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words simply pour out. He has been Premier, and during the early part of the war performed good service. He has been sent to America on missions not clearly defined — the vague kind of mission that is meant to awaken sympathy, and, indeed, does so. It was hoped that he might influence Washington with regard to the cancellation of debts; but as it was afterward found an inopportune moment to broach this delicate subject, he came out with a denunciation of those who made such proposals, on the ground that Germany might also ask for the cancellation of her debts.
M. Barthou is an impetuous patriot, a somewhat fiery man, conspicuous as a supporter of the Three Years' Military Service Law. He has written, with rather more intimacy than some of us think justifiable, of the private affairs of Sainte-Beuve and Victor Hugo.
My own favorite French statesman - a man whom I consider to be the finest, the noblest, of our time - is M. Léon Bourgeois, the colleague of M. Viviani on the French delegation to the League of Nations. His has been a wellfilled life, singularly free from intrigue, singularly free from ambition (he might have aspired to any post, including the Presidency), devoted solely to the furtherance of the idea of the League. Before Mr. Wilson had ever made the suggestion of such an organization, he was already old in its service. He took the leading part in the deliberations of The Hague. I know him well and am happy to pay a tribute to his kindliness, his simplicity, his unselfishness, and his generous thought for humanity. There are not many Bourgeois in the world, so hard-working, so self-sacrificing, so single-minded.
Among the younger men, M. André Tardieu is undoubtedly the ablest, with the best-stored mind. He is inclined to a sort of priggishness, of supe
riority, that makes him unpopular, but he will probably come into his own again.
There are two officials who will, unless something unexpected happens, play extremely important parts, whether at Washington or at Paris.
Of M. Jules Jusserand it is necessary to say only that he is respected as the most adequate ambassador that France possesses. He is too well known in America to need my eulogy. England has long envied America his possession. He is tactful, active, and has a unique knowledge - an altogether indispensable man. He occupies far too strong a position ever to be displaced. If he is left in charge of part of the proceedings at Washington, France will be represented by a judicious, sagacious, likable man, not likely to make any mistake from the diplomatic standpoint.
At the head of the permanent staff at the Quai d'Orsay is Philippe Berthelot. Berthelot has a memory that is an encyclopædia of foreign affairs. There are archives at the Quai d'Orsay, but the real archives are under the cranium of Philippe Berthelot. France ministries change frequently. Often no record-or an insufficient record-is kept of negotiations engaged in by the predecessors of the ministries in power. But Philippe Berthelot knows. He can supply the information. He is sometimes the only man who can supply it. It may be urged that it is bad business to give one man the extraordinary power that is thus given to M. Berthelot; but he is sound and shrewd, and whenever he is directly responsible for policy, his judgments are excellent. He is the son of the famous chemist who instituted and developed research work in the properties of coal. M. Berthelot in his early days explored and studied China, and is an authority on Asiatic matters. Ministers may come and ministers may go, but Philippe Berthelot remains.
THE DISSOLUTION OF PETROGRAD
BY JEAN SOKOLOFF 1
Cut off, as I have been since the spring of 1918, from all my friends in England and Scotland, I must seem to you now as one who has returned from the Land of the Dead. And truly I feel, since my release from the terrors of Soviet Russia, that I have escaped from an existence hardly better than death. Of all my dreadful experiences in Petrograd I cannot write, but I must tell you of some which, here in far-off America, still haunt me like awful nightmares.
After the Revolution of February, 1917, and particularly after the fall of Kerensky, eight or nine months later, the position of the moneyed classes became rapidly desperate, and I soon found myself in a precarious situation. What a change had come over my fortunes! Here I was, the elderly widow of a Russian naval officer, British by birth but Russian by marriage. My husband had left me at his death with an ample income from several investments which seemed perfectly secure. In my long years of residence in Petrograd I had come to love the beautiful city, and I had no intention of leaving it. Why should I? In Petrograd I had friends, possessions, money, servants, and heart's ease but for my husband's death. I could look forward to declining years of comfortable leisure.
Then came the Revolution and Bolshevist rule, and my prospects melted like mist in the sun. My investments became worthless, my chattels were na
1 This letter recounts, of course, authentic personal experiences. — THE EDITORS.
tionalized. I dismissed my last servant, and soon I was suffering privations and hardships I had never dreamed of, and living amid horrors that I had never seen in my wildest delirium.
Of the political and social changes that took place in Russia, and of the ruin into which the poor country rapidly sank, you have read much in recent months, for the Bolsheviki could not conceal these changes forever. I will tell you, therefore, of only some of the things I saw and some of the hardships I suffered in Petrograd. This account I have taken pains to make simple and unvarnished. As I look back now upon my experiences, I do so without spite or resentment against the misguided people who were the cause of so much sorrow. Perhaps my sufferings have made me apathetic; but it seems to me now as if I and the Jean Sokoloff of the last two or three years in Russia were not the same person.
At the beginning everybody spoke of the Revolution as bloodless, and so it was at first; but, later, dreadful tragedies were enacted. All police officers and government officials who showed loyalty to the Tsar were immediately shot. Not far from my house nine were executed on the second day of the Revolution. For a long time it was quite unsafe to go out into the streets, as there was a great deal of shooting; quick-firing guns were mounted on high buildings, and no one knew when there might be a rain of bullets. In the Nevsky Prospect and other principal streets motor-lorries, bristling with rifles and
quick-firing guns and packed with students and other revolutionists, caused excitement and terrorized the people.
The opening of the prisons and the release of all criminals made both life and property very unsafe, especially since there were no police officers. Robberies were frequent, and after dark pedestrians were often stripped of their boots and their upper garments. One lady whom I knew was coming home one evening wearing a long coat of black Persian lamb. Two men stopped her and asked her if she wished to buy a fur coat. She replied that she did not require to, as she had the one she was wearing. 'Why,' they said, 'that is the very one we mean'; and as she did not have the money to redeem it, they took it from her. At length the people took matters into their own hands, and when they caught a robber, they lynched him straight away, and threw his body into a canal. A decree was issued that everybody over sixteen was to take his turn as night-watchman. That is, if a house was rented in seven flats, let us say, each flat had to provide a watch for one night in the week.
I shall never forget my first experience as watchman. Imagine me, an elderly lady with no bloodthirsty ideas whatever, sitting at the great gate which led to the inner court, with a loaded gun across my knees! My watch was from 11 P.M. to 4 A.M., and I was under instructions to shoot if anybody refused to give his name or to tell why he wished admission. I was far more afraid of the gun than I was of any robber who might appear; and taking pity on me, our old house-porter hung up a battered teatray near me, and, giving me a stick, told me to bang on the tray if I needed help. Fortunately, I did not have to make use of either the gun or the tray.
On another occasion, the good old porter did me an even more valuable service. A decree was issued that no one
renting a house could claim for himself more than two rooms at most; the rest of the house, furnished and with the use of the kitchen, must be given to whoever from the working class might want to use it. Soon there appeared at my door a workingwoman, dirty and unkempt, but arrogant, who demanded that I give up a certain number of rooms to her. The house-porter told the woman and the Bolshevist official who supported her in her demand, that I had a male lodger; I showed them some of my husband's clothes and a man's hat and walking-stick which I had laid out in one of the rooms, and the porter exhibited a false entry which he had made in the house-book. The invaders were satisfied and departed.
Some time after this experience I was obliged to give up my home and rent a room in the dwelling of a friend. As my investments had become worthless, I had applied, many months before my removal, for permission to sell my furniture; as all property had become nationalized, I could not sell my own chattels without a permit. This was finally granted to me on the ground that I was a widow. Shortly after I had moved to my friend's house, we experienced our first armed raid. We were roused from our beds at about two in the morning by five armed men and two women, who said they had come to search for firearms. They nosed into every corner and examined all photographs. My husband's photograph in naval uniform they left, after I had told them that he was dead; but the photographs of King George and King Edward and the Tsar they tore into bits and stamped under foot. Some money and jewelry I had hidden behind pictures and among the tea in the teacaddy. These valuables they did not discover, and, strange to say, they examined all my boxes excepting the one in which I had packed what table silver
I had not yet sold. After an hour and a half they left. Everything was turned upside-down: bedding, pillows, books, clothing - all were heaped in the middle of the floor.
In a few weeks we had a second midnight raid; but this time they were searching for incriminating documents and did not disturb any of our personal belongings. In November, 1919, we experienced the worst raid of all. Every letter or scrap of written matter my friend and I possessed was taken from us, and we were also relieved of whatever personal effects appealed to the invaders. From me they took all my husband's medals and decorations. I begged them to allow me to keep the crosses of Saint Anna and of Stanislav as a remembrance of him, but they refused saying, 'No one has orders now, and we need the gold.' After searching for nearly two hours, they ordered my friend to get on some clothes, as she must go with them. They took her away at four o'clock in the morning, and she was kept in prison for three months. At the end of that time she was released; but she was never given the satisfaction of knowing why she was arrested.
I was most fortunate, as I was arrested only once and was not then sent to prison. When I came home one day, a soldier arrested me at my door and marched me off to a hall where there were several other prisoners. There we were detained for eight hours, and then released without any explanation as to the cause of our arrest.
One did not have to be in prison to know what hunger means. Those of us who were not imprisoned learned the lesson only too well. Lack of food became more and more acute, and the prices were such that it was impossible to earn enough in one day to buy even a pound of black bread. Milk cost 250 rubles a bottle, and was well watered at
that. Potatoes were 200 rubles a pound, and were often half-frozen. Tea and coffee cost thousands of rubles the pound. For a time I drank an infusion of black-currant leaves and also of cranberry leaves, which would have been quite pleasant if I could have had any sugar. The Bolsheviki opened soupkitchens, for which each person received a monthly ticket on application to a certain department of the Soviet. Often I have stood for a long, long time in a queue, waiting with a pitcher to receive a portion of soup, which was simply water, with some cabbage-leaves or pieces of frozen potato floating in it. For this the charge was eight rubles. Hunger made me glad to eat this soup, but there were days when it smelled so bad, especially when they had added herring heads to it, that I gave it to someone in the queue, or poured it out.
The members of the working class received a special ticket and got a second. dish, perhaps some potatoes or a salt herring; but these extras were denied to the Intelligentsia, who suffered far more than did the workers. Sometimes, when it was impossible to procure bread, many of us used to buy turnips and eat them raw as a substitute. You will be surprised that we did not boil them, but we found them more satisfying when raw. As they were very dear, we could not afford to buy more than a few. Some who were hungry even made soup of fresh green grass. This I never tried, but soup made of rhubarb leaves I found could be eaten. At first, when we still had coffee, we used to mix a little flour with the coffee-grounds, and make cookies; but I must say that I could eat these only when I was very hungry. The Intelligentsia could receive on their bread-cards only two ounces per day; and when it was possible to buy any extra, the price was exorbitant. The working class was allowed much more. Any extra bread
could be bought only by chance on the street, from peasants, or in the open market, and often there was more sawdust and minced straw in it than flour. Frequently, when the Bolsheviki ran out of flour, so that they were unable to give us bread on our bread-cards, they substituted oats; but the amount was so meagre that, when we ground it down, very little flour came out.
All stores and shops were closed, and one could buy only in the open markets. Butter in 1919 sold at 2800 rubles per pound, and bacon at 3000. Peasants brought in milk and produce from the country and bartered it for clothing. They did not want money, as they said there was nothing to buy with it. It was sad to see ladies standing in the market, bartering or selling their beautiful dresses and linen to get money for food. As long as they had things to sell, they got good prices; but what was to be done, once they had parted with all their belongings? It was no uncommon thing to see peasant women wearing beautiful fur coats and exquisite evening dresses and also jewelry, probably received in exchange for food.
Some ladies, friends of mine, who were formerly well to do, had to sell flowers and newspapers in the street, to earn a livelihood. All women under fifty years of age had to take their turn at sweeping the snow on the streets, breaking up the ice, and emptying the dust-bins.
There were so many sick that the hospitals were over-crowded. The lack of even the most necessary medicines was great. In former times Germany provided great quantities of the medicaments used. Doctors were scarce, as so many had been sent to the front. Typhus, of course, was raging and claimed many victims. A friend of mine, who went to one of the hospitals to identify a relative who had died, told me that, in the mortuary, the bodies were stacked from floor to ceiling, like
logs of wood, and many of them much decomposed. The difficulty was to get a sufficient supply of coffins. Two bodies were placed in each coffin, which was merely a few boards of wood roughly nailed together. One could often see carts piled up with these coffins, which were taken outside of the city, where the bodies were put into a pit and the coffins brought back to be used for the bodies of other victims. Those whose friends died at home had to convey the coffins themselves to the cemetery, either on a sledge or otherwise.
The funeral of a Bolshevik was a very grand affair. The coffin was always covered with bright-red cloth, the hearse also being draped in red, and with wreaths from which scarlet ribbons were suspended. There was always a band, and a procession with many red banners flying. Processions bearing red banners, eulogizing Communism or Bolshevism and denouncing the old régime, were a common sight.
The suffering of poor animals was also terrible, and horses dropped dead on the street from starvation. The fodIder was so bad that horses that were starving would turn away from it. Behind the house where I lived the Bolsheviki had a number of horses stabled. Every week I saw several dead ones carried out; and one of the soldiers who cared for the animals told me that there was not a scrap of woodwork left within reach of the horses, because they had gnawed it all away in their hunger. If a dead horse were left in the street at night, by the next day nothing would be left of it but the ribs and perhaps the head, upon which some gaunt dog would be gnawing. People had come in the night and taken away all other parts of the carcass for food. Many ate cats and dogs, and said the flesh tasted good.
Many a night I was not able to sleep for hunger. But lack of food was not my