification
as well--the want of support among the officers and the soldiery.

In a special resolution the Provisional Government condemned Gutchkov's
action in "resigning responsibility for the fate of Russia," and
appointed Kerensky Minister of the Army and the Navy. I do not know how
the Army received this appointment in the beginning, but the Soviet
received it without prejudice. Kerensky was a complete stranger to the
art of war and to military life, but could have been surrounded by
honest men; what was then going on in the Army was simple insanity,
and this even a civilian might have understood. Gutchkov was a
representative of the Bourgeoisie, a Member of the Right, and was
distrusted; now, perhaps, a Socialist Minister, the favourite of the
Democracy, might have succeeded in dissipating the fog in which the
soldiers' consciousness was wrapped. Nevertheless, to take up such a
burden called for enormous boldness or enormous self-confidence, and
Kerensky emphasised this circumstance more than once when speaking
to an Army audience: "At a time when many soldiers, who had studied
the art of war for decades, declined the post of Minister of War,
I--a civilian, accepted it." No one, however, had ever heard that the
Ministry of War had been offered to a soldier that May.

The very first steps taken by the new Minister dissipated our hopes:
the choice of collaborators, who were even greater opportunists than
their predecessors, but void of experience in military administration
and in active service;[50] the surrounding of himself with men from
"underground"--perhaps having done very great work in the cause of the
Revolution, but without any comprehension of the life of the Army--all
this introduced into the actions of the War Ministry a new party
element, foreign to the military service.

A few days after his appointment Kerensky issued the Declaration of the
rights of the soldier, thereby predestining the entire course of his
activity.

On May 11th the Minister was passing through Moghilev to the Front. We
were surprised by the circumstance that the passage was timed for 5
a.m., and that only the Chief-of-Staff was invited into the train. The
Minister of War seemed to avoid meeting the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
His conversation with me was short and touched on details--the
suppression of some disturbances or other that had broken out at one
of the railway junctions and so forth. The most capital questions of
the existence of the Army and of the coming advance, the necessity
for unity in the views of the Government and the Command, the absence
of which was showing itself with such marked clearness--all this,
apparently, did not attract the attention of the Minister. Among other
things, Kerensky passed a few cursory remarks on the inappropriateness
of Generals Gourko and Dragomirov, Commanders-in-Chief of fronts,
to their posts, which drew a protest from me. All this was very
symptomatic and created at the Stavka a condition of tense, nervous
expectation.

Kerensky was proceeding to the South-Western front, to begin his
celebrated verbal campaign which was to rouse the Army to achievement.
The _word_ created hypnosis and self-hypnosis. Brussilov reported
to the Stavka that throughout the Army the Minister of War had been
received with extraordinary enthusiasm. Kerensky spoke with unusual
pathos and exaltation, in stirring "revolutionary" images, often with
foam on his lips, reaping the applause and delight of the mob. At
times, however, the mob would turn to him the face of a wild beast,
the sight of which made words to stick in the throat and caused the
heart to fail. They sounded a note of menace, these moments, but fresh
delight drowned their alarming meaning. And Kerensky reported to
the Provisional Government that "the wave of enthusiasm in the Army
is growing and widening," and that a definite change in favour of
discipline and the regeneration of the Army was displaying itself. In
Odessa he became even more irresistibly poetical: "In your welcome I
see that great enthusiasm which has overwhelmed the country and feel
that great exaltation which the world experiences but once in hundreds
of years."

Let us be just.

Kerensky called on the Army to do its duty. He spoke of duty, honour,
discipline, obedience, trust in its commanders; he spoke of the
necessity for advancing and for victory. He spoke in the language of
the established revolutionary ritual, which ought to have reached
the hearts and minds of the "revolutionary people." Sometimes, even,
feeling his power over his audience, he would throw at it the words,
which became household words, of "rebel slaves" and "revolutionary
tyrants."

In vain!

At the conflagration of the temple of Russia, he called to the fire:
"Be quenched!" instead of extinguishing it with brimful pails of water.

Words could not fight against facts, nor heroic poems against the
stern prose of life. The replacement of the Motherland by Liberty and
Revolution did not make the aims of the conflict any clearer. The
constant scoffing at the old "discipline," at the "Czar's generals,"
the reminders of the knout, the stick, and the "former unprivileged
condition of the soldier" or of the soldier's blood "shed in vain" by
someone or other--nothing of this could bridge the chasm between the
two component parts of the Army. The passionate preaching of a "new,
conscious, iron revolutionary discipline," _i.e._, a discipline based
on the "declaration of the rights of the soldier"--a discipline of
meetings, propaganda, political agitation, absence of authority in
the commanders, and so forth--this preaching was in irreconcileable
opposition to the call to victory. Having received his impressions in
the artificially exalted, theatrical atmosphere of meetings, surrounded
both in the Ministry and in his journeyings, by an impenetrable wall of
old political friends and of all manner of delegations and deputations
from the Soviets and the Committees, Kerensky looked on the Army
through the prism of their outlook, either unwilling or unable to sink
himself in the real life of the Army and in its torments, sufferings,
searchings, and crimes, and finally to attain a real standing-ground,
get at vital themes and real words. These everyday questions of Army
life and organisation--dry in their form and deeply dramatic in their
content--never served as themes for his speeches. They contained
only a glorification of the Revolution and a condemnation of certain
perversions of the idea of national defence, created by that Revolution
itself. The masses of the soldiery, eager for sentimental scenes,
listened to the appeals of the recognised chief for self-sacrifice,
and they were inflamed with the "sacred fire"; but as soon as the
scene was over, both the chief and the audiences reverted to the daily
occupations: the chief--to the "democratisation" of the Army, and
the masses--to "deepening the Revolution." In the same way, probably,
Djerzinsky's executioners in Soviet Russia now admire, in the temple of
proletarian art, the sufferings of young Werther--before proceeding to
their customary occupation of hanging and shooting.

At any rate, there was much noise. So much, that Hindenburg sincerely
believes even to this day that in June, 1917, the South-Western Front
was commanded by Kerensky. In his book _Aus meinem Leben_ the German
Field-Marshal relates that Kerensky succeeded Brussilov, "who was
swept away from his post by the rivers of Russian blood which he shed
in Galicia and Macedonia (?) in 1916" (the Field-Marshal has confused
the theatres of war), and tells the story of Kerensky's "advance" and
victories over the Austrians near Stanislavov.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile life at the Stavka was gradually waning. The wheels of
administration were still revolving, everybody was doing something,
issuing orders and giving directions. The work was purely formal,
because all the plans and directions of the Stavka were upset by
unavoidable and incalculable circumstances. Petrograd never took the
Stavka into serious account, but at that time the attitude of the
Government was somewhat hostile, and the War Ministry was conducting
the work of reorganisation without ever consulting the Stavka. This
position was a great burden to General Alexeiev, the more so that the
attacks of his old disease became more frequent. He was extremely
patient and disregarded all personal pin-pricks and all efforts at
undermining his prerogatives which emanated from the Government.
In his discussions with numerous Army chiefs, and organisations
which took advantage of his accessibility, he was likewise patient,
straightforward, and sincere. He worked incessantly, in order to
preserve the remnants of the Army. Seeking to give an example of
discipline, he protested but obeyed. He was not sufficiently strong
and masterful by nature to compel the Provisional Government and the
civilian reformers of the Army to take the demands of the Supreme
Command into account; at the same time, he never did violence to his
conscience in order to please the powers that be or the mob.

On May 20th, Kerensky stopped for a few hours at Moghilev on his way
home from the South-Western Front. He was full of impressions, praised
Brussilov, and expressed the view that the general spirit at the front
and the relations between officers and men were excellent. Although
in his conversation with Alexeiev Kerensky made no hint, we noticed
that his entourage was somewhat uneasy, and realised that decisions in
regard to certain changes had already been taken. I did not consider
it necessary to acquaint the Supreme Commander-in-Chief with these
rumours, and merely seized the first opportunity for postponing his
intended visit to the Western Front so as not to put him into a false
position.

In the night of the 22nd a telegram was received dismissing General
Alexeiev and appointing General Brussilov by order of the Provisional
Government. The Quartermaster-General Josephovitch woke up Alexeiev
and handed him the telegram. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief was
deeply moved, and tears came down his cheeks. May the members of the
Provisional Government who are still alive forgive the vulgarity
of the language: in a subsequent conversation with me the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief inadvertently uttered the following words: "The
cads! They have dismissed me like a servant without notice."

A great statesman and military leader had thus left the stage, whose
virtue--one of many--was his implicit loyalty (or was it a defect?) to
the Provisional Government.

On the next day Kerensky was asked--at a meeting of the Soviet--what
steps he had taken in view of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief's speech
at the officers' Conference (see Chapter XXIII). He replied that
Alexeiev had been dismissed, and that he, Kerensky, believed that a
late French politician was right in saying that "discipline of duty"
should be introduced from the top. The Bolshevik Rosenfeldt (Kamenev)
expressed satisfaction, because this decision fully coincided with
the repeated demands of the Soviet. On the same day the Government
published an official communiqué to the effect that: "In spite of
the fact that General Alexeiev was naturally very tired and needed
rest from his arduous labours, it was considered impossible to lose
the services of this exceptionally experienced and talented leader,
and General Alexeiev was therefore to remain at the disposal of the
Provisional Government." The Supreme Commander-in-Chief issued the
following Order of the Day as a farewell to the Armies.

"For nearly three years I have walked with you along the thorny path
of the Russian Army. Your glorious deeds have filled me with joyful
elation, and I was filled with sorrow in the days of our reverses.
But I continued with implicit hope in Providence, in the mission of
the Russian people, and in the prowess of the Russian soldier. Now
that the foundations of our military power are shattered, I still
preserve the same faith, as life would not be worth living without it.
I reverently salute you, my comrades in arms, all those who have done
their duty faithfully, all those whose hearts beat with the love of
their country, all those who in the days of the popular turmoil were
determined not to allow the Mother Country to be disrupted. I, the old
soldier, and your late Supreme Commander-in-Chief, once more reverently
salute you. Pray think kindly of me."

                                              (Signed) GENERAL ALEXEIEV.

Towards the end of our work in common my intercourse with General
Alexeiev was one of cordial friendship. In parting with me, he said:
"All this structure will undoubtedly soon collapse. You will have to
resume work once again. Would you then agree to work with me again?" I
naturally expressed my readiness to collaborate in the future.

Brussilov's appointment signified definite elimination of the Stavka,
as a decisive factor, and a change in its direction. Brussilov's
unrestrained and incomprehensible opportunism, and his endeavour to
gain the reputation of a revolutionary, deprived the Commanding Staffs
of the Army of the moral support which the former Stavka still gave
them. The new Supreme Commander-in-Chief was given a very frigid and
dry reception at Moghilev. Instead of the customary enthusiastic
ovation to which the "Revolutionary General" had been accustomed,
whom the mob had carried shoulder high at Kamenetz-Podolsk, he found
a lonely railway station and a strictly conventional parade. Faces
were sulky and speeches were stereotyped. Brussilov's first steps,
insignificant but characteristic episodes, had a further disheartening
effect. As he was reviewing the Guard of Honour of men with the Cross
of St. George, he did not greet their gallant wounded Commander,
Colonel Timanovsky, or the officers, but shook hands with the men--the
messenger and the orderly. They were so much perturbed by the
unexpected inconvenience of such greetings on parade that they dropped
their rifles. Brussilov handed to me his Order of the Day intended as a
greeting to the Armies, which he had written in his own hand, and asked
me to send it to Kerensky for approval. In his speech to the members of
the Stavka, who had foregathered to bid farewell to General Alexeiev,
Brussilov tried to make excuses. For excuses they were--his confused
explanations of the sin of "deepening the Revolution" with Kerensky
and "democratising" the Army with the Committees. The closing sentence
of his Order, addressed to the retiring Chief, sounded, therefore, out
of tune: "Your name will always remain unstained and pure as that of a
man who has worked incessantly and has given himself entirely to the
service of the Army. In the dark days of the past and in the present
turmoil you have had the courage, resolutely and loyally, to oppose
violence, to combat mendacity, flattery, subservience, to resist
anarchy in the country and disruption in the ranks of its defenders."

My activities were disapproved by the Provisional Government as much as
those of General Alexeiev, and I could not work with Brussilov owing to
fundamental differences of opinion. I presume that during Kerensky's
visit to the South-Western Front, Brussilov agreed with his suggestion
of appointing General Lukomsky Chief-of-Staff. I was therefore
surprised at the conversation which took place on the first day of
Brussilov's arrival. He said to me: "Well, General, I thought I was
going to meet a comrade-in-arms and that we were going to work together
at the Stavka, but you look very surly."

"That is not quite true. I cannot stay at the Stavka any longer. I also
know that General Lukomsky is to supersede me."

"What? How have they dared to appoint him without my knowledge?"

We never touched upon that subject again. I continued to work with
Brussilov for about ten days pending my successor's arrival, and I must
confess that work was unpleasant from the moral point of view. From
the very first days of the War Brussilov and I had served together.
For the first month I was Quartermaster-General on the Staff of his
Eighth Army, then for two years in command of the 4th Rifle Division
in that same glorious Army, and Commander of the 8th Army Corps on
his front. The "Iron Division" went from victory to victory, and
Brussilov particularly favoured it and constantly acknowledged its
achievements. His attitude towards the Commander of the Division was
correspondingly cordial. I shared with Brussilov many hardships as well
as many unforgettable happy days of military triumphs. And I found it
difficult to speak to him now, for he was a different man and was so
recklessly, from the personal point of view--which, after all, did
not matter--as well as from the point of view of the interests of the
Army, throwing his reputation to the four winds. When I reported to
him, every question which might be described as "un-Democratic," but
was, in reality, an endeavour to maintain the reasonable standard of
efficiency, was invariably negatived. Argument was useless. Brussilov
sometimes interrupted me and said with strong feeling: "Do you think
that I am not disgusted at having constantly to wave the Red rag? What
can I do? Russia is sick, the Army is sick. It must be cured, and I
know of no other remedy."

The question of my appointment interested him more than it interested
me. I refused to express any definite desire and said that I would
accept any appointment. Brussilov was negotiating with Kerensky. He
once said to me, "_They_ are afraid that if I give you an appointment
at the Front, you will begin to oust the Committees." I smiled. "No, I
will not appeal to the Committees for help, but will also leave them
alone." I attributed no importance to this conversation, which was
conducted almost in jest; but on the same day a telegram was sent to
Kerensky, of which the following was the approximate wording: "I have
talked it over with Deniken. The obstacles have been removed. I request
that he be appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Western Front."

[Illustration]

[Illustration: Kerensky addressing soldiers' meeting.]

In the beginning of August I proceeded to Minsk and took General
Markov as Chief-of-Staff of the Front. I had no regrets in leaving the
Stavka. For two months I had worked like a slave and my outlook had
widened, but had I achieved anything for the preservation of the Army?
Positive results were nil. There may have been some negative results;
the process of disruption of the Army had been to a certain extent
stayed. And that is all. One of Kerensky's assistants, afterwards
High Commissar, Stankevitch, thus describes my activities: "Nearly
every week telegrams were sent to Petrograd (by Deniken) containing
provocative and harsh criticisms on the new methods in the Army;
criticisms they were, not advice. Is it possible to advise that
the Revolution should be cancelled." If that was only Stankevitch
discussing Denikin it would not matter. But these views were shared by
the wide circles of the Revolutionary Democracy and referred not to
the individual, but to all those who "impersonated the tragedy of the
Russian Army." The appreciation must therefore be answered.

Yes, the Revolution could not be cancelled, and what is more, I may
state that the majority of the Russian officers, with whom I agreed,
_did not wish to cancel the Revolution_. They demanded one thing
only--that the Army should not be revolutionised from the top. None of
us could give any other advice. And if the Commanding Staffs appeared
to be "insufficiently tied to the Revolution" they should have been
mercilessly dismissed and other people--were they but unskilled
artisans in military matters--should have been appointed, and given
full power and confidence.

Personalities do not matter. Alexeiev, Brussilov, Kornilov--represent
periods and systems. Alexeiev protested. Brussilov submitted. Kornilov
claimed. In dismissing these men one after another did the Provisional
Government have a definite idea, or were they simply distracted to
the point of convulsion and completely lost in the morass of their
own internal dissensions? Would it not appear that had the order been
changed in which the links had stood in that chain salvation might have
ensued?



CHAPTER XXVII.

MY TERM AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF ON THE WESTERN RUSSIAN FRONT.


I took over the Command from General Gourko. His removal had already
been decided on May 5th, and an Order of the Day had been drafted at
the War Ministry. Gourko, however, sent a report in which he stated
that it was impossible for him to remain morally responsible for the
armies under his command in the present circumstances (after the
"Declaration of the Soldier's Rights" had been issued). This report
afforded Kerensky an excuse for issuing on May 26th an order relieving
Gourko of his post and appointing him to the command of a division. The
motive was adduced that Gourko was "not up to the mark," and that "as
the country was in danger, every soldier should do his duty and not be
an example of weakness to others." Also that "the Commander-in-Chief
enjoys the full confidence of the Government, and should apply all his
energies to the task of carrying out the intentions of the Government;
to decline to bear the moral responsibility was on General Gourko's
part tantamount to dereliction of duty, which he should have continued
to perform according to his strength and judgment." Not to speak of
the fact that Gourko's dismissal had already been decided, suffice
it to recall similar instances, such as the resignations of Gutchkov
and Miliukov, in order to realise the hypocrisy of these excuses. And
what is more--Kerensky himself, during one of the Government crises
caused by the uncompromising attitude of the "Revolutionary Democracy,"
had threatened to resign, and had stated in writing to his would-be
successor, Nekrassov, that: "Owing to the impossibility of introducing
into the Government such elements as were required in the present
exceptional circumstances, he could no longer bear the responsibility
before the country according to his conscience and judgment, and
requested therefore to be relieved of all his duties." The papers said
that he had "departed from Petrograd." On October 28th, as we know,
Kerensky fled, abandoning the post of Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

The old Commanding Staffs were in a difficult position. I refer not
to men of definite political convictions, but of the average honest
soldier. They could not follow Kerensky (the system, not the man) and
destroy with their own hands the edifice which they had themselves
spent their lives in building. They could not resign because the enemy
was on Russian soil and they would be deserters according to their own
conscience. It was a vicious circle.

Upon my arrival at Minsk I addressed two large gatherings of members of
the Staff and departments of the Front, and later the Army Commanders,
and expounded my fundamental views. I did not say much, but stated
clearly that I accepted the Revolution without any reservations. I
considered, however, that to "revolutionise" the Army was a fatal
procedure, and that to introduce demagogy into the Army would mean the
ruin of the Country. I declared that I would oppose it with all my
might and invited my collaborators to do the same. I received a letter
from General Alexeiev, who wrote: "Congratulations on your appointment.
Rouse them! Make your demands calmly but persistently. I trust that
the revival will come without coaxing, without red ribbons, without
sonorous and empty phrases. The Army cannot continue as it is now,
for Russia is being transformed into a multitude of idlers who have
an exaggerated idea of their own importance (value their movements in
gold). I am in heart and in thought with you, with your work and with
your wishes. God help you."

The Committee of the Front impersonated at Minsk "Military Politics."
On the eve of my arrival that semi-Bolshevik organisation had passed a
resolution protesting against an advance and in favour of the struggle
of united democracies against their Governments; this naturally helped
to define my attitude towards that body. I had no direct intercourse
with the Committee, which "stewed in its own juice," argued the
matter of preponderant influences of the Social Democratic and Social
Revolutionary factions, passed resolutions which puzzled even the
Army Committees by their demagogic contents, distributed defeatist
pamphlets, and incensed the men against their chiefs. According to the
law, the Committees were not responsible and could not be tried. The
Committee was educating in the same sense the pupils of the "school
for agitators," who were afterwards to spread these doctrines along
the Front. I will quote one instance showing the real meaning of these
manifestations "of civic indignation and sorrow." Pupils of the
school often appealed to the Chief-of-Staff and sent in "demands."
On one occasion the demand for an extra pair of boots was couched
in offensive terms. General Markov refused it. On the next day a
resolution was published (in the paper _The Front_, No. 25) of the
Conference of Pupils of the School of Agitators to the effect that they
had personally tested the reluctance of Headquarters to take elective
organisations into account. The pupils declared that the Committee of
the Front will find in them and in those who sent them full support
against "counter-revolution," and even armed assistance.

Was work in common possible in these circumstances?

The idea of the advance was finally, however, accepted by the Committee
of the Front, which demanded that from itself and from Army Committees
"fighting committees of contact" be established which would be entitled
to partake in the drafting of plans of operations to control the
Commanding Officers and Headquarters of the advancing troops, etc. I
naturally refused the request, and a conflict ensued. The War Minister
was very much perturbed, and sent to Minsk the Chief of his Chancery,
Colonel Baronovsky, a young staff officer who prompted Kerensky in
all military matters, and the Commissar Stankevitch, who remained at
the Western Front for two days, was removed to the Northern Front and
replaced by Kalinin. Baronovsky's friends afterwards told me that the
question of my dismissal had been raised in view of "friction with
the Committee of the Front." Stankevitch appeased the Committee and
"fighting committees of contact" were allowed to take part in the
advance, but were denied the right of control over the operations and
of assisting in drawing up plans.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of the three Army Commanders at that Front, two were entirely in the
hands of the Committees. As their sectors were inactive, their presence
could be temporarily tolerated. The advance was to begin on the Front
of the 10th Army, commanded by General Kisselevsky, in the region of
Molodetchno. I inspected the troops and the position, interviewed the
Commanding Officers and addressed the troops. In the preceding chapters
I have recounted impressions, facts, and episodes of the life of the
Western front. I will, therefore, mention here only a few details. I
saw the troops on parade. Some units had preserved the appearance and
the routine of the normal pre-Revolutionary times. These, however, were
exceptions, and were to be found chiefly in the Army Corps of General
Dovbor-Mussnitzki, who was persistently and sternly maintaining
the old discipline. Most of the units, however, were more akin to a
devastated ants-nest than to an organised unit, although they had
retained a semblance of discipline and drill. After the review I walked
down the ranks and spoke to the soldiers. I was deeply depressed by
their new mental attitude. Their speeches were nought but endless
complaints, suspicions and grievances against everyone and everything.
They complained of all the officers, from the Platoon Commander to the
Army Corps Commander, complained of the lentil soup, of having to stand
at the Front for ever, of the next regiment of the line, and of the
Provisional Government for being implacably hostile to the Germans. I
witnessed scenes which I shall not forget till my last hour. In one of
the Army Corps I asked to be shown the worst unit. I was taken to the
703rd Suram Regiment. We drove up to a huge crowd of unarmed men who
were standing, sitting, wandering about the plain behind the village.
Having sold their clothes for cash or for drink, they were dressed in
rags, bare-footed, ragged, unkempt, and seemed to have reached the
utmost limit of physical degradation. I was met by the Divisional
Commander, whose lower lip trembled, and by a Regimental Commander who
had the face of a condemned man. Nobody gave the order "Attention!"
and none of the soldiers rose. The nearest ranks moved towards our
motor cars. My first impulse was to curse the regiment and turn back.
But that might have been interpreted as cowardice, so I went into the
thick of the crowd. I stayed there for about an hour. Good Heavens,
what was the matter with these men, with the reasonable creature of
God, with the Russian field-labourer? They were like men possessed,
their brain dimmed, their speech stubborn and completely lacking logic
or common-sense; their shrieks were hysterical, full of abuse and foul
swearing. We tried to speak, but the replies were angry and stupid. I
remember that my feelings of indignation as an old soldier receded to
the background and I merely felt infinitely sorry for these uncouth,
illiterate Russians to whom little was given and of whom little will,
therefore, be asked. One wished that the leaders of the Revolutionary
Democracy had been on that plain and had seen and heard everything. One
wished one could have said to them: "It is not the time to find out who
is guilty, it doesn't matter whether the guilt is ours, yours, of the
bourgeoisie or of autocracy. Give the people education and an 'image of
man' first, and then socialise, nationalise, Communise, if the people
will then follow you."

The same Suram Regiment, a few days later, gave a sound thrashing to
Sokolov, the man who drafted Order No. 1, the creator of the new
régime for the Army, because he demanded, in the name of the Soviet,
that the regiment should do its duty and join in the advance.

After visiting the regiment, in compliance with persistent invitations
from a special delegation, I went to a Conference of the 2nd Caucasian
Army Corps. The members of that Conference had been elected; their
discussions were more reasonable and their aims more practical. Among
the various groups of delegates whom our _aides-de-camp_ had joined,
the argument was put forward that, as the Commander-in-Chief and all
the senior Commanding Officers were present, would it not be expedient
to finish them off at once? That would put an end to the advance.

To meet the senior Commanding Officer was by no means a consolation.
One of the Army Corps Commanders led his troops with a firm hand, but
experienced strong pressure from the Army organisations; another was
afraid to visit his troops. I found the third in a state of complete
collapse and in tears because someone had passed a vote of censure
upon him: "And this after forty years' service! I loved the men and
they loved me, but now they have dishonoured me, and I cannot serve
any longer!" I had to allow him to retire. In the next room a young
Divisional Commander was already in secret consultation with members
of the Committee, who immediately requested me, in a most peremptory
fashion, to appoint the young General to the command of the Army Corps.

The visit left me with a painful impression. Disruption was growing and
my hopes were waning; and yet one had to continue the work, of which
there was plenty for all of us. The Western Front lived by theory and
by the experience of others. It had won no striking victories, which
alone can inspire confidence in the methods of warfare, and had no
real experience in breaking through the defensive line of the enemy.
One was very often compelled to discuss the general plan, the plan
of artillery attack, and to establish the points of initiative with
those who were to carry out the general plan. We found the greatest
difficulty in preparing the plans for storming a position. Owing to
demoralisation, every movement of troops, every relief, trench digging,
bringing batteries into position, either were not carried out at all,
or else attended by delays, tremendous efforts or persuasion, and
meetings. Every slightest excuse was made use of in order to avoid
preparations for the advance. Owing to the technical unpreparedness
of the positions, the chiefs had to perform the arduous and unnatural
task of making tactical considerations subservient to the qualities
of the Commanding Officers, instead of giving directions to the
troops in accordance with tactical considerations. The degree of the
demoralisation of different units and the condition of different
sectors of a given firing line, purely accidental, had also to be taken
into account. And yet the statement that our technical backwardness
was one of the reasons of our collapse in 1917 should be accepted with
reservations. Of course, our Army was backward, but in 1917 it was
infinitely better equipped, had more guns and ammunition and wider
experience of her own and of other fronts than in 1916. Our technical
backwardness was a relative factor which was present at all times in
the Great War before the Revolution, but was remedied in 1917, and
cannot, therefore, be taken into account as a decisive feature in
estimating the Russian Revolutionary Army and its work in the field.

It was the work of Sisyphus. The Commanding Officers gave their heart
and soul to the work because in its success they saw the last ray
of hope for the salvation of the Army and of the country. Technical
difficulties could be overcome, as long as the moral could be raised.

Brussilov arrived and addressed the regiment. As a result, the officer
commanding the 10th Army was relieved against my will ten days before
the decisive advance. And it was not without difficulty that I secured
the appointment of General Lomnovsky, the gallant Commander of the
8th Army Corps, who had arrived at the Front ten days before the
action. There was an unpleasant misunderstanding about Brussilov's
visit. Headquarters had mistakenly informed the troops that Kerensky
was coming. This substitution provoked strong discontent among the
troops. Many units declared that they were being deceived, and that
unless Comrade Kerensky himself orders them to advance they would
not advance. The 2nd Caucasian Division sent delegates to Petrograd
to make inquiries. And efforts had to be made to appease them by
promising that Comrade Kerensky was due to arrive in a few days. The
War Minister had to be invited. Kerensky came reluctantly, because he
was already disillusioned by the failure of his oratorical campaign
on the South-Western Front. For several days he reviewed the troops,
delivered speeches, was enthusiastically received and sometimes
unexpectedly rebuked. He interrupted his tour, as he was invited to
hurry to Petrograd on July 4th, but he returned with renewed energy and
with a new up-to-date theme, making full use of the "knife with which
the Revolution had been stabbed in the back" (the Petrograd rising of
July 3rd-5th). Having, however, completed his tour and returned to the
Stavka, he emphatically declared to Brussilov:

"I have no faith whatsoever in the success of the advance."

Kerensky was equally pessimistic in those days with regard to
another matter, the future destinies of the country. He discussed in
conversation with myself and two or three of his followers, the stages
of the Russian Revolution, and expressed the conviction that whatever
happened we should not escape the Reign of Terror. The days went by and
the advance was further delayed. As early as on June 18th, I issued the
following Order of the Day to the Armies of my Front:

"The Russian Army of the South-Western Front have this day defeated
the enemy and broken through his lines. A decisive battle has begun
on which depends the fate of the Russian people and of its liberties.
Our brethren on the South-Western Front are victoriously advancing,
sacrificing their lives and expecting us to render them speedy
assistance. We shall not be traitors. The enemy shall soon hear the
roaring of our guns. I appeal to the troops of the Western Front to
make every effort and to prepare as soon as possible for an advance,
otherwise we shall be cursed by the Russian people who have entrusted
to us the defence of their liberty, honour, and property."

I do not know whether those who read this order, published in the
papers in complete contravention of all the conditions of secrecy
of operation, understood all the inner tragedy of the Russian Army.
All strategy was turned topsy-turvy. The Russian Commander-in-Chief,
powerless to advance his troops and thus alleviate the position of
the neighbouring Front, wanted (even at the cost of exposing his
intentions) to hold the German divisions which were being moved from
his Front and sent to the South-Western and the Allied Front.

The Germans responded immediately by sending the following proclamation
to the Front:

"Russian soldiers! Your Commander-in-Chief of the Western Front is
again calling on you to fight. We know of his order, and also know
of the false report that our line to the South-East of Lvov has been
broken. Do not believe it. In reality thousands of Russian corpses are
lying before our trenches. An advance will never lead to peace. If,
nevertheless, you obey the call of your commanders, who are bribed by
England, then we shall continue the struggle until you are overthrown."

Finally, on July 8th, the thunder of our guns was heard. On July 9th
the storming began, and three days after I was on my way from the 10th
Army to Minsk, with despair in my heart, and clearly recognising that
the last hope of a miracle was gone.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE IN THE SUMMER OF 1917--THE DÉBÂCLE.


The Russian offensive which had been planned for the month of May was
being delayed. At first a simultaneous advance on all fronts had been
contemplated; later, however, owing to the psychological impossibility
of a forward movement on all fronts, it was decided to advance
gradually. The Western Front was of secondary importance, and the
Northern was intended only for demonstration. They should have moved
first in order to divert the attention and the forces of the enemy from
the main front--the South-Western. The first two of the above-named
fronts were not, however, ready for the advance. The Supreme Command
finally decided to abandon the strategical plan and to give the
commanders of various fronts a free hand in starting operations as
the Armies would be ready, provided these operations were not delayed
too long and the enemy was not given the opportunity of carrying out
re-groupings on a large scale.

Even such a strategy, simplified as it had been owing to the
Revolution, might have yielded great results, considering the
world-wide scope of the War; if the German Armies on the Eastern
Front could not have been utterly defeated, that Front might at least
have been restored to its former importance. The Central Powers might
have been compelled to send to that Front large forces, war material
and munitions, thus severely handicapping Hindenburg's strategy and
causing him constant anxiety. The operations were finally fixed for the
following dates: They were to begin on the South-Western Front on June
16th, on the Western on July 7th, on the Northern on July 8th, and on
the Roumanian on July 6th. The last three dates almost coincide with
the beginning of the collapse (July 6th-7th) of the South-Western Front.

As mentioned above, in June, 1917, the Revolutionary Democracy had
already acquiesced in the idea that an advance was necessary, although
this acquiescence was qualified. The offensive thus had the moral
support of the Provisional Government, the Commanding Staffs, all the
officers, the Liberal Democracy, the Defencist Coalition of the Soviet,
the Commissars, of nearly all Army Committees, and of many Regimental
Committees. Against the offensive the minority of the Revolutionary
Democracy was ranged--the Bolsheviks, the Social-Revolutionaries
of Tchernov's and of Martov's (Zederbaum) group. There was a small
appendix to this minority--the Democratisation of the Army.

At the moment of writing I do not possess a complete list of the
Russian Armies, but I may confidently assert that on all sectors upon
which the advance had been planned we had a numerical and a technical
superiority over the enemy, more especially in guns, of which we had
larger quantities than ever. It fell to the lot of the South-Western
Front to test the fighting capacity of the Revolutionary Army.

The group of armies under General Bohm-Ermolli (the 4th and 2nd
Austrian Armies and the Southern German Armies) stood between the upper
Sereth and the Carpathians (Brody-Nadvorna) on the position north of
the Dniester which we had captured after Brussilov's victorious advance
in the autumn of 1916. South of the Dniester stood the 3rd Austrian
Army of General Kirchbach, which formed the Left Wing of the Archduke
Joseph's Carpathian Front. Our best Army Corps, which were intended as
shock troops, were opposed to the last three Armies mentioned above.
These Austro-German troops had already been dealt many heavy blows by
the Russian Armies in the summer and in the autumn of 1916. Since then,
the Southern German Divisions of General Botmer, which had been hard
hit, had been replaced by fresh troops from the North. Although the
Austrian Armies had been to a certain extent reorganised by the German
High Command and reinforced by German divisions, they did not represent
a formidable force and, according to the German Headquarters, were not
fit for active operations.

Since the Germans had occupied the Cherviche "Place d'armes" on the
Stokhod, Hindenburg's Headquarters had given orders that no operations
should be conducted, as it was hoped that the disruption of the Russian
Army and of the country would follow its natural course, assisted by
German propaganda. The Germans estimated the fighting capacity of our
Army very low. Nevertheless, when Hindenburg realised in the beginning
of June that a Russian advance was a contingency to be reckoned with,
he moved six divisions from the Western-European front and sent them to
reinforce the group of Armies of Bohm-Ermolli. The enemy was perfectly
well aware of the directions in which we intended to advance....

The Russian Armies of the South-Western Front, commanded by General
Gutor, were to strike in the main direction of Kamenetz-Podolsk-Lvov.
The Armies were to move along both banks of the Dniester: General
Erdely's 11th Army in the direction of Zlochev, General Selivatchev's
7th Army towards Brjeczany, and General Kornilov's 8th Army towards
Galitch. In the event of victory we would reach Lvov, break through
between the fronts of Bohm-Ermolli and the Archduke Joseph, and would
drive the latter's left wing to the Carpathians, cutting it off from
all available natural means of communication. The remainder of our
Armies on the South-Western Front were stretched along a broad front
from the river Pripet to Brody for active defence and demonstration.

On June 16th the guns of the shock troops of the 7th and 11th Army
opened a fire of such intensity as had never been heard before. After
two days of continuous fire, which destroyed the enemy's strong
position, the Russian regiments attacked. The enemy line was broken
between Zvorov and Brjeczany on a front of several miles; we took two
or three fortified lines. On June 19th the attack was renewed on a
front of forty miles, between the Upper Strypa and the Narauvka. In
this heavy and glorious battle the Russian troops took three hundred
officers and eighteen thousand men prisoners in two days, twenty-nine
guns, and other booty. The enemy positions were captured on many
sectors, and we penetrated the enemy lines to an average depth of over
two miles, driving him back to the Strypa in the direction of Zlochev.

The news of our victory spread all over Russia, evoked universal
rejoicings, and raised the hopes for the revival of the former strength
of the Russian Army. Kerensky reported to the Provisional Government as
follows: "This day is the day of a great triumph for the Revolution.
On June 18th the Russian Revolutionary Army, in very high spirits,
began the advance and has proved before Russia and before the world its
ardent devotion to the cause of the Revolution and its love of Country
and Liberty.... The Russian warriors are inaugurating a new discipline
based upon feelings of a citizen's duty.... An end has been made to-day
of all the vicious calumnies and slander about the organisation of
the Russian Army, which has been rebuilt on Democratic lines...." The
man who wrote these words had afterwards the courage to claim that it
was not he who had destroyed the Army, because he had taken over the
organisation as a fatal inheritance!

After three days' respite, a violent battle was resumed on the front
of the 11th Army on both sides of the railway line on the front
Batkuv-Koniuchi. By that time the threatened German regiments were
reinforced, and stubborn fighting ensued. The 11th Army captured
several lines, but suffered heavy losses. The trenches changed hands
several times after a hand-to-hand battle, and great efforts had to
be made in order to break the resistance of the enemy, who had been
reinforced and had recovered. This action practically signified the end
of the advance of the 7th and 11th Armies. The impetus was spent and
the troops began once more to sit in the trenches, the monotony of this
pastime being only broken in places by local skirmishes, Austro-German
counter-attacks, and intermittent gunfire. Meanwhile preparations
for the advance began on June 23rd in Kornilov's Army. On June 25th
his troops broke through General Kirchbach's positions west of
Stanislavov and reached the line of Jesupol-Lyssetz. After a stubborn
and sanguinary battle Kirchbach's troops, utterly defeated, ran and
dragged along in their headlong flight the German division which had
been sent to reinforce them. On the 27th General Cheremissov's right
column captured Galitch, some of his troops crossed the Dniester.
On the 28th the left column overcame the stubborn resistance of the
Austro-Germans and captured Kalush. In the next two or three days, the
8th Army was in action on the river Lomnitza and finally established
itself on the banks of the river and in front of it. In the course of
this brilliant operation Kornilov's Army broke through the 3rd Austrian
Army on a front of over twenty miles and captured 150 officers, 10,000
men, and about 100 guns. The capture of Lomnitza opened to Kornilov the
road to Dolina-Stryi and to the communications of Botmer's Army. German
Headquarters described the position of the Commander-in-Chief of the
Western Front as _critical_.

General Bohm-Ermolli meanwhile was concentrating all his reserves in
the direction of Zlochev, the point to which the German divisions were
likewise sent which had been taken from the Western European Front.
Some of the reserves had to be sent, however, across the Dniester
against the 8th Russian Army. They arrived on July 2nd, reinforced the
shattered ranks of the 3rd Austrian Army, and from that day positional
battles began on the Lomnitza, with varying success, and occasionally
stubborn fighting. The concentration of the German shock troops between
the Upper Sereth and the railway line Tarnopol-Zlochev was completed
on July 5th. On the next day, after strong artillery preparations,
this group attacked our 11th Army, broke our front and moved swiftly
towards Kamenetz-Podolsk, pursuing the Army Corps of the 11th Army
who were fleeing in panic. The Army Headquarters, the Stavka and the
Press, losing all perspective, blamed the 607th Mlynov Regiment as the
chief cause of the catastrophe. The demoralised, worthless regiment had
left the trenches of their own accord and opened the front. It was, of
course, a very sad occurrence, but it would be naïve to describe it
even as an excuse. For as early as on the 9th of July the Committees
and Commissars of the 11th Army were telegraphing to the Provisional
Government: "The truth and nothing but the truth about the events."
"The German offensive on the front of the 11th Army, which began on
July 6th, is growing into an immeasurable calamity which threatens
perhaps the very existence of Revolutionary Russia. The spirit of
the troops, that were prompted to advance by the heroic efforts of
the minority, has undergone a decisive and fatal change. The impetus
of the advance was soon spent. Most of the units are in a condition
of increasing disruption. There is not a shadow of discipline or
obedience; persuasion is likewise powerless and is answered by threats
and sometimes by shootings. Cases have occurred when orders to advance
immediately to reinforce the line were debated for hours at meetings,
and reinforcements were twenty-four hours late. Some units arbitrarily
leave the trenches without even waiting for the enemy to advance....
For hundreds of miles strings of deserters--healthy, strong men who
thoroughly realise their impunity--are to be seen moving along with
rifles or without.... The country should know the whole truth. It will
shudder and will find the strength to fall with all its might upon
all those whose cowardice is ruining and bartering Russia and the
Revolution."

The Stavka wrote: "In spite of its enormous numerical and technical
superiority, the 11th Army was retreating uninterruptedly. On the
8th of July it had already reached the Serenth, never halting at the
very strong fortified position to the West of the river, which had
been our starting point in the glorious advance of 1916. Bohm-Ermolli
had detached some of his forces for the pursuit of the Russian
troops in the direction of Tarnapol and had moved his main forces
southwards between the Serenth and the Strypa, threatening to cut off
the communication of the 7th Army, to throw them into the Dniester
and, perhaps, cut off the retreat of the 8th Army. On July 9th the
Austro-Germans had already reached Mikulinze, a distance of one march
south of Tarnapol.... The Armies of General Selivatchev and Cheremissov
(who had succeeded General Kornilov upon the latter's appointment on
July 7th to the High Command of the South-Western Front) were in great
difficulty. They could not hope to resist the enemy by manoeuvring,
and all that was left to them was to escape the enemy's blows by
forced marches. The 7th Army was in particularly dire straits, as it
was retreating under the double pressure of the Army Corps of General
Botmer, who was conducting a frontal attack, and of the troops of
Bohm-Ermolli, striking from the north against the denuded right flank.
The 8th Army had to march over one hundred miles under pressure from
the enemy.

On July 10th the Austro-Germans advanced to the line
Mikulinze-Podgaitze-Stanilavov. On the 11th the Germans occupied
Tarnapol, abandoned without fighting by the 1st Guards Army Corps. On
the next day they broke through our position on the rivers Gniezno
and Sereth, South of Trembovlia, and developed their advance in the
Eastern and South-Eastern directions. On the same day, pursuing the
7th and 8th Armies, the enemy occupied the line from the Sereth to
Monsaterjisko-Tlumatch.

On the 12th July, seeing that the position was desperate, the
Commander-in-Chief issued orders for a retreat from the Sereth, and by
the 21st the Armies of the South-Western Front, having cleared Galicia
and Bukovina, reached the Russian frontier. Their retreat was marked
by fires, violence, murders and plunder. A few units, however, fought
the enemy stubbornly and covered the retreat of the maddened mob of
deserters by sacrificing their lives. Among them were Russian officers,
whose bodies covered the battlefields. The Armies were retreating in
disorder; the same Armies that, only a year ago, had captured Lutsk,
Brody-Stanislavov, Chernovetz in their triumphal progress ... were
retreating before the same Austro-German troops that only a year ago
had been completely defeated and had strewn with fugitives the plains
of Volynia, Galicia and Bukovina, leaving hundreds of thousands of
prisoners in our hands. We shall never forget that in Brussilov's
advance of 1916, the 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th Armies took 420,000
prisoners, 600 guns, 2,500,000 machine guns, etc. Our Allies are not
likely to forget this either; they know full well that the loud echo of
the Galician battle sounded on the Somme and at Goritza.

The Commissars Savinkov and Filonenko telegraphed to the Provisional
Government: "There is no choice; the traitors must be executed....
Capital punishment must be meted out to all those who refuse to
sacrifice their lives for their country...."

In the beginning of July, after the Russian advance had ostensibly
failed, it was decided at Hindenburg's Headquarters to undertake a
new extensive operation against the Roumanian front by a simultaneous
advance of the 3rd and 7th Austrian Armies across Bukovina into
Moldavia and of the Right group of General Mackensen on the Lower
Sereth. The objective was to seize Moldavia and Bessarabia. But on
July 11th the Russian Army of General Ragosa and the Roumanian Army
of General Averesco took the offensive between the rivers Susitsa
and Putna against the 9th Austrian Army. The attack was successful,
the enemy positions were captured, the Armies moved forward several
miles, took 2,000 prisoners and over 60 guns, but the operation was not
developed. Owing to the natural conditions of the theatre of war and
to the direction in which the operation was undertaken, it was more
akin to a demonstration in order to relieve the South-Western Front.
Also the troops of the 4th Russian Army soon lost all impetus for the
advance. In July and until August 4th, the troops of the Archduke
Joseph and of Mackensen attacked in several directions and gained
local successes, but without any appreciable result. Although the
Russian divisions repeatedly disobeyed orders and occasionally left the
trenches during the battle, yet the condition of the Roumanian Front
was somewhat better than that of the other Front, owing to its distance
from Petrograd, to the presence of disciplined Roumanian troops and
to the natural conditions of the country. For these reasons we were
able to keep that Front somewhat longer. This circumstance, together
with the apparent weakness of the Austrian Armies, especially the 3rd
and the 7th, and the complete dislocation of the communications of
Bohm-Ermolli's group and of the Archduke Joseph's left wing--caused
Hindenburg's Headquarters indefinitely to postpone the operation, and
a period of calm ensued along the entire South-Western Front. On the
Roumanian Front local actions were fought until the end of August.
At the same time, German divisions began to move from the Sbrucz
northwards in the direction of Riga. Hindenburg's plan was to deal
the Russian Army local blows, without straining his own resources or
spending large reserves, so urgently needed, on the Western-European
Front. By these tactics he intended to contribute to the natural course
of the collapse of the Russian front, for it was upon this collapse
that the Central Powers based all their calculations in regard to
operations and even in regard to the possibility of continuing the
campaign in 1918.

Our efforts at advancing on other Fronts also ended in complete
failure. On the 7th of July operations began on the Western Front,
which I commanded. The details will be given in the next chapter. Of
this operation Ludendorf wrote: "Of all the attacks directed against
the former Eastern front of General Eichhorn, the attacks of July 9th,
South of Smorgom, and at Krevo were particularly fierce.... For several
days the position was extremely difficult until our reserves and our
gunfire restored the front. The Russians left our trenches; they were
no longer the Russians of the old days."

On the Northern Front, in the 5th Army, everything was over in one
day. The Stavka wrote: "South-West of the Dvinsk our troops, after
strong artillery preparation, captured the German position across the
railway Dvinsk-Vilna. Subsequently, entire divisions, without pressure
from the enemy, deliberately retreated to their own trenches." The
Stavka noted the heroic behaviour of several units, the prowess of
the officers and the tremendous losses which the latter had suffered.
This fact, however unimportant from the strategical point of view,
deserves to be specially noted. As a matter of fact, the 5th Army was
commanded by General Danilov (afterwards a member of the Bolshevik
Delegation at Brest-Litovsk. He served in 1920 in the Russian Army in
the Crimea). He enjoyed exceptional prestige with the Revolutionary
Democracy. According to Stankevitch, the Commissar of the Northern
Front, Danilov "was the only General who had remained, in spite of the
Revolution, full master in the Army and had succeeded in so dealing
with the new institutions--the Commissars and the Committees--that
they strengthened his authority instead of weakening it.... He knew
how to make use of these elements, and he overcame all obstacles in a
spirit of complete self-control and firmness. In the 5th Army everyone
was working, learning and being educated.... As the best and the most
cultured elements of the Army were working to that end." This is a
striking proof of the fact that even when the Commanding Officer
becomes thoroughly familiar with Revolutionary institutions, this does
not serve as a guarantee of the fighting capacity of his troops.

       *       *       *       *       *

On July 11th Kornilov, upon his appointment to the Chief Command
of the South-Western Front, sent to the Provisional Government his
well-known telegram, of which he forwarded a copy to the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief. In that telegram, already quoted above, Kornilov
demanded the reintroduction of capital punishment, and wrote: "...
I declare that the country is on the verge of collapse and that,
although I have not been consulted, I _demand_ that the offensive be
stopped on all Fronts in order that the Army may be saved, preserved
and re-organised on the basis of strict discipline, and in order that
the lives may not be sacrificed of a few heroes who are entitled to
see better days." In spite of the peculiar wording of this appeal, the
idea of stopping the advance was immediately accepted by the Supreme
Command, the more so that the operations had practically come to a
standstill irrespective of orders as a result of the reluctance of the
Russian Army to fight and to advance, as well as of the schemes of the
German Headquarters.

Capital punishment and Revolutionary courts-martial were introduced
at the front. Kornilov gave an order to shoot deserters and robbers
and to expose their bodies with corresponding notices on the roads
and in other prominent places. Special shock battalions were formed
of cadets and volunteers to fight against desertion, plunder and
violence. Kornilov forbade meetings at the Front and gave an order to
stop them by the force of arms. These measures--which were introduced
by Kornilov at his own risk and peril, his manly, straightforward
utterances, and the firm tone in which, disregarding discipline, he
began to address the Provisional Government, and last, but not least,
his resolute action--considerably enhanced his authority with the
wide circles of Liberal Democracy and with the officers. Even the
Revolutionary Democracy within the Army, stunned and depressed as it
was by the tragic turn of events, saw in Kornilov, for some time after
the _débâcle_, the last resource and the only possible remedy in the
desperate position. It may be stated that the date of July 8th, on
which Kornilov took command of the South-Western Front and addressed
his first demand to the Provisional Government, sealed his fate: in
the eyes of many people he became a national hero and great hopes were
centred upon him--he was expected to save the country.

During my stay at Minsk I was not very well informed of the unofficial
tidings prevailing in military circles, yet I felt that the centre
of moral influence had moved to Berditchev (Headquarters of the
South-Western Front). Kerensky and Brussilov had somehow suddenly
receded to the background. A new method of administration was put
into practice: we received from Kornilov's Headquarters copies of
his "demands" or notices of some strong and striking decision he had
adopted, and in a few days these were repeated from Petrograd or from
the Stavka, but in the shape of an order or of a regulation.

The tragedy of July undoubtedly had a sobering effect upon the men. In
the first place, they were ashamed because things had happened that
were so shameful and so disgraceful that even the dormant conscience
and the deadened spirit of the men could not find excuses for these
happenings. Several months later, in November, after fleeing from
the captivity of Bykhov, I spent several days under an assumed name
and in civilian clothes among the soldiers who had flooded all the
railways. They were discussing the past. I never heard a single man
confessing openly or cynically his participation in the treachery of
July. They all tried to explain away the matter and chiefly attributed
it to somebody's treason, especially, of course, the treason of the
officers. None spoke of his own treachery. In the second place, the men
were frightened. They felt that a kind of power, a kind of authority
had arisen, and they were quietly waiting for developments. Lastly,
operations had ended and nervous tension had been relieved--which
caused a certain reaction, apathy and indifference. _This was the
second occasion (the first took place in March) on which, had the
moment been immediately and properly taken advantage of--it might have
been the turning point in the history of the Russian Revolution._

As the sounds were dying out of the last shots fired at the Front, the
men who had been stunned by the disaster began to recover their senses.
Kerensky was the first to return to sanity. The horror had passed away,
the nerve-wrecking, maddening fear which had prompted the issue of
the first stringent order. Kerensky's will-power was dominated by his
fear of the Soviet, of the danger of definitely losing all prestige
with the Revolutionary Democracy by resentment against Kornilov for
the resolute tone of the latter's messages and by the shadow of the
potential dictator. The drafts of military regulations by which it
was intended to restore the power of the Commanding Officers and of
the Army were drowned in red tape and in the turmoil of personal
conflicts, suspicions and hatreds. The Revolutionary Democracy once
again sternly opposed the new course, as it interpreted this course
as an infringement upon the liberties and as a menace to its own
existence. The same attitude was adopted by the Army Committees, whose
powers were to be curtailed as a first step in the proposed changes. In
these circles the new course was described as counter-revolutionary.
The masses of the soldiery, on the other hand, soon appraised the
new situation. They saw that stern words were mere words, that
capital punishment was only a bogy, because there was no real force
capable of mastering their arbitrariness. So fear vanished again. The
hurricane did not clear the close and tense atmosphere. New clouds were
overhanging and peals of a new deafening thunder were to be heard in
the distance.

[Illustration: General Kornilov's arrival at Petrograd.]

[Illustration: General Kornilov in the trenches.]



CHAPTER XXIX.

THE CONFERENCE AT THE STAVKA OF MINISTERS AND COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF ON
JULY 16TH.


Upon my return from the Front to Minsk I was summoned to the Stavka
at Moghilev, where a Conference was to be held on July 16th. Kerensky
suggested that Brussilov should invite, of his own accord, the
prominent military chiefs, in order to discuss the actual condition
of the Front, the consequences on the July disaster, and to determine
the course of future military policy. It transpired that General
Gourko, who had been invited by Brussilov, had not been admitted to the
Conference by Kerensky. A telegram was sent to Kornilov from the Stavka
saying that, in view of the difficult position of the South-Western
Front, his attendance was impossible, and that he was requested to
present in writing his views on the questions under discussion. It
should be noted that, at that time, on July 14th and 15th, the 11th
Army was in full retreat from the Sereth to the Zbrucz, and that
everyone was anxious to hear whether the 7th Army had succeeded in
crossing the Lower Sereth and the 8th the line of Zalestchiki, thus
avoiding the blows of the German Armies that were trying to cut their
retreat.

So sad was the plight of the country and the Army that I decided
to disclose to the Conference the full truth on the condition of
the Army in all its hideous nakedness, and in disregard of all
conventionalities. I reported myself to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
Brussilov surprised me. He said: "I have come to the conclusion
that this is the limit and we must put the question squarely. All
these Commissars, Committees and Democratisations are driving the
Army and Russia to ruin. I have decided categorically to demand that
they should cease to disorganise the Army. I hope that you will back
me?" I answered that this was in full accord with my intentions and
that the object of my visit was to put the question squarely of the
future destinies of the Army. I must confess that Brussilov's words
reconciled me with him and I therefore decided to eliminate from my
speech all the bitter things which I had intended to say against the
Supreme Command.

We waited about an hour and a half for the Conference to meet. We
afterwards learnt that a small incident had occurred. The Prime
Minister had not been met at the station either by Brussilov or by his
Chief-of-Staff (General Lukomsky), who had been detained by urgent
military business. Kerensky waited for some time and grew nervous. He
finally sent his _aide-de-camp_ to Brussilov with the order to come to
the station at once and to report. The incident was not commented upon,
but all those who have been in touch with politics know that the actors
on that stage are mere men, with all their weaknesses, and that the
game is often continued behind the curtain.

The Conference was attended by the Prime Minister Kerensky, the
Foreign Minister Terestchenko, the Supreme C.-in-C. Brussilov, his
Chief-of-Staff General Lukomsky, Generals Alexeiev and Ruzsky, the
C.-in-C. of the Northern Front General Klembovsky, by myself as
C.-in-C. of the Western Front, and by my Chief-of-Staff General Markov,
Admiral Maximov, Generals Velitchko and Romanovsky, the Commissar of
the Western Front Savinkov, and two or three young men of Kerensky's
suite.

General Brussilov addressed the Conference in a short speech, which
struck me as being very vague and commonplace. In fact, he said nothing
at all. I had hoped that Brussilov would keep his word and would sum up
the situation and draw conclusions. I was mistaken. Brussilov did not
speak again. I opened the discussion. I said:

"It is with deep emotion and in full consciousness of a grave
responsibility that I am delivering my report to the Conference. I
beg to be excused if I speak as openly and frankly as I have always
done. I was outspoken with the old Autocracy, and intend to be just as
outspoken with the new--the Revolutionary Autocracy.

"When I took Command of the Front, I found the Armies in a state of
complete disruption. This seemed the more strange that neither in the
reports received at the Stavka or in those I received upon taking
over the Command had the situation been described in such gloomy
colours. The explanation is obvious: as long as the Army Corps were not
conducting active operations, excesses were comparatively few; but no
sooner was the order given for doing the duty of a soldier, for taking
up positions or for the advance, than the instinct of self-preservation
asserted itself and the picture of disruption was unveiled. Some ten
divisions refused to take up positions. All Commanding Officers of
all grades had to work very hard, to argue, to persuade.... In order
to be able to carry out the slightest measure of any importance, it
became imperative to reduce the numbers of mutinous troops. A whole
month was thus lost, although some divisions obeyed orders. Disruption
was rampant in the 2nd Caucasian Corps and in the 169th Infantry
Division. Several units had lost human appearance, not only morally but
physically. I shall never forget the hour which I spent in the 703rd
Suram Regiment. There were up to ten private stills in each regiment;
drunkenness, cardplaying, rioting, plunder and even murder. I took a
drastic step. I sent the 2nd Caucasian Corps (except the 51st Infantry
Division and the 169th Infantry Division) to the rear and ordered them
to be disbanded. Before the operation had developed, I thus lost about
30,000 bayonets without firing a shot. The 28th and 29th Infantry
Divisions, which were considered the best, were sent to occupy the
sector of the Caucasians. What happened? The 29th Division, after a
forced march to its destination, returned on the next day almost in
its entirety (two and a half regiments). The 28th Division sent one
regiment to the trenches, and that regiment passed a resolution against
advancing. Every possible measure was taken in order to raise the
spirit of the troops. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief visited the Front.
From his conversations with the members of Committee and with the
men elected from two Army Corps he gathered the impression that 'the
soldiers were all right, but the Commanding Officers had lost heart.'
That is not so. The Commanding Officers did all they could in extremely
difficult and painful surroundings, but the Supreme Commander-in-Chief
is unaware of the fact that the meeting of the 1st Siberian Corps,
where his speech was most enthusiastically received, continued after
his departure. New speakers came forward and appealed to the men not
to listen to the 'old Bourgeois' (forgive me, that is so.... Brussilov
interjected: "I do not mind") and they heaped vile abuse upon his head.
These appeals were also enthusiastically greeted. The War Minister, who
visited the troops and by his fiery eloquence incited them to deeds
of valour, was enthusiastically received by the 28th Division. Upon
his return to the train he was met by a regimental deputation which
announced that half an hour after the Minister had gone the regiment,
as well as another one, had decided not to advance. The picture was
particularly moving and evoked great enthusiasm when, in the 29th
Division, the Commanding Officer of the Poti Infantry Regiment knelt to
receive the Red Banner. The men swore--there were three speakers and
passionate cheering--to die for the country. On the first day of the
advance the regiment did not reach our trenches, but turned round in a
disgraceful manner and retreated six miles behind the battlefield.

"The Commissars and the Committee were among the factors which were
meant to give moral support to the troops, but practically contributed
to their demoralisation. Among the Commissars there may have been
favourable exceptions of men who did a certain amount of good without
interfering with other people's business. But the institution itself
cannot fail to contribute to the disruption of the Army because it
implies a dual power, friction and interference uncalled for and
criminal. I am compelled to describe the Commissars of the Western
Front. One of them, for all I know, may be a good and honest man, but
he is an Utopian and not only ignorant of Army life, but of life in
general. He has a great idea of his own importance. In demanding that
the Chief-of-Staff should obey his orders, he declares that he is
entitled to dismiss Commanding Officers, including the General Officer
commanding the Army. In explaining to the troops the extent of his
authority, he thus describes it: 'As the fronts are subordinate to the
War Minister, I am the War Minister for the Western Front.' Another
Commissar, who knows about as much of Army life as the first one, is
a Social Democrat standing somewhere on the verge between Bolshevism
and Menchevism. He is the noted reporter of the Military Section of
the All-Russian Congress of Soviets who has expressed the view that
the Army has not been sufficiently disorganised by the 'Declaration'
and demanded further 'Democratisation.' He claimed the right for the
men to veto appointments of Commanding Officers, insisted upon part
2 of Paragraph 14 of the Declaration which empowered the Commanding
Officers to use arms against cowards and traitors being cancelled, and
upon freedom of speech being granted not only off parade, but on duty.
The 3rd Commissar, who was not a Russian, and who appeared to treat
the Russian soldier with contempt, in addressing the regiment used
such foul language as had never fallen from the Commanding Officers
under the Czar's régime. Curiously enough the conscious and free
Revolutionary warriors accept such treatment as their due and obey him.
That Commissar, according to the Commanding Officers, is undoubtedly
useful.

"The Committees are another disintegrating force. I do not deny that
some of the Committees have done excellent work, and have done their
best to fulfil their duty. In particular some of their members have
been exceedingly useful, and have rendered their country the supreme
service of dying the death of heroes. But I affirm that the good they
have done will not compensate for the tremendous mischief done to the
Army by the introduction of all these new authorities, by friction, by
interference, and by discrediting the commands. I might quote hundreds
of resolutions bearing that stamp, but will confine myself merely to
the most blatant cases. The struggle for seizing power in the Army is
carried on openly and systematically. The Chairman of the Committee
of the Front has published in his paper an article advocating that
governmental powers be granted to the Committee. The Army Committee of
the 3rd Army has passed the resolution, which to my intense surprise
was endorsed by the Commanding Officer, requesting 'that the Army
Committees be invested with the plenary powers of the War Minister and
of the Central Committee of the Soviets which would entitle them to
act in the name of that Committee.' When the famous 'Declaration' was
discussed opinions varied in the Committee of the Front in regard to
Paragraph 14. Some members wanted the second part to be eliminated;
others demanded that a proviso be added empowering the members of the
Committee of the Front to take the same measures including armed force
against the same persons, and even against the Commanding Officers
themselves. Is that not the limit? In the report of the All-Russian
Congress a demand is formulated for the Soldiers' Committees to be
allowed to cancel appointments of Commanding Officers, and to partake
in the administration of the Army. You must not think that this is
merely theory. Far from it. The Committees endeavour to get hold of
everything, to interfere with purely military questions, with the
routine and the administration. And this is being done in an atmosphere
of complete anarchy caused by wholesale insubordination.

"Moral preparations for the advance were proceeding apace. On June 8th
the Committee of the Front passed a resolution against the advance, but
changed its mind on the 18th. The Committee of the 2nd Army decided
against the offensive on June 1st, but cancelled its decision on June
20th. In the Minsk Soviet 123 votes against 79 decided against the
advance. All the Committees of the 169th Infantry Division passed
a vote of censure on the Provisional Government, and described the
offensive as "treason to the Revolution." The campaign against the
authorities manifested itself in a series of dismissals of Senior
Commanders, in which the Committees almost invariably participated.
Shortly before the opening of the operations an Army Corps Commander,
the Chief-of-Staff, and a Divisional Commander of the most important
sector occupied by the shock troops, had to resign, and the same
fate was shared by about 60 Commanding Officers, from Army Corps
Commander to Regimental Commander. It is impossible to estimate the
amount of harm done by the Committee. They have no proper discipline
of their own. If the majority passes a reasonable resolution, that
does not suffice. It is put into practice by individual members of
the Committee. Taking advantage of their position as members of Army
Committees, the Bolsheviks have more than once spread mutiny and
rebellion with impunity. As a result, authority is undermined instead
of being strengthened, because so many different individuals and
institutions are supposed to exercise that authority. And the Commander
in the Field, who is being discredited, dismissed, controlled and
watched from all sides, is nevertheless expected to lead the troops
into action with a strong hand. Such was the moral preparation. The
troops have not yet been deployed. But the South-Western Front required
immediate assistance. The enemy had already removed from my Front to
the South-West three or four divisions. I decided to attack with the
troops which presented at least a semblance of loyalty. In three days
our guns had smashed the enemy trenches and wrought havoc among them,
had inflicted heavy losses among the Germans, and had opened the way
for our infantry. The first line had been almost entirely broken, and
our men had already visited the enemy batteries. That breach of the
Front promised to develop into a great victory, for which we had been
hoping for so long.... I now revert to descriptions of the battle.
'The units of the 28th Infantry Division took up their positions only
four hours before the attack; of the 109th Regiment only two and a
half companies, with four machine-guns and 30 officers, reached the
appointed line; only one-half of the 110th came up. Two battalions of
the 111th Regiment, who had occupied the defiles, refused to advance;
men of the 112th Regiment retired to the rear in batches. Units of
the 28th Division were met by a strong artillery fire, machine-gun
and rifle fire, and remained behind their barbed wire, as they were
incapable of advancing. Only a few shock troops and volunteers of the
Volga Regiment, with a company of officers, succeeded in capturing the
first line, but the fire was so strong that they failed to keep the
position, and towards the afternoon units of the 29th Division returned
to their original lines after suffering heavy losses, especially
in officers. On the sector of the 51st Division the attack began
at five minutes past seven. The 202nd Gori Regiment and the 204th
Ardagan-Michailovsky Regiment, as well as two companies of the Sukhum
Regiment, with a shock company of the Poti Regiment, made a dash across
two lines of trenches, bayoneted the enemy, and began to storm the
third line at half-past seven. The break was so rapid and so unexpected
that the enemy failed to establish a barrage. The 201st Poti Regiment,
which was following the advance troops, approached our first line of
trenches, but refused to go any further, so that our troops who had
broken through were not reinforced in time. The units of the 134th
Division, which followed, could not carry out their orders because the
men of the Poti Regiment had crowded in the trenches, while the enemy
had opened a very strong gun fire. These units, therefore, partly
dispersed and partly lay in our trenches. Seeing that no reinforcements
were forthcoming from the rear and from the flanks, the men of the Gori
and Ardagan Regiments lost heart, and some of the companies, in which
all the officers had been killed, began to retire. They were followed
by the remainder of the troops without, however, any pressure from the
Germans, who did not put their batteries and machine-guns into action
until the retreat had begun.... The units of the 29th Division were
late in going into position, because the men advanced reluctantly,
as their mood had changed. A quarter of an hour before the appointed
time the 114th Regiment on the right flank refused to advance, and
the Erivan Regiment had to be drawn up from the Army Corps Reserves.
For some unknown reason the 113th and 116th Regiments also failed
to move.... After this failure desertion began to grow, and at dawn
became general. The men were tired, nervous; they had lost the habit of
fighting, and were unaccustomed to the roar of the guns owing to long
months of inactivity, of fraternisation, and of meetings. They left the
trenches _en masse_, they abandoned the machine-guns and retired to the
rear.... _The Headquarters of the 20th Army Corps sent the following
report of the battle: 'The cowardice and lack of discipline in certain
units reached such a pitch that the Commanding Officers were compelled
to ask our artillery to cease firing, because the fire of our own guns
caused a panic among our soldiers.'_

"I will quote another description of the battle made by an Army Corps
Commander who took command on the eve of battle, and whose impressions
are therefore totally unbiassed: '... Everything was ready for the
advance: the plan had been worked out in detail; we had a powerful and
efficient artillery; the weather was favourable because it did not
allow the Germans to take advantage of their superiority in aircraft;
we had superior numbers, our Reserves were drawn up in time, we had
plenty of ammunition, and the sector was well chosen for the advance,
because we were in a position to conceal strong artillery forces in
the close neighbourhood of our trenches. The undulations of ground
also afforded many hidden approaches to the Front; the distance
between ourselves and the enemy was small, and there were no natural
obstacles between us which would have had to have been forced under
fire. Finally, the troops had been prepared by the Committees, the
Commanding Officers and the War Minister, Kerensky, and their efforts
induced the troops to take the first, the most arduous steps. We
attained considerable success without suffering appreciable losses.
Three fortified lines had been broken through and occupied, and there
remained only separate defensive positions. The fighting might soon
have reached the phase of bayonet fighting; the enemy artillery was
silenced, over 1,400 Germans, many machine-guns and other booty had
been captured. Also, our guns had inflicted heavy casualties in killed
and wounded upon the enemy, and it may be confidently stated that
the forces that were opposing our Corps had been temporarily knocked
out. Along the entire front of our Corps only three or four enemy
batteries and occasionally three or four machine-guns were firing, and
there were isolated rifle shots. But--night came. Immediately I began
to receive anxious reports from officers commanding sectors at the
Front to the effect that the men were abandoning the unattacked Front
Line _en masse_, entire companies deserting. It was stated in some of
the reports that the firing line in places was only occupied by the
Commanding Officer, his staff, and a few men. The operations ended in
an irretrievable and hopeless failure. In one day we had lived through
the joy of victory, which had been won in spite of the low spirits
of the men, as well as the horror of seeing the fruits of victory
deliberately cast away by the soldiery. And yet the country needed that
victory for its very life. I realised that we, the Commanding Officers,
are powerless to alter the elemental psychology of the men, and I wept
long and bitterly.'

"This inglorious operation, however, resulted in serious losses, which
it is now difficult to estimate, as crowds of fugitives returned daily.
Over 20,000 wounded men have already passed through sorting stations
in the rear. I will refrain at present from drawing any conclusion,
but the percentage of various kinds of wounds is symptomatic: 10 per
cent. heavily wounded, 30 per cent. finger and wrist wounds, 40 per
cent. light wounds from which bandages were not removed at the dressing
stations (many wounds were probably simulated), and 20 per cent.
bruised and sick. Such was the end of the operation. I have never yet
gone into battle with such superiority in numbers and technical means.
Never had the conditions been more full of such brilliant promise.
On a front of about 14 miles I had 184 battalions against 29 enemy
battalions; 900 guns against 300 German: 138 of my battalions came
into action against 17 German battalions of the 1st line. All that was
wasted. Reports from various Commanders indicate that the temper of
the troops immediately after the operation was just as indefinite as
before. Three days ago I summoned the Army Commanders and addressed to
them the question: 'Could their Armies resist a strong enemy attack,
provided reserves were forthcoming?' The answer was in the negative.
'Could the Armies resist an organised German offensive in their present
condition, numerical and technical?' Two of the Army Commanders gave
indefinite replies, and the Commanding Officer of the 10th Army
answered in the affirmative. They all said: 'We have no infantry.' I
will go further, and I will say:

"_We have no Army. It is necessary immediately, and at all costs to
create that Army._ The new Government regulations, which are supposed
to raise the spirit of the Army, have not yet penetrated into its
depths, and the impression they have produced cannot yet be defined.
One thing is certain--that repression alone cannot drag the Army out of
the morass into which it has fallen. It is repeated every day that the
Bolsheviks have caused the disruption of the Army, but I disagree. It
is not so. The Army has been disrupted by others, and the Bolsheviks
are like worms which have bred in the wounds of the Army. The Army has
been disrupted by the regulations of the last four months, and it is
the bitter irony of fate that this has been done by men who, however
honest and idealistic, are unaware of the historical laws governing
the existence of the Army, of its life and routine. At first this was
done under pressure from the Soviet, which was primarily an Anarchist
institution. Later it developed into a fatal, mistaken policy. Soon
after the War Minister had taken up his duties he said to me: 'The
process of revolutionising the country and the Army has been completed.
Now we must proceed with creative work....' I ventured to reply: 'The
process is completed, but it is too late.'"

General Brussilov here interrupted me, and asked me to curtail my
Report, as the Conference would otherwise be too protracted. I realised
that the length of the Report was not what mattered, but it was its
risky substance, and I replied: "I consider that this question is of
paramount importance, and request that I be allowed to complete my
statement, otherwise I shall have to cease speaking." A silence ensued,
which I interpreted as a permission to continue.

I then proceeded: "The Declaration of the Soldiers' Rights has been
issued. Every one of the Commanding Officers has stated that it would
bring about the ruin of the Army. The late Supreme C.-in-C., General
Alexeiev, telegraphed that the Declaration was the last nail which was
being driven into the coffin prepared for the Russian Army. The present
Supreme C.-in-C., when in command of the South-Western Front, declared
here, at Moghilev, at the Conference of Commanders-in-Chief, that
the Army may yet be saved and may advance, but on one condition--if
the Declaration is not issued. Our advice, however, was unheeded.
Paragraph 3 of the Declaration authorises free and open expressions
of political, religious, social, and other views. The Army was thus
flooded by politics. When the men of the 2nd Caucasian Grenadier
Division were disbanded they were quite sincerely puzzled. 'What is
the reason? We were allowed to speak whenever and whatever we wished,
and now we are being disbanded....' You must not think that such a
broad interpretation of the 'Liberties' is confined to the illiterate
masses. When the 169th Infantry Division was morally disrupted, and
all the Committees of that Division passed a vote of censure upon
the Provisional Government and categorically refused to advance, I
disbanded the Division. But there arose an unexpected complication: the
Commissars came to the conclusion that no crime had been committed,
because the spoken and the written word were unrestricted. The only
thing that could be incriminated was direct disobedience of Army
orders.... Paragraph 6 stipulates that all literature should be
delivered to the addressees, and the Army was flooded with criminal
Bolshevik and Defeatist literature. The stuff upon which our Army was
fed--and apparently at the expense of Government funds and of the
people's treasure--can be gauged from the report of the Moscow Military
Bureau, which alone supplied to the Front the following publications:

From March 24th to May 1st--

  7,972 copies of the _Pravda_
  2,000    "     "    _Soldiers' Pravda_
 30,375    "     "    _Social Democrat_

From May 1st to June 11th--

 61,522 copies of the _Soldiers' Pravda_
 32,711    "     "    _Social Democrat_
  6,999    "     "    _Pravda_

and so on. The same kind of literature was sent to the villages by the
soldiers.

"Paragraph 14 stipulates that no soldier can be punished without
a trial. Of course, this liberty applied only to the men, because
the officers continued to suffer the heaviest penalty of dismissal.
What was the result? The Central Military Justice Administration,
without reference to the Stavka and in view of the impending
Democratisation of the Courts, suggested that the latter should
suspend their activities, except for cases of special importance,
such, for example, as treason. The Commanding Officers were deprived
of disciplinary powers. Disciplinary Courts were partly inactive,
partly were boycotted. Justice completely disappeared from the Army.
This boycott of Disciplinary Court and reports on the reluctance of
certain units to elect juries are symptomatic. The legislator may come
across the same phenomenon in respect of the new Revolutionary Military
Courts, in which juries may also have to be replaced by appointed
judges. As a result of a series of legislative measures, authority
and discipline have been eliminated, the officers are dishonoured,
distrusted, and openly scorned. Generals in High Command, not excluding
Commanders-in-Chief, are being dismissed like domestic servants. In one
of his speeches at the Northern Front the War Minister inadvertently
uttered the following significant words: 'It lies within my power
to dismiss the entire personnel of the High Command in twenty-four
hours, and the Army would not object.' In the speeches addressed to
the Western Front it was said that 'in the Czarist Army we were driven
into battle with whips and machine-guns ... that Czarist Commanders
led us to slaughter, but now every drop of our blood is precious....'
I, the Commander-in-Chief, stood by the platform erected for the War
Minister, and I was heart-broken. My conscience whispered to me:
'That is a lie. My "Iron" Rifles, only eight battalions and then
twelve, took over 60,000 prisoners and 43 guns.... I have never driven
them into battle with machine-guns. I have never led my troops to
slaughter at Mezolaborch, Lutovisko, Lutsk, Chartoriisk.' To the late
Commander-in-Chief of the South-Western Front these names are indeed
familiar....

"Everything may be forgiven and we can stand a great deal if it is
necessary for victory, if the troops can regain their spirit and can
be induced to advance.... I will venture to draw a comparison. Sokolov
and other Petrograd delegates came to our front, to the 703rd Suram
Regiment. He came with the noble object of combating dark ignorance and
moral decrepitude, which were particularly apparent in that regiment.
He was mercilessly flogged. We were, of course, revolted against that
crowd of savage scoundrels, and everyone was perturbed. All kinds of
committees passed votes of censure. The War Minister condemned the
behaviour of the Suram Regiment in fiery speeches and Army orders, and
sent a telegram of sympathy to Sokolov.

"And here is another story. I well remember January, 1915, near
Lutovisko. There was a heavy frost. Colonel Noskov, the gallant
one-armed hero, up to the waist in snow, was leading his regiment to
the attack under a heavy fire against the steep and impregnable slopes
of Height 804.... Death spared him then. And now two companies came,
asked for General Noskov, surrounded him, killed him and went away.
I ask the War Minister, did he condemn these foul murderers with the
whole might of his fiery eloquence, of his wrath and of his power, and
did he send a telegram of sympathy to the hapless family of the fallen
hero?

"When we were deprived of power and authority, when the term
'Commanding Officer' was sterilised, we have once again been insulted
by a telegram from the Stavka to the effect that: 'Commanding Officers
who will now hesitate to apply armed force will be dismissed and
tried.' No, gentlemen, you will not intimidate those who are ready to
lose their lives in the service of their country.

"The senior Commanding Officers may now be divided into three
categories: some of them disregarding the hardships of life and service
with a broken heart, are doing their duty devotedly to the end; others
have lost heart and are following the tide; the third are curiously
brandishing the Red Flag, and mindful of the traditions of the Tartar
captivity, are crawling before new gods of the Revolution as they
crawled before the Czars. It causes me infinite pain to mention the
question of the Officers.... It is a nightmare, and I will be brief.
When Sokolov became familiar with the Army, he said: 'I could not
imagine that your officers could be such martyrs. I take off my hat to
them.' Yes, in the darkest days of Czarist autocracy, the police and
the gendarmerie never subjected the would-be criminal to such moral
torture and derision as the officers have to endure at present from
the illiterate masses, led by the scum of the Revolution. Officers
who are giving their lives for the country. They are insulted at
every turn. They are beaten. Yes, beaten. But they will not come and
complain to you. They are ashamed, dreadfully ashamed. Alone, in their
dug-outs, many of them are silently weeping over their dismal fate. No
wonder many officers consider that the best solution is to be killed
in action. Listen to the subdued and placid tragedy of the following
words which occur in a Field Report: 'In vain did the officers marching
in front try to lead the men into action. At that a moment a white
flag was raised on Redoubt No. 3. Fifteen officers and a small batch
of soldiers then went forward. Their fate is unknown--they did not
return.' (38th Corps). May these heroes rest in peace and their blood
be upon the heads of their conscious and unconscious executioners.

"The Army is falling to pieces. Heroic measures are needed for its
salvation: (1) The Provisional Government should recognise its mistakes
and its guilt, as it has not understood and estimated the noble and
sincere impulse of the officers who had greeted the news of the
Revolution with joy, and had sacrificed innumerable lives for their
country. (2) Petrograd, entirely detached from the Army, and ignorant
of its life and of the historical foundations of its existence, should
cease to enact military regulations. Full power must be given to the
Supreme Commander-in-Chief, who should be responsible only to the
Provisional Government. (3) Politics must disappear from the Army. (4)
The 'Declaration' must be rescinded in its fundamentals. Commissars
and Committees must be abolished, and the functions of the latter must
gradually be altered. (5) Commanding Officers must be restored to
power. Discipline and the outward form of order and good conduct must
likewise be restored. (6) Appointments to prominent posts must be made
not only according to the standard of youth and strength, but also of
experience in the field and in administration. (7) Special law-abiding
units of all arms must be placed at the disposal of Commanding Officers
as a bulwark against mutiny, and against the horrors of possible
demobilisation. (8) Military Revolutionary Courts must be established
and capital punishment introduced in the rear for the troops and for
civilians guilty of the same crimes.

"If you ask me whether these measures are likely to produce good
results, I will answer frankly: Yes, but not at once. It is easy to
destroy the Army, but time is needed for its reconstruction. The
measures I suggest would at least lay the foundations for the creation
of a strong Army. In spite of the disruption of the Army, we must
continue the struggle, however arduous it may be, and we must even be
prepared to retreat into the depths of the country. Our Allies should
not count upon immediate relief through our advance. Even in retreating
and remaining on the defensive, we are drawing upon us enormous enemy
forces, which, were they relieved, would be sent to the Western Front
and would crush the Allies and then turn against us. Upon this new
Calvary the Russian people and the Russian Army may yet shed rivers
of blood and endure privations and misfortunes. But at the end of the
Calvary a bright future is in store.

"There is another way. The way of treason. It would give a respite
to our martyred country.... But the curse of treachery cannot give
us happiness. At the end of that path there is political, moral and
economic slavery. The destinies of the country are in the hands of the
Army. I now appeal to the Provisional Government represented here by
two Ministers:

"You must lead Russia towards truth and enlightenment under the banner
of Liberty, but you must give us a real chance of leading the troops in
the name of that same Liberty under our old banners. You need have no
fear. The name of the autocrat has been removed from these banners as
well as from our hearts. It is no longer there. But there is a Mother
Country; there is a sea of blood; and there is the glory of our former
victories. You have trampled that banner into the dust. The time has
now come. Raise the banners and bow to them if your conscience is still
within you."

       *       *       *       *       *

I had finished. Kerensky rose, shook hands with me, and said: "Thank
you, General, for your outspoken and sincere speech."

In the evidence which Kerensky subsequently gave to the High
Commission for the investigation of Kornilov's movement, the Prime
Minister explained this gesture by the fact that he approved, not of
the contents of my speech, but of my courage, and that he wished to
emphasise his respect for every independent opinion, albeit entirely
divergent from the views of the Provisional Government. In substance,
according to Kerensky, "General Deniken had for the first time drawn
a plan for the Revanche--that music of the future military reaction."
There is in these words a deep misinterpretation. We had not forgotten
the Galician retreat of 1915 or its causes, but, at the same time,
we could not forgive Kalush and Tarnopol in 1917. It was our duty,
our right, and our moral obligation not to wish for either of these
contingencies. I was followed by General Klembovsky. I had left the
Assembly, and only heard the end of his speech. He described the
condition of his Front in terms almost identical to mine, with great
restraint, and came to a conclusion that could only have been prompted
by deep despair: he suggested that power should be vested at the Front
in a kind of peculiar triumvirate consisting of the Commander-in-Chief,
a Commissar, and an elected soldier....

General Alexeiev was unwell, spoke briefly, described the condition
of the rear, of the reserves and garrison troops, and endorsed the
suggestions I had made.

General Ruzsky, who had been undergoing a protracted cure in the
Caucasus, and was therefore out of touch with the Army, analysed the
situation such as it appeared to him from the speeches that had been
made. He quoted a series of historical comparisons between the old
Army and the new Revolutionary one with such emphasis and bluntness
that Kerensky, in replying, accused Ruzsky of advocating the return to
Czarist autocracy. The new men were unable to understand the passionate
grief of an old soldier for the Army. Kerensky was probably unaware of
the fact that Ruzsky had been repudiated, and also passionately accused
by the Reactionary circles of the opposite crime, for the part which he
had played in the Emperor's abdication.

A telegram was read from General Kornilov, urging that capital
punishment should be introduced in the rear, chiefly in order to cope
with the licentious bands of Reservists; that disciplinary powers
should be vested in the Commanding Officers; that the competence of
the Army Committees should be restricted and their responsibilities
fixed; that meetings should be prohibited as well as anti-national
propaganda, and visits to the Front prohibited to various delegations
and agitators. All this was practically implied in my programme, but
under another shape, and was described as "military reaction." But
Kornilov had other suggestions. He advocated that Commissars should
be introduced into the Army Corps and given the right to confirm the
verdicts of the Military Revolutionary Tribunals, as well as to effect
a "cleansing" of the commanding staffs. This last proposal impressed
Kerensky by its "breadth and depth of vision"--greater than those which
emanated from the "old wiseacres," whom he considered intoxicated "with
the wine of hate...." There was an obvious misunderstanding, because
Kornilov's "cleansing" was not intended against the men of solid
military traditions (mistakenly identified with Monarchist Reaction),
but against the hirelings of the Revolution--unprincipled men, deprived
of will-power and of the capacity of taking the responsibility upon
their own shoulders.

Savinkov, the Commissar of the South-Western Front, also spoke,
expressing his own views only. He agreed with the general description
of the Front which we had given, and pointed out that it is not the
fault of the Revolutionary Democracy that the soldiery of the old
régime is still distrustful of their Commanding Officers; that all is
not well with the latter from the military and political points of
view, and that the main object of the new Revolutionary institutions
was to restore normal relations between these two elements of the Army.

Kerensky made the closing speech of the Conference. He tried to
justify himself--spoke of the elemental character of the inevitable
"Democratisation" of the Army. He blamed us for seeing in the
Revolution, and in its influence upon the Russian soldier, the only
cause of the _débâcle_ of July, and he severely condemned the old
régime. Finally, he gave us no definite directions for future work.
The members of the Conference dispersed with a heavy feeling of mutual
misunderstanding. I was also discouraged, but at the bottom of my heart
I was pleased to think--alas! I was mistaken--that our voices had been
heeded. My hopes were confirmed by a letter from Kornilov which I
received soon after his appointment to the Supreme Command:

"I have read the Report you made at the Stavka on July 16th with deep
and sincere satisfaction. I would sign such a Report with both hands;
I take off my hat to you, and I am lost in admiration before your
firmness and courage. I firmly believe that, with the help of the
Almighty, we will succeed in accomplishing the task of reconstructing
our beloved Army and of restoring its fighting power."

Fate has, indeed, cruelly derided our hopes!



CHAPTER XXX.

GENERAL KORNILOV.


Two days after the Moghilev Conference General Brussilov was relieved
of the Supreme Command. The attempt to give the leadership of the
Russian Armies to a person who had not only given proof of the most
complete loyalty to the Provisional Government, but had evinced
sympathy with its reforms, had failed. A leader had been superseded,
who, on assuming the Supreme Command, gave utterance to the following:

"I am the leader of the Revolutionary Army, appointed to this
responsible post by the people in revolution and the Provisional
Government, in agreement with the Petrograd Soviet of Workmen's and
Soldiers' Delegates. I was the first to go over to the people, serve
the people. I will continue to serve them, will never desert them."[51]

Kerensky, in his evidence before the Commission of Inquiry, explained
Brussilov's dismissal by the catastrophal condition of the Front, by
the possible development of the German offensive, the absence of a firm
hand at the front, and of a definite plan; by Brussilov's inability to
evaluate and forestall the complications of the military situation, and
lastly, by his lack of influence over both officers and men.

Be it as it may, General Brussilov's retirement from the pages of
military history can in no wise be regarded as a simple episode of
an administrative character. _It marks a clear recognition by the
Government of the wreck of its entire military policy._

On July 19th, by an Order of the Provisional Government, Lavr
Georgievich Kornilov, General of Infantry, was appointed to the post of
Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

[Map: The Russian Front in June and July, 1917]

In Chapter VII. I spoke of my meeting with Kornilov, then
Commander-in-Chief of the Petrograd district. The whole meaning of his
occupation of this post lay in the chance of bringing the Petrograd
garrison to a sense of duty and subordination. This Kornilov failed to
accomplish. A fighting General who carried fighting men with him by
his courage, coolness, and contempt of death, had nothing in common
with that mob of idlers and hucksters into which the Petrograd garrison
had been transformed. His sombre figure, his dry speech, only at
times softened by sincere feeling, and above all, its tenour so far
removed from the bewildering slogans of the Revolution, so simple in
its profession of a soldier's faith--could neither fire nor inspire
the Petrograd soldiery. Inexperienced in political chicanery, by
profession alien to those methods of political warfare which had been
developed by the joint efforts of the bureaucracy, party sectarianism,
and the revolutionary underworld, Kornilov, as Commander-in-Chief of
the Petrograd district, could neither influence the Government nor
impress the Soviet, which, without any cause, distrusted him from the
very beginning. Kornilov would have managed to suppress the Petrograd
praetorians, even if he had perished in doing so, but he could not
attract them to himself.

He felt that the Petrograd atmosphere did not suit him, and when on
April 21st, the Executive Committee of the Soviet, after the first
Bolshevist attacks, passed a resolution that no military unit could
leave barracks in arms without the permission of the Committee, it
was totally impossible for Kornilov to remain at a post which gave no
rights and imposed enormous responsibilities.

There was yet another reason: the Commander-in-Chief of the Petrograd
district was subordinated, not to the Stavka, but to the Minister of
War. Gutchkov had left that post on April 30th, and Kornilov did not
wish to remain under Kerensky, the vice-president of the Petrograd
Soviet.

[Map: The Russian Front till August 19th and after]

The position of the Petrograd garrison and command was so incongruous
that this painful problem had to be solved by artificial measures. On
Kornilov's initiative, and with General Alexeiev's full approval, the
Stavka, in conjunction with the Headquarters of the Petrograd District,
drew up a scheme for the organisation of the Petrograd Front, covering
the approaches to the capital through Finland and the Finnish Gulf.
This Front was to include the troops in Finland and Kronstadt, on
the coast, of the Reval fortified region and the Petrograd garrison,
the depôt battalions of which it was proposed to expand into active
regiments and form into brigades; the inclusion of the Baltic Fleet was
likewise probable. Such an organisation--logical from a strategical
point of view, especially in connection with the information received
of the reinforcement of the German Front on the line of advance on
Petrograd--gave the Commander-in-Chief the legal right to alter the
dispositions to relieve the troops at the front and behind, etc. I
do not know whether this would have really made it possible to free
Petrograd from the garrison which had become a veritable scourge to
the Capital, the Provisional Government, and even (in September)
to the non-Bolshevist sections of the Soviet. The Government
most thoughtlessly bound itself by a promise, given in its first
declaration, that "the troops which had taken part in the revolutionary
movement should not be either disarmed or moved from Petrograd."

This plan, however, naturally failed on Kornilov's departure, as
his successors, appointed one after another by Kerensky, were of
such an indefinite political character, and so deficient in military
experience, that it was impossible to place them at the head of so
large a military force.

At the end of April, just before his retirement, Gutchkov wished to
make Kornilov Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Front, a post which
had become vacant after General Ruzsky's dismissal. General Alexeiev
and I were at the Conference with Thomas and the French military
representatives, when I was called up to the telegraph instrument to
talk with the Minister of War. As General Alexeiev remained at the
meeting, and Gutchkov was ill in bed, the negotiations, in which I
acted as an intermediary, were exceedingly difficult to carry on, both
technically and because, in view of the indirect transmission, it was
necessary to speak somewhat guardedly. Gutchkov insisted, Alexeiev
refused. No less than six times did I transmit their replies, which
were at first reserved and then more heated.

Gutchkov spoke of the difficulty of managing the Northern Front, which
was the most unruly, and of the need of a firm hand there. He said
that it was desirable to retain Kornilov in the immediate vicinity of
Petrograd, in view of future political possibilities. Alexeiev refused
flatly. He said nothing about "political possibilities," basing his
refusal on the grounds of Kornilov's inadequate service qualifications
for command, and the awkwardness of passing over Senior Commanders
more experienced and acquainted with the Front, such as General Abram
Dragomirov, for instance. Nevertheless, when the next day an official
telegram arrived from the Ministry in connection with Kornilov's
appointment, Alexeiev replied that he was uncompromisingly against
it, and that if the appointment were made in spite of this, he would
immediately send in his resignation.

Never had the Supreme Commander-in-Chief been so inflexible in his
communications with Petrograd. Some persons, including Kornilov himself
(as he confessed to me afterwards), involuntarily gained the impression
that the question was a somewhat wider basis one than that of the
appointment of the Commander-in-Chief ... that the fear of a future
dictator played a certain part. However, this supposition is flatly
contradicted by placing this episode in conjunction with the fact that
the Petrograd Front was created for Kornilov--a fact that was of no
less importance and fraught with possibilities.

In the beginning of May Kornilov took over the 8th Army on
the South-Western Front. General Dragomirov was appointed
Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Front.

This is the second event which gives the key to the understanding of
the subsequent relations between Alexeiev and Kornilov.

According to Kornilov, the 8th Army was in a state of complete
disintegration when he assumed command. "For two months," says he, "I
had to visit the units nearly every day and personally explain to the
soldiers the necessity for discipline, encourage the officers, and
urge upon the troops the necessity of an advance.... Here I became
convinced that firm language from the Commander and definite action
were necessary in order to arrest the disintegration of our Army. I
understood that such language was expected both by the officers and the
men, the more reasonable of whom were already tired of the complete
anarchy...."

Under what conditions Kornilov made his rounds we have already shown
in Chapter XXIII. I hardly think that he managed to arouse the mass
of soldiers to consciousness. The Kalush of June 28th and the Kalush
of July 8th show the 8th Army equally as heroes and as beasts. The
officers and a small part of the real soldiers, however, were more
than ever under the spell of Kornilov's personality. Its power
increased among the non-Socialistic sections of the Russian public
likewise. When, after the rout of July 6th, General Gutor--who had been
appointed to the highly responsible post of Commander-in-Chief of the
South-Western Front, merely not to resist the democratisation of the
Army--yielded to despair and collapsed, there was no one to replace
him except Kornilov (on the night of July 8th).... The spectre of the
"General on a White Horse" was already looming in sight and disturbing
the spiritual peace of many.

Brussilov was strongly opposed to this appointment. Kerensky hesitated
for a moment. The position, however, was catastrophical. Kornilov
was bold, courageous, stern, resolute and independent, and would
never hesitate to show initiative or to undertake any responsibility
if circumstances required it. Kerensky was of the opinion[52] that
Kornilov's downright qualities, though dangerous in case of success,
would be only too useful in case of a panic-stricken retreat. And "when
the Moor has done his work, let the Moor go...." So Kerensky insisted
on Kornilov's appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the South-Western
Front.

On the third day after taking over his duties, Kornilov wired to the
Provisional Government: "I declare that if the Government does not
confirm the measures proposed by me, and deprives me of the only means
of saving the Army and of using it for its real purpose of defending
the Motherland and liberty, then I, General Kornilov, will of my own
accord lay down my authority as Commander-in-Chief...."

A series of political telegrams from Kornilov produced a profound
impression on the country, and inspired some with fear, some with hate,
and others with hope. Kerensky hesitated, but what about the support
of the Commissars and Committees? The tranquilisation and reduction
to order of the South-Western Front attained, among other means, by
Kornilov's bold, resolute struggle against the Army Bolsheviks? The
oppressive isolation felt by the Minister of War after the conference
of July 16th? The uselessness of retaining Brussilov as Supreme
Commander-in-Chief and the hopelessness of placing at the head of the
Army Generals of the new type, as shown by the experiment of appointing
Brussilov and Gutor? Savinkov's persistent advice? Such were the
reasons which forced Kerensky--who fully recognised the inevitability
of the coming collision with the man who repudiated his military policy
with every fibre of his soul--to decide on the appointment of Kornilov
to the post of Supreme Commander-in-Chief. There is not the slightest
doubt that Kerensky did this in a fit of despair. Probably it was the
same feeling of fatality that induced him to appoint Savinkov acting
Minister of War.

The collisions occurred sooner than might have been expected. On
receiving the order for his appointment, Kornilov at once sent the
Provisional Government a telegram "reporting" that he could accept
command and "lead the nation to victory and to the prospect of a just
and honourable peace only on the following conditions:

    "(1) Responsibility to his own conscience and to the whole nation.

    "(2) Complete non-interference with his orders relating to military
    operations and, therefore, with the appointment of the Higher
    Command.

    "(3) The application of the measures recently introduced at the
    Front to all places in the rear where drafts for the Army were
    quartered.

    "(4) Acceptance of his proposals telegraphed to the Conference at
    the Stavka on July 16th."

When in due course I read this telegram in the newspapers, I was not
a little surprised at the first condition, which established a highly
original form of suzerainty on the part of the Supreme Command until
the convocation of the Constituent Assembly. I waited impatiently for
the official reply. There was none. As it turned out, on receiving
Kornilov's ultimatum, the Council of the Government hotly debated
the matter, and Kerensky demanded that the prestige of the High
Command should be upheld by the immediate removal of the new Supreme
Commander-in-Chief. The Government did not agree to this, and Kerensky,
ignoring the other points mentioned in the telegram, replied only to
the second, by recognising the right of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief
to select his own direct assistants.

Diverging from the established procedure of appointments, the
Government, simultaneously with Kornilov's appointment and without
his knowledge, issued an order appointing General Cheremissov
Commander-in-Chief of the South-Western Front. Kornilov regarded this
as a complete violation of his rights, and sent another ultimatum,
declaring that he could continue to hold Supreme Command only on
condition of Cheremissov's immediate removal. He declined to go
to Moghilev before this question was settled. Cheremissov, on his
part, was very "nervy," and threatened to "bomb his way" into Front
Headquarters and to establish his rights as Commander-in-Chief.

This complicated matters still further, and Kornilov reported by
wire[53] to Petrograd that, in his opinion, it would be more regular
to dismiss Cheremissov. "For the purpose of strengthening discipline
in the Army, we decided to take severe measures with the soldiers; the
same measures must likewise apply to the higher military commanders."

The Revolution had upset all mutual relations and the very essence
of discipline. As a soldier, I was bound to see in all this the
undermining of the authority of the Provisional Government (if such
existed), and I could not but recognise that it was both the right and
the duty of the Government to make everyone respect its authority.

As a chronicler, however, I must add that the military leaders had no
other means of stopping this disintegration of the Army, proceeding
from above. And had the Government actually possessed the power, and
in full panoply of right and might had been able to assert itself,
there would have been no ultimatums either from the Soviet or from the
military leaders. Furthermore, there would have been no need for the
events of the 27th of August, and those of the 25th of October would
have been impossible.

The matter finally resolved itself into the arrival of Commissar
Filonenko at Front Headquarters. He informed Kornilov that all his
recommendations had been accepted by the Government, in principle,
while Cheremissov was placed at the disposal of the Provisional
Government. General Balnev was hastily, at random, selected to command
the South-Western Front, and Kornilov assumed the Supreme Command on
the 27th of July.

The spectre of the "General on the White Horse" became more and more
clearly visible. And the eyes of many, suffering at the sight of the
madness and the shame now engulfing Russia, were again and again
turned to this spectre. Honest and dishonest, sincere and insincere,
politicians, soldiers and adventurers, all turned to it. And all with
one voice cried out, "Save Us!"

He, the stern and straightforward soldier, deeply patriotic, untried in
politics, knowing little of men, hypnotised both by truth and flattery,
and by the general longing expectation of someone's coming, moved by
a fervent desire for deeds of sacrifice--he truly believed in the
predestined nature of his appointment. He lived and fought with this
belief, and died for it on the banks of the Kuban.

Kornilov became a sign and rallying point. To some, of
counter-Revolution; to others, of the salvation of their native land.

Around this point a struggle for influence and power was commenced by
people who, unaided, without him could not have attained to such power.

A characteristic episode had already taken place on the 8th of July,
at Kamenetz-Podolsk. Here, in Kornilov's entourage, there occurred the
first conflict between Savinkov and Zavoiko, the former being the most
prominent Russian Revolutionary, leader of the Terrorist fighting group
of the Social-Revolutionary Party, organiser of the most notorious
political assassinations--those of Plehve, Minister of the Interior,
of the Grand Duke Serge, etc. Strong-willed and cruel by nature,
completely lacking in the controlling influences of "conventional
morality," despising both the Provisional Government and Kerensky,
supporting the Provisional Government from motives of expediency, as
he understood it, ready at any moment to sweep them aside--he saw in
Kornilov merely a weapon in the fight for Revolutionary power, in
which _he_ must have a dominant interest. Zavoiko was one of those
peculiar personages who afterwards clustered closely round Kornilov and
played such a prominent part in the August days. He was not very well
known even to Kornilov. The latter stated, in his evidence before the
Supreme Commission of Inquiry, that he became acquainted with Zavoiko
in April, 1917; that Zavoiko had been "marechal de noblesse" of the
Haisin district of Podolia, had been employed on the Nobel oilfields in
Baku, and, by his own statements, had been employed in prospecting for
minerals in Turkestan and Western Siberia. He arrived in Czernowitz,
enrolled as a volunteer in the Daghestan Mounted Regiment, and was
retained at Army Headquarters as personal aide to Kornilov. That is all
that is known of Zavoiko's past.

Kornilov's first telegram to the Provisional Government was edited by
Zavoiko, who "gave it the form of an ultimatum with a concealed threat,
in case of non-compliance with the demands presented to the Provisional
Government, to proclaim a military dictatorship on the South-Western
Front."[54]

I discovered all this subsequently. During all these events I continued
working at Minsk, completely engrossed now, not by the offensive,
but by the organisation of any sort of skeleton defence of the
half-collapsed Front. There was no information, no rumours even, of
what was going on at the head of affairs. Only an increased tension was
noticeable in all official relations.

       *       *       *       *       *

Quite unexpectedly, in the end of July the Stavka offered me the post
of Commander-in-Chief of the South-Western Front. I communicated
by wire with General Lukomsky, the Chief-of-Staff of the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief, and told him that I should obey orders and go
wherever I was sent, but would like to know the reason for this
exchange. If the reasons were political I should ask to be left at my
old post. Lukomsky assured me that what Kornilov had in view was only
the military importance of the South-Western Front and the proposed
strategical operations in that quarter. I accepted the post.

I parted from my assistants with regret, and, having transferred my
friend, General Markov, to the new front, left for my new place of
service together with him. On my way I stopped at Moghilev. The Stavka
was in a very optimistic mood; everyone was animated and hopeful, but
there were no signs of any "underground" conspiratory working. It
should be mentioned that in this respect the military were so naïvely
inexperienced, that when they really began to "conspire" their work
took such _obvious_ forms that the deaf could not help hearing, nor the
blind seeing, what was going on.

On the day of our arrival Kornilov held a Council of the Chiefs of
Departments of the Stavka, at which the so-called "Kornilov programme"
for the restoration of the Army was discussed. I was invited to attend.
I shall not repeat all the fundamental propositions, which have already
been mentioned both by me and in Kornilov's telegrams--such demands,
for instance, as the introduction of Revolutionary courts-martial
and capital punishment in the rear, the restoration of disciplinary
authority to Commanders and raising their prestige, the limitation
of the activity of the Committees and their responsibility, etc. I
remember that side by side with clear and irrefutable propositions--the
draft memorandum drawn up by the Departments of the Stavka--there
were bureaucratic lucubrations hardly applicable in actual life.
For instance, with the object of making disciplinary authority more
palatable to Revolutionary Democracy, the authors of the memorandum had
drawn up a curiously detailed list of disciplinary misdemeanour with a
corresponding scale of penalties. And this was meant for the seething
whirlpool of life, where all relations were trampled underfoot, all
standards violated, where every fresh day brought forward an endless
variety of departures from the regulations!

At any rate, the Supreme Command was finding the proper path, and
apparently Kornilov's personality was a guarantee that the Government
would be obliged to follow that path. Undoubtedly a long struggle with
the Soviets, Committees, and soldiery was still to be waged, but,
at least, the definiteness of the policy gave moral support and a
tangible basis for this heavy task in the future. On the other hand,
the support given to Kornilov's measures by Savinkov's War Ministry
gave reason to hope that Kerensky's vacillations and indecision would
finally be overcome. The attitude to this question of the Provisional
Government as a whole was of no practical importance, and could not
even be officially expressed. At that time it seemed as if Kerensky
had, in some degree, freed himself from the yoke of the Soviet, but,
just as formerly all the most important questions of State had been
settled by him apart from the Government, in conjunction with the
leading Soviet circles, now, in August, the direction of State affairs
passed into the hands of a triumvirate composed of Kerensky, Nekrassov,
and Tereschenko, leaving both the Socialist and Liberal groups of the
Government out of the running.

After the meeting was over Kornilov asked me to stay, and, when all had
left, said to me, almost in a whisper: "It is necessary to struggle,
otherwise the country will perish. N. came to see me at the Front. He
is nursing his scheme of a _coup d'état_ and of placing the Grand-Duke
Dmitri on the throne. He is organising something or other, and has
suggested collaboration. I told him flatly that I would take no part
in any Romanov adventures. The Government itself understands that it
can do nothing. They have offered my joining in the Government.... No,
thank you! These gentlemen are far too much entangled with the Soviets,
and cannot decide on anything. I have told them that if authority is
given me I shall carry on a decisive struggle. We must lead Russia to
a Constituent Assembly, and then let them do what they like. I shall
stand aside and not interfere in any way. Now, General, may I rely on
your support?"

"To the fullest extent."

This was my second meeting and my second conversation with Kornilov.
We embraced heartily and parted ... only to meet again in the Bykhov
Prison.



CHAPTER XXXI.

    MY SERVICE AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE SOUTH-WESTERN FRONT--THE
    MOSCOW CONFERENCE--THE FALL OF RIGA.


I was touched by General Alexeiev's letter:

"My thoughts are with you in your new appointment. I consider that
you have been sent to perform a superhuman task. Much has been said,
but apparently little has been done there. Nothing has been done even
after the 16th July by Russia's chief babbler.... The authority of
the Commanders is being steadily curtailed. Should you want my help
in anything I am ready to go to Berdichev, to go to the Front, to one
Command or another.... God preserve you!"

Here was a man, indeed, whom neither an exalted position nor
misfortunes could change. He was full of his modest, disinterested work
for the good of his native land.

A new front, new men. The South-Western Front, shaken by the events
in July, was gradually recovering. Not, however, in the sense of real
convalescence, as the optimists thought, but of a return approximately
to its condition prior to the offensive. There were the same strained
relations between officers and men, the same slip-shod service, the
desertion, and open unwillingness to fight, which was only less
actively expressed owing to the lull in operations; finally there was
the same Bolshevist propaganda, only more active, and not infrequently
disguised under the form of Committee "fractions" and preparations for
the Constituent Assembly. I have a document referring to the 2nd Army
of the Western Front. It is highly characteristic as an indication
of the unparalleled toleration and, indeed, encouragement of the
disintegration of the Army on the part of the representatives of the
Government and Commanders, under the guise of liberty and conscious
voting at the elections. Here is a copy of the telegram sent to all the
senior officers of the 2nd Army:

    The Army Commander, in agreement with the Commissar, and at the
    request of the Army fraction of the Bolshevist Social-Democrats,
    has permitted the organisation, from the 15th to 18th October, of
    preparatory courses for instructors of the aforesaid fraction for
    the elections to the Constituent Assembly, one representative of
    the Bolshevist organisation of each separate unit being sent to the
    said courses. No. 1644.

                                                            SUVOROV.[55]

The same toleration had been exercised in many cases previously, and
was founded on the exact meaning of the regulations for Army Committees
and of the "Declaration of Soldiers' Rights."

Carried away by the struggle against counter-revolution, the
Revolutionary institutions had paid no attention to such facts as
public meetings with extreme Bolshevist watchwords being held at the
very place where the Front Headquarters were situated, or that the
local paper, _Svobodnaia Mysl_,[56] most undisguisedly threatened the
officers with a St. Bartholomew's Eve.

The front was _holding out_. That is all that could be said of the
situation. At times there would be disturbances ending tragically,
such as the brutal murder of Generals Girshfeld, Hirschfeld, and
Stefanovich, Commissar Linde. The preliminary arrangements and the
concentration of the troops for the coming partial offensive were made,
but there was no possibility of launching the actual attack until the
"Kornilov programme" had been put into practice and the results known.

I waited very impatiently.

The Revolutionary organisations (the Commissariat and Committee) of
the South-Western Front were in a position; they had not yet seized
power, but some of it had already been yielded to them voluntarily by
a series of Commanders-in-Chief--Brussilov, Gutor, Baluev. Therefore,
my coming at once roused their antagonism. The Committee of the Western
Front lost no time in sending a scathing report on me to Berdichev on
the basis of which the next issue of the Committee's organ published an
impressive warning to the "enemies of democracy." As usual, I totally
omitted to invoke the aid of the Commissariat, and sent a message to
the Committee saying that I could have nothing to do with it unless it
kept rigidly within the limits of the law.

The Commissar of the Front was a certain Gobechio. I saw him once only,
on my arrival. In a few days he got transferred to the Caucasus, and
his post was taken by Iordansky.[57] As soon as he arrived he issued
an "order to the troops at the Front." Afterwards he was unable to
understand that two persons could not command the Front at one and the
same time. Iordansky and his assistants, Kostitsin and Grigorier--a
literary man, zoologist, and doctor respectively--were probably rather
prominent men in their own profession, but utterly ignorant of military
life.

The Committee of the Front was no better and no worse than others.[58]
It took the "Defencist" point of view, and even supported the
repressive measures taken by Kornilov in July, but at that time
the Committee was not in the least degree a _military_ institution
organically connected--for good or evil--with the true Army life. It
was merely a mixed party organ. Divided into "fractions" of all the
Socialist parties, the Committee positively revelled in politics,
and introduced them at the Front likewise. The Committee carried on
propaganda on a large scale, convened congresses of representatives in
order to have them converted by Socialist fractions, including such
as were openly antagonistic to the policy of the Government. I made
an attempt to stop this work in view of the impending strategical
operations and the difficult period of transition, but met with
determined opposition on the part of Commissar Iordansky. At the same
time, the Committee was perpetually interfering in all questions of
military authority, spreading sedition and distrust to the commanders.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile, both in Petrograd and Moghilev, events were taking their
course, and we could grasp their meaning only in so far as they were
reflected by newspaper reports, rumours and gossip.

There was still no "programme." The Moscow State Conference[59] raised
great hopes, but it met without making any changes in either State
or military policy. On the contrary, it even outwardly emphasises
the irreconcilable enmity between the Revolutionary Democracy and
the Liberal Bourgeoisie, between the Commanders and the soldiers'
representatives.

If the Moscow Conference yielded no positive results, nevertheless, it
fully exposed the mood of the opponents, the leaders and the rulers.
All unanimously recognised that the country was in deadly peril.
Everyone understood that the social relations had suffered an upheaval,
that all branches of the nation's economy had been uprooted. Each
party reproached the other with supporting the selfish interests of
their class. This, however, was not the most important matter, for,
strange as it may seem, the primary causes of social class war, even
the agrarian and labour questions, merely led to disagreement, without
rousing any irreconcilable dissentions. Even when Plekhanov, the
old leader of the Social-Democrats, amid universal approval, turned to
the Right demanding sacrifice, and to the Left demanding moderation, it
seemed as if the chasm between the two opposing social camps was not so
very great.

All the attention of the Conference was taken up by other questions,
those of _authority and of the Army_.

Miliukov enumerated all the sins of the Government, vanquished by the
Soviets, its "capitulation" to the ideology of the Socialist parties
and Zimmerwaldists, capitulation in the Army, in foreign policy, to
the Utopian demands of the working classes, to the extreme demands of
nationalities.

"The usurpation of the authority of the State by Central and Local
Committees and Soviets," said General Kaledin distinctly, "must be
stopped at once and decisively."

Maklakov smoothed the way for his attack: "I demand nothing, but
I cannot help drawing attention to the alarm felt by the social
conscience when it sees that the 'Defeatists' of yesterday have been
invited to join the Government." Shulgin (Right) is agitated. He says:
"I want your (the Provisional Government's) authority to be really
strong, really unlimited. I want this, though I know that a strong
Government easily turns to despotism, which is more likely to crush me
than you, the friends of that Government."

On the Left, Jehkheidze sings the praises of the Soviets: "It is only
owing to the Revolutionary organisations that the creative spirit of
the Revolution has been preserved, for the salvation of the country
from the disintegration of authority and from anarchy...." "There
is no power higher than that of the Provisional Governments," says
Tzeretelli, "because the source of this power the sovereign people
has, through all the organs at its disposal, directly delegated this
power to the Provisional Government." Of course, in so far as that
Government submits to the will of the Soviets?... And over all one
hears the dominating voice of the President of the Congress, who is
seeking for "heavenly words" in order to "express his shuddering
horror" at coming events, "and at the same time brandishing a wooden
sword and threatening his hidden enemies thus: 'Be it known to everyone
who has once tried to offer armed resistance to the authority of the
people that the attempt will be smothered in blood and iron. Let those
beware who think that the time has come for them to overthrow the
Revolutionary Government with the help of bayonets.'"

The contradiction was still more striking in military matters. In a dry
but powerful speech, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief drew a picture of
the destruction of the Army, involving the whole country in its ruin,
and with great reserve explained the gist of his programme. General
Alexeiev related, with genuine bitterness, the sad story of the sins,
sufferings and gallantry of the former Army.

"Weak in technical resources and morally strong in spirit and
discipline," he related how the Army had lived to see the bright
days of the Revolution, and how later on, "when it was thought to be
a danger to the conquests of the Revolution, it was inoculated with
deadly poison." Kaledin, the Don Cossack Attaman, representing thirteen
Cossack Armies and unhampered by any official position, spoke sharply
and distinctly: "The Army must keep out of politics. There must be no
political meetings with their party struggles and disputes. All the
(Army) Soviets and Committees must be abolished. The Declaration of
Soldiers' Rights must be revised. Discipline must be raised both at the
Front and in the rear. The disciplinary authority of the Commanders
must be restored. All power to the leaders of the Army!"

Kuchin, the representative of the Army and Front Committees, rose
to reply to these trite military axioms. "The Committees were a
manifestation of the instinct of self-defence.... They had to be formed
as organs for the protection of the privates, as hitherto there had
been nothing but oppression ... the Committees had brought light and
knowledge to the soldiers.... Then came the second period--one of decay
and disorganisation ... 'rearguard consciousness' made its appearance,
but failed to digest all the mass of questions which the Revolutions
had raised in the minds of the soldiery...." Now the speaker did
not deny the necessity for repressive measures, but they "must be
compatible with the definite work of Army organisations...." How this
was to be done had been shown by the united front of Revolutionary
Democracy, namely, the Army must be animated, not by the desire of
victory over the enemy, but by "a repudiation of Imperialistic aims,
and a desire for the speedy attainment of universal peace on Democratic
principles.... The commanders should possess complete independence
in the conduct of military operations, and have a decisive voice in
questions of discipline and service training." The object of the
organisations, on the other hand, was to introduce their policy
wholesale among troops, and "the Commissars must be the introducers
of (this) single Revolutionary policy of the Provisional Government,
the Army Committees must direct the social and political life of
the soldiers. The restoration of the disciplinary authority of the
commanders is not to be thought of," etc.

What is the Government going to do? Will it find enough strength
and boldness to burst the fetters placed on it by the Bolshevistic
Soviet?[60]

Kornilov said firmly, repeating his words twice: "I do not doubt for a
moment that the (my) measures will be carried out without delay."

And if not--was it to be War?

He also said: "It is impossible to admit that the determination to
carry out these measures should in every case be aroused merely by the
pressure of defeats and loss of territory. If the rout at Tarnopol and
the loss of Galicia and Bukovina did indeed result in restoration of
discipline at the Front, it cannot be admitted that order in the rear
should be restored at the cost of the loss of Riga, and that order
on the railways should be restored by the cession of Moldavia and
Bessarabia to the enemy."

On the 20th Riga fell.

Both strategically and tactically the Front of the lower Dvina was in
complete preparedness. Taking into consideration the strength of the
defensive positions, the forces were also sufficient. The officers in
command were General Parsky, Army Commander, and General Boldyrev,
Corps Commander; both experienced Generals, and certainly not inclined
to counter-Revolution in the opinion of the Democrats.[61]

Finally, from deserters' reports, our Headquarters knew not only the
direction but even the day and the hour of the contemplated attack.

Nevertheless, on the 19th August the Germans (Von Hutier's 8th Army),
after heavy artillery preparation, occupied the Uxküll bridgehead in
the face of feeble opposition on our part, and crossed the Dvina. On
20th August the Germans assumed the offensive also along the Mitau
road; towards evening of the same day the enemy's Uxküll group,
having pierced our lines on the Egel, began deploying in a northerly
direction, threatening the retreat of the Russian troops towards
Wenden. The 12th Army, abandoning Riga, retired some 60-70 versts,
losing touch with the enemy, and on the 25th occupied the so-called
Wenden position. The Army lost in prisoners alone some 9,000 men,
besides 81 guns, 200 machine-guns, etc. A further advance did not enter
into the German plans, and they commenced to establish themselves on
the extensive terrain of the right bank of the Dvina, immediately
sending off two divisions to the Western Front.

We lost the rich industrial town of Riga, with all its military
structures and supplies; more important still, we lost a safe defensive
line, the abandonment of which placed both the Dvina Front and the way
to Petrograd under a constant threat.

The fall of Riga made a great impression in the country. Quite
unexpectedly, however, it called forth from the Revolutionary
Democracy, not repentance, not patriotic fervour, but, instead, a still
greater bitterness towards the leaders and officers. The Stavka in one
_communiqué_[62] inserted the following sentence: "The disorganised
masses of the soldiery are flocking in uncontrollable masses along
the Pskov high road and the road to Bieder-Limburg." This statement,
undoubtedly true, and neither mentioning nor relating to the causes
of the above, raised a storm amongst the Revolutionary Democracy.
The Commissars and Committees of the Northern Front sent a series of
telegrams refuting the "provocative attacks of the Stavka" and assuring
that "there was no shame in this reverse"; that "the troops honestly
obey all demands of their leaders ... there have been no cases of
flight or treachery on the part of the troops."

The Commissar for the Front, Stankevitch, while demurring against there
being no shame in such a causeless and inglorious retreat, pointed
out, amongst other things, a series of errors and delinquencies on
the part of the Commanders. It is extremely possible that there were
errors, both personal and of leadership, as well as purely objective
deficiencies, caused by mutual mistrust, slackening of obedience,
and the _débâcle_ of the technical services. At the same time, it
is undoubtedly a fact that the troops of the Northern Front, and
especially the 12th Army, were the most disorganised of all, and,
logically, could not offer the necessary resistance. Even the apologist
of the 12th Army, Commissar Voitinsky, who always considerably
exaggerated the fighting value of these troops, telegraphed on the
22nd to the Petrograd Soviet: "The troops show want of confidence in
their powers, absence of training for battle, and, consequently,
insufficient steadiness in open warfare.... Many units fight bravely,
as in the early days; others show signs of weariness and panic."

Actually, the debauched Northern Front had lost all power of
resistance. The troops rolled back to the limit of pursuit by the
German advanced detachments, and only moved forward subsequently
on losing touch with Hutier's main body, which had no intention of
passing, beyond a definite line.

Meanwhile, all the papers of the Left commenced a fierce campaign
against the Stavka and the Commands. The word "treachery" was heard....
Tchernov's _Delo Naroda_, a Defeatist paper, complained: "A torturing
fear creeps into the mind: are not the mistakes of the commanders,
the deficiencies in artillery, and the incapacity of the leaders
being unloaded on to the soldiers--courageous, heroic, perishing
in thousands." The _Izvestia_ announced also the motives for the
"provocation": "The Stavka, by putting forth the bogy of menacing
events, is trying to terrorise the Provisional Government and make
it adopt a series of measures, directly and indirectly aimed at the
Revolutionary Democracy and their organisations...."

In conjunction with all these events, the feeling against the Supreme
Commander-in-Chief, General Kornilov, was increasing in the Soviets,
and rumours of his approaching dismissal appeared in the Press. In
answer to these, a series of angry resolutions addressed to the
Government, and supporting Kornilov, made their appearance.[63] The
resolution of the Council of the Union of Cossack Troops contained even
the following passage: "The supersession of Kornilov will inevitably
imbue the Cossacks with the fatal impression of the futility of further
Cossack sacrifices"; and, further, that the Council "declines all
responsibility for the Cossack troops at and behind the Front should
Kornilov be removed."

Such was, then, the situation. Instead of pacification, passions burned
fiercer, contradictions increased, the atmosphere of mutual mistrust
and morbid suspicion was thickened.

       *       *       *       *       *

I still postponed my tour of the troops, not abandoning hope of a
satisfactory issue to the struggle and of the publication of the
"Kornilov programme."[64]

What could I bring the men? A deep, painful feeling, words appealing to
"common-sense and conscience," concealing my helplessness, and like the
voice of one crying in the wilderness? All had been and gone, leaving
bitter memories behind. It will always be so: thoughts, ideas, words,
moral persuasion will never cease to rouse men to deeds of merit; but
what if overgrown, virgin soil must be torn up with an iron plough?...
What should I say to the officers, sorrowfully and patiently awaiting
the end of the regular and merciless lingering death of the Army? For I
could only say to them: If the Government does not radically alter its
policy the end of the Army has come.

On the 7th August orders were received to move the Caucasian Native
("Wild") Division from under my command northwards; on the 12th the
same order was received for the 3rd Cavalry Corps, then in Reserve, and
later for the Kornilov "shock" Regiment. As always, their destination
was not indicated. The direction prescribed, on the other hand, equally
pointed to the Northern Front, at that time greatly threatened, and
to ... Petrograd. I recommended General Krymov, commanding the 3rd
Cavalry Corps, for the command of the 11th Army. The Stavka agreed, but
demanded his immediate departure for Moghilev on a special mission. On
his way there Krymov reported to me. Apparently he had not yet received
definite instructions--at any rate, he spoke of none; however, neither
he nor I doubted that the mission was in connection with the expected
change in military policy. Krymov was at this time cheerful and
confident, and had faith in the future; as formerly, he considered that
only a crushing blow to the Soviets could save the situation.

Following on this, official information was received of the formation
of the Detached Petrograd Army, and the appointment of an officer of
the General Staff to be Quartermaster-General of this Army was desired.

Finally, about the 20th, the situation became somewhat clearer. An
officer reported to me at Berdichev, and handed me a personal letter
from Kornilov, wherein the latter suggested I should hear this
officer's verbal report. He stated as follows:

"According to reliable information, a rising of the Bolsheviks
will take place at the end of August. By this time the 3rd Cavalry
Corps,[65] commanded by Krymov, would reach Petrograd, would crush
the rising, and simultaneously put an end to the Soviets."[66]

Simultaneously, Petrograd would be proclaimed in a state of war, and
the laws resulting from the "Kornilov programme" would be published.
The Supreme Commander-in-Chief requested me to despatch to the
Stavka a score or more of reliable officers--officially "for trench
mortar instruction"; actually they would be sent to Petrograd, and
incorporated in the Officers' Detachment.

In the course of the conversation he communicated the news from the
Stavka, painting all in glowing colours. He told me, among other
things, of rumours concerning new appointments to the Kiev, Odessa and
Moscow commands, and of the proposed new Government, mentioning some
existing ministers, and some names entirely unknown to me. The part
played in this matter by the Provisional Government, in particular by
Kerensky, was not clear. Had he decided on an abrupt change of military
policy, would he resign, or would he be swept away by developments
impossible of prediction by pure logic, or the most prophetic common
sense?

_In this volume I described the entire course of events during August
in that sequence and in that light, in which these tragic days were
experienced on the South-Western Front, not giving them the perspective
of the stage and the actors acquired subsequently._

The seconding of the officers--with all precautions to prevent
either them or their superiors being placed in a false position--was
commenced, but it is hardly likely that it could have been accomplished
by the 27th. Not one Army Commander was supplied by me with the
information I had received; in fact, not one of the senior officers at
the front knew anything of the events brewing.

It was clear that the history of the Russian Revolution had entered
on a new phase. What would the future bring? General Markov and I
spent many hours discussing this subject. He--nervous, hot-headed and
impetuous--constantly wavered between the extremes of hope and fear.
I also felt much the same; and both of us quite clearly saw and felt
the _fatal inevitability_ of a crisis. The Soviets--Bolshevists or
semi-Bolshevists, no matter which--would unfailingly bring Russia to
her doom. A conflict was unavoidable. But _over there_, was there an
actual chance, or was everything being done in heroic desperation?

[Illustration: General Kornilov's welcome in Moscow.]



CHAPTER XXXII.

GENERAL KORNILOV'S MOVEMENT AND ITS REPERCUSSION ON THE SOUTH-WEST
FRONT.


On August 27th I was thunderstruck by receiving from the Stavka
news of the dismissal of General Kornilov from the post of Supreme
Commander-in-Chief.

A telegram, unnumbered, and signed "Kerensky," requested General
Kornilov to transfer the Supreme Command temporarily to General
Lukomsky, and, without awaiting the latter's arrival to proceed to
Petrograd. Such an order was quite illegal, and not binding, as the
Supreme Commander-in-Chief was in no way under the orders either of the
War Minister or of the Minister-President, certainly not of Comrade
Kerensky.

General Lukomsky, Chief-of-Staff, answered the Minister-President in
Telegram No. 640, which I give below. Its contents were transmitted
to us, the Commanders-in-Chief by Telegram No. 6412. which I have
not preserved. Its tenor, however, is clear from the deposition of
Kornilov, in which he says: "I ordered that my decision (not to
surrender my command, and first to elucidate the situation), and that
of General Lukomsky, be communicated to the Commanders-in-Chief on all
fronts."

Lukomsky's telegram, No. 640, ran as follows:

    All persons in touch with military affairs were perfectly aware
    that, in view of the existing state of affairs, when the actual
    direction of internal policy was in the hands of irresponsible
    public organisations, having an enormously deleterious effect on
    the Army, it would be impossible to resurrect the latter; on the
    contrary, the Army, properly speaking, would cease to exist in
    two or three months. Russia would then be obliged to conclude a
    shameful separate peace, whose consequences to the country would
    be terrible. The Government took half measures, which, changing
    nothing, merely prolonged the agony, and, in saving the Revolution,
    did not save Russia. At the same time, the preservation of the
    benefits of the Revolution depended solely on the salvation of
    Russia, for which purpose the first step must be the establishment
    of a really strong Government and the reform of the home Front.
    General Kornilov drew up a series of demands, the execution of
    which has been delayed. In these circumstances, General Kornilov,
    actuated by no motives of personal gain or aggrandisement,
    and supported by the clearly-expressed will of the entire
    right-thinking sections of the Army and the Civil community, who
    demanded the speedy establishment of a strong Government for the
    saving of their native land, and of the benefits of the Revolution,
    considered more severe measures requisite which would secure the
    re-establishment of order in the country.

    The arrival of Savinkov and Lvov, who in your name made General
    Kornilov similar proposals,[67] only brought General Kornilov to a
    speedy decision. In accordance with your suggestions, he issued his
    final orders, which it is now too late to repeal.

    Your telegram of to-day shows that you have now altered your
    previous decision, communicated in your name by Savinkov and
    Lvov. Conscience demands from me, desiring only the good of the
    Motherland, to declare to you absolutely that it is now impossible
    to stop what was commenced with your approval; this will lead but
    to civil war, the final dissolution of the Army, and a shameful
    separate peace, as a consequence of which the conquests of the
    Revolution will certainly not be secured to us.

    In the interests of the salvation of Russia you must work with
    General Kornilov, and not dismiss him. The dismissal of General
    Kornilov will bring upon Russia as yet unheard-of horrors.
    Personally, I decline to accept any responsibility for the Army,
    even though it be for a short period, and do not consider it
    possible to take over the command from General Kornilov, as this
    would occasion an outburst in the Army which would cause Russia to
    perish.

                                                               LUKOMSKY.

All the hopes which had been entertained of the salvation of the
country and the regeneration of the Army by peaceful means had now
failed. I had no illusions as to the consequences of such a conflict
between General Kornilov and Kerensky, and had no hopes of a favourable
termination if only General Krymov's Corps did not manage to save the
situation. At the same time, not for one moment did I consider it
possible to identify myself with the Provisional Government, which I
considered criminally incapable, and therefore immediately despatched
the following telegram:

    I am a soldier and am not accustomed to play hide and seek. On
    the 16th of July, in a conference with members of the Provisional
    Government, I stated that, by a series of military reforms, they
    had destroyed and debauched the Army, and had trampled our battle
    honours in the mud. My retention as Commander-in-Chief I explained
    as being a confession by the Provisional Government of their
    deadly sins before the Motherland, and of their wish to remedy the
    evil they had wrought. To-day I receive information that General
    Kornilov, who had put forward certain demands capable yet of saving
    the country and the Army,[68] has been removed from the Supreme
    Command. Seeing herein a return to the planned destruction of the
    Army, having as its consequence the downfall of our country, I
    feel it my duty to inform the Provisional Government that I cannot
    follow their lead in this.

                                                            145 DENIKIN.

Simultaneously Markov sent a telegram to the Government stating his
concurrence in the views expressed by me.[69]

At the same time I ordered the Stavka to be asked in what way I could
assist General Kornilov. He knew that, besides moral support, I had no
actual resources at my disposal, and, therefore, thanking me for this
support, demanded no more.

I ordered copies of my telegrams to be sent to all
Commanders-in-Chief, the Army Commanders of the South-Western Front,
and the Inspector-General of Lines of Communication. I also ordered
the adoption of measures which would isolate the Front against the
penetration of any news of events, without the knowledge of the Staff,
until the conflict had been decided. I received similar instructions
from the Stavka. I think it hardly necessary to state that the entire
Staff warmly supported Kornilov, and all impatiently awaited news from
Moghilev, still hoping for a favourable termination.

Absolutely no measures for the detention of any persons were taken:
this would have been of no use, and did not enter into our plans.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Democracy at the Front were in great
agitation. The members of the Front Committee on this night left their
quarters and lodged in private houses on the outskirts of the town.
The assistants of the Commissar were at the time away on duty, and
Iordansky himself in Zhitomir. An invitation from Markov to him to come
to Berdichev had no result, either that night or on the 28th. Iordansky
expected a "treacherous ambush."

Night fell, a long, sleepless night, full of anxious waiting and
oppressive thoughts. Never had the future of the country seemed so
dark, never had our powerlessness been so galling and oppressive. A
historic tragedy, played out far from us, lay like a thundercloud over
Russia. And we waited, waited.

I shall never forget that night. Those hours still live in mental
pictures. Successive telegrams by direct wire: Agreement apparently
possible. No hopes of a peaceful issue. Supreme Command offered to
Klembovsky. Klembovsky likely to refuse. One after another copies of
telegrams to the Provisional Government from all Army Commanders of my
Front, from General Oelssner and several other Senior Officers, voicing
their adherence to the opinion expressed in my telegram. A touching
fulfilment of their _civic duty_ in an atmosphere saturated with hate
and suspicion. Their _soldier's oath_ they could no longer keep.
Finally, the voice of despair from the Stavka. For that is the only
name for the General Orders issued by Kornilov on the night of the 28th:

    The telegram of the Minister-President, No. 4163[70] in its entire
    first part is a downright lie: it was not I who sent Vv. N. Lvov, a
    member of the State Duma, to the Provisional Government. He came to
    me as a messenger from the Minister-President. My witness to this
    is Alexei Aladyin, member of the State Duma.

    The great provocation, placing the Motherland on the turn of fate,
    is thus accomplished.

    People of Russia. Our great Motherland is dying. Her end is near.

    Forced to speak openly, I, General Kornilov, declare that the
    Provisional Government, under pressure from the Bolshevik majority
    in the Soviets, is acting in complete accordance with the plans of
    the German General Staff and simultaneously with the landing of
    enemy troops near Riga, is killing the Army, and convulsing the
    country internally.

    The solemn certainty of the doom of our country drives me in these
    terrible times to call upon all Russians to save their dying
    native land. All in whose breasts a Russian heart still beats, all
    who believe in God, go into the Churches, pray Our Lord for the
    greatest miracle, the salvation of our dear country.

    I, General Kornilov, son of a peasant Cossack, announce to all and
    everyone that I personally desire nothing save the preservation of
    our great Russia, and vow to lead the people, through victory over
    our enemies, to a Constituent Assembly, when they themselves will
    settle their fate and select the form of our new national life.

    I cannot betray Russia into the hands of her ancient enemy--the
    German race!--and make the Russian people German slaves. And I
    prefer to die honourably on the field of battle, that I may not see
    the shame and degradation of our Russian land.

    People of Russia, in your hands lies the life of your native land!

This order was despatched to the Army Commanders for their information.
The next day one telegram from Kerensky was received at the
Commissariat, and from then all our communications with the outside
world were interrupted.[71]

Well, the die was cast. A gulf had opened between the Government and
the Stavka, to bridge which was now impossible.

On the following day, the 28th, the Revolutionary institutions,
seeing that absolutely nothing threatened them, exhibited a feverish
activity. Iordansky assumed the "military authority," made a series of
unnecessary arrests in Zhitomir among the senior officials of the Chief
Board of Supplies, and issued, under his signature and in his own name,
that of the Revolutionary organisations and that of the Commissary
of the Province, an appeal, telling, in much detail and in the usual
language of proclamations, how General Denikin was planning "to restore
the old régime and deprive the Russian people of Land and Freedom."

At the same time similar energetic work was being carried on in
Berdichev under the guidance of the Frontal Committee. Meetings of all
the organisations went on incessantly, along with the "education" of
the typical rear units of the garrison. Here the accusation brought
forward by the Committee was different: "The counter-Revolutionary
attempt of the Commander-in-Chief, General Denikin, to overthrow
the Provisional Government and restore Nicholas II. to the throne."
Proclamations to this effect were circulated in numbers among the
units, pasted on walls, and scattered from motor-cars careering through
the town. The nervous tension increased, the streets were full of
noise. The members of the Committee became more and more peremptory
and exigent in their relations with Markov. Information was received
of disorders which had arisen on the Lyssaya Gora (Bald Hill). The
Staff sent officers thither to clear up the matter and determine the
possibility of pacification. One of them--a Tchekh officer, Lieutenant
Kletsando--who was to have spoken with the Austrian prisoners, was
attacked by Russian soldiers, one of whom he wounded slightly. This
circumstance increased the disturbance still more.

From my window I watched the crowds of soldiers gathering on the
Lyssaya Gora, then forming in column, holding a prolonged meeting,
which lasted about two hours, and apparently coming to no conclusion.
Finally the column, which consisted of a troop of orderlies (formerly
field military police), a reserve _sotnia_, and sundry other armed
units, marched on the town with a number of red flags and headed by two
armoured cars. On the appearance of an armoured car, which threatened
to open fire, the Orenburg Cossack _sotnia_, which was on guard next
the Staff quarters and the house of the Commander-in-Chief, scattered
and galloped away. We found ourselves completely in the power of the
Revolutionary Democracy.

"Revolutionary sentries" were posted round the house. The Vice-President
of the Committee, Koltchinsky, led four armed "comrades" into the
house for the purpose of arresting General Markov, but then began to
hesitate, and confined himself to leaving in the reception-room of the
Chief-of-Staff two "experts" from the Frontal Committee to control his
work. The following wireless was sent to the Government: "General
Denikin and all his staff have been subjected to personal detention at
his Stavka. In the interests of the defence the guidance of the activity
of the troops has been left in their hands, but is strictly controlled
by the delegates of the Committee."

Now began a series of long, endless, wearisome hours. They will never
be forgotten. Nor can words express the depth of the pain which now
enveloped our hearts.

At 4 p.m. on the 29th Markov asked me into the reception-room,
where Assistant-Commissary Kostitsin came with ten to fifteen armed
Committee members and read me an "order from the Commissary of the
South-Western Front, Iordansky," according to which I, Markov, and
Quartermaster-General Orlov were to be subjected to preliminary arrest
for an attempt at an armed rising against the Provisional Government.
As a man of letters Iordansky seemed to have become ashamed of the
arguments about "land," "freedom," and "Nicholas II.," designed
exclusively for inflaming the passions of the mob.

I replied that a Commander-in-Chief could be removed from his post only
by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief or by the Provisional Government;
that Commissary Iordansky was acting altogether illegally, but that I
was obliged to submit to force.

Motor-cars drove up, accompanied by armoured cars, and Markov and I
took our seats. Then came the long waiting for Orlov, who was handing
over the files; then the tormenting curiosity of the passers-by. Then
we drove on to Lyssaya Gora. The car wandered about for a long time,
halting at one building after another, until at last we drove up to
the guard-house; we passed through a crowd of about a hundred men who
were awaiting our arrival, and were greeted with looks full of hatred
and with coarse abuse. We were taken into separate cells; Kostitsin
very civilly offered to send me any of my things I might require, but I
brusquely declined any services from him; the door was slammed to, the
key turned noisily in the lock, and I was alone.

In a few days the Stavka was liquidated. Kornilov, Lukomsky,
Romanovsky, and others were taken off to the Bykhov Prison.

The Revolutionary Democracy was celebrating its victory.

Yet at that very time the Government was opening wide the doors of the
prisons in Petrograd and liberating many influential Bolsheviks--to
enable them to continue, publicly and openly, their work of destroying
the Russian Empire.

On September 1 the Provisional Government arrested General Kornilov;
on September 4 the Provisional Government liberated Bronstein Trotsky.
These two dates should be memorable for Russia.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cell No. 1. The floor is some seven feet square. The window is closed
with an iron grating. The door has a small peep-hole in it. The cell
is furnished with a sleeping bench, a table, and a stool. The air is
close--an evil-smelling place lies next door. On the other side is cell
No. 2, with Markov in it; he walks up and down with large, nervous
strides. Somehow or other I still remember that he makes three steps
along his cell, while I manage, on a curve, to make five. The prison
is full of vague sounds. The strained ear begins to distinguish them,
and gradually to make out the course of prison life, and even its
moods. The guards--I guess them to be soldiers of the prison guard
company--are rough and revengeful men.

It is early morning. Someone's voice is booming. Whence? Outside of
the window, clinging to the grating, hang two soldiers. They look at
me with cruel, savage eyes, and hysterically utter terrible curses.
They throw in something abominable through the open window. There is no
escape from their gaze. I turn to the door--there another pair of eyes,
full of hatred, peers through the peep-hole; thence choice abuse pours
in also. I lie down on the sleeping-bench and cover my head with my
cloak. I lie for hours. The whole day, one after another, the "public
accusers" replace each other at the window and at the door--the guards
allow all to come freely. And into the narrow, close kennel pours,
in an unceasing torrent, a foul stream of words, shouts, and curses,
born of immense ignorance, blind hate, and bottomless coarseness.
One's whole soul seems to be drenched with that abuse, and there is no
deliverance, no escape from this moral torture chamber.

What is it all about? "Wanted to open the Front" ... "sold himself
to the Germans"--the sum, too, was mentioned--"for twenty thousand
roubles" ... "wanted to deprive us of land and freedom." This
was not their own, this was borrowed from the Committee. But
Commander-in-Chief, General, gentleman--this, indeed, was their own!
"You have drunk our blood, ordered us about, kept us stewing in prison;
now we are free and you can sit behind the bars yourself. You pampered
yourself, drove about in motor-cars; now you can try what lying on a
wooden bench is, you ----. You have not much time left. We shan't wait
till you run away--we will strangle you with our own hands." These
warriors of the rear scarcely knew me at all. But all that had been
gathering for years, for centuries, in their exasperated hearts against
the power they did not love, against the inequality of classes, because
of personal grievances and of their shattered lives--for which someone
or other was to blame--all this now came to the surface in the form
of unmitigated cruelty. And the higher the standing of him who was
reckoned the enemy of the people, and the deeper his fall, the more
violent was the hostility of the mob and the greater the satisfaction
of seeing him in its hands. Meanwhile, behind the wings of the popular
stage stood the managers, who inflamed both the wrath and the delight
of the populace; who did not believe in the villainy of the actors,
but permitted them even to perish for the sake of greater realism in
the performance and to the greater glory of their sectarian dogmatism.
These motives of party policy, however, were called "tactical
considerations."

I lay, covered head and all by my cloak and, under a shower of oaths,
tried to see things clearly:

"What have I done to deserve this?"

I went through the stages of my life.... My father was a stern soldier
with a most kindly heart. Up to thirty years of age he had been a
peasant serf and was drafted into the Army, where, after twenty-two
years of hard service in the ranks, under the severe discipline of the
times of Nicholas I, he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
He retired with the rank of Major. My childhood was hard and joyless,
amidst the poverty of a pension of 45 roubles a month. Then my father
died. Life became still harder. My mother's pension was 25 roubles
a month. My youth was passed in study and in working for my daily
bread. I became a volunteer in the Army, messing in barracks with the
privates. Then came my officer's commission, then the Staff College.
The unfairness of my promotion, my complaint to the Emperor against
the all-powerful Minister of War, and my return to the 2nd Artillery
Brigade. My conflict with a moribund group of old adherents of serfdom;
their accusation of demagogy. The General Staff. My practice command
of a company in the 183rd Pultussk Regiment. Here I put an end to the
system of striking the soldiers and made an unsuccessful experiment
in "conscious discipline." Yes, Mr. Kerensky, I did this also in my
younger days. I privately abolished disciplinary punishment--"watch
one another, restrain the weak-spirited--after all, you are decent
men--show that you can do your duty without the stick." I finished my
command: during the year the behaviour of the company had not been
above the average, it drilled poorly and lazily. After my departure the
old Sergeant-Major, Stsepoura, gathered the company together, raised
his fist significantly in the air and said distinctly, separating his
words:

"Now it is not Captain Denikin whom you will have. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Sergeant-Major."

It was said, afterwards, that the company soon showed improvement.

Then came the war in Manchuria; active service; hopes for the
regeneration of the Army. Then an open struggle, in a stifled Press,
with the higher command of the Army, against stagnation, ignorance,
privileges and licence--a struggle for the welfare of the officer and
the soldier. The times were stern--all my service, all my military
career was at stake. Then came my command of a regiment, constant
care for the improvement of the condition of the soldiers, after my
Pultussk experience--strict service demands, but also respect for the
human dignity of the soldier. At that time we seemed to understand
one another and were not strangers. Then came war again, the "Iron"
Division, nearer relations with the rifleman and work with him in
common. The staff was always near the positions, so as to share mud,
want of space, and dangers with the men. Then a long, laborious path,
full of glorious battles, in which a common life, common sufferings
and common fame brought us still closer together, and created a mutual
faith and a touching proximity.

No, I have never been an enemy to the soldier.

I threw off my cloak, and, jumping from the wooden bed, went up to the
window, where the figure of a soldier clung to the grating, belching
forth curses.

"You lie, soldier! It is not your own words that you are speaking. If
you are not a coward, hiding in the rear, if you have been in action,
you have seen how your officers could die. You have seen that they...."

His hands loosened their grip and the figure disappeared. I think it
was simply because of my stern address, which, despite the impotence of
a prisoner, produced its usual effect.

Fresh faces appeared at the window and at the peep-hole in the door.

It was not always, however, that we met with insolence alone.
Sometimes, through the assumed rudeness of our gaolers we could see
a feeling of awkwardness, confusion and even commiseration. But of
these feelings they were ashamed. On the first cold night, when we
had none of our things, a guard brought Markov, who had forgotten
his overcoat, a soldier's overcoat, but half an hour later--whether
he had grown ashamed of his good action, or whether his comrades had
shamed him--he took it back. In Markov's cursory notes we find: "We
are looked after by two Austrian prisoners.... Besides them, we have
as our caterer a soldier, formerly of the Finland Rifles (a Russian),
a very kind and thoughtful man. During our first days he, too, had a
hard time of it--his comrades gave him no peace; now, however, matters
are all right; they have quieted down. His care for our food is simply
touching, while the news he brings is delightful in its simplicity.
Yesterday, he told me that he would miss us when we are taken away.

"I soothed him by saying that our places would soon be filled by new
generals--that all had not yet been destroyed."

My heart is heavy. My feelings seem to be split in two: I hate and
despise the savage, cruel, senseless mob, but still I feel the old pity
for the soldier: an ignorant, illiterate man, who has been led astray,
and is capable both of abominable crimes and of lofty sacrifices!

Soon the duty of guarding us was given to the cadets of the 2nd
Zhitomir School of 2nd Lieutenants. Our condition became much easier
from the moral point of view. They not only watched over the prisoners,
but also guarded them from the mob. And the mob, more than once, on
various occasions, gathered near the guard-room and roared wildly,
threatening to lynch us. In such cases the company on guard gathered
hastily in a house nearly opposite us and the cadets on guard made
ready their machine-guns. I recall that, calmly and clearly realising
my danger, when the mob was especially stormy, I planned out my method
of self-defence: a heavy water-bottle stood upon my table; with it
I might hit the first man to break into my cell; his blood would
infuriate and intoxicate the "comrades," and they would kill me at
once, without torturing me....

With the exception, however, of such unpleasant moments, our life in
prison went on in a measured, methodical way; it was quiet and restful;
after the strain of our campaigning, and in comparison with the moral
suffering we had undergone, the physical inconveniences of the prison
régime were mere trifles. Our life was varied by little incidents.
Sometimes a Bolshevist cadet standing at the door would tell the sentry
loudly, so that his words might be heard in the cell, that at their
last meeting the comrades of Lyssaya Gora, having lost all patience,
had finally decided to lynch us, and added that this was what we
deserved. Another time, Markov, passing along the corridor, saw a cadet
sentry leaning on his rifle, with the tears streaming from his eyes--he
felt sorry for us. What a strange, unusual exhibition of sentiment in
our savage days.

For a fortnight I did not leave my cell for exercise, not wishing to be
an object of curiosity for the "comrades," who surrounded the square
before the guard-room and examined the arrested generals as if they
were beasts in a menagerie. I had no communication with my neighbours,
but much time for meditation and thought.

And every day as I open my window I hear from the house opposite a
high, tenor voice--whether of friend or foe I know not--singing:

"This is the last day that I ramble with you, my friends."



CHAPTER XXXIII.

IN BERDICHEV GAOL--THE TRANSFER OF THE "BERDICHEV GROUP" OF PRISONERS
TO BYKHOV.


Besides Markov and me, whose share in events has been depicted in the
preceding chapters, the following were cast into prison:

3. General Erdeli, Commander of the Special Army.

4. Lieutenant-General Varnovsky, Commander of the 1st Army.

5. Lieutenant-General Selivatchev, Commander of the 7th Army.

6. Lieutenant-General Eisner, Chief of Supplies to the South-Western
Front.

The guilt of these men lay in their expression of solidarity with my
telegram No. 145, and of the last, moreover, in his fulfilment of my
orders for the isolation of the frontal region with respect to Kiev and
Zhitomir.

7 and 8. General Eisner's assistants--General Parsky and General
Sergievsky--men who had absolutely no connection with events.

9. Major-General Orlov, Quartermaster-General of the Staff of the
Front--a wounded man with a withered arm, timid, and merely carrying
out the orders of the Chief-of-Staff.

10. Lieutenant Kletsando, of the Tchekh troops, who had wounded a
soldier of Lyssaya Gora on August 28th.

11. Captain Prince Krapotkin, a man over sixty years of age, a
Volunteer, and the Commandant of the Commander-in-Chief's train. He was
not initiated into events at all.

General Selivatchev, General Parsky and General Sergievsky were soon
released. Prince Krapotkin was informed on September 6th that his
actions had not been criminal, but was set free only on September
23rd, when it appeared that we were not to be tried at Berdichev. For
a charge of rebellion to hold good against us an association of eight
men at the very least had to be discovered. Our antagonists were much
interested in this figure, being desirous of observing the rules of
decorum.... There was another prisoner, however, kept in reserve and
separate from us, at the Commandant's office, and even afterwards
transferred to Bykhov--a military official named Boudilovitch--a youth
weak in body, but strong in spirit, who on one occasion dared to tell a
wrathful mob that it was not worth the little finger of those whom it
was maltreating.[72] No other crime was imputed to him.

On the second or third day of my imprisonment I read in a newspaper,
which had accidentally or purposely found its way into my cell, an
order from the Provisional Government to the Senate, dated August 29th,
which ran as follows:

"Lieutenant-General Denikin, Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the
South-Western Front, to be removed from the post of Commander-in-Chief
and brought to trial for rebellion.--Signed: Minister-President A.
Kerensky and B. Savinkov--in charge of the War Ministry."

On the same date similar orders were issued concerning Generals
Kornilov, Lukomsky, Markov and Kisliakov. Later an order was issued for
the removal of General Romanovsky.

On the second or the third day of my arrest the guard-room was visited,
for our examination, by a Committee of Investigation, under the
superintendence of the Chief Field Prosecutor of the Front, General
Batog, and under the presidency of Assistant-Commissar Kostitsin,
consisting of:

Lieutenant-Colonel Shestoperov, in charge of the Juridical Section
of the Commissariat; Lieutenant-Colonel Frank, of the Kiev Military
Court; 2nd Lieut. Oudaltsov and Junior Sergeant of Artillery Levenberg,
members of the Committee of the Front.

My evidence, in view of the facts of the case, was very short, and
consisted of the following statements: (1) None of the persons
arrested with me had taken part in any active proceedings against the
Government; (2) all orders given to and through the Staff during my
last days, in connection with General Kornilov's venture, proceeded
from me; (3) I considered, and still consider, that the activity of the
Provisional Government is criminal and ruinous for Russia, but that
nevertheless I had not instituted a rebellion against it, but having
sent my telegram No. 145, I had left it to the Provisional Government
to take such action towards me as it might see fit.

Later the Chief Military Prosecutor, Shablovsky, having acquainted
himself with the material of the investigation and with the
circumstances which had arisen around it in Berdichev, was horrified at
the "uncautious formulation" of my evidence.

By September 1st Iordansky was already reporting to the War Ministry
that the Committee of Investigation had discovered documents
establishing the existence of a conspiracy which had long been
preparing.... At the same time, Iordansky, man of letters, inquired of
the Government whether, in the matter of the direction of the cases of
the Generals arrested, he could act within the limits of the law, _in
conformity with local circumstances_, or whether he was bound to be
guided by any _political considerations_ of the Central Authority. In
reply he was informed that he must act reckoning with the law alone and
... _taking into consideration local circumstances_.[73]

In view of this explanation, Iordansky decided to commit us for trial
by a Revolutionary Court-Martial, to which end a Court was formed of
members of one of the Divisions formerly subordinated to me at the
Front, while Captain Pavlov, member of the Executive Committee of the
South-Western Front, was marked down for public prosecutor.

Thus the interests of competency, impartiality and fair play were
observed.

Iordansky was so anxious to obtain a speedy verdict for myself
and for the Generals imprisoned with me that on September 3rd he
proposed that the Commission, without waiting for the elucidation
of the circumstances, should present the cases to the Revolutionary
Court-Martial in groups, as the guilt of one or other of the accused
was established.

We were much depressed by our complete ignorance of what was taking
place in the outer world.

On rare occasions Kostitsin acquainted us with the more important
current events, but in the Commissar's comments on the events only
depressed us still more. It was clear, however, that the Government was
breaking up altogether, that Bolshevism was raising its head higher and
higher, and that the country must inevitably perish.

About September 8th or 10th, when the investigation was over, our
prison surroundings underwent, to some extent, a change. Newspapers
began to appear in our cells almost daily; at first secretly,
afterwards, from September 22nd, officially. At the same time, after
the relief of one of the Companies of Guards, we decided to try an
experiment: during our exercise in the corridor I approached Markov
and started talking with him; the sentries did not interfere. From
that time we began talking with one another every day; sometimes the
sentries demanded that we should stop, and then we were silent at once,
but more frequently they did not interfere. In the second half of
September visitors also were allowed; the curiosity of the "comrades"
of Lyssaya Gora was now apparently satisfied; fewer of them gathered
about the square, and I used to go out to walk every day, was able
to see all the prisoners and exchange a few words with them now and
again. Now, at least, we knew what was doing in the world, while the
possibility of meeting one another removed the depression caused by
isolation.

From the papers we learned that the investigation of the Kornilov case
was committed to the Supreme Investigation Committee, presided over by
the Chief Military and Naval Prosecutor, Shablovsky.[74]

About September 9th, in the evening, a great noise and the furious
shouts of a large crowd were heard near the prison. In a little while
four strangers entered my cell--confused and much agitated by something
or other. They said they were the President and members of the Supreme
Committee of Investigation for the Kornilov case.[75]

Shablovsky, in a still somewhat broken voice, began to explain that
the purpose of their arrival was to take us off to Bykhov, and that,
judging by the temper which had developed in Berdichev, and by the
fury of the mob which now surrounded the prison, they could see that
there were no guarantees for justice here, but only savage revenge.
He added that the Committee had no doubt as to the inadmissibility
of any segregation of our cases, and as to the necessity of a common
trial for all the participators in the Kornilov venture, but that the
Commissariat and the Committees were using all means against this. The
Committee, therefore, asked me whether I would not wish to supplement
my evidence by any facts which might yet more clearly establish
the connection between our case and Kornilov's. In view of the
impossibility of holding the examination amidst the roar of the crowd
which had gathered, they decided to postpone it to the following day.

The Committee departed; soon after the crowd dispersed.

What more could I tell them? Only, perhaps, something of the advice
which Kornilov had given me at Moghilev, and through a messenger. But
this was done as a matter of exceptional confidence on the part of the
Supreme Commander-in-Chief, which I could in no case permit myself to
break. Therefore, the few details which I added next day to my original
evidence did not console the commission and did not, apparently,
satisfy the volunteer, a member of the Committee of the Front, who was
present at the examination.

Nevertheless, we waited with impatience for our liberation from the
Berdichev chamber of torture. But our hopes were clouded more and more.
The newspaper of the Committee of the Front methodically fomented the
passions of the garrison; it was reported that at all the meetings of
all the Committees resolutions were passed against letting us out of
Berdichev; the Committee members were agitating mightily among the rear
units of the garrison, and meetings were held which passed off in a
spirit of great exaltation.

The aim of the Shablovsky Commission was not attained. As it turned out
in the beginning of September, to Shablovsky's demand that a separate
trial of the "Berdichev group" should not be allowed, Iordansky replied
that "to say nothing of the transfer of the generals to any place
whatsoever, even the least postponement of their trial would threaten
Russia with incalculable calamities--complications at the front, and a
new civil war in the rear," and that both on political and on tactical
grounds it was necessary to have us tried in Berdichev, in the shortest
possible time, and by Revolutionary Court-Martial.[76]

The Committee of the Front and the Kiev Soviet of Workmen's and
Soldiers' Delegates would not agree to our transfer, despite all
the arguments and persuasions brought forward at their meeting by
Shablovsky and the members of his Commission. On the way back, at
Moghilev, a consultation took place on this question between Kerensky,
Shablovsky, Iordansky and Batog. All, excepting Shablovsky, came to the
altogether unequivocal conclusion that the front was shaken, that the
soldiery was restless and demanding a victim, and that it was necessary
to enable the tense atmosphere to discharge itself, even at the cost
of injustice.... Shablovsky rose and declared that he would not permit
such a cynical attitude toward law and justice.

I remember that this tale perplexed me. It is not worth while disputing
about points of view. But if the Minister-President is convinced that
in the matter of protecting the State it is admissible to let oneself
be guided by expediency, in what way, then, was Kornilov to blame?

On September 14th a debate took place in Petrograd, in the last "court
of appeal"--in the military section of the Executive Committee of the
Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates--between Shablovsky and
the representative of the Committee of the South-Western Front, fully
supported by Iordansky. The last two declared that if the Revolutionary
Court-Martial was not held on the spot, in Berdichev, in the course
of the next five days the lynching of the prisoners was to be feared.
However, the Central Committee agreed with Shablovsky's arguments, and
sent its resolution to that effect to Berdichev.

So an organised lynching was prevented. But the Revolutionary
institutions of Berdichev had at their service another method for
liquidating the "Berdichev group," an easy and irresponsible one--the
method of popular wrath....

A rumour spread that we were to be taken away on the 23rd, then it was
stated that our departure would take place on the 27th at 5 p.m. from
the passenger station.

To take the prisoners away without making the fact public was in no
way difficult: in a motor-car, on foot in a column of cadets, or,
again, in a railway carriage--a narrow gauge-line came close up to the
guard-house and joined on to the broad gauge-line outside the town and
the railway station.[77] But such a method of transferring us did not
agree with the intentions of the Commissariat and the Committees.

General Doukhonin inquired from the Stavka, of the Staff of the Front,
whether there were any reliable units in Berdichev, and offered to send
a detachment to assist in our move. The Staff of the Front declined
assistance. The Commander-in-Chief, General Volodchenko, had left on
the eve, the 26th, for the Front....

Much talk and an unhealthy atmosphere of expectation and curiosity were
being artificially created around this question....

Kerensky sent a telegram to the Commissariat: "I am sure of the
prudence of the garrison, which may elect, from among its numbers, two
representatives to accompany."

In the morning the Commissariat began visiting all the units in the
garrison, to obtain their consent to our transfer.

The Committee had appointed a meeting of the whole garrison for 2 p.m.,
_i.e._, three hours before our departure, and in the field, moreover,
immediately beside our prison. This mass meeting did indeed take place;
at it the representatives of the Commissariat and of the Committee of
the Front announced the orders for our transfer to Bykhov, thoughtfully
announced the hour of our departure and appealed to the garrison ...
to be prudent; the meeting continued for a long time and, of course,
did not disperse. By 5 o'clock an excited crowd of thousands of men had
surrounded the guard-room, and its dull murmur made its way into the
building.

Among the officers of the Cadet Battalion of the 2nd Zhitomir School
of 2nd Lieutenants, which was on guard this day, was Captain Betling,
wounded in many battles, who before the War had served in the 17th
Archangelogorod Infantry Regiment, which I commanded.[78] Betling asked
the superior officer of the School to replace by his half-company the
detachment appointed to accompany the prisoners to the railway station.
We all dressed and came out into the corridor. We waited. An hour, two
hours passed....

The meeting continued. Numerous speakers called for an immediate
lynching.... The soldier who had been wounded by Lieutenant Kletsando
was shouting hysterically and demanding his head.... Standing in the
porch of the guard-room, Assistant Commissaries Kostitsin and Grigoriev
were trying persuasion with the mob. That dear Betling, too, spoke
several times, hotly and passionately. We could not hear his words.

At last, pale and agitated, Betling and Kostitsin came up to me.

"How will you decide? The crowd has promised not to touch anyone, only
it demands that you should be taken to the station on foot. But we
cannot answer for anything."

I replied:

"Let us go."

I took off my cap and crossed myself:

"Lord, bless us!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The crowd raged. We, the seven of us, surrounded by a group of cadets,
headed by Betling, who marched by my side with drawn sword, entered
the narrow passage through this living human sea, which pressed on us
from all sides. In front were Kostitsin and the delegates (twelve to
fifteen) chosen by the garrison to escort us. Night was coming on, and
in its eerie gloom, with the rays of the searchlight on the armoured
car cutting through it now and then, moved the raving mob, growing and
rolling on like a flaming avalanche. The air was full of a deafening
roar, hysterical shouts, and mephitic curses. At times they were
covered by Betling's loud, anxious voice:

"Comrades, you have given your word!... Comrades, you have given your
word!..."

The cadets, those splendid youths, crushed together on all sides, push
aside with their bodies the pressing crowd, which disorders their thin
ranks. Passing the pools left by yesterday's rain, the soldiers fill
their hands with mud and pelt us with it. Our faces, eyes, ears, are
covered with its fetid, viscid slime. Stones come flying at us. Poor,
crippled General Orlov has his face severely bruised; Erdeli and I, as
well, were struck--in the back and on the head.

On our way we exchanged monosyllabic remarks. I turned to Markov:

"What, my dear Professor, is this the end?"

"Apparently...."

The mob would not let us come up to the station by the straight path.
We were taken by a roundabout way, some three miles altogether, through
the main streets of the town. The crowd is growing. The balconies of
the Berdichev houses are full of curious spectators; the women wave
their handkerchiefs. Gay, guttural voices come from above:

"Long live freedom!"

The railway station is flooded with light. There we find a new,
vast crowd of several thousand people. And all this has merged in
the general sea which rages and roars. With enormous difficulty we
are brought through it under a hail of curses and of glances full
of hatred. The railway carriage. An officer--Elsner's son--sobbing
hysterically and addressing impotent threats to the mob, and his
soldier servant, lovingly soothing him, as he takes away his revolver;
two women, dumb with horror--Kletsando's wife and sister, who had
thought to see him off....

We wait for an hour, for another. The train is not allowed to leave--a
prisoner's car is demanded. There were none at the station. The mob
threatens to do for the Commissaries. Kostitsin is slightly buffeted.
A goods car is brought, all defiled with horse-dung--what a trifle! We
enter it without the assistance of a platform; poor Orlov is lifted in
with difficulty; hundreds of hands are stretched towards us through
the firm and steady ranks of the cadets.... It is already 10 p.m. The
engine gives a jerk. The crowd booms out still louder. Two shots are
heard. The train starts.

The noise dies away, the lights grow dimmer. Farewell Berdichev!

Kerensky shed a tear of delight over the self-abnegation of "our
saviours"--as he called--not the cadets, but the Commissaries and the
Committee members.

"What irony of fate! General Denikin, arrested as Kornilov's
accomplice, was saved from the rage of the frenzied soldiers by the
members of the Executive Committee of the South-Western Front and by
the Commissaries of the Provisional Government."

"I remember with what agitation I and the never-to-be-forgotten
Doukhonin read the account of how a handful of these brave men escorted
the arrested generals through a crowd of thousands of soldiers who were
thirsting for their blood...."[79] Why slander the dead? Certainly,
Doukhonin was no less anxious for the fate of the prisoners than for
... the fate of their revolutionary escort....

That Roman citizen, Pontius Pilate, smiled mockingly through the gloom
of the ages....



CHAPTER XXXIV.

SOME CONCLUSIONS AS TO THE FIRST PERIOD OF THE REVOLUTION.


History will not soon give us a picture of the Revolution in a broad,
impartial light. Those prospects which are now opening out to our view
are sufficient only to enable us to grasp certain particular phenomena
in it and, perhaps, to reject the prejudices and misconceptions which
have sprung up around them.

The Revolution was inevitable. It is called a Revolution of the whole
people. This is correct only in so far as the Revolution was the Result
of the discontent of literally all classes of the population with the
old power. But upon the question of its achievements opinions were
divided, and deep breaches were bound to appear between classes on the
very next day after the downfall of the old Power.

The Revolution was many-faced. For the peasants--the ownership of
the land; for the workmen--the ownership of profits; for the Liberal
Bourgeoisie--changed political conditions of life in the land and
moderate social reforms; for the Revolutionary Democracy--power and the
maximum of social achievement; for the Army--absence of authority and
the cessation of the War.

With the downfall of the power of the Czar, there was left in the
country, until the summoning of a Constituent Assembly, no lawful
power, no power that had a juridical basis. This is perfectly natural
and follows from the very nature of a Revolution. But whether through
genuine misconception or deliberately perverting the truth, men have
fabricated theories, known to be false, about the "general popular
origin of the Provisional Government" or about the "full powers of the
Soviet of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates," as an organ supposed
to represent the "whole of the Russian Democracy." What an elastic
conscience one must have, if, while professing democratic principles
and protesting violently against the slightest deviation from orthodox
conditions of the lawfulness of elections, one can still ascribe full
powers, as the organ of democracy, to the Petrograd Soviet or to the
Congress of Soviets, the election of which is of an extraordinary
simplified and one-sided character. It was not without reason that
for a long time the Petrograd Soviet hesitated to publish lists of
its members. As to the supreme Power, to say nothing of its "popular
origin" from a "private meeting of the State Duma," the technique of
its construction was so imperfect that repeated crises might have put
an end to its very existence and to every trace of its continuity.
Finally, a really "popular" Government could not have remained
isolated, left by all to the will of a group of usurpers of authority.
That same Government which, in the days of March, so easily obtained
general recognition. Recognition, yes, but not practical support.

After March 3rd, and up to the Constituent Assembly, _every_
supreme authority bore the marks of self-assumed power, and _no_
power could satisfy all classes of the population, in view of the
irreconciliableness of their interests and the intemperance of their
desires.

Neither of the ruling powers (the Provisional Government and the
Soviet) enjoyed the due support of the _majority_. For this majority
(80 per cent.) said, through its representatives in the Constituent
Assembly of 1918: "We peasants make no difference between parties;
parties fight for power, while our peasant business is the land alone."
But even if, forestalling the will of the Constituent Assembly, the
Provisional Government had satisfied these desires of the majority
in full, it could not have reckoned on this majority's immediate
submission to the general interests of the State, nor on its _active_
support: engaged in the redistribution of the land, which also had
a strong attraction for the elements at the Front, the peasantry
would scarcely have given the State, voluntarily, the forces and
the means for putting it in order, _i.e._ plenty of corn and plenty
of soldiers--brave, faithful and obedient to the law. Even then the
Government would have been faced with insoluble problems: an Army which
did not fight, an unproductive industry, a transport system which was
being broken down and ... the civil war of parties.

Let us, therefore, set aside the popular and democratic origin of
the Provisional authority. Let it be self-assumed, as it has been in
the history of all revolutions and of all peoples. But the very fact
of the wide recognition of the Provisional Government gave it a vast
advantage over all the other forces which disputed its authority.
It was necessary, however, that this power should become so strong,
so absolute in its nature, so autocratic, as, having crushed all
opposition by force, perhaps by arms, to have led the country to a
Constituent Assembly, elected in surroundings which did not admit of
the falsification of the popular vote, and to have protected this
Assembly.

We are apt to abuse the words "elemental force," as an excuse for many
phenomena of the Revolution. That "molten element" which swept Kerensky
away with the greatest ease, has it not fallen into the iron grip of
Lenin-Bronstein and, for more than three years, been unable to escape
from Bolshevist duress?

If such a power, harsh, but inspired by reason and by a true desire for
popular rule, had assumed authority and, having crushed the _licence_
into which _freedom_ had been transmuted, had led this authority to
a Constituent Assembly, the Russian people would have blessed, not
condemned it. In such a position will every provisional authority find
itself which accepts the heritage of Bolshevism; and Russia will judge
it, not by the juridical marks of its origin, but by its works.

Why is the overthrow of the incompetent authority of the old Government
to be an achievement, to the memory of which the Provisional Government
proposed erecting a monument in the Capital, while the attempt to
overthrow the incompetent authority of Kerensky, made by Kornilov,
after exhausting all lawful means and after provocation on the part of
the Minister-President, is to be counted rebellion?

But the need for a powerful authority is far from being exhausted by
the period preceding the Constituent Assembly. Did not the Assembly
of 1918 call in vain on the country, not for submission, but simply
for protection from physical outrage on the part of the turbulent
sailor horde? Yet not a hand was raised in its defence. Let us grant
that _that_ Assembly, born in an atmosphere of mutiny and violence,
did not express the will of the Russian people and that the future
Assembly will reflect that will more perfectly. I think, however,
that even those who have the most exalted faith in the infallibility
of the democratic principle do not close their eyes to the unbounded
possibilities of the future which will be the heritage of such a
physical and psychological transformation in the people as is unknown
to history and has never yet been investigated by anyone.

Who knows whether it may not be necessary to confirm the democratic
principle, the authority itself of the Constituent Assembly, and its
commands, by iron and fresh bloodshed....

Be that as it may, the _outward_ recognition of the Provisional
Government took place. It would be difficult and useless to separate,
in the work of the Government, that which proceeded from its free will
and sincere convictions from what bears the stamp of the forcible
influence of the Soviet. If Tzeretelli was entitled to declare that
"there has never yet been a case when, in important questions, the
Provisional Government has not been ready to come to an agreement," so
have we the right to identify their work and their responsibility.

All this activity, _volens nolens_, bore the character of destruction,
not creation. The Government repealed, abolished, disbanded,
permitted.... In this lay the centre of gravity of its work. I picture
to myself the Russia of that period as a very old house, in need of
capital reconstruction. In the absence of means and while waiting for
the building season (the Constituent Assembly), the builders began
extracting the decayed girders, some of which they did not replace at
all, others they replaced with light, temporary props, and others again
they reinforced with new baulks without fastenings--the latter means
turning out to be the worst. And the house crashed down. The causes
of such a method of building were first: the absence of a complete
and symmetrical plan among the Russian political parties, the whole
energy, mental and will tension of which were directed mainly towards
the destruction of the former order. For we cannot give the name of
practical plans to the abstract outlines of the party programmes; they
are rather lawful or unlawful diplomas for the right of building.
Secondly--that the new ruling classes did not possess the most
elementary technical knowledge of the art of ruling, as the result
of a systematic, age-long setting them aside from these functions.
Thirdly--the non-forestalling of the will of the Constituent Assembly,
which, in any case, called for heroic measures for its summoning,
and therewith no less heroic measures for securing real freedom of
election. Fourthly--the odiousness of all that bore the stamp of
the old order, even though it were sound at bottom. Fifthly--the
self-conceit of the political parties, each of which individually
represented the "will of the whole people" and was distinguished by
extreme irreconciliableness towards its antagonists.

I might probably continue this list for a long time, but I shall pause
on one fact which has a significance which is far from being confined
to the past. The Revolution was expected, it was prepared, but _no
one_, not a single one of the political groups _had prepared itself
for it_. And the Revolution came by night, finding everyone, like the
foolish virgins in the Gospel, with lamps unlit. One cannot explain and
excuse everything by elemental forces alone. No one had troubled to
construct beforehand a general plan of the canals and sluices necessary
to prevent the inundation from becoming a flood. Not one of the leading
parties possessed a programme for the interregnum in the life of the
country, a programme which, in its character and scale, could not
correspond with normal plans of construction, either in the system of
administration or in the sphere of economic and social relations. It
would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that the only assets in the
possession of the progressive and Socialist blocks on March 27th, 1917,
were: for the former--the choice for the post of Minister-President of
Prince Lvov, for the latter--the Soviets and Order No. 1. After this
began the convulsive, unsystematic vacillation of the Government and of
the Soviet.

It is to be regretted that this difference, which constitutes a
marked distinction between two periods--the provisional and the
constructive--two systems, two programmes, has not yet become
sufficiently clear in public consciousness.

The whole period of the active struggle with Bolshevism passed under
the sign of the mingling of these two systems, of divergent views and
of incapacity to construct a provisional form of authority. It would
seem that now, too, the anti-Bolshevist forces, while increasing the
divergence of their views and building plans for the future, are not
preparing for the process of assuming the power after the downfall
of Bolshevism, and will again approach the task with naked hands
and wavering mind. Only now the process will be immeasurably more
difficult. For the second excuse--after "elemental forces"--for the
failure of the Revolution, or rather of its leading men--"the heritage
of the Czarist régime"--has paled very much on the background of the
sanguinary Bolshevist mist which has enveloped the land of Russia.

       *       *       *       *       *

The new power (the Provisional Government) was faced by a question of
the first importance--the War. On its decision rested the fate of the
country. The decision in favour of continuing the alliance and the
War rested on ethical motives, which at that time did not rouse any
doubts, and on practical motives, which were in some degree disputable.
Now, even the former have been shaken, since both the Allies and the
enemy have treated the fate of Russia with cruel, cynical egotism.
Nevertheless, I have no doubt of the correctness of the decision then
taken to continue the War. Many suppositions might be made as to the
possibilities of a separate peace--whether that of Brest-Litovsk or one
less grievous for the State and for our national self-love. But it is
to be thought that such a peace in the spring of 1917 would have led
either to the dismemberment of Russia and her economic _débâcle_ (a
general peace at the expense of Russia), or to the complete victory
of the Central Powers over our Allies, which would have produced
incomparably deeper convulsions in their countries than those which
the German people are now experiencing. Both in the one case and in
the other, no objective data would be present for any change for the
better in the political, social and economic conditions of Russian life
and any turning of the Russian Revolution into other channels. Only,
besides Bolshevism, Russia would have added to her liabilities the
hatred of the defeated for many years.

Having decided to fight, it was necessary to preserve the Army by
admitting a certain conservatism into it. Such a conservatism serves
as a guarantee for the stability of the Army and of that authority
which seeks support in it. If the participation of the Army in
historical cataclysms cannot be avoided, neither can it be turned into
an arena for political struggle, creating, instead of the principle
of service--_pretorians or opritchniks_, whether of the Czar, of the
Revolutionary Democracy, or of any party is a matter of indifference.

The Army was broken up.

On those principles which the Revolutionary Democracy took as a basis
for the existence of the Army, the latter could neither build nor live.
It was no mere chance that all the later attempts at armed conflict
with Bolshevism began with the organisation of an Army on the normal
principles of military administration, to which the Soviet command as
well sought to pass gradually. No elemental circumstances, no errors
on the part of military dictatorships and of the powers co-operating
with or opposing them which led to the failure of the struggle (of this
some truths will be spoken later) are able to cast this undeniable fact
into the shade. Nor is it a mere chance that the leading circles of
the Revolutionary Democracy could create no armed forces, except that
pitiful parody on them--the "National Army" on the so-called "front of
the Constituent Assembly." It was just this circumstance that led the
Russian Socialist emigrants to the theory of non-resistance, of the
negation of armed struggle, to the concentration of all their hopes
on the inner degeneration of Bolshevism and its overthrow by some
immaterial "forces of the people themselves," which, however, could
not express themselves otherwise than by blood and iron: "the great,
bloodless" Revolution is drowned in blood from its beginning to its end.

To refuse to consider that vast question--the re-creation of a National
Army on firm principles--is not to solve it.

What then? On the day that Bolshevism falls will peace and good-will
immediately show forth in a land corrupted by a slavery worse than
that of the Tartar yoke, saturated with dissension, revenge, hatred,
and ... an enormous quantity of arms? Or, from that day forward, will
the self-interested desires of many foreign Governments disappear, or
will they grow stronger when the menace of the moral infection of the
Soviet has vanished? Finally, even should the whole of old Europe,
morally regenerated, beat out its swords into ploughshares, is it
impossible for a new Tchingiz-Khan to come out of the depths of that
Asia which has accounts age-long and huge beyond measure, against
Europe?

The Army will be regenerated. Of that there can be no doubt.

Shaken in its historical foundations and traditions, like the heroes
of the Russian legends, it will stand for no short time at the
cross-roads, gazing anxiously into the misty distances, still wrapped
in the gloom before the dawn, and listening intently to the vague
sounds of the voices calling to it. And among the delusive calls it
will seek, straining its hearing to the utmost, for the real voice ...
the voice of its own people.


            PRINTED BY THE FIELD PRESS LTD., WINDSOR HOUSE,
                   BREAM'S BUILDINGS, LONDON, E.C. 4.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] _Barin_ is the Russian word for master. It also means gentleman,
and was used by the peasants and by servants in addressing their
superiors.

[2] The French Deputy, Louis Martin, estimates the losses of the
Armies in killed alone as follows:--(In millions) Russia 2½, Germany
2, Austria 1½, France 1.4, Great Britain 0.8, Italy 0.6, etc. Russia's
share of the martyrdom of all the Allied forces is 40 per cent.

[3] President of the Duma.

[4] The Grand Duke here refers to the manifesto drafted by Witte,
granting various liberties and decreeing the convocation of the Duma.

[5] Miliukov: _History of the Second Russian Revolution_.

[6] Minister of War.

[7] Chessin: _La Révolution Russe_.

[8] Quartermaster-General of the Commander-in-Chief of All Fronts.

[9] Chief of Staff of the Northern Front (Com.-in-Ch., General Ruzsky).

[10] Count Fredericks, Narishkine, Ruzsky, Gutchkov, Shulgin.

[11] Shulgin's narrative.

[12] Prince Lvov, Miliukov, Kerensky, Nekrassov, Teresvtchenko, Godnev,
Lvov, Gutchkov, and Rodzianko.

[13] Miliukov: _History of the Second Russian Revolution_.

[14] The murder took place on the night of July 16th, 1918.

[15] Much time, pains and labour were devoted to the task of collecting
information about the murdered Imperial family by General Dietrichs.

[16] The term _Soviet_ for brevity will be used in the course of the
narrative instead of _Soviet of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates_.

[17] The word _Defensists_ is used as a translation of the newly-coined
Russian word _oboronetz_, which means "He who is in favour of a
defensive war."

[18] A "poud" is equal to 40 pounds.

[19] Gustave Le-Bon, _The Psychology of Socialism_.

[20] The restoration of Poland in her _ethnographic_ frontiers was
intended by Russia also.

[21] _Mes Souvenirs de Guerre._

[22] These lists contained the names of those suspected of relations
with the enemy Governments.

[23] Among the members of the Committee were, for instance, Zourabov
and Perzitch, who had served under Parvus.

[24] It is curious that Bronstein (Trotsky)--a person sufficiently
competent in the matter of secret communications with the Staffs of our
antagonists--said in the _Izvestia_ for July 8th, 1917: "In the paper
_Nashe Slovo_ I have exposed and pilloried Skoropis-Yoltoukhovsky,
Potok and Melenevsky as agents of the Austrian General Staff."

[25] V. chap. IV.--Of course articles 7 and 8 did not meet with the
approval of public opinion.

[26] Generally speaking, the special services, and especially the
artillery, retained their likeness to human beings, as well as a
certain amount of discipline, much longer than the infantry.

[27] Leonid Andreiev's article: "_To thee, Oh soldier!_"

[28] The greatest part was played by Lieutenant-Colonels of the General
Staff, Lebedev (afterwards Chief-of-Staff to Admiral Koltchak) and
Pronin.

[29] The President was Colonel Novosiltsev, a member of the Fourth
State Douma, a Cadet (Constitutional Democrat).

[30] The last Charter to the Cossacks of the Don was granted on January
24, 1906, by the Emperor Nicholas II., and contained the following
words: "... We confirm all the rights and privileges granted to it (the
Cossack Army), affirming by Our Imperial word both the indefeasibility
of its present form of service, which has earned the Army of the Don
historic glory and the inviolability of all its estates and lands,
gained by the labours, merits and blood of its ancestors...."

[31] Such was the name given to the non-Cossack immigrant element in
the territory.

[32] With artillery to correspond.

[33] In the territory of the Don the peasants formed 48 per cent. of
the population and the Cossacks 46 per cent.

[34] In places, the Territorial Council of "outsiders."

[35] In the principal territories--on the Don and on the Kouban--the
Cossacks formed about one-half of the population.

[36] Of these phenomena I shall speak later in more detail.

[37] The Don, the Kouban, the Terek, Astrakhan, and the mountaineers of
the Northern Caucasus. I shall speak of this later.

[38] The third cavalry corps, in Kornilov's advance against Kerensky.

[39] The third cavalry corps with Kerensky against the Bolsheviks.

[40] The Ural Cossacks, until their tragic fall in the end of 1919,
knew not Bolshevism.

[41] General Alexeiev ordered its disbandment, but Kerensky permitted
it to remain.

[42] They were disbanded.

[43] A Socialist-Revolutionary emigrant and an active worker in his
party. He was appointed to this post by Kerensky, at the desire of the
Kiev Council of Soldiers' Delegates.

[44] Oberoutchev. _In the Days of the Revolution._

[45] Among others, my former 4th Rifle Division was subjected to
Ukrainisation.

[46] The Ukrainian Hetman Skoropadsky was one of his ancestors.

[47] Formerly Commander of the 38th Army Corps.

[48] The proposal of abdication made to the Emperor Nicholas II.

[49] Gutchkov's official letter to the President of the Government.

[50] Colonels: Baranovsky, Yakoubovitch, Prince Toumanov, and later
Verkhovsky.

[51] 9th July--Reply to the greeting of the Moghilev Soviet.

[52] See his evidence before the Commission of Inquiry.

[53] Conversation by telegraph with Colonel Bazanovsky.

[54] Savinkov: _The Kornilov Affair_. Savinkov's expostulations
prevailed. Kornilov even consented to remove Zavoiko from the limits of
the Front, but soon recalled him.

[55] Chief of Staff of the Army.

[56] Free Thought. (Transl. note).

[57] Former Editor of the _Sovremenny Mir_ (Contemporary World),
and Social-Democrat of the _Yedinstvo_ Group. In 1921 he edited the
Bolshevist newspaper in Helsingfors.

[58] Undoubtedly better than the Committee of the Western Front.

[59] Held on August 14th, 1917.

[60] In August the balance of forces in the Soviet altered rapidly in
favour of the Bolsheviks, giving them a majority.

[61] General Parsky now occupies an important post in the Soviet Army,
while General Boldyrev was subsequently Commander-in-Chief of the
Anti-Bolshevist "Front of the Constituent Assembly" on the Volga.

[62] 21st August.

[63] From the Chief Committee of the Union of Officers, the Military
League, the Council of the Union of Cossack Troops, the Union of the
Knights of St. George, the Conference of Public Men, etc.

[64] Until August 27th, _i.e._, until the rupture with Kornilov,
Kerensky could not bring himself to sign the draft laws embodying the
"programme."

[65] The 3rd Cavalry Corps was summoned to Petrograd by the Provisional
Government.

[66] From the report of the inquiry it is seen that Savinkov, in
charge of the Ministry of War, and the head of Kerensky's secretariat,
Colonel Baranovsky, despatched to the Stavka, themselves admitted the
possibility of simultaneous action by the Soviet of Workmen's and
Soldiers' Delegates and the Bolsheviks, the former under the influence
of the publication of the "Kornilov programme," and the necessity for
ruthlessly suppressing this. (Protocol Appendix XIII. to Kornilov's
deposition.)

[67] As we shall see later, Savinkov stated in his evidence that
he "suggested no political combinations in the name of the
Minister-President."

[68] The "Kornilov programme" is meant here.

[69] The Commanders-in-Chief of the other Fronts sent the Provisional
Government telegrams of a completely loyal nature on August 28th. Their
tenor is seen from the following extracts: "Northern Front--General
Klembovsky: Consider change in Supreme Command extremely dangerous
when the threat of an external enemy to the integrity of our native
land and our freedom demands the speedy adoption of measures for the
strengthening of the discipline and fighting value of our Army."
"Western Front--General Baluev: The present situation of Russia demands
the immediate adoption of exceptional measures, and the retention of
General Kornilov at the head of the Army is an imperative necessity,
no matter what the political situation." "Roumanian Front--General
Scherbachev: The dismissal of General Kornilov will infallibly have a
fatal effect on the Army and the defence of the Motherland. I appeal to
your patriotism in the name of the salvation of our native land." All
the Commanders-in-Chief mentioned the necessity for the introduction of
the measures demanded by Kornilov.

[70] This telegram was not received at Headquarters. Kerensky gives the
episode with Lvov thus: "On August 26th General Kornilov sent to me Vv.
N. Lvov, member of the State Duma, with a demand that the Provisional
Government should cede all its military and civil authority, leaving
him to form a Government for the country in accordance with his own
personal views."

[71] On the morning of the 29th a telegram from the Quartermaster-General
at the Stavka somehow reached us, in which again hopes of a peaceful
settlement were held out.

[72] He went through the Kouban campaigns with the Volunteer Army and
served in it to the day of his death, from spotted typhus, in 1920.

[73] Official communication.

[74] The members of the Commission were: Col. Raupach and Col.
Oukraintsev, military jurists; Kolokolov, examining magistrate; and
Lieber and Krochmal, members of the Executive Committee of the Soviet
of Workmen's and Soldiers' delegates.

[75] Shablovsky, Kolokolov, Raupach and Oukraintsev.

[76] Shablovsky's interview in the "Retch."

[77] On that same morning we had been taken without any escort, with
only one guard accompanying us, to the bath, about two-thirds of a mile
from the guard-house, without attracting any attention.

[78] This gallant officer was afterwards one of the first Volunteers,
was wounded again in Kornilov's first Kouban campaign in 1918, and died
in the spring of 1919 of spotted typhus.

[79] The Kornilov case.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
    possible.
    
    Soviet Order Number 1 is referred to as "Order No. 1." and "Order
    No. I." in the printed text: this has been standardised to "Order
    No. 1."

    The original contained several unmatched double quotation marks.
    It was not possible to determine where the matching double
    quotation marks belonged, and none were added.

    The reference to the footnote "Miliukov: _History of the Second
    Russian Revolution_" on page 54 was missing in the original.

    The following is a list of changes made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

    Shulguin and Miliukov delivered their historical speeches, was
    Shulgin and Miliukov delivered their historical speeches, was

    upon which the Czarist Government could reply. Everybody considered
    upon which the Czarist Government could rely. Everybody considered

    the villages. Government servants of all kinds were impoverishd
    the villages. Government servants of all kinds were impoverished

    the proletariat, the troops, the bourgoisie, even the nobility ...
    the proletariat, the troops, the bourgeoisie, even the nobility ...

    terrorist crimes, military mutinies and aggrarian offences, etc.
    terrorist crimes, military mutinies and agrarian offences, etc.

    At Pskov, on the evening of March 1st, the Czar saw General Rusky,
    At Pskov, on the evening of March 1st, the Czar saw General Ruzsky,

    On the South-Western Front Ukranian units were being formed.
    On the South-Western Front Ukrainian units were being formed.

    Socialistic Dumas, closely reminiscent of semi-Boshevik Soviets.
    Socialistic Dumas, closely reminiscent of semi-Bolshevik Soviets.

    Administration, on the same basis as that in the munipalities.
    Administration, on the same basis as that in the municipalities.

    of agriculture, and of the economic stablity of the State.
    of agriculture, and of the economic stability of the State.

    As life was destroying allusions, and the implacable law
    As life was destroying illusions, and the implacable law

    new Revolutionary régime is much more expensive that the old one.
    new Revolutionary régime is much more expensive than the old one.

    the Baltic Fleet was actally in a state of complete insubordination.
    the Baltic Fleet was actually in a state of complete insubordination.

    and Avaresco's Army on my flank. I thus gained a
    and Averesco's Army on my flank. I thus gained a

    South-Western Front, in the direction from Kamemetz-Podolsk to Lvov,
    South-Western Front, in the direction from Kamenetz-Podolsk to Lvov,

    and afforded an excuse for the abitrariness and violence
    and afforded an excuse for the arbitrariness and violence

    Senior Commanding Staff considered as inadmissable the democratisation
    Senior Commanding Staff considered as inadmissible the democratisation

    Gutchov, his Assistants, and officers of the General Staff.
    Gutchkov, his Assistants, and officers of the General Staff.

    demanded that the Regimetal Committees should be empowered
    demanded that the Regimental Committees should be empowered

    of their registration in the International Control List.
    of their registration in the International Control List."

    in the Secret Police and director of the pre-Revolutionary _Pravdo_
    in the Secret Police and director of the pre-Revolutionary _Pravda_

    (the organ of the Bolshevik Social Domocrats) broke them down.
    (the organ of the Bolshevik Social Democrats) broke them down.

    issuing medical certicates even to the "thoroughly fit."
    issuing medical certificates even to the "thoroughly fit."

    he had sent in a request that morning for two poods of bread.
    he had sent in a request that morning for two pouds of bread.

    force every citizen to do his duty honestly by the Motherland?"
    force every citizen to do his duty honestly by the Motherland?

    factories, in the villages, among the Liberal _intelligentcia_,
    factories, in the villages, among the Liberal _intelligencia_,

    The Don, the Kouban, the Terex, Astrakhan, and the mountaineers
    The Don, the Kouban, the Terek, Astrakhan, and the mountaineers

    As soon as I give an order to some reserve regiment or other
    As soon as I gave an order to some reserve regiment or other

    that "discipline of duty" should be introduced from the top."
    that "discipline of duty" should be introduced from the top.

    broke our front and moved swiftly towards Kaminetz-Podolsk,
    broke our front and moved swiftly towards Kamenetz-Podolsk,

    On July 9th the Austro-Germans had aready reached Mikulinze,
    On July 9th the Austro-Germans had already reached Mikulinze,

    in the eyes of many people he bacame a national hero
    in the eyes of many people he became a national hero

    his Chief-of-Staff General Lukomsky, Generals Alexeiev and Russky,
    his Chief-of-Staff General Lukomsky, Generals Alexeiev and Ruzsky,

    manifested itself in a series of dismissal of Senior Commanders,
    manifested itself in a series of dismissals of Senior Commanders,

    A silence ensued, which I intrepreted as a permission to continue.
    A silence ensued, which I interpreted as a permission to continue.

    had already taken place on the 8th of July, at Kamenets-Podolsk.
    had already taken place on the 8th of July, at Kamenetz-Podolsk.

    was subordinated, not to the Stavka, but to the Minister of War,
    was subordinated, not to the Stavka, but to the Minister of War.

    the Petrograd garrison, the depôt ballations of which it was proposed
    the Petrograd garrison, the depôt battalions of which it was proposed

    Honest and dishonest, sincere and insincere, politicans, soldiers
    Honest and dishonest, sincere and insincere, politicians, soldiers

    Even when the Plekhanov, the old leader of the Social-Democrats,
    Even when Plekhanov, the old leader of the Social-Democrats,

    Kornilov, Loukomsky, Romanovsky, and others were taken off
    Kornilov, Lukomsky, Romanovsky, and others were taken off

    isolation of the frontal region wtih respect to Kiev and Zhitomir.
    isolation of the frontal region with respect to Kiev and Zhitomir.

    in the shortest possible time, and by Revolutionary Court-Martial."
    in the shortest possible time, and by Revolutionary Court-Martial.

    through its representatives in the Consituent Assembly of 1918:
    through its representatives in the Constituent Assembly of 1918:

    [12] Prince Lvov, Miliukov, Kerensky, Nekrasso, Teresvtchenko,
    [12] Prince Lvov, Miliukov, Kerensky, Nekrassov, Teresvtchenko,

    [57] Former Editor of the _Souvremenny Mir_ (Contemporary World),
    [57] Former Editor of the _Sovremenny Mir_ (Contemporary World),





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