The Russian Revolution; the Jugo-Slav Movement


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Several months before the revolution the following confidential conversation took place between Alexeiev, the Russian commander-in-chief, and a journalist: I can get nothing from them [ministers]. My supplies are decreasing It is even necessary to think. Through the Duma they begged the Emperor to put in ministers whom the people could trust, but he, as if to show his contempt for public opinion, selected men of low character, one worse than the other, men with whom even decent monarchists would not shake hands, and in shame withdrew from court.

We are already cutting down the allowance. They have forgotten about food for the horses What are you going to do about it? What shall I do? With these people there is nothing that can be done. Have you said anything to the Tsar about it? While you talk to him he pays attention, gets worked up, is eager to do something All kinds of pressure are brought to bear upon him, he is not a free man.

Is it true that the Tsarina has much influence? It is only too true. Her influence is irresistible. What is worse she never comes out in the open. She interferes with everybody, but works behind their backs. You never can tell what she will do next. Every time she comes here she makes new trouble. Do the ministers ever consult you? They come, they talk. What can they do? The honest ministers leave and the worthless remain If it were not for the war I would resign too.

If I should leave what would not they do with the army? Do I not understand that Sturmer and Company are thinking only of an alliance with Germany? The home situation is serious. They [ministers] are purposely instigating hunger disturbances in order to provoke a revolution so as to have an excuse for breaking away from the Allies and end the war. Our army is now in condition to crush Germany and without that there can be no real peace in Europe. But a permanent peace is not wanted by Sturmer and Protopopov, they wish to keep the people under the heel of a strong Germany.

Apart from the Germans no one will protect them from the revolution. The pity of it all is that at the head of the government there still are men who are interested in crushing the people. Princess Vasilchikov, a prominent court lady, became convinced that the Empress and her ministers were ruining the country and therefore wrote her a courteous letter, pleading with her to save Russia.


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For her pains she received an order to retire to her estate, and her husband, who held a very prominent position, left the capital with her. Badmaev and duped by Rasputin, Protopopov and Company, sent them all out of the capital with orders not to return until sent for. They became so desperate that they murdered Rasputin but the Empress remained and the government policy became more reactionary than ever and as Prince Iusupov said the country was drifting to destruction or to a state of anarchy.

It was quite evident that the only way to save the country was through a revolution and it was merely a question whether it would come first from the top or from the bottom and when. As late as October, , the old Empress saw her son at Kiev and pointed to him that Rasputin and the other members of the court circle would overthrow the dynasty and destroy the country but it did no good.

Only a few days before the outbreak of the revolution his own brother, Mikhail Alexandrovich, pleaded with him along the same lines and with the same success. The old and scholarly Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich went to see the Emperor about November 1, , and in order to impress him with the critical situation of the country he wrote out his ideas so as to leave them. He was received in a kindly manner by the Tsar who listened to the reading of the letter and then took it over so as to read it to the Empress.

When he came to the place where her name was mentioned she snatched it from him and tore it up. In the course of the conversation that followed the old Duke said some sharp things but he could not get anything but smiles from the Tsar, and when the old man's cigarette went out the Tsar lighted it for him. It was impossible to get an out and out talk, or satisfaction of any kind, and Nicholas Mikhailovich left the court in disgust. Two days later he was requested to retire to his estate for two months. Here is the Grand Duke's letter: Do you believe that with the conditions as they exist at present in the rear this can be done?

Are you acquainted with the internal situation, not only in the interior of the Empire but also on the outskirts Siberia, Turkestan, Caucasus? Are you told all the truth or is some of it concealed from you? Where is the root of the evil? Allow me to tell you briefly the essentials of the case. Repeatedly you have told me that you could trust no one, that you were being deceived. If that is true then the same influences are at work on your wife, dearly beloved by you, who is led astray by [--].

You trust Alexandra Fedorovna--that is easy to understand. But that which comes out of her mouth is the result of clever fabrication and not the truth. If you are not strong enough to remove these influences from her, at least put yourself on guard against this steady and systematic interference of those who act through your beloved. If your persuasion is ineffective, and I am certain that you have more than once fought against this influence, try some other means so as to end with this system once for all.

Your first impulses and decisions are always unusually true and to the point, but as soon as another influence comes in you begin to hesitate and end up by doing something different from what you originally decided. If you should succeed in removing this continuous invasion of the dark forces there would take place at once the birth of a new Russia, and there would return to you the confidence of the greater number of your subjects. All other matters would soon settle themselves.

You would find people who under different conditions would be willing to work under your personal leadership. At the proper time, and that is not far distant, you can of your own free will organize a ministry which should be responsible to you and to constitutional institutions. This can be done very simply, without any force from outside as was the case with the act of October 17, I hesitated a long time before venturing to tell you this truth, and I finally consented when your mother and sister urged me to do so.

You are at the beginning of a new era of disturbances, I will go farther, at the beginning of a new era of attempts at assassination. Believe me that in trying to loosen you from the chains that bind you I do it from no motives of personal interest and of this you and Her Majesty are convinced, but in the hope and in the expectation of saving you, your throne, and our dear native land from some very serious and irreparable consequences. There were many rumors afloat in court and it is difficult to tell the truth. But this I can say that Nicholas Alexandrovich was drugged with different drugs from Thibet.

In this Rasputin took part. During the last days they brought the Emperor to a state of almost total insanity and his will power was completely gone. In all matters of state he consulted the Empress who led him to the edge of the precipice. Last fall there came to his home one of his friends, an aide-de-camp of one of the grand dukes, and confided to him that he was meditating an act of terrorism in order to get a certain person out of the way.

Another topic of conversation was the revolution after the war.

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If the revolution had not broken out from the bottom it would have from the top. On my return to Russia, in February, , after an absence of a little more than two years, I noticed many changes but none greater than in the public opinion in regard to the administration. On the way across Siberia, I met with many Russians, some of whom were army officers, and one and all bitterly criticized the government for its mismanagement of the war, for the betrayal of Russia as they called it, for its incompetency, and general worthlessness.

At the capital, it was the same, everywhere, street, car, and public places, the government was denounced; there was no attempt at concealment. In the archives where I worked, which are almost under the very nose of the imperial family, the criticism was as open as in private homes. In fact there was no exception. When mention was made of the Court, of Rasputin, and of the Empress, there was a kind of a painful smile; it was not a subject that self-respecting patriotic Russians liked to talk about in public or before strangers; it was like dirty linen that ought not to be hung out for public view.

There was reason enough and suffering enough to justify the complaining. Petrograd was overcrowded owing to the thousands of refugees who had been driven there, rooms and apartments were difficult to find and very expensive, and the cost of living had gone up so high that it was hard for the poor to make ends meet. It was almost impossible to get about in the city, as the war had reduced the number of cabs and the few that did business asked such exorbitant fares that only the rich could afford to ride in them. The street car situation was in a hopeless tangle. Even before the war there were not enough accommodations for the public, but since the opening of hostilities many of the cars had broken down and there were no mechanics to repair them and no new cars to replace them.

At a time when the population increased, the transportation facilities decreased. Passengers poured into the cars like a stream, filled the seats, blocked the aisles, jammed the entrance, stood on the steps, hung on behind, and clung to anything that might bear them along. Difficult as it was to get into the car, it was worse to get out, and it is easier to imagine than to describe the pushing, swearing, tearing, and fighting that one witnessed. The railways were in an equally bad condition. One had to wait weeks for a ticket. Men and women were crowded into the same coupes; the cars were packed so full of human beings that they suggested cattle cars, except that they were not so sanitary, for they contained people suffering from contagious diseases and were without fresh air.

The food situation was very serious. For many years, Russia had been the granary of Europe but during the winter of suffered from shortage of food. Passengers told how in southern Russia grain and flour were rotting and yet in northern Russia the inhabitants were starving owing to the breakdown of the transportation system. It was pointed out that while the railway officials refused to give cars for bringing in the necessities of life, yet articles of luxury, expensive fruits, and such things did come into the city--a state of affairs which meant, of course, that some one was grafting.

Sugar could be obtained only by cards and in very limited quantities; flour could not be bought at all, and black, sour bread could often be had only by standing in long lines and for hours at a time. There were no shoes and people asked what became of the hides of the thousands of animals that were annually slaughtered and shot. It was said that these, like other things, were sold to Germany.

As usual the poorer classes suffered the most. The well-to-do sent their servants who after a time returned with bread; at the worst it was only an inconvenience, but the workman had no servants to run his errands. In the morning, the laborer left his home for his work with little or no breakfast, at noon there was no luncheon for him because his wife was standing in the bread or sugar line, and when he returned in the evening there may have been bread enough but little else.

The wife was tired and discouraged, the children crying and hungry, and life became a burden. We may say that the conditions in Russia were no worse than in France or Germany. This is doubtless true, but there is this difference: The Russians have as much patriotism and patience as any other people, but when they saw themselves abused and imposed upon they had a right to complain. In addition to the criticism of the Government the other favorite topic of conversation was the revolution that would come after the war.

This was discussed as openly as the problems of war; the two were bound up together, first a successful ending of the war, and then a change in government. Three years ago no one would have dared to talk like that. To be sure enough was said then of the desirability of a more liberal government, but it was a far-off question, one that the next generation might have to deal with.

Now the talk was of an overturn immediately after the war. The court circle was not ignorant of what was being said for the spies kept them fully informed. In conversation with a journalist two months before the outbreak of the revolution, the Minister of the Interior, Protopopov, a protege of Rasputin, said that he was aware of the revolutionary propaganda and that he was ready to face any attempt that might be made to overthrow the government.

But I will strangle the revolution no matter what the cost may be. To the question that arises why the revolution, which was expected after the war, came off before its conclusion, the answer is that the present revolution was not planned nor desired by any one of importance; it came as a surprise to all. If some one must have the credit or blame, it is Protopopov who was at the time suspected of being queer mentally and who has since lost his reason entirely. He was so sure of himself and of his ability to put down the uprising and thereby show himself a real statesman that he concluded not to wait for the revolution to come in the ordinary course of events, but to hurry it a bit.

Although there is no conclusive proof for this statement, there is plenty of convincing circumstantial evidence. We know that it was proposed to have the workmen of Petrograd strike on February 27, the day of the opening of the Duma, as a protest against the government; we know also that to meet this situation, the Minister of the Interior had placed machine guns in the garrets, in steeples, on housetops, and other such places where they could command the important streets and shoot down the mob. The rising did not take place because Miliukov, the great liberal leader, learned that the Government was behind this move and that preparations had been made to slaughter the unsuspecting workmen.

He, therefore, addressed them in an open letter calling on them not to make any demonstration, and they did not. For the time being the strike was off, but the air was full of discontent and restlessness, and it was difficult to say when trouble would break out again. With this in view, a number of representatives of various organizations met to discuss the situation and to determine what attitude they should take and what counsel they should give to the labor leaders.

Miliukov and a few others urged that all uprisings should be discouraged because they would interfere with the war, would cost the lives of many innocent persons, and would accomplish nothing. There were, however, others, especially Anisimov, who argued strongly in favor of a strike, saying that this was the opportune time to overthrow the present regime and to establish a democratic government.

I have this story from Miliukov. This shows that the Government instigated and abetted the uprising. But this is not all the evidence. Between February 27 and the outbreak of the revolution men impersonating Miliukov went to the factories, calling on the workmen to rise against the Government. In order to give the laboring classes cause for revolt, the food supply in the factory districts was reduced and many people suffered from hunger and in their desperation came out into the streets. During the revolutionary week little, if any, food came in, but immediately after it the soldiers found , "puds" of flour, [Footnote: It has been said that the Government instigated the uprising in order to bring about a separate peace with Germany.

No direct proof has as yet been produced to substantiate this charge, and the only testimony that I have bearing on this case is the statement made by commander-in-chief Alexeiev in a confidential interview with a journalist already quoted. There is not the least bit of evidence to show that the Emperor himself was mixed up in these intrigues.

Among the papers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there is but one document that throws any light on the question of a separate peace during the time of the monarchy. It is a letter from the minister of the German Court to the minister of the Russian Court insinuating a separate peace. This letter was shown, as was intended, to the Tsar, who read it, put it aside, and did not answer it. This, however, does not mean that Sturmer, Protopopov and the clique of the Empress were not planning to bring about a situation which would compel a separate peace.

Aside from the reason already given for the desire of a separate peace, the other reason for the action of the ministry was this: It feared that the revolutionary movement, if permitted to take its natural course, would develop such strength that it could not be put down when it broke out, and, therefore, the Minister of the Interior decided to take it in hand and at the right moment crush it with such force that it would be a long time before it could raise its head again.

Before it was over he hoped to drag in prominent members of the Duma or the Duma itself and other revolutionary leaders, and make an end of them. This plan need not astonish us, for this method, in one form or another, had been made use of by the autocracy time and again. Protopopov overreached himself, his scheme miscarried, the soldiers about the capital went back on him, and the little comedy that he had staged in which he was to play the leading part became a tragedy and the shot which was intended for the revolution hit his royal master and brought autocracy to the ground. In view of the fact that Protopopov has since become insane, one wonders whether the man was mentally well balanced at the time that he was in office.

But the Tsar has only himself to blame for his plight; he was warned against this nominee of Rasputin, but he would not take advice. Early in the week of March , , the trouble began in the factory districts. There were bread riots, car stoning, window smashing, and other such acts, which are more or less common and no one paid much attention to them. On Thursday, the disturbances spread to other parts of the city and crowds began to gather on the Nevski, but the throng was orderly and the police seemed to have little difficulty in keeping it on the move.

Friday the crowd was more bold: This, too, did not make much impression for it is well known that in Russia strikes and disturbances have in view political as well as economic betterment. Late Friday afternoon, while I was walking on the Nevski, a company of mounted police and a large number of Cossacks dashed by on the way to disperse a procession that was coming towards me. When I came up to the Fontanka Bridge I noticed the crowd was gathered about the Cossacks; it patted the horses and cheered their riders, while the police were nowhere in sight. I listened to what was being said and heard that the police tried to use their whips and swords on the people and this angered the Cossacks so much that they attacked the police, killed the captain, and drove them all away.

It was no secret that there was bad blood between the soldiers and the police; the former complained that while they were suffering and fighting at the front, the latter were having an easy time, enriching themselves by graft, and oppressing the soldiers' families. The soldiers and the strikers started out with one idea--hatred of the police. When the police had been dispersed, the Cossacks and soldiers begged the people to move on, but they, especially the young women students who were numerous, went up to them and pleaded with them to espouse their cause. In the meantime, another company of Cossacks formed a line across the street, from wall to wall, and swept everybody before it into stores, courtyards, and other openings.

Even this did not do much good, for as soon as the horsemen passed, the mob fell in behind and cheered the Cossacks. There was no roughness, but at the same time it was easy to see that the crowd did not yet know to what extent the army could be trusted. By Saturday the inhabitants of the city began to feel the effect of the disorder; cars were not running, telephones were barely working, factories and shops were closed, banks and stores were locked, there was little to eat, for the only provision on hand was water; every one who could filled the tubs for fear the water mains would be blown up.

The crowd on the streets was larger than ever, more red flags were in evidence, but all this failed to give the impression of a revolution. Such demonstrations had been seen before; revolutionary talk was cheap and was not taken seriously. As on the day before, the soldiers and Cossacks tried by gentle means to disperse the crowd, but failed, for the men and women in the crowd complained that they were hungry and pleaded with the military for the sake of their own families to stand by the people. It was easy to see that these guardians of the peace were in trouble, they knew that every word said was true, and what was more to the purpose, members of their own families were in the crowd.

An officer who was sent with his company to shoot on the people told how that same morning his own sister took part in the demonstration and called for bread for her children. This was no exceptional case. But as soldiers they must do their duty and keep order. Realizing that the stratagems of the day before failed in their purpose, the Cossacks tried other tactics on this day.

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They fell behind the procession, and discharged their pistols in the air and dashed at full speed into the mob. Woe unto him who did not get out of the way. But they all did; in a second there was not a person on the street. It is still a wonder how it was all done so quickly. As soon as the horsemen passed, the crowd dropped behind them and raising their hats cheered them.

The Cossacks and the other soldiers who tried to keep order were caught, they begged the crowd to break up and go home, they pointed out that they had to do their duty and that somebody might get hurt. It was reported that in some places the soldiers did fire and kill several persons. During Saturday, men were sent, it is not clear by whom, to the different factories to persuade the workers to join in a great demonstration on Sunday. The military commander of the city telegraphed to the Emperor for orders and the latter sent word to shoot, if necessary, and to put down the uprising at any cost, and that accounts for the posters that were put up on Sunday morning warning the inhabitants not to gather in the streets because the soldiers would shoot to kill.

This had happened before and was no joke, and many people would not leave their homes that day. Those who did had to walk; there was no other way of getting about. Few people, on the whole, were on the street that morning aside from the soldiers and Cossacks who were guarding the bridges and keeping an eye out for disturbances. After luncheon I started to make a call and as I passed the barracks of the Volynski regiment, situated near where I lived, I saw a company of soldiers lined up, heard the command to load, to shoulder arms, to march, and off they went to the Nevski.

I followed them for a distance and then turned aside and went my way. In returning I had to cross the Nevski and found that all avenues thither were guarded and that no one was allowed to go in that direction. I managed, however, by showing my American passport, to get through the line and reach the street. Excited people were moving up and down and from them I learned that about three o'clock a number of people forced their way to the Nevski and were fired upon by the soldiers and the machine guns that were concealed.

Among the killed of the day was a captain of police who was knocked down by a Cossack. Sunday night was full of excitement and fear and there were not many who slept soundly. Firing was heard at different times but what it portended, none of us could tell.

The Russian Revolution; The Jugo-Slav Movement

It became evident that the situation was becoming serious, yet we all felt that the Government could handle it. When I went out on the street Monday morning, the first thing I saw was the placard of the military commander announcing that unless the workmen went to the shops, they would be sent to the front the following day. Groups of people were talking excitedly and from them I learned that the Volynski regiment had revolted and had killed its officers, because the day before they had commanded the soldiers to shoot on the people.

It seems that the soldiers returned home much excited over their deed and full of remorse. In the course of the night some of the revolutionary soldiers from the city upbraided them and they were greatly incensed with their officers and the Government. They, as well as other regiments, were particularly worked up over the report that hirelings of the secret police dressed in soldiers' uniforms went about firing on the crowd and that the new recruits, under penalty of death, were commanded to shoot on the people in the streets.

When in the morning the officers congratulated the men on their deed of yesterday, they jumped on them and murdered them. I heard that other regiments had also revolted; but there were so many rumors afloat that it was not easy to know what to believe. About four in the afternoon, I started for home and found the Nevski full of frightened and nervous people, and hardly any soldiers.

No one seemed to know what to expect. Sounds of shooting were heard and they were explained as the battle between the regiments that had revolted and those that had remained loyal. In the distance columns of smoke were seen and report had it that palaces were burning. Again it was difficult to know the truth. As I proceeded on my way, I was joined by the little minister of the British American Church, where I had attended services the day before, where he had prayed fervently for the Tsar and his family and asked God to put down the anarchists, and other lawless men.

We were discussing the situation, not knowing exactly what to make of it. Perhaps the word revolution passed our lips but neither of us nor those about us took it seriously. Near the Liteiny a gate opened and about two dozen armed soldiers led by a petty officer stepped out and marched towards the center of the street. Immediately the crowd, excited and scared, scattered and ran for their lives but the soldiers motioned for them to stop and told them that they would not shoot.

We left them, and proceeded on our way, trying as before to interpret what we saw. While in the midst of our discussion we were struck by a new and unfamiliar sound--tra-ta-ta, tra-ta-ta, and we instinctively knew that a machine gun was firing.

In a flash the streets were cleared and my minister and I found ourselves sticking like posters against the wall. It was my first "baptism of fire" and I had enough presence of mind to observe its effect upon myself and others.

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Physically there was no effect for no one seemed hit. I tried to locate the gun and the man behind it, but did not succeed. When the firing ceased, I went on my way. As I neared the Nicholas station, there came rushing forth from around the corner a crowd of hoodlums and soldiers, with drawn swords, which they had taken from the officers, and such other weapons as they could pick up, shouting, "Down with the Government!

What struck me most of all was the kind of men and women who made this world event. I watched them during the week, and they seemed to be in great part boys and girls, hoodlums, students, poorly dressed men and women, without organization, plans, or leaders.

It is difficult to analyze the various motives that brought them out into the street. Not one of the so-called revolutionists was seen, heard, shot, or wounded. When it was all over they appeared on the scene, rushing from Switzerland, the United States, France, and other parts of the world, to make speeches and to divide the spoils.

The Russian Revolution; The Jugo-Slav Movement by Frank Alfred Golder et al.

It was a revolution without revolutionists, unless you call the soldiers that, but they were not consciously making a revolution, and when it was done, they were thoroughly surprised and frightened. There are a number of reasons why the Government collapsed so easily. It was not really overthrown but it toppled over like a rotten tree, and until it fell, the people did not realize how decayed it actually was. Its misconduct of the war, scandals like that of Rasputin, ministers such as Protopopov discredited and disgraced the dynasty and when the end came, it had few friends who shed tears.

Another important factor in helping the revolution was the large number of students and liberals who served in the army. To fill the ranks and to provide educated men for officers, it was necessary to call on university students, experts in various fields of engineering, all of whom, more or less, desired a liberal government. A Course in Russian History. The Lost Fruits of Waterloo. Overtaken by the Night. History of Europe Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire, Russia in the Age of Reaction and Reform Ace Your College Exams. Bohemia under Hapsburg Misrule.

History of Eastern Europe. Russia in the Age of Modernisation and Revolution - The Bolsheviki and World Peace. Armies of the Russo-Polish War — Bolshevism and the United States. The Dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Policy, Transnistria and the Transniestrian Conflict. A War of Liberation. A Very Short Introduction. Philip Mironov and the Russian Civil War. A History of Political Trials. The Great Crimean War, On the Threshold of the Holocaust.

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